Ars Magica 5th Edition: Stealing the Future 4-8 players

I've been kicking around this idea for a while now. My desire to develop this saga is based on the Alpine Apprentice saga that I'm participating in and the idea of the Order changing as an entity over time.

The premise of the saga will be the creation of the first Hermetic school. Elizabeth of Bonisagus researched a Hermetic Breakthrough in teaching the Arts, Hermetic Teaching, that allows her to teach the Arts to more than one student at a time (as per the Teaching ability). Additionally, Laterala of Tremere developed an Aegis that suppresses the negative social penalties of the Gift (another Hermetic Breakthrough). The two magi, through Elizabeth's sister Panacea of Mercere, a longtime resident of Transylvania, were brought together and submitted a proposal to the Grand Tribunal of 1267 to start a Hermetic School. The Grand Tribunal gave the school a charter, and part of that charter grants the school the Right of Bonisagus, so long as a Bonisagus is headmaster of the school, Elizabeth was appointed headmistress, with Laterala as her assistant.

A search for teachers and students is currently underway, with the first step of securing adequate teaching staff and Elizabeth teaching them her methods of Hermetic instruction.

In troupe terms, I'd like to build a teaching cadre first, and then based on what's available have the troupe build some apprentices who would come to school here after things have taken shape. Magi who are teaching should be at least 20 years post gauntlet, but may be older. For ease of accounting, I use 40 experience points per year, and presume spells are purchased with experience points. If you take a season off to make a longevity ritual or do lab work (not inventing spells) you lose 10 xp for each season you take off. Teachers should have extensive backgrounds, perhaps more developed than any similar character made in other sagas. I want to know who they are and why they want to teach, whether they've already had an apprentice, who are the members of their lineage such as their parens, grandparens (it's ok to not know who this is) and any brothers or sisters and, of course apprentices.

Teachers probably won't get too much in the story or adventure department but they will get advancement, I intend to use story and personality flaws chosen for them to build stories for the apprentices, so the teacher might be involved a bit, but his actions aren't the focus of the story, it's the apprentices interacting with themes from his story or personality flaws that will drive the story. The game is primarily about the apprentices, but the teachers need to be in place before we can proceed since they will set a lot of the tone.

This game will be heavily house ruled. Some of the house rules will isolate magi from mundane society even more than they already are, while making them more powerful in their places of power. We are obviously going to be using house rules to do group instruction of Arts, but we'll also use an unwritten one from the Alpine Apprentice saga that allows one to reflect upon an adventure at a later period of downtime and earn the XP then, this will allow us the flexibility of having stories anytime during the school term, but without double dipping adventure XP with another XP source.

My experience is that my stories in a PbP game generally take about 6 weeks to complete, and I can accommodate different posting schedules. If you're a once a day or more poster, that's not a problem. If you're a once a week poster, again not a problem. I just need to know your expected posting schedule and notified really quickly if it changes for any reason so I can adjust the story and my responses to accommodate the change. I will probably continue running concurrent stories, which can be confusing. The key to this system is to know you don't have to pay attention to all of the stories. I'm going to tie confidence point awards to the protagonist of a story writing a summary of the story, something he would tell other students/people not present.

I'm not tied to the name for the saga, it's just dramatic, if the troupe comes up with a better name for the saga, I'm all for it. I still have to nail down a fair bit of stuff, but I thought it might be helpful to my development process to understand the first group of teachers that would arrive. If you are familiar with my Bibracte saga, I'm not going to have grand conspiracy running in the background, so if that put you off, don't let it keep you from this saga. I will make extensive use of characters I've made in that saga and other sagas, and I'm borrowing at least two characters from games I'm in.

Here's my rough idea of how instruction will work, it's still in a bit of flux, but this is where I've more or less settled. I'll happily take input from the troupe. My rule here is that everyone has to buy in to adjust something and/or reverse a change I might make.

The school term will grant xp equivalent to two seasons, probably somewhere around 30 xp. Students will get a source of of extracurricular XP for things outside of the curriculum (cough quidditch, among other things), the third season. Adventure XP will be spent in the summer, which is spent away from school, some adventures may happen in the summer, too. The first year isn't really a year of Magical instruction, it's 3 seasons of Latin instruction, with the teacher present grant about 66 XP, he'll also be along later to teach Magic Theory. Some of his teaching source quality will be allowed to be spent on other abilities, too, probably 6 xp. I still have need to figure out a method of spell instruction, but I might just make a variation of Doctorcomic's concept of cantations and grant so many points in spells per year. Based on the first year of being taught Latin, and then the breakdown of XP of two seasons of Hermetic instruction and a season of extracurricular activities per year, it is theoretically possible to graduate as a magus after 5 years (roughly 240 xp), and for that reason years 6 and 7 are optional.

I'll often call the actual second year the first year, as that's the first year of Hermetic instruction. The primary purpose here is to give students a broad foundation to build upon, but students can customize instruction, to play to strengths or build them. I plan to have about 6 classes, and hope to get around a 30 SQ for the term for first years. When split evenly that's 5 xp per class. Classes will be on a multiple range of topics, but students can decide to allocate their experience points on those topics as they wish. As an example, the class on the elements, you can spend all 5 xp on your prefered Art. As a first year, you can also cut a class from your schedule and add an advanced class, second years and later can do this for two classes, cutting two different classes and adding two advanced classes for different subjects or the same subject. In addition to allocating experience points for Arts, they can also be used to generate a SQ for initiating a desired virtue of any of the student's teachers, with necessary SQ based on the rules in Apprentices. Both Opening the Arts and how an Art becomes Deficient will change[1].

Opening the Arts now happens individually for the Art, and so the first experience point spent on the Art opens it and grants a score of 1. Until the Art is opened it also doesn't provide a Form bonus to Magic Resistance. Deficient Arts have a chance of developing if a student reaches an Art score of 10, 12 with an Affinity, before opening all of his Arts. Exactly how or if an Art becomes deficient, I haven't decided. If a student has a Puissant Art, and it isn't an Inherited virtue, that Art is considered already opened. You can cast a spell as long as you have the Art opened for either the Technique or Form, but will suffer a -3 penalty for not having both Arts opened, if used spontaneously this is applied after dividing. Learning a spell with a TeFo combination where only one Art is opened does not have a penalty. If both the Technique and Form are not opened you can't cast or learn the spell in that TeFo combination.

I have ideas on how to maintain Houses and induct students into them but this is becoming a rather long post, too, so I'll save it for next time.

[1]Instructors may now have Art scores less than 5 without impacting the students, since the Arts are opened individually. The presence of an already deficient Art would normally require an Art score of 10 (HR in my sagas) to overcome passing on the deficiency also doesn't have any impact here, since it's presumed that whomever is teaching the class has the appropriate level of skill.

Jon, in what year does the Saga begin? From your mention of Grand Tribunal, the game is set in the later 13th century, but a specific date would help with character creation.

Also, have you considered simply presuming that all students have already been sent to a prep school of some kind (cathedral, parish or university) where they learned Artes and Latin, so that they can dive right into magical instruction in the first year, and the school can leave such routine grunt work to the mundanes?

Everything starts moving after the Tribunal of 1267. I'm thinking professors will show up in 1268, call it spring to make bookkeeping easy. They'll have some compulsory advancement which involves being taught Hermetic Teaching and time spent setting up their lab. I haven't worked out the logistics of this, yet, but it's at least 8 seasons, and I'd like to spread it over a few years, so that the teachers can pursue some of their interests during the same time, and it will basically model how teachers will continue to advance: 2 seasons of teaching with two free seasons during the year, so that says instruction for Hermetic Arts would happen in 1272, teachers are put into play in 1268. Does that make sense? Students will be put into play in 1272, but will either need a Virtue giving them Latin, or will have spent 1271 learning Latin (and might also have a bit of knowledge of the school and the area that those with the Virtue granting Latin don't have).

I have, and the reason why students are sent here is 1) the issue of the Gift and the Aegis suppressing the social penalty and 2), they can't be snatched away if they are enrolled at this school, unlike a prep school, unless a charter were extended to it. At this school they are considered to be apprentices of a Bonisagus even before their Arts are opened. But, that doesn't preclude a student knowing Latin already with appropriate virtues and skipping ahead into the first year of Hermetic Instruction. The Order decided having everything happen at one school was simply easier to have everything taught at one school. To be honest, I will likely skip over the Latin year anyway, but from a thematic angle I thought it was important to have the instruction happen here at the School, which I now realized needs a name. Must resist Durmstrang Academy (I know it's in Scandinavia).

How do you want to have Virtues and flaws passed on from Teacher to student. Or is that not in the scope now?

Determine the SQ of the virtue being acquired based on already acquired Hermetic Virtues, then take experience points from the school's total and apply it to the SQ. So if a virtue requires a SQ of 15, you have to sacrifice 15 experience points from the the 30 of the school term and/or the 15 from extracurricular activities. Does that make sense? The rationale is that the instructors are all showing you examples of their specific Hermetic Virtues daily, and by taking careful notes and paying attention to their virtues as opposed to the lessons on other matters, the students will be able to earn the virtue.
Inherited Virtues and Flaws do not impact the necessary SQ until they've been realized. I'll have an extensive write up on apprentices and how that's going to work, I just wanted to be as high level as possible for now.

Sounds great. I will start noodling around with concepts. Where is the school going to be located?

Because I finally again got more time I would be interested to join.
But despite owning many of the books already I'm sill very new to Ars Magica so a Apprentice saga would be great.

The school is going to be in the Transylvania Tribunal, at the oppida of Héviz, which is a non canonical covenant in Transylvania, I'm borrowing it and some other elements from the PbP saga of the same name.

What age span are you suggesting should we design our characters? Also are the rules of Apprentices in full effect for creating such a character or do you have house rules there also?
Edit: are the new Apprentices coming from all over Europe or just Transylvania Tribunal?

Initially I want to focus on the teachers, get a sense of them and spend a fair bit of time designing them.

Since this game is really about the apprentices, and playing the apprentices more than it is about playing the teachers, I'll be pulling from Apprentices. Obviously, I'm changing a lot of things around and something listed in Apprentices may no longer make sense and have escaped my notice. I'm trying hard not to post a lot of house rules here, but I wanted everyone to get an overview of the process of teaching, understand how long an "apprenticeship" at the school lasts and the like. If you have a specific question about Apprentices, it might be better if you ask it. But generally I plan to pull a lot from that book.

For apprentices coming to the school, I am going to limit Hermetic Virtues to no more than 4 points when coming to the school, and this includes Inherited Flaws that you want to ensure the character gets.

Oh, and please, let's find a new name if Stealing the Future doesn't work for you. I chose it because of the paradigm shift this represents to the Order and training apprentices, but if you have something better, please share it.

So we should design a teacher and a Apprentice or just a apprentice?
Anyway I will write a apprentice the next days and only start to make a full mage "teacher" if I know better what you expect there and if we should do them at all. ^^

Oh and what age span are you expecting for the apprentice to start? I asked above in a edit but was to late :wink:

I want to wait on apprentices. You can certainly design one, but they are relatively simple to design, where I want players to invest effort is in the teacher, because they are going to anchor a lot of the stories. Unlike a covenant, the school isn't going to have a lot of boons and hooks chosen by the players. The boons and hooks for the covenant are largely coming from the teachers who will be teaching apprentices. This is by no means a standard Ars Magica game.

The guidelines, such as they are in my second post, but I'll quote it here for convenience.

Note, this list isn't exhaustive, and it's meant to get you thinking about a character. Since this is a recruitment thread, I'm trying to generate buzz and excitement. It's only when we get into the nitty gritty of character creation do I dash everyone's hopes and tell them they're doing it wrong. :laughing:

For example here's something from my House Rules that I haven't posted, yet because it's not the game forum and I don't want rules spread all over the place, both here and in another forum. It's tough to remember I said something in one place but not in another and it's tougher on players.

Right now I'm working on a mechanic for NPC apprentices who want to take classes from better teachers, but that's not quite ready. The other thing is that I'm not in a rush to get this kicked off with stories by a certain date. I'd like to involve all prospective players and have them weigh in on the HRs. I'd like to get one more person (for a total of 5, since I have a PM from someone who hasn't yet posted in the thread) onboard before I request a dedicate forum.

Thanks, missed that part. Will then start on thinking about a Teacher who previous was in the Rhine Tribunal as it is the only 5th edition Tribunal book I have and this region is general easier for me to write a background.

Your sure only -10 exp from the 40 exp per year for a complete year of doing other things like enchanting?
I suspect you talking about -10 exp per season doing something different.

Yes, I meant for the season, you lose 10 xp for every season you take to do something lab work related. But I'd caution anyone to not go too deep into character design, but instead think about background, virtues and flaws and who are their amici or enemies, things like that. The nuts and bolts, if you go too deep may end up having to be undone, based on some things I'm still ironing out and will post in a thread all its own in the saga's forum when it's created.

I'm not in a huge rush to start this saga immediately, and if you go to fast, you may find yourself waiting for me, and others to catch up to you.

No problem as I expect that I have to rework part of the char anyway because I misinterpreted some rules or conflicts with your house rules.

My current idea is a Harmonist Bjornaer of House Ilfetu (Swan) with a focus on Creo magic.

Hi, something to think about. One thing that schools produce is a certain uniformity in their students due to the curriculum that all are sharing to a great degree.

What this mostly means would be the acquisition of Arts, Abilities, and Spells. But it likely, by necessity would include a mandatory package of Virtues and Flaws.

So they'd still get 10 points worth, but just by joining this school they'd spend 3-5 I figure on specific Virtues and Flaws each. One Flaw for example might be Covenant Upbringing. If using Hogwarts as an example, the students tend to get too acclimated to its environment and are more than a bit odd in society. Also a reputation (good and/or bad) as being the first graduating class of this new method.

I could see all the Houses, but especially the Mystery Houses having a great deal of concern that their Mysteries or special Virtues would either be discarded or dilluted to the point of no longer being a Mystery.

On a similar note I could see a faculty or office of Mysteries (Perhaps the 'Ministry of the Mysteries') composed of the Mystery Houses. Aside from teaching a topic all can benefit from, they teach their Mysteries to some of the students.

I do have plans on how to introduce Mysteries, and I'll have instructors as NPCs for any house that isn't represented.
The variety of Virtues and Flaws will also be taken care of in a similar manner, but the method of acquiring them makes it relatively easy to instill a flaw. The goal is that the apprentices all look vastly different at the end of the apprenticeship.