We just had 300 pawns of vis stolen from our stores by a magus who, at the same time was getting expelled from the order based on our evidence at Tribunal.
My question is, what is the legal status of this vis?
If he is hunted down and killed by another magus, can they claim this vis as their own along with the rest of his possessions? Or does it remain our (stolen) property and should be returned to us once it is recovered?
Or does it come down to a tribunal vote in 7 years time if we want to try to get it back.. at which point he'll have 300 vis to use as bribes!
Can you prove the vis was yours and stolen from you? Did you immediately report its loss to the quaesitores?
If you do not have any proof then the tribunal is unlikely to even hear the case. As any case without proof of ownership would open up case after countercase where greedy magi say that their possessions were stolen, but so sorry we don't have proof. Anyone with enough friends likely to vote for them would be able to rob those without friends legally. Which would destroy a tribunal completely.
If it is something that the quaesitores think you have a valid claim to then you might instead see that certamen is open - he might spend some in the contest, but less than he would likely spend on bribes. You might consider that a better chance of winning more back. Resources where two sides have a claim is a valid cause for certamen.
Your best bet is to go get it yourselves...then use some of it to have your local Verditius make you a strongbox....
Perhaps you should also invest some of it to put up some defenses around the box as well...
The theft happened about an hour ago. We left Tribunal early and arrived home at the tailend of the attack. I then teleported back to Tribunal and got the theft added to tomorrows agenda.
We have prisoners, from the attacking army, and also dead bodies our creepy necromancer can interrogate when it comes to proof. But our word is likely to carry some weight in this instance as we've just exposed a plot to destroy the order, which the thief was named as a part of.
Certamen against the thief isn't really an option, expoding his brain with violent magical assault is what's likely to happen when we meet him.
The question isn't really whether we can demand the stuff back from the thief, I think we're on pretty strong ground there due to the surrounding circumstances.. the question is, if vis (which Tribunal accepts is rightfully ours, but has been stolen) is in the possession of a magus who is wizards march'd, who does title of the vis pass to upon his death at the hands of a third magus?
It may be us who kills him, and I hope that to be the case (the thief is my old master), but it's important to know now what the legal position is as we're about to announce the theft to Tribunal. Stating the amount of vis taken would add to the gravitas, but (if title would pass to the thiefs killer) would likely encourage any magus to keep useful info quiet and try to claim the kill themselves.
Meh, if you had 3 queens of vis just lying around, it deserved to get stolen. (What, you can't think of anything to do with it?)
From a metagame standpoint, sounds like your StoryGuide realized he's been far too generous, and decided to balance things out. Not the most elegant solution, but an unfortunately common one.
But there is a significant difference between "an item in the possession of a criminal", and "a criminal's possessions". If the criminal picks up a magical staff a moment before he's killed, that staff is certainly not among "his possessions" which can be claimed. Likewise anything else which is "not his", but merely on his person when terminated.
I think there are several problems ahead of you:
Keeping the thief from using the vis to defend himself. If it's gone, it's a moot point.
Determining which vis is yours, and which is "other". Like money, how do you know which 20 was in your wallet?
Multiple claims. Regardless of the truth or practice, others may have claims against this schmuck as well as you. Then you'll have to hope for a "good lawyer", and a favourable jury.
Bottom line- looks like you've lost some vis, one way or another. If the vis is all-important to you, I'd terminate his membership in the Order with great prejudice (maybe with a neutral Quasitore or Redcap in attendance as witness?), and trust to a sympathetic Tribunal. There is precedent of "shooting first" with known criminals, and Tribunals finding the "killer" guilty, but imposing no fine/punishment. Easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
You've been watching to much Star Drek the Next Generation.
I would've immediately rounded up a posse, I mean Hopolites. Make sure we have the numbers for an emergency Tribunal. I would have told the magi, that 100 of the pawns can be divided between those that help me hunt down the offending Magus if he is found guilty by an emergency tribunal. Having said this, five seconds later I'd call an emergency Tribunal to order and ask who wants to Renounce So and So. The gathered magi, as a legal Tribunal would renounce the guy. Five minutes later, my buddies, I mean the Hopolites, would be helping me legally hunt down and kill the man that took my vis.
If and when a Q questioned my actions, I'd have the support of an emergency Tribunal supporting my actions.
My plan isn't scarcasm. I can't imagine having 300 pawns of vis being stolen and 'sleeping on it' as a legitimate course of action. If someone took TEN pawns of vis from my covenant, the Elixir of Whup-Ass would come out.
My Tyatlus once killed some guys while the Magi were voting on it. He assumed the vote would go in his favor. It almost didn't, and my mage started to sweat. I worked my butt off to convince the magi these characters needed to die. They agreed and then I told them something like, "Excellent. It is settled then, the deed is done."
That lead to an entire second session where my character was on trial and with me argueing that I performed nothing illegal.
Yep, leave it to my Tytalus to work the law like that.
Yes the offending magus has effectively been cast out the order. Anyone is free to (and indeed obliged to) kill him on site.
The 3 PCs in this saga all started fresh out of gauntlet and haven't actually been using the vis much at all. They have an excellent library and this has sufficed for most of their arts raising needs. They don't tend to cast rituals and haven't made that many items yet (although some of the ones they have made are sweet)
Their covenant gets a rather good income of vis every year and this has slowly accumulated over about 20 years.
As ASG i'm not going to go much into WHY their vis got pinched, but i do hope this leads to a period of fortification and a reasonal amount of cynicism/paranoia about other magi.
As for the villain in question. Its great to have your players really, really hate someone. Having that someone rip them off is a pretty much guaranteed method of making it so.
Smite the infidel. Errg, I mean I agree with the lot - go after the man.
All valid points. However, if I were a hoplite I would also deign to suggest that the right of property given to the one that kills a magus expelled from the Order is also a valid claim. I'd probably seek to decide the matter with Certamen, as I'm probably fairly good at it... if not, I'll argue over it in Tribunal. As an SG, if the troupe won't like arguing over what remains of hteir vis in tribunal or losing it in certamen, I'd make up a prior peripheral code ruling on the matter. But I don't consider it a clear and shut case, both sides have valids claim to the vis.