So you want to form a Winter Coven

What advice would you give to new players who were thinking of forming a Winter focussed coven?

What are the cool spells, what kind of items would you recommend they make or look out for, what potions? Would you recommend any particular Magical Traditions to them? What kind of things do Winter Covens get up to? Which Eternals should they talk to or at least have frosty silences with?

And the most important question, what are the best dressed Winter Covens wearing this season and what’s their aesthetic?


So you want to form a Winter | Summer | Autumn | Spring | Day | Night Coven

With all Realms, my advice would be to start by looking at the ritual theory page on the wiki for the realm, focussing on the resonances. For Winter, that’s here: https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Winter_magic#Resonance It can be great to focus on one or two of those resonances, allowing you then to identify your potential friends and foes amongst the Eternals, coalesce around particular rituals associated with the resonance, and have themes to build into costumes, characterisation, coven oath, and ritual performance. Then look at how those resonances connect with the magical and cultural traditions of your nation.

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Winter has a lot of applications when you’re in a coven. Buffing armies and personal combat unit, deciphering curses and destroying magic items, some pretty tasty combat rituals. It’s best to pick a focus and master a few rituals around that theme.

For items a phlegmatic staff is big and clever, although expensive. Barren watchtower potions are much cheaper, and if you’re a herb garden buffing coven you can trade Ruthless Vigilance for potions (or even have a coven member with a herb garden).

Eternal wise they’re all fun. Sorin is my personal favourite, but Kaela can be interesting to work with as well. The thrice cursed court are quite vogue at the moment, but as such getting their attention might be hard. If you want to play with fire, Wendigo might be a fun (but short) dalliance.

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A broad summary into the effects of the mechanics of Covens…Im not going to go into the rituals themselves (mostly) this is more a “what your coven can do” summary

The thing I think it helps to understand is there are basically 3 tiers of Coven and they have access to vastly different things. There are some overlaps but basically there’s Personal, Local and Strategic.
As a numbers referrence, everything Im about to say is based on what you can reliably get (some characters are easy to find some get scattered to the wind and also some dont consistently attend, for every two characters that are scattered to the wind assume you can find one in time and can arrange a not clash), and includes the regio (so take your Realm lore add 1 and double it)

Personal (Up to 20)
Essentially what you are doing will be based on one to three players getting cool things. The wards get a shout out as being useful at player events but not at Anvil.
Plan your rituals and roleplay around basically giving one person something will be your easiest, and understand most of the time you’ll be doing stuff within your group to give your own group members cool moments.

Small (20 to 50)
Now you are in an odd spot where you can start marketing and getting real value from your coven (you should be able to cast multiple rituals on small groups and turn a profit). If you hit this point, you want to start getting known and doing some flashy stuff, just because a) its fun and b) you’ll get attention and more business.
Remember to still do stuff in house occasionally, as while handing out cool buffs is fun so is playing with them yourselves.

Strategic (50+)
This is the point where Coven politics really opens up, and your group can do really cool things that effect the world as a whole. Right now the only Winter Rituals in Imperial Lore that effect the world map are at 150 (or are negative so carry legal consequences if used on the targets that are easy to arrange), however Arcane Projections can be done that use winter, effect the world map and are significantly lower. If you can hit this magnitude reliably, suddenly Politicians will care about your Coven and be trying to persuade you into casting their pet projects, and people will start to seek you out once they know that you can

So broadly the difficulty of Winter Covens is so many of the Winter Rituals are really situational, Winter has some of the most difficult rituals to cast effectively. Whether that is because you need dominion on an enemy territory (which rarely happens) or a rare battle opportunity against does that are impacted by the warding rituals (Which do come up but again situational). or just being the most high mag rituals in Imperial Lore.

Winter does have a really good selection of solo rituals, but that’s less useful as a group concept, because there isn’t much to pull you together. It also has the majority of curses, so is great for a high PvP coven.

So I’ve tried to come up with a few distinct coven concepts (although generally, have someone able to solo Words of Ending, Balanced Blade and Touch of Frost, try to be able to cast Whispers as a coven.)

Cackling Witches
Take some curses, search your national brief for the reason you are actively seeking out people to curse (There are a bunch of meddling archetypes around which are probably a good basis for this group concept.) Ignore anyone who tells you not to curse. This thread talks about this in more depth

All the Herbs
Winter has one of the better economic rituals, Ruthless Vigilance, because it’s possible to cast it using what the ritual produces and still make a profit. If you are willing to do a fair bit of legwork, and arranging bulk castings of this could be guaranteed rituals each event. (It won’t make your coven a great profit, but it’s consistent game.) You probably want at least one apothecary with the mana boosting and winter ritual potion sets.
Tradition: I think magical tradition wise, I would actually try making a Totemic symbol set around plants (there is a lot of OC lore to choose from and it could be interesting.)

Winter is a Battlefield
Between most of Winters Combat Buffs being for battlemages, and a number of battlefield rituals (Wardings, blow up fort etc.) Winter Combat Coven feels like an interesting niche, many of the tricks are situational, but if you built the characters around being able to have fun as combatants as well it probably works out. (And buff each other with coven rituals.)
It’s worth bearing in mind you can switch two rituals each event, and so building this around a core of combat buffs, and then having some battlefield rituals you switch for the ones you need is probably optimal.
Items It’s alot cheaper to get combat skills than ritual Lore in items, ignore the staffs and go for the cheap combat buff items Greensteel Bracers, the cheap mage armours. The apprentice +1 spell items.

The Necrohistorians
I’ve had a lot of fun out of being in a split Day/Winter Coven (it’s probably more Day focused but Curse analysis and Whispers are really useful tools in the history game - although having Day helps with finding historical threads to pull.)
You probably want at least one character with voice for the dead, to secure your necromancy niche.

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Winter’s ability to turn you from an everyday ritual mage into a pretty good battlemage (once you’ve got mage armour and a staff) I think is a fun thing to run with.

Battle Mage Rituals

Ravenous Tongue of Entropy is a cool upgrade (cast the spells shatter, weakness, and paralysis as if you knew them) for only 5 mana mastered and has the hilarious roleplaying effect “You feel an urge to lash out with your magic at anyone who crosses you, questions you, or obstructs you.” Lean into that for maximum fun times :laughing:.

I had some fun with Crumbling Flesh and Withering Limbs, it’s a cheap way to add some combat ability to a mage alongside carrying a buckler which anyone can do. It can be a way to power up before a skirmish so you’re not just a squishy mage. Also no one expects a mage to be able to cleave with their rod, so it’s excellent for disarming or dropping people before you drag them out of your tent for rudeness.

Hungry Grasp of Despair letting you cast weakness 4 times a battle/skirmish (if you go and recharge in a magical aura after) for 7 mana or 14 measures of Beggars Lye is also pretty boss. Also has the brilliant roleplaying effect “You feel powerful and deserving of respect. You experience an urge to punish people who disrespect you or your authority.

Then there’s pretty much the best Winter Ritual for battle mages, Coil of the Black Leech with the roleplaying effect “Whenever they gain hits due to this enchantment, they feel a rush of pleasure. Once they have used this ability once, they feel a constant urge to use it again even when they are not injured.” 10 Mana when mastered, but only an extra 7 mana for an extra coven member if you’ve got the power level. Then simply add a Splintering Gorget to taste. You too can live your best vampiric wizard life with this ritual and perhaps your whole coven can too :smiley: .

Oh yes and there’s Devastating Scythe of Anguish and Loss, not just a super cool name for a ritual but it will let you call IMPALE with a staff at will as if it were a 2pt spell. With this spell you can ruin the day of a lot of Barbarians and it’s almost just worth it for the look on people’s face when you, a battle mage, busts out Impale after Impale in a swirling orgy of destruction. Yes you will need the Battle Mage skill, some extra mana and almost certainly a lot of Mage Blood potions but it’s worth it :slight_smile: .

Also has the roleplaying effect “You have a sense that everything around you is dying, crumbling, or rotting. Living beings are going to die, and everything will eventually fall apart and be lost thanks to the relentless march of time. You find it extremely difficult to appreciate beauty, seeing the eventual decay into which all things will eventually fall” for extra goth points.

Personal Enchanments

There’s also some pretty cool enchantments which you can hand out to warriors around you.

Fight Tooth and Nail gives people two uses of Unstoppable a day without spending hero points at the cost of 6 mana mastered. And y’know the roleplaying effect of “You find it difficult to show mercy to your opponents; you feel an urge to execute fallen enemies on the battlefield, and to pursue fleeing enemies until you can beat them down and execute them. In social situations you are likely to lash out at anyone who you think is threatening you or your friends, and will feel the urge to beat such people down and then execute them” is really just the cherry on the top :wink: .

And there’s Pallid Flesh of the Dead King which gives three ranks of endurance at the cost of about 7/8 mana mastered, oh yes and the ritual target getting a venom which can’t just be removed with purify. But cool people don’t worry about that sort of thing and you’re cool right?

The other fun bit of this ritual is you can substitute ingots of Orichalcum, Weltsilver, and Tempest Jade for mana at a 2 for 1 ratio. You just need to make it really obvious that the ingots are a tribute to the Thrice-cursed Court. But I’m sure that wouldn’t cause any issues.

Cool Battlefield and Skirmish stuff

And finally as @McGonigle mentioned there’s some battlefield stuff that’s situational, but very useful when they come up.

Pakaanan’s Iron Shutters which seals a portal for ten minutes can be just what a battle, skirimish or quest needs to achieve an objective.

Likewise Ward of the Black Waste, which wards an area against Vallornspawn can be intensely useful if you’re going up against the Vallorn.

I understand that casting Inevitable Collapse into Ruin on a battlefield fortification makes you feel like a superhero, it’s kinda like this :slight_smile:.

And getting off a casting of The Grave’s Treacherous Edge vs Vallorn and especially Briar Husks is epic.

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I can confirm that Ravenous Tongue of Entropy was utterly hilarious to load a friendly Dawnish knight up with. While my Marcher broke out the metaphorical popcorn for the ensuing tournament, and the target had to have his wand taken away after he kept wanting to Weakness anyone who insulted his buddies.

Also Pallid Flesh of the Dead King + a Bloodfire Periapt is the ultimate Do or Die loadout. +6 hits, shame about the bleed count.

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