Setting and Background


A high(er) fantasy version of the Ars Magica’s Mythic Europe setting where the increased prevalence and power of the supernatural realms over the past thousand years have radically altered traditional history. Mythic Europe is no longer a place of superstition and a fear of the unknown. Man’s fears are realised and present in every day life.

Tongue in cheek concept – Rifts for Ars Magica


Unknown centuries ago the power of the supernatural realms began to increase their influence on the mundane world. With the increasing fluxes of power came permanent expressions of the supernatural realms, which seeded themselves within the world, and forever altered it. Normal man has grow knowing that the powers of the divine, infernal, faerie, and magic are absolutely real.

All sorts of wonders and nasties are known to the common folk, as beings with powers sourced from the supernatural are common enough to be encountered regularly in everyday life. Towns have powerful patrons or guardians, cities have supernatural defenses, and the various kingdoms of mundane man knew they needed to adapt or be wiped out.

Traditional non-supernatural kingdoms eventually sought alliances and covenants with the growing powers, and with that new borders and new kingdoms were created. Each power holds sway in a tangible manner within the world. The supernatural either rule or assist daily in the rule of almost all regions of the known world.

With the shift in power two major factions emerged from years of bloodshed and greed into the present day.

The Empires of Man is the alias given to the realms still ruled by the older ways. Their main power comes from service to the ancient kings, and the divine power those kings may channel through their divine birthright. Never has the hold of the divine on man been stronger, as the crusader knights fight against the unholy and misbegotten filth from the other realms. The Empire of Man considers itself as a collection of the pure, determined to fight and eventually destroy the other orders, and restore peace to the world. The Empires are only loosely collected however and from time to time fight amongst themselves for survival.

The Empire of Hermes grew from the far more humble Order of Hermes many centuries ago. When the realms surged into the mundane a collection of powerful wizards seized the opportunity to create their own fiefdoms and kingdoms. Their breaking of the old hermetic oath led to a short but decisive set of magical battles, after which the rulers of the “Old Order” were forced to surrender.

The Empire of Hermes changed forever the power base of every country as they formalised and consolidated their power across Europe. Like the Empire of Man their lands are diverse and spread between power centers; but with the aggressive use of magic their domination of entire countries is underway.

The trials of daily life are fought between the remaining Empire of Man and the rise of the Empire of Hermes; and for each empire the creatures and darkness spreads from the unknown realms, forestalling their fight against each other as they struggle to survive.

The “history” of Europe from the mid 200AD started to change, and today the borders, empires, creatures, and rulers are unrecognisable compared to Europe’s real history.

Changes to the Order of Hermes

“I’ve decided to take my work back underground, to stop it falling into the wrong hands.” – Bonisagus.

The initial attempts to found the Order of Hermes in the mid 700s were a disaster and left Trianoma a crippled wreck. Bonisagus slowed his expansion and training of other wizards. As such Mercere didn’t find his powers lost, and instead facilitated a branch of magical research which Bonisagus could not fully integrate. Eventually the Order of Hermes was successfully formed with all the same founders, but under a far more tenuous truce than ArM 5e dictates. Essentially the wizards agreed to not openly fight, to work against common foes, and found benefit from Bonisagus’s theories of hermetic magic. They did not reach agreement in an overarching unified system of lore, and the geographic tribunals were not formalised until far later. Many tribunals still bicker and disagree on some borders.

The Order of Hermes (now known as The Old Order) was still founded under the direction of Bonisagus and based around his magical theories, however the work was never finished.

At the time Europe was already overrun by creatures and strange alliances were already forming, and the Order of Hermes came together with a focus on survival and defense rather than kindly prosperity. The “Incomplete Theorem of Magic” was published and shared amongst the members.

The Parma Magica however was never shared, and is not a skill available to player characters. While it is rumoured to exist, those rumours are treated as silly or wishful by most wizards. Bonisagus’s apprentices sought to continue his investigations into Hermetic magic, and to this day endeavour to perfect the work of their master.

A few centuries ago the Old Order found itself threatened on all sides by supernatural forces, and it was only through a pervasive change in mindset to an aggressive military and expansionist ethos that it survived. To reflect it’s new ethos and new structure the leaders founded The Empire of Hermes, which officially dissolved the Old Order.

[size=150]The Empires of Man[/size]

Made up of an alliance between The Seven Holy Nations, The Brotherhood of Iron, and the Knights Templar, is an arrangement of city states where the sovereignty of the Church guides the common people.

The Seven Holy Nations -

The Brotherhood of Iron – a devout and militaristic order of monks who use their divine plea to curtail (and potentially eradicate) the faerie influence in the world. Their base of power is split between two fortresses; the Gilded Hand (an iron and stone keep) in eastern Germany, and the Sancta Ferreum (a city of bone and iron) in the mountains of northern France.

[size=150]The Empire of Hermes[/size]

* The Empire of Hermes (EoH) has at least four thousand members across Europe (this is at least double the Ars 5e numbers).
  • The prevalence of the Gift is still very rare, but seems to be becoming more common with each generation.

  • Tribunal markers are still used for bureaucratic purposes, but much of the wilderness of Europe is unmanageable.

  • The strongest part of the Empire of Hermes is England, Wales, and Scotland, which are almost exclusively controlled by the Empire, or by it’s supernatural allies.

  • The hermetic houses are considered more like schools or traditions now, and are able to keep their own old ways, unless dictated by the EoH.

  • A large area of coastal Wales is dominated by a family of sentient Dragons.

  • Sterling Castle and it’s surround is currently ruled by Horlum the Mad, a powerful magical ghost, who in life was beloved by his people.

Initial play

Initial play will keep setting and details very broadly sketched, so that everyone has breadth to muck around in the setting a little. As gameplay plays on the setting will be built up. Play will concentrate around the folk who have active characters, and we will try to keep the number of concurrent stories to a minimum. This may mean long periods between posts, but that is preferable to too many concurrent threads, which might conflict.

In terms of style I think

* I hope to only have a few stories going at a time.
  • Everyone is welcome to play parts in other stories. If you’re keen let us know.

  • There will be fair delays between posts, to allow for our lives. Once or twice a week max, unless it suits the players to do more often.

  • When posting, add some (if, then) into your post in case, so we can see where you’re going.

  • As players you will be doing some of the rolls, because it can take ages, and you should know your characters better than the others. From time to time you won’t be doing rolls.

  • While you’re not expected to always post, there will be times where actions might be assumed or made for your character.

  • Speak up if you wish to add something to the setting. Its all open to change.