After the last few seasons of study, it is now summer in the year 1224 in Loch Leglean, and time for the seven-yearly Tribunal that is held at the covenant after which the Tribunal is named – Loch Leglean. In Ars Magica, the term Tribunal can mean different things. The Tribunals are the regions into which the Order of Hermes has divided Mythic Europe. They are also the name given to the meetings (held once every seven years) when magi of a Tribunal (region) gather to discuss the politics of the Order.
Personally, I’ve always struggled with running Tribunals in Ars Magica campaigns, but I think this session went really well, with our GM coming up with some interesting cases to be argued and a good way of handling it within the structure of the game.
Pisciculus ex Criamon
The trip to Loch Leglean covenant was simple, and we didn’t encounter anyone on the roads that tried to hinder us. It’s possible that bandits and other ne’er-do-wells have learned not to bother groups of scholars out on the roads every seven years. We had brough Hamish and Callen along with us just in case anything did happen, but for them it was a relaxing walk where their services weren’t really needed.
On arrival at the covenant it looked like we had turned up in the middle of a market. A number of nearby townsfolk had turned up, and stalls selling food and other goods were abundant. We weren’t the last group of magi to turn up, but we were probably in the later half so most of the good lodgings had already been taken so we had to make do with what we got. Nothing bad, just not necessarily to Maedbh’s tastes.
There were plenty of noticeboards up, advertising books, vis and other things that some magi were looking to part with for suitable remuneration. There were other, more political or personal tracts pinned up, some from magi simply ranting at others, using it as an opportunity to air their greivences.
There was an agenda, though it only had two things on it. The first item was the welcoming of the members of Druids’ Dale, and a vote on whether we should be allowed to make our covenant a permanent fixture of the Tribunal. The second was a meeting to set the rest of the agenda.
There were also postings for seminars, for those magi wishing to discuss particular topics of Hermetical interest. Since there was nothing similar, I posted up a riddle to see if anyone was interested in solving it. Over the next few days several of us began a public debate on the nature of the Engima, using the notice board as our discussion forum. I think few others realised what was happening though, since all our discussions were masked behind riddles and puzzles.
As usual, Greysen took to entertaining people with a variety of Gaelic songs, some of which were directed in a playful manner at our more southerly neighbours.
Though I seemed to miss the full force of the events, I was vaguely aware of a couple of magi going around complaining about each other. One was ranting about how the other had caused giants to drop rocks on his house. I did wonder whether a Wizard’s War was going to be likely, though it never happened.
The first official day of the Tribunal opened early with a hearty breakfast which was followed by a discussion about our covenant. An older magus, who I later learned was Bucuni. an Archmage from Fithich Spòg covenent, stood up to give a good account of our covenant head, Alexandra. Apparently she was once his apprentice. Nobody seemed to want to say anything to counter what Bucuni had said, so things proceeded to voting. Only the two arguing magi, Anghus and Sean, voted against us.
Druids’ Dale is now an official covenant of Loch Leglean Tribunal.
The rest of the day was spent arguing over what the rest of the agenda should be. It wasn’t until the following day that an agreement was finally fleshed out. There would be four topics to be decided.
- Anghus v Sean, both wanted the Tribunal to rule against the other. Apparently the two have been arguing for as long as anyone can remember.
- Horsingas wanted their recent obtaining of a permanent magical item from the hands of the mundanes to be ratified as legal.
- The covenants of Dun Morach and Crowsfoot were bringing charges against each other for intrusion into sanctums, and destruction of covenant property.
- Arleen ex Miscellanea was accused of destroying a vis source that belonged to Lucius ex Flambeau. She claimed that it was an accident, that it hadn’t been formally declared as belonging to Lucius, and anyway he was a Flambeau so therefore who cares?
- The maga Tiona ex Merinita wanted the Tribunal to declare that the investigation of certain faerie goings on should be given over exclusively to House Merinita.
In between the main topics of discourse, I attended a seminar given by a member of House Verditious about the use of crystals to aid in the understanding and maybe control of faeries. It seemed a fairly safe topic, until I asked the question of whether the use of crystals had any relationship to the ruby eyes of Quendalon, the magus who had taken House Merinita down the path of Fay, and away from its Founders interests in pure nature.
This sparked a debate between both the Merinita and Tytalus magi present, with the former making references to their Founder having lost themselves in Faerie. The seminar was broken up before anything too violent could happen, but apparently some of those present were not seen again during this Tribunal.
My discussion with the other Criamon magi (there are four of us) went really well, and I think that I managed to make a good impression.
There was much discussion about the main topics, and I surprised everyone, including myself, by getting quite heavily involved. Somebody had left a pile of books around on Hermetic Law, and I took it upon myself to look up the subjects under discussion and provide legal advice to everyone.
Technically, our one and only Quaesitor should probably have been doing this, but Quaesitor Whitburh Frithowebba seemed to be happy to take a back seat and not have to bother herself with the details.
Magi of Dun Morach covenant had stolen some cows from a field that belonged to Crowsfoot covenant. Crowsfoot complained that not only had the invading magus used magic (invisibility) to spy on them, but that the field had been marked as a Sanctum and therefore Dun Morach had stolen from one of their Sancta.
In revenge, Crowsfoot had gone to Dun Morach and burned down some of the huts in the village whilst looking for their cows. Dun Morach claimed that one of the huts was a Sanctum.
I dug up case law on how Sanctums were defined, and pointed out that the field very probably hadn’t been clearly marked. However, using magic to hide yourself also counted as magical scrying. The magi of Crowsfoot claimed that they had deliberately clouded their vision so they couldn’t see if they ‘accidentally’ destroyed some Sancta. I used the argument that deliberately preventing yourself from knowing whether you’d done something wrong wasn’t a defence. Everyone came to the conclusion that both sides were at fault for something, at which point they both decided to drop the charges against each other.
An argument was made to punish those wasting the time of the Tribunal, at which point both Anghus and Sean dropped their own cases against each other. During this time Euan seemed to raise some points about the importance of keeping cow rustling as a protected past time.
For Arleen and Lucius, most people voted for Arleen. I seemed to be the only one arguing for Lucius, based on the fact that no magus should be treated differently regardless of the House to which they belonged. Even if it was that of Flambeau, who seem to be hated in Loch Leglean.
There was a lot of disagreement with Tiona’s request that House Merinita was giving the power to investigate anything to do with the Fey. They had chosen that in this particular case (the rapidly ageing villagers which we had partly investigated previously) for Maedbh to lead the investigation. I didn’t have a problem with a specific individual being selected to investigate things based on their talents, I just disagreed that all power over a particular subject be granted to a single House.
It was decided to amend the proposal that when the Fey needed investigation, an individual could be nominated by the Tribunal. This was found agreeable by most people.
For the case of Horsingas, I dug up some case studies about interference with mundanes and the owership of magical items amongst the mundanes. It was decided that since nobody had been harmed in the raid, and responsibility couldn’t be traced back to the Order, in this case it had been okay. The Tribunal ruled that the removal of permanent magical devices was a good thing, but refused to rule on Horsingas’ specific raid.
Eventually our time at the Tribunal came to an end. I had found a new interest in Hermetic Law, and apparently made a name for myself for various reasons. Maedbh has been charged with finding out about the ageing problem, and Greysen is well known for his musical talents.
Due to our involvement, we were all granted 10 XP for this season, which Pisciculus put into Enigmatic Wisdom and Code of Hermes. She also picked up a reputation for egalitarianism after arguing for the Flambeau.
Some time later she received a letter from the Quaesitor offering to provide some further training on the Code of Hermes. I think the Quaesitor would like someone else in the Tribunal able to handle such matters, whilst also ensuring that they aren’t capable or powerful enough to actually challenge her.
Radislav am Polanach ex Criamon from Crun Clach has also offered to provide Pisciculus some help in her exploration of her House Mysteries. I think I am going to go down the Path of the Body, but I need to double check before finalising.
All in aAnd so ourll, this was a good session, with a lot of politics and role playing. The covenant of Druids’ Dale is now firmly on the map, and most of us have a reputation of sorts within the Tribunal.