Second Spring Covenant Saga Idea

While thinking about the school of magic campaign idea I came up with this alternate one, but using the same location cause I LOVE that design I came up with.

I would totally appreciate any thoughts or ideas or even potential saga seeds that just jump out at you when you see this that I might not have thought of.


A group of young magi just past Gauntlet are presented with a letter by an allied Redcap from an elder magus of the Order. Said letter invited the magi to settle down in his covenant, a location deep within Candia. This is a covenant which has a history stretching back hundreds of years but which for the last couple of decades has mostly kept to itself, communicating only by Redcap and ignoring most Hermetic contact.

The saga will have the player magi in a covenant that has clearly known better times. Around an infrastructure that is decaying in an unnatural way, and yet seems to be as bright from an aura perspective as if it was brand new. Of a place with ghosts, mostly figurative though some not, for at one time there were hundreds of Gifted and thousands of mundanes that called the place home. To this the group is welcomed by a singular elderly magus, one with stars in his eyes and a hope in his voice for a better day - though he won't tell the newcomers what it is he wants.

The covenant exists within a valley of the massive dozen mile long highly meandering Gorge of Apollon. The actual site of the covenant is on a natural crossroads area of the Gorge that sees the meeting of five ravines. In this majestic center span lies an outcropping of rock which rises from the ravine floor to two-thirds the height of the banks. Entrance to the covenant comes from the surface of the ravine where an arcane infused gated archway leads to a meandering tunnel that exits out on the surface of the outcropping. The valley floor is rocky shrubland covered in some foliage and home to a bunch of animals. Though the floor of the ravines are mostly dry banks, there does exist a river wide and deep enough for travel which flows from the ravines and into the valley. Within the center of the valley is the natural feature which plays home to the covenant, the Petraploio. This natural feature looks like a ship of stone and has an upper surface accessed by pathway from within the rise itself. The upper plateau slopes down from peak of ravine side, has a flat section, before begins rising again into another mountain range. Though this area is also rocky it is covered in grasses and some trees.

The structures of the covenant exist on the Petraploio, the natural balconies linked to it by bridge, and the sloping part of the upper rise. Access to the Petraploio is from a gate house on the valley floor which has a spiral stairwell that leads to a small tower on the surface of the Petraploio. The Petraploio itself contains a manor house, the ruined remains of twelve majestic towers, a heavily damaged ornate temple, and an overgrown central green. In fact, only the manor house structure is actually still existing though even that building has seen better days. All of these buildings are clearly magical structures, seeming to be grown out of stone rather than built by hand. Connecting it all is a tree lined ornately carved stone pathway that circles the green and links to all buildings. Interspersed around the structures are numerous stone paths containing plazas, gazebos, and garden plots - most of which are also in disrepair. Underneath the Petraploio itself is a warren of chambers of various sizes (some massive) which serve to house the covenfolk of the covenant. Five covered stone bridges are seen to connect the Petraploio to the wing plateaus. At the end of the bridge there exist a natural balcony that contains a massive and ancient tree centered around an constructed plaza and garden. Though the majority of covenant buildings are in ruins, if one looks sideways out of the corner of the eye then one might see that the buildings aren't gone, they are just waiting to be awakened. What this means and what magic has caused this is presently unknown.

The benefit of this is that the player magi can be surrounded by the ruins of a place I create but can still have a lot of influence on where the covenant goes and what is reactivated as time goes by. As well as all the plots and stuff that go on by being youngsters in an ancient covenant which has old political deals (magical and mundane, even faerie and divine) and enemies and such. Plus one never knows what will be found right around the corner or in a hidden spot in the covenant and stuff.

And I have the idea that across the bridge of the Petraploio lies the five wing balconies that contain an ancient tree and a patterned archway that seems to not do anything. hint hint, nudge nudge

I like it! And I'd really like to see some artistic illustration of the place.
I think that having a site so full of ghosts and mysterious buildings ready to unravel old stories and new challenges is always thrilling for a troupe. If you can plan a good overarching story it will be great :slight_smile:
I also like the school of magic idea. Maybe you could blend elements of the two. Maybe the old magus has gathered a bunch of students because he has a plan, and he's selling it like "just" a school of magic. Maybe some ghost magi could give lessons too.

Cool. Thanks for the comments. :slight_smile:

I don't have an actual image I can poist but I have been slowly looking around the web for images that I think match what is in my head. For example, some of the buildings take on this architectural style -

That's actually kind of cool. Like the elder magi wants to make the place better again so he recruits so youngsters to come to it to be apprentices. (The code does not officially limit to only one apprentice at a time, though that is standard) Upon arriving at their new home they discover a lot of it is ruins, but that there is much a potential for it to become something much more given time and unlocking and puzzle solving. Thus it combines it being an ancient place with it being a new school, and so I get both of the ideas that I like. hehe

I definitely have to think about an overall story, cause having such a mystery would totally be needed for it to be a live. I am not sure what that would be off the top of my head, and any thoughts would help, but I know that having the past be part of the present would be important.

I do know that there is this question - why are certain buildings seemingly ruins on the physical world, while to magic sight they seem to clearly be there. Which is real, the ruin or the actual structure, and if it is the former can it be brought back to the state of the later, and if its the later can it be re-manifested in the material world so that the site isn't a ruin again. And if the building comes back and is accessible again, what sort of resources will it have that would boost the nature of the covenant to even higher levels. And what sort of 'things' could it potentially release by letting it come back into the world.

Another story element is that there are five bridges, each leading to a natural overlook with an ancient magical tree and an archway with a symbol etched in its face, what does this mean. Is it a door is it just for looks, does it lead to somewhere or something. Who knows, except adventure!

The old fellow tried to recruit other magi time and time again, in the past (he was young when he began!), but they all died, went nuts, disappeared or fled from the place. The covenant now has a well established reputation of a cursed place, and no-one wants to join it or visit it anymore. That's why, in order to rebuild it, the magus had to call some gifted apprentices, even if he dislikes youngsters, distrusts them, and he doesn't know if there's enough time left for him to teach them properly. But that's the only hope he's left.
So what is this curse? How can it be defeated? Probably, to discover the answers to this questions, they first have to find out why the old magus seems to be unaffected by it.

PS: great concept for the buildings!

I like the idea, though I think I might alter it a bit. See, I consider it to be a little too dark and dreary for me. At least as far as having this be part of the main elder magus who has the reptutation. See, I actually have it in my head that he himself is a well trusted and respected member of the Order. (From a Theban Tribunal standpoint he has a lot of tokens, which lets him do a lot of stuff because a lot of magi owe him for work done in the past.) This could explain his ability to get a bunch of apprentices assigned to him, he used his considerable influence. As a note he is very much getting up there in age, though still quite mentally fit and magically capable, and there is no true indication that he would last the length of the campaign. :slight_smile:

I always had the idea that there would be about four 'elder' magi at the covenant. The elder magus, a female magus who as of game start is having a Twilight episode, and one or two other magi who are there for future plot points. Plus some redcaps who ally with the covenant, and the covenfolk themselves who I haven't exactly figured out yet but I am pretty sure they aren't entirely human, at least not anymore (it is afterall an ancient and high magic aura rich location).

I could have one of the two be this 'cursed' magus. Something happened when he was younger and so he has a bad reputation within the Theban Tribunal, not bad enough to be seen as a threat, but more along the line of "don't join in his projects, they sound good but never end well." His laboratory sanctum is in a well maintained part of one of the ruined buildings, which is an interesting fact in and of itself. (The path from door to his sanctum is in good condition, as his sanctum, but if you go out of the path the building seems to be a decayed ruin.)

I figure that if I use this then at some point near after game begins he can come out of his sanctum point at the younger magi who are players and be like, "You, yes all of you, come here, I need you do to something". hehe

This could of course lead to the idea you have, of their being a curse that they have to work out and solve or stop or figure out and maybe even use it to their own end. Because here is another question, the Aegis for the covenant is OLD and powerful and special - how did a curse manage to get underneath its protection? Hmm, interesting question for sure.


As a note my plans have the player magi having their Gift being opened using a more refined version of the Opening of the Arts technique. I posted it most recently in the school of magic thread, but basically it has three effects. The first is make it so the Arts can be learned in a classroom environment, so one teacher multiple stutdents. The second is that the social resistance to the Gift's penalties is based on the Opening technique and not Parma, so the players do not have to worry about not liking each other due to the natural element of the Gift. And the third is that one does not have to take one's Art scores as a penalty for learning other supernatural virtues, just other virtues - meaning its potentially easier for the magi to learn non-Hermetic magics.


On the buildings. Thanks!

I like the epic nature of it. They seem mostly real but they also have elements that seem fantastical, which I like as well. Its a combination that I really like.

I used the word "curse" in a broad sense, and relating to the place itself. What I mean is that there must be a reason why the covenant fell from glory, and this reason may still be around, although maybe dormient, and be a danger and a puzzle to solve. Having said that, there's countless way to play this, and I like your plan :wink:

Oh yeah I totally think that there is something going on in the site which is a puzzle to solve. Blatently, why are the towers all ruins, and why won't/can't? either the magus or the native covenfolk speak about when such events happened. Also, its quite interesting that the one magus who makes his sanctum laboratory in a ruined tower finds the path to the sanctum in good condition, but if you leave the path then the building is clearly ruined, but so is the path in some ways even though its entirely safe and structurally sound. What?

The covenant has historical records of it once housing hundreds of magi and thousands of others in comfortable glory in about a dozen towers. But something happened and fast/slow descent to Winter occurred. A curse? Who knows, but its something worth investigating.


Hundreds of magi at once? Consider that your average canonical Tribunal has about 100 magi...

Yeah some sort of grand magical past. With little modern records of such things. Even to the elders the answer is "we don't talk about it".

Which translates into I want the feeling of an epic, legendary base and structures that could house hundreds of magi and untold numbers of mundanes.

Let me be clearer. In canon, there hasn't been any covenant who has had hundreds (as in 200+) members. I'm having some difficulty with suspending my disbelief at such a large covenant.
I'd say 40 would be huge, and might be what the Domus Magna of House Diedne looked like...

I'd agree. A covenant housing "scores of magi" simultaneously is as epic as it gets.

Honestly, in many ways the numbers Ars Magica gives for magi while also representing the infrastructure of covenants and tribunals don't often go hand in hand with logic. I personally believe there is more magi in the Order than the game seems to say there is.

I also have no issue with there being a point in the past - whose records were lost within the covenant when the towers being 'ruins' - of some major mobilzation.

Heck, I could even see some of the foundational structures of this covenant site pre-dating the Order itself. I don't know, I haven't answered it, but there is potential for such thing. The idea I had is that at some point hundreds of Gifted individuals walked the paths and halls of the site, and their magic made a mark. And tis a magic that the modern characters will have to investigate and maybe bring back, and maybe bring the covenant to even greater glory.

You may have misunderstood our comments (in my case, it is probably my fault).
It's perfectly ok to have a saga where, say, Hermetic magi are or were one tenth of the population of Mythic Europe. Or where they rule their own country -- modern-day Portugal, say. It's just not "canonical", meaning that the books in the Ars Magica line and the players on the forum by default assume that this is not the case. Changes this big tend to have profound impact on a large number of aspects of the Order, and "ripple out" forcing a Storyguide to introduce many more changes to maintain consistency -- so one may want to consider their implications before introducing them. That's all!

That makes sense. I get where you are coming from.

I don't exactly what to change the past of the setting, rather I figure the past happened as is and its the future that is nebulous.

Thinking on that maybe it would be better to say that the site was once used by an ancient magical cult of some sort and the structures are the remains of such thing. Which could benefit me as it allows me to bring in old magics and occult mysterious and ancient legends into the events of the site. And there is nothing wrong with me saying that the old magical society - which could go thousands of years into the past if one wants to, Crete has had mystical populations for a long time - couldn't have had hundreds of Gifted practitioners inhabiting it.

The current covenant was founded in order to study the ancient site, but its vis rich and high aura nature of it soon distracted the magus members and they stopped their site research for their own personal research.

Actually, the Roman Cult of Mercury -- to which the Order traces its roots -- would be exactly what you wanted. Canonically, the Cult of Mercury had lots of "personnel" (wizard-priests), and thus made use of magics on a different "scale" from those of the modern Order of Hermes.

Having one such temple around to explore is actually one of the minor Hooks in Covenants, and one such temple is described in Mythic Locations.

I probably would do that, especially since Crete was Roman at a point as well. Nothing is wrong with it being a site of a Cult of Mercury base of operations. So yeah there can easily be space for hundreds upon hundreds of personnel of magical bent.

I LOVE (LOVE LOVE) that location in Mythic Locations. If I didn't really like the design I built for the covenant I totally would use that place as a point of adventure and roleplaying and saga building. The organized nature of it into square streets of Roman design with Roman features and ancient magics, so cool. It even has a magical being that could potentially become the guardian of the covenant if its set in the Theban Tribunal.

So yeah, that adventure section is amazing and awesome and totally one of those locations that call to me to run something in or play in or just use for fun. :slight_smile: