The Witch of Flotsam is the third of fifteen icons I created for my 13th Age Parsantium campaign. These movers and shakers should also prove useful for GMs running Parsantium games using the 13th Age icon relationship rules with other incarnations of the world’s bestselling fantasy RPG – or indeed anyone using the setting.
This icon is a bit different. In both of my Parsantium campaigns, the characters met the Witch quite early on in their careers, and would visit her from time to time for advice and to buy potions, before deciding she was definitely not someone to be trusted. In one campaign, she blew up her own houseboat with the adventurers on board when they came to confront her; in the other game, the high-level PCs shoved her into a crevasse in the Hidden Quarter where she was swallowed by a hungry purple worm!
Witch of Flotsam
Jagadamba, the Witch of Flotsam, is a fortune teller, a priestess of the Black Mother, and Parsantium’s most powerful witch.
“I see a bright future for you if you can shake off your childish fears and embrace the path of the Black Mother.”
On her houseboat in the boat-town of Flotsam, floating in the Dolphin Strait off the Dock Ward.
Jagadamba is renowned throughout the Old Quarter and beyond as a gifted fortune teller, a skilled apothecary, and – some whisper – a witch. She has long practised the art of samudrika sastra (palm reading) and sold potions to locals, but it’s recently become fashionable among the Bathuran elite of the Imperial Quarter to consult with her. Many rich women travel in disguise by boat across the Dolphin Strait to visit Jagadamba for a love potion to woo back a wandering husband, or to have their palms read. Some of these women are later initiated into the Cult of the Black Mother by the Witch at a secret deul below the streets of the Temple Ward. The Cult’s aims are obscure, but through Jagadamba’s efforts it is slowly infiltrating the highest echelons of Parsantine society.
The Witch of Flotsam is a very old Sampuran woman, tiny and stooped, with a wrinkled face and wispy white hair sticking out in all directions. She wears plain black robes and plenty of gold jewellery bearing snake and skull motifs (both symbols of her patron goddess). Her houseboat is furnished with colourful wall hangings and intricately woven Aqhrani rugs; a cat-sized purple pseudodragon sits atop one of the crammed shelves of potions and jars, looking down curiously on the Witch’s visitors.
ADVENTURERS & THE ICON
Many hard-up adventurers begin their careers in Parsantium living on a leaky houseboat in Flotsam; they may visit the Witch to buy potions and elixirs, have obscure magical items identified, or seek answers to questions on occult matters. Sometimes Jagadamba’s fee isn’t paid in gold bezants: she might ask the PCs to harvest rare herbs under the light of a full moon in the Feyshore Forest, bring her the yellowed fingernails of a ghoul, or fetch some other bizarre ingredient for her concoctions.
Heroic adventurers who uncover the sinister plots of the Cult of the Black Mother, hatched deep below the city streets in the Hidden Quarter, should be wary. Jagadamba is a mighty wielder of dark magics, making direct conflict with her a fearsome prospect.
CHAMPIONS & FOLLOWERS
The Witch can call upon the thuggee, an ancient order of robbers and assassins who serve Kali, to protect her from her enemies, and has the full weight of the Cult of the Black Mother behind her.
Jagadamba has won over many noblewomen among the Bathuran families of the Imperial Quarter, and has even initiated Ciceria, the mother of the Despoina (the Basileus’s wife) into the Cult of the Black Mother. Although the Cult and the Boss of All Bosses maintain an uneasy truce in the Hidden Quarter, Jagadamba has worked for the Golden Scimitars in the past, once implanting a “spirit snake” inside a meddlesome adventurer to bring his mind under the control of the criminal gang.
The Archbishop is appalled at stories of Bathuran noblewomen getting mixed up in dark cults and witchcraft, and is determined to stamp out the Cult of the Black Mother’s influence. The Boss of All Bosses bides his time, watching Jagadamba and the Cult carefully, but avoids direct confrontation for now. The Dragon knows the Witch is up to no good and will manipulate some of her pet adventurers into investigating on her behalf.
Jagadamba has lived on her houseboat in Flotsam for as long as anyone can remember – and in a city with elves and dwarves, that’s a long time. The Witch joined the Cult of the Black Mother over a century ago and has served the goddess’s will ever since.
THE TRUE DANGER
Everything will be all right provided that the Witch and the Cult are unable to complete the ritual that will enslave the population of Parsantium.
Main image by Matt Morrow
Download a free preview of Icons of Parsantium to find out more