Ars Magica 5thEd Ferrum Carcer: A Hermetic Prison Saga

[size=150]Attention all scalawags, ruffians, thugs, diabolists, lost Diednes, cold-blooded killers, falsely convicted idealists, sanctum scryers, brutal hedgies, Hermetic oath-breakers, defiers of nomos, children of strife, mad devotees of Hymnis, militant wilderists, wranglers of mundanes, assassins of Quaesitors, orderlies of Odin, and other motley enemies of the Order of Hermes. Let it be known that pursuant to The Ferrum Carcer Amendment passed by the Grand Tribunal of 1227, House Guernicus has centralized its scattered containment facilities into a single maximum hermetic security prison for incorrigible offenders. The worst villains of mythic Europe will soon find themselves confined together in a lawless pseudo-covenant. Despite their differences, these involuntary sodales will be forced to rely upon each other if they hope to survive (and escape!)[/size]

Saga Themes and Pacing
Searching for 4-6 convicted magus/maga ne’er-do-wells. The saga will focus on mysteries, puzzles, survival, heists and escape from the pseudo-covenant which is actually a prison. You will share the prison-covenant with several NPC magi and companions. The NPCs will be guards, warden, and other wicked convicts who may complicate, thwart, or unwittingly enable your adventures.

Since your character is “doing time,” the saga is intended to span several decades. Escape attempts require planning, preparation, and training to develop the mundane and magical prowess, so there will be many opportunities for seasonal advancements interspersed with adventures. Some adventures will take place within the walls, the prison is rife with mystery and challenges. Escape attempts may succeed, leading to outside adventures on-the-run. Perhaps you can evade capture indefinitely, or at least long enough to bring a grand plan to fruition; more likely, you will find yourself recaptured eventually. The cycles of confinement-escape can mirror the cycles of study-adventure in a traditional saga.

The setting will be low fantasy. You will lack most luxuries of the civilized hermetic world during incarceration: longevity potions, vis, many books, and initiations, are all forbidden under prison rules. You will need to create these yourself or scheme to acquire them through the prison black market.

Characters development rules:
Go ahead and be a bad guy. You know that Chthonic Diedne with a false gift you’ve been waiting to play; here’s your chance. The Tytalus maga who killed her last troupe in their sleep; yep, she’s welcome to join. If you want to be falsely convicted, or a noble but misunderstood anti-hero, that’s fine as well. But this is hardcore, no undercover Guernici allowed. If you’ve wound up at the Covenant of the Iron Cage you are bad to the bone, tough as nails and twice as sharp.

Please gauntlet the character abiding by standard 5th edition Core RAW (rules as written) for Detailed Character Creation pgs 28-32. You may advance the character any number of years past gauntlet. Each year after gauntlet provides 30 experience points for Hermetic Arts or Abilities. During character creation, a character automatically gains 2 warping points for each additional year past gauntlet. Extremely Detailed Character Creation, as detailed in 5th Edition Rules page 33, may be used. But the character is still limited to a maximum of 30 experience points for each year after gauntlet until the game begins. Age based limits on abilities apply during character creation.

The following Virtues do not provide an experience point bonus during the post-gauntlet years of character creation, but function normally once actual play begins: Secondary Insight, Book Learner, Free Study, Independent Study, Apt Pupil, etc. Affinities provide their benefits during character creation and regular play, as does Flawless Magic’s doubling of mastery experience.

Anytime after gauntlet, you can take an additional 3 points of virtues which are paid for with the Major Flaw “Outlaw: Order of Hermes.” You may choose to use these points to take (a) a second Major Hermetic Virtue, (b) a handful of Minor Virtues or single Major Virtue from the core rulebook or Houses or Hermes series,(c) initiation into cult virtues from The Mysteries: Revised Edition.

Characters from House Criamon, Merinita, Bjoarner or Verditius may take initiations during character creation after gauntlet. Balance these with supernatural, general, or hermetic flaws, and build up an appropriate score in House lore.

Unprotected by the code, player characters in the prison are likely to fall into conflict or combat with each other when tensions escalate. For this reason, I want the PCs to all operate at a similar power level. Bear in mind that aging rolls and warping will be a fact of life in this saga. Older, more experienced and powerful characters are at greater risk of decrepitude and twilight.

I have to say, this is possibly the niftiest saga premise I've ever heard. Can I play a former Tytalus apprentice who cut her pater's throat in his sleep to escape him? Her crime would have been uncovered a few years after the fact, so she can be Gauntleted by the time she's incarcerated.

That sounds perfect for the setting Arya! I just re-read page 83 of Houses of Hermes: Societas which discusses a similar situation of an apprentice killing their parens. The rule seems to be that the murder counts as passing a gauntlet, and the Code considers an apprentice's paren-slaughter to be a form of paren-suicide and not prosecutable. So we could say that in your case House Tytalus had no objection to the killing, but some busybody Quaesitor found a loophole to convict you. Or maybe you want to just send the parens into twilight for awhile, then come back a few seasons later to finish off the job. The details should prove very interesting and set up whether you wish to play this character as a tragic abused victim, angel of vengeance, or something else entirely.

"What are you in here for?" "Got screwed by a lawyer." Nah, that's wimpy.

...She was young enough that she wasn't aware that she could get away with it, so she killed her pater and framed someone else who was then convicted and marched. Because the House didn't know she killed her pater, she wasn't elevated to magus, but instead taken in as an apprentice by some J. Random Magus, who then finished her education. Years later, it came out that she actually murdered her pater, so she's not incarcerated for killing her pater, but for her part in the death of the innocent guy she set up. Got off easy (prison instead of a Wizard's March) because she plays dumb, cries a lot (crying is emotional blackmail), and is a really, REALLY convincing liar.

I think I'd like to play the character as a very likable and personable, but due to years of abuse which she'd only survived by being able to separate herself from her emotions, she's rather sociopathic, and has the capacity to do some pretty heinous things when she feels the situation calls for it.


That sounds very promising :slight_smile: I'd like to play if you'll have me. I'll post a character idea later.

I'm an old 3rd and 4th edition player who has been looking for a chance to try out 5th edition. If you'd have me, I'd like to go.

I'm thinking of one of two concepts:

A Criamon with a penchant for killing other magi's familiars. He believes that familiars bind magi to the material world and that by killing them, he's helping other Magi become free. Having the dead familiars stuffed and sent back to their owners via Redcaps was just gravy.

Or maybe a Verdi who creates cursed magical items. He took a contract to create longevity potions for some non-gifted Redcaps, couldn't resist the temptation to add a little curse here or there, and well...antics ensued.

In either case the magi decided to go to prison rather than face the Wizards War they had coming. Whatcha think?

I was thinking about a Jerbiton maga who mistakenly believes a group of children born under a strange constellation are destined to bring great ruin over all of Europe. She set out to stop their rise to power, and succeeded in killing some of the little miscreants before she discovered the twin daughters of a fellow magus were born on that fated day. She tried to convince him to incarcerate the children, but he refused, dismissing her frightful visions as lunacy. Her subsequent murder of one of the toddlers shocked the Tribunal, and the earnest plea she made at her trial to be allowed to kill the other child too did very little to ensure the sympathy of her sodales.
Alternatively, a Bonisagus who does research on the magical powers that can be invoked through human sacrifice might be fun.

Oh my god, this is awesome! I've wanted to run or play in a prison-set campaign for years, but it never occurred to me to do it in Ars! I've been wanting to play a Redcap with Strong Faerie Blood for some time now, and this might be a good place to try it out, due to the lack of longevity potions.