"It's too hot!" Annie had lost track of how many times she'd said those exact words already today. Even in the shelter of the big tree, she was still sweating like Bolstering Bill's armpit.

"You've said that four times in the last half hour," replied Conly grumpily, without looking up from his book.

"I was going to get started on something for the Strong Oxen play today," continued Annie, hating the slight whine in his tone but unable to help herself. "We need to practice it at least a few times before we reach Sarcombe. But instead I'm just... it's too damn hot!"

"Five times," said Conly. He groaned and put down the book and stared over the remains of lunch laid out on the woollen blanket between them. "Think yourself lucky you're not on a farm right now. Imagine having to farm in this weather. I hate to think how bad it is back home."

Annie shuddered. While Conly had grown up in Meade, she'd been born and raised just outside Hay. She didn't revisit her memories of the farm very often, but when she did she felt strongly reassured that she had made the right decision to "run away with the Mummers." She might be a "shiftless layabout" but at least it was indoor work with no heavy lifting.

Conly had pulled out his pouch of Fortune Coins, shaking them six times to mix them up. Without looking, he reached inside and pulled one out, tossing it onto the blanket in front of him. A second followed, and then a third.

"Huh," he said, peering down at them. He wiped sweat out of his eyes. He picked the coins up one by one, examined them, and put them back down again. Annie started to get a little concerned.

"Annie?" he said, his voice a little distant. "Have you been messing with my coins?"

She shook her head. He made a face and pulled out three more coins without looking, tossing them down beside the first set. She craned her neck to see what he had drawn.

"... why do you have three Tumultuous Mountebanks in your Fortune Coins?" she asked.

"I don't." He spoke flatly. "And I don't have three Gardens either."

They looked at each other.

"Primal forces and destruction," said Annie after a moment.

"And the Garden is primal forces as well, but also fertility, and confusion," Conly replied. He scooped up the coins and dropped them back into the bag.

Annie waved to the rest of the troupe, sitting in the shade of the wagon playing some sort of dice game. She had the strong feeling they ought to get moving, and a powerful feeling that she wanted to be somewhere with roofs before the sun set. She left Conly to deal with the remains of the picnic, and went to break the bad news to the others.

As she settled her broad-brimmed hat more firmly on her head, and walked out across the yellowing grass, Conly peered up at the sky. Overhead it was clear, azure blue and seemingly endless. On the eastern horizon, though, toward Tassato, he could see a few errant clouds. The first real clouds he'd seen in a couple of days. They were grey, and looked like they were planning to absolutely ruin his day at some point in the near future.

"Bugger," he said to nobody in particular.
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  • The Empire has been hit with a terrible drought
  • A magical conjunction causes rituals dealing with rain, water, and storms gain additional power

Summer follows spring, and in 384YE that summer is one of the hottest on record. At first it is glorious - long warm days and balmy nights - but as the season rolls on it becomes worse. The sun beats down mercilessly from cloudless skies across the Empire. Water levels drop, the rivers run sluggishly, and the soil is parched. There is no rain - between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice three months without rain. This spells catastrophe for the farmers of the Empire - their crops and animals begin to die as the Summer becomes hotter and hotter.

Yet as the Summer Solstice draws near, it is as if the heavens themselves take mercy on the Empire. The stars don't move, but something clicks into place. The Wanderer slips into place between the Fountain, the Stallion, and the Lock, creating a powerful astronomantic conjunction. The first rains in three months fall in the week before the Summer Solstice, but they may be too little, too late. They might even end up doing even more damage to the harvest, if they are heavy enough. Indeed, there is every chance that the harvests this year will be among some of the worst in the last hundred years.

Yet the stars seem to offer some hope... albeit at a cost...

The Great Drought of 384YE

  • Every farm resource will receive a -2 rank penalty to production in the downtime following the Summer Solstice
  • The exception is the farms in Segura, who are protected from the drought by the Iron Qanat and those of Skarsind, protected by Spring magic

The incredibly hot Summer, and the lack of rain, will mean every farm in the Empire suffers a -2 rank penalty to its production following the Summer Solstice (meaning a standard farm will produce 108 rings in the wake of the Summer Solstice if nothing changes). The penalty applies equally to farms within the Empire and those that are in non-Imperial territories. There are two exceptions. The farms of Segura are protected by the Iron Qanat, which gives exactly the sort of protection needed to ride out this terrible drought, ensuring that the dry grasslands are properly irrigated despite the terrible, crushing heat. The farms of Skarsind are protected by the enchantment placed upon them serendipitously at the Spring Solstice, that ensures they receive gentle healing rain instead of crushing heat.

Fortunately, while the Imperial Breadbasket will not help the Marchers have a better harvest, the surplus it provides will allow the Empire to avoid the threat of famine in the coming months, should the effects of the drought not be ameliorated by magical means. The money it provides will also go some way towards absorbing the shock of a lean Autumn and Winter - at least in Mitwold and Upwold.


  • The Fountain grants power to certain Spring rituals
  • When performing these specific rituals, magicians have a limited ability to substitute tempest jade for mana crystals

The astronomantic conjunction of four constellations has raised questions among magical theorists. Is it due to some cosmic balance, that a conjunction that will help the Empire weather the effects of the drought is happening just when it is needed? Is it coincidence? Is the drought itself somehow a cause or consequence of the ebb and flow of magical energies twisting between dearth of water and abundance of water? What role does the Lock play in this peculiar arrangement of stars? Regardless of the theory, the practical effects of the conjunction, and how they may be taken advantage of, are clear. Some of the opportunities presented by this conjunction have already been discussed - there are several conjunctions of the Sentinel Gate that rely on its power. There are also ways that ritual magicians visiting Anvil might draw on its power to facilitate their spells.

During the Summer Solstice, any caster who has mastered one of the following rituals may choose to substitute tempest jade for crystal mana when contributing to it. Every 2 ingots of tempest jade spent counts as 1 crystal mana when contributing to the ritual.

The rituals affected are: Thunderous Deluge, Rivers of Life, Rivers Run Red, Regrow the Land's Heart, Hallow of the Green World, and Call Down Lightning's Wrath.

Imperial Magic
In each case, the curses and enchantments empowered by the Imperial regio will only effect territories that are Imperial during the Summer Solstice - that is, territories that can elect a Senator. This includes Sermersuaq, but means the rituals will have no effect on Bregasland, Zenith, Liathaven, Brocéliande, or the Barrens for example - neither positive or negative. They will have to simply endure the drought.

After Three, the Multitude

  • The Stallion and the Lock combine to allow certain Spring rituals to echo across the Empire
  • If one of these rituals is used to target Casinea, then its effects are distorted, amplified, and applied to every Imperial territory

There is a particularly rare phenomenon that has been observed only a very small number of times in Imperial history. Sometimes a conjunction of magic resonates with the Imperial regio in an unexpected fashion. Such conjunctions are marked by astronomancers as always involving the Stallion, the Wanderer, and the Lock. The Stallion is often associated with the Empire, and the Wanderer is a wild force of chaos and fate, but the Lock is more difficult to explain. It is a truly esoteric constellation that signifies (among other things) seals, secrets, wards, and hidden knowledge. Perhaps it is that latter trait that makes it resonate with the Imperial regio?

Regardless of the theory, the effect is as powerful as it is unpredictable. By targeting certain territory-wide enchantments on Casinea - where the Imperial regio is located - their effects will be amplified and distorted, and more importantly will spread across the entire Empire. In each case, the additional effects are contingent on the ritual targeting Casinea. If one of these rituals is targeted at a different territory, even if the Imperial regio is used, then it simply has its normal effects.

It is certainly possible that more than one of these rituals will be performed at the same time. Obviously the Empire can only be under the effect of either Rivers Run Red or Rivers of Life each season, but either ritual could be combined with Thunderous Deluge or Regrow the Land's Heart. Combining curses in this way will likely have unpredictable results - the best guess is that the effects of multiple rituals will try to take place.

The Stallion is a symbol of strength and virility that resonates strongly with the Empire.

Primal Forces

  • If Thunderous Deluge targets Casinea, the curse causes torrential downpours and storms across the entire Empire
  • The storms will be very destructive, leading to heavy floods, but new life will flourish in their wake
  • There will be an opportunity at the Spring Equinox to gain a new ilium resource somewhere in the Empire

If the curse Thunderous Deluge is cast on Casinea the effects will be catastrophic. In addition to the penalty for the drought, the income from every farm and business in the Empire will be halved in the coming season. Likewise, the production of every mine will be penalised by 1 rank as owners desperately fight to prevent their resources being flooded.

There will be flooding across the Empire, which will hit Tassato particularly badly - it's hard to predict what the effect will be but it will cause extensive damage to the city as the Vassa bursts its banks. There will be some flooding in Sarvos as well, but that city is much better prepared for unseasonable storms and can be expected to weather the effects with minimal lasting damage. A number of other areas will also see serious flooding, including the town of Culwich in Weirwater, Meade in Mitwold, and parts of Holberg - indeed one effect will be to saturate the region of Utterlund so badly that the Morass will further spread, permanently giving that region the marsh quality as well as the forest quality. In Therunin the region of East Ring will likewise gain the marsh quality as the waters of the Feverwater rise.

However, once the waters start to recede, the power of Spring magic will also bring rejuvenation. This will mean that the repercussions of these floods will take the form of property damage, rather than lives lost. During the downtime following the Autumn Equinox, every herb garden in the Empire will produce an additional 4 random herbs in the wake of the storms. Likewise, every forest and farm owner will be able to claim 2 random herbs produced as a consequence of the Spring-infused rains. Furthermore, there will be at least one opportunity related to the damage, and to opportunities provided by the magical rainstorms. In particular, it is likely that an amount of ilium will be washed down from the higher peaks and there will be an opportunity for the Imperial Senate to capitalise on this to create a new ilium Bourse Seat somewhere in the Empire.

Finally, the torrential rains will have an additional effect on Syrene's Wisdom, as detailed in the Wake up crying Wind of Fortune.

The Fountain is nature tamed; a source and wellspring of life and fertility. But in conjunction with the Wanderer, these aspects may become distorted or even reversed.

Lifegiving Rains

  • If Rivers of Life targets Casinea, the curse strikes the entire Empire with heavy rain but infuses every territory with life and healing power
  • This mitigates the effect of the drought, and prompts new life in farms and herb gardens
  • Unfortunately, this will cause the vallorn in Hercynia and Therunin to be energized
  • If Rivers Run Red is in effect on an Imperial territory, it overwhelms it
  • If Rivers Run Red has been cast using the power of the conjunction, it cancels it and has no other effect

Targeted on Casinea, Rivers of Life will ripple out to affect every Imperial territory. There will be heavy rain, but that rain will be infused with the healing power of Spring. All casualties suffered by armies fighting in an Imperial territory will be halved, just as if the curse had been applied to that territory as normal. However, plants exposed to the downpour will be revitalised and a burst of unseasonal new growth will take place across the Empire. It will break the drought comprehensively - completely mitigate the effects of the drought for every farm in the Empire. Furthermore, every farm owner will be able to harvest 2 random herbs from their resource in the months before the Autumn Equinox, while every herb garden will produce saleable produce that will add an additional 36 rings to their normal production.

However, the life-giving energy is not without its drawbacks. The Spring power will also energise the vallorn in Hercynia and especially Therunin. Without the Heirs of Terunael to guide the burst of energy the lifegiving waters will provide, the threat will not be as serious as it could be, but both territories will see an increase in attacks by vallornspawn in the weeks leading to the Autumn Equinox.

If Rivers Run Red has been cast on any Imperial territory, a Rivers of Life cast in this way overwhelms it. That is, if the Imperial version of the curse is cast it supercedes all territory-local castings of the opposite ritual whether they happen before or after the Imperial curse is cast. If Rivers Run Red has been cast using the effect of the conjunction so that it affects the entire Empire, the first casting of Rivers of Life with the same target has no effect but removes Rivers Run Red. It will need to be cast a second time to have any effect on the Empire.

Chaos reigns where the Wanderer walks.

Unendurable Blight

  • If Rivers Run Red targets Casinea, this curse strikes the entire Empire, breeding sickness and rot
  • This makes the effects of the drought worse, but in its wake new life will flourish
  • Unfortunately, this will cause the vallorn in Hercynia and Therunin to be energized
  • If Rivers of Life is in effect on an Imperial territory, it overwhelms it
  • If Rivers of Life have been cast using the power of the conjunction, it cancels it and has no other effect
  • This ritual is currently interdicted by the Imperial Conclave

Rivers Run Red is currently interdicted by the Imperial Conclave, so performing it is a serious crime unless the Conclave reverses its ruling. Used to target Casinea, the effect will flood out to cover every Imperial territory. Any army fighting in any Imperial territory will suffer double the normal number of casualties, as if the curse had been laid over that territory normally. Everyone in the Empire will have a miserable three months as even the mildest wound festers. Sickness will be rife. Animals, plants, and people will die. Although the death toll among humans and orcs will not be particularly severe in those territories where nobody is fighting, people who become ill or are badly injured are more likely to die than recover. As with other rituals of this nature performed during the conjunction, however, new life will rise from the rot but the price will be steep.

Every farm in an Imperial territory will suffer a further -2 rank penalty to production on top of the effect of the drought. The Imperial Breadbasket will be able to prevent widespread famine - just - but everyone will need to tighten their belts. In the months following the Autumn Equinox, however, every herb garden in an Imperial territory will produce an additional 4 random herbs, and every farm will produce 2 random herbs as the rotting crops bring new life to the fields.

Furthermore, the corrupt energies of this curse will produce a burst of energy in the vallorn of Hercynia and Therunin. Again, without anyone in position to take advantage of this burst of energy, the effects will be relatively short lived. The most likely effect is that the vallorn miasma will spread within those territories, allowing vallornspawn husks a wider range than normal. On the other hand - as with some other recent incidents where the miasma has spread - it will also produce small amounts of Spring vis that might be harvested by those able to brave the poisonous atmosphere.

If Rivers of Life has been cast on any Imperial territory, Rivers Run Red cast in this way will simply overwhelm it. That is, if the Imperial version of the curse is cast it supercedes all territory-local castings of the opposite ritual whether they happen before or after the Imperial curse is cast. If Rivers of Life has been cast using the effect of the conjunction so that it affects the entire Empire, the first casting of Rivers Run Red with the same target will have no effect but will remove Rivers of Life. It will need to be cast a second time to have any effect on the Empire.

Storms of Renewal

  • If Regrow the Land's Heart is targeted at Casinea, the effect spreads to effect all Imperial territories
  • This enchantment will mitigate the effects of the drought, but will also lead to extensive flooding

Regrow the Land's Heart has only recently been placed in Imperial lore by the Conclave. Under normal circumstances, it causes gentle rain to fall that promotes the spread of plant growth. If it is used with the resonant effect of the conjunction, however, it will instead create heavy and persistent rainfall throughout the Empire. The rains will be nourishing, but they will be relentless. This will mitigate the effect of the drought, removing the -2 rank penalty to farms in Imperial territories. It will also have its cleansing effect on the spirit - a renewed sense of optimism and hope will flourish in the Empire.

Unfortunately, it will also lead to flooding across the Empire, causing rivers to burst their banks and lakes to expand to drown nearby villages and towns. The waters will recede quickly, but there will still be some damage. This will not be as severe as that caused by Thunderous Deluge, but it will still be widespread and notable. Tassato will be particularly badly hit as the Vassa bursts its banks. The town of Culwich in Weirwater, and the city of Meade in Mitwold will suffer serious floods. Both Utterlund in Holberg and East Ring in Therunin will permanently gain the marsh quality.

The enchantment may also interact with the other effects listed here. It will not make the storms caused by Thunderous Deluge worse, and it will still mitigate the immediate effects of the drought. If combined with Rivers of Life, it will enhance the effect to the point where instead of having a penalty, every farm in an Imperial territory will gain a +1 rank bonus to its production. It will slightly mitigate the effects of Rivers Run Red - it will remove the drought penalty, and will help defuse the worst effects of the curse on people who are otherwise healthy. Those injured in battle will still suffer, but it will prevent people who are merely sick from dying.

Also, note that as an enchantment, the effect of the resonance will effectively make it an Imperial enchantment - meaning it will remove (or be removed by) other Imperial enchantments such as Hallow of the Green World.

Listen to the Regio

  • Detect Magic can be used to determine if the Imperial regio has been caused to resonate with one or more of these effects

During the Summer Solstice, any magician can cast detect magic at the Imperial regio to determine if one of the four effects listed above has been invoked during the event. This is a special use of divination that only applies during this conjunction. The only information will be which (if any) of these rituals has been cast to target Casinea during the event. It will provide no information about when the ritual was performed, or who cast it.

Make It Dangerous

  • The tempestuous storms the ritual caused by Foam and Spittle of the Furious Sea has an additional effect in coastal territories
  • This ritual cannot target Casinea, but during the Solstice it can be cast on territories adjoining the Semmerlak

Foam and Spittle of the Furious Sea calls up powerful storms but only at sea. It cannot be targeted at Casinea, and so the resonance effect cannot be employed, but practitioners can still use tempest jade to cast it during the conjunction. However, it can be cast normally in any territory that has a region with the coastal quality. If this happens, the curse will have its normal effect - battering fleets and navies. However it will also send more gentle, lifegiving rain inland to wash over the rest of the territory. Following the Summer Solstice, in any territory where Foam and Spittle of the Furious Sea has been cast all farms and herb gardens will gain +1 rank of production after the Summer Solstice. This effect will partially mitigate the effect of the drought by itself, or further boost the production of farms if another effect has already countered it.

Also, during the Summer Solstice, this ritual can be cast to target any Imperial territory on the Semmerlak - Holberg, Semmerholm, Weirwater, Karov, Karsk, or Ossium. If any one of these territories is targeted, the effect will expand to effect every territory adjacent to the Semmerlak, harming shipping, but enhancing farms. It will also create at least one opportunity during the Autumn Equinox relating to the heavy storms that will rage across the lake.

Make It Happen

  • Hallow of the Green World will have narrower effects if cast during the Summer Solstice
  • It will definitely cause the Morass to expand into Utterlund

This potent enchantment, by its nature, does not need to take advantage of the resonance effect. As an Imperial enchantment it always effects the entire Empire where it is cast. If performed during the Summer Solstice, however, the ritualists can use tempest jade as mentioned above to power its effects. Furthermore, while it will have its usual positive effect on herb gardens, whatever other effects it has on the Empire, and any opportunities or problems it creates, will all be related to rain, storms, water, and the growth of plants in some fashion. However, one thing that will definitely happen if this ritual is cast under the current conjunction is that, inevitably, the Morass will expand into Utterlund giving that forest region the marsh quality.

Be A Threat

  • Call Down Lightning's Wrath has an additional effect during the Summer Solstice
  • It is possible to make this enchantment permanent for significantly less ilium than is normally required

Not all of the rituals affected by the current conjunction are as dramatic as Thunderous Deluge or Rivers of Life. Call Down Lightning's Wrath harnesses Spring energy to allow a batle mage to hurl their enemies to the ground with magical might. During the Summer Solstice, this enchantment will have an additional effect; while it lasts the target will also be able to cast the repel spell as if they knew it. If they already know the repel spell, whether through personal mastery or a magic item such as a Pugilist's Shillelagh, they will be able to cast the spell once each day without spending any personal mana.

Anyone who receives this enchantment during the Summer Solstice will also experience a roleplaying effect: while the enchantment lasts you experience bursts of exuberant energy that make you want to get things done right now, especially when it comes to removing immediate obstacles to your ambitions. This effect is particularly strong if you have the briar lineage.

Finally, during the Summer Solstice, this ritual can be made permanent with ilium more easily. This can only be done when the ritual is cast on a single target, trapping the energy of the conjunction in their mortal frame. Rather than the usual cost, it requires only 8 rings of ilium to make the enchantment permanent. However, the additional effects relating to the repel spell only apply until the Autumn Equinox - but the normal ability to call STRIKEDOWN with a staff becomes permanent, as does the roleplaying effect. Any unlineaged human character who receives this permanent enchantment may also choose to gain the briar lineage in the three months following the Summer Solstice. Note that it is quite challenging to remove a permanent enchantment, and being subject to one means one cannot benefit from other enchantments. For the purposes of supplanting this permanent enchantment with another one, the Call Down Lightning's Wrath will be assumed to have been performed with 24 rings of ilium as normal, rather than the reduced number of 8.

You and Sleep

  • The Ride the Noble Steed ritual has additional fixed details during the Summer Solstice

One completely unexpected ritual has been affected by the conjunction of the Stallion, the Lock, the Fountain, and the Wanderer. Ride the Noble Steed is a comparatively new ritual, having been entered into Imperial Lore only recently. It grants dreams of riding a horse, but during the Summer Solstice the effects are dramatically changed. The horse dream will always involve powerful storms and rain, lightning, lashing winds, and open water. It is much more likely to include explicitly fantastical elements - riding a flying mount or a half-fish half-horse creature that dives deep beneath the waves. In addition to providing a sense of wonder, the dream is extremely exhilarating. For the rest of the day after awakening from this magical dream they experience an effect similar to the Boundless Vitality power of the briar - if they are exposed to any roleplay effect that causes them to feel tired, weary, or weak they can respond by becoming energetic and alert.

The Lock Alone.png
The Lock is a powerful and esoteric symbol signifying seals, secrets, hidden knowledge, and wards.

Glow in the Dark

  • There may be a tulpa of the Lock looking for something in Anvil

The Lock is an enigmatic constellation at the best of times. It is not often involved in conjunctions, but when it is it can sometimes add an additional level of complication. Over the last week or so there have been odd reports of a peculiar figure seen around Anvil who at least one person swears emerged from the Imperial regio late at night and appeared to be looking for someone or something. It may well be that this is just a herald of some kind - but it might also be a tulpa. If it is a tulpa, it showed no signs of being associated with the Stallion, the Wanderer, or the Fountain. Given the description varies but tends to involve a black cloak and a hood, it might be a tulpa of the Lock. Or it might all be a coincidence and have nothing to do with the constellations at all.

Diplomatic Considerations

  • Olic the Wanderer is keen to see an 'Imperial curse' in action
  • It might be advisable to warn the orcs of Otkodov if any Imperial effects are applied

The phrase "after three, the multitude" comes from the writing of the first-century stargazer Latratus, who made a close study of the phenomenon when it occurred during the reign of Empress Teleri, and opined that these three constellations in conjunction have always meant that certain rituals will effect larger areas. This is somewhat relevant because the eccentric stargazer Olic the Wanderer is apparently an avid fan of Latratus' work. During the Winter Solstice they offered to allow a ritual tome - the Concordance of Earthbound Stars - to be added to Urizen lore if someone "harmonizes the omnihedron" by performing Bright Eyes Gleam in the Depths before the end of the Autumn Equinox 384YE. They've also let it be known that the opportunity to see a ritual resonate with the Imperial regio as Latratus described is too good an opportunity to pass up - so if even one of the three curses (Thunderous Deluge, Rivers of Life, or Rivers Run Red) is placed over the entire Empire and allowed to run its course over the next three months they will send the Concordance to the Celestial Library using Gift of Knowledge. While they will be interested to see Regrow the Land's Heart in action, it does not intrigue their scholastic curiosity the way the idea of an 'Imperial curse' does so they won't offer the Concordance if it is the only ritual performed.

Magical effects, whether enchantments or curses, generally do not take account of who "owns" a region within a territory. As such, any effect created using the resonant effects of the Imperial regio will also effect the Thule orcs in Sermersuaq, Skarsind, Miekarova, and Ossium. Given previous discussions with the northern orcs, the civil service advises that the Ambassador to Otkodov may wish to appraise them of any magical effects that might impact them. Given the location of the regions they control, they are unlikely to suffer ill effects of flooding, but it might be a good idea to err on the side of caution.