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The origins of Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry are shrouded in mystery, and over the centuries many versions have existed trying to piece together the past of the castle and its inhabitants. This is the current widely accepted story, though people more versed in the history of the House founders can see that it is not without holes and contradictions. It does, however, include a relatively accurate timeline and capture the relevant events thanks to which the school we know today came to be.
The history of Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry began in the eighth century. Where the castle would later stand, there was a small village owned by the Germanic-Bohemian family of Czajkow; dear friends of the first Bohemian king, Krok. Though not yet a center of magical learning, the Czajkow manor was nonetheless important, as witches and sorcerers fled here to escape mobs and Christian missionaries. For at Czajkow witchards had a protector – the legendary Libussa, daughter of King Krok and Founder of the city of Prague. In anno domini 735, on Libussa’s orders, the Czajkow manor was turned into a school of magic.
At the beginning, Libussa was the only teacher at the school – teaching the ways of witchcraft and wizardry to both the young and the old. But as time progressed and the school grew, Libussa grew more and more focused on her research and less on her teaching. Her goal was that of many powerful witchards throughout the ages – immortality. Yet though Libussa achieved longevity and became a true master of life-giving potions, the secret of true immortality remained hidden to her.
Around the beginning of the new millenium, she left Czajkow in the care of a caretaker, and headed to Krakow to meet the famous Silesian demonologist and alchemist, Pan Twardowski – also known as Durentius. Durentius was already then famous in magical circles for his skill with creating long-lived monsters and inhuman ”friends”. The most famous of these was his giant rooster, on the back of which he flew to the moon and back. Or so the legend goes.
Durentius and Libussa struck a bargain. She would teach him the secrets of longevity she knew, and he, in turn, would lead the quest to places where Libussa had no knowledge. For Durentius believed that the oldest and wisest creatures lived deep in the earth, and had purchased several deep mines from the Polish Prince Mieszko I. The mines were just a cover for the search, however, and the two sought out the old Krakowian dragon of Wawel, living deep under the city.
How the two befriended the dragon instead of fighting it, is known to no-one alive today, but after befriending the dragon, the pair studied the secrets of dragon lifespans. For Libussa, the dragon became a close friend, as it was one of the few intelligent creatures able to understand what life had been like for one as old as her. Durentius and the dragon were cordial at best, but never grew close, even though the two magicians stayed with the dragon for several years.
When those years were past, and they left the dragon, Libussa convinced Durentius to come with her to Czajkow to teach. To honour Durentius, she gave him his own wing of the castle to do with as he pleased, and renamed the manor Czocha to show that this was a new beginning. Thus the first two Houses of Czocha were born – those who followed Libussa’s teachings becoming the House of Libussa and those who followed Durentius’ becoming the House of Durentius. So the years passed, and the magical school of Czocha prospered. The friendship of Durentius and Libussa remained strong, and their skills kept them alive throughout the centuries, though they slowly aged nonetheless. And if not for the arrival of Faust, Czocha might have remained the small and rather obscure magical school it was then.
To understand Faust’s role in this, it must be understood that not only was Johann Georg von Faust a great witchard, but also a great showoff. Faust had founded the German magical university of Königsberger Universität during the 15th century, assisted by the great witchards Molin and Krabat. But the Königsberger Universität tolerated rivalry poorly, and after some petty schisms, Faust declared a witcharding conflict with Czocha and went on the attack.
It was no army that came to topple the tower of Czocha, but Faust himself, astride a giant dragon. But to Faust’s stunned surprise, when he ordered the dragon to attack the manor and the puny witchards gathered in the courtyard in front of it, the dragon instead flipped Faust off its back and landed next to an old woman, who gently caressed the dragon’s huge snout in a familiar way.
Faust’s steed was of course no other than the dragon of Krakow, but unbeknownst to him, there was an old friendship between the dragon and the witch of Czocha. Fast of mind, and intrigued, Faust realized that here was power that he could respect, and during the discussions that followed, Libussa and Durentius offered him a House of his own at Czocha, if he would add his skills to that of the school.
Faust agreed, and he convinced his fellow Königsberger luminary Abraham Molin to come to Czocha also. The manor was expanded into a proper castle, and the third and fourth Houses established. It was also then that the Houses got their crests; the Bohemian lion for Libussas students, the giant rooster for Durentius’ pupils, the Dragon of Krakow for Faust and the famous Golem for House Molin. Molin’s experiments with golems and magical constructions contributed greatly to the ongoing immortality research, and since he and Faust also taught at the Königsberger Universität, it was decided that from now on the school would be known as Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry, so as to distinguish it from the Universitet. Gone were the children studying – Czocha was a place for young adults. Professors now taught classes while the four continued their research on immortality.
The Slaughter of 1521 changed that. Political arguments between Faust and other rivaling schools of magic escalated into backstabbing and sabotage of Czocha’s protective spells. Catholic witchards and their fierce mundane allies swarmed the castle, having been led to believe it was the hiding place of Martin Luther and his supporters. Students and staff were slaughtered left and right, along with the four House Founders who all perished that night. The attack was finally thwarted by a group of students who sacrificed themselves, binding their spirits to the castle, thus becoming the first spirits of Czocha. The attackers were unprepared for the resistance of the spirits and mistook them for undead and demons, trying to dispel them with the wrong incantations. While the remaining students cowered in abject terror in the cellars, the spirits pushed back the Catholic fanatics.
When dawn rose over Czocha, the attackers were either dead or gone, but so were the four House Founders and a large part of the Staff. Bernard Wapowski, the eldest of the surviving Professors, was elected by his colleagues to lead the College. He took on the title of Headmaster, a title that is still in use today. However, while Wapowski did his best, the school was not what it had been when all four Founders had been alive. And where had the dragon been during this, some asked? No-one knew, but it would return one last time centuries later.
The new Czocha was a shadow of itself, though, and for several decades it would remain that way. Without the guidance of the four House Founders, Czocha didn’t thrive – it merely persevered. This changed in 1550, when Michał Sędziwój came to Czocha to be the new Professor of Alchemy. Sędziwój not only broke the magical seals on the vault, wherein all the experiments of the House Founders were stored, but also managed to contact their ghosts and channel them into the world of the living.
Sędziwój was the only alchemist who ever came close to gaining true immortality (unlike the famous Flamel, whose stone only changed the moment of his death) and together with the ghosts of Libussa, Faust and Durentius, as Headmaster, he led the College to academic greatness. Molin he never bothered with, and there have been speculations as to why, but when he chose to institute his own House in 1591 and gave it the phoenix as its symbol, there was no-one who said anything against him. From then on, both he and his House used his witcharding name – Sendivogius.
Sadly, Sendivogius met his end in 1811, by the wand of the French witchard Mathieu Dudon, just before Napoleon’s grand push into Russia. With him, the ghosts of the House Founders once more melted into the walls of Czocha – to remain there until someone with enough power could draw them out. And on that day, remembered throughout the world of witchardry for the final loss of all the Czocha House Founders, the dragon of Krakow appeared over Czocha again, its tears falling on the stones where Libussa’s soul disappeared for the final time. Of those who had seen the tumultuous events of the past, only the ghosts and spirits remained.
School legend says that the dragon will be back when the memories of the five House Founders again inhabit living flesh, and the wheel of fortune makes another turn. On that day, it is said, a sixth House Founder will emerge and Czocha will become great once more. Not many believe that legend however, but instead choose to remember the Great Five for what they truly were; five powerful sorcerers from five different cultures, all with their eyes on the ultimate prize: immortality.
At the very beginning of Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry stood only one figure. The Woman in Purple is and was mysterious and powerful beyond all belief – more of a myth and a symbol than a figure of flesh and bones, even while she was still demonstrably alive. Libuše was never easily quantified or put into boxes.
She was once one of the most powerful witchards alive, and is famous among mundanes for being a founding mother of the Czech nation. Among witchards, she is famous for founding Czocha and for cheating death for centuries. Libussa’s rebellious nature and great knowledge sometimes got her into trouble with mundane and magical authority alike – wherever she went she found those who were set in their ways and resisted change. She often left them little choice, forcing them to evolve beyond their old ways. Her desire to change the status quo held strong throughout her entire long life, and this desire to break out of cages and change the world is still a guiding principle for many Libussans today.
As far as anyone knows, Libussa had no children, and no mortal descendents of hers populate the European Confluxes. Perhaps this is for the best, some reckon; if the descendants of Libussa shared even a tenth of her rebellious nature and great power, they would make political stability among the European Confluxes all but impossible. Her legacy is made manifest in all that Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry has done through the ages, and all of its alumni are, in a sense, her children.
From time to time tales emerge of a prominent witchard claiming to secretly be descended from Libussa herself, but none can ever prove it. Indeed, few try. There is a great amount of privilege and legitimacy in the name, though the witchards that have tried to usurp it have had difficulty agreeing on a set form for the name itself. There have been Libussins, Libussans, Libusevices and everything in between. And even after all of this time, no one has come even close to matching the splendour and power of Libussa herself.
The Fiery Yellow gave all they had, all the time. Durentius, the founder of House Durentius, could bend the will of any magical being, giving rise to tales about a force of nature known to most mundanes as Twardowski, though the real person behind the name is shrouded in legend.
Some claim the origin of Durentius is based on the noble Laurentius Dhur from Krakow. Others say that it is based on the mundane myth of Pan Twardowski (as in “Mr Twardowski”, fabled to have sold his soul to the Devil). Other’s claim the origin is in fact Pani Twardowska, the woman given in tribute, but then returned when proven too much for the Devil to control. Members of the house ascribe this to Durentius’ great power over any magical being. Some claim the origin is instead a child sold by the Twardowskis and rising to be a courtier and the personal sorcerer of the king, and that this child was in fact a girl hiding in a world of men. It is a matter of record that Durentius was the king’s sorcerer for a time, and the tragic and disastrous tale of Durentius raising the spirit of king Augustus’ deceased wife makes the truth even harder to unravel (some speculating whether Durentius was a host to that spirit, or if it was all just courtly gossip from all late evenings and nights spent by the king and his sorcerer in private chambers). In any Czocha records it either just says “Twardowski” or later the nom de magie “Durentius”. In a few instances Laurentius Dhur is named, though not clearly in what capacity, possibly a patron of magic or the king’s vassal, if not the actual witchard. These days all members simply know that Durentius founded their House and reformed magic practices throughout witchards society, and that’s good enough for them.
Regardless, hard work and strong conviction led Durentius to completely revolutionise the studies on magical beings and invocation of demons, which were not really disciplines unto themselves before. Merging spirits with living matter to form something entirely new changed things forever. Being as restless as unstoppable, Durentius made a home for ever changing and pioneering experimentation in House Durentius. It is this haunted genius–the frenzied workings of a mind that can not rest–that remains the pinnacle of what it means to be Durentian.
Today the family Twardowski still exists and the official heirs of Durentius are said to be a reliable and solid bunch, with good work ethics and members in many different areas of magical research and more practical fields. Young Twardowskis tend to attend Czocha College for Witchards, where they are typically sorted into Durentius. Perhaps to the surprise of some, the Twardowski family is not particularly prominent in Conflux politics. Indeed, the family does not seem to have much of a political agenda as an entity, which is downright eccentric for such an old-blood Hexborn family. There are no Confluxes held by an elected Twardowski–nor any held as properties by the family.
While Durentius was known chiefly for their work as one of the first true Cryptozoologists, this was mostly focused on the crossing of breeds. Some whisper that multiples chimera creatures were spawned. House Durentius is strongly influenced by Silesian cultural roots, a melting pot of different backgrounds, personalities, opinions, and temperaments.
Faust is actually two houses, and not founded by one or two, but in fact three witchards. Today there are several cities claiming to be the birthplace of the famous Doctor Faust, the Blue creator of the great grimoires of magic, none able to definitively reconcile legend with facts. At Czocha the truth of the Faust twins is a well-known secret.
It is often disputed what exactly it is that made Faust so powerful, however the Faustians know the truth of the matter. Some historians claim he was really “Johann Faust”, born in the 15h century, either in Heidelberg, Helmstadt or Knittlingen. In truth Baron and Baroness Faustus bore twins.
Johann and Johanna were separated when very young, to protect them from the troubles that ravaged Witchard Society at the time. The two felt ever torn by this separation, and witnesses say they sensed all–good or bad–that happened to the other. When old enough to study they made a pact in secret and both signed up as “Johann Georg von Faust” to Heidelberg University Department of Alchemy–as one person.
This ruse continued for the rest of their shared life, including Czocha, where Georg would appear to be a never tiring witchard, able to attend symposiums and perform experiments night and day. Before reuniting with his sister, Johann had lived under the name von Faust and was in fact married to Margarete Faust, a possibly even greater witchard in her own right. She would go on to found Haus Faust at the Nibelungen Institute.
As “Georg”, the twins had many lovers, and Johann and Johanna would share and choose who to play the role of Georg, as their hearts and those of their lovers saw fit. Eventually the heads of the other houses were let in on the twins’ secret, but sworn to silence. Only hundreds of years later, when all involved could either safely talk about it or were long gone, was the truth made an official secret at the castle. Today some see this part of the founders’ life as brave and see them as role models, others find their deceit selfish. To this day, most mundanes (and indeed many witchards) believe the fabled “Doctor Faust” to be just a man.
The von Faust family still exists to this day, and young members of the family who attend Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry tend to be sorted into the House that bear their name – though exceptions have occurred. The family is known to number quite a few Guardians, with a predisposition towards dealing with the Tradition of the Bound – a family tradition owing to the interest and skill the twins allegedly held in binding demons to their will (before such things became antithesis to the Traditions, of course).
While the other Founders tried to impose their will on the rest of the world, Molin focused on their own soul and body. They believed that truth exists in the mind, and the world is created by our perception of it and ourselves. They wrote of an imperfect and changeable world, which was reflected in both their own fluid identity and their approach to magic.
Abraham Molin was a pioneering scholar of both Arithmancy and what would later be known as Technomancy, but unlike the other founders, the One in Green preferred to remain far from the spotlight. Few people came to know Molin personally in their lifetime, and most of what we know about them comes from the countless writings they left behind. They wrote treatises on golem crafting, the nature of the soul, numerology, linguistics, and many more fields. Many of their writings are encoded, with some still remaining undeciphered. Their life is similarly shrouded in mystery, as what biographical writings they left behind were often entrenched in elaborate and obscure metaphors. What is most commonly accepted is that they were a secular Ashkenazi Jew, and by modern terminology likely didn’t identify as either male or female.
The House symbol is a golem. Some say that the images are of one of Molin’s original golems. Others claim that Molin themself never actually died, and the image is of the golem they became. Over the years, there have been ever more and stranger legends as to what became of Molin, including theories that their spirit lives on in the stones of the castle itself.
As far as anyone knows, Abraham Molin left behind no direct descendants. Some of their writings speak of their distaste for romance and sexuality, seeing both as distractions from their research. Their legacy lives on in their many constructs and artifacts, as well as the rich tradition of intellectual inquiry and learning through arguing that exist at Czocha and in the wider magical community. Modern Artificery, especially, would be little without Molin.
Sendivogius might be the newest House, but without its Founder it is very likely that Czocha would still be relegated to obscurity–its once proud legacy all but forgotten. When Sendivogius, the Alchemist, the Man in Red, came to Czocha, the school was reborn.
Michał Sędziwój was indeed the last of Czocha’s Founders. He was a scientist and a lover of life and ennobled both in spirit and through his bloodline. He was a part of the old nobility of Poland, described by supporters as rebellious, courageous, self-loving but tolerant. Sendivogius was a force unto himself, and while he could have chosen any institute of magical learning, he came to be the Alchemy Professor at Czocha–a College which had fallen on hard times before he arrived. The great works of the other Founders had done naught but gather dust for too long–and it was Sendivogius who once again unearthed them. He used his legendary insight to truly relight the flame of magic school, and when he finally left this mortal coil he did so having given so much.
The House symbol is a white Phoenix–a symbol of immortality. And for good reason! Sendivogius not only discovered several promising longevity methods, but also wrote down the 25 magical powers of air (or oxygen) and fire, outing himself as one of the first propagators of mixing new mundane science with magical experiments. As always Sendivogius had his eyes solely focused on the future, and while his propensity for explorations into mundane sciences were considered radical at the time, it’s the cutting edge of Technomancy today.
As far as anyone knows, there are no currently living Sędziwój in the European Confluxes. Some say that Sendivogius did have children, but that none of them had the Gift. Most consider this a myth, since little can be established of the facts.
Whatever the truth might be, Sendivogius yet lives on in his legacy and through the very existence of the vibrant Czocha magic school today. Without Sendivogius the glories of the past may have all laid forgotten. More than any of the other Founders, Sendivogius was truly an individual with a Polish soul, and as a result his House also has a lot of influence from Polish culture. It seems like everyone is somehow related to nobility (if you believe their family trees). Their pride in glories of the past ennobles every Sendivogian in spirit.
It is believed that anyone can become a witchard, but it is also true that to date only about one in ten thousand actually have magic abilities. There are those who claim it is a gift in the blood and some are simply not worthy. Many witchards today agree this is just entitlement speaking, and the potential of magic rests in everyone.
Whatever the truth, this intangible quality is known in academic circles as “The Gift”. In everyday speech it is simply called “hexblood” despite the widespread understanding that magical aptitude has nothing to do with blood. While it is true that there is a much higher chance of hexblood manifesting in children born to two witchards, no broadly accepted study has shown a correlation between the quantity of witchard ancestors and magical potential. Plenty of powerful and prominent sorcerers have been born to mundane or mixed parentage. Plenty of scions of old magical dynasties have also been disappointing at best when it comes to actual ability.
Hexblood is found everywhere and in every social group. It seems to ignore ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, and wealth of family. A couple with no history of magic in the family can give birth to a child with the Gift, and when this happens (as it often does) there seems to be no one single thing that provoked it. This has frustrated those who have an interest in seeing more new blood in the confluxes just as much as it has confounded those who continually seek proof for their theories that it’s all in the blood.
A hexborn comes from a magical family, born to two witchards. This is opposed to a mundaneborn, who comes from two normal, mundane humans but displays magical talent. There are also mixborn witchards, with one mundane and one witchard parent. Many confuse the terms hexborn and hexblood, but they are different–everyone who can use magic is said to have hexblood.
Why does this matter? Well, many of the more powerful and influential families in the European Confluxes are hexborn. They’ve had a long time to accumulate power and influence, and many confluxes are more or less controlled by extended hexborn dynasties. There has been an implicit bias against mundaneborn students for a very long time. Some are known to hold the opinion that mundaneborn students are less proficient in magic or less of “a real witchard” than others. While sentiments such as racism or homophobia don’t exist in Witchard Society, there is plenty of bigotry and elitism regarding magical heritage.
There is traditionally a major divide between the old-blood and new-blood hexborn families. A family is considered old-blood if it has been a functioning hexborn lineage since before the year of 1801, the year that a change was made to the Codified Traditions which severely hampered the power of the hexborn dynasties. New-bloods, on the other hand, are considered barely better than mundaneborns and mixborns by the older clans. There are many new-blood hexborn families, since one is technically a hexborn if both of their parents are witchards, even if that is the first generation in that lineage.
A dud is the term for children who are born to witchard parents, but who display no sign of magic. Most witchards show the first signs around the start of puberty. Hexblood is known to have manifested as early as the age of six years old, and in some cases even in seniors over 90. Duds, meanwhile, simply never display ability in magic.
Duds occupy a strange place in most confluxes. After all, confluxes are created primarily to house those with magical powers, and as a result duds can usually feel left out or alienated in the magical world. Many duds go on to live or at least work in the mundane world, as witchard professions invariably require some magic.
Among the more purity-obsessed families, having a dud in the family tree is usually grounds for huge concern. Some whisper disturbing rumors about what the most out-there families do to duds who show up in their families, and quite a few note that duds tend to mysteriously “grow sick” and disappear in those households. Still, most examples of duds being “reintroduced” to the mundane world are somewhat more voluntary.
During the time of the mundane French Revolution, similar sentiments spread in Witchard Society. In the French confluxes–and consequently much of the rest of the world–these revolutionaries styled themselves the “Sans-Noms” (meaning “those without name”, as a sort of analogue to the Sans-Culotte radical lower-class empowerment movement of the time). They fought against the domination of the old-blood hexborn, culminating finally in the establishment of the Peace of Phalsbourg in 1801, which resulted in a change to the Codified Traditions. This prompted, among other things, the Guardian Order to start accepting mundaneborn members.
Of course, it is not everyone who merely accepted these new constraints on old-blood hexborn power. Some grew yet more resentful and insular at their loss of privilege. The Arborist Movement sprang from the most hateful and extreme sections of the beaten old-blood families. This is a truly reactionary movement, known to target, harass, and even sometimes kill lower-class witchards and their progressive allies. They believe that those who study the nature of magical ability and refute the idea of it being “a property of the blood” are in on some grand conspiracy to undermine the purity of witchard existence. That they are inviting degeneracy into the European Confluxes.
Arborism is more uncommon today, and their insignia–the bloodied sickle–is considered a symbol of hate. Even some of the staunchest “hexists”, hexborns who have a dislike of mundaneborns, tend to distance themselves from these particular extremists. At least in public.
The European Confluxes is a varied place, with an untold number of small, eclectic societies. Even so, there is a law that they all follow known as “The Traditions”. It is upheld by the Guardian Order, tasked with maintaining the secrecy of the Confluxes and their separation from the world that mundanes inhabit.
The Traditions have their origin in countless local customs and verbal traditions, followed by witchards for untold millennia. It is not all of these that are enforced by the Guardian Order. The Codified Traditions are defined by the “Treaty of Avalon”, modified several times since it was first signed in 1490. The last time a change was made was 1894. Magio-political pressure is always mounting to redefine what is important enough to be considered the purview of the Guardian Order as defined in the treaty, since once listed, it is almost universal law in Witchard Society.
The full text of the Treaty of Avalon is long and complicated, and mired in over five hundred years of legalese. Below are the most salient points, to which all in the Confluxes must abide.
- The Tradition of Action, “You shall not practice magic openly to mundanes”
- The Tradition of the Bound, “You shall not practice the arts of Demonology, Necromancy, or Chronomancy”
- The Tradition of the Lock, “You shall have your magic sealed away if you break these Traditions”
- The Tradition of the Key, “You shall be entitled to practice magic no matter your family”
- The Tradition of Gold, “You shall not influence the mundane economy with your magic”
- The Tradition of Iron, “You shall not seek to deceive others into believing that you are a Guardian”
- The Tradition of the Whisper, “You shall allow no one to break the Traditions knowingly, lest you be punished too”
It is worth noting that only the first three Traditions (Action, the Bound, the Lock) were originally codified in the Treaty of Avalon in 1490. The next two Traditions (the Key, Gold) were introduced by the Sans-Noms Revolutionaries following their victory which resulted in the signing of the Peace of Phalsbourg in 1801. The last two Traditions (Iron, the Whisper) were only introduced in 1894 with the signing of the Treaty of the Iron Key.
Most breaches of the Traditions are settled by local conflux authorities. Almost all legitimate conflux authorities have at least one sworn Guardian. The severity of local law depends entirely on the temperament of the conflux in question. Some local courts are surprisingly soft on violators, while others are draconian beyond belief. What is true of most of them is that they do not want members of the Guardian Order with no relation to the community telling them what to do–foreign Guardians are rarely welcome guests in a conflux.
At the signing of the Peace of Phalsbourg, the idea of “ensorcelled” mundanes was discussed. Children, spouses, parents and other such individuals who would be allowed to be exempt from the first Tradition. This did not make it into the signing of the Peace of Phalsbourg, but is nonetheless considered a quasi-law by many of the more free-minded confluxes, where such individuals are consequently allowed a peek into the magical world. There are other examples of such “half-enforcement” of Traditions – for example, with special Guardian oversight, careful study into Demonology, Necromancy, and Chronomancy is indeed permitted within certain parameters.
All proper Guardians have been sworn in by the Guardian Order. They wield an enchanted key and often a badge that signifies their status. Most Guardians go on to become Conflux Guardians, stationed in a specific community and tasked with the upholding of its laws and the Codified Traditions within its borders. It is worth noting that there is a distinction here– each conflux has its own magical laws in addition to the universal Traditions. The Traditions do not explicitly forbid killing, for example, but it is covered by local laws almost everywhere.
Some Guardians are more of the roaming sort, dispensing justice across borders and with no permanent base of operations. As a rule, most confluxes tend to severely dislike this sort of Guardian, as it challenges their autonomy. More than a few confluxes have exceedingly complicated bureaucracies just to stop these Guardians from exercising their authority. As a result, Guardians have a sort of weird double-image in the European Confluxes. On one hand they are trusted to uphold order and are considered local heroes. On the other, they are the incarnation of the “creeping centralization attempted by the Guardian Order”.
Overseeing the Guardian Order are the Regulators. History suggests that the Regulators were set up in the 16th century, although they may have existed, behind the scenes, even before then. It is the job of the Regulators to make sure that the Guardian Order does not become too powerful, and that internal coups are foiled so that it can focus on upholding the Traditions.
It is also the job of the Regulators to deal with the big-picture of the European Confluxes, and to hunt down violators of the Codified Traditions who have a penchant for Conflux-jumping and exploiting the loopholes that the European Confluxes are chock-full of. To help them in this task, the Treaty of the Iron Key also legitimised the use of the so-called “Iron Letters”, a tool that the Confluxes absolutely loathe.
The Iron Letters are nondescript, small pieces of paper, stamped with a magical wax seal by a Regulator. These arrest warrants of sort, waives all local protection for a particular violator of the Codified Traditions. In essence, while usually Conflux law takes precedence and criminals are punished by the local courts, an Iron Letter cuts through all that and places the judge and jury function squarely in the hands of the Guardian Order. Needless to say, the Confluxes kick up a huge fuss whenever Iron Letters are used.
When the first Guardian Order was formed, it was little more than a collection of small local militias funded and maintained by the more established hexborn families. After the the signing of the Peace of Phalsbourg in 1801 mundaneborns were explicitly allowed to join the Order. However all thirteen of the Regulators still come from old-blood Hexborn families. Whilst there is no official rule that makes it so, the Regulators select their own replacements and – according to tradition – they do not allow the mundaneborn.
The Lycanthropic Crime Prevention Initiative is a cross-conflux subdivision of the Guardian Order, and a controversial one at that. The initiative was founded and funded by Regulator Romanov who issued the executive order to form the initiative. The purpose of the LCPI is to combat crime committed by werewolves, and they are notorious for employing extreme methods towards this aim. The initiative has grown massively in influence and reach following the tragic events of the Lander Rebellion, with an active presence in many confluxes.
The LCPI are experts at “sniffing out” werewolves in hiding. Sometimes literally, as they are known to recently employ actual werewolves as operatives, known as the “Gray Wolves”, a special unit which is already feared in many lycan communities for their heavy handed recruitment and training methods, which includes a technomantic silver implant embedded into the spines of their werewolf agents. These blood hounds are rumoured to be trained in a secret location known as “The Gray Center”, by the feared Commander Stanislav Raczkowski, a high ranking LCPI officer by whose wand countless lycanthropes have lost their lives.
LCPI Guardians can be identified by their Guardian badges, which have a wolf head at the centre rather than the usual crossed keys of the Order. They often also carry other trappings of their profession, such as silver chains, or guns with silver bullets.
The LCPI Headquarters are found on a remote island somewhere of the coast of the British Isles, and functions as a conflux of which most operatives are legally citizens. Additionally, the Initiative has local offices in several confluxes in mainland Europe.
Avalon has been a seat of learning since at least the 4th century; the subjects that it teaches have not changed much since that time. Hence, some alumni of Avalon struggle with more modern forms of magic. Avalon is a desolate sea fort, on an island shrouded in mist and protected by waves and rocks. However, no one really knows where it is.
Avalon is not a school in the traditional sense; it does not have a set term time, written examinations, houses, or a clear curriculum. Lessons take the form of discussions and practical exercises, rather than formal classes. Young students spend two years learning the basics of law, herbalism and history. Those who choose to remain after that go on to study poetry and music, politics and warfare. Only after they have studied these to their teachers’ satisfaction are they taught any form of magic at all. Avalon is strong on certain types of ritual magic, healing, and magic that deals with the natural and ancient world.
Students at Avalon trade in a currency of ‘gifts, freely given’ and ‘favours owed.’ If you accept a gift from another student that’s not freely given, then you will owe them an unspecified favour until you can pay back the gift with something of equal or greater value. They can call in this favour at any time.
There are no Houses at Avalon, but rather there are informal groups of students known as ‘Warbands’ who protect their members from the many dangers on the island. Ties between the members of Warbands often stay strong even after the students leave school.
Students at Avalon are sorted into one of five Paths. A student may attempt to influence which Path they end up on, but once pledged to a Path, they must walk it to the end. The five Paths are:
- Morigena, the Seaborn Path, where students learn the magic of water: illusions, how to call storms, about brewing strange potions, charms, enchantments and the secrets of the Whale Road.
- Sylvestris, the Forest Path, where students learn the secrets of the land and the earth: the language of beasts and and how to alter their shape.
- Tuath, the Sinister Path, where students tend towards politics: they learn subtle manipulations and magic of persuasion, specialise in the subtle interplay of trades and favours, and consort with both benign and malevolent spirits.
- Taranis, the Path of the Burning Wheel. Students on this Path are warriors. They learn the magic of fire and destruction; their secret classes teach them the subtleties of armour spells and the art of war. They wear their scars proudly.
- Wyllt, the Wild Path, where students learn secrets shrouded in mystery. Those who follow this Path make a long journey barefoot across a dozen lands, learning from the Witchards of those countries as they go. Students on this Path are rare, and those who complete it are rarer still.
The Balt Meddin Academy in Poland started as a refugee camp in the last decades of the 10th century. Christianity arrived and old beliefs had to go. Holy trees were cut down, groves burned, monuments destroyed. Churches were erected where temples of the Old Gods and Old Magic had been demolished. There were witches and shamans who didn’t want to let their world vanish, preserving the arts was their priority. It’s unknown who first sailed to the island of Hel, but the message spread by word of mouth and people with magic talents started to come to the isle.
The village of Gellen was built and the academy was founded, officially in 1077. Soon later a city sprouted up around the academy and became famous among mundanes as a big port of herring trade. As every port city Gellen was full of strangers, but that didn’t bother anyone and the witchard community grew rapidly. Witchards from Prussia, Poland, Livonia, Scandinavia and many other places created a cosmopolitan atmosphere of Balt Meddin.
Tragic events of unknown origin took place in the 15th century. Marks of powerful spells are still visible on the Hel peninsula, which is no longer an island, and misses a huge part of land. There are no accounts of what had happened in mundane documents, which suggests a mass memory purge. The only known fact is that since the early years of the 16th century Balt Meddin has been hidden underwater, underneath an invisible dome. A new city has been built above, and it’s populated entirely by mundanes.
It’s not easy to get in or out of Balt Meddin. Young witchards often receive their invitation via a trained porpoise or a seagull. There are magical ways to go through the water, but first graders and some other visitors are often swallowed and transported by trained whales and squids. These means of precaution proved to be extremely efficient during both World Wars. Dark witchards and regime supporters couldn’t access the school, due to its splendid isolation. Balt Meddin doesn’t need any dark arts to cause itself magical problems…
Students at Balt Meddin are sorted into three different Houses at the start of their schooling, much like at Czocha College. Unlike Czocha College, the students are not sorted based on their attitude or personality, but rather based on their skills and talents.
- Lyngbakr, House of Whale, where students deal mainly with Intervallum, the space that is: travelling, bending space, flying, studying fragments of lost spells that could make ships and other means of transportation fly.
- Hafgufa, House of Kraken, where students learn about Vis, the energy that makes the whole universe alive: concentrating the energy, speeding up entropy, fire, lightning bolts. Students in Hafgufa are sometimes called Pyromancers.
- Uroborus, House of Sea Serpent, where students learn about time, Tempus. This is the most dangerous of arts and only the best students can enter the doors of an Uroborus workshop.
Collegium Romanum de Auspicio is an old school. It has stood since the height of the Roman Republic and it has weathered all the wars since then, in the shadows of the eternal city itself – Rome, whereto all roads lead. It is, however, and has always been extremely multicultural – even if it owes a large part of its multiculturalism to the conquests of the mundane romans. Germanic, celtic, and stranger still magical traditions have been and are practiced here.
Today, Italian rather than Roman, the Collegium is a much more modern institution – none can say that it has not kept with the times. The newest Technomantic theories are being developed and tested alongside age-old Augury and Thaumaturgy – for many roads still lead to Rome. Age-old secrets from other magical traditions are still unearthed by the librarians and teachers who make their home at the Collegium, and although the Golden Age has long since passed, it is still rather bright.
The school divides its students into four Curia, their name taken from the meeting halls of the ancient Roman civic organisations and guilds (also called Collegiums). The individual Curia still carry the names of Rome’s four largest priestly factions, though they no longer have any religious significance.
The Curia fulfill the function of both Czocha’s Houses and Paths, and students apply to their Curia of choice. However the Collegium expects its students to embrace a diversity of studies and so all students will spend at least a little time studying and often being tutored by their colleagues outside of their ‘home’ Curia.
- The Curia Pontifex accepts students who are primarily interested in Magical History, Civics and Ethics. Being a member of the Curia Pontifex is sometimes said to be all but a requirement for anyone wishing to go far in the legal or governing bodies of the Southern European Confluxes.
- The Curia Augures accepts students who are interested in Divination, Prophecy and Arithmancy. Curiously it is also the Curia for students interested in a magical study of the natural world. Which subject is the rightful primary focus of Augures is the source of much internal debate. Usually everyone can get behind Vinomancy though.
- The Curia Quindecimviri caters to students who want a solid grounding in Magical Theory. It’s popular with students who are interested in Thaumaturgy, Technomancy, Runic Scholars and Magical Research and Development. It is also a stubborn hotbed for the Chronomancy Unbound reform movement.
- The Curia Epulones ostensibly caters to students who want a less-specialized magical education than the other three Curia offer. In practice it is the Curia of students interested primarily in drinking, Hexflix and chill, or are attending the Collegium on Duelling and Fireball Dragon scholarships. Goooooo Auspicio!
No magical school has seen so many wars as Escola de Magia en Torré de Belém in Southern Europe, and none managed to remain as true to their fundamental goal – teaching magic to anybody who needs it, regardless of their bloodline or the amount of wealth in their family.
The school was founded in Lisbon in 1535 by three potent Witchards and outcasts, who had been imprisoned together in Torré de Belém and there vowed to make a change in the world.
• The Moor Hamid al-Iskandria, once master of astrology at the Order of the One Library, imprisoned for serving the King João III of Portugal, due to the unpleasant prophecy that despite their success and wealth the Avis dynasty will fall within 3 generations.
• The Italian alchemist Maria “La Mercuria” Salvatori, who was charged for witchcraft, imprisoned and forced to create an elixir that would make fallen soldiers still fight for their King.
• The French conjurer, Jacqueline “Jacque” de Molay, who, inspired by Joanne d’Arc, disguised herself as a man to serve the underground Templar Order as a soldier and spy, imprisoned after revealing her true nature.
Together the three prisoners agreed on changing the xenophobic status quo that surrounded them, creating the idea of a magic school teaching all those who would never been accepted to other schools of their times. Since its founding, the school has moved from Conflux to Conflux, establishing new schools in times of peace and leaving them in times of war. It is currently situated in Portugal since the end of the Second World War, establishing its newest school building in the Templar strongholds in Tomar.
The Towers at the Escola de Magia were created to teach the students how to fight for their own right in an ever changing environment. A lost duel, bad grades, or being caught breaking the rules result in being put into the lower Tower. Winning duels, good grades and extracurricular work results in ascending Towers. There is no House system or Path system like at Czocha College.
- The Black Tower is the highest of the Towers. It offers the most comfortable dormitories for students and the most free time for development. Members of this Tower learn how to establish a working structure and how to defend their own position – but also the bitterness of losing what has been gained. The Black Tower students tend to join cliques and cooperate to keep their own friends in the Black Tower while kicking others out. The Black Tower was originally guided by Hamid al-Iskandria.
- The Grey Tower is the middle Tower. It offers medium standard dormitories and mandatory alchemy lessons. Members of this Tower learn what change means and how to fight while having everything to win and everything to lose. Getting upward from the Grey Tower demands scholarly successes. The Grey Tower was originally guided by Maria Salvatori.
- The White Tower is the lowest of the Towers. It offers quite unfavourable dormitories, less tasty food, almost no free time, but lots of fighting lessons. To ascend from the White Tower, students need to win many duels and prove their strength and creativity in using magic. Traditionally small groups of students decide to remain in the White Tower and create gangs, while others strive for advancement as fast as they can. The White Tower was originally guided by Jacqueline de Molay.
L’Academie Révolutionaire de Magie Franche de Majonie, or “Majonie” for short, was founded by the great scholar and teacher, Alcuin of York and his student, the poet Angilbert, by royal decree of the great Charlemagne himself. Legend has it that Charlemagne’s sword, the Joyeuse, was weaved with spells connecting it to the Academie. The seat of the Academie was originally in Tours but was later moved to Paris, which became a beacon of magical studies in the francophone world and beyond.
Traditionally, the Academie de Magie was a school founded on hierarchy and conservative thought. During the middle ages, magical scholars at the Academie underwent strict training under a prescribed curriculum, with little opportunity for free thought and experimentation. On the other hand, it ensured that traditional witchard techniques were preserved, documented meticulously and perfected after years of scholarly research. For centuries, the Academie advocated and always followed a tradition of isolationism from political struggles and wars, arguing that its role was only to preserve and advance theoretical magical studies, rather than interfere in active political life.
However, this outdated thinking was about to change. The spirit of the Enlightenment that swept through the mundane world slowly started to the cast-iron structures of the Academie from the ground up. When the revolution broke out in the mundane world, followed by the magical Sans-Noms movement against the domination of the old hexborn aristocracy, the reaction of the Recteur de l’ Academie was to shut the magical gates and instruct the students to continue their studies with undivided attention, ignoring the fires burning through Paris. For the first time in the history of the Academie, the students refused to follow the instructions from their professors and stood up against the establishment. They occupied the Academie, stopped its traditional structure and held it for a year and six months. During that time, while the traditional teachings were suspended, the witchard students provided a form of self-education, formed committees for the smooth functioning of their daily lives and structures that ensured the safeguarding of the occupants of the Academie and the treasures within it. The students demonstrated that they can have a voice, power and the ability to self-determine their future and so, they forced the established structures to listen and debate.
Since that occupation, the charter of the Academie was changed to include student bodies and structures that enable students to have a say in the running of the school. There is always a tug of war between the old and the new, but some say that this forces students and professors to always challenge their thinking and be open to criticism and examination. There are no Houses at L’Academie de Magie, rather the students organize themselves into various common-interest groups as according to their own wishes. There are no Paths either, and each student tailors the curriculum to their own liking. This is considered a huge burden by some, and more than a few have slipped through the net and ended up wasting their years at the school due to their inability to work in this system.
The values of the school as a whole are Independence & Freedom, and while there are subtle differences between the two statements it is rather indicative of the cost of deciding these things by the student committee.
Nibelungen Institute is a merger of three different magical colleges in Germany, namely Akademie Brocken, Nibelungen Hochschule and Universität Königsberg. Students at Nibelungen, as it is often simply called, choose an Institute according to their field of study and they also have shared classes with students from the other Institutes. All three Institutes have had long histories of teaching magic, but with a different focus.
- Akademie Brocken holds the faculty of Natural Magic with classes in Alchemy, Herbology and Beastology. It was founded by the renowned and infamous witch coven of Walpurgis.
- Nibelungen Hochschule holds the faculties of Technomancy and Runic Magic with additional classes in Mundane Studies. Nobody knows when and by whom N.H. was founded, but the history goes back at least to the 7th Century.
- Universität Königsberg has the faculty of Humanities with classes in Magical Theory and Ethics, Arithmancy and Mind Magic. It was founded as the first great magic school in Germany.
Nibelungen Institute has four Houses and their history is in many places intertwined with Czocha’s. The four Houses are:
- Haus Faust values Wisdom & Might, and was founded by Margarete Faust, the wife of one of the Czocha Founders. Even more so than their Czocha counterparts, Nibelungen Faustians are defined by their great hunger for power and influence. Their House crest is a dragon.
- Haus Krabat values Valour & Honour, and was founded by the legendary German sorcerer known as Antonius Krabat. It is said Krabat managed to defeat his master – a dark sorcerer – but not before being turned into a swan. For this reason, their House crest is a swan.
- Haus Molin values Loyalty & Cunning, and was founded by the same Molin who gave rise to the Czocha House. These Molinians are very much like their Czocha counterparts, and it is a tradition for them to continue their studies at Czocha. Their House crest is a golem.
- Haus Flamel values Diligence & Willpower, and was founded by the famous alchemist Pernelle Flamel. Distinguished alumni tend to have been a part of this Haus, and members are consistently graded above the school average. Their House crest is a unicorn.
Nibelungen Institute’s relationship with werewolves had been difficult for a long time, and during the Lander werewolf rebellion the school was thrown into the center of the events. Many suffered tragic losses, and Nibelungen and its Staff and students still haven’t quite recovered from the chaos. This causes the majority of the school to be very heavily against werewolves, and they are no longer allowed as students. (Read more in the section Lander Rebellion.)
Originally called Stenøya Seminaret, the school was founded in the 15th century by the danish Queen Margaret I. The school is located on a group of stony islands in a great mountain lake in the Trollsheim mountain range, which is magically hidden from mundanes. The school gained a new name, charter and curriculum in the second half of the 1980s, under the new Principal, who was inspired by the mundane education system of Scandinavia, which promoted practical abilities over theory.
Students now take eight years to complete their education. Studies not only include witcharding subjects, but also knowledge and practical abilities connected to the mundane world. In order to graduate, every student must spend an additional semester among mundanes, where they are banned from using magic – except in life-threatening situations. The harsh climate and obligatory physical work – for example in herb and stone gardens – harden both the body and the soul. This new structure of the school has caused it to gain prominence and popularity among witchards in the Nordic region, and even outside of Scandinavia people are sending their children.
Students at Stenøya are divided into one of four Houses. Unlike at Czocha College, the sorting does not happen at the start of the first year of schooling, but rather at the start of the fourth year. Originally the fourth house was Hus Lager, founded by Thorbjørg Lager and focused on transmutation and alchemy. However, after a tragic incident involving its students that occurred in the 17th Century the house was dissolved, and Hus Stege emerged in its place.
- Hus Skogsrud, which has the downy willow as its sigil. Students value knowledge and tradition, and specialise in traditional magic, Runic Magic, and Arithmancy. Founded by Sol Skogsrud.
- Hus Rosenrot, which has the roseroot as its sigil. Students value loyalty and duty, and specialise in healing magic, Herbology, Alchemy and Beastology. Founded by Ivar Halvardsson.
- Hus Valkyrja, which has the wolf’s bane as its sigil. Students value steadfastness and discipline, and specialise in charms, defensive and offensive magic, and teleportation. Founded by Tula Niklasdatter, also known as Valkyrie.
- Hus Stege, which has the knotberry as its sigil. Students value harmony and usefulness, and specialise in Magical Theory, Magical History, and concealment spells. It is currently the First House of Stenøya Trolldom Akademiet and has been for some time. Founded by Hilda Stege.
Stenøya is a little village situated on a group of stony islands of the same name, located on a great mountain lake in the Trollsheim mountain range, which is magically hidden from Mundanes. The central part is a stone building which in fact was a small monastery once. The lake is surrounded by a complex system of mountain caves and tunnels, also covered with charms.
The Stenøya Magic Academy’s coat of arms features an ornate ivory tower on a stone island. The school’s current motto is For det felles beste („For the common good”).
Founded by a witchard famous by the name of Hermes Trismegistos (their real name remains unknown), the Hermetic School was the first school to teach magic as art and science. Some history scholars believe that the tradition of creating magical institutions of learning started in ancient Greece, making the Hermetic School one of the oldest schools in the world. This is, however, hotly debated.
The traditional teaching facilities are ancient Greek temples, and their timeless counterparts, the Gardens of Chronos. The Gardens of Chronos are small cracks in time and space around Confluxes, that reveal the true nature of a place. Nature, buildings and people appear there as their primal idea, safe from entropy and aging. As such platonic and neoplatonic philosophy holds a lot of sway.
The school has no Houses or Paths, and instead traditionally works in a mentor-mentee system, in which every mentor watches over one or two students. The time of education is not set, but depends on the student’s progress. Due to the small number of mentors the whole school counts less than 70 students making it one of the smallest, but also most prestigious magical colleges. Hence, it is a school usually chosen by the magical high society, as well as the few Witchards interested in time-related magic.
There are areas of magic study universally banned by the Tradition of the Bound. It is worth noting that at the time of the introduction of the Treaty of Avalon, certain prominent old-blood Hexborn families such as Grey, Faust, Drachenberg, Artemis , Wychwood, and Twardowski had much of their influence from some of these arts. In spite of the political dimensions that might have been behind the decision, it is probably for the best that they did end up being prohibited from common use, given their potential for destructive use.
As a note, Otilia von Drachenberg was famously known to have said: “If you are concerned about potential abuse of power, why are you binding our Chronomancy while leaving the Mind Magic of our rivals unbound?” Without a doubt, this had quite a bit to do with the political prowess of the families primarily practicing Mind Magic, and in all honesty, Mind Magic is as dangerous and easy to abuse as the Bound Arts. While the study is not prohibited, the use of Mind Magic is strictly regulated by law in most confluxes.
Demonology is a rather potent and horrifying sub-field of Invocation. Where Invocation deals mainly with relatively benign and often helpful entities, Demonology plunges into the depths of the most infernal otherworlds, searching for powerful and malign beings and their undying service. While some of the basic concepts taught in the summoning regimen of Invocation can indeed be used for the purposes of Demonology, the exact secrets of how to perform a demon summoning remain vague to most. As a side note, summoning Fae, while it’s not exactly related to Demonology, may be equally dangerous.
Another extremely dangerous sub-field of Invocation (and some claim, of healing) is Necromancy, the manipulation of death itself. Typically it involves the raising of undead minions, or so legend has it. Those who are learned in the ways of Necromancy can suspend a sort of half-death for many hundreds of years, and trap ghosts and souls to do their bidding. These concepts tend naturally to freak out most non-Necromancers.
Chronomancy, a sub-field of Arithmancy, is also known by the more descriptive moniker of Time Magic. While this art is considered by some to be the “least evil” of the Bound Arts, others know just how disruptive and dangerous manipulation of time can truly be. Rogue Chronomancers are few and far between. Some say this is proof that they are in fact legion, only amassing just around the corner of history. Time will tell (maybe)!
Legal study of the Bound Arts does occur quite frequently under the heavy supervision of the Guardian Order. While purity of action might be commendable in some cases, it is next to impossible to fight a rogue practitioner of Demonology without knowing enough to perform an exorcism. It is equally impossible to untangle time manipulations without knowing at least the basics behind Chronomancy. As such, the Guardian Order is more or less forced to allow at least some exploration of these concepts.
Lycanthropy and its Spread
Lycanthropy is a horrifying disease to many – a way of life for a few outcasts. It is spread through the bite and saliva of a mature werewolf – though such a bite often incurs extremely painful death before the lycanthropy has a chance to lodge itself in the victim. There are stories of people who are born as werewolves – although most magical scholars dismiss this as the fanciful tales of werewolf dynasties attempting to rebrand themselves in the public consciousness. To most witchards, it is quite clear that lycanthropy is only spread through the bite.
Lycanthropy has the potential to incur in its victims a frenzy come full moon. The beast takes over and gorges itself on anything it can get its claws on. Most new lycantropes are created this way – from the few individuals lucky (or unlucky) enough to survive the bite. The peculiar thing about this is that it does not happen on every full moon – indeed, while it is easier to change shapes (which werewolves can do on any other night as well, but with more difficulty) most full moons do not bring the lunacy – but when they do it’s a sight to behold.
Werewolves are killing machines, tanks of muscle and fur and claws. Their only known weakness is silver – even touching silver burns their skin as if it was acid. Silver weaponry cuts through werewolves as a hot knife through butter. There is also evidence that werewolves are repulsed by belladonna.
There is only one way to permanently stave off the frenzy that comes with the moon-lunacy, and it is through the administering of Liquid Silver, once every night before the full moon. This is an effective remedy, although it is exceedingly uncomfortable for the patient in question – many report a sort of hollow, sinking feeling in their guts. There is also evidence to suggest that this dramatically lowers length and quality of life, with depressions and early deaths quite common for users of Liquid Silver. Still, to many it is preferable to the uncertainty.
Prejudices die hard, and in most confluxes werewolves are unwelcome to say the least. Even though lunacies are so rare, they are so frightening to behold that they tend to scar a populace for many decades. Therefore, even in the confluxes that are more open to werewolf citizens, werewolves tend to keep their nature to themselves, hidden from their neighbors. Many who are found out are subjected to extreme displays of bigotry and public scrutiny.
In the New World Magimundi across the Atlantic Ocean, lycanthropy is considered an “European problem” that is not native to the Americas. Werewolves are considered little more than beasts, and a werewolf from the European Confluxes would not be allowed to emigrate to the New World Magimundi.
Some (usually old-blood) hexborn dynasties have a history of lycanthropy in the family. These so-called “wolf-blooded” families build up a big part of their identity around being associated with werewolves. Wolf-blooded dynasties usually claim that theirs is a special kind of lycanthropy which runs through the blood and was not in fact incurred through the bite. Since most magical scholars agree that lycanthropy is spread only through infection, these families are considered eccentric at best and abusive at worst – subjecting their own children to infection to keep up a facade of uniqueness.
Wolf-blooded dynasties tend to be a rural affair – more common in the less-populated confluxes on the margins of mundane society. Age-old mansions and manor houses displaying heraldry bearing proud wolves dot the landscape of the magical world. Some of these families claim origins before the signing of the Treaty of Avalon in 1490, and consequently almost all of them claim to be the purest kind of hexborn while being simultaneously “blessed” by the wolf-blood. Quite a few active confluxes have attempted action against the practices of the wolf-blooded, so they seek out these pockets of quiet and dormancy.
Whether ghosts can really be said to be sentient is a point of contention, but nonetheless they’re a very prominent presence in the European Confluxes. Few scholars understand exactly how a ghost comes into being, but it is known that most ghosts are created in one of two ways. Either they’re forced into being by the use of highly dangerous and Tradition-breaking use of Necromantic Invocation, or they manifest spontaneously in the wake of a witchard dying. Mundane ghosts are known to exist, but they’re somewhat more rare than the ghosts that result from dead witchards. Ghosts tend to continue doing whatever it was they did before they died. Consequently, there are plenty of ghost librarians, teachers, and bureaucrats in the magical world. At institutes of magic learning – such as Czocha College – ghosts are particularly common for whatever reason.
Vampires are a curious bunch. Most consider them to have a sort of condition – exactly like the werewolves do – although the exact nature of said condition is somewhat more controversial. In all the ways that the affliction of lycanthropy is extroverted and loud, the affliction of vampirism is introverted and quiet – it seems to infuse the vampires with a need to hide and to be overlooked. It is a most curious thing indeed.
It might have something to do with the truly massive and absurd set of weaknesses that seem to befall vampires. Inability to cross running water, aversions to religious symbols, religious rituals, and wooden points, an antipathy towards silver, existential threat from fire and sunlight. Few vampires display all of these weaknesses at once – indeed, it seems to be quite random which weaknesses they do display, though there does seem to be a correlation between the weaknesses they will display and the weaknesses of their creator. However all Vampires will have at least one underlying weakness that can lead to their undoing, but not their unmaking. Even a vampire turned to dust may come back to life in time. Witchard vampires do not lose their ability to do magic, but it always “fades” slightly – leaving them less powerful than before.
The only thing all vampires have in common is their need for blood. Vampires are theoretically everliving – or ever-dead. At least no one has seen a vampire die of natural causes, nor has anyone observed a vampire with a pulse or functional intestines. This reliance on blood and their disturbing nature has caused many confluxes to dismiss them as little more than parasitic undead vermin, although other confluxes remain much more open-minded in regards to the vampires in their midst. Vampire acceptance movements, while less visible than werewolf acceptance movements, have started to come into vogue in some of the communities that dot the Old World.
Faeries are not like us. They may look like humans, but they tend to be extremely beautiful making them stand out. Nonetheless, while they can appear like us, they are utterly alien. They are and always have been the Fair Folk. The dwellers in dreams, the shining ones, the fae. They are tricksters, they are warriors, they are devourers of human children, they are lovers, they are monsters. They deserve our respect, our adoration and our fear. Never accept a gift from a faery and do not take food or drink from them or you will become their hopeless servants. You’ll be lost in a faery dream for a year and a day. When the night is dark, if you hear music in the woods, do not rush to join in the dance or the faeries will steal you away. Do not confuse the fae with fairies. Despite the similar spelling and pronunciation they are utterly different. This mistake was common in the 19th century and a lot of people ended up cursed or on fire as a result.
Some Witchards make pacts with faeries, asking for secret knowledge or the answers to questions of life or love (as this is where they tend to specialise). There is always a price to pay for a faery secret and that price is always too high.
However, if you do wish to deal with them you should treat them with all the hospitality you can muster. First, you can pacify them with offerings of bread, honey, or milk. Then honour them, bow to them, and bring them further gifts of food and drink. Sing songs or compose poems about their grace and beauty. They are vain creatures and easily swayed by verse. In return, they may provide you with the answer to three questions or the ingredients used for powerful love potions. Their magic is akin to ours, but not the same. In matters of the heart it is undoubtedly more powerful, but in matters of the head less so.
To spot a faery look for golden skin and beautiful eyes. Then look deep into those eyes and see the menace beneath the skin. The fae are predators, you and yours are meat for their pots. You should also remember that fae detest iron. A single horseshoe above your door will keep them at bay. A length of iron chain will keep them from your hearth. Most importantly, weapons made from meteorite iron are anathema to faeries and will destroy them utterly. The act of carrying meteorite iron (or ‘cold iron’) is considered the ultimate act of betrayal by faeries. They will seek to do you harm if they think you own any or know someone who does. Be on guard around people who have been attacked by faeries. They have been known to coat their arrows with strange poisons that worm their way into a person’s heart and mind and make them see the world as an evil, dark and twisted place. The only known cure for this poison is True Love. if left untreated the affected Witchard will become utterly malevolent and evil.
When talking of werewolves, one cannot help but talk of German werewolves. For many years werewolves have been desperately trying to reach out to witchards and make amends with the old Königsberger Universität. They want a chance at a good life, a job and respect from their neighbors. Though once reviled as monsters and brutes, many werewolves have for centuries seen themselves as people just like anyone else in the magical world. Sadly for the lupines, others have disagreed. Werewolves are still despised, hated, and feared – lycanthropy is still considered a vile and contagious disease by most.
In some places things are better for the almost-humans, and at both Czocha and Balt Meddin there have been intermarriages between sorcerous families and prominent werewolves for more than half a century. This has not helped relations between the College of Wizardry at Czocha and the one at Nibelungen in Germany.
Not at all.
Five years ago this unbearable powerlessness and casual discrimination eventually led to open rebellion by some werewolves. The werewolf rebellion in Germany started out small, but soon grew to fearsome proportions, as the werewolf leaders known as The White Fangs and other leaders recruited werewolves who had long ago given up on living even somewhat peaceful lives.
The army of werewolves, hiding out in forests and caves at a conflux in Southern Lander – in Central Germany – began to strike against unprotected witchard residences in the countryside, and soon escalated the conflict to include kidnappings of magical children and attacks on hospitals. Even more horrifying to the witchards was the fact that the werewolves started doing the unthinkable – appearing in front of mundanes and even recruiting them.
The Nibelungen College did their best to keep it contained and for a long time were in a state of denial as to the size of the conflict. But in the end, the werewolves were too numerous and too well-organized, and they ended up seeking the assistance of other Colleges of Wizardry. Some of the leaders of these, feeling that The Traditions themselves were under attack, answered the call and sent help, albeit reluctantly.
After all, in Poland – home to several influential magical schools – werewolves are considered “almost human” and quite a few of the Polish magicians of Balt Meddin sent to fight the German werewolves had werewolf neighbours and friends at home. Some even had family members with lupine blood, further complicating things.
The werewolves in Lander have been driven into hiding, but the cost has been high. Many magicians were lost during the fighting, and for some students this is not just a matter of academic interest. Czocha has accepted werewolf students for more than half a century and there are now those who must decide how to look at their werewolf friends, knowing full well that a family member has been ripped apart by claws in the German forests not long ago. It also remains to be seen whether the Nibelungen fashion among young magicians of carrying a wolf pelt as a sign of anti-wolf sympathies will catch on at Czocha College. If it does, duels are close behind.
Nothing is quite as invigorating as standing shoulder to shoulder with supporters of the same Fireball Dragon team. There is a spirit of teamwork and togetherness that infuses this fantastic game – a game that for good reason is usually known simply as The Beautiful Game. Fireball Dragon competes only with professional dueling for the hearts and mind of the European Witchards, and while dueling does well in its capacity as a display of individual skill and cunning, Fireball Dragon is a team game in the truest sense of the word.
The life of a professional Fireball Dragon player is a tough one, but one full of glory and privilege. Teams train together, and often live together too, just to get more training in. It’s important to train, after all, when some of the balls on the pitch are quite literally on fire. Luckily for the aspiring college-Fireball player, the balls used at school games are rarely if ever enchanted to immolate.
While the larger-than-life talents are the ones who sell tickets, the truth that any good coach knows is that ego is often more hurtful than it is helpful. As such, most professional Fireball Dragon teams try to make sure only to employ a single spotlight-stealing player. It’s good to have a little bit of showmanship and heroism in the game – but the majority of the team still have to be team players first and foremost, and those things mix badly.
A Truly European Phenomena
Another thing that sets Fireball Dragon apart from Professional Dueling is its strong association with the Old World. Sure, Professional Dueling is popular – but it is also known to take place outside of Europe. Fireball Dragon, on the other hand, is an entirely european phenomena, and Witchards from the New World Magimundi are known to shake their head in disbelief at the appeal of “that weird game”. This is but one of the many ways in which the cultures of the European Confluxes and the New World Magimundi differ.
The Grand Fireball Dragon League
It should come as no surprise that a game as popular as Fireball Dragon inspires many local leagues and championships. Almost every magical institution of learning has its own house rules and special versions of the game – and Czocha College is no exception. Many of those who play Fireball Dragon during their school years aspire to play it professionally – although certainly not everyone. Even still, of the ones who do aspire for the professional leagues, only a small segment ever get far.
And of that segment, an even smaller segment ever has the chance of playing in the Grand Fireball Dragon League, the most prestigious of all the European leagues. Excelling in the Grand Fireball Dragon League is considered akin to being one of the best teams in the Old World, and many teams train day and night to even have a shot at it. Consequently, the victors in the Grand Championship (which is held once every two years) are considered the creme de la creme among all Fireball Dragon players.
It’s a glory that few Confluxes can stomach seeing pass to their rivals. It’s a huge deal.
Dueling is considered a valuable and admirable skill for any witchard, so it’s no wonder it has also become a competitive sport all around the European Confluxes. It is actually one of the most popular sports, rivaled only by Fireball Dragon. Professional dueling demands peak physical condition and a keen mind coupled with razor-sharp wits – one must be a cut well above the norm to even dream of competing at the level professional duelists are at.
Unlike Fireball Dragon, professional dueling is not a team sport. Indeed, competitors are entirely on their own save for the odd tag-team match which pitches teams of two duelists against each other. Professional duelists are known to be some of the most well-trained and knowledgeable individuals when it comes to the practical applications of combat magic, except for maybe particularly elite Combat Guardians, who tend to work better in teams.
Professional dueling is also a sport that gives rise to more than a few cults of personality and rather rabid fandoms. Many of the most prominent magical newspapers have sections devoted to keeping tabs on games, and exposés as well as interviews with top duelists are not altogether uncommon. Confluxes gain and lose their inter-Conflux prestige based upon the wins and losses of prominent professional duelists who hail from said confluxes or use specific local dueling wand brands. Like with particularly prominent Fireball Dragon players, there is a lot of hero worship around the professional duelists, and getting a popular face advertising for your new line of potion bottles will make sure they will be sold out come start of school term.
The Pan-European Dueling League
There are many local tournaments and leagues dedicated to professional dueling in the Old World, each of them promising prizes of differing values – everything from enchanted artifacts to mere gold or silver in appropriate sums. A professional duelist with enough skill can subsist on these winnings, and indeed that’s how most of the full-time professional duelists make their living, buoyed by sponsorships and donations from rich fans.
The true peak of professional dueling is found in the Pan-European Dueling League, which holds tournaments twice a year. To even enter this league, one must be the reigning champion of at least one other league recognised by it. Consequently, many top professional duelists try to make sure they’re always the reigning champions of at least two or three local or regional leagues, since one automatically loses one’s place in the rankings of the Pan-European Dueling League should one lose the eligibility to compete in it.
The Pan-European Dueling Tournament, whether it is the spring or autumn variant, draws tens of thousands of witchards from near and far for three days of merriment and excitement. The stands are packed with people rooting for their own personal hero and the drama as well as tempers run high. People train their entire lives to be among the highest-scoring individuals at these tournaments – competing in the categories of Skill, Endurance, Flair, Showmanship, and Ingenuity. Each of these disciplines is a pillar of professional dueling.
There are various options for witchards who need to travel from one place to another, the simplest of them being normal planes, boats and trains and so on. Although they are slow, noisy, often polluting and prone to delay, they have the distinct advantage of being rather safe to use. Travelling discreetly like this is not considered to break the Traditions. Mundane travel never gets you over the border into an actual conflux – that has to be by foot, mount or magic.
Flying brooms are one of the oldest and most traditional means of travel for all kinds of magic users, but they’re nowadays considered slow and impractical compared to other methods. The former overuse (and misuse) of brooms is proven by how they have leaked into countless mundane stories during the times before cloaking charms started becoming mandatory in most confluxes. Nowadays riding a broom can be compared to riding a horse: many witchards have probably tried it as kids at least, but few are experienced enough to do it regularly. The art is not totally lost, however, and broom racing remains a popular sport within some circles.
Teleportation is a snappy way of getting you from where you are to a place where you have been before. It can almost only be used to locations you have visited and know well., otherwise you risk ending up stuck in a wall or under a lake. For safety, most educational institutes and other public facilities have protection against teleportation in and out, and bouncing off a teleport protection can leave a spellcaster with unpleasant bruises or worse. Teleportation is quite unreliable over great distances; the longer the distance, the more likely it is that something goes awry. In the worst case, you might even leave a part of yourself behind on the way. Teleportation spells can not be used on other people or living entities.
Ancient sorcerers built a transportation system that stretches across most of Europe, utilizing the ley lines that connect places of power within the confluxes. Stepping into a stone circle in Scotland allows you to step out of a cave in Southern Spain. Most locations of ritual magic are interconnected, so one could get from Stonehenge to Czocha in a few blinks of an eye. The magic circles can also be used for transporting living beings or small items. Unfortunately, there seem to be no such connected circles outside of Europe and parts of North Africa, unless they are magically hidden and heavily shielded from teleportation. Magic circles tend not to move, making it a somewhat inflexible system. Add to this that some confluxes have strange laws pertaining to the use of local magical circles, or even ridiculously high fees for anyone wanting to step through.
Runic bridges are by far the most fashionable method of point to point transport in the European Confluxes. It requires a spellcaster at either end of the bridge to inscribe a temporary magic circle rune and cast the required spell. This creates a direct pathway that the traveller can pass through. A runic bridge has the added benefit of being easily usable in the mundane world because it will look to those without hexblood as having a rational explanation. For example, a witchard crossing a runic bridge that ends in the middle of a crowded market will appear to have walked across the square rather than simply materialising in the middle of it. Runic bridges can also be used on mundane methods of transportation, such as to guarantee the safe passage of a boat across a stormy sea or allowing the moving of a truck from one place to another. Preparing such a large bridge of course takes more preparation and skill. The downsides of the runic bridges are that you do need a witchard at both ends, and that the effect is not instantaneous. Luckily they have become common enough that for any large gathering of witchards or a well known location there will usually be a bridge end point arranged.