...the kind that drives seasoned captains toward the nearest shore and whatever shelter might be found there before wind and weather sweeps even that choice away. Only a few ships remained at sea, bobbing on angry waters, unbound from any course or destination, their crews bent only on survival.
One particularly large ship, the "Sanctum Mysterium," maintained a straight course toward Lubeck, untouched by the storm and running before a stiff and serendipitous wind. No lanterns were lit, yet her crew scurried unerringly about her deck with catlike balance and, more strangely still, catlike eyes. Her captain stood near the tiller flanked by a burly aide who looked ready to steady him should he lose balance, but he did not. He called out a stream of commands in a voice that rose above the wind, yet it was not clear just who he commanded, for his crew paid no attention to him and perhaps he did not want that attention, for none of them were likely to understand Latin.
The worst of the storm abated when the ship reached the Trave River and abated further as they reached Lubeck yet a stiff wind continued to push the ship onward, as though it had followed them from far away at sea only to depart as the ship slid quietly toward the dock and the crew prepared for mooring.
At last the captain ceased to speak. He breathed deeply and watched his ship and crew. She was clean, surprisingly clean, fanatically clean. The crew was scrambling to make sure everything is in place, and they too looked remarkably clean for all that they look like the motley dregs of all the ports of Christendom and even further abroad. He rested for a while, standing in place, and then walked the deck, inspecting his ship, inspecting his crew. They seemed to take strength and pleasure from his regard.
Not so the landbound guard, who emerged perhaps two hours later from the large warehouse near the dock. Unhappy to be outside in the weather when he might otherwise be asleep or sharing an easy watch with a friend, he grew especially angry to see the captain and looked as though he might sound an alarm. Yet the captain's merest glance quelled him, and he returned to the warehouse to arouse the proprietor or his agent, in obedience with the captain's command.
Everything was in place, and everyone, inspected, repaired and re-inspected, watch duties allocated, hot drinks distributed. The captain looked over his ship one more time, as though to find something out of place, something left undone, a word of praise or reprimand yet unspoken. Nothing.
He strode down the gangplank toward the warehouse, looking every inch a prosperous mariner though surprisingly young, his clothes leather and silk and wool, sharp knives undoubtedly hidden in his boots, sleeves and wherever else, his skin pale, even bloodless, in a manner that pleases the eye for all that it is also striking.
Iohannes (John/Johann...) filius Marcus
Background sketch: Born into a Jewish community that reviled him for his Gift, an obvious touch of otherness and a preference for the docks over his studies, John (Yochanan) was apprenticed into an Ex Misc lineage, "The Heroes' Conclave," where he learned that his differences and his love of water arose from the blood of ancient heroes and divinities that flowthrough his veins.
The whole "ancient divinity" thing did not sit well with his religious upbringing, but he noticed that he was accepted in the Order of Hermes as he had never been elsewhere. Having completed his apprenticeship, he has spent the last ten years mostly out of touch with the Order, sailing the seas and waterways of Mythic Europe, fulfilling a childhood dream of commanding his own ship. (I really wanted to send him to China, if only to bring back a junk.) He has explored, traded, fought, smuggled, slaved, sailed where others wouldn't and done what other mightn't with a cheerful but bewildering ethical flexibility.
Recently, John's parens used the Leap of Homecoming to appear in John's cabin aboard ship, and took the time to congratulate John on his 39th birthday--on the cusp of that mystically important 40th birthday!--and his success as a captain, compliment him on his youthful appearance (though all magi of that lineage enjoy a long lifespan and "unnatural" youth), remind him of the other benefits and responsibilities that come from a divine lineage and fraternity, and offer him an invitation that cannot be refused to proceed in reasonable time to a covenant recently established at Lubeck where deeds and knowledge worthy of him await....
What does John want?
He wants to live a life mostly at sea among people who like and respect him, to explore places and mysteries and perhaps find something better than can be found in Christendom and its Islamic mirror, to quietly support Jewish and Hermetic causes, and to some extent champion outsiders.
Why does he want it?
The sea literally runs in John's blood. He gets along with magi because of the Parma Magica, but is only at home in, on or near the water, among people tied to the water in some way. Both as a Jew and a magus, he knows what it is like to be an outsider. He has seen the underside of land-bound civilization and thinks little of it. He dislikes the need to hide his heritage as a magus or a Jew in order to more fully participate in society. Only on the water, aboard his own ship, does he truly feel himself the captain of his destiny, and he has been triply taught that he has one, as a Jew among Gentiles, as a Magus among mundanes, and as a latter-day hero among men born to live ordinary lives.
How far will he go to get it?
He has been willing to compromise his Hermetic power and reputation in order to better live the life he has always dreamed of. He is willing to risk his life to go on journeys that other men might avoid, and support causes that matter to him.
What aids and hinders him?
He is a capable mariner. Some non-magi have better mundane skills, but Hermetic Magic more than compensates. He has a suite of Mentem spells that he can use without words or gestures to bolster his command and enhance social interactions, even in the face of his Gift. He has an uncanny way of avoiding mishaps. His magic is fluid yet inexorable like a river, allowing him to reliably cast powerful spontaneous magic with little fatigue, to enhance his crew provide the right spell for any challenge. His mythic heritage helps him in all water environments. He has a loyal crew of capable outcasts and misfits (vetted with InMe spells) who are not likely to find a better berth anywhere. He has the continuing support of his Ex Misc tradition. He has a cheerful optimism, no matter what.
However... he has severe problems with social interactions away from water. He has problems when he is alone, because he either needs protection when his spontaneous magic fatigues him, or he requires subjects for his Mentem spells, people to convince or command. He lacks great potential either in the lab, or with any particular Art, or even with a Focus. The very flexibility of his magic limits his ability to focus on Formulaic Magic sufficiently to master it. His various obsessions will likely continue to stunt his magical growth and reputation. He hides his Jewish origin and can pass, but it affects his perspective. His Jewish and pagan ties sometimes conflict with each other, and each is likely to lead him into trouble all on its own.
Apparent Age 27 (due to Strong Faerie Blood; actual 39)
+1 Int +0 Str +0 Pre +0 Dex
+1 Per +3 Stm +1 Com +1 Qik
Posing the Silent Question (InMe 20)
Thoughts within Babble (InMe 25)
Aura of Rightful Authority (ReMe 20)
Aura of Trusting Friendship (ReMe 20)
as ARA but inclined to trust
Memory of the Distant Dream (CrMe 20)
Calm the Motion of the Heart (PeMe 15)
Strong Faerie Blood: The blood of some water deity or legendary mariner runs in his veins. +1 to all rolls and totals in and on water.
Charmed Life: Granted by the lineage, to awaken the hero within.
Life-linked Spontaneous Magic
Withstand Casting, a second time
Inoffensive (Water): Creatures, beings and people associated with the water (fishermen, shipwrights, sailors, Venetians...) are not affected by his Gift.
Mentor: Parens in particular, lineage in general. There's really only one way to leave a pantheon, and even that's not reliable. A source of help, demands, mythic quests.
Driven (major personality): To live a seafaring life and maybe be renowned for it. To travel the waters of the world, visit ports, trade, smuggle, plunder, sail beyond the sunset, go where no man has gone before, captain a ship, have a parrot, carouse in dives...
Major Story Flaw: Jewish, but passes. Every now and then a Dark Secret, sometimes a Higher Purpose, sometimes Dependents....
2 Artes Liberales (astronomy) ***3
4 Latin (OoH dialect)
3 Magic Theory (tbd)
1 Parma Magica (Mentem)
1 Penetration (Mentem)
1 Finesse (precision)
5 German(native, very low :>)
2 Hebrew(as a trade tongue)
3 Lingua Franca(does this even get a specialty?)
5 Area Lore: Seas, Major Rivers, Coastline and Ports of Mythic Europe (navigation) ***1
5 Profession:Mariner (captain) ***2
2 Athletics (climbing)
3 Awareness (alertness)
3 Bargain (marine services)
3 Brawl (dodge)
2 Carouse (games of chance)
3 Charm (first impressions)
1 Civil and Canon Law(transactions)
1 Jewish Law (dealings with Gentiles)
1 Code of Hermes (mundanes)
3 Concentration (magic)
1 Dominion Lore (Jewish)
1 Etiquette (maritime)
1 Faerie Lore (water)
3 Folk Ken(mariners)
1 Lore: The Heroes' Conclave Lineage (tbd)
1 Magic Lore (places)
1 Philosophiae (natural philosophy)
3 Second Sight (regiones)
1 Stealth (urban)
1 Survival (coast)
2 Swim (salt water)
2 Thrown (knives)
***1 I can break these 75xp out into many lesser Area Lores, if preferred, for specific seas and major rivers.
***2 Used to sail a boat, navigate, manage a crew (in a technical sense; the interpersonal side is probably Folk Ken or Leadership), make basic ship repairs (anything more requires Craft: Shipwright), foretell the weather (in a mundane way), row, lead rowers, assess the quality of a ship or crew, handle logistics for a journey, deal with inclement whether, and so on.
***3 Latin and Hebrew scripts