The Levant

the crusades are at a tipping point- it is the beginning of the 6th crusade in which King Fredrick II of Germany is attempting to take Jeruselem by attacking Egypt, and the order has technically increased the boundaries of the levant to include Egypt, Arabia, and modern day Jordan, Syria and Iraq. To the north the boundaries of the Theban tribunal have been technically expanded to vaguely border the levant, but this is hermetically unoccupied and exact boundaries would be determined by new covenants deciding which tribunal they want to be in.
This leaves the Levant on the fringe of an expanding christiandom, but in an area where that expansion may have stalled, and with the order of Sulemian, which supports the Arab caliphate, though they are also facing the Mongol hordes, which also frankly have some Eastern Europeans rather nervous.
Hermetically speaking it does not have the vast vis resources of other border regions such as Hibernia or Novgorod, but there is a combination of freedom and academic connection greater than other tribunals.

This thread is for discussing governance of the Levant tribunal and how that will impact the types of covenants which may be established there. Those who plan to have, or are considering having, magi in the Levant tribunal should weight in with their thoughts.
I would expect the primary driving issue would be how the order has interacted with the crusades- does it sympathize with the crusader states, attempt neutrality, or have members on either side. Considering that the Muslim states have the Order of Sulemain supporting them do the crusader states have another magical ally besides the order that makes a potential rival, have a close relationship with the Order, or rely primarily on the church for defenses against the muslim wizards?

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Some toughts :

I think a small majority of magi are in a state of passive neutrality because It's been integral of the Hermetic Oath for so long It would take time for to adapt and measure the consequences of a more active posture.

There could be a faction of traditionalists (maybe some Criamon, Trianoma, probably Mercere and some Guernicus ? Non Christian Magi feeling they lose some protection from the Order) that actively work for neutrality.

I expect most politically driven magi to support the crusades in a attempt to gain an edge with the support from the state and from the church.
I can see some adventurous magi taking the opportunity to gain control of large portion of land in the now territories with only opportunistic political support to the crusades, that's probably the Tremere stance.
Most Flambeau would probably support the crusade Imho, same for the Jerbiton for different reasons.

There could also be a smaller faction of Magi supporting the Order of Suleiman, maybe some Criamon (some have Muslim roots if I remember correctly ? ), some Tytalus ?

Bjornaer could maybe be splited, between Harmonist/Wilderist. I could see Wilderist seeking to oppose the influence of the Church and Harmonist supporting It. This could be complicated by the presence of a fair proportion of Non Christian among them.

Non Christian will not always equate to being pro-muslim. Bjorner wildists probably don't feel they have a horse in this race. The real question however is one of how the tribunal would have been structured arround these issues.
I went ahead and purchased blood and sand- the 4th edition book for some guidance in this [strike] and I'm going to follow it's general guidelines- the treaty of Baghdad between the Order of Hermes and the Order of Sulemain was renewed in 1223, and lasts until 1233. A special tribunal has been scheduled for 1235 that will review the situation and how to proceed. The tribunal is very loosely organized, between magi being either short lived or largely transitional in their occupancy of this tribunal and covenants being typically similarly short lived. Precedents tend to be forgotten within a couple of tribunal meetings and the local peripheral code is most solidly defined by the tribunal of Baghdad, since nobody has found the time or organizational capability to further encode the local rulings and decisions. [/strike] but it seems to be heavily contradicted by the Cradle and the Crescent, which describes the Order of Suleimen as being enemies of the order as of 1220.
What is clear is :

  1. the tribunal of the levant pre-existed the crusades
  2. many hermetic magi joined the crusades, either as a matter of faith or greed, and this vastly changed the way the tribunal operated
  3. Suleimen considered the Order of Hermes as enemies in 1220

it is also implied that magi were able to set up some form of territorial rulership, or at least expected to be able to, when they participated in the crusades, yet it is unlikely that they would be able to swear an oath to mundane authorities, though I believe the oath would allow them to join holy orders such as the Templars.

Non Christian will not always equate to being pro-muslim.

Agreed. I can see why you read It that way. In fact there was a conflict beetween those Bjoarner faction in official storyline about how to react to to the threat of Divine Aura "destroying" the Bjoarner domus magna and I extrapolated from here.

Bjorner wildists probably don't feel they have a horse in this race.

Same reason as above.

It also occurs to me that neither the Order of Suleiman nor the Order of Hermes have religious requirements, and that both have been seeking apprentices during the time that the Latins have occupied the Levant. While I expect each would have drawn primarily from their own, respective, communities, at the same time potential apprentices are rare enough that neither would have remained exclusively within their own "boundries", meaning that both are probably of mixed religious composition now. Of course the OoS is also politically connected, while the OoH is not. It occurs to me that this could be a source of common ground for them in fact- where the OoS is allowed to offer services to western secular powers as local Vizir while the OoH will enshrine in it's peripheral code that participating in future crusades is considered mundane interference within the Levant. Certainly refugees from the Theban Tribunal would be on board with such a ruling, but what do the players think?

My apologies, I'm not quite understanding what you mean here, when you write about a common ground.

I do acknowledge your previous part, there are no religious requirements and this makes very likely that OoS and OoH are mixed from a religious point of view.

I'd say they both draw from the same pool and compete for the resource, with the advantage for the OoS that they don't strictly need Gifted apprentices (AFAIK, feel free to correct me, I'm quite new).

Back to your question, I could easily envision that position by the Levantine Magi of the Order. The Crusades have already lost momentum, I don't think the Tribunal would support them directly to the point of subverting the ingrained mentality of "No interference with the mundanes".

That would require a more cohesive approach from all the order, and the reality is that, as most of the crusaders do, the Magi that come with the Crusades don't plan to stay long in the places reclaimed.

I see more likely that the Levantine Hermetic residents will side for neutrality. The refugees from Thebes will definetely support the ruling for Mundane Interference, since they've found themselves just a few years past at the wrong end of a Crusade.

On the other hand, if the Levant tribunal makes it clear that magi coming over to aid the crusades will be Marched, that provides a powerful disincentive for other magi to travel to the levant to join the crusades.

If this is the case, who will then come to the Levant ?
My main question is, does the Levant need Crusading Magi ?
Who is going to benefit and in what way ?

With the Crusaders comes the Dominion. The same can be said from the Islamic side, of course.

On the plus side, anyone interested in trying to learn about new forms of magic. Anyone who is concerned about the expanding temporal power of the Catholic Church but doesn't want to head to the wilderness.
On the other side of this, access to temporal authorities for the OoS may be less appealing- after all the Latin temporal authorities are the crusaders, or their immediate descendants. And while the OoS are allowed to be court mages unlike the OoH, they are not allowed to weild temporal power themselves, which OoH can, so maybe this truce would not work out so well after all, especially if this creates a stronger connection in the OoS between the OoH and the crusades.
Perhaps a situation where they are talking about peace, in part because of concerns about Gheingas Khan...

So onward to covenants, I believe I am going to require that all covenants in the Levant take the Felicitous tribunal boon, since the tribunal is more focused on providing for the common defense than in fighting over resources, but each covenant must also take a hook of either the hedge tradition major external relations hook or rival if hostilities have escalated. Forbiden boons and hooks will include Centralized kingdom, ruined covenant, heretics, and missing expedition. Not because covenants aren't ruined or expeditions haven't gone missing but simply because there really isn't anything mysterious about it and surviving resources would be non-existant.

So beyond these tribunal wide limitations, what are people thinking of for covenants?

I would like to play in a medium strength covenant, possibly at the edge of the Dead Sea? Salt and Asphalt tar would be main exports, relatively few vis sources of course, perhaps initially established as a staging point to explore the Dead Sea for religious artifacts? Probably already known to the people in Jerusalem to some degree. Possibly also established as the sign of a loose truce between the OoS and OoH.

I have looked at a couple of sites. In the far south-east of the Crusader kingdoms, places like Krak de Montreal on the river Jordan or Aqaba allow access to trade routes to the Red Sea - and therefore to east Africa and Arabia with ease, and past the Red Sea to Persia. As they are on the frontier, there have been castles built.

Another good option I think would be in the Principality of Antioch, putting you close to the mediterranean but also close to the roads leading to Damascus and to the fertile crescent.

Now, what you want your covenant to look like to outsiders is probably a bigger question - do you want a big castle, to look like the scholars living with a tame nobleman? A fortification with many knights, to look like an order of knights? Or do you want to look less threatening and resemble a merchant business trading to crusaders, or maybe a small hospital offering aid to pilgrims.

What about Petra, as possible site for a covenant ?

remember that multiple covenants can be played simultaneously.
For this tribunal I'm placing the following stats:
Spring covenant is 300 build points, max of 50 points in labs, 50 points in specialists, 100 points in books, 25 points in money stocks, and 20 points in vi stocks
Summer covenant is 600 points, with a max of 100 points in specialists
Autumn covenants are 1200 points, a limit of 100 points in vis sources and 200 points in specialist
There are no winter covenants in the tribunal- covenants which rest on their laurels in this environment do not last long.

Worth noting that while there were churches in Petra, the area had been abandoned since 600 AD aside from some nearby fortifications erected during the first crusade, so all divine aura in the area will be depleted. meanwhile the area was occupied by pagan Arabs for several centuries prior to being Christianized, so there are likely some strong auras and potentially regio in the area. At the same time the OoS tends to congregate in cities, with some individual hermits (generally ungently Gifted) will live in wilderness areas, so at most there would be one prior or current occupant.

It would appear that Krak de Montreal is occupied by Muslim Kurds in 1228.
Aqaba is in ruins, but well located, and probably has strong remnants of divine aura as there have been multiple mosques built in the area and used from 650 to 1116, meaning the divine aura would decay to zero by 1582. However the Muslim city was built outside the walls of an older pagan city captured by Muslims in 650 which had existed since 4000 BC, and had been prosperous since 735 BC, which again means there could be some major magical auras or regio just outside the remaining divine aura the divine aura at this point would be at level 2 throughout the old city boundaries.
The principality of Antioch of course covers a huge amount of land, and too many possibilities to detail in brief.

Considering the theme of the saga I'd rather have a covenant that's not too secluded. I like the idea of the proximity of trade routes. I also like the Idea of the hospital because.

I'd also prefer a medium strength covenant.

Aqaba seems promising.

Aqaba is along a trade route, but it is also way outside of the crusader kingdoms and the mass of Hermetic covenants (such as it is), and deep in Arab lands, south of Petra. To play what the book considers a medium strength covenant it would need to be either summer or autumn. Given the location I would suggest Summer, where what was a small outpost has managed to get itself past the founding pains and established in teh region, but has not yet developed a strong political reputation, indeed it would probably have the hook of unsafe and the boon of ungoverned, or possibly a major hook of war zone, depending on whether we want to assume that the troops marching between Egypt and Damascus would get close enough to involve the covenant.. At the time of the story it is not actively used as a trade route, and what remains of the community (displaced from both original sites) is a simple fishing village.

Could a covenant in the vicinity of Baniyas in The principality of Antioche be interesting ? It's close to Margat and has Phoenician and Greek roots. It's also at the edge of the county of Tripoli.

Looks nice. There's a Latin Rite archbishop living in the nearby Margat fortress, and it's bound to be a future place of clashes between Muslims and Crusaders, at the end of the XIII century.