I need help.
The current 'big bad guy' in my saga - Archmage Kraigon of House ex Miscellanea - has been given a power by the Russian monster Baba Yaga. It is known as the Blessing of Twenty Women (or sometimes the Gift of... or the Curse of...) in old folk tales. It gives him the ability to influence twenty individual women who might otherwise be antipathetic towards him. The exact nature of the effect varies from what is merely a strong inclination to trust him to blind obedience. Baba Yaga gave him this power by biting him and leaving twenty marks on his flesh from her iron teeth.
The player characters have learned about this, and have come to the conclusion that there must be some way to break this power; either for each victim separately, or in one fell swoop. I would like them to be able to succeed, but am stuck for ideas as to how. Ideally the method should have a very 'folk tale' kind of feel to it, and while I don't want it to be too easy, it is only one small strand of a much larger and fast-moving set of problems (so I don't want it to take up too much in-game time).
Any ideas from your endlessly creative minds will be gratefully received.
First problem: the guy is a member of the OoH, so he can argue that they are depriving him of his magical power by breaking this ability
Do they know about any of the current influenced women? They ,might work as arcane connections to the whole bunch. Like a spider (the magus) and the trends of his net.
Going to Baba Yaga and ask her to break this might be an option. Might also be suicidal depending on how they approach her. Or she might demand a story in return. I am not confident with russian myths, so no idea what she can ask for, but there you have your folk tale
Initiating the archmage into the venus blessing might also break it, since all women will be well predisposed towards him afterwards.
Or sending 20 women on a berserk rage to kill him and force him to use his powers to save his own ass Someone with enchanting music could achieve that.
Killing Baba Yaga should work, but presumably that is beyond your characters' power. Negotiating with her might work, but if you are bargaining to get her to break a previous bargain, well... who knows which bargain she will choose to honor ? Maybe negotiating for her to kill him, as that would technically not break her previous bargain ? I think traditionally Baba Yaga liked young children (a in, likes to eat), if the characters can stomach that option.
Challenging her to a contest is a common folk tale way of getting a fairy (or other supernatural character) to do something, but as the challenged she has the choice of contest, unless the characters manage to trick her into accepting their choice. Still a very dangerous way.
So what is left ? Salt is a common folk remedy to magic, and running water is supposed to stop them. If you add Baba Yaga's iron teeth, maybe getting the archmagus to bathe in running salt water (presumably a stream which the characters have salted beforehand) would get into Baba Yaga's mark and rust them away ? Or reopening them and rubbing salt into them ? Or maybe burning them away or pressing crosses against them, but that is already more Christian and less folk remedy.
Have one of these women find Love could end the effect. You could design a tale with the characters either seduce her or face various perils to bring a woman's love to her side despite the villain's schemes.
For an alternative, pitting a woman in a situation where she must chose between obeying the villain or harming a loved one (maybe even a True Friend or Love, or a dependant) could work.
A curse for a similar faerie, depriving people of emotions, cast on the women, might work too. So they might have to search for it and convince it.
Maybe, in the faerie realm, the women's hearts are chained to something symbolizing the magus. The players need to get to them and free them, despite all kind of perils.
If the marks on the magus are a symbol of power and don't go away due to the pact, try to trick him into having them healed, maybe by diving into a legendary healing water.
Perhaps simply hacking off/scraping/burning/marring the part of the body that the marks are on would work. Subsequent healing wouldn't bring the marks back.
Thanks for the thoughts, folks. There is much here for me to chew upon.
I will just clarify a few things. The bad guy is about to declare war on the Order, so matters of the Code are a bit moot. There is practically no possibility of getting Baba Yaga to remove the blessing because it is being used to further her desires. It is extremely unlikely that the players can contact her - at least, not in time - because they are still in the Provencal Tribunal. The evil Archmage is a power beyond their abilities to fight or affect directly, so they must find clever/sneaky ways to combat him.
The PCs know the identities of some of the women, most of whom are members of the Order.
This is the scenario where Infernal powers could tempt the players.
If they need information quickly , rather than doing various trials and stories involving other Realms.
When dealing with an evil witch , you need a hero.
The hero will find the cave of the sleeping knights (should be at least twenty) ,
they will set out to free the women who have fallen under the evil spell.
If not the Infernal , make a deal with Koschei. He would oppose Baba Yaga.
Find the Firebird , though traditionally this is meant to be a difficult quest.
The Phrase 'hell hath no fury......'
Nothing quite so potent as magic, but maybe turn the women on each other....then watch what happens when a hareem of dangerously obsessive Maga rip through each other and him.
Gruagachan magic is all about poetry... magic going to extremes seems to fit here.
A woman under the effect must constitute an arcane connection to him and since the effect is indefinite and linked to stigmata on his body a pretty high order connection at that. The Maga affected may not be able to use their own magic against him but they are potent weapons for others such as the PCs though no doubt they must resist such use. A spell cast against him using all 20 women should be unstoppable not just because of the penetration multiplier but by the laws of narrative.
It is beyond the PC's power to break the hold on the victims but it should be far easier to lock it in place so that he cannot swap out one victim for another. It could also be in their power (especially with the help of a trickster type fey) to lay other mental effects on top as a spoiler so that direct orders have creative misinterpretation and emotional compulsion to act on his behalf is accompanied by a compulsion to act ion a whimsical and ineffective way.
Isn't figuring out how to break the effect your players job?
No one mentioned the power of the divine yet. If I was a player, that would probably be the first thing I would try. Asking the local priest to give communion to the afflicted women, or to sprinkle them with holy water.
Yes, of course it is: but I need to decide what is going to work.
Thank-you so much, sodales. This is all great stuff (but, of course, more is always welcome). I dropped in a couple of tiny, tentative clues to some of it last night. Things are moving fast now.
Trick him into trying to bind a saint or an angel
Why? They mght com up wth something none of us have thought of, or might have a bad day and not be able to think of anything but PeVi
I really like to use the Divine and True Love against these things. It's been some years since I read much Russian tales, but Folk Tales typically have Love and Religion featuring prominently. Some possibilities:
- (As above) trick him into binding an Angel. It would only work if the Divine wants it, but then Redeeming and arch mage should often be in the Divine's interest
- Let (one of) the bound women find True Love and make that bleed back through the link? Or break the link?
- Find a righteous knight and tell him. He should try freeing the women and mess up things for the arch mage.
- Get the women into a monastery. The Lord would probably object rather badly to His dedicated followers getting dominated. Or more politically: Get a bound woman be a nun and tell a Quasitor
- Ask another bad or good faerie. Baba Yaga isn't known to be the one with most friends.
- Stealing Baba Yaga's teeth and destroying them or blessing them (The Divine, again) should break it.
- Healing the arch mage, as said above.
- Making the Arch Mage break the deal with Baba Yaga. She doesn't give anything for free, so hindering him keeping his part should do it.
- Kill Baba Yaga? Or make her furious enough against the arch mage? A gift incorporating a Relic or something else she cannot stand "from" the arch mage could do it. Baba Yage isn't known for her patience and for checking things before getting angry and doing rash stuff.
I love situations like this
This is a good thread in which to recommend Orson Scott Card's wonderful book "Enchantment", where Baba Yaga is an important character (and that depiction could inspire powers and personality for someone else's NPC version of her).
Back to the OP's question: how about the folk wisdom that a woman's magic becomes significantly more powerful when she's pregnant? Could be quite the spell-breaking prowl for the magus with the highest Charm....
Or one could use a Rego Craft Corpus spell , based on the ones magi use to inseminate their flocks.
Considering that Gently Gifted Magi with Venus' Blessing and High Charm are at a premium.
If the power works only on women, a "fairy" way to break it would be to turn the women into men -- either physically (Muto Corpus) or symbolically (e.g. having them take a role that is traditionally held by a man etc.).
Absolutely. They frequently do. I am very much of the view that when the players come up with a really good idea, it should be allowed to work. But they have just embarked upon a round of investigating, researching and information gathering. They are talking to people, listening to storytellers and scouring libraries, in addition to using various abilities, both supernatural (such as 'Visions') and mundane (such as 'Legend Lore'). So I have to put stuff in for them to find and discover; and, therefore, I have to know what some of it is pointing towards (although, obviously, there will also be false trails) to make it worthwhile.
"There is practically no possibility of getting Baba Yaga to remove the blessing because it is being used to further her desires."
Of course, there may be "rules" that the players can discover (a story there) that Baba Yaga must follow. "Rules" that could be perverted to thwart "her desires". Of course she would fight them, but then that thar's a story.
Regarding the distance, I wouldn't hesitate a story relevant way to summon her. Again, perhaps related to said "rules". Perhaps there is an as of yet undiscovered "watcher" fairy related to the enchantment that must remain local to the Archmage. Perhaps through the discovery and capture of this "catalyst" fae the players can discover the "rules" and means to summon Baba Yaga.
Keep in mind that if Baba Yaga is a 5th Ed. Fae, she likely "wants" the story to play out (at least subconsciously), even if her glamor demands that she resist. I would even to a twist and have the "Main Point/Subject" of "Baba Yaga's Fae Story" actually be entwined around the fate of the women where the evil Mage, contrary to his ego (and perhaps her conception of him in their plans) is actually a side character (not that he's merely a side character to the players). Perhaps this woman is the focus of how the players may be able to summon Baba Yaga.
Ok there's my 2 cents.