Adventure ideas for new players, starting to play as apprentices

I am thinking about starting up a new campaign with some people who do not have any Ars experience. And I was thinking about having them start as apprentices. In that way, it will to some extent match their own experience with how magic works. And it would hopefully ease them into the world.

And I was wondering if people here have done something similar. If so maybe they can point me to a post. Or share their experience with doing it.

Also, I was looking to pick people's brains regarding good things to include in the first few adventures, so they can learn the ropes so to say. Things you think is important to know for later, or concepts you think can be tricky to grasp. Any thing along those lines would be greatly appreciated.


Keep adventures simple. Apprentices have low scores in Arts, if at all, and so are unlikely to spont successfully, at least initially, so make sure your story doesn't require them to try sponting.

I have started an Apprentice game, which didn't last long, but some of the adventures I did to them were:

  1. Go gather a Vis source: It was nearby, but in a Regio, and the apprentice had Second Sight. He was accompanied by his pater's Familiar.
  2. Faeries everywhere! A group of low-Might faeries (think 2-3), have gotten inside, and are causing mischief. They needed to find them and kill them.
  3. Cleaning Duty: The apprentice was tasked with cleaning the attic of his pater's Lab from bird droppings. One of the birds was a bit aggressive towards him, but he made it, and found a pawn of Animal Vis.

Once they get some scores in Arts, start really introducing them to their specialties. Have them accompany their pater on an adventure, or even a journey beyond the covenant, and let them do a side quest. Maybe when they go to the village, a girl there takes a fancy to them, if they are Gentle Gifted. Maybe they get to talk to some Magic/Faerie creature.

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Don't start with young apprentices, with little to no Arts score, it would be frustrating to play mage that can't do much magic.
I would suggest to play them 10 years into their apprenticeship, so they have a few spells under their belt. Maybe they only have a few virtues, not yet the full 10 points, and avoid virtues that would require a lot of in-game calculation like Flexible Formulaic Magic, or Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic. No inner House mysteries - overall, try to stick to the core rulebook only.

One story with these 10 years apprentice should be a good start, Itzhak gave good suggestions.

Then, do a spell design or enchantment design session, with all mages fully designed. Present that as part of their apprentice Gauntlet. Give them three seasons granted by their master to design an item or spell that they would present as well as whatever vis they would need to complete the job (within reason - they should not have high MT so it will be limited anyway) - it is not cannon, but who cares, it is to help your player. Tell them that ahead of time so they have time to think of what they want. And don't worry, they won't break the game with this additional spell or item as long as you stick to the guidelines (yes, resist the temptation of pleasing them to allow a cool effect outside of the guideline or Lesser Limit, it will have ripple effect down the line when they want something more powerful).

Then spend the session walking of them through the process of research: should they study a little bit more to be able to invent more efficiently their spell ? If it is an invested device, how focus work ? What about asking for labtext if it is a spell straight from core ? How to use the guidelines and R/T/D to build a spell ? (For that one, have a cheat-cheat table on paper to distribute, with all the parameters and the magnitude modifier).

I am talking by experience here. I had a saga on-going and had two players out of four dropping. I quickly got two replacement players, but my mistake was not spending enough time to teach them the magic and specifically, the lab activities. Letting them read the rules can be quite a challenge: look how many threads in this forum are about rules clarification and interpretation. So spent one full session doing spell/enchantment/effect design with the whole group so everybody can learn from everybody steps.
And they will love to have their first customised item or spell.

Final note: the reason I am suggesting over three seasons it to show them the mechanism labtot vs level, accruing point from season to season and also to allow enough time to do a invested magical item.

And with a bit of luck there will some moments "Ho! Cool, you can do that ?" "This Mythic Europe Medieval paradigm so that's why this does work that way and not that way" "That's a nice effect, I want something similar, but I have this Art, how can I do it ?"


These are excellent suggestions for adventures, thank you. ANy thoughts on what part can be tricky to grasp for new players?

We did that some years ago. Though I missed the first (few?) sessions.

We still talk about it - it worked well. Then again, I've tried to re-create the effect a few times, with ... varying degrees of success.
Do you want/need details?

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Are you taking into account that without the Parma Magica, they won't be shielded from the effect of each other's Gift?

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Thank you, and yes, excellent points. I will take them to heart. And yea, I was not looking to have them start off as new apprentices. Depending on your target start age as a magus, that can be quite young. The idea of them starting off as an apprentice is to limit them and what they can do. Compared to a fresh Magus. And in that way be able to percent new parts of the game, allowing them to learn it by doing, Just like you suggest with the making a spell.

The goal is to try and get some input from others on what part of the game can be tricky to learn. So I have a better idea of what to focus on at the start.

I would love to hear what parts you think worked well, and what part did not. As well as what you would do differently. It would be a great help.

Not really sure what you mean effects of their gift. Can you elaborate?

When they try to spont a spell, have them describe the effect they want to achieve, and guide them through the various spell parameters and possible guidelines they can use.

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Technically, as long as a mage does not have his Parma, he is susceptible to Gift/Blatant Gift penalty (-3/-6).
In term of roleplay, it means that mage don't trust each other - that's one of the main weakness of most of the other traditions: they cannot cooperate together.
Personally, I would handwave that for your first game, otherwise each apprentice is unlikely to feel comfortable to collaborate with the other.

Now, if they know each other since a while (like 15 years of apprenticeship), they might have learnt to overcome part of this effect, which could be a way to handwave the negative effect of the gift while remaining within the rules.


You could look up Return of the Stormrider from 3ed, although those apprentices were close to gauntlet. I think 2ed Stormrider was the same.

I am not sure how much difference there is, in practice, between playing a wizard just after or a few years before gauntlet. In both cases, the wizard knows a lot which the player does not not.

Playing a very young apprentice is not impossible, but it is all about playing children and not about playing wizards, and playing children is a very different roleplaying challenge.

What did you have in mind?

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As I said, the focus is not on age, but to try them help learn the world and Ars better. Increasing their knowledge about it so they do not feel completely lost as they are new to the system. Think to it like Im making a tutorial. And I am asking for help to decide what things are important to know in the game. So what should be in the tutorial?

The 4ed freebie Nigrasaxa is such a tutorial, but set for magi rather than apprentices.

Do you want a tutorial for new roleplayers or experienced roleplayers new to ArM?

For new roleplayers, I would consider starting with a grogs-only story.


As mentioned, I missed the first sessions of the first time, so I don't know if they started when they first became apprentices or after a few years.

We played a few stories as apprentices. Not a full saga (though that we have sort of done that, later). I think there was 3 stories, each followed by a multi-year time skip.

A later attempt went with 5 stories - each spaced 3 years apart. That particular saga also included short stories on the subject of being found/discovered and leaving home to become apprentices. That particular saga used the Apprentices book fairly extensively, for inspiration if not always rules.

When you play stories with young characters, do try to play the age.
Child-aged stories can be whimsical, it's fine. Or they can be very dark - we still talk about "dead baby under the bed"-stories.

Teenagers are just about the perfect prey for faeries. Just about always standing with one foot in each of two worlds.

In a more mechanical context: DON'T use the 'teaching' rules. Our first played apprentice passed her Gauntlet almost as powerful as her Pater.
I may not entirely agree with the current rules/point values for apprentices (Core, p. 32), but they are a fair sight better than an apprentice with maybe 90% of the XPs - in Arts and abilities both - of her master maybe 20 years out of his Gauntlet. Decent amounts of spells too,

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I was lucky enough to be introduced to the system via an apprenticeship. And I do mean lucky, because it means you can acquire the vocabulary as well as the different rules little by little, while already getting to grips with the system. One of the things I find frustrating in a lot of role-playing games is not having the basic life codes (like standard questions about beliefs and behaviour) that my character, through his life experience, has.
Ars magica has a certain number of mechanics and vocabulary that an adult magi has inevitably learnt during his apprenticeship. (gauntlet, tribunal, quaesitor, twilight, pawn of vis, source of vis, base of knowledge about code, oath, etc.) And playing the apprenticeship, even in part, can be an excellent introduction.

At the moment, as a storyteller, I'm introducing three new players who have never (or hardly ever) touched the system. Considering the amount of time I'm playing with them, it's a maximum of 2h30/3h games. All the progression is done on a season-by-season basis, set by me for each of the characters so as to reflect both the character of their house (there's a Verditus, a Flambeau and a Tytalus) and that of their master. That give some more experience points that standard construction by book. I counted +/- 2 seasons of service (xp exposure only), 1 season with a book, and 1 season teaching. (instead of 3 exposure for 1 teaching)

This is how I managed the start of their game:

session 1: character creation in the form of a short questionnaire allowing them to define their character's origin. Does he come from a Jewish or Christian community; Catholic or Cathar; a city or country childhood? The childhood of a street urchin or a well-to-do family boy?
Then ideas of what they wanted to do as a type of magi in the long term, based on archetype, but also more generally the ideas they had. I then proposed a series of virtues/flaws that we adapted after explaining them.

Session 2 (1205 -opening of the arts-): I introduced them to their character, their story and their master. We started the story at the age of 8, with their opening of the arts. They built their first spell, with a big explanation of the magic system and its limits. They had a mini-adventure to go and collect a source not far from the covenant. There were no opponents, just the natural elements to deal with.
The source in question is at the top of a mountainside overlooking the covenant and you have to change a piece of cloth every season; except that their parents didn't know that there had been a landslide blocking the path.

Session 3 (1210 - 5 years after opening): Time jump.
The winter is particularly harsh and the magis are tense. Provisions have disappeared from the storehouse. The situation is particularly upsetting for the magis, especially as it was Christmas dinner that was eaten first. Young Tytalus's kinsman threatens her with a severe punishment, certain that one of the apprentices is responsible for the theft from the kitchen. The apprentices decide to investigate, with the discreet help of one of the other kinsmen.
This gives the apprentices a chance to experiment a little more with their magic, but also with notions of concentration, finesse and penetration, as well as might, then Aegis, rituals and arcane connections (depending on how they manage).

Session 4 (1214 - 9 years after opening): The year of the tribunal. Travel to the place of the tribunal. This session is primarily a presentation of the geo-politico-economic situation in Provence. A bit of dealing with socialites.

Sessions 5 and 6 (1214 - tribunal): Very heavily rp and political sessions, with little or no magic used (they haven't received any tokens). They have been given certain instructions by their parents, including to find penpals and to observe certain things.
These sessions enable them to familiarise themselves with the order as a whole. What is a Praeco, a Quaesitor, the oath, major crimes, what is a certamen, a wizard's war; how does the court work, how do the votes work... But also to introduce them to the major characters of the tribunal (primus, praeco, chief quaesitor, chief of the red cap, leader of the major covenants, certain other magis who may become recurrent later on), as well as to make the first contacts.

Session 7 (1217 - 12 years post openings): Time jump
First detailed laboratory work. How spell research works, how the level of the laboratory is calculated, how experimentation works... As well as an introduction to enchantments.

session 8 (1220 - 15 years post-openings): gauntlets.


Oh, that can work too, but (1) I would make it a long saga as apprentices, to get our money's worth at the normal power-level before stepping up to the pater's level, and (2) I would make sure not to power-game it. Starting late in the apprenticeship, to avoid having to play children,. this is not much of a problem anyway.

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I used the teaching rules, but in a reasonable way. A master also has work to do and an apprentice is clearly there to help, both the covenant and the master. And his master will also evolve.

Basically, what I've counted is on average this:
1 season of teaching by the parens (the matter will depend on the character and objectives of the parens)
1 season of book reading (that's what primers are for)
2 seasons of service (+2 xp of exposure, whether in the lab, fixing arcana, producing vis, studying an object, copying books and lab texts, etc., there are lots of different ways of doing it)

In some years (played by dice), the apprentice does 3 seasons of service and 1 of teaching; or the teaching season is transformed into an adventure season (the Flambeau taking his apprentice hunting), or the book-reading season becomes a season of teaching by a mundane (philosophy, theology or military apprenticeship).

This makes it possible to have more powerful gauntlet magis than those in the book, without going overpowered

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Good tip thank you =)

Not super familiar with the 5th edition rules, if they change things from 4th. But yes, I will definitely look over things as they are now. As I think you can progress too fast if given the opportunity.

I also plan to shift away from the majority of books being Summae, to them instead being Quaestionum. As I think that fits more with my perception of how it was back then. As well as it now puts some new roadblocks for the players. How will they get more books?