Chapter 1e: Fixing the Plumbing


Also, you'll have noticed in the chronology that the fountain stopped working when the old covenant was destroyed--that should give some hint as to the cause of the problem.


Possible reasons I can think of:

  • There was some regular trigger action performed by the magi (if it only stopped working shortly after the covenant's destruction rather than exactly at that time.
  • There was some sort of pact with a being that expired when the other magi died.
  • A magus enchanted it who had the Tethered Magic virtue (all your spells and items cease to work on your death). This one probably counts as a long shot.
  • The invaders damaged it (I don't think it looks damaged?)
  • It relies on some status of the environment that for some reason changed during the attack. Known changes in the environment include the caves getting flooded and partially collapsed, and most of the covenant buildings being burnt down. It's possible that the fountain was Rego Aquaming water from somewhere?

In short, I can see a range of options, but nothing that's making me go "aha! It must be that!".

One line of approach Gregorius will take is to check whether it's actually a magic item, and if so what the spun vis in it is:

Detect the Presence of (spun) vis: InVi 2 (Base 1 + 1 Touch). He will non fatiguingly spont this: (In 6 + Vi 5 + Sta 1 + Aura 3)/5 = 3, so he can do this reliably.

Assuming that the fountain is indeed magical, he'll go on to try and assess the amount and nature of the vis in it:

Sense the nature of vis: InVi 5. Casting total (In 6 + Vi 5 + Sta 1 + Aura 3+ die 5)/2 = 10, so works. What art(s) of vis are there in the fountain? Will presumably include vim if it's a greater enchanted device, and then whatever arts were used for the effects. (

Scales of the magical weight: InVi 5. Casting total (In 6 + Vi 5 + Sta 1 + Aura 3+ die 7)/2 = 11, so works. How many pawns of spun vis are there in the item? (

I've moved this into "Covenant Development", though if it gets any more involved, it might need its own thread.

Gregorius doesn't detect any magic. The central fountain, and a number of smaller ones scatter around the ruins, appear to be of ancient construction. That means that they almost certainly designed to function via gravity: they were fed by underwater pipes, but the pipes must have brought water from a source at higher elevation, somewhere inland.

Of course, it's very unlikely the fountains were still working when the magi of the old covenant arrived on the site. They must have repaired the entire water system, or reengineered it, possibly to work by magic.


Ah - so it's plausible that the flooding in the lower sections of the caves comes at least in part (and possibly wholly) from burst pipes?

It's plausible, yes. I'm not sure about probable: for there to be flooding on the lower levels but not the upper ones, there has to be some channel for the water to reach the lower levels while bypassing the upper ones. That would imply either another entrance to the cave system (which is flooded), or fissures in the rock.


Gregorius will check the piping. What does it seem to be made of? Lead? He's considering whether he's likely to be able to get their dowser Niketas to trace out the course of the pipes in some fashion.

He'll also have a think about what he knows of the geography of the area. Are there any notable bodies of water at higher elevations locally (my understanding is that the river here is a fair bit below the plateau, and is presumably that way for some distance upstream?)

Local Area lore 2 + 1 (places) + Int 1 + die 3 ( = 7

The water system would drain to the river in this case, not from it. The water would come from an aquifer or stream somewhere inland--as long as the landscape slopes gradually toward the river, if you get inland far enough, you'll have enough elevation, without needing something like a big hill as the location of the water source. For more details, you're going to have to go and look, possibly a few miles inland. It'll take me a bit to work out the details, and the search might possibly constitute a story.

As for the piping, it would take some time to check the entire city site, but the pipes in the immediate vicinity of the fountain are bronze. I'll give you the hint that the difference between brone and lead is meaningful, but Gregorius will probably have to ask someone more knowledgeable in order to ascertain the meaning in question.


For the record, I've just gone through the original description of the covenant site again. It's very, very creative, but I'm not sure the hydrology was completely thought out, which means I'll need to figure out some details in order to reconcile what's described with what's really possible. It's worth noting, though, that we've already made a few inadvertant minor changes to the site's backstory.


[OOC: Historical accuracy is nice, and I'd rather get it right when we can, but this isn't an area I know enough about for anything short of blatent inaccuracies to actively irritate me.]

Gregorius furrows his brow, and remarks to Alcimus:

"That's odd - I thought they usually used lead for this sort of thing". Alcimus just looks at him.

He'll ask the covenant Blacksmith if he knows of any particular reason to use bronze rather than lead in pipes, and how easy it would be for a craftsman to work the pipes in bronze.

[OOC: I think Blacksmiths mostly work in iron, but I can't think of anyone at the covenant who's any better suited to answer the question.]

He'll also ask Theodoric if the fountains were working when the previous covenant first arrived.

It turns out he does know something about it, because pipes have to forged just like anything else made of metal, and he's seen at least one piped water system in a Hermetic covenant before.

"Ah, yes. Well, nowadays people use lead to make pipes; it's easy to work, doesn't corrode much; really, it's good for the purpose. But the ancient Greeks used bronze. Could I have a look at these pipes?"

After he spends some time examining the pipes you've excavated so far, he declares, "It looks like this piping is new, though it probably replaced older piping. My guess is the magi of the old covenant insisted on doing it the 'Greek' way--you know how Theban magi can be sometimes." He almost rolls his eyes, before remembering who he's talking to, and catching himself.

No, they weren't--the old covenant had to repair them.


EDIT: I've edited this to remove a reference to original piping--likely the original was bronze, but, aside from corrosion, the hard water in the area (all that limestone) would have clogged it with scale centuries ago.

Gregorius looks at the Blacksmith for a moment, but doesn't hold it too long (after all, he did catch himself. And he's insulting the Theban magi for being excessively greek to a Tremere).

He'll ask Theodoric whether the fountains being repaired occurred at much the same time as the magi stopped complaining about the aura?

He'll also try and work out where the pipes are broken:

InTe 4/10 (base 2/4 (learn one property can tell just by looking / learn one mundane property) + 1 Touch + 1 conc). Casting total is (In 6 + Te 7 + Sta 1 + Aura 3 + W&G 2 + die 8)/2 = 13.5, so succeeds. (I'm not quite sure whether "find out something you can tell by just looking at it" includes situations where it's difficult to look at something or not.

Does he think it would be possible to repair the pipes using Rego Craft magic without digging up the relevant sections first?

"Ah, yes, now that you mention it, the magi did stop complaining about that time. I just assumed it was because we were getting fresh water piped right into the center of the covenant--I mean, who wouldn't be happy about that?"

I think "just looking at it" works even in situations where you can't see the object--otherwise, the guideline wouldn't be of much practical use.

The problem you have here is that each section of pipe is, quite literally, a separate object, and only a few feet long. Not exactly the same thing, but here's a picture of old Roman pipes as an example: ... _Baths.jpg


Right, that just moved fixing the fountains considerably up Gregorius' prioties list.

Base 2 and then Group target, then? That should be level 10 again, and thus doable.

My books are buried somewhere in a moving box upstairs, so I can't check the rules, but I'm not sure an extensive pipe network qualifies as a single group. Isn't there some kind of modifier for number of members of a group? We're likely talking about dozens or hundreds of individual pipes here.


[OOC: The modifier is for the overall volume of material, rather than for the number of objects - a group spell can affect the mass of 10 standard individuals. In the case of a non-precious metal, a base individual is a cubic foot, so the spell can probably manage dozens but not hundreds of pipes.]

To add: if he can't get the spell to work, Gregorius' next step is likely to be to attempt to fetch Tasia if she's available, as her InTe score is considerably higher than his (11+6 compared to 6+7 - actually that's not anything like as much higher as I (and Gregorius) assumed, although she's also got things like a Talisman Intellego bonus and the ability to summon Terram spirits).

Edited for clarity: He's assuming she'll be better able to cast Group +1 size modifier target spells than he is.

Each tier of Group is "roughly" 10, and it scales. 10, 100, etc

Yep - so if a standard Group target affected 40 pipes (say), Group +1 would affect 400.

I thought it was more like a Group affects up to 10 targets, a group +1 affects up to around 100, and a Group +2 affects around 1000. Not at all sure though.

Nope - in the "Targets and Sizes" box of the main rulebook (pg 113), it says "A base Group contains about as much mass as ten standard Individuals of a Form. This can be split up in any way desired, so it could be two Individuals, each of five times standard size, or ten individuals of standard size, or ten thousand individuals, each one thosandth of standard size."