A simple question about playing as a troupe

I'm wondering what methods people use to decide who's adventure to run in a given game session?

With my old group, we just went around the table clockwise, but it wasn't particularly effective so I'd like to try something different maybe a competitive roll-off?

Any suggestions would be appreciated,

Mainly i am the ASG, but occasionally one of my players develops a bit of plot. There is no real rota or anything, but one of them will say
"I've got a bit of plot"
and we work out when they should run it.

If you make it mechanical you might end up getting stuck in the cogs. We tend to be pretty fluid. We have an alpha storyguide who basically runs the main saga stories. He has a feel for the major plot and how we get from a to b to c.

But every now and then any of us will volunteer a story and run that for a couple of sessions.

I'd advise you to make running stories optional, but attractive; encourage but not enforce.

Thanks for the help, but I fear I haven't been completely clear in describing my dilemna.

In a standard AM game, one player controls a mage, another runs a companion and others operate grogs (correct?)

My question relates ensuring each player gets to run their primary characters with some degree of regularity.

There is no standard. In my experience, usually everyone plays magi. Sometimes they play magus and companion at the same time (during different scenes of course). Grogs are side characters and tend to get passed around a lot from scene to scene. My experience is either you are playing your magus &/or favorite companion, plus any number of gros at the same time. I have also seen it where newcomers walking into a game session in progress often times get assigned random grogs to manage.

I suggest letting each player play the character they want when they want. Also, making people run stories will not work well. Don't roll dice or pass the stick around the table. A player should only be beta-storyguide if the have a story to run and they ask to run one. Don't force it on anyone.

No. Or at least, not always. That might happen but it isn't something you need to strive towards to make the game work.

Here's how it usually works for my troupe. We have five players including whoever is acting as SG. That leaves four of us playing whatever.

Most often that will be four magi. Thankfully they're usually very specialised which means quite a lot of stories are still challenging. There are also a bunch of grogs. We each tend to have our favourites. Valeria won't leave the covenant without Cedric. Argens was usually protected by Tostig (until that fateful winter...), while the other magi have Miles and Ginger (don't ask) between them.

But sometimes I don't fancy playing Argens so I'll play my companion character. Simon's the same, sometimes he'll go for the low-power option rather than break out his magus. I'm not sure Dave, Alex, and Other Mark have made any companion characters but that's fine with us. Whatever they want, right?

So in an average session you probably have eight player characters around the table in one form or another. Somehow it just works. Somehow they each get enough time to show their personality traits and be useful.

You can be as free as you like, but I would say don't be afraid to use a little metagaming to set a situation up. If you have a story focussed on one magus, then let the group know what kind of story you want to run and what they can pick from. If the story's geared towards a certain mix, then use what's best for that story. Personally, I quite like the mix you mentioned. It makes sense and allows the magus to shine.

Go with what you and your troupe fancy.

Interesting point. How large is your troupe? My games usually average three people (myself and two thers). I have also played 1-on-1 and with large groups of up to 10. I do suppose the troupe size would have an effect here. Running a story for 10 magi all at once is quite a challenge, and if that's what you do every session, it wears on you and myth seems less mythic.

Spring....Anyone?...Okay, We go through Spring...
Summer... Oh, you have something?....

It seems to work...you never know when someone has something and it seems to work out that everyone gets their turn...

My troupe uses Urien's method aswell.
We've got four players that often make up stories. There are a couple of story-lines running at any given time. We advance the in-game calendar and we'll find out if there are story elements to be played out. I know that my story will continue in 1250, so untill that time other SG's make up stories and I play along.

For party make up, we have a bit of an unusual situation. Each of my troupe has 3 magi characters. One senior magus (that we started the saga with 30 in-game years ago), one junior magus (who joined later) and the "baby-mages" as we call them (originally apprentices to our senior magi, but now magi in their own right). We also have 1 or more companion characters.

Our big continuing plot threads usually involve the senior magi since we tend to go up against the kind of things that would easily squash the baby and junior magi. Likewise, we tend to leave the senior magi at home for the smaller, quirkier stories, where their awesome power would make the story a bit dull.

In addition we have companions who mainly get their own stories and the grogs, who we tend to go through too fast to really get to know them. The exceptions being Bob and Dave, the idiot gate guards, who are played by whichever players aren't the SG for that session.

Occasionally we mix it up a bit playing multiple magi in a single session (such as in council sessions) most notably when the senior magi got themselves captured by Damhan-Alliadh and the junior and baby magi led a heroic raid to free them.

Thanks everyone for your responses. However, it seems that once again I failed to communicate my question effectively.

Therefore, to avoid further confusion, I humbly request that whoever is in charge of such things please delete this thread.

Thank you,

err, "no"... bad assumption!

Apart from there being no "standard" Arm game, the player context varies, not only between troupes but within the troupe from game to game.

You are right that often only one magus is active (else the group of magi are so powerful as to make story writing difficult, or to require specialised stories), and that often players avoid running a magus AND a companion in the same scene...

Assuming that (like our group) that you do usually only have 1 magus active... our solution was simple: the players wanted to keep their magi in the labs and not emerge, so the covenant as a whole required magi characters to work part time for the greater good, to offer a season of service - and whoever was "on service" was effectively the "duty magus". They might be extracting vis from the aura, or writing a books others desired, but they were the one expected to emerge and sort out problems off-site.
This worked excellently, not least because I (as SG) could plan ahead to who was expected to be duty magus!

Of course, if something happened within the covenant grounds, where no time would be lost, then they all emerged at once and joined in!

As for companions, well, perhaps we weren't typical, but they ended up as just "souped up grogs" - in the sense that the grogs were so interesting, we all wanted to play them! Companions were just the same sort of character but with more build-points... The companions were pulled into stories when it suited the story, arbitrarily. If they weren't active, they had the same long term study opportunities as otherwise. (We had almost no use of adventure Xp - that was for the desperate and much-disturbed, as training or study was always better!)

Perhaps the other thing that helped share around characters was the was our storyline evolved to become like a cross between cinema & soap opera - especially with the "multiple scene" and "on-stage"/"off-stage" notion. A given game session had multiple scenes (not formal scenes, but it seemed to work out that way), often separated in time as well as space, and some characters would have roles that required them ion some scenes... and with the multiple scenes, they came and went through an afternoon!

Having said that, I've run numerous games where (for at least some of the time) two or more, or "all" the magi, were active! Tribunal sessions, council sessions, "the covenant is being attacked" etc... And a fair number with no magi at all... (Grog-only stories are so much fun!

(As for why so many misunderstood your question (I hope I got the question right!), the combination of "troupe" and "whose story to run" brings many to think of a different style question: which is, "if several (or all) players are also part-time SG for the sage, which SG gets to run the next story?")

I think he is asking how does the SG decide whose character plot to advance at each session... (Is that it?)

If that is the case, and you are talking about personal plots caused by, say, Story Flaws, I have never had any order and I just go at it randomly as it fits in the rest of the story.

Yeah, you and Caribet pretty much have it. The problem though is that I'll be playing with people I've never met before (I'm trying to recruit through fliers at FLGS) and was wondering if anyone has "fair" method to adjucate which of several concurrent plots to advance during a given game session.

~ Gremlin44

might I suggest that if you do not know the player (yet) (but hope to as the saga grows), that you actively avoid "personal" plots until the saga has been underway for a while and the players know each other and have become used to each other?

Inculcate the notion of taking turns - try having separate scenes within one session, so that several Important PCs get independent, if short, centre-stage time.
When you have used up your initial set of SG-delivered stories, bring in some that are influenced (but not driven) by PC Story Flaws.

You also refer to plots, as if long-term stories will dominate the saga? If it worries you that several long-term stories will compete for attention, again, I recommend some short-term stories (fixed, finite plot, though obviously with repercussions)

The La Roche Caribet saga had only a very limited number of recurrent threads, and they were not allowed to dominate game time - I used them more to provide inspiration when other ideas weren't coming.

Or - are you fearing that the attention-grabbing is not character time but player time, because you don't yet know the players?
Here I can offer one tip - get the players to design lots of Grog characters as full PCs, not short-form characters. Say it's an exercise in becoming familiar with the system; of say "you can have as many support grogs for the covenant as you like, but the "cost" is a full PC design".
Then make the stories demand role-playing from the incidental characters, and make sure the players take up on this. With enough incidental characters being played, they are forced to (a) take turns and (b) not grab limelight for their "best" PC.

Ars Magica is not a competitive game - it encourages the players to collaborate (even when they genially design characters who compete viciously against each other).
We found that rivalry between PCs was much easier for the players when they had many friendly interactions with their PC's rival's player, and only the 2 rival characters had hostile interactions.