Tribunal Permission when founding a new Covenant?

Does an older Covenant have to seek the permission of the Tribunal before some of its members found a new Covenant?

If not, how soon does the new Covenant have to announce its presence? At the next Tribunal gathering? How is this performed - simply circulate a mass letter with a Redcap? Or is a Tribunal gathering the appropriate time?

Besides not receiving Redcap visitors (no mail), what problem do you envision would occur to a non-officially recognized Covenant? I assume that they still have protections as Hermetic mages, but can seek no justice from the Tribunal until they are recognized.

You responses are appreciated.

I believe it varies. This is how it works I think but I could be wrong.

Greater alps needs permission from all the other covenants. Rhine tribunal needs no vetoes from any current covenant, but political pressure to not be the only current covenant to refuse. The other tribunals I think need only a majority at tribunal. A key point is that potential covenants in border areas of tribunals can offer their services to multiple tribunals, and whichever way they choose to go then the boundary of the tribunal shifts. Except for Novgorod has fixed boundaries against this happening but has been overriden at the Grand Tribunal.

So a covenant in what is now nearby Marseille could set up a covenant there and if refused permission by Provencal could offer themselves to either Normandy or Rome, as long as there were no covenants nearer to the other tribunals than them. As their decision means a potential shift of the tribunal boundaries and thus the vis rights they might get bribes to help them make up their minds.

The same situation exists in some of the previous articles on the isle of man. Currently neutral and divided up between stonehenge, hibernia and loch legean. The first covenant to be founded there decides which it joins, and gets sole vis rights to that tribunal.

The same cannot happen though in novgorod or greater alps. If you build a covenant there in an attempt to switch tribunals if you are refused entry, then you are out of luck because those tribunals borders were more fixed.

I always had a problem with Chapter Houses of covenants. It just doesn't make much sense to allow a Chapter House, it's just another covenant with alleigiance to an existing covenant so any other covenant would be better off recognizing it as a covenant rather than a chapter house. And on the other side, how do you differentiate between a chapter house and a magus deciding to live a while in the city or the wilderness? But I digress.

The answer is obviously dependant on the tribunal, and your saga. In tribunals that regulate the formation of covenants, and I think most do, it is certainly required to gain Tribunal permission to found a covenant. I believe the Rhine tribunal book detailed requirements that are probably a good candidate for being default - you have to convince enough existing covenants to support your desire [and none to veto it, oops].

I think a reasonable peripheral rule would be to disallow more than one magus to reside together except within an established covenant or for a limited time (I think a Season will do), or to make a covenant between them except to a recognized covenant.

You can't forbid lone magi, as that will alienate the eremites (lone hermits) which are highly respected. So lone magi must be allowed to roam the tribunal, or at least set up camp somewhere.

You'd want to forbid people just setting up camp somewhere, as you want to control the covenants and their chapter houses, so you forbid two or more magi. But you need to send excursions and whatnot, and don't want to forbid visitors and so on, so you give a period that's enough for an expedition or visitation - a Season - but not enough to become a long-term thing - a single lab season of work isn't desirable enough to create an incentive to flaunt anti-covenant laws.

The decision to recognize a new covenant would be made in Tribunal, following the local peripheral code and customs. Being accepted will probably require a long period of solisitation, visiting other covenants and bargaining with them, and so on. The Tribunal meeting will be a regular one, unless you REALLY bribed some powerful covenants.

Unrecognized covenants will be violating the peripheral code, though not the Oath, so may face punishments in raw vis and service to the tribunal. The Redcaps are under no obligation to serve them, although they may choose to do so. Since they cannot strike a covenant between them, they cannot share communal resources such as a library or raw vis - so if one magus steals the common coffers he isn't guilty of any Hermetic crime (though you may still declare Wizard's War or Certamen on the matter). They could not register raw vis sources in the tribunal's records, so have no claim to such sources unless they are somehow within someone's sanctum or something like that - harvesting the raw vis from the source will not be considered depriving the covenant or its magi from magic, since the source and the unharvested raw vis isn't theirs, it's just out there for anyone to grab. They may not be able to attend Tribunal, as foreign magi may be denied this right (claiming they can attend their own home Tribunal). Even if they can't attend tribunal, they can appear before it and make claims and accusations, and defend themselves - they cannot, however, vote.

That's MO,

This is very much a theme of the Verona saga that we currently have on hold (while we try something different in Rye). Essentially, the characters have a nice little setup in the city of Verona and in a manor they "acquired" out by lake Garda forming a nice little Covenant.

However, the Tribunal has so far been reluctant to recognise them as such as that would mean more votes floating around and, frankly, the powerful forces of the Tribunal aren't prepared to risk the balance of power changing.

But, say our heroes, we are Magi of the Order and we are entitled to a vote in Council. Agreed, sayeth the presiding Quaesitor, you are indeed entitled to a vote at Tribunal... just not this one.

Of course, part of the wider story is exactly that "what? You can't do that" reaction and how the different parties deal with it.

Other "covenants" that have been allowed to persist but have not been recognised embrace their strange status as it makes them feel a little less accountable. Others are desparate for a vote if only to resolve internal conflicts.

Our heroes, once they got used to the idea, seem to be leaning towards the former (and there is a very strong defence to a certain high crime... you know who, what and when, guys... that can be leveraged out of their status) .

Long term solution for marklawford:

Get all the non recognized covenants to band together their bribes and get the support necessary for having a grand tribunal vote forcing Rome to allow all resident magi a vote. Then each of the non recognized covenants vote in favour of each other, and you would get a lot of votes from the covenants that suddenly realize how much power in the tribunal is up for grabs.

Well, I was anticipating them doing something more at the local level but a Grand Tribunal has a certain ring to it.

Like I say though, for some covenants the ambiguous status works in their favour... but of course that can't last forever. Still, if my players are reading hopefully they'll take your suggestion on board.

I'm reviving this thread because I recalled the existence when I couldn't find the answer I was looking for in the books, and because I am curious on what source the postings here draw their conclusions.

I was wondering on what's involved in founding a new covenant. What does it require to be acknowledged by the Tribunal? And is this acknowledgement neccesary to be allowed to found a covenant?

I could find no mention of this in the books in which I expected it might be (Ars Core, Covenants, HoH:TL Guernici). The only mentioning I found was on the Redcaps in HoH:TL p. 83, and this makes no case of required acknowledgement. It even stresses that some covenants might have an interest in staying unknown, yet still report in with the Mercer House to be sure to get their correpsondances.

I do know that some Tribunal might have adopted rules on this (e.g. Rome and Rhine), but what are your thoughts? And do anyone know of any published references, and not just house rules and preferences (however great and just they may be)?

I have long thought about starting a "Spring Covenant" saga several years before the Covenant itself is founded, during the last years of those newly apprenticed magi (a holdover from 4th ed), and/or the "networking" process of those full magi who are looking for a covenant to join.

Going over the Covenant rules of various editions, from the "Covenants" book of 3rd ed up to the present, one gets the feeling that a great deal of preparation, negotiation and politics go into the establishment of a new Covenant. What is the spark that gets the ball rolling, and what is their angle to do so? Who will be founding members, what allies, what debts, what equipment- that isn't random, it all has root causes, and those causes come with effects.

How did the future Sodales select each other- or where they selected by some higher authority? Was there a method, some screening criteria, or were they just the only ones available at the time?

What of the location? Was it just the "best", or was it located as a thorn in some senior Covenant(s)? What is their response to hearing that the great wilderness beyond their borders them will soon be "claimed" by a young unknown? Will they fight it, try to subvert it, welcome it, appear to do one but pursue another?

A rough checklist, in rough order:

  1. Organizing body- this could possibly be the future sodales themselves, but more likely some senior magi, or at least the Parens of said, who have the resources, connections and political clout to make this happen.

  2. Location- not like there's a Michelin Guide to possible sites.

  3. Selection Process- how choose the future founding members? Invitation? Open call? Drafting and bribes?

  4. Resources- thru hook or crook, begging, donations, or backroom deal, enough resources must be acquired before a Spring Covenant can reach "critical mass" to succeed. This in part depends on exactly "who" will be part of that Covenant, and what they bring to the table, and how they will cooperate (or not.) It's even possible that a truly devious Covenant would sponsor a Spring Covenant that is "designed to fail", for any of several reasons.

  5. Allies and Enemies- altho' these are not "required", the various above processes will generate them as a matter of course.

  6. Ongoing Support, Ongoing Debts/responsibilities- There is no free lunch. Maybe a now-Summer Covenant that had been Spring decades ago can finally clear its debt by supporting this new fledgeling. Maybe the Spring covenant must pay as it goes/grows. Maybe "you owe us one..."
    And that's just a rough start. At some point, "Tribunal Approval" must be considered as well, tho' whether before one starts or after establishment is a variable dependant on the Tribunal and other local practices.

I will say that I was in a Saga where we were establishing a Spring Covenant, and only once we had started was it made clear that we had until the next Tribunal to gain enough support to be accepted- otherwise, we were Covenant non-grata, unrecognized and unprotected by any Code and essentially an open target for any mage or covenant who wanted what we had so far acquired. Bonus.

Once you start thinking about it, it's far, far more than just balancing a few virtues and flaws.

Our saga is currently in the process of setting up a chapter house...

The problem we had was what to do with all the additional Magi (apprentices) if they wanted to stay...We would be forced by the charter to divide the Vis resources among a larger quantity of Magi. We of course would like to keep our 'income' level the same.

A nearby Covenant was destroyed, the lands and Vis left open. We have claimed most of the Vis sources, and would like the land for additional buildings and farm land. The Primus has agreed to our proposal, on one condition... :smiling_imp: now we are off battling heathens and their demons..

The advantage we found with the situation is that we will have more resources. Of course the disadvantage is that we have more to maintain.

So in this case, we had to get permission from the Tribunal. The Primus will back us (ah politics), but only if we help him...

Makes for good story...

I'm still missing if anyone know of RAW references on the issue of Tribunal acknowledgement?

I sure can't find any.

This may be on purpose so as not to limit this most important characteristic of each individual saga.

What about GotF p.16, in the box "On the Founding of Covenants"? Or some text in ArM4 Sanctuary of Ice, which I am too lazy to dig up now?

I guess there will never be a ruling on this subject which is valid in all Tribunals - for the reason Angafea mentioned above.

Kind regards,


Don't have either. I'm no help here.

Yes, I know of the Tribunal rulings of the Rhine, Sanctuary of Ice however is among one of the few gaps on my shelves. Rome has local rules aswell. These are local rulings in any case.

Not neccesarily a bad thing.

Well, I just wanted to at least know if there was any generel RAW on the matter before going on to deciding what take to take on this matter in the Stonehenge Tribunal (the Heirs to Merlin doesnt have a say on it.)

In ArM4 Heirs to Merlin there are significant implicit statements. Semitae magi appeared in the 1151 Tribunal requiring that their existence be recorded, refusing at the same time to discuss the age of their covenant. Nigrasaxa was founded in 1201, after the Tribunal in 1200 was inquorate, and then called a second Tribunal for 1201.
Both are clear examples of covenants being founded without Tribunal approval. And IMO most of Heirs to Merlin could easily be carried over into ArM5.

Kind regards,


True. Maybe that is what I should stick to. Another cause for establishing a Quaesitor led covenant in the Stonehenge might be to help stabilize it and ensure a more steady tradition of having Tribunals.

Unfortunately, nothing has been written on Tribunal approval for Thebes, but the way my fellow story guides have run our saga is that Thebes was once one of the most organized and prescriptive but with incursions of the Turks since Mazikret, repeated Norman assualts for over a century, Bulgars and Serbs always in revolt, the influence the land grabbing Transylvania and Roman Tribunals, and most importantly the 4th crusade, the hermetic "government" of the Thebian tribunal is in tatters. As a temporary solution, the Tribunal has created zones where each covenant controls and that covenant who has "rights" to the land gets to decide if a new covenant can form there (for the proper price). Tribunal politicians are pushing for a more unified structure for determining the tribunal's borders and each covenant's borders, but to date their is no central power in the tribunal.

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It might be worth reading the section Voting Rights on page 49 of True Lineages.

Vagrancy :

Thanks. I read the vagancy rules, but the I missed out on the second quote, that which implies reckognition. It would seem that it is a general accepted pratice - even if it isn't clarified and might vary from Tribunal to Tribunal.

Probably worth considering that a Covenant that does not seek Tribunal permission to set up forfeits protection by that Tribunal.