We're trying to finish up one of those stories that seems to last like 90 game sessions, this one being about my "King of Shadows" that some of you guys helped me with. That's a whole can of worms right there. But what I'm more interested in are your thoughts on Code Violations that have cropped up here at the end.
Trying to condense this as much as possible, the magi are on the trail of a Merinita magus that they have run into before, and suspect of being a diabolist. He has taken an urn from a deceased lord's manor that seems responsible for the loss of the shadows (and subsequent illness) of one of the magi and many grogs. The pursuing group (massive bear Bjornaer, Tremere, Verditius, and my own character, a Hoplite Flambeau of the School of Ramius) catch the magus. The Merinita challenges Bjornaer to Certamen, loses (gives up just before falling unconscious), and agrees to turn over the urn.
This is where it gets ugly. Bjornaer now sees that he can best the Merinita and so challenges him to Certamen to force him to return to the scene of the "crime" with them and set things right. The Merinita refuses, and my Hoplite reminds the Bjornaer that bullying through Certamen is a Low Crime. The exchange turns heated, Merinita insults Bjornaer, Bjornaer physically strikes Merinita. End last session.
So now what? Bjornaer now insists he will basically capture this guy and bring him back to the covenant "until the Quaesitors arrive." My Flambeau is not likely to let that happen, and the other magi "back home" (a Bonisagus and Mercere) are likely to be just as aghast as he is and prepared to vote to expel the Bjornaer. My Flambeau might try to physically restrain the Bjornaer, but honestly, the Bjornaer is more min/maxed than my guy and I would likely lose. Magically they're both good at Corpus, but of course the Bjornaer just goes into bear form and my weak Animal score puts me at a massive disadvantage.
So anyway I'm just wondering what folks think of this cluster**** and looking for ways to minimize the fallout. Pertinent Peripheral Code? Great deus ex machina ideas? Simply rub hands together and enjoy the carnage?
Can't the Tremere bests the Bjornaer at certamen to "not try to capture the Merenita"? (If the tremere is going to lose at certamen... I would be disappointed!)
Convince the Merenita (in private) to come with you and inquire the quaesitor for the low crime? You can try to intrigue here, by pretending he may win the case , which will be interesting for his future business, and you could even know that your local quaesitor would never do so or warn the bjornaer that he would, forcing the Bjornaer to prepare his defense and worrying about that rather than the Merenita. This way, everyone is happy: you are not letting the bjornaer capture the merenita, the bjornaer has his merenita "until quaesitor arrives" and the Merenita will get revenge on your group by trying to obtain legal punishment against your bjornaer.
During the incoming investigation, why not bring the matter of the urn to the table, and manipulate the thing to get the quaesitor to inquire about the stealing of the urn. If the Merenita becomes silent, your bjornaer is out of trouble, and the quaesitor will start being suspicious: magi who haven't things to hide about their business with the mundane do not hide. Medling with mundanes is always too close to attire attention to the order!
Call me stupid, if you like, but I genuinely don't see why there is a problem here.
The Bjornaer is capable of (or thinks he is) and wants to capture the Merinita and hold him until the Quaesitores can investigate. So? Go ahead!
Once they have investigated, either there is sufficient proof* for the Merinita to be charged with some sort of crime; or there is insufficient proof to decide anything; or the Bjornaer gets charged for stopping the Merinita's work. Without all the details of your saga, I can't advise on which outcome would be correct.
Later on, there might be a Wizard's War between the two of them.
Why should your hoplite be worried/aghast? He can be quite clear to the Merinita that 'holding' him has nothing to do with you, therefore any subsequent War should not involve you - or the Merinita really will be breaking the code!
Pertinent Code ruling: Quaesitors do not have the authority to arrest magi.
Pertinent Code ruling: Attacking another magi generally hands out forfeit immunity and thus the Merinita can defend himself. (And the Flambeau can also defend the Merinita)
Pertinent Code ruling: Injuring a magi is a Hermetic Crime.
Pertinent Code ruling: Not only is bullying a crime you need to offer something if you lose Certamen.
Pertinent Code ruling: Disputes of fact are not allowed at trial, generally speaking. One person gets their testimony backed up by various intellego magicks. Trials are all about if the acts are crimes or not.
Pertinent RAW note: Any injury requires concentration checks and is enough to disrupt magic.
So the Bjon has broken the code probably twice. The Merinita can open fire and if the Bjon responds with more force he'll dig a deeper hole. If the Bjon actually captures the Merinita it would be a blatant code violation. The Quaesitors will probably simply free the captured magus if they actually do get called. I have a hard time seeing how the Bjon magus would avoid being Marched if he actually captures the Merinita magus, and things aren't even looking good for avoiding a fairly large fine. 4 vis to heal an injury, plus cost of hiring a magi, plus a bit for pain and suffering, plus the fine for the tribunal, plus legal fees.
Warn the Bjon of what is going to happen.
Now all that said, proving someone is a diabolist can help a lot. Even just proving that he is responsible for the shadow thing might help. However, capturing a magi will mean the Bjon has an easy chance to use Creo Mentum and Perdo Mentum to tamper with the Merinita's mind. Worse if he is a diabolist he can lie to the Quaesitors and get his lies confirmed by said Quaesitors with a bit of demonic aid. Finally, capturing someone will colour the Quaesitor's investigations against the Bojn. Plus if he's really sure the Merinita is responsible for the shadow thing he might be willing to take risks to save a life.
So, in summary this has a good chance of backfiring horribly. It almost certainly will backfire horribly if the Bjon can't collect some proof. If if he does collect proof he stands a good chance of getting in some trouble for the "arrest". If the guy is a diabolist he will probably just read as "innocent" when the Quaesitor shows up.
Rub your hands together. Its an NPC. Letting PCs dig themselves their own grave is the best thing ever.
That's not how Wizard War's work. You can declare them for any reason. So the Merinita can absolutely declare a Wizard's War on the Hopilite. And really a Hopilite blatantly not helping a magus in trouble is probably what most people might consider a good reason. Or at least not a overly terrible reason.
I am in agreement with almost everything you've added Lamech - and thanks for the explanation of exactly what the Bjornaer can be charged with. He'd better have overwhelming proof of his case against the Merinita...
Just the Wizard's War bit: I didn't explain quite what I meant, and was unclear. I should have said that if the Merinita declared Wizard's War against the Bjornaer only (and if the hoplite is suitably apologetic to the Merinita, this might be reasonable), then harming magi not named in the declaration would be against the code.
Anyway, from Mad Irishman's original post, I think I fall into the category of 'rubbing my hands together and enjoying the carnage'.
On the one hand you have a smelly giant sized magus who was not all that careful with the grogs. On the other hand, you had a gentle gifted Flambeau who was somewhat better at dealing with mundanes.
Did you bring any of the archer grogs? I don't suppose you brought the arrows of slumber charged items that your previous Verditius made for the covenant. If you did, just have the grog shoot him, have him fall asleep for diameter duration and deal with Gaston like the crazy bear man that he is.
I think that a large part of the enjoyment that Gaston's player has for playing Gaston is making other people conform to his bad behavior. He finds humor in having a big smelly man that goes around naked after he changes back from animal form that all of the peasants and other mundanes just have put up with. Remember how unhappy he was when I suggested he invent a low level Herbam spell to clothe himself for sun duration, or the time the NPC magus crafted a spell to remove his smell from him so that they could keep the wolves from discovering the party? I believe those things offended him because they conflicted with the core concept of his character, someone who everyone else has to accommodate themselves to. That perspective keeps him from recognizing boundaries where his playing his character that way would
That being said, he really doesn't want to do something that completely destroys the game, other players enjoyment of it and his participation in it. If you explain to the player that this behavior is the sort of thing that will get him expelled from the covenant, he will probably ask for a redo.
Someone has attacked your covenant with magic. Form of the attack is stealing shadows and the following illness it.
The mage of house Merinita is the suspected offender.
Following the Certamen the related urn is now in the player's hand. -> Does holding the urn moved the player's 'suspicion' to a 'convinced' level?
You have mentioned suspected diabolism -> Was there anything during the certamen or about the urn that has confirmed this suspicion?
Does the deceased lord's manor belong to the covenant?
The whole situation can be also interpreted as: The covenant rightfully protected itself and caught a suspected diabolist red-handed. She was proved to be behind the attacks on a peaceful covenant, without any Wizard War, cast a spell on your sodales, definitely a harmful one. She was offered a chance to fix the effects of her attacks and present herself to the Quesitors and she has resisted. With her diabolic-insulting magic she has forced Bjon to lose his temper and physically attack her, trying to turn the events to her favour and now manipulates the Hoplite to release her and even confront his sodales.
Fallout? I don't see any.
Either there is enough proof the Merinita attacked your covenant or not, and this will make or brake any cases.
If she is behind the attacks, you can claim forfeit immunity and Bjon has done just and rightful.
Practically speaking, after Bjon is holding the urn and he is fully convinced the attacker is this Merinita... and the Merinita is not ready to fix the illness caused and present herself willingly to a Quesitor... He could kill the Merinita on the spot and the Tribunal should agree with it. Otherwise the Tribunal would call a Wizard's March on the Merinita for attempted slaying a member of the Order.
In case you cannot convincingly present your original case, as the Merinita is behind the attacks, you are all going to be charged for 'Scrying on Members of the Order' and 'Deprivation of Magical Power'.
Have you used magic outside of your covenant's grounds to follow her? -> guilty as charged, even your Flambeau.
One more point- while the code does prohibit capturing the suspect, it does not prevent them from being tried in absentia. The fact that a wizards march could be declared under suspicion of diabolism should be enough threat to get him to attend the trial.