Has anyone ever run a 4 hour Ars Magica slot at a con? What kind of story and character group did you do? How did you make AM accessible to new players?
LARP or P&P
LARP - we did a lot of Tribunals, nothing for new players. Discussions, Crimes, plots against each others convenant and somehow always a demon in disguise ...
P&P for new players: just an easy travelling adventure or Vis Plundering. With prepared characters, just out of the gauntlet/not so much powers Chosen magic - it should suit the obstacles of the adventure. As help maybe a old grog (npc?), who knows a lot about magic and ask all the time "can't u do this wit ur magic, i have seen it done by ur master ..."
Haven't actually done AM at a con but my initial reaction was "we made characters"
@Timothy_Ferguson has a whole con scenario on his Games From Folktales page, Escape to the Tin Islands.
The scenario uses premade characters—a mix of young magi and companions—forced to flee their covenant when invaders threaten. The players gather resources from the covenant, make plans, journey by sea, and establish their new home. Tough to get it all done in 4 hours but ambitious can be fun.
I've been to Grand Tribunal UK a couple of times. Even though ArM is a campaign game, long running and much emphasis on development, short con games can be run.
I've run one of the Hooks adventures, they're fairly short - but as SG you need to create characters for the players - those aren't in the ArM adventures.
And I've played in several others. I remember playing as Grimgroth in CJ's game about the fall of Mistridge.
Maybe 4 hours is a bit short, but time slots are usually no more than 6 hours, so you need short stories.
If you play with veteran players, they can quickly jump into it. As an intro for new players...thats more tricky. I hope at least they're people with rpg experience.
I recommend attending the UK Grand Tribunal!
It works well to run short stories in it and when I do, I tend to make sure I have either companion or 'easier' magi characters as part of the pre-made character options in case there are new players. Similar to any other system when you have limited time, you as ST might have to fast-track certain elements in the scenario. It does help to have a rough time-line in your head on 'at which point should the players be where' to either speed up or slow down as appropriate.
I prefer to limit combat, and focus more on the role-playing and a bit of investigation. All about what decisions the characters make and the chaos that inevitably follows.
Promises, Promises and The Fallen Fane were both originally 4-hour con scenarios.
Pre-generated characters and magic cheat sheets are essential.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions!
I think the official introduction adventure took me 4 hours.. The other adventure of the Mysteries took 6 hours to run. 4 hours is possible, but it cannot have many scenes. I myself prefer 6 hour due this.
Subtle and quick to anger managed to get in a three-hour slot, though it went a bit over.
I have run my Narva scenario as an introduction, but only for people who've at least read the rules, as a first session sandbox to get people into the game and let them try out their characters. Twice with gauntletting mage + 2 grogs and once with three grogs. It took each time about 4 hours.
I have had several successful ArM 'Con-runs, tho usually longer than 4 hours.
Pre-gen characters are (as noted) essential. I also usually allow players (with my review & approval) to bring in their existing PC's.
For the pre-gen's I present, I like to write a little blurb on an envelope, with PC folded up inside.
If any of them have anything "icky" or likely table-disruptive in a Dark Secret or other backstory element (e.g. Infernal elements; abuse; etc) I note them as "please consult the GM privately, before choosing this character."
Mysteries in a 'Con environment can be tricky. You never know the player-mix; they may overlook critical clues, etc. I always have a range of extra clues I can drop, ranging from subtle to pelt-you-with-rotten-eggs obvious... but also, I have a range of red-herring & distractions, and an extra combat I can drop in, in case some smart-alec jumps straight to the solution in the 1st 10 minutes, and circumvents the whole adventure.