alternate history

Has anyone had any noteworthy campaigns set in an alternate history? I'm giving consideration (eventually) to a campaign where Innocent II's papal court was infiltrated by an infernal agent who managed to "lose" a large portion of the interdicts he leveled against various regions 9France, England, etc.) so they would not be lifted, and in fact remain in effect in 1220. Also considering a revision where the Cathars' allies (since the Cathars don't fight themselves) are winning the Albasinian crusade...


My group is currently playing in a completely ahistorical uncanonical setting. We decided that we wanted to advance the starting year to 1715, and play in the Triamore saga. We also decided that unless something specifically had to change for game mechanical reasons then it did not change. We changed nothing about the virtues, flaws, character creation etc, except:

you dont need a score of 1 in Artes Liberales to be literate, and you can master 1+ Artes liberales writing systems as opposed to just Artes liberales. It is assumed that a basic level of schooling is available to most people.

Generally the advanced timeline allows us to play in a setting where nations are more consolidated than they are in 1220, and that makes small scale warfare less feasible because it can very easily escalate. That is entirely to our liking and forces diplomatic solutions to problems. We also assume that the mundane world is a lot more capable of responding to problems than what is the case in the base setting.

Regarding hermetic magic, no extra breakthroughs, no major wars, expansions, etc have happened from 1220 to 1715, all of the conventional history from 900-ish to 1220 has been stretched to instead occur from 900-ish to 1715.

We follow real history when it suits us. The reason for the advanced history is because some players wanted to play in a more contemporary setting and some wanted to play ars magica. So far it has worked out great. Soon I hope we will begin exploring the industrial revolution, set to occur in the netherlands rather than in england (assuming that england exists in a recognizable form in our setting).

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Thebes: the Faerie God Athena is currently in control of Athens. So, this is something we're trying to diffuse before a new crusade happens.

About 10 years ago, one of my GMs ran a game set in Arthurian Britain, does that count?
It was interesting. He was very well read on the Matter of Britain and the pre-Nennius setting was interesting. The scope was nowhere near as big as Mythic Europe and it only lasted 5 sessions before we all had to quit for unrelated reasons.
There wasn't any Order of Hermes since it was late 5th Century, but even though we didn't get very far in the game, there was no sign of the Cult of Mercury, either. It's was basically all hedge magicians.
I really liked it and would have liked to complete the story, but I got transferred. Ain't that always the way?

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I am looking at the new Lex Arcana setting of a Rome which prospers for longer and thinking it may be interesting to apply Ars Magica to the setting with different hermetic specialities for different magical groups within the empire

Had a time the primary SG wanted to play Runequest, the rest of us wanted to play Ars Magica. So we ended up playing Ars Magica in Glorantha. The four realms of power were flipped around to Law (Divine), Chaos/Lunar (Infernal), Magic, and Divine/Spirit (Faerie).

For those with no experience in Glorantha, the Gods are blocked out from directly interacting with mortals by the barrier of time (and Law). So places around manifestations of law, such as the Block which is an actual giant block of stone made of solid Law which was dropped on Chaos (the "Devil") make all forms of magic difficult.

Pretty much everyone in the world was a hedge wizard using magic aligned with Divine/Spirit. Spirit Magic were Abilities that advanced on the Art scale for the traditional Runequest variable spells like Bladesharp, Healing, and Protection. Non-variable ones had a flat XP cost to learn based on their MP cost (total XP on the Art scale). People could know up to 10+Int Spirit Magic spells. Casting a Spirit Magic Spell cost 1 Confidence Point. Everyone had a pool equal to 1 + (Confidence x 2) that refreshed daily.

Could not fully tell you how Rune Magic (the traditional "God Magic" of the setting) or Dragon Magic worked, since we only interacted with it and did not wield it. However Hero Quest were basically running around in Arcadia, in what felt like a mix between RoP: M and RoP: F.

We were playing a group of Sorcerers (what Wizards are called in Glorantha) deep in the Dragon Pass. Screw the Luners! Crazy red moon worshiping chaos cultist.

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I've always thought that Hero Questing could slot right into Ars. It's basically a Faerie aligned version of a mystery initiation with a dip into the realm of Faerie for some extra spice.

I had a long running game that started just after the founding of the order:

Pertinent quote

Well here's the update from the first session of the GT:784. I've told my players that unless they interfere history will go "the way it does in the books." Whenever they stick their oar in they'll change something. They liked that. The 3 players I had area Flambeau, Jerbiton and Tytalus. They haven't yet been introduced to all of the founders who are still alive.

1.) The founders personalities had largely been glossed over and clean up by 1220. Flambeau was all about capturing Saracen women after the battle and using them as sex slaves and servants.... Oh and did someone say fire?

Tytalus is a 3'6" dwarf who's sort of a combination of Alastor Moody from Harry Potter & Terry Tate see -> . Also dresses Hariste up in revealing clothing and is openly handsy with her.

Jerbiton is a friendly fellow and doesn't quite understand the fame and adoration he gets from his followers.

Tremere & Diedne were up in a tree... K I S S I N G! The PCs haven't quite discovered yet that she's pregnant with his child. She slept with him before realizing he was a going to be a founder, back when she thought he was "just" an apprentice of Tytalus. His political scheming has turned her off. Unless the PCs change history, Tremere will later beg her to see the child, but she will refuse and hide the child. He will never forgive her for this, and always speak ill of Diedne and her house. Tremere's apprentices & followers will not be told this part - they'll simply follow their leader and absorb his attitude toward the Diedne.

The PCs have realized that Tremere is likely quite in love with Diedne though.

Bonisagus & Trianoma I haven't changed much as depicted in the books.

2.) So what actually happened? Flambeau offered the new member of his house a few of his women for the night. Not wanting to be rude, the player "accepted" slept next to the two women but not with them.

Jerbiton had a bunch of groupies making art of him, he's a very handsome fellow who was born to have art made of him. The Jerbiton PC, a tailor, offered to make him new robes & other accessories. He graciously accepted.

Tytalus opened up by punching the Tytalus PC in the nuts and lecturing him about "constant vigilance" & "All it takes is a ReCo spell to stop this from happening again."

They then were introduced with all the other recent graduated Apprentices by Trianoma, (9 from their covenant & 9 from others) and were asked to "perform their spell" at which point they asked "what if I have more than one?" Trianoma said sure. The PCs & the other graduates from their covenant proceeded to make complete fools of the other graduates.

The PCs are aware that this is part of a plot to demonstrate the efficacy of a 15 year apprenticeship, instead of the current "mastery" model which just requires MT 3, Latin 4, PM 1, Two Arts at 10 & one Level 25 spell.

Some other threads I"ve started over the years:

So. Suppose that the Order of Hermes is fact built not on the ruins of the Cult of Mercury, but in fact built on the pillars of smaller magical orders that were more specialized and likely did not have a fully unified theory of magic, but did have Parma Magica, but a weaker, less improved version... For some reason this is concealed from the Order. It isn't just mere ego - why would the Order whitewash it's actual history?

I have an idea.

I'll go with the concept of a Cult of Mercury in the Roman Empire, but also Cults of Jupiter, Mars, Venus, etc each with their own specialized area of magic. Perhaps the Cult of Mercury was the largest. We can go with the roman equivalent of the 12 Olympian gods, maybe with a couple other major Roman gods included. All with some level of feuding with each other over various types of resources, but cohesive, perhaps exclusive to certain regions and existed with state support directly by the Emperor.

But the Romans weren't the only ones to have state magi. The Parthians (247 BC–224 AD) and their successor empire Sasanians ( 224 - 651 AD) had their own magi too.

The Christianizing of the roman world in the 300s and 400s combined with the fall of the Western Empire in the 400s did cause problems for the Cults - in the Western Empire. (Personally, I think the original writers of Ars Magica, ReinHagen and Tweet, had a poor understanding of Roman history and thought that the entire empire "fell" when in fact the better populated Eastern Empire endured for another 1000 years.) The eastern emperors realized how useful the Cults were, and to avoid theological problems, had them secularize, become christian holy magi, or, go underground as reclusive "monasteries". In fact, a whole order of Christian Magi serving the Emperor and Empire was created.

Then there were the apocalytpic wars with the Sasanians. ... 2%80%93628

In the final war, Heraclius, didn't just melt all the church silver and gold plate for mundane armies, he made as many wild and outlandish, but believable promises as possible to the existing cults within the Empire, and in the former Empire. The final war in 602-628 saw the near annihilation of every single surviving in Cult in Europe and any other "Order" of magi.

The Order of Hermes was built on the very few survivors and scattered remnants of other traditions of the final war. It also explains the reticence of the magi at the time of the founding to get involved in the affairs of state. For me, it also gives a good story foil - the subject of the "role" of the Order is a big theme in my current game.

Another thread, not mine:

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