What Style of Governance?

I was thinking for a good while about what style of Governance (per the inset on p. 17 of Covenants) the covenfolk have.

The options given in the book are:

  • Autocracy, where one person is appointed by the magi to speak for the covenfolk, something akin to a clan chief or a mayor.
  • Council, where the covenfolk choose a committee to run the day-to-day affairs of the covenant, with the magi retaining veto power.
  • Democracy, in which the autocrat is chosen by the people rather than the magi, with the magi being able to over-rule the covenfolk if the people choose a total shmuck; according to the book, the people's autocrat is more ceremonial than in an Autocracy, but the magi typically choose an autocrat to do the actual administrative stuff.
  • Faux Feudalism, with a sock noble.
  • Gerontocracy, basically like an extended family ruled by the oldest for the magi.
  • Militocracy, ruled by the military, with the turb captain or a tame noble in charge.
  • Theocracy, run by the priests.

This is what I had imagined before Trogdor posted Kester MacLannen.
[tab][/tab]The muggles would have a Council, which is elected by them every Winter (during the Magi's Council meeting).Anyone may nominate anyone (including themselves), but anyone can only be nominated once. When nominated, the people vote whether or not they want them to be on the Council; if more than half of the voters say aye, that nominee is on the council. This continues until there are no more nominations. Voters must be at least 15 years old. Some years, there may be a score or more members of the Council, and some years a scant handful. The Council would then meet and choose one of their number to be the head councillor, who would work more directly with the Magi.

That's one idea. But this is y'all's covenant at least as much as it is mine, so I'm throwing this out for discussion. What kind of governance should the storied people of Insula Canaria have?

If you consider that most of the covenant folk are Highlanders, I think a Council would work but I do not think it would be elected. It would be elders or important people. The head of the Turb, and master craftsmen/women, head of the fishing fleet, head Shepard.

I like jebrick's suggestion. And Kester MacLannen fits perfectly into that model. He could just as well be a councilman. I wrote him to be a skilled wool merchant, knowing that wool was an important commodity for the covenant. He could easily be the covenant's wool merchant and member of the Council. All it would take is renaming his Autocrat skill to something like Councilmember.

But keep in mind, we're joining an existing covenant. I'm not sure what they already have by way of grog governance. Isn't it for Peregrine to tell us what the existing governance style is?

The characters are. This question is more aimed at the players, to get some input in the covenant creation. I could just fiat that "this is how it is," but I think it would help y'all feel more invested if you had some input. And y'all may have better ideas than I do...it's been known to happen.

And I also like Jebrick's idea.

What about a double system? The muggles have historically elected a council, which due to social traditions always wound up being elders, to manage them, then the Magi found what they felt would be a good autocrat and simply appointed him to lead as their representative. The council, of course has co-existed with the authority of the magi, and the fact they have designated a representative does not change this in their eyes.

A magus or their representative would have a seat on the council since they have veto power. My guess is that the Magi would not care much about the cost of planks for boats or the negotiations for more tallow.

So, maybe, a council, with the Autocrat (in this case, Kester MacLannen) being the Chair appointed by the Magi. The magi (or a single magus) has the right to veto or override edicts. Possibly the Council has the right to address the Council of Magi if they think something is important enough, or if it's something that they think should be dealt with by the magi.

given that the primary point of the autocrat is to act as a buffer between magi and covenfolk, I would say one of the duties of the autocrat is to also represent the council to the magi, and present petitions on their behalf. In some cases he may simply make the decision for the magi if it is something they would rather not be bothered with...

I'd imagine that the magi would want their representative to sit through the boring (to the magi) council meetings, represent their interests, and report back. (They have to sit through their own council meetings. They're not going to want to sit through the mundane one as well.)

Then the magi would have an ex post facto veto power on any decisions reached. Hopefully having a mundane representative for the magi on the Mundane Council helps alleviate that possibility. He (or she) would know basically what the magi wanted and would be able to inform the Mundane Council of likely vetoes so that they can be avoided.

I definitely agree that the Mundane Council should have the ability to raise issues with the Council of Magi.

Agreed, and suggest:

  • Magi's nominated delegate to the mundane council is likely the autocrat and also likely to be a person responsible for another area of mundane life. Love Kester for that. Although the selected magi representative should also be able to be independent of that too if need be. And an actual Magus trumps that person too if one of the Magi chooses to attend the mundane council.
  • mundane council as the elders responsible for each major activity. 2-3 is probably too small, 8 is probably too large for the covenant size.
  • I'd like the autocrat to have authority over the other elders from an administrator perspective.
  • definitely want information and important things to filter upward. Perhaps the Magi rep reports to the Magi at the start of the Magi Council and departs till needed?

Can an elder overrule a Magus?

Do the magi have a power remit among themselves?

Given magi personalities we might see some good story potential from those interactions.

I would imagine most things that the muggle council deals with are things that the magi just don't want to be bothered with.

And I like the idea of the autocrat being the designated Magus Delegate in the council, unless one of the magi get bored or really drunk and decide to show up. (And, of course, the Gift would kick in and the council would be all like, "What is she doing here? How are they going to screw us over this time?")

I agree that the Autocrat should meet with the magi regularly to voice any concerns the muggles may have, keep them up to speed as to what decisions they council made, and what they wanted to do that the autocrat decided to veto.

Good idea. The Elders might be representatives of the fishermen, the shepherds, the turb, the craftsmen, the kitchen and food prep, and the servants, perhaps. (Just to throw out suggestions.)

I agree.

Another good idea.

I don't think so. He can try to argue the magus into submission if he's really feeling his oats, though.

Have a what?

Oh, yeah.

To be fair, if a magus shows up that's probably a fair assumption.

A limit to the power they can wield in terms of orders to coven-folk, instructions, purchases, battles, etc.

Eg. Can any magus just make any choice they like and start instructing the covenant, or is there some limit?

To be fair, if a magus shows up that's probably a fair assumption.
I am hoping that Corbin's gentle gift might help a bit here even if he's drunk, but it might turn into a sing along.

I would say the Magi ( or any Magus) can over ride any council ruling. Is it smart? Hell no. But it would be how things are done at this age.

We would almost have a two tier council. One of the mundanes and a second of the Magi. A single Magus can over rule the council but the Council of Magi can over rule a single magus ( or small group).

More realistic is that a magus can temporarily overrule a decision of the Mundane Council, subject to review by the Magi Council at the next meeting (or earlier if it's important). That would keep the power to overrule with the magi, but would guarantee that any use of that power would be reviewed by the gathered magi at a later date. Seems to me that would limit whimsy on the part of the magi. It would also address the situation where two magi disagree on whether the decision should be overruled.

If it's an easy case, the Magi Council just rubber stamps the veto. But if it's controversial, the matter gets discussed and decided at the magi level.

The next question is how matters from the lower council ( as I am calling it) are brought up to the Magi Council. Can any mundane council member do it? Only the autocrat?

Consider 2 scenarios...

  1. Only the Autocrat can bring Mundane Council items before the Magus council. Magus X a good friend of the autocrat volunteers to help with the council. The two hatch a plot that sells out certain merchants to be raided by bandits/clansmen/soldiers by preventing/vetoing any military action by the turb that would interfere with their plan. As long as the caravans have no lab equipment in them then there is little for the other Magi to care about.

  2. Any council member can petition the Magi Council. Shipwright Sam is angered that the new lumber is not being used for his extra fishing boats. Instead it is going to Shepherdess Sarah to make Lambing huts. He goes before the magi council to complain. He is followed by Turb Sargent Cearban complaining that the council does not want the turb to root out some bandits to the south and only to protect from the raiders to the east.

One gives an awful lot of power to the autocrat. The other opens the council up to petty arguments that are meant to be solved by the lower council be cause the magi do not really care about lambing sheds or fishing boats. Either one is fine. Both could lead to stories.

I would say only the autocrat may bring issues before the magi unless the lower council votes with a majority to petition the magus council regarding the behavior of the autocrat.

Perhaps allow any resident of the Covenant to petition a combined sitting of the Magi and Mundane Councils on the equinoxes. Takes some power from the autocrat but only at certain times of the year.

I would say let any mundane in the covenant address either the council or the autocrat. Remember the point of the autocrat is to reduce the impact of the Gift on covenfolk, and save the Magi's time. If everyone keeps running to the magi that accomplishes neither.

Of course covenfolk who have a relationship with a magus have less formal channels- if you clean one of the cottages and mention something "in passing" ... it isn't like the magi are completely cut off even with the more stringent rules about not running to the magi all the time. But a formal petition to the magi, aside from the autocrats reports, should be something that happens less than once a year.

And let's not forget that the magi don't operate in a vacuum. At least one has the Gentle Gift. And another has a familiar with the Busybody flaw. There's every chance that the back channels will keep the magi informed of the major issues going on in the covenant.