@RogerBW asked for a die roll:
OK, Eyes of the Eagle appears to be +21, so:
stress 1+21: 0 (no botch), +21 = 21
and Int + Magic Theory + Corpus = 3 + 3 + 5 = +11
d10+11: 21

Eyes of the Eagle… the flow of magic isn’t quite with you today and you have to catch your breath after the effect ends… Still you have brought the carvings on the bone wand well into your sight.

Yes, it is mainly a Perdo Corporem effect. In fact there are two triggers to the same Perdo Corporem effect. So it probably isn’t one of the spells that will kill instantly or why repeat it? But there is something else there. The carvings aren’t entirely in the familiar Hermetic sigils of your training. There are variants you aren’t familiar with. Perhaps a specialised technique known only to enchanters? Known only to necromancers? It seems to involve elements of the Mentem Art which affect spirits. More than that you are not certain except to say that there is a third trigger bound to it.

Time to invent the laboratory rat. Or mouse or rabbit or other small animal as can be had conveniently.

(Assuming that a trigger would not typically specify “humans” rather than “creatures”; obviously I don’t know about this specific one.)

Also make a copy of what symbols I can, for the benefit of Mistress Julia.

@MichaelCule asked for a die roll:
Rats are few in the covenant…

But you can go to the fields outside and see what you can find.

Perception plus awareness.

stress 1+7: 1 × 4 = 4, +7 = total 11

Which is good enough to find and entice a dormouse into your clutches.

You take it back down to the cellar and let it go. The silly creature just sits there and nibbles a bit of straw until you clap your hands loudly and it goes up the corridor…

Nothing happens. And then you remember the tedious debates about why Corpus doesn’t affect animals and Animal does not affect humans.

The creature goes around the corner… and you hear a scritching sound and a ‘snap’ sound followed by the irritated scritching of a dormouse.

Ah. So the lab rat will have to be technically human. That seems like an interesting and perverse project.

OK, get the symbols to Mistress Julia. I think I’ve reached the end of what I can do from my own resources; I can’t study the magic, I can’t break the thing, I can’t destroy it at a distance.

(If you feel you detect a mild frustration, you are correct. Still getting a feel for what is possible and what isn’t.)

Julia is in her laboratory when you contact her. Her apprentice says he will see if she can make herself available and when she hears your report she says she will come down and see. Her apprentice comes down with her and they go past the grog standing guard.

“Well, from what you’ve said I think you’re right to be cautious about getting too close to the wand. An enchantment left by a necromancer? It might fail to penetrate your Parma… or it might not. He’d have to be assuming that only a fellow magus would violate his sanctum, possibly one coming in Wizard’s War. Hmm, what’s the best way to do this? You don’t have any of the Terram magic some in your house specialise in? Not capable of going through the walls? Or melting them? No? On the other hand do you know a significant amount of Corpus already? Because the wand is made of bone. You could try to shatter it with Perdo or tear it out of the setting with Rego… Hmm, it’s odd.”

When you ask what she replies: “When I last saw Florian he was seated at the far end of the corridor just before the door to the main part of the Sanctum. His breath was rattling in his throat and he looked… Well, very ill indeed. I would have sworn he could not have lasted more than a few minutes. But there’s no sign of his body. Well, perhaps he found enough strength to crawl to where his master was.”

(Try looking at the Perdo Corpus (p133) and Rego Corpus (p134) guidelines.

Destroying a Corpse is Base level five. Moving a body (living or dead) in a regular fashion is Base Level 3.

One thing that would increase the difficulty would be the fact that it’s only a body part which is harder than a whole body. The thing that might reduce it would be spending raw Vis to boost it. And a thing that another player pointed out to me is the option to boost by loud noise and strong gestures (p83) which can add another +2. My mistake not including that under the current circumstances.)

“If it was not Desiderius who did this, it got through the Parma of a necromancer.”

Well, we’re better at Perdo than Rego, but with those difficulties it comes out the same.

(Charm Against Putrefaction doesn’t seem to differ between “a body” and “a body part”. and that’s Corpus. I know, it’s a Rein•Hagen game originally, I can’t expect consistency.)

Let’s try Rego Corpus, with lots of noise and gestures, which shouldn’t need to move it far – just enough to dislodge it from the already-damaged ceiling. Do I correctly apprehend that that would be 0 (Rego) +5 (Corpus) +2 (noisy)? And difficulty to be determined, but starting at 3. I’m not trying to move one body part and leave the rest behind…

@MichaelCule asked for a die roll:
Yes, with a further +3 for the Aura of the Covenant.

(And it might be a spell left unaltered when a new rule was introduced. SInce the game’s history contains several things that they admit don’t perfectly fit their Magic Theory let’s take it as permission to be generous.)

stress 1+10: 1 × 4 = 4, +10 = total 14

And halved that’s seven which is enough to move the bone. (Actually it should have been plus +11 overall because it’s with shouting as well but that makes no difference to the halved roll.)

Make a Finesse plus Strength roll to pull it from the ceiling and bring it down not pointing the business end at you.

@RogerBW asked for a die roll:
That appears to be 0+0.
stress 0: 1 × 2 = 2, = total 2

Well, it’s not a botch…

The wand resists being pulled free but the magic is strong enough to get it out of the ceiling. It falls to the floor directly under where it was and unbroken. It is still pointing it’s business end at you but a second casting (after you’ve caught your breath) would allow you to turn it around and put it in a sealed box. Let us skip that trivial result and get to the point at which the corridor is open to you.

You head down the corridor with a lantern and get to the far end. You briefly open the door to the privy and hear the sound of water flowing in a stream below it. Any wastes are long since washed away.

Turning to the left you see that there are a pair of rooms to your right as you look through the door: probably quarters for the magus and a store-room if the plan is one of the usual ones for beginning workshops. Where would the apprentice have slept? Perhaps in the same room as the master perhaps on a cot in the store-room. Very few mages provide the apprentice with a room of their own.

To your left is the open area of the laboratory. There are benches and shelves to the sides of the room, laden with scrolls or instruments all a little dusty. The floor is marked with circles for summoning but they don’t appear to be active. There is a space beyond that where there are some tables with writing and drawing implements resting on them. Beyond them one side (the North side on the right of the room as you turn to look at the room) the stone of the basement has been opened up and there are alcoves carved out of the dark earth up there: there are alcoves… those look like niches for corpses and some of them have corpses, wrapped in linens, in them!

There is a scent of musty decay in the place.

On the floor before the tables are some robes. There is no one in them. On the ground there are what looks like some broken pieces of pottery.

There is no sign of any corpses… well apart from the linen wrapped ones in the earthen alcoves.

Any sign of the dormouse? I saw very roughly which way it went; that “snap” worries me. (The spring mousetrap won’t be invented until the 1800s, though there are wooden snare things as far back as ancient Greece. But they wouldn’t “snap”.) Failing that, I’ll take a look at the pottery (no touching yet) trying for any inscriptions or a general shape.

We’re talking about necromancers here, so I would expect at least some of these corpses to have a little more liveliness than is conventional.

@MichaelCule asked for a die roll:
Looking around you can’t see the dormouse… But there is the sound of claws scritching on wood coming from behind the curtain that covers the entrance to the store room. Looking inside there is a cot under a counter and a lot of supplies for enchantment and note taking. The rodent is trapped inside a cage made of a leather base and thin strips of leather extending from it which have somehow bent themselves up and tied themselves together trapping the mouse inside.

A magical mouse trap! A fairly typical apprentice’s first enchantment. Probably one use if the master doesn’t want to waste vis on teaching the basics. The dormouse looks at you reproachfully as if it remembers who dragged it out of its nice field and put in a dangerous hole in the ground.

None of the corpses do anything other than lie there and moulder.

The pottery is marked with runes but of a sort you’re not familiar with. Some of them do remind you of the markings at the tail end of the bone wand.

The pottery once formed a tube but now has broken into fragments that make it hard to reconstruct. You think that at one end there was a grip reminiscent of a dagger’s handle and that part contains an Onyx stone and a Star Ruby.

The end with the handle looks as if it were closed off. The other end of the tube looks open.

There is also, lying a little way off a small stone which has also been carved with runes of enchanment.

Two (unstressed) Int Plus Magic Theory rolls, one with a plus one…

d10+7: 13

d10+6: 7

The pottery shards make reconstructing the purpose of the tube harder. You are sure now that the runes on the handle end include some which refere to Mentem in the sense of discorporate spirit. You also believe that there was something held in the handle which travelled along the rest of the tube: the runes on the interior of the tube have been scratched along the length of it. What the aim of the enchantment was, you’re not sure.

The stone is a lot easier to figure out. It is an Arcane Connection to the place it was taken from and was ‘fixed’ to ensure its usefulness does not expire.

All right. So we have, first, a deliberately damaging thing set into the ceiling. Is it the nature of that the sort of thing that one could tell not to discharge at selected people? Because a thing that (affects) people coming in without permission would seem like an obvious defence.

Then we have this pottery tube. My working theory is that the breaking of this might have caused the primary effect of disease. Does our cosmology include spirits of disease, or is disease just the result of bad airs as everyone knows?

@MichaelCule asked for a die roll:
The thing in the ceiling is likely to have been a standard defence device to prevent unauthorised persons from entering past the Sanctum marker carved above the door leading to the corridor into the lab.

It’s not possible to tell from how you found it how long it had been in place. Someone had to have dug the channel in the stone of the roof that it fitted into and then replastered over the damage and repainted the roof to hide the work.

It is possible to create the spell so that it will exclude named persons (obviously including the wizard himself) and classes of persons. Classes are more complicated. You don’t believe you could easily ‘reprogram’ (not that this is the term Diligentus would use) a simple enchantment once it is set in place.

Which requires a Magic Theory roll…

stress 1+6: 1 × 4 = 4, +6 = total 10

There are several known methods of securing a place against everybody but the wizard himself and to allow an apprentice to be granted access later. One of which would be to have a device with a spirit bound into it. It would be the most flexible device: you could allow an apprentice access while they were under instruction and then disallow them again after they passed their Gauntlet.

The victim was a necromancer. The half of necromancy that doesn’t deal with bodies deals with spirits of the dead.

As to diseases: it is well known that it is the imbalance in humours that causes them. The bad airs, unfavourable stars and inappropriate diet are merely the exterior triggers. You have studied enough of the art of Corpus to know that causing a disease is a medium to high level spell. A spell that caused a disease as contagious as the one Julia reported seeing, that killed that quickly would definitely be moving into the high level range, perhaps so high that it would need ritual magic and the appropriate expenditure of Vis to do it.

And it occurs to me to add that destroying both the bodies would be a lesser effect but still a separate one from killing them.

OK. So we assume the bone in the ceiling is not germane to the reported unusual events.

A working theory is that this broken pottery tube is related to the causing of disease. (But apparently it does not at this point cause diseases in dormice. Of course, if it’s corpus…)

Even if it’s been some time since the deaths I’d expect to see skeletons.

Do any of the corpses look a lot more recently-wrapped than the rest? Not that I’m any sort of expert.

How are the robes arranged? As if someone had vanished while standing up, as if they’d lain down first? How many sets? Stronger smells there?