[Saga, Year 4] A Bad Time to be A Wizard

So, last weekend, we kicked off the 4th year of our long-term saga.

Premise: The Holy Oil used to anoint the Kings of France went missing. Louis the Lion has been holding things together, and the player wizards have been trying to find the oil before the Divine Auras of France faded any further. A cabal of Hermetic magi and other shadowy figures seemed to be responsible.

Last year, the final game saw the covenant's Quaesitor, aided by his parens and other magi of the Normandy Tribunal, managed to magically hijack the stolen oil back. As midnight struck, Helios Excelcis , player Quaesitor, magically appeared close to Paris, and went to find the un-Anointed King Louis...

... who was being slain with fire by one Diego, son of the covenant's Bonisagus womanizer. The secret cabal was now blatantly propping up Diego as the last descendant of Merovech, and rightful King of France. Diego claimed the throne as his be right, and then ran off with his parens, who apparently was part of the cabal. The cabal had also arrayed a number of turncoat wizards and magical/infernal spirits to keep Helios from the Palais Royale.

While this was going on, allies of the players were moving to combat these forces. One group of Tytali was awaiting the delivery of a powerful non-Hermetic artifact, the Staff of Gwyrrdin, which the players had recovered in Year 2 of our saga (7 years ago game-time).

Paris was destroyed on accident by a young magus/new player who got ahold of the staff during the magical fracas that was engulfing Paris. Her imaginary friend (demon) told her some of the Brythonic words needed to activate the artifact, and swore that her parens had called for the staff, but was now injured. And so a rain of fire fell on Paris, and earthquakes shook the city.

Paris is for the most part, destroyed. Diego, son of Merovech, calling himself the Red King, is riding around France creating "miracles" and otherwise magically garnering good will from the populace. He's also planting flags and banner inclining people to favor him. The cabal has had a few decades to prepare for all this...

Our wizardly heroes return by foot to their covenant, with the two new player wizards in tow.

A council meeting is called... and here is what the magi are saying....

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Once all the wizards were gathered, Pellegrina [Pellegrina Circe of Jerbiton, married to the Lord of Vezay] rose from her tiny chair. She seemed paler and slighter than normal, the peachy glow of her cheeks absent and her violet eyes ringed by dark circles from Gwyrrdin's nightly cries for her milk.

"Arya, you have not yet met Tethyos Fluvium Magnum [Becca's character] of Tytalus and Dominus Vermes [tenative name for Brian's character] of Bonisagus. Helios met them in Paris, and they helped him flee back to Tulede with the oil. Tethyos is the former apprentice of our friend Severin. In these desperate times, we've had to dispense with our normal protocol for inducting new covenant members, as Mercatier has fled and Coroldo is touring Europe with the Phoenix."

Once introductions were made, she threw a heavy red banner into the center of the table with a thud. A waft of dust puffed up from it like a black cloud. It bore the symbol of King Diego I, now known as the Red King.

"I found this, waving from my manor house in Vezay. The 'Red King' is on everyone's lips. It is assumed that I, a noblewoman and wizard, are his ally. My husband's vassals send me gifts... the implication being that I represent the new order in France. For the time being, I have said nothing that would make them think otherwise."

She sank into her chair.

"We need to decide our covenants position in this war and we need to decide it now. The obvious choice is in favor of the traditional Order of Hermes and against Diego's ascension. We know that Diego and the faction who put him in power have no regard for the Code or for dealing with Infernal powers. Wizards would become entangled in temporal matters at the expense of magic. Due to our longevity, wizards could rule for centuries, unchecked. And given the small number of magi, and the infertility our longevity imposes, who will inherit the seats of power when a wizard and his descendants pass? Moreover, there are limits to our magic in that we might not be able to fulfill the promises of endless bounty that Diego has made to the people. His ascension will undoubtedly earn the ire of the Church. Lords of Men from other kingdoms may begin active persecution of wizards for fear of their own thrones. Though we have great power, there are mundanes than Gifted... it is a terrible threat. The clock of progress could be set back 1000 years."

"But," she continued, after a brief pause. "What if it's too late to turn back? If the Holy Oil is brought to Rome, the other kingdoms will Crusade against France, with their own wizards in tow if necessary. We know the small minds of men and there hatred of wizards; we will be maligned and persecuted with impunity, even if we stand against Diego. The mundanes masses and the Lords of Men will never forget this great treachery and let us live in peace again. Therefore, I think there is validity to Diego's cause, despite the manner of his ascension. What if we, as the Gifted, turn this cataclysm into an opportunity to usher France into a period of beauty, prosperity and enlightenment, the likes of which no kingdom has ever seen? We risk imminent extermination either way. At least if we side with Diego-- and win-- we could have the most perfect magical society Christendom has ever seen, and worthy counterpoint to the Order of Solomon."

Arya [Hermetic Name: Veritas Conflagrationis of Flambeau, Zoroastrian and Persian] rises to welcome Tethyos and Dominus, Arash his glowing bird familiar perched excitedly on his shoulder.

"Welcome noble magi, Tethyos and Dominus. Your council is welcome here in Tulede. With many of our covenant curiously absent, it is good to replenish our ranks. Word has reached my ears of the perils that were experienced in Paris and the city's subsequent destruction. It is clear to me that Diego must command great power if he is capable of demolishing an entire city with such a potent divine aura."

"This Diego claims rightful authority to the crown of these lands. While highly unorthodox and clearly in violation of the Code, my interest is peaked as to the young king's claims. For centuries the mage-kings of my people ruled with justice and power. However, such power is easily corrupted, and it is only with the aid of true faith may the lust for power be stemmed."

"I am not opposed to the rule of magic to once again preside over creation, but we must remember that there are dominions and realms of power which supercede our own. How shall the Pope in Rome see this ascension. Will he bless it or will he raise arms against France and all its magical heretics?"

"We also must remember that those who support Diego have actively campaigned against our livelihood and survival. Many times have we thwarted their attempts on our lives. If we attend to join cause with the Red King, how can we gain his trust when we have so long fought on opposite sides of the line in the sand?"

An email wizards council is proving pretty interesting... I'm waiting to hear from the Quaesitor, who actually has the Holy Oil, and is inclined to deliver it to the Pope, rather than play Kingmaker.

I need to figure our where Diego, newly Gauntleted Wizard and claimant to the Throne of France, might want to choose as a capital.

Currently, about 30 or so Magi have chosen to support the Red King.

Will it last? Will the Pope call a Crusade? Will civil war engulf the Order, or can this be put down quickly? I leave it for the players to try and figure that out.

"King Diego" believes as a scion of a magical bloodline, and a wizard, he can negotiate a new world understanding between the Divine and the Magical Realms, where magic can be a benevolent force, and wizards can rule in place of brutish nobility. Of course, he's been raised/indoctrinated by a member of a shadowy and murderous cabal who have their own agenda, but that's what the young Bonisagi believes...

[So, basically, I'm excited by Year 4, and the situation at hand, and wanted to tell you all about it.]

Thoughts? Ideas? Concerns?


My primary thought: That is so cool!

..keep talking... :wink:

[The Quaesitor, Helios Excelcis, member of the Mystic Fraternity of Samos, who currently holds the Holy Oil, responded via email last night.

His words, which to me are immensely funny at times:]

Igack is his drake familiar, found in Calebais in a mutual exchange of flame that was the basis of their respect and friendship.
(And, yes, I portray him speaking as if he was Astro from the Jetsons with a fanged underbite)

Igack scurries into the room with a parchment rolled between his teeth. He leaps upon his wizard's chair at the head of the table, carefully setting the scroll on the table.

"Realrios says rorry. Re'll be rere roon. Here ris rosition paper on red ring."

Upon unfurling the scroll, Helios' sodales are greeted with the product of a mind brooding over the loss of the University of Paris, and concerned with the greater outlook of humanity.

"To all concerned with the manner of the 'Red King',

It would seem to behove me to move beyond my duties as an interpreter and enforcer of the Code of Hermes, by which we all swore our lives, and instead speak more broadly about temporal power.

One might be tempted to trumpet the ascension of wizards to earthly power as a fulfillment of Plato's Republic. Indeed, would not a magi be the ultimate philosopher king, with their insight into the esoteric and mastery over arcane arts? Yet in Plato's dialogue with Gorgias, we also find, 'That part of the soul in foolish people where the desires reside—the uncontrolled and nonretentive part—he likened to a leaky jar, because it can never be filled.' And who should constitute the leakiest jars on the terra firma but Magi? Who, but the Magi, pursue resources to the ends of Creation to feed their magical hubris?

And indeed, in our case, the leaking jars explode or are destroyed when left to their own devices. It is through the Code that a semblance of Order has been brought to bear. Are we now to tie the avarice of wizards, prone equally to esoteric insight and capricious use of power for their own gain? An avaricious wizard in a remote tower poses a danger to his immediate surroundings. The same wizard with an army endangers all.

And what shall we model ourselves on? The Order of Solomon, a band of court wizards who see not beyond their war lust? I have observed this character directly among our eastern kindred. Instead of the pursuit of ultimate truths, there reigns the banality that can only come about by obsession with temporal power, with predictable results.

But apart from the dangers of a wizard king, let us examine the purposes and legitimacy of temporal government. Kings are made by birth, honor, and divine right - not a simple invocation and words of power. In the same way that a lesser man with an axe is still a lesser man, a coward with the use of magic is still a coward. And this is precisely what Diego and those who surround him are. To invoke the powers of the infernal to keep the rightful successor from the throne is as cowardly as the strumming of the lyre by Nero as Rome burnt. Only in this case, the perpetrators have lit the fire and are now strumming the lyre.

Lastly, the invocation of some vestige of Merovingian heritage is pure chimera. We are not confronted with a rightful descendant of the French throne. Supposing that the pedigree claim is correct, we are confronted with the descendant of a family whose power had evaporated centuries ago.

The world is best when wizards concern themselves with being wizards, and humanity concerns itself with all else. I would challenge the most erudite of you to produce works that approach Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Virgil, or Boethius. Your treatise on Creo Ignem instructs one on how to produce fire with a gesture, but says nothing of goodness or greatness.

Helios Excelsis scholae Guernicus, Quaesitor Sic Semper Ordo Hermetica"

Very cool!

My own concern, were I a magus on the sideline of all of this, would be diabolism. Should the Red King be truly concerned with ruling with Magic and Justice, and align himself with the Divine so as to pose no threat to Rome - that's fine. But if he is in league with the Infernal, surely no good would come out of this.

So I'd suggest looking into plot-points to drop the Infernal shadow from him. Since it appears he is manipulated, if he would discover this, renounce the infernalists, and persecute them than this should do much to further his Hermetic support.

Also, having a Saint sidekick/friend should definitely help to quell fears of Divine disfavor...

Anyways, sounds like a great, great saga. Keep having fun!


The new Tytalus magus (who inadvertently destroyed Paris) chimes in:

The young Tytalean magus listened attentively as each of his new acquaintances shared their opinions and concerns. A mess of dark waves fell loosely over parts of his face obscuring his not quite masculine nor fully feminine features while his eyes, green like the sea, followed each speaker with interest. After each had spoken his mind, Tethyos rose from his chair and spoke with an assuredness not usually witnessed in a boy of only twenty years.

"To speak of Divine Right, or authority derived from any supernatural power, is a crutch used far too long and often by weak-willed, corrupt, and incompetent rulers in an attempt to dominate and control the pliable masses. True ruling power should only be attained by those who have proven themselves strong of will, mind, and character. Such a ruler is compassionate enough to do what is best for others, intelligent enough to realize how to do so, and determined enough to bring his plans to fruition."

Here the willowy youth paused for a very brief moment, his eyes darting back and forth, curiously observing any changes in expression (positive or negative) his unorthodox and somewhat inflammatory comments may have provoked. He began again, the Latin rolling confidently off his tongue despite the slight but obvious accent of a person who comes from one of the Germanic duchies.

"I cannot support Diego. He cannot possess the qualities of which I speak if he deals with the Infernal. They warp the will, mind, and character of any person within their control and bring ruin to any village, city, or kingdom within their influence. They are capable of destruction only and as their pawn so will Diego be. His reign could not produce a Golden Age in France. Rather he may turn France into a Gilded Kingdom, so beautiful on the outside that it obscures the corruption within. A cup of wine sweet enough to hide an infernal poison, each sweet sip more damaging than the last." One vis bearing tear rolled down Tethyos' left cheek thankfully obscured by his thick, disheveled locks.

Impressions, thoughts and comments.

  1. This IS a cool saga :slight_smile: Lacking black and white characters is always cool.

  2. I would make the infernal accusations that: accusations. Maybe one or 2 dudes being infernalists, but it is cooler if most of the supporters of Diego (and diego himself) are 100% kosher when it comes to the origin of their powers. Makes the good/bad ideas much more blurred and that is a good thing. IMS at least :slight_smile:

  3. I love Igak's entry. Really cool.

  4. Diego has to show that he can be a good ruler. So far he has only proved that he has a lot of firepowerr. firepower and being a good rulñerarew WAAAAAAAAAy different. So far he has not proved he can be a good ruler, only one able to smash opposition. That makes him a tyrant, not a good ruler.

  5. In any case the magi that support diego flouted the code 100%. No defence in their offense. I would easily see the dudes in magvillus starting to collect a few of those red banners for use of their AC range killer artillery. The hioplite teams must be assembling already, and castra solis has sounded the horn of the champions for sure. Oh the wonders of conflict in the tribunal :slight_smile:

  6. My big question is: who will the Tremere support? They are the ones that can decide thios conflict since they are the ones that have a real military organization. This is a coup by any other name. Who will be supported by the military? The democratic government or the ones making the coup?

And yes, the claim of merovech blood is totally invalid in this conflict. The things that are being discussed are much higher stakes than that.

Looking forward to further posts :smiley:


More talk happened overnight. The next game is today, though it is mainly to get the new players more familiar with the rules, as Helios' and Pellegrina's players cannot make it.

That said:

Pellegrina's brows furrowed and she looked across the table to Igack.

"Your master's dissertation, while eloquent and logically flawless as always, includes no practical advice as to how to deal with this war or the aftermath," she said. "If he hasn't noticed, we're way past the point of disputato... and if experience is any precedent, the Red King's 'chocolate cake', as Sorcha might say, is more provocative than the word of Socrates. Tell your master we need a plan."

She slid Helio's scroll back across the table to Igack.

"France's order of succession still abides by male-preference primogeniture, meaning that even if Diego's mother was a true Merovingian, she still wouldn't be able to pass a claim to her son, who is," she said, casting a hard glance toward Coroldo, "a bastard... and one in league with Hell's legion at that! If he can sit upon the throne of France, then so could the son of any other scullery maid who lay with a king!"

Looking to Arya she said, "We share many of the same dreams and ideals, my friend and sodales. I am at a crossroad where years of planning stand to be fulfilled if I bend my knee--and my son's by proxy-- to the Red King. But I-- all of us-- swore to uphold the Order of Hermes above any temporal or supernatural power in creation. More than once, I've tested the bounds of my oath... but I know in my heart, that if we don't defend the Order, our words mean nothing, our truth means nothing. Surely you know too, Arya, that there is no fair dealing with oath breakers."

Pellegrina then rose from her chair and took back the red banner with both hands. "I will send the Red King a missive indicating that I am willing to parlay with him, but I will not raise his banner... he might be suspicious if he sees me as to eager to win his trust and favor. Hopefully, this will keep the covenant safe from attack until we're able to devise a plan to crush the Red King and his allies. In the mean time, Yngvar and I will make haste for Turrene where I will seek an audience with the Viscount Tamita. He is the closest person I have to King Henry and I mean to assure him that Via Umbrae will help reclaim France for the Lords of Men."

And Arya's reply. Arya tends to go off half cocked a lot... Can you play "Spot the Twilight Scar" in this entry?:

"You speak ever the wiser, my Lady" Arya said, bowing slightly in deference to Pellagrina. "Ahura Mazda teaches us that the righteous path is never the easy one."

"If we truly mean to oppose this Red King and his associates, we must sound the alarm to the entire order. This threat cannot be seen as isolated to our tribunal. The cabals which have set these events into action have infiltrated what seems to be the most sacred and trusted corners of our order. We must purge the false-speakers from our order as one tempers steel in the forge. These enemies of the order have made themselves known, we can no longer afford to act against them in secret. These vile oathbreakers have worked their wills long enough in the shadows, let us bring them into the light."

Arya's eyes burn with firelight as smoke flows from his nostrils.

"Additionally, if this Red King believes he can rule over mankind, leveraging his magical gift over them as a shepherd's crook to his flock... then might I suggest we arm the sheep? If the Red King seeks to claim the crown of France, then let him face his opponent for that crown. Only, let his opponent be imbued with the full power of the Order. As masters of the arcane arts, we have great power... but so do the Lords of Men. Let us muster a grand army of righteous souls and march upon the Red King's banner and bring him to justice."

[The funny thing about the whole Red King business, is, except for his shadowy backers dealing directly with demons like they're some sort of foreign nation that can be negotiated with, all the stuff they're getting mad at the Red King for is just the things the Covenant has done to keep itself afloat, or to expedite their day to day affairs, just turned up to 11. Rego Mentem must look a lot more threatening when someone else is doing it.]

That said, Helios posted a bit about what he's up to, thanks to Leap of Homecoming...:

Meanwhile, in the Aegean:

The clear blue water struck the shores as it did since the time of Achilles.

Helios bounded towards the great columned building that served as the center of his order. The entire island had an aura of history that made France seem like a distant, but sinking, ship.

"Philo Deontos. You have returned."

The figure in the white toga before him was a familiar one, and addressed the Quaesitor by his Greek name, secret to all but the members of the Mystic Fraternity. The rotund and wearied magus raised his palm, and the man in the white toga followed suit. A pentagram became visible on both of their palms, and thus they greeted each other as the ancient Pythagoreans did, with that image that captures so much harmony.

He gazed up at the great tympanum over the entrance. The carving of the death of Socrates inhabited the most perfect of ratios. A reminder of the follies of the world, lest the members of the Fraternity stray from the pursuit of wisdom.

"Proclus. I wish that my visit would entail days and nights of discussion on the ultimate nature of things made and unmade. Sadly, the forces of unreason are marshaled now, and I bring tidings of woe."

A member of higher degree, Proclus derived his name from one of the most treasured of the great ones, as was due for one of his stature. He had grown fond of the more fresh Helios Excelsis, as they called him in hermetic circles - their discussion often began as darkness fell and ended well after the noontime meal of the next day, with neither pausing.

The two gazed at each other sympathetically, as fellows for whom the island may turn out to be the last and only refuge.

As Philo Deontos entered the Hall of Wisdom, he was greeted with the usual murmur of corner discussions and lyre plucking. As he passed the statues of Anaxagoras, Plotinus, and Xenophon, a certain satisfaction of the existence of this place, which the Mystic Fraternity insists predates the Order of Hermes itself, brought comfort. If all of Europe was to fall, then this would be the preservation of the rational, as it has always been.

"Philo Deontos approaches with a grave matter. Let you all be silent and listen to his words."

So the booming voice of Sophia, the stately woman who currently was First, silenced the rest, and they gathered to listen as did the crowds flock to Socrates in the agora. As it has always been, the First, if a woman, was known as Sophia, and if a man, as Logos.

"My brothers and sisters, for whom wisdom, beauty, and truth are loved and sought after as one. Listen now, as I bring news of a great change. Unreason himself has placed his heir at the throne of the Franks, and his influence spreads. The corruption becomes more boundless with every passing night, and the seat of learning in Gaul is burnt."

There was a great commotion. Wails of lament echoed in the great hall, supported by thick columns and populated with statues of the great ones, and those who sought to emulate them.

"He woos the polis with trickery and temporary comforts. Under his reign, the apparent becomes real, and the real ceases to exist. I know not of what the kings of men shall do. I have come to you, though I am only of the second degree, to bear this terrible news and to appeal for your help." Helios, so used to being unparalleled in his Latin amongst his sodales, was embarrassed by his lack of mastery in Greek, and he meant to be more eloquent than he was.

More commotion. At this time, Antisthenes spoke:

"News of this has predated your arrival, Philo Deontos, at least in my case. And what do you propose that the Fraternity do, O Theoreticus? Do not expect your Hermetic influence to carry the opinion here. You are yet in the second degree, and I am taken by the fact that you have been given a general audience."

A commotion then erupted. Arguments were exchanged haphazardly, and those present seemed to form into groups, for or against. Proclus bade the servants to start mixing the wine with water, with the instruction that the usual proportions, however divine, may not be sufficient.

"You will all be silent." So the voice of Sophia quelled the quarreling brothers and sisters. "While Philo Deontos is of the second degree, his news is most dire and is worthy of consideration. The Fraternity has existed here for centuries, and we must continue to exist, lest the flame of wisdom be extinguished forever. The question, from the standpoint of the Fraternity, is whether or not the new threat poses an existential threat, should it continue to exist. If it does not, then we shall remain here and guard our wisdom for a future time, as we have always. If it does, then action is necessary."

With that, the crowd entered a prolonged silence of thought, with each brother and sister reconsidering their earlier haste in denouncing one another.

"Surely, this strife is but a ripple from the evil that gathers in Gaul! Look at how we, the most excellent of the known world, quarrel as provincial lords!"

The anonymous voice prompted more heated discussion and argument. Proclus saw that the wine was distributed. Sophia looked upon Philo Deontos, and for a moment, her usual indifferent gaze betrayed a hint of sadness and a recognition that something new was unfolding. She retreated from her seat, in front of the triptych of Plato, Pythagoras, and Socrates, burdened with thought as the rest howled and dipped into the wine bowls.

This red king sounds like perfect excuse to try out all those spells created in that thread for level 50 army killers.

I love the debate and dialog but this sounds like start of another order civil war over the mundane interference clauses.

That's how the magi are approaching it, but the argument will soon be reframed by Diego.

The magical, infernal, and fae auras of France have been rising since the previous True King of France, Phillip Augustus, died, and the Holy Oil was stolen. The land is wilder and more primal, roving animals more bold, and nights even more dangerous to be abroad in.

With no King, the land suffers.

Diego plans to make the choice not about mundance interference, but about what is more important? The Oath of Hermes or the Kingship of France? Knowing what he now knows of his background, what calling does he follow? His blood could make him King. Only the Oil can say for sure...

Though a puppet of magi with no moral compass, if he asks for help in finding those who manipulated France and the Order, will they help him, or turn their back on Diego, or attempt to slay him?

And in the end, what IS the right choice?