Benandante Facilities Technician
Physical: Strength 3, Dexterity 4 (swift), Stamina 3
Social: Charisma 3, Manipulation 2, Appearance 3
Mental: Perception 2, Intelligence 2, Wits 2
Talents: Athletics 2, Awareness 2, Brawl 2, Dodge 3, Expression 2
Skills: Crafts 1, Etiquette 1, Meditation 1, Melee 3, Survival 1, Technology 1, Performance 1
Knowledges: Academics 1, Computer 1, Enigmas 1, Linguistics 1, Medicine 1, Occult 3, Science 1, Cosmology 1
Entropy 1, Mind 1, Prime 3, Spirit 3
Primary Sphere: Prime
Backgrounds: Familiar 4, Avatar 4,
Resources Chantry 1, Wonder 2
Adversarial Backgrounds: Notoriety 1, Apprentice 2, Uncanny 1, Blacklisted 1
Mission Presidio University Chantry Backgrounds: Library 5, Node 5, Sanctum 2 Resources 3, Mentor 3
Willpower 10 (11 with Personal Talisman)
Resonances: Entropic (Judging) 1 (+1 from Personal Talisman)
Stormwarden (3), Personal Talisman (1), Techgnosi (2)
Primal Marks: The Black Dog (2)
Charms and Talismans (Prime, Entropy), Song/Music (Spirit), Incantation/Prayer (Mind)
Song, music, candles, prayer, bells, incense, holy symbols, texts, anointments, blessings and curses, discussions, fasting/denial/ordeals, intoxication and revelry, casting of lots, sacrifice, science and technology, sex, silence and seclusion, laying on of hands, visialization, oath-taking and vows.
Techgnosi Foci (General Foci) (must have some religious element):
Computers, math, cybernetic implants, hacking rituals, programs, sensory gear, surveillance equipment, ether goggles, engineering schematics, hand tools, mental disciplines, scientific meters. specialized alloys, timepieces.
Wonder (Personal Talisman) 2: Sailor’s Charm
Familiar 4: Michael’s familiar is Basker, a church grim; a mystical black dog, permanently Materialized.
Avatar 4: Michael’s Avatar typically appears as Lupus Dei, the so-called Hound of God (lit: “Wolf of God”).
Chantry 1: from working as a facilities technician at the university.
Additional Wonders: Lucky Rosary
Charms: 5 Beads of Holy Strike (22 agg damage each)
Notoriety 1: Coming from a tradition of witch-hunters is not endearing, especially when rumor has it you attacked a few rival mages before ending up here.
Apprentice 2: Michael is in the process of training another young benandante, his twentysomething nephew, Daniel. Daniel is talented, but over-eager and prone to leap before he looks.
Uncanny 1: In addition to the doggedness of his Primal marks, Michael is perpetually scruffy no matter how fastidiously he grooms himself. He also has heterochromia iridum, causing his right eye to be a deep brown while his left is a striking green. The eyepatch he wears over his left eye (see Wonders) doesn’t make him any less conspicuous.
Blacklisted 1: Michael hasn’t always shown the best judgment, and has a few misdemeanors on record, often from covered-up altercations with other members of the magical community.
Expanded Merits and Flaws
Stormwarden (3): You never take damage from the Avatar Storm.
Personal Talisman (1): You have a Talisman that you created or assisted in creating. While it is in your possession, treat your temporary and permanent Willpower as 1 higher.
Techgnosi (2): Celestial Chorus Only — You can use technological foci, commonly associated with the Sons of Ether or the Virtual Adepts so long as you can also include religious content with the process.
Primal Marks: The Black Dog (2): Due to a supernatural affinity, your mage physically resembles a human incarnation of some powerful spirit, deity, legendary figure, or famous lineage. This is more than a cosmetic concern; there is some actual mystical connnection that this resemblance reveals. It typically reveals the form of your Avatar or some powerful patron.
The Black Dog/Lupus Dei In Michael’s case, his Avatar appears as Lupus Dei, but his Primal Marks are also related to his Familiar, the Black Dog. He has a very “hound-like” countenance, and he is well-disposed toward canids. Those who know, know that he is in essence a “hound of god,” with all the loyalty and ferocity that title entails.
The Benandanti Paradigm
Cliff’s Notes version, adjusted for Mage
Benandanti practice is as much folk magic as high theurgy. It involves herbs and talismans, a direct relationship with evil witches (the malandanti), and a whole lot more built from the same body of lore that informed the understanding of witchcraft in their cultural traditions and time periods. It is likely that many historical Benandanti were not schooled, for example, on the metaphysical importance of the Ember Days or why they did battle on them. But these days were nevertheless important to their practices. Benandanti mysticism seems to have been a way of viewing the world, and did not spring from a single source. Much of it was inherent to the nature of being a Benandante, of course: only Benandanti and witches could go Wandering, for example. But other magical things were the results of their own inherent natures: the Benandanti wielded fennel stalks as weapons instead of, say, olive branches, because of the inherent qualities of those plants.
Inherent significance is important to the Benandanti. The Benandanti wield magic due to the circumstances of their births. Some believed that they had even been elevated to the status of angels and enjoyed a sense or moral infallibility as a result, which neatly excused their use of what would otherwise have been considered heretical sorcery. The caul was considered to have a power all its own. This makes a great deal of Benandanti magic direct and to the point; other than the Night Battles, they are not given to high rituals within their specific magical practices.
That said, the Benandanti also do not constitute a whole spiritual Paradigm on their own, but a modification of an existing one: the Benandanti considered themselves to be good Christian men and women, and all of their workings were an adaptation of that world-view.
Likewise a Benandante Mage would operate within the context of his broader Traditional framework as well. Benandanti would fit in well within the Verbena were it not for their friction with other witches. Their spiritual and mystical beliefs mesh best with specific styles within the Order of Hermes, the Celestial Chorus, and the Dreamspeakers, but specific religious allegiance pushes the majority of Awakened Benandanti into the Chorus. Because the Benandanti see themselves as a specific order within a larger context, they are relatively accepting of other methods of magic, so long as they can be convinced that those methods are morally, doctrinally, and metaphysically permissible. Thus many Benandanti used methods that reflected those of their rivals, with slight modifications. Some even attended Sabbats and dealt with demons, but took steps to keep themselves pure, such as abstaining from participating in certain activities, or severely limiting what gifts or deals they accept.
At its core, the Benandanti are an expression of Italian folk magic, a belief system that sprang up in empty spaces within a religious hegemony. The evolution of the modern would see it wedded to other practices, particularly as mystical practices in various forms become more broadly available. “Low” or “folk” magic (as opposed to high ritual or more esoteric paradigms) is still typically the best fit due to the similarity of methods, but it could be wedded to a number of things.
Gear (usually carried)
Rosary, Fennel seed (usually a McCormick’s jar), Medallion of St. Christopher, holy water (1 small vial), sailor’s charm, at least one bell or chime on a keychain, smartphone, tablet, iPod Shuffle, headphones, pocket bible, pocket Latin dictionary, spring of fennel, wooden spoon, tool belt with various tools and replacement parts necessary for his job, keys to almost every room on campus, including the server closet.
Other Equipment (usually kept in Sanctum)
Potted fennel, rapier with cruciform hilt, a laminated shortbow, a collection of herbs and concoctions, karaoke machine, various religious icons, candles, bells, chimes, desktop computer.
Michael also stockpiles Tass in his Sanctum, collected from the Mission Presisidio Node for conversion into Charms and (eventually) Wonders.
Herbs as Talismans
Fennel and Sorghum
Fennel is full of occult significance. When Prometheus stole fire from the gods he carried it in a stalk of fennel. Dionysus’ Thyrsus was also depicted as a stalk of fennel. It has connotations of creation, fertility, and power, and to the benandanti is is pure and holy. Like some other magical plants, fennel did not have to be ingested to have power. Some benandanti would plant it so that its presence would ward off evil, and uproot any sorghum theyr found, considering it natively evil. The occult provenance of sorghum is a little harder to trace, but is certainly there: a parasitic plant that commonly feeds on sorghum is known as “witchweed,” for example.
What Other Mages Know
Specific members of the staff, student body, and faculty might know more or less than this, because of their relationships with Anna Gasparutti or Daniel Gasparutti or Michael himself, or specific lore. Beyond that, anyone not personally involved with these characters or familiar with the specifics, probably knows the following.
- Michael is an Awakened member of the University staff, a facilities technician. Though fairly attractive, his comportment and demeanor kind of mark him as “that creepy maintenance guy.”
- He hangs around with Ghost relatively frequently.
- He’s usually wearing an eyepatch.
- He always seems to be silently Judging.
- He is frequently accompanied by his big fucking dog, Basker, which he claims is his “emotional support animal.”
- He’s technically a member of the Celestial Chorus.
- He is a member of some kind of fringe cult of witch-finders.
- He has had trouble with the law before.
Weight: 180 lbs
Eyes: one brown, one green
Athletic build, wears an eyepatch. Scruffy. Something kind of feral about him, people tend to liken him to a dog a lot, whether a cuddly puppy or a rabid animal. It’s just something about his face and mannerism, apparently.
The general idea is a facilities technician, the guy they call to replace missing lightbulbs, manually reboot servers when they crash, unlock and reset thermostats, etc.
Magically, he is based on the Benandanti, who can broadly be seen as protectors of the defenseless, a front-line defense against the predations of evil mages. Of course, they have at various times been called evil mages themselves, or lumped in with the malandanti as two halves of a fertility cult.
His magical style is a little too rustic for a High Hermetic collegium, but the Hermetics seem to like having Mages around where they can watch them, and he uses his University employee benefits to audit classes.
He has a nephew who’s a recent inductee into the program (an Apprentice) whom he tries to keep an eye on. Daniel is a bit more proper, but far more impetuous.
Michael grew up in Northern Virginia, but he moved to California to be nearer his Mentor after his Awakening. Michael has been local for over a decade, and has been in the employ of the school for almost as long. Michael’s Awakening was violent, but not traumatic; as he slept, he went Wandering for the first time, and found himself caught up in a battle with a Malandanti (in this case, a vampiric spirit his aunt had been tracking). Upon awakening, he was Awakened, and gifted with his Sailors Charm shortly thereafter.
His original mentor was his aunt Anna (also a bianandante), who preserved his caul and helped make a talisman of it, as well as assisting him in binding his familiar. She claimed she always knew he would Awaken, just as she knew his older brother’s son, Daniel would. Unfortunately, she bit off more than she could chew while investigating a band of necromancers in Thessaly and is now presumed dead, along with everyone else there. Her death stalled Michael’s magical education for a while, and auditing classes at the University is slow going, made slower by incompatible practical and philosophical approaches. As such, Michael has not developed as much as a mage as his years at the University might suggest, a fact which he finds a little frustrating. Still, he’s never heard of someone achieving Enlightenment by rushing it, so he’s content to keep doing his thing until he learns what he needs.
Michael has a bit of a reputation. As an old fashioned faction of witch hunters the Benandanti order to which Michael belongs falls prey to the worst stereotypes of The Celestial Chorus. This is a reputation reinforced by his actions, as he’s been in altercations with other Traditional mages, particularly during his time in Northern Virginia, before he moved here.
To MIchael’s mind, The Ascension War was always a distraction. Consensus isn’t “won” by shadow wars with invisible despots; it is won, by definition, in the hearts and minds of the “Sleepers” that mages flee from and sneer at. But at the end of the day, Michael doesn’t believe in Consensus. Sure, it might have some bearing on things; magic is a matter of Faith, after all, but there simply has to be more than that. Reality, as they say, is what trips you when the lights are off. Somewhere under all the layers of interpretation and opinion, there is a fundamental Truth, which has to be deeper than “Truth is whatever we say it is.”
To Michael, the Ascension War was always a deeply elitist, arrogant enterprise. Technology, not the Technocracy, gained such power and prominence in the universe because empiricism is really great achieving a Consensus and reinforcing it, and Science, not the Technocracy, appeals to Sleepers more than sorcery because it is more accessible and frankly more useful. The Technocracy was just the only “side” invested in using technology, so it prevailed by default. This isn’t to say that he feels magic is outdated, but that faith and mysticism must evolve to exist alongside science and technology rather than rejecting it. And ultimately, Science prevails as the dominant paradigm because it isn’t a Paradigm, but a way of defining one; science doesn’t tell the Tellurian what it is, it asks it what it is.
He came into his magic as the Ascension War was winding down prior to the Reckoning, so he was not indoctrinated as heavily into idea of the War’s necessity, and did not fight it with the same passionate intensity. But even had he been born sooner, the benandanti are born to protect and support humans, not control their destinies.
The Celestial Chorus is a necessary conceit within the politics of the Traditions, but it is not real. It is no more a true faction or unified cultural identity than the Dreamspeakers or the Akashic Brotherhood are cultural and magical identities. Within the Chorus, the Benandanti serve shoulder to shoulder with the Catholic fundamentalists who would otherwise see the Wanderers as little better than Nephandi themselves, and in many way the Benandanti have as much culture in common with the Verbena or even the Order of Hermes as they do with factions like the Sons of Mithras. All that connects the Benandanti to the rest of the Chorus are a handful of religious and mystical tenets that, at the end of the day, aren’t even unique to the Chorus. Hell, if it weren’t for cultural and religious prejudices, they’d probably fit just as well among the Al-i-batin.
The upshot of all of this is that Michael is loyal to his own ideal before those of his Tradition, and finds all the interTradition squabbling to be tiresome. Sure, a lot of Choristers and Verbena don’t get along, but he has a good half dozen things he’s going to judge something for before he gets around to Traditional allegiance. The more important Traditional identity is to someone, the more likely they are to aggravate him. This isn’t the same as rejecting cultural or religious identity, just the homogenization that comes with Traditional identities. Unity is about diversity, not conformity.
Though he is himself a Latitudinarian, Michael has a great deal of sympathy for the Brothers of St Christopher. He finds their gender bias a tad queer, given their focus on progressive values, but if he were to wait for the perfect Guardian Order to come along, the Final Judgment could come and still find him waiting. He believes in their goals and follows their code, more or less, but he has yet to be sponsored into the order. However, due to the canine countenance of the Brotherhood’s patron saint, it is possible that his Avatar may demand that he eventually seek membership. God’s dogs must stick together, after all.
The Other Traditions and Disparates
Michael likes the other mages, probably more than they like him. Certainly, a benandante of the Celestial Chorus is going to have a rough time when he encounters, for example, a strega of the Verbena. But he bears them no ill will for their allegiances; to his mind, a malandanti is one who misuses magic, not just any heretical mage. He does, however, hold individuals responsible for how they choose to treat him personally.
Likewise, Michael does not hold the same disdain for the Orphans and Disparates that the MPU faculty express. At heart, he’s a populist, after all, and treating people differently just because they didn’t join your after-school club is just bad manners. Since he was never invested in the Ascenscion War as much as Ascension itself, he does not see failure to join the Good Fight against the Technocracy to be the same kind of betrayal that other Traditionalists might. He doesn’t necessarily go out of his way to court their good opinions, but neither does he go out of his way to avoid or trouble them. His overall attitude is one of benevolent neglect.
To his mind, the “true” threats to magic and Ascension are monsters such as the Nephandi, the Infernal, and other agents of despair and annihilation. He’s more inclined to hunt down evil ghosts (Spectres), vampires (The Ascension War might have been winding down when he Awakened, but the Massassa War was just gearing up), Banes, demons, fomori, and wicked fairies than he is to make noise about the Sons of Ether being “too scientific,” or the Verbena being “too earthy.”
This tolerance has limits, of course. While many things are open for debate, the ethics and morality of magic (or of everyday life, for that matter) are not among them. Michael is willing to let a lot of his objections be handled by mortal authorities, but in exceptionally egregious cases, or when magic is involved, he becomes far more active and vociferous. Anyone whose powers exclude them from conventional judgment must be policed by the other Magi. After all, if mages do not police their own, who will?
This does not mean that he feels any sense of deference toward the Janissaries or the Euthanatos. The only authority these factions have to enforce their values outside their own Tradition is self-assigned, which makes them no more legitimate agents of justice than the Benandanti or the Li-Hai. And if a sword and a mission are all it takes, he’ll step up.
What Not To Do
- Mages do not bind the wills or fates of others, save by full and uncompromised consent, or in dire emergency.
- Mages do not use their power to exploit, victimize, or feed on others at their expense, save by full and uncompromised consent, or in dire emergency.
- Spirits blur the lines between “person” and “animal.” But the more like a person it is, the more an offense to it is like unto an offense against a person. No, it isn’t exactly the same. but try not to enslave spirits.
- Be careful whom and what you serve, as well. Don’t become one of the Bad Things
- Be Not a Dick.