House Bonisagus and the oath

I have some doubts about how the oath applies to members of house Bonisagus.

They are supposed to share with their sodales all they discover. Does this mean all the books they write? All the spells they invent? Lab texts for all magic items they enchant? Are they supposed to initiate their sodales into any mysteries their are part of?

Can they exact a price for the time they take to do so? Can they do so on their own terms (e.g. "Sorry, I'm busy right now, sure I'll teach you that spell, come back in a dozen years")?

Finally, what happens if a member of House Bonisagus leaves the House but not the order - e.g. enters a mystery cult house or a societas? Is he still bound by the "sharing oath"? If not, does it apply retroctively to discoveries made while he was still part of the house? Is he now forced to allow any other bonisagus to gain his apprentice?

The library of Durenmar, House Bonisagus' Main Covenant/Domus Magna, is supposedly the collected works of the House and everything else they have managed to collect. Usually Bonisagi contribute their works to the library to fulfill their obligations. If they haven't done so, they can be expected to provide access to their knowledge like you portray. If they have done so they can refer the petitioner to Durenmar. The covenant of Durenmar requires either contributions to the library or payments of vis for access. This may be a violation of the oath... yet isn't terribly unreasonable given they maintain/protect/build up the library etc.

Members of Durenmar or House Bonisagus are generally exempted from the 'contribution' or bribe requirements to study there.

This can all be found on GotR, pg 55.

Let's put the passage in question here, where we can refer to it as written:

For Bonisagus only, in the Hermetic Oath, [color=brown]"I shall further the knowledge of the Order and share with its members all that I find in my search for wisdom and power."
So, to your questions...

Technically, if it pertains to magic and they invented it, then yes, all of it. Even if they aren't interested, they should still share what they know of it - a location, a person, the account of the experience, whatever.

Did they invent the mystery? No? Then blow off. They didn't "find" it, so it's not their job.

Nor are they (as ~I~ read it!) required to share ~all~ their spells constantly - only what they invent, and only once, to some public source. (Note - if a Boni' "reinvents" a well known spell, but without the benefit of a lab text, then I'd say that sharing that with their Covenant library would be adequate. A breakthrough or radically innovative spell would certainly require a copy forwarded to Durenmar, imo.)

There is no timeline, no deadline or expiration date, but it should be reasonable. I've seen Players/Characters try to weasel out of it, year after year, but eventually that sort of action should bring heavy social repercussions. If Bonisagus is (one of) the guiding/leading political House of the Covenant, then pressure should be available.

Duranmar is ~the~ central repository for all this - the fee, in theory, is to maintain that service, not the original sharing. I think that charging a fee would be outside of the spirit of the Oath.

But nor are they responsible to every member of the Order directly! Once, to some public repository, is adequate.

However, it's not clear whether it must be shared with the Order at large, or whether just adding it to the Covenant library for your sodales (and any paying guests?) is adequate. (The former would be a safer bet.)

If the process of sharing were excessively expensive - travel from a distant locale, or some unusual expense necessary to the communication, then that might not be unreasonable to ask for reimbursement - up front, quite possibly.

All bets are off. Only "House Bonisagus" is bound by that part of the Oath, (and only they get the advantage regarding apprentices.) "ex-Bonisagus" magi are not "ex Bonisagus".

Retroactively? I'd think that the House would have cause to bring a serious case against them in Tribunal, that they did not fulfill their Hermetic Oath during that time period. The fact that they are "currently" not bound has nothing to do with their previous obligations and lapse. It would, perhaps, not be a High Crime, and would be a rare situation, but would most likely be hard to defend, both logically and popularly.

All the hermetic books they write, yes. This, IMO, includes parma and penetration books, but not Artes Liberales books.

All the spells they invent. Of course, if it is a simple "pilum of fire", there's no need to send it to durenmar, but another magus can ask for your lab text.

Lab text for all magical items they invent, yes.

Mysteries: They do no invent it, so no. Although, if a bonisagus creates an initiation script for a virtue, he might be required to share it, of course.

Basically, no. But they can make some restrictions on the availability of books, an easy one being "sure, you can study it, but in my covenant". And then, they can enact prices for additionnal efforts: If the magus is hosted at the bonisagus covenant while he studies the book, he may be asked some contribution. Or the Covenant Library may ask for a fine to study in it.
They can delay the thing, if they have their own uses or the lab text, other important projects... but this must be within reason.

Bound for what he does once he's no more a bonisagus? No.

Does it applies retroactively? No. He was a bonisagus at the time.

Can a bonisagus claim his apprentice? Of course. He's no longer a bonisagus, while the other guy is.

I'm not sure about this one. It would depend.

On the one hand, "writing" a book isn't "finding" any new information - in theory, that information already exists.

But the very act of writing a book is "sharing" the information. Unless they then keep it private - an obscure and cryptic act, I must suggest - the information is already shared.

Hmm, let me play the devil's advocate so that we might try to iron this thing out. It seems to me that you guys equate "find" with "invent". So that if, say, a Bonisagus came upon an ancient Mercurian ritual he would not be required to share it with the Order because he did not invent it. To me this seems dubious at best.

"I shall further the knowledge of the Order and share with its members all that I find in my search for wisdom and power"

should in my mind include stuff found by, or taught to, the mage rather than only stuff he invented (including mystery abilities). Also, it would seem to apply to everything that the mage finds in his search for wisdom and power. Thus, this would include non-magical knowledge, and in fact even physical items, like vis (i.e. a Bonisagus mage finds a rook of vis, he should share it with the Order!). Mind you, I realize this is different from the interpretation commonly given, but that's the reason I posted in the first place: it seems to me that there is a profound difference between the OAW (the Oath As Written) and the way people usually interpret it.

As for the ex-Bonisagus case, it's not clear to me: does the magus re-swear the oath if he changes houses? If not, well, he never swore to concede his apprentice, so why should that apply? And even if he did, swear again, his previous oath should still be binding - it was never "as long as I stay a member of this House etc.".

I'd say the oath applies to all knowledge, mundane and magical... whether they invented it or not. Whatever they 'find' is whatever they come to learn in any way. I don't think it should apply to anything else (if necessary invent a peripheral code ruling saying that it doesn't) in so far as vis etc.

As for a Bonisagi going over to another house... I'd personally be inclined to say that A) Most wouldn't want to 'join a cult'... but rather be determined to integrate the cultists powers into common magic. and B) That while they theoretically could, it wouldn't change the legal standing of their oath, as you suggest.

That makes things tricky. They would either have to formally renounce their oath and swear to the common oath, something I'm not sure is even possible (YMMV). On the other hand I can also easily see Bonisagi being denied access to mystery cult type affairs over the issue of disclosure if the cult is secretive (i.e. not a house cult). It is something of an undefined area. If Bonisagi are required to share everything ( and they are ) ... then people who don't want what they have to be shared without permission don't share with Bonisagi. So I only see Bonisagi being able to get into the relatively informal Mysteries or the ones that aren't overly secretive. (OR ... If the cult is secretive, and no one knows they have joined it, who is to know what they haven't shared? A concept that could apply to many things. But raises the issue of how a given Bonisagus could assure his Mystery Cult that he intends to be more loyal to them than to his House...)

I'd think that most Bonisagi tend to want to be/stay Bonisagi, even if they are interested in something odd (which non-trianomae isn't?). There would IMO be considerable social snobbery amongst the house about Bonisagi who tried to leave it. They are all about collecting and advancing the magical knowledge of the after all. One leaving the house to go and learn some new magic and so as not have to share it would be a complete betrayal of the house's ethics/goals. I'd say you could easily expect the majority of your former house-mates to at the very least view you as a dubious character if not simply despise you after such.

Doesn't seem that way to me, not in any of the posts above. Not sure where you're getting that.

If, by accident or intent, he "finds" some knowledge that is new and of possible interest to the Hermetic world, that knowledge would, by his oath, need to be shared. (but see below)

Or a dead rat that the cat dragged in? Something unexpected in the chamber pot? No.

And that's where you're making your mistake. Excuse the judgemental tone, but allow me to defend that admitted judgement.

([color=red]Warning - slightly dry and academic, but the only complete answer. Apologies.)

In English there is a structure called an ellipse, where part of a previous phrase in the same sentence is left out, and understood to be what the rest of the sentence is referring to. Let us take this example:"I will give you my gold, I will give all I have."Does that "all" mean his lands, his own life, his children? Or just "all his gold"? After all, he was only talking about gold, so is there any good reason to project the rest in there? Not grammatically, no.

It would be a stretch to take that literally, requiring one to dismiss any echo of the first half of the sentence. Because that first part is there, what the second part must, in context, mean is "...I will give you all (the gold) I have." It's one sentence, one meaning, the context continues. It's not a raise in the offer mid-sentence.

So, similarly, the Oath should be read "...and share with its members all (the knowledge) that I find in my search for wisdom and power."

If it was 2 sentences, it might be open to interpretation. But if he finds a castle in his search, if he finds a familiar in his search, or an apprentice or even a wife, he's not required to share those. So we're not talking about going halvsies on everything the mage "finds", not even everything magical.

He would, certainly, be expected to share the knowledge that he gains from those finds, if there are magical elements to them, but not the thing itself. If he finds a Dingus o'Power, but doesn't analyze it, he still should, by his Oath, share the fact that he found it, for that knowledge alone is valuable as Lore.

Knowledge - that's what Bonisagus was all about, that's what the House is about, that's what the Oath is talking about.

Well, the privileges of membership certainly cease. And as far as apprentices go, regardless of how he acquired it, by the usual method or right of claim, that was legal, no problem. (However, a current Bonisagus could invoke her right of claim, and well might depending how the House felt about the departure.)

As far as the previous Oath still binding... that's unclear. I doubt that the House would push the issue. If that were the case, such a mage certainly would never be welcome in any House or Tradition with magical secrets. :wink:

Let's just look at one of your posts (emphasis mine):

It seems from your post that if someone else taught magic to a Bonisagus mage, you do not see him as having to share.

Again, it seems that if a Bonisagus mage does not invent the thing, you assume he has not "found" it. Thus, once again you seem to equate find with invent.

Again, you seem to imply that stuff that the Bonisagus magus has not invented himself is not under the sharing requirement - again you equate find with invent.

It's not obvious outside of context. My first reaction in front of such a sentence is that the speaker is indeed upping the offer mid-sentence. I'm certain I've seen paragraphs like:
"I will give you my gold, I will give all I have. My lands, my wife, my children, they are all yours for the taking. Just spare my life!".
Indeed, one could argue that all really meaning "all" is the most likely interpretation: there would be no other concise way to phrase the sentence with that meaning, but there would be many other ways to phrase the sentence unequivocally if what one meant was "all the gold". For example: "I will give you my gold, I will give you all of it."

My main point is, however, that your example does not apply to our case at all! Let's go back to the oath:
"I shall further the knowledge of the Order and share with its members all that I find in my search for wisdom and power"
According to your interpretation, Bonisagus swears to share with the Order all ... "the knowledge of the Order". Because that's the object of the first sentence!
If you really want to have Bonisagus mean the "knowledge", you are claiming that Bonisagus not only uses an ellipse, but that ellipse refers to an object - knowledge in general, not the knowledge of the order - that:

  • is different from the object that the "its" he just used referred to (the Order) and
  • is not really present in the first sentence - it is just a superset of an object referred to in the first sentence.

I'm sorry, I do not buy it :slight_smile: - this would be just too poor phrasing for a carefully thought out oath. But thanks for your response!

Hmmm - I was using the term "invent" to narrow the options you suggested, not as a free-standing definition. In context(!), to disclude the writing and enchantment. Since you didn't ask about "discovery" I saw no need to clarify that since you hadn't brought it up there.

As for the second, again, I was responding to your specific question - regarding "a mystery they are part of". One rarely "finds" a mystery just lying around, so what are the options here? If they found one in a book or within the Order, they are not "a part" of it, as you asked.

If someone within the Order "teaches" the Bonisagus something, they are not, imo, "finding" it in any sense of the word, neither inventing it nor stumbling upon it. If they were taught something by a non-Hermetic mage, then it's "new" to the Order, and as a representative of the Order they have "discovered" it, in that sense.

As for secret Knowledge that only a part of the Order knows, that was not something I had considered, sorry. That would then be open for the Bonisagus to share, but not dependent on them being a part of that mystery or not. If the mystery is secret (as many are), then that tradition has "chosen poorly" (to coin a phrase) to share it with a Bonisagus.

Again, I find myself guilty of being sloppy. Poorly chosen example, my fault.

You are absolutely correct - for a "speaker".

If it was spoken out loud, then it could be heard either as one or two sentences. But when written, clearly as one ongoing thought, sophism aside, it just doesn't work the way you suggest.

And even in your example, you make that two distinct sentences, for two otherwise distinctly separate concepts. Because when you've "seen" them (rather than "heard" them), that distinction has to be clarified.

I agree that if "hearing" it, it would be up for debate. And I have to agree that the ellipse is not as perfect as it might have been. But as written, formally, technically, it's simply not an open ended statement.

You're bordering on deconstructionalism here:

"I will..." - when? asap? In this lifetime? Before quitting the House?
"find" - for the first time? every time?
"share" - evenly? freely? fully? With some, or all?
"all that I find" - Does this mean books on how to best chew your food? Summae on that magi's own lab notes shorthand? Long tractatus on personal garderobe sanitation techniques? "all" as in "ALL"???

The alternatives, sharing "all knowledge ever stumbled across", would be prohibitively burdensome. That alone is a convincing argument for me.

Your deconstructing the oath shows a keen mind, and one that seeks posibilities and does not accept the given - Respect for that. But some might interpret it as a lawyerly tendency for arguement, debating exactly what one's definition of "is" is. :wink: Meh, I don't.

If you aren't convinced, so be it. You want more, bring it. :laughing: But I think we'll be boring a lot of people (even more than we have already). 8)

Hermetic MC aren't new knowledge. They are already part of the OOH, although not everyone knows of them. But if one is dedicated enough, he can access the knowledge.
Non-hermetic secrets, on the other hand, qualify.

Although if a bonisagus worked to integrate a mystery in mainstream hermetic culture, this would be something new, and he's have to share it.

To be pedantic about language, aside from the discussion about the diference between find and invent, may I venture to suggest the profound difference between share and give.

Bonisagi are required to make their acumulated wisdom available to other people of the order on the basis of sharing. That isnt the same as saying they have to freely give away everything they know to anyone that wants it.

I had always assumed this clause was about 2 things. One that Bonsagi Magi must never atempt to hold onto any secret knowledge, if they make a discovery of any type they should make that fact known. Secondly, should any other require the knowlede a Bonisagi has he should make it available to them for fair recompense and within a reasonable timeframe. Finally, I presumed it made them more pleasantly disposed to the sharing of knowledge.

As I say, I had never taken it to mean they have to give anything away for free, that would be madness given the importance of time for magi. Only that they must make time to make things available for those that wish it, and may only ask for fair compensation in return.

I agree with the Kaiser here: IMO the most important reason to include this in the code is to show that Bonisagi don't keep mythical secrets.

I had a discussion in my troupe yesterday about having to share a quality 13 tractatus I purchased with my own Vis. They referred to the Bonisagi having to share all their knowledge, so my book (not written by me) had to be placed in the covenant library. I disagreed with this, since it was no knowledge I found.
The first and foremost reason is to keep house Bonisagus on its feet: they should have some motivation to keep sharing knowledge other than their own vision of a strong OoH.

I think that a smart tribunal will give Bonisagi some slack on this sharing thing. If it is really pushed for that Bonisagi share all their stuff, the Bonisagi will make it unworkable aswell. I am thinking of writing all your lab texts in a sort of Trianoma cypher and not translating to Latin. Sharing it only in your own sanctum, for people to read (and/or copy or study) it there. Things like that are definately within sharing. So building up a good library at Durenmar is beneficial to all houses.

What should it cost to access the Bonisagi information (for instance at Durenmar)? If it costs 1 Vis lodging and 1 Vis for non-Bonisagi to use the library per season, you can better buy copies of the books...