[Fall and Rise] Blowing Up The Saga - & dodging that bullet

So, my players - a wonderful group dedicated to roleplaying and partners in engineering this fantastic saga - have been slogging through the "Intrigue Option" for "Fall and Rise". Spoiler Alert....

In any case, they tossed around a few plans and then decided it would be for the best if they sterilized Eleanor of Brittany, preventing her from being able to conceive a child and thus making her useless to Perepeteia. Then, take her to the bridge upon which Edward the Martyr died for good measure, and hope that would be enough to allow Denouement to usurp her mother's power.

All was going well, and then I perhaps foolishly had the faerie knights attack the castle of Corfe. This may have applied too much pressure to the group. They managed to gain entrance to the dungeon tower, fight past the guards, and by now magic was starting to be flung around with something akin to abandon. Quaesitor Helios Excelcis, normally a staunch advocate of the Code, and best Perdo Corpus magus in the covenant, is forced to spontaneously cast a sterilizing spell. He burns a full 15 pawns of Perdo vis that he has managed to scrape together from the covenant's stores in order to assure he meets his target number.

I look him in the eye and say unto him "You know you're going to botch, don't you?"

And, indeed, he botches. I am accused of witchcraft, as I've done this at least three times to people. If only this astounding power of mine worked on craps dice.

He botches like a sun going supernova, with 3 zeroes showing up.

Things get messy. He accrues 10 warping points from the Twilight but comprehends it. The faerie knights begin to sizzle like bacon on a griddle. So to does Eleanor, but quick thinking by a maga, has her turned into a pig, which seems to place herself outside the purview of the botched magic as the effect spreads and continues across the castle of Corfe.

Admittedly, I may have gotten carried away with the effect of this awesome botch and twilight. The mages grab their falling grog as they can, and get over the dungeon tower to the exterior of the castle, which seems to be beyond the effect of the magical slaughter.

At this point, I realize they've killed one of the princesses of Scotland, and left another alive a previously transformed pig. The saga is suddenly in trouble, and I'm struggling for a way to now have the saga end with them all getting marched. The group is freaking out somewhat, at least one of the lovely ladies who makes the game so much fun, as she sees doom upon the horizon. I am again accused of witchcraft.

They bind their wounds, sleep the night in a copse of trees, and take the arcadian tunnel back to their home in France.

By this time, there are only three things that can be thought of by the assembled wizards.
a. They take off for Iceland, acknowledging that they've broken the Code.
b. The drop the castle into the sea and hope no one goes looking and the mundanes just chalk it up to those bad faerie knights who galloped out of the clouds. Problem being that their absent Terram specialist is a righteous noble knight-wannabe who will never let them live this down.
c. Appeal to the faerie benefactor to help cover this up.

Severin notes that they have three choices as he sees it. These are the only things I can come up with on short notice.

  1. They've put themselves in grave danger of a Code violation that could get everyone marched. Cover it up completely, possibly by destroying their own memories of this event. This might be dangeous, as no one knows a formulaic spell to do this.
  2. Throw themselves on the mercy of the Tribunal and hope for leniency. This will ruin any hope they had of Severin being a solution to the Tytalus Succession issue which threatens to cause a second Schism War, as he will be stained with a terrible reputation.
  3. Assume, rightly, that Helios' Parens - the great Occulus Magnus, the current Praeco of the Normandy Tribunal, would bend the law to avoid a second Schism War. Assuming he saw Severin solving the Tytalus issue as of paramount importance, he would deflect any Stonehenge Inquiry into Normandy mages being present at the Castle of Corfe. Helios would likely be told to step down as Quaesitor at some future time, and would likely never speak to his parens again. This would remove a great bastion of support from the player's covenant.

The players know that Denouement can purchase memories. She can't steal them, but she can purchase them. She asks them to tell the story of the night's horrible events. I have them all choose appropriate skill rolls of their choice to represent their telling, and how well it is presented.

Denouement offers to buy their memory of the story, of the night. She also pledges to remove evidence of the Castle's massacre, as the mages risked so much to elevate her to power.

She begins to recite their tale, using their exact words... and then takes up the tale from her perspective as they burst out of the arcadian tunnel, soul-weary and bloodied, and she describes the haunted looks upon their faces. The entire time the smells, sounds, and peripheral sensory cues of the glade in which they sit begin to match the tale of the night in question. When she finally finishes the story, resonant with their words, and their experiences, they each shed a tear, and she gracefully steps forth and bottles each one.

The magi have forgotten everything. Though their souls maybe weighed down by their sins and hubris, their consciences are clean.

And Denouement has five small bottles containing those memories, and has changed even further as a newly minted faerie responding to these events. She is now the Lady of Secrets, whereas her mother was something different.

How the issue with the slaughter at the Castle will be covered up is unknown to them. I'm still deciding myself.

At the end of the night, I felt exhausted. Strangely, what seemed out of control and terminal ended up feeling epic and amazing. The whole gamut of emotions had been experienced by the players - relief, outrage, worry, despair, jubilation. I was very worried that I could not see a way out of this situation that would not either suspend disbelief or change the game to one of outlaw mages, leaving behind so many rich storylines that have been developing.

Has anyone had similar narrow escapes from narrative self-destruct?
Any thoughts of things that might spin out of this? I'm unsure of exactly what to do with Corfe and the Fae Coverup, but likewise I want to put this storyline more or less behind us, and not have things bit the covenant in the ass for a good long while as a palate cleanser.

They're really sick of faeries right now.


I find that the real problem with any kind of outcome is it is either a load of tosh and you just allow it so your game is not ruined, or you spend the rest of your saga forevermore with impending doom from discovery hanging around you like an infernal millstone. There are far too many loose links in the chain for things of this gravity not to fall into the ear of a random visiting Redcap. Your entire saga becomes dominated by hiding this fact.

I had this happen once. Not as cataclysmic but the inevitable outcome was grim from a 'remain in the order' perspective, and anyone who knows parma magica outside the order isnt going to live long - even in Arcadia they will find you!

I decided as SG I had no desire to continue along such a route as it would have very little to do with the actual ArM setting and the very reason we play this particular game. When the story ended we wrapped up that covenant and rolled time forwards many years. Characters are not 'dead' or 'demonic agents' necessarily - they are NPCs and their covenant is technically abandoned. New covenant has no idea about these guys or their covenant beyond a vague stories. This left the door open to go back if we managed to come up with something miraculous, or if someone else wanted to run it... most agreed the continuation though, had become unplayable, in terms of why they were playing this particular game.

It is extremely sad when this kind of thin happens, and although it is often not directly the 'fault' of the players their actions can, on occaision irredemably screw up the game. Either you let them get away with it to save the saga, or you wrap it up.

Of course, if it is just one player that is much easier - hang him out to dry and let everyone else get on with it.

Indeed, immediately having this bite anyone in the ass is not on the menu, but we've invested too much to just file this away with a game devoted to uncovering various unresolved mysteries.

Having the fae benefactor who already owes them take care of the things they could not was the only out that seemed to work. At some point revisiting this may be fun, but for now we'll let it lurk in the background.

I suppose the ONLY way to rid yourself of a millstone of any gravity is to get it openly acknowledged and approved. If you could manage to ressurect Cicero and have him as our advocate at Grand Tribunal maybe you could get this 'acknowledged and accepted'. Of course, you have to survive until tribunal. But a tribunal ruling is final - if they agreed it was ok, which would require a hell of a convincing argument, it is within no-ones power to dispute that.

Ah, another vote for Canaanite Necromancy! Who knew it would solve our problems! :wink:

Acknowledge it. It was a magical BOTCH, not that you were trying to ACHIEVE that result. Yes, it is a lot of crap, but the tribunal can find ways of punishing you that do not imply sure death. Penitent missions on behalf of the tribunal (story hook! YAY!) is an option for example. If you want to avoid the HUGE mundane repercussions (basically you just sent the Angevins and the House of Canmore into open war, but that is hardly a novelty in th XIII century) you can have the process have a relic that protected her from the ravaging magic by granting MR to her. After all, you didn't stop to see if they were dead, did you?

Severin is slightly messed up from a reputation point of view, but he can always make a hasty retreat and come back later, like "I have never been there" kind of retreat to save face.

We have had several of what you describe. We end up sitting around and deciding what to do. In 2 cases we simply finished the saga in a pair of action-packed sessions: in one by being marched (after destroying Toledo in a running battle with another covenant) and in the other by having a gate to hell open in our covenant. The running battle for that last one was great and high of soap-operish drama. In another case we managed to kill Thomas Becket accidentally :open_mouth: That was a mess, but managed to reconduct the situation and have one of the mages marched, but the covenant survived. Laura accepted that she had messed up and had no problems with Francescus biting the dust. Francescus was around 70 years of hermetic age, so it was not a casual throwaway character either, but it was him or the covenant/saga. One adventure to play the dramatic end, and there we came with the sagas progressing :slight_smile:

Oh, I just recalled it. We also sank all the ships of the first crusade, but decided to play the "rewind" button since it had been quite a silly adventure all along and reconduct the saga somewhat :slight_smile: Sometimes tyou have to play more sensical and some actions are better not having been played. We play Ars more like theatre around a table than anything, so if we thing something is stupid (like the midiclorians in Star Wars) we just ignore it :slight_smile: If it is usthat made the stupid thing, the more reason to do that :slight_smile:

After all we are here to have fun, and struggling is great in some cases, but sometimes we are not into that mood for a whole saga.