House Flambeau, the House of Light

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Time to read: 6 minutes


Credo

Enough time will destroy anything


Founder

Reculed Annaeas Senecas – “Flambeau” - is a rather obscure figure. He left few writings, partly because he learned letters late in his life and was never comfortable with a quill in his hand. His history and identity have been appropriated by both his House and their detractors to suit particular purposes over the generations; he has been everything from a Zoroastrian transcendentalist exploring the dualistic ethos through application of the light of Ohrmuzd, to a bloodthirsty, hot-headed Christian Reconquista, hurling himself into battle without cause or consequence, flames streaming from his lance and the hooves of his horse. His legend is caught up inextricably with the Chanson de Roland and Charlemagne, and with the Roman cult of Mithras, the Unconquered Sun, but detail is sparse. He is rumoured to have made the sword Durandal, which features in the legend of Roland, and carried a talisman known as the Eye of Charybdis, which was for many years the symbol of the Primus until lost in Iberia.

Flambeau had become one of the most feared wizards in Europe by the time Trianoma approached him with an offer to join the Order. Flambeau took perhaps more convincing than most about the wisdom of such a pact until Trianoma, in exasperation, demanded that if he was so doubtful of the efficacy of the Parma Magica, then perhaps he ought to try and kill her. His failure persuaded him of the value of such a charm, and he became one of the most avid recruiters to the Order in its formative years, hoping to build it into a military alliance by bolstering its might with a multitude of bellicose followers, by force if necessary. He came to believe in time, though, that the Order could be a league of honourable Magi who could bring an end to the treachery and petty rivalries so common among European wizards before the Founding, and committed to the project with a unique passion and zeal. His enthusiasm was contagious and brought many more magi into the cause than his threats. Whatever he was, Flambeau was no idiot.


Symbol and Iconography

House Flambeau’s symbol is an hourglass. More traditional Flambeau magi also use the symbol of a flaming spear or sword. Depictions of Flambeau himself are quite rare nowadays but, when shown, he wears either a red or orange toga over white garments. His hair is wild and unbound; he bears either a sheathed sword or a spear in place of the traditional staff, and is occasionally drawn as girt for battle in lorica segmentata, although the toga is still evident. He is usually represented as laughing or smiling, and is commonly surrounded by an aura of flames.


What The House Is All About

Honour, passion and conviction to a cause. Members of House Flambeau are fiercely independent, but in their hearts, they believe that magic is meant to be used and hold a deep commitment to serving the Order.

House Flambeau is direct and aggressive, often participating in wars with other wizards, as well as taking sides in mundane conflicts. Its members typically specialise in magics of fire and explosion, but the Apromor tradition is also strong, and is gaining power and popularity within those of the wider House who still survive.

Although there is no formal hierarchy and there are no House offices other than that of (the currently vacant) Prima, there is a loose pecking order based on individual prestige. Flambeau Magi place great esteem on practical ability: those who make significant achievements gain respect and status in the House. On the other hand, Magi who accomplish little or display a reluctance to act can lose prestige.

Flambeau admire achievement above all else, though each Maga within the House follows her own path to personal glory. This could be anything from fighting perceived enemies of the Order, to leading a Hermetic political movement, to writing great books to enlighten and inspire future generations of Magi. Theirs has been a vigorous and active House, deeply involved in all aspects of Hermetic society.

House Flambeau have a reputation for sometimes exceeding the boundaries of the Code. Many of them were active in the Crusades and Reconquista, the Code’s clause against mundane interference notwithstanding. More recently, the House has seen active duty in the Livonian Crusades and on the battlefields of France; the last Primus fell at the disastrous Battle of Crécy.

The House has also been at the forefront of any magical combat the Order has seen, be it against external threat or internal strife. They fought fiercely against The Spider, and then the House Forgotten in The Schism War, and were on the front lines with the Archmagi at the Siege of Coeris, acting decisively in the following Masassa Wars against House Unnamed. More Hoplites are drawn from House Flambeau than any other House.

The mid 1200s represented a difficult time in Flambeau history, starting with a period of protracted peace. With few overt threats looming before the Order, House Flambeau had no unified cause around which it could rally. Its members became divided, pursuing their own priorities and creating rival factions within the House. Recruitment grew increasingly difficult as the House seemed to lack a collective purpose, and yet maintained a staggeringly high attrition rate.

In 1296, ruin and dishonour shook the House to its foundations as the internal rivalries took a malevolent turn. In the ever-escalating quest for power, a significant cadre of House Flambeau involved in the ongoing Reconquista in Spain were exposed as devil-worshippers and summoners of demons. Asserting authority to deal with its own, the House tore itself apart over a period of seven years, rooting out and destroying the so-called Shadow Flambeau, but causing massive reputational and physical damage in the process. By 1304, when the last Shadow Flambeau was slain by Jacinta, the attention of secular and Church power was brought to the affair, and the consequences for the Covenants of Iberia were grim; within 2 years Order influence on the peninsula was obliterated.

House Flambeau's strength and reputation were shattered, and whilst individual Flambeau are held in esteem and high regard in the Order, the House itself has never truly recovered. There is a feeling the halcyon days have ended; their numbers have been decimated, the Papal Bull of 1320 made them a particular target due to their more overt displays of power which, in themselves feel more suited to a bygone age. The House still attracts young hotheads, but they do not tend to last very long, even if they can seek out a member willing to apprentice them. Those of the House who do survive past forty are singularly dangerous and, like their Founder, no idiots.


Attendees

  • Jacinta, Archmaga ex Flambeau, of the Line of Apromor (Covenant of the Icy North)
  • Pietro, Archmage ex Flambeau, Hoplite to the Tribunal (Covenant of the Icy North)
  • Bohemond of Antioch, Magus ex Flambeau, known to some as Bohemond Fieschi (Covenant of the Shadow of the Moon)


Also of Interest
  • Iapetus ex Flambeau (Thebes Tribunal)
  • Numen Africanus ex Flambeau (Roman Tribunal)
  • Godemar du Fai ex Flambeau (Of No Fixed Abode)

Current Interests

Hearth and Home

The Primacy has lain empty for over a year. Traditionally, whenever the position becomes vacant, members of House Flambeau gather at the Domus Magnaus to elect a new one, but the House does not currently have a home, and so has sent out a summons to all surviving Flambeau - the Tribunal is to be the time to elect a new leader, with the victor’s Covenant becoming the new Domus Magnaus. Magi who cannot attend are allowed to vote by proxy. Distressingly few confirmations of attendance have been received in return.

The election process is tumultuous and disorganised and is sometimes described by attendees as a ‘bragging tournament’. Prominent Flambeau magi proclaim their candidacy and make blustering speeches about their magnificent accomplishments and their glorious plans for the House’s future. Speeches, debates and occasional voting continues, presided over by a Quaesitor and sometimes for several days, until a final winner emerges.


War and Innovation

The Order needs protecting, now more than ever, but from an ephemeral foe; time. The Order’s biggest threat is also the House’s; how does one sustain and remain relevant in an ever-changing world which is leaving you behind? How does one fight the march of progress? Without a clear direction or cause, House Flambeau’s purpose is no longer as manifest as it once was and, as Flambeau himself was fond of pointing out; enough time will destroy anything.

Even in the House’s more familiar theatres of war, times are changing; the adoption of gunpowder on the battlefields of Europe levels the playing field, and makes the previously unique niche Flambeau Mages held, whilst not obsolete, certainly greatly diminished. But it is the contemporary strategies and attitudes to war which cause the most soul-searching for the House; the rise of disciplined infantry and the longbow, plus the ever-evolving tactics they enable means there is rarely need or want for a lone, courageous knight to break rank and hurtle towards insurmountable enemies in pursuit of excellence anymore. When you are a House of princes and no subjects, this makes for a troublesome quandary. A few, like Bohemond, have embraced the shift in focus and garnered reputations as master tacticians, in demand on all sides, but still; the battlefields of Europe are littered with the bodies of many a young Flambeau whose hunger for the fray was brought to an untimely end in the face of overwhelming progress.


Player Guidance for Playing Into the Tropes for House Flambeau

Turn your volume knob to 11. Many of the House play up to their tropes because it is precisely what others expect of them. But any surviving Flambeau is wickedly smart and singularly dangerous, and foes who take their bluster and bravado as hollow threat woefully underestimate the House of Light, and the true danger conviction to a cause can bring.

Flambeau favour “fire” colours – reds, blacks, yellows, and oranges – and tend towards ostentatious robes over efficient clothes – big cloaks that can be used as parrying or confusing weapons, or dropped fast freeing arms for casting or battle. Most are proficient with at least one mundane weapon.

Many of them see combat as the purest test of strength and the greatest source of glory. While not all members are single-minded fighting machines, they do share a sense that combat prowess makes them an elite within the Order. Many see themselves as the maintainers of the Order’s peace and protectors of their less-violent colleagues.

It is easy to see the House as zealots and fanatics, and while some certainly are, what the Flambeau are really about is passion. Don’t do anything unless you can put your heart, body and soul into it – whatever you do, for that moment, that is the single most important thing in the world to you.




A Timeline of Events - The Houses in 1346 - The Greater Alps in 1346



Introduction to Ars Magica - The Order in 1346 - A Who's Who of Attendees - How the Game is Played