Arcane Connection Podcast 8

OK, the new podcast is up. ... 3_38-07_00

The wider picture is as follows. I posted a thread on about the idea of implicit rules, so I'll quote that here --

"I grew up with Avalon Hill wargames, and case based procedural rules. I am used to that. Ars Magica has plenty of those- formulae, hard rules, etc, etc. Yet within the "fluff" text I think there are also implicit assumptions about how the game will be played, every bit as important as those explicit rules, and some of my failures in sometimes telling good stories with Ars might come from failing to pay attention.

I'm trying to think of an equaivalent meta-rule based on implicit assumptions of play style in D&D or Traveller, and failing. I guess in Call of Cthulhu the assumption is you play the investigators not the cultists, but you can certainly do otherwise - there was an excellent scenario called Cold War I think in an early copy of TUO.

I'm struggling a bit here. I think what I am trying to say is some rpgs have internal (genre) game conventions, and those conventions are not always flagged as "rules", but breaking them by taking a playstyle from another game makes it hard to get the best from the game.

I'll give a couple of examples from Ars Magica --

  1. The Code of Hermes is normative. The Code is the rules wizards live by, and in most Tribunals I think it is meant to be broadly obeyed, or at least lip service is paid to it, allowing a Hermetic culture. Yet in our sagas player characters often in my experience pay little heed to it - their only concern is 'not being caught'. I wonder if actually a 15 year apprenticeship would instil respect for the Code, and make folks flaunt it only in exceptional circumstances. You can happily run a saga either way -- but it is noticeable to me that in over 1,500 sessions of Ars I have run, I don't think I have seen any player choose to play a Quaesitor. I suspect there is an implicit assumption that the Code is more enforced than we are playing, and more importantly, far more respected. It serves several important functions in the game background after all. However, this one is actually fairly weak. Stronger is 2 --

  2. You only have one or two magi maximum on any adventure. Now this one is I think more important. In my games most of the players do play their Companions from time to time - the ramped up implications of the social penalty of The Gift makes this more so in 5th than 4th ed in my personal experience. However given just how much fun the Ars Magica magic system is, and that it is a game about medieval wizards, there is a tendency for everyone to want to send their magus on most adventures, despite the rules advantage of spending that season in the lab. If you end up with a magic flying ship or powerful Rego Corpus magic that lets you travel swiftly, the penalty for missing time in the lab is less important that in earlier editions i think, and so everyone wants to send a magus, and sometimes you end up with an al magus party. This actually changes the way the game plays significantly..."

Kevin and I discuss this and much more in our latest episode.

cj x

  1. Comes right now in my opinion from the point that some Lab Work only result in 2 exp (i.e. you research or learn spells, doing enchantment ect.) and going for a adventure that only takes a vew days dont hurt the Lab Activity.
    So one dont realy have to wonder when the player want to use theyr mage for it.

Haven't yet listened to the podcast (Nice work on the previous ones btw)

  1. Interestingly, perhaps its me but while our group occasionally ignores the code they only do so because there is a very good reason to do so rather than because its THE LAW. The group know and like, and are aided by representatives of the Man. I've personally played a quaesitore and had fun with him. The players in my group respect the reason behind the code, mainly because they've seen what happens when the spirit of the code is abused - as well as when the code is ignored. It's kind of like when people make the church evil.. it's a little adolescent to think that The Law is the bad guy :smiley:.

I'm rather careful to keep stuff well in hand for the code though, and it is for the most part weighted so that only if other magi are affected by it do the Quaesitores begin to prosecute - and they only really appear if another magi asks them to.