The practice of Convocation dates back to at least the 12th century, though Awakened historians are confident the practice predates the earliest verified records of it. Its origin is typically credited to the Silver Ladder, and thearchs are still the most enthusiastic supporters, seeing it as the next rung of their ascent to the Awakened Nation. Convocations are detailed in The Silver Ladder on pp 48-55; this document summarizes that material.
Convocations primarily permit mages to:
- settle grievances, either with each other or with their local leadership.
- plan approaches to larger-scale problems or trade knowledge to a wider audience.
- pass out special punishments for especially heinous crimes.
Defining a Convocation
Convocations are ranked by size, with each having a required minimum number of Consilia in attendance and normal interval. This interval may be bypassed by Magisters calling for an Extraordinary Convocation. In the MES chronicle, Extraordinary Convocations can be held online, VIA e-mail or IRC, when an in-person gathering is not viable; their approval levels are otherwise unchanged.
- Least Convocations are at least two Consilia, and are very common in areas with a strong Silver Ladder presence. They occur annually; in the MES chronicle, they are typically held at feature games, and require a Mid Approval from all involved Domains.
- Lesser Convocations involve three or more Consilia across a large geographical region. They typically occur every three years; in the MES chronicle, they are typically held at regional conventions, and require a High Approval.
- Great Convocations encompass a large nation or a whole continent, and are supposed to happen every five years. The last widely-recognized Great Convocation legitimized the Free Council, and even thearchs are wary of them after the consequences of that decision. In the MES chronicle, they may take place at national conventions, and require a Top Approval.
- Grand Convocations gather mages together from across the entire world. Though they are supposed to happen every seven years, none have happened in recorded history. Were one to organize, it would surely require at least a Top Approval.
Compared to the widespread acceptance of the Consilium, Convocation is a tradition that struggles to live up to its potential. Larger Convocations, especially, are held infrequently and face an uphill battle in terms of organization, security, and perceived legitimacy.
Each Convocation is administered by a Magisterium, a governing body formed from the Magisters of the Silver Ladder in attendance. In the event that more than five Magisters are present, they choose up to five from among their ranks, with no more than one of each Path, usually by seniority or Status. The duties of the Magisterium include:
- Appointing qualified mages to be Officers of the Convocation.
- Opening and closing each day of the Convocation.
- Setting the agenda for each day of the Convocation.
- Elevating worthy Deacons of the Silver Ladder to the office of Magister, provided the Convocation is a Lesser Convocation or larger.
- If necessary, instructing the Lictors of the Silver Ladder to expand their ranks.
- Judging cases brought during the Day of Justice.
Occasionally, the thearchs of a group of consilia will find themselves wanting to hold a Least Convocation but unable to find a Magister willing to attend. In this case, it’s possible for the Deacons of the involved Silver Ladder caucuses to petition a Magister to allow the to hold a Convocation without direct Magisterial involvement. Such Convocations are High Approval, and:
- May not pronounce any punishment greater than incarceration.
- Must have a report of the proceedings forwarded to the Magister.
Even for a mage of the aptitude and experience of a Magister of the Silver Ladder, running a Convocation’s a lot of work. Several traditional positions exist to assist the Magisterium and make sure everything goes smoothly. Small Convocations may not appoint some officers, but one – the Harlequin – must be appointed if any other officer is, even a lowly Page.
- Pages are the least functionaries of the Convocation. They help guests find housing and sustenance, carry messages, and perform other minor tasks as called-upon by other officials. They are typically junior thearchs.
- The Chancellor is responsible for the smooth functioning of the ceremonies. They direct pages, keep order during discussions, and manage and announce the agenda. Chancellors are usually Mystagogues.
- The Harlequin is primarily tasked with entertaining delegates, but is also explicitly permitted to speak out of turn. They may say anything at any time with the Magisterium’s guarantee of immunity from sanction. These days, the role is invariably filled by a Free Councilor.
- The Orichalcum Stick is the bodyguard of the Magisterium and chief of security for the Convocation. She manages the ceremonial mace, keeps order, and protects attendees from outside assault. Unsurprisingly, the Stick is usually of the Adamantine Arrow.
- The Scribe writes down everything that happens at Convocation in the Proceedings. Scribes are typically Mystagogues.
- The Talionist is in charge of meting out punishment for sentences pronounced by the Magisterium. The symbol of office is a sword, and the holder is almost always an Interfector of the Guardians of the Veil.
Even the schedule of a Convocation is strictly structured. By tradition, it is divided into five days, though these days may be, in practice, minutes or hours, based on the demands of the Convocation’s schedule. It is quite rare for each day to not be allotted equal time; their own time in the spotlight is, after all, one of the main reasons why other Orders tolerate the Silver Ladder’s assumption of authority.
- The Day of Silver is primarily a private meeting of the Silver Ladder, during which thearchs discuss their Order’s business. The other Orders tolerate this because it is followed by a public summary of the less sensitive parts of the agenda. New Magisters are appointed during this time; occasionally, they may immediately assume an active role in the Convocation’s Magisterium.
- The Day of Swords is a discussion and analysis of external threats, showcasing field reports and pleas for assistance. In practice, it also tends to include an informal Arrow-oriented forum, with challenges, boasting, and swearing of vows.
- The Day of Scrolls is a symposium on the Mysteries. New spells and reports of unusual discoveries are presented. Favors, grimoires, and enchanted items are offered as prizes for the best contributions. The Mysterium tends to dominate the day’s discussion.
- The Day of Sleep is theoretically dedicated to a discussion of Sleeper politics, social trends, and other issues. This day frequently turns into a heated debate between the Silver Ladder, the Free Council, and the Guardians of the Veil, though none of the three Orders is above using the debate as a distraction while covertly engaging in more serious business.
- The Day of Justice is when mages air grievances and the Magisterium issues punishments. It is used for hearings on the crimes of entire Ruling Councils and other transgressions that cannot be managed by a single Consilium. In the absence of serious trials, the Free Council tends to dominate the agenda, issuing challenges as to the justice of long-standing traditions.
The Ceremonial Mace
Essential to the legitimacy of any Convocation is the ceremonial mace or some other representation of the authority of the lost royalty of Atlantis. Without this symbol, the Convocation is – traditionally speaking – nothing more than a bunch of mages sitting around talking. And mages – at least, the traditional ones – are very big on symbolism. The creation of a mace is typically commissioned of a Moros, preferably one of the Convocation’s Magisters, in the months leading up to the event. One that matches the construction of the metaphorical Fourfold Scepter (The Silver Ladder, pg 71) is considered ideal, but hardly required.
Once the Convocation has begun, the ceremonial mace must be present for all Convocation business. If lost or stolen, it must be recovered before the Convocation can continue; if destroyed, the Convocation must immediately be concluded. Needless to say, it is not uncommon for the Orichalcum Stick to detail several mages to help protect the mace.
Each Convocation is required to publish a summary of its proceedings, and provide a copy to each Consilium in attendance. These proceedings, compiled by the Scribe or a Magister, contain summaries of the events of the Convocation, details of the presentations of each day, and recommendations for new additions to the Lex Magica from the Magisterium. They are often distributed more widely than required, devoured hungrily by mages of every Order… And their enemies.