The Final Gate or Where Did all the Necromancers Go?


While drafting my sections for Faith and Flame I was keen to incorporate some Theban elements into the Arelat section as Massalia (later to be called Marseille) was originally founded as a Phocaean colony long before the Romans arrived to establish the Provincia and subsume the local Greek culture.

We were developing the Cult of Mercury concepts under Erik’s lead and I looked back through my notes for inspiration and found an old idea from the Light of Andorra Saga circa 2008 that I’d worked on for a Gifted Mercere character named Decimus that had been initiated into the Cult of Mercury by his mater, Honoria:

Portus Phlegythas, a watery subterranean covenant and mortuary for the pagan cult that holds a gate to the realm of Hades, located in the deepest stretch of the Verdon Gorge in rivers and lakes. Populated by pallid covenfolk warped by the high Magic aura to be overly sensitive to sunlight. A Mercere pontifex (archmagus) of the Cult, Fraxinus of Mercere, leads the covenant and officiates over the funerary rituals of the crematorium.

It is also home to a small lineage of Ex-Miscellanea Mercurians who specialise in speaking with the departed spirits of antiquity like the ancient Dacian necromantic tradition that joined House Tremere in the 9th century, thereby gaining much lost lore and occasional insights about the future.

Decimus stayed only briefly, long enough for Honoria to prearrange a ceremonial funerary service and cremation in the traditions of the Cult for him – a traditional gift from mater to filius upon being considered worthy of attempting the Hermetic Gauntlet. You briefly met the magi there and made a favourable impression on them, including Acheronus, the Tytalus Titanoi interested in controlling the powerful daemon referred to as Styx, personification of Hatred and Oaths. It’s a very creepy place, even for a covenant-raised pagan like Decimus…

I therefore wrote a short paragraph on the covenant, renaming it Portus Termini and linking it in to the history of the Coenobium by making it the destination of the necromancer survivors of the Saracen depradations of the Alyscamps, the ancient graveyard near Arles. I felt this linked in well with the funerary custom ideas for the Cult of Mercury and wanted to expand on the concept of a parens from the Cult of Mercury purchasing an obol for Charon to “pay the ferryman” well in advance for their apprentice’s ultimate death and Mercurian style funeral.

The potential Story Seeds of a magi’s obol being stolen and used as an Arcane Connection to either their living self or their ghost seemed worth exploring but I didn’t get a chance to develop it as a counterpoint to the Tremere’s custom of passing through the Gate of Eurydice (see Houses of Hermes: True Lineages, page 115 and Against the Dark, page 22 for further details) and as an example of a potential remnant of the non-Tremere Dacian necromancers. Some of the ideas detailed for Qui Sonant Pro Quieto, the covenant that serves as the final resting place for Ireland’s magi (detailed in The Contested Isle, page 105-107) could be readily applied, at the risk of being derivative. I suspect I could link it into the Cult of Orpheus somehow as well.

Another idea that occurred to me later on was to link some of my Terrae magi ideas such as the Sleeping Army (originally derived form a conversation with the former Berklist alumni, David Woods, who wrote the Guernicus chapter of Houses of Hermes: True Lineages) and link it into some of my ideas regarding Petra and the Mercurian and Guernicus involvement with Urbs Rubra.

Unfortunately, despite all this potential, during the writing process we quickly began to run out of room in the Provencal draft however and as I felt the covenant was becoming more “Theban” in style. Erik was leading the Mercurian development in an amazing direction and so I didn’t translate the remainder of my notes into a full covenant description and turned my concentration to other concepts. The sole remaining reference was spotting on the Atlas Forums, remaining as a potential “Easter Egg” clue…

I still think the concept has value as a covenant “between Tribunals” (and perhaps “between worlds”) as such, but rather than being a transport nexus and Mercer House like Harco, it serves more as a destination or a one-off expedition. Making it at least accessible via subterranean waterways gives it the potential to be visited from nearly any geographic are in Mythic Europe potentially reached by the Romans, so I hope I can expand it further perhaps as a fully fledged Sub Rosa piece but more in the style of a “Hooks” or adventure article than just a gazetteer piece.

See the remnant of the original draft text for the covenant:



Musings on the Grog’s Statistics

I don’t really understand the WordPress statistics yet, but poking around has unearthed some interesting revelations. For instance, here’s the Top Pages/Posts for My Life as a Grog since it’s conception:

Top Posts August 2014So apart from the Home page, the Mythic Genoa  section seems the most popular overall, which is somewhat reassuring as that’s meant to be one of the main topics I focus on. As a sub-page of this project, the Baliestrieri Genovese (crossbowmen) seems to really punch above its weight – sure it’s a nice little character guide but I didn’t expect it would be so popular. Perhaps it fills a need for the template for a grog crossbow specialist?

Also, the Walking Sticks article (part of the More than Messengers Redcap material pages) comes in sixth after the home page which is gratifying as I was hoping it to be a useful and interesting piece with wide applicability. Every Redcap needs a walking stick I figured and it seems like there’s more than a passing interest.

In terms of “hosted” material, Marko’s Societas Flambonis article (including his Flambeau Apocrypha) is deservedly popular, and it seems like the Sub Rosa Issues Compiled Contents has also proven a worthwhile undertaking.

Maybe I should offer to host more external material? 

Oddly, the small piece I wrote explaining why “Doissetep” doesn’t appear in Faith and Flame seems to have scored a disproportionately large number of hits. Strange.

Top Posts 30 days August 2014

Looking at the last 30 days, the supplemental Provencal material features prominently, which makes sense I suppose. The Training Packages for Redcaps article features strongly which is also good – I put a lot of effort into that piece of writing and hope it’s helpful for Troupes and of wider interest to the community.

Marko’s Flambeau article still features strongly in the month – it’s useable with Provencal certainly but I wonder whether this suggests it has ongoing appeal. It’s a great article so it deserves to be accessible.

I’m not sure if this helps or not?





The Story of Mythic Fraxinetum

One of the core concepts driving the design of the Arelat chapter of Faith and Flame was the wake of the depradations of Fraxinetum. This little known but fascinating  episode from real history was a great hook and I felt the concept required at least some treatment in any Provencal Tribunal book.

I had just finished writing material for The Cradle and the Crescent at the time, so working on some ideas for a Moorish raider covenant came fairly easily.

See below for the link from the Faith and Flame page to the extra Fraxinetum material:

Design Notes – Sub Pontem (Provencal)

Although I contributed some ideas to the concept of Aedes Mercuriae (see Dois…?), and pitched the unrecognised “pirate covenant” of Fraxinetum Redux, I really created only one major covenant to Faith and Flame: the Provencal Tribunal that ended up in the final supplement.

This was the multi-site Jerbiton and Mercere led covenant know as Coenobium Rhodanien or more commonly, just “The Coenobium”.

<cue moody threatening music>

The Pont St Benezet in a slightly later age

Continue reading Design Notes – Sub Pontem (Provencal)