Final Twilight and Estate Inheritance

An elderly magus has apparently entered Twilight. A servant found him in some kind of mystical effect (details convincing) and sought help. Another magus arrived on scene just after a flash, and the elder magus is now missing.

Does this reasonably establish that this was a Twilight event?

The magus was elderly and powerful, and not a magus of Criamon. Do you conclude this was a Final Twilight event?

Assuming no covenant charter requirements, how long do you wait before declaring him absent and settling the estate? Years? Minutes?

It is hard to determine for sure if a given magus has entered Twilight or not.
It is much harder to distinguish between Final Twilight and a non-Final Twilight event.

A Twilight event can last for years, so if you want to be reasonably sure that it was a Final Twilight you'd need to wait for several years to see if the magus in question reappears or not - and even then you cannot be really sure.

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No rules in the charta? Then "Let's plunder his stuff. And if he comes back, just tell him, that not only he vanished in the twilight, it also took his stuff away" ^^

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Aren't the magus' personal belongings (lab texts, magical items, raw vis and such) inherited by his filii? Unless there is a specific clause in the charter, they would not belong to the covenant IMHO.

There are no universal rules for who inherits a magus.
The rules will vary from tribunal to tribunal.

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Factors on inheritance include Peripheral Code, covenant charter, and the magus' final will, none of which come into play until the estate is to be settled.

For the specific case I am considering, the event is in Provencal, but I am also thinking in general. I think it's an interesting question.

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Irritating the elder powerful magus is not advisable.

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That is correct, as per HoH:TL:

  • On p.48, Abide by Tribunal Decisions: "Local Tribunals are left with great control over important details like property and inheritance law."
  • On p.53, Apprentices: "After swearing the Hermetic Oath, the wizard can be legally taught Parma and this is normally done by their sponsor. This sponsor becomes their Hermetic parens with all its associated responsibilities and benefits (inheritance rights)."
  • on p.53, Duty of the Parens: "The exact inheritance chain is actually the province of regional Tribunals. Many allow covenants to inherit the estate. However, it is rare that the inheritor strikes down the outcast. This leaves them liable to prosecution. The slayer can charge the inheritor with failing in their lawful duty and settle the case by acquiring the inheritance rights. In 1220 this convention is so established that no one normally bothers with any legal formality. The inheritor also inherits any debts the outcast had. So if the Presiding Quaesitor awarded the outcast’s victim damages, the inheritor must pay from the inherited estate."

However, as far as I can see, none of the Tribunal books specify whether they follow the "standard" established in the last quote (in red).

Absolutely not. Can't rule it out either, of course.
But it could just as easily have been a mystical botch, or he might have triggered a mystical trap. Either might have vaporized the magus, teleported him elsewhere, turned him into a mosquito etc.

Absolutely not, even assuming it was a Twilight. Can't rule it out either, of course.

That depends on the Tribunal's choices (not necessarily the peripheral code), and possibly on what the ... departed left said ("if I am not back for tea, pay a mass for my soul"). However, note that the last two "brackets" of temporary Twilight last for seven years, and seven + stress die years. Since many many magi have likely experienced these long Twilights in the history of the Order, I doubt anyone would consider a Twilight to be "most likely final" before at least a decade or two (there's about a 4.8% chance that stress die + 7 > 20). In the Rhine, no Twilight is considered final, but a magus who's not been seen by anyone for at least "two Tribunals" is deemed "retired" - though he can obviously come back at a later time and claim his stuff!

It is possible for a non-final Twilight to last for a rather long time.

I think a lot can depend on the relative age of the Magi who are in the Covenant of the missing Mage. They likely will try to investigate a bit on their own. Perhaps if they don't show up soon-ish inform the eldest Filus and ask them to investigate. But if the Covenant has a few fellow Magi of comparable age I'd expect it could be several, perhaps even an unreasonable amount, years before they are willing to admit there is anything to even be worried about. I could see a younger population of Magi at a Covenant however being far less patient and ready to move on. To the point of perhaps being caught by surprise when someone returns unexpectedly to find a new Covenant Member living in their Sanctum.

Two Tribunals suggestion makes sense and works for my plot purposes.

This whole situation leaves an odd but apparently unresolvable loophole in Hermetic culture.

Obviously it's a messy affair.

Personally I'd assume that most covenants would not be especially concerned if a twilight happens and wait a full year to see what happens. Most twilights resolve in that span of time.

If the one year elapses and the magus doesn't return, then you consider contacting the magus' filii. Because it's going to be at least 6 more years for the twilight to resolve, and somebody has to manage his affairs in absentia. He may have vis sources that need harvesting, minions/creatures that need managing, and his laboratory might fall into disrepair on its own. The covenant is 'probably' within their rights to keep this sort of thing in-house for the first seven year period, though honestly the redcaps are going to find out because they generally hand deliver messages to the magus in question.

Probably the best course is to inform the filii that the magus has gone into prolonged twilight and that the covenant will monitor the situation. I assume this would be done by general announcement at tribunal and maybe a quaesitor is assigned to monitor the situation.

Once seven years have passed, however, the filii can probably start pressing legal claims. Certainly magi do come back from twilights longer than seven years, but there's a good chance it's final twilight and a covenant can't stonewall forever. On the covenant's side, they might wish to be absolved of the problem (free up lab space, get rid of the monsters in the basement, etc), but this depends on the relationship between the covenant and the filii in question. Older magi might also leave instructions for such a circumstance with the covenant, redcaps or quaesitors.

Once two tribunal cycles have come and gone (meaning the magus in question could be in twilight for over 20 years if they went into twilight shortly after a tribunal), its highly likely they are never coming back and the covenant had better start surrendering stuff to the filii.

If the magus DOES come back from twilight later, well, he's going to have to get his stuff back from the filii. This is probably going to get really messy really quick, as the filii in question probably are in their prime while the magus is likely in decline from late-stage twilight episodes. If everyone is sane and reasonable the magus probably gets his important objects back but has to default on stuff like vis, especially if the tribunal rubber stamped the inheritance moving forward.

If people aren't sane and reasonable, it's wizard's war. People generally don't want to give stuff back after owning it for a decade or more. If the magi involved are Tytalus, well, things get epic.

If the magi involved are Tytalus: you get the current situation with two magi both claiming to be Primus of the House.
(With the rest of the House busy inventing popcorn, so they can munch on it while enjoying the show.)

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Staged escalation makes sense, and as you point out there are probably ongoing issues to maintain. Property rights shared with / managed for / managed by a covenant need to be addressed, similar with some issues in some houses - a mage of Tremere has responsibilities to attend! - and that's without dealing with actual inheritance.

There's also the concept (as mentioned) of some sort of Twilight Will. 'In the event of my sudden disappearance from magical misfortune, presuming no evidence of foul play by my wicked enemies, kindly attend to the following matters...'

I'm currently running a saga in which a covenant is founded based on such a Hermetic inheritance. The way I've set it up is that a magus can prepare and register a Hermetic Will, which in this case takes effect 7 years after the magus' disappearance to Twilight.

This will was registered with a Quaesitor in good standing, who was in charge of settling the estate based in the clauses of the will. It has an unusual clause to gain access to some very rich vis sources (one of his heirs had to found and head a covenant near those sources). A few things (like his lab and some hard-to-move items) went to his covenant, while most of his more valuable belongings were split between his filii. A number of mementos and more esoteric lab notes were left to various others people, including his grand-filius.

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In my games, we go by what we consider a strict reading of the rules and of Hermetic law.

Unless there is an explicit agreement with the rest of the covenant, the filii, etc. or a Tribunal ruling a magus who can't be proved dead or otherwise "irrecoverable" is simply absent and his stuff remains his stuff. Take it, and you are officially breaking the law. Which does not mean people won't do it, but they certainly won't do it casually - without a compelling reason or without realizing they are taking a great risk.

In Ars Magica there are a lot of phenomena other than Twilight that can lead to absences of decades or even centuries. I think most wizards would respect each other's absences instead of swooping down like vultures on each other's stuff, particularly because they would not want their own stuff taken away just because they are off to Arcadia for a century or so. For comparison's sake, in most modern jurisdictions one can be declared "presumed dead" after seven years. But seven years without contact in the modern world is like centuries in the Hermetic world. Imagine if all your stuff were taken away just because you did not answer emails for a week!

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Also, potentially, from covenant to covenant depending on provisions in their Charters. Something I've given some thought to. I find magus inheritance an interesting story seed but I've no fully developed ideas as yet for Hermetic standards/practices for situations such as suspected Final Twilight.

I think Mythic Europe is a harsher place than that. Missing/Absent basically means dead. It's one thing if someone goes into twilight in front of his sodales and they can hang a hat on the immobile magus and hope he comes out of it. A magus who outright vanishes from his sanctum for a long period of time could be declared dead by tribunal in fairly short order (i.e. at next tribunal) if the filii push for it.

Someone going off on crusade/pilgrimage and coming back years later to discover they have been declared dead in absentia is basically a trope, because most of the time when that happened they person in question was probably dead. No court is going to say "well maybe he'll be back" forever.

Two tribunals is probably more than generous. If he does come back, well, you'd like to think that someone's filii could be trusted to give stuff back.

And this ignores all the obligations the magus in question might have broken in his absence; slumming in twilight probably isn't a valid legal excuse...

I think that depends on the "missing", You were on a ship, it sunk and your body was never recovered? Sure. You went out with an army, and the army comes back without you and nobody saw you again after the battle of X? Probably.

You went on a crusade which is believed to be still ongoing? Absolutely not. You are a merchant, who's often away for 1-2 years at a time, and you have not been seen for 5? People will be worried, but your spouse will not dare remarry.

The issue with Hermetic magi is that long absences are common. If there is not a strong evidence that you are gone for good -- and having disappeared 20 years since in a flash of light is not really strong evidence -- they will not presume you are dead or take actions agaist your property that break the hermetic law. Even in the Rhine, after two missed Tribunal meetings you are deemed "retired" on the third (i.e. 14-21 years after you were last seen) and your proxy voting is restricted until you show up again - that's all, your property is not seized.

That said, I do think that covenants make provisions for such cases, exactly because they are common and much more easily resolved if agreed beforehand. And indeed, there are often obligations that a magus has - from vis dues to apprentice teaching - that often can't wait for even just a year, before the magus becomes liable to his sodales. But property automatically forfeit immediately after two Tribunal meetings missed (7-14 years)? Even if you are leaving no debts or obligations unfulfilled? I really do not see that happening. If it were put to votes at the Tribunal, and I were a magus, I would strongly vote against. Actually ... that gives me an idea! Why not play it out on a thread?

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By their law, in 13th century jewish merchants had to divorce their spouses before embarking on long journeys.

See for this e. g. the - not generally available to scholars and hence disputed - manuscript of Jacob d'Ancona, as translated and edited by David Selbourne in 1997 (The City of Light, ISBN 0 316 63968 0) on p.32:

I thought that I was ready to die of grief, seeing that I had been compelled, according to the law, to grant my spouse, Sara Bonaiuti of Iesi, a divorce, to which Sabbato ben Menahem and Lazzaro Ha-Coen, elders, made witness.

Such a law might have inspired many covenant charters and even some peripheral code. So magi might well have to settle their estate before risking final Twilight or starting on dangerous expeditions - non-compliance leading at least to clear default rules.

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