Evicting a Cistercian Abbey

In our last game our troupe has finally decided to deal with the nearby Cistercian Abbey.

In this topic I would like to gather your thoughts and responses along with asking for your help to properly make the decisions all the parties involved would do.

To sum it up(tl;dr) mages need the information about a Dragon from the Faerie Lord. Mages hope the Faerie Lord will give them the information for evicting Abbey and allowing Fae folk to travel again freely on the Road.

The to-be-evicted Abbey's Location: Abbeystead in Stonehenge Tribunal (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbeystead)

The Covenant:

Covenant's Secret and why the mages want to evict a peaceful Cistercian Abbey, The Dragon problem
The Past:

Recent events:

The Abbey's History

And finally the Great Plan to evict the Abbey

  • During a season or two, the ground will slowly crawl up (ReTe), creating a natural barrier for the waterways ( ~600 foot long stone wall under the earth )
  • Multiple new streams will pop-up (CrAq) and heavy rains are predicted in the area (CrAu), resulting in a swampy / boggy nasty-place-to-live-in like conditions in the valley.
  • To make it even more worse, huge mosquito swarms (ReAn) are going to appear.
  • New type of vegetation (CrHe) will make it close to impossible to live from the land and will claim back the farmland.
  • Nobody will be surprised when bog fever (PeCo) will pop up and claim the life of whoever wants to drain the new swamp.

Thank you for reading thus far!
And now I am really interested what you think the worldly powers and the church can do to avoid the Abbey's fall.

Quite a story you have there!!! :smiley: NIce to see we are not the only ones that blunder it BIG sometimes :mrgreen:

I assume that talking to the abbey will not help solve the problem, even if you point out the dragon as the true devil that must be stopped. So, the abbey needs to move.

What about a plain old mass murder? Your players are not up to it?

About what the church and mundanes can do, for starters, play for miracles to remove the hermetic magic around them. Even destroying this abbey does not mean that the problem is over. They can build another one in another point in the faerie trod. And hardship will increase the petition for God's help on the part of the monks.

A good alternative for you would be to make an ally of the monks. Maybe they can be convinced to help against the big demon and allow the faeries to come and go, even if they are servants of the malignant. Defeating satan will leave the small ones leaderless anyway. Managing to get better land somewhere and move might be a good option as well.

No easy solutions to your problems, but then, you have a great story that woudn't be there if it was easy to solve.

Thanks, Xavi! I really appreciate your response!

Plain old mass murder - by the sword - ain't the style of my troupe.
I would be quite confident to point towards the 5+ years of White Wolf Mage:tA games / experience to 'blame'.

After one of them, quite literally, burned himself due to a botch in Divine aura, they do fear the power of God.
Learning Dominon Lore and understanding it is as real as their power, they like to approach church-problems from a shadow-war point of view...
It does make them think more before acting, and makes my work as harder, but I like it this way.

Haahhhhh, the other ideas they had were really entertaining.

  • Silencing the Abbey's bell -> ReTe changing the bell or using ReIm stealing the voice to a sack.
  • Using Hermetic Leprosy to show God has cursed the Abbey

Even the famous biblical reference was put forward as a mean to frighten them and force them to leave:

  1. Turn the rivers to blood, - MuAq with River, the Merinita Elementailst has the Atlantian virtue from RoP:M
  2. Invasion of frogs - ReAn, as per A&A that's within the new ReAn guidelines
  3. Lice Swarm - ReAn again
  4. Scourge of wild animals, - finding an animal infected with rabies is quite easy, creating swarms of rats with rabies and sending them to the Abbey needs some preparation, but it's still manageable
  5. Pestilence among the farm animals - the Bjornaer can create, control and kill with Asps, not quite the same... but it would work.
  6. Festering illness - the Tytalus Necromancer has Hermetic Leprosy in his repertoire, and would suffice
  7. Hail & drift would destroy the harvest - Easy for the Aq/Au specialized elementalist
  8. Locust swarm - ReAn, again?
  9. 3-day-long total darkness / solar eclipse .... at this point players realized this would be a typical example why the Order would start a full-fledged Wizard's March against the Covenant. :smiling_imp:

Going back to the original plan: The Swamp.

Currently, I'm gonna go with the the following:

  • the majority of the people living in Abbeystead will leave to avoid famine and diseases -> they will meet them in Lancaster or in Preston whenever they visit one of the town, just to see from first hand the suffering they have caused for the common folk
  • some of the men will become highwaymen and will attack merchants, and will put to the sword
  • some refugees will arrive to the small village near the Covenant, telling stories of children dying to swamp fever
  • the most fanatical friars, with the Abbot will stay behind, according to their logic / knowledge the swamp is the creation of the long-eared devils and will blame the faeries, my troupe has to bloody their hands if they want faster solution (6 friars remain)
  • the Abbot will send 2 Friars to a pilgrimage to Canterbury asking/petitioning for help against the evil in the swamp. Eventually bringing down Templars on the Covenant's neck, unless the mages kill the friars before they reach their goal

Next game session's gonna be this Thursday.
I am eager to see how my players will react. :wink:

What about the Divine's own powers in all of this ?

The background storyline needs to be resolved for it to matter. What happened to William ? To William's son ? If William died, his ghost might still seek out vengeance. Have it stir up all sorts of enmities between faeries and monks. Perhaps it will manage to stir a holy man to confront the faerie lord in his court, who will then turn to the PCs for aid. Have the PCs and holy man interact in the faerie lord's realm, to learn that the faerie lord still keeps the boy captive, and that the monastery is founded on vengeance. This will persuade the holy man (abbot ?) to relinquish the abbey, as a holy place should not be founded on hate, in return for the faerie lord releasing the boy, and hence bringing final rest to his father's spirit - and the PCs helping to found a new monastery, elsewhere, as penance.

Not really sure how to really tie this into an adventure, but this seems to me to be something like the storyline suggested by the background.

I love the idea!

I already thought about the boy and how to drop it in the middle of the story and to push my party more into the muddy part of the Order.
I think it will play out like this...

First Act: the clean-up and the hidden loose ends.

  • the petitioning friars, the famine struck refugees, highwaymen and the last remaining faithful servant of God, the Abbot becomes a hermit.
    the destroyed Faerie Road
  • the road is split in two as the villagers have ploughed the road and the Abbey's altar was built on it.
    session will be about how to remove traces of the Abbey, re-enact a Faerie tradition as transporting the dead along the new Road.

Second Act: Faerie Lord's court

  • instead of giving up the Dragon's name, hatching day, etc... the Lord will marry out the Faerie Lady-Knight to the Merinita mage... I'm still debating what possible long-term consequences this can cause. (Lord plants a trusted retainer in the midst of the Covenant, and might even acquire a Merinita pet-mage, I am seriously looking forward to see my players' reaction.)
  • mages are to encounter William's son, and the Lord will set the price for the Dragon's name, hatching day, etc: the mages are to help William's son to become a Baron in England. [size=50]Idea is from Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell[/size]
    An impossible mission... and definitely would require the Mages to breach the Code, big time.

Third Act: Return of the Hermit
Years later: the Hermit is ready to confront the Faerie Lord and ready to save William's child.

  • Mages have to explain and negotiate between the Lord and the Hermit. Summon William's ghost and expose all the hatred and corruption, disguised as noble intents, leading to this moment.
  • William's son released = the corrupter demon exposed
  • Faerie Lord finally provides the information

At this point the story can go multiple ways:
a) the Hermit's holy cause proves to be an empty shell, his beloved Abbey founded on hatred and manipulation. The child he wants to save is the Arch-enemy and he was manipulated to fight the Faerie Lord. As righteousness leaves so does the Faith... demon kills hermit, mages kill demon. ...Curtain down.
b) Hermit exposes the corrupter, banishes the demon. Abbeystead is abandoned and mages have to work on the new Abbey as a penance, without using magic until it is finished... Of course, fully financing the new Abbey's building costs is also an alternative. ...Curtain down.

Suddenly, the story has all powers. What do you think? Isn't the new demon-arc a little bit forced in?

I would say which I choose depends on how bloody my mages went with the remaining friars. If the Hermit lives at the end, and the mages killed the friars... this would throw a wrench in all future stories.

We have finally finished the first Act... my players do know how to complicate their life seriously... :laughing:

The Covenant's council has decided not to kill the 2 friars sent away to seek Templar help.
During a short adventure, two mages and two companions have successfully kidnapped the friars from an inn, close to Preston.
PeIg and ReIm helped the stealth action and to pacifist utilization ReMe 10 Call to Slumber, helped the kidnappers to easily get away, without leaving any witness.

The Council (players), in his wisdom, has decreed to imprison the friars until further decision... and I diligently asked for the description how two friars left alone in a hidden cave in the middle of the Bowland.
The Mages spent almost the whole gaming session how to put together the long term prison and how to provide the friars with everything. Air: ventilation tubes to the surface, Heat with hidden CrIg flames, Light with a rotating disc (ReTe) and a Light source with a mirror reflected down. A bath tube filled with the stream's heated water and a small hole where all the bodily outputs can be washed down and destroyed in a small cave with PeCo.
Food is supplied weekly as the friars are basically left alone.

Nothing to do and without any chance to escape, the friars will do the only thing they can: pray. They are going to scratch a cross on the wall and pray for their salvation.
By the end of the year their prison will acquire both a Magical Aura and a Dominion Aura and all the spontaneously drawn Cirle/Ring spells will seize to work. :stuck_out_tongue: I am quite sure ( :smiling_imp: ) the mages will have their hands full when the prison's magic finally collapses and the friars die.

You mean that they plan to have them in prison for A WHOLE YEAR OR MORE!?!?!? :open_mouth: OMG. They certainly DO know how to make life complciated for themselves. it would have been easier to leave them in the abbey again. Rinse and repeat a few times and the friars will not try to leave again.

For what you say the life of the friars might be better in the cave than in the abbey.

Great thread, another place to ask questions and pick up wisdom is rpg.net's forums. Just put in the thread subject [Historical] Evicting a Cistercian Abbey in 1220 AD

Why would these effects collapse? Just because a Dominion Aura arises?
IIRC that would affect magic being cast but not magic that have been cast. Or am I missing something?

I guess it is because it makes for more dramatic play.

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Tellus is absolutely right, based on Rules as written, the spells won't be negated due to a new Divine Aura.
The dramatics is one of the two major reasons. Second is: the mages don't know how the Divine's power work, but the players.

I like to tell stories where the Divine realm's power (and Infernal's, Faerie's) ain't as logical or rule bound as the Hermetic Order's magic.
Even if the players read the relevant ARM5 books, in each and every Saga these power will behave a bit differently, just to keep them on their toes.
I found this a great storytelling method to keep these powers as an unknown mystical/mythical force, and this gives the players a very good reason why in every Sage their character will learn Faerie, Infernal and Divine Lore. :wink:

As long as it's not because you thought that was how the rules said it should work, more power to you :slight_smile:

Now, I'm on board with a Dominion Aura having cool effects, or even pointlessly cruel ones, but do you really want a Dominion Aura to kill the monks? Now arguably its a good thing since the monks go to heaven (or become divine ghosts to torment the magi), but if I was one of the magi "the monks/god collapsed our nice and safe prison? Not our fault."