What follows is the original article on the Flambeau Apocrypha and the Knights of Seneca, way back in Su Rosa issue #3. It forms the basis for much of the backstory of this saga, and it is a useful reference to have on our wiki.
Table of Contents
Within House Flambeau there is a societas called the Knights of Seneca. Comprised of roughly a dozen magi scattered across Europe, they seek to embody the most noble virtues of their House; Bravery, Loyalty, Temperance, and Wisdom. They are small, but their acclaim is such that they are known and respected as heroes and adventurers. This wasn’t always the case. Their history goes back to the Schism War, and their early days are fraught with violent conflict. Once considered ruthless Reconquista magi, they were still praised for heroism, and the glory of their deeds overshadowed their indiscretions. Key to understanding the Knights of Seneca their relation to what is known as the Flambeau Apocrypha. A patchwork of societates, House Flambeau stems from various different traditions, lineages, and even mysteries. All Flambeau magi have variant views of history to some extent, and official lore is kept purposefully vague to avoid conflict. Outsiders tend to misperceive the majority view as the norm, and thus other beliefs must somehow be heretical or apocryphal. Flambeau scholars shun these terms, preferring “Legend”. Most Flambeau magi only hold a few apocryphal beliefs, but the Knights of Seneca embrace a large body of the disputed lore. Their very history is intertwined with it, making them a subject of much interest to historians. Not all of this attention is positive though, as some take offence to a few of their claims. Even their name is a source of controversy, going back to a centuries old dispute as to whether the founder was a Frank or a Visgoth. Further, they claim that the magus who established their societas was one of Seven Champions at Flambeau’s side during his Final Battle, and through him they hold the Founder’s final secrets.
Before discussing the Knights of Seneca, it is important to explain the Flambeau Apocrypha. It is important in order to understanding that societas, and it affects the entirety of House Flambeau. As mentioned, even the vulgar identity of the Founder causes controversy. The official stance is that his identity is uncertain, though Provencal tradition states he was born of Frankish nobility. Iberian magi insist that he was born of a Roman-Visgothic family; ascribing him the name of Reculed Annaeus Seneca, from which the Knights of Seneca take their name.
In truth, these conflicting, heretical, and apocryphal beliefs are the fault of the Founder himself. He wrote very little, almost nothing about himself, and all we known of him is what’s recorded by his followers and contemporaries. Sometimes, stories conflict. The mysterious conditions of his disappearance only serve to heighten his legend. The irony is that, as a result, more has been written about Flambeau than any other single founder. The result is a mix of myth, legend, mystery, distortion, speculation, secret agendas and hidden truths. Individual beliefs vary, influenced by region, lineage, and association. Likewise, so does one’s reaction to conflicting ideas. Respectful parlance is to refer to Legend. Apocrypha is disrespectful; not for the belief, but for an individual being debated with. Some feel their beliefs are incontrovertible truth, but may be willing to admit that it’s a hidden truth. Still, there may be conflicting ideas one finds so objectionable, it’s considered tantamount to heresy. Debates can quickly turn bitter, even violent.
Below are some common elements of the Flambeau Apocrypha. Not every Flambeau magus is concerned with them all, but certainly they have interest in one or two.
A spirited lot, disagreements amongst the Flambeau can lead to hard feelings or even combat. Certamen is the preferred way to resolve disputes, but at one time, contests of endurance were more popular; such as Test of Flames. Inirelte excelled at each, and she even enjoyed dueling while in flames. She developed a Certamen style around it, which is actually a Minor Breakthrough. It never caught on because it’s limited to Creo Ignem contests. A separate breakthrough and spell would be needed for each combination.
You know how to duel in Inirelte’s style if you know Test of Flames, because at first, this is nothing more than mere spectacle. Since normal Certamen protocols are followed, your Parma Magica protects you for now. Mastery of the spell allows you great advantages and options. You may add your Mastery score to either Attack or Defense as you choose each round, and many Mastery Abilities have obvious direct applications; such as Penetration, Resistance, Imperturbable Casting, and Quick Casting.
The Founder’s Final Fate
The most well known dispute in Flambeau lore is the final fate of the Founder. Though there’s no official stand, there are many strong opinions. Garus, the Primus, upholds the theory that Flambeau retired to a monastery; laying aside his magic so that he may die a natural death instead of fading into Final Twilight. A strong stubborn tradition insists that Flambeau died in a glorious final battle against his enemies. Detractors say his spiteful wrath was his undoing; but proud followers of this tradition say he tried to offer an olive branch to his enemies, who had set a trap to ambush him. The most popular version of this story was written by Joseph of Flambeau, who tells a tale of tragic misunderstanding.
He gives the Sahir leader’s name as Tariq-ibn-Suleiman-al-Afdal-al-Sahir, portraying him as an honorable opponent and weary warrior, ready to admit defeat. Tariq requested a parley to discuss joining the Order and House Flambeau, and the Founder had agreed to meet with him; brining seven of his followers along for the negotiations. The two camps met in a valley near the Tagus river, and at first, everything was cordial and productive.
In his narrative, Joseph makes a point of mentioning Tariq’s lovely daughter Yasmina, a powerful sahira well trained by her father. According to the story, she had been having an ongoing secret romance with a member of Flambeau’s entourage. Never naming who, the story continues with her lover sneaking in her tent at night, and tragic misunderstanding strikes when other sahirs catch them alone together. Thinking he intended harm, they attacked him instinctively and he was forced to flee. However, in his desperate escape he had killed two sahirs, and from there everything spiraled out of control in a pitched battle.
Flambeau and his champions were forced to regroup at a nearby abandon castle, thereafter called Tagus Tower, where destiny awaited them. Joseph goes into dramatic detail about the battle, graphically describing the demise of some of the Seven Champions. One is torn asunder by furious jinn, pieces of his corpse scattered to the wind. Another falls to a raging efreet, split into red ruin by it’s sword of brass. Most importantly, Flambeau is never described as a battle enraged berserker. Rather, he is likened to a parent, grieving at the loss of each follower who falls at his side. Further, the Founder’s final decision is described as one made in grim acceptance of the inevitable. He describes the Founder’s legendary talisman, the Fireheart, as capable of storing more than a queen of vis, and claims Flambeau’s ability to use vis in his spells far exceeded that of other magi. He channeled all of his energy and placed all of this vis into one final legendary spell of destructive immolation. His last shouts echo with thunder as the tower shatters with explosive force, and incineration rains down upon the valley.
Though variations of this story are popular, they are not universally believed. Lately, the idea that he retired peacefully has grown more popular. Regardless, a traditional custom among Flambeau is to carry large quantities of vis reserves on their person, usually an item of jewelry. They call this the fons et origio, meaning “source and origin”; typical of their subtle and deeply contemplative philosophy.
Joseph of Flambeau
Joseph was a 12th century magus descended from the lineage of Elaine. He was fond of using a dual meaning for Flambeau; a torch, which can bring destructive fire or creative illumination. Arturius of Bonisagus called him one of the greatest Hermetic authors of his day, with famous works on topics such as Finesse, Parma Magica, Penetration, and Spell Mastery. But his most acclaimed tome concerns the history of his House and the early Order, entitled simply The saga of House Flambeau (Order of Hermes Lore Summa, Level 5 Quality 14).
Origin of Flambeau
Like his death, the origins of Flambeau are also disputed. His vulgar heritage was already mentioned, but there is also the issue of his pre-Hermetic lineage. This is actually a pedantic debate over whether Flambeau was descended from more of a Mercurian or Mithraic tradition, but agreeing both had an influence. Also, the Franks have apocryphal stories of Flambeau allied with Charles Martel before the Founding. The timing for this is all wrong, and it’s now believed these were actually the exploits of a Visgothic wizard named Delendar; a friend and mentor to Flambeau who perished before the Founding.
“Join or Die”
Fear of Flambeau, along with his infamous “Join or Die” recruitment campaign, motivated many wizards to join the nascent Order for protection, stimulating its early growth. The dispute concerns the amount of brutality used to enforce this policy. Besides the sahirs, it’s known that Flambeau had at least two famous battles against other wizards. One was against Varstus in the Alps, whose followers surrendered after their leader was slain. Another was against a cult of Roman necromancers, who not only refused his offer, but tried to attack him with a necromantic artifact called Vardian’s Skull. Flambeau shattered the skull and defeated these necromancers in a fierce battle.
The tradition of Ex-Miscellanea necromancers at the Covenant of Varidian’s Tomb claim they are descended from those defeated necromancers. Further, they claim he was a butcher who stalked his victims maliciously, and that he hunted over fifty other hedge wizards just for sport. No one believes this outrageous assertion, but scholars doubt that Flambeau’s recruitment policy worked out as peacefully as is claimed.
A legend that reoccurs throughout the ages is the Lumina; the supposed mysterious lost bloodline of Flambeau. These stories wax and wane in popularity, with each generation of magi reinterpreting them for themselves. In 1220, most mature magi have grown tired of these stories and doubt their credibility. However, the younger magi are rediscovering these myths, and the senior Flambeau are quite eager to share them.
The earliest of these tales date back to the Primacy of Apromor, and the resurgences in their popularity often coincide with great struggles. The Schism War, Reconquista, Crusades, and other conflicts provided many new and entertaining Lumina stories. The youngest Iberian magi were apprentices during the battle of Nova de Tolosa and the Shadow Wars, which explains the renewed again popularity of these tales. As for their origin, it may be that his followers took the loss of Flambeau as such a tragedy; they needed to immortalize him through some mysterious obscure lineage. Perhaps this same sense of loss is what caused Flambeau scholars to research the origin and fate of the Founder, developing the variety of contradicting theories.
Or perhaps there’s some grain of truth in these stories.
The classic form of the tale never identifies the “Mother of Light”, but scholars have theories based on various hints; an unknown young maga, asecretive Frankish noblewoman, and even a mysterious sahira. One bawdy joke involves Trianoma cuckolding Bonisagus, but many find this offensive.
Some say Elaine, but most prefer to think that she was actually the first Lumina. This is unlikely, but it’s never been proven or disproven, and the myths persist. If Elaine was indeed the Lumina, then the torch was extinguished with her, for she never bore any children. However, she also disappeared just as mysteriously as the Founder (Joseph claims she retired to a convent). Still, myth is not easily discouraged. Famous Flambeau heroes have often been compared to the Lumina because of their virtuous and heroic qualities, including such names as Iarna, Vancastium, Garus, and Pietro ex-Tytalus.
Modern magi view the Lumina as a metaphor for the more noble and virtuous qualities the Founder represented, an example for the children of his House should follow. These and other stories have become vehicles for lessons of bravery, valor, and honor. As a candle flame replicates itself, a Flambeau magus is supposed to pass these lessons on to his filiae, so that the eternal flame of the Founder may be carried on.
Mythic Blood and The Lumina
Mythic Blood can be used in a variety of ways to incorporate the concept of a descendant of Flambeau into your saga. Some may believe that they are the Lumina, but in truth they are descended from similar powerful figure (such as a dragon, an ‘afrit, or the wizard Delendar). Example Minor Magic Foci include Creating Fire or Ferocity in Battle. The Minor Personality Flaw could be Overconfident, Proud, Wrathful, or some such. The inborn power should relate to fire or warfare. If you want to use the idea that Elaine was the first Lumina, the inborn power would have something to do with creating light. For example, cause an object to glow with equal illumination as daylight (Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, no words). The Magic Focus would still be Creating Fire, as that was indeed the Founder’s greatest talent. The Minor Personality Flaws could be Driven (dedication), Dutybound, or Higher Purpose. If you want to have a conspiracy theme, Covenant Upbringing may represent your having been hidden away at Val-Negra most of your life. Or the descendant of Flambeau might have been someone else altogether.
The Knights of Seneca
As mentioned, the history of the Knights of Seneca is thoroughly intertwined with Flambeau Apocrypha. They were formed in the aftermath of the Schism War, when a trio of veteran Milites settled in Catalonia. They were Delendos of Flambeau, his filius Julius, and Valdarius ex-Verditus. Valdarius joined House Flambeau after accusing his former housemates of timid inaction and double dealing during the Schism War. Reputedly, he was a master of the creation and use of magical armaments. Julius was their leader during their most glorious and infamous period. A master tactician and brilliant politician, he shaped their violent past and charted the course of their destiny.
But by far the most interesting of the three is the mysterious elder Delendos. He isn’t thought of as mysterious for secretive or shadowy reasons. It’s because what is known of him is mostly legend and little fact. His name is typical vulgar Latin of the day, referring to destruction and devastation. The irony is that he was a master of the Art of Creo.
The Legend of Delendos
It is known that the historic Delendos was venerable when he participated in the Schism War. His heroism in that war and his role in establishing the Knights of Seneca are not in doubt. What’s disputed is the claim that he is far older still, and was in fact the second of the three apprentices of Flambeau. The Knights of Seneca believe that he was one of the Seven Champions at the Founder’s side for the final battle, the only one to survive that day, and that he was charged with the mission to carry out Flambeau’s final wishes. Their story is similar to the one written by Joseph, but it is more than mere legend to them; they treat it as true history. They add that Delendos was leading a counter attack on the ground below when his pater magically signaled to him a warning to seek shelter.
Delendos has his own spell ascribed to legend; a hollow sphere of steel conjured to surround and protect him from the fiery fury Flambeau unleashed in the valley. He limped back to Val-Negra to tell his tale, and an expedition was formed to investigate the site. No evidence of any battle was ever found, and when the expedition had returned, they discovered that Delendos disappeared into the night.
The saga-cycle continues, with tales filling the gap of time between the Final Battle and the Schism War. Supposedly, in the aftermath of that battle, he wanders the war torn lands of Iberia seeking solace in solitude. He finds conflict no matter where he goes, and cannot escape the memory of his fallen brethren. His opponents are often wicked sahirs or cruel jinn that he winds up defeating, but occasionally he comes across those who are gentle and noble who manage to trick, elude, or even befriend him.
Scholars find these tales interesting even though obviously apocryphal (mixing elements of 9th and 11th century history together). In early stories all sahirs are enemies. In later stories, a distinction is made between the noble sahirs (who resemble Umayyads) and the wicked (who resemble Almorovides). This cultural bias resembles the relationship between the Senecans and different groups of Moors over time.
Early Days of the Knights of Seneca
At first the Knights of Seneca were merely a ragged band of veterans and almogavers, seeking their fortunes where they may. Operating out of Catalonia, they participated in many of the conflicts and skirmishes of the Reconquista. On the outer edge of scrutiny, they felt they were doing their duty defending against enemy wizards. This was valid, for at the time the Order feared the possibility of a rival Order of Suleiman. The first sahirs to join the Order in 925 were Umayyads. But after the Caliphate fell, they came under the pressure of the fundamentalist and intolerant Almorovides that invaded in the 11th century. The Berber marabouts, akin to hereditary saint, proved resilient to magic because of their Faith. They persecuted magi and sahirs alike, though they did force some of the holdout sahirs (who had not yet joined the Order) to submit to their will. This gave the Knights of Seneca and other Reconquista magi legitimate cause to ply their skills.
By this time, the Knights of Seneca had grown into a formidable association of warrior magi commanding a cadre of elite custos. Julius filius Delendos, youngest of the original band, had matured in wisdom and power. He was now the eldest of the Knights and a formidable leader. A brilliant tactician and excellent politician, he is a fine example why it’s important to keep political savvy as sharp as skill in battle.
When it was alleged that their activities interfered with mundanes, Julius made the convincing argument that their involvement was limited to instances when enemy wizard’s participated in aggression, thus the Almorovides were acting as minions in an Arcane conflict. This was (and still is) a gray area in Hermetic law and no charges were ever brought forth. This is also around the time that the Reconquista versus Roman debate begins (see ToH:Iberia). Though there were those who opposed the actions of the Knights of Seneca, many also supported them (including the Umayyad Hermetic sahirs, who were strongly opposed to the Almorovides).
El Cid and Blood of Heroes
El Cid is a figure of actual history, whose fame and legend put him on par with figures such as Arthur, Roland, Siegfried, and others. An excellent example of a Mythic Hero, El Cid is much more contemporary than these others, and makes an excellent archetype for a Mythic Companion with the Blood of Heroes. One of his heroic qualities was his ability to overlook the Gift, religious differences, and other social handicaps.
Minor Heroic Virtue
You are not as strongly affected by the social impediments that others may have. The Gift does not disturb you, and you treat the Blatant Gift as only being half as strong. For all other relevant Flaws; such as Disfigured, Outsider, Pagan, Social Handicap, etceteras; reduce the total social penalty by half.
Tizona, the Sword of El Cid
Compared to mythic weapons such as Excalibur or Durendal, Tizona is a longsword of exceptional quality and beauty. It was forged in Toledo with exquisite master craftsmanship. It is up to you to decide exactly how to handle a quality weapon in your saga. The easiest way is to simply assign it a bonus of +1 to Attack and Damage. You may also want to use the elaborate rules for exceptional craftsmanship from Cities & Guild, and/or the rules for an Item of Quality from HoH: Mystery Cults. You may also want to choose to further enhance its mythical characteristics by incorporating powerful enchantments that enhance the wielders leadership, skill in battle, and so forth.
The Covenant of Valencia
Operating out of Zaragossa at that time, there was a band of sahirs called Al-Estancia. Stubborn holdouts still refusing to join the Order, they were also refusing to submit to the Almorovides. Longtime rivals of the Knights of Seneca, they had earned each others begrudging respect, and now found themselves facing a common enemy. Despite that, they still couldn’t overcome their differences. The catalyst for change required a heroic knight whose fame and influence eclipsed that of any Iberian wizard or king of that day.
Rodrigo Laínez de Bivar was a prominent military leader who had served the kings of both Christian Castile and Moslem Zaragossa. He had also worked with the Knights of Seneca on several military campaigns. A heroic warrior to say the least, his cunning intelligence and excellent leadership earned him the respect of the Knights of Seneca. They would participate in his strategy and planning sessions, where all were treated on the level and encouraged to come up with innovative ideas. Because of his genius in the art of war, the magi assigned him the nickname “Campeador”, Camp-Professor. Such was the awe and respect he commanded, the Moors called him El Cid (al sayed, or Lord).
El Cid’s career spans too many heroic deeds to discuss here. He served King Alfonso of Castile, and after a falling out he served the Moorish ruler of Zaragossa. It was here he first met the sahirs of Al Estancia, earning their trust and respect as he did with the Knights of Seneca. He served Alfonso again, but after another falling out he found himself in again in exile. With few followers, low funds, and no outside support; the triumph that was to follow testifies to his heroic leadership abilities. No evidence implies he sought assistance from his Flambeau or sahir friends, but he managed to capture two key castles he used as a base of operations, and miraculously laid hold of a large treasure; with which he was able to finance a much larger force. He eventually pressed on to conquer Valencia, ruling it as his own personal fiefdom.
Rodrigo had arranged a parley between the sahirs of Al-Estancia and the Knights of Seneca, himself serving as moderator, his honor alone standing as guarantee of the integrity of the meeting. Generations removed from the Founder’s conflict, The Senecans insisted that their only issue was Hermetic membership. Until now, the Al-Estancia sahirs never thought it worth their while to join the Order, seeing how their Hermetic kin still suffered persecution. But faced with the common threat of the great Almorovide invasion, they began to see the advantage. The Knights of Seneca pledged to support them against Hermetic persecution if they would swear the Hermetic Oath. They did, and both groups swore an oath of allegiance. Thus, under the patronage of El Cid, the Covenant of Valencia was established.
Though controversial, this expansion of the Pax Hermetica earned the Knights of Seneca prestige and acclaim. Enemy wizards were kept at bay, nearly all the remaining reluctant sahirs were recruited into the Order, and Valencia greatly enhanced the prosperity of the tribunal. The more pressing matter in Hermetic politics of the day was the partitioning of the Val-Negra Tribunal into the Iberian and Provencal Tribunals. The cause for this was the burgeoning population of magi, and it was hoped dividing them would resolve some of the disputes in the region.
Though short lived, the Covenant of Valencia vastly exceeded expectations for a Spring covenant, and were a paragon of achievement. Through them, many Greek and Arabic texts made their way into the Order, and it is no coincidence that the Iberian Tribunal has a reputation for their accomplishments in fields such as Astrology and Alchemy. The Library of Valencia grew quickly because of trade, and likewise so did their power and influence. At their peak, the Covenant of Valencia had twenty members from a mixture of traditions, controlled enough vis and other resources to rival older established covenants, and had they survived, they would have come to politically dominate the Iberian tribunal, rivaling famous covenants such as Doissetep and Fengheld.
But such was not their fate.
They prospered vigorously, but when El Cid died unexpectedly in 1099, everything began to unravel. Without the unifying force of his charisma, many of the Knights of Seneca wandered off elsewhere. Within a few years, Valencia fell to the Almorovides. For a small time, a greatly weakened and reduced Covenant of Valencia persisted, but when a new wave of Moors called the Almohades invaded (who were even more fundamentalist), the remnants of the Covenant of Valencia were driven out. The sahirs of Al-Estancia merged with their brethren at the covenant of Escarida in Granada. This infusion of new blood was their salvation, for they also suffered terrible losses at the hands of the Almorovides. The renamed covenant of Estancia Escarida has since grown to become the dominant political and cultural center for Islamic Magi in the Order.
Story Seed: Legacy of Valencia
The Library of Valencia contributed much to the Order of Hermes, and they themselves managed to accumulate an impressive collection in trade. The bulk of the library was divided up into the covenants various Valencia magi had joined afterwards; such as Andorra and Estancia Ecarida. Left behind were a lot of worn out ex-libris copies and exemplars, but there might have been a few forgotten hidden gems as well. When the Almorovides took the city, the last of the Valencia magi was able to negotiate by sharing his library and providing the fruits of his jinni tended orchards. When the Almohades invaded and chased him out, the fundamentalists wanted to burn the library and exorcize the jinni. However, wiser minds prevailed.
The Academic texts are great gems if recopied; but who knows arcane and magical tomes were forgotten? Valencia has a reputation for excellent quality produce, so it seems the Almohades still employ the jinni in the orchards and vineyards. But have they learned the magic necessary to control them? What other secrets were left behind?
Delendos and the Lumina
The Knights of Seneca found renewed purpose as well. The Legend of Delendos makes allusions to a relationship to the Lumina, though not in so many words. Reference is made that he know Flambeau’s final secret and was charged with his last orders. During their time at Valencia, a resurgence in the popularity of Lumina Legends coincided with their discovery of a more intimate link with them. The coincidental timing suggests the Senecans were either riding the wave of a trend, or that someone was trying to pacify these warrior magi with distractions.
Or it and everything else in the legend of Delendos might be true.
What’s more likely is that the Knights of Seneca needed to reinvent and reinvigorate themselves, so they could continue as a Societas with a united purpose.
In any case, in what seems an obvious addendum, the story is that only two magi went on the expedition to investigate the scene at Tagus Tower, Apromor and Delendos himself. Their goal was to cover the matter up and keep it quite, for the war against Damhan-Allaidh had just begun. They were not worried about moral. Rather, they did not want to distract Flambeau magi and divert them to Spain when the real threat was hiding somewhere in Britain. There is in fact a valley in that region with a weak Magic Aura. There is no sign of a ruined tower or a battle ever having taken place there; not a single corpse or ghost. The valley is overgrown with lush vegetation, and as normal, vis can be found in certain magical herbs and roots & etceteras. What’s fascinating is that the vis produced is almost always Ignem rather than some other Art. The Knights of Seneca have registered a claim to the site with House Mercere, and hold ceremonies here. They permit other Flambeau to visit the site if they treat it with respect and reverence. Some do come here on occasion, often to reflect contemplatively before a major battle.
As for the Lumina, they claim that Elaine was secretly Flambeau’s daughter, a common theme. The unique twist is that, as part of their cover up, they convinced Elaine that Delendos was really Flambeau, and he finished her training. She was very young at the time, and the use of Mentem magics completed their deception. It was decided to keep everything a secret to protect her. This is a common example of the sort of exaggerated mythical stories prolific in the Order during the twelfth century. Other popular myths from that era include Trianoma’s Ghost and the Corpse of Tremere.
Knights of Seneca in the13th century view Lumina legends as a metaphor representing the more noble and virtuous qualities House Flambeau is supposed to represent. They were to be the Custodians of the Lumina, meaning that they were to uphold and exemplify these virtues. As Delendos lost his sense of purpose wandering the borderlands, the Senecans forgot their true purpose while fighting in the Reconquista. Virtues they like to emphasize are called the four Illuminations; Courage, Loyalty, Temperance, and Wisdom. Flambeau is the first Illuminator and represents Courage, setting the example for all to follow. Delendos represents Loyalty, fidelity, honor and duty. Apromor represents Temperance, patience and pragmatism. Time destroys all things. Wisdom is represented by Elaine, as knowledge is the basis of all power, and force must be tempered by wisdom.
The Knights of Seneca have not actively participated in the Reconquista for over a hundred years, though they have had skirmishes with the Almohades. They also played a major role in the recent Shadow Wars (see ArM3 HoH:Iberia). In brief, Infernal forces sought to stir up hatred and warfare during a lull of peace and tranquility. Heretics tried to blemish the reputations of the Knights of Santiago and the Templars. The Infernalist Rasus infiltrated the Covenant of Jafaryia, killing those he could not corrupt. He began hostilities against Estancia Escarida, claiming that it was they that were the diabolic threat. When exposed in 1208, Archmagus Karandos was first to strike against his corrupted filius. He charged in blind and alone, and was thus vanquished. Remembering their pledge from long ago, having defended Estancia Escarida against allegations all along, the Knights of Seneca launched their full weight into the Shadow Wars. By 1220, it is believed all Infernalists have been purged, but the tribunal remains vigilant.
Modern Knights of Seneca resemble magical questing knights, always in search of adventure. With Lumina legends regaining popularity, they use their connection as motivation for quests. This is just an excuse for adventure, but they would be delighted to turn up evidence that they actually possess some secret truth. Goals for quests could be a manuscript of lost lore, a legendary artifact, a supposed true descendant, etceteras. Adventures might include travel to distant mythic places, studying among the sahirs, plundering treasure, challenges of a crafty jinn, the intrigue at Val-Negra, and more.
Though scattered across several covenants, they hold regular meetings and ceremonies, and assist each other whenever possible (the assistance given and received roughly balances out). They also train together periodically in order to insure their effectiveness as a martial unit, with elite custos and warrior companions participating as well.
The Knights have a very loose organization and a simple hierarchy based on seniority. They choose a leader from their elders, and this position is currently held by the Archmagus Antonio Perez of the Covenant of Andorra. His comrades jokingly refer to him as the Grandmaster. Continuing with the theme, custos and warrior companions are called Sergeants, and apprentices Squires. This is just casual parlance, not an official designation. Though scattered, they remain in constant communication. They are rather small, just over a dozen members, which makes this easy. Elder members look out for the juniors in a sort of mentoring system, and all Knights can depend on each other for help and support (the loan of silver or vis, access to training or important texts, the services of one or more specialists, direct assistance of a fellow, and so forth). This balances out, and a Knight of Seneca can be expected to be called upon for assistance by his fellows just as much as he expects to be able to call upon them.
Joining the Knights of Seneca
Friends and allies who have proven their valor and skill are occasionally invited to join the Knights of Seneca. This is indeed an honor and a sign of great respect, as an invitation requires a unanimous decision. One must be a Flambeau magus of much Acclaim, and they are required to face some sort of challenge or complete some sort of Quest. A Knight of Seneca might choose to raise his apprentices as a sort of squire among the knights, in which case they all participate in his training and the administering of his Gauntlet. A newly accepted Knight of Seneca is inducted in a sacred ceremony that involved baptism in the Tagus River and a banquet held in the historic valley.
If creating a starting character as a newly Gauntleted Knight of Seneca, you must choose the Mentor Minor Flaw, representing the influence of your elders. In addition to the Free Virtue granted by the school of your parens, you were also trained in the School of Julius, and must choose the Skilled Parens Minor Virtue. If creating an experienced magus as a starting character, you may simply incorporate membership in the Knights of Seneca into your history. They are not a Mystery Cult, and no new Virtues or Flaws are gained.
Magic of the Knights of Seneca
The magic of the Knights of Seneca is influenced by many schools, and their philosophy advocates cross-training. There has always been a strong Mercurian influence amongst them, and they also include a closed lineage of Verditius magi.
Schools of Magical Combat
The School of Delendos
Recommended Virtue: Puissant Creo
Not to be confused with the figure of legend, the Delendos who was a Schism War veteran was a master of Creo, and magi descended of his lineage have Puissant Creo as their Free House Virtue. As they focus on conjuration and evocation, they are easily confused with the School of Sebastian or the School of the Founder. However, the former excludes fire magic and the latter focuses on that alone. This School uses fire and other attacks to form a well rounded repertoire, and have been known to train an apprentice that can cast Incantation of Lightning and Ball of Abysmal Flame right out of their gauntlet. Aside from flashy evocations, they also rely on logistical conjurations and healing.
The School of Valdarius
Closed Mystery Lineage
Valdarius of Verditius was a war comrade of Delendos during the Schism War. He renounced his original House in disgust, accusing them of timid inaction and double dealing, and joined House Flambeau. His use of magical armaments was impressive and his valor in combat left no doubt of his worthiness, and he was inducted in the heat of battle. Considered a part of the School of Verditius, the lineage of Valdarius represents a closed set of Mysteries handed down from parens to filius. If an elder dies before they teach you their secrets, they are gone forever. House Verditius will not teach you, and they look on you with disdain.
You begin with Verditius Magic as your Free House Virtue, having all the same benefits and drawbacks. You must also choose the Minor Flaw of Cabal Legacy, and it is common to have a Vendetta going with the Confraternity of Roland (as this lineage is split off from that one). Mysteries still known by this lineage include Items of Quality, Reforging, and a Major Magic Focus in Arms & Armour. Inner Mysteries may be learned in any order and even taken during character creation.
The School of Julius
Recommended Virtue: Skilled Parens
Regardless of the School of their parens, all magi of the Knights of Seneca are trained in the School of Julius. This does not represent a magical lineage (Julius himself was of the line of Delendos).
If creating a Knight of Seneca as a newly Gauntleted magus, you must choose Skilled Parens in addition to your Free House Virtue, reflecting the diverse training you received from your elders. You must also take the Minor Flaw of Mentor.
The Knights of Seneca emphasize the importance of Spell Mastery, no matter what your school, and they like to keep on top of new developments in this field. Having a strong Mercurian influence, they are able to learn and teach all of the Mastery Abilities listed on pages 33 & 34 of Houses of Hermes: Societates. In addition, the Knights of Seneca have acquired these latest developments in the field of Spell Mastery.
Amplify (Cult of Mercury)
Similar to the Mutantes Boost, this Mercurian variation is at once more versatile and more limited. You may use vis (of the appropriate Art(s)) to amplify the power of the mastered spell. Each pawn spent adds one magnitude to the Range, Duration, Target, and/or Damage of the spell. A Magnitude of increased damage usually equals and additional +5 points for direct damage spells, +2 for indirect effects, and for many Perdo effects an increase in wound severity. You may not Amplify a spell to Duration-Year or Target Boundary, unless the spell is already a Ritual. The limitation is that the maximum number of pawns you may use to Amplify a spell equals your Mastery score.
You choose one aspect of the spell, Range, Duration, or Target, and you can change it by one magnitude. Which parameter and how it is flexed (up or down) is fixed when you choose this Mastery Ability. You may choose this multiple times for different options. However, you may not use two options together at the same time unless this is chosen as a third separate ability. Treat the spell as a normal spell of the adjusted level.
This allows you to cast multiple different spells at once. Each of the other spells involved must also be mastered with Ability, and the maximum number of spells allowed equals the lowest Mastery score of all the spells involved. Each spell is rolled for separately, in whatever order you desire. If a spell fails, fatigue loss is applied and you may continue down the line if you didn’t botch. If you accumulate additional fatigue loss after unconsciousness, each additional level lost causes an extra hour of unconsciousness. You may halt the succession any time you choose. Subtract the total number of discrete targets from any aimed/targeting rolls that may be required. Even if all spells are directed at the same target a -1 penalty still applies. Multiple Spells may be otherwise or further penalized or restricted, depending on the circumstances. Usually this is only used for a combination of two spells meant to work together. If you want to lob multiple attack spells at targets, you are better off Multicasting.
When casting the Mastered spell, you may choose to delay the effect, and even decline it. You first roll to cast the spell, and if successful, you exercise the option to hold it by concentrating. When choosing to release it, treat the spell as if you had just cast it for purposes of Initiative. When you concentration relaxes (or fail), you may choose to release the spell or let it dissipate (unless you botched your Concentration roll). No words or gestures are required to release or decline a spell.
This cannot be employed with Ritual spells except by Mercurian Magi, and instead of holding the spell with concentration, they employ a focus object. The Ritual can be held until the next sunrise or sunset, and can be declined as normal.
Fist of Jupiter
CrAu20, R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Ind
You discharge a thunderbolt upon whatever you strike with your touch, inflicting +20 damage. Those hit by the thunderbolt must make a Strength stress roll of 6+ to remain standing. This spell fits well with the Vacillated Casting Special Mastery Ability.
(Base 3, +4 unnatural, +1 Touch)
Sword of the Avenger
CrIg20 , R: Touch, D: Conc, T: Ind, Req: Rego
This ignites a flame along the edge of a sword blade, doubling its damage value. More than a simple variant, this spell is intended for use with the Mastery Ability of Imperturbable Casting, because of the difficulty maintaining concentration on a spell during combat. In addition, the Rego requisite protects the sword from the flames, allowing the spell to be used repetitively on a weapon with out harming it.
(Base 5, +1 Touch, +1 Concentration, +1 Requisite)
Wrath of Reculed
CrIg20, R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Ind, Req: Rego
This spell creates a jet of flame that emanates from your hands, shooting out up to twenty paces in the direction you choose. Anything caught in the path of this flame suffers +15 damage (-1 per pace of distance). Aiming is usually easy for this spell (+1 on Targeting rolls), but going against strong winds can be difficult (-1 or more). A jet is a natural form of fire that can be found various places in the Middle East.
(Base 10, +1 Touch, +1 Requisite)
Sphere of Delendos
CrTe20 , R: Per, D: Diam, T: Ind
This conjures a sphere of steel around you that is sufficient protection against most physical harm. The sphere has a diameter equal to your height, and there is more than enough air for the duration.
(Base 5, +1 Diameter, +1 elaborate shape, +1 safely surrounding)
Howl of the Steel Weapons
InTe15 , R: Per, D: Sun, T: Hearing
This spell warns you of the danger of metallic weapons with a howling sound signaling motion. This grants a +9 Defense bonus versus metallic weapons, provided you are able to parry or evade the attack, and you can dodge any metallic or metal tipped projectile originating from more than ten paces distance. The howl is only audible to you and cannot be mimicked by voices.
(Base 2, +2 Sun, +3 Hearing)