More cases of questionable scrying

In order to see where other people see where the limits of code of hermes limit on magical scrying I've come up with a few sample cases that involve third parties.

So what do people think.

Well I think that grogs, merchants, troubadours and faeries aren't magi. None of these individuals are bound by the Code and so their actions do not consitute using magic to spy on a fellow magus. In the case of the faerie spy, the magus who hired the faerie (though why a faerie would want gold eludes me) has found a very neat loophole but is, IMO, quite right... he has simply hired a spy using mundane means.

First case, the grog acted under his own power using his own abilities. The magi are not involved, no breach of code. If he were acting under the effect of a Sight of Active Magics enchantment given to him by his magi, there'd be a case.

Second, where's the alleged breach? I don't see it.

Third and fourth, I feel like there are ways to prosecute those magi without resorting to the scrying clause. In the third case, an appeal could be made to whatever laws govern claiming vis without involving scrying at all. A scrying case might be amusing for the Quaesitors to discuss but it's not relevant to the basic issue. In the fourth, the mundane world finds justifications to deal with caught spies, and I can't imagine the magical world is any different. So while the faerie employer may not be guilty of scrying, he will still find himself in front of a tribunal on SOME charge.

It tastes delicious. :slight_smile:

The breach could be that the Magus who was caught using mentem magic was "scryed" upon by hermetic magic. But since the merchant is not a Magus the question is who to charge. You could try to charge the Magi who created and sold the ring but since it was purchased legally from the Verdiditus Domus Magna that could be politically non-viable.

Generally Vis claims go to the person who files there claim first with the Redcaps. I tried to insinuate that the second covenant got their claim in first. So the first group of Magi's best chance would be to prove the Maga acquired her knowledge illegally.

As far as the fairy spying case goes I'm not sure any parts of the code could directly apply to the Magus who hired the faerie. That still doesn't answer the question if using magic to interrogate an associate of another Magus counts as magical scrying.

Of course, given that Tribunals vote on these issues and magi might vote for political concerns as much as anything else, I could certainly see all of these used as pretexts for prosecutions for 'scrying' by a very hostile Tribunal.

However, talking about a normal, neutral Tribunal that is making decisions on the apparent facts of the case, then I would say none of these are 'scrying'.

No scrying case here. But the orginal covenant might be able to claim 'deprivation of magical power', if they can prove that the site was really theirs --- even if they hadn't gotten around to formally claiming it yet. Which I suspect would be a very tribunal and context dependent ruling.

I don't think this is scrying. But there is potential for either side to be prosecuted for molesting faeries.

Custos do not swear the Oath and are not bound by it, so there can be no breach. This would be different if a magus ordered him to report the theft: that would be 'interfering with mundanes' on the part of the magus, with definite 'ruin of his sodales'.

No breach, the merchant is not bound by the Oath, and the Oath does not forbid the covenant spying on the merchant. There are rules regarding the selling of such a ring to the merchant in the first place (AM5 p.16, Magical Items) but the sale apparently occurred before they were passed anyway.

The troubadour is perfectly aware of the spell the maga casts, and as a result such a spell does not count as scrying, which wouldn't be forbidden on the troubadour anyway. So there is no breach of the scrying part of the Oath. The expedition part might count as 'depriving an other member of his magical power', but that is a complicated issue.

Oh, arguing in bad faith, I love it !

Using magic to become invisible in order to spy is using magic to peer into someone's affairs, so it does fall under the Oath. I think using a fairy, an inherently magical creatures, counts as well. The case of the fairy can, I think, be argued one of two ways:

  1. the fairy is an independent agent. Therefore it is not bound by the Oath nor protected by the Oath. Its spying on the magi is not a breach of the Oath by the outside magus, but by that same reasoning its spying is the fairy's business, not the outside magus' (or at least it is business that he chose to conduct in public, i.e. in the presence of the fairy, so he chose to forfeit its secrecy). Interrogating it magically is therefore not a breach of the Oath, except possibly the 'molesting the fairies' part, and since it was spying no Tribunal will dispute the right of the magi to interrogate it.

  2. the fairy is the agent of the outside magus, and its spying is in fact the magus' business. Therefore its magic powers, used at the direction of the outside magus, constitute a breach of the Oath by that magus (the Oath says 'I will not use magic', not 'I will not use my magic'). There must be magic powers somewhere, since a pile of rock cannot see. In fact, the fairy IS magical in nature (from the Faerie Realm of course), so it is magic. Forfeit immunity applies, and the magi interrogating it did not commit a breach of the Oath.

I don't think any Tribunal will give the outside magus satisfaction regarding his complaint, since no magus wants such an obvious loophole regarding spying on him to stand. In fact, even if the outside magus had used a perfectly mundane spy, I don't think any Tribunal would fault the other magi for interrogating him magically when he was caught.

IIRC in an old supplement there was the case of a Bjornaer perching himself in his heartbeast crow form from a tree and looking inside the sanctum of a magus for a while through the window. It was argued that it was magical spying, and he argued that he was using a natural shape of his.

Can't recall what the conclusion was to this debate, buit it seems interesting enough :slight_smile:

The fae is not using magic per se if he just moved there and was a pile of stones. HOWEVER, a fae can be said to be magic, so using a fae in any way would be a magical use, even if the fae was just standing there.


None of these are prosecutable as scrying. Many of them illustrate the fact that Magi can't simply assume they are the only ones with access to supernatural abilities.

None of the cases could be used effectively to get inside another magus' lab and observe/steal their House mystery secrets. I believe this is what the anti-scrying clause is primarily designed to prevent.

With case 4 (the one that is sparking the most discussion) the fact the faerie has supernatural abilities doesn't mean any more than the fact the grog in case 1 has supernatural abilities. The offended magus could:

  • Certamen the magus who paid the faerie and make him call it off
  • Threaten the magus who paid the faerie with wizard's war unless he calls it off
  • Kill the faerie (if doing so won't annoy any other faeries)
  • Bargain with the faerie themselves
    If they (as a group) don't have the collective capability to achieve at least one of these aims then they need more powerful friends.

For all cases Quaesitors in my saga would tell the offended magi in this case to sort it out themselves and stop whining. If they're really angry with the 'offending' magus there's always wizard's war.

I like this thread.

Here's a question:

One of my PC's has the ability to shapeshift. +3 virtue. Not a Bjornear. Would using that ability to spy on other magi count as "scrying"? I do think the point is arguable about depriving another wizard of power is valid though.

Here's the deal: You're character is a magus of the Order of Hermes. As such, you have sworn an oath to abide by the Code of Hermes. A storyguide in one of our first saga's started a tradition I still uphold... at the start of the saga, all the players - IC as their magi, recite the Oath. It's really a fairly simple Oath and your are bound by your word and your honor to hold to it.

Frankly, in my saga, all of this "legal wrangling" and searching for loopholes would earn by a bad Reputation and generally get you smacked down as a dishonorable curr. Which is not to say that it isn't done... there are more thena few dishonorable currs with bad Reputations... but the ideal is to be an honorable person, who keeps to their oaths.

Looking for loopholes definitely shouldn't fly. Letting a grog get away with magical spying that would be forbidden for a Magus definitely strikes me as an unallowable loophole. It doesn't make sense that the Magi would prohibit themselves from doing something that's allowed for a mere minion.

By the same token, trying to snare Magi in technicalities shouldn't work either, except as part of naked political power plays. Scrying and peering into affairs of other magi should require a conscious intent to gain information, not simply flying around in animal form or otherwise being under the influence of magic.

I still think Low Crimes will be well defined enough that anything that you could prosecute for in the mundane world you could at least bring to tribunal as a Low Crime. And while it's true that in the mundane world "everyone has spies," things still go bad when one is discovered.

Believing otherwise requires imagining Magi to be completely without morals simply because something can't be directly connected to the Code, and while there are plenty of Magi like that, I don't think they could pull a majority in Tribunal.

If a mundane crime has been committed then prosecute under mundane law.

Heremtic law is for Hermetic crimes. However, magi are still answerable to mundane law --- just ask the local mundane magistrates.

I highly suspect they'll want to "keep it in the family." Not to mention the magi who'll claim to be above mundane law.

I can't imagine Magi accepting the jurisdiction of mundane magistrates either. I'm sure said mundanes disagree but that's another matter.

It's true that the Code is insufficient as a complete body of law. I was particularly struck a while back when I tried to figure out which part of the code prohibited human sacrifice, the crime that so appalled the order as to start to Schism War. It turns out nothing seems to ban it.

My guess is that mundane style crimes are juridicated at the Covenant level rather than through a higher body of Order law. Covenants which are morally (or otherwise) appalled by how their neighbors rule are always free to issue certamen challenges or declare Wizards War.

Hmm actually still very prosecutable. Remember that a few ex misc mages only have supernatural abilities and don't have any hermetic arts. They would still fall under the code having still sworn to it. So I think all "magical" abilities would count.

I couldn't disagree more on that one. Legal Wrangling and searching for loopholes is a time honored human tradition particularly for any era's intelligentsia. Remember the order of Hermes is an organization made up of card carrying geniuses who consider study and the manipulation of language a high art. I think a good way to "pander to the jury" at tribunal is to try to establish that your smarter and have a better command of the code then your opposition. The smarter more studied Magus appeals to the tribunals pride, is more like how they see themselves and therefore has their sympathies.

Of course that approach doesn't necessarily work as well in an RPG where both the Tribunal and the opposition are NPC's controlled by the same SG so your really only dealing with one persons pride.

I can´t answer at length now, but the Peripheral Code usually protects these kind of abuses of scrying (or any other crime) by members of a Mage`s Covenant, be it grogs, consors, etc. The deal is thus; those kind of people mentioned specifically in the Charter of the Covenant fall under the "mage magical power", and thus are somewhat protected from abuse of other Covenants; but, conversely, any Hermetic crime commited by a property of the Mage (be it an apprentice, a Familiar, or even a grog) are punishable to the Covenant or Mage in question. If not, the offended Magi or Covenant could exact any kind of punishment on the grog / consors, without repercussion. Hereby, any kind of chaotic situations could happen :stuck_out_tongue:. Note that in the Tribunal of Normandy, it is specified that only books, vis, magical objects, apprentices, familiars, or a magus' life are his magical properties. Any other thing / people are fair play!. They, for example, could kidnap a Magus' lover and exact revenge without Hermetic protection whatsoever. Of course, the kind of punishment would depend of the mercy of the Tribunal and the specific case.

Due to these regulations, a Magus can´t order his grogs to kill another (and after that, say in the Tribunal; but i didn´t do it! the grogs did it! you can kill them if you please!) And another Magus can´t kill all the grogs and custos of other covenant without repercussions. Everywhere except for the Normandy tribunal xD.

Hope it helps!

You can disagree all you want, it's your saga. :smiley:

My saga tends to lean more heavily on the ideals of the age of chivalry and the idea that magi are a product of the mundane world around them. In my saga concepts like personal loyality, duty, respect and honor are held in high regard. Not that every person is a shining paragon of virtue, quite the contrary, but nevertheless those are the ideals of society.

In my sagas (notice how I keep repeating that :smiley: ), when a magus swears the Oath, he is swearing on his honor to uphold the principles of that Oath. To break your Oath, or to try to weasle out of it on technicalities, is to show that your word has little or no worth and your honor is suspect. That effects the way other see you and how they deal with you. If you will try to sneak your way out of the most fundamental principles of the Order, then clearly you can't be trusted to keep your part of any lesser agreement.

I think part of the difference is that, in my sagas, the Order is a less formal and structured group then it may be in yours. In an Order where the Peripheral Code is deeply complex and involved, I can see learned men disagreeing on points of precedent and tradition. At the same time, there is a difference between disagreeing on certain fine points of customary law and actively trying to weasle ones way out of ones sworn word.