Sabrina’s Rest is a Summer covenant on a small island in the Bristol Channel. The covenant’s island, Caerholm, contains only the castle and the small buildings in which some of the covenfolk live. It is governed by a triumvirate of older magi, who have recently recruited the player characters to the covenant. The covenant’s grogs are a tight community made up of retired ne’er-do-wells of a dozen other ports. The surrounding lands are governed by powerful lords, but their feuds make the magi a low priority target for their harassment.  The Bristol Channel is a potently mystical place, and adventure is to be found close to hand.

I apologise that the material just tapers out. I had to set myself a deadline to cut this off, and 1 February (two months after I initially said I’d finish) is it.  If you’d like to flesh this out further, please comment, and if you use this material in your own saga, please send me a link.

The Island and the Castle

The castle on Caerholm has five stone towers, square in profile. Four of the towers, which date from the creation of the castle, form a square around a central courtyard. Within this courtyard are the castle’s many functional buildings. The largest of these is great hall, which is 110 feet long, 150 feet wide, and three stories high. The fifth tower is a later addition. It is also square and straddles the road which approaches the castle, and is effectively a minor gatehouse. The fifth tower is connected to the square by two curtain walls, creating a triangular outer courtyard.

The castle was created fifty-two years ago. Each of the magi of the fledgling covenant created their own tower. Ten years later, a tower was added for a visiting redcap who was granted covenant membership. The walls between the towers are earthen mounds, topped with wooden palisades. The soil and rocks for these mounds was excavated from the site, creating a ditch around the castle. The ditch is about six feet deep, although the sides are gentle enough that people are not injured by falling in. The walls, seen from the inside, are a six foot mound, on which there is a walkway, which allows troops to stand shielded behind a wall of vertical wooden tree trunks, about five feet high. To a person in the ditch, therefore, the walls appear to be seventeen feet high. The towers of the magi have walls only twenty feet high, although they have little wooden caps so the towers are slightly higher than the walls.

This section’s notes for the Storyguide

This is a very common covenant setup.  The covenant is distant enough from the rest of the world that the player characters are not forced to involve themselves in politics and religious difficulties, but can become embroiled in these issues if they wish. The people of the island form a small supportive community made up of various types of criminal and outcast, because it allows players without a strong consensus to hook a wide variety of characters into the community. The towers are described as square because circular towers are novel in the C13th Century. The keep’s size has been stolen from another castle. Most castles in period are wooden. This has been included here because it gives the player characters an obvious upgrade for their castle, which they can seek if they wish. The number of towers has been deliberately set small enough that the players will need to negotiate laboratory use, but not so small that they will be unable to use them regularly. The setup introduces the idea of redcaps, without having one omnipresent.

Plot hooks

  • A nearby noble (mundane or faerie) plans to raid ther castle. The magi have three days’ warning, and can spend that time fortifying their defences.  This story is good for familiarisaing the player characters with the covenant’s resources.
  • A player character using the lab of a missing magus finds a cache of goods, possibly stolen from the other magi. Does he keep it, share it with his younger allies, or reveal it to his seniors? This story revolves around the making of relationships with other characters.
  • A player character using the rooms of the missing redcap finds a hidden pouch, filled with undelivered messages, that was presumed lost on the redcap’s disappearance.  Does the character deliver the messages (and thereby visit the other covenants in the tribunal, and meet the other magi), or keep the messages and hunt through them for political leverage? The Storyguide may prefer to make it a single message of great significance (looking at the elaborate scroll case it is kept in) and let the player characters to decide if they will open or deliver that single message.
  • The rooms of the missing magi may contain subtle clues to the reason for their disappearance.
  • The player characters may decide to expand the castle, or improve it. They can do this magically by trading for vis and spells, or by finding mundane resources and craftspeople.

The Magi

The covenant originally had five magi. Two were lost on an expedition, which forced their sodales to consider their priorities. They have accepted four junior magi, who share the two vacated towers. This allows the Senior Magi to focus on their personal projects. The player characters must follow the instructions of the Senior Magi and do not have a vote during Council meetings. They are, however, present and their advice is listened to. When they have developed more experience, and are too valuable to lose, the younger magi may be offered roles in the Council.

Fidelus of Bonisagus

Fidelus is the nominal head of the Council, although this is essentially an honorary position which he holds because of his House membership. He specialises in Corpus magic, and is effectively a healer. His sigil is an intricate pattern of white, that looks like seafoam

He’s also mentioned fearfully in some other covenants, and by some of the most senior grogs, because during a Wizard’s War a couple of decades ago he raised an army of corpses from the grogs of the other covenant. He doesn’t like to talk about this, he considers it an immoral thing she did out of desperation, but his sodales have embroidered the story and made very sure that every other magus in the Tribunal knows it. It’s perhaps the thing he’s most famous for, and so his distracted but nurturing nature is a surprise to young magi, when they first meet him.

Asteria of Verditus

Asteria specialises in creating magical items our of bronze. Originally trained in Italy, she eventually moved to Cornwall. This is where the finest tin in the world is mined, and it allows her to create the finest bronze. Like most Verditus, she is incapable of enjoying the company of other members of her House, which also made the move to Stonehenge attractive. She drinks too much, and is very protective of her reputation, but beyond these minor foibles, she’s willing to discuss her work with the younger magi.

Antigone of Criamon

This maga is a member of the Order’s least comprehensible house. A visit to her tower is always an arduous experience, as it is filled with illusions, strange spirits and weird symbolism. She does not generally discuss her research, and when she attempts to, her words make sense individually, but don’t seem to fit together into a comprehensible sentence.

Two other magi were long-term residents of the covenant, but they are presumed dead. Iolanthe of Flambeau and
Democtritus of Mercere have vanished, and it is their towers which the player characters now inhabit. The Senior magi presumably know what happened to them, but they decline to discuss it. Iolanthe was one of the poet-knights of her House, and aided the Quaesitores as a hoplite. Democritus suffered under a curse that forced him to never leave the road, which is why his tower is basically a gatehouse, with a road running through the lowest floor.

This section’s notes for the Storyguide

The player characters have been placed in a subordinate role because it means that stories can be forced on them, if they cannot find a way to progress their own goals. The three senior magi are meant to act as gateways into the more complicated parts of the ruleset, and players are encouraged to take responsibility for the seasonal studies of their elders. The Bonisagus magus is a healer, and his presence removes the onus for a player character to have Chirugeon’s Healing Touch, or become a longevity specialist in early life. The Verditus maga creates magic items and is interested in gaining a talisman, a familiar, and an apprentice. This allows the players to try out those rules despite the youth of their PC magi. The Criamon maga is intended to act as a path into whichever Mystery Cult seems to suit a Storyguide’s group. She’s so little understood she could know people involved in just about any sort of odd magical practice. If a player character better suits one of these roles, swap out the senior magus for someone else, with a different story role.

The two missing magi generate stories. Why they went missing may eventually be explained. They also explain important social roles (redcap and hoplite) which may start player characters on those career paths. Iolanthe is an excuse to leave around magic items which are a little destructive, and allow the player characters to engage in combat that’s a little too risky for young non-specialists. Dermocritus is an excuse to leave around a little travel magic, to make the player characters less isolated. This reduces the laboratory penalties for missed study time, when they choose to go off seeking stories.

Plot hooks

  • Fidelus travels to Durenmar, in the Black Forest, to consult some fragile tomes. He brings the younger magi with him, so that they can see the centre of Hermetic civilisation, and to guard him against difficulties on the road.
  • Knocker faeries are preventing miners from extracting tin in Cornwall, and this is making it difficult for Asteria to smelt bronze for her work. It’s also making the king’s agent in the Stanneries nervous. Can the magi solve the issue with the knockers, either without attracting royal attention, or with the complicity and then gratitiude of the royal agent?
  • Antigone appears to have transformed into a large, heavily fruited, tree. Presumably her Criamon housemates have some idea what should be done, but can the younger magi find them and convince them to come to her aid? 
  • A local child is rumored to always know when the people around her are lying. The older magi send the characters to assess the child as a potential apprentice. Can they recruit a child who wishes to avoid them and can sense their thoughts? 

The Covenfolk

Most of the covenfolk live either in the castle or in a small hamlet nearby, on the island. his little hamlet has no name: locals call it “the village.” There is a small, shingle beach, which does not have a dock, but small fishing boats are pulled up there, and these are used as tenders when larger vessels visit. The island has too little space for farming, so covenfolk trade fish for grain in the trade towns of the Welsh and English coasts. The people here speak a mix of languages, mostly Welsh and English, but some speak Cornish, and a few speak Danish or Flemish (because Pembrokeshire to the north is full of Dutch people).

The island has been a haven, for about fifty years, for people who have made trouble somewhere else, and needed a fresh start. Characters on the island aren’t permitted to commit piracy, theft, smuggling or whatever got them into enough trouble that they have run away to work for wizards. They do, however, retain these skills, and adventuring parties sometimes find them useful. The community here has a very protective ethos toward each other and to the magi, so they can be unwelcoming to outsiders. A lot of locals feel that if someone else’s past catches up with them once they have reached the island, then perhaps it won’t be much of a haven anymore, and their own secrets might be exposed. Most of the families on the island live by fishing or minor, local trade.

The covenant has nine grogs who are combat trained, and another 18 servants who have useful abilities, but cannot effectively act as trainers. Most of these characters have some shady skills, because the covenant is filled with retired criminals. The five companions described earlier are the covenant’s only specialists.

Storyguide’s notes for this section

The covenfolk here are fishers, and criminals. This gives them skills useful for combat and travel, while not making them a standing army. The population is small to make the covenant more self-sustaining in basic goods like food, while still requiring occasional travel for manufactured supplies. The mix of languages is suitable for groups whose magi don’t focus on communication. Scale back the language skills if the magi are good negotiators, or have Mentem magic.

Plot hooks

  • A woman flees to the island, seeking the sort of sanctuary for which it is known in certain circles. The magi ask the player characters to work through her past, and check if she has the Infernal ties her enemies claim.
  • A great predator is destroying the fishing grounds about the island, but the magi are away or tied up with their experiments. What can the player characters do?
  • As a covenant elsewhere in Britain crumbles, the Guernicus intervene and hide the skilled covenfolk, to an emergency Tribunal. As the other covenants circle the lands and resources of the fallen covenant, the magi tell their covenfolk to recruit the pick of the servants. The right choices could change the way the society of the covenant functions, and create a cadre loyal to their selectors.

The Companions

The following companions can be substituted out if player characters, which are free under the Covenant design rules, have been designed to fill similar roles. They have a highest score of 7.

Selene the Autocrat

An autocrat is a person charged by the Council of magi with ensuring that their orders are carried out. The autocrat is the effective ruler of the community. The autocrat for this covenant sits in Council with the magi, and records the meetings, but does not vote. Technically the autocrat cannot give the younger magi orders but, similarly, the autocrat does not answer to the younger magi, since they are not Councillors. That being noted, magi are still magi, and so the autocrat treats them with respect.

Selene is in her forties, but has been given a longevity potion, and so looks a little younger than she actually is. She was trained to be an autocrat in a distant, Continental covenant. She is perhaps the natural daughter of a magus, which explains her high level of education, but she does not seem to keep in contact with anyone who might conceivably be her parent. She is fluent in Latin, which like some covenant-raised children was her native language. She also speaks German, and a smattering of the local language, which she is developing when her duties allow her sufficient time. She has a husband, who is the covenant’s scribe and librarian. They have three children, all of whom are adults. Her lack of strong local language skills is mediated a little by her oldest daughter, named Gwendolyn, who speaks the local language well and acts as her secretary.

Characteristics: Int +2, Per 0, Prs +1,  Com +2, Str 0, Sta 0, Dex 0, Qik 0.

Size: 0, Age 41, Confidence 1 (3).

Virtues and Flaws: Educated, Protection (really is the daughter of an archmagus), Close Family Ties, Heir (to an archmagus).

Abilities: Area Lore 2 (Bristol Channel), Artes Liberales 4 (geography), Awareness 1 (hidden weapons), Bargain 2 (recaps), Canon and Civil Law 3 (land), Charm 3 (magi), Concentration 3 (plans), Etiquette 4 (magi), Folk Ken 3 (grogs), Guile 2 (redcaps), Intrigue 3 (magi), Leadership 3 (covenfolk), Legerdemain 6 (protecting self), Speak Latin 5 (magi), Speak Local Language 3 (covenfolk), Profession: Autocrat 7 (defences), Ride 2 (mountainous terrain).

Personality Traits: Dedicated +3,

Reputations: Fair +2, Ruthless +1.

Plot hooks

  • Selene has a job she needs taken care of…
  • Her father is on the run from an enemy he can’t defeat in Wizards’ War, and hides out in the covenant for a few months. How to the magi keep an eccentric who can warp the world secret?
  • Selene’s father dies. How does she gather her inheritance, and what does it contain? What enemies does she also inherit?
  • Selene’s niece is dating an unsuitable man, and she sends out the player characters to rough him up. Does his information about the covenant pose a security threat, and how can they silence him without killing him?

Padriac the Turb Captain

The turb captain is the master of the custodes, the grogs who acts as warriors. If the magi do not express some other preference, he selects which individuals accompany the magi on each adventure. This covenant does not have a tradition of designated shield grogs, where each magus has a particular heavily-armed and highly skilled warrior as a perpetual bodyguard, so the turb captain’s recommendation is a great opportunity for those interested in the dangerous but lucrative position at a magus’s side. The turb captain is also in charge of training the grogs. Currently they train sufficiently that they can fight as a unit, but none of the grogs fulfils their role exclusively: many still also work on family fishing boats.

Padriac is a prominent man in the local community, and lives in a large house in the village outside the covenant. He’s a skilled woodworker, as have been many of his ancestors, and so the house is a sort of organic structure, expanding as time allows and need suggests. As a man in his forties, he is perhaps a little old to lead men in battle, but his people are more familiar with shipboard authority then landsfolk. The idea of having a leader who stands clear and shouts orders makes perfect sense to them.

Characteristics: Int +1, Per 0, Prs +2,  Com 0, Str 0, Sta +2, Dex 0, Qik 0.

Size: 0, Age 40, Confidence 1 (3).

Virtues and Flaws: Large, Tough, Turb Trained*, Close Family Ties, Dutybound**, Offensive to Animals.

* This is a minor Social Status Virtue introduced in the Grogs supplement. It adds 50 experience, and allows the purchase of Martial Abilities at character creation. It also permits training in the language of the magi (Latin, in this case).

** Has a vague religious sentiment against torture, murder, and similar acts.

Abilities: Area Lore 1 (Exmoor), Athletics 3 (running), Awareness 3 (supernatural threats), Bargain 3 (with liars), Bow 2 (shortbow), Brawl 4 (people younger than he is), Carouse 3 (beer), Cornish 5 (grogs), Dominion Lore 1 (Cornwall), Faerie Lore 1 (Cornwall), Folk Ken 3 (Local village), Infernal Lore 1 (Dartmoor), Latin 4 (magi), Leadership 7 (grogs), Magic Lore 1 (trivia), Single Weapon 6 (axe), Survival 3 (Bristol Channel), Swim 3 (ocean), Thrown 2 (knife).

Combat (includes bonus for specialisation)

Axe* and buckler shield: Int +1, Atk +11, Dfn +8, Dmg +6.

Bludgeon: Int +1, Atk +7, Dfn +5, Dmg +2.

Short bow: 1, Atk +6, Dfn +3, Dmg +6.

Thrown knife: Int 0, Atk +4, Dfn +3, Dmg +2.

*Axes are good for ship combat, as are smaller shields. If he knows he’s fighting in a less enclosed space, he’ll use a bigger, round shield. This adds +1 to his Defense.

Soak: +5 without equipment. Wears heavy leather for ship battles. (+2 Protection). He has metal scale for sieges and similar pitched battles (+7 Protection).

Body Levels: 0 (1-6), -1 (7-12), -3 (13-18), -5 (19-24), Incapacitated (25+)

Personality Traits: Loyal +.

Reputations: Fierce +2, Bloodthirsty +1.

Plot Hooks

  • One of the covenant’s retired soldiers has vanished from his cottage. Padriac wants to know where he’s gone, and why.
  • Padraic’s nephew has died in battle.  Vengeance is not technically required, but if you have a hammer, a lot of things look like a nail…   
  • Padraic’s uncle was a turb captain, and lost a magical axe in battle. He lost an arm at the same time, so he was never really shamed by the loss. When Padraic hears a rumour of its location, however, he wants to get a small group together and interrogate the inhabitants of a smuggler’s den on the Cornish coast, seeking the axe’s owner.

Sir Horace, The Convenient Knight

Magi are not permitted to own land in England, because all English land is held under a feudal oath of service, and magi may not bend the knee to overlords. To prevent difficulty arising, the magi of this covenant have a tame family of nobles, the de Commodums. This name was initially a joke among the magi (it means “the convenient”) but one of their noblemen used it officially at court and so it has stuck. The family has existed for fifty years, but the magi here have planted evidence giving them a longer historical pedigree in various places. The current knight, Horace de Commodum, is not, biologically speaking, the nephew of the previous landholder, but that’s the story the outside world knows.

Sir Horace was a younger son who went on crusade, partly out of piety and partially out of a desire to grow rich or famous enough to get a role in court. He fell from a scaling ladder during a siege and shattered his spine. He was shipped home, and spent his time rotting away, under the care of a monastery in which one of his older brothers was an abbot. The magi of the covenant found him here, and offered him the role of the young de Commodus, offering him back the use of his legs in exchange for his service, and for severing ties from his birth family. He has been in the role less than a year.

Horace is not the turb captain, because he cannot speak the local language. Learning it is something of a priority for him, because that he cannot understand what his underlings are saying is an obvious hole in the pretence that he’s the heir of the previous lord. Once he absorbs the local dialect, he might take up the role. He makes himself useful in other ways. For example he speaks the French usual among the English nobility, and has passable Latin, so he can sent to sort out problems with the border princes and churchmen in coastal Wales. He’s also the warrior in the covenant with the most formal training, which makes him useful when combat is expected.

Characteristics: Int +1, Per 0, Prs +2,  Com +2, Str +1, Sta +1, Dex 0, Qik +1.

Size: 0, Age 40, Confidence 1 (3).

Virtues and Flaws: Knight, Improved Characteristics, Luck* Warrior, Compulsion**, Dark Secret***

* Horace is not  aware he has this. For example, he didn’t die falling from a scaling ladder, instead he broke his back. He didn’t live out his days in a hostel, instead he was given the role of a landed noble by magi. It’s never occurred to him that he’s a lucky man. He sees the many scrapes he’s survived as poor luck, not as fatal accidents he’s somehow avoided.

** Wants a Higher Purpose.  If he ever finds one, switch out the Flaw.

Horace does not have the Landed Noble Virtue, because it describes a person who has control of various resources, and in the case of the covenant lands, that control is exercised by the magi, through Selene, suing him as a mouthpiece.  The core rules say all Landed Nobles need to take one can have a Lost Love or Close Family Ties or Enemies in a family vendetta. Horace has taken an Oath to King Henry III. It is not listed here because the troupe has agreed that this particular string will never be pulled, so that Horace can have Dark Secret instead.

Abilities: Athletics 2 (marching), Awareness 2 (people), Bargain 3 (nobles), Brawl 3 (during fights with weapons), Carouse 2 (nobles), Cornish 2 (grogs), Charm 3 (nobles), Dominion Lore 2 (crusaders), Etiquette 6 (nobles), French 5 (nobles), Great Weapon 7 (sword), Hunt 3 (boars), Intrigue 4 (lying about self), Latin 4 (magi), Leadership 3 (grogs), Ride 3 (in combat), Survival 1 (desert).

Combat (includes bonus for specialisation)

Double handed sword: Int +3, Atk +13, Dfn +11, Dmg +10.

Gauntlet: Int +1, Atk +4, Dfn +6, Dmg +3.

Lance (dismounted): Int +4, Atk +11, Dfn +10, Dmg +8..

Soak: +1 without armor. Has a suit of chainmail (+8 Protection).

Personality Traits: Looking for a mission in life +3: switch this out if he finds one.

Reputations: Boringly pious +3 (cultivated deliberately to limit interaction with other nobles)

Plot hooks

  • It’s handy to have an heir set up for the convenient knight: who do you pick and why?
  • The secret might be out: someone from Horace’s past has recognised him. Can this person be silenced, or bought into the charade?
  • Horace has to go to court, to meet the King’s new agent in Devon. How can he make the best possible show, while, at the same time, subtly suggesting he be left alone to “his” island.

Guillame the Librarian

Guillame’s path into Hermetic service was circuitous. He was, initially, a student, and made money for his studies as a copyist. His talents were such, however, that he soon became involved in forging documents. One of his clients paid for him to be murdered, so that his documents could never be sworn against in court. The murderer, however, tipped Guillame off. He sought the help of another client, who he knew travelled a lot, to flee France, The client was Democritus, the redcap from this covenant, who had been using Guillame to forge documents relating to the de Commodus family (see Sir Horace). After a few seasons acting as the covenant’s in-house forger, creating all kinds of little pieces of versimilitude for the de Commoduses, he was asked to take over the care and mending of the books. He was courting the covenant’s autocrat at the time, so he was more than happy to hang around.

Guillame’s the least scholarly of the librarians in the Order, many of whom are either trained in covenants or have some connection to the scriptoria of the Church.  That being said, he’s quite a skilled librarian now that he’s been at it for decades. He is teaching one of his daughters the trade. Her name is Avon, and she can often be seen delivering books to magi, or haggling with merchants in the coastal towns for the hides needed for parchment-making. She’s also in charge of the covenant’s geese, whose feathers are used in quill-making.

Characteristics: Int +1, Per 0, Prs 0,  Com +2, Str 0, Sta 0, Dex +2, Qik 0.

Size: 0, Age 43, Confidence 1 (3).

Virtues and Flaws:  Cautious with Scribing, Educated, Light Touch, Ability Block (Martial Abilities), Close family ties, Dark secret*

* is a notorious criminal whose previous clients want him dead.

Abilities: Area Lore 2 (towns of the Welsh coast), Awareness  4 (forgery), Bargain 3 (with criminals),  Canon and Civil Lore 1 (copying books), Carouse 2 (students), Cornish 3 (servants), Concentration  3 (texts), Dominion Lore 1 (libraries), Faerie Lore 2 (faerie stories), Folk Ken 3 (local peasantry), French 5 (nobility), Guile 3 (forgeries),Infernal Lore 1 (demons that harm books), Intrigue 3 (court documents), Latin 6 (church), Legerdermain 2 (hiding documents), Magic Lore 1 (runes), Magic Theory 1 (tractatus),  Profession : librarian 7 (Hermetic), Ride 1 (clinging on for dear life), Stealth 3 (silent movement), Teaching 1 (scribing).

Personality Traits: Happy Cynic +2, Curious +1

Reputations: Honest +3.

Plot hooks

  • A stranger sneaks onto the island, to attempt to kill Guillame. After he’s caught, the people who send him are more careful and clever. How can they be tracked down?
  • One of his children is kidnapped, and he needs to break out his old skills to track them down. He brings other characters along as muscle and assets.
  • One of the librarian’s forgeries has allowed a prominent family to claim some land, but it is being assessed by the Church. Guillame is a far better forger now than he was when he made the initial effort, and wants to replace the older forgery with a better one. Sadly, it’s currently in a monastic library…

Tobias the Merchant

Tobias is the chief merchant of the town. He’s arguably the most influential man in the little meeting of heads of households which serves to thrash out local issues. He doesn’t work for the covenant exactly, but he often finds it profitable to make himself convenient to the magi. In exchange they provide him with money and offer cheap goods to sell in the coastal towns. They are also teaching his children to read, without having to send them to some distant Church school.

Tobias’s main boat isn’t a great piece of military hardware: it can be sailed by three people, and can carry about 20 tons of cargo. That’s enough for him to ferry magi about, and for him to buy up the surplus of the local catches, and take it to Wales. He currently has three boats like this, the other two captained by his nephews, and the magi always pay him well if one gets destroyed. He also has a dock and warehouse in Bristol.

Characteristics: Int +1, Per 0, Prs +2,  Com +2, Str 0, Sta 0, Dex 0, Qik 0.

Size: 0, Age 40,  Confidence 1 (3).

Virtues and Flaws: Merchant*, Ways of the Sea, Well-travelled, Favours (other merchants), Oversensitive (wasting money).

* This Minor Social Status Virtue is described more fully in City and Guild, but reflects Tobias’s small fleet of ships, their crews, and his warehouse.

Abilities: Area Lore : Bristol Channel Ports 3 (merchants), Athletics 3 (climbing), Awareness 3 (at sea), Bargain 3 (with women), Bow (short) 3, Brawl 2 (improvised weapons), Carouse 2 (with sailors), Charm 3 (women), Chirurgy 2 (sailing injuries), Faerie Lore 2 (sea), Folk Ken (local community) 3, Great Weapon 3 (axe), Guile 1 (spotting lies), Leadership 4 (sailors), Cornish 5 (sea folk), Latin 4 (magi), Profession: merchant 7 ( sources), Survival 2 (Bristol Channel), Swim 3 (ocean), Thrown 2 (javelin).

Combat (includes bonus for specialisation)

Bludgeon:  Int 0, Atk +5, Dfn +3, Dmg +2.

Bow: Int -1, Atk +7, Dfn +4, Dmg +6.

Double handed axe*: Int +1, Atk +0, Dfn +4, Dmg +11.

Thrown javelin: Int 0, Atk +5, Dfn 3, Dmg +5.

* Uses this to intimidate, but is only of moderate skill.

Soak: 0 without armor. Has a suit of leather partial armor (+2 Protection).

Personality Traits:  Sees money as personal security +3

Reputations: Will chisel you for every fair penny +2

Plot hooks

  • A ship vanishes. Where did it go and can the crew be saved? 
  • A merchant that Tobias owes favours to calls in his marker. It may not be expensive, but it will likely be embarrassing.
  • Tobias hears rumors of a trade opportunity in a new town. Can he set up the links he needs to trade, or is this a trap set by the covenant’s enemies? 

Storyguide’s notes on this section

These companions are fairly archetypal, so they can either be used as is, modified, or replaced. Many are described as older, so companions  in their twenties might be the children of these characters. They also make great experienced characters for new players to try the system on, before retiring them to play, for example, their children.  Many have spare Flaw and Virtue slots, so they could be customised as player characters. Don’t buy Virtues first: always buy Flaws first. You don’t need to fill up your Flaw slots so you get all the Virtues you can have.

The characters are also of similar age because it demonstrates one of the easiest ways to cheat the character design process. If all of the characters have roughly the same age, instead of adding up the experience points, you can instead just take the raw scores from one character and rearrange them for the next, adding or subtracting 15 xp per year of age difference, with 50 xp lost or gained based on certain Virtues.

I like the +2/+2/+1 configuration for NPC characteristics. It lets you signal where they have strengths, and for them to be good enough at their core task that magi acting sensible should want to hire them.  At the same time, it means if a player really wants their character to be the cleverest, or fleetest, you’ve left space for the to do that without purchasing Virtues.

I know the line style is for short Personality Traits and Reputations, but I prefer long ones, which can be called into scene rather like Aspects in the Fate Roleplaying game.  It stops you having “Brave+3” on everyone. Similarly, I think a specialisation of Ride (hanging on for dear life) is better than Ride (avoiding falls).

I presume that characters who are professionally employed by the Order can use their Professional skill to do a wide variety of things. For example if the autocrat is buying supplies for the covenant, that’s Profession : Autocrat not Bargain, in her case. Similarly she doesn’t need to waste a lot of points on penny-packet skills for Order Lore or Covenant (Organisational) Lore.

Resources

The covenant has fairly typical resources.

Library

The covenant’s library contains the following materials.

Summae

4 Arts Summae level 15, Quality 16: 124 (Corpus, Ignem, Imaginem, Terram.)

  • On the Repair of Damage to the Muscles, Organs and Other Fibres of the Body.
  • The Pleasures of Ignition in Confined Sapces: A Memoir
  • The Nature of Vision
  • Metals As Means of Expression of Ideas.

11 Arts Summae level 9, Quality 19: 420 build points (all Arts not listed above).

  • On the Generative Nature of Things
  • Criamon’s Discussions of Perception, in Plain Latin, with Helpful Illustrations, Volume 1.
  • Change Is Oft For The Better
  • Things Dropped From a Height Often Make Delightful Sounds
  • Authority: Its Mystical Nature and Use
  • Flesh, Fish and Fowl
  • Wind is No Joking Matter
  • Commentary on The Patient Art of Aquam
  • The Trees of the Forest
  • The Mind, Stark In Its Nakedness
  • A Higher and Deeper and Wider Meaning

5 Ability Summae Level 6, Quality 15: 165 (Artes Liberales, Dominion Lore, Faerie Lore, Infernal Lore, Magic Theory)

  • The Basic Structures of the World, and of Civilisation
  • Rendering Unto God What Is At Least Arguably Ceasar’s
  • British Goblins
  • I Met A Man With Red Hands and He Said To Me These Things
  • The Early Writings of Bonisagus, A Selection

Casting Tablets

280 levels of spells costing 112 points

  • The Cloudless Sky Returned PeAu30, p128,
  • The Inexorable Search InCo20,p.131
  • Chirurgeon’s Healing Touch CrCo20, p.129
  • The Severed Limb Made Whole CrCo25. p.129
  • Seven League Stride ReCo30, p.135
  • Aura of Ennobled Presence ReIm10 p.145
  • The Shrouded Glen ReMe40, p.152
  • Sense The Lingering Magic InVi30, p.158
  • Demon’s Eternal Oblivion PeVi30, p.160
  • Aegis of the Hearth ReVi30, p.161
  • Gather The Essence of the Beast Revi15, p.162

Laboratory Texts for Spells

1000 spell levels costing 200 Build points.

  • Soothe the Pains of the Beast CrAn20, p.117
  • Weaver’s Trap of Webs CrAn35, p.117
  • The Wizard’s Mount CrAn35, p.117
  • Opening the Tome of the Animal’s Mind InAn25, p.118
  • Doublet of Impenetrable Silk MuAn15, p118
  • Ward Against the Beasts of Legend ReAn10, p120.
  • Lungs of the Fish MuAq(Au)20, p122.
  • Circling Winds of Protection CrAu(Re)20, p.125
  • Eyes of the Bat InAu25, p.125
  • Talon of the Winds InAu20, p.127
  • Chirurgeon’s Healing Touch CrCo20, p.129
  • The Severed Limb Made Whole CrCo25. p.129
  • Whispers Through the Black Gate InCo(Me)15, p.130
  • Disguise of the New Visage MuCo15, p.131
  • Invocation of Weariness PeCo20, p.133
  • Seven League Stride ReCo30, p.135
  • The Leap of Homecoming ReCo35, o.135
  • Thaumaturgical Transformation of Plants to Iron MuHe20, p.137
  • Ward Against Wood ReHe25, p.139
  • The Treacherous Spear ReHe25, p.139
  • Arc of Firey Ribbons CrIg25, p.140
  • Ball of Abyssal Flame CrIg35, p.140
  • Words of the Flickering Flame InIg35, p.141
  • Conjuration of the Indubitable Cold PeIg25, p142.
  • Ward Against Heat and Flames ReIg25, p.143
  • Discern Images of Truth and Falsehood InIm30, p.144
  • Disguise of the Transformed Image MuIm15, p.146
  • Veil of Invisibility PeIm20, p.146
  • Silence of the Smothered Sound PeIm20, p.146
  • Vision of the Haunting Spirits MuMe(Im)40, p.150
  • Blessing of Childlike Bliss PeMe25, p.151
  • Aura of Rightful Authority ReMe20, p.151
  • Scent of Peaceful Slumber ReMe20, p.151
  • The Incantation of Summoning the Dead ReMe35, p.152
  • The Shrouded Glen ReMe40, p.152
  • Edge of the Razor MuTe20 p.154
  • Obliteration of the Metallic Barrier PeTe20, p.155
  • The Earth Split Asunder ReTe30, p.156
  • Scales of Magical Weight MuVi5, p.158
  • Sense the Nature of Vis MuVi5, p.158
  • Aegis of the Hearth ReVi30, p.161
  • Gather the Essence of the Beast ReVi15, p.162

Spell level total 1 000.

Storyguide notes for this section

The library is good for foundational study, but poor for higher study in many areas. This is to force magi to travel to other covenants to access their books. The spells are a sort of mixed bunch, mostly mid- to high level. There are holes in the collection, for example there’s not a lot of Herbam, but these are there to get the characters to explore trade with other covenants.

Plot hooks

  • Visiting other covenants for book trading
  • Seeking supplies for creating mystically resonant books
  • A magus who needs to learn one of these spells offers a favour in exchange for study time. What do the magi want her to do?

Enchanted Items

100 levels. 40 build points.

Democritus’s Glove

This glover casts the spell Gather The Essence of the Beast (p.162), which allows the vis from an object to be concentrated into a smaller part of that object, to be severed for easier transportation.

Effect: MuVi 15: R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual. (as spell).  15 levels.

Disks of Light

Initially designed as fireless light sources, to allow magi to work more safely in their laboratories, these magic items are now sometimes taken by the magi when they travel. In form, each is a thin disk of bronze, like a coin. Before enchantment, each was pierced, so that it could be hung on a chain. The chain used is not enchanted, and can be replaced by a thin belt, to be worn about the waist, or lanyard, to be worn on the wrist or about the neck.

When the word “lumen” is spoken, light pours from the disk. This illuminates an area about ten paces deep as if it were in bright sunlight. If worn, the body of the character blocks the light from one side of the disk.. Characters can darken the disk by command: it can however be slipped into a leather pouch. A character whose eyes are dark-adjusted, suddenly startled with one of these lights may be blinded for a round (-3 on rolls). Trapping an enemy in this way should be treated as a combat manoeuvre.

The player characters have access to two of these disks (one for each of the missing magi).

Effect: ReIg 15: R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Individual. (Base 5, +2 Sun).  Two items = 30 levels.

Ring of Lost Time

This ring allows the wearer to erase five minutes of the target’s memory, removing a particular event. The character’s memory for that period is a blank, but if prompted by enough clues and questions, they may recover the memory with an Intelligence stress roll. The target for this roll is generally 9, but is lower for vital memories, and higher for trivial ones.

Effect: PeIm20 R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual (based on Loss of But a Moment’s Memory (p.151) but with Voice range). 20 levels.

Scrying Mirror

This mirror is a sheet of highly polished sliver, surrounded by an oak frame. It allows the magi to view and hear a location or person to whom they have an Arcane Connection. Misuse of this magical item may lead to charges under the Code of Hermes.

Effect: InIm25 R: Arcane, D: Concentration, T: Room (As Summoning the Distant Image p.145) 25 levels.

The Wristband For The Injured

This is a leather wristband which allows the user to bind closed the wounds of the injured, so that they do not suffer aggravation from the actions required to return home.

Effect: CrCo10: R: Touch, D:Sun, T: Individual. (As Bind Wound ArM5, p.129) 10 levels.

Storyguide notes for this section

This is basic adventuring gear which allows the characters to correct some problems, and that can be used in creative ways.  A classic scrying mirror is included, to allow the player characters to scout locations and find missing expeditioneers. It also tempts them to break the Code.

Plot hooks

  • A faerie knight has been using a disk like those the covenant has. Is it a duplicate? How did the faerie discover the existence of the disks?
  • The mirror begins to show (false) visions of the future. Do the player characters get fooled? What’s causing this?

Vis and Money

The covenant has a moderate store of both vis and silver.

Vis Sources

The covenant harvests one pawn of Ignem per season from a Roman mirror that was found on the site, and is stored in the Council Chamber. The mirror is laid on the ground, and when the sun strikes it, at dawn on certain days, the sun in the mirror becomes a small, difficult to handle, ball of self-perpetuating flame.

The covenant may claim 6 pawns of Vim vis from the ice gardens of a merfolk tribe, who ceded them to the covenant in exchange for aid in a war many years ago.  This is generally consumed in the casting of the annual Aegis.

Ten pawns of vis, of random flavour, wash up on the shores of the island each year. The flotsam of wrecked ships is carefully examined, as the vis is often in the form of mundane, weather-beaten artefacts. Tying vis into objects, which have been present at times of great emotional turmoil, is a faerie trait. Faeries might be sending this vis deliberately, but who is responsible, or what they think they are getting in exchange for their decades of gifts, is unclear.

For each discovered pawn, roll a simple die, and count off the names of the Arts, starting at Creo. For each subsequent pawn, start the count at the art directly after the last pawn discovered. So, if the last pawn was Animal, a roll of 1 would give a pawn of Aquam, and then the next pawn would have Aquam as the zero point for its roll.

(20 pawns per year : 100 build points.)

Vis Stocks

50 pawns in store. 10 build points.

Cr 2, In 2, Mu 1, Pe 0, Re 3, An 3, Aq 3, Au 3, Co 6, He 3, Ig 15, Im 2, Me 2, Te, Vi 5

Money

100 pounds (10 build points), mostly in silver coins, tin or bronze ingots, and jewellery. This is about equal to one year’s income, or one year’s expenditure.

Storyguide’s notes for this section

The vis sources chosen are deliberately relatively poor, and undependable. This forces the characters to explore, to find new sources, to trade with other magi, and to use vis prudently. The characters always have enough vis for their Aegis. The source of the flotsam vis may form a story. Similarly, the characters don’t have enough money to be uncharmed by treasure.

Plot hooks

  • Gathering vis is the great treasure hunting plot in Ars Magica.

Surrounding Lands

The Bristol Channel is bordered by Somerset and Devon to the South, and Wales to the north.

Rulers of the Surrounding Lands

All of the surrounding lands are controlled by Normans. The Normans invaded England in 1066, a mere 156 years ago, and still speak their own language, which is a variety of French. The conquest of Wales is far from complete. The Prince of Wales, arguably a vassal of the English crown, arguably not at all, controls the northwest of Wales. The south and east of Wales are controlled by the Marcher Lords, and by lesser Welsh nobles who have accepted vassalage. A March Lord is a Norman nobleman given extra rights to enable him to hold the border against the Welsh. They may raise armies, garrison castles, found towns, and mint money, all usually royal priveledges. The Marchers are the most powerful vassals of the king, and if the Welsh can be kept quiet, they have enormous power during English civil wars.  For example, the great lord who chartered the royal course through the recent French invasion is the Earl Marshall, whose son now controls Pembrokeshire.

Bristol

The city of Bristol is one of the richest in England. It’s wealth is fuelled by trade. Ships go from here to France, Spain and Iceland, mostly trading wool. The people of Bristol also have the right to live in and trade with The Pale, which is basically the part of Ireland subdued by the English. Some crafters from Bristol profit immensely from economic development in Ireland, while others roll in coin when Ireland plunges into war. Bristol’s the place magi living in the Channel can purchase the sorts of things that needs to come from the Continent. It’s also a good place ot scratch up mercenary crews, when needed.

The castle of Bristol is one of the strongest in the region, which is odd because it’s not holding back Welshmen. It was built to subdue the region during the original conquest, and then was one of the centres of Empress Matilda’s power during the Anarchy a century ago. When she captured her rival, King Stephen, Matilda imprisoned him here. She also kept her son here for safety. The son, who became Henry II, favoured Bristol Castle as one of his boyhood homes,. and he rebuilt it in stone, updating it with European architectural ideas. If your history follows real history, Eleanor of Brittany will be moved here in 1224, because she cannot be allowed to marry.

Henry’s great love for the town can be seen in the charters he repeatedly ratified for it, granting rights to the burgesses (townsfolk). Aside for the usual rights desired by townsmen (that they may not have their lands outside the town taken, that they may not have their children taken as hostages for debts by their lords, that they might marry as they choose) he also gives them some truly extraordinary rights. They can only be tried in the town for their crimes, even if they are performed elsewhere, and even if they are caught elsewhere, provided the crimes do not involve land they hold outside the walls. Merchants from Britsol (or Bristow, as he calls it) are free from every tarriff, toll and tax in the full run of Hernry’s lands (specifically including Wales and Normandy) and anyone who takes a toll, tarriff or other tax from a Bristow burgess owes the king ten pounds.

The people of Bristol also have exclusive rights to certain trades in their town. If you want to sell leather, corn (grain) or wool in Bristol, it must be to a local: sales to “strangers” are not allowed. As time goes on, other goods fall in this group, so that in real history, a charter given in 1252 adds “or other goods” after these original three, and claims the priveledge has existed since the time of King John. This means that strangers can’t just come to Bristol and use it as a marketplace: they need to sell to a local, who takes a middleman’s cut of the final price. Only locals may not operate wine shops in Bristol, except “from a ship”, and this is later expanded to tavern-keeping. Sales of any other goods are permitted, but a non-Bristolian may only have a shop for a maximum of forty days, and later this is extended to not being permitted to tarry for more than forty days for the purpose of selling goods.  As charaters progress over time, the bounds of Bristol get larger, and the traditional rights get broader.

Storyguide notes for this section

Eleanor of Brittany is described in more detail in Tales of Mythic Europe.

Plot hooks and maps

The maps below comes from Wikicommons, and are from JF Nicholls and John Taylor, Bristol Past and Present which is available through Internet Archive.  I’ve chosen to keep it to its original size so as not to lose detail if you’d like to print in out, blown up, to use as a planning map for stories. I must say, I like the internal moat, dividing the wards of the castle.  Notice how the city walls assume the river is impassable in the south?  Seems a bit odd to me. I’d suggest there’s a story there. The one bridge that crosses this area has a chapel on it, so it has a Dominion aura. Presumably that keeps away whatever is in the water?

  • Seriously, what’s in the water?
  • Bristol trade requires a local agent. If the covenant needs to replace theirs, how can they find one?
  • A redcap has been arrested after murdering someone with magic, and he’s been imprisoned in the castle. What can be done? 

File:Bristol Castle plan ancient times.jpg

File:Map of Bristol in the 13th century.jpg

Clare (Cardiff and Glamorgan)

Cardiff is the largest of the Norman settlements on the southern Welsh coast. There have been settlements where Cardiff is since pre-Roman times, due the city’s place on the River Taft. Until the Norman invasion, it was the capital of a small kingdom called Glamorgan. It was divided into manors after the Conquest. The current castle is about two centuries old, built in the ruins of the Roman fort. It was established by the Norman invaders to pacify this area. Settlers have swarmed southern Wales, so English speakers (under rulers who speak French) rather then Welshmen predominate here. The ruler is Gilbert deClare, as Earl of Gloucester, but he’s also Earl of Hereford which is richer and closer to London, so we may assume he has a servant running the city most of the time.

http://www.heritage-history.com/maps/philips/phil036c.jpg has a map for this area. There are other little marcher lordships at Abergavanny, Caerleon (Usk), Strigul (Cheapstow), White Castle, Monnmouth and so on, but basically the area is run by the Clare family until you hit the remnants remnants of Gwent or pass that to the Forest of Dean to the east (which is filled with faeries, regiones, and possibly the Grail King’s castle) and Gower to the west, which is far less mystical.

Cornwall

Cornwall is controlled directly by the Crown. If your game history follows real history, the king gives the County of Cornwall to his brother as a sixteenth birthday present, along with the office of High Sherriff of Cornwall. The High Sherrif acts as the reeve (representative) for the shires in Cornwall, collecting the king’s taxes and keeping some for himself. Appointment to t role is annual, and the role turns over rapidly: in the years leading up to 1220, few men have been reappointed successively for more than five years, and most do the job for a single year. The current holder, William Lunet, is a cyper of history, so just do whatever you like with him. He disappears into the mists of real history in 1221.

It seems likely that these men actually do little of the practical work of collecting the taxes. It may be that many are nobles who never leve court, and are given the office soley so they can command its income. The titual sherrifs likely have local man who does the work regardless of who his nominal overlord is. This man would make a useful ally or interesting enemy.

Cornwall’s miners live under an odd set of laws, most recently codified under the current king’s father, King John. They hark back to ancient rights granted centuries ago, which basically let the miners dig anywhere, and make them exempt from the courts of nobles. King John also created an office of High Sherrif of the Stannerie, who has the power to call a pariliament of the representatives of the four mining areas, and deal with their legal issues.

Devon

The county town of Devon (or Devonshire, use whichever you like) is Exeter, and in some ways it also acts as the main town for Cornwall. The bishop for one is the overlord of the other, for example.  In a saga focused on the Bristol Channel, Exter is a bit far away for most uses. If you need to buy something, you can probably find it in the towns on the Welsh south coast. Still, Exter’s out there, and it has all of the plot hooks of a county town. Devon’s population is mostly on the southern coast. Dartmoor is the largest piece of wasteland (unused land) in Britain, and is full of faeries. Its miners produce about 60 tons of tin a year.  Exmoor is far smaller, but for groups interested in the Bristol Channel, its how the Devon side of the Channel begins.

Exmoor is one of the royal forests. A “forest” doesn’t necessarily have trees in it: it means land that’s exclusively for royal use. The capital of the forest is a village called Withypool, and the king’s controllers of the forest are interchangably called “foresters” and sometimes called “wardens”. Until 1217, Willima of Wrotham was the Warden here, as well as being the Warden of the king’s tin mines, and the keeper of the English fleet in the Cornish and Devon ports. Who replaced him isn’t clear in the historical record. As noted elsewhere, whoever this is, he’s probably served by a family who do the actual work. William of Wrotham was far too busy with developing Portsmouth and building warships to actually supervise deer culls.

Lundy Island is sort of technically in Devon. The previous king gave it to the Templars. They don’t seem to have done much with it. Then again, the Templars are an odd lot. Who knows what they wanted the island for?

Gower

Gower is a minor lordship, held by John de Braoase, for the cost of a single knight’s-fee. Its centre is the town of Swansea. John is 22, and was raised in secret, apparently in Gower, because his family had fallen from royal favour and were imprisoned. He was captured by the king’s forces in 1214 and was released in 1218. He holds Gower and Bramber (in Sussex) from his uncle, who inherited the family’s lands because no-one knew John existed. He’s married to a Welsh princess.

Somerset

The area this page calls Somerset is firmly English, and is controlled from the county town of Illchester. Illchester has many churches, but is effectively controlled by a powerful nunnery. It’s not growing economically, and if your history follows the real, then soon Somerton will eclipse it and the country seat will move there.

The area is divided into hundreds of fiefs and much of it is controlled by the Crown. This is the sort of area that provides a vast number of little nobles for the king’s adventures, and also provides a stew of combatants during civil war. During the Anarchy one local family rose to the point of being called the Earls of Somerset, but no-one currently uses that title. Reynold Mohun, the lineal descendant of that Earl still controls a heap of territory, however, and has his seat at at Dunster Castle. In real history, sometime around the game period Reynold  marries well and commutes his vassals’ duty to maintain the castle into a single cash payment. He uses the money to rework the castle’s lower ward in stone. If the king was strong in this area, that would be a problem, but he’s not, and so this gives Reynold a lot of prestige in the area.

Somerset is odd, because there are no Winter-themed faeries here, ever.  This is discussed further in Tales of Power in the chapter on Bath.

Folklore

The folklore of this area provides many story hooks for a troupe.

The Giants and the River

Long ago there were two gigantic brothers who both desired the beautiful Avona. She set them a challenge to win her hand: the one who could drain the great lake south of where Bristol now stands would be her husband. Goram, the lazy brother, created a stone chair to rest in, then dug some of his channel, but took a rest and fell asleep. His more energetic sibling, who had the profoundly unlikely name of Vincent, finished the channel of the Avon River. Goram, waking, was filled with grief for the loss of Avona and threw himself into the Severen Channel. The island of Steep Holm is the top of his head, and the island of Flat Holm is his shoulder. These islands are about five miles apart, which gives a sense of Goram’s size.

The giants and river spirits were presumably Magical spirits of vast power, and Castleholm’s island may have its aura because it is part of the body of an antediluvian giant. Where his brother, and his brother’s wife, now are is unclear. If you were wanting to stat them up, there are rules for kosmokators (antediluvian giants of creation) in Realms of Power : Magic (page 109).

Local Saints

The islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm used to be used as the hermitages of two monks. The most famous of these is Saint Gildas, who went on to become Abbot of Glastonbury, and write a history of King Arthur and his successors. The other was Saint Cadoc, who became one of the guardians of the Holy Grail after all that Arthur business was over.

Sabrina

The Latin name for the river Severn is Sabrina, and a water nymph of that name has been the embodiment of the waterway since ancient times. She has two sisters (who inhabit the rivers Ystwith and Wye) and she can meet them on Mount Plynlimon from which they all spring.

Sabrina hates the English, and hated the Saxons, and was not terribly keen on the Romans for a century or so, which is why they worked so hard to pay her off. Her sister, the Wye, takes a life every year. The Severn doesn’t seem to eat people: indeed, there are a lot of people with the surname Severn because the hermits at Blackstone every so often find children floating on the river and after rescuing them, name them for the river. These children may be People of the Lake or Drowned Men or something like that (see Realms of Power : Magic). Nightingales cannot cross this river. Sabrina hates them and kills them as they cross.

Sabrina appears to be a nymph, but there’s a chance she’s not a faerie. She was originally a human being, who was put to death by drowning, so it is possible she’s a genius locus. She was the daughter of the mistress of King Corineus. When he put aside his wife for his mistress, the Queen raised an army, deposed her husband and had his mistress and bastard drowned. She regretted killing the daughter, who was, after all, not responsible for the affair, and so declared her the goddess of the river.

         “She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit
Of her enraged stepdame Guendolen,
Commended her fair innocence to the flood
That stayed her flight with his cross-flowing course.
The water-nymphs, that in the bottom played,
Held up their pearled wrists, and took her in,
Bearing her straight to aged Nereus’ hall;
Who, piteous of her woes, reared her lank head,
And gave her to his daughters to imbathe
In nectared lavers strewed with asphodel,
And through the porch and inlet of every sense
Dropped in ambrosial oils, till she revived,
And underwent a quick immortal change,
Made Goddess of the river …”
Milton, (post-1220.)

Source: http://www.whitedragon.org.uk/articles/sabrina.htm

Nereus was one of the titans, and the father of the naiads. He was the God of the Sea before the Titanomachy and the rise of Poseidon. More about him later in the Hermetic history section.

Hermetic History

This area has a special role in the history of Hermetic magic, although it has been completely forgotten. It was the refuge of a maga named Doris, who taught Bonisagus water magic. Why she did not become a Founder is unclear. It may be that she died before the first Tribunal, like Berenice (the teacher of the Founder Jerbiton) or it could be that her descendants were wiped out by The Spider.

Doris was a priestess of Nodens, the Roman sea god of this area, whose sacred site was at Lydney. She suffered the flaw in her magic which makes some Flambeau magi able to study only in volcanoes, and some Herbam magi only able to study in the middle of the Black Forest. She lived in this area because of the Severn Bore, an unusual phenomenon where a wave sweeps up the Severn river. This, along with the massive tides in this estuary, provided her vis, and also the opportunity to study Aquam magic.

Doris’s mystical tradition retreated from Lynley to the isle of Bari when Christianity came to the area. No living magus knows this. Her sacred site has not been uncovered, and contains rituals which allow magi to follow the Mystery Path of the Priests of Nodens.

The Path of Nodens

Players with the Virtues or Flaws already listed should negotiate subsitutes with the Troupe.

Novice of the Cult of Nodens

The initiate is ceremonially drowned during the rising of a spring tide. Their mind travels to Faerie, through the ruins of an undersea kingdom, to find the Temple of Nodens. After overcoming a great guardian, representative of ignorance, the character is given the location of the cult centre at Lydley, which is needed for a later initiation. [Major Magical Focus (seawater) : Target 21 =  Mystagogue (Presence + Cult Lore) of at least 6 + Major Ordeal (Study Requirement) (9) + Sympathetic Rite (+3) + Quest (3).]

Errant of the Cult of Nodens

The character must travel by sea to Lyndley, facing terrible weather and other hazards as a test of faith, before final ceremonies at the ancient shrine of Nodens.  [Ways of the Oceans : Target 21 = Mystagogue (Presence + Cult Lore) of at least (6) + First Initiation After a Major Ordeal (9) + Special Place and Time (3) + Quest (3).]

Knight of the Sea

The character gains the ability to take the shape of a triton. This prevents drowning and allows them to swim at the same speed as a person can run. Skinchanging takes a round, and requires a sacred necklace created during this ritual. This can be replaced as per the skinchanger virtue. [Skinchanger (triton) : Target 15 = Mystagogue (Presence + Cult Lore) of at least (6) + Second Initiation After a Major Ordeal (6) + Quest in Faerie or Sympathetic rituals (3)]

Bride of Nodens

The Brides of Nodens are the high priestesses of the cult. Their quest involves taking triton form and searching the depths of the ocean for clues to the location of the Throne of Nodens. They then must fight their way to his house, during which process they always lose a limb. This is always reattached, but the new limb is silver in colour/ Since the priestesses can cover the limb in clothes, and gloves or shoes, it does not earn the Disfigured Flaw. Male Brides of Nodens are possible, but they tend to call themselves Servants of Nodens instead. [Entrancement : Target 21 = Mystagogue (Presence + Cult Lore) of at least (9) + Third Initiation After a Major Ordeal (3) + Minor Ordeal (Dutybound) (3 ) + Quest (3) + Sacrifice (3) (all close emotional bonds to anyone outside the cult) ]

Covenant Sheet

Build Points: 1000 + 100 for being short two labs (assumes 4 PC magi) = 1100

Boons: Curtain Walls and Towers (+3), Ruined Covenant (+3), Criminals (+1), Strong community (+1).

Hooks: Castle (-3), Superiors (-3), Ungoverned (-1), Wooden (-1).

Free Choices: Island, Sailors

Library:

  • 4 Arts Summae level 15, Quality 16: 124 (Corpus, Ignem, Imaginem, Terram.)
  • 11 Arts Summae level 9, Quality 19: 420 build points.
  • 5 Ability Summae Level 6, Quality 15: 165

Enchanted Items: 100 levels. 40 build points.

Vis Sources: 20 pawns per year, for three sources: 100 build points.

Vis Stocks: 50 pawns in store. 10 build points.

Stored money: 100 pounds. 10 build points ?Check.

9 NPC grogs, 18 NPC servants. 5 specialists (autocrat, knight, librarian, merchant, turb captain, highest score 7) 35 build points.

Total spent: 1100

11 replies on “Basic design notes for the Covenant of Sabrina’s Rest

  1. Hello.

    “Guillame the Librarian” has a strange given name. Maybe this was an actual medieval surname, wasn’t it? You’d perhaps better call him “Guillaume”, which stands for “William” (“William the Conqueror” is called “Guillaume le Conquérant” in France) and also stands for “Wilhelm” (“Wilhelm Tell”, the Switzerland national hero, is called “Guillaume Tell” by the french-speaking people from “Suisse Romande”).

    Bravo pour ce futur “Livre des Alliances”, créé par des fans, à destination des joueurs débutants d’Ars Magica.
    Bravo for this coming-soon fan-made “Covenants Book” intended to Ars Magica rookie gamers.

    From France, Cordialement.

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    1. Sure. Just load up the comments with material and I’ll move it across into the final document.

      Also, if you’d lkike to stat a magus that’d be great. I’ve just done 4 specialists and I’m sick of character creation for now. 8)

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      1. Hi!

        Finally completed Antigone. Not totally satisfied (I did her in one go, so there are some things I’d do differently), but for what it’s worth (that is, better than nothing), here she is, 75 years PG 🙂

        Barring any error, since this is a project for beginners, I did her using only virtues, flaws and spell guidelines from the corebook. There are some references in her custom spells to HoH: MC, but these can be ignored.

        The file includes:
        – A pdf character sheet
        – A resume of her spells (CT, range, duration…)
        – The description of her custom spells
        – Her metacreator file.

        https://www.dropbox.com/s/rksd0jv9udcer7m/Antigone.zip

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        1. Hi, me again. I realized I had left a few things out.
          Her Minor Focus in Controlling Minds: I used my easy method for minor foci, which is to take roughly a Technique (Rego), and to add to it a subset of a form (Mentem).
          As such, it only applies to those spells that allow her to directly control a mind, to give orders. It doesn’t affect emotions, as an example. Going back, I should maybe have done the reverse.
          Regarding spells: With one exception, about at 30 years pg, I assumed she developed all her spells without a lab text, which makes her somewhat under-powered compared to what she should be, yet still ahead of a standard “elder” ars magica magus.
          Regarding her world view, and how it affects her spells: She holds thinks that time doesn’t exist, or rather is an illusion that imprisons people. To her, everything is still the spharios, which means everything is still one: people, places… are the same, we are just confused into believing otherwise. It follows that individuality, and space, all that we perceive, are also illusions. Everything is all but one.
          Through her spells, she seeks to demonstrate that. To her, when she uses magic to scry, she doesn’t look at another place, she just ignores the illusion that is distance, or has her future self remind her present self of something she learned. When she controls minds, she doesn’t impose her will over someone: Her target’s thoughts and hers are just reminded that they are the same. Any act of magic is not imposing your will over the world, but you doing something with your “body”.
          Likewise, illusions are a tool to demonstrate that the physical world, although appearing more real, is still a lie, a better one at best. In a way, even her Curse of the Silent Ghost serves to blur the boundaries, making the target no different than a illusion of Touch. Likewise, ghosts and spirits show that thought and intent can exist without a physical body.
          So I picture her as having her sanctum layered in illusions, which she changes from time to time, with ghosts and spirits bound through Voices from Hollow Spaces, to which she speaks and discusses her ideas. Entering her sanctum should thus be a strange experience, as one doesn’t know what is real or not.
          Hope this helps, and will be useful to someone

          Like

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