Next month is Romancing the Capital, a brilliant reader conference put together by Eve Langlais, and as part of the event, readers can collect postcards from attending authors (they even get a little album to put them in, which is super-cool).
Being the giant nerd I am, it occurred to me that the “B-side” of a postcard was a great place to put a game. At first, I considered something like “rock-paper-scissors” but—again, giant nerd—I did a quick poll of the attendees over whether they’d like something a bit more in-depth and RPG-like, and the answer was a resounding yes.
So, now, I can unveil “Covens of the Capital.” The postcard was designed by Inkspiral Design (they’re amazing), and while my mug and some book covers are on the front side, the back-side is, indeed, a character sheet for the game.
So, how does “Covens of the Capital” work, exactly?
Well, it’s all about magic.
In Triad Blood and Triad Soul, magic is aligned along the four elements, and all the supernatural world powers need to gather in groups of three. For this game, I focused specifically on the wizards. Wizards generally have a strength in some elements and a weakness in others, though some seek to balance out their abilities as best they can.
Starting a Character
Those strengths in magic are on the character pages as dots (hexagons and squares, six of them for each type of magic), and as the game progresses, the attendees will fill in more of the dots. And whenever the dot that’s filled in is a hexagon, they can pick a specialty to learn. Those elemental magic dots (the hexagons and squares) must be filled in in order, but the specialties may be chosen in whatever order they’d like.
To start a character, an attendee can pick any two elements of magic and fill in the first dot (which are hexagons—which means you’ll have two starting specialties in two different elements) or they can choose to focus on just one element and fill in the first three dots (which means you’ll begin with two of the three specialties in one element, since the first and third dots are both hexagons).
The Magic Specialties
As each wizard fills in dots for each of the four types of magic, they’ll colour in dots that are hexagons. When they do that, they can choose one of the associated specialties (in any order they’d like) from that type of magic.
Air Magic includes Geas (using binding symbols to force other supernatural creatures to do as you wish), Wind & Weather (because who wouldn’t like to smack the person dithering in front of them at Starbucks with a gale-force wind?), and Language (why waste your time with DuoLingo if you can magic up an instant understanding of anything you read or hear?).
Earth Magic includes Healing (paper-cuts can be gone with a gesture, broken bones take a bit longer, but it’s all way, way better trying to explain vampire bite marks to a doctor), Geomancy (a little bit of quartz might be all you need to knock a demon off his feet), and Wands (hawthorne wands make Vampires very, very nervous).
Fire Magic includes Illusion (yes, this is always what I look like first thing in the morning, why?), Pyromancy (because sometimes the answer really is ‘burn it all down’), and Charm (hey, buddy, would you do me a favour?)
Water Magic includes Divination (it’s not gambling if you check the future to see which numbers are going to come up), Scrying (give me a bit of your hair and I’m better than a CCTV network), and Water, Ice, & Cold (ever wanted to summon a Canadian winter at the tip of your fingers?).
Finding a Coven
To fit with the theme of “it takes three” that exists in the Triad world, if an attendee buddies up with two other wizards, they can attempt quests together, and use any specialty any of their coven mates know (more on that below).
Wizards may only belong to one coven, however, so they should choose coven mates wisely. There’s a spot to write down their names. Once they form a coven of three wizards, they’ll each find their magic grows a little stronger: they can fill in one dot of an elemental magic in which they already have at least one filled-in dot.
So, if when they started a character they chose to begin with one dot in both Fire and Air magic, now they’ll start with two Fire dots and one Air dot, or one Fire dot and two Air dots, and be a little bit closer to their next specialty in Fire or Air.
But more importantly? They can bring coven mates with them to any quest, and if they succeed, they all reap the rewards. So when I said choosing a coven mate takes a bit of wisdom, I meant it’s wiser to find coven mates who have different specialties—which gives them all a better chance at success with the quests.
What’s a quest? Well, there are two kinds. Some can be done without checking in with me. Those four are listed on the card, and include:
Get three author signatures (which lets them fill in one Air Magic dot).
Go to three panels (which lets them fill in one Earth Magic dot).
Collect three author postcards (which lets them fill in one Water Magic dot).
And post an R.T.C. photo on social media and tag @RTCOttawa and @NathanBurgoine (which lets them fill in one Fire Magic dot).
But there are also six specific quests (marked “A” through “F”) that an attendee gets from me directly. Those quests will have two specialties tied to solving the quest, and if the character—or any of the coven-mates present—have either of those specialties, they’ll all succeed and gain the reward. Here’s what a quest might look like:
A Wolf in the Greenbelt
While walking in the greenbelt, you come across a badly wounded lone werewolf, who’s carrying a strange document in a language you’ve never even seen before. Werewolves like this one have been known to traffic in illicit magics like a sort of black market, and whatever this is, it can’t be good. He’s already lost consciousness and whatever hurt him might still be nearby.
To Succeed: You can use Healing Earth Magic to restore him to health and find out who hurt him and who he’s here to deliver the document to, or you can use Language Air Magic to translate the document for yourself, which should lead you to the buyer, or at least figure out what’s going on. [Success: gain 2 dots in any magics you already have at least one filled-in dot; that can be 1 dot in two magics, or two dots in one magic].
Otherwise: The snapping and crunching in trees makes it clear you’re out of time. Your coven grabs the document. Maybe you can find someone later who can help figure it all out. In the meanwhile, you magic up cover and make a break for it. [Gain one dot in any magic you already have at least one filled-in dot.]
So if the coven brings the right skills, they’ll succeed, and if they don’t, they’ll still learn a bit from their adventure, getting a bit stronger. There are six quests to try, and each one will have two of the different specialties as solutions.
And that’s it! I hope the attendees who want to play have fun being wizards for a few days (as far as I’m concerned, they’re already magic). And hopefully finding some coven-mates and powering up their magic will be fun.
Oh, and of course, there will be a few prizes, too.