I just read through the mundane and hermetic history sections of the Rome book during the last few hours. For the first time ever mind you.
My main concerns are how the Order works in this tribunal and the overall theme, because they influence what covenants to put in the tribunal. Each of them should serve some purpose to further stories and underline the concept.
I seem to do my best thinking while I'm writing, so this posting has been re-written to reflect my best ideas rather than be a long list of speculations.
I see the Roman Tribunal in Hermetic society as a reflection of mundane society. Enduring conflicts and power struggles both internally (in covenants, like in city states) and externally (between city states). The disappearing Magical and Faerie auras and vis makes sense, following the spread of mundane activity and influence of the Church. This lack of resources has caused a recession in Hermetic society for centuries, relatively few covenants exist and all of them old. Newer covenants never make it for long before succumbing to hostile action from the older, powerful covenants. A peripheral code exists to try and limit mundane meddling, but it leaves many openings especially when using mundane intermediaries. It also gives more power to older magi (somehow?) and effectively blocks new covenants forming. What few resources exist are fought over. But instead of disappearing completely it has recently been discovered that the Dominion merely suppresses and hides resources previously believed to have been lost.
Like the Guelphs and Ghibbelines fight for control over city states, magi fight for control of their covenant. Like whichever family is dominant decides on the politics of the city state, the dominant faction of magi rule the covenant at a given time. But this is likely to change back and forth again and again. Magi form alliances in their Hermetic lineage, with sodales from their house, and may even ally with another house's lineage with common goals. Magi are split into two dominant factions; One group deeply involved with the Church, uses plotting, intrigue, diplomacy, blackmail bribe, and whatever subterfuge is needed to consolidate power and holdings with the blessing of the Church as well as getting concessions to procure vis previously hidden or unavailable. The other faction is more aggressive and sides with the merchant-princes and warring nobles, involve themselves in conquest and crusades to raid what magical resources and profit they can get away with.
But with all the covenants being old they also grow stale and dominated by one of two factions led by old magi too deeply scarred by history and bad blood to rule in a constructive manner. New generations of magi try to break free from this stranglehold, to stem the violence and plotting and to stop the decay. They want to the rebirth of the whole tribunal by allowing a seed to grow to a fresh new sapling from the toppled, rotting tree from where it came. They want to look outwards again, to explore and perhaps colonize Africa. Not that the factionalizing and plotting is likely to stop immediately, it will be an ongoing process.
So for a saga to start out the classic Spring start and build-your-own-covenant is different than usual, because if you don't also have the older covenants undergo a generational change they would squash the newcomers. But a Second Spring start in an old covenant is also an option.
So, I have here the (apparent) loss of resources which causes power struggles, but with a (sort of ) solution as to why the magi haven't died out or moved on. I have plotting and power struggles involving the Church as well as city states, to mirror the mundane society. Sure, there may be corruption and infernalism, but I'd prefer if it wasn't dominant. It's ok to be gritty and dark, but I'd rather have paranoia about these kinds of things than having it be the norm. Sometimes it's not a demon but a dark hedge wizard or cult. Also, I have the Ruin and Reawakening with the way things are about to change.