CJ Bernstein

CJ Bernstein

Neithernor RPG: Covens

This will be the first time I’ve fully revealed lore about the workings of the Briarverse outside of canonical books/experiences. Still, covens are a big part of the Neithernor RPG, and since they’ve only been briefly mentioned in the books, it bears exploration. This is a big one, so let’s dig in!

Forming Your Coven

Once your characters are crafted, and your relationships within the game are solidified, it’s time to form your coven. In the Briarverse, a coven is simply a group working together to learn all they can about magic; where it comes from, how to call on its power, and how to wield it.

You might remember mention of Sullivan Green’s coven, which included Ishi and Colby Fortin, and together they cast the spell that hid Deirdre from the magimystic

According to Briarverse lore, the most primal magimystic forces are summoned when disparate elements come together to form something new, and that’s why covens are far more powerful together than their members would ever be on their own. Alone, you would never be able to perform the magimystic feats made possible by joining a coven.

However, a coven is not something to enter into lightly. The pact required to forge a coven is a bond that will connect you to each other across all distances, through all triumphs and toil, for the length of your natural lives.

Outside of the game, you can, of course, join other groups and play other games of Neithernor, but in the world of your character, you can only belong to one coven, and your coven pact is a promise you make to learn with your covenmates, protect them in any way you can, trust in them and allow them to trust in you. The search for magic will not always be an easy path to walk, and you will need your covenmates by your side.

The Coven Pact

How you form your coven and swear your oath to one another is entirely up to you. There is no one rote coven pact. You may intrinsically “know” the spell once you find your true coven, or you may find a scrap of the spell written down in some deep, magimystic place and share it with your friends. How you find it and what you must do to forge it is up to you, your covenmates, and your Narrator.

But once the pact is forged, your coven will be given the most valuable artifact you’re likely to find in the Neithernor RPG— Your coven tome.

Your Coven Tome

Your coven tome is a one-of-a-kind book born from your coven pact. It is an endless library of knowledge and a record of your coven’s adventures together, constantly revealing new information and lore while also filling its never-ending pages with the stories you’ve made together. As your coven grows in power and experience, you will find spells that your entire coven can learn within the tome, as well as affinities only accessible to your individual guild-bearings. It’s also where you may keep a journal of everything you’ve experienced and found along the way. 

In the game, your coven tome is where new spells, affinities, and skill bonuses will appear to you, along with information shared by your Narrator, but your tome is not only a chronicle, spellbook, and teacher. It is a catalyst for storytelling. Cryptic riddles may appear within its pages or a cry for help from somewhere else in the world; it is the conduit by which the Narrator can guide you on your journey into the magimystic.

You could carry your tome with you on your journeys, but it’s highly encouraged to keep your coven tome in a more secure location (more on that in a moment.) Even if you’re away from your tome, you can record events, information, or imagery within it by transcribing them somewhere else and willing the information to be transferred to the tome; such is the power of the connection between the tome and your coven. And where would be the most secure location to store your coven tome?

Your coven hall, of course.

Your Coven Hall

Every coven makes a pact and gains a tome. And that tome is initially found within your coven hall. A coven hall is a nexus, a magimystic hub. It’s your base of operations and your own little “neithernor,” born from the power of the pact your coven made and protected by the power of your coven tome.

The interior of your coven hall might look plain at first, and small; perhaps on first inspection you’ll find a few pieces of furniture, half-empty bookcases, a table for studying maps or sharing a meal, and not much else except your coven tome waiting for you. But as you adventure, gather artifacts, and learn more about magic, your hall will grow to reflect your power, interests, discoveries and perhaps even provide a home for pets or NPCs you meet along the way.

As you explore, your Narrator may also grant you access to new or upgraded areas of your coven hall that bestow benefits, additional knowledge, unique spells, and maybe even doors to undiscovered places.

Your coven hall makes it so that characters don’t have to live in the same city or even the same country because once your pact is forged, you will find yourselves able to knock on mundane doors and gain secret entry to your coven hall, much like the game’s pocket world namesake. From your hall, you can use the coven tome to open doors to locations near and far, exploring the deep places hidden throughout the world.

You coven hall is also where you’ll create—

Coven Magic

Coven Magic is a unique form of wrought spellcasting that can only be performed by two or more pact-forged coven members when you reach 4th level. The spell’s power and purpose are wholly defined by the coven members who create it. (Think of it as the ultimate creative writing exercise combined with the Power Rangers going Megazord.) Using the power of an augmented skill from each participating coven member as an aspect to shape the spell and the permanent sacrifice of a Fate point from each member involved in the creation, Coven Magic is potent, extremely powerful, and born from the elemental bond your coven possesses. Because of that, all members of the Coven risk Spell Sickness whether they were part of the spell creation and casting or not.

However, your coven members aren’t the only ones involved in the creation of your uber-powerful Coven Magic. Because the spells you create with your coven are untested and born from multiple individual wills, there can be unexpected side effects and consequences, and your Narrator gets to secretly infuse them into your spell on creation. When cast, the Narrator will also roll to see what unexpected effects the spell may have outside its intended purpose.