The betrayal of Vulcan

Casillius furrowed his brow. "Hrm, this is troubling indeed." The Quaesitor moved from apparatus to apparatus adjusting his myriad experiments, only occasionally stopping to cast a worried glance back at his young guests.. "Intruders, really." he thought, "Intruding upon my time. As if I want to arbitrate their petty problems." He looked back again to see that both of the intruders were staring at him, waiting for his response. He sighed, "Well, I'm at a loss. He is expected in front of the Tribunal next season, but by that time you will either have started a grand conflict against the Empire or have been destroyed by them."
One of the intruders scoffed. "I've already told you that! We're wasting our time here." Casillius quickly turned to glare at the intruders. "Tabinus, you came seeking my council, correct?" Tabinus slowly nodded. "Then perhaps you could keep your.. friend here under control whilst I endeavor to solve your problems for you?" Tabinus turned to look at the intruder who had spoken. He whispered pointedly, "Artorias, you promised.." Artorias looked angrily from Tabinus to Casillius before crossing his arms. The look on his face was one of contempt. Casillius returned to his experiment. "Young magi today," he thought, "so full of themselves.. but then, I was once guilty of the same. I suppose I can't begrudge him his growing pains."
Casillius finished adjusting his instruments and turned to sit across from the intruders. Tabinus, also a Quaesitor, was draped in muted colors and looked as though he would be at home working in the forests as a ranger. Casillius had known the man since before he had passed his Gauntlet. Tabinus was desperate for recognition in the order, and this case offered his chance for such. Artorias, the loud-mouthed magus was draped in crimson robes, arms crossed and eyes narrowed. The air around him almost seemed to shimmer, his frustration palpable. The two of them were here on account of a third magus, Vulcan. He had been secretly dealing magical items to the Empire for.. mundane profit, and was now caught in a tough situation. To continue to provide the Empire with powerful magical items would certainly get him marched at Tribunal, but to stop would be to draw the full wrath of the empire down on him and his sodales.. "Worrying", Casillius thought, "such a conflict would surely interrupt my research further."
"Well," started Casillius slowly, thoughtfully, "I see only one course of action, and I can't guarantee the Tribunal will look favorably upon it." He pointed a crooked, wrinkled finger at Artorias, whose demeanor softened a bit at the surprise of being addressed directly by the older Magus. "You, however, will be the one who has to live with it."

   Breakfast at Draconmar was always a grand affair. By order of the magi, all grogs and companions (except those at their posts) were to be present every morning in case there was important covenant business to discuss. The result was that every day the grand hall was filled with bodies and the sweet and savory smells of breakfast filled the air. While most days mealtime passed uneventfully, there had been days when Artorias had punished and even executed men at the table. "No man should die on an empty stomach" he had said, though his rationale did little to assuage the terror evoked when he placed his hand on the chest of a burglar that had been captured in the night, said a few words, and blasted a charred, smoking hole through his chest. As he walked away, all he had said was "Get that cleaned up."
   The atmosphere was a bit tense today, as Artorias seemed to be brooding at the table with the other magi. Melodius and Grandius seemed altogether much more quiet than usual while Vulcan sat, ruined legs dangling, contentedly looking over the hall. Conversation at the other tables was hushed and hurried, with no one wishing to draw the ire of the powerful man seated at the far end of the hall.
   Artorias turned to Vulcan on his right and spoke. "Brother.. I have thought long and hard on this." Vulcan turned to face his oldest friend. His content smile faded a bit. "On our.. situation, you mean?" Artorias clenched his teeth, bringing his hand down loudly against the table. "[i]Your[/i] situation, Vulcan. The situation into which you have placed yourself, and us by association." As he spoke he motioned to Melodius and Grandius, who had stopped their conversation and now sat in silence. The entire hall sat motionless, unsure of what was to come next. Artorias' voice began to rise as he talked, and he began to stand. 
     "You've colluded behind our backs with the mundanes for far too long. I.. I wanted to believe you were acting with our best interest at heart, but it has become clear to me that you care only for mountains of mundane trinkets. You are detestable. Pitiable." Vulcan looked surprised and hurt. "Artorias.. you and I have been as brothers since I can remember. Surely you can't think me so petty!" "ENOUGH!" yelled Artorias, and as he bellowed a thick black smoke began to emanate from the sleeves and neck of his robes. "If your actions simply affected only you I would not be in this situation! But through your hubris and selfishness you have brought ruin to hang above our heads." Vulcan sat speechless as Artorias grew visibly angrier. "Fortunately for you, you will not be brought before Tribunal. Guards!" At his command, the ornate, massive doors at either end of the hall opened and more than a dozen armed guards stormed in, surrounding Vulcan.
    Vulcan looked around, eyes wide in surprise and terror. He pulled from his robes a small hammer and began to cast a spell. Grandius jumped up immediately, pointing his hand outwards towards Vulcan. The magi could see the subtle stream of energy jump from Grandius' hand to Vulcan, but to the rest of the covenfolk could not have seen what had happened. As the energy dispersed about Vulcan, he looked about for a moment, surprised that his spell had not worked. "Grab him, fools!" cried Artorias, and the guards descended on Vulcan's twisted frame.

Artorias sat quietly in the wagon as it crawled along the main road. Behind him followed another wagon containing his prisoner. He laughed dryly to himself. "Prisoner.. may the Divine forgive me." This whole mess had worn on Artorias, had stolen many nights of sleep from the young magus. He tried to shake the thought from his head. Vulcan brought this on himself by blatantly disregarding the Code. As a magus of the Order, Artorias had a responsibility to set things right, despite his feelings for his friend.
"M'lord, word from the scouts." came the call from the driver. Alfred turned to speak to Artorias. "The troops move in our direction. They're headed for the orchard." Artorias stiffened a bit. "Then it is time, Alfred. Let us stop here, this will suffice."
As the troops appeared over the hill, Artorias stood in the middle of the road. The troops halted, and a lone rider came forward. "Hail," came his call, "I am Captain Brandt. You stand in the path of the armies of the Holy Roman Empire. You will move your wagons to the side while we pass." Artorias didn't move. "I have what you seek." He motioned behind him, and two guards brought forward a hooded figure, hands bound. They released him and his withered legs gave out beneath him. Artorias stepped over to the figure and pulled the hood off to reveal Vulcan, gagged and frightened.
Captain Brandt rode closer to examine the figure. His horse seemed hesitant to get so close to the two men in the road. "So you do, traveler..", he said, though clearly he was not fully satisfied. "But we ride for yonder orchard. My men and I were promised the treasures held therein." Artorias sneered, but attempted to keep his calm. "I must warn you that the orchard holds no such treasures for you. It holds only death." The captain was taken aback. He took a moment to survey the scene again, then smiled. "I see no such danger. If you mean to stand between my men and their conquest, it can only end poorly for you. We will take your prisoner, but you will stand aside."
Artorias was incensed. He spoke through clenched teeth as thick black smoke began to seep from under his collar. "I say again, good sir." he growled, slowly raising his hand towards the trees to his right. "The orchard holds naught but death for you and your men." For a moment, the birds in the trees seemed to grow silent, and the air around Artorias began to shimmer. The air was split with a loud crack as a massive ball of flame rocketed outwards from his outstretched palm and exploded vulgarly against the trunks of the trees. Several trees came crashing down immediately as their trunks were disintegrated, others still burst into a magnificent blaze. Artorias slowly lowered his hand and stared silently into the eyes of the captain.
As he struggled to regain control over his mount, the captain had lost all of the color from his face and his mouth was agape in disbelief. The ground below his horse became dark as its rider soiled himself. "Y-y-you.. you're right! Of c-course." he stammered. "We will t-take the prisoner and be on our way." He motioned for his men to grab the bound man and they placed him on a supply wagon. Vulcan's eyes met Artorias' for a moment, but Artorias looked away, ashamed. "You did this to yourself, old friend." he muttered, turning to walk towards the slowly-spreading blaze which was eating away at the forest. "May the Divine forgive me." he thought, raising his hand to douse the growing flames with a torrent of water.

tl;dr - my covenmate brought the empire to bear upon our fledgling covenant, and to hopefully stem a full-blown conflict between the order and the empire, I sold him out. The army captain double-botched against my intimidation roll, and I didn't need to kill all 500 of them. I did feel a bit bad about it, but I believe my actions will be defensible at Tribunal. We will see next season....

On what grounds do you think it's defensible? You've given a magus up to mundane authority, in order to have your covenant not declared to be interfering with mundanes, but such an action invites further interference from mundanes, because now they'll expect that they can get any covenant to give up their magi...
You just compounded your problem in my view... :smiling_imp:

Basically, 500 soldiers were marching towards our covenant. We had come under attack from a smaller division before, but had rebuffed them easily. I could have killed them all and just gone about our business, but killing 500 mundanes probably would have caused the empire to come to bear on us and by extension the order, and then I would be responsible for bringing ruin upon my sodales. Believe me, I know the situation is messed up, but I think I chose the most logical path.

And I think those mundanes are pretty happy to have escaped with their necks.. and considering how terrified the captain is of me now, I doubt he'll be leading any more men towards my orchard :smiley:

The only potential violation I see is that you arrested Vulcan without properly declaring a wizard war first. Unless the charter of your covenant required him to submit to your authority that could be an issue.

You've certainly deprived a magus of his power, and you've done so before he was renounced. You may have the authority to arrest people under your saga's Peripheral Code, but the charge is of committing a Hermetic Crime and he needs to be tried at Tribunal. He may well have broken mundane laws, as well, but even if he has, the charge needs to be brought at Tribunal. It is, conceivable that your Hoplite powers allow you to act unilaterally, but there must be an investigation into first your character's actions, and then ultimately Vulcan's actions.

You very well may have scared the captain of that particular detachment, but what I think you've really done is emboldened the Emperor to put pressure on covenants in his entire realm for them to accede to his wishes, by just showing up with 500 troops, or some other suitably impressive number.

What kind of spells do you have (and why do you have them) that allow you to take out an army of 500? Even could I cast a Group version (with size +2 applied to T:Group to get to 1000 recipients) of Pilum of Fire at 500 men, I wouldn't presume that victory is a forgone conclusion. A similar version of Ball of Abysmal Flame is out, due to the level being 55, and it would therefore be a ritual...

You can't seriously believe for a moment that 500 mundanes would present more than a few rounds of entertainment? Especially in the road, where they're limited by the trees as to angles of attack.. a handful of fireballs modified with Grandius' Vim magic to increase their target size would make short work of those Imperial dogs. For all his faults, Vulcan made it clear to the Empire that his actions were his own, and that he did not represent the will of the Order. Hopefully that, combined with my show of power, might dissuade the Empire from meddling further. As for his part though, Vulcan's actions endangered not only himself, but the three other magi in his covenant as well as the lives of several dozen grogs. Our actions were aided by a Quaesitor and advised upon by a senior Quaesitor, and if need be I can probably drag Casillius into the whole mess to speak on our behalf. I do agree that we will have some explaining to do, but I believe we were justified in our actions, and we will all attest to that at Tribunal.

Fireballs? As in Area of Effect spells? Because Ars has vague rules about area of effect spells, Arc of the Fiery Ribbons cover's a 60 degree arc out to 15 paces, and does +10 damage. That's not much against armored men. They could probably soak a few rounds without effort and then their armor is hot. Sure. But that's not all 500. We may be operating from different assumptions, but my assumption is that Ars doesn't have area of effect spells, or doesn't have many, certainly nothing that operates like the classic AD&D Fireball that fills 33,000 cubic feet of space. The reason why the Order has an interference clause is precisely because armies can be brought to bear against covenants, and depending upon the resident magi, be largely defenseless.

Your actions may have been sanctioned by a senior Quaesitor of the Rhine, but when the Prima Guernicus has to answer a summons from the emperor's army camped at the base of the mountain upon which Magvillus is built, do you think she's going to be very happy? Do you think she's going to accept what the quaesitors authorized or recommended? No, she would rescind their letters and status as Quaesitor cum auctoritate and would call them back to Magvillus for remedial training, and send in new members of her House to the Rhine, whereupon they would be the new Quaesitors in the tribunal. Cavillor may preside over the Tribunal and pretribunal hearings, but do you think he's not going to get the message loud and clear? The message being, get me a head, or we've got problems. There's a reason that some of my players have strategically inserted a tch in Bilera's name.

Where it stands now is that you've given the Emperor a magus of the Order of Hermes. You don't think the Emperor is going to kill the magus, right? I mean, treat him right, protect him, nurture his power, ensure he has access to all the resources he might need. You've delivered the "offending" magus to the temporal authority and now the emperor just needs to be nice and point out to Vulcan that the Order will surely have renounced him and he is the only one who can keep Vulcan safe. All according to the emperor's diabolical plan.

That's my take at least. Others might have a different opinion. But your run of good luck would only go on so long. As a player in a saga, we'd talk about it, and when the awesome rolls for you or horrid rolls for the other side turn, it's going to be a long fall...

As in an improved "ball of abysmal flame" mastered for fast casting and modified to hit a group of 100. Against men and horses. I can't expect everyone to have experience with horses, but can you wager a guess at how much fire it takes to spook a horse? Hint: it's not a lot. So within the first 6 seconds I've murdered 100-200 men who tried to soak a massive damage fireball (yes, sorry I call balls of fire fireballs. How pedestrian of me) using their faces. The woods are now ablaze on either side of the road and the fire is spreading.

You're saying 300 men will charge over the charred, smoking corpses of their compatriots, through a towering inferno to come to bear on a man throwing death from his hands? How long does it take 300 men to step over 200 corpses? 6 seconds? Woops, there's 200 more. Now 100 men are caught between two infernos with mangled death in front of and behind them. Their captain is a smoldering heap at my feet. I'm betting those who are alive probably won't press on, and even if it came to it I could wait out one round of attacks with my +10 soak before dropping another fireball on top of myself. The result? 500 dead men, one scorched magus and one naked, pissed-off magus who has to walk home.

In-game, Artorias was put in an extraordinary situation and acted how he felt was best. Meta-game, we all talked about the fact that Vulcan was going to get us all killed, and decided this was the best way to handle it. I'm curious, how would you have handled it? Remember, you've got to deal with the 500 soldiers marching at your woefully ill-prepared covenant, and Tribunal isn't until the end of next season.

Also: what is an 'area of effect spell' if not a spell which affects targets within an area? What do you call room, structure, boundary? The area affected is a room, structure or boundary. The effect is contained within an area. I think you may be mistaken in this regard.


I think Vulcan going off with the army is going to come back as a plot hook down the line (but don't tell my SG). We plan on claiming he's dead, which will undoubtedly come back to bite us in the ass. Sometimes going against the letter of the law makes a story more fun..

I think you're being rather literal. Of course, you can create spells with T:Room and T:Structure that will fire everything inside. What you can't do is throw that T:room spell in the open and expect it to cover a room's worth of area.

Sure, you've just murdered 200 men...of the Empire. Ars isn't about what you can do. That's easy, that's simple. Its about how and why you do what you do. What do you think would happen to your character if you did that?

Oh no, certainly not. Not at all. You're obviously prepared for a battle. Have you at all demonstrated this before, perhaps? No, your enemies will start coming at you sideways. In ways you can't predict. Maybe you giving up this magus is one of those ways.

When did the Quaesitors know and when did they know it? How long has this been building? Your character isn't a Quaesitor, he's a hoplite. A Quaesitor has a bit more latitude to act that your character does. So the question is what would I do in a similar situation. Well, am I, as your character, culpable in any way for this activity? Am I doing CYA or am I doing legitimate work of the Order. Because if it's CYA, I'd probably do much the same. If I'm not culpable, and I'm friends with a Quaesitor, I'm getting that Quaesitor into the covenant and investigating, and when it goes south, I want to be present to assist the Quaesitor with apprehending the criminal pending the outcome of the investigation. Tribunals are traditionally held every 7 years, but they may be called at any time, and only need 12 magi from 4 covenants for them to be legal.

And with all things, YSMV. I'll admit I have trouble differentiating you from your character. So if you're ok with your character's plans exploding in his face, all the better.

I think you're the one being too literal. Yes, Ars doesn't have 'area of effect spells', but it does have spells which effect an area which is the same thing. You're arguing semantics with yourself.

The whole point is I didn't want to murder them. You're the one who questioned whether I could.. are you arguing just for the sake of arguing? I went to meet the army knowing that it could end in bloodshed, but hoping that it wouldn't. What fool marches towards 500 men with no contingency plan?? Anyway, Tabinus informed Vulcan that he was being investigated about 2 years ago. In-game, I had no idea what Vulcan was up to, only that he was making money some way. My beloved Winfreda convinced Tabinus to have me cooperate, and I have been the entire time. He has been staying at our covenant for about a year now, and he was the one who thought our situation warranted the attention of Casillius. Last season, we were attacked in the night by a small squadron of Imperials, and we took one alive. After I... questioned him, we found out about the 500 men marching towards us, and afterwords Vulcan told us why. I did really everything I could think of to not give Vulcan over, but in the end it was the only move that made sense. Honestly, if I had just left him alone at the covenant he would have been taken just as easily, since he's basically helpless in combat. I just saved the rest of us and our stuff in the process.

You sort of ignored the fact that 500 men are marching towards the covenant with the intent to kill all inside and loot its contents. It's all well and good to put your faith in the slow machinations of the Order, but when you've an army on your doorstep you've sort of got to make a decision.

T:Room is different than some area that is as large as a standard room. So, when I said you were being literal, well, of course, I stipulate that there are area of effect spells, but they have pretty specific parameters, and I even gave an example of one that exists that doesn't have parameters of T:Room in my initial mention.

Actually no. Two separate things going on. First is if you believe it is an area of effect spell. The second is how T:Group actually works.

You and your SG may read it differently, but you can't pick out 100 people from the group of 500 unless they are already neatly divided and separated somehow and you can perceive that separation. Further, the spell range is R:Voice, your voice covers 15 paces (or 50 paces with booming voice). If you're within 15-50 paces, you're within their combat range. I'm not arguing for the sake of arguing, I'm just suggesting that were you in my saga, things probably wouldn't be going your way quite so easily. First, your spell would probably just fizzle, since you won't be able to pick out a group of 100, twice. Uh oh.
So no, even if you had to get into aggressive diplomacy, you couldn't have killed them, in my view.

Never start a fight, always finish one, I can appreciate that.

Not really, or not anymore than a Tribunal would. If the covenant was wiped out due to the actions of its members, well, no harm no foul, is there? Now that it hasn't been wiped out, there's time to uncover the full extent of wrong doing and shenanigans going on at that covenant to ensure it never happens again. You do have Hermetic enemies, don't you?
I mean this is the Rhine, right? Even though all of the covenants agreed for this one to be formed, several of them would like nothing more than for it to fail.

Take out the word 'arrest' and what did he really do? He abducted a fellow magus and delivered him to an army that was coming looking for him. Certainly this would be acceptable within a wizards war. If some provision of the covenant allowed him to do the same, no problem. Giving a mage the power and discretion to deliver another mage to mundane authorities is not the same as an expectation that magi will be delivered up to mundane authorities. Now having Vulcanus reappear at Tribunal with accusations of depriving him of his magical power in the forms of his labs and texts would certainly be interesting...

With Bilera as his advocate, no less... :smiling_imp:

Uh, your saga may vary, but I'd say that "The first 100" is a clear delineation. It's easily noted by who is closer to the front.

Uh, how are the first 100 clearly delineated (separated) from the body of the group? The way Paabo is describing the use of the spell is that he can pick out groups of 100 at will, and because he can multicast it he can pick out another group of 100.
No, it has to be clearly separated, and that separation has to be perceived by the magus, because you can only target what you can perceive.

Actually, we are both wrong. In this instance, I tend to forget it when not creating something lasting, the Fire is the thing created. So T:Group Size +1 applied to group makes 100 Pila of Fire. The question then becomes if these can be effectively targeted at 100 different recipients[1], or if these are sent to 1 recipient. Multiple casting allows one to target different people, but should/does T:Group, specially as that group grows significantly larger?

Sometimes the Forms and the recipient of the spell align, say a ReMe spell designed to put a group of 10 people asleep. I would still say that the group needs to be discrete and separate from other groups. I would lean towards the above interpretation, too when dealing with any direct damage spell. If you want a spell capable of dealing with 100 people at a time, you have to be able to perceive that group in some fashion and it must be discrete from other groups, even though the recipient and item created are different.

[1] Recipient or victim of the spell, or small 't' target.

What formations are they in? He may have to pick smaller groups, like a 5x5 phalanx...

I don't have my collection with me currently, but I had read the base group size as '10 standard individuals', and a step up would necessarily be '100 standard individuals', right? I'm not saying I would kill exactly 100 men, each of them taking home their own personal ball of abysmal flame, but a fireball of that magnitude created in the space occupied by roughly 100 men would certainly ruin those men's days. Am I misunderstanding? Do I need to discretely target 100 men, or is targeting a specific point in space with a CrIg spell with group+1 target sufficient to cover a roughly 100-man shaped space in my glorious inferno? I figure with men standing in ranks on a road, I could certainly just drop a fireball near them and let entropy sort it out. If this isn't the case, I can now see where you were coming from concerning AoE effects, JLinks.

Area of effects with direct damage spells is a bit of a weakness with Ars.

The first challenge is what does T:Group with BoAF do. It makes 10 standard BoAFs, or fires hot enough to deliver +30 damage. It doesn't make one fire that can do +300 damage, does it (my answer would be no)? So then the next question to ask is how are these delivered. Typically a BoAF is delivered to 1 target, if you multiple cast you can deliver it to two targets. No problem there. How do you target 10 people with a T:Group BoAF. Do you keep the requirement that the group so targeted (the victims) must be discrete, because it makes no sense for the 10 BoAF to not be discrete and hit just anyone. My feeling here is yes, and primarily because of how it works with a Rego Mentem spell to put a T:Group of 10 minds asleep; the Form and the recipients are one in the same. In order to throw the Ball of Abysmal Flame at a group of people, it must obey the limits of the Group, that they be discrete and identifiable, and of course this must be perceived by the magus at the time of casting. Something like, I see that squad of 25 in the center, there's a bit of separation between them and the rest of the group, the Captain is in front of them. I can get that group of 25 with my BoAF T:Group, Size +1 spell.

Now, should it be possible to create a single fire the size of an army, yes. But the target there is Individual. A base individual of Ignem is the size of a hearthfire in a great hall or a large campfire. Applying a size modifier gets you to 10x that, and another one 100x that. How big is the group of 500 men before you? If you create a fire that big within 15 paces of you (50 paces if you yell) how hot is it going to get for you?

These are the things we grapple with, and deciding how they play out makes a big difference in the game. If the assumption is that T:Group allows you to pick out any 10 people, it really shouldn't. If it is the closest to you, how are they differentiated from the rest of the group. If you, instead, want to make a different spell that covers an area, it is possible, but it must be designed so from the ground up. This T:Group, Size +1 applied to group spell should conform to the rules of Group for targeting purposes, IMO. If you rule that T:Group restrictions regarding recipients of BoAF doesn't apply and that they may individually targeted, well it's something of a problem. If you multicast it and increase the group's size, you've compounded the problem and now can effectively and independently target 200 people. I'm not sure that's in the spirit of the rules and there's certainly some question as to whether it is the letter of the rules.