Antagonists

The ToC has spoilers in it, so we should be getting the introductory chapter, which was written to be spoiler free.

a TOC with spoilers.

Now I really can't wait to get my hands on that one.

agreed!

I also can't wait to see what the next book after Antagonists will be. :smiling_imp:

The introduction without a table of contents this time.

atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/ ... sIntro.pdf

Yay!

Okay, so no "big bads of the setting" included... not interested then.

Wonder if there is any chance of Antagonists having non-Frank centered stories?

Hope there will be settings for Antagonists in Novgorod, Levant, Theban, and even boarder areas. I would love to see Egyptian and Arabic sources of competition that is non-magic focused. Local chieftain conflicts in small valleys of Poland, Iberian church conflicts, Anatolian/Suljek conflicts.

There is so much easily accessed history for western-Europe, having a source for the harder to find information would be nice. Though I have to say, truly part of the thrill of Ars, is the research into some crazy small niche of culture in Lesser Armenia or the unconquered pagan villages in the swamps of East Frisia. When playing a RPG entails earning a PhD in Medieval studies, you know the writers are doing something right to engage and encourage the enthusiastic curiosity of the player! :smiley:

Other than Damain al.. um Davenaleous the setting doesn't actually have any big bads does it? There's a faerie queen and some powerful demons in there. Could you describe what you had hoped that the book would be?

Agreed, though we might want to put House Deidne on that list, together with Dave

Well, I hoped the book will be The Book of Great Villains. That it will describe villains (and other antagonists) that will strike as much fear or awe as the return of Davenalleus (sp?), or House Diedne, or a Founder like Tytalus or Merinita. I didn't expect the book to contain any of the known antagonists, mind you - just to present antagonists on the same scale.

Instead, we have The Book of Minor Villains. I mean - I'm sure they'll be useful. Perhaps more useful, for many sagas. But it's like... memories of fighting kobolds near the village of Hommlet as opposed to memories of fighting Vecna or Lolth (if you'll forgive the D&D analogy). It isn't even a matter of how much the antagonists can affect the saga - clearly, some of these "minor villains" can be the center of an entire saga, and can even significantly alter the setting. But still, from the blurbs we were given to read about them - they just didn't inspire the awe a great antagonist does.

Of course, we don't know because we don't know the spoilers. But that's my impression. Just compare the blurbs to saga seeds already given - though not developed as antagonists - along the same themes in other ArM materials:

Compare baron Geoffroi to the Merovingian bloodline seed presented in The Lion and the Lily - a person of Merovingian bloodline collects court-wizards, studies the Arts of magic, and gathers noble support as he gradually builds his power to challenge the King of France for his throne. This not only has more oomph to it, but is tied to nice real folklore.

Compare baron Giraud to the rights of the King in regards to allods noted in Covenants and, I believe, especially applicable in England. Think about how many more resources, layers of minions, allies, and complications the King of England can bring to the game against the PCs, over what is essentially (as far as I can see) the same basic conflict.

Compare father Joseph to the various saga seeds along similar directions scattered in canon. Consider, for example, a secretive Cult of Nerius, led by the Flambeau primus, and aided by Jerbiton magi. Consider the resources at his disposal - fellow cultists, clueless milites, Jerbiton allies in appropriate Gilds and Leagues, and of course numerous angels and Divine beings he can summon/create with his holy magic, not to mention the aid of the archangel in charge of the Order. Compared to that, the papal legate just pales in potential. I'm sure father Joseph would be more useful for some sagas, especially for a more political rather than supernatural saga. But for my money, he's more suited to be a pawn of the Flambeau primus than the key antagonist.

Or take the demonic cult, which seems to be about plagues and such. Compare this to the stock infernal villains of ArM5: the return of Dave or (if the Tremere were right) Diedne, the onslaught of the Mongols (in their Infernal variant), or the Redcap corruption.

The topic of the encroachment of the dominion is given a subtle plot that centers on moral ambiguity by the Divine Abbott antagonist. I'm sure many would appreciate that, and I think this particular antagonist can actually be very compelling as a very unique figure. But compare it to the vast related saga seeds in Guardians of the Forests: the immanent fall of Crintera, the rise of Cluny (?) monasteries in the Black Forest, the Wilderist/Harmonist conflict... it may be less sophisticated, but it sure sounds more grandiose.

And the Faerie antagonist... really, so little is given here that I don't know what's she is about, but she seems to have rather local and story-based plans for the PCs. If I were to provide a Faerie Antagonist, I would go with Cthulhu (a highly-cognizant faerie starts building the Mythos to draw vitality from madness) or a Vengeful Zeus (taking vengeance on Europe as the last secret holdouts of pagan religious worship die off).

I can't really judge the book, obviously. And even if my perceptions of it are right, I think it may actually make a great Book of Minor Villains, which seems to be its purpose, and be of great help to storyguides. But I can say that the preview suggests to me that it isn't the Book of Great Villains that I was imagining. I may be wrong, but that's my impression.

Cheers,
Yair

+1.

Sounded more grandiose than it appears to be. I thought it would be mongols, Davnalleus, a rise of an Islamic countercrusade using armies of Djinn, an infiltration of the demonic in the OoH at a grand scale, the discovery of gunpowder and the mass creation of it to challenge magi in firepower some centuries earlier, the rise of the Jotunn, the destruction of the redcap network.... stuff like that. The divine/church-related ones I think they can be really powerful from what I read, but the others sound somewhat "meh".

So I will reserve my judgement until I see the actual book (never judge a book so lightly), but my hype has somewhat died down now. :confused:

Xavi

I can't talk about the Queen, or any of the rest of it for that matter, but I'd just like to point out that when we do write in big bads, absolutely no-one cares.

Let me give you a demonstration of that: there's a world-breaking villain written in the Soqotra section of Rival Magic. I don't think he's been mentioned ever on this board. Without looking him up, can you remember who he is?

I have this sneaking idea that people like to read Big Bads, but they actually don't use them in play much, because they take all of the options away from the PCs. "So, guys, there's this guy called Sauron who will break the world unless you go on this adventure." doesn't leave you a lot of room for "Actually I just wanted to try and woo and elf maiden and study some magic with Elrond." It's what I like least about Triamore: within a day's trvale of the covenant are at least three things which will Destroy the World unless the PCs sort them out, and Triamore is meant to be an average sort of covenant for new players. Ergo: the whole world has a billion tiny fuses in it, and if you miss one, the demons win. I don't like it, as a player, when I'm pulled by the nose in that way, and so I don't write that way.

There's also the bonus of the idea that what one covenant considers an unstoppable villain who's really difficult to stop, another would consider a minor annoyance.

And sagas too.

Plus, not all the 'antagonists' can be stopped or reduced by mere force. Sometimes you need to use politics, and we know how fickle those are.

I agree. On top of this, I also think you fall into the "Mistridge" problem* --- why should the PCs get involved when there are more experienced magi in the tribunal (or Order) who are much more likely to A) succeed, and B) survive an encounter with the Big Bad. Furthermore, there's no valid reason why one of these archmagi, primi, or whatever would turn around to the PCs and say "No, sorry. I'm busy this season inventing a spell. You deal with it." However, the PCs then become bystanders while storyguide characters do all the hard work.

*[size=85]named after the 3e setting at the covenant of Mistridge. The junior PCs shared a covenant with some powerful older magi, who were always supposed to be too busy to deal with imminent threats to the covenant. This stretches incredulity if a dragon is about to destroy the tower, but Grimgroth isn't answering his door.[/size]

Mark

[quote="Timothy FergusonLet me give you a demonstration of that: there's a world-breaking villain written in the Soqotra section of Rival Magic. I don't think he's been mentioned ever on this board. Without looking him up, can you remember who he is?

[/quote]
OOh, good question - is it Serapis (the dark faerie deity of dubious Greco-Egyptian history) or is it the immortal serpent who is capable of [strike]enslaving[/strike] commanding an island with 40 gifted magi and four tribes of supernatural beings with none of them questioning his right to rule? Two interesting bad guys, but carefully partitioned away from regular mythic Europe so they don't get instantly annihilated by an Order (whether Hermetic or Solomonic) on the warpath.

I was expecting Antagonists suitable for use in your "average" (whatever that may be) saga, in line with Mr Chart's design philosophy of making sure every book that goes on sale is usable by as many groups as possible.

Not only that, they take a lot of the options away from the GM as well. I already KNOW the Big Bad things that are coming for the PCs in my current saga, so a book full of Big Bads is completely useless to me. But a book full of small to medium antagonists that I can center a few sessions around while the Big Bad things are picking up steam off-camera? That's enormously useful.

I can't, but that's probably because I haven't read it - Rivals is the next item on my To-By-List. So ask me again in a few months :slight_smile:

I do suspect you're right when you say

I don't think it's because they take the options away from the PCs, though, so much as because they don't fit the saga - they're, by their nature, quite narrow and inappropriate for many sagas. And as cunningrat1 said, many GMs probably have other Big Bads in mind, but could use more minor villains instead. Which is definitely a reason to publish that kind of Antagonists book, instead of the Big Bad Guys book; I'm sure David Chart knows what he's doing.

All I'm saying is - I like Big Bads. I like reading about them. And I expected this to be a book about them. So I'm slightly disappointed. I can see now that I was simply not thinking about the book that was actually produced, and that's fine. You all make good points about why the Book of Minor Villains is probably better for the line and for the needs of most storyguides. That's great. It still leaves me without my hoped-for Book of Great Villains, however. :frowning:

One more point -

This is a conflict between two modes of gaming - the Narrativist and the Simulationist. At the Simulationist level, of course it makes no sense for lots of world-ending fuses to be lying about everywhere or to be all at the PC's doorsteps; and of course it makes no sense that minor magi will deal with such issues. At the Narrativist level, however, we're playing a story here, a heroic story where the heroes take center stage and everything really does revolves around them. The trick is how to combine these two levels of the game without too much suspension of disbelief. I understand those whole solve it by playing a less "heroic" campaign, where the PCs get to do more-typical (i.e. simulationist) stuff. If that works for them - cool. I prefer to lean more to the narrativist or "mythic" direction, however, so that's the kind of supplement I like to read, bridging over the disbelief with things like being "Chosen" or having a central McGuffin. It's a matter of personal preference.

I think this is a problem with Big versus Small plots, however, not with villains per se. The only way this is relevant to villains per se is that being a Big Bad prevents the villain from directly interacting with the PCs. Sure, but so does fun! The gradual reveal and rat-bastard reversals are half the fun. I don't think Great Villains are any more - or less - of an issue in regards to the Triamore/Mistridge Problem then are Great Story Seeds of other kinds.

Cheers,
Yair

Well, we already knew that House Diedne wouldn't be in there (remember the recent Diedne/computergame anyone) and so that would really just leave Dave as the traditional existing BBEGs of Hermetic history.

And I must agree with cunningrat (and appearantly Timothy as well?) - medium level villains are much more likely to be useful to people.
I vaguely remember noting that "Oh, so that's what happened" when I read Soqotra, but i have no idea who though.
There's another big name in the Amazonian section though :wink:

The Mistridge Problem is very real though. It's something I've had to deal with in just about every saga I've been in.
Having superiors means plenty of story hooks, but why do they never deal with these problems themselves?!

If you need some powerful enemies just pick up the Church book. :stuck_out_tongue: Not world stoppers but decent plots where the Divine/Church gets involved can give most Covenants headaches.

I do like the look of the book so far.

Too close to twilight. Need to hang around and get the last word in with <>