Agrippa Founder Vitruvius Henry Peter Steinkraft
Much of the history of Court Agrippa’s founder outside of public record was lost when Steinkraft and his two adult children vanished August 20, 1890. More precisely, the history was lost when a sixty-foot deep crater was discovered where his estate, Steinkraft Manor, had stood on the seacoast of Destiny, in the eastern rocky islands of Casco Bay. One child, Maxwell, never married, and the other, Victoria, never produced an offspring, thus ending the Steinkraft lineage. The loss was felt through the Magimundi, as a great deal of Vitruvius’ and his family’s secrets were kept in Steinkraft Manor, and are presumed lost forever. In the mid-20th century, the land was finally acquired by Foresight Enterprises, and excavation was done on the property. Some catacombs were found, but the collapsed state left only a few less important ritual and meditation chambers intact, according to Foresight’s official report to Destiny Marshal’s services. The ground was filled in, and a memorial and ley-line energy tap now stand on the property.
Vitruvius was the single son of a Penobscot healer and shaman, Nolke Sanôba (Nohl-kuh San-aw-bah), and his life-partner Elsabeth Steinkraft, a wizard from Austria/Prussia who had arrived with Henry Hudson. Like their son Vitruvius, both were souls caught between the forces of two worlds. Nolke Sanôba chose to keep his life private to those outside his family and loup garoux community. He was known to keep to his traditional magic and beliefs, but much of the knowledge passed along to the Steinkraft family was lost with their estate.
Elsabeth had, by contrast, fallen out of favor with European wizarding society for being too vocal about her magical practices, which overlapped with dark magics, necromancy, and phantasmology (a branch of extra-planar studies that includes summoning, binding, and dealing with spirits, Corruptors, and chaos, including Phythyros, “The Whisper Realm”). She was always known as fair-minded and never cruel, using her magic for good, or at least not for undeserved ills. Still, her beliefs were deemed too esoteric and dangerous by some, while being labeled too progressive by others. Yet her true reasons, both in her studies and for departing for the New World, were only discovered after the disappearance of Steinkraft Manor. Bertram Forsythe revealed posthumously that Ms. Steinkraft had lycanthropy, and wished it to be public after her death. Elsabeth became infected during her second year of magilyceum, reportedly by Wolfgang of Habsburg. Wolfgang was a notorious werewolf and phantasmologist from the area’s ruling family who was under their protection despite his wanton and rampant violence. Lycanthropy was a death sentence for many, or at least meant a life of shame and ignominy. Elsabeth rejected these sentences and though she was careful not to make herself a target, she sought to embrace her lycan identity and manage the adverse symptoms. With the aid of obscure phantasmology, she was able to put herself in an astral-torpor during her lunar changes, leaving a transformed physical body with no animation or spark of life in our physical reality, instead taking the bestial spirit to another plane. She deemed this practice too dangerous for any other being, and kept no record of whatever technique or ritual she used.
After infecting Elsabeth, Wolfgang continued his monthly rampages. A particularly violent evening in which Wolfgang slaughtered an entire mundane village caused the Habsburg family to realize that the benefits of covering for his actions were outweighed by the negative. In consort with the Guardians of that magical conflux, they tortured and interrogated him, and forced him to give the names of other lycans. Elsabeth was named, and was about to be arrested or killed by the magical community. The Habsburgs had one last bit of compassion for Wolfgang, and got him passage to the New World on Henry Hudson’s ship the Halve Maen rather than have him executed. Horrified that he would spread his violence unabated on a new continent and without options for her own safety and livelihood, Elsabeth stowed away on the Halve Maen with the purpose of confronting Wolfgang and establishing a new life for herself.
Without the constant disdainful watching of Old World Society, Elsabeth located and dispatched Wolfgang of Habsburg within two months, cornering him in a granite outcropping east of the Connecticut River near the White Mountains. The climax was a violent magical duel. The full moon rose, and the melee continued in their bestial forms. They wrestled without a clear victor, wounds healing too quickly for death’s reach. Curiously coordinated and intelligent wolves had emerged from the woods during the battle, and while not explicitly taking sides, they had triangulated their positions to Elsabeth’s advantage. Elsabeth, able to hold tenuous connections to her human, tactical mind, outmaneuvered Wolfgang, and he was crushed by a landslide of granite boulders immediately after he took a fall.
Elsabeth lived a solitary life of study along the Northeast coast, until she met her future husband, Nolke Sanôba, a shaman of the Penobscot nation. Sanôba provided knowledge of local cryptids and alchemical ingredients, and Elsabeth assisted with the new and strange illnesses brought by early settlers; they shared esoteric and arcane knowledge with each other and found the ways they wielded magical energy to be more alike than different, despite Sanôba not using a wand. On top of their intellectual and emotional connections, they were drawn to each other on a primal level, a pheromonal one, each of them scenting something familiar in the other. Their romance was inevitable, powerful, and lasting.
Vitruvius was born into this loving family with dual heritages, those of the old world and the new. Steinkraft wrote that he learned immense amounts from both of his parents: knowledge of naturalism and crystal and metallurgical properties of the earth mixed with rituals, hexes and cursebreaking. On his father’s side, Vitruvius was encouraged and nurtured by an extended family of Penobscot as well as his father’s Wôbi Gizos loup garoux. While Wôbi Gizos elders forbid the induction of Vitruvius into their tradition, he was permitted to learn the traditions and rituals of the moon pact. He formed his own group of loup garoux, the 10,000 Lakes Lodge.
From his mother, he was inspired with perseverance and respect for academic study and self-betterment. She taught him traditional ways of astromancy and cursebreaking, but also her expertise in phantasmology and artificery. She also shared her knowledge of lycanthropy, and her deeply held view that a lycan is only as bad as their inability to shield the danger from the innocent. Vitruvius did not attend primaschola or Imperial Magischola; he was considered an outsider by Chancellor Leodegrance’s standards due to his Penobscot father and non-English mother. He was educated by his parents and by the Penobscot shamans. He was a prodigy and invented novel ideas of combining seemingly unrelated magics. Whole new fields of wand combat and tactics arose from his teachings and writings over the two and half centuries he lived.
Long before he was a brilliant strategist for Provincial leaders, Steinkraft proved himself in his trial for the founding of Imperial’s courts. Called upon by the distinguished professor Peregrine Myles Brewster, who had taken it upon himself to reform Imperial Magischola’s faculty, Steinkraft succeeded in besting the great Corruptor who tormented Imperial, known as “The Voice of the Serpent.”
To accomplish his magical deed and prove himself to the Praestantes, Steinkraft first employed his dedication to history and research, and learned the Corruptor’s true nature (a Shade Corruptor of lies and deceit) and name, allowing him to issue a formal challenge. Second, Steinkraft demonstrated the mastery of his own mind and sanity by battling the Corruptor in a shared pocket reality, protecting mind and soul with elaborate hexes and shields, while unraveling the curses and traps laid by the fiend. Third, he designed and set in motion the creation of The Vermillion Granite Chamber, a hexagonal room now a part of the Imperial Crypts. Vitruvius used the mind-battle as a distraction so that the chamber could take form without the knowledge of the Corruptor. When the battle had ended, The Voice of the Serpent and Steinkraft were trapped inside the Vermillion Granite Chamber. Vitruvius had planned a single exit, which sealed itself after he was free.
No one is sure of the fate of this powerful Corruptor. It may have been sent to an alternate timeline, or perhaps it was returned to its original plane. Some believe it is still trapped in the Imperial Crypts, waiting for its inevitable day of release. While Steinkraft eschewed hero-worship, a cult Faber Daimonis formed against his wishes, celebrating his power over Corruptors. This cult remains active, though small in number. Additionally, since no one knows the fate of his heirs, some modern Magimundi Unsoiled families, particularly the Sockbeson and Chavaree, claim lineage to Vitruvius. Whether it is legitimate is a topic of debate, something Agrippans relish.
When the time came to test Vitruvius, no one could stand up to his cunning and capabilities. Some were jealous and wanted to steal his family’s secrets. One such envious group was the Cult of the Curved Wand, which had gained popularity with wizards hunting wendigo for sport and using their horns as wand shafts. Interested in Steinkraft’s vast, guarded knowledge of phantasmology, and undeterred by his reputation as a strategist, they planned a raid on the Casco Bay estate to take whatever artifacts, grimoires, and scrolls they could find. Their coordinated attempt on Steinkraft’s life and that of his parents was masterfully foiled as Vitruvius outmatched them in dueling, taking down five of their senior members. The Cult disbanded for lack of remaining leadership, and was formally renounced by Destiny leader Herodotus Forsythe.
The population of lycans steadily grew in Destiny Province throughout the 18th century, despite increased efforts to stem it. Classified as a “European problem,” Provincial officials were flummoxed as to how it had followed them to North America. With Steinkraft’s suggestion and facilitation, Herodotus Forsythe begrudgingly made an alliance with the Wôbi Gizos loup garoux who agreed to help Destiny Marshals control the lycan population, protect the magical citizens, and shield the chaos from the mundanes. In this last mission they were less successful, and a werewolf panic erupted in mundane New Hampshire in the early 19th century. Measures to quarantine or otherwise contain the lycans failed at every turn, and the Great Werewolf Epidemic of 1841 arrived at Casco Bay in Destiny where Steinkraft’s family resided. At that point, the expansion of quarantined areas stopped, and the tide reversed. Trophies of heads, claws and tails of lycans were reported by the few who were permitted to visit the estate. Through political cunning, Steinkraft convinced the Council of Five, a fairly new body itself, to challenge the London magical conflux, who had been displacing its lycans to Canada for a century. In an extraordinary recognition of the Magmundi’s might and legitimacy, the Europeans agreed to stop sending their lycans and other prisoners to the “New World,” a pact negotiated largely by Steinkraft’s hand. In addition to his diplomatic prowess, Vitruvius personally led lycan raids north of the St. Lawrence River. Within mere weeks, the remaining contingent of warring lycans chose to either go into hiding or sign an agreement of containment, enacting safety measures that must be taken immediately prior to each full moon. Organized packs of werewolves have not been seen in Destiny to this day. Eventually, the idea of “responsible lycanthropy,” begun by Elsabeth Steinkraft, became the prevailing ideology.
During his tenure at Imperial, Vitruvius maintained close personal and political ties with many of the Magimundi elite, who later became the Council of Five. He was encouraged by his colleague, Herodotus Forsythe. Steinkraft, as a man of brilliance and extraordinary talent, found a mutually beneficial arrangement in this service. He was fundamental in the development of magical combat as an artform in the Magimundi; likewise, he was a co-creator of many of the early laws, justice practices, and legal framework still in use today. This included being one of the primary authors of the Provincial Concordat, which set forth the relationship between the Provinces of North America and established the Council of Five to intervene in inter-Provincial matters and affairs of utmost importance. His work into animated constructs as guardians and soldiers also was pioneering.