Think Game of Thrones. Think Earthsea. Think Ars Magica.
A small community of wizards, isolated from common folk — both for the protection of the common folk…and the wizards. A haven of sorts for those with the gift and desire (for one reason or another) to study magic.
There are several of these scattered about. But they are rare.
The only race is Human.
The PCs are all wizards — three life paths max.
Emotionally inexperienced. Having received not only knowledge but a home, safety, and shelter in the covenant.
A couple of older wizards who pulled the PCs in.
PCs will get an additional Resource Points to spend on spells.
There is no Faith when play begins, but it might come into play.
There is sorcery and there is blood magic.
There is Blood Magic.
(I know Colin is very keen on Art Magic. But I think the feel I’m looking for is sorcery. That is, lists of specific spells instead of crafting spells on the fly.)
Spells are SHAPES of sounds that the Wizard must memorize — the shape of the sounds, like holding a sculpture in your thoughts. When the shapes are released (an ancient language, long forgotten, the spell is released.)
There are the Forgotten Words: Spirits that do not belong in this world, but appear on occasion, sometimes taking on physical form.
There are memories of the Old Gods. The creatures that made humanity. People have forgotten them. People have forgotten faith. There is no religion to speak of.
The characters are all relatively young wizard’s living in an isolated tower in the Kingdom of Gerantlia. There are the three PCs and two wizardly masters. They are the only people living in the tower. The life is hardscrabble, focused on survival and arcane arts.
A neighboring kingdom, The Forgotten Lands, has resurrected the practice of Blood Magic. It began slowly, but has now spread, becoming supported by the king of the Forgotten Lands. He now lets Blood Magic support his ambitions. With the help of The Horned King (one of the Forgotten Words) the king launched a war on Gerantlia.
In recent months the troops crossed the border into Gerantlia. One of the masters of the tower left to help the war. A few weeks ago one of the students, Isska, saw a vision of the city of Dallon, the seat the king and queen of Gerantlia, in flames. The other master, taking the vision seriously, left to help. He left the three students in charge of the tower, telling them to guard it well.
I told all the players this. And then I said, “And this is how play will begin….
“It will be a dark and stormy night. There will be a knock at the door. A teenage girl will be there. Rain soaked and panicked, hungry and scratched from trees and brambles. A handmaiden from the royal palace of Dallon. She holds an infant. She will tell you the city has fallen. She will tell you that she holds the heir to the throne. She will tell you soldiers are in pursuit. She will tell you she needs your help.”
These are the characters they made:
THE PLAYER CHARACTERS
Life Paths: Gifted Child, Hunter, Auger
Isska is from the Fallen Lands. Five years ago she was living with a man she loved and her recently born son. Blood magic was spreading. Visions haunted her. She felt she had to follow them to a wizard’s tower in Gerantlia and study magic. Her visions said only by abandoning her lover and child could she save them.
I have foreseen that this child will save my family (father & child). I will protect him with my life.
Blood magic is evil. There is no right reason to use it.
The tower is the only place I have ever felt safe. I will preserve its and James’ innocence
When leaving the Tower, always prepare as if I’m never coming back
Always sneak about when traveling alone
When cornered, always cast falcon skin
Life Paths: City Born, Apt Pupil, Wizard’s Apprentice
Dianekta, too, is from the Fallen Lands. Her mother became a Blood Magic wizard. She killed Dianekta’s father in a ritual. Master Fellas of Alazander Tower rescued her from the Fallen Kingdom and, recognizing she had the gift for magic, brought her back to study magic.
I was saved, therefor I must save others
My dark wizard mother can be saved, I must find my mother
Magic is balanced. If blood magic exists, then something wonderful must also exist. I will find it and wield it.
Never reveal anything about my background
Never trust a woman
Always cast emperor’s hand when under duress
Life Paths: City Born, Student, Wizard’s Apprentice
James was found by Master Fassel at a young age and invited to the tower to study magic at a young age. He and Dianekta are practically brother and sister, having grown up together as children within the magical education of the tower.
The safety of the tower must come first. this child belongs in other hands
As the oldest I am most fit to lead. I will unite the other students under me
I’m angry our masters left us. I will make them come home.
Never go out in the cold unprepared
Always consult my books before speaking on a topic
Always secure the location before going to sleep