I'm currently running a fast Bjornaer saga set in Thebes -- well I would be if life did not keep getting in the way -- and tonight we are dealing with the Gathering of the Twelve Years in 1227. This will be the first part of a two year story as I have something that runs from the meeting, but I'm looking for good ideas for issues that may arise, personality conflicts, and specific issues facing the Bjornaer that year.
Any ideas? If you have a plot idea I can run please pm me directly with any secret material I would not want my players to see, but of it is a public issue, this is where to post it. I'll post later what we come up with anyway.
Um, Pope Gregory IX was elected in March and has already started to move against Frederick II. He was very hot on suppressing heresy and sending out inquisitors through Germany. I'm not sure House Bjornaer will care about the politics, but...
The magi of Lubeck are agressively cutting down woods for their shipyards. They are cutting them REALLY fast. Something must be done. The shark people vote for sinking the ships, but this might cause them to start cutting even more wood to replace loses.
Bjornaer from the Novgorod tribunal talk about the Mongols and their shaman magicians. They seem to be shapeshifters (general grumble) and want to enslave the magicians they encounter (uproar).
In Hibernia the Normans are cutting down forests to drive the Irish rebels out.
That old bear from GotF (Rugen, or something like that) challenges the current birdie prima for primushood again.
An interesting historical tidbit is the following. It's not about House Bjornaer, but may heavily influence the events of their Domus Magna, Crintera, that is located on the island of Rugen, and where the Gathering is held. Rugen was conquered by the christianizing Danes in 1168, which soon also conquered a large tracts the Baltic shores of the German Empire in the following 40 years or so. This included Lubeck, the site of Oculus Septentrionalis, whose merchantile magi where suspected of aiding the Danes in the whole thing at the expense of Crintera. Crintera was not allowed by the Tribunal to push out the invaders, which was a huge source of friction. The same christianizing Danes, in collaboration with the teutonic knights, in 1219 launched a (successfull) campaign to conquer and christianize (pagan) Estonia.
Let's see what happens in the years from 1223 to 1227, more precisely July 22nd 1227 (which may be immediately before or after the Gathering), the date of the (second) battle of Bornhöved:
This all smells of Hermetic interference to me, and if I were a Quaesitor, I'd certainly start snooping around.
Interestingly, of all the territories that the Danes had conquered from the Holy Roman empire, Rugen the single one that remains in the hands of Valdemar II - or rather, of his vassal Vitslav I, Prince of Rügen. His stauchly loyal vassal, in fact, despite the fact he's coming out of several years of defeats at the hands of his lord, and that he could easily switch sides. Hermetic interference in this, too?
Sounds like a clear option of Crintera to distance herself from the German territories. Better a Dane overlord that looks north than the christianizing dudes that look to Rome. Maybe they are starting to plan a new Ultima Thule tribunal?
Uhm, no. Maybe the description wasn't clear, but the prince of Rugen (the Dane overlord) was a staunch vassal of Valdemar II, the king of the "christianizing dudes that look to Rome". The hermetic background of the situation can be played in many ways; one may be the following.
Perhaps Crintera secretly organized the whole kidnapping in 1223, promising Henry the Black delivery of Valdemar sr. and Valdemar jr. "during a hunt" in exchange for getting the whole region freed (which the Germans would have liked anyway) and possibly some promises of stopping the crusades against paganism. They may not have mentioned Rugen explicitly to minimize evidence against them should problems should a Quaesitorial investigation pop up. They also suggested that, in addition to land, Henry could ask for a gigantic ransom because of Valdemar traded with witches - the idea was to make sure Valdemar put pressure on Oculus Septentrionalis to pay for a sizable portion of the ransom, hitting the covenant where it hurt most and possibly leading it to committing "economic" crimes to cover the huge sum (44000 silver marks is about 30000 pounds of silver!). Somehow Valdemar managed to draw in the pope, which seriously upped the ante for all the Hermetic players involved in this shadow war; Crintera may then have decided to lend greater help to the Germans to ensure the whole thing went their way, throughout the 1225-1227 campaing and culminating in the battle of Bornhoved.
It's worth noting the Bornhoved was a very bloody and even matched battle, that the Germans won only because at some point the contingent of Dithmarshen switched sides; and the Dithmarshen being a wild region of marshes and bogs close to the area of influence of Waddenzee, the subversion could have been caused by Crintera or by Waddenzee itself, either as part of their enmity with Oculus Septentrionalis or in exchange for some favour by Crintera or (most likely) both. Oculus Septentrionalis may well be behind the rescue of king Valdemar, and may well be involved into convincing him to relinquish all german territories except Rugen in the ensuing peace, either as a personal favour or by concocting some story about its mystical significance to Valdemar's destiny. Considering the Rugen is a pretty small parcel of land, the Germans probably thought that getting everything they wanted but Rugen was a pretty resounding success and went for the deal, not realizing that Rugen was the the most important, if not the only, thing that Crintera really wanted free of the Danes. Or maybe Crintera is behind the rescue of king Valdemar, promising him safety in exchange for the right to do as they wish in Rugen?
Note that depending on when during the year the Gathering takes place (I do not recall if it's in the books or not) the events above may have just happened, or may be brewing. And the PCs may well be involved in them - imagine subtly steering the story so that one of them, maybe a grog, saves Valdemar, and then having the players read the wikipedia section
Absolutely! I found the reference to Bornhöved which can occur immediately after the Gathering of 1227. So would House Bjornaer's Wilderists support the German Princes or the Danes? I'm guessing the German princes, hoping to drive the Danes from Rugen in this case.
Well he is a grandson of Canute V after all, so has Danish blood, and is married to Margarethe, the niece of Bishop Absalon who destroyed the pagan sites on Rugen. he has made his choice! I think he had pragmatic reasons to persist...
There are claims of a Bjornear Maga having a child in wolf form, to a human father (having transformed after mating but before the pregnancy started showing). This child may have a human mind, and there is talk of initiating them into the Heartbeast mystery so that they can talk the form of their Hearthuman.
Of course, not everyone is happy with this idea, especially if the pup is ungifted.
A plot suggestion I sent to cj23. He says to go ahead and post it on the thread now:
Bjornaer Magi who achieve final twilight become mundane animals with the form of their heartbeasts, but if they have achieved any of the inner mysteries of the house they become a Great Beast with Magical might and so have the capacity to cast spells still.
An elder magi of the house who was killed during the Schism, not knowing his fate but believing it most likely that he would become a Great Beast developed a spell to shapeshift into a human in preparation for this moment, so that he could continue to pretend to be a mortal magus. His grimoire containing this spell comes to the attention of one of your players, along with notes in it that imply that the Aegis of the Hearth of Crintera was altered by this magi so that he would be able to enter the Covenant without being detected as a magical animal rather than a mortal. The grimoire has obviously been through a number of hands before it came to light.
How would your players act on learning that some of their elders are possibly no longer mortal but are concealing it from the house, and also learning that the Aegis that protects the domus magus has possibly been sabotaged to include some exploitable vulnerabilities?
Great Beasts are seen so rarely that the house views their sighting as powerful Omens, but what if that is not true but that more Great Beasts hide in plain sight, Bjornaer who have lost their Heartbeast ability and shapeshift using spells like any of the magi of the other Houses.