Tytalus Tactics

Want to discuss how the Tytalus could wield mundane power (indirectly of course) to make dramatic changes to Mythic Europe. The first thing to occur to me (that inspried the thread actually) is the idea of turning the Livonian Brotherhood of the sword against the Muspeli instead of Latvia and Lithuania.

I think the Agents system in HoH:S or LoM is a very good start. It likely begins with the cultivation of powerful agents, who are in fact powerful nobles or churchmen in a region. Perhaps even a cabal of Tytali.

Does that incur breaking the code? Cause I could see a non-Christian Tytalus magi bringing pagan mystery cults and order practices to the attention of the church for the sole intent of provoking a conflict which, he hopes, might result in a less christian order and a weakened church as a result of magi counterattacking. Preferably without being caught and marched. Generally, I see the Tytalus bringing all sorts of intrigue that force the Order to be less stuck up with its non-interference with the mundane mantra.

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Of course the second he gets caught poking the church in this way, he will be marched. So if he wants to stay alive then the primary effort would be towards not getting caught rather then forcing the conflict.

After all Magi can live for centuries so if it takes dozens of little pokes and nudges to finally bring it into happening over multiple decades, that should be an acceptable price to pay for staying alive.

Sure. Anyway, if you want to avoid quaesitores, you need to be careful of how you operate. In particular, working through agents / false identities, avoiding the use of magic so your sigil isn't spotted, and avoiding manipulating the church too forcefully.

there is also a huge difference between provoking the Church and provoking one small order within the church. Also Muspelli are considered rivals to the order, so weakening them and a faction of the church known for it' depravity in dealing with pagans and have conquered at least one covenant (Guardians of the forest) in the process, by driving them to fight each other is going to be less marchable than other indirect intercessions that Tytalus routinely engage in, at least in my opinion. Certainly bringing conflict between the Knights of the Sword and the Muspeli does not bring ruin to anyone in the order...

However in the section in Societaes describing how Tytalus interact through agents with the mundanes it is clear they do intervene in mortal affairs, the big question is in which ways would they change Europe by doing so?

Faith & Flame has a great scheme on page 109 in the sidebar "Marriages of Calculation" - a Tytalus helping nobilty and helping Ramon Berenguer IV's children achieve strategic marriages. This is one of the most elegant plans I've seen, and is arranging the future.

Other plans involving nobility - I've played in games where noble children who disappeared (in history) were in fact Gifted and taken away for training.

A Tytalus might enjoy competing for anything scarce or where them taking something will affect someone else - maybe taking a great artist and getting them to portray Greek and Roman myths, and by doing so enrage the Bishop who wanted to get them to decorate churches or a noble who wanted a portrait. They might try to buy up one particular good and cause the price to rise, and see who comes begging desperate for their stock, and who tries to take violent means to stop them. This kind of struggle and seeing how people respond is the sort of thing that Calliclean Tytalus are supposed to enjoy.

This sounds like a good idea on paper. However I have a hard time seeing how to go about it. The knights of the sword are active in the area of the modern baltic countries because those areas are controlled by pagans. However the muspelli are presumably most active in scandinavia, which is an area dominated by christian kingdoms (in fact denmark is involved of the same crusade in estonia as the knights of the sword). Thus it is hard to imagine the knights of the sword going to scandinavia to hunt muspelli and even harder to imagine a scandinavian kingdom that would tolerate such.

I think the idea of helping a nobleman arrange marriages for his children is really clever. There is a plot idea in some canon book about a descendant of a deposed french royal line who has been discovered by a magus. This is another clever one because such a deposed royal can be used to gather support for a war for the throne.

I also particularly like the idea of influencing the peasantry to revolt. This can be done either by identifying and enabling resentful individuals, sheltering the same or simply by running a covenant in such a manner that it demonstrates that feudalism is not necessary. e.g. by founding a commune where the common folk are allowed a greater deal of autonomy and influence. In this case it would even be easy enough to defend yourself by claiming that you are merely defending your right to run your covenant whatever way you like, local politics be damned - a position that is, at face value, likely to have at least a modicum of political support from other magi.

At the core of this is the dichotemy that Ars Magica describes a version of Norway which appears to remain dominated by Vikings when historically that era had ended centuries before, so it's really a matter of how mythic your Mythic Europe is, and where you squeeze the Muspelli in if Norway has in fact been as thoroughly converted as some histories record for the real world (and where you fit in the Sami people)

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One simple way to bind the Jotnar/Muspelli to the Baltic is to assume that the giants of Estonian myth map out to the Scandinavia Jotnar. So while people in Scandinavia call them Loki, Hel etc Those are merely their Norse names. Hel is none other than Tuonella in Finnic, the giants Suur Toll, Kalev and Kalevipoeg are all lively legends in Estonia, and there is no reason why they would not be granting powers to the Livonians and Estonians to fight off the invading Germanic knights. If anything, turning to an apocalyptic cult seems more appealing when you see that your civilisation is collapsing under the weight of boatloads of invading swordsmen.

So for short: I think that only the lightest of reskins is necessary to have Baltic Muspelli.

There are some major revolts in the Northern HRE in the span of the game: the Drenther Crusade and the Stedinger Crusade both result of pushback from local peasants against greedy authoritarian bishops. So a Tytallus agent provocateur could have been involved there (and I think that it'd be only one given how close the two regions, might even be the one from Waddenzee to facilitate their raiding).

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Actually he would be charged and judged on the next Tribunal, where he could defend himself (and take a nice use of the debate rules, which are on the HoH: Societates Tytalus' chapter, what a coincidence!). If I were at a tribunal and saw charges of interfere with mundanes against a Tytalus I would probably thinking that his real scheme is just about to begin. And with this example I think he could walk away with a fine or even, given the easy defence these actions got above in other replies, just prove his innocence.

Also HoH: True Lineages mentions that the Do Not Mess with Mundane Affairs is far from being a mantra, with many many magi thinking it's outdated and should be rephrased.

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There is a major difference between messing with some nobody mundanes, some minor noble, some major noble, and the Catholic church.

Getting caught intentionally bringing the Catholic church into conflict with pagan mystery cults and OoH practices, which is the suggestion my comment was directed at, would have a very high chance of leading to calls for them to be marched before the next Tribunal. It is far worse than just messing with mundane affairs (even though it is messing with the mundane affairs of the most powerful organization in ME), but also bringing danger (and if the conflict has already started, actual damages) upon his fellow Magi. Most likely it would also be depriving them of magical power.

All in all, his chances of smooth talking his way out of it are no where near as high as you made it out to be.

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Where? Provide some quotes!

Muspelli and Vitkir in 1220 are as ahistorical as Hermetic magi.

But their space in Mythic Europe is well spelled out in HMRE p.120:

There are said to be Vitkir still living on the Edges of Mythic Europe - hedge wizards that many magi refer to as members of the 'Order of Odin' - though they are not as widespread as they once were. Some may live in remote and wild areas of the north, using their magic to survive the harsh climate. Others might live within or just outside the Christian communities of Scandinavia, casting spells that make civilized people tolerate their presence.

and in RM p.75:

The Muspelli hide in the dark places of the world and foment malicious spells; in the caves in the Scandinavian mountains, in the fens of Denmark, and in the dales of the pagan Baltic.

So in 1220 these traditions are a lot more clandestine than most Hermetic magi.

There is also a big difference between messing with the Catholic Church and messing with the Livonian Brotherhood of the Sword. Mocking Pope Honorius III? You probably will get marched. Redirecting the Brothers of the Sword against the Muspelli? Probably they would do it anyway for free if you just asked them.

Not for free, for a chance at enslaving a few people.

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If you bring charges against a competant Tytalus for interfering with the Mundanes for directing the Livonian Brotherhood of the sword against the Muspelli they will probably bring the tribunal around to the following points:

  1. The Muspelli are an established enemy of the Order
  2. The Livonian Brotherhood is a likely future threat
  3. The Church has supernatural powers, and thus is not Mundane
  4. Dominion auras threaten magical resources

As such the Tytalus has not brought ruin to heir Soldales but found a safe way to curtail two threats to the order which the Order has left alone for far to long to it's own detriment, and action must be taken, in a subtle and appropriate manner.

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It is absolutely far worst than interfering with the mundane, because the actual intent is not so much to mess with the mundane in such a way that it accidentally spells trouble for your fellow magi, as much the intent is to create actual troubles for the magi. Of course, it all depends on how this is done. A Tytalus who uses Rego Mentem magic to get the inquisition to investigate a mystery cult will probably be marched if caught, for good reasons, and would be at a high risk of being caught if the event is investigated which it probably would be unless the cult is afraid of dealing with quaesitores and has no good investigators in its own ranks.

Now imagine that same Tytalus who has agents out there profiling mundanes. He's at one point made aware of a well-respected merchant with a secret mistress, who is also known to be well-acquainted with the local pagan-intolerant archbishop. Using a persona disguise, he fakes a letter to the merchant giving him a secret rendez-vous out of town, except that the merchant, showing up on site discreetly since he doesn't want his secret to be caught, instead witnesses a mystery cult initiation that involves animal sacrifices to a pagan god. Perhaps, ironically, that Tytalus is part of the mystery cult, and that's how he knows about the initiation site. The merchant, not seeing his mistress, goes back home disappointed but since he has nothing to hide from that encounter, instead tells his friend the archbishop about what he witnessed, and the next time there's an initiation at solstice, the unfortunate mystery cult end up meeting with the church... How likely would it be that was ever tracked back to the Tytalus, unless he is known for regularly using that persona to create troubles?

My guess is the quaesitores would investigate the archbishop, and find no magic, then investigate the merchant, and find no magic either, then perhaps investigate the mistress and find nothing - and if the merchant is stupid enough to have kept the letter from his mistress, perhaps investigate the persona and fail to find it. If the Tytalus uses the same modus operandi one time too many and quaesitors locate that persona because they are on the lookout for it after that strange person who is known to leak clues to the order's pagan practices, then he's in trouble. If he avoids messing with the same group of magi too often, creates several persona in order to avoid quaesitores from accidentally amassing too much hints that lead back to the same disguise, doesn't do it on a continual basis, and spreads his efforts over a wide geographic zone (perhaps more than one tribunal), he might be able to keep this game up for a few decades before he makes a mistake that leads him to get at a tribunal. Perhaps at that point, the quaesitores catch up to what he's been up to and he gets marched, but plausibly, that mistake will be unconnected to his other intrigues and he's able to get away with a warning and a fine, which might be enough motivation to avoid repeating what he did before, since he'll now be watched more closely. Whether he actually succeeds at his real project is ironically going to be not under his control as much as under the control of whether the stars align in order to produce the right combination of zealous priests and overreacting magi at the wrong time, or the type of slow simmering tension that makes either the church or a tribunal review their policy vis-à-vis the other... but maybe the Tytalus will at least be entertained?

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A key point here is that bringing the Livonian Brotherhood into conflict with Muspelli is not bringing them into conflict with the Hermetic Order. There is no clause protecting all wielders of magic, just your soldales- the brotherhood of the order itself. There are no grounds for being marched for bringing conflict between two organizations which are themselves hostile to the order. I can understand the potential risk if you took action directly (ReMe on a brother of the sword) but if you are working through agents then why would you be marched for bringing trouble to someone else? The Muspelli are a pagan mystery cult, yes, but not a Hermetic mystery cult- they are hostile to the hermetic order and really pretty much anyone who isn't them...

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Is it standard to consider that Church does not equal Mundanes in regard to the Code?

I think that is very solidly in YSMV territory. In the Sundered Eagle they discuss a crusader who pledged not to use magic in order to avoid violating the code, while in beyond sand and sea it is evident that the Order of Hermes supported the early crusaders i taking the Holy land. It may even be a tribunal by tribunal issue.

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