Encyclopaedia Arcana #24: The Concord (Part Five)

This entry will finish off the clauses of the Concord by looking at the fifth clause, then briefly cover how the Concord is enforced in modern Britain.

The Fifth Clause: Forbidden Techniques

This clause prohibits a number of spells and techniques used in the Gate Rune War.  In most cases they were prohibited due to being so universally destructive that they were considered a serious threat to magical society as a whole.

The most notable prohibited technique is human Harvesting.  Harvesting is a ritual that allows the user to draw the magical power and ability from another creature and take it for their own, a process which invariably results in the target’s death.  For obvious reasons mages are less than happy with the existence of a technique that makes them into consumable goods, but despite the risks the rewards are great enough that there have always been those willing to attempt it.

Enforcement

The organisation responsible for enforcing the Concord in Britain today are the Keepers of the Flame, more commonly referred to as Keepers.  A mage in breach of the Concord can be prosecuted by the Keepers and tried before the Council, and penalties range from warnings, to fines/weregild, to service, to demotion, to execution.  And so the Concord is enforced, in theory.

In practice, this is not even close to how things work.  Dark mages, regularly attempt (often successfully) to kill, enslave, or Harvest other Dark mages, and independent ones too, and Light mages all too often do the same.  Sometimes the Keepers go after the culprits, and sometimes they don’t.  When culprits are brought before the Council, the penalties are totally inconsistent – an offence that would have gotten one mage executed is penalised in another case with a slap on the wrist.

So why is the Concord enforced so erratically?

Playing Politics

The short answer is that the Light mages of the Council don’t care about being consistent – they care about protecting their own interests.  The Keepers are controlled by the Council, and the Council follows the Concord only insofar as it would benefit them.

What this means is that if someone wants a breach of the Concord enforced, their chances of success are exactly proportional to how much influence and support they have on the Council.  A popular and well-regarded Light mage will have no trouble at all getting the Keepers to help him.  An independent mage is likely to be ignored, and a Dark mage is almost certain to be ignored.  To make things even more confusing, quite often a mage will have the support of one faction of the Council but the enmity of another, meaning that if they bring a case to the Keepers it’s about even odds whether the Keepers will end up helping them, hurting them, or both.  And finally, politics on the Council are so shadowy and byzantine that quite often a petitioner won’t know which sides the factions are going to come down on, or even whether they’ll care at all.

Finally, even if the Keepers are ready, willing, and able to enforce a breach of the Concord, would-be criminals can still evade consequences by the simple method of not getting caught.  Mages have access to powerful means of gathering information . . . but they have plenty of ways to block information, too.  If a crime never gets reported there’s little chance the Keepers will go investigating it, particularly in the case of breaches of the second and fifth clauses which by their nature tend not to leave many witnesses to testify.

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One Response to Encyclopaedia Arcana #24: The Concord (Part Five)

  1. Matt Robinson says:

    Thank you for making guidelines for the books. Nice to have a system to refer to.