Court Sorcerer

Was just wondering if anybody had run or had thought of the details for running a game where the player magi are court sorcerers of whatever kind makes sense. And of course if anybody had any thoughts of a Merlin (the BBC TV show) like idea for a game. I just think it would be nifty to play a magic using character who has access to Hermetic magic in a court of more mundane focus who has to either hide his magic or finds himself constantly facing magical threats as the forces of the supernatural attack the city.

So yeah was just wondering the thoughts of others.

I think players would have to conquer that right. Plus mundane interferences aren't encouraged. If your players aren't Tytalus or Jerbiton magi, it will be hard to take such a difficult position.

But supernatural court counsellors make good opponents.

Players can play court sorcerer characters any number of ways.

It's just not the magi who should be taking that role.

The Code of Hermes doesn't treat court wizards well, and magi are so powerful that courtly intrigue quickly takes on very different dimensions at best and becomes a trivial matter of controlling everything at worst. It's much better to have Companion-level characters with arcane knowledge and Supernatural abilities taking the role of court sorcerer. (Actually, grogs can do it too, albeit not fantastically, being grogs.)

I guess secrecy would have to be the buzz word unless I changed the dynamics of the setting, which would be a project in and of itself.

Honestly I would want to use Hermetic magic because its the most fleshed out in the game system and also potentially the most fun and stuff. Even if there are some setting elements that bother it.

As for the social effects I would either just require the PCs to purchase Gentle Gift OR give it to free and stuff if that was the whole point. A Bonisagaus magi would also work, the whole knoweldge keeper thing and stuff.

I think the greatest limit is that it might be a little weird if there is like five magi in a city each being a court sorcerer, though if their focus is wide and different enough they could take on different roles in the King's Court so that they don't step on each other's toes and stuff.

Another question that would develop is whether said King (or noble they are allied with) is a PC or an NPC, with both options having benefits and drawbacks. Example, does the noble know of the magic in their court, with either yes or no having interesting ramifications. (If noble is PC I wouldn't really want the magi players to keep it from them, it probably would result in conflict between in-game and out of game knoweldge.)

If people go around using magic to influence people than its a sort of different game then I was imagining to be honest. I was thinking more noble and good and free will is a major part of that.

You are totally not wrong about other groups in the Ars Magica world being better court wizard types, but if players played them then they wouldn't be able to use the excellent magic system of Ars Magica, which is honestly what draws me to the game. To be honest I would be willing to change various settting elements to allow the players the ability to use the magic than I would make them use a different sort of magic to keep things the way they are.

I just think it would be totally fun to be a secret wizard or council of wizards in a kingdom not known for magic being common and having to find ways to use magic without being noticed or seen. I would have them have an ally among the nobles to make certain side plots also open but in general its about them using their powers to protect the kingdom from the supernatural threats that are around them.

In the earlier years of the Order, the League of Iconophiles was just that: Jerbiton magi manipulating the Byzantine court and nobility to protect the iconodules ( ).

Voventes Centennales in subrosa #16 could provide a start for such a campaign in the 9th century. The PCs are either members of the old League (TSE p.20ff), or agents of Putina (subrosa #16 p.45ff) sent to bolster it against new surges of iconoclasm at court, or could be enlisted by Eutychios to help manage Eudokia Ingerina (subrosa #16 p.64).


It occurred to me, reading your posts, that if you wanted multiple PC magi, all court wizards, you could use the city states of Italy. They're close enough, and the ruling families large and wealthy and famous enough, that they could easily support a few magi in a single city, and travel between cities would be easy enough to bring PC magi together when necessary.

Oh really cool. Very interesting. Nice information to look up and read, which I will do when I have a chance. As a note I love it when material in Sub Rosa becomes useful long after its written (in the same way I find it cool to find an adventure seed which was ignored before suddenly take on a life of its own now), it makes my gaining of them totally worth it. (Not that I had any doubt!)

But yeah that is an interesting idea to go about doing it and stuff. And yeah taking the campaign and having it start a few decades or centuries before the 'present' of the saga could easily work on providing it with the tools and means of not being as outlandish a concept as it otherwise could be. As is the idea of using Jerbiton magi or a Jerbiton led covenant of mixed House magi in this.

Oh that could be very cool. Imagine a bunch of city states each with their own rulers all having a mage whisper in their ear towards unity or alliance or the future. I actually really like this idea as a sort of campaign focus if there are multiple PC magi who are court wizards.

Of course if there is only one PC magi then the campaign becomes a bit simplier in focus, but nontheless having the options is really good and interesting.

The court wizard is an interesting idea. I think it would work better if the wizard(s) had some limitations on their allowed behaviors. These could be self imposed limits (a sort of Dutybound) or enforced by a supernatural entity (Cursed, Plagued by Supernatural Entity, Holy Magic...). Just having to be inconspicuous is not enough in my opinion. These limitations are not meant to spoil the fun, but to make things more interesting. After all, without rules there can be no game.