Avalon Adventure Advice requested

Hi all,

I wanted to sound out some ideas and solicit advice and feedback for a plot I'll be running. It concerns the Isle of Avalon.

First, some background:
The saga is 4th ed. It's set in Shropsire, England. The saga's current year is 1139--I've set it before the traditional starting date because I'm using the backdrop of the Anarchy, the war between Stephen and Maude. I'm also using characters from the Brother Cadfael mystery series (few of whom have managed to capture the troupe's interest for more than a walk-on. C'est la vie).

I'm writing out an NPC Magus, Blaze of Merinita. He was (unwillingly) infected by a demon, and begged the troupe to take him to Avalon for healing. The idea is that they'll have an adventure to figure out where avalon is, how to get there, drop him off, negotiate with the healers, and then he'll be gone until I bring him back as an independent.
The troupe consists of:
Quaesitor Guernicus (her companion is a warrior)
I also have a Jerbiton as my own character. Blaze is being written out so that I don't have two.

I've got a few ideas that I'd like to run by people.
First, I'm going to be careful not to use any one single Avalon legend. Rather, I'm going to use a conglomerate of different ones, so the players can't walk in knowing what to expect. Meaning, there'll be elements of classic King Arthur, Mists of Avalon, Once and Future King, Merlyn, the Crystal Caves, and my own private blend. Etc.

One of the first problems is actually locating it. Popular legend places it at Glastonbury; the second most common is that it's in the sea somewhere. I'm thinkign of compromising: The players need to find a widget in Glastonbury Tor that will help them actually locate the isle of avalon; possibly a device to part the mists.

Another major decision I need to make is whether Avalon should be magical or faerie-aura in nature. I can see it either way. Since a Merinita made the request, it makes sense that it should be at least partly faerie.

Some notes about my troupe: They aren't trigger-happy . They're perfectly willing to use their brains and/or words to get out of a situation. This doesn't displease me. Every so often, I do like a good fight, but I appreciate that they don't set my main NPC's on fire before they can get a word in edgewise :slight_smile:.

Ok, after all that, here are my ideas about Avalon:

Avalon is a mystery island. It's legendary as a place of healing. This is true. It was originally a faerie island. What the players don't know is that a few Magi who were, at various times, made enemies of the order, have congregated here.
The result is a haven of sorts of non-hermetic Magi and faeries. So the isle itself has a faerie aura (does this make sense?) However, many of the inhabitants are non-faerie.
There are some faeries there, natch.
There are a couple of hedge mages of various traditions.
One or two people are of House Diedne. dun dun dun! They survived the war and fled here.

For obvious reasons, the inhabitants of Avalon prefer to stay hidden well under the radar. Many years ago, they were discovered by a group of traveling Hermetics more interested in enforcing the code than saving their own skin. The Avalons killed the Hermetics in a fight after the Hermetics attempted to enforce the 'join or die' rule on the hedge mages and the 'die' rule on the Diedne.
In general, the faeries are the ones who deal with initial explorers, along with a Merinita Magus who've joined up. These people want to hide the presernce of the hedge mages, since the hedge mages worry about being told 'join or die.' The hedge mages in turn protect the Diedne, who are quite powerful but also live under a sentence of death and are protected only by lax enforcement.

The people at Avalon will not be happy to see the troupe, for obvious reasons. However, it's my intention not to force the situation to immediately turn to a bloodbath. The troupe is only there to get their sodale healed, after all. I'm thinking that the inhabitants will be hostile and skeptical, but not immediately violent. They might only be a hair-trigger away from violence, but the trigger isn't pulled yet.

The initial conflict, of course, is tense. To the Avalons, they see a group of Hermetics--worse, a quesitor--knowing full well that the Code of Hermes has mandated immediate death for a few of them, and impressment into the order on pain of death for others. To the troupe, they balance the above with both their general non-violent and reasonable tendencies, as well as the uncomfortable recognition that they are probably out-gunned. (Since there's at least one Hermetic Mage there, a good part of the Isle is under the Aegis of the Hearth). One of the characters is a quesitor, but she's more or less a transitionalist. She won't be the type to shrug and say "They're Diedne, open fire." At least, I hope not. =].

My goal is to have the players engage in one or two fights, but not an all-out battle with the Avalons. To that end, I plan on having some guardians of the site: Magical creatures, enchanted constructs, water beings, etc. The idea is that the players can overcome these guardians without declaring war on the Avalons themselves. So I will be encouraging small-scale battles, but discouraging all-out war.

If the players negotiate right, the Avalons are willing to heal Blaze and take him into their protection. At the absolute minimum, they will ask the troupe to swear an oath not to reveal the location, inhabitants, etc. (And yes, the Merinita WILL make use of 'bargain' duration spells). They might also demand a lock of hair from each Magi in case they're betrayed. This is in addition to other services, of course.

A note on the magics of the isle: Avalon itself does have an aura. (Again, not sure whether it should be faerie or magic, but I'm leaning slightly towards faerie). The water and apples are magical (according to real-life legend); possibly these are vis sources. Some inhabitants are faeries, some are hedge mages, a couple are Diedne, and I think it makes sense for there to be a Merinita and/or Ex Miscellena there.
I plan on divvying up a few broad types of magic among the inhabitants, as it makes sense for the avalons to have:
Healing magic (necessary to the plot).
Water magic (they're on an island).
'Nature' magic
Communal/ritual magic

My understanding is that Diedne magic is particularly good at spontaneous-type spells, as well as weather and (to a lesser extent) very compatible with multiple casters. Am I correct on that last point, or am I confusing it with Mercurian Magic?

I'm thinking that the best healers should be the Diedne and/or hedge mages. The idea is that the ones the Order most wants dead are the ones that the troupe most needs alive. Does this sound reasonable?

So to sum, here's the goal of the troupe and my goals as an ST:
-Explore Glastonbury Tor to find the compass that leads them to Avalon.
-Survive the trip to Avalon across the seas.
-Defeat the initial, non-living guardians.
-Make contact with the 'initial' inhabitants and uncover the real secret of Avalon.
-Defuse a tense situation to the point of negotiation.
-Negotiate with the Avalons to provide healing for the Merinita.

What insights, feedback, etc. can you share? Ideas on the island's nature itself, proper pairings of magic types to style (faerie/Hermetic/hedge/Diedne), plot ideas, options, etc. All feedback is welcome :slight_smile:. Thanks!


Great idea.

You say that you're using 4th edition, but have you picked up the 5th edition Faerie book?

I ask as the book actually addresses some of what you're after. For instance, there might be a magical Avalon, but that doesn't stop there being one or more faerie Avalons. And depending on what you're after, any and each might be right. And according to 5th, your journey to and through faerie Avalon is likely to be a moment of great personal change, a journey of self-discovery, out of which the magus may be healed.

There are some cracking ideas in that book and it seems made for what you're doing. Especially the need to "story" into Avalon, and to best the guardians that guard/block/guide the way. So I'd go with faerie.

As for the other magi there, do they remember who they are and why they're there?

One idea for the Diedne... Don't reveal that they are until they've become firm friends with your magi. That's when the moral quandry hits hardest.

I need to think it through, but basically there are -lots- of Avalons, folkloristically. So, please don't be put off when I mention at least one has a covenant on it. It's Oleron, in Normandy Tribunal.