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Coven

A Witch LARP

A Live Action Roleplaying event taking place near Stockholm 2-4 October 2015

Klicka här för svenska omgången 18-20 September 2015

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Fictional

Contents

History

Witches have always existed. They have always tried to keep themselves hidden and avoid discovery by the outside world. Most witches have lived in covens: a group of witches bonded together in a specific place and ruled by one witch: The Supreme Witch or Supreme for short. These covens have been their homes, refuge and community.

Witch hunters have existed as long as witches have. Under the cover of a variety of organizations they have tracked and killed witches for generations. The balance had always been pretty even, but over the last thirty years the witch hunters have succeeded in exterminating coven after coven.

The covens that remain have gone into hiding and many witches have renounced their powers and assimilated into the rest of society. The remaining covens are mostly resigned to their fate, most witches have nowhere else to go. Even their greatest authority the Witches’ Council, seemed to have given up.

Then suddenly something changed. Witch hunters stopped focusing on covens and started hunting individual witches. At first previous coven members only, but then they started targeting anyone with magical potential. Even before many of them were aware of their own power. The Witches’ Council was forced to step in; rescuing young witches and sending them to the few covens still undiscovered by the witch hunters.

This is the situation now. Newly rescued witches arrive at a Swedish coven to discover and learn to deal with their powers, each other, and the life threatening danger they all face.

Hierarchy and World Structure

The Covens

There are several covens around the world. They are stationary, formed in areas with a strong magical energy. This energy responds to the Coven: a large coven makes it stronger, a strong Supreme makes it stronger, strong witches make it stronger, and in turn stronger Supremes appear, and so forth.

A coven must consist of at least thirteen witches, if there are less than this a new Supreme will not appear and the coven will gradually lose its strength and die out. The Witches’ Council is a coven; the largest existing coven in the world.

Normally once your first power appears, usually in your early teens, you are sent to a coven. If you have family living within the magical community then you, or they, will probably have had a say in which coven you were sent to. Most seniors have come from families that are aware of their linage and would have expected the Council to come get them.

You may only have a single distant relative in a far off coven, but they are now considered your only family. The family you had outside of the magical community are rarely seen or spoken to again. Even your parents.

Covens are not actually schools, although they do teach. They are more like tribes or even nunneries, once you have sworn yourself to a coven you are there for life, and you can’t change your mind and leave whenever you want. Punishment for unacceptable behaviour in the coven can vary greatly.

The two ultimate punishment are death by burning or exile.

Other Covens you should know of are:
* Dahlin has been a Coven on the brink of extinction for several years, but once it was an influential coven with strong ties to the Council. (Your new Coven).
* Ekdal is a large prestigious Coven with close ties to the Witches’ Council. Many of its witches go on to work for the Council.
* Almsted is also a respectable Coven with loyalties to the Council.
* Holm was a smaller and rather isolated Coven. It had a long history of refusing to swear loyalty to the Council. It was attacked and destroyed by the witch hunters.

The Oaths

You are not born into a coven, you join one by swearing an oath to it. Once you’ve sworn the oath you are bound to your Coven and all its coming Supremes until your death, or the covens “death”: numbers fall under thirteen and has no Supreme.

Having been less than thirteen, with no Supreme, the current Dahlin Coven could not swear in its newest members (from Ekdal, Almsted and Holm). This means that if the Coven had continued to dwindle, or no more witches joined it, it would have been acceptable to leave for another coven. Witches are trained at a coven until they choose to take the oath, usually somewhere in their early twenties. You do not have to swear your oath to the coven that trained you, but most do. It is also not unusual that young witches from larger and more thriving covens are sent to smaller covens to try and revive them. As a Senior you may have been asked, ordered or volunteered to go to the Dahlin Coven.

You cannot swear an oath to two covens at the same time. The only exception being the Witches’ Council (no one knows how they can do this). Unlike the oath to your Coven, which binds you for life, the longevity of your oath to the Witches’ Council depends on who swore it. If you swore it directly to them it lasts the rest of your life, if the Supreme of your Coven swore it on behalf of the whole Coven: it last their lifetime and has to be renewed by the next Supreme.

The Supreme Witches

The Supreme Witch of a coven is selected by The Five Trials. The coven is ruled by its Supreme and all the witches in the coven must answer to their Supreme. They are only answerable to the Witches’ Council (but only if they have sworn them the oath).

The personality of the Supreme steers the coven: a kind Supreme nourishes its coven and creates harmony, a nasty Supreme poisons the coven and creates conflict. Still it would be an offence punishable by death or exile to try to kill your Supreme, so you must simply hope for better luck next time.

The Five Trials

Every Supreme has gone through the The Five Trials and proven themselves able to command all five of the Original Powers. The Original Powers are the pure forms of the currently existing weaker powers. Only during the Trials can these once again be accessed, and only by the witches in the Trials. Any powers gained during the Trials revert to being the weaker form once the Trial is over.

Descensum: The power to enter and exit the underworld or afterlife.
Vitalium Vitalis: The power over life, can reanimate the dead.
Concilium: Controlling the minds of others.
Divination: The power to read minds, divination and see the future.
Transmutation: The power to teleport yourself, objects or feelings from one place to another.

You only enter the trial once in your life, if at all. It has been the tradition that the Supreme should personally select the witches that will partake in the Five Trials. These days it is not unusual for witches to volunteer themselves or even to be forced by the other coven members to partake. If they are willing to pay the price even a junior witch can take the Trials.

We will ask all those interested in taking the Trials to report to us on friday, and explain everything you’d need to know about taking part of them at that time. Ingame you won’t know that the trials will be held during the weekend.

The Witches’ Council

The largest and oldest recorded Coven in the world. For hundreds of years it has been the highest authority amongst the Covens. It functions as the magical communities police, legal system and army. This Coven and its Supreme are heavily guarded, its exact location is kept secret and its agents exist all over world. Its current Supreme Witch is the recently selected Alessa Caito.

The Witches’ Council can only exercise this power over those that have sworn the oath to them, and they cannot force a Supreme or any other witch to swear the oath. However it is expected that all Supremes swear the oath to the Council on behalf of their Coven. Thereby placing everyone in their Coven under the Council’s protection and power; and those who do not swear allegiance to the Council are regarded with suspicion.

Family Names and Protégés

Having a good family name can help you get into a stronger, more prestigious or even safer coven. If you have a recognisable name it most likely means you come from a long line of prominent witches or have a famous ancestor.

If you have no living family (within the magical community) and no strong family name, but you are proving to be a powerful witch, another family can take you in and give you their name. A popular practice with the Council. Most witches are impressed by a Protégé, since it means you are strong enough to be favoured by the Council, but it can also cause jealousy.

About Magic

The LARP aims for a type or realism (with magic, yes we know), but basically try to steer clear of the fantasy magical vibe present in for example Harry Potter: no wands, no abrakadabra, no magical creatures or potions that make you swap bodies. Instead think primal rituals, chants, symbols, blood and some gore. And remember all magic has a price, whether it be a headache, a nosebleed or your soul.

All magic in this universe stems from the Original Powers of The Five Trials: Descensum, Vitalium Vitalis, Concilium, Clairvoyance, Transmutation. This means that as long as you can link it to one of the powers, it can be done.

You can lend your fellow witches your strength through linking together (with a ritual, chant, joining hands etc). But you can not “give” another witch your own powers.

Tarot cards, crystals, rituals etc can all be used to channel, store, enhance or protect against magic. However the bigger the effect wanted, the more tiring and time consuming to use or create.

The Five Powers

As the covens began to die out and more witches stopped using their gifts, the powers got weaker. Pyrokinesis and Telekinesis disappeared altogether. Mortis, Vitalis, Concilium, Clairvoyance and Transfero are the five powers seen in young witches today: they are all weaker versions of the Original Powers from The Five Trials.

Your first power to develop is called your Primary Power. You will get both its greatest advantages and its greatest disadvantages. Your other powers are weaker in descending order but you can link with other witches to reach the effects of having it as a Primary Power.

Witches who share the same Primary Power have an automatically closer connection to each other. They can more easily resist when others use their own power on them and they can more easily tell when someone else is using the same power close by.

Primary Powers are the ones that can go Rogue. Playing on your power going rogue can be done but saying “Alma (insert primary power)” without directing it at any one in particular. Meaning that if a witch has Transfero as their Primary Power and doesn’t keep control over it, their most private feelings might suddenly “leak out” to those around them or transfer pain as they accidently hurt themselves. A Mortis witch might trigger their power accidentally when taken over by a sudden strong emotion or during sex. The list goes on and on.

The powers manifests differently depending on the witch: some can only use them when taken over by a strong emotion, some have no control at all and use them without meaning to, some can use them at will but not always to completion, etc. The more powerful the witch (with training) the more control they should have over their powers, but this may also mean that when they do lose control the result can be even more damaging.

It is always up to the player getting the power cast on them whether they wish to play on it or not. It is always possible to opt-out of being bewitched and to blame this on weak powers or a sudden powerful defence. This exists so that players do not feel forced to play on things they are uncomfortable with OFF. For this reason: if a player doesn’t respond the first time, they may not have heard you, if they do not respond the second time they are probably choosing not to play on it. Do not say it a third time. We do however hope you all help each other out and make great scenes together.

Mortis: Touch of Death

Mortis is the power to take life. When you kill with Mortis your victim slowly descends into Descensum: a hell dimension where their worst nightmares repeat endlessly.

If it is your Primary Power: You do not require skin contact to use it, but you must be visible to the person/s you are casting on.

If it is not your Primary Power: It requires skin contact.

It is known: That a Mortis witch can make a deal with the Gatekeeper of Descensum for a longer life in exchange for innocent souls. Because of this they are regarded as the witches “most likely to become evil one day”. An unfair title since only an extremely powerful Mortis witch could ever hope to strike such a deal.

How to use it: The words “Alma Mortis” are spoken and the victim’s body will shut down step by step as they die.

You can describe the process of their death to the player i.e. “you can feel your heart rate slowing down…” or you can hold up your hand as a counter to show them how close to their death they are (counting down with your fingers, so five is alive and zero is dead). You can also combine these methods.

You can play on being unable to complete the Mortis: leaving the victim on the brink of death or purposely do so as a form of torture. The damage to the organs caused by the Mortis remain after the witch has stopped casting.

There will be consequences: If you use Mortis too much the barrier between Descensum and your consciousness begins to break. Giving you terrible nightmares or hallucinations.

Vitalis: Power of Resurrection

The power to resurrect the dead and heal the living. This is the power that can bring someones soul back from Descensum (Mortis).

If it is your Primary Power: You can resurrect yourself from the dead.

If it is not your Primary Power: You can not resurrect yourself from the dead.

It is known: That Vitalis witches share their life force to heal others, this shortens their lifespan gradually. A powerful Vitalis witch can begin to suck the life force out of those whom they heal and prolong their own life. This can make some witches reluctant to be healed by a powerful Vitalis witch, even though it can take half a lifetime to achieve such power.

How to use it: You say the words “Alma Vitalis” and then you can either describe the process of their resurrection to the player i.e. “your can feel you heart slowly start pumping again…” or hold up your hand as a counter to show them the count down to their resurrection (counting down with your fingers, so five is dead and zero is alive). You can also combine these methods.

A slow careful resurrection is desirable and also the best way to revive someone safely. However an inexperienced witch or a time pressed one can kick start the heart like an adrenaline shock: that is not a pleasant way to be revived.

You can play on being unable to complete the Vitalis (causing terrible side effects) or might do it on purpose. Side effects of an incomplete Vitalis can include: brain damage, loss of speech, sight, or use of limbs.

There will be consequences: Vitalis takes from your life force, making you tired and shortening your life little by little. This can make a Vitalis witch less keen to use the power frequently, but young witches don’t always think too much about the future.

Concilium: Mind Control

The power to control another’s mind and body. Concilium controls the body, turning it into a tool to perform a desired task, but it can not change the true thoughts and feelings of the victim.

If it is your Primary Power: You can use it on more than one person at a time.

If it is not your Primary Power: You can only use it on one person at a time.

It is known: That a witch that casts Concilium on the same subject repeatedly creates a bond that can be hard to break, even by the witch. The constant damage to the brain tissue of the unfortunate victim also creates a zombie like state of total obedience. Fear of this can lead to powerful Concilium Witches excluding themselves (or being excluded) within their Coven.

How to use it: Eye contact with the victim is required and the words “Alma Concilium” are followed by instructions i.e. “Alma Concilium: Go get me a cup of tea”. The more logical, short, or simple the action is: the likelier it is to succeed. You can add if you don’t want them to remember you cast it on them at the end of the command.

The victim performing the task might be confused or feel trapped: fully aware of their actions but unable to stop themselves. If the victim is being exposed to Concilium repeatedly or has been under Concilium for some time this can lead to migraines, nausea and vomiting.

There will be consequences: It takes an incredibly amount of energy to use Concilium. Prolonged use will have a negative physical effect on the witch casting it such as: nosebleeds, headaches, irritability, fatigue and in worse case death.

Clairvoyance: Mind Reading

The power to read another’s thoughts and make them speak them out loud.

If it is your primary power: You can also feel the true emotions of others by saying “Alma Clairvoyance: emotional state”.

If it is not your Primary Power: You can’t feel the emotions of others around you.

It is known: That Clairvoyant witches have long been pitied in the community. As they grow stronger they require more and more control to shut out the feelings and thoughts of others around them. This constant mental shield can grow exhausting and lead to powerful witches eventually isolating themselves completely or going mad.

How to use it: Eye contact with the victim is required. The words “Alma Clairvoyance” are spoken and the victim will start speaking their thoughts out loud. This is usually just a babbling of all the thoughts going through their heads: sometimes they do not notice themselves doing this, sometimes they do but cannot stop themselves.

The witch can also ask direct questions and will most often get truthful answers.

There will be consequences: If you use Clairvoyance too much the line between your thoughts and your real voice begin to blur and you will start to say your own thoughts out loud too.

Transfero: Shifting injury and emotion to others

The power to transfer your own injuries or emotions onto others.

If it is your primary power: You can not harm yourself, even if a casting fails a Transfero witch does not get hurt.

If it is not your Primary Power: You can be hurt, if you fail at casting Transfero you keep the damage to your body.

It is known: That as Transfero witches send out their emotions and physical sensitivity they also slowly begin to lose them permanently. Long periods of feeling no physical pain or strong emotions has seen many a Transfero witch become sociopaths as the years pass by.

How to use it: Establish eye contact, say the words: “Alma Transfero” and then cause “damage” to your body in some way i.e. slap your face or say the emotion you want to transfer. The victim feels the pain/emotion in the witch’s place and will also sustain any physical damage to their body.

Loss of eye contact breaks the Transfero, but will not undo the damage already transferred. However it is very difficult to break eye contact once the transferal has begun.

There will be consequences: Prolonged use of Transfero will affect the witches impulse control and they may generally care less about the consequences of their actions.

The Dahlin Coven

Alma Dahlin built the first house in Frustunaby near the end of the seventeen hundreds. She arrived with her household and several young female wards, much to the excitement of the small community. However since the Dahlin’s and their wards kept mostly to themselves the rumours soon began to spread about Frustunaby being a place for pregnant young ladies to give birth to their unwanted bastards.

It was the local church who stepped in and refuted the rumours. The Dahlin’s, their wards, and their whole household would be present at church every sunday and even received several sermons dedicated to them. Generous donations had also begun to be received by the church around this time. The close relationship between the Dahlin Coven and the local church continued even after the death of Alma and her husband.

The coven has posed as several different types of retreats; schools, and even an orphanage through its history. However it was in 1925 when the Countess Ebba von Eckermann, a former member of the Frustunaby Girls Outdoor Club, donated Frustunaby to the Girl Guides Association that a permanent cover was created and remains to this day. It wasn’t until the merging of the Girl Guides Association with the Swedish Scout Association in 1960 that boys began to join the Dahlin Coven.

The Dahlin Coven was like most covens today: on the brink of extinction. The numbers had dwindled dramatically over the last thirty years and new applicants had become rarer and rarer. With the death of the last Supreme four years back it was clear that no new supreme would be called until the coven regained its numbers. The sudden influx of witches from other covens over the last year was promising, and the Five Trials was held. However it quickly became clear that no new Supreme would emerge and that the trial was not valid. The coven was simply not strong enough.