So, guilty admission time: despite having read, owned, and occasionally played Ars Magica over the past 5 editions I have never been in the storyguide seat. So last night, our local game group got started making characters for an Ars Magica saga set in Normandy.
Right off the bat, I decided to use Confluensis as-is from the Lion and the Lily because it seems tailor-made for a beginning covenant location. I figure if the players decide to have their magi break off and become a vassal covenant from Confluensis later, that's cool, and there are some ruined covenants dotting the landscape that would be ideal for that. Since we're getting started, though, Confluensis is a necessary short-cut.
We spent the first session creating magi. The players settled on a Bjornaer maga whose heartbeast is an osprey; a Tytalus magus with a lousy parens & a heavy focus on Mentem; a somewhat warlike Flambeau magus going the Perdo Ignem route to create ice spells; and a cheerful, happy, overly honest and transparent Bonisagus magus who seems all set to ruin any chance of the others keeping secrets while he's around.
Hopefully we can get the companions created next time, while I write up a bunch of grogs. Has anyone else had a good experience with Normandy and Confluensis in particular? Any suggestions or hints for a new storyguide using this material? Thanks in advance!
My best advice is to find another Ars magica fan who lives in the area to bring into the group. Perhaps someone in who posts on these forums,[strike]perhaps in late March after I finish my oral preliminary exam for my PhD[/strike], and certainly don't listen to anything nasty that John or Michelle have to say about the difficulty of gaming with him.
- Get all of your magus and companion sheets together and copy down the story hooks. Then post them here, so that we can help you work them through.
- Go through the magi and look for their capstone arts.
- Work out how often your group is going to meet in the real world. Then arc out some possible dramatic scenes based on their hooks. Then see how you can hit multiple hooks in one story. That's your primary arc unless the players build something else during Covenant creation. Make sure your primary arc is no longer than six months of real world time. Think of this as Series One of your TV show. Assuming you play fortnightly, then, yes, that gives you just 12 sessions in your primary arc.
- You have a scouting magus and two violent sounding types. Pick an enemy. If you spend characxter creation points on breaking stuff, you get to break stuff.
- Make excuses for the characters to use their capstone arts, both by using their Biggest Spell, and also by casting sponts in their best Arts. Ars looks like a "simulation" game, but I don't play it that whay. I play it the "You spent points, you voted to do X" way(stolen from Amber and Eric Wujick). Don't make the enemies or challenges random.
Don't start at Confluensis and work up from there - start at the characters, and work up from there.
(And IMC, the big mystery was "Why is this thing like a sundew? What could it possibly hope to catch? Are the magi like the ants which tend real sundew plants?"
To add to Timothy's:
Ask the players what kind of story they want and what they expect. battles with big faeries and demons, or a politivcal game in a mundane court? Or whatever. Defining in broad brushstrokes what you want in a game works.
Thanks for the advice!
I am a big believer in "your character sheet is a letter to your GM" theory, so once the characters are all finished I'm going to do exactly what you suggest - isolate the things that the players were interested in and thus spent points on.
More information to come when we've progressed a little further.