Extrapolation: King Philippe is DEAD - What happens next?

Salve, sodales!

In my game, the following has happened:

King Philippe has died. He apparently had some sort of "understanding" with House Guernicus wherein he took care of mundane justice, and the Quaesitors took care of the Order's malcontents. Full extent of understanding unknown...

The Holy Oil used for anointing the new monarch of France has gone missing.

The Angevins seem to have a lot of knights and men at arms moving to castles bordering France.

Prince Louis was never made official heir by Philippe.

That said:
In an effort to set the stage for intrigue and a succession struggle, the Angevin are stirring the pot.

Philippe knew there was a group called the "Cabal of the Retarius" who were hunting for a descendant of Merovech, possibly to try and place on the throne at some point. This child, but 4 years of age, lives close tothe PC's covenant (and is in fact secretly the child of one mage, though he chooses not to broadcast this), and will be likely claimed as apprentice by a Bonisagus mage.

The Cabal is on the trail of this child.

So, struggle for the crown, intrigue, and breaking from history.

I know this makes extrapolation difficult, but I was curious what other curveballs, outside factors, or interesting events might crop up.

Who would the Church support? What would the Holy Roman Emperor think or do? How might an aggressive Angevin contingent agitate for war?

Does Philippe's excommunication in 1196(?) have any bearing on Louis the Lion's legitimacy?

What could happen? What might happen? What might be fun to happen?

I ask you, learned sages of the Ars Magica Forum!

si vales, valeo...


"What might be fun to happen?"

This is entirely dependent on the cast of PCs in your saga. However cool all this stuff going on in the upper reaches of mundane nobility and the church, if the PCs are to be considered protagonists, the story has to be about them, not the background politics (however high stakes).

Now if you have PCs that are easily drawn into these plots, that's great. Otherwise the challenge is to figure out how the PCs can be personally involved. The circumstances might make it such that their connection isn't immediately obvious, or perhaps their ability to move events personally isn't yet understood. In these cases the first part of the story is the personal discovery.

I've tried to take this 'ethic of the protaganist' to heart over the years. At this point, when starting a new saga, I don't formulate a single plot or express a preference for a single idea until all the PCs are made. I then explore the PCs in search of plots.

My 2 cents.

Well, currently:

The covenant has the strange young lad who is of Merovingian blood.

Lady Pellegrina, married to a crusading knight before apprenticeship, is being framed, and Prince Louis believes she is in Paris to help undermine the succession as a loyal vassal of the Angevins.

Helios Excelcis, Quaesitor, has discovered that there has been some sort of 'understanding' between the late King and House Guernicus and he is unsure what this means in terms of the House getting involved in the succession.

And then there's the missing oil, which will somehow lead back to the covenant directly or indirectly.

The less intrigue inclined:

Javier: wants to wreck House Tytalus as he sees them as a threat to House Bjornaer. The Tytalus might have something to do with the missing oil, or at least be aware of who has it.

Renoir: Flambeau Master of Metals - his long term goal is to found an order of Hermetic Knights who help root out injustice and corruption within the Normandy Tribunal. This might take the form of a Mystery Cult.

Coraldo: An egomaniacal rake from Cordoba - he's a Bonisagus lab rat, but whenever forced to leave the lab, he acts like a college student on spring break - only with less social skills. His son, whom he has not stepped forward to claim as his own, is the young lad who exhibits strange powers and looks to be of Merovingian descent.

SO, I sort of want the PCs to exist with this struggle as a backdrop for a while, but also touching upon their lives.

Thus the young Merovingian and the frame job on Pellegrina. How the child came to be so close to their covenant after being born in Spain is also uncertain, but it looks to be the case that some group knew of his heritage.

SO... I want to add some intrigue to the mix, as well as false leads and so on to keep the Quaesitor interested, and make everyone curious as to how things will play out, while giving them a chance to decide what to do about the young potential king of France in their midst. Also, deciding what to do with respect to the Capetian/Angevin designs on the crown and if they will surreptitiously aid one side or the other is an option I'd leave at their doorstep.

So, storyline wise, I can integrate them and have planned to do so since day 1. I'd just like to make things feel as vaguely historical/plausible with extra details, and also perhaps spur some more ideas to extend the layers of intrigue or verisimilitude.


Lots to work with there. I'll have to give it some further thought (too much for tonight). Tune in tomorrow.


I don't think missing holy oil would be much of an impediment to getting somebody crowned (I should add that unless one of it's characteristics was preservation, non petroleum based oil is going to go rancid in a couple of months). As long as the church is not trying to block the coronation there will be "holy oil" available when needed. The only reason for something to go "missing" is if somebody with the power to block the coronation is stalling for time.

Was he a bastard son? Otherwise nothing needed.


The Church normally supports the legitimate heir. A hook may be if the heir is an enemy of the Church.
Emperor: look in Wiki who is he and what is the current political situation in Hre. I would skip him.

A noble party may use him as a pretender against Louis.

Generally you may create a civil war in which everything may happen.

The English may try to get the whole France.

Keep in mind we're talking Mythic Europe here, and the legends about the oil, as summarized in Lion and the Lily, make it out to be more than just some greasy stuff you smear on someone.

There's easily grounds for it to be a divine sign of legitimacy. If someone else shows up with a regal aura, and the ability to cure scrofula, whereas the currently accepted 'king' cannot, it might be a compelling case for who is or isn't the king of France.

OK... so I've taken your information about the people in the campaign (I assume they are all PCs) and did some mental gesticulation.

I'm inclined to make your young Merovingian's blood a red herring. The particulars of how you use him depend greatly on what are the established facts. You mentioned a group, but are unclear as to their involvement (at least as known to the PCs - see below). You mentioned that he's a Bonisagus' son, but didn't mention what is known about the mother or how he came to be known by the father or the covenant.

Have you established any facts around who is doing the framing of Lady Pellegrina. If you're like me, you might start a plot like this with an idea of who's behind it and why, but not setting it down in stone in your mind until actual play (PC's discoveries and knowledge as they develop through the saga) sets them in stone for you. I personally do this because it often is the case that as the PCs go about their protaganist ways, opportunities for 'better' (more serendipitous, more personally meaningful for a PC, more expeditious in the development of other plots) explanations to things that haven't yet been defined in stone may appear that are different than the ones I originally surmised.

The link for Renoir is obvious. His connections to his knights could be a vehicle to feed clues to the PCs as needed. Especially when their actions or investigations 'stall' in the plot. Somehow there should be an issue of justice behind some of the events in order to be able to bring them to the PCs in this role.

The deal with the Oil could go seveal ways. As others have mentioned, the consequence of it having been lost could be nil... but OTH it could be very significant depending on how 'mythic' you like your Mythic Europe.

It seems to me that at the core of this is some sort of 'great discovery'. Presumably this will be about the true nature of successions, the way in which it can or has been manipulated, and the possible discovery of past manipulations.

There could be a contingent of like-minded Tytalus who are interested in setting the whole succession issue up as a contest (for studying) and hid the oil to keep the question of successesion far from clear. The frame of Lady P is to keep the young Lois suspicious and on edge. The more he feels threatened, the more likely that succession could become ugly. It could be that the quasitor's had an understanding on the succession of Lois with Phillip, but that it was discovered by one of these Tytali. Now the Quasitors in question fear acting against the Tytali for fear of their exposing of the interference crime by their own hose. Thus the Tytali feel relatively secure from meddling Quaesitors in their operation.

I'd also think of possibly (if it looks like it could help the plot) somehow involving house Tremere as an interested party. They are extremely interested in orderly succession in general. They are underrepresented in the tribunal, but that says nothing about the possibility of their ability to manipulate these events. My take would be to introduce a Tremere in the tribunal who is a high-up agent of the Exarch in Stonehenge.

Central to all these possibilities should be the question of how things play out from a PC perspective. The PC Quaesitor may have a strange encounter with one of the Tytali where the Tytalus does something obviously suspicious with apparently little regard for how the Quaesitor will react (thinking that his 'blackmail' card will protect him but not knowing that it doesn't apply to the PC). This has the danger that it could reveal too much too quickly depending on the PC. Likely the Tytali will sacrifice the discovered house member in order to maintain the cover-up.

The difficult integration is the Morevingian... more details would be needed to make sure that any idea I come up with didn't already violate any 'immutable' facts known by the PCs. The central question is how do you make him important without doing something over the top. That is, how can Morevingian blood be brought into play without bringing his importance within the Morevingian line to absurd importance. It seems to me that if you wanted to make his Morevingian blood important to the question of the succession, the only way to do it would be to make the character's lineage have a direct impact on succession. The only way to do that would be to make the character's lineage outrageously important... probably too important for my taste. Thus I'd make the bloodline a red herring. The key would be this mysterious group. Perhaps the group is secretly keeping track of all the royal lineages and has a better record of actual lineages than anyone else in Europe. They would be interested in the Morevingian out of hand, but not so much so as to make themselves too overt to the the lad or his acquaintences. They'd be hard to track down. It could be that after all the other machinations are discovered, that parties interested in a 'true and just' succession (a succession based on the 'morally right' interpretation of lineages rather than political situations)

Perhaps the holy oil is required and has mystical significance. Perhaps the oil will kill anyone who is not correctly 'in line'. Perhaps the secret deal with the quasitors dates back to the original 7 generation deal in that the quasitors produced a way to suppress this problem, allowing 'illegitimate' successions if desired. Lois himself could be hiding the oil in order to postpone the succession because the Quasitor's have suspended the deal owing to the discovery by the Tytali.

Ok... that's enough random musings for one night. Hope it's food for thought. Sorry it's not more coherent, but these kinds of questions usually work themselves out for my own sagas by taking an extra long think in the shower. I'm a little more 'seat of the pant's' kind of SG I guess, but I try to navigate an overall plot across the whole saga. The 'seat of my pant's' part is really to keep things as undefined as possible until they are set in stone by events (and become 'the past') in order to give myself the maximum flexibility to adjust course in order to constantly improve the over arching plot in the best, most story oriented way and the most personally meaningful for protagonists.

Did any of this (from anyone) help?

Oh yes, indeed. We're still sort of in the middle of the situation, but things are beginning to unfold and the responses thus far have been very helpful. I'll post some sort of synopsis after the next game.