Legal Issue

Hello all

A situation has arisen in our game which we would appreciate your thoughts on.

While exterminating a group of troublesome bandits, one of our younger magi was gravely wounded. As she lie helpless another of our magi (a thoroughly evil man) gathered some of her blood into a vial to keep as an arcane connection to her.

Much later and after many attempts to force the (far more powerful) magi to return her blood, she eventual stole a chair of his and immediately set about fixing it as a permanent arcane connection. Aware of her plan (she all but boasted of it) he enter her lab in her absence and destroyed the lump of wood from the chair that she was fixing.

She has since threatened (whined) to take the whole matter to tribunal.

Now, as far as i can see, she might be able to say he hampered her ability to work magic (a high crime) by destroying an arcane connection. However she hadn't finished fixing the connection yet and it is only a connection to him so he has reasonable grounds to claim it is a mundane resource and he was acting in "pre-emptive self defense". Although i'm usually very much against that phrase, in this case, the arcane connection was to him specifically and him alone.

Can anyone think of anyway the younger mage might prosecute against him. I don't think she really has a chance. Also as a flambeau i'm assuming her militant, can-do house might look down on her bringing such a complaint rather than sorting it out herself. Furthermore it would set a precedent that i am sure older magi wouldn't like, i.e. making it a high crime to destroy arcane connections to oneself when they are held by others.

We'd appreciate your thoughts.

I like cases like that !
I don't think this is a legal issue, though. It's more something to be solved between those two. A certamen would certainly be a good way to solve the matter, before it escalate.
What is illegal is to use that AC to spy or hurt her so she lose a season of work, for exemple.
Going into a sanctum and destroy an AC to yourself is not a crime, since it doesn't really cause her any problem. She couldn't use that AC without targetting the older magus, and that's the only thing she lose. The older magus is entitled to defend her to use the AC in that way. This is a more delicate aspect of the affair, though.

What I see is that it's maybe too easy to find an AC to someone. If you simply need to take a chair that the magus use often, then bring it in your sanctum to fix it, I would not be surprised to see most mages have AC to many mages they are in contact with.

These bring this problem:
Why did the stronger magus needed to take blood from the maga, when he could have simply taken her chair somewhere ? Or find one or two hair on the ground after a counsil meeting ? It would have been more discreet...
The only reason I see, is that the older magus wanted you to know he had AC to you...because he probably already have one to each younger magus.

Otherwise, and that's what our troupe did, you can make a houserule saying that only AC of duration of month or more can be fixed.

The more powerful mage should have simply declared Wizards War on the lesser and then done all of this legally. With a fixed Arcane Connection (the blood) and more powerful arts, this shouldn't have been a problem.

Entering someone else's lab and destroying anything sets a bad precedent that most people at a Tribunal will not want to see established as legal. I suspect that she has a good case (if only because of this possible precedent).

There are several ways that the less powerful mage could have dealt with the situation. Now that it's escalated, it may be too late.


From what I see as a strict reading of the terms of forfeiture of immunity from the Guernicus chapter, entering the sanctum of any other magus is deemed a breach of the code and an immediate forfeiture of immunity on the part of the stronger magus in this scenario.

Your young Flambeau, IMO would be perfectly justified to declare Wizard's War and BoAF the b*****rd to cinders. The question is does she have any hope of fighting him?

As for the AC he stole from her, the question springs to mind as to whether their is any mechanism for using Re(Pe)Co magic to destroy an arcane connection to oneself at AC Range?

I know the whole topic of the nature of ACs has been done to death, but if it is agreed that she is as much an arcane connection to her stolen blood as it is to her, then surely it can be targetted as much as she can. That might remove the most immediate threat to her wellbeing as she pursues retribution.

Not so. Entering another's sanctum merely causes you to relinquish your protections under the code whilst there. The AC was itself a stolen item and thus the magus was within his rights to reclaim or destroy it - it was, after all, his. He also has the right, which he has not exercised, of claiming certamen or declaring Wizards War against the uppity young thief.

That he acquired the blood was her carelessness, and whilst bastardly is not at all a crime. She commited theft solely for the purpose of gaining power over another magus and that is without doubt a violation of the spirit of the code. No Tribunal would dare convict him, because it'd justify such thefts in future.

The only legal recourse I see for the weak Flambeau here is to charge the powerful magus with scrying into his affairs, and perhaps limiting his ability to conduct magic, by forcefully (and, presumably, magically) entering and roaming around his sanctum in the course of destroying the arcane connection. It is a very slim hope, unless circumstances really ended with the elder magus learning things about the weaker's magic, depriving him of raw vis or ruining magical items, or so on.

However, the younger magus can bring Quaesitorial pressure to lean on the elder - there is a good justification for a Quaesitor to get suspicious that the magus is in the habit of scrying on his sodales, and start investigating the matter. That, too, isn't particularly likely.

It also relies on the idea that the magus scried on the maga to make sure she wasn't in her sanctum. If all he did was wait until she went out for the day, the challenge collapses.

I can't see a tribunal accepting that limiting a maga's ability to use magical against another member of the order (which essentially requires it to be either offensive or scrying since it's an arcane connection) is anything other than self-defense. I can, however, see a suitablely legalistic tribunal fining the senior magus something minor for taking the law into his own hands (thus preserving visible ower for the tribunal) and a hefty punishment on the maga for deliberately and unambiguously maneuvring to gain magical power over a fellow magus.

Depending on the power gap between the two Magi, Tribunal might be the best way to handle it. But short of that, I can easily see this escalating into a Wizard's War. If the younger is willing to face the consequences of this, she might even step outside of the code and have her elder "Suffer a tragic and unforeseeable accident."

Obviously, it really depends on the mage and her attitude, but taking someones blood and refusing to return it is clear indication that your planning something against them. Most of the Magi in my covenant wouldn't hesitate to have him killed, inside or outside the code.

jup, defenately, and barging into a lab when someone tries to even the odds, not really helping to make him look better.

Teleri would kill him herself (fourth edition, mastery of incantation of lightning, she was our artillery), or have him run into some less than friendly faeries, Henricus (fifth edition, scholarly rego-vim focussed but a political animal) would gather his enemies and conspire against him, but he might take it to tribunal instead and gather his (henricus') friends and his (the enemies) enemies to do something legal to him.

Stealing blood isnt a crime? What carelessness?

He commited theft solely for the purpose of gaining power over another magus and that is without doubt a violation of the spirit of the code

She was bleeding. He picked some up. He didn't, for instance, arrange for her to be bleeding and then take it. She should have destroyed the blood, or used PeVi to make it a weaker connection.

Possessing an Arcane Connection cannot be made a crime. The order would fall in short order. This is exactly why certamen and Wizards War exist.

If she could have, you MIGHT have had a point.
But saying theft is fine as long as the person on the loosing side cant prevent it?
What you just said is that laws dont count unless the "injured" party can prevent the crime from being comitted in the first place.
You, are playing football with a beehive in case you missed it.

An example implication would be that it would be perfectly fine by default for the strongest magi in a covenant to steal whatever s/he wanted from the stores, as long as noone else could prevent it.

Want to consider other implications? The above is still just a "soft version" of what would come from your interpretation.
The "dark ages" would require a few extra layers of black paint to get dark enough id say.

Raiding a covenant's supply caravan is perfectly legal in the Normandy Tribunal. You are taking mundane goods from other magi, and even killing their covenfolk - none of it is against the Code.

The Code isn't really designed to provide justice, it is designed to make playing the game fun. It just doesn't include provisions against mundane theft. I agree the (Grand?) Tribunal will likely include such strictures in its Peripheral Code, but ONLY if this becomes a wide-spread problem. Since the laws are made by the powerful, they will serve the powerful. The restrictions you seek will only be entered into the Peripheral Code if the prevalence of looting will make Hermetic society unstable to the point it risks undermining the power of the powerful covenants and magi.

Which draws another possibility - I understand the two magi are of the same covenant. It is highly likely the covenant's Oath includes at least a permeable saying something like "I will work together with my sodales...". Depending on the exact wording, fomenting discontent among the magi of the covenant (by collecting arcane connections to them and blatantly and openly so) MAY be against the Charter, so might be a Low Crime.

To clarify some of the points.

In this case the older magi is vastly more powerful than the younger and could easily best her in certeman or wizards war.

He collected the blood because he a) saw an opportunity and b) thought it might possibly come in handy some time. He didn't and still doesn't have any plans to actually use it.

He will be unlikely to press wizards war against her as her parens is a powerful and militant flambeau with an over-protective father complex. He would likely retaliate with his own wizards war. Although our older sneaky mage is confident he could win both wars, he isn't in the habit of exposing himself to undue risks.

Both magi have little political influence, although the older is of course more well known and has a generally better reputation than the younger.

I agree with others that the code doesn't exist to promote justice. It is heavily in the favour of the old and powerful, especially politically powerful. It exists to maintain order. This order is enforced by the strong and so it favours the strong to give them a reason to enforce it. For instance, can you imagine a freshly gauntleted magi bringing charges against a popular and politically powerful magi and succeeding, even with good evidence. The vote system would protect the older magi for all but the most heinous of crimes (diabolism, treason, etc).

It is not and cannot be against the code to acquire an arcane connection. It is not against the code to enter another's sanctum. It is definitely not against the code to destroy one's own property after another magus has stolen it.

The magus did not commit theft. The maga did. The code does not rule on mundane possessions anyway, save in Normandy, where this would be explicitly ruled not to be a crime.

And, since the Code of Hermes exists not to ensure justice but rather the continued survival of the Order, rulings entering into the peripheral code that a magus must take sensible precautions regarding arcane connections and that this is their responsibility (and perhaps that of their covenant under their charter) is entirely the sort of thing I can easily see a tribunal ruling.

This is a very good point. Even so, I suspect that a tribunal would be leery of granting the tribunal more power over individual covenant's governing and might just recommend Wizard's War or certamen anyway, along with a fine to the covenant to make them go away.

Then by your OWN definition, either neither or both comitted theft.

Which means by you your OWN definition, the mage should have protected his sanctum better while the maga was merely taking advantage of his lack of precautions.

As she lie helpless another of our magi (a thoroughly evil man) gathered some of her blood into a vial to keep as an arcane connection to her.

If someone "lie helpless", they obviously CANT take precautions.

Either both did or neither did. I would say according to the context both very obviously did.
Or do you claim that blood doesnt belong to the one that bleeds? That would go completely against everything in context since blood is about as good of an AC you can get!

You can even find that it was illegal by RL laws of that time, and it still is today. With AC an obvious reality rather than the fear of the potential of RL, even mundane laws would probably be harsher on it still. And unless the order wants itself to be destroyed ASAP, it simply cannot allow such.

If the mage had declared wizard war BEFORE, then perfectly fine. Otherwise it obviously falls under the "He commited theft solely for the purpose of gaining power over another magus and that is without doubt a violation of the spirit of the code".

But this isnt a case of mundane theft. This is a matter of aquiring ACs.

Thats a given.

As i said, if the mage had declared a wizards war previuosly, then perfectly fine, otherwise its clearly against any serious interpretation of the code. Its another thing if he gets fully convicted for it, but i would say he needs serious political support to avoid it completely.

It IS against the code(ie harming their potential), but its not important enough to be smacked down unless the offended party has some serious political pull.
You mistake "doesnt get prosecuted" for "legal".

The blood was taken against her will, I grant, but it was not taken deceitfully or by uninvited entering of someone's sanctum.

Yes, he should have.

Waiting Wards, loyal servants and low-level, silently and still cast formulaics are all reasonable precautions against such things. And, you know, sometimes you just lose.

He collected some spilled blood. She broke into his sanctum and stole his chair. Whilst the ownership of blood is an interesting side issue, the fact remains that one acted in a blatantly criminal fashion and the other was merely rude.

My shirt is an arcane connection to me. So is my wallet. Someone breaking into my room to steal them with the intention of fixing them as arcane connections is still a thief. A thief who has stolen entirely mundane items. My talisman, however, is protected by the code.

Actually, in the Normandy tribunal it explicitly is not against the code. In those lands, the part regarding depriving people of magical power was ruled not to extend to mundane belongings or things not directly related to magic studies. There have been many arguments about this, but I think it's a lovely example of how the code has SFA to do with law and justice and everything to do with self-regulating magi jockeying for power.

Zero difference.

NOT in a medieval or magical setting its most certainly not!!!

Ok, so your defense for the mage is that he is a vampire then?

Blood isnt exactly useful for anything but AC.
Also, you are comparing an AC of Days value, with one of Years value as if it was the same thing.
Its a difference of a +1 multiplier bonus and a +3.

Well i WAS going to comment on how it was a "local custom", but i chose to generalise instead to avoid other implications.

However, including blood to a magi under that exception would be totally ridiculous as it has no other good use than as a serious AC and penetration booster.

Respectfully, I disagree. It's precisely the difference between stabbing someone from the front or in the back. An open declaration of emnity against a more subtle and hidden treachery. In this case, of course, the fact that they were openly feuding makes that rather a moot point.

True enough, but not really relevent to the topic which is "Is this an issue for a Tribunal and can charges be laid against either magus?" to which the answer is, well, no. In my highly legalistic, corrupt and self-serving interpretation of the Code.

The time/penetration multiplier is irrelevent since any AC may be fixed and this is what the magi in question were doing. For all we know, the magus might make an argument that he required the blood of a wizard, unwillingy spent, to study as part of his research into passing on the Gift, restoring the Gift (as to Mercere), breeding for the Gift and such. He might even not be lying, if he works quickly before the tribunal.

And despite that, it is not a magical thing and does not deprive anyone of magical power. It is not covered by the code, and the two characters should just fight over it.

::grins:: It occurs to me that if this does come up in game at a Tribunal, this thread and our arguing could serve as scripts for the prosecution and defense. Or at least be used by a third party to predict where best to sabotage one side.