This article was completed in early 2009 and originally appeared in Sub Rosa #5, the last issue produced by Alex White before the new team of Mark Lawford and Ben McFarland took up the reins. As Sub Rosa reverts allows the original author to republish the content after 9 months, I have decided to repost this article here so that it can be readily accessible and used with the rest of the unpublished material contained on this site.
Dar al-Nujum Covenant
This covenant is dedicated to the discovery of a profound but pedestrian Hermetic Breakthrough, a Duration of 285 lunar months (19 standard years), called the Metonic Year. It is situated on a cliffside overlooking the upper reaches of the Ebro River in the new Kingdom of Zaragoza, in the Iberian Tribunal. Euctemon of Thebes, a Jerbiton magus obsessed with the beauty of the planets as expressed through the astronomical work of Ptolemy, founded a research covenant on the site in the 10th century.
This project has been aided over the decades by the Great Device – a mechanical construct that is part orrery and part calculator. Once assembled, it fixed forever the site of the project due to its intricacy and bulk.. The Great Device occupies the rooms that form the main laboratory, nearly filling the head researcher’s sanctum. It is renowned throughout the Order.
Each successor to Eucteon’s project is granted the title of Metonist and supported by the whole resources of the site. The current head researcher is Torquetia of Bonisagus. Progress towards the goal has unfortunately been haphazard over the generations since the project’s inception. Not all researchers followed the path of their predecessor; some wandered into their own lines of research. Over the decades, lab notes were disassembled, changed, or lost, and the overall development of the breakthrough has been erratic at best. Torquetia is focussed on producing an immediately useful, rather than exceptional result and solemnly predicts that her goal will be accomplished within her lifetime.
Currently the site is home to only five magi.
Aratus filius Astrolabe of Jerbiton, Sahib al-Dar
Age: 47 (Apparent age 37)
Personality Traits: Congenial +2, Sly +3
Aratus is the current sahib al-Dar (Arabic: “lord of the house”), the heir and filius of the covenant’s erratic, former sahib, Astrolabe of Jerbiton. He is thus the inheritor of the burden of continuing the Metonic Year Project. Gently Gifted, he is a skilled negotiator and administrator but his magical skills are underdeveloped compared to an average Jerbiton magus of similar age. He has been required to spend most of his formative years resecuring the covenant’s dedicated status with its sponsors in other Tribunals.
Although eligible to the position of Metonist, Aratus had little interest in the inexorable grind of Hermetic Research, no particularly aptitude for astronomy and a disdain to pursue the inherited duty of his lineage. Seeing beauty in efficient structure and organisation, he has delegated his laboratory responsibilities to the prodigial Torquetia. He concentrates on providing support and materials to the socially inept maga through skilful manipulation of the intrigues and politics of the Catalan court. His strategy has enabled the project to progress rapidly. He has consolidated the disparate talents and resources of the covenant into a collaborative effort, rather than tolerating the multiple lines of research instituted under his parens.. Aratus has a wife and a mundane family, but his duty has led to their estrangement. They have returned to Valnastium while he remains behind.
(Inspirational, Great Presence; Dutybound, Legacy)
Joining the House
The sahib’s current policy is to consider only members who can support the progress of the Metonic Project. This provides little attraction to established magi, although young magi may find a subsidiary role appealing for a time. As Octaeteris coordinates the project’s logistics, the clocksmith maintains the orrery and al-Mushtari provides defence and championship in certamen disputes, Aratus has only two roles he considers applicants for. The first is as an assistant for Torquetia, a humble life unlikely to attract another Bonisagus and one requiring a personality compatible with the reclusive Metonist. A magus willing to sacrifice fame and respect for a secure base and comfortable living conditions would be ideal. Limited access to the Great Device may be negotiated as part of the deal. The magus would, however, have limited time to pursue interests other than accelerating Torquetia’s progress or obtaining items at the bequest of Octaeteris.
The second position is as an ambassador and negotiator for the covenant with both Hermetic and mundane stakeholders. Aratus has grown tired of the endless political manoeuvring involved in keeping the covenant viable. The sahib’s thoughts have turned to reconciling with his wife in Valnastium. In order to free up time he must train a successor. Any assistance towards these goals would be looked upon extremely favourably. Aratus may even offer the use of the Great Device to those able to resolve his succession troubles.
Story Seed: Metonist at Work – Do Not Disturb
Currently the Dar al-Nujum is does not encourage casual visitors. Aratus believes that his pater’s policy of allowing easy access to the covenant’s resources was detrimental to the Metonist Project. Visitors seeking to consult the library and requests for computations by the Great Device are politely discouraged. Those who press further are informed that intrusions distract the current Metonist, but the sahib has been known to make exceptions in return for the right favour. Aratus tolerates Al-Idhâdah’s infrequent commissions for astrological devices as long as they do not divert him from maintaining the Great Device.
Story Seed: A Matter of Obligation
As allodial titles are uncommon in the eastern Catalan lands of Iberia, the covenant’s early magi quietly entered into a feudal obligation with the contemporary Count of Barcelona, Miro (940-966). As inheritor of the Metonist Project, Aratus is also required to pay homage for the lands on which the covenant is sited. Although the obligations of the contract are minimal – a few livestock and the provision of five men-at-arms in times of war, this remains a liability for Aratus. So far the magi have been careful to conceal their magical nature from local lords and the Catalan nobility, often with the help of patrons amongst the magi of Barcelona. Should their political status be closely examined however, the covenant would be vulnerable to accusations of acting as court wizards. Only the sahib’s success at reconfirmation as a dedicated research site has allowed it to escape conflict with the Quaesitors for the time being.
As the Reconquista progresses, the young Catalan king will likely increase demands on his feudal subjects. Aratus is likely to fend off a challenge through Hermetic diplomacy but if the local Catalan nobility discover the presence of magi in their midst, he will not be able to avoid being exposed for long. A more permanent solution would endear those who remove this vulnerability to him.
Torquetia of Bonisagus, Metonist
Age: 52 (Apparent age 29)
Personality Traits: Reclusive +3, Awkward +1
A quintessential Rhine Gild-trained lab-rat, Torquetia is oblivious to much of the goings on in the covenant. She lacks basic fluency in anything other than Hermetic Latin. She has an almost child-like demeanour when confronted with most social situations but is confident and clear when articulating astrological concepts or the finer points of Magic Theory. She has maintained a sophisticated correspondence with the Yrjo, the ageing Lunarian of the Shadows of the Moon covenant regarding their common astrological interests. She has unknowingly developed an adolescent crush on the elder magus, although they have never met.
(Inventive Genius, Magical Memory; Covenant Upbringing, Reclusive, Socially Handicapped (talks only of research), Small Frame)
The Metonic Project
The project sponsored at Dar al-Nujum has a specific goal – to increase the maximum standard Hermetic Duration beyond Year length. Although perhaps not as heroic as attempting to surpass one of the existing Limits of Hermetic Magic, it is nevertheless considered more and more worthwhile as it increasingly appears to be a project that may be completed prior to the main researcher’s demise.
Sponsorship for the project comes from a variety of open and covert sources. It is common knowledge that House Tremere has supported the project unflinchingly since the wake of the Schism War, but the extent of their influence and motives for involvement are unknown. For several periods Coeris led magi appear to have been the only major sponsors of research at the site. Other notable past and current patrons have included various archmagi, one of the former Primi of House Jerbiton and various Mystery cults.
Significant recent progress with the project has been aided, paradoxically, by the prior Metonist’s inability to concentrate on one line of research for any significant length of time. Astrolabe’s pursuit of multiple, tangential enquiries by visiting magi greatly diluted the covenant’s resources. As a result of Astrolabe’s unstructured experiments, the covenant has developed a collection of eclectic Greek astronomical texts and a myriad of mechanical creations. Though these are of little use on their own, each now provide fertile ground for Torquetia’s reductionist approach.
She quickly ruled out the blind avenues raised by Astrolabe’s stumbling, such as the imperfect Octaeteris Duration (see below), and discovered the Enneadecaeteris Duration. She is currently attempting to stabilise her Breakthrough through developing spells incorporating her new Duration, so it can be integrated into Hermetic theory without requiring an additional hermetic Virtue (see HoH :TL, pages 26-30). The Metonist has been aided greatly by the reorganised library instituted by Octaeteris, and by Aratus’s decision to focus all available resources on her research alone.
As a result of her rapid progress, Torquetia has recently developed several spells with the following unique Duration as their unintended by-product. She has yet to teach spells with this Duration to anyone but has just made her Lab Texts available to the Colentes Arcanorum and hopes they will be included in the next folio (see HoH :TL, pages 22-23). Although only a marginal improvement over the current Year Duration, it represents the first concrete progress on the project since the Schism War.
New Duration: Intercalary Year
The spell lasts for 13 Hermetic Months (equivalent to lunar or synodic months). This Duration is the same magnitude as Year.
New Duration: Octaeteris
The spell lasts for 8 years (99 lunar months) and must be cast as a ritual. This flawed Duration is 4 magnitudes higher than Year Duration, but requires a successful Intelligence + Astronomy roll against an Ease factor of 18 to use. The roll can be aided by the usual astronomical apparatus (see TMRE, pages 51-54). Although technically a success, this forgotten discovery by the pre-Schism War era Metonist, Eudoxus of Jerbiton, is sadly flawed. It was further complicated through its development by his incomprehensible descendant Astrolabe. Its complex astronomical calculations are too restrictive for practical use so the original notes were never circulated. Only a handful of forgotten Lab texts containing spells with this Duration now exist, due to Astrolabe’s extreme disorganisation.
Consequences of Success
If a Metonist succeeds, the breakthrough will have immediate applications for Hermetic culture. Initially limited in immediate application to reducing the vis required to maintain Hermes Portals or other rituals, a further Major Breakthrough is required to integrate the Enneadecaeteris into the Aegis of the Hearth ritual, an accomplishment that would revolutionise Hermetic defences. This may be the aim of House Tremere’s involvement in the project, although an attempt at a greater duration based on the 76 year Callipic cycle has been proposed by past Metonists…
New Duration: Enneadecaeteris
The spell lasts for 19 years (235 lunar months or 6940 days) and must be cast as a ritual. Currently, Torquetia has accumulated only half the Breakthrough points needed. A significant degree of astronomical knowledge is still required to interpret the movements of the stars – an Astronomy score of at least 5. This preliminary Duration is 4 magnitudes higher than Year Duration, but if successfully stabilised will be only 2 magnitudes higher than the current Year Duration and will require an Astronomy score of 2.
(Design Note: the consequences of success of the Metonic Year project are based partly on Alex White’s work on Hyperborean Magic from Ancient Magic, specifically pages 108 and 120 which introduced the concept of a “Great Year” style Duration. As a Breakthrough from within Hermetic Theory rather than integration of a non-Hermetic power it is somewhat weaker).
Octaeteris filius Cleostratus of Tremere
Age: 39 (apparent age 32)
Personality Traits: Inoffensive +2, Helpful +1
Octaeteris is the latest in a long line of Tremere “observers” that have resided at the covenant. Although not officially documented in the covenant’s charter, it appears that the membership of at least one Tremere magi is a condition of the sponsorship by the House. Octaeteris replaced the former Tremere magus only a few years ago. Like many of his predecessors, this Transylvanian Tribunal native has an interest in the application of astrological practices to Hermetic magic. He has written several respectable works on pragmatic aspects of Artes Liberales (Astronomy) during his short time at the covenant. A skilled translator of Greek and Arabic, it is rumoured he was originally groomed as a potential Metonist but withdrew his application at the orders of his superiors on recognising Torquetia’s potential. Rather than pursue his own astrological research like many of the magi attracted to the orrery site, Octaeteris has become a team-player.
He has frequently assisted Aratus in preventing external concerns from distracting Torquetia from single-minded pursuit of her goal. Aratus has delegated the immense task of collation, indexing and deciphering of the mad scramble of texts produced by previous generations of obsessive researchers to Octaeteris. Neither he nor his House has asked anything in return for the young Tremere’s efforts. Although the current sahib is grateful for the young mage’s help, he is becoming concerned at the possible price he will have to pay for his guaranteed assistance in the future.
(Puissant Artes Liberales (astronomy), Linguist; Follower, Humble)
The Collation of Octaeteris
To date, Octaeteris has collated and summarised about two thirds of the notes of previous Metonists. This distillation of half-finished study notes, discarded lab texts, analyses of broken astrological mechanica, and other “vain” tractati comprise an incomplete encyclopaedia (see Art & Academe, p26). Treat the collation as containing the equivalent of 34 books for the purposes of research; seven tractati of Quality 6: Artes Liberales (Astronomy) x 4, Magic Theory (durations) x 3.
The Tremere’s work also contains a separate tome containing the complete catalogue of the various writings and astrological devices used and thus acts as an Arcane Connection to every work referenced therein (see ArM5 Covenants, p98). This has allowed Octaeteris to gradually reorganise the covenant’s library although there is still a large amount of material to be processed. As it contains references to numerous Lab Texts detailing research into Breakthroughs concerned with new Hermetic Duration, this summary is potentially useful to other researchers if they can gain the approval of Aratus.
Al-Idhâdah of Jerbiton, (Fiducius the Clocksmith), Master of the Orrery
Age: 91 (Apparent age 56)
Personality Traits: Grumpy +2, Surly +1
Although clearly a genius with mechanical devices, this reclusive member of the Order is rumoured to possess no true Hermetic magic and cannot even raise a rudimentary Parma Magica. His talent lies in an unparalleled proficiency in the crafting of sophisticated mechanical devices, some of which appear to possess almost magical properties or intelligence. His caustic demeanour gives many magi the first impression that he possesses the Blatant Gift, an illusion aided by his self-enforced seclusion and Aratus’s careful misdirection. He spends nearly all his time maintaining and adjusting the Great Device or consulting his extensive collection of Greek texts on geometry, mathematics and mechanics.
al-Idhâthah is a Maestro Mythic Companion (Art & Academe, pages 133-135), adopted into House Jerbiton to protect his remarkable artistic and astrological skills. He has little magical ability other than a minor potential to enchant non-Hermetic effects into his constructions. . This is enough to pass a carefully fabricated Gauntlet but insufficient to resist deep enquiry.
(Maestro; Puissant Craft (mechanism), Affinity with Craft (mechanism); Magical Air, Hedge Wizard, Reclusive)
The Clocksmith’s Creations
Despite being fluent in Greek and translating several genuine Heronic works successfully into corrupted Arabic (see Ancient Magic, page 75), Al-Idhâdah’s poor social skills and negative reputation as a hedge wizard have prevented even other Arabic speaking magi from seeking him out. Unknown to many Seekers or the wider Order, his collection is an excellent resource for Insights on integrating Heron’s art into Hermetic theory. He has collected a small but invaluable cache of uncorrupted Greek texts attributable to Heron and other mechanicians. Unfortunately, he stubbornly refuses to produce works in Latin and his own Arabic translations of the Alexandrian mechanicians are corrupted by his lack of the Mechanica of Heron Virtue. Despite their flaws, each of his texts would be of great interest to mundane scholars and craftsmen, should he ever deign to share them.
In marked contrast to his literary work, his constructions are highly sought out. The clocksmith can infrequently be persuaded to produce the most beautifully intricate and accurate astrolabes, armillary spheres and other astrological devices for other Andalusian magi. His asking price for such a commission is a superior Longevity Ritual or a rediscovered text on his rare specialisation. Examples of his work with superior Aesthetic Quality (see Art & Academe, pages 123-126) are valued by other Andalusian magi as sources of experience in Craft (Mechanism). So far his seemingly limited magical skill has been deemed beneath the attention of the magi of House Verditius, although a few Sicilian magi, raised in the court of Frederick II have heard of his work. Many of the letters addressed to him from hopeful young magi remain unopened. The Redcaps know to hand them directly to his assistant, a young child rumoured to be the surly clocksmith’s own daughter.
Story Seed: A Father’s Daughter?
Al-Idhadah’s young assistant is secretly a girl – a Gifted child prodigy who has learnt the Mechanica of Heron Virtue (Ancient Magic, p75-88). Her talent stems from reading a copy of the Kitab al-Hiyal (Arabic: “the Book of Ingenious Devices”), hidden between the covers of a simple flap-bound manual.
Story potential arises when a French Bonisagus magus arrives and claims the youth as an apprentice, charging Aratus of the Hermetic Crime of preventing the opening of the Arts in a Gifted child. Aratus may be unaware or unwilling to acknowledge the child’s potential, but risks drawing further scandal upon the Metonist project he has only recently salvaged from the administrative errors of his parens. To make matters worse, al-Idhâthah claims blood rights over his assistant, claiming she is his daughter and asserting his Hermetic rights to train an apprentice. This risks revealing he is unGifted in the subsequent investigation.
Even if successfully claimed as an apprentice, the girl refuses to learn the Hermetic Arts for fear of risking her unique magical talents, demonstrating her skills by constructing a replica of Justinian’s nightingale to the amazement of her irate father. One way through this political tangle would be for Aratus to sponsor her membership into House Ex-Miscellanea, where her talents may align with the craft-magic Rusticari, but a suitable parens would need to be identified.
Kitab al-Hiyal, “the Book of Ingenious Devices”
Summae: Mechanica of Heron, Summa 4, Quality 4 (flap-bound, damaged)
Published in Arabic in 850 at the orders of the Caliph al-Ma’mum, this text was written by three Persians brothers known as the Banu Musa. As experts in geometry and mechanics, they invented and described over a hundred mechanical devices. Drawing on various original Greek texts and written by a Gifted scholar with the Mechanica of Heron Virtue, this is an incorrupt work detailing the lost art of the Alexandrian mechanicians.
Gifted characters who do not already have a Major Supernatural Virtue or the Hermetic Arts opened can the Mechanica of Heron Virtue after a season of study.
Al-Mushtari ibn al-Mash’al (Jovius Mauri of Flambeau)
Age: 84 (Apparent age 71)
Personality Traits: Calm +3, Proud +1, Noble +2
A Flambeau archmage-elect, al-Mushtari al-Mash’al, or to use his less commonly used Latin nickname Jovius Mauri of Flambeau, is a noble and quietly proud Berber that acts as the research covenant’s resident champion and protector. Like his famous forebear and his distant Hermetic relative, Phillipus Niger of Durenmar, al-Mushtari is a Perdo Vim specialist, although his particular focus is the destruction of magical spirits such as jinn.
He has recently narrowly failed the challenge of the ex-Tytalus Flambeau Archmage, Pietro of the Covenant of the Icy North and has returned to rethink his next attempt. While reviewing his options, he has made himself available to those Andalusian magi suffering from the unwanted attentions of jinn.
Given the chance to set his own archmage challenge, he has declared it will be created with a view to promoting the greatest amount of suffering on the ancestral enemies of the Banu Mazal, the Hermetic sahir of Andalusia. This attitude has the Quaesitors of Iberia greatly concerned. Although clearly proud of his part Berber ancestry, the Hermetic prestige of his lineage and his formidable talent allays some of the prejudice of his Christian Housemates.
(Puissant Perdo, Minor Magical Focus (Jinn); Legacy, Proud (Minor), Feud (Hermetic sahir), Mudejar)
This esoteric lineage claims descent from one of Flambeau’s earliest followers, the Mercurian wizard Cassius Niger. Cassius was a noble from mixed Berber and muwalladin stock – a Visigothic convert to Islam during the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century. Perhaps only a convert of convenience, the Mercurian Cassius is named as one of the seven champions of Flambeau in the Iberian Apocrypha of House Flambeau. The Founder’s feud was with the Arabian sahir and not Muslim magi in general, as is commonly assumed by the wider Order. Wizards who came later to Islam were often oppressed by the Arabian sorcerers and treated as inferior because of their race, despite their faith’s teaching of equality. The descendants of Cassius, styling themselves the Banu’l-Mash’al (Arabic: “sons of the torch”) or more commonly to non-Arabic speakers, the Banu Mazal, are proud of their origins and purpose. They remain strong in their adopted faith, despite existing within a predominantly Christian Order and society. Traditionally, ever since the Schism War, the bodyguard of the Praeco of the Iberian Tribunal is formed from a trio of Banu Mazal magi. This has caused some conflict with more liberal minded magi who see their persistent grudge as.
Their bitter belief that the Hermetic Sahir betrayed Flambeau the Founder and his lieutenant, Cassius, define their ethos. They pass up no opportunity to discredit the descendants of the Iberian sahir. Proficient in Vim as a rule, each is trained in their ancestor’s style of combat. They are capable at neutralising jinn with Perdo Vim magic and even Apotropaic spells, so as to better frustrate their chosen foils. Many develop exceptional skill in the Penetration Ability and have contributed greatly to this field of study that was pioneered by Elaine, Flambeau’s second apprentice. Most develop specialty in one or two elemental Forms to defend against the strengths of their jinn-allied opponents.
Favoured Tribunals: Iberia, although some dwell in southern areas of the Provencal and Roman Tribunals.
Favoured Houses: predominantly Flambeau, but occasionally members of Guernicus and Tytalus
Free Virtue: as per normal House Virtue. Most Flambeau members employ the School of Apropomor (Puissant Perdo) although some concentrate on Minor Schools that utilise proficiency in elemental forms other than Ignem.
Required Virtues: Mythic Blood, Minor Magical Focus (jinn, with Mythic Blood), Puissant Vim, Exotic Casting (HoH:Societas, page 107)
Required Flaws: Beloved Rival (a single Hermetic sahir), Driven (To discredit Hermetic Sahir, with Mythic Blood), Legacy, Mudejar, Proud
Required Spell: Reveal the Lurking Watchers (HoH:Societas, pages 99-100), Suleiman’s Wrath on the Oath-Forsaken Jinn (HoH:Societas, pages 137). The latter spell is often mastered to allow multi-casting and increased Penetration or created in different versions aligned to the Magic, Faerie or Infernal Realms.
Mythic Blood Power: Bismi Allah Invocation, words & gestures only, Pe(Re)Vi 30; R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Special; this non-Hermetic power weakens jinn with a Might score aligned to either the Faerie, Infernal or Magic Realms within Voice range of the magus. If the power penetrates the jinni’s Magic Resistance, the Jinn loses 1 Might point and cries out in alarm revealing their presence. Only jinn (including Infernal jinn) are harmed, although they need not be sensed by the magus to be affected. Most jinn also suffer from the effects of the Vulnerable to Folk Tradition Flaw (HoH: Societas, page 107) upon hearing this invocation (see Sub Rosa #2: “Jinn as Characters”, pages 6-11 for more details). Other creatures with a Might score are unaffected. (Base non-Hermetic effect 1, +2 Voice, +2 Special Target: Jinn (equivalent to Group/Room), Penetration 15, +1 Rego requisite, +1 complex effect).
The majority of the covenfolk are mudejar, remnants of the Moorish population that have chosen to remain in their lands and live under Christian rule as the forces of the Count of Barcelona push southwards. Unlike many other research covenants, the site has only a low Magic aura. Warping is only an issue for those who rely on long-lasting enchantments to carry out their duties. Much of the daily speech within the walls of the covenant is in Arabic rather than the Catalan of the region’s rulers. All the magi can converse fluently with their staff except Torquetia – the linguistic barrier only heightens her focus.
A small group of grogs from the Transylvanian Tribunal originally formed part of the retinue of Octaeteris the Tremere. They have integrated reasonably well with the native population so far. Most have learned the local Andalusi dialect of Arabic to better aid their master coordinate the logistics of running a dedicated research facility but their foreign appearance limits their role outside the grounds.
Minor Flaw, Social Status
Although you are clearly an Iberian Muslim or Moor and therefore belong to a group normally considered an Outsider (ArM5, page 57) in most of Christian Mythic Europe, your race is tolerated more readily in the lands of the Iberian peninsula. You instead suffer effects equivalent to the Judged Unfairly Minor Flaw (ArM5, page 55). Most mudejar live in the regions surrounding Valencia and Toledo. They are found only rarely outside of these areas. The effects of this flaw only apply while within the Christian kingdoms of Iberia – should you travel northward into France and beyond you will be treated as an Outsider like any other Moor, but you may pass freely through Islamic lands without fear.
(Design note: constructed to be equivalent to the dhimmi Flaw which applies to Christians living in Muslim lands)
The Great Device
The Great Device is the covenant’s name for the specialised astronomical laboratory assigned to the current Metonist. Its centrepiece consists of a large orrery etched with Greek symbols, phrases and astrological coordinates. Within the chamber are several other integrated astrological mechanisms that combine with the central planetarium to effectively form an analogue astronomical computer. Numerous dials, cogs and gears reflect and calculate the movements of the Sun, Moon and five other planets. Great spirals etched into interlocking dials mark out the various astronomical cycles of antiquity: the Metonic, Callipic, Saros, Exelgimos and Sothic cycles. Unusually, the orrery seems to propose a heliocentric model of the heavens although this has no effect on the accuracy of its computations.
Some previous Metonists have argued that the orrery is the actual device of the great astronomer Posidonius mentioned in Cicero’s writings. Others have suggested that it incorporates devices built by the Banu Musa. Regardless of its exact origin, it is a powerful non-Hermetic artifact. The Great Device provides many benefits to an astronomical researcher, particularly one focused on discovering new Hermetic Durations. Less widely known are the detrimental effects which suborn the personality of the researcher to Euctemon’s original purpose.
At a simple level, the unusual orrery component provides all the benefits of an Enchanted Armillary Sphere and incorporates non-Hermetic effects equivalent to Know the Heavens and Track the Heavens (TMRE, p52-54) providing bonuses to all Astronomy rolls, including Astrological Inceptions (A&A, p72-74). The combination of astrological mechanisms within the laboratory chamber act as a Greater Feature and Greater Focus, providing bonuses for Experimentation, Intellego and Vim (Covenants, p106-124).
Additional features of the laboratory are gained only after a prospective Metonist spends at least two seasons in exploring and familiarising themselves with the space, becoming the designated master of the chamber and its contents. This can be achieved by any magus fluent in Greek (Ability score of 5 or more) with an Astronomy score of 3 or greater. Once familiarised with the lab, the designated Metonist can exploit the full potential of the devices. Such a character is referred to as the designated Metonist and gains the benefits of the Puissant Astronomy Virtue and the Celestial Magic Major Mystery Virtue (TMRE, p48-51) while casting magic or studying only within the designated laboratory chamber.
The designated Metonist can also command the lab to affect the following magical spells once per day (TMRE, p51): Sense the Hour, Sight of the Astrological Hour, Divine Heaven’s Aspect
These significant advantages are offset by becoming permanently afflicted with the Major Personality Flaw Driven (to complete Metonist Project) and the Minor Personality Flaw Reclusive. If the researcher already suffers from these Flaws, additional Flaws should be substituted. This is treated as a powerful non-Hermetic effect with a Penetration Total of 60 with duration equivalent to Until (new Metonist appointed). The consequences of this curse may result in a magus with two Major Personality Flaws, which will result in dramatic effects on the researcher’s behaviour. The disorganised state of affairs left for Torquetia to inherit is a consequence of the previous Metonist, Astrolabe of Jerbiton, developing such an unwieldy combination of Flaws.
Virtues & Flaws: Greater Feature (astronomical calculator), Well Insulated, Elevated, Grand Entrance; Awkward Shape, Greater Focus (astronomical calculator); Greater Expansion, Living Quarters, Guard, Servant; Site of Legend.
Specialisations: Experimentation 5, Intellego 3, Vim 3
(Author’s Note: This central concept was first inspired by the illustration on page 117 in the Laboratories Chapter of Covenants by Jeff Menges… and I got to thinking about Aughra’s observatory from the Dark Crystal. Then it just gained a life of its own…)
The initial idea for this research covenant stems from Timothy Ferguson’s Sanctuary of Ice Apocrypha covenant “Shadows of the Moon” coupled with the fascinating device in the Covenants artwork by Jeff Menges. Special thanks to Eric Vesbit and Timothy Ferguson for their proofreading and comments on earlier versions of this draft. I’d like to acknowledge Jeff’s talent and kind offer to have the piece reprodcued for this article. Thanks also to Mark Faulkner and Niall Christie for development of the Banu Mazzal concept. Lastly, I am again indebted to Niall for correcting my execrable attempts at Arabic tranlations and names!
Antikythera Mechanism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera
Book of Ingenius Devices, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Ingenious_Devices
Metonic Cycle, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonic
Sanctuary of Ice Apocrypha – Shadows of the Moon covenant,, by Timothy Ferguson; http://web.archive.org/web/20050323133018/http://users.tpg.com.au/tfergus/shadow_of_the_moon.htm
Ars Magica Fifth Edition supplements
Jeff Kyer, “Heron of Alexandria’s Legacy” in Ancient Magic, Trident
Timothy Ferguson & Andrew Smith, “Library” & “Laboratories” in Covenants, Trident
Matt Ryan, “Artists” in Art & Academe, Trident
Neil Taylor & Christian Jensen Romer, “Hermetic Astrology” in The Mysteries: Revised Edition, Trident