Apprentice Adventure for new player

Salve Sodales!
In May I will run a short adventure in a festival to make rpgs known to other people (and, hopefully, make a group...).
I wrote a very easy version of Ars, in wich the PG are all apprntices with only four spells or similar.
I think to run it in a Covenant where the Magi are went out for a day, or in a faerie festival, but I'm short of idea for the enemy, treat or other.
Little demon? Apprentice from other covenant?

If someone of you, in this collective brain of the forum, have some idea...

Just, remember: I think the players don't know what is a rpg and the story must finish in 2-3 hours.
Thanks to all!

Hi Voltus,

We ran our saga with the players only playing apprentices for the first 2½ years, so I've often had to think of ways to challenge them but not overwhelm them either.

I think it is first of all important to decide what the scope should be in terms of how mythic, medieval or epic you want to portray the setting. It's a matter of taste - personally I would prefer to keep the surroundings somewhat low-key an not overly powerful. The more powerful the enemy is in this case the less room there will be to just sit back and enjoy the wonder of magic. On top of that with having very few hours, the less you put in, in terms of antagonist and plot, the more time you have to draw them into the setting and the game.

Here are some of the villains and plot we've used for the apprentices:

A bully of a man and his old yet somewhat savvy father having captured the skin of a local water nymph - holding her captive in hope of forcing her to grant them wishes (which she neither could nor would).

Vis-harvesting at a marvelous nearby faerie pond - getting a glimse of the ponds lady (a kelpie who rather lure them to drown...).

Rescuing the neighbouring lord's daughter - having to fight scarecrow-alike creatures only to find her among the local faeries having a blast (negotiating her "release" through how-man-rasberries-can-you-have-in-your-mouth or from-how-far-away-can-you-catch-a-thrown-blueberry-with-your-mouth contests).

The escape/rescuing of a bjornaer apprentice whom in the shape of a squirrel (or similar) has been caught by a local peasant.

The apprentices attending one of the apprentices' sisters wedding to a influental noble man (the apprentice's family also being noble) and the apprentices both trying to fit in and at the same time trying to figure out who is trying to foil the wedding (small accidents to downright snakes in the bed of the groom). Maybe the culprit is actually the bride herself (or her art musica teacher - the troubadour who ends up being more than meets the eye).

The apprentices realises that their co-apprentice, whom all the magi praise for his talents and who always rubbs their noses in it, has some sinister plans. Their respective master will not listen, so now it is up to the apprentices themselves to reveal him before he runs of with several of the covenant's most prised possessions - be it vis, books, items or plain silver (or all of it). They might track him while he goes about the covenant destroying any possible arcane connections to himself or while he does other things to prepare his nefarious escape (such as using various magic to prepare his departure like weakening a wall, setting a trap, laying out false trails or using mentem/trickery/bribery on those who ar eeto help him - such as the half-giant having to carry his loot). Or they might re-trace what texts he's been studying in the library to figure out what spells he might be using (the invisibility spell that still leaves him visible through a mirror or the spell that has aided him in tracking his Arcane Connections).

A minor creature is loose on the covenant. Maybe it got in by a mistake, maybe it escaped its pen or maybe it was simply conceived within the covenant. It might even have been an apprentice who set it loose when fetching something in the lab for his master. The creature is of little threat now and the masters don't want to waste their time or they simply don't believe the apprentices (or the apprentices might not have told them because they were responsible themselves). Now the apprentices have to do something about it - there might even be an urgency to do it before the creature grows larger, comes after the apprentices specifically, kills someone or even worse - that the masters realise that the apprentices did something wrong...
The last two ones especially have the benefit of sending the PC on a tour of the covenant, where they can both learn of the place, learn of magic and its limits and of the Order in general.

I think its a great idea and will hopefully work well.

Remember the characters (apprentices) won't have Parma Magicas, so even the weakest power of the tiniest faerie or demon should affect them. They still get their Form as resistance, but since you are making the characters and the "bad guy", you can tailor this to suit your needs.

There are all sorts of ways for a number of apprentices to be together. Perhaps they are going to one of the covenant's vis sites to collect the annual allotment of vis. Maybe they are just hanging out after magical instructions, and something catches their interest. Or, as you've suggested, the magi are away at tribunal or some other errand and the youngsters are surprised at home. Of course, at home, the covenant will probably have an Aegis powerful enough to repel any minor supernatural entity that would prove challenging to the characters.

I'd lean toward some sort of regio or aura with a minor supernatural threat. Like: the apprentices go to the faerie forest to collect the vis from a group of flowers. This is normally an uneventful encounter, but this time something is different. A faerie decides to play with the apprentices and see how strongly they will hold on to the vis. The group goes from the covenant, through three or four locations, to the vis site. They collect the vis, when a booming voice says: Put it back! Knowing that the magi want it, they hustle home.

All the locations you described before now have to be navigated on the way home, as the faerie harries them. I like combat, so I'd throw some mundane animals at them, something they will be sure to beat. If you want to make these people long-term Ars players, let them "win" the introductory scenario. Then I'd throw in a physical challenge, like a bridge that used to be there is now gone. Then maybe a mystery, a faerie illusion or something. The faerie keeps pressing them until they get home. Then, he introduces himself, congratulates them on their success, and gives them a present. If the present is mysterious, a magic box that the faerie says grants wishes, the players might want to play again to follow it up.

Take this with a grain of salt; I've barely woken up. :smiley:

Matt Ryan

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I love most of the above! In fact, they can be combined if you have time:

The apprentices go after the creature around the covenant (say, a small serpent that can grow to be a drake?) and find the more powerful apprentice doing weird stuff around....

The tour of the covenant one is the one that has more potential IMO. At leas tto introduce a mundane community working for magical masters to new players.

I would have one of the playuers being "the weird guy" with the blatant gift... and him having a low self steem becaus eof that... while being MUCH more powerful than the other players in terms of raw magical power (the players should not know that).

EDIT: I like Matt's idea. Neat :slight_smile: A combat between a herd of goats (behold the ram!) and the apprentices might be funny :laughing: They can even be invited to assist the wedding of the fae prince's daughter as a reward if they performed well, after all.... :wink:



I might take a small thing from the book Stardust which would be you never know what you might buy/get at one of these. ANYTHING bought at this could be used as a later hook. Much more fun if they buy something artsy.

Sort of like a Convention? If that's the case, not a lot of "later hooks" need to be a concern.

But if people are new to Ars, and especially if they're new to RPG's, then "Keep it Simple!" is the rule.

Whatever your final adventure, if you plan to have X number of players, I'd pre-create X+4 characters, the extras so that the Players feel they have some choice and personalization, but don't waste any time in CharGen - get to playing!!!

(Another option is to have a "pre-game" CharGen session, where you simply intro people to the CharGen and system. This can work in larger, 3-day conventions, where people have more time. If it's 1-day, have the PC's pre-made.)

For each Character, I'd give each one the spells to solve the problems they'll face. Maybe not an obvious solution, but the spells they'd need to be helpful/successful. Each player then has the opportunity to make their character "the" hero, in part or whole.

I'd also give each mage (at least?) one strong pair of Tech/Form, and include at least one minor "problem" that can only be solved by Spontaneous magic. That's a big part of Ars, and a key attraction.

And I'd keep the Virtues/Flaws all fairly simple as well - Life Linked Magic or other rules that make spell casting more complex will only confuse the main goal - to teach/showcase the basics of the game. (You can talk about "other stuff", maybe in an elder NPC mage, but don't confuse things now.)

One of my very first (maybe my first???) sessions had a small pixie running around the lab of a mage, a flambeau, who did more damage to his own lab with spells that missed than the fae ever would have. (3rd ed, where more spells needed to be aimed.) But having the fae dance in front of his lab texts, and watching him miss and blow a hole thru those notes was priceless!

Another was a small band of tiny fae (think the "Lenny & Squiggy" pixies from the movie Willow) playing "tag" with a group of wandering magi - tripping them with rope made of grasses, diving into bushes and back out of others, tossing (mildly poisoned) darts, and grabbing random personal items and trying to run off with them.

Don't waste too much time with color - the idea is to get them playing the game and introduced to the mechanics. Don't spend too much time doing something that any game system could cover, or where there is simply no need for skills at all. If RP alone can cover it, save that, and focus on scenes where skills/spells are needed.

If you're going to have "combat", be careful - these are apprentices, and unless you're going to hand them a bunch of shield grogs (that you run? Keep it Simple!), they might just die if they get unlucky. Make sure that any encounter (except the "final" one?) is easily handled. (Maybe give them one "damage" spell and one "problem solving" spell, like a Voice ranged Levitation.)

(I once killed a mage with a ram. Well, he botched after his shield grog got KO'd. And it was a magical ram, fairly tough. But still, not something you want to happen in an intro game...)

Keep it Simple.
Get right to the Action.
Give each Character a "key" to the challenges.
Keep it Simple.

And good luck!

(I believe that should read "skein", as in "fishing net". Just to be clear to everyone. Right?)

Grazie to all.
Now I work on the materials that you gave me.
I think that the covenant adventure is the best, but I have some time to work on it.
For the spells: I don't give to the players the spontaneous spells. Only 3 or 4 codified to make it simple.

Actually it shouldn't! She had shed a scale from her tail when shifting between forms - it was one of those they had stolen. :cry:

I very much disagree. If I were to introduce completely new people to roleplaying and within a limited scope of time I would keep the "getting to the mechanics" at a minimum, only using it at crucial points in the story and in as simple a form as possible.

I would emphasise the comparative strenghts of roleplaying to other forms of entertainment: interactivity of the narration, immersion and shared experience. The Ars Magica-mechanics are very nice, as is the setting, but comparatively tabletop roleplaying mechanics alone do not compete well with most any other kind of rule-mechanic in boardgames or computer games. In other words, tabletop roleplaying in a short introductory session IMHO doesn't sell by its mechanics but by the things that set it apart from other alternatives.

I would focus on two main things: giving the players ownership of the narration and getting the players to interact with the people populating the setting (or even better - with each other). This is best achieved by making the world believable through colour, atmosphere and where skills and spells aren't paramount - and by not spending to much time on meta-story things such as mechanics; Spare those for crucial moments as a vehicle of chance to create suspense (or for long-running sagas and experienced players).

But all of the above also has to be seen with a measure of YMMV. To be honest I think the best thing is not to get to fixed on how you will run the course of the session, but think over alternative approaches. The thing is that people have different preferences when it comes to roleplaying and this also goes for newcomers even if they haven't realised or know their preferences yet. If you know the people in advance you might have an inkling of an idea of what sort of roleplaying they might possibly prefer - if not then make an impression of it during the first bit of playing. Would they prefer the gamist aspect of roleplaying of winning challenging conflicts, the narrativist aspect of theme and telling the story, or the simulationist of setting, realism and plausability? Neither is objectively more correct than the others, but they are matters of preference (even if prefering a bit of each) and unless knowing the players I would suggest in an introduction to balance them without over-stressing one of them - that makes is easier to reach a potential group of players and give them each an idea of what roleplaying might offer.

On a less grand theoretic and a much more practical note - if you are to play with completely fresh players, I also suggest, even if you have limited time, to leave room for a 15-minutes introduction. That besides saying hello to each other, that you also spend 10-minutes to describe and explain roleplaying to the participants - in basic and simple points. And then do a 5-minute warm up. Any kind of game from kindergarden ranging to drama class excersises can be used - as long as everybody gets their pulse up, get to think out of the box and get to do something silly. Ice breakers are not only good for social gartherings - they are great for perfect strangers about to roleplay together (especially if it's a brand new experience to them). Face it - if you've just done the most over-the-top-cliché imitation of a slow-motion zombie out on the floor in front of each other, than trying roleplaying together has less of a possibly restraining fear of embarrasment. At conventions, even with seasoned players, I always do this - and I often try to hit a theme that meshes well with the story about to be played. These ice breakers also function as a fine opportunity for the SG to figure out what characters to give to what players.

"If" being the key word here...

I read that as making "different" RPG's known to people (who already played other RPG's), but if it was intended to read "make rpg's known to people who have never RP'd", then I'd agree completely, Color >> Mechanics.

(Actually, perhaps even moreso with Ars - the mechanics can be intimidating to some - nor "complex", just a bit vast - so ~IF~ they're new to RPG's, keep everything toward the "imagination" side of the palette.)

Vultus -
I'd think twice about tossing the spontaneous spells - that's many players' favorite part. You don't have to police their efforts too much, but telling the Player with high Creo Ignem that they can do "any small Creo Ignem effect that they can think of" might spark their imaginations. No need to worry (at this stage) about Form Guidelines - that's for later - for now, play it loose, and go with the flow.

Good luck with that!

I try to make some use of them.. that mya interest new player (new to the world of rpg, not of only Ars)
Uff, sorry if my post are like this but this week I work at night an my brain dont work very well...

Creating any spell, whether Formulaic or Spontaneous really isnt that hard, even if the whole scheme seems convoluted by pages upon pages of text at the start.

Think of it all like a big box of legos, each piece one of 15 different colours.

Now when sitting down with your troupe. just explain that it all boils down to this basically (there's always more complexity to add later of course):

  1. Decide what effect you want your spell to have

  2. Look at the Techniques and decide which Technique (Cr, In, Mu, Pe, Re) best serves the action being attempted

  3. Look at the Forms and decide which Form (An, Aq, Au, Co, He...) best serves objective.

  4. Now, if spontaneous, tell the player(s) to look at the score they have assigned to the chosen Technique and the chosen Form. Add those two numbers...

  5. Now tell players to add their stamina score

  6. Finally decide as SG whether the area in which the spell is being cast is subject to any Aura and what the level of that Aura is. If casting in a church or middle of a city you will likely being assigning a Dominion Aura of no less than 3 and maybe as high as 4 or 5 which would make all but the lowest level spont effects possible for starting characters.

If the above then the equation would be: Tech (score) + Form (score) + Stamina (score) - 3*Aura/2 for spont spell with fatigue expenditure.

If the Aura is magical then have them add the Aura level to casting total for a resulting: Tech (score) + Form (score) + Stamina (score) + Aura level/2. Add a stress die roll to the equation (before dividing by 2 of course) and presto either a successful casting of spont magic or a fizzle or a botch. We hope for no botches for your people on their first night out :wink:

By way of example:

Ardath of the Ad Fons PBP scenario in the PB section of the forums is being chased by a group of werewolves and wants to elude them long enough to put sufficient distance between them and herself so she can choose another route back to the safety of the covenant. It is night and there are no stars so the sky is a pitch black.

Being particularly adept in both Rego and Terram magics with particular focus in obsidian, she decides the quickest evasion is straight up.

So she first needs to create the disk on the run. She spontaneously CrTe an obsidian disk upon which she can raise herself into the air...

Her Creo score is (serf's parma) say 6 and her Terram score is, say, 8. Her stamina is 2 and we shall say that since she is exiting the mystical forest near to the covenant she benefits from a magical aura bonus of 2 (higher the deeper in you go)...

So: Creo (6) + Terram ( 8 ) + stamina (2) + Aura (2) + Creo (6) for the minor focus in obsidian +stress die/2.

Looking at the Creo Terram guideline box in the core rules on page 153 we see that base effect for "creating stone" is level 3. The base size for rock in Terram magic is 1 cubic pace or (according to most here) 1 cubic meter/yard). By mentally designing the configuration of that volume of rock into a a sturdy 6 inch thick disk she should have plenty of material for a nice sized disk in overall circumference to bear easily standing or sitting.

So she figures: base 4 (1 more than listed guideline since it is stone not dirt being created), +1 touch, +1 diameter (20 battle rounds or 2 minutes), Target: Individual (no cost) for final effect level of 10.

Now she rolls the die and gets an 8 for a casting total of 16 (32/2). More than enough to create the disk she wants and sufficient to change one of the spell parameters (Range, Duration, Target) by one step if she so wishes since this is spont magic (see post roll casting adjustment rule on page 82 carry over paragraph from previous page under Conc Table box).

She is content to just have the disk made so doesnt change any parameters for this effect. Next round she sponts a Rego Terram effect to lift the disk and thus herself into the air.

Her Rego score (serf's parma) is say 8 and her Terram score is, say, 8.
All other casting additions remaining the same as above and again benefiting from her minor focus in obsidian (since she is again effecting an obsidian object) her spont casting total is:

Rego ( 8 ) +Terram ( 8 ) +stamina (2) +Aura (2) + (either Re or Te score once again since both are equal) = 28 +stress die/2

Looking at the Rego Terram guideline box on page 155 of the core rules, we see the base for controlling dirt in a very unnatural fashion is base 3. Since, again, she is controlling stone not dirt its one magnitude higher or base 4.

so base 4, +1 touch, +1 concentration, Target: Individual (no cost). Up to the SG if he wants to insist that anything other than movement straight up to a hovering position of any height (i.e. ability to will the disk to move horizontally in the air to take her safely home) would require an additional magnitude of complexity, but for simplicity sake let's say no at this time and come up with a spontaneous effect level of 10.

On anything other than a 0 (botch) she succeeds without problem and levitates the disk and herself up and away through the night sky unseen by the prowling werewolves on the ground below (thanks to the pitch black colour of the obsidian disk against the dark night sky.).

And that's an encyclopedic demonstration of how spontaneous magic is calculated and performed.

Cuchul will be proud of me (for verbosity anyways)! :smiley:

MWAH AH AH AH AH (Sorry, I'm just Ardath's player)
Thank you for featuring my character, boxer :smiley:

The adventure I ran for my beginning troupe for 4th edition bascially covered all of the game mechanics except research and lab stuff. My goal was to get their collective feet wet.

The story went that the PCs were making a brand new Spring Covenant and had travelled to the mystic site they had chosen with all of their supplies. One Magus never arrived though. Then they found out that one of their wagons of supplies had been ransacked by bandits, containing books both mundane and magical.

First goal: A Magus player volunteers to return the stuff, he gets his Companion, and they assemble some Grogs. This is a unique feature of Ars Magica; the interchangeable characters.

The troupe set out to investigate and along the way run into some of the bandits who were waiting in ambush.

Second goal: The PCs (all of them) get to know each other and use some of their skills and spells even. It's a small ambush, a few bandits hiding. From this they can possibly find the main hideout of the bandits.

The troupe continues into the woods and eventually finds the bandits' base, and a startling discovery; the bandits have some kind of magical sponsor. In 4th edition I used a Hedge Wizard with a few powers and effects and some magic resistance. This can't work so well in 5th edition. My suggestion would be an ex Hermetic wizard, a hedge wizard summoner, or a hedge wizard with a familiar. The summoner or familiar is important as it gives him a measure of some magic resistance without bending any rules.

Third goal: The PCs are embroiled in epic combat, the wizard is engaged in magic, and the PCs get to see how dangerous this can be.

While searching through the loot gathered the PCs find their things but also some others which while familiar was un accounted for. It turns out another covenant's supplies were also looted. That's when the missing magus (and his grogs) appears. The magus they were expecing has instead joined another covenant and the supplies he was bringing were looted by the bandits as well. The magus (a Tytalus) wants to be sporting. He proposes a contest of mundane variety for the mundane supplies, and a contest of magic for the magic supplies.

Final goal: one on one combat for a champion grog or custo (not to the death necessarily). Certamen for the wizards. While Ars Magica isn't a game about 'loot' the rewards would be extra supplies, such as vis and a few magic and mundane books.

I and my players like a game with plenty of action, and this supplied it, but for me what was important was the chance for them to figure out the rules first hand.