1231, Spring

We are back to our Ars Magica Druids’ Dale saga, and it is the start of the year 1231. It’s time to make ageing checks for those of us who are 35 or older, and as usual I handle the grogs. First up is Callen, you turned 35 last year so needs to make an ageing check.

I rolled a 1 on a stress die. Which in Ars Magica terms means roll again and double. So I rolled another 1. So I roll again and get a 10. That’s 2 x 2 x 10 = 40. Not good for a person’s first ageing check. They take some penalties to their attributes, a whole level of decrepitude, plus an ageing crisis which leaves them bedridden for several months. The other grogs and my companion roll somewhat better.

I realise that I should probably be doing ageing checks for my companion’s wife, which means I need a character sheet for her. She would be a grog, and we dig up some statistics for a craftswoman from the Covenants book. What follows is a bit of a discussion about whether the standard grog stats are reasonable. Even as a 20 year old craftswoman (she is 36, so would have more skills), she would have a craft skill of 5 – which seemed quite high.

However, some of our grogs have higher skills than that. It seems to be a side effect of the point buy skill system where you get skills for every year of age during character generation. Grogs with a small set of skills can afford to buy them very high, whereas magi who feel a need to have lots of skills have lots of low level skills.

Our GM had concerns that the skills given to grogs were too high compared to how skill levels were perceived. Maybe it’s changed from previous editions, or maybe we’re just used to Traveller where a skill of more than 4 is incredibly high. In the end it was decided to keep things ‘as is’. Changing everything would be difficult, and did it really matter if a craftswoman has a +7 bonus to her weaving?

Rhona, wife of Jack – Spring 1231

I have been asked to help work on some of the wool from the sheep that the covenant have recently acquired. To say that these sheep are unusual would be an understatement, since we first had to get them down from the sky where they were flying. Neither was their wool normal. It was almost as strong as iron, making it difficult and dangerous to shear.

In the end we managed to do it, and with much effort and help from some of the other women of the village we figured out how to spin it and turn it into a rough garment. We made many mistakes along the way, so what we ended up with was quite small, and not great quality, but we now thing we have the knack of it.

Given another year’s supply of the iron wool, we could probably make clothing which would be as tough as hardened leather, but soft and light. My husband tells me that the magi are pleased with our work.

Pisciculus ex Criamon – Spring 1231

Rats. At the end of last year, we had a very brief infestation of rats. They swarmed out of the covenant and headed out into the valley, down towards the sea. Where they went after that we’re not entirely sure.

So we sent out some of our grogs to ask around at the local villages whilst we prepared to head down to where they came from. It turns out that the rats seemed to just run through some of the villages without causing any trouble. Because it happened at night, most people hadn’t even noticed.

There were a few hamlets which are deserted though. We’re not certain how long they have been deserted for, or what caused the people to leave. Was it the rats, or something else going on?

As to the question of where they came from, it was obviously the caves beneath the covenant, but why? Our previous excursion down below wasn’t entirely successful, so as part of our preparation before we go Aodhan does an Astrology reading to try and determine what we will find down there. The answer is death and danger, along with a teaching opportunity. Sounds like an adventure.

We put together a few days of supplies, and also take some strong string and chalk for marking our way. Allistor, Maebh and myself head down into the caves. We decide against taking any grogs, since we may be encountering things that grogs aren’t suited to handle.

As we head down into the caves, I draw chalk arrows showing which way we have gone, since there are many junctions and twisty-turny passages. Maybe we need to start dropping random items as well. Time starts to behave strangely, and we aren’t sure how long we’ve been done here. The tunnels look different to last time, and we seem to be mostly spirally downwards. Possibly minutes have passed, maybe hours.

We do come across rat sign, and we use that to try and guide us in the direction they seem to have come from. After some indeterminate time, we see a faint reddish glow up ahead, and there is a smell of sulphur. It is starting to irritate my throat.

We can see the exit of the tunnel, through which we see a cloud filled sky, lit from below with reddish light. As we head outside, we see a rocky landscape on which are the ruins of large Greek style city. There are rivers of lava, and above are thick clouds. None of us have seen any city of this size before.

Some of the buildings are huge and impressive, though do seem to be built for humans. The air is full of dust and ash, and it is uncomfortably warm.

Allistor flies up to get a better view, seeing the city spread out to the horizon. There are three smoking volcanoes, and the city around each volcano seems slightly different in style. There do seem to be aqueducts built for carrying lava. What writing we can see looks a bit like Latin, but different.

Maedbh comments that there is a level 8 magical aura here.

Stepping out of the cave, we notice that just down the hill there is an inn with a sign of a foaming flagon flapping outside. So we head towards the inn, kicking up ash from the ground as we walk towards it. We all cast spells to protect ourselves from the smoke and ash. I also try to put up a spell to also protect me from the heat, but in the high magical field I lose control of the magic, and suddenly I feel a lot warmer, almost to the point of burning.

Allistor offers to cast a cooling spell on me. I drop my Parma, and am suddenly overcome with a strange feeling, as if I blacked out. I recover quickly, and I now feel a lot cooler (Allistor got his spell off), but apparently I started walking towards one of the volcanoes. At least I now feel cooler though.

We head to the inn again, and this time we make it. The door is collapsed, but the inn seems to be in more or less one piece. Inside is a large room with holes in the ceiling allowing us to see up into the three stories above. There is ruined furniture, and some bodies under the rubble. There are paintings on the wall, showing various types of entertainment from sport to sex.

What food there was, along with the flesh on the bodies, seems to have been stripped, possibly by rats.

So far there is nothing to say what this place is, why it is here or who built it.

Samuel Penn

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