Politics

The Ties That Bind

The Council is not a unified pillar of strength. Rather, it consists of nine separate columns upholding an intersecting fan vault of wisdom. Though the tracery varies from column to column, there are many shared elements, such as the benefit of universal Ascension and the worth of humanity.

Mutual support has allowed the Council to survive half a millennium of disputes, betrayals, set-backs, purges and persecution. Although their Arts span the spectru of possible magickal styles, each Tradition recognizes the true nature of what they do. Even the Technomancers among them eventually understand that science is just another form of magick.

  • Ascension: The Traditions believe in an interaction between personal englightenment and the development of humanity. Mages should be exemplars of their philosophy. If those values are true, the Sleepers will eventually realize it. No mage, says the Council, has the right to impose a paradigm on humanity.

When humanity has perfected itself, reality will advance to the next — though perhaps not the final — stage.

  • Sleepers: The Traditions share a general compassion for Sleepers. Everyone has a right to personal fulfillment. All cultures deserve enlightenment.

Ironically, Tradition mages have charged themselves with the well-being of people whose skepticism reinforces the scientific paradigm and mages magick so difficult. This is a part of what makes a mage's struggle so heroic.

  • Horizon Chantry: The Council shares a meeting Chantry called Horizon, where they hold major meetings every nine years and informal gatherings more frequently. Horizon is a rallying point for all Tradition mages and a symbol of the Council's unity.

Tribunals

Tribunals are gatherings where Tradition mages meet to discuss serious matters. Such Tribunals might concern a Master's (or Tradition's) defection, a suddent thrust by the Technocracy, a renegade Umbrood or the judgement of a mage who has serioulsy broken Protocol.

Any mage can attept to call a Tribunal; whether the summoning is taken seriously depends on her status and the import of her claim. Matters which interest a single Tradition are usually discussed at an Ancestral Chantry. Inter-Tradition conflicts or concernes are convened at mutually accessible locations or perhaps at Horizon. Those who call the Tribunal bring it to order; other Masters conduct the meeting.

Should a Tribunal be called on to pass sentence on a mage, they may select one of several punishments.

  • Censure

This mild punishment puts a mage on "parole" for an indefinite period. He must follow the Tribunal's restrictions on travel, association with people or use of magick. The Tribunal may require some service to be completed before the Censure is lifted.

  • Branding

With this punishment, the offender's Avatar is marked by Spirit magick. Each unique sigil marks him as an offender of a specific Protocol. The brand can be detected by simple Spirit magick or a mage's Awareness. branding is often used in conjunction with another punishment, such as Ostracism.

  • Ostracism

Banishment can range from a month to life, during which time no other mage may associate with him. Those who do risk Censure or worse.

  • Death

The death sentence is applied with a mage has committed serious crimes, like betrayal or Infernalism (traffic with demons), though his Avatar is innocent. Released from its mortal coil, the Avatar can reincarnate into a more honorable mage. This punishment is common among he Euthanatos.

  • Gilgul

Gilgul is reserved for mages so evil that even their Avatars have been corrupted, or, more rarely, for hapless mortals born with the recycled Avatars of Nephandi. An assembly of Masters rip out and destroy the Avatar. The mage is unharmed, but left a powerless husk; he will never again work magick. This is a horrible fate, considered worse than death by some. Deeply diminished, most mages lose the will to live, yet lack the volition to end their existence.

Certamen

Certamen is a means of solving disputes too minor for a Tribunal. Often, it is a matter of personal honor or simple rivalry. Rules and formality ensure that this magickal duel presents no risk to Sleepers or to the mages themselves.

The duel begins when one mage challenges another. The challenged is under no obligation to accept, but risks losing honor (and with no risk of injury, he has little reason to decline). Since certamen is highly vulgar, the duelists must meet at a special certamen circle (available at most Chantries) or tempt Paradox. A Certamen Marshal presides to ensure the safety and honor of both parties.

The rules and formalities are extremely elaborate. Simply put, each mage manifests one Sphere he commands to form a magickal Gladius (sword), and another, an Aegis (shield). They then place all of their personal Quintiessence in a Locus (magickal reservoir). The goal is for each mage to strike the opponent's Locus (thus draining Quintessence) while protecting her own. One wins by emptying the opponent's Locus. The winner keeps the Quintessence and can demand satisfaction, which usually has been determined beforehand. The stakes can range from an apology or payment to service or exile.

A variety of other duels exist, from physical combat to shapeshifting contests, riddle games, intellectual challenges and flat-out magickal brawls. No other option, however, is readily accepted throughout the Council.

Further Reading

Mage Protocols