Before the Covenant

[color=blue]We have 2 who have expressed interest, but it will take 4 commitments to make a game. If you have concerns/questions, feel free to post and test the water - no commitments will be assumed on any part until expressly stated.

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This is NOT yet a game of Ars Magica 5th ed, but is being discussed in the main Ars Magica Forum, here:

At best this game will not start for some little while, and even whether it ever will at all depends on several variables (see above discussion). However, just to have a ring into which folk can toss their hats, I'm posting this here.

Well, two folk have expressed an interest, so that's a start. Not quite there yet, but we'll see if momentum can't be contagious.

Familiar with Wiki, but not Playing by Post on it. Would be a powerful supplemental site to wherever the story threads ended up. Me, I like threads where each character can have their own portrait, so it can be seen at a glance which character is speaking and where. (Does wiki support portraits/avatars?)

These boards are not bad for small casts of characters, but if we wanted to get detailed we'd have to do it on RPoL, where a magus, companion, shield grog and a few grogs per Player, and a 100 different NPC's are not an obstacle to represent individually, each with their own portrait (tho' selected from an existing library of same, if a large one), and each linked to a written description if desired. (RPoL has some other nice advance html features, like "Private Lines" that can only be seen by the Story Guide and the Character/Player they are addressed to, invisible to all others, etc. Great for secret messages and questions, etc.)

But if we play here, on these boards, we get more feedback. Don't expect a full covenant cast* very soon, so could work either way.

[i](* Let's see- for this excercise (ie, before a typical "covenant saga" started), I'd expect...o 1 apprentice/main character per player
o 1 Parens to same per player
o 1 Covenant Praeco per apprentice (could cover more than player)
o some allied Covenant Praecos or Magi
o some NPC/unknown factors
o some competing apprentices
o some competing Parens
o possibly a shield grog per apprentice- good plan
o a few additional NPC's

With 4 players, that would be... a lot. Around 2 dozen or more named characters. Hrmmm...[/i]
Play by Post is not so different from table-top, but there certainly are conventions that differ. Since we're trading convenience for pace (don't all have to meet once a week, but we don't get 5 hours of concentrated game time), a single post tries to move the character forward a "reasonable" amount of plot, while not making too many assumptions about success or stability of environment.

If done well, it can read like a decent book, with the give and take of PC's and NPC's woven together and moving quickly forward. If you're not used to "creative writing", don't worry- simple statements are all that's necessary, tho' some description makes for more interesting reading than "Bertram casts PoF at the nearest bandit". But it will never move as fast as table-top, where an entire mini-adventure could take a half an evening, and a full adventure easily resolved in a month of evenings. But it gives you time to think- and that might be better for what we're talking about here, where politics will make progress be a bit less linear.

That said, I'd prefer to aim for 5 posts/week - about 3 of the 4 weekdays and two more over the Fri-Sun weekend. That moves things along, things don't stall out, and leaves enough flexibility for most vagaries of schedules. More is better, and if you miss one or two occasionally it's not the end of the world.

From my experience, I'd like "one more" player than optimal - as RL seems to always take one, no matter what. That would mean 2 more players minimum, 3 more to be on the safe side, aiming at 3-4 in the game (5 works too, certainly, but imo not less than 3.)

So... rather than cover more topics that may not be pressing, I'll let the Troupe speak up. Thoughts/concerns/comments/questions, fire away.

I believe it does, but don't really know how. Others did most of the 'cool stuff' of the wiki at Mons Obscurus I'm afraid. It certainly supports such things as different coloured texts for special languages (although I found these bothersome to learn and we stuck to italics for Latin and normal for 'english'.
If the stories are written in a 'reading' style, as opposed to a 'playwright' style it isn't all that necessary to have avatars etc anyway. Thats purely a question of style, but I must confess to laziness at learning the ins and outs of technical how too on stuff like the wiki or other programmes.

RPoL and others may well be really useful. I have no experience with them. The only other only AM non-ftf game I played was purely through a pbemail yahoogroup, which died very quickly through lack of posting (it was an attenpt to continue a ftf game after we all split off to different parts of the world).
What I found really good with the wiki was the ability to have more-or-less unlimited pages, each with discussion sub-pages and the ability to link all sorts of things to each other everywhere, making navigation easy and flexible. We tended to use msn or private emails for private lines I think, certainly I did and there was definitely a lot of 'solo' talk going on that was referenced indirectly at times.

The other thing was that with the wiki story pages being editable by the players and notes etc being put up on them the 'stories' could be back edited by any of us, notes left for other players requesting input or indicating assumptions etc. Once the story got to a certain point these things could be cleaned up leaving in general a very readable collaborative story. One player caused a lot of trouble (more for the SG and others than me) through a overly dominant storytelling style and eventually that player left fairly early on, although there were some very fun to write and conflict filled stories before that player left.

I agree on the list - and its one of the things that makes this project interesting to me - lots of politics in/before the creation, and politics with older, more established, more powerful magi instead of striplings - ie politics with some bite in them. :smiling_imp:
Then we can run the more traditional saga with a more real, more involved, more satisfying backstory and motivations etc.

I suggest, in order to keep some level of stabilisation on the pre-story, that you (or someone or a collaboration of people) make a list of background reasons why the various Parens (or their factions/houses/gilds etc, if not themselves directly) might want the covenant established. this might help the players to generate suitable characters and prevent too much conflict between the players through the saga (some is a good thing IMO, as long as the players can handle it, but too much can rip the game apart - some collectivity is necessary). It may even be that each player chooses one or more from the list but isn;t explicit about which they have chosen and the other players don't know... :smiling_imp:

Since I run Metacreator I can rack up a bunch of simple characters pretty quickly, so long as only the basic rules and first couple of supplements are used for them. And even tailor them a bit if given some general guidelines for requirements.

From my experience players will post in 'bursts' depending on whats happening in game and for them out of game. I for one may have periods of a week with no posting at all (travelling where there is no www - yes, such places do still exist :unamused: )

I definitely agree that at least one, if not two, players more than 'minimum' are required. To be honest, in a politics game, even more than 5 can work and work well, as long as the players know that its a politics game.

FWIW, I'm in Singapore, otherwise known as 'Ars Wilderness' at GMT +8. Hence I tend to be out of time sync with most other players, which is a problem for game pace at times. :frowning:

Maybe it's laziness on my part, but I found a huge jump in ease of reading when an appropriate face was consistently attached to a certain voice, or actions.

As far as different colors- feh. Every book I've ever read (since I hit double-digits in age, anyway) has been written in only one color - black - and they all worked just fine. Actually, I think that's a carry-over from IM games, where it's critical to know what's being said by whom and how, since there are no avatars. Labeling a language works better, imo, than some cryptic color code. But personal writing styles differ - so long as it's clear, it's fine by me.

pbem sucks hard for this type of game - there is no continuity, no "thread" that can be read in sequence, no exchanges IC. Cross-posting is common. Pbem is better for strategy games, where one "turn" is needed at a time, and/or where little or no interaction is expected.

So how did the story get told? Big posts, or smaller ones? Did each player do their own thing, or was there interaction? Kinda sounds like individual threads that were later dovetailed into the narrative final history.

Good idea. I'll put some thought into that list now, but we'll have to see ~if~ we have a full game before I worry too much about the final details. Same with how we build Sr. Apprentices. But for now, I'm willing to proceed with some faith. 8)

NPC's are too easy to create, and needn't be defined too openly, imo. So long as the players know everything that their characters know, and not much more, then OOC surprises are less common, and IC surprises are easier to react to IC. :wink:

RL distractions are the reason I prefer X+1 players, so that the game is ~always~ moving forward. That way, even if a player's characters are not personally involved, they still have something to read. (Running shield grogs for other magi, and (as envisioned for this game) Sr. magi should keep everyone busy to some extent.

Nah, not at all- that's the beauty of PbP over IM or other formats. Doesn't matter where you live, or what time GMT you usually post, or if that varies wildly - so long as you post within the general window, it matters not a bit.

The SG makes a post explaining what's going on, and (hopefully) in the next 24 hours or so the Players/Characters post their actions/intentions. Then the SG comes back, and reports on how those actions/intentions worked out, and updates how the situation has changed, and the process repeats. If someone is late in posting when the SG posts, the character is interpreted liberally/vaguely, so the player can "catch up" when they do post. A combat round, a season of study, whatever. The game progresses at a steady pace, no one gets too far ahead or left behind, and it's all good.

(Edit: Damn. I DO talk on. Well, thoughts lead to more thoughts... that's good, right? Beats the alternatives, I guess.) :blush:

Got a PM from lurker(s) who had some questions, thought I'd toss them out and answer them here for all.

(I have no problem with folk asking questions here, even if they have no real intention of joining. You can make your hesitations clear if you want, or not. Or PM me, that works too, of course, as this did.)

Not necessarily, no. Some could certainly start in the same covenant(s), but part of the premise is the networking process that eventually throws unrelated neo-magi into the same final destiny. So, a pair here, a pair there is no prob, but all from one covenant is both a bit of a stretch for believability, and a cheat of some of the elements of the storyline. But all in the same Tribunal, or at least within easier traveling distance (near the junction of 3 or 4 tribunals, for instance), that could be a good plan.

In fact (Glad I thought of it! ahem), to be able to travel to meet each other on occasion should be some sort of requisite, and would make adventures/play flow more easily. Whether that means a willingness to hike, a travel handy spell of their own, a Parens with a huge teleport spell, or a covenant with a flying boat (Why don't more covenants have flying boats?), whatever gets the job done for the apprentice.

A completely new one. The OOC goal is to watch the process from before the covenant is even a glimmer in the eye of a mage, any mage. Maybe the location has been scouted and noted as having solid potential, but this is "the process" that leads up to what most Sagas and Players take for granted, the new magi characters showing up to a Spring Covenant that is (to some extent?) finished and ready for their arrival.

Also, note that the phrase "their own" Spring covenant is not necessarily accurate. Whether elder magi are present, and what debts/favours they owe (ie, who "really" owns it?) are tbd.

That's the traditional approach, but I think it's over-simplistic.

I see this process less like "going to the big city", and more like a cross between college-grad job interviews and a pro-sports draft of college athletes.

Now, to continue the analogy, a professional or athlete can certainly seek their fortune a few years later, on their own, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a feeding frenzy for fresh meat as it hits the market. The "walk on" interview should be the exception, not the rule, imo.

Or, those are the "left overs" after the pre-organized Covenents are all filled. Sorry, enrollment's closed.

I agree on the lack of political clout for the apprentice, but I'd disagree on the timing. Unless the Parens has zero consideration for that apprentice (Tytalus? Tormenting Parens?), that Parens will have thought of this before the day of the Gauntlet, and made inquiries/deals/whatever to that end, probably starting years before.

Why? Here are my premises, with some conclusions, and a hint of what I see happening in the game:

  1. Vast libraries. Bonus labs. Stocks of vis, and renewable sources of them! Small armies of armed grogs and servants. Specialists. What is the motivation for existing Covenants or Tribunals to give these up, to provide them for a Spring Covenant? Who does this, and how, and why?
    Because Parens, or those interested in politics at some level (whether Tremere for themselves, or Bonisagus for the betterment of all, or whatever) want Spring Covenants and the neo-magi within to succeed.

And "Success" takes planning. (Or, at least, it certainly helps.)
2) Spring Covenants are treated by many existing Covenants as a commodity - financial, political - to be nurtured, or manipulated, to their advantage.
If a Spring Covenant is going to be set up near you, you want them to be friendly to you. Allies are good. A loan of vis or material for a yearly return can be a good investment. Magi in your debt can be a better one. And they want that investment to pay off, and to whatever extent possible they will manipulate the final product so that investment does pay off, as long and as much as possible.

For Covenants concerned with their political power in the area/tribunal, more magi means a new power balance- the more votes you have in your corner, the better. Or, if that's not possible/desired, then it's preferred to see that Covenent go somewhere else! And if it then shows up anyway, it's preferable to see it fail, so the "status quo" isn't upset (very much, or for very long).
3) If a Parens wants their apprentice to succeed, they want to give them every advantage. And that means resources, and selection of sodales.
Why allow an Apprentice to hit the streets naked, when you could make a deal with some other, like minded magi, and lay the groundwork for success?

You're a proud Parens, and you can send your apprentice to a Spring Covenant filled with prestigious Bonisagus apprentices and good-rep'd Quasitores and talented Verditius, or one filled with hedge magi and the spawn of that notorious Parens and Tytalus with bad Reps before they've even stepped out on their own... which do you choose?

If a Spring Covenant is going to go in next door, which would you rather have for neighbors? (Depends if you want it to succeed or not!)
4) Given that there are many apprentices of all flavours looking for a Spring covenant at a given time, what steps do Parens take to ensure the best result for their apprentice?
Every one they can think of.

Do you wait until Gauntlet day, and then see what spare scrolls are lying around, or do you drop a couple pounds of silver and hire a scribe to provide a library?

Do you give the apprentice a spare grog or ten that are lying around, or do you aquire a few dozen extra ahead of time?

Lab equipment? Specialists? Resources? Vis? Are there auras with towers and these things just lying around, waiting to be occupied and claimed?
And that's why I believe this process starts years before Gauntlet.

Part of the process would be an informal "meet and greet", where Parens with similarly paced apprentices get together, view the upcoming crop of candidates, and then negotiate the details between interested parties.

Part of the process would be locating a site, and negotiating with that Tribunal and nearby Covenants over necessaries. (Or not, and surprising them, but then a need for secrecy arises, and that raises other issues...)

Maybe, as a Parens, your apprentice (to use the technical, Hermetic term) "sucks" - well, you'd better come up with some tempting bonus resources to make up for that. If, otoh, your apprentice "rules", then everyone is trying to toss resources into the pot to get that apprentice to come to their Spring covenant.

Maybe some elements within a Tribunal are tired of the current poltical structure, and want strong apprentices who they believe they can manipulate as allies. Maybe a philanthropic Bonisagus wants to try his hand at overseeing this creation, either on-site or not, and is looking for "the best of the best". Maybe there is a well-connected Tremere who doesn't want him to succeed, and so is offering a tempting counter-proposal...

Half sports draft, half college interview, all back-room deals.

Well, if they care (assumed, here), as much as they can. Get to know the other apprentices, and interact with them, to form a picture of who would be "best". Don't let their own flaws get known. To present themselves as well as possible, to impress the other "investors". And to try to convince their Parens, who does have the political clout, to get them into the Covenant that they like best.

And, re Players, that can lead to some adventure.

But the Players would also, perhaps in equal measure, run the Parens and/or Praeco who's doing the wheeling and dealing- tho' that is more narrative, and less "adventure" oriented.

And, hopefully, when the dust settles and the neo-magi arrive at their new Covenant, every last build point has a history, every book has a history of ownership, every mage knows ~why~ they (and their sodales?) are there, and not somewhere else.

Yeah, I like to think so. What do you think?

Specifics, like exactly where the prospective Covenant sites are, who the big players are, all that is in flux, but the ideas are there, waiting their turn. Off the cuff, I'd suggest Zurich/Geneva as a "central" landmark, for covenants to "be near". 5 Tribunals within easy travel, plus the Iberian and Transylvanian near enough. Not that the eventual Spring Covenant would be anywhere near that...

Details like those are the easy part- the players are the real challenge. :wink:

I don't think you understood. Novels don't have faces etc attached, yet they are almost invariably easy to read and follow.

Not that I'm arguing against having faces entirely - indeed, certain styles will definitely benefit from them, just pointing out that certain other styles might not need them, or even find them distracting. Having a face or avatar seems to me to be putting the story into a 'playwright' style where every line and action is prefaced by the name of the character performing in brackets. I find this, relatively, quite difficult to read myself and feel that a better flowing writing style obviates the need for avatars and produces a more readable story.

:slight_smile: I/we found it helped to remind everyone when different pcs and npcs were speaking in different languages, not all of which could be understood by every character. Eg, based in the English Marches we had English, Norman French, Welsh, Irish and Latin all floating around... So if A says something, it needs to be clear who out of B, C and D can understand it, and in a easy-reading novel style narrative you don't really want labels interrupting the flow of action. Its a bit like a movie having subtitles for secondary languages.
As an example, one of our minor player arguments was when my character used what I thought was extremely obvious and evident body language cues (my 'read' was backed up by virtually all the other players I might add) to intervene in a situation and the other player directly involved insisted that my character could not have understood because of the languages being used. It can get messy...

Quite the contrary. Each story had one page (or successive pages when it grew large) that everyone could edit. Commonly, for a few lines of editing I just accessed the page itself and wrote it in. For a longer edit I would usually copy the page to wordpad and write my edits in, then cut and paste them back into the main page, often one or two paragraphs each in several sections. Occasionally an edit would consist of several pages, particularly when trying to describe a complex series of actions, but with deliberate invitations to other players to post responses etc in certain places. Edits can be anywhere through the page, and often stories had several sections being worked on at once as if we agreed on the results of a section the timeline could effectively move on even as parts of that section were still be written. So the lunchtime story would be half way down the page still be written in and tidied up, but since we had agreed on results, the mid afternoon story was already being worked on further down the page. Very rarely something unexpected happens that is too important to be 'discarded' and changes the story so some things get lost - but overall it worked very, very, well.

Effectively the narrative was the story, being collectively written as we went along.

I am biased of course, but I found the results more pleasing than any other stories I have seen anywhere, as well as more fun to create. IM(biased)O the stories at Mons Obscurus, at least the ones finished, are the best reading Ars stories anywhere (thats I've seen).

Heh. I actually find its the other way around. If it is a surprise to me the player, then I find it harder not to put me-the-player's reactions into mine-the-character. If I-the-player have more information, then I don't have my own feelings driving my character, I can think about the character's response better. But each to his own and I'd imagine I'm in the minority here. :slight_smile: On the other hand I've had some great roleplaying moments, both ftf and pbwiki, where characters have got completely out of hand and are doing things that I-the-player are cringing at. Novice Mages from the same new Covenant at their first tribunal having a stand-up shouting match on opposites sides of a debate (while the Tytalus primus looks on gleefully). Way to ruin the new covenants reputation fellas... :smiley:

Right, thats a bit different to the pbwiki style where the narrative is the story and people write and edit when (and where) they see fit, with the SG starting the narrative, chiming in where needed and as often as not providing notes etc on discussion pages instead of the actual story page. A player can miss for several days or even a week if his actions are not immediately urgent to the main storyline and fill in interesting little extras latter - or the player may get sent a message saying their input is currently needed to spur the story on.

Overall, I guess you could say that the stories often developed non-linearly. This greatly helps the narrative flow, as in a purely linearly developed story there is often a hurry to move forward that reduces the quality or flow of the writing and things become very jerky, sort of stop motion animation with too-large changes between frames.

Anyway, not trying (at least not hard :wink: ) to insist on any particular style, just trying to increase awareness of a style option that I found amazingly effective.

I agree with your sentiments exactly about all the pre-covenant wangling etc. Thats why I'm here.

So much more interesting... :wink:

i admit, i am impressed with Mons Obscurus. it seems wikia allows for a lot of nice features that one just can't do in a regular forum (the organization of a 'table of contents' to make navigation easier, and the addition of images). i expecially like the library correspondence and diary sections, and the council section, where you can easily read motions and verdicts.

on the other hand, not being familiar with wikia, i must wonder how complicated creating a site like Mons Obscurus is. how much time did it take to set up the site, and how internet savy must one be to do it? too bad that the game is over. i would have liked to see thier writing style in action. i know how it works in theory, but that is not always the same thing.

OK, a few quick (well, relatively- be grateful for what you get) thoughts...

SD echoes some of my own immediate responses- how tough is it to set up a wiki site? Where is it set up- who hosts it? I've done some wiki-editing, so those codes are not unfamiliar to me, nor imo very intimidating to the neophyte. Does it become Troupe style then, by default, with every "editor" having some small say in the plot advancement?

(btw- welcome to the discussion, SD!)

re Language/colours - yeah, that does emphasize the "Heads up!" factor for lang's that may not be universally understood. There are other ways of doing that, though, as for any OOC knowledge, or information that is publicly presented but not "universally" known IC.

I see- I hadn't understood what alternative wiki offered. A radically different approach. Hmmm...

The main obstacle to me running a wiki site is mental - I have zero experience with such an approach, and, to be honest, at the moment an equally vague idea of how I'd approach running it- game structure, plot development, character interaction, etc. etc. etc.

You said that "very rarely" something unexpected would happen, and that the Troupe would agree on how things would go - to me, that's more of a collective writing approach, almost a creative writing excercise. For me, an RPG ~is~ surprise and the unknown, that's part of the tension that makes the game fun.

PbP ~is~ quite linear, no doubt, and by definition somewhere between playwright and novel style, yet unlike either. In a true novel or play, there is one unified author, one approach, and the story is read at whatever pace the reader cares to- a page today, a quarter of the book tomorrow. If a rapid exchange between several characters is desired, it happens. If two scenes want to be shuffled together on the same page to create tension, cinematically cutting back and forth, no problem.

In pbp, the difficulty lies in each player reading what has happened since they last posted, and then adding a discrete chunk to that flow with continuity (while not assuming too much). In wiki, I'd imagine changes being difficult to track at times, but in PbP, you find your last post, and everything since then is new- no brainer. Wiki allows for more creativity, perhaps, and is more flexible, but is it not also more demanding in terms of time required to absorb the changes since your last post?

Also, for a SG, the chunks of progress that individual posts represent are great for going back and finding historical information- what exactly did that Redcap say, etc. I'd think(?) that the narrative flow of wiki would make that harder.

I'm used to this give an take:1) SG posts the situation (update), and whatever NPC actions as perceived/known by the PC's.

  1. Players post their Characters' reactions to that, and their characters intentions for the next X amount of time (a "combat round", a season, whatever), without assuming success or results from those intentions

  2. SG posts a new situation update, and the next NPC actions (as known by the PC's)

That's how it works in TableTop, that's the approach and structure I'm accustomed to, that's what ~most~ gamers are used to. Unless I'm confused (and I may well be?), Wiki would require a rethinking of how the plot develops, how Players are challenged, how encounters work, how combat works, etc etc.

Well, if all the Players are co-StoryGuides, then that makes total sense, natch.

No arguement there. But is the goal here the story, or the game? A small balance of each, I'd suggest. In which case, to what extent is the game being sacrificed for better story?

Does wiki discourage more traditional game play in favour of creative writing skills? Is it more demanding in terms of every player bringing those skills* to the table?

[i] (* PbP can certainly work with "My mage casts PoF at the nearest bandit" style posts. A SG can encourage some creative writing, but it's hardly a requirement - can the same be said for the wiki style? Technically, of course, but practically speaking?...)

Not having familiarity with participating in a wiki-based game such as you're suggesting, I have no idea, to any of these questions. It seems that PbW is radically different from PbP, at least as much as PbP is from PbEMail or PbIM.

And that's what worries me, that I'd be floundering as SG in that environment, or have unrealistic expectations/approaches that just don't translate. ;?

(C- have you ever played in the more traditional PbP style game?)

That's one challenge, and I'm not sure how we, as a Troupe, would overcome it:

Assuming there are several/many pre-covenants in the works in any year, do we pre-destine one as the "final decision" before it's been RP'd, or do we RP it and see which we choose? (If the latter, how do we guarantee that all the apprentices/Parens will "choose" the same one?)

I had been thinking of presenting several possible and tempting possibilities, but then realized that different pre-covenants might be more or less attractive to different Players, and their character concepts.

Perhaps we, as a group, decide on some common traits - wilderness vs urban, open area vs densely populated (mundanely and/or Hermetically), etc, and then I present several alternatives that all meet those criteria- but then we're still stuck with "how do we get everyone onto a bus with the same final destination?"

I suppose there's some room for Deux-ex-Parensa, without being ~too~ heavy handed. :confused:

As for location- wide open. Constantinople, city of a million? Novgorod, land of "opportunity" (ahem)? Island off Roman or Theban tribunals, full of mythological themes? Iberian or Levant, full of conflict and foreigners? Or somewhere more civilized, and therefore more political?


(Hey, that was kinda short!)

"how do we get everyone onto a bus with the same final destination?"

this problem has been percolating in my head today, and here is about what came out in the coffeepot:

in the year 905, the Iberian Tribunal was facing a small crisis. three of the four new covenants they have started within the last 50 years has failed. with the traditional system of appointing mages to new covenants on an individual basis, no regard was taken as to how these mages would work together. at the first covenant, there was so much infighting that the covenant didn't get any permanent buildings for 7 years, which only came about with a quasitor stepping in to mediate. the second attempt resulted in two covenants being built virtually side by side, but considering themselves completely seperate entities. the last attempt was the worst, which had most of the mages deserting, only leaving two behind. when a quasitor went to investigate, she found only the remains of two bodies.

in an attempt to rectify these failures, the tribunal decided to start again at the third covenant location, but this time they would only accept applications from a pre-existing group of diverse magi. the reasoning being that if all the magi in the group bring themselves together beforehand, agreeing to work together, then it should lessen arguments arising at the new covenant. this approach was quite unorthodox at the time, but the system worked well. the group worked well together, and was able to get the covenant up and running in record time.

with such a success to go by, the Iberian Tribunal adopted this new applications system for all thier new covenants. the other tribunals, hearing of this new way from the Iberian Tribunal, began integrating it into thier own new covenant selection, also seeing improved results. this system has been working so well, that it has become the normal way to select the magi for any new covenant within the order today.

so, if an apprentice (or any magi, for that matter) wants to get into a new covenant, they have to network. apprentices/magi wanting to take part will also be vetting others to be part of thier group. what do we get out of this?

"Half sports draft, half college interview, all back-room deals."

and an added bonus; get all the players in the same group, then they will end up in a covenant together. you would be able to give the players a choice of a few covenants to pick from.

how do you get all the players in the same group? the same way you get any bunch of random adventurers in a group.

(Have a mysterious stranger tell them he has a map?....)

So, rather than each neo-mage working directly to the end product, finding themselves the best Covenant they can, there is an intermediary step, to form a coalition of neo-magi who seek for such together.

But that presumes they are already connected, somehow. That would mean their Parens joined up, somehow.


That works, but...

It loses the atmosphere of uncertainty, as at least half the negotiation is already done. No worries of "that other guy" getting in instead of you, no worries of ending up "with that group of losers".


I'll toss this out, too-

It seems the number of "interested" parties here is low, and even fewer of those have expressed any degree of "commitment". Not yet enough, certainly.

On (Role Play on Line), there is a new game starting up with room for more players, that has some elements of this as a preliminary exercise. Might be an idea to join up there, as it seems we may not reach critical mass here.

Go to: Toward the bottom, just above the list of "Game Types on Offer", in that bar on the left and right, are " [[color=cyan]search] " links - paste in [color=darkblue]City in the Sand, and you'll find it.

Registration with RPoL is relatively anonymous and painless. No spam, no scam, ever.

The only pbp game I was part of had some 30 players and more than one assistant, and events happened at the same time IRL but on different times IC, on different threads, and I simply couldn't understand and bear with the whole thing. It was very confusing!

I just had a few days absence from Internet, so I have a lot of reading to catch up with, but I will post more of my thoughts in a couple of days.

Interested still, as I said previously.

I think the level of Mons Obscurus might take a wee bit of learning savvy by those interested, and it was certainly developed over time through the game. We'd been playing for over a year, maybe closer to two, and it was still developing all the time.

If you want to study the posting/writing style in action you can actually go to one of the chronicles and click on the history link at the top to follow every edit on the page. Assuming that that part of the wiki is accessible to the public...

I would now advise even any ftf troupe I was with to use even a very basic wiki (such as a relatively-disinterested-in-the-mechanics person like me could operate) for many of the in-game resources and records. Its very easy to operate multiple cross-referencing pages and open/create new pages once one person has done the basic wiki set-up.

If nothing else it allows some of us to fiddle with our character sheets and make plans or allocate experience etc while at work. :wink:

But I have no idea about starting even a basic wiki at all.

Yes, the editing/using stuff is easy. I have no idea about the complexities of setting it up or hosting requirements - other than the opinion of a couple of wiki 'hosts' that there was very little requirement for their basic wikis - less than maintaining their own websites.

And yes, to a certain extent it does become very troupe style. How much so depends on the SG style and how much posting he/she does and/or control he/she exercises. Typically our SG would write the first couple of paragraphs of a story and the odd descriptive paragraph further along, but mostly would be working in the support pages, answering questions, prompting needed posters, advising where appropriate and sometimes providing private info.

Yeah, no worries

I meant, it was very rare that something unexpected enough to force a radical change to the storyline (that would invalidate later stuff already written) would happen after the story had already moved forward. Firstly, its the SG's job to keep up enough if the story is up to the stage when something radical happens, so writes it in at the right time anyway. Secondly its the players jobs to write responsibly enough so that they don't go so far ahead at one time that the SG can't write in what he wants to. And if a player is writing too far 'behind' then they are responsible for not introducing major major changes, even if they would like to - unless its very imprortant to them and everyone agrees in an ooc discussion.

Not at all, as there is a recent changes (to the whole site) page. Commonly I just checked that, read the appropriate changes that had been made and then wrote my bits. Easy as.

The wiki has a search function (for the entire site, bringing up multiple click onto references).
And there are contents, tabs, cross referencing etc.
And each page can be searched.
Personally I'd be very surprised if the wiki system was not infinitely easier to use for such cases. We had some very in depth problems at Mons Obscurus involving which site to set up at, due to complications with multiple regios and differing understandings and implications of how regios worked and interacted (particularly around the boundaries) and there was a lot of very in depth discussion/argument (both IC and even more OOC) that often needed detailed cross referencing and checking of what others had said. I found it very easy to find whatever references I needed - much easier than sorting them all together in my head once I'd found them!

Possibly yes. I'm happy to play this way, though I haven't before.

For me, the goal is enjoyment. Whichever way it comes - from the gameplay, from the writing process or from the results.

A PBwiki probably does lean more towards creative writing, though not necessarily at the expense of the game. And as such, probably is more demanding of the players. Certainly at Mons Obscurus we had a relatively likeminded group and one late addition in particular seemed to have somewhat more juvenile posts (quite possibly deliberately as they went with a fairly unsubtle character) that sort of pulled the tone of the game down in a way. No disrespect meant to that player at all...

"With an expression of distaste written all over his face, Flaminius raised his arm above his head with fingers spread. As he thundered out the ritual intonations a glowing speck appeared encaged in his fingers, growing rapidly until a pulsating ball of fire filled his hand" (on discussion page, 'My mage casts BoAF at the bandits'). "Terentius, with a sideways look at Flaminius, rolled his eyes and muttering under his breath flicked out a hand at the bandit archer alone on the left." (on discussion page, My mage fast casts PoF at the archer bandit)

There is a little bit of difference. The writing doesn't have to be good, just a bit more interesting and filled out. Because the troupe's 'story' is the narrative, it encourages a little more storytelling in the play, which I found in turn encourages a little more actual role-playing in the characters.

Its really quite cool when the characters have their own characteristic :wink: styles and mannerisms that you just naturally write in as they act as part of the narrative process, ending with a more satisfactory result than 'I cast PoF'.

And in answer, no I haven't played in a PbP game and am happy to do so, just offered an alternative for inspection. :slight_smile:

Wow there has been a lot said here, but I finally managed to catch up.

As I mentioned before, I haven't had a great PbP experience yet, and the way I read the wiki approach it sounded a bit difficult to get the hand of it as well.

In regards to everyone ending up in the same covenant, perhaps that is a matter of creating characters with similar interests in the long run? Cuchulainshound's suggestion of drafting a few common guidelines (city or wilderness, novgorod or roman, political or reclusive and so on) seems to be the best, to me.

Also, I am interested in hearing what you guys think on what character creation rules to use. The obscenely time consuming and ridiculously detailed (as David Chart, I think, labeled it recently in the berkeley list) character creation of going through each of 15 years of apprenticeship seems a bit too much to me, so perhaps anyone had simpler ideas?

I don't know about the rest of you, but to me it seems the time and place this game is set is not so relevant to the experience as the characters' goals and objectives, so I am willing to play whenever/wherever.

Unfortunately, to be perfectly "realistic", each paired Apprentice/Parens should find different attractions and incentives as they negotiate and horse-trade. So, we just can't go there, unless we OOC negotatiate some sort of RP pre-agreement - which is one solution.

Another is for the SG to use a (not-too-heavy, hopefully) Deus ex Machina approach in what options are finally available, or ultimately attractive. If I can keep a deft hand, it might not be as obvious as we'd worry about.

This is not a problem, you're over-thinking it. Post-negotiations, it's as written, and pre, we "fake it"- choose some value for skills and spells that is less than the full value, for that period of RP. As the timeline progresses, the apprentices move toward gauntlet (or just past it, if that's the case.)

There's probably some room for a season or four of detailed study/labwork, depending, which is not a bad way to fill in the few gaps left by a by-the-book CharGen. And some few exposure points in Area Lore, Organization Lore (specific Covenant), if only enough to give a "0" in some skills.

[i](For a new troupe, I often insist that each Player work his character thru 4 seasons of labwork- 1 spell, 1 lesser enchantment (vis provided no charge), copy 1 text and 1 season their choice. This gives the character a small boost, and the players a hands-on sense of "How to".

You guys don't need that last, but the boost is rarely refused.

I also (usually) give Area Lore 3 and Org. Lore 3 re that home Covenant. Not around it, the Cov't grounds and populus themselves, from off-camera exposure. 15 years and you should know where the toilets are, and who to avoid if you see them coming.)[/i]

Right now we're at 3 interested parties- Corbon, Skridragon and Yan - if we can get 1 more, I feel we have enough to fire it up.

As for location, I think we'll use a PbP site, and as a group we can experiment with a Wiki for record-keeping and narrative synopsis, a "chronicle", if you will. (That is, if anyone can figure out how to set one up, and where...)

i've been looking into Wikia (the site that hosted Mons Obscurus) and although i like the possibilities for site personalization, i am not sure i like all aspects.

for starters, as far as i can tell, anyone can log in and edit a wikia. there is no password protection to keep a random person from changing anything on the site. if i am missing it, please point me in the correct direction.

second, it seems you need to apply to get a web page up and running, with the people in charge vetoing any idea they think will not get enough attention with edits. there is even a specific statement in the rules that says "Requests are not accepted for personal wikis or wikis for small groups." though i don't know how they know what requests would be used for such. i also don't see any protection over the information that is already posted. it seems if they decide the content is duplicate or not getting enough attention, they can delete or merge it with another page with no warning.

at least this is what i am getting with a brief perusal of the rules and regs.

EDIT: wiki has a whole list of wikifarms similar to wikia.

Yeah, well, we'll burn that bridge when we come to it. For now, the game is up, and we'll see if we can't get a 4th somewhere else maybe. Information should be in your personal messages (or will be momentarily.)

Anyone else interested at this point, possibly best to contact me via PM, so I won't miss it.