If a Covenant Was Found ...(Securus Magnum Players Do Not Read)

In your sagas, how would it play out within the Tribunal if a covenant was found completely depopulated of human life? No structural damage, no bodies.

Do you mean something like a Redcap discovered the Covenant completely empty when on their route? The Redcap would most likely report it through their House and a Quaesitor would be tasked to investigate. There is no knowing what happened and some idea of what needs to be determined. It could be an external danger to the Order or a massive violation of the Code.

What happens after is highly dependent on the findings of the investigation. The entire Covenant site and everything it contains might be made "Off Limits" if it is something like Infernal. If it is not sealed, then inheritance by Filius of any identifiable personal effects would happen. The Tribunal might lay claim to general resources not inherited, though what they do with them varies wildly from Tribunal to Tribunal.

What happens to external Vis sites also varies from Tribunal to Tribunal. Ones like Normandy have specific rules for dealing with them for example.


We play in Hibernia.
I guess that a couple of young magi would move in and try to hold the covenant for a year, securing the cathach and the cattle.
There could well be someone, quaesitoris or otherwise, who is curious enough to investigate, but I would not call it certain.

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Let's say (as Troy suggests) a Redcap finds an empty covenant and reports it to the Chief Redcap.

IOS, in Provencal Tribunal, a quaesitor might go investigate. Then again, they might not. It depends on the covenant and their relationships. There's a quaesitor in our saga; I think she'd follow up promptly.

I would think the quaesitor would like powerful backup, so they'd probably request a Flambeau (or other) Hoplite. The Q would probably also bring a Redcap to query local villages about recent events.

The Q could put the site under seal, ordering no other magi enter until an investigation is completed. That might not be strongly enforceable, but I suspect magi would respect it. Such as seal would be of limited duration, and if no results follow, would tend to tatter quickly.

The magi have Hermetic relations, presumably, heirs and parens and possibly sibling magi, and they would want results and inheritances to be settled. If the investigation seems to be progressing, well and good, but if not they might start poking around.

The other covenants of the Tribunal will want answers, and eventually to claim magical properties, like vis sites and possibly portable magical items. One of them might actually claim the covenant site itself, but only if the cause of the disappearance was known and not too threatening.

Depending on circumstances, this might be further complicated by some mundane power getting involved. Nobles might want the site if it is a fortress, and might not respect other claims or authority. Peasants would probably not encroach quickly, even if relations with the covenfolk were friendly, as it is a magical and probably weird site.

Interesting idea!

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I tried not to be too definitive, since much comes down to both the Tribunal the Covenant is in and the actual Covenant.

For example if this was a fairly new Spring Covenant, it would not cause nearly as much of a stir as a powerful and well established Covenant. Spring Covenants after all due have a tendency to fail. However powerful Summer and Autumn do not just go missing. If the Covenant was involved in some Order trade (the sale of Books, Enchanted Items, or LR are a few possibilities here), some highly interesting research which had much outside attention (and possibly even support), or was tasked with performing something the Order found important (guarding a portal from which monsters randomly emerge) than its disappearance is going to attract a fair bit of attention.

The same Tribunal which might brush off a new Spring Covenant disappearing might flip out and send a large party to investigate a more established Covenant disappearing, especially if that Covenant was important to Magi not members of the Covenant.

You will find much the same range of possibilities based on which Tribunal the Covenant is located in. As TimOB said, Provencal (the Tribunal my current Saga is also based in) is rather fractured and so the response will vary by the Covenants relations and the individual Quaesitor.

Rome, the Greater Alps, and Transylvanian would almost assuredly send out a group to investigate. While the exact reason will vary, all of them are very centrally controlled. House Tremere would want to collect any House property and determine if a threat was within their back yard. The Greater Alps do not really have any young Covenants and on average they should be the strongest in the Order, which makes one just disappearing worrisome. Rome depends on how you are playing it since there is no recent material, though the vast majority of its locations are old and many are involved in some sort of commercial activity. Thebes would most likely fall into this same group, though I do not have much play experience with them.

On the other end of the range you have Tribunals like Novgorod and any other dangerous low population Tribunal. Depending on your Saga you might find Loch Leglean, Hibernian, Levantine, or Iberian within this group. These might not get much of any response due to the distances involved, the lack of manpower, or just the danger of traveling to investigate. This is especially true if the site of the Covenant is beyond the generally acknowledged boarders and in the hinterlands.

With the addition of information such as the Tribunal and Season of the Covenant we could provide you with a more clear answer. However you should be able to come up with a general idea based on what has been posted already.

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An interesting question, in all cases, is who would investigate.
In Thebes, I think, the official councils (forget the jargon) have a clear responsibility to investigate for the common good, and it would be done.
In Normandy, I think, this responsibility would fall on a vassal, by obligation, or the liege lord, who would be first to claim any resources.
Hibernia relies, to a great extent, on the survival of the fittest, and the resources would be quickly up for grabs. A suspicious disappearance would be discussed at tribunal, surely, but nobody has a duty to act.

The question becomes very interesting when we look at one particular tribunal and the precise mechanisms that could be activated. It is not so interesting as a generic question, since virtually anything is possible under the right circumstances.

Hummm, I seem to remember that Chad's Saga is non-standard and based in modern day (or there about). He does not use traditional Tribunals (or possibly even Houses). Which makes the whole thing an entirely different bucket of worms.

In this situation you would most likely end up with some degree of attention from the mundane authorities unless the Covenant was hidden. The police would be interested in the mass disappearance of residents if it came to their attention. No idea on how the modern day descendants of Quaesitors would function. They might be their own branch of law enforcement (considered part of the local law enforcement) for dealing with the magical community, they might function as a national or international organization (like the FBI or Interpol respectively), or they might be a secret organization (if Magi and Magic is hidden from public knowledge).

No matter what though, unless the Covenant is hidden someone will conduct an investigation. Dozens to hundreds of people just going missing will ensure it.

This plotline happened exactly in a saga I was in. Rumours that the Covenant of Legnica, in Novgorod, was destroyed by the Mongols filtered, so both our Covenant (on the Baltic coast) and a Provencal one jumped into our flying contraptions and raced there to investigate and secure it for the order. Our two Covenants agreed to split Legnica in two and secure each half independently (ie loot it).
We were ambushed by the culprits (not mongols, but in fact mercenary Order members who not only killed everyone, looted all the good magic, but also whoever came to investigate) when we were in a disadvantageous position.

If a redcap came across an empty covenant I would think the first thing would be an impromptu investigation by the redcap- was food left out? Are there any notes? Are labs still equipped (looking from the door, or window, not wanting to trip anything) are known covenant enchantments (lamps without flame for example) still functional? Then he would report the information along his route and to other redcaps he came across. The next question would be which covenant did he visit next, and what do they decide to do, which could be a) investigate b) raid its resources (possibly while claiming to investigate) or c) oh, did a redcap pass through? any mail for me?
Obviously if it is the Transylvania tribunal things will go differently.


Actually, I have used a similar idea once, to bootstrap a saga.

In that particular case, it was a rather nondescript, Winterish covenant, and not a great target for neighbours looting. It was underground, in an ancient mine. The front gate had collapsed, and the redcap was unable to enter. There was a back entrance, inaccessible to the grogs and unGifted redcap, as it went through a regio (I think).

In this particular case there were a few grogs tending crops and herds outside the mine, but the covenant proper was sealed off. Thus it is not exactly the scenario of OP.

Anyway, what the redcap decided to do was to recruit a couple of young magi to attempt to enter and make contact, i.e. the player characters. Effectively, the redcap composed the party.

One reason the redcap may have preferred to recruit young magi could be that he did not want to favour one side over the other in the torn tribunal. We are talking about Stonehenge. Most, if not all, of the players played continental magi, a design decision to let the novice players plausibly play ignorant of tribunal politics; thus the redcap's approach would contribute fresh blood to a troubled covenant. A plausibly strategic move.

In the end, the covenant was not deserted. They found a young apprentice, whose master had botched a lab experiment and caused the caves to collapse over the front gate, but that is immaterial to the redcap's decision.

Just one example of how magi of the Order could react.


I have a set up very similar to this planned as well, but no new saga for years.

In most of my sagas, half the wizards will steer clear of any deserted covenant (because there's obviously a hazard) and half will run straight in trying to get any vis or books before anyone gets the chance to return.

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What happened to cautious curiosity?

They stand back to see how the second group goes splat then charge in afterwards better informed.

You indeed remember correctly. The latest story took place in 2009 game time. The Order of Hermes is "known" to the public in the game world in much the same way the Freemasons are known to the public in our real world; most everyone has heard of them but only members really know anything about them.

We still (to date) use the standard Hermetic Houses and Tribunals, we've just added details and Tribunals in the New World.

The covenant I have in mind (Cognitus Origo) is off the beaten path and one who prefers not to modernize, thus being one of the few that still require a Redcap to make the rounds. Much of the Order's business is taken care of via House Verdi's crowning achievement to date, Hermes.net.

Cognitus Origo is also remote enough to not draw from mundane law enforcement attention before the Order can take care of matters.

Cognitus Origo and many other covenants (five others so far defined, our own included) inhabit the Mississippi River Tribunal. It is the second oldest Tribunal in North America (After Colonial on the east coast) and possibly the most desirable for magi to dwell in due to a large concentration of auras greater than +0. (Essentially a Ley line paralleling the Mississippi River).

I guess I just need to decide how the politics of Mississippi River run. Securus Magnum has been sponsored to some extent by the Summer covenant Collegium Super Mare, located in New Orleans as we are.

My initial thought was to have one the the CSM magi volunteer our magi to investigate " as a way to repay our previous kindness". I can't recall if there's a Tytalus at that covenant, but the Verditius is a bit of a hard case.

Everyone's input so far has been great and is appreciated. If anyone has more to add I'd love to hear it.

Off topic, but I would be interested in the rules you use to update the setting to modern times. Do you wing it?

Here's a write-up I PMed another list member a few months ago. We are now at 2009 in-game. Also let me know if you have any specific questions that are not answered below

Yes, we are indeed playing in Mythic Now (current saga date August 2008) as we call it.

It is not, despite that nickname, any sort of evolution of Mythic Europe to the 20th century. All four troupe members are fans of the Dresden Files urban fantasy novels, so we wanted to emulate that setting in a rule set with a flexible and powerful magic system. I have a fair amount of experience with ArM and recommended it, along with offering to be Alpha Story Guide and run the first couple of games.

Rules-wise, it's still a work in progress. In fact, some parts of it trace back to discussions in the late 90s/early 2ks on the old Berkley mailing list, as "Ars Magica 2000" was a popular topic with some of us back around the turn of the 21st century. Here are some highlights:

Firearms and many other modern weapons: The Morrow Project RPG contains stats for a goodly number of NATO firearms and etc. Easiest edition to borrow from for ArM is 4th where you can just take the E factor as your damage rating for most weapons. For example, a 9 MM handgun ends up with a +9 damage, which seems reasonable when compared to the canon medieval weapons. I/we had to make up the other figures but it is still getting occasional adjustments. I believe I also took the statistics for modern ballistic armors (law enforcement vests on up to full body suits) from the Morrow project as well.

I didn't find the way Morrow project depicted shotgun damage compatible with ArM, so (based on my own real experience having hunted with shotguns) I ended up making some educated guesses based on the other firearm damages from TMP and then used range adjustments for damage as well. Shotguns are further complicated by the wide variety of loads they can fire but they are (as we stat them) still not on par with an assault rifle.

Hermetic Magic has so far remained largely unchanged except:

Electricity is not always the province of Auram, but rather is manipulated via the medium it is moving through, e.g. in devices and infrastructure it falls under Terram.

Likewise under Terram are petroleum and all of its derivatives like plastic, etc.

And while not complete, we are adding spatial equivalents to the Targets to better define unbounded uses of Aquam, Auram, and Ignem in outdoor settings. Most of these have precedents from existing magical creature powers known to the Order (existing in our Saga, at least, but the PCs haven't seen any of those types yet).

That's another ongoing project; creatures. Creatures that have appeared in the Dresden Files repeatedly were a must have, so those got stats first. Then new creatures to give the players some puzzles and challenges and further more a "Creature Kit" is an ongoing project of mine. It's a list of powers with effect descriptions, might costs, and Hermetic Arts equivalents as well as some notes/tips on creature design.

Setting-wise, we're largely playing 2008 with the supernatural bolted on. We chose New Orleans, Louisiana, USA for our covenant location and incorporated 2005's Hurricane Katrina disaster into our saga background.

The Dominion is not nearly as wide spread as it was in 1220 as it began to weaken after the Schism. The Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, coupled with the spread of mankind in the world and changes to the natural environments, all contributed to further weakening of the Dominion, Faerie, and Magic Auras.

Or so the order thought, at first. It turned out the auras, while somewhat weakened, were actually being moved as areas of the world became completely and truly mundane. Not the True Reason aura White Wolf put in 3rd ed. ArM, but truly mundane places with aura ratings of None +0.

As the mundane areas spread, they didn't erase or overlay previously supernatural areas. Instead, one of two things happened.

A place of more powerful aura was forced "upwards", forming a Regio with a Mundane lowest level. Less powerful auras were pushed by the expanding mundane area, eventually concentrating together into river like "lines" of intermingled Magic and Faerie auras. Where Ley lines had once been theoretical or perhaps a hoax, now they have become real, and useful to magi of the order.

Dominion auras, anchored by the churches they radiate from, were pushed toward their source rather than relocated completely, so now it is scattered in strong pools surrounded by large areas of mundane land.

We've divided North America up into a number of Tribunals including the Colonial, Mississippi River, Great Plains, Sierra, Cascade, Sonora-Mojave, and Great Basin Tribunals. All canon European Tribunals still exist to this point.

We also know there is some sort of terrorist organization calling itself the Heirs of Atlantis, but that's all we know about them. The troupe has no decision if something resembling the Order of Odin hinted at in 3rd ed. might be something one of us will introduce in this saga.