Silver Consensus & Grand Tribunal

Are we talking about real Europe, or Mythic Europe? In (ArM4) Mythic Europe, there was a lot of inflation in England and Wales around 1200, caused by magi creating piles of silver. In real Europe, there may or may not have been such inflation, but if it did happen, it certainly wasn't caused by magi creating piles of silver.

When I wrote Heirs to Merlin in 1998, the historical texts I used as sources all agreed about the inflation, if they mentioned it at all (it wasn't relevant to all of them). The 2003 article was five years in the future. As a general rule, I don't expect authors for the line to be aware of historical debates that are only available in journal articles, and I give them a lot of leeway to ignore historical debates that have not yet been published when they are writing. Mythic Europe is not real Europe, and while we define it based on careful research into the current historical consensus at the time of writing, it is then defined and stays the same, even if the historical consensus changes. At least until there is a new edition that resets the background.

1 Like

Given that Mythic Europe needs to rewrite some history anyways I have no issue with this- it is the conclusions that have apparently been lept to that are somewhat incredulous. The idea that mages made a lot of silver, prices rose and furthermore nobility took notice so they put a limit on the amount of silver that could be made is fine. The idea that they suddenly had innate knowledge of modern economic theory is 'huh?'
You can realize something is a bad idea without having to know in detail why.

It's a good job we don't say that, then.

The TME version of the Silver Concensus (as presented here, since I do not yet own that book), certainly implies a foundation in modern economic theory. However I certainly would assume it is not implicitly stated.
Geesh, if hermetic Magi start debating Keynsian counter-cyclical economic policy, I think a subset will be tempted to unleash unspeakable horrors just to put an end to it.

I think they know elements of it...the paradox of thrift, for example.

The 'Harvey inflation' is no longer referenced in Julia Crick, Elisabeth van Houts - A Social History of England 900-1200 - Cambridge University Press 2011, ISBN 978-0-521-71323-8 (see ... ?format=HB ).
Reading this book online is possible via ... er&f=false .

You find there:

So no inflation then.

Of course (see also ) this was not the state of the art in 1999, when Heirs to Merlin was written. So Heirs to Merlin reacts to 'Harvey inflation' - or its discussion - by having Stonehenge magi cause their own inflation. This shows the research that goes into the ArM books.
Also (see ) Stonehenge covenants were indeed liable to 'political spending' at the very end of the 12th century, which - if excessive - could well have caused an inflation.


I certainly was led to talk about real Europe around 1200 here.

I am quite aware of this: see .


Wouldn't a Tribunal suit about 'interfering with mundanes' have caught most of the contending Stonehenge covenants red-handed, ruining the reputation of the entire Tribunal?

Far better to blame excessive spending for an observable effect detrimental to all magi, curb that, and then proclaim to have decisively responded to a new kind of problem!


I've generally assumed that the source of the Order's knowledge/understanding of inflation was a combination of two elements:

  1. Knowledge of prices and their behaviour in the Roman Empire (which most certainly did have inflation, though perhaps not the knowledge of how it works.
  2. Widespread ability to read and do simple maths within strong, inquiring minds, used to probing arcane and complicated matters.
  1. House Mercere being good at this. Not the magicians, necessarily, but these guys have been doing international commodity-based trade and banking for centuries now.

The part that has me concerned is on page 124:

This is what I was referring to. A magus cannot use magic on any object, item, parcel of property, etc., and then profit from anything garnered from said. And while the Silver Consensus is, as stated on page 123, entirely optional and may or may not be used in a given saga, using it seems to really hamper a Covenant and how it is able to generate wealth. Not necessarily Summer, and definitely not August, but new Covenants are going to be hosed if this is in play in a given saga.

Now, who is to say that the mundanes will notice - or that the rest of the Order will even care - if a magus decides to use a PeHe spontaneous spell to clear the weeds out of a field so that it can be planted? I actually expect a magus to set the baseline for the field, and then the coven-folk would do the rest (till, plant, harvest). But the SC is extremely limiting in this regard. Or I am reading that wrong?

It's incredibly limiting, to the point that no reasonable tribunal would enforce it. Or even endorse the notion in the first place. Seriously, what magus is going to vote for this? "Oh, I used magic to find the silver mine, so we cannot exploit it for mundane gain" "Oh, I used Clear Sight of the Naiad to locate a school of fish, we cannot sell these fish at market." "Oh, my ship is enchanted to have favorable winds, so I cannot sell my trade goods." These are the exact things magi SHOULD be doing to enrich their covenant.

It's a bad extension of a legal argument against the outright creation of wealth, and would incidentally entirely prevent Verditus magi from selling magical items to mundanes, as magic is being used to create a product for sale.

The Silver Consensus analyzed on TME p.123f still allows each magus to derive two pounds silver of income each year from such sources - enough to maintain a decent life and an average lab without any thoughts of better fitting his covenant into mundane economy. And it does not prevent him from optimizing covenant life with magic.

It is presented as a decisive, even harsh, reaction of the Order to the umpteenth 'get rich quick by magic and by meddling with mundanes' scheme, of which there exist galore (see TME p.116ff for some examples).
The existence of such schemes does not mean that they are generally put into action, as many magi either have other concerns or take care to fit in with Mythic Europe. And if you wish to run a campaign where one and/or the other such scheme provides the main income of your covenant, it need not be the drop that makes the barrel overflow and lead to such Tribunal ruling.

Also note, that a very obvious observation about all the laws and bylaws of the Order - that no crime is ever persecuted unless some magus was offended by it - is explicitly elaborated upon right at the end of the analysis of the Consensus:


I honestly feel like the Silver Consensus would be more likely to start an internal conflict within the Order than to ever actually pass, except possibly in a single Tribunal due to someone somehow maneuvering themselves into total control of that Tribunal.

You can verify that for yourself. :slight_smile:

Take your favorite Tribunal book, pick a regional economy that was destroyed by some group of reckless magi, and assume these got regularly processed for meddling and removed from the Tribunal. Then hash out for yourself, how those covenants described in the book react further, and whether and how they wish to prevent such destruction to happen again in their Tribunal.

You might even get a campaign skeleton out of this.


I'm imagining the case before the tribunal.
"Covenant X is being accused of inerferance with mundanes, thus bringing ruin upon his Soldales."
"What? In what way did we interfere?'
"you inflated the money supply thereby bringing economic ruin to the village."
"We supported the village with our coin."
"that is what led to their ruin."
"How do you figure?"
"If you look at the records I have assembled the numbers on the left are the total currency available within the village, the next two colums are outflow of silver from trade and money dumped from the covenant into the economy."
"point of order, a tribunal trial is not for production of evidence or argument of the case."
"My apologies, quaesitoris, I was answering the question which was raised. Fundamentally you increased the coins in the village, thereby raising prices.
"I don't agree with your analysis, but even if it were correct, how does that threaten our soldales?"
"Excuse me?"
"Whether the village withers or prospers is of no consequence to the other magi of the tribunal, save that there is no backlash against mages. The village itself looked upon us as benefactors, not destroyers, so how dos this bring ruin to our soldales?"

Which is why this would be thrown out by the Presiding Quaesitor. You have to prove harm to magi.

They may be allowed to derive 2 pounds of silver magically, but they still cannot purchase mundane goods or profit from any magical goods purchased with that 2 pounds per the section on page 124 that I pointed out above.

Oh. Now I see a potential misunderstanding in and its reference to TME p. 124.

The text of the Silver Consensus that you quote there from p.124 is:

The rest of your quote from p.124, namely

is commentary of that phrase of the Consensus for the troupe.
Compare this to HoH:TL p.45ff The Code of Hermes, which also steps phrase by phrase through the Code of Hermes, commenting it for troupe use.
So that commentary does not - and by my reading would not make sense to - supersede this previous part of the Consensus:

Does that help?


Restrictions on silver make sense after House Mercere (which does have some "practical economists" on staff, and Mythic merchants already understand the concept of such things as price bubbles) takes a look at the English meltdown and the Tribunal's senior Redcap speaks up and says, "hey, this price chaos was caused by out-of-control silver creation, and we've got to rein it in." Stonehenge accordingly passes a new law to keep crap like that from happening in the future. (Gold isn't readily tradable in England, so nobody mentions it. If this were to happen somewhere like Thebes or Iberia, though, either it would be forbidden in the beginning, or the first time someone tried it they'd be laughed at.) Furthermore, the English collapse has led some Redcaps and Jerbitons with too much time on their hands to study economics and come up with some concept of inflation.

The greater Silver Consensus, I agree, makes sense only as a political move by wealthy and conservative Autumn covenants. Too much magical creation of wealth would reduce the internal silver-power of House Mercere and other magi who already have good sources of income; also, a lot of more indirect methods of wealth creation and get-rich-quick schemes would either involve introducing new factors into the mundane economy or (for example, creating salt or coins) would step on someone's granted privilege, which means politics that Durenmar, for example, would rather not have to take the backlash from. And of course, Oculus Septentrionalis buys a rook a year from Fengheld in exchange for mundane silver; what happens to that exchange if Fengheld starts making their money themselves with that vis? So the Eye of the North has an incentive to support restrictions on the magical creation of wealth (that allow for plenty of cheating on their part).

And with all that said, Silver Consensus or no, nobody is going to make an issue of magi blessing their own fields unless they want to look like petty jerks; as said, the Consensus is not strictly enforced. I personally interpret that as meaning that it's most often enforced when someone wants to attack an enemy.