Speculum Dianae [ Diana's Mirror ]

Hello everyone,

In my first AM5 campaign I let the players pick where they were going to be based. They ended up in Poland, which worked very well and which led to some really interesting research on my part. But now, as I sit down to think about my next saga, I have decided to be a bit more selfish.

I wanted to pick a site with actual occult significance -- an archeological site, or something along that nature. I finally decided on Lake Nemi, in Italy. An ancient tradition of Diana worship and ritual sacrifice at this location prompted Frazer to write his book "The Golden Bough."

I'm starting this thread more or less as a brainstorming exercise, and as a way of keeping notes on the prep work for the saga. I have not started the game yet, and don't intend to until I have more research done. But I welcome any input, ideas, or questions which anyone might have.

Nemi is located about 15 miles southeast of Rome, in the Papal States. This means that Divine Aura is going to be a real problem, and for this campaign I intend to make "Susceptible to Divine Aura" a Major Flaw instead of a Minor one.

There is a Covenant near this area: Vadian's Tomb, based in catacombs under what used to be Rome, but is now abandoned ruins of the old city. Since this Covenant was also a PC covenant dating back to the playtesters for Tribunals of Hermes: Rome, I don't feel too bad about getting rid of it to give my players some elbow room. It is also mentioned in Ancient Magic. I am currently thinking the initial storyline for the group will somehow result in the disbanding of Vadian's Tomb at the same time as the PC Covenant is formed. I have not yet decided how the magi of Vadian's Tomb will relate to the players.

The Nature magic of the Founder Merinita will also be a plot element. I have decided that the nature goddess Diana Nemorensis worshipped at Nemi will be a being of Magic; I know that in other contexts Diana would be faerie, but Nemi is so important to our world's magic traditions that making it a Faerie Aura instead of a Magic one seems not only counterintuitive but somewhat at odds with my campaign premise. Diana Nemorensis will be distinct from the pagan goddess Artemis, who may very well be Faerie, but in any case dwells somewhere other than at the Covenant site.

The Golden Bough will be a Vis source which I will give the players for free before they select their other Covenant resources. In the Nemi tradition, an escaped slave would come to the Lake and become the sacred "King of the wood" by killing the current bearer of that title. He would then defend his title against all comers until eventually being slain by another escaped slave. I would like to get a PC into this position, possibly by interpreting "slave" to include "apprentice."

In addition to the Roman ruins which dot the area (it was not only a temple to Diana, but also a place for Roman elite to build their country homes) there are also two enormous pleasure barges, ostensibly temples to Isis, built by Caligula and scuttled onto the bottom of the lake. This will be a Faerie Aura; those who penetrate it will find themselves on perfect working versions of the two barges, among its crew of Roman servants, all waiting patiently for an Emperor Caligula who has yet to appear.

Right now I am waiting for a couple of books to show up from Amazon, and I have a check-out list for my local library.

I developed a large series of adventures based around the campagna romana, the vast plains around Rome. This land is notorious for "roman fevers" (malaria). Army after army after army that would either move through the area or worse, lay siege on rome, would fall to the fevers. Emporer Otto III (I think) fell to the fevers.

Much of the land was swampland until a benedictine monastery drained them. I forget what year. Google it.

I placed the source of the fevers as an ancient god that had turned infernal with the coming of the Dominion. The fun part were the legions of pagan undead, raised by the demon's goetic servants. These warriors were drawn from 2000 years of invading armies.

Good times!

(also, you may consider using 11c. Pope Sylvester as a mythic figure. In my saga, he was a 4th ed. natural magician, who sheltered jerbiton magi during the schism war, which eventually became the covenant of Literatus. I had him as an agent of the divine, rather than infernal. One of the myths surrrounding him is that he was torn apart by demons. That was one of the quests that led the players into the campagna romana... recovering the pieces of the pope. This led to some very positive in-roads into the Church for the Jerbiton player.)

Geart ideas Doctor J!
hope you will enjoy the campagn to come.

I see no problem in Diana Nemorensis being a magical entity. I always found it hard to believe that each cult of a specific pagan god would worship exact the same fay. I see fay as being an intrinsic part of a region with barely any powers beyond their borders. I think it is much more realistic that each site sacred to Diana was the home to a faery or magic being that had aspects of that goddess. Hence the second name and the slight differences in the local cults.

This is a great element to get thrown into the campaign hopper. It sounds like a wonderful source for vis, an adventuring locale the players can return to more than once, and a good origin point for various enemies and threats.

It is easy to see why the players of Vadian's Tomb made a bunch of necromancers. There are pagan dead everywhere in this region, and there's nothing to prevent a skilled magus from animating their corpses or bullying their ghosts around with Mentem magic!

That sounds like a pretty clever Tytalus gauntlet. :smiling_imp:

Boy, it sure does, doesn't it! Thanks!

...with the current king being the player's parens and from Vadian's tomb, of course. nod