Why would a magus travel to Northern Scandinavia?

I'm collecting ideas for an upcoming game. I've got the urge to set the covenant in a Norwegian Fjord where I won't feel as strongly compelled to figure out what the rest of the magi in the tribunal are up to, (just the local exotic magicians, faeries and so on).

Most of my players are rather new to the game, so I'd like to provide them with some possible motivations to have their characters deciding to settle in foreign territory far from their home covenants. Stuff like the hooks in Ancient magic / Legends of Hermes/ Hermetic Projects that they can focus a moderate amount of their character's efforts around.

Naturally, I thought to hit this fine community up to get a few thoughts.

What sort of a story do you think it would be fun to have a PC pursue up, far away from the complications of a tribunal?

1 Like

The aurora borealis: apply them to the "Phenomena" and "Significatos" options on p 101 of the Covenants supplement. You might also get above the Arctic Circle where days and nights are six months long, and experiment with cyclic magic there, in search of a Hermetic breakthrough. Harvest vis from glaciers, and harvest "unicorn" horns (Narwhals).


Seekers might look for Ultima Thule and identify it with Hyperborea (AM p.130f Mythic Hyperborea). Would they find (RM p.75ff) Muspelli and Jotun giants to hinder them?

Individual magi may have many - noble and unsavory - personal reasons to leave their sodales behind: fleeing persecution or seeking revenge, looking for Hermetic ancestors or the origins of their Mythic Blood, etc..They might wish to found a new Tribunal (see ArM4 Land of Fire and Ice) as a longshot, or settle in and study with the last HMRE p.120f Vitkir.

EDIT: While the wayback machine isn't helpful with Pietro Querini's report in English, I found a decent article on fisherman from Northern Norway.

Despite what various Ars magica sourcebooks might tell you there is actually a lot more than frozen wasteland and hostile heathens to find in scandinavia in 1220.

Denmark was formally christianized in 975 and is in 1220 very much a christian kingdom involved in the larger political landscape of mainland europe. Even going on "crusade" in Estonia in 1220.

Norway has even had its own archdiocese since 1154. There is a lot more to look up but these are just my own two cherrypicked examples.

In a way scandinavia is simply ripe for hermetic conquest. Scandinavian economies are deeply involved in maritime trade with amber, walrus ivory and fish to name a few things. They are also happy consumers of southern luxury goods, like wine and silk. There are trade routes to iceland and greenland for the transport of these goods.

Thus there is ample opportunity to set up a covenant economy, based on the import/export of goods. Especially in Norway where farming is hard it should be possible to set up a thriving farming economy for a covenant by employing magic to mitigate the harsh climatic conditions.

A really good reason to go is simply to set up shop somewhere that is free of competition. If you are the first to go you also get to claim dibs on a larger amount of the magical resources, you can pick the best auras/regiones to settle in, claim all the vis sites, take the best familiars, ally with the strongest magical (Magical/Faerie) beings, ally with/influence the strongest mundanes etc.

Given the lack of hermetic covenants there should also lots of available magic resources.
Auras, regiones, vis sites, magical monsters, beasts of virtue.

Norway in particular is full of majestic natural wonders:
a predictable(tidal) and massive whirlpool, the Aurora, fantastic maritime beasts, majestic mountain views, a diverse fauna, rock carvings etc.

In many places in scandinavia (I know this is true of denmark since I live there, but it believe it to be the case for Norway and Sweden too), you can hardly turn a stone without finding evidence of stone age and bronze age settlements. The bogs are full of bodies, and especially votive objects. There are thousands of burial mounds in different styles ranging from early neolitihic to late viking age, ending with the christianization. You might even be able to find people who can remember the last burial mound constructions. These mounds are sometimes full of treasure too, especially the ones from the bronze age.

Then there are the Sami. In norse folklore the sami are thought of as great magicians. That is a really good opportunity for introducing all sorts of interesting magic. Perhaps they have access to some magical knowledge that could be integrated into hermetic magic? maybe their reputation as great sorcerers is caused by an unusually high amount of Gifted people among them? They are an ideal vehicle for introducing some exotic magic that you like.


There are the usual pull factors: Few mundanes, abundant vis, personal reasons (like being from the region), Hedgies (for a Pralician or Flambeau to study - alive or their remains), lush auras, a heartbeast that feels at home (e.g. salmon), and all kinds of knowledge troves rumored to be found.

There are push factors as well: Being banned from other places, hiding from someone/something, pushy masters (House T., I am looking at you)

If this game is an online game, please consider me.

So I agree with what was said above. Vis abundance is probably the nr 1 reason to go for it in my view, especially if you come from the heartland and you have never even seen a full rook of Vis.

In our game, we are based in Estonia and gearing up to kill the personification of winter,but that is because some long winters are problematic.

To research sami Magic.

This work, probably written during the late 12th century, details a noaide preforming a magic ritual.


For the religious, they may be interested in pushing back the dark (if they buy into the idea that the area is still pagan and that paganism is basically infernal).

If pagan/Merinita/Bjornaer, they may want to contact the local entities.

There are some theorists who consider hedge magic the key to magical advancement.

For Flambeau or Tytalus magi, surely there is a fight to find. Some magi believe in the Order of Odin.

For Tremere, strategic probing.

Ex Miscellanea may want to extend the cover of the Order to their distant magical cousins.

And to save them from the aforementioned Flambeau and Tytalus who come looking for a fight. :slight_smile:

  1. Since it's less densely populated by people and it doesn't have the type of organized magical community the rest of Europe has, there is bound to be a truckload of vis there.

  2. The Rhine Tribunal is considering/planning the Hermetic colonization of Scandinavia. There are multiple reasons for this. In part, people of the Oak Gild hope for a glorious conquest they can spearhead to bring glory and wealth to the tribunal. In part, there are rumours about the "Order of Odin" a major bogeyman for the Order of Hermes, and some trigger fingers in the tribunal are itching. In part, the most vis-deprived covenants eye potential Scandinavian vis sites greedily. In part, people in the Rhine Tribunal are worried Novgorod is going to beat them to it, and vice versa.

  3. "His Sun duration spells last half a year with this simple trick. Archmages hate him."

  4. More peaceful magi are interested in unknown and possibly quite powerful non-hermetic traditions that could be integrated with hermetic magic theory.

  5. While it's a Christian country now, the religion isn't nearly as entrenched in Norway as it is in southern Europe. In rural areas, some people may still worship the old gods, at least in private. In truly isolated places, people may still hold blóts and commune with the alfar. This if course means a sh*tload of faeries all around the place. Not only on the fringes of civilization but quite possibly in and around the household, since in some villages, there is no Dominion.


I'd like to give a belated thank you for all of the ideas.


And Pralix, it's on line for now during the plague times, but all of the players are local to me and I have hopes of bringing it to the real world when things get better. (You're not a Minneapolis/ Saint Paul area person are you?)

We’re starting a new saga where we’ll place our covenant in Oslo, Norway.

We’re using the same rationale as was used for the founding of Oculus Septentrionalis to expand the Rhine tribunal.

Most of the vis will be shipped to the backing covenants and then they will keep watch towards the north and Odins Order.

Oslo in 1220 is a small town with around 2000 inhabitants. A couple of monasteries, a handful of churches including one with the remains of St. Hallvard.

As the saga progresses I think we’ll touch upon trade in the Baltic and the potential founding of a new Scandinavian tribunal.