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Please be advised that there are two new adventures starting now. One is set in the Darkest Age setting, taking place in the Earthly Realms fantasy version of the Eleventh Century. It is called the Tomb of the Sea-Serpent King. The other is set right at the beginning of the Eldritch Flowering, highlighting the events which lead to the rise of magic and faeriedom in Europe during the Late Merovingian period between the seventh and tenth centuries. In general, the rules of most fantasy RPGs apply, although I am adhering strictly to the geography of Earth, and departing from Earth history only slightly in order to produce these settings. Have fun!

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 The Rediscovery of Magic and the Founding of the Hypatic School

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PostSubject: The Rediscovery of Magic and the Founding of the Hypatic School   Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:18 pm

The Rediscovery of Magic

When the Roman Empire was on the verge of collapse, and civilized Europe was beset with barbarian invasions from virtually all directions, there arose a hero from Byzantium who traveled along many of the aging roads of the empire. He was a nobleman, a Greek-speaking Roman equite from Cappadocia, and a Christian. His father named him George, meaning 'worker of the land,' for reasons unknown to history, as it was a departure from Roman or even Cappadocian tradition for George not to have been named after an ancestor.
George is famous for being the first human to ever slay a wyvern. Thought to be long extinct, a wyvern plagued either the Lybian town of Silene or the Syria Palaestinian town of Lydda, demanding sacrifices of sheep, and if none were available, of virgins. George convinced the townspeople to let him fight the wyvern as the champion of a young girl named Bat-Zabbai, the daughter of the local monarch. Invoking the aid of the Christian deity, George slew the wyvern and won many converts to his faith.
Threatened with martyrdom at the hands of Emperor Diocletian in Byzantium some years later, George was temporarily saved by the intervention of Zenobia, the deposed Queen of Egypt and the Palmyrean Empire. Having recovered a cache of ancient Egyptian magical and alchemical scrolls in the vaults in Byzantium, Queen Zenobia cast a spell that made George invisible to permit him to escape Diocletian's court, on the condition that George take with him the Egyptian scrolls and keep them safe from agents of the Roman Emperor.
George was unable to evade martyrdom forever, however. Eventually, imperial agents caught up with him at Nicomedia in AD 303. Diocletian allowed a young Christian monk, Sergius, to perform the last rites for George, who confessed to the holy brother the hiding place of George's keepsake of honor. Sergius was able to convey the papyri to his friend and teacher Achillas, who later became Patriarch of Alexandria. Thus, the Christian Church obtained the Egyptian Magical Papyri, and with them, the only surviving collection of practical magic knowledge from the ancients.

The Founding of the Hypatic School, the Mother of all subsequent magical learning in the western world

While Achillas taught at the Catechital School in Alexandria, he asked one of his students, Alexander, to help him translate the scrolls. Alexander, try as he might, could make no real progress in translating the papyri. Achillas brought the scrolls with him to his office at the cathedral when he became Pope of the Coptic Church in Alexandria in 313, making some small progress, keeping his notes among his other papers. It was these notes, donated to the Museum, that led to the rediscovery of the papyri. His successor and former student Alexander, still unable and uninterested in translating the papyri, sent them back to the Catechital School, where they languished for over three-quarters of a century before being rediscovered by a young female scholar named Hypatia in the year 388. A mathematician and linguist, and the daughter of a well-known philosopher, Hypatia was able to approach the papyri from an analytical angle. She noted that the hieroglyphs seemed to repeat certain sequences of syllables, regardless of their contextual placement, and compiled lists of these sequences, rendering their sounds in Greek and Latin letters. Thus was composed the Voces Magica, the definitive textbook on verbal spell components.
Before her death in AD 415 at the hands of a mob of zealous Christian monks, Hypatia was able to convey her theories and methods to a handful of Gnostic, Christian, Jewish, Pagan, and nonreligious disciples. These men and women began empirical experimentation with the Voces Magica, in conjunction with her works on mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy, as well as with the literary corpus of her father, Theon. Keeping their work secret from both religious and secular authorities, Hypatia's school of adepts soon spread throughout the rapidly-expanding Empire, from the British Isles to the Black Sea, and across the desert regions of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Not since the likes of Aristotle, Plato and Pythagoras had one scholar influenced so many thinkers. This was the beginning of the Nouanthesis, the Flowering of the Mind.
Members of the Hypatic school distinguished three disciplines of magic: goeteia (sorcery, enchantment, illusion), mageia (transformation, alchemy), and theoia (divine intervention). Christians, and to some extent Jews, eschewed the former two disciplines in favor of the latter.
Because Achillas, the priest so instrumental in the rediscovery of magic, was afraid of the power of the Emperor, he never told anyone other than Zosimos, curator of the Museum at Alexandria, how he had obtained the papyri. Zosimos eventually passed the knowledge down to his successor, Theon, from whom it made its way through his daughter Hypatia to Hypatia's disciples. To honor George, protector of magical knowledge, the Hypatic School uses a wyvern as its symbol.
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