Well, since I stated that if they opened up a PbP forum, I'd run a PbP game, here we go...
Campaign Title: Loch Caillte (Lost Lake)
System: Ars Magica, 5th Edition
Players Wanted: 4-6 Players
Posting Rate: 2-4 times a week.
Special Rules: To be determined at this time (mainly 5th Ed, plus available supplements. Revisions for Supplements not yet available are likely to be allowed).
Advancement Rules: Mainly Rules As Written, plus GM awards.
Deadline: Sometime in the next 30 - 45 days.
Brief Description : "Quite the pleasant place - a small, summer covenant in Hibernia near a lake that is often covered in mist. Rumors have it that wierd things happen around this lake, but it seems pleasant enough." At least, that's what the Redcap said...
You know I'm in. Just tell me when to show up. I suspect for simplicities sake, I'll use my failed Legionarie from Benniah's campaign. You know what I'm talking about.
edit: To those interested in the mechanics of build the covenant prior to play. I confess I have ZERO interest in this. I'll show up and i'll game but i'll likely be silent prior to game play. Just a warning/FYI. This assumes there will be some kind of pregame 'show'.
Ok, that's 4. I have a couple of PMs out to people who have shown interest. I will need an e-mail address from everyone so I can set up a CC: list for pre-play group discussion.
As for what Houses, I don't care - all are open. I know I've got one Merinita, and at least 2 verditius. A little variety is nice, though. So long as it is not 3 Tytali under the same roof. Still, I would prefer that you play a character you want to play, not one I dictate you should play. You'll need one magus and a companion to start. The rest can come around later.
Local Language is Erse / Middle Irish.
As an aside: No, I don't know how to pronounce the Gaelic name I've given the saga. However, the english should be "Lost Lake". So a good working title is "The covenant at Lost Lake".
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find some good reading on Irish Folklore and the various Irish historical cycles so I have a handle on the basic legends of the Isle...
For instance, imo, I find that a half dozen players blindly creating their preferred companions can lead to a rather forced combination of roles under one roof, some of which may simply not easily be rationalized. ("Okay, once more- why do we let this known kleptomaniac hang out with us?...")
A great story is created of great characters, but a random collection of great characters do not, necessarily, create a great story.
(and qc- since when is any companion "assigned" to a mage?)
We assigned companions whenever we played, precisely to avoid the problems you mentioned. The understanding being that in our troupe style play, whenever a Magus is going on an expedition his Companion is at least coming with. By assigning or choosing a companion for each magus there is likely going to be more symmetry and less likely to have some kind of ridiculous pairing.
Your premise is what confuses me. I've never seen any form of Companion/Magi "pairing" in Ars; it does not avoid the problem I mentioned (since the character is there, regardless), nor do magi typically consider Companion characters as "theirs" in any sense. That concept is not any part of a typical Ars game as described in the rulebook (tho' Houserules are what they are, as always.)
A "Companion" is not (by definition) a Mage's companion (like some "henchman/cohort" in a certain other RPG), it's a companion to the covenant. (A "shield grog", otoh, often is taken as "custos" by one specific mage- that's a different discussion.)
We would be in a Covenant in Scotland- it's conceivable that one companion might be a coarse Pictish warrior/tracker, and another an educated Irish Priest. Both make sense, both seem fitting, cool! Neither belongs to either your mage nor my mage, but to the Covenant. If my mage or yours or someone else's goes hunting vis, the tracker might tag along; if to a library, the priest. It has nothing to do with "assigning", it has everything to do with telling a story, and what seems to make sense for both the story and the game.
The only considerations for who adventures together are IC, "which characters are present and would be 'best' for this situation", and the one OOC consideration is of trying to avoid one player to have their two main characters marching around in lockstep (mage & warrior-bodyguard, etc.) This is to avoid OOC telepathy, but also to get the most players into any given scene/adventure, even if just with a grog.
(The "ridiculous" would come if any player assumed that if their mage wasn't in an adventure, then their companion expected an "open invitation" to tag along. That makes some sort of OOC sense for each player to involve their character (no matter how absurd or forced), but makes NO sense for Storytelling, and I've never played that way. If I have a soft mage (librarian/labrat type etc), I tend to have a hard companion, and vice versa, for just such versatility, and as SG strongly recommend my players to do likewise.)
However, if we want to have a "typical" covenant (assuming such a thing), then a Companion who is a prostelytizing mad heretical Priest with a Driving Goal to found a new Religious Order and a Compulsion to preach his heresy and an Enemy of the local Bishop might not be a popular choice IC*, and could be someone that would be hard to explain and rationalize exactly why the covenant tolerates their continued presence. "Assigning" him to my mage, or yours, does nothing to alter that; but not inviting them to stay at the covenant in the first place would. (ie, vetoing the concept before the Player spends the time to refine it into final form.)
(*This concept might possibly work fine in some Sagas- let's say it doesn't for us, as decided by the Troupe, just for sake of this arguement.)
Some might cry "But you are limiting my creativity!", and I'd answer "Of course!", because the alternative is to limit the storyline to something that is difficult to believe or accept (think the Black Moor in Costener's "Robin Hood"), or that revolves more around the problems of that one character than anything else. It's not that the character isn't creative, it's that it's not the story that anyone else wants to be a part of. Not every character fits with every other, nor in every environment, nor in every story - I'm not talking personality, but basic function and interaction. I'll be happy to limit my possible Companion choices for a better story every time.
We have different ideas on this it seems, which is fine. My troupes have always seen Companions to be the Horatio (or even Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) ro Hamlet (the Magus). Hamlet/Magus is the star, and travels with a companion that he trusts or has some bond with him. That Companion might occasionally be with other Magi, but for the most was always with the magus assigned to him. There could definitely be some friction between the two, but character creation would have some intent on compatibility.
Either way works fine IMO, this is just what I'm used to.
The book comments (under Companions, p 17) that for players to "link" their companions to another player's mage "is a good idea...(as that) provides (them) with a reason to investigate things together." However, that connection's a natural progression for any two (or more!) characters, be they magi or companions, who have either interests in common or complimentary abilities.
"Assigning" on any long-term (much less permanent) basis seems, to me, to be a bit forced. But I'll be the first to repeat that there are many ways to RP, and every one of them is right (just not right for every one.)
We'll figure it out for this troupe, I'm sure; we agree it's a solid tactic for the storytelling, just differ on the mechanism/permanence.
Well, as you can see, we're already starting to hash things out...
I'll need an e-mail address from you, Private Message it to me. Once I have everyone's, most of this will move to a CC: list in e-mail.
Here's a bit more information...
Brief bit of history:
Eireann (Ireland, Hibernia) in 1220 is a hodge-podge of kingdoms, with the Anglo-Normans dominating the eastern coast, from the port of Cork, north to Ulster. These Kingdoms eventually become the modern counties of Ireland. By 1257, the english are reduced to "The Pale", the fortified area around Dublin, and the Irish effectively control the Island.
Dublin is a very fortified area. Currently, the English rule the country, but it is a very uneasy rule, and in decline (and will be until after the War of the Roses). Those Kingdoms the English could not conquer, they made sure the "Kings" swore fealty to them. However, the English crown is playing the Norman nobles against each other, and taking their lands.
Ireland is a surprisingly wealthy place. There is gold to be had, if one wants to look for it. There are other treasures to be found as well. Of course, the treasures in the barrows of the kings and chieftans have gaurdians...
Fay are everywhere. There are the Tuatha de Danaan (Children of Danu); The best example I could provide would be similiar to Tolkein's elves. Few in number, but very powerful. The spread of Christianity on the Isle limits thier influence. Firbolg would be the local ogres and giants. Everyone knows about the faerie's shoemakers (leprechauns), and thier pots of gold. There are tales of darker creatures in the woods at night, including werewolves, hags, water horses, etc.
Most of the Island has no aura; large areas of weak auras exist. Stronger aura are rare, and are typically regiones.
The Dominion (in the countryside) interacts differently with magical and fairy auras than it does in the city. Old celtic christianity still holds in the more rural areas. More on this later.
Legends and folklore I'll have to get back to you on. I'm doing some reading on that subject. Also how to pronounce the names.
I expect magi to have some use outside of the lab. I expect some (read - half) of the companions and grogs to be danger worthy. Lab Rats may find themselves going out and looking for ingredients for thier projects, if they are spending too much time in the lab.
Loch Caillte has 2 senior Magi - One Flambeau (who is the main source of money for the covenant - spoils of war and all that - but has very little to do with the covenant) and a Merinita (whimsical, and has good intentions when trying to help, with often disastrous results). They invited you to join, so you should have a positive reputation in the order, in something.
Loch Caillte itself is on the shores of a sizeable lake, somewhere in the western half of Ireland (location yet unknown - the Redcaps say it keeps moving around). Perhaps some 60 covenfolk live there, and cover the basic necessities of the covenant there. Most of the people living there are freemen, not serfs. The covenfolk are a mix Anlgo-Irish, Gall-Geals (Irish with viking blood), and Native Irish. Many of the men-at-arms are former soldiers of one of the earls whose lands the English Crown has siezed.
Resources include the Livestock, fish from the lake, and a tin mine. Loch Caillte also has a traveller's inn.
Loch Caillte nominally owes fealty to one of the Irish Kings; However, it is left to rule itself, since they respect the power of magic. Demands are few, if any. As long as the taxes are paid, the Covenant is left alone.
The covenant's library is good, and in good condition. It is particularly strong in texts on mundane subjects (Irish monks were well known for their scholarship).
The Lake itself is a mystery in and of itself. Anymore, and I would be spoiling things.
A majority of companions should probably be Irish, English, or Scottish, but there is the possibility for other nationalities to be present. I'm not going to be a stickler for names; Anglicized versions of Gaelic names are fine with me. I'm having a real interesting time trying to get my mind around pronouncing the Covenant's Name, for instance...
This is about all the information I can give out until I have Magi making Int + Order of Hermes Lore rolls.
Well, that is something that could be a bit specialized (sneaky, bloodthirsty, mute, well-mannered, etc) - do we, IC, want to "request" the type of shieldgrog we want, or do we all make some and then pick and choose from what's available? It would be less than optimal to build a crude Berserker shieldgrog for a mage who tended towards refined Courts and Diplomancy, for instance, as someone "better suited" would be wanted almost immediately. (But either way...)
Or are you more talking a general "pool" of guards to pull from as we need them, and not personal, individual custos? (That might work better, and allow for the latter to be selected/recruited/developed IC.)
I think (?) that our covenant (Loch Caillte) would be pronounced close to the female name "Katie" (Lohkh KAY-tee), or perhaps closer to "Kate/Kite", or somewhere in between. Close enough.
So, does that meant that we are each required to spend positive Virtue Points to generate at least something re Reputation? Or just that we can't have anything resembling a "Bad Rep" without some overly redeeming qualities?
(Why does the obscure Virtue "Faerie Blood (minor) - Undine" suddenly jump to mind as more attractive than ever before?...)
This site has been invaluable in the past for me on this topic...
As I'll be sending out another e-mail via the CC: list, you should all have each other's e-mail addresses, so you should chat amongst yourselves, and surprise me. Otherwise, here's the list of players, take the next one down, and PM them.
Brutus ex Verditious
There, that's everyone who has replied thus far.
I have 2 people who were interested, but have yet to reply. I'm giving them until the end of the week.
Yes, I'll have a magus in there, too. An Irish Ex Misc 'hedge wizard', who would prefer a shield grog who will stand his ground in front of his magus, instead of charging forward...
Shield grogs are specialized; The general grog population is open to play by anyone (even the ones you made). I firmly believe in troupe style play, and that everyone have a character to play in any story that's going on. If your Magus is busy in the lab (and isn't having to go out and look for reagent X), then you can do things with your companion, or grogs. Stuff like that.
On the subject a positive reputation, it's a freebie from the GM. It has to be based on something you've done either post gauntlet, or have inherited from your parens. A verditius might be known for his magical craftsmanship, a Quaesitor might be known for being "Fair", a Redcap (which are known by another name because there is a monster of the same name on the isle) for being reliable, a member of the Legion of Mythras for being "Loyal to the Order", etc. It can be either a +1 or +2 reputation.
Beyond the Mystery houses, there are Mystery cults out there as well. However, only three are available; The Legion of Mythras is one. Other 2 are up for grabs (choose between yourselves, and inform me.