Under African Skies

Under African Skies

General Introduction

Under African Skies is an Ars Magica freeform set in 1227. The Magi who live in North Africa are gathering on the island of Elephantine to hold a lawful meeting, the main purpose of which is to vote to cede from the Tribunals to which they currently belong, and to form a new, independent one - the Tribunal of Mauritania.

All of the characters are wizards of the Order of Hermes.

The game assumes a basic working knowledge of Ars Magica, but a brief bluffers guide can be provided for those who are unfamiliar with the game and its terminology. Experienced Ars Magica players should be aware that this game is written with 3rd edition assumptions, and with the 3rd edition structure of the Order. We have assigned genders to the characters at random - they can easily be changed.

Basic information

  • Number of players: 20-24
  • Setting: A Tribunal meeting in North Africa
  • Time to run: 5 hours
  • Space Requirements: large room
  • Author: Andrew Sceats, Kirstie Sceats
  • Publisher: n/a

Cast

The Covenant of Casa Vespera

This Covenant hugs the North West coast of the Dark Continent, close to the city of Tangiers and within sight of Gibraltar. It is considered to be a member of the Iberian Tribunal, and that is where its members vote. Seven Magi call Casa Vespera their home, and three will be attending the extraordinary Tribunal.

Archmage Eupraxia of House Tremere

Eupraxia conforms to the common view of the archetypal Tremere. She is tough, determined and ambitious, and her word is law in Casa Vespera. She is one of the instigators of the plan to form the new Tribunal - and everyone assumes that she will want to be its Praeco.

Nuntius of House Mercere

Nuntius is the only active Redcap in Africa. Technically he only serves Casa Vespera, because his ‘route’ is within the Iberian Tribunal. In practice, however, he takes messages to all of the African Magi (at least, to those he can find). He is a Gifted Mercere, and is known to have a mania for collecting ancient religious artefacts. He is Eupraxia’s eyes and ears, and the speed with which he gathers information has, so far, defied explanation.

Celestina Consiga of House Criamon

Celestina will be attending the Tribunal, but will not be played.

The Covenant of The Serpent Gate Of Amenthes

In a hidden valley in the desert, a mile or so north of Luxor, lies the Covenant of The Serpent Gate Of Amenthes. Its four Magi delve deep into the mysteries of ancient Egyptian magic and religion. It is considered to be a part of the Tribunal of the Levant, and that is where its Magi send their proxy votes (the denizens of the Serpent Gate seldom travel far from their desert home). Three of its wizards will be attending the extraordinary Tribunal.

Sokaris of House Bonisagus

Sokaris, particularly of late, seems reluctant to mix with his fellow Magi, and seldom visits other Covenants. Those who have encountered him report him to be an honest if nervous conversationalist. He is, however, disinclined to talk about his researches - which is unusual for a Bonisagus. It is rumoured that Durenmar has recently taken note of his unwillingness to share, and is not best pleased with him.

Mephotep of House Tytalus

Mephotep arrived at The Serpent Gate Of Amenthes around ten years ago and immediately adopted an Egyptian name. He has become an active and valued member of the Covenant, and is its most visible and sociable Magus. His past is shrouded in mystery, but then he is a Tytalus. His interests seem to be in the conflicts among the Egyptian gods, and he claims that he has learned a great deal from studying them.

Kemnebi of House Bjornaer

Kemnebi will be attending the Tribunal, but will not be played.

The Covenant of Barakat

This Muslim Covenant is close to the town of Benghazi in Libya. It has grown wealthy from extensive trading with the Holy Land and beyond, and keeps a small fleet of the finest and swiftest ships in the Mediterranean. Barakat’s warehouses in Benghazi are said to be among the richest and fullest in the town. It is officially a member of the Tribunal of the Levant, and its leader is a vocal presence at Tribunal meetings. Five Magi live at Barakat, and three will be attending the extraordinary Tribunal.

Khalil al Wasin of House Jerbiton

Khalil is the leader of the Covenant of Barakat, and is one of the instigators of the plan to form a new Tribunal. He has worked closely with Eupraxia to bring this about, and the two are rumoured to get on extremely well. Khalil is renowned as a devout Muslim, a daring sailor and a very astute trader. The extent of his personal wealth is the subject of much rumour. He has never sought the status of Archmage, although it is said that he could easily do so.

Faleem ‘of the voices’ of House Merinita

Faleem talks to all of the Fey spirits of the desert, including the Djinn and, it is said, beings that are much darker and stranger still. There are always tensions between House Merinita and House Bjornaer, but it seems that members of the House of shapechangers have recently formed an especial dislike of Faleem.

Fikrriya of House Jerbiton

Fikrriya will be attending, but will not be played.

The Covenant of the Pillars Of Bel-Shammut

The Pillars Of Bel-Shammut lies beneath the ruins of Carthage in a powerful Regio. All of its four members belong to House Ex Miscellanea. What strange magic they practise in their ancient vaults and caverns is unknown to all outsiders, and they do not speak of it. It is said that they still perform the old Carthaginian acts of worship, and rumours abound that those old Punic ‘gods’ are, in reality, demons. Officially the Covenant belongs to the Tribunal of Thebes, but its members appear entirely indifferent to this fact. Three of them will, however, be attending the Extraordinary Tribunal.

Asrubal of House Ex Miscellanea.

Asrubal is the stated leader of the Covenant but little is known about him/her (including his/her true gender). Whatever Asrubal gets up to in those dark underground temples has, they say, delivered a great deal of magical power. Rumours suggest that Asrubal has ‘family’ (whatever that might mean) connections in the Theban Tribunal.

Caranas of House Ex Miscellanea.

More frequently seen abroad than his Covenant leader, Caranas is, by contrast, positively garrulous. He has his secrets nonetheless, and his ready smile is said to hide a million terrible schemes. It is not clear what his motivations or desires are, although all seem to agree that those who earn his enmity seldom live long enough to regret doing so.

Isha’al of House Ex Miscellanea

Isha’al is attending the Tribunal but will not be played.

The Covenant of Falco Melita

Situated on the Island of Malta, Falco Melita was set up just over a year ago by Casa Vespera and Barakat. It is generally believed that this was done in order to ensure that there would be enough Covenants who wished to form the new Tribunal to make it workable and legal. Its position on Malta is not, however, without challenge; particularly from Verdi - a Covenant that has a lot of power when it chooses to flex its muscles. The exact status of Falco Melita - including the matter of to which Tribunal it belongs - is uncertain. There are three Magi at Falco Melita and all of them are attending the extraordinary Tribunal.

Robert of Gloucester of House Jerbiton

This gentle, peaceful, scholarly former Benedictine is a Larta Magus - one who does not possess the Gift, but has been allowed to join House Jerbiton, gaining all the rights and obligations of a full Magus of the Order. He spends much of his time translating into Latin those ancient Greek texts that were preserved, in Arabic, by the Moorish scholars. He earned his Larta Magus status by making these translations available to House Jerbiton. His membership was sponsored by his great friend Khalil al Wasim.

Lux Argenta of House Tremere

Lux Argenta is the filia of Eupraxia, and is fiercely loyal to her parens. It is known that she spent considerable time following and observing the Crusades before settling down in Falco Melita. Always intense and forthright, she has been observed, of late, to be preoccupied with some matter that has her in an inner turmoil.

Meluvius of House Bonisagus

Meluvius will be attending, but will not be played.

Independent Magi of North Africa

Juba Tariq of House Criamon

Juba is a member of a large nomadic Tuareg tribe. He is a mystic, deliberately starving, weakening and crippling his body in return for knowledge of the Enigma and for great powers of scrying and insight. He knows much that is hidden. It is believed that he intends to try to have his tribe declared a Covenant. Juba has never declared membership of any Tribunal.

Zarbo of House Bjornaer

Zarbo haunts forgotten graveyards and scavenges in half-buried necropolises, often in the form of his Heartbeast - a great, foul-smelling hyena. He wanders the wilderness and keeps no sanctum and no laboratory, yet he grows strong in both magical power and in learning. Magi who encounter him are often astounded at what he knows, and wonder at how he came by his knowledge. Rumour has it that he is angry with Fareem of Barakat, though none knows why. Nominally Zarbo is a member of the Levantine Tribunal - but does not appear to give a monkey’s.
Isabella Loyola of House Mercere - calling herself Inthwe

It has been a long time since this ungifted Redcap delivered a letter. Technically a member of the Iberian Tribunal, she stopped performing her duties more than ten years ago, and shortly afterwards she disappeared into the Godless southern lands. She returned two years ago, insisting that her new name is Inthwe, and apparently able to cast magic. He power seems to be erratic and variable, and her personality has altered to match it. She still refuses to carry messages, and rumour has it that Harco is displeased with her. Strong words have been exchanged between Inthwe and Nuntius (all the latter will say on the subject is "We’ll see").

Nadjil ‘the rat’ of House Ex Miscellanea

Nadjil sells his charms, amulets and potions around the souks and bazaars of Tangiers, Rabat and Marrakech. He stays, as much as possible, away from the notice of Casa Vespera, and insists that he does not encroach upon that Covenant’s extensive Vis source claims. He is known to be a dabbler in a variety of minor non-Hermetic magical traditions, and some doubt that he even has access to the Hermetic Arts. No-one knows which Tribunal Nadjil is supposed to be a member of.

Lacrimae Rerum of House Guernicus

Lacrimae Rerum is the only Quaesitor in Africa. Officially he belongs to the Levantine Tribunal, but he has not been there for many years. He spends most of his time in his Sanctum on the island of Elephantine, which is on the Nile. He seemed to cease all Quaesitorial duties a few years ago, and retired to his island. Then he began to travel and, with Eupraxia and Khalil, came up with the plan to form the Tribunal of Mauritania. His knowledge of the Code is unquestioned, his reasons and his political wisdom are matters, however, of doubt and debate. This extraordinary Tribunal will take place under his Aegis, on Elephantine.

Ambassadors From Other Tribunals

Walad Al Jahannam of House Merinita

This ferocious fire-wielding Magus has come from the Levant to represent that Tribunal’s interests, and to try to bring its two North African Covenants back into line. Walad has dealings with the desert Djinn, particularly the Efreet. His temper is known to be as hot as his Ignem spells, so he is not a Wizard to upset. A devout Muslim, his meeting with his Iberian counterpart - the strongly Christian, and equally intemperate Hermano del Fuego - is avidly anticipated by all lovers of conflict.

Archmage Bilexion of House Verditius

Bilexion is here to represent the interests of the Roman Tribunal. Rome has no Covenants or Magi in North Africa, so it might be thought that he will have a disinterested and unbiased view of things. His home Covenant, Verdi, does, however, claim Malta as its possession and one of its Vis sources, so he will doubtless have a lot to say about the current situation. Bilexion is an armourer and weapon smith. His huge furnaces and mighty forges burn constantly, and are staffed by dozens of workers.

Hermano del Fuego of House Flambeau

The fiery Hermano is the ambassador of the Iberian Tribunal. He is in Africa as the direct representative of the Praeco of Iberia, who is said to be virulently opposed to the idea of the new Tribunal. Iberia has, it is supposed, far too great a stake in its African bridgehead to let it slip away. Hermano is a very devout Christian and has no love for the followers of Islam. Many Magi will watch his encounters with Walad al Jahannam with great interest.

Feodosius Konstantinos of House Tytalus

Feodosius is the ambassador of the Tribunal of Thebes, and he is well versed in its literally Byzantine politics. He is known to have trading and shipping interests across the Mediterranean, but there has, so far as anyone knows, not been any conflict with the interests of Barakat. Feodosius has signalled that he is opposed to the formation of a new Tribunal - his reasons are, no doubt, as complex as the Theban political world through which he moves with such apparent ease.

The Rhinelander of House Bonisagus

No-one knows the Rhinelander’s real name. He is the Quaesitor for House Bonisagus and is here to represent Durenmar and to help with the legal arguments surrounding the attempt to form a new Tribunal. He has yet to say what his personal view on the issue may be. It is said the he also wishes to have ‘words’ with Sokaris.

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