Vagrancy dilemma

We ran into an interesting situation yesterday which will require some research and probably some planning of too many little details. The magi have started a covenant at the northern edge of Georgia. This is outside of the bounds of any tribunal. Four tribunals could be seen as not violating their boarders with other tribunals to expand that far. So the magi figured they'd be set up to bargain well when petitioning to join tribunals since some tribunals would want the added expanse. The Transylvannian tribunal would like the outpost, but the magi are wary since they can't win a tribunal vote against the Tremere in Transylvannia. Then a Tytalus rival of the Tytalus started pushing tribunals not to accept the magi because that would put pressure on the magi who could become guilty of the low crime of vagrancy. That puts the magi in a more desperate situation. Then the magi came up with the idea that the covenant needn't be part of a tribunal, as long as they themselves are members of a tribunal. That potentially opens up all the tribunals, and the magi might not want to join the same ones. So now I'm receiving all sort of questions about the residency requirements of each tribunal. Well, I've got books on two of them (GotF and tLatL). I thought bargaining between four tribunals with pressure applied was going to require plenty of planning. Now I've got the whole Order. Eeeck. Any clever storyguide suggestions or residency suggestions?


They could open a new Tribunal?

By themselves thats a bit of a stretch(not out of the question but...), but they could try to assist in settling another 2-3 small new covenants not too far away and then, yeah sure they should be able to argue for an additional tribunal.

Unfortunately, beyond the above probably not. Maybe reducing the options a bit by simply saying "these tribunals have been swayed against accepting any of you"...

Actually, making a new Tribunal would be a pretty epic political story, but it would require the players like to do legal debates. Things to consider:

  1. They would only be subject to the Code and only those those periferal code issues that have been decided at Grand Tribunal. Thus, after recognition (a thorny issue by itself), they could make a code rulings that favor them over visitors. Or declare hedge magicians "magical resources of the closest covenant" and spare them persecution (or allow their enslavement).

  2. Who would be Preaco? Who would be presiding Queasitor?

  3. Why would any other Tribunal allow them to stand with middle finger planted firmly in the air? Wizard's War is always an option available (if foolishly so) to anyone. An organized assualt by a moderately powerful group of magi could raze the covenant and allow for aquisition of thier library and vis resources. Why would that not happen?

  4. Why not get sponsorship from a western Tribunal covnenant? There is nothing that says that they can't be an outpost of, say, Fudaris, or Castra Solis (ducking the flames shot my way). If, given that they are outside the declared boundaries (and I'm not convinced that there are many declared boundaries), then they could petition for being the chapterhouse of a powerful covenant from any Tribunal, pay them tribute in vis, and get thier protection.

  5. What if the the rival Tytalus starts making moves that since they are not part of a recognized Tribunal (either through membership in a recognized covenant, or declared eremites in Normandy or perigrinitories in the Rhine) then they are not members of the Order? Loss of protection is a serious motivator to action.

Just my two cents.



Either the covenant is in the territory of a Tribunal, or it is not.

If it is not, there is no one who can try the magi for vagrancy: vagrancy from which Tribunal? Even at Grand Tribunal, the magi or their advocate could simply ask, "Which Tribunal has convicted us as vagrants, and by what right of jurisdiction?" A big and silly waste of time that ought to get laughed down and fined.

On the other hand, if the covenant is in the territory of a Tribunal, then all sorts of shenanigans become possible. But that requires Tribunals that are able and willing to claim the territory. If the covenant is successful, this is likely.

So you don't really have the whole Order involved, unless you really want it to be, just your four Tribunals. As you note, to do that right takes plenty of planning all on its own.

That is, to be vagrant:

  1. The magi have to be in territory that belongs to a Tribunal.
  2. The magi have to have no right to be in that territory.
  3. The magi have to be convicted of vagrancy in fair convocation of the Tribunal in which they are accused of being vagrant.

A Tribunal that does not claim the territory cannot prosecute the magi for vagrancy.

Of course, if you really want the whole Order involved, a few bribes can make the silly seem quite reasonable.

But that's just me.



Where to begin?...

There has to be some "legal" definition of "To which Tribunal does one belong?" It would seem problematic on several levels to suggest that an individual could belong to one Tribunal and be a member of a Covenant in another - so they belong to the same Tribunal as the Covenant. (Essentially, if a mage is a member of a Cov't, that defines their residency.) So they I'd rule that they have to agree, or quit the covenant once it gets fixed in "the Order".

As for which to join, it's a political schmozzle, and good luck to all involved. Many, many variables, ploys and considerations. Anything and everything your warped SG mind can come up with. Have fun with it.

I'm not sure, but it seems to me that only covenants define a tribunal. If a tribunal's P-code defines conditions where a member of the Order (having taken the oath) is both not a member of a covenant AND not a vagrant (perigrinitores in the Rhine, eremites in Normandy), then they can operate.

How an area is defined as belonging to a Tribunal is not clear to me from 5th Edition RAW but I don't have my books with me. I think this is something that is based on tradition, the union of the operating areas of the member covenants, and whatever P-code rulings there have been. The way I play it that the map in the core book is a little misleading in that the boards defined thereon are actually a little fuzzy.

There may be some 4th ed. (or earlier) stuff that applies, but I don't recall anything in the 5th.

Anybody out there know any better?

I don't agree with this, for specific reasons.

A magus does not have to be a member of a covenant to be a legal resident of a Tribunal. A given Tribunal may have peripheral code rulings contrary to this, but many do not. For instance GotF illustrates that many young magi are still residents of the Tribunal before they manage to join/found a covenant etc.

The factor which seems most relevant is the location and maintenance of the sanctum of the mage in question. The mage is required to maintain a sanctum, at least one, which they have methods of contact pre-established with the Redcaps concerning. This prevents a charge of vagrancy. That you are established, reachable, and geographically defined. IIRC in GotF Magi are restricted in that Tribunal from maintaining 'excessive' ammounts of official Sancti to prevent others from mistakenly wandering into one ( they should be well marked and declared, however... ) and to ensure they can be reached in a timely fashion by the redcaps.

With no Tribunal explicitly claiming the area that this covenant has settled in, there is an interesting possibility for even more confusing political entanglement if they seek to have some members of the covenant be members of different tribunals. What happens when members of one covenant have officially registered themselves and their sanctums as belonging to a given Tribunal? It would be like two land deeds with overlapping declarations of ownership. Rather murky.

I would not worry about being charged with vagrancy if I was a member of this covenant so long as the covenant was clearly/plainly declared to the redcaps. The issue of tribunal membership would be something else. If you want to make any kind of legal entanglements or case prosecutions against your covenant difficult legally and politically, split off and join different tribunals and thoroughly confuse the matter as to which tribunal the covenant itself belongs. Then whenever anything happens, you hop on the 'wrong' side of the fence and claim they have the wrong jurisdiction etc etc etc. Feel quite free to frequently change the registrations and voting tribunals of your magi to make this as confusing as possible. It is all quite legal, if something I would expect to attract negative attention from the Q's.

On the other hand that will severely defray the voting power of the covenant and keep it quite sidelined in any tribunal politics in the area. If you want your votes to matter, and the try and get political favors/exchange for them... you need to pick one tribunal and go with it. Or try to start your own, given the nebulous nature of the area. That really is a strategic decision... and could easily go either way. Bigger mountain to climb starting your own Tribunal, but.... lots of long term benefits for being the first guy to set up shop like that.

Yet none of your "reasons" seem to contradict anything I proposed...

Of course not. But once a member of a Covenant within a Tribunal, I would think that they are per force a resident of that Tribunal.

"If a mage belongs to a Covenant, that defines their residency." That doesn't mean there aren't other definitions for magi who are not members of a Covenant.

I'm glad to see you agree with me. It worries me (for your sake only) that you don't see it. :confused:

The problem with the assertion that the covenant establishes residency automatically is it makes assumptions, presumably, about the individual that aren't necessarily true. It is also possible, if rare, to be a member of more than one covenant. Which one defines their legal residency? Neither, it is their personal arrangements and registered sanctum. One could also, for any number of reasons, choose to belong to a given covenant and then legally establish your residency somewhere else. The point isn't whether it makes perfect sense all of the time, it is that the legal definitions and requirements of residency are not tied to the covenant, but to the individual.

Now I would readily grant most covenants fall squarely within a given and clearly defined tribunal. They also tend to want to keep their voting power consolidated and whatnot, live in the typical communal arrangements, and otherwise behave in the standard/expected way, all belonging to the same tribunal etc etc etc. But my point is that this behavior isn't -required- even if I would think it is expected.

Lots of good thoughts in the replies! Thanks!


Where do you find an example of this? I can't state that it's not legal, but I've always thought it wasn't. (It certainly seems like a bad policy if it is allowed, for exactly the reasons brought up here.)

it's not forbidden by the Code, but certainly against most Covenant charters I'd say.

Probably something in the peripheral Code. (Sure is in my Saga, as of now, tell ya that much!) :wink:

Oh yeah. I can imagine several WW's fought over this very topic.

I seem to remember an in game example somewhere, though at the moment I am having trouble locating it.

However from a legal/historical perspective the Oath of Fellowship/Whatever that most covenants require to join is frequently compared to an Oath of Fealty, and there are plenty of historical examples of people having multiple Oaths/Bonds of this kind. In fact one could hold different fiefs, from different lords, with these seperate oaths. Now that doesn't mean that some lords probably didn't like the idea, or that there probably aren't also historical cases of there being objections. But it could happen. Which is basically how I view the issue of oaths as it relates to covenants. You have to meet all obligations to all oaths you swear. Oaths of fealty for example generally required various kinds of administrative, financial, and military support from the vassal to the lord. Oaths to a covenant typically also require a certain ammount of service from the member to the covenant, which in Ars Magica is often expressed in seasons... though sometimes also in other more specific and less game oriented terms. So, like an Oath of Fealty, one could easily have multiple oaths sworn, but you would also have greater demands on your time and resources with each oath you undertook. How many seasons of covenant service in any given span of time do you really want to owe? It has an in-built self-regulation/discouragement factor, I think.