Levantine Sahir

This is an old article, created prior to the drafting of The Cradle and the Crescent. I’d originally intended to adapt this material for the Order of Suleiman chapter but Erik Dahl had a better concept and I wanted to develop the Jinn chapter fully. It presents a simpler variant than the official ArM5 sahir but there are some concepts that can be utilised for both Hermetic sahir and to provide variation to Erik’s rival magicians.

Prior to the publishing of The Cradle and the Crescent, official canon on the Order of Suleiman was vague – even in Niall’s Christie’s inspired 4th edition supplement Blood & Sand: The Levant Tribunal there were five possible suggestions presented on page 79, depicting the Order respectively as:

  1. the magical arm of the Caliphate
  2. preservers of magical order within the Levant
  3. seekers of the lost magic of Solomon
  4. a loose network of united Levantine hedge wizards
  5. despicable diabolists.

Niall’s preferred original vision, the Order of Suleiman as a combination of the first two options is presented in his unofficial web-supplement Vestiges in Sand, was cut from the final book to allow players to adapt the concept more easily to their own Sagas.

In this article, I present an alternative originally based on Niall’s third and fourth suggestions – the Brotherhood of Suleiman, a predominantly non-Hermetic Mystery Cult of sahirs and Levantine summoners with only nominal allegiance to the Caliphate. Rules for an alternate version of the sahir based closely on the existing rules for Summoners given in Realms of Power: the Infernal and draw heavily on concepts only recently presented in Mark Shirley’s work on Ex-Miscellanea in Houses of Hermes: Societas and the Mystery cults of The Mysteries: Revised Edition. More than any other edition of Ars Magica, the ArM5 has room to support the development and integration of non-Hermetic traditions into the core experience.

I am indebted to Niall for his inspiration and acknowledge that I draw heavily on his previous works. Many of the elements and themes in this article I hope can be easily adapted to Niall’s own Variant ArM5  Sahir. To distinguish between Andalusian Hermetic sahirs of Houses of Hermes: Societates and Niall’s non-Hermetic Fifth edition sahirs, the sahirs presented in this article are referred to as a Levantine sahirs throughout.

As a further note on terminology, sahir is the masculine singular, sahira the feminine. More than one sahir are referred to as sahirs or sahirin with sahiras being the term if female. Likewise, jinni and jinniya are the male and female singular of the species referred to throughout as jinn.

  • Character Creation – Levantine Sahir
  • New Virtues and Flaws
    • A Note on Levantine Sahir Accelerated Abilities
  • Common Sahir Mysteries
  • Mysteries of the Brotherhood of Suleiman

Character Creation – Levantine Sahir

According to the Qur’an, sihr (magic) was taught to mankind by two fallen angels named Harut and Marut, to tempt them away from the straight path of Islam. Those they taught passed the knowledge on through successive generations. In some cases the knowledge became corrupt under the influence of outsiders, and in other cases it was forgotten, leaving only snippets of information.

However, there is one tradition who claim to practice magic in its true form. These wizards are the sahirs…

from Houses of Hermes: Societas, page 133

(See also the paragraphs on “History” and “Culture” in the section on Hermetic Sahir by Mark Shirley in Houses of Hermes: Societas, pages 133-134 and ArM4 Blood & Sand: The Levant Tribunal).

Levantine Sahir can be played as either Gifted Companions (See HoH:Societas, page *) or unGifted Mythic Companions with the Levantine Sahir Virtue detailed below, essentially a variant of the Summoner Virtue (see Realms of Power: the Infernal, page*). Less commonly, a sahir may be a descendent of a legendary Levantine wizard and possess the Blood of Heroes Virtue as their Mythic Companion Virtue instead draw upon magical powers through the Heroic Birthright Virtue. Regardless of the source of their magical power, through delving into the knowledge of their predecessors or by joining the Brotherhood of Suleiman as noted below, these non-Hermetic magi can learn deeper Mysteries that their Iberian brethren have forgotten or been forced to abandon since their uptake of Hermetic magic. In a variant Saga these non-Hermetic magi may make interesting adversaries in the Levant or be played instead of a standard Hermetic magus.

As Gifted Companions or unGifted Mythic Companions, rather than Hermetic magi of the Order of Hermes with the Hermetic Magus Social Status Virtue, Levantine sahir should be created using the rules for Companions given in the “Detailed Character Creation” section of the ArM5 corebook and should typically take the Emir, Wazir or Wise One Social Status Virtues or the Outcast Social Status Flaw. For the rarer non-Muslim Levantine sahir, the Dhimmi Social Status Flaw (Realms of Power: the Divine, p115-116) is also appropriate.

The non-Hermetic sahirs, while superficially similar to their Andalusian Hermetic cousins of House Ex-Miscellanea in many ways, may have access to a restricted form of the Goetic Art of Summoning instead of, or in addition to, the Accelerated Ability of Sihr and typically share several other Supernatural Abilities that form the core of their magical tradition.

Although all Levantine sahir share in common the power to summon the spirits of the Levant and other Islamic lands by virtue of their Summoning Arts or Sihr, the number and focus of their other powers approaches the variety shown by Hermetic magi. Any Minor or Major Supernatural Virtue with a corresponding Supernatural Ability may be appropriate for a given sahir – see the section on Supernatural Abilities in Houses of Hermes: Societas page 103-107 for further ideas. Unless otherwise noted, all such Abilities draw their power from the Magic realm.

Favoured Tribunals: The Levant and to a lesser extent, the northern coast of Africa although the Almohads primarily employs Berber hedge wizards of different magical traditions and the sahir of the Maghreb have been supplanted by their Hermetic brethren from Iberia

Required Virtues: Levantine Sahir or Blood of Heroes or the Gift; Sihr or Summoning (free with the Gift), Arcane Lore, Second Sight, Sense Holiness or Unholiness, 1 other Major Supernatural Virtue

Favoured Abilities: Abjuration, Exorcism OR Commanding, Second Sight, Sihr OR Summoning

Common Virtues: Craft Amulet, Emir, Enchanting Poetry, Entrancement, Hex, Magic Sensitivity, Puissant Bargain, Puissant Leadership, Puissant Penetration, Shapeshifter, Solomon’s Insight, Student of (Realm), Summon Animals, Vis Sensitivity, Wazir, Whistle Up the Wind, Wise One

Common Flaws: Blatant Gift or Magical Air, Corrupted Abilities OR Corrupted Arts (Abjuration, Exorcism and/or Sihr and Summoning and/or Commanding), Dhimmi, Greedy, Jinni Companion, Judged Unfairly (Mudejar), Legacy, Mentor, Offensive to Animals, Outsider (Muslim), Proud, Wrathful.

New Virtues and Flaws

Major, Supernatural Virtue
By calling upon the teachings of Solomon and other Levantine magicians, a Levantine sahir can create protective circles and wards similar to the effects of the Warding Accelerated Ability of the Columbae of House Ex-Miscellanea (HoH:Societas, pages 112-114). Choosing this Virtue confers a score of 1 in the Supernatural Accelerated Ability Abjuration which otherwise substitutes for a Warding score in terms of game effects. Like Warding, Abjuration can be aligned with any realm, but for those of the Levantine sahir tradition, Abjuration is aligned with the Divine realm.

Major, Supernatural Virtue
By using the power of an invocation to God, calling out Bismi Allah, a Levantine Sahir can duplicate the effects of the Accelerated Ability Banishing (see HoH:Societas, pages 118-119). Choosing this Virtue confers a score of 1 in the Supernatural Accelerated Ability Exorcism which otherwise substitues for the Banishing score in terms of game effects. Like Banishing, Exorcism can be aligned with any realm but for Levantine sahir, Exorcism is aligned with the Divine realm.

Jinni Companion
Minor, Story Flaw
As Faerie Friend, but the companion creature is a Faerie jinni and beholden to a particular tribe of Jinn. See the sidebar on Jinn as Faeries?.

Jinni Magic
Minor, Mystery Virtue
You have been initiated into the Outer Mystery of Jinni Magic, see the sidebar on Jinni Magic for details.

Levantine Sahir
Special, Mythic Companion
This Virtue has no cost, and can only be taken for a Mythic Companion who has been mentored in the magic of the sahir tradition.

Solomon’s Insight
Major Supernatural Virtue
The magic of your tradition is linked to the various summoning and theurgical arts of the Levant. Similar to the Hermetic Virtue Secondary Insight, when studying any of the Accelerated Abilities Abjuration, Exorcism or Sihr and the Goetic Arts Commanding or Summoning from a book, a teacher or a Jinn, you also gain a single experience point in any of the other four Abilities or Arts you already have an Ability score in. You may not put more than one bonus experience point into a single Accelerated Ability or Goetic Art.

Solomonic Magic
Minor, Story Flaw
Due to this Minor Flaw, Levantine sahir may only summon, bargain with and attempt to control the following entities using their Goetic Arts (Commanding and/or Summoning): all Magical spirits (including airy spirits and daimons), ghosts who have not been given a proper Christian, Jewish or Muslim burial and those Jewish ghosts that have been buried but have been dead for less than one year, Jinn (regardless of Realm) and demons. They may not summon or command other spirits aligned to the Faerie realm that are not Jinn or any spirits aligned with the Divine realm. Sahir may bargain with such entities (see the sidebar on “Bargaining with Spirits”), but unless they have summoned such entities using the Accelerated Ability Sihr, they may not add their Summoning Strength. In addition, this Flaw includes the effects of the Cabal Legacy Minor Flaw (TMRE, page 20).

A Sahir with this Flaw is restricted to having a number of jinn or other entities in service to him at any one time equal to his Leadership score regardless of whether they are following him through bargains or coercion by magic. Unlike other summoners, the Goetic Arts Summoning and Commanding of a sahir with this Flaw are not considered tainted when assessed using the Sense Holiness or Unholiness Ability but remain aligned to the Magic realm. The Goetic Arts of Ablation and Binding are not affected.

At the Storyguide’s discretion, a character with Solomonic Magic may possibly learn the True Names of not only Infernal creatures but also Divine, Faerie and Magic creatures as well. See the sidebar “Sahir and True Names”.

You may purchase this Flaw if you possess the Gift or the Blood of Heroes Virtue and either Sihr or one of the Goetic Arts of Summoning or Commanding. You must purchase this Flaw if you possess the Levatine Sahir Mythic Companion Virtue.

A Note on Levantine Accelerated Abilities

For simplicity, a Levantine sahir’s Abjuration and Exorcism use the same mechanics as the Accelerated Abilities of Warding and Banishing respectively detailed in the Ex-Miscellanea chapter of Houses of Hermes: Societas but represents ancient Levantine lore passed down in Arabic, Hebrew or possibly Syriac (Aramaic). Although mechanically similar, these Abilities differ sufficiently from those used by the Columbae and Donatores Requietis Aeternae of House Ex-Miscellanea that the different traditions cannot normally learn from or teach each other. The exact availability of texts and other teaching sources such as mentors, (see Covenants, page*) remains up to the Storyguide to determine depending on the role and relative power of non-Hermetic sahir in the Saga.

At the Storyguide’s discretion, a sahir may study the related non-Levantine Supernatural Abilities of Banishment and Warding from sources outside their tradition using half the normal Study Total, as if the teacher or the writer of the book was under the effects of the Incomprehensible Flaw although access to such teaching sources is likely to be extremely limited in a Levantine Saga set in 1220. Likewise, magi of the Donatores or Columbae with similar abilities will find sources on the Levantine versions of their respective traditions’ Accelerated Abilities of limited use should they manage to acquire access to them.

Common Sahir Mysteries

All Levantine sahir, regardles of the extent or nature of their powers, belong to a loose collection of related traditions of Levantine sorcerors claiming descent from the legendary King Solomon or in Arabic, Suleiman. They believe that their powers are ultimately divine in origin, having been originally taught to mankind by the Watchers Harut and Marut who lay enchained in the Pit of Babel as punishment. Although not as structured as the Order of Hermes or most other Mystery groups, the Levantine sahir form a loose confraternity best represented as a Mystery Cult which relies on the Ability Levantine Sahir Lore as effectively their (Mystery Cult) Lore Ability. Most sahir are taught the basics of their tradition by an older sahir and are perhaps initiated into some of the more common Favoured Abilities by their master acting as Mystagogue, but cannot begin their careers with a score in Levantine Sahir Lore greater than 1.

Each sahir tends to follow their own path to power, dictated by their own goals and interests, accumulating knowledge of their tradition’s Mysteries through uncovering ancient inscriptions, recovering texts written by ancient magicians in Dead Languages of the Holy Land, bargaining with elder Heathen Jinni for their secrets and even by seeking out tutoring from another accomplished sahir in return for magical services or promises of allegiance. Levantine sahir must therefore usually experiment to discover their own Initiation Script for each Mystery Virtue they wish to learn (see TMRE, page 18-19). Sahir from particularly powerful lineages may inherit a handful of established Scripts from their master (those with the Blood of Heroes Virtue or the * Minor Virtue above) but those of a lesser pedigree may only be be granted one only through careful dealings with the Jinn or by agreeing to pacts with demons.

In addition to any of the common Levantine sahir Virtues listed above, other Mysteries that can be learnt by using Levantine Sahir Lore are as follows:

  • Charm the Elements (As the Criamon Path of Strife power, HoH:MC, page 69)
  • Immortality of the (Desert, Mountain or Sea)*
  • Nature Lore (Desert, Mountain or Sea) (see HoH:MC, pages xxx)
  • Repel and Attract Elements (As the Criamon Path of Strife power, HoH:MC, page 68)
  • Ways of the (Land)
  • Wilding (See HoH:MC, page xxx)

*as Immortality of the Forest, GotF, page xxx

Mysteries of the Brotherhood of Suleiman

The following Mystery requires a score in Brotherhood of Solomon Lore to initiate:

Example Script: Secrets of The Seal of Suleiman

Target level: 21, as Major Mystery Virtue (Jar of Suleiman)
Script Bonus: +14; sacrifices time and money (serves an elder in the Brotherhood of Suleiman to show he is worthy) +2, Medium Ordeal (increase Dutybound to Oath of Fealty) +6, Minor Ordeal (Favours extracted by sahir who teaches the mystery) +3, Mystagogues time (teaching secrets of entrapment) +3.
Note: this initiation requires both Craft Amulet and Abjuration as requisites. The Order of Suleiman goes to great lengths to prevent this Mystery being learnt by any summoners outside its ranks.

An alternative initiation script for this non-Hermetic Mystery might be pieced together by an experimenting Andalusian Hermetic sahir, but similar items to entrap elemental spirits have been replicated using Hermetic Magic and the spell Jar of Solomon (see The Wicked Jar, RoP:I p* and Voices from Hollow Spaces, Hoh:TL, p* for examples that entrap demons and ghosts respectively).

(Form) Jar of Solomon
R: Voice, D: Ring, T: Ind, Re Aq/Au/Ig/Te Level 35

These spells, one for each elemental Form, allow a Hermetic Sahir to imprison a Jinn within a common object such as a lamp, earthenware jar, gemstone or metal ring as appropriate, imitating a lost non-Hermetic ability of the tradition passes down from the magic of Solomon. The spell does not compel the imprisoned Jinn to serve willingly however and in many cases angers the bound Jinn, resulting in a +6 to the Ease Factor needed to successfully strike a bargain with the spirit using the Sihr Ability. The Jinn may still be commanded with Hermetic magic normally.

Sahir who imprison Jinn regularly are likely to gain a negative Reputation with Jinn as a Slaver, the score of which subtracts from all their rolls to bargain with Jinn. If the caster botches the spellcasting roll, they may be imprisoned within the object instead of the targeted Jinn at the Storyguide’s discretion.

(Base 15 (control a spirit in an unnatural manner), +2 Voice, +2 Ring)

See The Prisoners in the Pit: Harut and Marut for the True Secrets of Suleiman initiation script.

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