Sunday, November 19, 2006

Where to for Walchelin?

At twenty-five Walchelin has already led a rich and interesting life, two decades and another half of living in Paris makes this hard to avoid. It has shaped his life, fleeing the violence on the University streets the blood of his friends on his clothes, bringing joy with song and music in the streets and taverns and enjoying the company of women and wine while learning the Lore of Magic, Farie, the Divine, and even the Infernal, along with growing to understand the Order of Hermes has all shaped him and brought him to the point where he will depart Paris for something new. This is my favourite single part of role-playing, who is the character at the point of departure?

Why I like Ars Magica is that you also have the challenge of historical context to work with.

So where to - this is in large part up to the Storyguide. Many hooks have been provided in the textual background and tied to the system structure of the character and indicate that he probably wants to:

Use his music to enrich the lives of the people he meets

Develop and improve his music

Learn new tales to compose into poetry and song to perform

Perform for Lords and Ladies, Slaves, Vagabonds and Prostitutes and

Serve the Order

The background is designed to bring the character to a point where he can enter the saga. There are things about him other characters can learn. There are things he has done and been involved in that will affect him and also hopefully those around him. By providing significant events I have also indicated the kind of things I want to happen, Euphemia uses her powers in conjunction with Walchelin's abilities and things can happen - good or bad - and these are tied to history as we can fantasize it.

This is the first full draft and I am awaiting the Storyguides feedback and input.


Recently becoming a Redcap Walchelin had been a student of the Universitas Magistrorum et Scholarium in Paris. He graduated first from the School of Arts, and then attended the School of Theology. While at the University he was also a member of the Normandy Nationes and an apprentice to the Mercer Redcap Mireille LaCroux of Marseille, a Goliard who took more interest in the Order of Hermes’ affairs within Paris and the Schools of the University than traveling the paths between Covenants. Walchelin’s apprenticeship and education has therefore been a full one - if somewhat minimal regarding skills to survive in the outdoors, focusing more on interpersonal skills, performing, composing and achieving a broad education.

As a member of the Normandy Nationes and a student within the Schools of Arts and Theology Walchelin was always rowdy and boisterous during his revelries, but at all times remained articulate, charming and passionate, especially towards his studies within the University; something he has carried with him into his Redcap duties. His time in Paris also paralleled the University riots and strike.

Events in Paris

In March 1229, on Shrove Tuesday, Paris's pre-Lenten carnival began and Walchelin, along with a band of Normandy Nationes associates began their revelries at the tavern of Les Yeux d'Émeraude (the Eyes of Emerald) in the suburban quarter of Saint Marcel. Walchelin and the other students drank heavily, got rowdy, and Walchelin undertook a lively and spirited performance of a large number of drinking songs, ballads and poems to an increasingly raucous audience. Eventually a dispute broke out between the band of students and the tavern proprietor over the bill which led to a physical fight. The students were beaten up and thrown into the streets, Walchelin and his associates returned to their college. But word of the dispute and beating had somehow quickly spread and the next day, seeking revenge, students arrived at the tavern in large numbers. Armed with wooden clubs they broke into the tavern, beat the offenders and destroyed the establishment. Other shops were damaged in a subsequent riot which spilled into the streets.

Because students were exempt from the king's courts, angry complaints were filed with the Pope's courts. The Pope's courts knew that the University tended to be very protective of its students and they were trying to approach the matter carefully. But the secular ruler, Blanche of Castile, the ruler of France, stepped in and demanded retribution. The University authorized the city's police to punish the student rioters. The city guardsmen, known for their rough nature, found a group of students – including Walchelin - and with an unexpectedly heavy hand, killed several of them. After attempting to do what he could for his bloodied Compatriots, which was sadly very little, Walchelin eventually fled the retribution of the guard and made his way back to the University and his Parens to continue his studies and apprenticeship.

The strike and the results for Walchelin

Unfortunately the response from the University was immediately to go on strike. Classes were closed and striking students either went to other universities such as Rheims, Oxford or Toulouse, or returned home or found employment elsewhere. Faculty ceased to teach. Walchelin was now left only with his apprenticeship, which he finally completed, and on the suggestion of his Parens and a newly discovered friend he decided to head towards Provencal to seek a home, perform, fulfill his Redcap duties and hopefully learn from any Troubadours that survived the Crusade as well as spread the word according to Golias.

The role of Euphêmía

On the night of the riot, during a break in his performance at Les Yeux d'Émeraude, Walchelin was befriended by a beautiful young woman by the name of Euphêmía. With her striking green eyes he was immediately attracted to her and he performed to the best of his abilities, attempting to engage her with a passionate performance. During the ensuing songs he performed the full spectrum of his repertoire, including a beautiful and original tale of Hades and Perspehone which referenced the unmatched work of Ovid – it was especially successful in the satirical targeting of Hades in-ability to control his stolen wife Persephone. The performance, ultimately unfortunately, attracted some unexpected attention from a quarter that Walchelin has yet to realize – Hades himself. Additionally the performance had a substantial impact on all of his audience who, rather than become friendly and happy towards each other became rather unfriendly, and extraordinarily passionate in their unfriendliness – not only those in the audience but Hades himself had quite an adverse reaction. Unknown to Walchelin a well-intentioned member of his audience had botched her intervention in the events of the night. During his performance the young woman he had met led a dance amongst a number of the crowd but unknown to her this dance had not only failed but gone completely awry having the reverse of her intention of friendliness amongst all who witnessed the performance, instead unfriendliness, leading ultimately to fisticuffs and bloodshed ensued over the following days.

But, the magnificent performance of the Troubadour Walchelin won the undying adoration of Euphêmía who proceeded to spend much time with the young Walchelin, arriving at all his performances and taking part in many dances with the crowd. Eventually she revealed her true form of a Nymph of Dance to Walchelin – who had already guessed – and she is accompanying him south to continue her dancing, carousing and enjoyment of Walchelin’s art. For his part Walchelin appreciates the beauty and dance of Euphêmía, he suspects that she enhances his Music through her performance, but little suspects that her dancing is Magical Folk Dancing that requires a human to perform in order for it to succeed in having any effect.

The Curse of Hades

Unfortunately for Walchelin Hades took great umbrage at the young Troubadour’s performance and is biding his time to exact revenge. Hades plan is that when the Troubadour finds himself truly in love the Faerie God has decided that he will steal the object of the Troubadour’s affections away to Hades, as he has done with a number of young loves in the past, and then, at every opportunity, taunt the forlorn Minstrel with his powerlessness in the face of the Fae God of Hades.

Music Style and Genre

Walchelin prefers a style of playing and singing that consists of rich dialogue varied by refrains, the melodies to which have the character of folk music, and are spontaneous and tuneful but overlay elaborate and complex compositions that are harmonious. Normally he performs trobar ric, though increasingly he has become influenced by trobar leu and very rarely Walchelin plays the more restrictive trobar clus. When playing, two of his favourite genres are Descort and Tenso; though he finds the combination of challenge and foolishness that is Sestina driving him to attempt performances incorporating this genre. He prefers to play the Mandolin but is also skilled with other stringed instruments, as well as wind – such as the bag-pipes - and percussion – particularly the tabor.


Trobar leu

The trobar leu, or light style of poetry, was the most popular style used by the troubadours. Its accessibility gave it a wide audience.

Trobar ric

The trobar ric, or rich form of poetry, was distinguished by its verbal gymnastics; trobar ric has always played a secondary role to trobar leu.

Trobar clus

Trobar clus, or closed form, was the style of poetry used by troubadours for their more discerning audiences, and it was only truly appreciated by an elite few. It was developed extensively by Marcabru, but by 1200 its inaccessibility led to its disappearance.


The poetry of the troubadour songs covered many topics, from the profound to the humorous and from war at home to the crusades. However, they are best known for expounding on the theme of fin' amors, or courtly love.

· Alba: The Alba is a song of the morning, used by the troubadours. It concerns the departure of a lover in the early morning. This style of song was later developed by the German minnesingers who called it a tagelied.

· Coblas: probably composed of several strophe, each a pair of stanza of alternating form on which the structure of the poem or song is based. Though a Coblas is also described as a band. Maybe everyone in the band plays different strophe.

· Descort: The Descort is a song of disagreement used by the troubadours. The subject matter is one of disagreement and this is emphasised by unusual metric structures and irregular rhymes.

· Devinaill: No clue on what this Genre is about.

· Estampida: The Estampida is the Occitan equivalent of the French estampie. According to Grocheo in his book De Musica the estampie is a melody without words with a complicated melodic progression. This does not seem to have been a universally accepted definition however, as the song Kalenda maia by Raimbaut de Vaquerais describes itself as an estampida.

· Pastorela: The Pastorela is a poetic genre used by the troubadours, which was the genesis of the pastourelle. It concerns the meeting of a knight with a shepherdess, which may lead to any of a number of possible conclusions. They are usually humorous pieces.

· Planh: The Planh is a funeral lament used by the troubadours, modeled on the Medieval Latin planctus. It differed from the planctus in that it was intended for a secular audience.

· Retroencha: based on some references probably classical song of praise, though I am not sure.

· Sestina: Of all the poetic forms created in the Middle Ages, the sestina is perhaps the silliest. It was almost certainly invented by the troubadour Arnot Daniel who had the good sense to only write one. The sestina is created using six key words, and has six stanzas of six lines each with a concluding three line stanza at the end. The six key words appear at the end of one line each in the first stanza, and we shall call the order they occur in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. In the second stanza each line again is concluded with a key word, this time in order 6, 1, 5, 2, 4, 3. In the third stanza the words are shuffled the same way, so that the order is 3, 6, 4, 1, 2, 5. This continues until six stanzas have been completed. The six words are then used in the concluding three line stanza, with two key words per line.

· Sirventes: The Sirventes is a form of poetry utilised by the troubadours. It was a song written in the style of a canso, addressing current events from the perspective of a sirven, a paid soldier. It was always partisan, being either highly complimentary or oozing with vitriol. The most famous exponent of the sirventes was Bertran de Born.

· Tenso: A Tenso is a song style favoured by the troubadours. It takes the form of a debate in which each voice defends a position on a topic relating to love or ethics.

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