Help me stress test a mystery plot!

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"."

How long has said Bonisagus been missing? (this would be stuff we'd know in advance)

Probably more than a century. Certainly less than two.

Assuming the saga starts in 1220, there are certainly records of him voting at the Grand Tribunal of 1065 (though not that of 1098), and a few (very old!) members of the tribunal vaguely remember him from when they were apprentices or newly gauntleted magi.

Does he show any kind of behaviour/(lack of) knowledge that might lead to the deduction that he is an impostor?
(Is he a Quendalon? Or a demon? Or sth like that)

  • stuff like: not knowing about history
  • knowling too much about history
  • fairie behaviour (e.g. iron), odd reactions to holy water that he is accidently served to drink?

What is his spell sigil?

Too many questions in a single post! I'm trying to keep one question/post so that I have a good idea of how hard the guessing was. So I'll just tackle the last one:

Assuming he is "accidentally" served to drink holy water does he exhibit odd reactions?

First note that this is a very unlikely accident, and if it's not an accident making it happen is a big sin. That said,
he's not seen around a lot (say your quaesitor might meet him once a week on average?); and he very, very rarely eats or drinks in public (say once or twice a year?). If queried, in his typical "enigmatic wisdom 10" style, he mumbles stuff about the problems of old age and how too much food is bad for the intellect and you know how many magi where slain by poison during the corruption of tytalus and the schism war?

A brief, vague loss of visual focus, a bit like when you look through really hot air or through a lense at the wrong distance.

Incidentally, you do not see him cast a lot of spells. Just a few minor cantrips that may well come from magic items. Given his old age and how close he is to twilight, that's probably pretty normal.

Does the age and behavior of his familiar match that of the archmage (that is of course assuming that in your saga there would be this kind of "mutual aging')

She (the cat) does look in good shape, more active than the archmage; you also see her around the covenant (particularly around the kitchen!) more. I would add that in my saga naturally unaging familiars often do not age with their magus.

Assuming that records still exist, is there anything odd/anomolous/noticable about his voting history at Tribunal?

(after befriending him) what can the cat tell me about their time in Twilight: Anything special about this last one?

Records are scanty. To a modern observer, it may seem suspicious that he sided with Diedne during the Schism war (though he did not take part in the fighting) deprecating the irreplaceable loss of knowledge the destruction of Diedne would entail for the entire Order. He was not the only Bonisagus with these views though.

The cat is a she :slight_smile: And she's pretty hard to "befriend". I mean, she's quite happy to take any milk and sweets and stuff in exchange for allowing herself to be stroked. But if you get to talk to her she's quite haughty, and gets even more so if you start talking about mystical stuff. She hints at the fact the archmage and her have seen things that you cannot even imagine, and that would have completely shattered any lesser mind ("like yours" is unstated, but kind of implicit). If you press her further, all you get is a list of incomprehensible references to things like the sun giving birth to the moon, blood-red beer and the secrets of life and death and life everlasting.

Does he beat me in Certamen?

Tell me about the apprentices he trained. Alive, dead, where and of course are they willing to talk.

Is this consistent with the historic record of his sigil?

What does he propose to do as his season per year of covenant service (or whatever rate your saga uses)?

Follow-up question: if he extract vis from the aura how many pawns does he add to the covenant coffers?

He's Bonisagus - he had to provide a copy of all his personal research of spells and discoveries, and may have done more on his own.

Is there a pattern to them, and what - or, at least, what areas/Arts/interests do they cover? (And that includes mundane Lores as well as Arcane/Hermetic pursuits). Is (was) he famed for anything along these lines? (This is intended as all one topical question.)

(Next question - any (old) Reputations?)

  1. How does he react to touching iron?

  2. Any visible twilight flaws?

Who, or what faction, does he most commonly express displeasure, enmity, or hatred towards? (ex: house Merinita, the Church, demons, the Iberian Tribunal, etc?)