Intersections and Conflicts between Magi and the Mundane

One of the things I would have liked to see more in the setting material, is events that reinforce the separation of mundane and magical societies. Though the Order refuses to swear fealty, there always seemed to me for space in the story and setting for the various leaders of the mundanes to demand fealty, taxes, and other services from the magi. Especially as Europe becomes more centralized in power, these men should continue to demand the service of the so-called magi, even in spite of the warnings from their ministers, priests, etc.

I decided to look at history for some disasters from around the time of the game and see how these events might have been caused by a mundane/magi conflict. This is my first take on this idea:

1091 - Tornado Strikes London

Following the signing of the Signing of the Treaty of Caen by the English King William II and his brother Robert II, Duke of Normandy; William returned to his struggle against the Scots and their current liege, King Malcolm of Scotland. William was attempting to fortify his new yet old territory of Cumberland and Westmorland with castles and men, while the Scots continued their own efforts to solidify their control of Cumbria.

Within Cumberland, William’s commander and quartermaster Lord Robert de Mowbray found the fortified and dilapidated castle of Ungulus, due to reports of locals. Over the late summer and early fall de Mowbray continued to pressure the hermit knights, for so he had heard them called for support of the English Crown. By September he had sent them an ultimatum through their strange crimson capped messengers, “Support the rightful Sovereign or we will topple your walls!”

That October Regus of Tytalus visited London. After a short visit to some old friends, a brief stop at the Mercer House, and an hour in prayer at St. Mary's Church; he sent his own message to Robert who was in London at the time, “Do not presume that we recognize any sovereign, rightful or otherwise; your answer will come tomorrow!” The next morning, Regus was seen on the banks of the Thames performing some unknown ritual and surrounded by frightening looking warriors. He summoned a great beast of a storm from the cloudless sky, and sent it scampering across the city; destroying London Bridge and a number of churches. It killed two men, much to Regus later horror, as he had tried to assure it was destructive but not deadly.

The storm and destruction finally got William’s attention, and in mounting horror he listened to de Mowbray’s diatribe describing what was obviously a conflict with one of the Houses of the Most Ancient Order of the Society of Hermes and Merlin, such as he had been taught and told to avoid. Letter of contrition and support were quickly dispatched. The Most Ancient House sent many pounds of silver for the families of the dead, and a skilled but strange architect was sent to assist in the repairs to the churches; as such William considered the matter closed and returned his divided attention to Scotland and Normandy.

Regus was fined 5 pawns of Vis for each man killed, and was required to craft three powerful devices associated with storms for the use of the Tribunal. Though the tribunal was ruled invalid, the magus paid the dues as a matter of both principal and politics.

de Mowbray avoided the fortress of Ungulus and other such fortifications, and killed King Malcolm of Scotland nearly a year later at the battle of Alnwick. He rebelled himself before the end of the century and spent his remaining years imprisoned in Windsor Castle and St Albans, as a monk. Till his death in 1125, he claimed that he was not of right mind during the failed rebellion and conspiracy, and there was talk in the Tribunal of 1200 about possible hermetic Influence on his choice to rebel and complete failure to do so. But the issue was never resolved.

Ungulus is listed as a Winter Covenant in Heirs of Merlin, and some of the various Tribunal maps floating around have it in about the right place for our story. I like the idea thrown about in some of the source books that the mundane leadership know about the Magi, and to avoid them, while others don't. As we have all seen in the modern day, leaders can be frightfully ignorant of very important things regarding their "jobs." I made up Regus of Tytalus, but wanted an old powerful mage that might be able to create a 50 to 65 level effect/ritual within London and the audacity to do so. de Mowbray's rebellion seems, on short reading, to have been poorly planned, and he was caught out when the conspiracy dissolved around him.

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This is cool! Thanks for the neat write-up.

Nice... but a year ago Fafnir wrote this masterpiece in this thread, posting.php?mode=quote&f=4&p=268033

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  1. Hahahaaaaa, so good!
  2. I need to up my storytelling game.
  3. It unfortunately reinforces the insular nature of the game as magi actions happen in a vacuum.

I do want more highlighting of the tragic and interest effects of the mundane powers that be and the Magi coming into conflict due to misunderstanding the "relationship" of the Magi to the culture of the time.

Companions capture some of this. But I want more.

One Hook combination I've been looking forward to using for a covenant in the next game I can sneak into is School (Residents, Major), possibly combined with Mundane Politics (External Relations, Major).

The idea is that the covenant runs a locally famous, school of exceptionally high quality for younger gentlemen of pre-university ages, and carefully selected, talented young men of the lower classes. The magi themselves rarely teach, though their companions or (very specific) grogs may. The school's fame, over time, has grown a bit throughout the region, as a few young knights have drawn their retainers from their less well-bred compatriots who they retained friendships with from their school days. While the 'schoolmasters' themselves are known to be a bit odd, and the selection of tutors might draw some questions from the most conservative members of the local nobility, the students who attend tend to be much-improved by their time there. To avoid accusations of interference with mundane politics by the local Quaesitores, the magi have specifically designed the school to be aimed more primarily at second sons, rather than those who stand to inherent, though they do enhance the quality of the education the students receive through some magical means. This could be anything from a variation on Mercurian ritual magic to improve the students' mental attributes (perhaps the school is a vis source as well?), to minor magical items with Mentem affects worn by the teaching staff that allow them to more readily diffuse typical adolescent tensions and increase the students' interest in their studies.

Plot Hooks:

  1. A powerful member of the local nobility has sent his firstborn son to be educated at the school at an exceptionally young age, without bothering to ask for permission or notifying the magi in advance. How do the magi handle the situation? What are the motives of the member of the nobility for atypically separating himself from his heir?

  2. One of the students at the school, the scion of a powerful family if not the heir, has been murdered, the season before he is due to complete his education. Whispers through the Black Gate or similar will lead to the dead student implicating another student, but the accused will plead innocence - and examination of the accused student via Posing the Silent Question, Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie, or similar will verify these claims to innocence. What happened here? Was the accused's memory modified in some subtle way? Is the ghost of the deceased lying or mistaken? Are there other supernatural forces in play? How will the magi placate the parents of the deceased?

  3. A former student at the school inherits his father's fiefdom after his older brother, the traditional heir, mysterious disappears. An enemy of the covenant is responsible for removing the previous heir, and (perhaps a separate, Hermetic enemy) attempts to bring the case before Tribunal that the magi are meddling in mortal politics. Much of the covenant's income (and perhaps some Boons associated with mortal influence) do flow through the school - how do the magi defend themselves?

  4. A visiting Bonisagus scholar claims a recently-arrived student to the school, who is Gently Gifted, as an Apprentice, before the magi have a chance to notice. How do they deal with the student's parents?

  5. A Tytalian member of the covenant decides his (NOT Gently Gifted) apprentice would benefit from some conflicts and rivalries, and tosses him into the covenant's school for 3 seasons a year for the first year or two of his apprenticeship, after opening his Arts. Does this completely disrupt the classroom? How do the other students treat him?

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