Hermetic Inheritance?

Sorry if this is a silly question, but I can't actually find what's supposed to happen to a magus' stuff when they die. Magic items and the like. Is there a will-leaving process so you can ensure someone in particular inherits stuff, or are they claimed by the covenant at large by default, or is it just a matter of who breaks into your no-longer-legally-protected sanctum to take whatever they want first, or what?

In most games I played the charta of the covenant declared, that all possession of an mage - if he created them while he was a member of an covenant - belongs to the covenant. The mage had just the right to use it while he was a member. Exception are allowed, if he get enough votes (for example if he create an item only ueable by him and his apprentices ...). Items which he had before joining belongs to him. But "reality" - our stories - had sometimes other results - who got it first, how greedy the covenant-members are, etc.

Usually I’ve seen it played that things they created, magic items, vis in their sanctums, books and lab texts that aren’t from the covenant library, go to their surviving hermetic relatives unless there is a will of some sort. Things that are “loaned” from the covenant such as books, covenant magic items that they have been allowed to use, the lab equipment that was supplied by the covenant, etc. go back to the covenant. If the magus/maga does not have any filii nearest relative may be a parens or hermetic sibling or a sibling’s filii. Is fals apart some for magi who have been marched and those without known living hermetic relatives. Some covenants may have things written into their charter as the previous commenter mentioned but I don’t perceive that as the common way of the Order.

And I've used this as a job for redcaps (being deputised to search for the inheritor of some recently twlighted maga). This gives visiting redcaps somnething to do when they are not the main focus, so as not to run into the "only mention the weather when it is important to the plot problem: (OOTS 199)"

Of course the maga in question might not have been in final twilight, so giving the legacy to their former apprentices is normally a reasonable thing to do, as they might be on good enough terms to get it back if/when they return.


There certainly are inheritance laws, and magi can make their wills.

Let's see [HoH:TL:48] has

Local Tribunals are
left with great control over important details like property and inheritance law.

and page 53 about sponsors for new members of the Order

This sponsor becomes their Hermetic parens
with all its associated responsibilities and benefits (inheritance rights).

and same page

Many [tribunals] allow covenants to inherit the estate.

I cannot remember which other books might say more.

When such deaths came up in our sagas, there were two cases.

  1. A senior NPC had left a will passing some curious items around to old friends, but most importantly stating that his personal library be locked up forbidding anyone to enter. (Avarice and a taunting demon were involved.)
  2. A young PC died, leaving no will, and nobody knew his parens, so the covenant simply noted down exactly his inventory, in case somebody every comes to claim the inheritance. In the meantime they could use his books and items, not that anyone has expressed any interest so far.

Just examples of might might happen.

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There is a SubRosa plot about this, though I cannot be bothered to look up the exact scenario at present.

I do like the solution they propose in that scenario though:

First you figure out which of the stuff left behind by the deceased is actually theirs. This is easy if the magus lived alone by more tricky if they lived in a covenant.

Generally anything that is: Covenant vis, items made from covenant vis, books (many covenants require that magi donate any books they write during their tenure), lab equipment, any mundane object of value, cash etc.

These items belong to the covenant and so are not part of the estate. Whatever is left however is the inheritance. (In my view magi generally write wills and have a pretty good idea about what is theirs to pass on to their heirs).

The magical inheritance is then passed on to:

  1. Filii
  2. Parens
  3. If none of the above are eligible then you go through the hermetic "family tree", e.g. the filii of the filii. or the inheritance goes to the covenant where the deceased lived.

assuming that multiple individuals are equal in the order then they split the inheritance. but the inheritance is never split between tiers. i.e. if there are any filii, then the parens gets nothing.

All the mundane wealth of the magus goes preferentially to mundane heirs and secondarily to the magical heirs.

I would assume that mundane wealth belongs to the covenant, including lab equipment which is bought for silver. Generally the covenant pays all mundane expenses, while magi have personal economies in vis. The Verditii make the exception, hoarding wealth on their own account, and I have trouble consolidating this aspect of 5ed canon.

What you say about default line of inheritance is what I remember too, except that local tribunals may make different arrangements.

I am sure mature magi all make vis, but I don't think many PC magi do it before they train their first apprentice or make similar bonds of affection. And after all, some of them die on adventure.

I would assume similarly. This is present in case the assumption is not met. Which I also assume happens infrequently, but often enough that there is a rule for it. Thing like Jerbitons with wealthy mundane families that they had contact with. Items of sentimental value (e.g. mothers wedding ring or other family jewelry). There can be lots of reasons for magi to posses small amounts of valuable but mundane items.

In Faith & Flame one of the members of Tolosa Paratge covenant owns land inherited through his family and this would likely pass to mundane heirs when he is marched and killed for trapping and sieging his covenantmates inside the covenant and regio.

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The standard covenant charter has a little bit more grey zones than this, actually. Vis sources belong to the covenant, beyond the first find, as you say. Books and magical items, however, only belong to the covenant if they were scribed or crafted in exchange for a payment by the covenant to the magi, or made using covenant resources. So a magi scribing a book without being paid by the covenant to do that can keep the book and pass it on through inheritance. He could even craft a personal library, and personally copy his texts for vis everytime a redcap asks, without the covenant receiving anything, so long as the initial draft was not paid for using covenant resources. Likewise for magical items. If it was crafted for the magi's personal use, using the magi's personal vis, the covenant actually has no claim on it. The covenant has a claim if it supplied the vis to craft it. A lot of this will vary from covenant to covenant depending on whether the covenant takes the approach of vis granting or vis salaries, whether the magi has a personal vis source, whether he takes step to hunt for magical creatures to get personal vis, and so on. Of course, it takes a particular mindset for a magi to build a personal business without using covenant funds to jump start it.

What happens to Magi who permanently leave the covenant they're in?

That depends on the covenant. It is worth remembering that covenant means a pact, that is a contract. Leaving the covenant may or may not constitute a breech of contract, and if it is not one may hope it specifies the terms of leaving.

We wrote out the articles of the Covenant of our Baltic Saga, so these were relevant sections:

IX-Of the Matters of Faith and Death

  1. Members of the Covenant irrespective of rank are free to follow their faith, according to their conscience so long as this does not interfere with the running of the Covenant.
  2. Members of the Covenant irrespective of rank are allowed to follow the observances of their Faith, including days of feasting, rest etc. In case of a major emergency, a major vote by the Magi can request a breaking of such a feast. This is not to be performed lightly.
  3. The dead are to be treated in accordance with the Faith they held until the day before their deaths. Cremation and/or burial shall be employed in case of uncertainty. The bodies of the dead are to be treated with the dignity and respect that they received while alive.
  4. A Magus/a who has been absent for forty-nine years and a day from their last seasonal council shall be considered dead.
  5. All vis, magical implements, books pertaining to magic and all other magical belonging of a dead Magus/a become common property of the Covenant upon death. Mundane and non-magical items are to de distributed and disposed of according to the written Will of the Magus/a (including donation to Church, parens, apprentices and biological children etc). An exception to this rule is talismans, which are to be returned to the Magi’s houses upon their deaths.
  6. As of writing, this Covenant has no major Faith. Should a major Faith be accepted by this Covenant, children born into the Covenant shall be preferentially educated into it. So long as the Covenant does not have a major faith, proselytising shall not be encouraged or accepted.

X-Of Dissolving the Covenant

  1. This Covenant can only be dissolved by a major vote by the Council of Magi, or if the number of living permanent members of the Council of Magi drops below three.
  2. All Infernal vis and infernal tainted artefacts held in common by the Covenant shall be destroyed prior to any division of the shared possessions.
  3. All common possessions shall be divided as equally as possible between the dissolving Magi. Vis shall be attributed in preference to Magi with matching forms or arts. All books of value (excluding Bibles, Korans and Talmuds) should be divided according to their quality among the mages.
  4. All relics and religious books (including but not limited to Bibles, Korans and Talmuds) held in common by the Covenant should be donated to nearby religious institutions according to the religion of the institutions for safekeeping, so long as this remains practical.
  5. All Magi will be expected to depart from islands of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Muhu unless agreed by a major vote. Any Magi leaving the islands of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Muhu agree to not return for seven years unless compelled by a Tribunal or to prosecute a lawful Wizard’s War. Magi leaving the islands of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Muhu as part of this process agree to relinquish Vis sources on the three named Islands.
  6. Grogs who wish to remain within the Covenant ground will be welcome to do so, and be entitled to keep their inhabitations.
  7. Upon its dissolution, food supplies from the Covenant shall be given to departing former members to allow them to travel without starving to Riga or another nearer port on the mainland.

I think I've seen some of the books reference that a Magus's belongings often go to their apprentice. With the implication that they could be divided.

This is also an excellent example of something covered by the Peripheral Code of a Tribunal, and can have heavy regional variance.