Doissetep, Ancestral Chantry of the Order of Hermes

History:

The early history of Doissetep remains shrouded in mystery.  Legend claims that it was founded by the Pure Ones, but most disbelieve this.  Slightly more reputable level connects the chantry's origins to a pre-historic sorceror-king in Thailand named Hwa Ku, who may now be one of the Oracles.  For reasons which remain unclear, after centuries of existence, the Chantry was moved to Turkey around the 8th century AD.  Hermetic records claim the move was the result of the chantry falling under the control of a Nephandic necromancer, who moved the Chantry to an extinct volcano, Nemrut Dagi, in eastern Turkey in 781 AD.  Whatever the exact cause, magi of Houses Bonisagus, Flambeau, Questitor, and Tytalus attacked and conquered the necromancer in 876 AD, and in 891 AD, they moved the entire complex to the Spanish Pyrenees, north of Gerona.

For centuries, Doissetep served as the public central base of the Hermetic Order, the place at which the Council of Primi met to set policies for the order, and the place at which the largest decisions which shaped the Order were made.  It was here that the great pronouncement which set off the foolish Schism War against House Deidne was made by House Quaestitor, and here that in 1201, House Tremere was formally expelled from the Order, setting off the Massassa War, which largely pre-occupied the Houses of Hermes during the crucial years of the rise of the Order of Reason.  Several Cabals of Doissetep became involved in the exploration of the Spirit World; this proved the later salvation of the Chantry, for it was their explorations which gave Doissetep control of several of the Nodes of Mars.

Unfortunately, by 1448, Doissetep had fallen into Winter, and the Chantry was locked in internal power struggles between many different factions, who blamed each other for the decline of magic and the rise of the Scourge.  As a result, when the Order of Reason launched their assault, the chantry fell to the forces raised against it.  However, led by the Drua'shi cabal, many of the magi evacuated the facility to Mars, though much damage resulted.  This marked the beginning of their rise to dominance in Doissetep.

Paranoid after the assault, Doissetep tended to seal itself off, thus missing the chance to assume leadership over the Traditions, when it refused to host the Convocation which founded the traditions.  Members of the Drua'shi and several other cabals did contribute to the construction of Horizon, which became the central leadership chantry of the Nine Traditions.  By the late 15th century, however, Doissetep controlled half of Mars and had secured its nodes on Earth.  Led by Master Paracelsus of House Bonisagus, Doissetep tried to act to preserve Hermetic power on Earth by influencing the rising universities.  Unfortunately, this plan backfired, as the Order of Reason turned the schools to its own account.

After the failure of this plan, under the influence of the Drua'shi, Doissetep tended to turn its attention outwards to Umbral exploration, and to the perfection of the Hermetic paradigm, becoming a great school for the training of Hermetic magi, but making little effort to give direction to the Hermetic order as a whole.  Several centuries passed in which the Drua'shi consolidated their power over the Chantry.  In the nineteenth century, several of the cabals became more involved with the Earth again, backing the rise of various Sleeper organizations which studied Hermetic lore.  While few Awakened, many Sorcerors were produced by these societies, some of whom now dwell in Doissetep itself.

The next major shakeup came with World War II.  The alliance between the Traditions and the Technocracy against the Nephandi which formed over the course of the war also brought the mages of Doissetep into closer alliance with the other Traditions, who had long been excluded from membership in Doissetep. Now, members of other Traditions were allowed to join (Some of those approving this hoped to eventually draw such magi into the order itself).  One consequence of this was the creation of Marsbase One, a chantry of the Sons of Ether, who wished to explore the ancient ruins to be found on Mars itself.

Unfortunately, Doissetep now finds itself riven by conflicts over the proper purpose of the Chantry.  Some seek to turn it into a War Chantry, dedicating to using its massive resources against the Technocracy and/or Nephandi.  Others see it as more properly a refuge for Hermetics and a place for study and training of apprentices.  Yet others call for a more subtle war for the Paradigm. Some believe that Doissetep should lead a war to secure control of the Spirit Realms.  And finally, some simply seek to take over.  The next page in its history has yet to be written...
 

Geography:

Doissetep is located in the Penumbra of the planet Mars.  They lay claim to the entire Penumbra of Mars, although this control remains disputed with a group of werewolves.  Most of the 'northern' half of the planet is controlled by Doissetep, while most of the 'southern' half is controlled by the werewolves.  Much of the landscape is made up of plains of red dust and badlands, cut through by rivers and canals, along which narrow, but fertile strips of land boom with greenery.  The natural leylines of the planet follow the rivers and canals, and ruins of ancient cities (and Nodes) can be found at the points where the lines intersect.  The Order of Hermes controls some thirty six such ruins, the largest of which, built inside the caldera of an ancient volcano, overlaps in part with the Shade Realm of Forces, forming what is effectively a Horizon Realm.

The central fortress of Doissetep is a huge sprawling building, constantly built and rebuilt over the years, until it is now a chaotic architectural nightmare.  Someone may actually know the entire layout, but no maps of the entire place are known to exist, and it is riddled with secret passages and forgotten rooms.  The layout of the main building will be described later.

The central fortress is surrounded by a small town in which the many consors, acolytes, servants, etc, dwell.  This is known as High Town.  Low Town is a second town, the center of the farming operations which surround the mountain for many miles.  Low Town is also home to a Sons of Ether Chantry, Marsbase One, aka Bradbury City, which is dedicated to studying the archaeological ruins of the Martian Penumbra.  The Sons of Ether also help out with the agriculture, which has enabled a population boom, as they are quite skilled at turning infertile soils into fertile ones, and have tapped deep sources of water down below the surface.

Each of the thirty five other ruins controlled by the Chantry has a base manned by the Vantikor, the army of the Chantry (30) or by the Sons of Ether (5).  Some of the Cabals of Doissetep use these ruins for special experiments in the various spheres.  Most of the time, they simply funnel their Quintessence along the ley lines back to Doissetep.

Little is known of the geography of the southern half of the Penumbra, due to its long-term domination by the Werewolves.  They are known to serve Nerigal, an Umbrood Lord of great power.  Rumor has it that much of the southern half is frequently frozen over, and the rest is mostly badlands and desert.  Nerigal himself is thought to reside in a dead volcano.

The moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, also possess weak Penumbrae, and the moon Phobos is home to an Umbral Outpost of the Chantry, Eris, manned by the Cabal of the Case-Hardened Soul.

The Horizon Realm:

Population:

The ancient fortress of Doissetep is a great gothic sprawl, an architectural nightmare which is the result of dozens of renovations and explosions over the years.  Rumor has it that some parts of the Fortress have been accidentally sealed off, possibly with people still in them.  Some of the people may well not have noticed.  Architectural style changes from room to room, and in some large rooms, it may well change in the middle.

Loosely speaking, the lowest floors house apprentices and servants and contain various public areas.  The middling levels are home to libraries and labs and the lesser magi.  The highest masters tend to live on the highest floors, and in the oldest parts of the building.

There are several areas of particular note:

The Libraries

It's debatable as to whether Doisstep or Horizon or Gutenberg (The Technocracy Central Library, an NWO Horizon Realm) has the biggest libraries in the universe, but the libraries of Doissetep are as much as anyone is likely to ever need.  Doisstep has the equivalent of a Level 10 library on all 9 of the Spheres, another one on the Occult, and one on a mixture of History, Geography, Hermetic Lore, and Cosmology.  It possesses many lesser libraries on some topics as well.  The libraries sprawl across an entire wing of the fortress on its north side, built by a Correspondence Master of House Bonisagus centuries ago.  Only the Librarians, led by Master Benito Laschini bani Bonisagus, Master of Correspondence and Matter, actually really understand how the place is laid out.  Masters are allowed to browse freely; everyone else must go through the Librarians to get books brought to them.

As part of the effort to update Doissetep, two Virtual Adept Magi and six Virtual Adept Sorcerors have been allowed to begin building an electronic card catalog of the library.  They really need massively more help, but Master Benito would rather not have them present at all...

The Certamen Arenas

There are twelve Certamen Arenas, each named after one of the original Houses of Hermes.  Each is basically a large courtyard with many second story balconies and a large stone circle in the center which has been turned into a Talisman capable of raising the Parma Magica over the arena once a duel begins.  It's considered lucky to duel in the Arena associated with your House.  The 'dead' houses' arenas are typically used by those houses which have arisen since the glory days of the Order, or by non-Hermetics who wish to engage in Certamen.

The Chamber of the Deacons:

The Deacons of Doissetep meet in this twelve-sided chamber around a twelve-sided table.  Each of the chairs is embossed with the House or Tradition Sigil of whoever holds that seat, as is the matching door.  Expensively furnished, the room resounds with magical comforts from climate control to invisible servitors to ever flowing wine bottles.  It has been somewhat traditional for new Deacons to add some new enchantment to the room upon taking office; indeed, it's generally believed that probably half the enchantments in the room have been forgotten over the years, sometimes leading to odd events when they are accidentally triggered.

The room is very, very, very heavily shielded against scrying.  The punishments for spying on Council meetings often leave people wishing they'd been Gilguled.  Still, rumors persist that a fair number of people do it anyway...

The Great Hall

This great arching hall is decorated with hundreds of paintings of the great heroes and triumphs of the Order of Hermes.  Twelve chairs, one for each of the Deacons, sit atop a high dais at the far end of the hall, and four rows of pillars support the ceiling along the entire 400 foot length of the hall.  Many visitors have compared it to a sort of Hermetic Cathedral in style and impact.  Trapped Fire elementals burn inside spheres hung from the ceiling to provide light; Air elementals keep the room cool; Earth Elementals keep it in impeccable repair, and Water elementals are periodically released to keep it clean.

The hall is used for major ceremonies, and most spectacularly during the election and swearing in of Deacons.  The rest of the time, it sits empty except for the occassional visitor who comes to remind himself of the Order's past glories to help forget losses in the present.

The 'Dungeon'

Recently, a pair of apprentices accidentally smashed a hole in the back wall of their closet, and found it opened into one of the sealed off portions of Doissetep.  In this case, it seems likely that the sealing was deliberate instead of an accident.  A great maze of rooms exists on the other side, inhabited by various fantastic creatures who seem to have been spawned by the Quiet of a long missing member of House Tremere (perhaps the only surviving master of that now extinguished house), Master Demetrius Marcus bani Tremere.   It was decided by the Panel of Deacons to install a proper seal to keep the creatures locked in, and allow those who wish to test their skills to enter and do battle with Master Demetrius' delusions.  Many of the younger mages greatly enjoy the challenge, and it seems that interaction with others may be starting to crack Demetrius' Quiet.  It is hoped he will eventually return to being a productive member of the community.

It remains unclear as to who ordered him sealed away 643 years ago...

The 'Court of Spheres'

It remains unclear as to what the original purpose of this chamber was.  It's a hundred and fifty foot long, fifty foot wide hallway, with a line down the middle the short way dividing it into two halves, with an iron hoop set into the wall at the long ends, about twelve feet off the ground.  Whatever the original purpose, it's been turned into a basketball court by the junior members of the chantry.  Apprentices play pure basketball, while the Initiates are known for playing anything goes Basketball with unrestricted use of magic.
 

The Hall of the Founders

This great hall at one time held statues of all of the twelve Primi (founders) of the Order of Hermes.  However, Tremere and Diedne have both been removed since the expulsion of those houses, leaving blatant gaps in the arrangement of the statues and related mosaics on the walls.  Periodically, calls are made to remove the other fallen Houses' founders and replace them with statues of the founders of the more modern Houses, but the panel of Deacons continues to resist this.  The Hall opens into a small museum devoted to the history of the Order; sooner or later, every apprentice tours it.
 

The Gateways

Buried deep beneath the castle is a sixty-sided room.  Each of the doors in the walls of gold is a portal to some place in the Umbra--realms, chantries, garbage dumps, and so on.  A company of Vantikor is always posted here.
 
 
 

High Town:

Population 6,000

Tightly packed into the portions of the Caldera not occupied by Doissetep, this town of twisty bendy streets all alike is home to the servants of Doissetep and their families and various craftsmen who work for the Chantry.  Any sort of service a medieval city would have can be found here; there is also a large cathedral (St. Simon), now operated by a small Cabal of Chorusers.  Father Vincent, a Master of Spirit presides over them.

From High Town, one can pass down the mountain to Low Town, or march out into the Shade Realm of Forces.
 

Low Town:

Population 3,000

This is basically a market town for the endless farms which surround it in all directions, at the base of the mountain.  Multiple canals run through town and across the countryside from here.  Low Town also has a Catholic cathedral, Saint Theresa's, adminstered by Father Tomas Defensor, who is a Chorus Sorceror.  The western side of Low Town contains Marsbase 1 and some old Martian ruins.  Many craftsmen live here, organized into guilds along with the High Town inhabitants.  Low Town is walled, with nine gates, one for each of the Spheres.

Roads lead from Low Town to the nearest Node/bases, and canals as well.

Marsbase 1:

Population:

Marsbase 1, aka Bradbury Station, is home to an Archaeological team directed by Dr. Susan Brinkman, a Master of Matter and Adept of Time.  She's interested in learning more about the ancient Martian Civilization.  Her team also helps with local agriculture, and in fact a good third of the chantry is a team of Agricultural Scientists led by Dr. Anthony N'gai, an Adept of Life.  Marsbase one is very technological looking, with a central bubble dome and five wings running out from it, a marvel of glass and steel.
 

Governance:
 

In the beginning, Doissetep was governed by a panel of Magister Scholae (or higher ranks if such rare magi chose to become involved in politics), one from each of the twelve Houses of the Order, known as the Deacons of Doissetep.  Each House was allowed to select its member in whatever matter it desired, ranging from the free-elections of House Bonisagus to the 'king of the mountain' dueling method of House Tytalus.  The destruction of House Deidne led to the adoption of the practice that any seat which fell empty would be filled by a general election of all the magi of the Chantry, though only a Magister Scholae or higher could actually sit in it, until such a time as a new house entered the order.

The massive turnover in Houses since the foundation of Doissetep has brought things to their present state.  The Twelve Deacons of Doissetep are:
 

The Deacons set policies and laws and appoint people to all the various sorts of posts of responsibility within the Chantry.  Doissetep has a very complex Covenant, the result of hundreds of years of amendments and revisions.
 

Law and Justice in Doissetep

Doissetep has a very elaborate justice system.  The highest judge is Master Alanna Halbain bani Quaesitor, who heads the Seekers of Justice cabal, which acts as the Chantry's police force.  Crimes should be reported to them; they also get a lot of tips from the Jannisaries, who probe for disloyalty and spies.  Any mage can attempt to arrest another mage for crimes in order to hand them over to the Seekers of Justice, but generally this is only done when time is of the essence (ie, witnessing a crime in progress).  Non-magi can arrest non-magi, but must report any mage crimes to the Seekers of Justice, except for the Vantikor, who are authorized by the Seekers of Justice to arrest Magi and non-magi alike.

Non-magi are usually held in Low City's jail, unless they commited the crime inside Doissetep proper.  Magi are confined in special cells inside Doissetep.

Crimes by non-magi against non-magi are usually tried by a member of the Seekers of Justice and a jury of non-magi selected from High or Low town by lot as appropriate if the crime is severe, or by simply a member of the Seekers of Justice if it is a petty crime.  Crimes by non-Magi against Magi are handled similarly, but with a mixed jury of mages and non-mages.  Non-treasonous crimes by Magi against non-magi are tried by the Seekers of Justice sitting as a panel of judges.  Non-treasonous crimes by Magi against Magi fall into two categories.  Crimes equivalent to 'civil' crimes in US jurisprudence are generally settled by Certamen duels.  'Criminal' charges are tried by a panel of three members of the Seekers of Justice (usually the High Quaesitor and two others) and a jury of 12 magi.  Crimes by the Seekers of Justice or by the Deacons themselves or acts of Treason are tried by the Deacons.

The usual round of crimes are crimes in Doissetep--breach of contract, theft, murder, rape, assault, etc.  There are several crimes which are more unique, however.  Only authorized agents of the Deacons on Chantry business (such as the Seekers of Justice in mid-investigation) may enter a Magi's sanctum without his permission.  While there is no formal punishment, the Magi who owns the sanctum is allowed to do about anything he can get away with to intruders.  Magical brainwashing is very severely punished when it is caught.  Involuntary shapeshifting of others is another crime heavily punished.
 

The Vantikor

The Vantikor is the army of the Chantry.  Some 200 are posted in Doissetep proper, and another 3800 or so are spread out across the Hermetic territories.  They are commanded by a General appointed by the Deacons for two year terms of service from the Magi of the Chantry.  At the current time, Master Walter Thrun bani Euthanatos commands the Vantikor.  The Vantikor are all mundanes, armed with magical armor and magical weapons in great profusion.  They are supplemented by aid from the Storm Giant allies of the Chantry who dwell in the Shade Realm of Forces, in times of emergency.  They have a stock of modern weaponry, but rely on their highly enchanted medieval equipment.

The Vantikor are organized into 10 man platoons led by a corporal.  Four platoons(two missile, two foot, or 1 light, 2 medium, 1 heavy cavalry) form a company (40) led by a seargant.  Five companies(3 foot, 2 horse) form a batallion (200), led by a captain.  Five batallions form a legion (1000 men), led by a proconsul (who is generally a mage with a non-mage 'consul' advisor.).  So far, no higher units have been created.  The four Legions are currently commanded by the various members of the Glass Eye cabal.

Connections to the Earth:

The Delono House (Boston)

This two-story house is the most heavily used entrance point to Doissetep.  It is guarded by a company of the Vantikor and several Magi on rotating duties.  There are extensive computer facilities as well as a well-shielded armory.

Fulroony Manor (Manchester, England)

This sprawling estate is known publically to be home to the eccentric neo-pagan Fulroony family, and is surrounded by acres and acres of forest.  A substantial portion of the Chantry's financial operations are quietly conducted using them as a front.

Castigao's (Toledo)

This ancient home of noblemen is now a historical landmark; the important business is conducted in rooms which should, in theory, not actually be able to exist (power of Correspondence!).