Some time ago I posted a question here about a sitution that had come up in my saga... A Bonisagus magus attending a mudane event had caught an Ex Misc magus trying to poison a nobleman. The Bonisagus handed the Ex Misc over to the local mundane lord, who hanged him.
Now, the Ex Misc magus's parens plans to raise a question at the upcoming Tribunal about the Bonisagus's actions. Regardless of the rightness of the parens position, a procedural question occurs to me... The Bonisagus is the only living magus who witnessed the event. Discounting necromancy, the only other people who can offer testimony as to the facts of the case are all mundanes.
Would a mundane be allowed to offer testimony at a Hermetic Tribunal? If not, how do you think the Tribunal should handle getting at the facts of the case? What are your thoughts?
Yes, as long as the mundane is analyzed by the Tribunal Mentem Commission and determined to be kosher in his mind (read: not have been mentem-ed in order to modify/delete his memory of events). Frosty breath and similar spells will be used both in the mundane and the Magus by quaesitors to make sure their testimony is true to the facts.
If the thing is that important, an investigation mission can be done in the location of the events, casting eyes of the past et al to have more witnesses of the events. The necessary vis would need to be provided buy the parens of the magus, and likely some other services to the investigators for their loss of time.
For hermetic magic is easy to obtain additional witnesses and make sure that the ones you have are truthful, even if it is resource-expensive.
The proper procedure would be to ask a quaesitor to investigate. You have to drop your parma for the quaesitor if part of an official investigaton.
You would be interviewed with Frosty breath of the spoken lie and quaesitor would interview the mundanes (True lineages has a number of spells to help quaesitors to get the memories from mundanes) and then he would present his findings to the tribunal for them to pass judgement.
Exactly. The Tribunal would most likely not invite the peasant to attend and rely on the witness showing, nor bribe them to, nor kidnap them. (Peasants are notoriously poor at such, always whining about their fields and herds and such, and then always seem so nervous around that many folk with the Gift.) Even then, the reliability of the witness's memories might be questionable - so unless several witnesses were produced, one is a weak voice.
A Q' would go out, unearth as much as they could (or cared to) first hand, and report back, and few would question their report. The "Frosty Breath" and "Silent Question" spells would all have happened in the field, not in the Tribunal. No one wants a surprise from the witness box, they want to have the facts ahead of time so they can decide if it merits Tribunal action or no.
Of course, if courtroom drama is what you want... meh, sure, why not? But imo, and the obstacles of the Gift & etc aside, I would think that magi would find the presence of a mere mundane distasteful and inappropriate.
Honestly, the idea of a Quaesitor wandering around questioning witnesses and casting eyes of the past doesn't quite sit right with me. It seems too much like CSI: Shrewsbury and not enough like an actual medieval trial.
Also, I don't buy the idea of dropping my parma and abdicating my rights under the Code to protection from scrying just because someone waves their letter of Quaesitor-in-Good-Standing in my face. Then again, I tend to view a magus lowering magic resistance and letting someone cast spells on them as something that might be done between best friends or lovers but not often.
Remember: HoH: TL stated that hermetic trails are not whether or not someone did something but if his act was justified.
In your case: Why not a battle at tribunal using the rules of the fine art of debate as given in HoH: S (Tytalus chapter). And let one of your characters exchange arguments with a NPC? This is what will come up soon in our saga and the character choosen to defend the convent keeps learning the relevant skills for 10 seasons, while his sodales seek witnesses, facts and -most important- allies! (This resulted in a set of related adventures in which each character came up with his best ideas.)
The key is that a queasitor on official investigation can demand that you drop your parma for an investigation spell. Generally they do not do it without cause and they are very careful not ti abuse it. It is much the same as Bonisagus taking your apprentice.
Of course, the queasitor has to ask the right questions of the witnesses and even then, the findings are presented at a trial at tribunal. Unlike a court of law, the judge is the committee of your sodalis wtih every one of them getting a vote. Even the bonisagus and all his conventmates get votes at the tribunal. This means you could be guilty at sin but with the right support and good justification (including charge of blocking interference with mundanes), you could get off totally free or with only minor fine. You could also end up marched.
In my not so humble opinion, the most likely thing based on the tale before is a posthumous march on one using magic to try to poison mundane lords and a heavy fine upon you with admonishment to do either quietly prevent it or do nothing in the future. Also to report it to tribunal or queasitors in future.
That's the outcome I'm intending too. At worst, I think he might get fined a few seasons labor writing a Code of Hermes tractatus, focusing on proper procedures for handling violations of the Code. At best, he'll be let off with a slap on the wrist.
Exactly - the investigation part is complete. The facts of the case are established long in advance (one hopes), and the Tribunal is pure judgment - with a healthy dose of local politics and Intrigue thrown into the mix.
That doesn't mean that "surprise evidence" can't show up - drama is drama - but with magic, usually no one is going to ask "Who done it?" by the time the Tribunal convenes.