Quest:Heir of the Arends
Heir of the Arends is a fantasy quest ran by Vedibere (of Void Quest and Omnipotence Quest) on the Spacebattles forums. The quest follows one Wolfgang Richard Arend as he, by nature of being a male descendant with Power, becomes the fifth patriarch of his family.
|This article contains spoilers! You have been warned.|
The quest starts off on the eve of the December 22nd 2015, the date of the winter solstice. For many years, the reigning patriarch Thaddeus Cain Arend, has called the family together on this one day to address them and to potentially announce an heir. The only eligible heirs are those with Power -- the ability to use magic. Magic in the setting is formulaic but nuanced and mysterious. It is reproducible and is a matter of memorization, but this knowledge recorded in Tomes of Lore is jealously hoarded by those who are capable of using it. By tradition or decree, all those capable of using magic in the Arend family are apprenticed by the patriarch for four years from the age of twelve. Apprentices learn the basics of magic and magical creatures.
There is a small number of established lines of mages, and each one tends to focus on a single school. The Arend family are generalists with enough lore to focus on any of the schools. There are seven other mage families in the New World (the Americas), and an unknown number of families in the Old World (Europe). The ability to use power is somewhat hereditary, but can also be spontaneously awakened in wild mages. The differences between wild and established lineages is somehow connected to the ability to have children with Power. While the reasons for it are unclear, wild mages have difficulty siring children with Power.
Other than the addition of magic, the setting is standard modern-day. Magical creatures have tended to be of the European folklore kind. Alchemy has also tended to be European. When in doubt think Rome, not China. It is unclear if "Old World" includes Asia or Africa.
The creation myth told in a tome is that this world (Earth or the entire universe, it was unclear) was created as a result of the endless battle for power and dominance in the Outside. A powerful entity named Avar managed to convince many beings of the Outside to invest their power in it. The world itself is a huge power sink to the Outside, so only the less powerful and more instinctive creatures of the Outside can be close to it. This world was intended to be a place of abundance and without the endless conflicts of the Outside, but when it was finally created, less than one percent of beings from the Outside were permitted to enter. While the nature of this world rejected some of those entities, they kept trying to find new ways in, and a Great War was fought (over Earth or the universe itself is unclear). Humans arose naturally in the world, and they came to possess the power of Sapiency which would drive away all the creatures of the Outside. Avar invested power in the humans and caused them to grow and multiply and become the shield of the world from the creatures of the Outside. Mages themselves are an anomaly in an anomaly, having access to Power like a creature of the Outside would.
Schools of Magic
There are eight acknowledged schools of magic and at least one secret school.
- Occultism: Magic dealing with the beings of the Shadow. Includes the knowledge of summoning wraiths, spirits, ghosts.
- Mysticism: Magic dealing with the Shadow itself, using the reflections of the world like thoughts, emotions, or dreams as your main tools. Willpower is essential here.
- Shamanism: Magic dealing with animals either mundane or magical and living spirits of nature.
- Elementalism: Magic dealing with the four elements (earth, wind, water, and fire) and the inanimate spirits of nature. Characterized by bold, broad strokes.
- Essentialism: The magic of dealing with perceptions, illusions, and seemings/glamours. A powerful school, and versatile, made all the more so since so many mages seem to forget that while fragile, many of the things it creates can be real and dangerous indeed. Characterized by smooth, delicate curves.
- Materialism: Magic dealing with the material world and aspects of it, broadly encompassing states, attributes, and the "Metaphysicals" such as the concept or purpose that defines an object. A knife, for example, can have materialist spellforms on it to enhance the purpose of the knife "to cut" or "to separate" so that even without an edge it will easily slice through virtually any normal object. Characterized by geometric patterns.
- Arcanism: Magic dealing with Power and the various things inherent to the magical condition -- like Sight, or the natural ability of an Other to transition between the Shadow and the World. More theoretical than the other schools, and a good foundation for any magic. Arcanism is the physics to the other schools' engineering.
- Sapienscy: Not a type of magic per-se, though still studied as such. Sapienscy deals with the power of the human collective. "The spell-smashing sledgehammer, the spirit-annihilating inferno that is the collective will of humanity." People who disbelieve in magic reduce the power of nearby spells, proportional to their will. It can render magic totally ineffective.
- Infernalism/Demonology/Diabolism: A hidden school of magic that deals with the beings and world outside our reality (literally called the Outside); it is concerned with summonings, pacts, and contracts. Dangerous and powerful. None but the patriarch of the Arends may know of it on pain of death. After Wolfgang I's extremely successful hunting of wild mages in the 1400-1500s, demonology was outlawed in all mention by the European patriarchs, by mutual agreement, and all texts were given to Wolfgang I who kept them instead of destroying them. Characterized by sharp, angular, contorted, intertwined designs that are difficult to perceive or reason about. Diabolist designs exude wrongness, but Richard is capable of understanding them innately.
Fundamentals of the Arcane states that "shamanism is akin to elementalism and colludes more easily with it, but is opposed by mysticism. Likewise, occultism and mysticism work more easily together than other types, but is opposed by elementalism. Materialism and essentialism stand opposed to each other, two halves of the same coin, and despite working somewhat better with schools more in tune with their thesis… they cannot truly be said to work especially well with anything. Arcanism, though, is distinct, as the greatest and oldest of the schools should be. Opposing none, and in turn being opposed by none. The reader should bear this in mind. If anything, its opposite would be sapiency -- arcanism being the study of the mythic, sapiency being the denial of it."
Mechanics of Magic
A spellform is created, and empowered by the mage, which has an effect based on the design of the spellform and elements used in it. Some mental control by the mage is possible, but some spellforms are designed to function as magical machines with the mage simply being one of the power generators or the one to flip the switch. Other sources of power can be used, such as the sun, moon, or ley lines. Handwaving and chants often play a key part of any casting ceremony, as do focusing items.
Generally speaking, a spellform created with normal materials will be worn away as the world revolts against the unempowered spellform. Tomes are written in special inks that are imbued with an unreal quality and therefore are capable of keeping unpowered spellforms.
A well-designed power cache will bleed any excess power off. Poorly designed, it will discharge unpredictably into the surroundings… perhaps even into the spellform itself, causing unexpected complications.
- Carden, majordomo. Head of mansion staff. Awakened to shadow, has the power of Sight and longer life. Does not have Power.
- Lira Craft, head of household. Thaddeus’ homunculus. Imagination, creativity, and independent thought are beyond her, but she is loyal. She does not need sleep. May require eventual replacement, as she is a created being.
- Friedrich “Lawine ‘Freed Rock’” Strauss. Ancient troll from Europe who came with Wolfgang the First. Don't trust him too much.
- Yeena, groundskeeper, dryad. Ancient and strong. Local to the area that later became Virginia.
- Darcy Sloan, golvian. Cook and victualer. Talkative and fearless in obtaining any required ingredient. Described by Cain as "a hobbit with the personality of a dwarf in a fat human body." Capable of eating literally anything.
- Cain Raegan, vampire. Seventy-three years old on March, 2016, turned into a vampire at 22. Fabulous, talkative, and genre-savvy. Secondary bodyguard, scout, socializer, rumormonger, driver, agent, and messenger. Needs permission to enter a house, but the permission can be implied. Adverse to crossing large amounts of water. Very adverse to direct sunlight. Adverse to fire/burns, heartwood stakes, silver, and decapitation. Thaddeus put Cain on a diet of teenage girls (13-16 years) to raise power levels. Can shapechange into a wolf; inhumanly strong, fast, stealthy, and tough; does not age. Usually appears as his pre-transformation human form but has a base form that is said to be menacing. Prefers service to House Arend over his former vampire lord.
- Dale, Olen, and Mattieu Tarhill, brownies. Upkeep of the house, laundry, chores, handiwork, and other domestic tasks.
Other Bound Entities
- Valia, demon bound by Wolfgang I. Valia appears as a beautiful nude human with long black hair, a lithe tail, ebony horns sprouting from her head and curving back, and midnight-black with a white pupil. A creature from the Outside, and self-described as "not a succubus, incubus, fallen angel, fiend, or imp" who wishes to be useful and valuable to Richard so that Richard becomes more powerful and so does she by extension. Claims to be incapable of breaking a pact, but the pact must be agreed to by both parties. Has implied shapeshifting powers. She acts as the living indexing and retrieval system of the sealed infernalism vault. She cannot lie to Richard, but she does not have to respond, can answer with part of the truth (with restrictions), can't kill Richard, must attend him when summoned (if able), and must honor Richard's requests to access the items stored in the vault. In return, Richard must provide her the power she needs to maintain her existence on the Inside. Valia retains her autonomy of contract and deed, unless otherwise restricted by further negotiations, so long as her actions do not work against Richard -- except in the case of pacts with other magi, which she shall not make. She need not follow any command that would destroy her, or put her in a position where her destruction is inevitable. Thaddeus probably had a bad relationship with Valia, as he sought to replace her with a manual index.
- Wolfgang Arend I (1200’s - 1708, aged 500s). Head of house for entire life. First patriarch of the Arend family. One of the most powerful mages ever. Originally a wild mage boy of no means from the Archdiocese of Bremen in northwest Germany, he entered the service of the house of Von Heust as a hunter of wild mages and a warrior. He grew powerful as a warrior and amassed a collection of diabolist tomes from wild mages and of other knowledge from other slain mages. Wolfgang defected to the Chere family and led an assault on the Von Heust estate, killing their patriarch with a bound demon and summoning many other beings from the Outside to steal the Von Heust lore. Wolfgang was judged by the European patriarchs, but by then he was an accomplished and powerful demon-hunter and was to be allied by marriage and childbirth to the Von Heust family. He was given the name Arnþórr, which later became Arend. Single-handedly responsible for the hiding of demonology as an art. He desired immortality -- at least of his own bloodline -- and was described as demanding, hard, merciless, but possessive and protective of that which he created and saw as his.
- Catherine Arend, one of the later wives of Wolfgang I. She bore him Elias.
- Elias V. Arend (1706 - 1739, aged 33). Head of house from 1708 until 1739 (31 years). Valia described him as very powerful but too naive. Elias left no record. Killed and usurped by his son James. While Wolfgang I said he was turning to "other methods" to sire an heir, Elias was born to him from Catherine, possibly mundanely.
- James Arend (1726 - 1898, aged 172). Head of house from 1739 until 1898 (159 years). Murdered Elias at the age of 13 in order to become patriarch. In his own record he claims to have had a hand in every major political event in the Americas, all the way from the American revolution to the lead-up to World War One. Valia described him as precise, methodical, mechanical. He mastered of mysticism, and used it on himself as well as others, cutting away anything he found to be unnecessary. He was not exceptionally powerful. He was the first to begin turning relatives out of the mansion, reversing Wolfgang’s practices in part, but he also used the exodus to help solidify the family’s waning power after Wolfgang’s death. His only real enjoyment seemed to be making others dance on the strings that he was pulling.
- Thaddeus Cain Arend (1858 - Feb 22 2015, aged 157). Head of house from 1898 to 2015 (117 years). Outlived five wives. Bowed out of the political scene to focus on magic. He was extremely devoted to his wife Sara who was killed as a result of James' involvement with European mages. Valia may have been involved, thus earning Thaddeus' hatred. After the death of Sara and upon his inheritance, he shut himself away from the world and turned out all of the mansion staff not bound to him, even the few relatives who still lived in the mansion in those days and were loyal. Those who he thought knew too much were hunted down and killed. Valia herself described Thaddeus as a coward and a bully who saw things in black and white, and anything he couldn’t control completely either had to be destroyed or avoided. He was more powerful than James, but shied away from Demonology, considering it too risky.
- Sara Arend. First wife of Thaddeus. Thaddeus claims she was killed by European mages. Valia corroborated the claim.
- Jack Arend (father). Deceased. Only one of that generation that had Power.
- Mrs. Arend (mother). Deceased.
- Wolfgang Richard Arend (Oct. 27, 1990 - now, aged 25). Fifth patriarch of the Arend family and player character.
- Jennifer "Jenna" Arend (23). Lawyer. Very powerful mage. Very capable and intelligent. Marcus and Donald listen to her. Employed by Donald. Meddled with what was supposedly a wild mage's journal in March and now experiences episodes of amnesia and what could be considered episodes of possession. Sought protection from grandfather, but after unanswered letters and the death of Theo she conspired with Chad to get him to murder Tara and Paul with wraiths. Claims to not have wanted Chad or Richard dead. She wanted to solve the mystery herself instead of relying on Richard. Extremely jealous of Richard's male mage privilege. Considers herself "the best, period" and "number one" at everything she does. Doesn't do second.
- Albright family. Has own house in Bridgehead.
- Patrick’s family. Has own house in Bridgehead.
- Bertrand “Bert” Arend (31). Weak mage. Brown-nosing weasel. Contesting will.
- Donald. Routinely makes poor multimillion dollar investments in real estate. Contesting will.
- Marcus Arend (28). Decent mage. Contesting will.
- Chadwick “Chad” Arend (22). Mage. Tutored by Jenna in wraith-summoning. Sent wraiths after Tara and Paul. Dead either from a 4x lethal heroin overdose, or internal bleeding from a struggle. Had a fiancé named Cate. Brother is contesting will. Jenna claims Chad sent wraiths after Richard to scare him.
- Timothy Lane (10). Weak and untrained mage. Very protective family.
- James Lane. Father of Timothy. Owner of Lane Mining. New money. Contesting will.
- Tara. (25). High untapped magic capacity. Likes social subterfuge. High-maintenance. Not contesting.
- Syliva. Not contesting.
- Julia. Mage. Mafia don’s daughter. Not contesting.
- Marion. Mage.
- Phyllis. Mage.
- John Reims. Branch family member.
- Teddy Reims, head of Reims family, branch from two generations ago.
- Lyle Arend, CEO of BAL Pharamaceuticals.
- Senator James Arend, Virginia senator incumbent -- provided election funds and political capital.
- Teddy Demens. Major player in global arms trade. Ex-soldier. Head of Demens family. Apparently a good enough guy.
- Paul Arend. Competent. Careful and cunning. Died alongside pregnant wife in plane crash at around November aged 25. This was due to wraiths sent by Chad under Jenna's direction.
- John Arend. Paul’s brother. A pretty OK guy.
- Theodore “Theo” Arend. Competent and a mage. Drowned at beach house in July aged 36 despite shallow waters and being a competitive swimmer.
- Tom and Daisy Bennet, locals.
- Officer Hornwell, chief of police.
- Mayor Delkin of Bridgehead.
- Judge Eright of Bridgehead.
- Clive Phorer, bank president.
- John Pittman, mayor candidate who ran opposing House Arend. Burned to death with some kind of elemental fire on night before election.
- Greg, Chad’s PA.
- Omaein, fae lord. Not hostile, but not a bearer of good will.
- Arnold, the charlatan. First tutor of Wolfgang I.
- Restou, the wild mage. Second tutor of Wolfgang I.
- Delmar la Roche, CEO of the Arend Foundation. Reports directly to Richard and manages overall liquidity.
- Vice President Phillips -- Thaddeus called in favor with Senator Carlson to have withdraw from ticket, enabling vice presidency bid.
- Governor Keys, governor of Virginia. -- Thaddeus disposed of indiscreet gay lover. Provided campaign funds. Ended Richmond bus driver strike during close campaign.
- Representative Fieldstien, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. -- Thaddeus cured his daughter of cancer.
- Von Heust, of the house of Von Heust. A mage of status in Lubeck. Third tutor and employer of Wolfgang I. Hunted suspected Diabolists. Had his mind consumed by an unbound alcerit while hunting wild mages.
- Arkeld Von Heust, patriarch of the Von Heust family. Did battle with Wolfgang I before having his soul devoured by a bound demon.
- Diana du Chere, of the Chere family. Married to Wolfgang I, but died in childbirth.
- Roland Chere, the patriarch of the Chere family circa late middle ages. Wolfgang I swore himself to Roland. The Chere family was responsible for ending several mage bloodlines, one of whom were the Von Heust family. Roland and Wolfgang I were close friends, but their blood alliance did not play out due to Diana's death in childbirth.
- Ignacio Ferraro, author of Fundamentals of the Arcane.
- Paul DuChampe, an arcanist cited by Ignacio Ferraro who studied the revulsion of the world against non-empowered magical designs.
Richard's To-Do List
- Tap ley lines
- Meet with council of New World mages
- Follow up on inheritance lawsuits
- Decide on Timothy's magical tutelage
- Wraiths are created “when a person dies under extreme circumstances and with a nature related to their death.”
- The main Arend mansion has nearly four hundred thousand acres. Properties elsewhere have twenty to thirty acres.
- The Rockefellers, Cabots, Morgans and Vanderbilts mentioned as needing to ask for permission for actions from the Arends in the past.
- A person must be invited in order to enter the manor.