Companion-Focused Saga

I might be starting a new saga soon, and am planning on focusing on companion characters. I'm trying to think of how to create a saga to support that, and would welcome any ideas here as I'm kinda drawing a blank.

My current preferred angle of attack is to play a Manor instead of a covenant. I'd have the manor's noble be one companion, but also have other companions scattered in the community in the manor, like one village's faerie-doctor, the parish priest, local hermit holy man, and so on. A nearby city/town could provide more urban characters, and perhaps a small group of advisers/retainers could fit in the manor itself for more esoteric characters (the blind seer, the scholar...).

Another option is to run a winter covenant, so that the magi are just not interested in anything and its up to the companions to run things. This also leaves room for later including young magi characters.

Any other, better, ideas?

Look into Pendragon. It is a game based on what you describe. if you prefer the Ars system you can readily convert the design idead of Pendragon into ArM :slight_smile:

For a "pure" ars magica saga, I would do the winter covenant thingy. There will be magic, but on a weird area and has more potential for including OoH related stuff :slight_smile: Going to participate in the faerie tournament to win vis (ordered to do that) would be a good expample. I like this approach



I've had similar ideas for a saga.

I think the manor idea is a good one. Try to focus the characters around the manor, just like a standard saga focuses the characters around a covenant. Instead of the "companions" being just a scattered group of individuals, have them have specific roles within the manor... the lord or lady, a knight, a priest, the village reeve, etc.

I'd suggest running seasons just like a covenant, but the characters do not have all seasons free. I'd suggest Spring and Fall as "work seasons" with activities centered around planting and harvest. Winter is a "free season" for study/practice and Summer is a "free season" for adventuring.

Adventures can center on things like high politics, warfare, chasing bandits, tournements, hunts, pilgrimages, and local intrigues. And, it being Mythic Europe, any or all of those can have magical elements.

Edit: BTW, I recommend, if you don't have it or haven't looked at it recently, ArsM4 sourcebook Ordo Noblis as an excellent source of ideas for such a saga.

Another ideas? Ask your group. Or is this a tricky thread measuring the interest? :wink:

I think if you start this saga and later want to introduce magi put simply a magic aura somewhere nearby where strange things happen sometimes.

I like this set-up it has far more medieval feeling than the basic Arm has.
I really don't know which system is better knowing only ArM.

Well, a merchant house saga is the only one with a whole book to itself in 5th..

This has crossed my mind too - a good way to use the game system for a gaming group that is not excited about a herd of magi, or even to slowly introduce the system to work up to magi.

Several points for consideration -

You could have one NPC mage, solo, as the "patron" of the group. Each PC would have been attracted/recruited because of something they offered, but each are rarely called upon individually. If an "angel"* is needed, the magus/maga is perfect, as the PC's wouldn't know the actual extent of their abilities. (More magi are possible, but with some explanation for why they are both distant and not overly-demanding of the PC's time.) This "wizard" could be of any power or background, from a failed apprentice or hedgemage who is not significant enough for The Order to recruit, to a lone Hermetic Archmage of incomprehensible potential. (This could even be of a Realm other than Magical.)

(* "angel" - a term in writing/scripting for a powerful character who usually stays offstage/offcamera, but who appears when "help" is required by the main characters. Often this takes the form of resources or key information, but can include anything that helps the plot up to a complete Deus ex Machina intervention such as a dramatic rescue or mysterious ability.)

Or, the NPC "in charge" could be a mundane who has connections to such - further removed and less expected when they show up.

You could have one PC be the default leader/authority - the lord/seneschal of the manor, the owner/manager of the merchant company, the autocrat of the library, whatever. (But the less independently capable, the more balanced the power focus). Also, that character would need a reason to go become involved, at whatever level your saga plotlines dictate (mundane characters can be the equiv of labrats too, potentially very dull.) Or, by having that "lord" be an NPC, you allow the players to be more self-determined.

The more "high fantasy" these institutions are, the easier it is to incorporate a wider range of character concepts, I would think. The higher the fantasy concepts for the central institution, the easier to tell a wide range of stories, tho' I don't know how your tastes run. Perhaps something that any PC mage would love to have as a contact - a library that pursues and collects arcane knowledge, perhaps a merchant who deals with covenants, buying and selling rare ingredients and magical dinguses, or (at the extreme) a private group of "exceptional mercenaries" who are known to be for hire for any mission impossible, for the right price.

:slight_smile: No, but it's a fine thought :slight_smile:

The other players are new to Ars Magica, part of the idea is to introduce them to the world without introducing them to the more-complex magic rules. So I don't want a system other than Ars - but I don't want a low-magic game, either. The other part of the idea is for the characters to use their wit and skills instead of powerful Hermetic magic to cope with all the fantastic elements of the setting, like fairy trickesters, demonic corruption, and so on.

LuciusT: I intend to use On The Respective Merits of Twilight and Gloaming from Ordo Nobilis, actually. As I'm rather fond of high-fantasy, I'm not sue how much I'll use the rest of it.

Another thought - and it sounds like you're on this already, but I'll toss it out for everyone.

Some SG's paint themselves into a bit of a corner by allowing "any and all" character concepts, and then trying to connect those dots into a saga. While this is always "possible", it's almost always easier to do exactly what YR7 is leaning towards - pre-defining the environment, at one level or another, and then asking for characters to fit.

Y -
Then I'd suggest maybe going with a manor house that is the "front" for a covenant. Maybe the PC's don't even know it, not yet! You could have a Spring Covenant growing up "behind the scenes" and the PC's all naive mundanes who find out about The Order as they go - this would make for an interesting Player view of The Order and mundanes later, once/if they graduate to magi characters, and those mage characters could step into a covenant that they are already (largely) familiar with.

Spring covenant sagas do this all the time, but from the "other side" of the coin - "Let's hire some specialists... if we pay them, they'll get used covenant life, right?..." :unamused: It would be an eye opener to see that run from the other side by players who have not made all the usual AM assumptions from the magi's PoV.

In this case I wouldn't introduce even the title 'Hermetic magic'. I would put there wizards with a bunch of magical skills, v&fs and maybe some magic items. Only things they should belive magic is weak and an obscure thing. Maybe just a tale.
It would be more dramatic if they meet the first magus after playing six months or later. And not a peaceful bookworm but a powerful battle mage or a Mentem specialist if I want to keep them alive surely.

Another thought:
A noble house usually involves more people than one lord. So 2-3 players may play some members of a branch of the family. The other members (branches) may be friendly or hostile with this branch. Read Marc Bloch to get ideas of the noble affairs. Far more interesting than the medieval fantasy.

This is what I almost always do. I mean, I will say I am looking for such-and-such types of characters, but all ideas are allowed. A little suggestion goes a long way, and players tend to adapt their character concepts to each other. However, I do rely heavilly on troupe-style play. I rarely audit characters myself, other players are all too eager to do that to each other. The troupe figures out what works for them, and usually they manage to create something that works well together. I have not (yet) encountered the "paint myself into a corner" scenario.

However, having said that, and realizing the purpose of this thread is not to debate styles, setting up a saga by saying you want such-and-such specific concepts, that is an interesting and challenging idea for play. It helps guide noobs and it creates interesting alternatives for veteran players.

Do you want the players involved with the Order of Hermes? A perfectly viable saga is to have the wizards be largely impractical sorts who do "Mystical" stuff that enables adventures for the companions rather than lead quests themselves.

I ran a saga in which the PCs played companions for a trio of elderly mystics who had set up an urban 'covenant' to follow up on some research of theirs. The companions did 99% of the the work and brought their findings to the magi for analysis.

Well, there's a lot of grey area between "Bring it!" and specifying concepts.

If the "saga" is going to be built around the fae (or has been so), then a Van Helsing vampire hunter is something new and different, and maybe not as directly welcome or useful to the saga as it stands as the equivalent built as a dark-Fae Hunter - and vice versa.

So, I prefer to try to split the difference - the "need" for specialists, for companions, is organic to the saga and covenant - we need a "forester", or a "lore master", or a "merchant/face-man" - but if we don't need a vampire hunter, let's not introduce one, okay? Because most sagas already have a long waiting-list of plotlines, and "one more category" (plus Story Flaws!) isn't helping.

(I don't consider " a forester" as a concept - it's a role that needs to be filled. There are endless "concepts" that can fill that role, and that is as open ended as the players' imaginations and preferences.)

I love that one, though I haven't run it yet. I occassionally wonder about fitting it into a saga. I'm actually considering adapting A Bad Knights Work into my next ArsM session, though I'm not sure yet.

I find the chapter on Law quite informative and have used it to inspire a couple of adventures in my saga. The chapter on Leasure has a lot of ideas to inspire adventures for nobles. Indeed, it has a who section on adventuring with a bunch of short plot hooks.

Edit: I'd actually love to see Ordo Noblis adapted to 5th ed.

Ordo nobilis is extremely rules-light. Adapting it is not a very high priority for me since 99% of it can be used as written. A great resource book and one of the ones I use most extensively myself :slight_smile: