The Friends of Apicius - A Mystery Cult for November

For November I and some of the players in my group (particularly @GaelanD) have been putting together a mystery cult. The entire effort started off as a list of 30 punny names for possible enchanted foods and ended up developing into a full blown mystery cult with what I hope people will find to be an interesting gimmick.

A word of warning to anyone looking to use any mechanics, new virtues etc that we put here - in no way, shape or form have these been play tested or balanced - Use at your own risk!

I do not know if we will be able to make all 30 posts, as we still have a lot to do to get everything fleshed out in full, but hopefully we will!

The Friends of Apicius (or the friends of good cheer) - An Introduction
The Amici Apicii (Friends of Apicius) are a mystery cult of Magi that are able to prepare enchanted foods. The Amici claim their magics come from mystical traditions of food preparation and feasting from Rome and Ancient Greece, and believe the cult was actually founded in the 1st century by the Roman cook and gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius

The primary text on which the mysteries are based is the Apicius, which teaches recipes and the basic skills required to follow the cult’s path to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of the kitchen and the use of sympathetic ingredients and seasonings.

The major benefits provided by the cults magics are that they can, in effect, create charged devices in the form of food or meals in a much shorter time than would otherwise be required. They also gain additional benefits in that they may add their profession:Cook skill to their magic theory when calculating the maximum form and material bonuses they can use. They gain access to new form and material bonuses for various ingredients that most other magi would not use, and can further increase their lab totals by enhancing dishes with complementary spices once they reach a deeper understanding of the cults mysteries, allowing additional material bonuses beyond what would normally be possible.

The down side is their enchantments have an inherent expiry based on the shelf life of the food and can only affect either the food itself, or the person consuming the food. They cannot, for instance, be used to cast fireballs against an enemy, though they could cause someone to spit flames.

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Post 2 - A New Duration used by the Mystery Cult and part 1 of the first story we have.

New Duration : Feast

A duration that the cult uses in spells mainly designed to enhance an eating experience, provide entertainment to or protection for its diners whilst they sit down to a great feast, the duration allows a spell to last until all diners have finished their meal, and the last dish or drink has been served and consumed.
This spell is at the same level as concentration (+1)

Potential Story Seed : A Mage with access to this duration may want access to the halls of Valhalla, or indeed if a mage has access to any eternal feast or revelry they may be investigating a duration like this - which would draw the attention of the cult.

Story 1 pt 1 - An Invitation to Dinner

Let me recount to you, my young friend, how I was first introduced to the friends. That night is my fondest memory, I may have been there when we feasted in old Provender’s lab - I even was permitted to help the preparation, but there is nothing that has touched me quite like discovering I was a Friend of good cheer.
When first I was recognised as having potential in the culinary arts I had no idea the cult even existed, and if I had ever seen a work by Apicius then I would have viewed it as little more than a text to practice Latin comprehension. But, like you, something drew their attention to me and I received an invitation to a feast.

The terms given to me were the same as yours, I must come without guard or companion, without Parma or protection, and if I were to come, then I must come with hunger and with hunger alone.

I was directed to travel to an inn around two days travel from my covenant. There, I was told I would sit down for a meal, eat what was presented to me and then don the mask. I was promised the rights of any guest, and the option, if I so wished after the feast, to walk away and forget that meal.

I was, of course, suspicious. I’m sure you were - but the existence of mystery cults within the order is an open secret. Besides which, I was well liked, had no rivals and so I felt like taking the chance, rash youth that I was.

I came to the inn on the appointed day, stepping in I gave the password I had been given to the innkeep, and was taken into a private room, and seated in front of a single biscuit. I bit into it, and was transported to a richly appointed room illuminated with lanterns, containing only one thing of note - a table with a mask upon it.

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Day 3 - The Recruitment of members and the first Initiation script

Finding New Members

Existing members may suggest potential initiates at one of the cult's feasts, during the after meal symposium - there the members will debate the possibility of accepting the suggested new initiate, discussing their known qualities and their likely aptitude for the cult. Given that the cult take the concepts of Xenia and Hospitium extremely seriously (and would expect members to respect these traditions for any guests at their covenants) they are highly unlikely to accept anyone with personality traits that make them miserable, unfriendly, cruel or hateful

Following the symposium’s decision that a mage nominated to join the cult is worthy they will be invited to a feast, to meet with the members, converse with them and experience the cult’s rituals in use at a feast. Assuming the potential initiate finds the offer of membership acceptable, and continues to be approved of by the other members, they will be accepted into the cult and be assigned a mystagogue who is tasked with administering their first initiation into the cult

The First Initiation - Labours of the Careful Housekeeper

This Script is the first undertaken by someone joining the cult and grants the minor hermetic virtue "Apician Preparation" (to be described in later posts) and provides a script bonus of +9, meaning the mystagogue requires a cult lore and presence of 6+ in order to successfully initiate the supplicant.

The initiation involves a quest the initiate must undertake, a sacrifice of one season and the requirement for the initiate to accommodate the mystagogue during the season they study under them

The Initiate, having agreed to join the Friends, is tasked with learning how to make a meal that takes into account the principles laid out in the cults mysteries.

The initiate will first be tasked with obtaining several ingredients, they must gather one item of virtue, or the meat of a beast of virtue, to be the focus of the meal (Quest +3), and two other ingredients that must have similar material bonuses to the item of virtue (+2 Sympathy). The Initiate must then keep these ingredients fresh whilst they study under the mystagogue who will teach the initiate the processes involved in turning the ingredients they have gathered into a meal - this training will take 1 season (Mystagogue Time +3, Sacrifice of Time +1) and during this time the initiate must host the mystagogue and care for them as a guest for the season they study under the mystagogue.

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Day 4 - Quite late and part two of our first story

Story 1 Pt 2 - Ovum

Slightly disoriented, I took up the mask from the table in front of me. It was a curious sight to be sure, a pale white thing that covered only the eyes and head, it looked like the top half of some giant egg and it left my ears, nose and mouth in clear display. Thinking this would serve poorly as a mask I, nevertheless, donned it and stepped out of the room into the room beyond. I emerged from the cocoon of the room into a cacophony of laughter and conversation. I had hatched for the first time, physically emerging from the isolated room, and metaphorically, into this fraternity.

I found myself in a corridor as richly appointed as the room I had just left, but now there were others who had either already stepped out from the doors that lined that long room or were in the process of doing so, greeting each other warmly, hugging, laughing.

Each was wearing a fantastical mask, in stark contrast to my plain affair. Next to me stood three such specimens. One masked figure wore shimmering fish scales that glimmered in rainbow colours, one had the head of a lamb whilst the last wore a mass of peacock feathers that fanned out around their head. One common theme I noted, as another passed me by wearing what appeared to be a head of cabbage, was that all masks left the mouth, nose and ears completely uncovered.

The fish scaled face in front of me turned to welcome me, “Ah!” he said “A new face in an old mask, you must be the potential initiate?” With that I was swept up in the conversation and the crowd as we made our way to the feasting hall.

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Day 5 - The Custom Virtue Apician Preparation - New target - consumer and a revised enchantment expiry to be used with the virtue

New Virtue Minor Hermetic Virtue - Apician Preparation

The Magus is able to create charged items in the form of food. The level of the effect of the charged item must be less than or equal to the magus lab total before any Expiry multipliers are applied.

When creating charged food items the Magus may add their Profession: Cook skill to their Magic theory for the purpose of calculating their lab total and the maximum number of material/form bonus they can benefit from.

The magus must spend one hour per magnitude of the effect.

At the end of that period, the magus has created a meal with a number of portions equal to their lab total divided by the effect total - a magus may opt to create fewer charges than he can.

When creating the charged items must use the "portion expiration" - which acts like the effect expiry for invested devices - allowing the magus to apply a multiplier to his lab total (per the table below). The expiry of the effects, however, applies from the creation of the item, rather than its first use.

Created foods can only use the targets "Consumer" or Personal (ie enchantments affecting the food directly)

New Target - Consumer

The Consumer of the enchanted device (Same as touch range +1)

Portion Expiry

Lab Total Multiplier Expiry
0.5x year
1x moon
2x sun
5x whilst fresh

Enchanted foods should be made in a format that makes sense for their duration - for example foods lasing a year should be dried, salted or otherwise preserved .

No matter how long a foodstuff might normally last the cult has only ever been able to create devices that last for a year at most.

This should not be confused with the effects duration - and is the length of time the prepared device remains usable.

Example

Gordon Hamsby is a magus initiated into the Apician Preparation Virtue - he is preparing ‘Metamagic Mints’ hard candies enchanted with the effect ‘Wizard’s Boost (Herbam). The enchantment is as follows;

Wizard’s Boost(Herbam) MuVi10 - R:Consumer, D: Momentary, T: Individual

Gordon Hamsby’s lab total is 38 - being Mu: 8, He: 8, Int: 2, Magic Theory: 5, Lab Bonus 6, Material and Shape bonus +9 (Capped by Magic Theory of 5 and his Profession : Cook of 4)

Gordon Hamsby decides he wants his mints to last for 1 year (meaning his lab total is multiplied by 0.5) - his effective lab total is therefore 19 and he is able to create two mints and this takes him 2 hours. The mints will last for 1 year from the time of creation and when consumed will allow a spell the consumer casts whilst sucking the mints to benefit from the Wizard’s boost.

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Day 6 - Part three of the first story

Story 1 Pt 3: The First Course is Cooked

We filed into a room, dark and unadorned. At its heart was a plain stone table with stone seating in a dark and silent room, as I filed in with the others a hush seemed to descend on those around me as they moved to take seats around the table. I followed and made to sit between the fish scaled man and another I had not yet met with a mask made of scallop shells.

As the diners took their seats a susurrus of surprise seemed to stir the room as the first of us took our seats and found our food in front of us already. Indeed I was taken aback as I took my place for infront of me sat a clearly uncooked pie. The head of a dead bird I did not i recognise, denuded of feathers and other easy identifiers, poked out from the centre of the crust lid, clearly raw.

When the last diner had taken their seat, and whilst I was attempting to examine the bird in front of me, a figure dressed in a fine toga and a mask that looked like the head of a giant pea-pod stepped forward and addressed the room.

“Sodales! Welcome to the feast! We come together again today to renew friendships of old, and to offer our friendship to someone new. We welcome today a guest to our feast” all heads turned towards me here “who we hope will find amongst us all friendship and good cheer. Now, I hope we are all ready for our first course? As has become the informal tradition, I should just take this opportunity to ensure everyone has their Parma active, we don’t want a repeat of the Sorbet incident do we?”

This comment raised ribald cheer from several people around the table, along with an exclamation from further down the table of “Oh come on! It was 50 years ago, give it a rest already!”

I noted I had been asked to come without my Parma, and following an awkward silence, I left briefly to perform the Parma ritual and resumed my seat.

“Now then” said our Master of ceremonies “Since we have avoided disaster again, and reminded ourselves that sometimes too much wine does not aid in our planning - let us eat”

At his words the doors slammed shut, the walls around me burst into flame and I sat and watched as my pie baked in front of me and to my side someone passed around goblets and a flagon of wine.

Day 7

Symposiums and The Three Libations :

Following the traditions of the greek Symposium or Roman Convivium - a Symposium marks the end of a banquet where drinking and conversation takes place with other music and entertainment. For the cult this also marks a time in which knowledge can be shared and the works of the cult debated

However, before this starts the participants will elect one of their number to be the symposiarch (often called the Lord of the Common Drink) - in the Greek tradition this person is responsible for deciding on how diluted the wine being served should be, and who is responsible for ensuring the servers distribute wine swiftly to the diners - though given wine at a feast of the friends is usually magically distributed their major function is to administer the toasts and the three ritualistic libations that tradition dictates must be made at every symposium. As such the Symposiarch has a great influence on how the symposium will progress, bases solely on the amount they dilute the wine!

The Symposiarch will dilute the wine to be served in a Krater, and serve the wine, but the first drink or every Krater is poured out as a libation. Since there are three traditional libations that must be made, every one of the cult’s organized feasts requires three Krators worth of wine be drunk, making smaller gatherings much more lively, and drunken, affairs.

The First libation is poured to the Agathodaemon - a Daimon that is the Genus Locus of a location the cult protects and harvests for its magically attuned and plentiful ingredients - the spirit is lauded in the toast, a libation is poured and the sacrifice of wine is mixed with Vis - the sacrifice of vis helps to strengthen the Daimon and improve its ability to protect its local and increase the bounty of the harvest

The Second Libation is poured in memory of Apicius - the Cults records suggest that in the past this might summon the ghost of their patron, who would sit, take wine and debate with the diners, dispensing his wisdom and mysteries. No living member has a memory of this happening, or if they do they claim they do not

The Third Libation is poured to Hermes - there is no record as to why the cult makes this particular libation or why they look to invoke Hermes in particular, but it is a tradition that has endured for generations and many assume it is a nod to the order, so no one intends to stop now!