Ars Magica 5th Ed.: Magi of the Old North

I’ve seen over the last couple months that there are some new players who are looking to join a pbp saga. So I thought I’d offer up my first attempt at pbp storyguiding. My target tally is a group of 3-4.

For the theme of the saga, I’d like to run one that is heavily influenced by mundane forces. This is mostly to satisfy my inner history geek, because I’ll be drawing on actual events for inspiration, but also for the novelty of it - I’ve never taken part in such a campaign. We won’t be railroading along tracks laid down by true history though. There will be plenty of opportunity to change outcomes and instigate new developments based on the players’ actions. Since the strong historical focus requires self-imposed research on my part, I’d like to choose a region that's already captured my interest: Cumbria. The 1200s are an interesting period in middle Britain, with many things in flux. There is peace and economic stability at the start of the saga, but borders will shift as Scotland becomes Scotland in opposition of the English kings. Soon the region becomes a war zone with individual families rising to and falling from power. The region is also more-or-less a fringe territory of the Order, with just a single, though formidable (and potentially corrupt?), Guernicus to investigate breaches of the Code. The players could capitalize on this situation if they are bold, clever, and opportunistic. The primary goal, however, will be to survive in the chaos to come.

All this isn’t to say that there will be no mythical component to the setting. There most certainly will be, but I will keep that aspect under wraps for now.

Please, let me know if you’re interested or if you have questions.

Definitely interested. Your post came in at a good time, count me in. Could characters be non-natives? I am not familiar with the local history, would prefer to play outsiders and see it unfold through your narrative.
Give me a PM!

I am very interested as I love games set in the 13th century north of England. I am very flexible as to character concept.

I'm interested, of course, but will stand aside to let newer players get involved if necessary.

I am interested. I have an acquaintance from rpg geek that would be interested as well.

We both made characters for a potential game 2 months ago and have been searching since. I even have an account here named after the character lol. I'm open to a myriad of possible Magi concepts.

I've played a lot of 4th edition, a tiny bit of 5th ed. I've a lot of the 5th books though.

I'm used to doing troupe style IRL, but am a pbp noob, :smiley: .

Thanks, all, for the quick responses and for your interest.

Yes, they can be from anywhere. Don't worry about shoe-horning them into the setting, or having them play a particular role. We'll figure out what brings them all together later. I don't have any preconceptions of or requirements for the magi (other than that the character creation rules are followed, of course). I think it's more important that you all make characters that you like, that you'll want to play for a long time. Also, we'll start with just magi first, and then see about adding companions at a later time.

Have you played in many games with this setting? What is it about that time and place that you particularly like?

Thank you, that's very considerate. So far we are at 5, I think. I know I said 3-4, but 5 would be fine too. We'll see who else chimes in. Maybe give it until the middle of next week?

I think pbp is easy, in comparison. You have more time to think through what your character would do. It's also a lot slower. I hope you will still find it engaging. What is your character's concept?
Also, could you please ask your acquaintance to start posting on this thread if they are interested, and to let me know that they are your acquaintance? That way we're less likely to double-book a slot.

Cool, I messaged him, hopefully he gets it.

The character I've been itching to play is Reynard le Blanc ex Tytalus . A Philosopher and Rogue; Lycanthrope : Fox : new moon; Troupe upbringing (juggling and throwing) and Light Touch; Legerdemain specialised in "Magic Tricks"
Vim Specialist doing spell container shenanigans with Flexible Formulaic Magic... basically Gambit 13th century

Was working on a descendent of a Flame Dancer from RoP:M possibly Criamon, but she would require a serious look at before allowed in a game. So obviously supernatural and likely mistaken as Infernal by mundanes. Whirling Dervish on fire.

A Companion "Whistler" a 15 year old outdoorsman raised by wolves, mute, but with Animal Ken, ways of the forest, Wilderness Sense, Second Sight. Venus Blessing for the lols.

I'm pretty flexible with character design and not attached to anything. I just seem to make characters in my free time for fun.

Part of my love for games set in the north of England is from growing up in Yorkshire and seeing a bunch of Yorkshire (and a couple of Cumbrian) castles as a child.
Part of it comes from the Cumbria map being a freebie for 4th edition, so my limited experience with 4th ed was set in Cumbria.
Part of it comes from my longest ever Ars Magica saga being set in York, but with one of our mundane companions being given a land grant in Cumbria to help defend the border, so we would occasionally adventure in Cumbria.

I would also love to play if there is room. I am very intrigued by the challenges of fitting in as magi in a mundane world. Maybe I am too late.
I am quite flexible in terms of character, but a one idea which I like, is a Verditius magus who happens to also be heir to a silver smith, or possibly armourer, in London, or maybe Edinburgh. The old man is well connected, with customers at the royal court. Not that he has had much contact with the family for ages, but it is not a secret, and the legacy may be hard to escape when it materialises. That's a story hook which obviously needs some concensus :slight_smile:
It would be my first pbp game, and I have been out of rpg for years, almost 20 years since I had any lasting ArM saga, as alpha SG, but I have read up on the later editions too, and know them fairly well.

Awesome. Definitely outsider for me. Got some characters ready or I will think up something new, dont have anything specific I want to play so I'll probably wait and take ideas from other players. Could we have a bit more info about the setting and covenant? Are we going to support the southies, the Scotts, neutrals?

Hi I am T Riffix Rex's friend mentioned in the earlier post and I am very interested in playing if there is still places. Thanks, John


Unless we have a post from anyone else in the next two days, the list of players is, in order of first posting:
T Riffix Rex
Honestly, if only one or two more people would like to join, I think we can move forward with everyone.

Sounds good. I look forward to seeing a fleshed-out version, if you decide play him.

That's cool - I'll do my best to bring new material to the setting and to keep it interesting for you. And to not have my imaginary medieval Cumbria be too disparate from your experiences. Although I can't really do that without your help; please let me know if anything I write clashes too much. Are you still in the north of England? And under all that snow? I read that supplies had to be airlifted to parts of Cumberland because the snow rendered them otherwise inaccessible.

Sure there's room, and welcome. Story flaws like what you suggest could be interesting additions to the setting. How do you see the above one playing out? What is the nature of the legacy, and what will it push the character to do?

No pressure intended, but I encourage you to develop your own ideas. Think about what kind of stories you would like to play out, and build up a background and story flaw around them. Then choose an aspect of the magic system that you'll enjoy tinkering with and inventing spells for, and build your Hermetic virtues around it. As for the covenant, I'd like to flesh the details out as a group, with everyone's input. The characters will determine the political allegiance (and I imagine it will move around over time). But generally speaking, I had in mind that it would be a new covenant with few/no initial resources other than what the characters bring with them. I have some books on medieval Carlisle, so we could plop it in the town (either in a regio, or not). Or we could place it in a more rural, isolated location. Any preferences from any of you for these options?

When the old man dies, the magus is next in line to inherit his business, which is large by medieval standards. This includes the workshop and its staff, and the network of clients. I imagine that the order is not exactly secret in this world (even though it is not widely known), and long-standing clients, including key nobles and the royal family, will expect services taking full advantage of the magus' skill set ... with all its implications in light of the code. If the order is really secret, then I think the concept is less interesting.

He may very well be called upon while the old man is still living too, either as a commission for some artifact (assuming that his special abilities are known), or as a local ally in the North (or whereever the covenant is). I don't imagine he has any direct links to nobility, but the family has, and may want to extend their obligations to the magus.

Obviously, I cannot give the details, since somebody else needs to play out the noble contacts with their expectations. It can be made low-key or high-key, depending on other story lines. There is plenty of room to use the family to hook the character into the web of noble intrigue.

BTW. Reviewing magic effects, I decided that armourer is better than silversmith. The craft skills are open for some interpretation; would it be correct to assume Craft: blacksmith [armour] + Craft: leatherwork [armour]? I assume blacksmith then covers everything from horse shoes via swords to armour, and leatherwork anything from shoes and purses to armour.

Wonder if I should make a companion brought up in the same troupe as Reynard. We need to figure out how they have stayed in touch throughout those fifteen years of apprenticeship, but I guess that can be done. It could be a Tytalus agent, or just an aquaintance.

The companion would be more of a people's man than the typical gifted character. A trader in information. Quite possibly the Blackmail flaw. I need to work out the details of his network of contacts without overdoing story hooks. Strong in guile and local area lore. Probably spent some years as a thief.

What do you think Reynard? Would that be a sensible companion of yours? ... domain=rpg

That's the original write up. Reynard and Marie. Marie is originally built as a grog magic animal Companion. He needs reworked I think slightly. I was going to do this True Love angle with Marie, where they're respective curses prevent them from knowing. But that isn't too important.

As far as staying together with other troupe members... his apprenticeship was multifaceted. His parens would have encouraged the occasional season with a circus. Or instead of Marie, you play a fox of Virtue as his companion that can shape change. The idea i was running with is Reynard IS a fox, that's a human most of the time. Marie has been with him almost his entire life, because she knows. But that plot line doesn't have to be in this game.

Were you thinking a physical type of character doing acrobatics or social acting and charm? Or something like The Tattooed Man, if that isn't too anachronistic. I know at this time in Europe theatre doesn't really exist outside of traveling players.

I think I was trying to do too much in the original.

I also have some crazy Criamon ideas... also a Rustic Magic tattoo artist idea.

Ooh or maybe Tybalt!

Prince of Cats...

But friends not enemies.

I would be interested but I can just be in the queue if there are enough players.

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I don't think I am up to playing or even designing an animal companion. I am not familiar with applicable rules; but I'll keep the animal idea in mind and see what ideas I come up with when I review the rules again.

I was thinking of both a bit of acrobatics and and a bit of social engineering; not quite decided what to make primary. Of course, both burglary (with some use of acrobatics) and charm are useful to aquire assets for blackmail, so it makes sense to have some experience with both.

I have moved to the south, so I went from unable to leave town on Friday to wading through slush on Saturday to pleasant spring day on Sunday. I understand some of the most remote parts of Cumbria are still inaccessible.

I have no preference on whether we have a covenant in Carlisle or in a rural setting. Rural settings do offer seclusion and a chance to limit mundane contact, but in town offers a wider range of mundane contacts to have, skilled trades to hire, and ways to engage with the economy. Carlisle might suit the performance-based characters better, as the population density of rural Cumbria may make finding audiences difficult.

Are we just using the main rulebook for creating our magi, or are we drawing from others as well?