Non-members at Tribunal.... what legal status?

I'm getting back into a saga that's been on hold for a year or so, wherein the mages are currently wandering the Iberian Tribunal, looking to either join a covenant or set one up from scratch. They've been in the tribunal now for over 3 years, and have been guests of several covenants in that time, doing service in exchange for lab time. One of the characters has set himself up as a kind of errand-boy for the Praeco. Most recently, the character went to investigate why one of the Praeco's spies had not reported back recently.... What he found was the utter destruction of an autumn covenant.

Tribunal is upon the characters.

My plan is to send the characters on a "mission" to investigate the recent devastation of this covenant, even though they aren't officially members of the tribunal. They've made it no secret that they want to be, but just haven't found the right situation. The characters have made enough allies that they could be reasonably voted to be part of that investigative team. My hope is that the players will enjoy the location and intrigue surrounding it, and decide to stay and rebuild the covenant. If not, it'll be something interesting to muck about in for awhile, and at least expose them to more of the politics of the tribunal.

I'm thinking that the characters will go to the Tribunal, meet many of the major players in the tribunal, but then be shut out of most of the proceedings. They'll be brought in at the end, with the Tribunal having voted to send a team, with the characters as part of it, if they so choose.

My questions:
I'm pretty sure that the characters would NOT get a vote, correct? They would need to formally declare themselves at tribunal and be voted in, in order to vote, yes? If they declare themselves, they could be sworn in at the top of the proceedings, in order to get to vote later, yes? But sworn in under what auspices? They don't formally reside anywhere, but can they still petition as independent if they so choose? I don't think they want to declare just yet, but you never can tell with players.

If all goes according to plan, do you feel that it's stretching things that non-members would be sent on this mission? I don't think so, because the various houses that the characters are members of would want a stronger presence in the tribunal, plus the characters have made a good impression. Furthermore, it might be fun to have the characters get involved outside of the proceedings, when mages pull them aside, and "let them in on the secret".... "I'll vote to send you if you do me this little favor."

Am I missing anything?

Thanks in advance,

ps. for any interested, one of the things the characters shall encounter at the destroyed covenant is detailed here:

It sounds like a really interesting premise you have there and one that actually closely mirrors something my troupe did.

Our game was set in the Roman Tribunal, Verona specifically. They essentially declared Verona as their territory and registered their presence with a Quaesitor in Venice.

Rome has a history, almost a tradition, of independents. They live and work within the Tribunal but are never fully part of it. While they're active in Tribunal politics, they don't get a vote, relying instead on being able to influence voting members. There aren't many upsides to it though.

The Tribunal took the line "we acknowledge that you have the right to be resident within and vote at a Tribunal... just not this one". But that was Rome.

As to your questions:
I doubt they'd get even a sniff of a vote. They could petition for residence within the Tribunal with the hope of picking up influence over the course of the Tribunal itself. You'd have to imagine that the Tribunal would leave any votes on their membership to the very end of the meeting and thereby deny them any vote in that session. They may even decide that residence is dependent on a successful outcome of their mission (leaving aside the precise definition of "successful").

I don't see a problem with them being honoured guests or observers and even being allowed time to speak on issues.

Non-members can be seen to be more independent than any resident magus. If the independence of the magi is important then that colours the kind of interactions they would have at that Tribunal; if they become too closely associated with one or other covenant, they're no longer independent in the eyes of the Tribunal.

And of course, if you're talking about House politics, that may cut across covenant divides and make the whole affair much more interesting.

As for the location, if you're hoping for your troupe to use it for the longer term, I'd advise you to include them in the creation of it. The players need to feel some kind of ownership of it before their magi do.

Hmmm... I hadn't thought about the idea that the characters could participate in the tribunal (as observers) and then just not be able to vote in proceedings.

(This, btw, is the first tribunal I'm running, and I've only ever played in one as a player.... Frankly, I was hoping to avoid having to role-play out a bunch of arguments -- with myself playing all the parts -- by having the characters locked out of proceedings.)

I think it's down to Tribunal customs. In general, one-magus one-Tribunal should be the rule, so I'd say that at a minimum you need to formally change your Tribunal before a Quaesitor some time in advance. But I don't think that would suffice for most Tribunals. I think most would require you to join a local Covenant, or rarely allow you to found a new one, or even more rarely accept a renowned eremite - but won't just accept you upon demand.

What are the customs in your Iberian Tribunal is entirely up to you. If you don't want the characters in the session, have the customs of the Tribunal or the Praeco forbid it (or both). The magi could still linger at the outskirts of the Tribunal, just not enter the session itself. I think allowing the magi to found a new covenant if their mission is successful might be a reasonable offer, although I'm tempted to think of simply accepting them with no covenant, forcing them to continue to migrate from covenant to covenant and so remain in good relations with all (most?) - that sounds more appealing than founding a new, competing, covenant.

The code has only little leeway for dealing with unwanted magi traveling in the tribunal. In principle, if they register a vis source (through a redcap, or Quaesitor) or establish a sanctum, I think it would be theirs under Hermetic law regardless of covenant or Tribunal approval or peripheral laws. However, any Tribunal that wants to limit or control the number of covenants will doubtless have laws that hinder such cenobite magi. Among other things, they'd surely be forced to comply with Tribunal rulings even though they don't vote on them and aren't informed on them by the redcaps. They would also have no vote in Tribunal, and perhaps no presence, so that their interests would likely be easily trampled in any Tribunal session. Ultimately, Wizard's War might also be threatened or used. I take it your players don't want to go on this path - which sounds mightily wise to me.

Just FYI on my method, to make a tribunal lively when the players do not give crap about an issue (and not wanting to roleplay both sides myself) I use email.

We have run a pair opf tribunal with one of the players playing our representative at tribunal and othe rplayers playing other covenants, but sometimes we only weere interested in some stuff, not a lot of the other stuff happening at tribunal. So we played it lightly through emails.

The issues were raised and the 2 (or more) positions spelled in the mailñ. Thenm, on our gaming session we used this as background for the actual roleplaying session: the magi had knowledge on the political matters, but were not deeply in them, and we went straight to the pair of issues that really bothered oputr covenant. Sometimes whatr we had discussed on mail was used to interchange votes with other covenants et al.

The net is a great thing for this kind of "out of session, but still IC" stuff :slight_smile: And avoids the skyzophrenia of having to roleplay several positions yourself for lengthy periods of time (boring for my troupe in my experience).

Hope that helps :slight_smile:



Good idea, Xavi! Thanks!