Silver Consensus & Grand Tribunal

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.

I guess my major point/issue here is that while the Consensus allows for 2 pounds of silver per magus per year, it completely contradicts that by stating a magus cannot purchase mundane goods or profit from that. Which is what's twisting my head in all these directions.

Personally, I think I'd like to be in a saga where the Consensus was enforced to the letter just to play through the trials of it and possibly changing it for a given Tribunal (or the Order as a whole). It's an interesting piece of legislation that, depending upon who is interpreting it, could be really beneficial or completely limiting.

This has been explained above. You can traffick up to two pounds of magically-generated wealth per year, and situations such as assarting land by magic mean that anything grown on the assarted land is "magically-generated."

The latter contradiction is because the writers of the commentary didn't want to spend wordcount on being precise to the last word, especially because enforcement is inherently subjective anyway; this is the Order of Hermes, remember, and the law means what the politically-connected magi say it means.

Is the above statement open to rules lawyering? Or is there something not quoted from TME that expands on this? Couldn't Digitus Impudicus filius Priapus Maximus of House Tytalus simply get itemized "receipts" or whatever that showed that Jon the Merchant paid him 2 pounds of silver for 500 bushels of "magically tainted" wheat and paid 500 pounds of silver for a small pouch of 100% mundane, never influenced by (Hermetic?) magic, wheat and still abide by the Consensus?

Also, would this ruling mean a rival covenant/magus could "improve" your goods with magic and either render them unsellable or get you in trouble if you didn't detect it?

So yes. Blatant rules-lawyering will just earn you the contempt of your sodales.

In that case, you can probably swear at Tribunal that your covenant didn't do it, and once it came out that your rival was setting you up, you'd have grounds to prosecute them instead.

You are mistaking "knowing modern economic theory" with "being able to see what happens right in front of me".

Just saying "they didn´t have that understanding then", is just fail. For one thing, the basic concept of inflation was most definitely a known matter in the 12th century(it was certainly known in the Roman empire as well), even if it was not something everyone on the street would know of, or something known to the degree it is known today.

And as an addition to that i might mention the fact that even today, economic theories are only barely better than what existed in medieval time, because if you talk to any halfhonest economist, the first thing they will tell you is that economics is NOT a science, and ~"we still don´t really know shit, we just got better at guessing over the centuries, with perfect hindsight", and that is a real quote ( translated ) from a professor in economics, (which just happens to be married to my cousin).

On the contrary, most economists indeed say that, A, the scientific method is applicable to economics, and B, that we know more about economics now than in the Middle Ages. (Economics is also a highly factionalized discipline, so your cousin may be part of one of the schools that deny these things.)

Yes, Rome and Medieval Europe knew about inflation, as did the Islamic world (there's clear evidence of everyone knowing what was going on when Mansa Musa went on the hajj and completely disrupted the Egyptian economy to Venice's benefit), but in Mythic Europe, the "scientific method" as such is not fully developed and is pretty much limited to the Order of Hermes. I imagine that inflation is limited to practical knowledge that "if you make a lot of silver and throw it around, it gets devalued and people start happy slapping each other for trivial fines."

When trying to figure out medieval people, there is one important thing to always keep in mind: the distribution and disjunction of medieval knowledge.

People did run early banks. They built sea-going ships, hammer mills and siege engines requiring the determination of 3rd roots. And yes, they lived as hucksters and ran market stalls too, determining day-to-day prices for their goods to buy and sell by usual, practical haggling - even if they were no Redcaps.

Very little of all this vital practice made its way into Latin literature, unless it somehow piqued the interest of a scholar or priest, or a practitioner was literate and interested in writing a book. We are happy to have one schedula diversarum artium (, and would have liked to have many dozens.

Imagining typical medieval - or Mythic European - people to be credulous, simple-minded, or even submissive is a huge mistake. They were less educated, and what education they had was far less encompassing. But often enough they made up for that with practice acquired, raw brains and moxie.


When you say "Knowledge of inflation" what exactly does that mean? Because aside from discovering new mines or increasing monies through taxation, inflation in the modern sense wasn't possible to an economy based in a currency founded on precious metals. Nobody simply produced new money by printing it the way that is done today. Also the effects of inflation were not the same as today- today if you print US currency then it drops the value of the US dollar and US prices go up. In the middle ages if you increase the amount of silver in one location then it increases imports to that region as the relative value of silver versus goods reaches a new equilibrium. as with the point I made regarding the Spanish who gained massive gold through conquest over a long period of time before it stopped, it can ruin an economy, but that is through loss of human capital to provide essential services while importing is the preferred way to gain resources. That is a very different problem than in late era Nazi Germany when they couldn't import because their money was too devalued and the cost of a loaf of bread required a wheelbarrow full of cash.
Beyond this, the version from TME goes beyond silver and gold and starts into all financial gains from magic, which really sounds more like modern political reactions to modern monetary policies than anything remotely medieval, reminding me of the quote that if the government had a limitless well of free health care it should not provide it as a government service because it would destroy the free market's ability to handle health care. Because magic largely is that bottomless well, subject to availability of vis and magi, and the idea that they should be forbidden from making a living off such a valuable resource simply makes no sense outside of modern politics, at least in economic terms. Now a religious objection to taking advantage of the gift for monetary gain might make sense, or a social concern with interfering with the mundanes, or a concern that vis is being wasted on such 'trivial' matters, but discussing inflationary policy in regards to magical production of industrial and craft goods?

I am not sure whom you address here. But for England around 1200 'inflation' means loss of buying power of silver.

Yes, in an area where silver is abundant, some people - the king's treasury, nobles, bankers, traders, the wealthy, maybe even some magi - might try to gather it and bring it somewhere else, where its buying power is better. But whether, how, at which cost and precautions it is gathered, melted down, separated from base metal, brought abroad, perhaps reminted and its better value exploited depends on many factors. All this, and the power and organization of those trying to benefit, determines the time needed to bring 'excess' silver out of the area and reestablish its previous buying power within. In the meantime the reduced buying power of silver can have caused all kinds of alterations in the area's economy.

You do not need advanced economic knowledge to determine serious loss of buying power: just track prices on the local market - which every autocrat needs to do anyway.


Actually the primary people trying to take silver out of the area will be merchants, not nobles or magi, who are wanting to buy candles in one location and sell them elsewhere at moderately higher prices, as occurred with Spain during a period of actual inflation instead of with England (real world) during a period where a modern economist made the false conclusion that rising prices indicated an increase in the money supply.
Because the fact is that there are ways that silver can lose it's buying power besides monetary inflation, such as resources being harder to get, requiring more labor, and driving up costs. A shortage in labor will produce an increase in prices as easily as an inflation in available money, and given the fact that in the 1200s England a significant portion of the population was in absentia due to the crusades, that is a far more likely explanation. Excessive taxation, which Prince John was famous for, also raise expenses and thereby prices.

Take a look at who in Spain got the lion's share of the American silver and gold: ... h_treasure .
Both required pretty good organization. The Spanish crown controlled the influx of silver and gold, and its consequences, over the Casa de Contratación ( ) from the onset - according to an economic theory safeguarding the supply of the population with necessary goods. The flaws of this theory were found out later, and by destroying some of Spain's economic potency taught Europe.

In Mythic Europe's England, such a control of the consequences of a sudden influx of silver from excessive spending of covenants did not spring up at once. So effects could well have become far worse. We just don't know who mitigated them, and how.


And not one of those sites says a word about price increases, despite the massive amounts of gold and silver being brought in, though one does link to a discussion about a high rate of price increase over 150 years of 1.5%
Also note that increase was not just in Spain, but over the whole of Western Europe, and the site mentions the influence of the Black Death as well, though 1.5% for half the continent seems about right for shiploads of gold and silver being brought in. 8 million pesos in 1550 would be 4.5 grams of silver per peso or 36,000 kg of silver, or 79,200 lbs, or 39.7 tons of silver in a year. Touch of Midas creates 80 lbs of gold worth 1600 lbs of silver, so to cause the same inflation with this would require it be cast 49 to 50 times a year, at a cost of roughly 200 vis a year. Of course this can be done with less vis expense at higher skill (shifting to level 30 creates 100 times the gold for 2 more vis, allowing for a single casting for 4 tons of gold at 6 vis. If you are actually creating silver of course it gets more expensive as you lose the gold to silver value ratio, as well as the density of gold since the spell is based on volume.

Now the possibility that magi were creating silver when prices happened to go up and they assumed they had been the cause, or assuming they were the cause was more convenient than examining what they had been spending that much money on, is certainly plausible, but again it is not as simple and straightforward as "they observed this obvious effect and took measures with full knowledge and crystal clarity"

The important thing for me about 'not producing silver with magic' is that you don't want the nobles learning you can make silver with magic, because it never ends well. Don't let anybody learn you can use magic to make piles of money (one way or another) or they will be all over you because money = power = status and the nobility want all three of these things.

The Silver Consensus doesn't boil down to this. It's about not 'ruining' the economy with magically created stuff. While that's possible, a simple illustration can show how it's not easy. From a Pathfinder campaign we ran, we cleared a salt mine of nasties for a merchant who hired us. In the middle of a war we needed quick cash (as did the merchant), so we volunteered to use some basic magic (Stone Shape, Shrink Item and Phantom Steed spells) to go to the next city state and sell several tons of salt.

At which point someone pointed out we'd glut the market on salt and get a crappy price. So our GM did a bit of research and found how much salt a population of 100,000 with Renaissance technology used in the course of a year. Needless to say, several tons of salt was peanuts - I think were were bringing in something like 2% of their annual use.

The point to remember here is that economies are BIG things. Small local economies might be subject to shenanigans, but large ones have quite a bit of tolerance for these things. Magi creating silver by the ton is the same as mundanes mining silver by the ton - it will attract attention, but not destroy the economy of a nation. Money = attention = problems with nobles, so caution is encouraged, but money =/= economic devastation.