Ars Magica LARP advice

So, I am going to be starting an Ars Magica LARP. I have been reading up on my research, making sure I am confident with the rules and working out all the little things I have to get set up. There are a few questions I would like to crowdsource for advice, however:

  1. Are enchanted item's penetration a bit high in play? I worry, because a larp is more likely to have PvP than a tabletop (though there should only be limited amounts) and I worry the 2 penetration for 1 lab total might make it too easy to get ahead.

  2. Any suggestion on how to balance the sociatas with the the true lineages and mystery cults? It seems the societies do not get any bonus rules and the others do.

  3. Story flaws: due to the nature of larps, and my hope for a 20-30 player base, obviously individual story flaw as will get less screen time. Any advice on what to do with them? Would people get upset with reducing their value/telling epople not to take them, do you think?

Ars Magica LARP can be a lot of fun. That said, LARP's benefit from rules-lite systems. If you check out the Fallen Fane, which is an actual Ars LARP, it has no game mechanics at all. This is not an accident.

It sounds like you are well on your way towards using the Ars system, but consider -- just for a moment -- using a rules-lite system while keeping all the wonderful setting. Something like Fate Accelerated Edition (which novices can be playing in five minutes) would allow you to put the mechanics away most of the time and focus on role play and social interaction, the heart of LARP.

If your heart is set on getting 30 people to make and play AM5 at the same time, then it's on to your original questions:

1: I don't have a lot of experience with magic item penetration, so others will answer this better, but I will note that PCs can get their penetration pretty high even without magic items. Especially in a LARP, where there are many opportunities to learn a person's name, snatch an Arcane Connection, and do all those other things which make Sympathetic Magic easy. Penetration is balanced by Parma; if yours is out of balance, you have two options: reduce Penetration scores or raise Parma. Raising the "average" Parma score does not require changing the rules. It just means players who expect to get attacked need to spend more points on Parma, or suffer the consequences.

2: Miscellanea have unique supernatural virtues representing their special traditions; Tytalus have all those rules on spy networks and other organizations. Jerbiton should have the local lord under their thumb. And Flambeau will have all kinds of combat spells and tactics, which will be exceedingly useful in the LARP you descrbe. Some players insist Tremere are the weakest House, because none of them can have a Magical Focus!

3: The trick here is to link Story flaws together, so that players end up role playing with each other. Make the characters with Family Ties related to each other. Make the character with Heir next in line to inherit another PC's position, like "Senior Quaesitor", "head of the covenant," or "Tremere Exarch." Make one character's Faerie Friend the same creature who conducted another character's Faerie Upbringing (a personality flaw, but you see what I mean). This will obviously require a lot of cooperation between player and GM when characters are being made. You might want to establish the local setting first and then push PC story flaws into connecting with that setting. For example, if a player wants Ghostly Warder, well, you already know there's this one ghost in the region, and whoever takes Ghostly Warder, that it their ghost. You have done this because that Ghost is already worked into your stories and plots, you know it's the dead apprentice of another PC, and the son of the local lord, and so on.

Penetration can indeed get a bit high on devices, especially charged items.
This is commonly houseruled I believe.

Thanks for the responses. I like sytemless, and the larp before last I ran was a system where you said two things you were good at and one you were bad at, and that was the whole system. But for this one I am intentionally going more system heavy. One of the appeals for some of my prospspective players is tgey like tge resource management in ars magica.

Specifically, in fact I am hoping to use the fact that there are real resource shortages ib ars magica which cannot just be brought with xp to help make the polotics more engaging and functional. By vis and study sources being something limited and beibg a scarse resource then there are things to compete over. Having mechanics means that they are mechanically important. Things with a mechanic meaning, especially one effecting xp tend to move players more than abstract wants, in my experience. Which is part ofy reasoning for using a system over systemless.

I am also aware that tge societas got sone stuff. It just does not seem much. Or more accurately it seems the mystery cults get a lot of stuff.

Any advice for a houserule for enchanted items?

In my opinion are Mystery Cults slower in learning Magic as resoult that they need to learn the House Lore beside needing to spend time on theyr initations.
Also needing to have a good Presence limted the other Characteristics.
Ohh and dont forget that for the new Virtues they most of the time have to pay with new Flaws.
Its also a given that the True Lineages or Societas can also join Mystery cults and this is probably not uncommon given the number of Mystery Cults without a House added in The Mysteries Revised.
Just reading the "The Line Of Quendalon" in HoH:MC 96 shows also that a other house might even get initated in the secrets of a MC (in this case some Bonisagus got initated).