Rome vs. Thebes for a Covenant?

I'm somewhat new to Ars Magica and the politics of Tribunals, Covenants and Magi, etc...

If the Tribunal of Rome wanted to "take" a single (new) covenant of the Thebian Tribunal (one my PCs have established on Crete) how would that go down? The island of Crete is on the outskirts of the Thebian Tribunal, technically as close to the Roman as the Thebian... so....

  • if they wanted to take it by force?
  • if they wanted to take it by "mercantile" force (ie. Venice "bought" Crete in 1212, and might offer to "buy" the covenant?)

What would happen between the Tribunals? How would the leaders of the Tribunals handle this? What could/would the new magi of my PCs get involved?

any ideas, more questions, and pointing me to book resource or otherwise is appreciated

Before we go further, why would the Roman tribunal want this covenant in their tribunal vs the Theban?

I believe the covenant has a right to decide what Tribunal it belongs to, assuming both would have it. And that is regardless of mundane politics.

That being said, the question above might help with tailoring a story around it. Why?


Taking a convent by force is not an option imo. You aren't going to destroy a convent first and then include it in your tribunal ... beside I belive this would be high crime. I think a convent in such a case is more or less free to choose side. At least as long the other tribunal does not claim the teretory. If it does the case would go to the next Grand Tribunal.


As for motive, In the game I am just leaving, the covenant is placed right on the border between the Normandy Tribunal and the Provincial Tribunal. The Normandy Tribunal would want our covenant to be formally considered part of their tribunal, because that would extablish that the vis sources are part of this tribunal. Then they would want something to happen to our covenant, because that way the vis would be available for prizes for the tribunal. I have never read the third edition Rome Tribunal book but I understood that Rome was a low vis tribunal, whereas Thebes is a relatively high vis tribunal. The Roman Tribunal may have members who want the covenant in Crete to be part of the Roman Tribunal so that if anything happens to the covenant in Crete, the vis is available to them, not the Thebian tribunal.

As I understand it, language helps form the boundries of tribunals. If they speak Greek in Crete, it would be pretty hard for the Romans to make the argument that it should be part of the Roman Tribunal. Or at least that is how I would vote.

Great question. I'll try and give some thoughts (there could be others):

  • as noted by others. VIS sources. Crete is inhabited by pagan gods/faerie and has potential
  • in real world history Venice just "purchased" Crete, many nobles are colonizing it, so in their Tribunal minds - why "should" it be Theban instead of Roman?
  • Crete is a good port stop to the Holy Land for crusaders
  • Crete is somewhat centrally located for mercantile efforts of Venice (and the Roman Tribunal)
  • their are potential discoveries about Order of Hermes history (and revelations) on/around Crete
  • Crete is the Birthplace of many Roman myths and Gods (such as Zeus himself)

SOME of those are obviously more important than others. Some are important to factions or individuals or specific covenants.
But in my mind it seems like the Roman Tribunal would WANT it as opposed to seeing it destroyed or marginalized ... IF and when it becomes a thorn in the side of the Roman Tribunal... because it WILL... hehe...

My players idea (and the overall SAGA/campaign premise) is "ENDING VENICE" with the idea of our spring covenant forming from a collection of different magi brought about by the Council of the Theban Tribunal of 1207. The hope being, by th 1214 Theban Tribunal - to fully recognize this new start-up effort covenant as a full member of the Theban Tribunal. Support from the other Theban covenants given through "anonymous" efforts and gifts to the new covenant's goal (no one wants to publicly say they're against Venice/Rome, but anonymous help is welcomed).

Their GOAL or "mission statement" is to assert (or at least not let Venice take) a better control of Mercantile superiority in the regions... The various magi (PCs) coming from as far away as the Transylvanian Tribunal to help form this new plan, for whatever reason acting in their interest to not allow Venice to take control of things following the recent sacking of Constantinople.

any other questions?

Wow. Talk about interfering with mundanes.

Only if the tribunal say so.

And if you are in Thebes tribunal, acting against Venice, which is in Rome and has caused many damages in the Theban tribunal (Constantinople, Crete conquest, the fight between Venice, Genoa, their Egyptian ally...), why would you punish it from being "interference with mundane".

Interfering with the mundanes is a fine line. I don't think this covenant mission statement is any moreso than the entire Roman Tribunal...

Exactly my point (and the in-game thoughts of the Theban Tribunal).
The Roman Tribunal, or at least the region they influence and inhabit, has crossed the line in effecting/enhancing the mundane influence. Although the Roman Tribunal and individual magi or covenants can't be directly linked to the success of Venice's encroachments (as well as the notes on/against Constantinople, Crete's purchase, and the effects of the Crusaders), the Roman Tribunal cannot be "held responsible" directly.... but the Theban Tribunal, many individuals (magic and mundane alike), rulers, mercantile companies, and even covenants ... they ALL could hold some hate for the inhabitants of the Roman Tribunal. There's no way to "convict" or even "indite" the entire Roman Tribunal or even individuals because the "magic influence" whether direct magic or simple promise or intimidation OF magical power in the region MUST enhance the Roman region's ability of conquest through martial and mercantile means and methods!
With that in mind... Even though no one can directly indite anyone/thing in the Roman Tribunal... alot of people/factions probably hate it!! And secretly want it to fall. So, why not (anonymously) back a new covenant who's underlying (but not overt) mission statement is to counteract Venice's power plays of recent history. Founding the spring covenant on Crete (a Theban Tribunal region literally purchased and now being colonized aggressively by Venetians) with upstart magi willing to take a chance... It can't "hurt" to support it and hope a "beach-head" against the sly Roman power plays will work, but at the same time the new covenant's supporters staying almost unanimously anonymous as to not attract attention or ire from Roman tribunal or individuals/covenants. So... if they succeed, the supporters can be more open. If they fail, they're not endangered.

And whatever the magi of this new covenant do (i.e. the Player Characters!) can be whatever they want. If they break a law, they'll be punished. If they do so in a big way the Theban Tribunal can write them off as an idea not yet fully authorized (it was agreed as a "test" at the 1207 Theban Tibunal, to be finalized/voted on as a fully Covenant member of the Theban Tribunal at the 1214 tribunal meeting).
And the "defense" they can tell other Tribunals is that this little covenant hold NO MORE sway over mundane politics or economics than what the entire Roman Tribunal does with Venice and the Roman region - in regards to the rise of Merchants the sack of Constantinople and the entire Crusade actions.

It is true that what exactly is interfering with mundanes is a fine line, but this is not near that line. Whether this interference is justified or not given the circumstances is something for the Traditionalists and Transitionalist to argue about. That the goal of the covenant is interference with mundanes on a grand level should be indisputable.

The Rhine Tribunal had a clause in their tribunal about protecting the forest and the magical power there and the Bjornaer still were not able to interfere with the christian invasion of the island that held the headquarters of their house.

To be clear, I am not saying this would make a bad premise for a game. I am saying that if you are using the setting as written, this would be a defining aspect of this campaign.

Hey dwightemarsh (and everyone)!

Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate the comments, ideas and questions(ing) about OUR ideas for the campaign.
Ars Magica is mostly new to me, and I have a strong desire to want to "get it right"... I know I can do "anything", its our saga, etc... blah blah blah... But one of the things I LOVE to endeavor to do when being a StoryGuide is to use the ideas as the authors and dreamers of Ars intended the ideas to be used and taken. Once I KNOW the details of the hows and whats of the setting, the theme of the game, the politics of the Order mixed, compared to, contrasted with the real world history... once I get all that... then I can diverge as I like.

With that known.
I read your replies and get a little confused, maybe because I don't know the "intentions" or rules/laws as seen "in-character" to many/most of the Order, various politicking of Tribunals, and powerful individuals...

And WHAT interfering parts are you referring to? The notes of what my PC's direction would be for a spring covenant in Crete? The actions/intentions of the Theban Tribunal (or the supporters of this covenant foundation idea) as me and my players have devised for our saga? Or are you talking about the actions of Venice and the Roman Tribunal with their "taking" of mercantile power in the region (including Venice buying Crete recently, etc...)...
Which parts are you referring to?
And can you define a little more who and how they would bring disputes for these things?

I'm looking to grow my understanding of HOW the themes of the game/politics can, have been, and "should" be played... Then I can diverge.

Thank you!

Basically, the only one that can change tribunal borders is the Grand Tribunal. What the Roman tribunal wants is totally irrelevant unless they get the Grand Tribunal to aprove it.

So, you will be playing in the BIG arena, with the BIG guys. You are talking about getting the tribunals (read, the representatives of the Grand Tribuanl) to accepot such a change. Until then, the island bvelongs to Threbes. Tribunal border changes have happened before, though, so it is not impossible.

I would say that you might find a friend in the Tremere Praeco, since they are in favor of diminishing the importance of the Theban tribunal. However, it will be difficult. For one point the Thebans will fight you with tooth and nail, and the OoH is EXTREMELY conservative, so small mundane changes do not tend to curb their point of view on tribunal borders. Tribunal borders and realms do not match in 95% of the territory.

Inside the theban tribunal the pro-western covenants will suppoort you, but any of the more traditional covenants will fight back at you.

Sounds like a pretty smashing saga. :slight_smile: Lots of politics and high drama. Even pitched battles, since attacking covenant en masse can be done with massive delarations of Wizard Wars, after all, and certainloy low level warfare and LOTS of politics and diplomacy both to make your point advanvce and make your opponent's points fall back. even assassination and blackmail. Have fun with that!


If there hasn't been a covenant or claimed magical resource there until now, it may not be in a tribunal yet, formally. In that case, there are lots of lobbying and fun to be had until the next grand tribunal.

I would think that, if the Roman tribunal were to press a case that they were entitled to Crete because they were as close to the island as the Theban tribunal is, they'd come up very short. Looking at the map (a real-world map and the map of Mythic Europe), looks to me like Greece lies more or less between Crete and Italy/Sicily. That would be a"flimsy" argument doesn't hit it, I'm thinking more "far-fetched."

Now, if Crete was more or less "virgin territory," and had never had a covenant there before with no pre-existing Tribunal allegiance, then I could almost see a case where the Cretan covenant were being courted to join Thebes and, maybe, the Levant (with the Roman a very long shot), but since Crete is so much closer to Thebes, then Levant would have to make a pretty good case at Grand Tribunal.

I meant to respond earlier.

Since you are asking for what the baseline assumptions are for Mythic Europe are, before you start making choices about what variations you would make in your campaign, I will give you my understanding.

Ars Magica wants to use real history as background. Having magi openly interfering with mundane politics would rapidly cause Mythic Europe history to be different from actual history. So, it helps the setting if there is a rule against interfering with mundane. The usual in character explanation is it is a way to reduce conflict between magi. If Fortis wants Prince William to be king and Gaston wants Prince Henry to be king, and they can both use magic to support their choice, we got magus fighting magus and which wastes their time rather than having them study magic and making the Order stronger. Thus, it is considered better to have a general rule of “No interference with mundanes.”

Now, a complete ban on interaction with mundanes is unworkable. What good is playing in a historical period if you can’t interact with it? So, it sort of works like speeding in the US. Almost no one goes the posted speed limit on the freeway, but if you go too far over the speed limit, you can get pulled over if the police catch you. Usually, what gets you in trouble is going at a different speed than the other people around you. Just realize, bringing down Venice is sort of like driving a bright red Ferrari 180 miles per hour down the freeway. Some may sympathize and think you are cool for doing so and understand why you wanted to do it, but no one is going to believe you didn't know better.