Vortigern Pontificates About Ars Magica

This is intended to be a thread covering my (opinionated) perceptions regarding Ars Magica in general, the setting, and just generally concepts I think might be beneficial to cover where everyone can see the material. This will be a series of posts on different topics with more being added as I have time and inclination to work on it. Or I perceive a topic that needs addressed.

If you have suggestions or questions regarding additional topics and/or anything said here I would welcome discussion in the OOC thread to hammer out a Troupe stance on whatever the topic is.

The Gift

The Gift is one of the fundamental aspects of what makes the world and setting of Ars Magica what it is. The rarity, power, and social impact of the Gift shapes the world-views of Magi in rather significant and stark ways.

The rarity and unpredictability of the Gift is somewhat hard to quantify with something as straightforward as a statistic. However, that said, we do have one as a guideline.

It is also worth noting that far more often than not there is no predictability about when/where people with the Gift are born/occur. The Gift does not consistently breed true even in families of Gifted. Rare families that have multiple Gifted children or somewhat more consistent magical lineages are not unknown but it is not understood in any way why these rare lineages occur or how to reproduce them.

The Gift also has the accompanying social penalties. It is important to remember that the straight die modifiers of the Gift are simple abstractions that do not completely describe the affect of the Gift on social interactions. Even if these modifiers can linearly be compensated for the social impact of the Gift regarding shifts in attitude and emotional response will still manifest themselves and need to be dealt with. Merely overcoming the straight social skill penalty does not shift the baseline emotional response of people.

Regarding the description of the effects of the Gift being compared to known negative reputations this is explicitly declared to be an abstraction and it is very important to remember that it is only an abstraction. The effects of the Gift are generated by far more intangible things than a presumed reputation and ultimately come down to the deep Otherworldly and Fey qualities/auras which cling to the Gifted person. This aura of magic and feyness around a Gifted person is what produces inescapable and deep seated emotional impacts that are unsettling and pervasively negative. People generally don't realize that this is going on in a concrete way unless they have experience and/or education specifically with the Gift and magical people. Even then it is very difficult to overcome and moderate even for people who know it is happening to them. However the Gifted person may seem obviously unnatural or in some way Other or "Not Normal" (in a bad way) to the person under the influence of the Gift. They just may not be able to explain how or why.

This obviously affects people with the Gift and the development of their lives in rather profound ways. However not in entirely uniform ways. The Gift can manifest itself from birth to coming into being far later in life or even, rarely, in adults. And this likewise is not understood or predictable in any meaningful way. Abuse, violence, and even death are not unknown experiences or outcomes for children with the Gift. Especially in cases of the Blatant Gift.

And the Gift, with all of these difficulties baked into the recipe if you will, is the fundamental prerequisite for being a Mage. This shapes various aspects of the magical world / society in very deep ways which I'll dig further into later in other topics.

This is also a good part of why the Gentle Gift is so rare and is a major virtue. If the Gentle Gift, or like effects, were either common or easily reproducible then the impact of the Gift on the magical world and society would largely be able to be negated. It is fundamental to various aspects of the Ars Magica setting that this is very much not the case.

Vis, Vim, & The Nature of Magic

The Magic Realm is a pretty involved topic in and of itself so I may oversimplify some things here in the spirit of addressing this much more specific topic in a more concise way. That being, how does Magic "work" in Ars? This is a frequent question from new players yet frequently even veteran players can struggle to give an answer. I will very briefly outline how this generally works in canon.

Magical energy permeates the world. It is literally everywhere. You can not get completely away from it anywhere. This pervasive ambient magical energy in Hermetic Theory is called "fluid vis" and is the energy that people using the Gift and Hermetic Magic manipulate to create magical effects. Magic takes Fluid Vis and weaves it into the effect using the Gift to channel and manipulate that energy. What it is about the Gift that allows this is unknown.

When and where this broader magical energy coalesces or concentrates (or perhaps originates?) one finds Magic Auras, Regiones, and Vis Sources. Vis Sources produce Physical Vis which is a term used to distinguish it from Fluid Vis. It is the same type of energy in a much more condensed and powerful form. The mystical powers and influences on the world which generate Auras and Vis Sources are not well understood but the general relationship between them all is something that Hermetic Theory posits.

At least ... that is Hermetic Theory. People can, and some (even many) certainly do, have much more esoteric and/or religious beliefs about Magic and those can be very unique/idiosyncratic. Some members of the Order of Hermes even, despite using Hermetic Theory as the basis for much of their magic, hold beliefs that one might find quite contradictory to theory as it were.

The Limits of Magic it is important to understand apply generally if somewhat unevenly to all magical systems and abilities that are tied to the Magic Realm as the source of their power. Most magical traditions have one or two abilities that bend or break these limits in ways unique to them. A special set of tricks they do better than others. Hermetic Magi don't understand how or why this is generally speaking. These strange abilities that are in conflict with Hermetic Theory can be the object of Original Research to integrate such powers into Hermetic Magic but such a thing is no small task. Hermetic Magic is unique when compared to the other systems in the sheer breadth and raw power of those who practice it. However the thing which appears to bend the rules the most as it were that Hermetics possess is the Parma Magica. I'll cover this more later but for now suffice it to say that Magic Resistance is a big deal and it isn't easy to get. Parma Magica is of pivotal importance to the Order of Hermes.

Powers and Abilities tied to other Realms have very different rules and very different limitations. They in no way function according to Hermetic Theory and if you want to be able to understand such strangeness you will need a solid score in the relevant Realm Lore Ability.

Ritual Magic vs Everything Else, Simple View

Ritual Magic and what is different about it can be a difficult subject to immediately grasp so I'll try to illustrate the primary differences using a couple of common examples in the hope of making it more clear. And at least showing my personal take on the matter.

This is also an area where some people first coming to the game can have a tendency to see the restrictions on Ritual vs Non-Ritual as purely gamist to put a limit on say healing. And while it certainly does serve that function it actually isn't as gimmicky or inconsistently applied as it may seem.

Breaking it down to the most simple elements ... the actual direct effects of any given Magic can not be permanent without a Ritual effect. However the side-effects or actions undertaken by Magic or something influenced by it can be permanent. This isn't perfectly consistent (I'm looking at you Perdo) but overall it is more or less the major difference.

To illustrate I will use a common effect. Say, since we have a friendly neighborhood Auram Magus, Lightning.

You can use CrAu to create Lightning, and shoot it at someone. As a non-ritual momentary effect there is no chance of missing, the magic is guided all the way to the target and -will- hit them. And if it penetrates it will affect them (badly one presumes) and then dissipate.

The lightning is the direct effect of the spell and is temporary. It hits the person, does damage, then goes away. The damage is a permanent side-effect, and stays. Because the lightning is non-permanent and magical, as an active magical effect, it needs to penetrate and defeat any applicable magic resistance to affect the target.

You can however do the same spell as a ritual. If you chose to do that you create permanent "real" lightning with the ritual instead of temporary magic lightning. This would then mean the spell is not constantly guided as a magic effect so you would need to roll to hit with Finesse to have it hit your target. However it would also mean the lightning as a permanent magical change was no longer magical when it struck the target and therefore magic resistance wouldn't work against it. Yes this can be as nasty as it sounds.

This illustrates the difference for the vast majority of effects where you have an active effect component that does something that becomes a permanent side effect vs if you have a ritual creation/change that becomes a permanent effect.

To apply this specifically to healing (which tends to be where most people get a little confused) the actual effect in question, because it is a healing spell, is the healing itself.

So if you create/instill instant healing the effect can be non-ritual if you give it a duration. And that can have value (especially since rituals take time as well as vis) in getting someone patched up in the immediate term so you can win the fight and get them home afterwards. Then you can worry about how to deal with their injuries long term when not still fighting the bad guy.

Or with ritual healing you can instantly instill healing and it is permanent.

Also you can give someone a bonus to healing rolls and/or accelerate the interval of healing rolls. This then becomes something you can do temporarily to augment/accelerate natural healing and the side-effect of that temporary effect, healed wounds, once it is complete is permanent.

Hopefully this kind of breaks down the overall functioning of this limitation of Hermetic Magic a bit more clearly for those who may have questions. If you still have questions don't worry... that is hardly unusual in Ars Magica. Just don't be afraid to ask them!

The Order Of Hermes

So, yeah. The game is kind of about this. But what is it anyway?

In very simple terms the Order is the dominant, even hegemonic, body in the magical world of Europe. Most significantly it provides an overarching relative peace and stability to the magical world which did not exist before it. While not every practitioner of magic, even Gifted, belongs to the Order the Hermetic Magi of the Order are fairly easily the most potent in raw power and scope of ability. They rule the magical world therefore with only somewhat infrequent meaningful opposition by other powers or magical groups.

There are however external forces outside of the Order which do not like the current state of affairs, practice very different magic, and look on while waiting for any weakness upon which to capitalize.

The Hermetic Peace has however been quite transformative in the magical society of Mythic Europe. Prior to the Order of Hermes, and even outside of it now, it was very difficult to maintain cohesion or any real social order in the magical world. The Gift it is important to remember also affects other people with The Gift. So generally two people with The Gift who encounter one another ... have a much better chance of not getting along than overcoming a mutual predisposition against one another.

The Order of Hermes is therefore exceptional, even singular, in the magical world due to the ability of its members to have a true community of trust and cooperation. Even when and where it is imperfect it is still entirely different than what passes for society among the Gifted outside of it.

So does all of this make the Order of Hermes the good guys?

In a word, no.

The Order didn't get to be on top purely by having the best magic and best cooperation and winning hearts and minds. While taking over the magical society of Europe the Order very much promulgated and enforced demands that significant/powerful magic users of other stripes either "Join Or Die" and in many cases saw the threat through to completion when the offer wasn't accepted.

Some of the more war-like Houses still are known to enforce this provision of the Code in the current era and there is little meaningful opposition in the Order against them doing so.

The Order, like pretty much any society, first and foremost serves its own interests. Anything else is secondary at best. They are not especially good yet nor are they especially bad.

They are deeply Human just like everyone else.

The Oath, The Code of Hermes, & The Peripheral Code

The Oath of Hermes is the oath that a Magus swears to when they join the Order of Hermes.

The Code of Hermes is the interpretation and application of this Oath as a body of laws, regulating the Order. This is a matter of significant debate, interpretation, tradition, politics, and precedent. Nothing in the Code is as simple as it might seem.

The Peripheral Code is the accumulated body of rulings and precedent within a geographic Tribunal. These have significant regional differences from one another and contribute significantly to each Tribunal being a quite unique place to be.

Magical Power, Certamen, Wizard's War, a World of Might Is Right

The Medieval World and mindset is not always a readily intuitable one to a contemporary point of view. One that is frequently poorly understood is the hows and whys of allowing for such things as Dueling (Certamen) and violent war (Wizard's War) to occur within an ostensibly peaceable body like the Order of Hermes. Or for said body to include people / magical traditions of seemingly incompatible or even diametrically opposed persuasions.

The root of some of this is to be found in the way many Magi view their Gift and their corresponding magical power. Much like the Divine Right of Kings many Magi believe that their Gift is divinely ordained (according to whatever religious system they honor). The fact that they have the Gift and the corresponding magical might that comes with it is also something taken, in and of itself, as a "Right of Might" to make use of it. The idea that they are chosen, fated if you will, to have and wield power.

Magical Might therefore is more than just prowess, it is the right to assert said hard won might, and other lesser people to include lesser Mages should by right give way. You can imagine that this frequently comes with significant doses of unrestrained ego attached.

This is a significant part of why Certamen and Wizard War exist. As essentially safety valves on the propensity of Magi to conflict. To limit the scale of that conflict and keep the overall Pax Hermetica intact.

Magi are only human and they wield immense power which they frequently believe entitles them. Certamen serves as a peaceful way of having a contest of raw magical might with another Mage and the de facto assumption (not always completely true to say the least) behind using it to resolve disputes is the idea that if someone could defeat you in Certamen then they likely could defeat you in a Wizard's War. Defeat in Certamen is generally therefore interpreted as a sign that the person who defeated you could have killed you and has not. Therefore they are the better Mage and deserve to get their way, more or less.

This is also a large part of why "Bad Mages" are tolerated in the Order of Hermes. Because they are just as (if not sometimes more so) powerful as anyone else, and the alternative is open magical war. Not to mention ... opinions as to who the "Bad Mages" are tend to be political and divisive.

Therefore the Order frequently has and enforces peace between people who otherwise wouldn't get along and perhaps would even loathe one another. Necromancers and Healing Herbalists and the like side by side, oh my!

And yet that is part and parcel to the Order being what it is. A society by and for Mages to keep the peace and provide structure and community among the Mages and only the Mages. All other considerations are deeply secondary at best. Not to mention the same "divine right" which has ordained that one "good" Mage holds power also has evidently ordained the other "bad" Mage. To a certain extent the view that they have the right to exercise their power in their own way is one that would not be seen as unreasonable by many in the Order.

A certain comparison could be made to Nuclear Arms Treaties. They are not worried so much about serving the interests of those countries which do not have nuclear weapons. Why? Because ... they don't have nuclear weapons. Those with capabilities in that sphere? Those are the Mages. And the Order exists first and foremost to keep their peace among themselves and with themselves. How a necromancer or the like may be treating some peasants somewhere is not as important as the fact that ... he is a walking nuclear weapon and other people would rather not deal with that (at personal risk to themselves) if they don't have to. Much less ... everyone has friends.

Therefore sometimes the Order can very much appear to be protecting those who seem (or even very much are) evil and villainous. It is important to understand that there are reasons for this and it is very much by design. Try to embrace it as part of the setting.

Maga, The Gift, & Sex Roles

In general the Medieval World being what it is one can expect sex roles to be much more normative and pervasive than in contemporary society. That said a Maga is seen as a significant exception to that general rule and for particular reasons.

The cultural norms of sexual roles and expectations during the time are largely set aside for a Maga explicitly as a function of them possessing the Gift. This highlights that the sex role expectations of Magas are adjusted due to the Gift largely being perceived as, in a way, their own manifest destiny. Divine Right if you will evident in their providential possessing of such power. And a recognition that they can possess as much magical power as the next Mage. In the same way that a Mage sees a divinely ordained act in them possessing the power they do a woman with the Gift is therefore no less ordained and is demonstrably capable of being just as powerful. Social norms amongst Mages therefore reflect this and are more egalitarian in general.

This exception to overall cultural norms does not generally apply to other women, or the broader medieval world that is Mythic Europe.

Parma Magica, Why It Is So Important

The Parma Magica was the first, and some might argue also the more significant, great discovery of Bonisagus. It is of such significant importance that the very existence of the Order of Hermes is often attributed to it. Yet the reasoning for this is not always made readily clear.

It is important to understand that Magic Resistance for normal humans is incredibly rare. For the most part many people go their whole lives without ever being directly affected by a mystical effect so this isn't such a big deal. For people living lives centered in magic this is a much more significant potential problem.

Magic Resistance is by and large the only thing giving you any defense at all against Magic. If a magical effect is created, such as a spell being cast or what have you, and the target doesn't have Magic Resistance then the effect largely just works. There is no saving throw, there is no resistance or dodge roll (with some exceptions), it just works.

In the era prior to the Order of Hermes and the discoveries of Bonisagus this combined with the social impact of The Gift greatly contributed to an era of violent chaos in the magical world. The Roman Cult of Mercury is considered by many to be the prior magical hegemon of Europe. Indeed the Order of Hermes is named what it is largely as an attempt to claim magical descent from them and to make itself de facto their heir. The Roman Cult of Mercury collapsed for a variety of very debatable, imperfectly understood, and much argued about reasons towards the end of the Western Empire.

With the absence of a magical hegemon imposing some kind of social order in the magical world there was instead then several centuries of unmitigated chaos and violence. The social effects of the Gift and the lack of Magic Resistance incentivized Gifted to shoot first in many ways. It was often seen as the reasonable course as ... could two Gifted both naturally inclined to distrust and think the absolute worst of one another really have trust? Especially when without Magic Resistance, the one who shoots first is -going- to win? Killing other Gifted and taking their lore/stuff for yourself was the norm in the magical world. Gifted lived very lonely and dangerous lives with the only meaningful relationships often being those directly in their magical lineage (meaning Master/Apprentice relationships etc.).

Parma Magica changed this state of affairs both by the more obvious mechanism of providing Magic Resistance to Magi but also, and arguably of even more importance, by shielding Magi from the social effects of one another's Gift. Note that other forms of Magic Resistance do not also achieve this effect, so this is unique to the Parma Magica. This allows Magi to interact with one another as more or less normal people. There generally are no other people with whom Magi are able to interact on such genuinely normal human terms.

It is difficult to overstate how pivotal this function of the Parma Magica was and remains regarding the Order of Hermes.

This is what allows the Order, and largely only the Order, to be a large and rather more cohesive and civilized magical society. The rest of the magical world remains considerably more violent and fractious without the benefit of something like Parma Magica.

If you observe these differences in game between other magical groups and the Order of Hermes remember that there are these deep in setting reasons why other groups are so much less able to function well and be cohesive. This is one of the central advantages and sources of power to the Order of Hermes.

The Order is keenly aware of this.

This is why the Parma Magica is taught at the very end of Apprenticeship, only, and only after a Magus has taken the Oath. The Parma Magica is something only allowed to members of the Order and Apprentices don't count.

This is also why few things will get Hoplites and Quaesitors ready for outright violence like the prospect of someone trying to learn or steal the secrets of the Parma Magica. The effect of the exclusivity of Parma Magica to the Order of Hermes being lost would have significant setting transforming consequences in Mythic Europe. The Order would readily go to war to preserve their hegemony in the magical world by preventing this magical secret being compromised.

Covenants, The Basic Social Unit of the Order

Covenants are much more than just a convenience or source of resources. They are vitally important to the way that Magi see the world in multiple ways.

So that said a not uncommon question of new Ars Magica players then is ... What is a Covenant?

A Covenant then is a group of Magi that have made a formal declaration of alliance for working together for mutual benefit. Perhaps to use a term from today and say a group of Magi that have incorporated together would be an apt comparison.

The concept of the Covenant is in many ways foundational to the vision of a positive and cohesive magical society shared by most of the Order of Hermes. While there are some few exceptions and regional ideas about when or how it is acceptable to do otherwise by and large the stereotypical idea throughout the Order of Hermes as to what constitutes a "Good Mage" is a member in good standing of a Covenant that is on good/acceptable terms with their Tribunal. Indeed many Tribunals regard lack of Covenant Membership in a Tribunal Resident to be the Hermetic Crime of Vagrancy. These provisions of Tribunal Peripheral Codes are considered normative, positive, and are enforced to varying degrees depending on the Tribunal.

Membership in a Covenant, a Covenant that is in good standing and a positive force in Hermetic Society, is in many ways seen as the essential foundation to a Mage being a "good citizen" of the Order. Mages provide contributions and service to their Covenants to build them up as part of being a good and positive member of the Covenant. Covenants provide contributions and service to their Tribunal for ostensibly the same reason. A comparison then could be made between the Covenant in Magical Society and the Nuclear Family in Mundane Society, as being the basic unit from which larger society is ultimately composed.

The Magical World, if you will, also sees itself as a society apart from Mundane Society. The Gift largely prevents the vast majority of Magi from being accepted to any meaningful degree by Mundane Society. Covenants also directly answer this need by providing the support network, social structure, and resources/industry to give Mages their own place in the world. To provide the resources and immediate safety / meeting of needs that allow Magi to spend their time working in the lab and creating magic/wonders instead of worrying about where their next meal will come from. Covenants compose this alternate societal structure largely outside of the feudal hierarchy and thus are very unique and different places compared to even what may be next door one village over.

Covenants also serve the function of mixing Magi of different Houses, Magical Traditions, and Magical Lineages together. This, especially after the Schism War, is seen as an essential function. With the exception at times of Domus Magnae (the capitol Covenants of the Houses so to speak) Covenants are greatly encouraged in Hermetic culture to have a diverse composition of multiple Houses/lineages etc. This is perceived as fostering greater trust and understanding of otherwise very different stripes of Magi. Many blame the lack of this mixing and diversification in prior eras for the eventual conflict of the Schism War as Houses turned on one another and harbored deep grudges due to their differences. The contemporary Order desires for a great deal more amity and understanding among the Houses and mixed tradition Covenants are seen as foundational to this.

A Magus who shuns membership in a Covenant then is largely also shunning positive interaction and standing with the Order at large and this is something that can draw negative attention even beyond accusations of Vagrancy.

The Order, Mages, and Everyone Else

I've mentioned a few times now the "Magical World" (my own term) and "Mundane Society" (also my own term, though sometimes similar things are said in canon) and how they are divided from one another.

It can get confusing trying to understand how exactly this divide works. Especially new players frequently find this cultural divide rather hard to understand.

And such understanding can get rather important when you realize that the second you walk out your front door and leave the Covenant you have to know how to act with which people etc. Even the next village over as it were isn't part of the Covenant, and thus isn't under the purview of the Magical World.

Understanding this requires laying a little foundation in underlying concepts.

Magi see themselves as being just as Ordained if you will as Nobles and even Royalty in the Christian sense (most of the Order is at least nominally Christian) in the Providential occurrence of their Gift. This is seen as proof self evident that the Divine chose them, for whatever unknowable reason, to bear and wield such power. This is a frequent justification for many otherwise questionable acts and assorted aggrandizement of ego.

Nobility and Royalty especially in Mythic Europe are seen as Ordained with the social order of feudalism being ascribed by the Divine. Providence in this is not something generally open to being questioned by most people. Moreover not only is this common belief but it is reinforced with people of sufficient legitimate feudal standing possessing some inherent degrees of Magic Resistance and even the occasional supernatural powers associated with the Divine Realm. While these powers generally are not comparable in power and scope to Hermetic Magic they also are not bound by Hermetic Limits and so can be surprising and deceptively potent at times.

One might also imagine that Nobles and Royalty with self evident claims to Divinely Ordained power would have rather unrestrained egos, and in general I think one would be correct to do so. The power wielded by feudal rulers is well beyond something easily even conceivable to the average contemporary person of today. Similarly the casualness with which it was frequently wielded.

Magi in general are very jealous and defensive of both their time and frequently social standing. Magic is time consuming, resource intensive, and Covenants are an essential part of meeting those needs. Advancing in the practice of Magic requires focus and freedom from immediate and recurring distractions. Any diversion from this to any serious degree results in lost advancement, progress not made and power thus not possessed. This, as discussed previously, is a large part of why Covenants exist. Both in keeping away the normal distractions of "making a living" as it were and also in setting up a "Separate Estate" for Magi outside of Mundane Society where Mundane Lords and Rulers do not attempt to exert the privilege to call upon them for service and take up their precious time.

Lesser Magic Users of various stripes are at times quite ready to provide services to the Nobility of Mythic Europe in exchange for their patronage. They are generally nowhere near the level of magical power of a Hermetic Mage usually such individuals not even possessing the Gift. Such lesser practitioners who directly serve Mundanes as inferiors are generally held in contempt by Hermetic Magi. Sellout Bootlicks at worst (if they actually have magic worth noting) or pretenders to powers they don't actually have at best (their patrons might regard these in the worse light but Magi have a different sense of priority and propriety in action here).

Magi thus generally consider service and subservience to a Mundane Lord or Royal to be beneath their proper station and a violation of the "Separate Estate" of the Magical World.

The prohibition against Mundane Interference in the Code of Hermes is thus first and foremost then about preventing the erosion of this Separate Estate and the subsequent development of undesired levels of entanglement between the Magical World and Mundane Society. One can not expect a King reasonably to be happy ignoring Magi and their affairs ... if a Magus is selling magical weapons to those who would seek to depose him for example.

Much of the various limitations placed on interactions with Mundanes and the Selling of Magical Items and the like to them are based around this general idea that becoming entangled in Mundane Affairs undermines this desired separation between Magical and Mundane and that this ultimately is against the interests of Magi as a whole.

Thus for example the scaled power levels of allowed magical item sales based on the social station of the purchaser is intended to allow for sale of magic but in such a way as to be undisruptive to Mundane Society by keeping the higher end power level of items reserved for those already holding social power.

How does all of this readily translate in a consistent way to how you should treat the village next door?

Unfortunately it really doesn't.

Tribunals all handle these concepts differently by region and beyond that the local relationships of any given Covenant with their local Nobility are highly individual. That said as a general rule the main two approaches are either a public deniability or outright allodial holdings. Public deniability is when the Magi allow and even foster the Nobility in keeping face and being publicly in charge but underneath which they have a firm understanding of not digging into the affairs of Magi. In this type of Tribunal / situation generally the main body of the Order expects this facade to be maintained yet if a given ruler or noble violates it too blatantly they will side with the Magi/Covenant in question in defending their autonomy. It would still be preferred in such situations if the disruption of society and norms were kept to a minimum for all of the usual reasons.

Allodial holdings are essentially where Magi claim their own lands/territory and rule it outright in defiance of Mundane authorities/rulers. There are several examples of this both on the individual Covenant level and across whole Tribunals. Hibernia it should be noted is explicitly accepting of Magi claiming and holding Allods. It is important to note however that this should not be taken as license for Magi to attempt to hold vast swathes of land and accrue temporal power. This would still be considered Interference and seen as very disruptive and negative for the Order as a whole. It is instead explicitly only license to claim and keep what is yours, so to speak, and to defend it from the interference of others.

How then are Magi expected to interact with Mundane Society?

In a word, carefully.

More as outsiders looking into a world that isn't their own than anything else. Much as Mundanes see the Magical World from their point of view.