[center]Be Very Quiet: We're Hunting Dwagons[/center]
The search for a dragon suitable for Lady Vivienne's needs as a familiar isn't established in the rules, so I kit-bashed the rules for searching for an apprentice. After spending a season searching, make a Perception + Magic Lore stress roll against an EF 18. If you fail but still get a 12+, you get a +3 for the next season.
And so, the team of Williams's grogs searched across the land for three seasons before they found rumours of a tiny dragon. Stealthily, they sneak up upon it, and the resulting combat goes surprisingly well for them as they grapple and scuffle it into unconsciousness. They triple muzzle it and begin their trek back home.
Might 9 (Animal) Characteristics Cun -3, Per +2, Pre +0, Com +0, Str -3, Sta +2, Dex +3, Qik +4 Size -2 Season Spring Virtues/Flaws Magical Animal; Lightning Reflexes, Piercing Gaze, Puissant (Brawl), Tough; Mute, No Hands; Magical Monster Qualities/Inferiorities Affinity for Magic Theory, Ignem Resistance, Improved Abilities, Improved Defense, Improved Powers x2, Improved Soak x2, Lesser Power, Personal Power x2, Puissant Magic Theory, Unaffected by the Gift; Essential Flaw (Avaricious, major), Miniature; Susceptible to Deprivation Personality Traits Avaricious +6, Fierce +4, Territorial +2 CombatBite Init +3, Atk +11*, Def +12*, Dmg -2
+9 group bonusSoak +11 Fatigue Levels OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious Wound Penalties -1 (1-3), -3 (4-6), -5 (7-9), Incapacitated (10-12), Dead (13+) Abilities Athletics 2 (flying), Awareness 3 (alertness), Brawl 2+2 (bite), Folk Ken 2 (peasants), Hunt 2 (virgins), Ignem Resistance 1 (dragon breath), Leadership 2 (group combat), Stealth 4 (stalking), Survival 2 (mountains) Powers Gout of Flame, 1 point, Init -5, IgnemR: Voice, D: Mom, T: Ind
Range of 30 paces, dealing +15 damage
CrIg 25 (Base 20, +2 Voice)Beast of Three Heads, 0 points, ConstantBase 25, +2 Sun, +1 constant, +2 additional heads
[center][u]1225: Mysteries & Recruiting[/u][/center]
It's early spring when Alfonso does a season of Redcap service, keeping an eye out for potential recruits for the covenant. She rolls a successful Perception test to find someone desperate enough to live in the covenant with creepy people (EF 6); to which she runs into a priest managing a gaggle of people stricken with mental demons, one woman who speaks in naught but tongues and is untouched by the innumerable insects around. As Alfonso has Gift of Tongues, she figures out the woman is actually an Egyptian beekeeper (under the rule of Ramses II), mysteriously stranded in a cold and dirty foreign land when her village was attacked by a huge swarm of locusts. Alfonso offers to take the woman, Beetrice, under her wing to help heal her; the worried priest complies, happy to have the space.
During Spring, Tim researches a new spell, which he casts around the covenant.
Count Adalbrecht Werahamun Sylvester von Tutankhamun pulls some strings, and gets in contact with Profundus who lives in Valnastium. With an agreement of the covenant, they offer him a magic item in exchange for him to visit for two seasons to provide Etiquette tutoring for the people invited to the party, which are made by Joseph Miller.
They don't beat around the bush when it comes to bribing a gardener.
In preparation for the party, Alfonso and Lady Vivienne send a letter to Petalichus in hopes that he could make a cloak to aid in Alfonso's shapeshifting and a dress for Lady Vivienne (she'll enchant it herself). He writes back in agreement and tells them to anticipate his arrival in Summer, and will need access to a lab; charging 5 pawns of vis for each item. I am presuming that Petalichus uses his loom on his off days to try to make the best cloth he can, and so has a decent supply of Excellent (+2) fabric bolts in which to work with. It will take repeated castings of another assumed ReAn spell to craft clothing (super low level, and very in character to have), and restricting him to a simple die, but he is numerically able to make Excellent (+2) work on his Finesse checks. Then, his plan is to use Item of Quality on the violet amethyst he's going to have woven into the dress and on the cloak itself, giving a +4 to each for "ascendancy over the masses" and "transform wearer" respectively. And so, 2xp into his Hubris and 10 pawns richer, there will be a breathtakingly beautiful dress with sparkling amethyst and a fabulous cloak that dramatically eases Alfonso's transformations.
Encrypted (EF 15) message on secreted text with S&M bonuses listed. Message is to be burned outside the Aegis, mixed with wine into a paste, and buried beneath the tallest white birch within a day's march
During spring, at sunrise, a goose calmly flies into your lab. It attempts to honk for a moment before it stands up straight, stares at you with eyes of fire, and speaks...
"He who is called Tim. Know that you have been chosen to join our Order, where you will be taught much. That earlier tome is but a shadow of an echo of our secrets. If you wish to probe into the depths of mystery, keep an eye out for a single rose growing without a bush. Tell it where you where born and the day of your birth, then leave. Upon doing so, arrange a trip to this location upon your birthday at least three hours before the hour of your birth."
[Image removed by moderator due to complaint/demand for license from Getty Images]
Golden eggs would probably be preferred over strange messages, but you take what you can.
It's early in spring when Owlowiscious finds the rose, to which Tim walks out to tell it he was born in Brunswick in the middle of July. When the time comes, Tim gathers his things, two Black Cloaks and Eustace. He tells the covenant only that he'll be back in a couple months.
In Brunswick, he is approached by a masked figure wearing a robe. It provides him with an equal robe & mask, along with another rose, telling him to crush it two hours before the hour of his birth and then walk to the place where he entered the world. Donning the clothes, he crushes the rose at the appointed time and begins the walk. While travelling, three other equally disguised figures slowly join him in the walk. At the site, they use imaginem magic to shield their activities from active viewing.
There are some who used to call me...Tim
They afterward cast another ritual and create a magical locus inside [strike]Tim's[/strike]Scolarus's mind, with a summae of Conclave Beneath the Rose Lore L4/Q14, and tell him that instructions for the next meeting will be within the pages of the book in his mind. He then returns home, having told none his business.
[center][u]1226: Year of the Party[/u][/center]
It is a focused year. Profundus comes for Summer and Autumn seasons to teach a gaggle of the covenant in the ways of proper manners. The Weaver spends Spring & Summer in Karl's unused lab ("my student's obviously not using it!") to make Alfonso a Cloak of Quality and Lady Vivienne a Dress of Quality, Karl ranting at the betrayal of his covenant by giving an atrocious man vis.
Sanagos pays Alfonso a pawn of mentem vis to swiftly deliver a message to the host of the party in Geneva, Cybele, and to obtain the best coachman with a reputation of asking no questions to arrive a week prior to the party. Two weeks prior, everyone going to the party but Sanagos loads up into their carriages and begin the trek. One week prior, a crotchety older coachman arrives and Sanagos departs on his own. Everyone gets there with a day to spare, and begin to file in.
The party goes off pretty well with the following attendance.* Cybele of Jerbiton (46yr AG) - Disfigured host and sole mage of the chapter-house for Valnastium. 46yr past Gauntlet, last keeper of the Most Venerable Diamond Sword spell.
Shaunziel the Gelded of Jerbiton (30yr AG) Younger apprentice of the same lineage as Cybele, more politically disgraced of the two by their master's fall into diabolism.
Nomara of the Silk of Jerbiton (5yr AG) - Young, exotic, shaven-headed woman who dresses in the manner of and claims to be from Serica. Known for specialization of cantations.
Marno the Eternal Apprentice of Jerbiton (5yr AG) - Through a combination of theft, death, and unfortunate accidents, Marno's apprenticeship lasted for 25 years and five parens.
Rozin Tinwright of Jerbiton (20yr AG) - Current professor of philosophae, this middle-aged woman is prone toward deeply moral questions
The King of Cats, Ehren, Count Aldebrecht, and those of the same court participated in their own party in a different wing of the manor.
During the party, everyone but Lady Vivienne aimed toward using their Etiquette to improve the quality of the party. Every Jerbiton except Sanagos and Marno took a penalty to lower Vivienne's attempt. Altogether, the party went splendidly and Lady Vivienne was obliviously made a fool of due to the Jerbiton racism against fae.
Right at sundown, in the open courtyard shielded from the rain of the storm, a flock of large crows was looking down. As soon as Cybele began his Parma ritual, the chef busted through the door and threw a spear at him, which Lady Vivienne fast-cast a mild disintegration effect to stop it from harming the host. In response to that, a dozen crows flew down into the courtyard, the Aegis (level 20, Cybele is the only magus in a covenant suffused with Dominion rating 3 aura) only being strong enough to stop the spell maintaining their animal-form spell. They 'revert' into a dozen armoured giants (+3 size) with swords and shields, and the battle begins as a micro-storm forms within the aegis.
Cybele is quickly stabbed by half of the giants for a Heavy Wound from each. Shaunziel attempts to cast a spell and falls into Twilight. Nomara's magic is suitable for embarrassing people, so she contributes little. Marno screams like a girl and runs. Rozin pulls out a black stick and breaks it, disappearing altogether. Sanagos spontaneously throws half of them into a deep slumber. Everyone else jumped into the fray with a mix of magic and grog-fighting for varying levels of damage, until two white cats jump into incapacitate four of the giants (weaponized cuteness) with their magic and the King of Cats sends five of them into a coma by stealing their breath.
I find your lack of cats disturbing
In the aftermath, Sanagos used ritualized healing magic to restore Cybele. Gotvinus attempted to interrogate the chef on the balcony (a lacuna), only to see the man struck dead by lightning, prompting Joseph Miller to head out and dispel the storm. In their investigations and mind probes, they determine that a bald ginger by the name of Boris hired the mercenaries; he enchanted them into giants, turned them into crows, had used entrancement on several merchants, summoned the storm, and himself turned into a massive winged lion with horns to kill a vis source.
[center]1227: Travel & Twilight[/center]
Karl conferred with Gotvinus and Alfonso with regards to whom would be the best magus to bribe for the upcoming Grand Tribunal ruling over the Silver Consensus; leading him to an initial correspondance with the Primus of Tremere. Ultimately, if he provides a donation of a magic item that can weaponize cabbages, then Poena will advocate for a measure that will be favorable to Andresina's coffers.
Meanwhile, Alfonso flies south for the winter, ending up in the Kingdom of Nri; where she hears of a shapeshifter being tied to a stake for a pile of crimes. Heading out to where he's being held is a large tortoise chained down with intricately crafted bronze chains and covered with various palm fronds. Thanks to Alfonso's Gift of Tongues, they arrange a deal to be taught how to be a better shifter in exchange for his freedom; one season of practice as an accompliche, and one season of full-on training.
Back in Europe, Gotvinus travels to the Cave of Twisting Shadows to speak with one of the Criamon in Concentration training. After some debate, he is given access to three seasons of training by a seasoned ghost, and he is obligated to extract memories from the mundanes into a physical medium. Specifically, within the next five years, he must obtain at least 36 distinct memories of items. Examples of the kinds of memories include* True Love's first kiss
A bishop's first prayer
A king's coronation
For every additional 18 memories obtained afterward, Gotvinus will earn 'credit' for an additional season of training.
First gray hair?
The Rhine Tribunal is ultimately uneventful except for two events. Scolarus manages to sell nearly a queen's worth of vis through copies of the fulgrous orb and his own personal lab texts/tractati. Also, Joseph Miller enlists the legal advice of the Gadfly of the Rhine to initiate a Queasitorial decision to give an ultimatum to Joseph Miller; hand over the misdirected amulet and 6 pawns of vim vis, along with a penalty of 6 more pawns of vim vis, before the end of the Tribunal. A couple silver pieces are dropped in Alfonso's lap to run and get the original vim vis, finally putting an end to the situation.
At the end of Autumn, middle of the night, there is a terrible wind blowing into Prokui's lab. With a crack of thunder, the wind stops, and a soft white glow emanates from within. Out steps a glowing centaur that looks like a younger brother to Prokui, demanding to know where he was.
The party finds themselves unable to satisfactorily answer the question of location, and find themselves threatened with assault. To which the Black Cloaks band together into a ball of murder...successfully butchering Prokui's adulteration, but not without each Black Cloak ending up cursed with a full understanding of their place in the cosmos; the psychological effects mechanically identical to that caused by Weight of a Thousand Hells. They get over it at the next full moon.
[center][u]1228: A hot time in the old town, tonight[/u][/center]
It's a calm Autumn day, when one of the covenfolk swiftly arrive with an unconscious Eustace in his cart. According to the covenfolk, he had been getting progressively more and more tired each day, and today he won't wake up at all. They attempt to rouse him, but he gives an exhausted mumble and goes back to restless sleep. Gotvinus avails himself of his less imposing magic to scan Eustace's mind for answers, and eventually figures out that he saw a prostitute in Neufchateau several days ago, and has since been unable to sleep at all due to nightmares of her riding him most vigorously. From the description and behavior, Joseph Miller makes an 18 on his Int+Infernal Lore test, and figures out that it's a succubus that's marked him.
She doesn't accept headaches as a good excuse
After checking when and where Eustance availed himself of the hell-whore, several black cloaks, Felicia (one of Lady Vivienne's grogs), Joseph, Karl, William, several of William's men, and Gotvinus made their way to Neufchateau. Knowing she/it only worked at night, they checked with the townsfolk, figuring out that she was the most popular prostitute in the town and the only one that operated out of the castle; technically out of one of the back doors to the grain storage area.
They wait until nightfall, having seeming outruled the possibility of any other prostitutes as being succubi. They do discover that there's been a rise in adultery in the area, which is where Karl got one of his new forge-companions recently; her blacksmith husband was not happy to find out it wasn't his child. The magi shielded themselves with a personal-range ward against demons, and Gotvinus went alone to the castle in an attempt to 'buy' her services. After a bit, one of the castle guard opens the door and takes a small bribe to leave the door unbarred while he goes on rounds.
He shortly meets her within the castle, adjacent a small bed hidden in a corner of the hallway. They discuss silver, and Gotvinus's own silver tongue convinces her to provide the 'girlfriend experience' and walk with him to the tavern in town. Leaving behind the silver as up-front pay, they head out to a predetermined location where everyone else jumps out of hiding. Karl spontaneously uses a ReVi spell to command her to not dematerialize, the succubus uses a group target Obsession power to redirect the martial types' wrath into rapeful lust, to which the blackcloaks, Williams' men, and Felicia all succumb and attempt to gang-rape her before putting her to the sword. They manage to collectively pin her down, at which point Joseph Miller destroys her with a Demon's Eternal Oblivion.
Gotvinus and Karl head back to the castle to get the silver back, the guard not having finished his rounds. While inside, Gotvinus checks the aura, and discovers that it's a level 4 Infernal aura. Upon the realization, a cold gust of wind slams the castle door shut, simultaneously jamming the bar into place. Then, the torches near them begin to billow excessively caustic smoke. Gotvinus fails to unjam the bar, to which Karl uses (making the Concentration check) Arcane Translocation to teleport to the other side of the door (using a sliver of the door as the arcane connection since he doesn't have LoS to the other side) and then spontaneously uses MuTe on the hinges to allow Gotvinus to pass through. Catching their breath for a moment, they begin to leave the grain silo, only to be stopped by a fire starting in front of the exit. Joseph throws down a forceless & spontaneous MuIg spell on the fire to make it mildly dimmer, permitting Gotvinus & Karl to escape. Looking back, the fire extinguishes itself, they see sooty footprints appear inside the castle.
They ride back home, thankful that they sent at least one demon back to Hell.
As they know there's still someone there, they suspect it to be Olrox. Alfonso has heard of the Mulhidun, and makes plans to fly to where they hang out during the Spring of '29 and offer them a pile of silver for its True Name.
During the Grand Tribunal, essentially everyone is out in Durenmar except for Sanagos and the familiars. Miruna is in a secluded area trying to help the growth of budding love between two villagers, while Owlowiscious is elsewhere, hunting field mice. They're both approached (not simultaneously) by the same short man with long furry ears, speaking in soothing rhymes. Owlowiscious gets a strong premonition of struggling in a sack and talons gouging his throat, so he attempts to paralyze him with his stare, only for the man shrug it off and stuff the owl into his bag. Miruna attempts to shoo him away, saying to leave the couple alone, to which he agrees and stuffs Miruna into his bag.
When the come to, it's dawn and they're in metal cages in a hollowed dirt mound. In addition, their wing feathers have been clipped. With a spring in his step, the furry-eared man skips over to pick up the two cages to bring out to a ruined stone circle (might have been an old tower's foundations) with a large-ish wooden cage. There's a gaggle of other goblin-like people gathered 'round, cheering at the arrival of the fur-eared man and his two 'contestants'. Shoving Owlowiscious into the larger cage, he announces round one has begun with Dökkál the Black Cock as the current fan-favorite. The fight goes on for a while until a combined botch for the owl and crit for the rooster results in an incapacitating wound (using a Confidence point to only have it be that).
"Nuts, and I bet £20 on him too..."
Owlowiscious is saved at the last second from the killing blow by the fur-eared man, who is then given the pretense of bandages to stabilize him. Miruna is then shoved into the ring, who as soon as the fight starts, promptly hulks out of the cage by turning into a human with +2 Strength. Not wanting to fight the rooster, who actually has quite the quickness advantage over her human form, she jumps out of the cage to grab Owlowiscious and runs off into the woods. The fae don't consider the fight over, so they goad Dökkál to pursue her and follow to watch the outcome. Eventually, she reaches Rosid and claims grievance against the fowl fighter. Just as Dökkál reaches the copse, he's entwined by Rosid's vines and the fae stay to defend him. Ultimately, the Linden Copse rules in favor of Miruna & Owlowiscious and sentences the cock-fighter to the stocks...soup stocks. Fortunately, the Black Cloaks have arrived by this point, who began the search that morning when Miruna was reported bird-napped. Sanagos provides a healing circle for the owl to rest in for what will be the next three seasons.
Scolarus offers a season of his assistance in the lab in exchange for Lady Vivienne to go forth and deal with the fae who forcibly enlisted his familiar into a fight.
Later, Karl begins the work on opening up the Cabbage Wand for the Tremere Primus as promised for their assistance in pushing the Silver Consensus to be an individual Tribunal matter. In Spring of '29, he beseeches Scolarus to assist him for one season, offering two seasons worth of magic items at a later point. After the owl recovers, the three work together for one season and Karl experiments on top all of this. In the end, Karl will spend 1 season opening the wand and five seasons enchanting it, addled the entire time; earning one aging point and 5 Warp. His plan is to deliver the wand in person by carpet, which he made back in '27.
In Spring of '29, shortly after the Council Meeting, the covenant comes to the conclusion that they need to deal with the infernal presence in Neufchâteau. Lucky lore checks result in Alfonso knowing of the Mulhidun, and offers to head out to purchase the true name of Olrox by the infernal scholars. While in Harco, researching the Redcap maps to plan a viable route via eagle, she is given a contingent letter by the librarian. A magus wishes to speak with her at Braunschweig Cathedral this coming Sunday, during services, for important matters. Asking around, the most Alfonso is able to discern was that it was a member of the Order not of House Mercere, and that the letter was to whomever referred to the maps she was looking at. There's some sleuthing, and long story short, it ends up with her spying on a business transaction between two men in a carriage; and one of them doesn't have a head.
"Family fights over head puns get pretty intense."
Noting that the headless man was holding a pet salamander, she searched the carriage, taking a wood shaving from what seems to obviously be the salamander's cage. Then, she goes to the Cathedral, eventually getting the stink eye from a lower-class man with a magnificent beard. As the man is in a relatively private area, Alfonso approaches, and is met with a cough and Hermetic gestures. After passing through a couple layers of debate, the stranger reveals himself to be Aladavan Venatore fili Rudophus of Bonisagus, the sender of the message and very curious as to why someone was seeking out the Mulhidun. Alfonso gives the reason, Olrox's true name to purge the neighboring castle of evil. Aladavan refuses to go into the castle personally to handle, because that's just They would expect him to do, but offers to teach one of the magi (after a background check) his Venatore techniques. After meeting them in a chapel, exposed to a relic, and blasted with an extreme Demon's Eternal Oblivion; he offers to teach Joseph Miller for a year. Specifically four seasons, granting him Bind the Devil’s Hands (PeVi 30), Exorcise the Filthy Spirit at Eye Range (PeVi 25), 18xp of Infernal Lore (5 goes towards Olrox's name), the Names of Power Virtue (inflicting the Minor Flaw - Venatore; which is a reputation of 3 with Hermetics and Hell), and 45 levels worth of Names. Meanwhile, Gotvinus will invent a spell to let allies see through his illusions, so invisibility will work while keeping the group bonuses intact.
Their plan, to attack the castle on Christmas morning.
[center]1229: Bloody Treatise[/center]
Shortly after Aladavan had been introduced, Alfonso relayed his discovery of the peculiar headless man. Their combined knowledge are able to glean that this was likely one of the Blemmyes, and the pet one of the dangerous Salamanders of Virtue. Curious as to what this man was doing, Gotvinus uses the piece of the salamander's as an arcane connection to spy a little bit each day until useful information is obtained. It's late spring when something finally gets revealed, the headless man speaking with someone invisible and silent (magic resistance in the 20+ range), and paid a substantial sum of silver to take out someone, along with an enchantment of some kind to keep quiet.
Easy for him to convey. Our assassin just makes people think your speech went over his head.
Occasionally keeping tabs, they realize he's spending the night at the inn in Neufchâteau about a month later. Watching like a hawk, Gotvinus leads the charge of invisible black cloaks enchant to be able to see each other with a recently invented spell of his own design.
The caged salamander is apprehended, and the headless man is knocked out without a real fight. Except of course for the poison coating his hands (he handles the salamander all the time, hence the copious soap supplies) that knock out one of the Black Cloaks with an incapacitating wound. Lady Vivienne uses a spontaneous PeAq to clean all of the poison from the sleeping headless man, then they continue to drag him and the poisoned black cloak into the covenant. When the headless man comes to, Gotvinus attempts to mind read him, only to hit an Immunity of some kind being maintained by some kind of hedge magic. Vivienne uses more spontaneous Perdo magic to dispel this immunity, and then Gotvinus properly beings to slather the headless man with Peering Into the Mortal Mind for information (uncaring of Warp). Hired by a ginger man named Boris, he was to have his salamander (to which he was naturally immune) poison the dandelions shortly before they're harvested and turned into wine for the covenant to use, and to also literally poison the well.
There's some legitimate debate on how to go about executing Prestor (headless man's name), especially since he requested his Last Rites before being executed, and the players are unsure of the theological implications of executing a man who is without sin. Ultimately, they decide that while he'll be fine in the eyes of God, he still needs to be punished on Earth after Extreme Unction; and Gotvinus borrows a sword to kill him...after 18 agonizing seconds of chopping and screaming and crying.
Why couldn't you have had a neck?!
Later, after Owlowicious has recovered fully from the cockfighting incident, Lady Vivienne brings him and his dragon with her into the woods to help look for the Man with the Furry Ears. They find his home near the ruins where the cockfight happened, and describe to him the importance in not kidnapping the sentient animals of Andresina. She also desires to expand her borders and enforce rent upon the Man with the Furry Ears, but is countered by the fact he already swears fealty to the King Beneath the Dandelions; which is a surprise to every player involved, so they arrange to meet with the King at the next dawn.
His castle is in a regio among the Mallorn Dandelions, only accessible to those coated in the morning dew of the dandelions. They go before the king, whose main hall is covered in gold with fountains of wine, the throne being a single large rose large enough for a human child to sit upon.
Call me a leprechaun and I'll cut you.
Before the King Beneath the Dandelions, they speak for a time, apologizing for presuming authority over the Man with the Furry Ears. But do with to negotiate a treaty concerning the safety of their familiars from the actions of his subjects. The King brings up the fact he already has a treaty with the Covenant of Andresina, but it doesn't include any beasts under its terms. Curious, they learn that the treaty was struck 60 years prior, at the founding of the Covenant, so long as the wand he was given bestows its gifts. He does idly comment that the magus said something about "expiry" for the want, but doesn't consider it important. The players cordially depart and check to see where their copy of the treaty is. Sanagos himself is unaware of any treaty, but he joined the covenant only two score years prior. They search Prokui's lab thoroughly for anything remotely looking like a treaty, unable to find anything; and Scolarus borrows the animated skeleton until Prokui's return.
[center][u]1230: Live Magically & Cast Hard[/u][/center]
Gotvinus, Joseph Miller, four black cloaks, William, and five of his men. This is the force that gathers for slaying Olrox and possible infernalists within the castle of Neufchâteau, Gotvinus applying invisibility and a touch range Discern Own Illusion on everyone. It's a slow process, but people are busy staying inside due to the snow and the fact it's Christmas morning, so they evade being seen. After a couple minutes of debating how to get past the door, Joseph transmutes it into an open mouth for a couple minutes, and they file through the castle as swiftly as possible. When people see something, Gotvinus puts them to sleep and they are subsequently gently placed somewhere out of the way.
At the bottom of the castle, where the kegs are stored, is the entrance to the short hallway that leads to a room that had been locked away (according to mind probes of various inhabitants). As they open the door to the hall, they are met with a stereotypical devil the size of William, billowing fire and ash that covers most of the assault team. After a short-ish fight, Joseph's DEO removes it from play (it was Might 10). Gotvinus reapplies invisibility over people to remove the visual traces of the ash, and they move forward to the reinforced and locked door to what they believe to be the infernalist's chamber. As this is a medieval basement, quarters are cramped. Miller, in bear form, takes up most of the short hallway. Gotvinus, two black cloaks, and William take up the basement, and everyone else is waiting upstairs for space to open up. Joseph Miller uses the same spontaneous spell from earlier on this door, which unfolds like a spiky mouth to Hell. It's not far off, as the room inside is about 20x20, filled with demonic signs made of animal bones of various sorts, dominated by Olrox sitting upon a throne of black fur while flanked by robed cultists, and the room is downright covered in blood.
as if someone shook up a six-foot can of… blood soda… and suddenly popped the top.
The party pours in where they can fit, in what they discover to be a rating 9 infernal aura (Joseph Miller holds back from retching). Olrox starts fighting William, who is quite well armored, but neither can reliably harm each other; while Miller starts throwing down true-name bolstered DEO, whittling down the vampire demon lord. After a round of fighting and another of only managing to burn Joseph Miller with burning spittle, Olrox starts trying to dematerialize, but the Concentration is difficult and will fail him in the end. The cultists put up very little fight, seeming to lose their bodies when killed by black cloaks' blade (Jedi-style). They are startled when one of the Black Cloak's armor is spontaneously heated to molten, dealing +12 damage to them...which he soaks for only a Light Wound. One of William's men pulls out an iron ring to shove onto the Black Cloak, who takes a second Light Wound before reciting the word to activate the fire resistance. This happens for two more warriors, one Light Wound and no damage respectively, before they activate their own consumable fire resistance rings. As Olrox is destroyed by Miller's magic, Gotvinus manages to cast a spontaneous form of InMe to allow him to 'hear' the location of minds, and notices an extra one that's invisible and trying to escape. Pointing to where he hears the mind, one of the black cloaks manages to stab the air and feel the resistance of flesh upon his blade (Heavy Wound!). They follow Gotvinus's direction to the feebly fleeing individual, and successfully create an invisible corpse.
They gather up the invisible corpse, reapply invisibility, and run like a team of adventurers out of Hell. At sundown, the infernalist's invisibility wears off, also revealing a trail of blood in the snow and thus making Gotvinus impressed with their level of skill with magic. A Whispers Through the Black Gate gives him a pile of information, this was the most skilled of a dozen infernalists for the Strigae tradition, their master dying at the hands of Malachi some years back. After getting their names and rough descriptions, Gotvinus spends the next day or two tracking each one down and rubbing a Salamander of Virtue over their sleeping face; thanks to the power of invisibility to sight, sound, and touch on both him and one black cloak guard. It's a rather blood-soaked Christmas...
Joseph Miller takes it easy for a week to recover from his Light Wound, only for it to get infected and progress to a Medium Wound. They create a healing circle for +9 recovery in the infirmary, task the apothecary and chirugeon to care for him over the next month. It progresses into a Heavy Wound. They go before Sanagos for help, as they have seen him use Incantation of the Body Made Whole, and he makes sure they provide their own vis and not the covenant's for his service. Sanagos botches and goes into Twilight, creating a second and symmetrical wound on the other side of Joseph Miller's body.
Fortunately, Sanagos was only gone until sundown and managed to comprehend his trip, gaining 6xp in Enigmatic Wisdom as well as becoming perfectly symmetrical himself. He grabs a fistful of vis from Joseph's lab, casts the spell again. As the other magi have been concerned about the aura botching, they were planning on trying to reduce the yearly modifier so they wouldn't have to roll and let the botch dice ease up to less than 9. This series of events is rather counter to their goal, and Sanagos tells Joseph he's not going to spend any time extracting vis to let off the pressure because of this. At which point he goes back to his room curtly, and we call it a session.
ADDENDUM - Future notes, the player for Lady Vivienne is no longer in the group. I'm currently assuming that shortly after whatever the PC did, she received a message and ran off to adventure with her familiar...never to return.
I'm not a lawyer, and don't know anything about the details of the image you linked to in that message, but Getty Images have a reputation for their tactics in trying to get money for unlicensed use of their images.
You might find these articles interesting reading:
[center][u]1230: Human Trafficking, Exploding Cabbages, and Fairy Negotiations[/u][/center]
Karl flies out to Transylvania, specifically the Laniena covenant, to both deliver his agreed upon item to the Primus of Tremere and be physically present to bid on more Black Cloaks. It's been 9 years since the last batch was trained from childhood, and the dhampir trainer, a half-century old dwarf with a missing eye and a history of his own.
The cabbage wand's function is displayed on a recently captured practice dragon who's had its Might drained to nothing for proper display. After the creature was killed from enough exploding cabbages, Poena thanked him for his work and promised to keep him in mind for future jobs.
And so the Black Cloak auction began. Every interested party secretly submitted the number of Black Cloaks they would buy at the current price (starting at 4 pawns of vis each). If the combined totals ended up being greater than the number available to purchase, they would increase their price by one pawn, then ask for everyone to readjust the number they wished to purchase. This continued until the Black Cloaks reached 11 pawns of vis each, where Karl purchased nine of them.
After his return, they go to have another visit with the King Beneath the Dandelions, and discover another player has entered the field. A human diplomat by the name of Galchobar, bearing the branding of a brawler upon his cheek. Despite the clothing and gait of a street fighter, his eloquence is superb, and runs circles around even Alfonso in the court. He represents Jehan de Braine, the Count of Macon & Vienne, who wishes to obtain the rights to the vis produced in the dandelion field. There's some investigation on the part of Alfonso, and the diplomat's backstory checks out, the Count being a bit of a poet. Before Alfonso has a chance to speak with him as a human, he's already left on business in England for the next year. So, they just leave a passive threat with Galchobar in regards to muscling in on their vis.
The covenant considers their options over the next season, having managed a stay of decision-making. Petrichus is seen entering the faerie regio by one of the Black Cloak guards, where Alfonso keeps an eye out while spending time in the court, finding out that Karl's parens is actually performing negotiations with Galchobar rather than the King himself. There's some terse pleasantries with Petrichus after his departure from the fairy regio, along with a list of put-downs on Karl's arcane progress.
Oh, they also find out the nature of the wand, which adds to the seriousness of the matter. It was part of the original treaty, an invested item that will kill anyone the bearer has an arcane connection to as well as able to extinguish all fires within 50 paces. It's named in older texts in the King's library as The Snuffer.
After a season, Karl & Alfonso begin negotiations with the faerie lord. Galchobar offers the following for the vis, along with production and delivery to evade tolls; permission to send a child-snatcher once every five years to the Count's lands (his own children exempt), two pure-white horses every three years, and yearly poetry written in the King's honour. This leaves the magi scrambling for ideas, their initial ideas grossly out-done by Galchobar's initial offer, until Karl comes up with something. He offers to bear the King Beneath the Dandelions an heir, and for the covenant to provide the child an education. The king loves this idea and agrees to bequeath access to the dandelion vis for as long as his heir lives and he wears the crown. This contract will be signed and initiated within the season.
After Galchobar leaves in barely controlled rage, they begin negotiations for the rest of the treaty for when the original expires. After some debate, it's settled that the king will be the judge for an open competition of elegiac comedy in Andresina's amphitheatre, which will be restored and decorated in the King's honour before the first one. The competition will be every 8 years, and the prize will be sponsored by the covenant. There will also be the general consensus of non-aggression, expanded to include animals and protected guests. Finally, in exchange for fairy ingredients for the magi's labs, each lab to receive the ingredients are to leave a mouse-size portion of cheese at dawn; the collector will be given a token to permit entry, and must not be witnessed in the act of their duty. Any lab that misses a day of cheese or gazes upon the collector will lose the benefit of fairy ingredients via this method.
After the negotiations have completed, they head out to the court proper to bid Galchobar farewell, who raises his hand to strike Karl in anger. He holds back, but coughs painfully, and seems to drop into a much more rough dialect. Karl insults him, and gets hit for a fatigue level of damage, to which he commands the diplomat's body to have him hurt himself before the lot are told by the king to leave before he becomes angry. They leave, and a bruised Galchobar is escorted by a pair of burly Black Cloaks.
One of Gotvinus's agents happens to be the carriage driver for Galchobar, who ends up returning empty-handed, seeming to have not a whit of his silver tongue expressed back in the fairy king's court.
It has been a busy month, and I never got around to detailing the last two sessions, especially since I've been less than impressed with my performance as a DM for them. Here's the quick rundown of the main elements, and we should return to normal after this weekend's session.
[center][u]1230 (Autumnal Equinox): Fertile Imaginations[/u][/center]
The covenant's surrounded by Faerie winter (acting as threshold guardian for the covenant's front gate). Gotvinus finds a frozen corpse of an ex-bride to the King Beneath the Dandelions, and his magic reveals that she had died going into the Winter in search of a magic lotus that would grant her the ability to bear him a child. Realizing this may be serious, Karl, Gotvinus, Joseph, & Scholarus all go into Faerie in search of this potential solution to the fact Karl is a guy and is expected to bear an heir. Adventures are had, and Scolarus uses his faerie score to gain sizable knowledge in Faerie Lore while in Arcadia. In the end, they manage to find the lotus, free the spirits of the other wives to the Dandelion King who had died in their quest, and return home.
[center][u]1231 (Autumnal Equinox): Wedding Jitters[/u][/center]
It's Karl's wedding day, and Ehren is delayed bringing a pile of books for Karl to browse during his upcoming honeymoon. Laurence, a recently recruited child to become Iovhar's apprentice, is also delayed. William the Demon Hunter & Eric the grog are guarding the dandelion field entrance. They are approached by a talking duck as the dandelion field is doubled, told one leads to excitement while the other leads to a mundane faerie wedding. Presuming the wizards would be in the exciting one, they end up going into Arcadia. After numerous adventures of mushroom people thugs, goblins wars, and visages of death that are terrible at chess, they manage to leave. Ehren manages to acquire a dull kitchen knife that, at least in Arcadia, will make him into He-Man (grants virtues of Large, Tough, and Knight). Of course, four books were lost in the events of this trip...Ars Percipiendi by Cecilius of Bonisagus (Intellego L17/Q18, Branch)
Imaginem Ominum, by Tysium of Jerbiton (Imaginem L20/Q10)
Opus Herbarum by Merinita (Herbam L16/Q9)
Ars Penetratio by [Author Unknown] (Penetration L4/Q8)After the wedding, Karl spends an entire season in the lab with the Dandelion King as his 'assistant' who provides Faerie Ingredients. With lots of experimentation, enough for a double breakthrough on the result chart, he produces a half-breed child.
Alfonso spends a season getting into the good graces with Petrus of Bonisagus of Durenmar, with the magic semen. Agreeing to get someone to surreptitiously give him a quality longevity ritual next year, Petrus will lay with Alfonso once (who will promptly turn into a sparrow for multiple gifted shapechangers). Hopefully, Murion doesn't find out and get vindictive when Petrus becomes infertile.
Exarmo & Profundus I'm using essentially straight out of your site. I'm only using the name for Iovhar, who in my game is an elder human with Unaffected by the Gift acting as the autocrat. The Black Cloaks are mostly cribbed from your source, but modified to be more 'juiced' in origin and aesthetic. So, yes, your stuff has been of immense help for inspiration.
ADDENDUM: Forgot to bring this up. Sanagos will, by the end of 1231, have finished reading the following texts on Artes Liberales. Thanks to the two virtues of Book Reader and Affinity, he is now at 25 in Artes Liberales. His personal library may very well be the most comprehensive on the subject in the known world.Ars Grammatica - Minor (L4/Q15)
Categories (Q12, Greek)
On Interpretation (Q12, Greek)
Prior Analytics (Q12, Greek)
Posterior Analytics (Q12, Greek)
On Sophistical Refutations (Q12, Greek)
De inventione I-III (Q14 x3, Greek)
Ars Grammatica - Major (Q12)
Averroes’s Commentaries on Aristotle (Q12, Arabic)
Theon’s Commentaries on Euclid & Ptolemy (Q12 x2)
Hypatia’s Commentaries (Q15 x2)
Hypatia’s Lost Astrolabe Treatise & Other Works (Q14 x2)
Aesara of Lucania’s On Human Nature (Logic, Q13)
Ptolemais of Cyrene’s Reflections on Music (Q14)
Agallis’s Lost Grammatical Works (Q12)
Symphonia Armoniae Celestium Revelationum by Hildegard of Bingen (Q13)
Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing (L5/Q9, Arabic)
Almagest (L5/Q8, Greek)
Optica (Q9, Greek)
Commentary on Somnium Scipionis (Q8)
Consolation of Philosophy (Q9)
Priscian’s Institutione grammaticae (L5/Q9)
Boethius’s De Mathematica (Q9)
Porphyry’s Isasgoge (Q6, Greek)
Map of the Stars by Umar Khayyam (Arabic, Q11)
Explanations of the Difficulties in the Postulates of Euclid by Umar Khayyam (Arabic, Q10)
Isagoge, Boethius (Q6, Greek)
De nuptiis philologiae et Mercurii, Martianus Capella (Q5 x7)
Mechanica, Heron (Q7, Greek)
Epistles of the Brethren of Purity: Mathematical Sciences (Q8, x14)
Quadrivium, Boethius (Q8, Greek)
Commentary on Somnium Scipionis, Macrobius (Q8)
Etymologies, Isidore of Seville (Q8)
On the Division of Time, Venerable Bede (Q9 x2)
Data, Euclid (Q9, Greek)
On Divisions of Figures, Euclid (Q9, Greek)
Catoptrics, Euclid (Q9, Greek)
Phaenomena, Euclid (Q9, Greek)
Sand Reckoner, Archimedes (Q9, Greek)
Book of Lemmas (Q7)
[center][u]1231 to 1232: Church Trouble[/u][/center]
About a week before the wedding, a stranger approached the covenant and spoke with Iovhar. Ephram, grandson of Greta of Merinita, wishes to live in the town just outside of the covenant to prepare a room for his Gifted family to make a visit to the covenant next year. Iovhar permits this, and at the dawn of the new year, Ephram concludes his business and departs.
Before the Council, Ehren is judged guilty for having lost four valuable tomes, and Karl to a lesser extent for having the books transported out of the covenant. It is judged that for the next three years, if Karl is to read a book from the library, he must do so within the confines of the building itself. Ehren's punishment is pressed service and requirement to work for the covenant an additional season per year at no additional pay until he pays for the value of the lost books, essentially bestowing the Poor flaw in perpetuity.
One season into the new year, Alfonso's ready to conclude her end of the bargain with Petrus. They mate and Alfonso makes haste to her nest in the covenant in the form of a swallow, and soon lays seven eggs that hatch seven Gifted children (six are skinchangers, one is a shapeshifter). A Gifted Redcap is hired, paid with the promise to have their pick of the children to apprentice when they come of age, to perform the magic necessary to force the children into human form after they hatch. In addition, using the recently upgraded lab for the covenant, the Redcap performs the longevity ritual on Petrus as he requested for donating his seed.
Four wet-nurses & nannies are hired to care for the seven children, in addition to the caretaker for the two non-Gifted Eagle children.
Into the second season, Urban picks up his one tonne shipment of salt, as well as Karl's extra five tonnes for his personal stash. Several weeks later, Urban returns to Newcastle and sends an urgent message to contact Karl. As Karl is currently unavailable, acting as Queen Beneath the Dandelions, Gotvinus poses as another associate to discover the issue. After some questioning, it's revealed that Verdun has decreed a toll of 40% on salt that passes through, which propotionally eats into the year's profits. Circumnavigating Verdun is out of the question, as it is a primary hub along the trade route, and would require a completely new destination that Urban is not equipped to expand into in a reasonable time frame. He is permitted to continue, and leaves for home happy to not be killed (Karl's scary). After some investigation, about a month ago, the bishop of Verdun had begun to send out requests on the value of salt and inquiring potential business opportunities, followed by instating the new toll tax a couple weeks before Urban passed through.
An emergency Council decides to err on the side of caution and simply give Urban the ability to circumvent the toll by granting him a magic item. After some debate, X is tasked with its construction, and Gotvinus will provide it to Urban for when he arrives next year for the salt shipment.
Gotvinus's parens, Ignotia, arrives next season to work with him on his longevity ritual. In exchange, Gotvinus will stablize an arcane connection for her and provide some vis.
Later that season, word is spreading of Konrad von Marburg heading toward Neufchateau, which makes everyone edgy. The magi check with the clergy to figure out what's in store for the area, and resolve to hide every tome in their library that can even be vaguely construed as related to religion or spirits, and quickly check to make sure there hasn't been any heresy going on that would've gotten out. Konrad soon arrives and goes directly for the covenant, wishing to speak with Villenc the Illuminator for the crime of heresy and allegiance with the Cathars. Gotvinus does his best to mollify Konrad, finding out that Villenc had done some illumination work on his own time for sale, and used a reference he obtained from a passing traveler last year; specifically that of the Crucifixtion where Christ is held up with three nails. Konrad had obtained a copy of the work with this heretical image, hence his presence. After some secret cajoling from Gotvinus, Villenc admits to heresy and repents from his Cathar sympathies; this capitulation earning Konrad's mercy. Villenc thus only has his house destroyed, half of his possessions seized, and is commanded to forever bear a yellow cross and live apart from good Catholics (Gotvinus promises to later building him a new house on the outside edge of the covenant).
His business concluded, Konrad begins his departure. Partway out of the village, he deviates and stomps into the forest with several townsfolk leading the way. According to the townsfolk, he heard about Rosid and is going to investigate the pagan altar. In a rush of flying carpets under the cover of invisibility, the magi scramble to think of what to do to fix the situation. They cloak the altar and whip out some spontaneous magic to make a visually identical copse & altar about a hundred metres closer along the path. Because of Joseph's magic, he picks up a point of Warp from a botch and makes the trees become violent linden trees; which gets Konrads attention as he and his men attack and hack the copse to the ground. Panting from the struggle, Konrad audibly realizes the implications. The pagan altar was readily known by the townsfolk and mentioned as part of their weddings, which means heresy has been brewing in the covenant for who knows how long and...and...is glad the threat has been decisively excised. He chastises them for their drinking, as it shouldn't be that confusing, and heads home.
Ignotia is happy to be of service, and expects repayment by being told a score of secrets.
There's been some slow down due to scheduling, but we're back in the swing of things. Scolarus has finished his summae for the Conclave of the Rose, which included instructions to read Volshebnii Mechtateli Mortem (Order of Hermes Lore Q7) out of the Durenmar library. It details the history of the Volehsbnii Mechtateli and their reign of terror before being Marched out of existence. After finishing this text, he's instructed to wear a green rose during the next Tribunal to indicate his readiness for the next stage of the mystery cult.
Sanagos has ordered copies of two spells to be made, and Alfonso picks them up for him. These are both high end CrMe spells to increase Intelligence and Communication, with a maximum of +5, the Comm increasing spell being Personal range. He casts them in succession, resulting him botching the last one and going into Twilight. This is shown as him bursting out of his lab with an unnaturally happy demeanor, dancing with the grogs like Scrooge on Christmas morning, waving his hands and popping away into Twilight. A month later, footsteps appear in the fresh snow, as Sanagos dances while he fades back into reality with a jaunty tune. He greets everyone a merry happy returns, and slams the door behind him as his regular mood returns. His new Twilight Scar is that his image is always in higher resolution than everything around him. After this event, he begins working on mathematical proofs and theorems at a furious rate, coming out long enough to dump them in Ehren's lab with orders to compile them into illuminated manuscripts.
During the Autumnal Equinox of 1234, Prokui explodes back into reality, grumpy and Twilight Scar-ridden. He now leaves footprints that glow with moonlight that last for several minutes (longer if he moves faster, hours if he teleports) and his casting sigil is now particularly extreme and equivalent in strength to a grown man. He's told that his Tireless Servant was used by Scolarus while he was away, but it was put back just before he returned. His only request is for Scolarus's replacement servant to forever wear a dunce cap. He goes back into his tower to renew his research.
When the Rhine Tribunal is fast approaching, Scolarus is approached by a horse Bjornaer while wearing his green rose. He's told that the next stage for the Cult, which will make him trusted enough for getting to know the other members, will be a 'simple' quest. He must go to an open land that has seen the stars, yet never been kissed by the sun. There, he must pluck a flower, return home, and send a letter to the Bjornaer who approached him. Once this has been complete, he must brew the flower in three pawns of aquam vis and drink the resulting elixir.
Next session, the Rhine Tribunal shall be handled, with particular attention to the ratification of the Silver Consensus.
[center][u]1235: Salt Preserves[/u][/center]The Tribunal has begun gathering. Alfonso is the center of attention from the new of her producing over half a dozen gifted children for House Mercere, who are already three years old by this point. There is a little wheeling and dealing, and Boris of Mercere gets first pick of the two older children that aren't Gifted. Meanwhile, Gotvinus is attempting to mingle himself to get an idea of which Gild leaders will support his goal of mitigate or outright stop the Silver Consensus, and manages to end up getting selected to be one of the people debating against the current incarnation being discussed.
As it turns out, his debating opponent is the Rhine's fiercest proponent of the Silver Consensus, Archmagus Urgen of Bjornaer. The debate goes surprisingly long, and Gotvinus actually manages to win the debate with only three Fatigue in his argument. Of course, considering the level of opposition, it's insufficient to stop the Silver Consensus from being ratified. It does, however, mean the support of the Linden Gild allows for a compromise; raising the limit to £4 per mage per year instead of £2. This impresses Archmagus Caecilius enough for him to offer Alfonso the position of adviser to the Presiding Quaesitor for the next Tribunal.
After the Tribunal, Alfonso spends the rest of the year spending time with her children to improve her relationship with them, the last season of the year specifically to train the three shapeshifting children. The youngest of the three, because of the Gift, is heavily teased by the two older siblings; especially since the older two started with eagle forms and the younger started with sparrow. Partway through the season, the older two decide to 'help' give practice at evasive maneuvers, which Alfonso has to pounce on to make sure they don't get hurt; which gave the youngest time to get past the wall and swatted by Count Adalbrecht (couldn't resist his nature when a barely out of the nest sparrow flies by uncertainly) while he was on the prowl. This triggers a Turbulence that fills the entire village of Andresina (animal, insect, and human without Magic Resistance) with a green glow. Finding and taking the child to the medical tower, Alfonso gets the kid fixed up, but is at a loss of what the Turbulence did exactly. Gotvinus studies the effect, only to see that it's a magnitude 20 spell, and requires a full lab check (which I've house-ruled to only take a week rather than a season) to figure out what it does. They go to Archmagus Caecilius, who asks for assistance in his lab, and they figure out what's been done. Everyone affected has gained a Longevity Ritual at +13 magnitude. Because it's not specifically tied to them, it's going to give 5 Warp per year instead of the usual 1.
The consequences are wide & concerning, and we end the session at this point for plans to be made.