The Owl and the Rose

A brief introduction to a Chivalry and Sorcery campaign

This is an synopsis of my Chivalry and Sorcery campaign set around Winchester in the High Chivalric period (see the rules page 7 for definition) based on the Rotherweird books by Andrew Caldecott.

The campaign starts 1147, but the story starts some years earlier, in 1135. One day in that year a nobleman, that presents himself as Wynter, arrives in Winchester, together with some servants and 12 teenagers (5 women, 7 men). They take rooms in the city and Wynter himself soon pays visit to the abbot of Hyde Abbey. The previous abbot Osbert had some weeks previously died quite suddenly (an assassin can easily be hired in uncertain times at a low cost) and now the de facto prior is Hugh de Lens. During the coming month Wynter and prior Hugh de Lens talk at length and the prior stand no chance against Wynter’s magically enhanced charm and good manners.

Some months prior to Wynter’s arrival to Winchester, he arranged that the chancellor of Turkilleston Manor fell ill in a prolonged disease. The chancellor is a monk at the abbey that owns the manor, Cormeilles Abbey, and writes a letter to the abbot there and request that is allowed to come home. Wynter has already arranged to have three of the monks at the abbey as his agents and two of them joins the group of monks that are sent to Turkilleston Manor to accommodate the chancellor’s travel. The prior of Hyde Abbey gets to know about this since the monks from Cormeilles Abbey stays at Hyde Abbey on their way to and from the manor. Wynter’s agents mentions that a new chancellor of the manor has not yet been appointed but needs one quite urgently, when the prior overhears this. The prior mentions this a bit off-hand to Wynter one day, and asks if he would be interested in taking residence in the manor?

Wynter convincingly acts surprised and overwhelmed, and agrees ”on condition the abbot of Cormeilles Abbey gives his blessing”. Overawed by Wynter’s humility, the prior writes a letter to Cormeilles Abbey and suggests this solution to thier problem. Wynter’s agents in the abbey ensures the abbot sees this as a blessing in a trying time, as the chancellor did not survive the long travel. The mansion has fallen in some disrepair due to neglect but Wynter put the mansion into a most comfortable order on his own funds. He refurbish the house and builds an impressive library and cultivates social ties to everyone of power and influence in the area. Everyone can see a wealthy noble with good connections to the church and many connection on the continent, letters and visitors from far abroad are no uncommon sight.

His instructs his adepts in everything scientific, in the art of painting as well as in the art of magic. He also instruct them in intrigues, deceit and trickery. But above all he instruct them in loyalty to the grand plan. They are all scheming to be the power behind the throne, not only England’s throne but to build a society which would stand behind every ruler or notable nobleman of the world and whisper … advice.

These thirteen are all evil, they plan this for their own agenda, for their own benefit. The 12 teenagers are all individuals and none is Satan-worshipping-evil, but their regard and empathy for others varies greatly between them.

Each one has their own area of research, something they are passionate about. One is passionate about strategy and war, another poisons, and a third about the manipulation of notable nobles. They experience and studies nature with both dissection and vivisection in their laboratory, but spend as much time in field studies sitting in a tree or in a hideout, studying the mating habit of some animals or their foraging techniques.

In their laboratory they do not only study nature’s animals, but with magic create their own; spies, messengers and assistants to their work.

Their motto and escutcheon is an owl under a rose; i.e. secret wisdom. The motto Ibis autem in rosa (”the owl under the rose”, according to Google Translate).

But who is Wynter?

He was born 137 years ago, in Bretagne, to a carpenter but was orphaned at five years of age. One of his father’s friends, also a carpenter, took Wynter as his son and raised him until he was 13 and he left his new parents to wander the world. After one week he was dozing under a tree when five men woke him; they wore armour and weapons and was either soldiers of fortune or bandits, probably both. Wynter got very afraid and thought they would murder him, after having had some fun with him, for the meagre funds his father had given him. These were his thoughts as the men laughed at him with evil grins, when suddenly there were a loud bang and smoke billowed about them. A powerful voice was heard, you henchmen of the Dark Lord, leave the boy to me as a sacrifice and pledge of loyalty!, and the men ran for their lives.

From the bushes a middle-aged man came and introduced himself as Girars the Alchemist, he had been resting himself when he saw the five men and what had happend Wynter. He had used is powders to create the smoke and the loud bang and made the voice by talking into his pot, all to frighten the bandits. Wynter thanked him and became his disciple and studied alchemy for several years until he one day in 1031 met his new master: the sorcerer Oriabiaus. One thing he learned as a sorcerer was to prolong his life, something he learned from the byzantine sorcerer Vitalianus. Wynter travelled a lot during the coming decades and studied everything he could and he started to form his great plan.

During his travels through northern Africa he was ambushed and taken prisoner by bandits, but with his cunning and his magic he succeeded in not only escape but also defeat the bandit chieftain. Wynter forced the chieftain to tell him where all the booty from his crimes were hidden and Wynter then came into the funds he needed to execute on his ambitious grand plan.

He searched for twelve children of great talent and took them from their parents. Only Wynter himself knows where each one comes from but he is the only parent they have ever known. These children he started to taught everything he ever learned and he told them about their destiny, they all smiled at the thought and their eyes shone when they looked at each other and realised what they were to become.

They have taken the name Tritonites for three reasons: they have taken Pallas Athenas as their patron goddess, Wynter is their ”third parent” (just as Pallas Athena had three parents), and they are born three times: first by their two other parents, second by Wynter into the world of Knowledge and Power, and third they themselves will give birth to a new Era of the World.

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