Legal Harassment

Apprenticeship is measured in the time since the opening of the arts, yes?

I highly suspect that if someone was to try and pull an essentially 30-year apprenticeship, there'd be grounds for a quaesitorial investigation on whether the magus is actually training an apprentice or is just after a lab assistant. The Order as a whole frowns on the latter; I suspect any magus trying to pull shenanigans like that would have a 'deprivation of power' case levied against them - most likely by the former master, but done on behalf of the apprentice.

And since it's apprentice rights, you can practically guarantee that the Tremere bloc is going to be voting in the apprentice's favour.

The amount and sort of harm and harassment you can get away with short of winding up in a Wizard's War is specifically and precisely as much as your target will let you get away with before declaring Wizard's War in revenge.

It's Trinbunals abusing their power by doing these kinds of cases is why my characters hate going to Tribunals. Dodgy legal cases based on sentiment rather than the Code.

The apprentice is in no way protected by the "deprivation of power" clauses. Conceding your apprentice to the Bonisagus is not a custom or a loophole, is it a featured part of the Hermatic Oath that all members of the Order freely swore to.

Yes I agree that apprenterships cannot be extended beyond 15 years in this way but there is an established method for the apprentice to apply to the quaesitors for a gauntlet. The former master has absolutely no rights or standing on this or any other matter concerning his previous apprentice.

Also this is how disputes between a few magi become larger feuds. My magi would support the bonisagus who was enforcing the Oath despite not having an interest in whatever the original argument was because he now sees the issue as being changed by the Tribunals actions to "magi's rights". Is my Flambeau to be subject to a tribunals arbitrary and sanctimonious whims?

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.... Oh hoo, you're a funny guy. I like you.

It's about the rights of the apprentice only; the only reason the former master is going to be involved is because they're the most likely person to speak up for the former apprentice given that the former apprentice has no voice of their own - due to being an apprentice. After all, one would assume the former master knows of the apprentice and the situation.

Note also that this is explicitly about the 'keep for 15 years.' A boni-snatch at 14 years followed by that magus gauntlet'ing a year later isn't going to raise too many eyebrows.

It's unlikely to be about arbitrary and sanctimonious whims. A magus who does this is setting an example that is a clear threat to any House that values either legacies, or that teaches House secrets to its apprentices towards the end of their apprenticeship. I can't imagine House Bjornaer, Verditius or Merinita would be super-keen on a Bonisagus magus having 15 years rights to someone who has been initiated into their House Mystery. I also can't imagine that Houses that are very focused on close family and legacy (Tremere) would be keen either. Not because they care about the individuals, but because they care about the precedent it sets.

I expect that in the event that such an event gets voted in favour of the Bonisagus, there'd be at least one declaration of Wizard's War immediately afterwards to ensure the precedent remains 'don't do this.' Most of the magi declaring won't care a fig for the apprentice or the former master; in fact there's a very good chance the apprentice will be Target One for such wizard's wars just because a message needs to be sent.

It'd also depend largely on the timing of the whole thing. If it happened the year after Tribunal, and the kind of magus with a strong objection to this behaviour learns of it, chances are they won't risk waiting for Tribunal and will instead go straight for the expedient (if somewhat blood-stained) Wizard's War option.

I fully accept everything you are saying. The mystery cults would hate to lose an apprentice and if I was a master with an apprentice I would hate to have a bonisagus take him away from me. Particularly if it was because of an unrelated grudge on behalf of himself or one of his mates.

But what he is doing is completely legal. There is nothing the Tribunal can do about it in any form. Do we remember the case of Helvennia of Bonisagus? HoH:TL page 54. She claimed apprentices 8 times and they all died within the year. While considered to be morally reprehensible it was declared to be completely legal and well within her rights. If the Tribunal cannot act in this matter then there is no way they can act in our case.

This will never even come to a vote at Tribunal. (Other than the clock resetting on the 15 year apprenticership issue. That is very clearly not part of the Code)

I think the former masters only legal option is Wizard War. This would be a rather extreme over reaction. Are wizards really going declare Wizards War to ensure " the precedent remains Don't do this"?

It's not very clearly part of the Code. We may take it as implicit because when we design a character, we are assuming a fifteen year period for apprenticeship, but the canon doesn't state that it is fifteen years. Indeed, the 5th Edition text, it states:

It's traditional for apprenticeship to be 15 years, but it's not codified. Someone can do it in less time, and someone can take more. I think a Tribunal could set a ticking clock on the length of the apprenticeship, and while it might not be only a year, if just a year was remaining with another master, it should certainly be less than 15 another years.

Finally, an apprentice being stolen in such a way is really dangerous. He knows he's almost free from being an apprentice, and he has powers, perhaps not as much as a full blown magus, but he's still dangerous. I could see such an apprentice laying low and killing his new master at an opportune time. Then the master becomes responsible for his own death, and the apprentice can be claimed by virtually anyone, at this stage, hopefully, and even probably the old master...

The biggest factors it would seem to me are:

  1. you have to teach them 1 season a year, which means you have to have something you are able to teach them. After 30 years of apprenticeship there may not be much in that category
  2. the longer you keep the apprentice, the more powerful and irritated they become, and if someone declares wizard war on you there is a good chance they will find an ally in your apprentice.

Yes I see what you are saying. It is well argued but I think you are arguing in support of my position. Perhaps I should clarify what I meant. I was talking about defending the bonisagus's clear legal right to take an apprentice in the first place.

I never thought that the Bonisagus had a clear legal right to keep the new apprentice for an additional 15 years. It is now made clear ( from your entirely correct reading of the Code) that the Bonisagus also does not have an obligation to maintain the 15 years, especially if he claims the apprentice is not ready.

As this is a grey area of Hermatic law I would suggest this is a suitable topic for the tribunal. I just objected to prosecuting the Bonisagus for taking the apprentice.

According to the Apprentices book page 60 keeping an apprentice for more than twenty years is a low crime in most tribunals. And the suggested fine of a rook of Vis for each year after 15 years of apprenticership is rather brutal.

There can't be any doubt about this; I mean it's in the actual Oath, and no First or Grand Tribunal rulings have modified it, AFAICT.

This is also exploitable if an apprentice doesn't have a great Magic Theory score (or is not super bright) and has trouble with the Magic Theory examination for a Bonisagus gauntlet. It's an excuse to keep him until he's up to snuff for a Bonisagus.

All in all, I think the risks of an apprentice being Boni-snatched late in apprenticeship are low.

Wizard's War is the easiest option, but getting peripheral code rulings is the alternative.

While the Oath itself doesn't state anything, the peripheral code is where all the extra clauses go. For example, such a case may result in a tribunal ruling that an apprentice must be issued their Gauntlet once a year from the 15th year after their arts are opened. This isn't part of the core Code, but the peripheral code is not completely codified in the rulebooks and this may either be part of a tribunal's peripheral code or up for debate.

If this gets approved, it becomes the Code for that tribunal - and at that point wizard's war is no longer the only legal option.

But the peripheral code does not necessarily say this; that's going to be both saga and tribunal dependent. If it doesn't, then yes - wizard's war remains the only option. And would wizards go to war to keep a precedent? Not all wizards, but how many do you need before it turns into a shooting war?

What would Urgen of Bjornaer (GotF) do if one of his buddies was the victim of something like this? Take it to the political arena? Let it slide? Or turn into a great bear and rip throats?

The fact that some people will go for the expedient, bloody approach means there's enough reason to actually debate this at tribunal rather than just shrugging and going 'eh, Bonisagus.' Because a ruling on when an apprentice should gauntlet doesn't impinge the rights of a Bonisagus magus - at least no more than anyone else.

In the more typical situation where a Bonisagus magus snatches an apprentice at year 14, teaches them for a year, then that apprentice is Gauntleted and becomes a brand new Bonisagus magus the no-one will care.

All in all I think this has been a fascinating discussion with many issues. Apprentices rights vs masters rights. Bonisagus rights vs masters rights. Tremere vs other houses, Wizards War vs tribunal overreaching vs negotiated compromise.

How far do allies and friends push what is, at the core, a private dispute resulting in childish harassment and frivolous tribunal cases. What are issues are magi willing to kill or die for?

I think in summary Legal Harrassment might be worth avoiding as other wizards will jump in based on the issues they see emerging. The danger is that the dispute may well spiral out of control and even become a conflict that exceeds the restraint of a formal wizard war.

All of which sounds to me like incredibly fertile material for stories. :slight_smile:

All of a sudden I seen Ars Magica Monty Python edition.
"He assaulted me!"
"Yes, but I didn't try to kill him, he's perfectly fine. Certainly mages are allowed to have a little brawl if needed."
"A little brawl? You cut off my leg!"
""Which is perfectly within the code. Your leg didn't have any magical powers that I was depriving you of."
"I can't bleeding walk you nit!"
"There is nothing magical about walking!"
(a new mage) "hold on, are you indicating that you believe mages should be able to deprive each other of body parts? How would we cast without tongues, or gesture without hands? I think this could set a dangerous precedent."
(new mage) "Perhaps if we limit it to just legs."
(new mage) "What if we make him give it back?"
(new mage)"Fine him the vis to grow a new one!"
(4th mage) "why should he have to grow it back if it didn't deprive him of magical power?"

Now this is a great Summary of the issues! Well done.

Not avoiding, but certainly recognising that it could very easily turn into something bigger. Harassment of any kind ultimately gives the victim or the victim's buddies casus belli for wizard's war.

I can certainly see a Tytalean magus specifically pushing for just how far can they take it without declaring Wizard's War, but I can also imagine said magus is pretty much expecting Wizard's War as an outcome. He probably thinks of it as a victory when the other guy pins a letter to his sanctum door.

If your objective is purely to cause trouble for the other guy, well-timed Wizard's War is by far the most effective means. For example, declaring on a Bjornaer magus at the exact time of the Gathering of Twelve Years then raiding/trashing their lab when they're gone. Which is legal harassment, it just also involves wizard's war.

I suppose it depends on your view of how Wizard War usually plays out. Is it a semi civilized duel through Intangible Tunnels or is it a serious desire to kill the other. In my game Wizard War is an opportunity to use those really cruel and brutal bang spells and nearly always results in someone's death. Overkill is the order of the day as it does not take long for wizards to work out that subtle attacks like the Intangible Assassin is virtually useless.

A multiparty simultaneous wizard war, like a covenant on covenant will involve targets such as grog barracks, Vis sources, libraries, treasuries, and the covenant itself. Burn everything, leave nothing standing. Destroy so many of your enemies resources that even if he survives then he will unable to continue the fight.

If you don't at least get a familiar as a trophy then you are just not trying.

Fear of the consequences serves as a warning to any one else thinking of attacking you. A Wizard who has won 2 or 3 Wars is to be respected, and feared. And usually ostracized.

From a story point of view a possible Wizard War a flurry of diplomatic activity as people seek to stop the mayhem. In my games talking down 2 magi on the brink of War bring much acclaim at Tribunal.

I think that restricting Wizard's War to total war only limits its story potential.

There's many reasons for a magus to want to violate the Code in respect to another magus; Wizard's War provides an avenue to do that legally. Some options:

Tytalus magus using it as a means of testing a younger magus.
Guernicus magus using it to validate magical scrying.
Flambeau magi using it to validate a tournament or contest of arms.
Verditius magi using it to steal / recover magical items
Any magus using it to steal an apprentice, vis or something similar.

And many, many more options. The only reason you don't just do this constantly is because if you do, people will get annoyed and will do it back to you. The Order (outside of Transylvania) is a surprisingly lawless place, precisely because Wizard's War codifies lawless behaviour.

From a meta-game perspective, using Wizard's War for options other than total war means it'll see play more often; the magi get to use their spells of violence against other magi and ultimately this makes them better magi. Tytalus actually has a point in this case.

Welcome to Ars Magica. A Tribunal can do about whatever it wants so long as it can get the votes; just look at the Rhine.