Tag Archives: covenant

The Final Gate or Where Did all the Necromancers Go?

Obols

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:

 

 

Covenants vs Alliances

ArM5 Alliances (French, link to Ludo Games)

So there’s a French version of Ars Magica 5th edition and it has very beautiful cover-art (see the Covenants equivalent to the right).

I’ve been thinking about this since Timothy posted the announcement over on his blog, and since I haven’t quite worked out the whole “reblog” kung-fu, I’ll just post some comments here…

Sure, although I like the moody art, I think there’s something more here, perhaps just a trick of translation or emphasis but I’ve noticed that over time, particularly on the various forums, the concept of a covenant has become solidified for the vast majority of the community into a physical home for the magi, the whole “castle-on-the-hill-in-the-faerie-wood” trope alluded to in ArM5 Covenants.

Most of the canonical ArM5 covenants are described in terms of places, sites and locations, with some notable exceptions such as the Transylvanian examples.

But to me the place magi live is not actually what a covenant truly is.

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The Question of Verdi and the Control of Roman Vis

NuragheCurrently there is no canonical ArM5 treatment of the Roman Tribunal, which suits me fine as it not only allows me to develop my Mythic Genoa material without needing to account for more than occasional scattered references but leaves me really with only the old, often vilified and demon-plagued White Wolf version – ArM3 Tribunal of Hermes: Rome.

This is not the place for a dissection of that supplement’s flaws and merits, but I’d like to comment on one theme from the work that seems to have carried through into the current line:

The Roman Tribunal is vis poor.

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Old London Bridge Resources

Old London Bridge (Patricia Pierce)                 2002 edition

Some of my research books have recently arrived.

This is always exciting, although somewhat anxiety provoking as if I can’t source something from a library or obtain a preview on Google Books, I am often taking a calculated risk based on scraps of evidence gleaned from the web and a writer’s hunch.

Due to lack of shelf space, the majority of my physical books consists of an eclectic collection of hardback and softcover history works, material I’ve collected while researching Ars Magica writing projects or both (you never know what will be inspiring) as I now try to read everything else in digital (kindle or iBooks) format to save space.

Both books are about (Old) London Bridge, and both look to be useful, fortunately in complementary ways although there is considerable overlap.

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