Tribunal Cases - how do you decide what's on the docket?

I have a Stonehenge Tribunal meeting coming and I want to prepare some cases for my PCs to vote on (or have their votes courted for).

My first choice it to look at the events in the setting, the disagreements detailed in the Tribunal books, and player related activity and be inspired. But I want to produce a sense of verisimilitude, that the players are not at the center of the world but that exist larger events occurring around them or unconnected to them.

I've consulted the Wizard Grimorie which includes a list of the type of cases that appear at Tribunal and a list of Peripheral Code rulings. But beyond that, can anyone suggest a good source of ideas?

I'm considering constructing some sort of crazy random chart with the names of the covenants, various offenses or problems, and start rolling to see what I get.

I welcome specific ideas (e.g. her is a specific case or issue), but I'm most interested in how you as a GM decides what's up for vote?

Let's see...

If there is a ban/restriction on magically creating silver in effect, it would be very surprising if someone didn't suggest lifting it. If it is not in place, someone should suggest putting it into effect.

A covenant particularly active in mundane affairs has been using ReMe rather extensively. Another covenant brings the matter to the Tribunal, claiming this has crossed the line into interfering with mundanes.

An accusation of infernalism is always fun to toss around, whether or not there is any truth to it.

As a GM, I think you should first, introduce issues which draw attention to your main or secondary plots (assuming you have any) or as a warning for your players (if they are beginning to step into a grey area, have another covenant accused of going too far into that direction, just to remind them that there are limits). Failing that, any sort of random offense can do as a filler - but a clear and proven offense is of little interest, since the vote should be obvious.

For each case, randomly (or not) select a Story (or Personality) Flaw from the Core rulebook.

The idea is then that there is a magus with this Story/Personality Flaw in the Tribunal and that this has caused him to either break the code, or at least get into a situation whereby he is accused of breaking the code. Then make the case up around what that Flaw suggests the accused magus is likely to have done (or be accused of doing).

If you already have a good idea of who most of the magi in the Tribunal are, then just pick among the Story/Personality Flaws that you know the magi in the Tribunal already have.

Take three or four (or whatever number you want) of these cases, then do the same thing with one or two Covenant Hooks (i.e. cases where an entire Covenant rather than an individual magus is accused). Then add in the cases (if any) that involve the player characters --- or those that you need to frame future stories.

Having a rough idea of who each covenant likes or dislikes is handy. If you have a couple of NPCs with daggers drawn, one of them should drag the other before Tribunal every time.

We're currently playing in the Provencal tribunal, and not a single Tribunal gathering goes by in with Mistridge doesn't haul Windgraven up on some charge or other, or vice versa, or both. Our covenant isn't near or especially related to either.

Other things:

A Tytalus magus brings up some case. Check the 'intrigue plots' list in the Tytalus chapter of Houses of Hermes: Societies, and go from there.

Announcements and rituals. New apprentices being presented to swear the Code before a Guernicus, a gauntlet being conducted, a magus being named a master (if your tribunal cares for such things), an announcement by a Bonisagus mage about his latest breakthrough with demonstrations, etc. All of these can be either background colour or seed stories in their own right.

Play up the fair. Have wizards offering games with vis rewards, opportunities for trade, book stalls as covenants try to sell off their unwanted books for something they do want, etc. Tribunal should be more than a bunch of court cases, and if the quaesitors are doing their job properly you shouldn't have more than 2-3 cases requiring tribunal vote.

With a few options like this under your belt you can vary each tribunal up. Sometimes play the court case game, sometimes make the court cases take a back seat and have the action focused somewhere else.

Mostly I go with what seems interesting, provides opportunities for stories, and usually something that fits with the history. I generally try to toss things into Tribunals either as resolutions of ongoing storylines (settling a dispute with another covenant) or as a way of introducing new storylines (such as kicking off a wizards march). I've also used Tribunals to foreshadow future storylines... for instance, present a case of a conflict between a solitary magus and another covenant over resources and resolve it, then a year or two later have another solitary magus take up residence near the PCs covenant.

Generally, while the world doesn't revolve around the PCs, the stories should... so I try to tie the Tribunal cases into something the PCs could get involved in in some way. If a PC magus fancies himself a diplomat, have a dispute that he can help resolve. If a maga wants to be a hoplite, introduce a rogue magus (though perhaps don't have him Marched at the first Tribunal he appears before, to give him a little more weigh and menace). Have an NPC lab rat ask the Tribunal to support his research, showing the PC lab rat that maybe he could get similar support at a later Tribunal... if only he can convince enough magi to vote for him.

Also the docket doesn't have to be all criminal cases or lawsuits. A Tribunal is a governing body and sometimes Magi just bring up things to be added or taken away from the Peripheral Code.

It's been mentioned before but the Tytalus section in societas actually has some great examples of this in their debate rules.

I particularly love the one about how the one Magus wants to legalize raiding other Magi vis sources because it's a cultural tradition. :laughing:

Serfs Parma but I think that one was supposed to be Scotland or Wales.

There could be a certamen tournment and the rules could be on docket to approve.

Buying and selling to mundanes always makes for interesting case.

Find some small thing the players did (whether or not it had reprecussions) and create a case where some other magus did the same thing and there were repercussions. (this way they are worried that they might be guilty as well).

My last tribunal was rhine with guardians of forest rules. A covenant mage slew 4 foresters (admittedly they were guilty of encroaching on black forest and employed by covenant's mundane enemy and they attacked first) with no trace left of them (killed in forest, buried in forest and all tracks hidden). I had several cases of attacking those encroaching on forest as mundane interference (and a pc sweating).

This is an excellent one!

Another thing that always gets discussed at our tribunal is how to deal with the major mundane situations. Say, a kingdom invading another, famine sweeping across the land etc. While magi should not interfere with mundanes, it's hard to draw the line between you interfering with mundanes and mundanes interfering with you; and it's generally better - unless one is in an emergency - to agree on a common course of action for the whole tribunal before acting.