Ars Magica is quite unusual in many ways as RPG's go and I'm just trying to think what elements make for a great saga. Thinking back over all the sessions and sagas of Ars you have played, what was your favourite? And what made it so special? I am very interested in this actually!
It was a couple of years ago, I run a modern Saga on the theme: the return of magic.
It started with PCs which had a few extraordinary capacity, but no knowledge of magic whatsoever. Then they notice some strange events, foreshadowing an Apocalypse of some sort.
What made it good was that from the beginning I knew how I wanted it to end and what would be the evolution of the Saga:
- First part: the daily live of somebody with some supernatural, but unreliable abilities - finding clues about the Apocalypse
- Second part: surviving the Apocalypse and at the same time, getting acquainted with their real magical power, replacing their supernatural abilities
- Third part: building for the future - once you survive the first week of Apocalypse, how do you make sure it is sustainable - building of a covenant, with all its resources, accepting refugees with increasing pressure on the meager harvest, etc. At the same discovering the reason behind this Apocalypse
- Fourth part: discovering the true face of the World, the Realms, travelling across various plans/regios - identifying the Enemy and his plan
- Fifth part: Fighting back and getting the world back how it was, but with magic this time.
So it allowed me and my players to explore many aspects of the settings, with lots interaction with allies in various regios, difficult choices on who to have as ally and who to alienate, and what is the price to pay. For my players, who were not all familiar with the background, they characters started like themselves: quite ignorant of the background, so I was able to build their knowledge at the pace the characters were discovering the world. Since initially there was (almost) no magical power, there was no House, no politics, no trade, very little library, which later started to develop as they were travelling regios.
My most recent game that started in the 780s and revolved around totally upsetting the history, both OTL and Hermetic timelines. We got to have lots of creativity and focus the game on Byzantium - the city that mattered Pre 1204.
The current designers and writers have worked very well with what they've been given... But lets be honest that Mark Rein Hagen and Jonathan Tweet, along with Lisa in the late 1980s had read a few history books and just went from there.