The Hermetic Market for Gifted Children

Quite the defeatist attitude. My impression isn't that these discussions are here to tell other people what the forgone conclusions of their own stories are. But to discuss where challenges and solutions might lie. And perhaps wax philosophical about a fictional fantasy world.

Well that's an interesting statement, which highlights more or less what I'm trying to say. I'm not saying that all things are changeable The Orders legal authority derives from the Oath all members swear. Anything it specifically requires is open to far less discussion then the rest of the code. It's just that the oath isn't really specific. It's built to leave room for lot's of interpretation. Partially so you can play The Game and make A Game out of politics if you chose. And as a game it's important to figure out how difficult things are to do.

Trying to get people people to ignore a specific prohibition in the Oath very hard. Trying to get people to liberally interpret what one term used in the oath means to there own benefit easier. Remember there is a specific prohibition to molest the fay. But it's perfectly ok run into a fairy regio guns ablaze and steal every pawn of vis not nailed down. And I know the argument why that's "ok". But it only works if you play it a little loose with the meaning of lest. (Or reeeeeally loose with the meaning of molest.)

No I'm not saying the Law doesn't matter. I'm saying that for the purposes of these sort of stories it matters where the Law comes from. What is the nature of the legal system how are laws passed, judged, and enforced. I'm also saying that it really matters that P.C.'s do have the power to affect the process. Though they should be challenged and success is by no means assured. Whatever strategy they choose players need to be given the chance to invoke change. Or do you believe that all that power should be held by the storyguide and the NPC's.

In jest I like this. I'd really hope this never occurs in any game I'm involved with though. And that Magus is a total douche, and IMS they'd find nobody willing to openly associate with them. Redcaps? no way. trade? nope.

There should be significant social and political pressure upon any Magus even willing to imply they'd do something as gauche as this.

I think after the month's end you might have to release him, the code is a bit unclear on this, since his spirit isn't really his soul and it isn't clear whether he has rights at that point or not.

It seems to me that if you are preparing children for being apprentices, your best bet is to be Bonisagus. Then if someone takes your student and opens their gift, you can just take them back.

Thankyou it was mostly in jest of course. An exaggeration really, to highlight how different Hermetic law can be.

In tribunal your talking about a legislative process and/or the equivalent of Jury trial where parties can freely and publicly buy votes. (Or gamble for them by making votes a stake in Certamen)

My example was over the top but the threat of wizard war is has almost certainly used to bully votes out of individuals. Not to mention the potential to preemptively remove Magi that might vote against you through wizard war.

I believe the general thought in RAW is that spirits and other magical creatures are without rights. (Ireland is the exception) Wild game or domestic livestock to be exploited by what ever magi can catch them. I tried to propose a situation where the magi did nothing illegal just to show how deeply weird the law is. Sure the guy would be treated up like a tatted up neonazi at a school board meeting. At least in ArM5, I could imagine wearing lockets containing the tortured remnants of your vanquished foes becoming a fad in 2nd or 3rd.

In general yes but in the mysteries it describes a living ghost as being something that is ambiguous about rights and membership in the order.

I agree 100%.

But anyone should - your question begs its own answer, because the question assumes the action is "completely legal", end of statement.

There are examples in the Peripheral Code where a mage commits legal action X, which directly causes questionable action Y as fallout. The Tribunals rule that action Y is still illegal - claiming that "action X is legal" is irrelevant.

Two examples that I've found:

1151 - Durenmar has a legal right to vis sources, but over-harvesting causes enmity of the Fae - guilty of the latter, regardless of the former.

1194 - William FIreheart legally kills a mundane, and in so doing accidentally damages a lab. The killing was legal, the damage not. Guilty of the latter, regardless of the former.

( )

The relevant pattern demonstrates that altho' the claiming is legal, it still cannot then break a different part of The Code. And in no counter-example that I've seen is there any suggestion that the plaintiff proved that the apprentice was worth vis, nor asked for compensation based on that, nor cared for such - ONLY that they should have/keep claim to the child.

If the issue is not raised to the Tribunal (and the Tribunal does not mention it in their findings), then the Tribunal is not ruling on that issue, but a different one.

Lastly, these 2 entries...

1188 Provencal: Magus Teslil of Jerbiton finds a Gifted girl and, having his own apprentice, sells her to Magus Gentric of Jerbiton.
1194 Provencal Tribunal of 1333:...Magus Teslil claims that the former apprentice of Magus Gentric, died 1331, should be granted him, as Gentric had been of his House and he had found the girl to begin with. The Tribunal rules that Teslil, having sold the girl, had given up all claim . (emphasis added)

I submit that you cannot "give up all claim" unless you have "some claim" to begin with. If the mage selling the apprentice "had no claim", the Tribunal would have simply said as much and in so many words.

These are by no means "proof", but they do support my position to some degree. However, if you feel that other rulings re Claiming also rule silently on my position (without ever specifically saying anything about it), that's fine.

This thread has still, quite inarguably, given me a definitive answer on that point at least (and among others) - that this matter is not clear, and if it were to go to Tribunal it could be completely unpredictable. :wink:

Hound, the examples you give are areas in which two separate legal activities are occurring at the same time. That is, the legal implication is that it's POSSIBLE to harvest vis without molesting the fae; therefore, when one engages in one's (rightful) ability to harvest vis, one must make care not to molest the fae. Similarly, it's POSSIBLE to (rightfully) kill a mundane without destroying a lab. Therefore, when killing mundanes, one must make sure not to destroy labs.

And were someone to blow up a lab while snatching a Gifted Assistant out of the lab, it would fall under the same category. That's the magus performing two separate actions - one of which he didn't have to do. It's the whole "the right to swing my fist ends when it hits your face" idea. That's basic law: a right stops being a right when it violates some other law.

Your argument inextricably links "magical power" and "Gifted Assistant" (or "child with vis lien"), thus making it impossible NOT to take one without also taking the other. That's not a strength of the argument: it's a weakness. It's argument by definition, rather than by evidence (which is what you just presented).

By linking the two, your argument says that it is impossible to (rightfully) take a Gifted child (or a vis leined Child) from another magus without robbing them of magical power - no matter how a magus approaches the scenario. But the Code says that you can do such an activity, inasmuch as you don't violate any other portion of the code (ie, you can't summon a demon to snatch the child for you, or kill a king to take the child, or cause the Wild Hunt to run through your opponent's Covenant.) Your argument means that that the very act of saying "will you be my apprentice", with all the legal rights and obligations that doing entails, ends up as a violation of the Code. (Despite the Code saying that you cannot be prosecuted for that specific action.)

Regarding the girl: I honestly can't address it - there's not enough information to do on. For example: did the original magus open her Gift? In that case, it was his apprentice originally, that he then sold to another magus. In that scenario, talking about rights when sale is meaningful - as it suggests that the whole "who opened the arts, and thus who had first legal rights to her as an apprentice?" has already been addressed. And in THAT scenario, then the case is actually interesting, as the original magus DOES (at least at first glance) have some sort of claim that the Tribunal needs to address. That would be my assumption, but we simply aren't given enough information to go on.

Going back to the hot-crossed bun analogy:

If Claudius had broken into Alfonze's lab and burned it to the ground (say, by accidentally knocking over the stove somehow) while taking the hot-crossed buns, then Alphonze would have cause to claim "loss of magical power". But that's because Claudius burned the lab down, not because he ate the buns.

You're trying to claim that the buns, by virtue of someone making a private "vis-for-bun" trading agreement somewhere in the covenant, can restrict Claudius's explicitly-stated-in-the-charter right to eat any pastry that is left sitting out.

Claudius was not part of the private agreement. Therefore, he cannot break it. He can potentially be proscecuted for the act that caused the agreement to be null - for example, if the Covenent rules say "you can have one pastry", and Claudius ate them all. But that has nothing to do with the bun-for-vis agreement that Beatrice and Alfonze had.

For clarification: we're not talking about Gifted children here - their claim as "magical power" is explicitly dismissed in the rules. A magus specifically can NOT ask for a gifted lab assistant back. So really this has nothing to do with the Gift or apprentices, and everything to do with a vis lien.

The claim is that a vis lien can make ANY activity a break in the Code, regardless of whether or not the person doing the activity was involved in setting up the lien.

And just to be abundantly clear: ANY ACTIVITY. See my "walking through the door" example, prior. The claim is that activity X, because there was vis involved by a 3rd party observing the action, regardless of the knowledge or intent of the actor, (or even if they were involved in the agreement) now becomes a challengeable action under the Code.

Lots of luck getting that passed in Tribunal.

A magus visits a covenant. As he steps in the door, he is approached by the Primus:

"Oh, the air you just breathed had a vis lien on it. In fact, all the air in our covenant has such a lien on it. While the conventional rules of hospitality state that you are allowed to breathe the air in our covenant without restriction, my sodales and I have a private agreement that we didn't tell you about, and that you didn't agree to. You see, we collect air and trade it amongst ourselves for vis. We're air collectors, you see. Each breath is traded at the reasonably low price of one queen each. We arranged this agreement several weeks ago, and have been trading it ever since. That one you just breathed in was a particularly fine specimen. As you've already used it up, you have deprived me of the magical power associated with that air breath, which I was just about to take to my sodales for trade. You are now in violation of the Code."

Or alternately,

"All the air you have breathed in for the past five weeks had a vis lien on it. Our sodales made a private agreement to that effect. You are now in violation of the Code."

Ultimately no difference between this and claiming a vis lean on anything else that a mage can normally perform without restriction under the code. Including, but certainly not limited to, the taking of an apprentice.

Yes that is exactly what he is trying to do.

Yes you are absolutely right. You can do such an activity so long as you didn't have to violate some other portion of the code. Like Scrying, Infernalism, Molestering Fae, Meddling with mundanes, Deprivation of Magical Power, Not abiding a Decision of Tribunal.

Umm... unless you can be prosecuted. I mean you just said you can. If how you did it violated another portion of the code that prosecutable. Do you think a tribunal has never had to punish a Magus for acquiring an apprentice "the wrong way"? Whatever that way might be. And that punishment could very likely include taking the apprentice away and giving it to someone more deserving. It is a canonical punishment if my memory serves.

Look it's clear that what Hound is trying to do is change the code. And that's my point PC's with effort can change the code. Don't you agree? How would you have them do it?

For my own suggestion make it a political give and take. A hermetic slave trader selling gifted children for dubious purposes shouldn't be easy. I agree it's too much to ask that the order allow a Magus to keep gifted individuals indefinitely as property. It's also unlikely you could get a Tribunal to consider that anything a Magi decides to put a magical pricetag is automatically "magical power". But convincing a tribunal that a hermetic talent scout is a good enough idea to warrant protection. That's not a hard sell to me.

So work the crowd make deals, placate objections, and compromise compromise compromise and you might end up with a decision which say's something like this.

A Magi who finds themselves in care of one so gifted as to be candidate for apprenticeship, yet intends not to use them so, is expected to seek out a well suited parens in a prompt and timely manner. So long as the perquisition takes no longer then a year and a day this Tribunal respects the effort invested as a sacrifice of magical power and as such the candidate's caretaker may demand and if so should receive fair recompense before any of our order makes formal invitation. As the search should be of strong concern and as it is understood the troubles of an untrained gift such recompense may be expected in form of silver, vis or binding promise there of.

EDIT - right, didn't read your whole post: I do agree that the magic talent scout idea is fine. It's the legal process Hound is suggesting that I take issue with.

For clarification: we're not talking about apprentices or gifted Lab Assistants here: the code explicitly says that you can take them, and not be considered robbing anyone of magical power. What the legal idea here is that one can put a vis lien on something (such as a Lab Assistant), and thus claim "loss of magical power" from the profits he will fail to get as a result of not being able to fulfill his side of the bargin.

My issue is twofold: first, it's a perfect legal defense that changes the STATE of the target, rather than the physical circumstances. In all other scenarios that have been offered as evidence, the act of taking the apprentice was never a violation: it was the manner in which you got to the point. ie, by blowing up the lab, or by molesting the fae, or by killing a noblemen, or whatever. In Hound's argument, he is attempting to make the act of taking an apprentice itself a violation, regardless of how you got there.

The second is that he is attempting to do this not by claiming that an apprentice is Magical Power that is beign stolen: that's explicitly permissible. Rather, he's attempting to use a vis lean as a legal defense.

Except that a vis lean can be put on anything that another magi can freely do under the Code, regardless of whether that magi agreed to the lien. Again - breathing air or eating pastries: it doesn't matter. If you can put a vis lien on something without the user's consent, EVERYTHING becomes a loss of magical power.

That being said: I don't have a problem with setting up a Peripheral Code that basically says "you can train Gifted Children for a year before you need to give them up", or something along those lines - a sort of safety net to be used by Procurement Agents to get children trained up before they're officially apprenticed. But that's simply a vote at Tribunal, to have something similarly-set up as Thebes does. I'd require that such Procurement agents have to declare their intent to a Tribunal Agent (such as a Gernicus), and that at the end of the year the apprentice is tested to ensure that they have learned Latin and Artes Liberales, but other than that I see no issue with it.

It's the legal path he's trying to use to get there: trying to use a private vis lien to show loss of magical power, and thus a perfect legal defense, is farcical.

No, no it doesn't. In fact, quite the opposite.

It's perfectly possible to claim a child and not affect MP. In fact I believe I made it clear that that is the rule, and my situation is the rare exception. The diff is that a public price has been put on the child, a price agreed to by contract*, for sale, which cannot be said of 99% of candidati, which changes the child's Hermetic status.

That's the difference that keeps eluding everyone (or that some simply refuse to acknowledge, ymmv), and that I think is all-important.

[i](* Without a contract or a Tribunal-acknowledged "fair price", my position is far less tenable, admittedly.

And to the predictable complaint - which does nothing to refute my position - that then any mage could put a price on a [/i]candidati - of course they could, and they could be brought to Tribunal for breach of contract if they refused to sell them at the agreed-upon price.)

Ah. Well then: to the next issue: no such market exists for gifted children: no Gernicius to validate the bill of sale, no confirmation of vis transfers, no registry to indicate who has valid claim, and so on. In other words, there is no Tribunal that has confirmed that such a sale is valid, and no laws or anything regulating such sale. Merely claiming "I have a contract!" is not enough. I can put such a claim on a breath of air, or a rock, or a grog, or anything in existence. The fact that it is an apprentice is irrelevant. You're just putting a private price tag on it with someone else, and paying in vis.

If you go forth and set up such a legal infrastructure BEFOREHAND, and get agreement that such a thing is a good idea? Sure. I think both Maine75Man, Jonathan.Link, and myself agree that getting buyoff from all interested parties at Tribunal would be a fine thing. This was probably how the Thebean system was set up. Which would be an interesting contrast, to see how it plays out. But if you get that sort of buy-off, there's no need to use the whole "I have a vis contract" reason. You've already got buy-off from the relevant authorities, which would give you legal coverage anyway as a Procurement Agent. The vis thing is irrelevant, and it doesn't hold water legally anyway.

Your comment is that you "have a contract". OK. I have a contract for the air you're about to breathe. Fully written up on fancy parchment last month, for the delivery of all the air in this room to one of my sodales, for the price of a rook of vis. Signed and witnessed by a magus in good standing. The breath you just took makes it impossible for me to deliver on my contract.

Do you feel obliged to pay that debt? Probably not. Your defense would be "I never agreed to be a part of that private contract for an activity that is freely available to all, and there is no Tribunal-wide ruling that forces me to abide by it."

To which I respond, "Yes, but we've been trading this air back and forth for a rook of vis every month for the past five years! You can see it in the covenant ledger! fully signed and certified that I paid for all this air with a rook of vis last month. And my sodales paid me a rook for the air the month before that, and so on and so forth, back and forth. You interrupted our air-vis contract, so now you must pay the wergild of a rook."

It's a silly example, yes - but it illustrates the problem of placing enforceable private contracts on arbitrary public activities that 3rd parties are allowed, by law, to stumble into.

Like the hot-crossed buns, or the ability to walk through a door, or the air of a Covenant - from the perspective of the relevant law: (Covenent law, general custom, or the Code itself, depending on which example I'm using), the property was not yours to make a claim on. And once you are able to start assigning arbitrary vis values to arbitrary actions, regardless of who is involved or their views on the subject, then the whole legal concept of "wergild as legal concept" falls apart. Those with sufficient funds can make "vis contracts" for arbitrary activities, announce them, and then force those involved to do their bidding, or else pay the price.

So: in conclusion - I don't have a problem with the idea of an Apprentice Agent, certified by the Tribunal, to find and train apprentices for a year, and then sell that service to a magi - I would imagine that some Tribunals have Redcaps doing that already. I do have a problem with someone trying to use a private vis contract to claim forfeit immunity. The law doesn't work like that - if you can get the Tribunal to set up a public "cost basis" that ALSO laid out claims of protection for the person being the Agent? Sure. But it's not the vis cost that's granting the protection: it's the Tribunal ruling that explicitly states "we're interpreting this to be part of the permissible activities of finding and training an Apprentice".

I think it was Kevin who quoted:

If it is merely frowned upon, it hardly can be more than a Low Crime. That makes it clear it cannot be the High Crime of "Deprivation of Magical Power".

And that was 5 pages ago, I'm confused where the argument was going afterward. Is there some interesting conclusion that I missed?

It's the claim that putting a vis lien on a Gifted individual (ie, being in a business arrangement, and promising the child to another magus, in return for a portion of vis) allows you to claim "loss of magical power" if the child is taken from you. Not because of the loss of the child - but because of the loss of the business arrangement.

Mainly it's been me (somewhat muddily) arguing that such a claim isn't possible under standard understanding of contract law, or even Germanic wergild: promising to pay for something in vis doesn't make it any more magical than promising to pay for something in silver makes it non-magical. Also, having a contract to sell something you don't actually have legal right to doesn't make it any more yours than it was before the contract was signed.

Hound is clarifying that if he "has a contract", then it has more weight. My observation is that yes - if such a contract is somehow formally recognized by the Tribunal, then it counts as protection: but not because of the "loss of magical power" - but because the Tribunal has recognized the right to train apprentices (say, for a year) before actually opening up their Arts. The whole "vis lein = legal protection" is irrelevant, and unnecessary. If the Tribuanl OK's such an activity for Apprentice Agents (which they can do - Thebes is an example of a tribunal that has an alternate apprenticeship system), then you don't NEED such legal protection.

The caveat I could see on that is that if delivery is promised by the end of the season then you could argue that we have a special case of "I was waiting for a new season to start to open the arts"

I think this is indeed one case where you may indeed claim some "rights" on the child, and one where traditionally the decision (lacking some sort of agreement) is by Certamen. It's a bit like the case when two magi bump into each other while harvesting the same patch of magic mushrooms; there's no clear "first" and either some sort of agreement is made, or Certamen solves the issue.

But other than that, I agree with KevinSchultz. Pretty much all the examples in the books make it clear that you can't stake any rights on a Gifted child until you've formally taken him as an apprentice. Because you have no rights on him, you can't transfer any rights on him to anyone else.

Yes, there is the one edge case of "the season hasn't started yet - therefore there is no way to start the Opening of the Gifts yet" that could be argued. The phrase "with all due reasonable haste" I believe is used. As long as you have claimed the apprentice and are planning on opening his arts at the first available opportunity, then you're arguably covered. However, that edge case is protected by the fact that the magus has formally claimed the apprentice - there's no caveat for Agents delivering the child to a magus, who will then claim the apprentice.

However, if Agents had been OK'd by the Tribunal, then it would likely be reasonably covered.

And even if agents were only informally doing their job, the magus could claim "I sent my Agent to find an apprentice for me, and he was delivering the child to me before the first of the season." However, that's a bit more tenuous. I would agree that Certamen is probably a decent way to solve the issue... although a strict interpretation of the law still says "first formally claimed, first served."

Although an easy away around that is to have some sort of arcane connection to the Agent. When they find a child - do the formal claiming of the apprentice through the AC. THEN, the magus could argue that his apprentice was already claimed, and that they were simply waiting for the Season to start in order to begin Opening the Ways.