I am thinking of running a 3.5 hour game at Go Play Brisbane. What, of the current material (and assuming I have a big backlog of past supplements because I do), should I run. Calebais?
Not Calebais. It's a long, long exploration adventure intended to start a new saga.
Maybe the PROMISES, PROMISES jump start kit for fourth edition could be adapted? Is there a similar introductory adventure for 5th? If not, why not?
No, Promises, Promises is kind of unmagical.
I did try writing an intro piece, but basically its that Ars is a complex game.
Return of the Stormrider?
I'm working on an con scenario that worked well at least onece, and that I plan to submit to Sub Rosa. Still needs a little translation work and proofreading.
I'm not much help as the last Ars material I ran at a convention was a game based on playing Amazons from Rival Magic, as that way I could be sure what effects people could do and that people wouldn't spontaneously cast something weird. If you want, I can send you five pregen characters and a very brief scenario.
The big questions are: What is you playing group going to be like? What do you hope to showcase from Ars Magica? What will give you satisfaction? In my case, the answers were; Ars magica devotees, showing something slightly different, getting to use a sourcebook I was slightly obsessed with.
Yes, so I'm going with Ars Magica apprentices in Victorian Mythic Britain. If it doesn't burn itself down I'll write it up for the blog.
I think that any of your stories from "Tales of Mythic Europe" should suffice
I wrote "City of Brass" based off a game I ran at Grand Tribunal. I skip over the part where the players need to be instigated or inspired to go on adventure, and start them off in Egypt as in "you guys are the expedition to find the City of Brass, now go...". It worked out great, and I let players use whatever magi characters they had available (such as ones statted up from other games).
Recently, I wrote an introduction adventure for Ars Magica to be played at two or three roleplaying cons in germany (in the Frankfurt region). The players will be roleplayers, but in general completely new to Ars Magica. The following points were important for me:
- I wanted some regional flair. I think, if you´re living in europe, the fact that you can play an Ars Magica adventure in the region you live is an experience, you can´t have with many other roleplaying games. In "Guardians of the Forest" you can find the following sentence about the city of Frankfurt: "In 1220 Frankfurt hosts Frederick II´s last Diet (a formal general assembly) in German lands for 15 years." I did some research and found out a lot about this political event. Fredericks for the time being last german diet is the central political event of the adventure. The characters have the opportunity to influence the political decisions of this meeting (but a quaesitor pursuits the troupe and checks for mundane intervention).
- Creating characters is too timeconsuming for a con adventure, so I made the characters in advance (or took them from source books and adjusted them a little bit). I prefered virtues, flaws and abilities, that could be relevant in the adventure. There will be only one magus and he is fresh from the gauntlet. The adventure is his qualifying examination for a covenant he wants to become a member of. The other characters are companions and grogs from the covenant, sent to support him but also to evaluate him on the authority of the covenant. Before the adventure I will explain only rules and background, that are relevant for the adventure and the characters.
- I think, an Ars Magica introduction adventure should introduce the magic system without being too complex. So I decided, the main forces of the adventure will be the nobility and the church. There are two churchmembers with magical resistance (an archbishop and a papal legate) and the said quaesitor, who has a parma magica. All other nonplayer characters are completely mundane. So the players will experience, how powerful magic can be (even the magic of a starting character), but they will learn something about political or judicial restrictions of spellcasting (the mundane intervention and the scrying rules of the code) and the difficulty to cast a spell on someone with magic resistance. Because the most events of the adventure take place in divine auras, the rules for realm interaction will be relevant, too.
- The adventure should be finished in a day or so. I wrote four short episodes to introduce some possible allies and opponents on the journey, then the showdown in Frankfurt follows where all important characters come together and the troupe has to decide if they manipulate important nobles or infiltrate Frederick´s diet (or both). If everything works well, the german bishops will be tranquilized by allowances from Frederick II, the secular german nobility is manipulated by the player characters and both groups choose Henry (VII.), Fredericks son, as king of the holy roman empire. If the players are very good, the Quaesitor is distracted and has no evidence for mundane intervention of the players. If the players are less successful, the holy roman empire expects some difficulties and the friendly relationship between Frederick and the covenant will be tried sorely. The adventure ends with the evaluation of the magus through the grogs and companions, which will be important for his application for admission.
One question: I´m not sure what to do with spontaneous magic. In this regard you have to explain newbies some rules that are not so easy. It would be easier not to mention spontaneous magic, explain the few formal spells of the young magus and start the game. On the other hand, I believe spontaneous magic to be an integral part of the game and would disclaim it only reluctantly. What do you think?
Keep your fingers crossed for me, maybe I´m able to win some more Ars Magica players in Franconia.
You could always give the magus character Difficult/Weak Spontaneous Magic as flaws, and make it a non-issue for a gameplay reason - maybe even go so far to make it a Verditius magus to tie it together with a common House stereotype. You could also have available an alternate magus character with different flaws, if you encounter a player with some familiarity with the magic system.
I know, you´re right. There are some possibilities to create a character with a marginal or no possibility to work spontaneous magic. But this is no an answer for my problem. I´m thinking of the following: Is it worth the effort to explain spontaneous magic to newbies for the first Ars Magica game? Will their fascination of the endless possibilities be bigger than the impatience about the boring (?) rules explanations? Keep in mind that I have only one character, that is able to use magic at all...
I know this is a little off topic but having become only a relatively recent ArM disciple, there is virtually no con scenarios that are freely available for SG's to use. Whats the go with that? Its a bit of shame given that the game is a bit scenario poor in published resources because I would really like to see some more con scenario available.
I think the go with it is that it is really, really difficult to find a proper way to show people how the spontaneous spell and combat systems work, so the few tried I've seen try to do Ars Magica either without spontaneous magic, or without combat, or both. Now, I can take or leave combat (actually, I leave it - I don't like group resolution mechanics that affect my person PC) but I think Ars Magica without sponts is a bit like Call of Cthulhu without gibbering horrors.
The experiment I tried was creating spont menus, based on the Miracle Menus in Nobilis. I'm not sure it can be considered a success.
Basically, though: Ars is a high commitment game, with limited onboarding, that puts several of its key terms in a language other than English. It's hard to get from there to, say, Fate Core, in terms of con design.
I'm running an adventure at Go Play Brisbane in August, so I'll be putting that up on my webpage in the next while. I still haven't got a great answer for sponts, though.
Thanks for that Tim, its useful to have experienced SG's offer those types of perspectives to new SG's. I appreciate your offer to upload the scenario to your blog. It will be good to see it and great to see more con or homebrew stuff around.
BTW Tim, why don't you run Tongue of Vipers from the second ed book Tales of the Dark Ages. Its minimal magic use, combat light and confined to a particular place. You could supplement it with the debate rules in HoH:S.
...because Ars Magica with minimal magic is D%D without combat, IMO.
As to minimal magic I was thinking more in terms of the opposition in Tongue of Vipers . Because the antagonists are magically weak or non-magical the choice of whether magic is used is up to the players. And there are some good opportunities to use magic in the scenario. I found that leaving the use of magic entirely at the initiative of the players worked well for beginners because it gave them space to think and look at their spells and decide which ones were of use and to fill any gaps they had with the sponts. I found the lack of pressure was useful because they could start to learn the rudiments of the magic system without having to compete simultaneously with the more powerful.