Last night I ran the players through the first part of our Gathering of 12 years story arc, a tangential but important sideline to our saga's main theme. I had a lot of notes but not much of a plan, and didn't want to spend time stating up NPCs (even just simple things like Personality Traits and Heartbeasts). Instead, I pulled out my copy of Everway and used the Vision Deck to determine NPCs while we played. A PC would meet a fellow member of her clan, draw a card, and we'd interpret the NPC from the card's illustration.
We used the Fortune Deck to determine how various events went. Wanting to make the Gathering more quasi-religious than political, I concocted a bunch of festivals, rituals, and mystery plays. The players would draw from the Fortune Deck, for example, to see how the Festival of Fasting went for the character, and we'd interpret the results. I was fantastic - thanks more to the players than me - and led to some fascinating developments for the characters.
Thinking about it this morning, I remember years ago springing an Unknown Armies variant on my players. They were off on a wizard march, tracking down a miscreant Hermetic magus, when the PC magus had to drop out and assigned his custos grogs to finish the job. I stated the grogs up using Unknown Armies and sprang it on the players the next session. Again, we had a grand time, and the simple combat mechanics doubled with the Madness Meter led to a very enjoyable evening.
So I wonder, has anyone else done this? Taken other rules or parts of other games and mashed them into an evening of Ars?
I'm sure you were, but still modest enough to accredit the players with the achievement.
I have often wanted to use an element of that. I remember having some cards from the old Changeling game. I fancied trying to weave a strange faerie story based upon the drawing of the cards, which of course populates the faerie realm.
But I like the idea of using it in a more grounded situation. I'm especially getting into the idea of using more player-led events within stories too.
In fact, I'm off to look up this Everway you speak of...
Yeah, you could use a tarot deck, although some of the cards (11 of cups, 4 of wands?) need some work to interpret. I remember playing everway a long time ago and it was a pretty good mix of cards, very good at giving you an impression of an event or object. Personally I would have some difficulty inventing characters on the fly with them, but in a game where the GM's just making stuff up as he goes along, it would be kinda fun to draw a couple of cards every once in a while to see what the characters have to face...
One advantage of the Everway card deck compared to a Tarot deck, even just the Major Arcana, is that its unique combination of symbolism and phrasing â€“ the latter of which has two meanings, depending on how you draw the card â€“ is usually immediately accessible to all kinds of players, and does not require any preparatory experience. Moreover, phrases like "Striking the dragon's tail" help to convey the central idea of a card quite easily, yet leaves the ultimate interpretation to the player.
Those cards are excellent tools for players that have a rich visual or figurative imagination. Sometimes, the depicted scene, or even a particular minor detail in it, is enough to spark an idea of its own. Everway's subtitle, "Visionary Role-Playing", says it all. For some, the well of stories is music, for others it's odor, and sometimes, it's cards for the visually perceptive.
Everway - and Once Upon a Time - were great inspirations to me when writing the Faerie Realm chapter of RoP:F. Echoes of the Fortune Deck can be found in the Player Driven Stories (although Whimsy Cards were also an inspiration).
I keep my Fortune Deck in my game box. Whenever the characters take a tack that I had not anticipated, or I need an NPC on the fly, a surreptitious draw of the cards helps immeasurably. Furthermore, when planning a story, I'll often use the Fortune Deck to inspire me with obstacles and NPCs. I don't use the Vision Deck very much, purely because it is much bigger than the Fortune Deck, and not so easy to hide from my players that they've gone 'off track'.
For those who are not familiar, the Fortune Deck consists of 36 cards, each with an archetype on it. There are also two one-line descriptors, one for drawing the card straight, and one for reversed. Thus you have 72 randomly generated themes.
For example, The Smith drawn straight implies 'creation', but drawn reversed it is 'effort wasted'. The Unicorn means 'Purity' straight, but 'Pollution' reversed. And one of my favourites: Striking At the Dragon's Tail means 'underestimating the challenge' drawn straight. (I may have got some of these slightly wrong, but I hope you get the idea)
I as SG also found that getting players to design a few grogs first is a fine way to get the hang of the system before designing your magus: you want to play the magus for a few (player) years - but grogs are more disposable so you can afford to make mistakes.
(As it were, the grogs made excellent fun characters, and got played a lot!)
I also used this as a resource limiting state: I told the players that if they wanted more grogs to make the covenant more powerful - they could, so long as they made full character sheets. So, over time, we accumulated more characters, but not on a whim - someone had to feel determined enough to want the character.
As a long time Ars player I've got a working experiment of an alternate Ars game using the new Mage the Awakening rules and reworking some of the official Ars background. To run more of a Dark Ages style mage.
Ars Magica isn't set in the Dark Age. It is set in the High Middle Age. I disagree with the concept of a "Dark Age" in the fist place, but if one were to ascribe that name to any period, it would be the era etween the Fall of Rome ans before the Order of Hermes (which coincides with the Carloginian Renaissance).
Indeed yes. The "dark age" concept is really just a romanticised (and very poor) way of thinking of the "lost greatness"(to a large extent, an IMAGINED "lost greatness") of the Roman empire combined with some dreadfully poor modern or recent mythmaking, like the "flat-earth" myth.
I could probably claim that Eldorado is far more real than the common "Dark Ages" concept, and do it without lying or even flexing any truths.
Yes thats what I meant. I was just using the label itself. But regardless I'll be using more of the Ars setting with the order and some houses, but instead using the New mage mechanics. An Ars alternate universe so to speak. It may never get off the ground gamewise but I'm having fun playing with the setting.
Ars has been my favorite game since I started playing it in 3rd edition.