I'd like to introduce a long term mystery plot in my saga. I mean, I have a specific plot in mind. However, I'm not sure whether my troupe will be able to see through it too soon. So I was wondering if you'll help me stress test it.
You are a young Quaesitor. You are part of a group of freshly gauntleted magi seeking to establish a new spring covenant in a remote corner of the Tribunal (so far, very standard). Each of you has his own different motivation for having joined forces with the others - hiding a Dark Secret, investigating rumors of Ancient Magic, influencing the local politics, following a parens' instructions etc. ONE of the magi, however, is not newly gauntleted. He is an ancient archmagus of Bonisagus (a filius of Notatus himself!), who had mysteriously disappeared - many though in final twilight - over a century ago, at the end of the eleventh century. The oldest members of the Tribunal remember him from the time immediately before his disappearance - even then he was truly ancient (almost two hundred years old), and somewhat addle-headed from age and twilight. He just reappeared (with his beloved cat familiar!) at the last Tribunal meeting, mumbling strange prophecies but making it clear that he definitely had to look after the new covenant in order to avert some dire but obscure fate ready to strike the Tribunal and perhaps the entire Order. Whether this relic from the past will indeed manage to save the Order from whatever threat he has divined, or whether the young magi will simply have to babysit an honored archmagus through his last years, the whole Tribunal agrees that the Bonisagus' wishes should be accomodated.
Now, I can tell you (but not my players) that there is a mystery behind this old mage that should eventually emerge. I know exactly what's going on. You don't (yet), but you should try to learn it. Ideally, I'd like to keep you guessing for a long time. This would mean that the mystery is sufficiently robust that it will not be accidentally uncovered before its time.
For each post, you are allowed to ask a single question, that I should be able to answer with a short phrase like "yes", "almost always", "a rowan branch", "you can't tell". Your quaesitor must be able to learn the answer in a particular situation that you must describe - the more "commonplace" the better. A council meeting is commonplace. A wizard war less so, but ok. The quaesitor scrying without good reason on the archmagus is not nearly as good, because it is a major hermetic crime and few quaesitors would risk it. A visit to a generic Faerie Forest, demons being uncovered at the covenant etc. are all relatively good in the sense that they are things that are likely to happen in the saga (we play troupe style). I'll give you a few examples.
You might say: "Ok, the covenant council meets every month. Does the archmagus attend?"
I'd respond: "Very often".
You might say: "What is his talisman?"
I'd respond: "You can't tell".
You might say: "What items can be seen with him always or almost always when we meet him around the covenant (e.g. at meetings)?"
I'd respond: "His robe and his staff. Oh, and his long, long snow white beard and his cat, if you count them as such".
You might say: "Does he appear to receive lots of letters from the Redcap network?"
I'd say: "You can't tell (the Redcap delivers messages in private)"
You might say: "If I befriended the Redcap and weaseled out of him information about the archmagus' correspondence, what would I learn in terms of its volume?"
I'd say: "HMMM, IT'S A BIG IF. But if you did, you'd learn "about as many letters as two of you"."