Roman tribunal structure and intrigue

How to organize the Roman tribunal? There has been expressed a desire to fill it with intrigue, also I would expect the Roman tribunal to have structures that predate the current Code, possibly based on a Roman temple organizational pattern.
From these two points it could follow that- like the priesthood of Ancient Rome the magi of Hermes within the Roman tribunal tend to be influential people in the secular world, not as court wizards but as actual leaders. The Lombardy League could be a front for mage-kings of a few or several kingdoms within the league, the papal states may well have several cardinals belonging to a Holy order of ex miscellanea and Jerbiton mages, The Kingdom of Sicilly is ruled by Fredrick II who canonically is under the influence of the Augustinian Brotherhood...
or the order could be further behind the scenes, or not tied up in mundane politics at all...

Copying myself, from the other thread.

I propose a Roman civic system, with the magi as senators and an elected consulate, two magi. The Praeco chairs Tribunal, but the consuls administer and organize and manage, and should not be the Praeco, or Primi, or leaders of covenants - possibly not any office holders; no quaesitors or Redcaps. A power sharing arrangement.

There would be no Popular Assembly; who cares what the grogs think on mage issues?

Traditionally a tribunal primarily hears cases to pass sentence for violations of the code, what sort of administration would the consuls be doing?

Fundamentally there are two ways I can see this going- a strong governing body with intrigue within, or a weak political body which fails to contain the plotting and violations of the code.

Going with the theme of ruin and rebirth, I would say the ideal would be a weak and corrupt governing body with an overbearing structure paralyzed by corruption and intrigue but with some reformers showing a promise that things will improve.

Sounds just like Magvillus and its canonically capable leader Archmage Bilera ex Guernicus (HoH:TL 43).
Seriously, the covenant (EDIT: tribunal) that has Harco and Magvillus is probably the one that has the best organization of them all.

And of course those are the two covenants most concerned with everyone else's business... so if Harco decides to delay certain messages while Guernicus decides another covenant needs a closer look... their efficiency may not be the efficiency of the tribunal.

That's a major function, but they are also a forum for announcements, a debating society for public issues, and a way of organizing for communal efforts.

What the the consuls actually do (or a useful concept) depends on whether the Tribunal is active or passive.

If active, they could administer public works - that was a major function of the Roman Republic/Empire - dispensing vis and checking on progress. What the public works would be, and whether this is actually a corrupt activity where vis goes in and work does not come out, are open questions.

If the Tribunal is a passive body, administration is not needed.

We've seen very active Tribunals (Thebes) and largely ceremonial Tribunals (Transylvania). Something more in the middle, possibly not very effective, may be in order.

Maybe there is some rule that states the gathering is not quorate unless blah is true, and Harco/ Magvillus /others* are preventing blah from ever being true for fear of what would happen if anyone got real power. So everyone is fighting over petty titles and positions and can't access the legal power that the peripheral code might give.

*E.g the togas of office have been lost, and the peripheral code states that they need to be ceremonially passed from one Praeco to the next, so all Preaco's since the loss have been "acting". Maybe this was accidental, maybe the garments are now part of the papal regalia etc.

Bob Dillon

That would deprive the tribunal itself of too much power, since they wouldn't be able to take issues to the grand tribunal etc.
however the general idea that a tribunal with the Guernicus have their Major Domus may have become paralyzed with excessive laws in their peripheral code certainly makes sense. Especially if those laws are designed to limit the power of the Praeco and make certain that the law (aka Guernicus) still holds sway over him. Perhaps a past Praeco was surrounded by rumors of diabolism... Harco is in an ideal position to be spreading rumors...

If the Roman tribunal is the heart of traditional Hermetic politics, what about modelling it on a representative democratic system with special attention to allowing corruption?

For example, if the peripheral code explicitly requires each covenant to have only one representative at Tribunal, and that one representative controls all the votes of that covenant.

It has the benefit of accelerating the political process by keeping the number of people involved in each meeting relatively low, but creates some vicious politics within each covenant as they work out who is their representative.

It could get worse, where a covenant that is unable to pick a representative has one chosen for them by the Praeco or his/her representative. Or where entire covenants get represented by a magus from another covenant entirely.

This would both mimic elements of the city-state patrician election process, as well as creating a political environment that is ripe for rebellion.

Since I am not able to commit any time to writing actual copy, feel free to ignore me completely. :smiley:

One other aspect that will be interesting here, I would expect the redcaps to have more actual power in Rome than in other tribunals. Also doing a bit of research on Tuscany, it would appear the Renassaince is starting early there... with a much less monarchical political structure.

Traditionalists would oppose such highly restrictive measures like a representative democracy. I'm not saying that it can't happen, just that they would be unhappy about it.
On the other hand, Harco would be in favour of that sort of thing.

I wouldn't let the Roman Tribunal deviate too far from the standard, more like the Rhine than the Thebean. Somewhere in between the two seems logical. It is a heartland of tradition, so the traditional set up would play a significant role.

The point that Rome should be a relatively core Tribunal makes sense to me.

Why would Harco favor a representative democracy? Redcaps neither vote nor proxy, and even Magi Mercere do not usually vote.

Limiting the number of people at Tribunal means that more inter-covenant messages will need to be sent. Likewise it is easier to convince a smaller number of isolated individuals to vote in your favour. 1 Representative per covenant works out much better for Harco even if they don't vote.

Admittedly that comment above was showing how I thought they would react to the given example in KidGloves post.

Observation: Rome has two and a half Domus Magnae (depending on Verdi's status), but both Harco and Magvillus have few votes. Neither Redcaps nor quaesitors vote. There may be magi at either Domus not so restricted, but not many, and I seem to recall that Magvillus is Guernicus exclusive.

Their political influence is therefore indirect. Good for intrigue. While I don't see either as corrupt or insidious, they are constrained and that leads to subtle methods, from diplomacy to economics to veiled threats to manipulation.

I'm starting to like the idea that the consuls dispense vis and influence - it gives something to manipulate.

True enough. I get the feeling that most people are looking for sustainable solutions.

A few thoughts- the fact that neither redcaps nor Guernicus vote could well mean that the Roman Tribunal has a problem with getting a quorum even without arcane laws or restrictions. Technically all that is needed from the code is three representatives from each of three covenants, but given the history of the Roman Tribunal I could see where it might have had multiple bodies in the past claiming to each be the legitimate council of the tribunal, and a rule requiring a quorum put in place to counter that.
Then the question becomes whether the problem with achieving a quorum has been or is being considered to be addressed with mandatory voting.

Also if Harco and Magvillus (who in 3rd edition had one flambeau member, which does make sense) primarily work though influence and intrigue, then the questions may largely come down to what the interests of these two covenants are, especially when they run counter to each other. I can see Harco being very much in favor of greater involvement in mundane affairs (because aside from the magic items they are paid in redcaps pretty much are mundanes) where Magvillus is probably much more reticent about increased involvement, especially in such turbulent times.

Again, I'll flog the Triumvirate idea. The tradition of non-voting for Quaesitores and Redcaps/Merceres and its attendant lack of influence/power over policy, combined with the paucity of vis in the Tribunal (which Verdi wanted a large share of), led to a Triumvirate style of leadership/control backed by the three Domus Magnae early in the Tribunal's history, arising as new covenants full of voting magi threatened to assert dominance (like that big Tremere covenant, perhaps?). Self-interest has more or less kept it in place until recently, despite the resentment and politicking of the other covenants (and the magi looking to start more). By 1220 though, change is imminent/happening, in part due to events like the Ingasia/Verdi contention, in line with the whole "ruin and rebirth" theme. With the whole Tribunal in flux as it moves out of Winter, present nothing but a bare bones caretaker system in place, but include ideas/several paths forward the Tribunal could follow, with info on who supports what, etc.

Harco has the basic interests of the House; maintaining and promoting the flow of messages and trade of all sorts, and markets (in the broad sense, but possibly in the narrow sense), gathering information for the benefit of the House and Order, protecting and expanding the Mercere family, protecting and cultivating the Gifted family and lines*, and outwardly exploratory. They are a merchant house and family and a Merchant House and Family, far flung, loosely organized, inclusive and adoptive. On the mystic side, they cultivate heroics. On the mundane side, practical administration. House Mercere is the organization of the Order, and Harco is the center of that organization.

Although in basic agreement the other True Lineage Houses, they clash with Tremere on how to organize and to what ends, and probably with Guernicus over mundane involvement, and I suspect Harco will have similar clashes with Magvillus and Tremere Covenant Rome.

Magvillus has a more extensive write up in HOH TL, and I believe they're generally isolationist and isolated, or perhaps insular and insulated, even from the Order. Having them be completely isolated is boring, so they probably do get involved with Hermetic politics in a deniable and subtle way. They probably regard themselves as the proper ministers of the Order, leaving the details of operations to Mercere/Harco.

I see Harco as subtly active, and Magvillus as conservatively reactive. Note that House Mercere, and therefore Harco, does not have so severe an internal divide as most Houses, but House Guernicus does have the Traditionalist/Transitionalist gulf.

*It's possible the Gift does not actually run in the family, but the House certainly thinks it does.

A thought is this- the triumvirate idea works if Magvillus and Harco each appoint 1 member of the triumvirate (which they call consuls, just to make things sound more traditional) in recognition of the fact this is their Domus Magnae and the fact they by tradition do not vote- members of these covenant may only vote on their consul, the rest of the tribunal elects the praecox, and decisions have to be agreed upon by at least 2 of these. Their is a movement remove this stranglehold over the tribunal, but it would require either for one of the two covenants to agree or for a ruling by the grand tribunal, which the issue is not being brought before since that too is being blocked by the two consuls. There I a feeling that change to this system is inevitable, but the question is how soon and at what cost?

I think progress is being made.

A counterproposal, Master Silveroak; the Domus Magnae of Rome, Harco, Magvillus, and Verdi go back to the Foundation. Over time their senior status was recognized; each was allowed to send their eldest to Tribunal as consuls. Often the Chief Redcap, Chief Quaesitor, and Primi have deferred this to the next available eldest mage of their covenants.

These magi, the Consuls of Rome (often called the Trimuvirate) are expected to council the Praeco, and in some eras are a debating club for elders while in other eras a serous political force, according to the relative alertness of the magi, the political and social power of their covenants, and the situation at large. A Praeco is not a consul, so in the event of a conflict there are only two consuls.

In the last hundred years there has been a growing feeling that all of the covenants should send their eldest, and the Consulate expanded. Some radicals suggest disposing of the Seniorage and electing these consuls as representatives, a Collage of Consuls or the Council of Rome. Others suggest that the Consulate should be only the three eldest magi of Rome after the Praeco, regardless of covenant. This is a subject of ardent but so far ineffective debate.

Verdi's status as Domus Magna is in dispute, since the Houses' Primus has declared that his home in Thebes is now the Domus; the impact this will have on the structure of the Tribunal of Rome is unclear. Possibly Verdi's right of consul will continue as a tradition of the Tribunal.

There. A few items for political magi to squabble over. Sometimes the consuls are effective, other times not. It shares some power to the voteless, and gives assorted minor political causes to pursue.

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