The Flashback Hub
The Lex Magica is the law by which all Awakened of the Pentacle Orders are expected to comport themselves. The exact interpretation of this law varies from Caucus to Caucus and Consilium to Consilium, however, so knowing the law and how the local Council chooses to exercise it can become very important for Awakened both locally and while traveling.
The Silver Ladder sees the upkeep, interpretation, and enforcement of the Lex Magica as its raison d'etre and, as a result, has developed a system (and many titles of position and duty) to help keep the law relatively consistent from Caucus to Caucus. This system consists of a series of tiers given names of metals to separate out layers of precedence and importance of various laws. Higher tiers always take precedent over lower tiers when they come into conflict, but tend to be more general where lower tiers tend to be specific interpretations of the higher tiers and precedents of interpretation of the higher tiers.
<u>The Golden Laws</u>
The Golden Laws are the highest tier of law. As such they are inviable, unable to be supplanted or reversed by any other tier of law. By and large these laws have been around for thousands of years and are universally accepted by all mages of the Pentacle. Indeed, by definition the Golden Laws are those laws that are passed down from the Time Before, recovered from artifact grade libraries or codexes, or rarely imparted by the wisdom of Supernal beings left to guard such things. New Golden Laws can only be accepted with overwhelming proof of their existence in the Time Before acknowledged by Greater Caucuses worldwide. Needless to say, this has not happened in living memory of the Awakened. The Golden Laws are also commonly known as The Great Rights, as they are considered universal, inalienable rights of the Awakened Society.
The Right of Crossing
Let no borders stop an Awakened with a clear heart.
Generally this Right is interpreted to mean that the Awakened shall allow others to pass through their claimed territory without harassment, so long as they come in peace. In many areas it is expected that if a cabal maintains wards or claims a dangerous territory, they should provide a safe path through their territory marked in a manner that Awakened will recognize and be able to follow.
The Right of Emeritus
Those who have earned respect must be treated with respect.
While there has always been debate as to what it means to have earned respect, most Consilia interpret this to mean that younger Awakened are expected to respect their elders, that the accomplishments of the young are to be acknowledged and praised, and that a general degree of polite and civil discourse is to be maintained at all times.
The Right of Hospitality
Those who request hospitality must be granted it.
This is the only Right that requires the recipient invoke it to take effect, but once someone has requested Hopsitality, the beseeched is expected to grant it. Traditionally this means providing shelter and sustenance as able for a period of at least 3 days, after which a guest can be asked to depart without violating this right. Nothing is expected to the quality of room and board, though the Awakened are often judged on the quality of Hospitality they choose or are able to offer.
The Right of Nemesis
When vengeance is declared, let none stand in its way.
Along with Emeritus this is often the most difficult of the Great Rights for newly Awakened to understand. When the Right of Nemesis is invoked, it is expected that the Awakened not directly involved will not do anything to hinder the pursuit of this vengeance. This means that Awakened may not harbor a fugitive from vengeance or offer protection to such without becoming the target of this vengeance themselves, though they are under no obligation to volunteer knowledge or information to assist in the pursuit of this vengeance. It bears noting that lower tiers of laws often deal with interpreting what is a legitimate invocation of Nemesis and what is not.
The Right of Sanctuary
Protect your home and let no action cause it harm.
Just as anyone is entitled to seek Hospitality, all Awakened are entitled to the protection and safety of their own home. A mage in their Sanctum is authorized to use whatever force they believe necessary to defend their persons, possessions, and home. It is common for Awakened who are asked Hospitality to immediately respond with a reminder that they will fall back upon the Right of Sanctuary if their guest acts to do them harm (which is very broadly defined to include theft and espionage).
The Duel Arcane
While technically under the Right of Nemesis, the Duel Arcane deserves special mention. The practice of seeking satisfaction through a duel of arcane skill dates back to the Time Before, so is considered part and parcel of the Golden Laws. Any mage seeking reparation or judgment may request that the determination be made through a Duel Arcane – a ritualized and magically altered contest between mages to demonstrate who has the greater skill without causing direct harm to each other. By tradition, refusing a Duel Arcane is the same as admitting guilt. While individual parties may choose to invoke the Duel Arcane without the involvement of the Consilium at large, to be considered officially binding the Duel must be invoked in front of a third party witness under Iron Law.
Both combatants name seconds who will work out the details of the duel including location and arbiter as well as stand to ensure that the other side does not cheat or move against their opponent before the Duel can be resolved. The seconds will first agree upon a neutral third party to request to arbitrate the duel. Almost universally this third party must be a Disciple of Prime as the spell Display of Power is cast by the arbiter to frame and judge the duel. Then, with the Arbiter, the seconds determine a time and place for the duel to take place.
Each participant (or their seconds) determine the stakes of the duel as well as the accepted outcome. There must be some resolution that both parties agree to accept from the duel for it to have meaning, such as an admission of guilt or the payment of a specific forfeit from the loser to the winner. At the time of the duel the Arbiter prepares the area with the Display of Power spell, allowing imagos in the area to become visible to all. This allows the duelists to form spells without unleashing them so that those bearing witness may judge the outcome of the duel without the actual use of magic to do harm to fellow Awakened. It is from these imagos that a winner is determined, and then forfeits are paid.
<u>The Silver Laws</u>
The Silver Laws are the second tier of laws, superseded only by the Golden Laws of the Time Before. These laws consist of all laws created by a Consilium or higher council to guide the Awakened or to interpret the Golden Laws in the current times. These are akin to mortal edicts or legislative laws, created both proactively and reactively.
Each Consilium can be very different from the next with regard to their Silver Laws, though the Silver Ladder makes a point of ensuring ease of access to these laws for all citizens and guests. There are many laws that are commonly adopted by Consilium the world around as Silver Laws. These laws are known as Precepts and are quite often based upon Golden Laws expanded and interpreted into the Fallen World.
The Precept of Secrecy
The existence of magic must be kept secret from those who do not practice it.
If a mage practices magic openly before Sleepers, and another mage witnesses it, that witness must decide whether to report what happened to the Consilium. Any act that causes a Paradox demands additional mention, as does any act that harms a Sleeper directly. When the Consilium convenes, the witness usually recites his testimony, only resorting to a formal trial if the accused contradicts his evidence. In some cities, instances of these transgressions are simply noted in hearings, and then formally recited at a later trial. Many times, the actual “punishment” for violating this Secrecy may seem relatively light, but the consequences can be severe. Repeated violations are noted in the Lex as well, leading to greater punishments.
Typical violations include the following:
- casting vulgar magic before Sleeper witnesses
- casting vulgar magic before witnesses who tell others
- leaving evidence that magic has been performed
- speaking of the Mysteries before Sleepers
- teaching Sleepers the Mysteries
- betraying Arcane knowledge to other supernatural societies (such as vampires or werewolves)
The Precept of Recognition
Every Consilium must have a way of deciding who falls under the auspices of their laws and who does not.
Mages who are “recognized” by the Consilium should naturally expect greater scrutiny than
those who are not. Because a trial’s rituals make its pronouncements more “real,” formal declarations of recognition and accusation carry more weight. A mage who commits a minor offense may find his actions mentioned at the next gathering of the Consilium, even if there is no actual punishment for the act. The act has also been “recognized,” so that it can be remembered in whatever form the Consilium prefers. Some Consilii document all transgressions; others either summon spirits to bear witness, trust to their own memory and the Mind Arcanum or employ a representative of a particular magical order to record transgressions. When the mage approaches the Consilium again, the precedent of the
action influences the Councilors’ further decisions.
The Precept of Protectorate
A mage does not need to declare where her sanctum is hidden, but, as with other such omissions, hiding such knowledge from a city’s Councilors means that she’s rejecting their help with future catastrophes, when her sanctum would normally require assistance.
A mage who shares such information with her elders, on the other hand, can expect a certain degree of protection. In times of trouble, the city’s masters may offer to visit the local sanctums, so that they can cast additional rituals on their surroundings, but never, ever without the permission of the mages who share a sanctum nearby. Any recognized sanctum falls under the auspices of the Precept of Protectorate.
Typical violations of this precept include the following:
- approaching the sanctum of another mage unannounced (if such Protocols are set)
- causing a Sleeper investigation near another mage’s sanctum
- testing the wards or limits of another mage’s sanctum
- entering another mage’s sanctum without formally granted permission
- a magical attack against a sanctum
The Precept of Hubris
Every magical order has legends of mages who have fallen from grace, showing the results of incautious magic or immoral activity.
Sleepers often flippantly remark that you “can’t legislate morality,” but that doesn’t prevent mages in their own shadowy societies from passing judgment on what is right and wrong. Few cities are strict enough to actually monitor immoral behavior, much less enforce it. Nonetheless, a very established Consilium can still insist on at least recognizing when a mage has performed an immoral act. T he examples listed below are the most commonly cited. Some Consilii punish only the most grievous acts, while others make formal declarations of where and when an initiate has gone astray. The Consilii cannot catch all such violations, but those mages who
are brought to light serve as object lessons to others.
Typical violations include the following:
- casting a curse
- forcing an unwilling transformation
- binding another’s soul
- magical attacks on others (unless performed within the Duel Arcane)
- aiding spiritual possession
- exiling others to the Shadow Realm
- using magic for murder
- soul theft
The Precept of War
The Consilium exists as a way to peacefully resolve conflicts between mages in the same city. When the system works, both parties agree with the outcome of their trial. When the system doesn’t work, a mage has other options, such as withdrawing from the Consilium or turning to
the Free Council. Despite this, there have been times when mages have been so outraged by judgments of the Consilii that they have taken matters into their own hands.
When this happens, one cabal progresses from a campaign of intrigue to one of magical warfare. A few cities accept Precepts of War for the resolution of these disputes. Many cities do not, simply preferring to demand that both sides appear before the Consilium to defend their actions, regardless of how far the dispute has progressed. In martial cities, a formally declared magical war is a way to legally threaten another cabal while attempting to limit the escalation that follows.
It starts with a representative of the cabal appearing before the Consilium, petitioning the Councilors to accept her cabal’s temporary withdrawal from their system of law. By tradition, the mage then testifies to the actions that the rival cabal has taken against her cabal. The Consilium can then decide to formally proceed by invoking the Lex. If the Councilors don’t, they’re basically warning the petitioner that no matter what she claims, they’re going to treat her like any other mage in the city, passing judgment on her actions if anyone files a complaint against her.
Typical rules include the following:
- Street Warfare: The cabal announces that it will attack but not violate the sanctity of its rivals’ sanctum.
- Spiritual Warfare: The cabal announces that they intend to use open magic in the Shadow Realm, an invitation to “take the fight outside,” so Sleepers needn’t witness it.
- Sanctum Warfare: The cabal confides in the Consilium that it intends to strike back at its rivals’ sanctum. The cabal-members do not expect any redress or compensation for the retaliation that must inevitably follow.
- Shadow Warfare:The cabal chooses to confide that they are striking against another supernatural society. They acknowledge that they alone are responsible, and they must personally bear responsibility for the backlash that follows.
- The Duel Arcane: The cabal wants to send a champion against their rivals’ champion to conduct single combat, so that greater bloodshed can be prevented.
<u>The Bronze Laws</u>
The Bronze Laws are the third tier of laws representing the collected records of determinations and interpretations the Consilium has made with regard to both Gold and Silver Law. This is akin to mortal Common Law, representing specific scenarios that have come up in the history of the Consilium and how each was handled. In similar cases, the Council is expected to refer to this record to maintain consistency or demonstrate and state how the interpretation has since changed.
<u>The Iron Law</u>
The Iron Law is simply a formal recognition of an Awakened's given word. So long as it does not violate any of the previous tiers of Law, an Awakened can be held to their word as if it were Law itself, so long as this oath was given with intent that it be kept as Iron Law and in front of at least two witnesses who are recognized by the Consilium.
<u>Enforcement and Punishment</u>
No body of laws has meaning without a method by which to enforce the law. That is to say, there must be a manner in which accusations of violation can be heard, evidence examined, judgment passed, and sentence carried out. How this is done varies from Consilium to Consilium. Some prefer to leave hearing petitions and passing judgments to a single magistrate who may or may not be the Hierarch of the Consilium. Larger and more democratically minded Consilium often convene a tribunal of mages to hear and pass judgment, most commonly the council or it's representatives. The Silver Ladder also employs a number of neutral, wandering judges known as Lectors that travel from Consilium to Consilium to hear cases and pass judgment, presumably as objectively as is able due to their implicit lack of involvement in local politics.
Regardless of how it is done, the Awakened sitting in judgment of a violation must determine if indeed the Lex Magica has been violated, and, if so, what manner of action must be taken to properly address and redress the violation. There are ten levels of punishment accepted by the Pentacle as a whole as fair and increasingly harsh responses to the violation of the Lex Magica. Not all violations start at the lowest level, as some violations are more serious than others. Likewise, certain violations rarely, if ever, exceed a given degree of punishment. In all cases, however, repeat violations results in increasingly severe punishment.
This is little more than formally stating that what the mage did was wrong. This formally expresses to other mages in the city that the Consilium considers the act a transgression. (Refer back to the Precept of Recognition for further details.)
The Consilium instructs other masters to limit their assistance to the mage. In some cases, the Councilors may even warn other cabals or mages against helping the criminal.
Payment of Debt
The mage must pay a debt, usually in the form of a favor, act or deed. Cabals and orders trade favors, as do masters. If the mage belongs to a society — such as a cabal or order — she must pay on a debt that her society owes another.
The mage must atone for her act by performing a service for the city’s mages. This may be something as simple as re-organizing the contents of a library, standing guard with agents of the Adamantine Arrow or serving as a lone watchman for a few nights.
The mage must perform a risky or dangerous act for the benefit of the city’s mages. This could involve scouting an area known for supernatural activity, undertaking a spiritual journey or retrieving a powerful artifact. Note that this punishment actually hints that the mage has potential, since a fool would not be trusted with such an important mission.
The Consilium states bluntly that no one (not even initiates) may aid or assist the offending mage, clarifying the duration of the reprimand. Offering assistance merits the same punishment, “tarring” the collaborator “with the same brush.” The mage is then either instructed to meditate in seclusion or abstain from practicing magic. Failure to comply leads to incarceration.
The mage is magically confined, surrounded by powerful wards that cripple his magical power. He must meditate on his actions. In many cases, this is done because the mage is dangerous enough that he has risked exposing or seriously weakening the city’s mages, and the Consilium needs time to recover while repairing the damage that’s been done.
This is rarely effective, but sometimes used as an alternative to incarceration. The mage is given orders to leave the city, sometimes for a specific period of time. If she returns during that time, she faces incarceration or worse. The stigma can include further details of where the mage must go or what she must do before she returns.
Spiritual Scourging (Confinement or Banishment)
This punishment is rarely performed more than a few times each decade. A master of Death (using Death 5) can steal an Awakened soul. When carrying out a sentence of spiritual confinement, the master of Death binds a mage’s soul in a protected place for the duration of the stigma before restoring it to its owner. When performing a rite of spiritual banishment, the master sends the soul far away. This may involve hurling it into the Shadow Realm or instructing a Sentinel to carry it to another city. Spiritual banishment often results in a quest, as the mage must either chase down the soul herself or find allies who can do so for her.
The Death mage who performs this rite must be thoroughly convinced that the crime is worth such a dire punishment, since he is making a sacrifice to perform it: performing this rite is an act of hubris (requiring a check against Wisdom loss).
This punishment is rarely performed more than once or twice a century. The mage’s very soul is destroyed, rendering him incapable of performing magic. Sentencing a mage in this fashion — and actually performing the spiritual execution — always tests the hubris of the mages involved. In addition to this moral risk, very few mages know of reliable methods for performing such an execution. There have been instances when a mage’s soul has been fed to horrible creatures who feast on such delicacies. No matter what the method might be, such an act invariably has serious consequences. In many cities, a Consilium that has no resort but to call on this final and horrible punishment must step down, as an admission of their failure to resolve the problem another way. Those Consilii that do not have this principle are typically tyrannies, and such extreme actions are taken as call to war for the criminal’s allies.