London Bridge Covenant

lThis page is a placeholder and therefore still under construction. I’ve decided to leave it published however as a “work in progress” look at how I build projects online.

This formatting indicates design notes meant for the Storyguide.

The London Bridge Covenant is intentionally not designed as a “vanilla” covenant setup – there is no castle, no hill, no faerie woods or their metaphorical equivalent. It’s an intentionally ambitious  project purposefully set in an urban location to help me explore the ramifications of Hermetic culture at the interface with mundane society and the Dominion.

As such City & Guild and the “House Jerbiton” section of Houses of Hermes: Societates are critical resources that support it. The chosen setting so close to a large city creates many complications and difficulties, all of which have story potential, but which may be too overwhelming for an inexperienced Troupe and too restrictive for the liking of more experienced players.

Bridge from Cartographer's Guild.jpg
“The Bridge District” by Dain (Cartographer’s Guild)

On The Bridge

Common to the London Bridge in particular are the so-called hautpas, upper story connections between the buildings on either side of the roadway. These somewhat ramshackle overways have the effect of transforming sections of the bridge into tunnels and contribute to congestion when over loaded carts or wagons become stuck beneath them and hold up the flow of traffic.

The bridge is occasionally used as part of the roadway for the funeral procession of a king. Although a Dominion aura usually dominates during the day, at the time of these great processions a subsumed ancient Faerie aura resurfaces as the bridge’s role transforms into a funerary road (see RoP:F, pages xxx).

oldbrig
London Bridge Concept Art

Under the Bridge Downtown

Beneath the roadway lies the great bulk of the covenant proper, at least as far as the magi are concerned.

The River Thames

Below the bridge lies the actual Thames waterway. In places, the bridge infrastructure and parts of the buildings that comprise the covenant and mundane settlement reach the water level or even extend down into the riverbed within the pylons, but the water of the river itself occupies a significant amount of space.

The tidemen

Wherries (skiff like boats used as ferries)

Hedge Wizards on or near London Bridge

Demetrius the Necromancer

Demetrius more advanced necromantic powers may be optionally modelled using the Banishment Major Supernatural Virtue known to the Ex-Miscellanea Hermetic Tradition of Donatores (see Houses of Hermes: Societates, page xxx).  

The Bridgefolk

Funeral processions of kings
White Swans and cygnets
Dredgers and Corpus vis

Magical Resources & Library

London

St Magnus the Martyr Church

London circa 1300 (Wikimedia Commons)

Southwark

The main street of Southwark, leading to the bridge itself, lies along the old Roman road to Londinium that originally crossed the swampy area along the southern bank of the Thames. The other important street, regio vicio (“Royal Street”, later known as Tooley Street) runs eastwards past the church of St Olave’s and the Bridge House.

Southwark map

St Mary Overy’s Priory

The priory is later rebuilt and then invested as the cathedral of St Saviour, becoming the administrative centre of the local Southwark parishes.

Winchester Palace

Built in the 12th century by Stephen of Blois in order to spend more time at the royal court, this building lies just to the west of the priory on the south bank of the Thames. The surrounding estate is known locally as the Manor of Southwark, later to be known as the “Liberty of the Clink” – a reference to the infamous prison found within its grounds.

One of the richest landowners in the area, the current bishop, Peter des Roches, is a Frenchman from Tours that proved his loyalty to the current young king’s father and is the centre of a group of nobles with continental ambitions. An active warrior as well as an ecclesiastic, he is currently the High Sheriff of Hampshire and recently held the position of Justicar.

More information on Peter des Roches is given in ArM4 Heirs to Merlin, page 138.

Insert: The Winchester Geese and Cross Bones

The cemetery of “Cross Bones” on Redcross Way is the final destination for many of the so-called “single ladies” or “Winchester Geese” that ply their trade in area of Southwark controlled by the bishop. At least one of the covenfolk associated with the covenant is a former “goose” of the bishop (see Grogs, 110-112 for details of “Ex-Prostitutes” Template).

Although willing to profit from taxing the prostitutes, he somewhat unkindly does not permit them to be buried in consecrated ground – the graveyard has therefore developed a Perfidious Infernal aura of 3, rising to 4 at night (see Realms of Power: the Infernal, pages 15-16). As a repository for corpses denied a Christian burial, the site is favoured by the demonic Vessels of Iniquity known as Reveners, known for their power to animate the dead (see Realms of Power: the Infernal, page 75. The recurrent animations of the deceased streetwalkers and occasional Infernal ghost of vengeful whores keep the local hedge wizard and necromancer Demetrius busy, but also provide ample opportunity for him to interrogate the ghosts surreptitiously for his own ends.

St Olave’s Church

Beginning as the private chapel of Godwin, Earl of Wessex in 1018, this Norman stone church is dedicated to St Olaf, known in life as Olav Harroldson, an early King of Norway that was martyred in 1030 in an attempt to convert his people to Christianity. The church has a Divine aura of 3.

The “Watergate” or wharf directly to the north behind the church yard is the main source of the parish’s income – the tariff on the boats, skiffs and wherries (ferries) that dock here are cheaper than elsewhere along the south bank.

The Bridge House

imgBridgeMarkJust east of St Olave’s, this site is more a complex of associated buildings than a single structure, this site consists of several outbuildings surrounding the former monastic dwelling of Peter of Colechurch, the bridge’s architect, and an adjoining house left in the 1215 will of William Fitz Ailwyn, the first Lord Mayor of London. From here the bridge wardens administer and direct the maintenance of the bridge itself.

The complex has it’s own wharf and the open courtyard is used at night by the tideman in between their various duties clearing and repairing the starlings that protect the bridge pylons.

Insert: The Redcaps of London

Five Redcaps are named in the ArM4 supplement Heirs to Merlin, pages 114 and I have previously made comments about them in a post here. David Chart based them originally in Coventry, which is equidistant from all the listed covenants in the supplement but perhaps makes less sense in ArM5 where Mercer Houses are usually closely associated with an existing covenant. Shifting the Redcaps and the Mercer House to London I think creates more story opportunities.

Insert: The Frost Fairs

At several times during the past (notably in 250 AD and most recently in 923 AD) and sometime in the near future, the Thames freezes over completely, drastically altering the local geography and demography of London and its surrounds. In 1220, the constricting effect of the medieval bridge’s starlings reduces the salinity of the water by preventing the sea water of the tidal bore flushing the part of the river upstream of the bridge, making it particularly susceptible to freezing despite its torrential flow. When the Thames freezes over, the role of the great bridge is almost completely usurped as the thick ice allows the passage of the usual stream of carts, wagons and pedestrians across river without needing to pay the usual toll. Up to 11 inches thick in places, the frozen river may last up to a Season until it inevitably melts. During this time, the usual river traffic also ceases as boats and ships become locked on the shore or clenched in their moorings by the surrounding ice.

The businesses on the bridge are quick to take advantage of this change in circumstance however, setting up temporary stalls and tents, hastily constructed of oars and sail cloth on the ice and thus creating a temporary Great Fair that attracts the populace from both banks. The fair in turn attracts traveling entertainers, peddlers and occasional noble visitors but they are followed by all manner of thieves, beggars, con-men and assorted petty criminals. The watermen, deprived of their usual trade acts as a de facto police, maintaing the peace with the cooperation of the bridge warden’s men.

The lively activity of the fair attracts numerous faeries, often manifesting as entertainers or shopkeepers seemingly from distant and exotic lands. The area of ice supporting the fair assumes a Faerie aura of 3, replacing the usual weak Dominion aura. Unfortunately, the massed activity and revelry also attracts all-manner of minor demons, even creating small temporary Infernal auras.

Story Seed: a Supernatural Frost Fair

Freezing the “Pool of London” with Hermetic magic is simple enough a feat, in fact a simple level xx ReAq(Te) spell is sufficient, but the mundane repercussions of the sudden appearance of the ice shelf and its disruption on usual river shipping may be significant. London thrives on its role as a port and the ice disrupts the usual trade significantly enough for this to be considered interfering with mundanes if a Hermetic magus is found responsible.

The creation of the ice however may be due to the agency of a supernatural entity such as a Faerie Prince, the Demon of Southwark, or one of the muspelli agents of the Daimon of the North Sea bent on destroying the civilizing influence of the city.

Surrey and the Surrounding Lands

Bibliography & Resources

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