Pitch

You’re a group of bright-eyed new magi, fresh from your apprenticeships. You’ve managed to persuade your tutors to allow you to venture off and establish a new Covenant (wizard community); but really they think this is a bad idea, and to prove their point they’re only giving you minimal support.

The Game: establishing a new self-sufficient wizard base, dealing with hostile locals (possibly from the nobility, the church, the fae, Hell; or all four), with little outside help.

Player characters

Magi

Brennus Tagall

Raised in a Alnwick near the English border with Scotland by stable owners, at a young age he found a fondness for animals as they didn’t seem to mind him unlike most humans.

Due to the geographic closeness of Loch Leglean he was taken into the Scottish Tribunal, and picked up a very basic conversational grasp of Scots.

During his studies it was identified that he is completely unable to combine Perdo with Ignam or Corpus but has a strong ability with Creo and thus he focussed on the study of healing.

Neste Chladach

A Welsh Orphan who was driven out of her hometown and made her way up the west coast to Carlisle surviving off coastal forage. Adopted by an innskeep, took strangely to the drinking culture until a traveller figured out her Fae heritage and pressured the innskeep to send her to the order.

Tighànaidh (Tiffany) NicGlas

Tighànaidh grew up in a small village of only a few dozen people. The town’s population is devoutly Roman Catholic, church life being a mainstay of events throughout the week. In her childhood, Tighànaidh took well to religion and spent much of her time working in the church, until her Gift grew discomforting to the congregation, and she was asked to leave. At the age of 8, her father agreed to send her away to apprentice with the Order, where her religion did not wane and has guided her studies and relations. Tighànaidh is bubbly happy, often quiet, and finds herself invited to most parties, for which her entertainments are greatly sought by her friends.

Companions

Eun

In many ways closer to an animal the skinchanger Eun is perhaps one of the few people who could find Brennus Tagall non offensive. Raised, metaphorically, by wolves, Eun has little in the way of language, although far more now than when they met 9 years ago. Considered a poacher and a thief by the local Scots, any and all attempts Tagall has made to properly civilise her have been swiftly put to rest, although some progress has been made. Eun obviously disdains the concept of gender roles and largely dresses in what medieval society considers mens clothing, but she’s also socially aware enough to disguise her gender and identity when passing near settled areas. She no longer steals from the peasentfolk, although whether this is just due to a lack of need has never been tested, and she’s proven receptive to learning, although only things that can be directly applied to her hunting and wilderness survival.

Companion of Brennus.

Marvenus

Marvenis father was a merchant immigrant from the mainland. When he was young, they moved across Scotland when times became tough. While his parents resettled, the journey made an impression on Marvenis, and when he became old enough he began travelling all across Scotland with a small pony and cart, taking goods from town to town.

Marvenis is well spoken, friendly, and enjoys a good night out, though he keeps his own faculties in check. He is happy to lend a kind ear to anyone who needs it. As a merchant he keeps himself fed, but leads a simple life, as most of what he makes he uses to help those in greater need, often to his own detriment.

Marvenis met Neste in a bar in Carlisle, just in time to agree to transport her to the order to begin her apprenticeship. He continued to travel while she studied, dropping in on her every few seasons as he passed through. Now, as his arthiritis begins to set in and his eyesight begins to fail, he’s looking to settle down in one place and create a small market where he can make a family before he runs out of time. The port village on the road still has cheap land to set up on, an important road to bring clients, and of course, Neste.

Companion of Neste.

Friar Alban

Born in england, Alban joined the crusades and fought in the Holy Land for years.

After returning from the crusades, he joined the Franciscan Order giving up all of his possessions (except for his sword which he kept as both a reminder of the depths of man’s sin) and devoting his life to the will of god.

He met Tighànaidh during her apprenticeship, whilst he doesn’t speak Scots they were able to converse in Latin.

He has a calm and friendly demeanour with a focus on helping those in need.

Companion of Tighànaidh

Covenant

R              +-----------------------------+   +-------------------+
R              | FARM                        |   | COVENANT          |
R    +-----+   |                             |   |                   |
R    | INN |   |                             |   +-----+             |
R    |     |   |                             |         |             |
R    |     |   |                             |         |             |
R    |     |   |                             |   +-----+             |
R    +-----+   |                             |   |                   |
R              |                             |   |                   |
R              +-----------------------------+   +-------------------+
  • In Auchmithie, Scotland; 3 miles NE of Arbroath Abbey; 20 miles NE of Dundee.
  • 200 Build Points of Hidden Resources remaining.

2021-11-09 — Session 0

Prep

Premise

  • Short-term campaign focussed on newly-gauntleted magi establishing a new covenant with little support from their parens. They’ve given you some money, resources, and grogs (redshirts), and kicked you out with a “good luck!”
  • That is still likely to be several in-game years
  • If the game really takes off and we want to keep it going, I’m not necessarily averse to doing that—I don’t have a fixed 10-session story planned, for instance—but if we do that I’d prefer to switch to troupe-style play, where I’m not the only GM, and so I get to play too.
  • Basic setting details: medieval Europe, all the myths are true, The Gift, Order of Hermes, Code of Hermes, Hermetic Magic.
  • Basic system details: characteristics, abilities, dice, spellcasting, spell design, labs, auras, regio, etc.

Discussion

  • Pure Fantasy vs Meticulous Realism But With Wizards scale — I’m thinking somewhere in the middle (standard medieval fantasy pseudo-Europe, with real geography, and a modern interpretation of medieval culture).

  • Saga Speed — I’m thinking Medium, where a single game session will cover one to four seasons.

  • What sort of themes do you want / not want?

  • Where in Europe to set it?

    • Rome: Italy and North Africa
    • Rhine: Germany
    • Normandy: Northern France
    • Provence: Southern France
    • Iberia: Spain and Portugal
    • Transylvania: the Danube Basin and North Balkans
    • Thebes: Greece and Constantinople
    • The Levant: the Holy Land
    • Novgorod: Russia and Poland
    • Greater Alps: Switzerland and the Alpine area
    • Hibernia: Ireland
    • Loch Leglean: Scotland
    • Stonehenge: England and Wales

To Do

  • Covenant creation
    • Just Books and Hooks, Build Points can be spent between sessions
  • Magi creation
    • You may or may not all want to be of the same House
    • Spells can be done between sessions
  • Companion creation

Notes

  • Set on the East coast of Scotland (Vikings?)

  • Custom minor personality flaw: weird sheltered upbringing in a tiny Latin-speaking community.

  • Between sessions:

    • Choose spells
    • Fill covenant library
    • Choose vis sources
    • Make companions

Next time

  • Walk through lab work
  • Introductory adventure

2021-11-16 — Spring 1220

Prep

Outline

  1. Local things:
    • In Auchmithie, a small fishing village
    • 20 miles NE of Dundee (the seat of the Mormaer of Angus)
    • 3 miles NE of Arbroath Abbey (Benedictine)
    • Signs of fairies nearby:
      • A circle of ancient pagan standing stones on a hill overlooking the village, with stories of strange things happening at the equinoxes and solstices
      • Fairy weavers sometimes join the old women
      • Local stories of it not being a good idea to be out on the coastal road at the winter solstice
  2. Discussion: the Covenant’s relationship to the village:
    • Do they know the magi are magi? Or are they posing as something else?
      • If it helps, the Order of Hermes is not very widely known: the powerful know about it, the well connected will have an inkling that there’s some sort of network of magi, but everyone else doesn’t known about it.
    • What’s the attitude of the villagers to the Covenant and its inhabitants? Different magi may be viewed differently, this is fine!
    • How do the magi treat the grogs? Are they kept at a distance, or are things fairly familiar?
    • What’s your source of income?
  3. Spring 1220:
    • Everyone’s plans
    • Kelpie Kidnaps Children
  4. Summer 1220:
    • Everyone’s plans
  5. Autumn 1220:
    • Everyone’s plans
    • Invitation to Arbroath
  6. Winter 1220:
    • Everyone’s plans
  7. Discussion: what are the PC’s goals and plans? (for future proactive stories)

Kelpie Kidnaps Children

On the night of the vernal equinox (start of spring), the village children are stolen away by a kelpie to be drowned and eaten, with one spared to return home and tell the tale.

  • Preamble:
    • If the magi have good relations with their grogs, one will ask who the “noble guest” is, and that there is a “very fine” new horse in the stables.
    • There is no noble guest.
    • Upon investigation, the horse has gone, and the floor of the stable is soaked with salt water.
  • 5-Node Mystery:
    1. The PCs discover the children are missing:
      • Villagers are out at night with torches yelling, this is kind of obvious to anyone not cooped up in their lab.
      • If the Covenant has good relations with the village, they will ask for help.
    2. Villagers are searching the road:
      • In case the children were taken away. If shared, a missing horse is taken as a bad sign.
      • Fairy clue: hoofprints going into the stable, but there is no extra horse, and there are bare footprints coming out
      • Fairy clue: loose seaweed
    3. Villagers are searching the shore:
      • In case the children got into difficulty and can’t get back.
      • Fairy clue: baskets weaving themselves
      • Fairy clue:
    4. Villagers are searching the forest:
      • In case the children got lost in the dark.
      • Fairy clue: sounds of children playing in the distance, which lead up to the standing stones
      • Fairy clue: a vague sense of there being something else in the dark with you
    5. The PCs realise fairies stole away the children.
  • 5-Room Dungeon:
    1. Entrance: The Circle of Standing Stones
      • On the hill overlooking the village
      • The stars look slightly wrong through it (as if they’re seen through a lens or a heat shimmer)
      • Entering the regio requires running around it anticlockwise three times and then stepping into the middle.
    2. Puzzle: The Fairy Forest
      • Faerie Aura: 5 (casting +3, botch dice +5)
      • Clearly very close to being in Faerie
      • Intense feeling of being not alone
      • Sounds of children playing and adults calling out to be careful and not get lost
      • Trees seem to move around, thorns suddenly appear, the adult voices get louder deeper, and it’s easy to get turned around and come back to the entrance
    3. Red Herring: The Dead Marshes
      • Faerie Aura: 5 (casting +3, botch dice +5)
      • A large, barren, misty, marsh extending as far as the eye can see
      • The water is full of corpses; but these are items of glamour, bringing one out of faerie makes it revert to scraps of cloth and tangled roots
    4. Climax: The Kelpie and the Children
      • Back in the mundane world, on an inaccessible bit of the shoreline, children stumble towards the sea with vacant eyes, while one stands back trying to bring them to their senses
      • The kelpie is present (p89 Faerie sourcebook)
    5. Plot Twist: Returning Home
      • There is no route back into Faerie, and this bit of the shore is cut off from the rest.

Invitation to Arbroath

The abbot of Arbroath would like to meet the rich nobles who settled near the village several months ago and who helped to rescue the children from the kelpie. And so, an invitation to visit the abbey for a few days is sent.

Upon discovering that the characters are magi (the abbot will realise if one without the Gentle Gift goes, or it may come up in conversation about how exactly they saved the children), the abbot’s attitude sours. He thinks they are likely heretics on the path to evil, but will refrain from denouncing them if they exemplify the virtues, perform good services for the community, render assistance to the abbey, and pay a generous tithe (this is the introduction of the Minor Beholden hook).

Notes

  • Discussion:
    • They’re keeping the fact that they’re magi quiet: not exactly hiding it, but not talking about it without need either
    • The villagers think they’re kind of weird
    • Neste has tried to make a good impression
    • Grogs are just normal peons, the magi are fairly hands-off
    • There’s one head grog
    • Income is from the inn, and also from selling excess crops
  • Spring 1220:
    • Children saved
    • Kelpie driven off but not killed
    • They created a mocking InVi(Co) fairy with a botch

Next time

  • Summer 1220