Spoils of Wizard War

A hypothetical question came up, and I don't know if there is any canon answer.

During Wizard War, my understanding is that pretty much anything goes between the two parties, so long as it doesn't harm any other Magi.
And if both parties survive the Wizard War (limited to one month in all Tribunals?), afterwards they have to go back to respecting each other's rights under the Code of Hermes.

But what happens if during the Wizard War, one party manages to steal the property of the other party, and keeps it after the Wizard War expires?
By property, this could mean Vis, an exclusive Vis source, enchanted items, Sanctum, or even a Familiar or a Talisman or an Apprentice, etc.

What is the legal status of these Spoils once the Wizard War expires?

Hm. The wizard's war section in HoH:TL, as well as the core rulebook, make it clear that you can destroy their property, their sanctum, and pretty much anything that belongs to them (including their lives). And it says that the magi in question (as well as all other magi) will abide by the consequences of the Wizard's War. However, it doesn't say anything about taking, rather than destruction.

However - with that in mind: Wizard's War is essentially a time during which both wizards forfeit their immunity from being attacked, and by implication most violations of the Code of Hermes with respect to each other. (I would imagine Wizard's War doesn't give you permission to truck with demons, for example. But deprivation of Magical Power? Sure.) Whenever a wizard has forefitted his immunity, pretty much anyone can take his stuff. Most thefts would fall under "deprivation of magical power", and if you destroy someone's Gift, it's not like you can give it back after 1 month is done. As such, I don't see any reason why you would have to give a book back after the same amount of time, either.

EDIT - also, if theft wasn't allowed, then magi would be more likely to simply destroy magical treasures and knowledge - which is probably something the Order doesn't want to encourage.

But that's my opinion, rather than canon - in anything I could find with a quick search, anyway.

I agree that, because Magi engaging in Wizard's War have forfeited immunity, and so have no grounds for claiming damages under the Code during the time of the War. But to answer this question: No, actually. In Hibernia, Wizard's War is presumed to automatically constantly renew until one of the magi involved specifically ends it. There are Magi in Ireland who have technically been at War for decades. I say "technically," because in practice Wars simmer down into an extended rivalry characterized by threats of violence and only very occasionally actual physical conflict. It's all very Irish.

No. Pretty much anyone can't take his stuff, only the other party in the WW. The WW is only a conflict between those two magi and everybody else need to follow the Code.
The magi during it out however can kill, maim, destroy or steal from the other as they are fit.

I think he was referring to forfeit immunity as punishment to make an argument regarding WW, not claiming that they forfeited immunity from everyone by engaging in a WW.

It seems to me it would end naturally, either one mage winds up with all of the other mages stuff and stops declaring wizard war or one mage kills the other during the war to stop them from taking their stuff.

I hadn't known about the variant Hibernian Tribunal rule of Wizard War.
Lets limit discussion to the type of Wizard War described in ArM5.

And perhaps I should have limited my discussion to stealing property that probably counts under "...deprive any member of the Order of his magical power..." clause in the Hermetic Oath. I fully concede that property destroyed in the War is gone and no retribution can occur over destroyed property.

Let me try to refine my hypothetical to reflect what I mean. (I am a computer programmer and I have a strong need to resolve edge cases)
Magus A and Magus B are engaging in Wizard War. I don't think it matters as to whom the original aggressor and whom the original defender are. Lets just say the aggressor has severely underestimated their ability to attack the defender, and that the Wizard War has dragged on into a war of attrition.

The Familiar of Magus A is wounded and stuck near the camp of Magus B. Magus A draws away Magus B, and the Apprentice of Magus A sneaks out to rescue the Familiar. The Apprentice of Magus A, along with Familiar, is overpowered and captured by the Apprentice of Magus B, who takes them back to camp and imprisons them.
The Familiar A is to be kept for as an Arcane connection to Magus A. But neither magus returns, they are off battling, pinning each other down at some unknown location.
Apprentice B on his own initiative decides to torture Apprentice A to find out Magus A's plans, location and forces. And maybe to have the opportunity to use magic on a human being. May or may not know the captive is Apprentice A rather than a random grog. This goes on until the magi return, now a day or two after the end of the Wizard War.

So what is the legal status of Apprentice A and Familiar A, after the Wizard War ends, still captive and being interrogated?

It sounds like this hasn't occurred previously, and legal status may vary from Tribunal to Tribunal. But I am sure we have some player Quaesitores who might offer opinions.

apprentices are property, so it is property which has been lawfully gained during the wizard war. The capturing mage can ransom the apprentice, take them for their own (not likely since they have one, but it can e done) or sell them to another magus. Unless of course Magus A is Bonisagus and magus B is not, in which case magus A can simply reclaim their apprentice.
The familiar is trickier- it isn't considered an actual person, and rules are likely to vary by tribunal- likely Magus B could get away with holding the familiar pending the ruling of a tribunal, but since the link was not severed during the wizard war it is unlikely they could keep the familiar since it maintains its connection to the original magus. They could also likely hold the familiar to force the first magus into certamen to get it back, with a significant concession on the line if B wins. Long term the familiar will go back to A (unless another wizard war is declared, which the familiar can serve as guarantee against while held- if you declare wizard war your familiar dies), but ultimately it comes down to leverage that magus B can get from holding the familiar short term, and possibly what compensation he can successfully demand at tribunal for its return.

Hm. I'd say that the apprentice certainly counts as property, so it falls under the "I stole a book" rule. However, the utility of such an act is questionable, and if abused will likely result in a convenient Bonisagus showing up and deciding that "I really should have that apprentice, and oh no I have too many apprentices and whoever can take this new apprentice from me, oh looks the original magi has space for one, can you foster this apprentice for me, thanks." - and the Tribunal will, absent any additional evidence, back them up on that.

And I also agree that familiar appears more complex...except that in thinking about it more, I don't think it is. "Destruction of one's familiar" is a known punishment to a magi. As such, that suggests that the familiar, like the apprentice, is considered legally linked to the magi. In contrast, for example, the Order probably doesn't declare "destruction of one's Wife" or "death of one's child" as a suitable punishment.

(Although that may be prevented by the various interpretations of "don't mess with mundanes" - as killing someone's family to punish them may bring in the inquiry from the Church and/or secular authorities, who tend to frown on anyone but themselves doing that sort of thing. Wizards killing wizards? Fine, whatever - but making declarations about the deaths of people who aren't wizards? Whoah, there!)

However - no one wants their familiar kidnapped. So - I would argue it as "technically permissible, but will probably get the rest of the tribunal to declare Wizard's War on you, just to prevent Familiar kidnapping from ever becoming a thing." - which would likely in turn get a ruling at Tribunal, and everyone agreeing that it will not be an OK thing to do.

So, "Technically permissible until someone does it, at which point the Tribunal votes to make it illegal." I agree with Silveroak on that, anyway - it's a short term solution until Tribunal.

EDIT - however, a contrary argument is the "if you can't kidnap it, we may as well just kill it" argument - which would probably fall into the Rule of Unintended Consequences.

I don't see anything wrong with capturing a familiar during Wizard War. After the Wizard War it would remain "captured" (like a stolen book).

The most likely next steps would be to either ransom the familiar back, or retain it as a guarantee. I.e. "if you declare Wizard War on me again (or fail to cede to me in Tribunal, etc) I will murder your familiar".

However, with regards to practical utility, it seems very risky to try and hold a familiar captive. Generally, it's an independent, relatively powerful supernatural creature, plus it's usually some sort of telepathic or similar conduit to its master. Both of which sound like all kinds of trouble. I guess you can hold it in a warding circle. But that's not entirely foolproof.

An apprentice would be much easier to deal with as a captive --- again, I think, to ransom back. Or potentially to retain as a guarantee. Although, if an imprisoned apprentice is retained for a significant period of time the captor will need to provide her with appropriate Hermetic training.

Magus A has an AC to his Familiar, still controls the powers in its binding affecting it, has invested vis and perhaps some feelings, knows it well and hence should have lots of sympathetic connections to it.
So keeping Magus A from retrieving his Familiar requires quite some magical effort - unless the wizard's war has ended and the Tribunal has already clearly ruled, that repossessing a Familiar captured in wizard's war is a crime.


Plus you need to stop the familiar independently retrieving its master. I.e., escaping on its own behalf.

As OneShot implied - even if the familiar escaped, you'd probably need another Wizard's War to formally transfer ownership back to the original magi - even if it was just a technical War where the magi (and retrieved familiar) holed up in a regio somewhere for a month.

And regarding the familiar escaping - sure, but that's probably easier to deal with than keeping an apprentice and/or wizard hostage: most are magical creatures, so you could probably put them in some sort of hibernation or magical sleep for the duration. (Or alternately, a delay-cast Perdo Vim might stripper that will destroy them if they step foot outside of their cell, plus a Perdo Vim ward on the cell that hides that effect from detection.)

Oh, I see how you are thinking of it now.

I don't think that's right, as a familiar is supernaturally bound to its master. You can't change that by abducting it. You can't change that by legal decree, either. Magi are aware of this, so, legality should follow the supernatural connection. You'd have to destroy the supernatural bonds somehow to stop the familiar being the familiar of the original magus.

So, to clarify, I think that you can capture a familiar in Wizard War. You can retain a captured familiar after Wizard War (is it just a magical beast). However, it doesn't mean that the familiar ceases to be the familiar of the original magus. So, if it escapes or is rescued or is ransomed then it is no longer the property of the captor, and hence is the legal property of its original master. The captor only has ownership rights due to capturing the familiar in Wizard War. Once the familiar ceases to be captured, those ownership rights are extinguished.

I think it arguable that a familiar packed full of supernatural powers, and potentially in telepathic communication with the wizard, is harder to imprison than a know-nothing apprentice. But I suppose reasonable minds can vary on that question, highly dependent on the particular apprentice/familiar/circumstances.


It seems to be the consensus that anything that happens in a Wizard War is irreversible.

Since the Hermetic Oath contains "I will not deprive or attempt to deprive any member of the Order of his magical power", and there are clauses in the Peripheral Code about Apprentices, I kind of thought you would have to return any non-destroyed Spoils of Wizard War covered by the Code of Hermes once the Hermetic Oath came back into force at the end of the Wizard War. At least any Spoils that was obviously part of the magical power of a Magus, such as a Familiar.

The Hermetic Oath says "...no retribution shall fall on he who slays me", so I was wondering about captured 'magical power'.

The issue I see here is "Can a wizard who captures a familiar during Wizard's War destroy that familiar after the WW is over, but while the familiar is still in his captivity?" Because it seems clear that the familiar is considered property - in that it can be destroyed as a (harsh) punishement for something the familiar did not do. Similarly, if the familiar still "belongs" to the original wizard, then holding it hostage is meaningless, as you are depriving a wizard of his magical power by keeping it from him (to say nothing of threatening to destroy it - that's a marchable offense, right there).

Thus, the only real conclusion I can come to is that the familiar must therefore "belong" to whoever captured it during the WW. The alternate is to have some special rule for familiars that is inconsistent with other forms of magical power.

However: if a magical creature escapes from your lab, it's hardly any other magi's responsibility to help you track it down. And if said magical creature is taking shelter in someone else's sanctcum...well, you are free to go in and get it if you want to. However, the creature still would technically "belong" to the magi, until some time as it was purchased from him.

But even ignoring that, the solution is fairly easy within the context of Hermetic law - just declare Wizard's War again, and hole up somewhere you can't be attacked, along with your familiar (like in a regio). Problem resolved, as the magical creature is now yours again, and without having to create a special exception for familiars. I can see any number of covenents being sympathetic to a magi who merely wants his familiar (legally) back, and thus I don't really see this as a particularly onerous thing to do.

However, I do admit it's a bit of a quirk in Hermetic law, and may be resolved differently in different Tribunals.

See also HoH:TL p.46ff Deprivation of Power, Slaying and Wizard War.

By The Hermetic Oath, its HoH:TL commentaries and examples, Wizard's War allows to slay another magus. But "I will not deprive nor attempt to deprive any member of the Order of his magical power." stands alone, and is not waived during Wizard's War.

This requires further rules on the subject in each Tribunal. The literal ruling "No, even in Wizard's War you must not deprive your opponent of the least bit of magical power until you slay him." makes Wizard's War quite impossible, so is unlikely to be held up in any Tribunal. HoH:TL p.47 also allows to destroy all the contents of an opponent's sanctum. But this does not imply, that every Tribunal needs to condone arbitrary damage done to an opponent in Wizard's War, especially if unrelated to the purpose of his demise.
In any case, a Tribunal can still enforce "I will not deprive nor attempt to deprive any member of the Order of his magical power." between two surviving opponents of a Wizard's War, and reserve the right of arbitration for that purpose. Tribunals - with the notable exception of the Hibernian - typically discourage Wizard's Wars continuing for many years (see the case of Hernis on HoH:TL p.47f for an extreme case), and might prefer quick and conclusive ones over drawn out wars of attrition.
A magus' Familiar is clearly an important part of his magical power in the sense of the Hermetic Oath, so many Tribunals may rule - once the problem comes up - that a captive Familiar must be returned after a Wizard's War. And all Tribunals will likely find it illegal to magically enslave a magus in Wizard's War, to have him slog for you for the rest of his life.


By The Hermetic Oath, its HoH:TL commentaries and examples, Wizard's War allows to slay another magus. But "I will not deprive nor attempt to deprive any member of the Order of his magical power." stands alone, and is not waived during Wizard's War.

HoH:S pg. 24 states that Wizard's War is a full forfeit of the Code. You can rob a magus' sanctum, scry on them, whatever. (As well as burn the sanctum's interior just for the laughs.)

Not necesssarily. One could, for example, extract an oath of servitude at swordpoint from a defeated magus (and possibly enforce the oath with some kind of hedge magic - this kind of thing isn't easy to do with Hermetic magic, though one could probably use Watching Ward to set a conditional curse). Or you could simply get a fixed AC from him, destroy all his ACs to you, and then ask him for little favors in the future in exchange for not scrying-and-frying him at the next new moon.

Yes, I said so above. Why do you just repeat it literally without quoting me :question:

On HoH:S p.24 we have only

Reading that out of context as ''Since magi engaged in Wizard’s War forgo all the protection of the Code forever with respect to their opponent ..." is a very weak argument. Such a generalization is not mentioned in the Code itself or its commentaries that I know.
With the exception of the Peripheral Code of the Hibernian Tribunal, a Wizard's War ends after a month. Latest then all the relationship between the two warring magi, if both survive, falls under the Code again, and their Tribunal(s) need to arbitrate any remaining violations of it.
Not even during the Wizard's War itself

is explicitly waived, as we agreed upon above.

Allowing any of this - the oath, retaining the AC or keeping the hedge magic up - would have to be accepted by the affected Tribunal(s). But with troupe approval you can of course write your own Peripheral Code for the Tribunal of your saga.


I think the big issue here is not really what a magus is allowed to do during a Wizard's War (just slaying? everything? etc.) but how the "enduring effects" of what he did during the War should be treated once the War ends. For example, assume magus Albertus curses maga Beatrice with a supernatural, eventually fatal disease during a Wizard's War. Beatrice manages to survive until the end of the War, but dies of the disease shortly after. Has Albertus violated the Code? I believe that's not the case, but I could see a Tribunal ruling otherwise (in particular that Albertus should have dispelled all his ongoing magics on Beatrice at the end of the War; note that this still leaves some loopholes open).