House Tytalus, the House of Conflict
Time to read: 6 minutes
Through Conflict Comes Growth
Mircea Mirceiades Teutalios, later Latinised (incorrectly) into Marcus Mercurius Teutalus; a Graeco-Dacian sorcerer-priest of Mercury who accepted advanced training with the Baltic witch Guorna the Foetid, presumably in direct combat magic, since Tytalus was regarded by the other Founders as the most warlike and magically violent of them all, and was known for using unusual magical techniques. Tytalus joined the Order, largely to learn the Parma Magica and use it to eliminate his rapacious and malevolent mistress. In doing so, Tytalus was cursed with leprosy, and the disease has often accompanied the House, striking down its most powerful magi. Tytalus believed fiercely that only through taking the position of adversary could you nurture something, and he was one of the last to join the Order, partly because he thought it a good idea. Tytalus disappeared in 802ad, in the Maddenhofen Woods of Saxony, having challenged the Queen of Summer to a game of chance. He was never seen again.
Tytalus' apprentice Pralix is often also considered a Founder - although she always described herself as a follower of Tytalus, she was present at the Founding and later instrumental in the creation of House ex Miscellanea, from the army of native magicians she formed to combat The Spider.
Symbol and Iconography
House Tytalus’ symbol is a left-handed spiral; the so-called “ghost-trap” of the Balkan hedge-wizards, and a symbol of power of the “left-handed path”. Like everything else about House Tytalus, nine different explanations exist for the choice of symbolism, none of them true.
When depicted in person, Tytalus is dressed in a red toga over white tunic, but it is worn reversed from the other Founders. In each hand, Tytalus holds a sphere, one white and one black. Sometimes one of the spheres is replaced with an apple, representing forbidden knowledge. Occasionally a chessboard is represented, at other times a pair of dice. In every representation of him, Tytalus is always smiling.
What The House Is All About
The core philosophy of House Tytalus is, simply, that nothing ever gets anywhere by standing still. In order to grow, advance, evolve and change, the House must constantly seek out, and if necessary engineer conflict, combat and tests of every kind and shape.
Tytalus philosophy is all about beating your opponent or being beaten thereby but in either case coming away the richer in experience. Few Tytalus magi relish slaying an opponent because no-one gains the chance to better themselves thereby. Leave an enemy alive and he may come back cleverer, sharper and be able to teach you a thing or two in a decade or so.
Nor should this love of conflict be assumed to make every Tytalus magus a violent troublemaker. Some seek their conflict in political and social arenas, others in martial combat, others still in dancing the fine line of the Code, others again in the challenges of magic. But across the board, there are a few constants – Tytalus magi are seldom bored, even if they pretend to be; they are usually entertained beyond belief at their own cleverness; and inevitably, they are somewhere between one and five steps ahead of everyone around them – until they aren’t.
- Alyx, Maga ex Tytalus (Covenant of Carthago in Montibus)
- Carmine, Maga ex Tytalus (Covenant of Valnastium)
Also of Interest
- Archmagum Nauvi ex Tytalus, Former Praeco of the Greater Alps (Missing presumed Dead)
- Romulus ex Bonisagus (Cave of Twisting Shadows) - trained as Tytalus for 12 years before being taken as an apprentice by a Bonisagus, and you can certainly tell.
- Pietro, Archmage ex Flambeau (Icy North) - hard to know for sure, but his behaviour suggests some Tytalus input in his training. That's a nasty combination.
- Archmage Thibaut the Leper, Primus Tytalus - based at the covenant of Fudarus in Normandy, which is assumed to have recently fallen in the English invasion.
- Thibaut ex Tytalus - a member of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, apparently unconnected to the above, and not a leper.
The Leopard in Winter
The current state of the House is an inevitable consequence of generations of scheming, mistrust and political warfare. All that’s left is a handful of extremely old and powerful Archmagi so wrapped up in their plots against one another and so paranoid of their own safety they would never risk training an apprentice, someone privy to their secrets. Alyx and Carmine – neither of them young magi and both of them filii of Archmagum Nauvi, who may still be alive out there somewhere – are by far the youngest surviving Tytalus; with the mystery surrounding Fudarus and rumours that several of the House’s elders have recently passed into Final Twilight, the House’s membership now is numbered in single figures with little chance of it recovering.
The Fate of Fudarus and the Primacy
Fudarus, the hidden fortress on the Brittany coast, was long the House’s centre of power but since the invasion of the English army no word comes from there, and auguries and omens speak of the passing of the Primus and his two beloved rivals. If that’s true and Fudarus is fallen, then one of the remaining Tytalus magi will soon begin to show signs of Tytaus’ curse – leprosy. It passes from Primus to Primus-presumptive, carrying with it the responsibility of leadership. It will be incumbent on whoever next takes the leper’s staff to decide if House Tytaus will burn bright or fade into the dark in its final days.
Player Guidance for Playing Into the Tropes for House Tytalus
House Tytalus is all about style over substance – but only so long as there is plenty of both. Whatever you do, make sure that you are best at it. Remember that it is not all about winning, but it is all about winning and looking good doing it. In the great game, how you play is just as important as the result, so long as you win of course.
Others will regard you as untrustworthy, dishonest, smug and slippery but you do not care because you just know how much cleverer you are than anyone else. Other magi may gas and bluster, but you are a Tytalus and you wear the shroud of sinister suspicion that name carries like a robe of Imperial purple. Other magi dream of acquiring the air of smug self-confidence that is yours by divine right.
You are never fazed by anything, because you've always got a contingency plan. You are never surprised, merely unexpectedly amused. And most of all, everything happened that way because you planned it to, whether you actually did or not.