Antennas to Heaven
Excerpt from "Under Assembly Rule: A foreword"
Written by Qadi, luminary of the Lex Magica, recognized by the Convocation of the Western United States in the year 1975 A.D.
(…) in short, while most Consilia value the freedom of their constituents over strict criminal laws of the sort familiar to Sleepers, cities that have embraced Assembly control paradoxically tend to limit the freedoms of their voters. This is nowhere more apparent than in Los Angeles, once the longest-lived city-wide experiment in Awakened democracy, now broken into two competing governments thanks to a secession by traditionalists into a rival Consilium. We can most clearly understand the differences between these governments by examining their broad trends in precedent.
Regarding the Precept of Secrecy, which demands that the existence of true magic be kept secret from those who would abuse or threaten it, the Los Angeles Assembly has historically shown a particular craving for Sleeper approval. The vulgar (editor’s note: “vulgar” is a traditional legal term indicating magic affected by the observation of Sleepers) use of magic may demand varied degrees of reprimand or penance depending on necessity, damage to Sleepers, and expected outcome, but speaking to Sleepers of the Mysteries rarely receives any reprimand at all, particularly when the breach is contained or deemed to do no harm. The Assembly is much less forgiving when its constituents share Mysteries with competing magical societies, such as spirit courts, vampires, Seers of the Throne, or even their rival Consilium.
Though young, the Los Angeles Consilium has consistently shown itself to be much more forgiving of magical transgressions, often viewing vulgar magic as its own punishment. In keeping with its traditionalist bent, however, the Consilium discourages any overt discussion of Mysteries with Sleepers or even Sleepwalkers who haven’t been thoroughly-vetted, and often demands penance from Awakened who misjudge the recipients of their confidence.
Regarding the Precept of Recognition, which delineates a government’s borders, limits, and areas of authority, the Los Angeles Assembly hungrily admits all topics Awakened, and little else. The Assembly views goetia, spirits and ghosts as answerable to their authority, as well as Nameless orders and cabals, which are encouraged to participate as voters so that their preferences will be heard. However, the Assembly treats Sleepers and various supernatural entities as citizens of their respective governments alone, not subject to Awakened law except as potential allies or threats. Sleepwalkers are recognized as part of Awakened society, and may petition for voter status. (Editor’s Note: Since this edition was printed, Assembly precedent has moved to allow renegade Awakened to petition for voter status, in exchange for accepting penance or punishment according to their crimes.)
The Los Angeles Consilium recognizes Nameless societies, cabals, societies of non-human entities, and even individuals on a case-by-case basis, and maintains distinct relationships with each. Standing under the Lex Magica depends upon recognition, and trusted Awakened may vouch for groups and entities without established relationships. This Consilium does recognize the legitimacy of its rival Assembly, unlike some traditionalist Consilia. However, it does not currently recognize the Ministries of the Seers of the Throne or any Fallen government.
Regarding the Precept of Protectorate, which outlines a government’s responsibilities toward and respect of sancta, the Los Angeles Assembly and Consilium have similar views. Perhaps due to competition with non-Awakened magical entities, the Assembly has long recognized the right to claim territory beyond a sanctum, in the name of a cabal, order, or magical society. When the Los Angeles Consilium faction seceded, the two rival governments expanded their recognition of territory to include territory claimed in the name of either government, in addition to lesser claims. The result is a patchwork of recognized territories, sometimes shared between multiple groups. Unlike in some more traditional cities, neither government generally considers it an offense against the claimant of a recognized territory to simply pass through that territory unannounced, without doing harm to or interfering with that territory through magical means. Sancta retain rights to inviolability similar to other cities: visitors must announce themselves, must not enter without formal permission, must not test or attack the sanctum’s defenses, etc.
Regarding the Precept of Hubris, which gives Awakened governments final say over what constitutes dangerous and irresponsible use of magic, the two governments also appear to have similar priorities. The Los Angeles Assembly and Consilium both frown on the destruction, theft, and corruption of Mysteries and unique magical artifacts, particularly any rarities claimed and recognized under the Precept of Protectorate. Both governments also recognize as hubristic any use of magic that may permanently destroy magical potential, such as murder, soul-theft, or any curse that may hamper magical ability.
Of course, the study of the Lex Magica requires one to look past appearance, to find precedent. Though the two governments recognize the same crimes, they view victims of those crimes far differently. The Los Angeles Assembly consistently punishes crimes against Sleepers more harshly than the same crimes committed against Awakened, while its neighbor prioritizes investigation and punishment of damages done to entities that the Consilium recognizes and has agreed to protect. Several diplomatic incidents between the Assembly and the Consilium can be traced to this difference alone.
Regarding the Precept of War, which allows Awakened governments to grant cabals the right to make a declaration of war on other cabals without legal redress, the Los Angeles Assembly has limited precedent. Like many younger cities, Los Angeles denied its constituents the right to step outside the existing legal system to declare war on each other. However, in the years leading up to secession and formation of the Los Angeles Consilium in the 1950’s, the Assembly voted three times on whether to institute this Precept, reflecting the tumultuous spirit of the time. In each case, the vote failed to overturn precedent.
The younger Consilium has not hesitated to endorse the Precept of War, though it has rarely been invoked since the government was founded almost three decades ago. The Los Angeles Consilium explicitly recognizes a cabal’s right to warfare under specific rules of engagement. The Consilium currently only recognizes two forms of acceptable warfare: Street Warfare (in which one cabal strikes at the recognized territory of a rival without violating their sanctum), and the Duel Arcane (in which representatives of rival cabals agree to a duel to prevent further bloodshed). (Editor’s note: Since this edition was published, the Los Angeles Consilium has also allowed engagement in “Astral Warfare” in the Temenos, to limit damage to Fallen World territories.)
Of course, the Lex Magica is an ever-evolving entity, competing with and drawing strength from neighboring and rival interpretations. As the Los Angeles Consilium has shifted and changed from its reactionary origins, the Los Angeles Assembly has grown more stable, and less variable in precedent. One may wonder if it is the nature of an Assembly to draw certainty from counterposition to a powerful rival…