Hedge Magic and Hedge Magicians in Provencal

This material was cut for several reasons, mainly to save space as it was felt detailing the intricacies of the hedge practitioners would lessen the amount of Hermetic material we could include but also because an allied group of hedge magicians would soon be introduced by the release of The Contested Isle and two successive Tribunal supplements with hedge wizards seemed excessiveI’d originally intended for hedge magicians to play a much larger part supporting the Coenobium and their Redcaps so I’ve included it here for those Troupes that would like to expand on this Saga Seed.

Less densely populated than the Normandy Tribunal or Roman Tribunal to the north and east, richer in unclaimed vis sources than the constrained Tribunal of the Greater Alps, the Provencal Tribunal is rich in supernatural resources and both Faerie and Magical creatures. Blessed (or perhaps cursed) with an abundance of minor magicians and hedge wizards, the common man encounters magic and superstition frequently, even far from the scattered settlements of the Order of Hermes.

In Provencal, such hedge practitioners, regardless of Realm alignment and intent, are referred to generically as masques (Occitan: masco, “witch”), particularly in the eastern lands of Provence although variant terms such as sorginak are used more commonly in the western Pyreneean foothills of the Basque Country (see Chapter 6: the Pyrenees in Faith and Flame for details on the sorginak).

The common folk loosely recognize three divisions of masque, roughly corresponding to their relative power level: common hags or witches (regular companions with a handful of Supernatural Abilities), sorcerers and sorceresses with more formidable powers (Mythic Companions and unGifted members of formal hedge traditions) and magicians (Gifted Companions and Hermetic magi). To those they bewitch or bedevil, they are simply dé ens què fau de maou (Occitan: “those who do harm”).

Nearly all the allied hedge magicians of the Coenobium have been recruited as they have some knowledge of Mythic Herbalism (see Hedge Magic: Revised Edition, page 81-82). This suggests their disparate traditions may have once had some ancient link with the Ex-Miscellanea Pharmacopeians but their practices have devolved and become less coherent. The individual herbalists are best be represented by modified Cunning Folk or Mythic Alchemists (variants of the Learned Magician tradition) but do not focus exclusively on healing. Most are only Companion level characters.

The lesser members of the band of hedge wizards managed by Lavandarius the Pralician can be treated as an Agency comprising a disparate tradition of Gifted and unGifted Companions with some ability with such folk magics and herbalism (see Houses of Hermes: Societates, page 140-144 for details on Agencies).

Demasquaires

A unique form of peasant practitioner found in this region, the démasquaire, is the local Provencal variant of Faerie Doctor (see Realms of Power: Faerie, pages 115-118), known particularly for their power to counteract the spells of malevolent masques and faeries. His powers derive from familiarity with the specifics of Provencal hedge magic and his knowledge of the weaknesses of the local traditions, reflected by exceptional skill in Infernal Lore (witches), Magic Lore (Provencal hedge magic) and Faerie Lore (Provencal). They usually possess Affinity with (Faerie, Infernal or Magic) Lore and/or Puissant (Faerie, Infernal or Magic) Lore and many have either Magic Sensitivity of Second Sight.

Most démasquaires are unGifted Companion level characters, lacking Curse-Throwing or more supernatural powers. They seldom have more than a handful of minor magical tricks at their disposal, often reflected by one or two of the Folk Magic Minor Virtues first introduced in The Sundered Eagle (detailed on page 123). A handful are involuntary Nightwalkers and fight the malevolent masques directly in fertility battles.

The De Materia Medica of Lavandarius

This text is equivalent to a Greek summae in 5 volumes on Medicine and Profession: Apothecary, Quality 11, Level 6. It also serves as an uncorrupted summae on Mythic Herbalism, Quality 11, Level 4. Compiled by Dioscorides, it ranks as one of the foremost ancient texts on pharmacology and provides the Pralician both with a focal point for his herbal research and a means to improve his hedge wizard allies’ knowledge.

Lavandarius’ copy has been augmented with observations from both Crateuas and Galen and reordered alphabetically, making it much easier to consult for research purposes but reducing it’s overall quality by obscuring some of the pharmacologist’s finer classifications (reduced Quality of 11 compared to the original Greek). It may be the same copy looted by the Crusaders during the sack of Constantinople in 1204.

The Greater Masques

The more notable Mythic Companion level hedge wizards amongst the herbalists of the Coenobium managed by Lavandarius include the following individuals:

Gervais d’Avignon

This extraordinary cook’s skill lies in combining herbs with local produce with his meals providing both sustenance and minor magical benefits. He has achieved culinary fame within the Cult of Mercury and even throughout the wider Order for his authentic recreation of garum, the salty fish sauce adored by the Romans, and the banquets he creates for the League of Gastronomers are legendary.

Gervais’ magic can be represented by using the rules for Cunning-Folk (see Hedge Magic: Revised Edition, page 101), combined with those for Mythic Herbalism, but replacing Craft: Charm with Craft: Cooking and Entreat the Faerie Powers with Entreat the Divine.

His focus area is protective Salutem magics and the covenant’s grogs and Redcaps are the main beneficiaries of his magical food. His chartae take the form of herb encrusted baked pastries or cured meats that must be eaten while his amulets are created as herb infused liqueurs or bottled sauces according to such ancient recipes as garum or liquamen(see below) that must be consumed to have their effect (equivalent to a Restriction Flaw).

Magali L’Pastre

An archetypal Provencal shepherdess, Magali is a Mythic Companion level spirit votary of the Mistral and known for her command over the winds and the dire curses the breezes carry to the ears of her victims. Magali’s bucolic magic is a combination of folk tradition and Magic Lore, best represented by the mechanics for Cunning-Folk combined with the Major Virtues Mythic Herbalism and Spirit Votary. Most of her personal magic is heavily charm based, relying on spoken applications of the Vulnero Hedge Technique however. Her healing skills are also impressive and she has extensive knowledge of where to locate various Herbs of Virtue within the foothills of the Alps. All her personal magic can be dispelled through the use of local Provencal folk-remedies ― she suffers from the Vulnerable to Folk Tradition Minor Flaw and cannot cross running water without losing her magical powers until the next dawn, like many minor Provencal masques.

To offset this vulnerability, she carries a simple poplar staff known as Le Coup de Mistral, that acts as a focus for her wind magic. Her staff’s wind magic is due to its status as a Magic Thing and it possesses several instilled non-Hermetic effects equivalent to mastery of the Whistle Up the Wind Major Supernatural Virtue (see Houses of Hermes: Societates, page 105) and the ability to create air elementals at will.

Renault of Grasse

This cultured urban chemist differs greatly from the stereotype hinterland masque and is considered the premier unguentarius and perfumier of Arles, specializing in the extraction of essential oils from the local fauna and the preparation of herbal Objects of Virtue. The local and foreign Jerbiton magi and their servants particularly favour his perfumes, pastilles and unguents mainly although his wares have recently become popular amongst the covenfolk of Arles and its Mercer House of ill repute.

Noted for their subtlety and sophistication, Renault’s minor magics are mechanically similar to the pastilles and powders of a Mythic Alchemist (see Hedge Magic: Revised Edition, page 100-101 for this variant of a Learned Magician). He specializes in beneficial Fortunam and Magicam enchantments and seems incapable of casting even simple verbal spells. Many of his magics use the Range: Smell parameter reflecting their reliance on scent to activate their effects.

Marius Fresia

Marius is an example of a powerful demasquaire, the  local leader of the folk practitioners whose role is overcoming the malevolent magic of Infernal masques (see below). He is unusually a Mythic Companion level character and both a Nightwalker and Faerie Doctor, as skilled with the local herbs as most other masques.

Saga Seed: unGifted Magi?

The political status of the Coenobium’s allied hedge-wizards is an uneasy one ―many magi in the Order view the fostering of such minor traditions as beneath true magi, regarding the herbalists and their Jerbiton and Mercere patrons with contempt for sullying themselves by association. Other magi take issue with the Coenobium for its leniency towards the upstarts, taking the view that hedge magicians should be treated as magical resources rather than near equals. The advocates within the Coenobium point out that many of the original Ordo Miscellanea wizards were from similar hedge traditions and the unGifted magi relied on the Parma Magica of their comrades during the war with Damhan-allaidh.

To date, Gifted herbalists and any Gifted students are readily adopted as apprentices into the covenant’s ranks by one of the Bonisagus, Ex-Miscellanea or Mercere magi but unGifted practitioners are only accorded consors status. For political reasons, Alazais, the Chief Redcap and First Consul, as well as some of the associated Jerbiton magi are interested in supporting the admission of their more powerful unGifted Mythic Companion allies into the Order. The process they favour is to propose accepting such individuals initially as Redcaps of the Coenobium before arranging their adoption into House Jerbiton after a very early “retirement” from the usual messenger or other mundane Redcap duties. Although unGifted Redcaps do not traditionally vote out of respect for their magical brethren, under the leadership of Alazais, such Mythic Companion magi could potentially form a powerful voting block if she dared to challenge convention.

Renault is the most favored candidate amongst the Jerbiton consuls for a promotion to magus status due to his aesthetic talents although Magali is seen by Alazais and Beatrice, the Chief Quaesitor elect, as a safer choice ― she is magically more powerful and may be able to be sponsored directly into House Ex Miscellanea with less immediate repercussions. Argentius has also been considered given the post mortem appearance of magical abilities but Beatrice has concerns that his rejuvenation may not be as Divine as he believes and is blocking his case. Further ideas for stories involving hedge-wizards can be found in Hedge Magic: Revised Edition.

Grasse

A small commune recently under the protection of the Count of Provence, the only smell this medieval town is known for is the reek of the abundant tanneries that treat the sheepskins from the nearby mountains. Aromatic herbs grow in abundance on the hills above the town ― myrtle in particular is commonly used in the tanning process. Both Marius and Renault both live in the town, while Lavandarius visits regularly and Magali roams the foothills of the Alps nearby.

Several miles to the north is an arrangement of a dozen small hills, each containing a small human-sized dolmen. The formation is associated with a Magic aura of 4 but is considered to have been cursed by the druids. House Guernicus records hint at a battle during the Schism War between twelve hoplites and three Diedne magae that ended in a disastrous defeat for the Order. Exactly what happened to the ghosts of the hoplites has never been determined and so far attempts to investigate the ancient stones for clues have not born fruit.

Garum Rhodanien

Bottles appearing to contain this salty sauce, once known in Roman times as garum sociorum, are the discreet vehicle for common minor Hermetic effects or Hedge Magic effects used by the grogs, Redcaps and other covenfolk. Healing draughts mimicking the effects of Creo Corpus magics of magnitude four or less are particularly common.

Although those born in the covenant have acquired a liking for the sauce, the powerful fish flavor of the condiment is designed to discourage casual theft or inadvertent discovery by mundanes. Courtesy prevents magi from fermenting the fish innards within town confines as the preparation process is even more pungent – Gervais usually assigns out of favour grogs to the fermenting works located behind the Trinquetaile factory.

Infernal Tradition: Infernal Masques

Favored Abilities: Ceremony, Debauchery, Diablerie, Nightwalker.

These malevolent witches are the local Provencal equivalent of strigae and similar Infernal traditions elsewhere in Mythic Europe. The more powerful Infernal masques of Mythic Companion level have the full suite of favored abilities and may have additional Minor Supernatural Virtues similar to common folk witches, including but not limited to: Dowsing, Flight, Hex, Mythic Herbalism, Second Sight, and Skinchanger (wolf, horse, dog, and even in one case a peacock). Most Infernal masques possess only Minor Virtues and are Grog or Companion level adversaries.

All Infernal masques trained in Arelat suffer from the commonly known Restriction (cannot cross running water) Minor Flaw and the Vulnerable to Folk Tradition (demasquaire counter charms) Minor Flaw, greatly limiting their power within the watershed of the Rhone valley and where demasquaire are commonly found.

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