In my saga, one of the PC magi feels obliged to declare Wizard's War against a rival maga (following a promise made to Garus, Primus of House Flambeau). However, the PC is a Mentem specialist and has no combat magic to speak of, so he is planning to spend the month of war at the PC covenant enjoying the protection of the Aegis and the grogs. To attack the enemy maga, he is thinking of sending his guard, a companion character who is a very proficient swordsman, to effectively assassinate the maga. This is actually a plan which has a decent chance of success - the maga in question is weak and poorly protected and not in an environment she knows well. But practical considerations aside, is this a legally acceptable way of prosecuting Wizard's War? I can find nothing in the books that says it isn't (I have looked through HoH:S Flambeau and HoH:TL Guernicus as well as the core book). My feeling is that it might be considered cowardly, and it might even be considered in breach of the spirit of the Code, but it isn't actually breaking the Code. But maybe I am missing something?
Actually you are right, and it does not even breach the spirit of the Code. Remember: to the Order, non-members are just "tools". He who directs them bears all responsibility for their actions -- including magical actions!
In some sagas I know of, wizard's wars are not always declared to kill. Some magi used wizard's wars only to deprive their target of magic (i.e. steal vis, enchanted objects, books, kill the familiar or apprentice), or even only to scry the target. Some could render the target helpless then allow him/her to live, having teached a lesson (and by the way, ruined the lab, killed the familiar and stolen the books).
I know that some of thèses actions could be, in some sagas, considered illegal. But of course, in those sagas, the principle is that "if you have the right to kill someone, you may do him any lesser outrage".
I've actually had a recap character prepare to declare wizard war on a full magus by hiding in a high level dominion aura and having traps, thieves, and political mechanizations designed to bring the magus down.
In TCI - Hibernia sourcebook Wizard's Wars seem more common, last not just a month but until both sides reach an agreement and last but not least are more a matter of showing strength and raiding. And if you kill all enemies they can't show you respect, nor be raided again another time.
I like that, it makes for a saga where the magi can participate in a serious and dramatic event, without it being too final for either side. Otherwise it can seem like a very harsh event, and one best avoided in order to not get character killed or tilt the saga in unwanted ways. Pity though. Of course sagas may focus on research, politics, social aspects, or a jillion other things than combat so many player characters may me wholly unprepared or inappropriate for fighting.
I play in a Rhine saga, and with the way the Gilds function WWs are not very common, and retaliation from a champion of one's gild may me expected.
My Troupe seems to think it means no Wizard's Wars will ever happen, because everybody is afraid that a champion of the victim will retaliate, and a champion of that victim will have a champion avenge him etc. I find this a too harsh interpretation, and one of the elements that risk turning the Rhine from just conservative to completely stale. IMHO the Gilds could let things slide if the combatants are fairly evenly matched (so not an Archmagus declaring on a freshly Gauntleted Journeyman), or if the issues are personal and not core Gild politics. as SG I had an established antagonist declare WW on a PC, over an issue of disagreement over resources, before the PCs had their covenant officially accepted. The antagonist's Gild (Holunder) did in fact declare no support for her, so the PC's Gild (Apfel) could not risk being seen as needlessly dominant so they let him deal with it alone. IIRC the conflict was not really dangerous, barely any real contact but mostly sabotaging each other.
I tend to view the Rhine as looking a lot like the Camarilla, myself. The Tribunal government is completely ineffective for constraining archmagi due to ghost voting and the fact that the Quaesitores were kicked out, and the rule of law doesn't exist, so internecine warfare is solely checked by the Gilds. Accordingly, conflict between wizards is governed by political questions: "If I attack this dweeb, is his Gild going to retaliate, and if his Gild retaliates, will my Gild back me up? And should I declare War officially, or should I commit secret murder and rely on my sodales to prevent any effective investigation?"
What this likely means is that personal disputes and most fights between journeymen are likely to be allowed. A journeyman's Gild will give him some protection from being blasted to ash out of hand by an irritated archmagus, but that only goes so far and a tyro disrespecting an archmagus had best tread lightly; it's entirely possible for the archmagus in question to kill him and pay off the champion with an appropriate wergild. As you go up the ranks, open warfare becomes rarer, because if two leading archmagi get into a fight, it'll drag their Gilds into open warfare, and nobody in the Rhine wants a Schism War; conversely, this means that the Tribunal ignores mildly illegal sabotage and theft between archmagi, or only blames the journeymen or custodes who actually carry out the sabotage and theft.