The laws of the land and Hermetic law


Does the Order of Hermes recognise the 'laws of the Land'. I know as a rule it is supposed to avoid getting entangled in mundane affairs but presumably they desire to stay within the law. How does this affect interactions between magi for example.

Take an apprentice, or more specifically, a laboratory assistant. As a man living in this period who has invested considerable time and effort in traiing some rustic in the theory of Bonisagus, Latin and Magic Lore, I want to protect my investment. There is utterly no protection for him by default under Hermetic tradition is there? An apprentice is a possession, but an ungifted goon is just another covenfolk grunt.

Now then, if I buy a slave, a serf, or convince the indivdual into an indenture of some form will the order recognise him as my possession? If they did I could probably wrangle it so that injuring, stealing or otherwise interfereing with this mundane could be considered scrying on me and in particular - 'depriving a magus of his magic'.

Take a situation:

Magus Alvin and Magus Belvin are bitter rivals in a covenant.

Magus Alvin has invested a lot of time and training in this mundane even to the extent of providing a longevity ritual and initiating him into some non-house mysteries.

Magus Belvin becomes head of the council by election. Wihtout any legal basis to protect Alvin's assistant the new leader could just 'take him' couldn't he?

Magus Alvin would surely see this coming and would wish to avoid that. What course of action can he legally take to protect his investment?

Wizard's war? 8)

Well I suppose that is true, but perhaps a little extreme as a 'first step'.

On tha point, has anyone else noticed that past few weeks 'wizards war' has been a common answer to many queries. Are we moving, as a community to a more aggresive stance? Is the order fracturing? Is it time for a great shakedown in the Order to sort the weak form the chaff... Have we, as a community been infiltrated by diabolists bent on discharging chaos throughout our noble order...

If so - who is prepared!

Before Wizard's War, I would suggest Certamen.

But years ago, I had such a grog, who was a Jew. One of the Magi in the convenant (I think 4th edition) took Arab as a flaw and the SG made them antagonistic towards each other, so antagonistic in fact that the mage killed my buddy!!! Now, besides the fact that I had issues then with his family, we (iirc) started out with threats of Certamen, and then there was the throwing a spells and all sorts of nastiness.

If this were to happen in a new saga, I would hope that the covenant charter would cover such things. If not, Certamen, Tribunal, and then as a last resort, Wizard's War. There, we see, is a path to follow to get some redress.

I practice, I would say that the "Laws of the Land" apply first, unless superseded by Hermetic Law and/or tradition.

Magi tend to put themselves above any "Common Law". That said, the Order still recognizes possessions, and a Custos is exactly that, since magi also tend to lump any mundanes in the same category as chattel.

So, it would be the same as if a valued piece of lab equipment was taken - there is no right for the other to do so (unless the Covenant Charter gives such), and it would be against the part of the Code about "magical power".

If it were just a favoured servant, it would not be against the Code, but still clear grounds for action.

There are several issues here I think. What do magi think, and what do the mundane authorities think?

I would say, that magi would (generally) think that the Oath and Peripheral Code supersede Civil, Canon, or Common Law. However, Hermetic law does not really seem to be a compete system of law. It is more like the rules of a guild. So if an issue is not covered by Hermetic law, then presumably the mundane laws should apply. For example, killing your own apprentice is not a Hermetic crime, but it is still the crime of murder under the appropriate mundane jurisdiction.

It is unclear whether mundane or church authorities would recognize the jurisdiction of Hermetic Law. Probably they don't generally, but if a dispute between magi that dealt with substantially Hermetic matters somehow came to the attention of a mundane jurist, I think he would defer to the Tribunal. For example, the mundane jurist would likely defer to the Tribunal in a dispute over rights to vis. Much like he would probably defer to a guild in a dispute between guild merchants over profit sharing. Having said that, if a magus killed another magus during Wizard War, then that would be pretty clearly considered murder by a Civil court if a case was brought before it (for all the good that might do).

A possible legal solution is to fight Certamen for the laboratory assistant.

I think this probably depends on what 'take him', actually means.

What is to stop the assistant refusing to exchange masters? (Rego Mentem, maybe).

Perhaps, the assistant is considered common covenant property that can be assigned by the council leader. In this case, there doesn't seem to be any problem as far as Hermetic law goes. As council leader, Belvin can redistribute the covenant resources, assuming the rules of the covenant council are followed.

If the assistant is kidnapped, or something, against his will, there might be a Common law case that can brought on behalf of the assistant. This would especially be the case if the assistant is a freeman. If the assistant is not a freeman, then whomever is the legitimate owner of the serf, would presumably be in the right as far as Common law is concerned. However, it seems likely that neither Alvin nor Belvin would be considered a legitimate feudal owner of serfs by a Common law court.

A Common law court might also consider this situation to be analogous to a dispute between the monks of a monastery about an internal monastic matter. In such a dispute between monks, a Common law court would usually defer to Canon Law, so if it was using this precedent, the Common law court would probably defer to Hermetic law.

Well this is why I was specifically asking about methods of ownership. If magi can get away with owning land then they can own serfs. Whatever chicanery you are using for the this must surely apply to their bondsmen.

I agree with the 'if there is an Hermetic law, but am not sure if there is. Although I do incline to agree with the shrouded one's comments above.

Certamen is supposed to be about resolving legitimate dispute. It is not intended to be a mechanism for theft by superior arms. I can see how you can challenge certamen to get your assistant back - I can see no legitimacy in certamen to steal one though, unless there IS a legitimate claim. This only makes senes if there is recognition of ownership.

Indenture is probably the best method for this because there is a record. If the servant is an obvious asset in the magical field I am now satisfied, based on Cuchulain's comments, that this can be considered within the remit of 'a magus's magic'.

Could one argue, that an indivudual trained as a lab assistant is a valued possession, or even call him 'magical'? After all, such a person is more rare than any ordinary grog.

Hoh:MC (p.114, first column) talks about a similar situation regarding the forge companions of Verditius magi - ungifted assistants in their lab activities. Roughly speaking, it's a gray area, though some tribunals may have regulated the issue. So yes, you could definitely argue that, but with absolutely no guarantees of winning the case. Time to polish your Certamen and Debate skills!

Yes, but usually it would seem to be either the covenant that owns the land, as an institution (which is fine, monasteries, guilds, etc own land too --- in some circumstances), or it is an individual feudal lord that owns the land (such as a companion character who is a knight or baron). So the Common law would seem to be that (if the assistant is property) then whomever is the legitimate owner of that property would be in the right. If the court sees the covenant as like a monastery then the legitimate owner would seem to be the head of the covenant council. If the court sees the covenant as being part of a feudal estate, then the legitimate owner is the owner of that estate (i.e. likely none of the magi, but maybe a companion character).

Which claim is legitimate under Hermetic law, I think would depend on the charter of the particular covenant. If depends whether the assistant is seen as a covenant asset or an asset of an individual magus. In the absence of an explicit agreement I think that either position could be argued at Tribunal. So it seems that it is a suitable subject for a certamen challenge (unless you have a covenant agreement that states who is the legitimate owner, in which case there is no problem).

Personally, I think this is a very complicated question. All I know about medieval law is that it's complicated and almost nothing like modern law. Also, its fairly meaningless unless backed by someone with the authority to execute any legislative decisions a lawyer or judge might make. This discussion has touched on many things that I don't think are really that related. I think all I can offer is material to further complicate the issue (which I like to do at times).

Common Law only applies in England. I don't know if France or Spain or Italy had the equivalent legal structure. I know thirteen century Ireland operated under Common Law and the old Irish Brehen (sp?) laws, know that it was a mess, and know that most of the time the guy on the horse with the sword got what he wanted.

Civil Law is complex. The only examples of it that I can recall involve the rightful ownership of land. Peasants existed in a complicated social network that differed from area to area. Who still has slaves in 1220? I know some areas still practice it, I've got examples of rich Florentine businessmen buying slaves in the fifteenth century, but couldn't generate a list of slave countries and non-slave countries. On the other hand, everyone has a master. One of the honorary titles of the pope is "servant (or slave) of God". It would be naturally to have a master and the more powerful master one has the more prestige he enjoys himself. Who is the master in the Magus A and Magus B example? Even guilds with their quasi-corporate structure had a master-journeyman-apprentice hierarchy.

Why would Hermetic Law supersede Civil and Canon Law? Doesn't that depend on the case? Why are magi above the Time of Faith mindset that is usually applied to the Middle Ages? Heck, magi know God exists (everyone else does too) because they can investigate concrete examples of Divine beings and Divine places. So, if a legal document suddenly appears that says that the vis site really sits on lands belonging to the monastery, wouldn't one or two magi say, "Well, that sucks, but it is the brother's right so I'll relinquish my claim to it?" Hermetic magic could probably discern that the document isn't a forgery.

As for forge-companions, they are purposefully not covered by Hermetic law so that they can be targets for other Verditii as grist for the feud mill, much like lower class peasants and bondsmen in the Icelandic Sagas. Out-of-game I did it to drive stories. In-game the reasoning is that the Verditii come from a feud background and wanted to continue their personal feuds because they liked doing so.

If it happened in my game, I'd let the players figure it out. Looking up what the peripheral code says and adhering to it would avoid the conflict, and I think the conflict is the meat in the sandwich. Certamen sounds like a good idea. Kidnap without legal consequences sounds good too, especially if the magus who lost the assistant is a player character. "The guy you trained for two years to help you in the lab just got nabbed by your sodales who lives down the hall and who won't let the guy out of his sanctum even to pee. What do you do?"

Wait a minute. Doesn't a lab helper have to have the Gift? Doesn't it say somewhere that a Gifted lab assistant who isn't an apprentice runs the risk of being taken by another magus and made into his apprentice?

Matt Ryan

I think that there are some circumstances when a non-Gifted character can be a laboratory helper.

In any case, the issue still applies if some other assistant (like a scribe trained in Magic Theory) is nabbed.

In covenants you canget a bonus for having a completely untrained grunt. You still get their INT bonus, assuming they have one. The virtue servant for your lab.

AFAIK you can use an ungifted alboratory assistant and training them in magic theory and they work just like an apprentice. MT+INT bonus. They count towards your leadership limit though.

The risk you run of having a gifted lab assistant who is not your apprentice is someone taking them as their apprentice. That would be an entirely different matter as in not opening them to the arts you ar doing the servant a disservice. I don't see that as being in the same category at all.

As I understand things, Languedoc and the lands under the jurisdiction of the Count Of Toulouse, used the Code of Justinian. There was, I believe, much wrangling, stretching and distorting of this legal system between the Inquisition and the Occitan 'inquisitees'.

My source for this is Massacre At Montsegur: A History Of The Albigensian Crusade by Zoe Oldenbourg.

Forgive me if this matter is dealt with in the Guernicus section of the HoH books, but what about a Magus's hat, or, less trivially, his silver? The Code provides protection from theft, by another member of the Order, of magical property and resources, but what about mundane stuff? Is it a Hermetic crime to steal another Magus's non-magical goblet, or must the victim take the issue to a civil court?

I don't think it is a Hermetic crime (unless your Tribunal has Peripheral Code rulings that says that it is, or you mount a case at the Tribunal to get a favorable Peripheral Code ruling). Individual covenant charters could include some mechanism for resolving such situations too --- at least between covenant members, or between covenant members and guests.

Otherwise, Certamen would probably be the first choice of resolution. Plus keeping whatever you don't want stolen in your Sanctum --- as that way you are free to harm any thieves you catch, as you see fit.

Remember that the Code does not provide hard legal definitions for everything (or much of anything), no requirements that must be filled to meet one standard vs the next.

At some point, mundane theft could be deemed "depriving one of magical power", in that the loss of the mundane goods interferes with one's magical pursuits. Steal a goblet? No. Steal a valuable goblet? probably not. Kidnap all the covenfolk and grogs, steal all the silver, mundane equipment and food - that's gonna put a cramp in anyone's Lab schedule for the next season.

Oh I am with you on this one. I have alwasy considered 'depriving a magus of his magic' to be - whatever you can covince/blag it to cover.

The thing is therefore it becomes very important what people would generally consider it to cover. How far is a magus stretching th boundaries by expecting his undies in the laundry to be covered by the code?

Is he going to be unable to do labwork without his undies? If yes, I want to know what his labwork was.

You'd better not ask :laughing:

IMS it is a question of tribunal tradition and peer pressure if something is considering depriving you of magical power or not. Destroying a supply of parchment has been considered a minor offence in some cases, while in other has led to someone being charged a queen of vis for the inconvenience. (Well, not that much, but youi get the idea). Tribunal bully politics, as usual.