Proper behavior for Certamen

The Normandy Tribunal has this whole tradition of raiding. A magus can raid our covenants caravans, and so long as they don’t steal anything magical, it is perfectly legal under the code. However, if there is a magi with the caravan, the attacking magi has to challenge the defending magi to certamen, the loser has to leave the combat.

Our saga is set in the Normandy Tribunal, and our covenant is set close to the council chambers of a covenant notorious for raiding. So, it seemed reasonable that we would in fact be raided. So, I provided stats to one of the magi mentioned in The Lion and The Lily and challenged the party to certamen.

Now there were two magi with the party, Sir William and Fortis. Fortis, played by the Alpha Storyguide, has a touch range version of Endurance of the Berserker. In preparation for certamen, Fortis had Sir William lower his Parma and then cast Endurance of the Berserker on him. Then he maintained the spell while Jacques and Sir William dueled.

Now, to my understanding of certamen, that is not kosher. Is there anything in the RAW that makes that explicit? Not that it would matter, I am sure Sir William and Fortis didn’t feel the need to observe all the niceties with someone who was planning on robbing them. Still, I would prefer to make things clear.

I can't think of anything in the rules that makes it illegal offhand, but it was my general presumption that Magi where supposed to go into Certamen without other magics or aids,

Would you allow a magus to cast a spell mid-certamen instead of attacking that round? Or use a magic item? (does a familiars bonus apply?)

It's pretty much a question for your troupe, and I would guess that it might vary by tribunal - just remember that you don't need another magus casting a spell to get some benefit in certamen...

Doing it yourself means making a very difficult concentration roll... So for most that isn't really an alternative (as failing would mean you autolose).

However, this 'trick' seems rather underhanded - and rather detectable... You might get a ruling against you declaring that the certainment was false during the next tribunal if you win. However, it could also result in this becoming an usual practice among magi.

Take it to tribunal - then. Solve it in game.

Cool! Underhanded and messing with the code wothout breaking it! I am proud of your players! :smiley: My players would be cheering and roaring with applause at this.

If you did get your stuff safely home I think you could even lose the certamen and end the tribunal floor laughing your head off at the local bully. And I think you would actually win this certamen. It is like being raided while having a strong caravan guard contingent: better for the robbers not to try it.

I have always found that normandy ruling in the tribunal questionable, since it is really easy for it to escalate into full war outside the code and basically make WHY the code exists a wet paper, returning to the dark ages really fast: "I go and raid every single mundane coming in or out of your covenant, stripping him naked... and I do that for 5 years... You do the same, .... we both stop studying, animosity, war and probably a non-WW kill in the end. A march... etc etc. ). But that is a canon problem, not a problem with your saga at all :slight_smile:

Your counter to the bully is just brilliant.


I made that some newbies helped me with some NPC Magi Characters, not bad results because we are begining to think make a saga. Two of them have animadversion and they begun to try Certamen, the results were funny. If they had that thinking that should be very interesting to my Corpus specialist (A Strong Ghoul Blood cruel Merinita Maga) and twice times loser.

It is so obvious an usage of that spell I'm really surprised by the number of people who seem to have never considered this

Why not?

I can see that it could be the trigger for the Tribunal to create rulings that you couldn't do something like this. Which is just a story opportunity for your game.

There might also be something of a social stigma to "cheating" like this. Which might bother some magi (Tytalus, for example).

Not playing cvertamen by the RAW helps in not considering it :wink: My plauers also tend to go for other routes other than corpus.


OK, from what I can see, no one remembers anything in the RAW that would prohibit spells being cast to buff someone before certamen.

I guess I kept thinking of it as a magical duel, and when thinking of dueling, attach all sorts of codes of honor to it. Maybe reading too much Chesterton and Baron Ozcry where the analogy doesn't really fit how certamen works in Ars Magica.

I will mention that there is a bad side to having Endurance of the Beserker cast on you before fighting certamen. Namely, you don't notice if you are loosing so you can't concede. Thus, if your oponent is better than you, you are much more likely to have that free spell cast on you.

I think of Certamen as a magical duel too and believe it should have formally codified rules. It's never been fair though in any published works, considering that one can spend Vis to affect the results. It's as if one person brings a epee to the duel and the other gets a bazooka.