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  • Uther Pendragon

    This is a rather specific request for advice.

    Ok, in Arthurian legend Uther Pendragon was magically disguised as Gorlois in order to enter that dude's castle (under siege) and sleep with his wife, engendering Arthur.

    One version has Merlin performing the magic disguise. Another version has Uther himself as doing so, making him a holder of "one of the three great enchantments of the Island of Britain" -- even though he apparently needed Merlin's help with the ritual (and probably Menw son of Teirwaedd, who learned the enchantment from Uther).

    So. To accomplish the former story in CofD is easy: Merlin is a supremely capable mage even prior to ascending. Done.

    If I want to use the second take, then Uther knows magic. But how much? Can I get away with him as Proximi? How could I best model him using the minimum magic? Suggestions?


    --Khanwulf

  • #2
    Having Uther's bloodline as Proximi sounds dope as hell.
    As for using magic, maybe he was a sleepwalker to begin, a low mage of sort using a ritualized version of the whole Biokenesis merits he learned from Merlin ?


    .

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    • #3
      He just needed to appear as Gorlois? That could be Skinchanger's if you don't want to go full mage or proximi. I think there's just items that would let you manage that.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Emerick View Post
        Having Uther's bloodline as Proximi sounds dope as hell.
        As for using magic, maybe he was a sleepwalker to begin, a low mage of sort using a ritualized version of the whole Biokenesis merits he learned from Merlin ?
        Yeah and my thinking has gone from "mage" to "proximi" to "what can I do to minimize this" as I want to downplay the impact of true magic on a crossover game with at best a weak proximi PC.

        And I'm not sure what spells and disadvantages to give an Uther Pendragon bloodline, though I'd be happy to make it potent and just assume Uther himself squandered his advantages amidst chasing a crown and skirts.

        He's the Harvey Weinstein of 5th Century Britain, and his ultimate downfall and the death of his court (poisoned?) could be due in part to paradox eating him out after the Gorlois incident. Keep in mind Merlin only agreed to help in exchange for Arthur.

        --Khanwulf

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        • #5
          Do you really need to mechanically explain it? I mean, are the players going to be able to learn the ritual? What do the three great enchantments refer to?


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          • #6
            Life 3's Weaving practice is available to a totally dedicated Proximi bloodline, and that will get you human-to-human transformations, and Life 2 would do "illusory" transformations. So yeah a proximi bloodline is minimal enough to get you what you want!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Scarlet Witch View Post
              Life 3's Weaving practice is available to a totally dedicated Proximi bloodline, and that will get you human-to-human transformations, and Life 2 would do "illusory" transformations. So yeah a proximi bloodline is minimal enough to get you what you want!
              Thanks, that's helpful. And to the question: no, I'm not expecting a PC to get the bloodline, but I should have an idea of what else Utter could do with it, or his descendents.

              I really appreciate pointers here because mage is important and I'm impossible with it.

              --Khanwulf

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post

                Thanks, that's helpful. And to the question: no, I'm not expecting a PC to get the bloodline, but I should have an idea of what else Utter could do with it, or his descendents.

                I really appreciate pointers here because mage is important and I'm impossible with it.

                --Khanwulf
                Not many people would wanna play a proximus when they could be a Mage anyway, unless they're in it for specific group dynamics. They're best as npc's, like your Uther.

                If you have the Mage book, you'll find all the instructions you need in the first appendix on page 307. If you don't, here's a simple break-down for what you need.

                Uther's bloodline's surviving members can obtain any thyrsus path's spells that's 3-dots or lower, but the spells they take are ALL they have, they cannot improvise magic, the spells they have is all they got. They can only have 30 "points" worth, with Disciple spells costing 3 points, and Initiate spells costing 1. They have 1 reach only, no yantras, and spell-cast using willpower. They're very bare-bones. They can overreach to risk paradox, and the paradox's effects only weaken or fizzle out their spell, and then bring out a Familial Curse, which in Uther's case is whatever killed him.

                Uther himself only had a single 2-dot spell, as most Proximi probably don't come close to having all the magic they *could* have anyway. He had Mutable Mask with 1 reach only, no yantras, and casts using his Willpower instead of arcana+gnosis. Since he needs to overreach by +2 to even begin to impersonate Gorlois, the first few attempts probably resulted in paradoxes that brought out the severe effects of his Familial Curse, or, he tried using it later in life and messed up and only got *lucky* when impersonating Gorlois to sire Arthur.

                Archmasters can create Proximi. I forget if Merlin is an archmaster or just a very accomplished Master, but, if he's not an archmaster, he probably just discovered Uther's latent abilities and set him on his path.

                So yeah, the familial curse already has a built in "maybe died from this" button, and comes with a minimum of 1 spell that is exactly what you need to make it work. This would let you make Arthur, in your game, a proximus whose abilities can come from 3 arcana, Life, Spirit, and one other (I recommend Fate), and Life and Fate could explain why Arthur was so proficient, and Spirit would explain getting to Avalon to be preserved until he's needed for his Jesus-revival.

                I also don't know the legends as much as I really shooould, but, I hope this all helps.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Scarlet Witch View Post

                  Not many people would wanna play a proximus when they could be a Mage anyway, unless they're in it for specific group dynamics. They're best as npc's, like your Uther.

                  If you have the Mage book, you'll find all the instructions you need in the first appendix on page 307. If you don't, here's a simple break-down for what you need.

                  Uther's bloodline's surviving members can obtain any thyrsus path's spells that's 3-dots or lower, but the spells they take are ALL they have, they cannot improvise magic, the spells they have is all they got. They can only have 30 "points" worth, with Disciple spells costing 3 points, and Initiate spells costing 1. They have 1 reach only, no yantras, and spell-cast using willpower. They're very bare-bones. They can overreach to risk paradox, and the paradox's effects only weaken or fizzle out their spell, and then bring out a Familial Curse, which in Uther's case is whatever killed him.

                  Uther himself only had a single 2-dot spell, as most Proximi probably don't come close to having all the magic they *could* have anyway. He had Mutable Mask with 1 reach only, no yantras, and casts using his Willpower instead of arcana+gnosis. Since he needs to overreach by +2 to even begin to impersonate Gorlois, the first few attempts probably resulted in paradoxes that brought out the severe effects of his Familial Curse, or, he tried using it later in life and messed up and only got *lucky* when impersonating Gorlois to sire Arthur.

                  Archmasters can create Proximi. I forget if Merlin is an archmaster or just a very accomplished Master, but, if he's not an archmaster, he probably just discovered Uther's latent abilities and set him on his path.

                  So yeah, the familial curse already has a built in "maybe died from this" button, and comes with a minimum of 1 spell that is exactly what you need to make it work. This would let you make Arthur, in your game, a proximus whose abilities can come from 3 arcana, Life, Spirit, and one other (I recommend Fate), and Life and Fate could explain why Arthur was so proficient, and Spirit would explain getting to Avalon to be preserved until he's needed for his Jesus-revival.

                  I also don't know the legends as much as I really shooould, but, I hope this all helps.
                  Thanks for this! I do have the mage book, but most appreciate the breakdown.

                  Uther as a character is defined by being a rather competent warlord, and then totally losing his stuff when he sees the uber-beauty that is Igraine (or, Ygraine if you like). He keeps her and her husband, Gorlois, as prisoners of courtesy and spends time trying to get close to her, before they figure it out and run away without permission from their host (Uther). This pretext sets Uther against his duke, Gorlois, leading to his besieging her at Tintagel and Gorlois at Terrabil. Eventually Uther loses patience and has Merlin dragged to him, to reluctantly help him disguise himself with magic and get at the girl. Meanwhile Gorlois breaks out in a sally the same night and is killed (also dying is Uther's son and heir, Madoc/Madawg).

                  Uther gets the girl in a fast marriage and Merlin gets Arthur 9 months later. The marriage is NOT a happy one, Uther behaves increasingly unhinged and dies at the nadir of his final triumph over the sons of the Saxon arch-nemesis Hengest.

                  So if Uther is associated with true magic we can derive several things:
                  1. He's not much into mysteries, and big on pursuing kingly prerogatives and that sort of life. Real mages would find this dissipation.
                  2. He's vulnerable to obsession with the opposite gender. In fact, he's a poster-child for it in the worst way.

                  So his Curse could start a downward spiral that both increases the obsession and imposes effects that ultimately kill him and those around him. I'm not sure how to mechanically handle the death/poisoning of his court, and may just throw in side-effects from broken oaths and things Faerie-related to induce mass heart-attacks or whatnot.

                  But his path is steeply downhill after he picks up his obsession with Igraine, so he could have attempted his greatest magic: Mutable Mask, and failed. Then, tried again with Merlin's help and succeeded.

                  Igraine's background screams "Changeling" by the way, and so Arthur may not end up inheriting the Proximi bloodline, but Uther certainly sired plenty of bastards, and Madoc's illegitimate son ends up in the legend as a transfigured eagle to give warning to Arthur, so there's probably some Spirit in that!

                  Any additional thoughts? What spells might Uther have/use that would build to Mutable Mask? Surely he didn't just "discover" casting that?

                  --Khanwulf

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                  • #10
                    I suppose it depends on how much myth you wanna stick close to and how much myth you want to just stay myth to keep the players guessing.

                    A proximus might need some teaching, but, since spells require an Imago, I'm assuming all Uther needed to get it going was some daring, and the understanding that if he really put the idea of the spell to mind, he can make it happen, with varying results depending on how clearly he can visualize the spell in his mind, which takes discipline. If his imago is fuzzy and incomplete, he's probably thinking magic is impossible until Merlin tries to teach him how to discipline his mind's eye and formulate stronger imagos. Perhaps Merlin even agrees at all upon discovering that Uther has Proximi blood and that Merlin can just teach him to use that power instead of Merlin having to enchant him, so that his nimbus isn't *on* Uther during the whole thing and cover his tracks. Anyone coming to check out what Uther has been up to would only find Uther's own power involved, giving Merlin an excuse to say he didn't really do anything, except explain what Uther *is*.

                    I don't think Proximi get Obsessions the way Mages do, but they're perfectly able to obsess by vices and aspirations as mortals do, yes. So the not pursuing mysteries thing is juust fiiine.

                    Transfigured as an eagle could be spirit magic, but, you can do it with life or a paradox-effect or a Proximi's Curse too. There are lots of options for you to pick from, and, if you wanted to sit on it, you could actually formulate MANY options for all of these things, and then just plug in the ones the players seem to "uncover" and reveal the truth on the spot as which detail feels the most right comes into play.

                    Was Uther actually a Proximus or just a sleepwalker who bought a spell from Merlin? You wouldn't have to reveal either until the players need you to, so, if you are careful, you could just run and plan for both until the players collapse that quantum-state into a definite answer.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Scarlet Witch View Post
                      A proximus might need some teaching, but, since spells require an Imago, I'm assuming all Uther needed to get it going was some daring, and the understanding that if he really put the idea of the spell to mind, he can make it happen, with varying results depending on how clearly he can visualize the spell in his mind, which takes discipline. If his imago is fuzzy and incomplete, he's probably thinking magic is impossible until Merlin tries to teach him how to discipline his mind's eye and formulate stronger imagos. Perhaps Merlin even agrees at all upon discovering that Uther has Proximi blood and that Merlin can just teach him to use that power instead of Merlin having to enchant him, so that his nimbus isn't *on* Uther during the whole thing and cover his tracks. Anyone coming to check out what Uther has been up to would only find Uther's own power involved, giving Merlin an excuse to say he didn't really do anything, except explain what Uther *is*.

                      I don't think Proximi get Obsessions the way Mages do, but they're perfectly able to obsess by vices and aspirations as mortals do, yes. So the not pursuing mysteries thing is juust fiiine.

                      Transfigured as an eagle could be spirit magic, but, you can do it with life or a paradox-effect or a Proximi's Curse too. There are lots of options for you to pick from, and, if you wanted to sit on it, you could actually formulate MANY options for all of these things, and then just plug in the ones the players seem to "uncover" and reveal the truth on the spot as which detail feels the most right comes into play.

                      Was Uther actually a Proximus or just a sleepwalker who bought a spell from Merlin? You wouldn't have to reveal either until the players need you to, so, if you are careful, you could just run and plan for both until the players collapse that quantum-state into a definite answer.
                      Good points. And the nimbus issue is one that has been worrying at me. Last thing Merlin wants is his magic fingerprints literally all over that situation--even if the story gets out he was a helper in it, later. (Sounds like someone unraveled a mystery, eh?)

                      My assumption is that Merlin figures out Uther's Proximi capabilities fairly early. That's part of why I initiated this discussion--I want to understand what Uther could do otherwise, how extensively he might have to rub shoulders with mages (he clearly trusted Merlin a lot) and what he could do with his personal magic when push comes to shove. The PCs will encounter him before he becomes king, and then afterwards; I'm inclined to have him seriously minimize his own magic use--even deny it--until he really, really wants something. Or someone. The combination of frustration and desire opens doors for Uther, even as it burns him out from the moral inside.

                      Vices and aspirations, as you say.

                      In the legend, Arthur's cousin (Madoc's son) dies "off-screen" and afterwards returns as an eagle before flying away to join the "king of eagles". That's pretty much all there is.


                      --Khanwulf

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                      • #12
                        If Merlin did put a spell on Uther, there are ways to scrub or Veil the Nimbus such that not enough evidence is left for it to be something anyone would notice right away or without deliberate investigation.

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