Shadow of the Moon was removed from Sanctuary of Ice because it was simply too obscure, and too similar, in a way, to Sinews of Knowledge. The covenant symbol is the part-obscured moon, but I imagine its usually worn as a torc.
The Shadow of the Moon is a small covenant, dedicated to a momentous, almost quixotic, task. For hundreds of years, including lengthy intermissions, Bonisagian magi have fervently toiled here, attempting to break the Limit of the Lunar Sphere.
Considered a weak Autumn covenant while the project progresses, and a stable winter covenant while it is on hiatus, this covenant demonstrates a flaw in the seasonal system of classification. All but apolitical, and incredibly insular, this “winter” covenant would become the most powerful in the Order, were its researchers to succeed. No other covenant could threaten its enemies with orbital bombardment. After its success, it would then go through a brief period of spreading the breakthrough, then a slow period of packing up all of the specialist equipment and determining where it should be sent next. Finally, a new covenant would assume custodianship of its site. In some respects, Shadow of the Moon, like other research covenants, follows the seasonal cycle in reverse.
Physically, this covenant is unimpressive. It resembles a grain silo, surrounded by picturesque formal gardens. Although skilfully warded with magic, its mundane defences are poor. This structure links, via Hermetic Portal, to a series of laboratories on the summit of Mont Blanc, the highest point in Europe. This provides two benefits to researchers, a high aura (magic 9) and a source of vis which gives the covenant its name. Since an equivalent aura could have been found elsewhere, and the vis can be transported to a more hospitable site, there’s no clear reason why the covenant developed here. Obscure references in the covenant library may indicate that the third maga to undertake the research project suffered from the Study Requirement flaw, and found Mont Blanc most congenial to her experiments. The covenfolk don’t live in the laboratory complex, because even a decade’s exposure to such a high aura can imbue pronounced distortions.
This covenant is focused on a single task, and maintains only a small staff. Its library is small, but excellent, and its members selected for their skill. During those periods when no magus wishes to research the Limit of the Sphere, the covenant falls into a holding pattern. During this time a member of House Bonisagus, usually from the Council of Durenmar, is sent to oversee the covenant’s resources. They are allowed to continue their own researches here, but only until another Lunarian presents himself at Durenmar, and is allowed to take up the challenge.
Complete copies of the findings of this covenant are regularly conveyed to the Domus Magnii of all twelve houses. This fulfils the requirement that Bonisagius magi must share their findings, eases those worried that a new magical form may soon emerge, creates spare copies in case the covenant is destroyed by catastrophic laboratory failure, and removes some of the incentive for raiding by a hostile covenant. By tradition, redcaps from the home Tribunals of each Domus come to Shadow of the Moon every seven years to receive these reports, and this informal gathering is sometimes used for inducting apprentices, swearing oaths before quaesitores, trading and tomfoolery.
Durenmar, and Icy North, receive yearly reports of this covenant’s progress. Durenmar has extensive rights in the Shadow of the Moon Charter, which protect the integrity of the experiment, and prevent the covenant veering into other areas of research. Icy North is the executor, on behalf of the Tribunal, of a piece of Peripheral Code that grants a useful vis source to the covenant, but only while the Lunar research is being actively expanded upon. When the Shadow of the Moon is in its holding pattern, this source rejoins the Common pool, and is distributed in Summer at the Fair.
The last tested theory
The last advance made by this project was due to a windfall that blew in from Islamic culture. An Italian businessman, Leonardo Fibonacci, widely distributed a work called Liber abaci “The Book of the Abacus” in 1202. It was based on his understanding of Hindu and Arabic mathematics. He noted the nine figures and sign 0, used to mark magnitude by place. He also developed the first recursive number sequences and advanced Diophantine algebra, which are too involved to describe but can be inserted into Hermetic technobabble. His cutting edge techniques have proven invaluable to Hermetic astronomers, some of whom conjecture a sympathetic link between the circular zero, the spherical Earth, and the wheel of the Heavens.
A few Hermetic magi were aware of the zero before Leonardo, since Adelard of Bath had translated al-Kwarizimi centuries before. This work wasn’t widely distributed, and wasn’t applied by the Order’s researchers. Adelard’s followers tended to be British hedge magicians, and innovations suggested by them crashed against the wall of assumed superiority of all things Roman. Strong ant-Arabic sentiment felt in certain parts of the Order is only now beginning to wane, following the successes in Spain, and it also contributed to a preference for Roman figures.
In the contemporary Order, which figures you use are a sign of how tradition-bound you are. After the Norman invasion of Sicily, many covenants selected displaced Arabic stewards to work as administrators. Some of these privately used Hindu-Arabic figures, converting them to Roman for reports to their masters. Many covenants disallowed their use, since it is easier to alter Hindu numbers when committing fraud, and it easier to divide and multiply when using Roman numbers, allowing magi to check the books more easily. The acceptance of Hindu-Arabic notation by the highest levels of House Bonisagus has given it extra credibility, and it is slowly diffusing to other Houses. It’s particularly useful for merchants calculating interest or conversion rates for coinage, so many of the senior redcaps are familiar with it, even if some grumble and hated memorising multiplication tables.
Characters who wish to make legerdemain rolls to alter records written in Hindu-Arabic figures add +3 to their rolls. Characters using other record-keeping skills gain a bonus of 1 if they convert to Hindu-Arabic.
A later breakthrough
Mathematics is difficult for Hermetic magi, because they use words instead of symbols, so for example the equation we would write as y = x2+4 reads “The square root of the first unknown, plus four, is equal to the second unknown.” Leonardo makes a little step forward in this, because in his diagrams he uses the symbols for the Greek letters alpha, beta and gamma for his first three unknowns. Eventually a full system of signs may develop, allowing the simpler modelling of interacting magical forces. This new method would be represented by a bonus on all labwork.
This covenant has five members.
Yrjo fillius Rikard: Current lunarian
Yrjo is an ancient Bonisagus. Selected early as this generation’s Lunarian he’s a genius, but is far less capable, in most other fields, than other magi his age. Unskilled in useful spells, ignorant of mundane matters, Yrjo lacks the psychological robustness to survive the travails of life in the border tribunals. His progress toward the project’s goal has been impressive, but his life otherwise seems stunted. Childlike, despite his legendary intellect, Yrjo needs the constant assistance of companions and other magi, especially since his body is becoming frail.
Aurore filia Sabastienne
Aurore is a Bonisagus interested in divination through astrology. Although foretelling the future accurately is impossible, since it denies the free will given to humanity by God, Aurore is so skilled at Astrology that she is consulted on many major events. Incapable of Lunarian research, Aurore is practical and charismatic, and supports Yrjo’s research by taking care of distractions and mundanities. Politically-minded magi are glad that Aurore is generally disinterested in the pettiness of transitionary things, like Tribunals, but all watch carefully when she joins causes. [Thanks to Troels K. Pedersen for pointing out this place needed a fortune teller.]
Fabian fillius Augustin
A Verditus magus, Fabian is part of a counter-tradition not officially supported by the Project, that seeks to voyage to the Lunar Sphere by mechanical means, or through the use of magic items. Fabian’s finest work, thus far, is the creation of a magical bow of enormously long range, coupled with arrows enchanted with Waiting Spells that transport material back to bottles in his laboratory. His greatest feat thus far is to confirm the existence of a layer of fire between the Earth and the Sphere, although he’s not going to repeat the experiment until he finds a suitable container for elemental flame. Fabian’s arrows are the most dangerous combat items the covenant has, but none of its magi have considered the military applications of his research.
Kynthia filia Yselt
Kynthia is an elderly Merinitan maga interested in voyaging to the moon through Arcadia. The problem is that although the Moon is of intense interest to faeries, it doesn’t lie easily in any of the four quarters of Arcadia. Is it in the Summer of Winter? Neither, really. Is it in the Light or Darkness? How can it be in the darkness if its a light source, and since the Light is linked to the Sun, how can it exist there? Does it lie at the true centre of Arcadia? Is it the plain upon which Arcadia lies? Is it one of the things which finds no expression in Arcadia? If it is, then why do faeries like it so much?
Diana, filia Telemachus, follower of Tremere.
Ever since her selection for apprenticehood, Diana has been prepared as the thin end of the Tremere wedge. The undoubted heir of to the Lunar Project, she’s unlikely to be forced from the Alps. Once she is in charge of the Shadow of the Moon, her pater, and his superiors, will order her to invite Tremere magi to join her covenant. This will give the Tremere a beach-head in Alpine politics, a beach-head which most magi, who have great respect for the Project, would be hesitant to assail.
The weakest link in the plan is Diana herself. How would you feel if you knew your entire life had been designed, in tiny detail, to allow your parents to achieve some prized, but trivial, goal? How would you feel if your magical abilities were underdeveloped, some might say crippled, because your master trained you in the Lunar Experimental Theory to the exclusion of other, more useful, skills, Arts and spells? How would you feel if a friend of yours touched your mind and bought down the magical wall which had hidden your entire childhood from you? How would you feel if you saw that your friend’s life had been sucked dry by a project, and you were next? How would you feel if, after all of this, there wasn’t anything you could do to change things? How would you feel if you still had to serve the person who stole your childhood, wasted your gift and ruined your life?
If your personality is like Diana’s you’d be furious.
Diana’s involved in a dangerous game. Her master can’t leash her yet, because if he loses control of her, the House will be annoyed at him. She can’t attack him, yet, because if she did, the House might declare her an Orbus. Senior Tremere would then declare Wizard’s War on her and hunt her down. She needs leverage. She needs a way to make herself unassailable.
Diana’s current plan is a predictable, but possibly effective, one. She’s considering defecting to another House. She’d prefer House Bonisagius, because, for various political reasons, House Tremere would be unlikely to be able to quietly kill her once she’d switched. A more difficult, but even more effective, gambit would be to wangle an invitation to be retrained as a Quaesitor. She needs to time her transfer exquisitely. The longer she is Lunarian, the higher her status, but the closer she comes to the day when a band of Tremere arrive with an instruction from her master to invite them in. If that happens, she can expect to be restrained in her lab for the rest of her life, since a lack of progress would enable the Primus of Bonisagius to appoint a new Lunarian.
There is, of course, the tiniest chance that everything will turn out alright regardless of the intrigue. Sure, the Project is nowhere near finished, but maybe, just maybe, Diana will find herself with the ultimate form of leverage. Maybe she’ll solve the puzzle. Maybe she’ll really be the Lunarian.
This covenant has far fewer covenfolk than might be expected, because the distortive effect of the powerful Mount Blanc aura manifests quickly. The shadows of those who live for a decade or more within the Mont Blanc aura are altered, so that while their owners sleep, they can take on solid form, provided they are within a magical aura. Most have personalities indistinguishable from those of their owners, and duplicate their physical features, but exceptions occur. The most common are shadows who do not lose limbs when their originals do, who remain unchanged when their owners are transformed into other shapes, or who do not age as their original does. Players desiring an active shadow should consult the storyguide about the cost of this virtue or flaw, since it varies on a case-by-case basis.
Unusual forms of lycanthropy have been observed at this covenant. In the first type, the shadow appears human and follows the wolf, trying to keep it out of trouble, while in other cases the shadow takes wolf-form while the human sleeps. Occasionally damage to a shadow is reflected to the owner, and this causes pain, paralysis, illness and phantom pregnancies. The originals remember the activities of their shadows as though they were vivid dreams.
Magi use the Parma Magica to prevent the formation of solid shadows. Some are a little less restrained than their owners, and say or do things which their originals have always wanted to, but have refrained from because of social convention. Having a ne’er-do-well duplicate, who is ungifted, doesn’t appeal to most mages.