[OtE] The Terceius conspiracy

An Immortal at the Al Amarjan Senate & a new conspiracy for Over the Edge.

Some of this has already been shared through the Over the Edge mailing-list, but this is an expanded version of the Asdrubal Terceius character and his legacy of conspirators. Description of the NPC belonging to the Terceius conspiracy will follow.

Pub: A powerful senator.

Rep: An immortal, ubiquitous wizard and an ally of Monique D'Aubainne. Those who cross him end badly.

The Terceius family name evokes great power in Al Amarja. Most 'marj'ns know that Asdrubal Terceius is a powerful senator in the service of Her Exaltedness Monique D'Aubainne, who uses his political shrewdness in Her Exaltedness' best interests, often keeping the D'Aubainne children's plots in check.

It is rumored that Asdrubal Terceius is an immortal wizard, in possession of many forbidden secrets. There is definite proof that Asdrubal Terceius has been able to be in several places at exactly the same time. Sir Arthur Compton, Anastasia Crowley, the Hermetic Movers as well as various mystic s**t community consider Asdrubal Terceius to belong to their crowd. Since all magical-but-kind-of-obvious assassination attempts against Asdrubal Terceius have thus far spectacularly failed, and incurred ultra-violent retaliation, most of the occult crowd members tread somewhat warily around him and a lot of sycophants do not hesitate to keep Asdrubal Terceius informed of the current occult news.

Monique D'Aubainne herself is very keen to piece together the secret of Asdrubal Terceius' seeming immortality, and treats Asdrubal as a dear friend, in the hopes that the wizard will confer immortality upon her.

The origins of Asdrubal Terceius

Asdrubal was born in Roma between the first and second punic wars, probably around 221 BC, from the rape of a enslaved carthagean prisoner-of-war by the second son of her roman master. Asdrubal was of course born and raised a slave in the household, and, when he turned six, he was sold to phenician slave traders. He was finally bought in Athens by an ancient greek merchant who needed a docile and weak child in order to attend to his various needs, bill which Asdrubal fit perfectly. In the three years Asdrubal spent with the old merchant, he learnt to read and write both greek and latin, as well as the art of managing people and accounts. At the death of the merchant, he was sold again as a slave to a retired lacedemonian soldier, who needed help in managing his domain. While Asdrubal taught his master of the art of managing agricultural domains, the old spartan instructed Asdrubal in the art of soldiering.

When Asdrubal turned 13, the lacedemonian felt confident enough to manage his domain alone, and sold Asdrubal as manservant to a roman traveler and noble of patrician descent, Caius Terceius. Caius Terceius was also somewhat of a sage and philosopher (a iatromantis, to be precise), and, as rumor would have it, somewhat of a warlock (such as iatromantises are usually bound to be). He had visited the East in order to uncover its secrets, but when Asdrubal entered his service, Caius Terceius was headed to the most mysterious lands of all: Egypt, in order to study the abstruse wisdom of the wizard-priests. There, both master and slave learnt of Ren-Hekau, the magic of true names. They learnt of the fertile enchantments of the Nile, and of the dangerous magic of the desert.

One night when Asdrubal was 14, an old lecherous (and very drunken) priest proposed Asdrubal a charm for might and immortality in exchange for one night's pleasure. Asdrubal accepted, though only half-believing in the priest's superstitious proposal. The strange ritual was supposed to permanently link Asdrubal's Ba to his physical flesh, and after Asdrubal held his part of the bargain, the priest duly performed the ritual, if with a drunken stammer. The following morning, ashamed of his own gullibility that such powerful magic could exist, Asdrubal strangled the priest while the latter was still in a drunken stupor.

When Asdrubal turned 15, he saved Caius' life by deflecting a sword blow meant for his master, who thereafter adopted Asdrubal as his son. The pair returned to Roma City around 213 BC, during the second punic war, and, rich enough to finance a service as equites (knights, pronounce "Ay-kwee-tayss"), they both immediately entered the comices, and enlisted in the Roman army. Caius Terceius died from a infected wound in 206 BC. In 202, the second punic war ended, and Asrubal returned once again to Roma, this time as a valorous knight crowned with the laurels of Victory. He entered the Senate in 201, and lived a long, productive life, fathering eight sons. He retired from the political life of Roma in 176. He died of old age and quite more than a few venereal diseases in 172 BC, in his villa he had had built near the port of Scullarius (which would later become Skylla) on a small mediterranean island, at that time part of the roman province.

Asdrubal Terceius was not immortal, after all. However, his genetic makeup revealed itself to be anomalous, in that his genes were absolutely dominant. Because of that singularity, almost all his descendants have been both been male and tremendously similar, if not identical, on a genetic level, to the original Asdrubal himself, with a few female exceptions. The most peculiar characteristic of Asdrubal's descendants is that they do appear to be affected by the circumstances of their foetal development only in a minimal way. Even their irises and fingerprints are similar enough to warrant some mistakes. The charge of senator being hereditary at the time Asdrubal the first died, Claudius, the eldest of Asdrubal's sons, did not have any reason to usurp his father's identity. However, the charge of senator soon became incompatible with that of knight. In order to keep their political importance and influence, the Terceiuses began a charade: Petrus Terceius Scudio, grandson of the original Asdrubal, gave his son the same name as his illustrious ancestor, and taught him how to impersonate his great-grandfather, instructing him to teach his own descendants on keeping the illusion of Asdrubal Terceius' immortality, noting every little detail in family journals and archives. Even though the necessity of such an elaborate lie disappeared after a few generations, the advantages of sharing one unique identity throughout the ages soon seemed, to the Terceiuses, to offset its disadvantages.

The name of Asdrubal Terceius grew to be greatly feared in the Mediterranean territories, as a symbol of an indomitable political power, in an immortal body incarnate. In many historical texts, there have been documented references to Asdrubal Terceius. A careful researcher could find mentions of a 7th-century Saxon knight named Srubald Tercehild, a rich usurer named Ribaldo Terceo in 14th-century Lombardy, or a french 17th-century "gentilhomme" known as André Ballin de Tercillet.

After the liberation of the island, the Terceiuses chose to live on Al Amarja for three main reasons :

The first of these is the similarity between the roman senate of old and the Al Amarjan Senate, which allows Asdrubal to profit from his experience in senatorial chicanery more than he would in the parliament of another country.

The second reason is the benevolence of the Al Amarjan State towards questions of identity. The modern era and its technological means of identification (i.e. fingerprints, iris and retinial scans) have added to the difficulties of impersonating Asdrubal, whereas the Al Amarjan authorities are conveniently bribable in regards to "updating" Asdrubal's records.

The last reason is the lifelong mandate of honorary senators, which is also very convenient for an apparent "immortal".

Quite simply, the ultimate objective of the Terceius household is to wrest power from the hands of the D'Aubainne family, and for the persona of Asdrubal Terceius to become the immortal, Exalted Shepherd of Al Amarja. For now, the Terceiuses have never acted against the grip of Monique D'Aubainne on the island, and prefer to act as loyal allies to Her Exaltedness.

The current Terceius family objectives are :

  • to try and penetrate the secret of the SACQ poison gas, which is a formidable deterrent against taking direct hostile action towards the D'Aubainnes;
  • to find allies within the main Al Amarjan conspiracies in order to take control of them. They are currently in talks with the Blue Castle Movers and have reached an understanding with the Net concerning various legislative acts which would favor the Net's business operations.

The Terceius household

Being born in the Terceius family incurs a strong home education, focused on loyalty to the family, political maneuvering, mediterranean history, and maintaining the charade of immortality. Their lessons range from the use of ancient weapons to mediterranean and semitic languages. From their youngest age, Terceiuses are instructed never to discuss age nor immortality, for fear of fringe powers which could reveal their lying or read their mind. For the same reasons, all Terceius family members and retainers usually wear a crystal trap pendant.

The loyalty of the family retainers is enforced in a very simple way : all are directly related, one way or another, to the Terceius bloodline. Most are family members still too young or now too old to impersonate Asdrubal Terceius, but more than a few were family members unable to impersonate Asdrubal Terceius due either to their gender or to a particular sickness or deformity, or the descendants thereof.

When there is need for Asdrubal Terceius to be impersonated by another family member, the closest in age, appearance and experience takes up that duty, with the help of makeup or even, a few times, plastic surgery. In the last few decades, each time an older Terceius is replaced by a younger one and the change is a little too obvious, the latter explains away this sudden added youthfulness by claiming to have recreated his own body through his knowledge of the dark arts of necromancy.

Throughout history, the Terceius family has moved several times. From its old roman-style villa near Skylla, the Terceius household resettled several times around the Mediterranean Sea, moving along with the times and tides of history. The current Terceius family base of operations is an impressive manor house, relocated stone by stone from central France to the southern foot of Mt Ralsius. The Terceius manor, surrounded with a large enclosed park, is lavishly decorated. The Terceius grounds are protected by strategically placed white-thought generators and patrolled by Terceius family members acting as guards.

Notable Terceius household members

Candero Terceius, current official Asdrubal Terceius and presumably immortal wizard.

Alberto Drusano, uptight butler to the Terceius household, and its real leader and mastermind.

Terceius traits

All Asdrubal Terceius impersonators display the following traits :

Italian (?) man, indeterminate age but somewhere between 38 and 55, 184 to 188 cm, 74 to 83 kgs, light brown hair, gray eyes, sun-tanned skin, weathered face, multiple old scars, powerful and impressive frame, warm voice.

Languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Greek, Hebrew, Copt, Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic, Ethiopian, Romanian, Latin, and a smattering of all languages, preferably dead ones, which may have been spoken near or around the mediterranean since 200 BC.

Attack 3 or 4 dice, X3 with gladius or pilum

Defense 3 or 4 dice

Armor: 1 die (scale mail)

Hit points: 33 (brick wall) to 41 (unstoppable)

Traits:

@Seem Immortal, 3 dice - To this day, Terceiuses have trained to impersonate Asdrubal and answer to that name (or a variation thereof) when necessary. They are skilled at pretending to be the one and same founder of their dynasty. In order to achieve that goal, Terceiuses have been resorting to makeup and plastic surgery, marking their own bodies deliberately with scars identical to those of their ancestor, leaving very detailed accounts of their lives for all other later Terceiuses, learning to speak ancient languages, to move in the same manner, to fight as ancient warriors, to spout trivia about any topic and to dabble in the occult. In order to preserve the secret, Terceiuses usually quickly become widowers, but there have been some exceptions. At least one case of a female descendant of Asdrubal impersonating her ancestor has indeed been filed in the family archives. Somehow, it seems the egyptian priest's charm was not completely inefficient, after all... (talks about very long past events as if he was around when they happened)

Fighter, 3 dice - Asdrubal Terceius is a knight. He knows how to fight on horse, on foot, with a tower shield and a pilum or gladius. He learnt martial arts with the guys who invented them. He was taught how to shoot a bombard during the seven-year war. He also was a greased-lightning pistolero in 1870's Far West. Don't mess with him. (scarred body, scale mail under that suit and toga)

Honorary Senator, 3 dice - Asdrubal knows exactly what to say and when to say it, which makes him a very shrewd and successful politician. (warm voice)

Daltonism - Male Terceiuses are unable to perceive color nuances between red and green, and between blue and yellow. Female Asdrubals don't suffer from that flaw.

All Terceiuses also have a specialty trait, which specifically belongs to them. Since Asdrubal has been impersonated by several different Terceiuses over the course of history, rumor has it that Asdrubal is almost omnipotent. In truth, some Asdrubal impersonators were better fighters, others were gifted at maintaining the charade of immortality, still others had a real understanding of the occult. The specialty trait either adds one to the number of dice of one of the above traits, or adds a fourth side trait at a "good" level. Some past Terceiuses have been known to possess the following traits: Demolitions, 3 dice; Hekau, 1 die; Occult, 3 dice; Demon-summonning, 1 die; Security systems, 3 dice; Disguise, 3 dice; etc.

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