The Hermetic Market for Gifted Children

Ultimately, then - this is about how the children are treated in their slavery - not if they're being treated as slaves. (Because, as we've established: all apprentices are slaves.) If the "Gifted Child Agent" is going even a marginal job, then he's better than house Tytalus - and the crusading wizard has an entire House to vent his righteousness on.

From the more pragmatic "this is my job", I can actually see that as being set up as a legal defense, to prevent someone from taking the children. "I'm not claiming that you can't take him as an apprentice. I'm claiming that, as his legal guardian/owner, you did not negotiate with me for his service, as you would with any other parent. I am more than happy to make that accommodation. My fees are clearly established in the Tribunal. Here's the bill."

But, as others have pointed out - that's a more mercenary variation of what Thebes does, and would require some politicking to get it to stick. It's running up against the ruling of "a magus may take an apprentice - and once they take it, it becomes their property." idea. The only rulings against that would be in the "interfering with the mundanes" or "bringing ruin to my sodales" - such as by kidnapping a noble's child, or something. And to use THAT as a legal defense, the Agent would have to threaten to go to the local lord when the other magi took the child.

Hm...potentially, that may work if the Agent somehow had an agreement with whoever he got the child from that he would re-sell, and give the original owner a portion of the profits. In THAT case, if the child was taken as an apprentice, the Agent could claim to be legally responsible to report the crime (and thus bring mundanes into the scenario)...unless that reasonable fee was paid.

In that scenario, it may be more justified for the Agent to be a mundane himself - similar to how magi get around the "don't sell magic items to mundane" clause. Or in this case, it's the very fact that he's mundane means there is an additional layer of legal protections involved.

EDIT - just read your last post - it's an interesting legal distinction of the child NOT being an apprentice, and therefore "just" property to be compensated for in a civil suit...which is a similar line of argument that I was using, although I was using the "don't interefere with the mundane" clause to force payment.

But, from a practical point of view, a much smaller and accessible target, hence the actual concern. A House is rarely worried about (most) individuals declaring Wizard's War, nor would most individuals consider it, regardless of wrath.

Well, to paraphrase Jesuit Scholar Balthasar Gracian, "Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man."

So, my guess is that there's probably quite a lot in there, actually.

Sure, but this is going to depend on the Tribunal. And if this is in a canonical Normandy Tribunal, a potential apprentice is not magical power until the Arts have been opened. And I just played in a scenario where we kidnapped back a potential apprentice, and forced concessions since in the raid the other magi attempted to slay us, while our spells were decidedly not offensive. My character got hit with a PoF with a lot of penetration.

Other Tribunals will be different. But, you've suggested being secretive, which means who's going to know unless you press a claim at Tribunal. If you're secretive, you'll have a bigger opportunity for both having equally compelling stories. The thief might accuse your character of not responding to a reasonable price, and abusing a Gifted individual, not properly claiming him as an apprentice, which is a low crime in virtually all Tribunals, IIRC. Maybe he's better politically connected, which is likely given the secretive nature of your character. Again, we go back that this really isn't going to be possible without some sort of agency/license authorized by the Tribunal, and having it enshrined within the Tribunal's PC. similar to how the Theban Tribunal operates.

An apprentice, yes. That is definitively covered that killing an apprentice is a deprivation of magical power. Stealing one is, too. But an apprentice has had their Arts Opened. Uniquely valuable mundanes is going to vary based on the Tribunal.

In thinking about it a bit more, I'm leaning more towards the idea that the best way to keep magi from interfering is to actively get secular and religious authorities involved.

  1. Have the mundane Agent explicitly set up a "school for Gifted children". Basically an orphanage or something like that.
  2. Collect your Gifted children - hire the tutors, get them exercise, etc.
  3. Tell the local lord what you're doing - and that you'll be paying HIM a pound of silver each time you find a "good home for the child".
  4. Tell the local bishop what you're doing - and make a similar promise.
  5. Make a similar deal with whoever you purchased/got the child from: "I'll pay you this amount up-front, as well as an additional fee once the child is placed in a good home."

Three pounds of silver added to the cost of the process (or however much seems appropriate), and the process is so entrenched in the local mundane culture that any attempt to kidnap the child will force a serious kink in the Order's non-interference clause - especially if there is an established, reasonable way to avoid it. (ie, to pay the fee.)

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I think getting that price specifically and firmly established at Tribunal would determine just how profitable an enterprise this would be - and as such, is probably something that would be part of the business model. If they can't get it set high enough? Not a good place to run this sort of business. But if there's a formal and consistent way you can establish just how valuable they were? Well, there y'go.

Cost of schooling and housing, plus a moderate finder's fee? Sounds reasonable. If they don't offer any sort of profit margin though - that might be an issue.

All that effort might just trigger the interfering with mundanes clause for the magus who sets it up. Certainly makes those charges more likely at Tribunal.

Oh, sure - although I was using a variation of the clause that allows magi to sell magic items through an agent - this is sort-of in reverse. It's the Agent that's setting everything up, so he's just as much of a shield as he is when he's selling magic items to noblemen.

And the counter-argument (along with the "it's the Agent doing it, not me!") is that "it wasn't interference until you set it off. Had you paid my reasonable fee, you could have avoided it. YOU were the one who chose to bring the mundane into it." But again - this may be something to establish BEFORE the magi (or the Agent) sets the whole thing up.

The argument would have to be that a magi is not being coerced into kidnapping the child - it was their choice to do so. Setting up a scenario in which a child is protected by secular authorities, BEFORE they are inducted into the Order, is hard to imagine as a crime. And as a practical matter: if it works, then there is no interference. It's only when another magi steps in that it becomes interference - which puts the burden of proof on the magi doing the stepping. (at least IMO.)

Yeah, I'd put more faith in a Tribunal than any Church authority - and that's saying a LOT.

(And note that it's not just "interfering with mundanes" - the 2nd part of that must also be triggered, the "ruin" part. That's the yardstick. Otherwise hard bargaining for a lower price could trigger it.)

You have a citation for this?

Regardless, stealing vis would be "magical power" - no argument about that. And if the child is worth vis and not silver, then...

ANYTHING can "depend on the Tribunal" - but this seems to me to be pretty much a slam dunk.

Voting against it would set precedent that it can be done at whim, and that would not sit well with any/every future mage who ever finds an apprentice but has not yet opened their Arts.

This seems to be the legal case - HoH:TL, pg. 53 - a magus' Gifted child is taken a week before they were to be claimed by their mother as an apprentice. The point is that the case of the magi who swooped in and took the child is actually very strong: the child was unclaimed, and therefore available. The mother is currently refusing to give up the child. The magus in question is before Tribunal, claiming that he is being deprived of magical property.

Whether something has a Vis value is not a determination of magical power, especially in Normandy. Normandy covenants raid each other all the time and steal non-magical stuff.

A Gifted individual who has not had his/her Arts opened is not an apprentice.

Hm - more context, from the core rulebook:

So actually it does sound like this happens on occasion, and that there is likely Peripheral Code rulings on the subject (as the above Mother/Child hearing suggests.) So likely setting up some sort of collective private tutoring academy that teaches Gifted students, with the Tribunal's understanding that magi can come along and purchase apprentices there, is not an unreasonable scenario to believe - and may very well be covered already by statute.

And from Apprentices, pg. 38:

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What is it that is being voted against? Someone stealing an "apprentice" whose Arts haven't been Opened? Well many magi would like to have a competent lab slave. If one can keep a Gifted individual as a lab assistant without having to teach them, some might do so. Seems that I remember Tribunal cases about this type of thing, or you want the apprentice to be literate before Opening the Arts, and so hire a tutor. Someone could swoop in and Open the Arts and thus claim him as an apprentice. It might be uncouth behavior, but without other Peripheral Code rulings, there is little that can be done to prevent the practice. The apprentice has been legally claimed, and the mark of that claim is Opening the Arts.

What if someone offers this character a fair price, to their mind, because the apprentice has a horrible Flaw to be overcome, and you decline the offer? Indeed, almost any magus could come and make lowball offers, which you refuse, and they use at justification for rescuing the lad from his predicament, kidnap him and Open his Arts.

Yeah, the "unopened lab assistant" thing seems to be a common theme in the docs - I think I saw that discussion 2 or 3 times, in reading through the different texts. Usually in the context of "some magi might try it, and thus it's the main reason for why the scenario exists to begin with". ie, if someone really WAS doing this, the proto-apprentice could be stolen back.

The only real exception there was was the observation that Opening the Gift really does have to occur at the start of the season - which therefore means you may need to wait a couple of months before starting. In that context, there IS a "reasonable wait period" involved - if you literally CAN'T open the Gifts, then it's permissible to not do so. The ruling is "at the earliest possible opportunity" - which does suggest that there will be a certain minimum amount of lagtime.

Another issue seems to be that anyone under 7 really CAN'T be Opened easily. Thus, there is a gap of a few years in there.

I would say this exact scenario is why you need to get the Tribunal's explicit approval beforehand - including the setting of prices and whatnot. Or alternately a sufficiently-large band of magi willing to back you via Wizard's War - and to have a good enough rep that other groups won't counter you back.

I don't see anyone having access to the candidatus* until a price (and contract?) has been agreed upon - "pending verification of the goods as described". They can trust Redcap to that degree or not buy, their choice.

(* Lacking a proper term for a child at this point in their "apprenticeship", and not willing to use "pre-apprentice" (b/c it's not a sure thing yet), and failing to find Latin for the "prospect", I'm going (for now) with "candidate".)

If the candidatus is "as promised" but prospective buyer wants to weasel out at that point, he can find his own candidati. :stuck_out_tongue:

Again, no. See below.

Your example does nothing to support your statement. "Non-magical stuff" has zero vis value, no surprise in this decision. Give me an example of the loss of something that does have a value in vis, and where the Tribunal condoned the stealing/taking/loss of that (and without other prejudices/complications involved), and that is support for your assertion.

True, but livestock and covenfolk have value that is easily covered in silver. Might be true if the candidatus is claimed from a mundane procurer, but not as much if from a Hermetic Wizard - their time and effort in magical matters is rarely (if ever?) measured in terms of mere silver by any Tribunal.

I remember that case - but I'm not sure it's exactly parallel to what I'm talking about. (Some parts are, but only superficially.) And the ruling is not based on the same part of The Code as I'm appealing to.

The crux of that case, as I remember it, was that the mother of child wanted to save the child for her own apprentice. She was not asking for any "value" back, not petitioning for compensation for "magical power lost" - she (understandably) wanted "her" child back, period. The Tribunal ruled properly, not because the child did not have value, not because the maga had not lost anything, but because the sole issue of the complainant was "rights to the child" - and she had zero.

My mage's position is different. It has nothing to do with who has a right to the candidatus - there is no "apprentice" mentioned in this argument, so those rights are not being contested (and why it is materially different from the above "mother/child" ruling). The "loss" is based on loss of value of magical property, property that has undeniably changed ownership without compensation, and property that has a value clearly measurable in vis. If the child is worth vis (and I don't see how it is not), then my mage has suffered a loss of that vis. If that is worth "magical power" (and I think it's generally accepted that vis is), then my mage has suffered a loss of magical power equal to that loss of vis.

Let's look at a parallel example. Mage #1 finds a magical dingus, and puts that item up for sale. It's lost to Mage #1 due to the (undefined but undeniable) actions of mage #2 - the specifics of "how" don't matter, it's lost to Mage #1. Mage #1 appeals to the Tribunal, seeking the value of the item plus punitive fines (meh, maybe not, but doesn't hurt to ask). It doesn't matter how the 2nd mage's actions created the loss - unless that 2nd mage can prove ownership of the magical property in question before the 1st mage lost it*, the 2nd mage is responsible for (say it with me) "depriving a mage of their magical power". Period.

(* And that is not the case with a candidatus - "having the right to claim" and "previously having claimed" are two entirely different things.)

To sum it up - a case of this nature has nothing to do with rights to claim the child as apprentice, that is an irrelevant distraction. It has everything to do with loss of magical property without compensation. Claim the child, kill the child - whether or not they had a legal right, the loss is the same.

The value of the item (or the child) can be debated, but the original ownership and hence the loss to that person is undeniable.

Thanks - a cross-post (after I had typed up the above), but a timely one in that it exactly supports my point.

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There is no magical property here. A Gifted individual is not considered or defined by the Code as magical property until the Arts are Opened. An apprentice is property, and is considered part of a magus's power. A Gifted person not your magus's apprentice isn't your magical property. Indeed, the PC supports him walking away from your magus and asking any magus to take him as an apprentice.

Second time you've made that assertion - second and last time I'll ask for a citation.

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How about you cite that it is magical property, after all you have to do this at Tribunal should anyone steal from you. You provided training, which could be recompensed with some silver. That you might be paid in Vis does not make whatever being sold magical property, and thus part of your power. Your asserting that it is, but offer no support, other than it has a value expressed in Vis. Well, so does silver. So does the covenant's tower conjured.
See also, Gifted person walking away and asking to be apprenticed by that kindly Gently Gifted magus.

Also, I did provide the example of the Normandy Tribunal. Maybe you didn't read that.