Our primary genre focus for Convolution's inaugural year is Urban Fantasy. That's a pretty broad category, though, encompassing countless short stories, novels, films, TV series, comic books and games. Simply saying, "Urban fantasy — GO!" struck us as a bit too nonspecific, but we also wanted to give our Guests and Attendees some room to explore and play with the genre if they felt the urge.
To that aim, Convolution 2012's Chairman, Jim Sullivan, created the fictional, coastal metropolis of SAN CIPRIANO ("THE SILVER CITY OF THE GOLDEN STATE").
By creating a city with a general history, some established characters and locations, and several different "factions" to which many of its citizens are loyal, we hope to give you a jumping off point or setting for your own ideas, thoughts, stories or artwork within the Urban Fantasy genre. Just as the denizens of any real world city aren't necessarily a part of every event, neither do we expect everyone else's ideas to be tied to any of San Cipriano's established politics or groups -- we just want you to have fun!
Establishing the framework for San Cipriano also gives some of us the opportunity to roam among our attendees as the fictional city's public (and not-so-public) citizens, politicians and power players, inviting those who'd like to immerse themselves more fully into the theme to do just that. To that end, some of the incidental events taking place during the convention -- in addition to panel discussions, workshops, performances and parties -- will include campaigning by San Cipriano's mayoral candidates, attendee influence over the city council's leadership, and other ideas still in the works.
San Cipriano started as a mission, Mission San Cipriano di Antioquía, founded August 25th, 1788 by Fathers Prospero Arrugas and Domingo Pliegues. Even then, secrets were part of the stock and trade of San Cipriano. In truth, Father Arrugas was far more than just a priest, but also a powerful mage. He owned the Libro de San Cipriano, possibly one of the most powerful grimoires ever created, rumored to have been penned by Saint Cipriano himself. It was possession of that book which lead him to hide himself in the Catholic Church. It was a powerful organization and he used their wealth and influence to keep himself and the Libro de San Cipriano safe though the Church itself was unaware their strength aided him in keeping the magical book protected from rival mages and other supernaturals who desired it.
However, traveling north with Father Junipero Serra and hiding in a newly founded, remote mission did not keep the grimoire secret for very long. As the mission and neighboring pueblo grew, so did the number of individuals who discovered the location of Father Prospero and his powerful tome. Soon hidden among the denizens of the area were other mages, necromancers, werewolves, vampires, and even the Fae— all trying to secure the Libro de San Cipriano for themselves.
Father Prospero knew that he could not keep the grimoire secure by himself any longer, so he called in favors and sent requests for assistance to fellow mages he knew. Soon, a council of mages was formed to protect the Libro de San Cipriano; members swore an oath and submitted themselves to a geas. The geas, a spell that binds a person to follow an oath or suffer an ill fate, would kill any of the mages who attempted to take the spell book for themselves or willingly allow another to do so. In exchange, these mages were allowed to read and use the Libro de San Cipriano for their own magical pursuits. Father Prospero named the council Veneficii Validus.
The council was successful in preventing the theft of the tome. In response, those who desired it for themselves started to band together. At this time the Unwelcome and the Lodge of Forgotten Whispers were formed. The Unwelcome were the few Fae who had come this far west since crossing the Atlantic after being banished from their realm. Typically banished Fae avoided each other, but the hope of obtaining the powerful spell book to return to their own kingdom proved to be far more important than their natural distrust of each other. The Lodge was a union of mediums and necromancers who planned to use spirits to obtain the grimoire.
Stay tuned for more!
Appearing in 1920 with the onset of prohibition, Rubio controlled a great many rum runner ships and seemed to have the blessing of the local mafia. His men were strong and soon his money, leverage, and strength of arms he was controlling both the legitimate and secret docks. Very few questioned his odd looks; bushy muttonchops, thick brown skin, and walrus tusks carved in arcane symbols. Ever since, Rubio is undeniably the King of Wharf and has freedom to perform his own actions without the supervision of the Veneficus Validus Council; an enviable situation indeed.
Cat arrived in San Cipriano in the late 1980s, a fiery Columbian girl always decked out in the finest new wave chic. The Council had little use for her until within six months of her arrival in San Cipriano she uncovered and destroyed a nest of Bajang— particularly insidious cat demons. Throughout the years she has proven her worth dozens of times. She earned the respect of, but never joined the Veneficus Validus Council. As of late, rumors have been abounding that she is connected to Aysunzahi, an incubus who has recently manifested and claims to have fled the Underfires to seek asylum in San Cipriano.
Enchara Decoit is as beautiful as she is deadly. In mortal society she is a wanted art thief, griffter and suspected murderer. Among the supernatural her true nature is somewhat known. The epitome of the black widow, nobody is certain exactly what she is. Enchara is known to bend men to her will and psychically control spiders. It has been suggested that she has a venomous bite and is capable of spinning a web. Whatever the case, the Veneficus Validus Council tolerates her presence in San Cipriano, which she uses as a home base.
Shandor arrived in San Cipriano in 1953 with just the items in his backpack and his burdened tool belt. He started supporting himself by doing odd jobs and small construction and repair projects. By 1968 he had his own repair shop in downtown. Early on he was approached they the Children of Wardenclyffe, the Mad Scientists of San Cipriano because he was talented at fixing anything; however he has repeatedly turned down their offers. Now in his eighties, Shandor has stopped working at his shop, which his grandson now runs. He still however holds sway over the Council—rumor has it he built something for them shortly after he arrived and is the only one who can repair it.
Tzufit Rosenberg has two very early memories; the first being that she hated her parents for her name and the second was her fascination with fire. Many a small accident, from overheated irons to logs popping in the fire place catapulting embers onto the carpet, appeared random, however little Tzufit knew better. She could to some degree control fire with her thoughts and she found flames soothing. As she grew so did her potential of her pyrokinetic strength. In fact, as a young teenager it grew beyond her ability to control it, resulting in a devastating fire at her junior high school. It was shortly after this that Tzufit was approached by a member of the Ohlone Indians. She learned that she had been born with a piece of the spirit of Humingbird, bringer of Fire to the People. Both she and the shaman she spoke with were perplexed by this as Tzufit has no known Native American ancestry. Not of Ohlone blood, Tzufit was not allowed to join the Shamans of the Ternion and not truly a mage there was no place on the Council for her, so she is an independent, mentored by the Shamans of the Ternion.
The self-proclaimed descendants of Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower are mad scientists, one and all. Some would consider the Scions a cult and others a stellar group of geniuses; perhaps both are correct.
The Scions arrived in San Cipriano in 1948 and promptly began building their own version of Wardenclyffe Tower. This tribute is smaller, but far more functional than the original. It casts a shadow over Old Hill Estates, a neighborhood sometimes called Little Dublin, but to the chagrin of the Unwelcome who reside there.
Some are obsessed with taking Tesla's studies of electronics to new heights while others dream of perfecting his mercury-based death ray. There are even whispers that there are Scions who wish to mesh the worlds of magic and science together- a frightening thought indeed and is exactly why the Scions of Wardenclyffe must never be allowed to possess the Libro de San Cipriano.
The so-called "tamed" werewolves of San Cipriano. A mix of Native American skin dancer werewolves and more traditional curse of lycanthropy European werewolves.
In 1830 Erhard Wellenburg left his life of wealth and comfort in Stuttgart in the Kingdom of Württemberg for America. The Wellenburgs were merchants who traded in wine, horses, and cattle. Erhard was the fourth son and knew he would have to make his own way. A cousin had written to him about the problems some of the German farms were having with a local Native American tribe. He could read between the lines; the natives had werewolves and far more than a few Wellenburg cousins were there. The Wellenburgs carried the curse of lycanthropy, but it would seem they were outmatched.
A journey across the pond would solve several of his problems: he could aid his family there, seek his own fortune, and avoid the pressures of eligible young ladies in Stuttgart — Erhard was not ready to be married. So Erhard prepared for his journey, including a trip to the Kunstmarkt, an arcane black market, where he purchased a breeding pair of gargoyles to take to San Cipriano. A union between Moon Beast and Stone Beast would be unstoppable. At first the Wellenburg society was welcomed by the Council when they arrived in 1832. It was believed that the Wellenburg Society advertised itself as a group dedicated to finding and dealing with Native American werewolves. True to their word, they found them and dealt with them; dealt with them by interbreeding the Native American, European and Russian werewolves creating powerful family lines.
In 1904 The Council declared war on the Wellenburg society. There was much death in battle. The Council used the all-powerful tome bring the statues of the Wellenburg Estate to life to combat the gargoyles the werewolves had been raising. The battle lasted 3 days and nights. One the final night a peace accord was reached, but neither group has any trust of the other.
The Nocs is the title given to generally refer to vampires, however there is not one ruling focus among the vampires currently. They tend to gather in nests and each nest enjoys their own style, where that may be quenching their thirst on the socialites of San Cipriano or heading to the docks for some violent blood spilling. Nests often adopt their own names for the group, such as Ridley’s Kids, The Silent Song, or Sanguine Knights. Recently Ethan Cadwalder, the leader of the nest Jubilant Kiss, has been rallying for the nests to bond together and seek independence from the Veneficus Validus.
The banished Fae of Underhill gather in San Cipriano hoping to gain access to the Council's tome to find a way home again. They tend to cluster in like types, such as the kelpies are stay a Sorrow Pond and Brownies tend to stick together, as do the Sidhe. Only during the hippie movement of the 1960s were they ever united. And united they were. A young goat pooka was able to use tips from the sidhe to seduce a member of the Veneficii Validus Council and steal the powerful book of magic. This lead to the Fae Wars, which the Unwelcome lost.
Necromancer is a title which evokes thoughts the corruption of our deceased; forced from their graves as twisted, vile undead creatures with a shuffling gait and an overwhelming hunger for human flesh. Nothing could be further from the truth. Very few Necromancers would traffic the corporeal dead. Zombies are servants of an entirely different group and Nocs have another source as walking dead. The occasional ghoul, animated skeleton, or charnel hordes are created, but in truth they are rarer than were-swans.
The necromancers and mediums of the Lodge of Forgotten Whispers are no exception. Since their founding in 1819 it has been anathema to use magic on the physical remains of the dead. Instead necromancers truck with spirits of all sorts: ghosts, ghasts, phantasms, poltergeists, banshees, and even the deadly eidolon.
The Lodge of Forgotten Whispers was created as effort between three individuals to gain control of the powerful spell book the Libro de San Cipriano. Eduardo De La Cruz convinced Senora Carlotta Montoya and of the Xigmacse Toleppata of the Jalquin tribe that their desires could become reality if they possessed the magic tome. Carlotta was a widow who sought vengeance for the death of her husband and happened to be a powerful medium. Xigmacse wanted his people freed from the control of the missions and was a shaman who could summon and control powerful spirits of the dead.
Together they formed a plan to wrest control from the missions so Mission San Cipriano di Antioqu&iactue;a would not be such a powerful sanctuary for Father Prospero Arrugas and the Libro de San Cipriano. Through the haunting and occasional possession of the Mexican governor of Alta California, José María de Echeandía, they were able to bring about the "Proclamation of Emancipation" which called for native Indians to be freed from missionary rule and made eligible to become Mexican citizens. San Cipriano, San Buenaventura, and San Francisco de Asís were the last to succumb, but all did so by the end of 1836.
The trio never did wrest the book from Father Arrugas's control, but the Lodge of Forgotten Whispers began a new legacy of using the power of our ancestors to bring justice for the living. The Lodge today still wishes to possess the spells of the the Libro de San Cipriano, however that cause comes second to helping the living by the way of the dead.
This faction is the newest in San Cipriano. Its origin is traced back to 1982 and two runaways from King City, California. Joel Albrecht and Cassandra Beauche both lived unbearable lives in the tiny California town. Joel was in constant fear that his homosexuality would be discovered and Cassandra lived with her alcoholic and abusive mother. They two conspired to runaway to San Francisco, but their limited funds only allowed for a bus ride to San Cipriano. They planned to earn some cash there and continue on, but fate had another plan in mind.
After a night of dancing at One Step Yonder (a local all ages club), the pair were walking home when they encountered an eidolon. The glowing, featureless apparition appeared before them as they were taking a short cut through an alley. The duo was paralyzed with fear, a natural reaction to an eidolon, and clutched each other as it began to speak. It shared a tale of his kind shackled to a group of necromancers, forced to do their bidding. He, Viktor was the name he gave himself, was apparently the only one to resist their controlling magic, but he was fearful that soon he would fail and be under their sway. He explained that he could, with the help of Joel resist them indefinitely, but Joel would have to be willing to aid the specter. They of course both refused, but the eidolon went on to explain that it would benefit Joel. He told them both he knew that Joel was sick with GRIDS, a secret Joel had not shared with Cassandra. After tears and screaming, the being continued that if the two joined as one, Joel would never get ill, age, or die and the eidolon would be corporeal and thus immune to the power of the necromancers. He gave them three days to consider his offer. In the end, Joel agreed and the first Absent was created. Shortly after Joel/Viktor rescued another eidolon who joined with his best friend and Cassandra/Juan was born.
Slowly over the last three decades runaways have been matched with eidolon, creating more Absent, but in the last five years they have been recruiting more aggressively. For whatever reason, only young humans are able to bond with the powerful spirits. Nobody is certain what the Absent want, but they have become a force to be reckoned with.
Daughters of Alban Eiler: Nature mages; very opposed to the vampires.
Order of the Aubade: Vampire hunters.
Veneficus Validu: The Hermetic wizards that now reign over the supernatural of San Cipriano
A Historical Landmark, Father Prospero's Villa will be hosting several small open-house gatherings thanks to the efforts of the San Cipriano Historical Society. The villa once stood among large vineyards operated by the Mission. Father Prospero was known for his hospitality and would host large feasts for the natives and locals alike.