Saga Decision: What are the defining traits of each Tribunal

Hey there, Forum Friends -

I've been looking at the different Tribunals and how they have different feels. I know I have developed my own opinions, but I want to know what other people think, because I want a better scope:

What do you think are the defining traits of each of the Tribunals, in this edition?

Stonehenge has the two big political forces and a history involving the Schism War and Ex Misc foundation.
Thebes has the Hermetic Polity and the fallout of the 4th Crusade...
Transylvania is all Tremere and things Tremere are dealing with :stuck_out_tongue:

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Rhine: political parties, gerontocracy, 3 Domus magna, encroaching of mundane on the other realms.

Transylvania is also about how other Houses are treated as second class citizens unless they're useful.
Thebes is an interesting case for its treatment of apprentices, tokens and shards, covenant with a purpose and a magical patrons.
Provence feels like hermetic political anarchy with mystery cults everywhere in the middle of a crusade.

Clearly I need to do more reading for Provence.

Ah yeah, it's a mess. It start with two covenants claiming to be the Domus Magna for House Flambeau, another in the middle of a civil war with itself, half the tribunal threatenining to secede, dead chief quaesitores and more.

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Provence seems to be the place for playing independent covenants and magi with little need to interfere with other magi, while still living in the midst of archetypical feudalism. Admittedly, my impression is based more on the history of editions than on current canon. Anyway, this sets it apart both from the fringe tribunals (Hibernia, Novgorod, Levant, and Loch Leglean) where the mundane society is very different, and the heavily politicised tribunals (Rhine, Rome, Thebes, and Normandy).

I suspect Iberia would be similar, but nobody knows what it would look like when rewritten without WW Demons.

The Stonehenge Tribunal, as depicted in Heirs of Merlin, seem a lot like this with maybe a little more covenant interactions. A land well written about and somewhat familiar to a US crowd. A fairly recent resurgence in tribunal politics after several decades of inquorate or Blackthorn dominated meetings, with many disputes potentially still reverting back to certamen or Wizard's War. A Domus Magna that barely counts as one. Mundane politics that could pull covenants into disputes with 4 or 5 different Tribunals.

Those amongst us who know Spanish will, annnnnnnnyyyyyyyyy day now...


Some of the others have already been covered, but regarding Hibernia and the neighbouring Loch Leglean the defining feature is cultural conflict - isolation and existing magical traiditions led to the hermetic culture diverging from the hermetic "mainstream" for centuries, and now there are basically two distinct magical cultures struggling to impose their norms on each other.

A sort of magical reflection of the ethno-cultural conflicts between Gaels and Anglo-Normans (and other continental arrivals) in this period, and the less violent but no less heated struggle between monastic centred insular Christianity and the continental Roman Church.

This is mostly true of Hibernia but IMO it can easily be extended into Loch Leglean, which is also part of the gaelic world in this period. It's reasonably compatible with the older edition Loch Leglean material too. Except in Loch Leglean the dominant traditional group are the Gruagachan, who are only semi-integrated into the order.

Then Stonehenge acts as a contrasting "normal" (continental style) tribunal, giving you an interesting trifecta. A shared element in all three is also the dichotomy of being where a lot of the Deidne used to be concentrated, but also containing some of the most anti-Deidne groups in the order (The Gruagachan, that mage-killer Flambeau covenant in Hibernia).

Slightly beside the point, but I think it is kind of an aberration that Loch Leglean and Hibernia are separate tribunals: as ever I will bemoan the excessive focus on the British isles compared to the rest of Hermetic Europe (particularly everything east of the Oder and north of the Carpathians).


My read of Provence is rather than Anarchy, you have a very sinister plot in the making. I started running a game, and am convinced it is fantastic for a Medevial-Noir campaign full of mysteries, intrigue and vast conspiracies.

On an armored black horse, The Blue Knight stares at your party as they enter the town of Carcasonne. Unmoving, simply letting the rain fall...

My first crusade campaign opened up what the Levant could be to me: An advanced, wealthy land full of ancient secrets and conspiracies, mixed with a full on warzone.

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Slightly beside the point, but I think it is kind of an aberration that Loch Leglean and Hibernia are separate tribunals

I 100% agree, and my personal take on them in my 5e games is that when (if) the conflict in Hibernia escalates Hibernia and Loch Leglean become a single tribunal in all but name.

You can, and I do, read the canon Loch Leglean materials as showing a tribunal that's on the brink of social order breaking down anyway. Isolationist covenants, the whole mess with the Gruagachan having only one foot in the order, and the only named quaesitor blantantly ignoring the crimes being commited regularly by her own covenant.

You could also fill in some of the blanks and add in covenants and authorities to balance that out, the book isn't exhaustive. But I quite like the idea of Loch Leglean collapsing and becoming another front in the Hibernian conflict as Hibernia and Stonehenge both try to "restore order".


Not really, I sadly do not have access to the book :frowning:

I did, and I am still not sure what to make of it. Somehow it feels like Novgorod in a much smaller sandbox.

I am sure it would look very different if rewritten in the quality standard known from 5ed.

Firstly LL seems to be too large. Southern Scotland was Christened by the Romans and later came under Northumbrian rule. Logically it should be part of Stonehenge, but 4ed maps place it in LL.

The Gaelic territories in the West would logically fall under Hibernia indeed, but what should we make of Pictland? The question is not really what Scotland looked like in 13C but what it looked like when the tribunal split in 9C. What did the Order of Hermes look like in Pictland in 9C? And how did they respond to Norse raids in 10C? Was there a Hermetic presence outside the Gaelic and Saxon/Romano-British spheres of influence?

In 13C the situation changes again with continental immigrants contributing to the shaping the modern Scotland.

TBH I think you need a lot of research or a brand new supplement to make LL worth playing for a saga. All the 3½ed supplement supports is limited and rather kitsch storylines.

Merging LL with Hibernia is an oversimplification, but splitting it between Hibernia and Stonehenge would make a lot of sense. Especially if the Northeast is had no Hermetic presence to speak of before the end of 9C.

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I would also add that Wales was independent from what would become England and should really be part of the Celtic/Gaelic tribunal rather than the Anglo-Norman one.

I go back to my longstanding opinion:
the British isles should either be a single Tribunal with the Celtic "traditionalists" at the throat of the more Continental mages or split in two with Ireland, Wales, the Scottish Highlands and Isles (and possibly Cornwall) lumped in one and the Anglo-Norman English plus Lowlands Scots Tribunal as another (possibly part of the Norman Tribunal, and ready to tear itself apart a la Lothringen plot. I would also move Brittany to the Celtic tribunal in that case, to cut down the size of the Normandy Tribunal).

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I don't see those as mutually exclusive. Hibernia itself is split between Hibernians and "English" (really any continental magi but many from Stonehenge).

A merged Hibernian/Loch Leglean tribunal would likewise be de facto split with Stonehenge imo

But I would argue that LL as a whole is more inclined towards the Hibernian code than the continental one. With so many semi-hermetic hedge wizards it seems to me that the Hibernian "we are willing to make and keep treaties with non-hermetic groups" is going to look much more inviting than the old "join or die".

The way I play it in sagas is that Hibernia+most of Loch Leglean is just about an even fight against Stonehenge+continental arrivals and loyalists (in Hibernia and LL).

Sure, but that split did not exist when the tribunal formed in 9C, and is thus irrelevant to historic formation.

Let me be clear that I thought we were discussing game world design, i.e. how the tribunals should form on the Hermetic timeline. If we discuss a subsequent merger in 13C, the question is of course very different.

Sure, and if the grand tribunal of 1228 decreed that there is one tribunal too many; now LL is disbanded and have to reform with Hibernia and Stonehenge, that would be the right consideration to make.

My point was that for LL to form in 9C, there would have to be a critical mass of covenants outside the Saxon and Gaelic spheres, at that time. Maybe there was, maybe there wasn't. A narrative can be designed to make the three tribunals as written plausible, but it takes some assumptions of Hermetic demography in the 9C. Looking at the map of 1220 does not tell us much.

One interesting aspect of LL is that there are only three canon covenants. Many more exist, but they are generally short-lived. This suggests that LL is only barely sustainable, easily failing to reach quorum if there is a dip in the number of short-lived covenants. Is that the saga theme? Fighting for survival? Was there more covenants in 9C, making the tribunal less dubious at that time?

That sounds like a drawing board design. The language groups are well-defined, and make easy tribunal borders. However, I very much doubt that 9C magi sat down to draw borders on a map as an intellectual exercise. I am sure, instead, that there were strong factions fighting to establish respective tribunal to represent their culture, whatever that was. Were the cultural links between p-celtic and q-celtic areas so strong in the 9C? Wales had been under Roman rule, and Welsh had split from Gallic eons earlier. Even if the Saxons never invaded, the East-wards links may well have stronger.

Your idea is very interesting though. A pan-Celtic tribunal would create maritime theme. Inter-covenant relations would require sea travel on a regular basis, and stories should reflect this. I have no idea if that would be historically plausible, but it would be a setting I would love to play. It takes quite some work though, to make enough details to make the setting easy to play.

The most important point, though, is that shifting tribunal borders is not a quick fix. It takes effort to make the new tribunals playable.

Can we blame the Diedne? The British Isles (and Northern France) were their strongholds, and they were the largest House and recruited aggressively early on (albeit not very successfully in Ireland). Combine that with Pralix's recruitment of an Ex-Misc army, and perhaps the British Isles had a fairly high Hermetic population after the war against Damhan-Allaidh, which would have meant it made more sense to have multiple tribunals than it otherwise would have done. The different Diedne-local relations in the different areas (I think successfully recruited in Stonehenge, although I can't remember anything explicit on that, rejected and ended up wiping out local druids in Ireland, enduring if rather one-sided enmity with the Gruagachan in Loch Leagan) may also have fed into the desire to have the split.

Anyone with more access to books right now know the history of the Tribunal splits?


Originally there was a Britannian Tribunal, created in 865, covering what is now the Stonehenge, Loch Legan and Hibernian tribunals, as well as Brittany from what is now the Normandy Tribunal
The Hibernian magi were not at all pleased with the Peripheral Code of this tribunal however, so they broke off soon after and created their own tribunal with their own rules.
Brittany was moved to the Normandy Tribunal after the Schism War.

(See Guardians of the Forest p16, The Lion & The Lily p 14-16, and The Contested Isle p12)


How would the argument go?

It seems that the canon tribunals are about even sized in number of covenants and of magi. The island of Great Brittain, with its two tribunals, is about a third of the size of France, with its two. With even-sized tribunals, Great Brittain is already three times more densely populated than France (Hermetically). If this was due to Diedne, one would have thought that they had been decimated in the Schism war, but Hibernia and Stonehenge are still very populous in 4/5ed.

I suppose Diedne could explain the peculiar situation of Loch Leglean though. Maybe Loch Leglean thrived with Hermetic activity, dominated by Diedne in the tenth century, and it is exactly the Schism War that has left it with three stable covenants, struggling to reach quorum.