Arcane Connection 25: Wriiting Ars Magica adventures

So Tom and I are back after a week's absence (i was presenting at Weird Weekend North) and podcasting again:

How do you write adventures for Ars Magica?


Oh the original version had horrible sound with high pitched interference and tinny reverb. I reuploaded it at midnight on 5th May. Should be ok now.

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I might actually give this a listen. I'm big on the Sly Flourish's Return of the Lazy DM.

My general method is:

  1. Review the last session or two and consider the direction the story is going in. Where does the storyline seem to be pointing?

  2. Do I continue with the obvious, or do I shake it up?

  3. Which NPC's will I use? Am I clear on their motivations?

  4. Create 10 secrets and clues that may or may not come up in play, but are background pieces of information driving the plot

  5. What scenes will happen? (Write this as an outline)

  6. Do the scenes need any research? Do I need to prep anything for these scenes?

  7. Any possibility of a cool battle scene?

  8. Always start In Media Res with an action scene, or a tense negotiation.

Sometimes I do more than this, other times I do less.


CJ, what's your RSS feed? I can't seem to get a subscription to you via the Pocketcasts app just using your title.

Please tell Tom "Just making stuff up." makes the stats correct.

I am really glad that you have upgraded the sound quality since the first episode: i started listening to it, then I stopped...

Here are my processes to come up with adventures for my Ars Magica group:

  • checking historical events that take place in the region of the Covenant. I have a detailed list of recorded events by year, which I then split into seasons and I drip feed them to the players as the "rumours that grog pick up". I also sometimes cast the hook harder, by having direct invitations to participate from involved NPCs. My party was roped into the Wrath of Köln by a letter from the new Burggrav of Drachenfels which they kind of owed a favour to.

  • being on location. I get lots of inspiration from visiting the places where the game takes place. My yet unpublished but submitted to SubRosa scenario of the Raugrav started with the observation that the area where we were walking had unusual lichen growth... this is the hardest to replicate because no one does a weekly trip from Japan or Australia to the Rhine valley between sessions. But seeing cool places and looking for Mythic Europe explanations and then finding relevant conflicts that lead to or stem from these observations is a good source of inspiration.

  • metal album covers are a great source of inspiration since they tend to have AWESOME (power metal), demonic (thrash, stoner and doom metal) or plain weird (prog metal/rock).

  • seeing the character sheets and talking with the players. Knowing what development they would like (whether increasing Rego or finding an apprentice...) gives an end point from which to wprk backwards. My Rudiaria Awakening scenario was a combination of book story hook and wanting to have a reason for the party to fond a good Rego tractatus. Similarly, looking to place things wherere the PCs can shine thanks to their skill/spell/art set. I made aure to leave skeletons in each Dungeon that I ran for the Corpus mage of the party to potentially animate.