Currently there is no canonical ArM5 treatment of the Roman Tribunal, which suits me fine as it not only allows me to develop my Mythic Genoa material without needing to account for more than occasional scattered references but leaves me really with only the old, often vilified and demon-plagued White Wolf version – ArM3 Tribunal of Hermes: Rome.
This is not the place for a dissection of that supplement’s flaws and merits, but I’d like to comment on one theme from the work that seems to have carried through into the current line:
The Roman Tribunal is vis poor.
More specifically, the available vis sources (although the implication is that these are dwindling as magic fades from southern Europe) are tightly controlled by the established covenants, to the extent that in the vision of the Tribunal outlined it is virtually impossible to establish a new covenant with significant magical resources. Eremites and small “independent” covenants such as Feritel are said to exist outside the main political structure and are not recognised as legal Hermetic entities.
This creates a situation not unlike the Greater Alps (at least the ArM4 version detailed in Sanctuary of Ice) and more recently in ArM5, the Normandy Tribunal (detailed in The Lion and the Lily), where establishing a player led chapter house or covenant is difficult without significant political support or sponsorship.
In the thirteenth century, both Corsica and Sardinia are thinly populated, composed predominantly of untamed wilderness of rocks and forests, and rife with supernatural creatures and native hedge traditions. All this suggests, at least in ArM5 terms, that both islands should have numerous Faerie and Magic auras and therefore be correspondingly rich in vis, at least relatively so in comparison to the densely populated and Dominion dominated Italian mainland.
It is strongly implied that Verdi controls nearly all the available vis sources of Corsica and Sardinia, having destroyed the covenant of Auctus in their greed and may have seized control of the vis sources in Calabria after engineering a rival covenant’s downfall by Saracen invaders. How exactly Verdi manages to achieve this is not immediately clear to me, given it is a covenant of selfish and hubristic magi that would seem unable to closely cooperate on a common goal – particularly given the distraction of their demotion from Domus Magna in favour of Ignasia in the Theban Tribunal. It seems unlikely that the various forge-companions would take it upon themselves to cooperate and coordinate the defence of various mystical sites and collection of the vis harvest for their masters, even if the covenant’s grogs, possibly armed with a suite of purpose designed magical items could be trusted with such an important undertaking.
Perhaps then this lowly but vital task is assigned to apprentice Verditius magi?
Hmm, I didn’t think so either…
So perhaps there is an alternative explanation. Verdi, more than any other covenant than Ignasia (and perhaps the Longevity Ritual research covenant in the Alps, Sinews of Knowledge), has a monopoly on the creation and supply of powerful magic items – both in terms of previously manufactured devices but also the possibility of items as the result of individual commission. This then allows the covenant to trade or loan magic items in return for services as payment, and a vital service would be the protection and harvesting of their vis sources by mercenary and/or specialist magi.
Such an arrangement creates an opportunity for stories involving visiting magi, drawing non-Verditius magi into conflict and adventure in Corsica and Sardinia. Similar to the setup in the Transylvanian Tribunal, the player characters can be involved as protagonists on behalf of the reclusive magi of Verdi but the stories do not necessarily need to have long term local consequences.