Selection of, and the Powers of a Tribunal's Praeco?

So the choice of Praeco is coming up in my game. This is a 1st Crusade game in the nascent tribunal of the Levant, which will be held in 1102, current year 1099. I'm just going over all the formal powers a Praeco is "supposed to have," and want to make sure I'm not missing anything. Are there references in other books that I should be aware of?

One interesting wrinkle is the definition of "oldest" - does time in a regio count, or not? (i.e. Does a Maga from the year 800 in 1200 who is technically 400 calendar years old, but subjectively only 100 because the regio moves at 1/4 of the speed of normal time, count as the "oldest"?) The Rhine Tribunal book does talk about records needed to indicate proof of a Magus's age.

General Powers:

  • The Tribunal is chaired by the Praeco, the oldest magus present, and while he also cannot vote, except to break ties, he does have the power to choose the order of business and, in extreme circumstances, silence a magus or eject him from the Tribunal. If the ejections render the Tribunal inquorate, or deprive it of a presiding Quaesitor, the Tribunal ceases to be valid. At the end of the Tribunal, the presiding Quaesitor must certify it as valid, and this is the main check on the Praeco abusing his power.
    -Core Rule book, page 14

  • The powers of the Praeco and the Presiding Quaesitor were defined by the rulings of the
    First Tribunal; thus they are held as unalterable by traditionalists.
    -True Lineages pg 56

  • [sic] Like other Praecos at other Tribunals, the Primus has the power to set the event’s agenda and silence, even eject magi.
    -True Lineages pg 56

On prosecuting a case:

  • The prosecuting principle must make reasonable effort to inform the defendant, the Presiding Quaesitor and the Praeco, what charges are to be brought, including a detailed list of the allegations. This should be done no later than three months prior to the Tribunal
    -True Lineages pg 56

On Public Hearings:

  • Once there are no more questions or discussion, the Praeco summarizes the case as he sees it and Tribunal votes. A simple majority decides, with the Praeco breaking any ties
    -True Lineages pg 58

On Convictions for High Crimes:

  • If there is a conviction for a high crime, the prosecution can call for a Wizard’s March. The convicted magican make an appeal for mercy, after which there is a general debate on the proposition. After the Praeco feels there has been sufficient discussion he calls for a vote. A simple majority decides, with a tie defeating the motion.
    -True Lineages pg 58

Order of Cases Heard:

  • Counter-Case Example
  • Two magi are in dispute about the ownership of a vis source. Both have harvested from the site. Each charges the other with deprivation of magical property. The Praeco decides whose case is heard first.
    -True Lineages pg 59

Fines & Treasury:

  • Tribunal coffers are kept by the Praeco and accounted for by the senior Mercere.
    -True Lineages pg 59

  • Because Redcaps so often deal in vis and are essentially Hermetic bankers, a Mercer House also controls its Tribunal’s treasury. The Redcaps reimburse all Tribunal expenses that are claimed by the Praeco, his staff, the Quaesitores, and prosecuting magi, and for this reason they also collect and keep the Tribunal’s share of fines assigned at Tribunal. This vis is kept separate from their House funds, and while Merceres borrowing out of this treasury instead of their own is not entirely unheard of, they usually refrain from this sort of creative accounting to avoid being caught with an empty vault during an emergency.
    -True Lineages pg 88

Wizard's March:

  • Traditionally a Tribunal’s grounds are considered sacred, and violence of any sort is strictly forbidden. Some Tribunals cast an Aegis over the grounds with only the Quaesitors, Praeco and Hoplites joining the ritual.
    -True Lineages pg 60

On the Validity of a Tribunal:

  • At the end of the Tribunal the Presiding Quaesitor recalls any magi expelled by the Praeco. He then makes a speech giving his opinion on the Tribunal. He then calls for a vote to validate the Tribunal, which requires a two-thirds majority. If the Tribunal is generally run in an improper manner, for instance, if the Praeco blatantly acts in a partisan manner, manipulating the agenda and unjustly silencing magi, the Tribunal may not be ruled valid. If not validated, all the rulings of the Tribunal are void.

On invitations to the Tribunal

  • House Mercere’s only official obligation to Tribunal is the charge to distribute invitations before the gathering, usually about a year in advance. The Praeco decides when and where the meeting will take place, and the Redcaps must do their best to ensure that all magi in the region receive this information with enough time to make arrangements to attend. At the event, the senior Redcap must ceremonially swear to the Praeco and Presiding Quaesitor that this duty was properly carried out before Tribunal can begin.
    -True Lineages pg 82-83

On the selection of Praeco's

[Re: The Primus of House Bonisagus as the Praeco] In particular, the covenant of Fengheld, over the last few Tribunal meetings, has been sounding out opinions regarding the fairness of this convention, suggesting that the Rhine Tribunal should reform to match the system used by the rest of the Order. The more cynical magi suggest the reason for this is that Eule of Fengheld is an excellent candidate for the Praeco, as she is likely to be the oldest maga in the Rhine. However, there are two other candidates — Caecilius of Durenmar and Shadrith of Dankmar — who may well be older, although the records are in doubt. Fengheld is likely to propose, at the next Tribunal, an investigation into the Rhine’s oldest magus, as a first move to break Durenmar’s stranglehold

On Regio's affecting Age regarding "oldest":

  • The Tytalus magus Severin was trapped in Arcadia during a war. (Select a conflict that suits the plot and theme of your saga.) Severin has recently escaped to the real world. Subjectively, he has been in Arcadia for eight months (though much longer has passed in the mortal realm)... Severin is the oldest magus in the Tribunal ...He has the right to act as Praeco. A new and friendly Praeco is valuable in sagas with political stories. - Tales of Mythic Europe Page 53

Tribunal Specific Variations:

Greater Alps

The Motherhouse of the Covenant of the Icy North is now all-but a Guernicus house covenant. Four Quaesitors live here, supported by two hoplites. Their main interest is management of the Bavarian Common, but they also perform their usual functions. Most of the Alpine covenants value their privacy, and, with the exceptionof Sinews of Knowledge, all of them request that the Tribunal be held here, in lieu of thePraeco’s residence.

The Tribunal’s traditions have adapted to the possibility that an office-bearer might suffer ostracism. If the Praeco is ostracized, the Tribunal begins anew, under the next eldest magus. No new ostracism vote is taken, and the old Praeco cannot speak or vote at the tribunal. (Sanctuary of Ice, page 12)

Hibernian Tribunal

Dress Code:

  • Apprentices wear plain cloaks of a single color, those in their macgnĂ­martha are permitted a cloak of three colors, magi wear five, and the praeco wears seven. Those magi deemed heads of their covenants wear six colors.

Recognition of a Covenant:

  • Once a covenant has defended its cathach, its land, and its cattle for a year, the covenant petitions the praeco for recognition and to have its name and lands recorded at the Mercer House of Leth Moga. - Contested Isle Page 29.
    The Praeco approves a cathach. - Contested Isle Page 59.


  • ...Each gathering is held at Cnoc na Teamhrach, the Hill of Tara in Meath, home to the magical Lia Fáil or Stone of Destiny... ...The Praeco and Presiding Quaesitor are expected to attend along with other invited magi. - Contested Isle Page 32.


  • Milvia is the praeco of the Hibernia Tribunal. While not the eldest Hibernian magus, the senior magus Conán Derg has abdicated the position.

Consulting the Dead at the Tribunal's Cemetary:

  • Those wishing to consult the dead petition the covenant, which then consults with the ambassador who speaks for that spirit’s power, or the praeco in the case of a magus.

Levant Tribunal

Selection & Location:
Currently tribunal meetings are held at Domus Pacis, as Tau of Flambeau is the effective Praeco. While he is not actually the oldest member of the tribunal, in 1207 the quaesitores were forced to rule that he should be considered such, as Fade and Wraith of Urbs Rubra had not been seen for years, despite repeated attempts to contact them.

Normandy Tribunal

Tribunal Meetings

  • In the period following the Schism War, the tradition has developed of randomly choosing a covenant by the drawing of lots to host the next Tribunal meeting rather than it being at the Praeco’s home.

Provencal Tribunal


  • If immigrants establish a covenant between Tribunals, the magi must either register with both the Redcaps and Praeco or with their closest neighbor; if they want to register with a neighbor, a Redcap leads them if they do not know the closest neighbor’s site.

Rhine Tribunal

  • In the Order’s early days, when there was only one Tribunal, Bonisagus himself acted as the Praeco. He was simultaneously the oldest magus present, and also the primus inter pares of the Order. However, he was but one person, and when the Order became of sufficient size and geographic spread to warrant multiple Tribunal meetings, the other Tribunals followed the pattern of the First Tribunal, reasoning that the oldest magus in the region will have the most wisdom, and be best suited to be Praeco.
    However, upon the passing (retirement) of Bonisagus, the Rhine Tribunal took a different tack. They saw Bonisagus’ successor as the most worthy leader of the Tribunal, and so when Notatus (the first Hermetic apprentice of Bonisagus) was chosen as the Primus of House Bonisagus, he also became the Praeco of the RhineTribunal. Due to the preponderance of followers of Bonisagus in the Rhine Tribunal in the early decades of the Order, this tradition has continued. The Praeco of the Rhine Tribunal is therefore not its oldest magus, as with the other twelve Tribunals, but instead is always the Primus of House Bonisagus, who who wields Bonisagus’s voting sigil by proxy.

Thebes Tribunal

The Archon

  • As a council, the archai elect one of their members — through a simple casting of votes — to be the archon of the Tribunal. This position is exactly equivalent to the Praeco of other Tribunals, except that the archon is rarely the oldest magus of the Tribunal. A magus can serve as archon more than once. As well as his Praeconic duties, the archon is the chairman of the Council of Magistrates, and it is his duty to settle disputes between its members and oversee the conduct of the archai during his tenure. He is expected to report back to the Tribunal any mismanagement or wrongdoing by the members of the Council.

Transylvanian Tribunal

  • The Praeco is the theoretical leader of the Tribunal, although the Prima of Tremere actually makes policy for Transylvania’s governance. Praecohood in Transylvania is not earned by age; it is assigned by a democratic vote. This allows the magi of Tremere pick whoever they like. The Praeco of Transylvania is a servant of House Tremere, but still has far wider authority than his equivalents in other Tribunals. A magus does not become Praeco in Transylvania without the approval of the Prima of Tremere, and does not stay Praeco if he angers her. The current Praeco is Archmagus Albertus of Lycaneon. (Against the Dark, pg 14)

  • The Transylvanian Praeco is an experiment in ceding power from the House to the wider population of the Tribunal, but t’s a very careful experiment, done in slow and reversible stages. House Tremere’s leaders hope that, eventually, enough magi will think as House Tremere does that it will be possible to invest the Praeco with real power. Much as the Romans eventually offered citizenship to the urban classes of the entire empire, so, one day, the Order’s Praecones will be worthy of respect and empowerment. (Against the Dark, pg 15)

Public Financier

  • The Praeco collects and distribute taxes for a range of projects that the Tribunal has approved. The projects assigned to the Praeco by the Tribunal vary after each meeting, and so the taxes she is permitted to levy are also adjusted. Civitates, socii, coloniae and some foederati are required to give reasonable aid to the Praeco’s projects. At minimum, a large vis source has been set aside for the use of Praeco. This income was originally intended to provide for the maintenance of the wards of the Tribunal site, but the Quaesitores now fulfill this duty. (Against the Dark, pg 19)


  • The Praeco also collects the stipends given to the Redcaps and Quaesitores, and distributes them. The resources used to provide stipends are described in the Peripheral Code. Collections are made under the auspices of the Praeco, and Redcaps under her direction make the deliveries. (Against the Dark, pg 19)
  • The oppida of the Tribunal are expected to help the Praeco to collect stipends
    on behalf of the Quaesitores and Redcaps. (Against the Dark, pg 19)

Promissory Notes

  • The Praeco’s current method of funding her activities, through reserved vis sources and specific taxes, sits alongside an older system that is still used for diplomacy and trade. Before the Praeco was granted taxing powers, she funded her projects from reserved vis sources, but was permitted to take loans against that income, issuing letters promising payment. Promissory notes are still issued, and some ancient notes are still traded, having never been redeemed, because they act as a high-value currency.


  • In Transylvania, the Praeco, as representative of the Tribunal, enters a written agreement with each resident magus, which grants him his place in Transylvanian society. Each agreement must be witnessed by a Quaesitor, and they are formally entered into the Peripheral Code at Tribunal meetings. (Against the Dark, pg 15)
  • The Praeco is also willing to reach private agreements with magi, to prevent cases reaching judgment. (Against the Dark, pg 18)

Privileges of Citizenship in the Tribunal

  • Stand for any office in the Tribunal, including Praeco. (Against the Dark, pg 16)

Privileges of Socii in the Tribunal

  • Stand for any office in the Tribunal, except Praeco
  • If numerically dominant in an oppidum, select a list of at least three worthy candidates for aedile, from which the Praeco must choose. If there are fewer than three possible candidates, the Praeco may select whomever he likes.
  • Avoid doing things which would make the average magus believe a declaration of Wizard’s War against them is reasonable, as determined by the Praeco. (Against the Dark, pg 16)

Privileges of Foederati

  • Foederati are usually required to seek permission before ceasing whatever duties are written into their covenant. That is, the Tribunal usually accepts foederati on the basis they have something to offer; this is detailed precisely in the covenant. These duties can only be changed with the permission of both the Tribunal (as represented by the Praeco) and the signatory magus; they cannot be changed simply by vote of Tribunal. (Against the Dark, pg 18)

Leader of the Tribunal's Hoplites:

  • The hospites elect their own leader, subject to the approval of the Praeco, every seven years. (Against the Dark, pg 16)

Negotiations with Outsiders

  • The Tribunal’s representatives, often appointed by the Praeco, act as diplomats on behalf of the inhabitants of the Tribunal. (Against the Dark, pg 21)


  • Many oppida are forbidden to enter treaties with foreign covenants or Tribunals. Various commercial engagements can be developed with foreign covenants, but they must either be read into the Peripheral Code, or approved by the Praeco and witnessed by a Quaesitor. (Against the Dark, pg 21)


  • Magi may not import Gifted children into the Tribunal, or invite magi as settlers. They may, however, request that the Praeco invite a particular magus to settle, and may request a particular Gifted child be bought into the Tribunal. This allows the Tremere to limit the population of the Tribunal. (Against the Dark, pg 21)

Vis & Magic Item Sales

  • Most Transylvanian magi are forbidden to sell vis or magic items to outsiders. The exceptions are the Praeco, the Primus of Tremere, the socii, and their delegates. ... This system allows the representatives of the Praeco to act as alternative buyers on any items which are considered of interest to the Tribunal. (Against the Dark, pg 21)


Second, the oldest maga in the tribunal is not the praeco. Immanola, the prima of Ex Miscellanea, was blocked from the position by Blackthorn some years ago, on the grounds that she would be unduly biased towards her own house. Since then, the praeco has been Talion of Blackthorn, and the tribunals havebeen held at that covenant.

The first event of any tribunal is a highly formal introduction of all the magi. The praeco calls each magus forward, and he then gives his full Hermetic name and covenant affiliation, and affirms that he has at least one sigil, with which he intends to vote at the tribunal.

Order of Discussion:

  • Although the praeco still has full discretion as to the order of business, a strong convention has grown up that matters dealing with relations between the Order and outside bodies are dealt with first, and matters dealing with relations within the Order second. After issues concerning external relations are dealt with, apprentices are admitted as magi, and the tribunal is formally closed. The youngest magus present then protests that there are matters between the sodales to be resolved, and asks for a new tribunal.

  • The praeco then convenes one on the spot, without going through the formal rigmarole of introductions, and business continues. One important effect of this is that, legally, there are two tribunals at every meeting, and it is possible to challenge one without challenging the other tribunal.

Redcaps & Voting

  • All the Redcaps and quaesitores of the tribunal are expected to attend the meetings. The quaesitores do not, officially, vote. However, it is customary for each quaesitor, including the presiding quaesitor, to instruct one of the unGifted Redcaps to vote a certain way on each issue. Technically, these “magi” vote with their own sigils, but everyone knows what is really going on. On occasion, the praeco has made use of the same device to get a vote, but this is less well accepted by the rest of the tribunal.

Before these questions can really be answered I think it is important to know what Tribunal this actually takes place in as a bunch of Tribunals have quite different rules around that or a similar position. Some examples of variance in Praeco selection, not to mention the differences in rights, powers, and responsibilities of the Praeco in that tribunal:

  • In the Rhine the Praeco is always the Bonisagus Primus.
  • Thebes has no Praeco, they have an Archon elected from among the Arche who are chosen by lottery of those magi willing to serve for 7year terms and who can serve only 1 consecutive 7 year period.

I think that, yes, this 400 year old maga would serve based on “standard” rulings. The Provencal Tribunal, sort of the most standard of the 5th ed. Tribunals, has something quite similar to this situation though the oldest, Dama, has spent quite a long time in Twilight rather than a regio.


Of course, this is for the foundational Levant Tribunal of 1102. So there is no peripheral code yet, and it remains to be written. This is why I'm trying to asses the Grand Tribunal standards.

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Sounds good.

A side note: Being aware of the non-standard options may be important too because maybe some folks come from those and either liked those rules in their previous tribunal and might push to write peripheral code similar to that or they may dislike that rule of their home tribunal and wish to make sure that’s not the case in this new one. Might be an easy way to add some more variety and argument in the discussions which, I assume, you are doing in character.

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Depending on which ruling of the effects AotH have on things like LR you saga uses, this could be a no go.

Oldest can be from birth or from the date they swore the Oath and officially joined the Order. This can make a difference and which is used should be decided if the "oldest" method is used for selecting the Praeco.

Tribunal specific rules and rulings should be based off of the culture of that Tribunal. So if there are any cultural oddities which are forming within your Levant Tribunal then they should play into the rules of it. If you have not already, starting a list of how things are handled that is different from the norm will become important later. This includes things like expected interactions (visiting Magi to other Covenants, encounters out and about), defining Covenant controlled land, Vis sites & collection (how to claim/mark as claimed), conflict resolution, apprentices, etc.

Any and all of these will eventually become part of the peripheral code. Even in the established Tribunals the code can shift over time. My saga is in the year 1347 now and Provencal does not work quite the way it does in the source books anymore.

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This is a very helpful summary of the Praeco’s powers, thank you for that.

Honestly, the rule that the Praeco is always the oldest magus in the tribunal seems to be honored more in the breach than the observance. Rhine and Thebes have already been noted. In Hibernia, as I recall, the oldest magus gave up the job, and the Normandy tribunal clearly states Celeres of Bonisagus—who is about 150 years old—should be Praeco but the Presiding Quaesitor is maneuvering for other candidates.

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I think you have two options. Either you copy one of the most developed peripheral codes, typically from Rhine or Rome I think, or you take the Wild West approach of Novgorod. As far as I know, there are no Grand Tribunal standard, at least not any which would not require extensive interpretation. What there is are basic principles from the first tribunal, but they say so little that most things will be up to diplomacy at future tribunals.

There are plenty of examples where the præco is not the oldest magus of the tribunal. I can see a chronologically old magus who feels immature because of slow regione or twilight experiences declines and asks that a more mature magus takes their place. I cannot OTOH quite imagine a tribunal rejecting such a magus; how would they know about the time inconsistency?


I sort of assume the Praecoship is a matter decided when the Tribunal convenes, at least where seniority based. The Praeco is the eldest mage present. If the eldest mage does not attend, possibly due to illness, extreme frailty, sudden apparent Twilight, or whatever, the succession rule is fairly straightforward.

I makes this a point of order, actually one of the first points of order: "I am DAMA of Merinita, the eldest mage of this Tribunal! Who here disputes my place?"

It's possible someone would. In which case, certamen, if it's that important to them both.

Also, I think it is not a Praeco-From-Home virtual position. You have to physically be there.

Your mileage may vary.


In canon, præco is described as a permanent position. Depending on the tribunal, they may have more or less duties between the tribunals. They receive and select agenda items before the tribunal for instance; according to OP.

So while there may be a need to select an acting præco when the tribunal convenes, there is a regular præco between meetings.


In a properly functioning Tribunal, the praecoship is probably a stable and ongoing position. Aging, Twilight, dementia, willingness to serve, Faerie interaction, natural and supernatural events, politics, crimes, and Code holes may interfere. Much like real world historical and modern political structures.

It's possible that some subjectively middle-aged mage (Alfred) might wander out of Faerie, physically 55, experientially 105, but chronologically 300. He remembers the current elderly and feeble Praeco (Balthazer) as an apprentice, and the Praeco remembers him. Who gets the seat? The current Praeco wants to step aside, but does not want the second eldest mage (Charles Tertius) to be seated. Alfred doesn't feel it right to be seated, Charles Tertius wants it, and Balthazer does not. Balthazer dies suddenly. The quaesitors suspect CT may have arranged the death. Tribunal is in two seasons. Now what?


Politics of course. Like always.


Politics? What are you talking about? This sounds like a job for the fresh from gauntlet PC Quaesitor.


Signed: every game designer out there.


I think you mean "A job for the fresh from gauntlet PC Quaesitor, who has to navigate the politics of the situation"


But Quaesitor is an apolitical position, right? That's what the naive Quaesitor was taught.


It's not massively definitive, but the Fall and Rise scenario in Tales of Mythic Europe (pg 53) has a magus escape after spending a long time in a regio, and one of the reasons the characters might care is given as:

"Severin is the oldest magus in the Tribunal ...
He has the right to act as Praeco. A new and friendly Praeco is valuable in sagas with political stories."

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Thank you for the tip! I have added this and several additions from the other Tribunal books. A small project of mine is to update all the different Tribunal variations to this, so later people can find this link and use it.


So I have updated all of the 4e and 5e Tribunal variations for the Praeco. A bit interesting to see the variation or lack thereof per tribunal. If anyone comes across another piece of information from another book, please let me know and I'll add it.