Gauntlet-adventure idea for new storyguide/players

Hi guys,

nearly 10 years ago I played Ars Magica and really enjoyed the game.
Always wanted to run a campaign myself but I never found players interested enough.

Now that has changed :slight_smile:.

My current group has some experience with AM4 and I proposed to run a nice AM5 campaign.
I read through the book(s) again and I am quite confident to have the basics down and will learn the rest while running.

Question is however how to kick the campaign off.
As a covenant location the players wanted to be in a town/city and after some discussion we figured they'd like to be in Scotland so we decided on settling in Inverness.
The MacGruagach covenant will be the sponsor of the covenant (in return for favors of course) and the official statement for introducing a new covenant is that this will be close to the Hebrides and the Orkneys and therefore a first line of defence against mages of the Order of Odin.
The covenant creation is left to the more experienced players but I expect no big surprises here.

Since nearly all players of the first session will be new (the more experienced ones don't have time) I wanted to start with an easy adventure.
I had the idea to make one out of their gauntlets. The question now is though if that makes sense. Would their parens risk their life by not teaching them the final secret of the Parma Magica.
I mean sure the quest could be kept rather mundane with no need of having Magic Resistance, but can they ensure this?

Now what kind of adventure would be good for that. First I considered Faeries (especially in Scotland!) but that might be a bit too much for the first session.
After that I was thinking about a trip to the Lowlands to investigate why a shipment of material for their new covenant has gone missing.
A third one was that they will be sent to investigate one of the more isolated mages of the order (which Scotland has plenty of) investigating rumors that he might not follow the Code as he should. This however might make Magic Resistance necessary and they have to be careful not to be charged with scrying depending on how their investigating goes.

I think my biggest problem is that I do not yet know what characters my players will bring to the table (and we are playing in 3 days) despite me telling them again and again to at least provide their ideas.
So far I have a Bonisagus focused on Corpus (and some Mentem) with a necromantic focus and trying to push the boundaries of the hermetic limits (Aging, Creation, Soul).
Another character I already know about is a runaway Hunter in a feud with a noble family. He will be the eyes in the wilderness.
I will have 4 more players though and the best I got out of one is: I might play a Tytalus. Yeah helpful :confused:

I bought the "Hooks" supplement as well as the "Mythic Location" but all I found in there does not really fit they short, easy and suited for gauntlet category.
Anyways was hoping that you might have some ideas for a first adventure?

Thanks guys :exclamation:

There are some ideas for gauntlets in the Apprentices book.

For Bonisagus, there's a suggestion that (in addition to the day long exam which is probably better rolled for/glossed over), they travel to another covenant to deliver a lab text they've written (to reflect the Bonisagus specific oath to share knowledge with the Order).

Tytalus gauntlets are trickier, as they generally require the apprentice to force the parens to acknowledge they're ready for it, which requires a certain amount of pro-activity on the part of the players.

If all else fails, there is mention that the Quaesitors will administer a Gauntlet in certain circumstances. If you don't get information to plan more customized Gauntlets in time, go with that and have a Quaesitor toss them at a problem/situation and call it their Gauntlets if they succeed? If they develop (negative?) reputations or there are Tormenting Masters to be had because that happened, its a role playing opportunity?

The introductory adventure for not yet gauntleted magi that I tend to SG is not the gauntlets, but arriving at them at the tribunal meeting in time and without embarassing themselves.

The characters are among unknown magi, might not be all briefed even about elementary customs and laws of the Order, and don't have a Parma. They hence must work together to even make their way through the meeting. They will be gauntleted at its end, so their vote is valid afterwards and might be needed to validate the tribunal meeting.

But some magi have been ejected from it (ArM5 p.14), naturally wish to undercut its validation and hence try to keep the newbies from arriving in time and good graces for their gauntlet. It is more skullduggery, cooperation, getting to know each other and the politics of older magi than casting and resisting big spells, which the Quaesitores would detect easily.
Maybe the ejected magi send some grogs or even their own apprentices after them, hoping that they can plausibly deny any involvement with their actions if needed.


Work with what you have!
That is, plan a small adventure for the Bonisagus or the runaway hunter, and let the other players play companions and grogs. It is unlikely that all mages will go on adventures all the time, all together, so start directly with what would likely be a typical mix of grogs/companions with one or two mages as leaders.
There are several advantages to that:

  • it will show that companions are not second grade caracters and playing them is not a "punishement". They will play an important role as they fill skills gap that mages don't have, often, social interaction where the Gift is a problem;
  • it will allow you to better tailor the encounter to the mage skill (if need be) - you won't have to try to plan for every possible combination of spells;
  • it will creates bonds & relationship between companions of one players with the mage of other player. What I have often seen is that player create companion and mage as friends, thus they play both side of the relations and the bond with the other characters is weaker or more artificially forced;
  • it solves the issue of "how apprentices coming from many different locations, possibly even Tribunals are working together on a Gauntlet". It is very contrived to try to justify this kind of set up, especially when you don't know their origins. However, it is typical for a newly gauntleted mage or about-to-be gauntleted to be gifted by his master with a small crew. A mixture of senior grogs who might be tasked to gently guide the hand of the inexperienced magus, a bunch of green horns that the mage must earn their loyalty/respect and one or two companions there on their free will (and according to their background);
  • it also sends the "subtle" message, that Ars is a game that requires from the players to do some "homework". If you don't do it, you, as SG, cannot provide a story that is suited for them. It is a collaborative effort, so they must also pull their weight.

Once you agreed that you are not building a story for a whole group of mages, but just for one or two, it is much easier to leverage their background and history flaws.
For a apprentice necromancer, following the rumor of haunted battleground to finish his thesis to be presented at his gauntlet - he needs to settle in this place for several weeks to complete various experimentation. The story is about fiding the right location (there are numerous battleground), requiring investigation amongst local mundame, possibly communing with dead spirits, going there (with an ambush of mundane thugs - which could be enough of challenge of a beginners mage), and finally having to deal the questions that mundame might ask when somebody settle in such weird location.
It will expose the players to the typical challenges that they will face: the usually have the means to overcome any challenge with magic, but at which cost & consequences ? Did they attracted attention to them when looking for information ? How the Gift penalised then while interacting with mundane and how useful companions and grogs can be. When fighting thugs, was there a display of magic ? Is the nearby village/constabulary happy that this threat has been taken care of or those it weaken his authorities or was he even an associate paid by the thugs ? is there any survivors who could tell the tale ? did he mage awe them, and they swore allegiance to save their soul/life (with a little bluff from mage/companion for the soul part) ?
Such apparently simple story allows the covenant to already have links with the surroundings. Friendly neighbours ? Suspicious clergy ? Vengeful thugs ?

In term of works, you can use a lot of pregen from the rulebooks to populate the NPC (uses grogs & companions) - so quick and easy work. You might have some extra work if the players don't have companions and grogs at the ready, so you might need to plan some. Again, use the one from the rulebook. They can be characters that were send by the magus master to help him settle, possibly also observe him, and will return to the master at the end of the adventure to report to the master. So you don't have to bother to make a perfectly balances companions if they disappear after the story.

By the way, this also sends the message: they will be adventure involving the whole covenant, but as SG, I will also give an opportunity for each mage to have time under the spotlight.

Generic adventures are also: securing vis sources, scouting the land ahead of time, negociating with spirits of the lands (faerie or magical), establishing relationship with the neighbouring village/church.

Hope it helps considering your timeline. :wink:


thanks for all these suggestions :slight_smile: .
Glad to see such a supportive community.

Unfortunately I do not own the Apprentices supplement, neither will I be able to get my hands on it until the session.
Is it still worth a read after the magi had their gauntlets or will it only become interesting once they start having apprentices?

I like the idea of having some magi trying to interfere with their arrival at the tribunal. Might even be able to weave the Order of Odin into it.
Like for example they figure out that a magus tried to hinder them and after getting knowledge that it was one of the Norse they might feel relieved that it was none from the Order but at the same time they question will arise who sold them out to the enemy (follow up story :slight_smile:).
Hindrances might be mundane or supernatural which leaves a lot of options.

I also agree that working with what I have is actually I good idea. I mean I already know 2 players will play Companions so if I prepare something for the Bonisagus I am sure I will be able to fit the others in there as well.
It's just that at the first adventure I don't want to deny them playing the magus. After that I already told them that their magi are not expected to go out on every single occasion.

Great idea on the haunted battleground. It fits perfectly for the necromancer and she already has some spells which will directly help with that (i.e. Whispers through the Black Gate).
It would also provide an opportunity for a potential Tytalus to proof himself. Defeating a magical/infernal beast would certainly show his skill to his parens.
It would probably also show the Bonisagus that people might react strange if she starts dealing with dead bodies as if it was nothing (she is plagued by Seferiel and has pious -2 btw. which makes it even better) and give her some nice role-play opportunities.

I think I will go with this one and work out some more details :slight_smile:.
So curious how they will enjoy it and how confusing the spell system might turn out. If I remember correctly I grasped it rather quickly so it can't be too bad :slight_smile:.

Thanks again for the support!


It's got a fair amount covering children in general in it, rather than just apprentices. Unless they're likely to be a big thing in your saga, though, I'd say Apprentices wasn't worth making a priority - it's by no means a bad book, but Ars has a lot of good books, some of which are likely to be more immediately relevant to you.

There was an idea I was thinking of of how to get a group of just Gauntletted magi together and making a covenant outside of Hermetic Politics. It could be tweaked for apprentices ready for Gauntlet. I haven't fleshed out the idea very well, but I am OK if you want to borrow it, if it isn't too silly.

Every now and then in the Greater Alps Tribunal there are Hermetic Fairs/Festivals where disparate magi come to celebrate. This location has a lot of Hermes Portals, allowing travel from all over Mythic Europe.
In my original version it was just gauntletted magi meeting each other, but it could easily be a group sitting at the apprentice's table, with perhaps a single gauntletted magus with newly learnt Parma Magic talking to an apprentice he grew up with. It is late at night, the faery wine is flowing, old magi are showing off, Vis is spilt, and suddenly the PCs need to take shelter under a decorative arch that was once a Mercere Portal until the other end was broken, as weird magics/weather washes over the area. A stray bolt of elemental energy strikes the arch and the Portal momentarily re-activates, dragging your characters elsewhere.

The laboratory of a foreign necromancer. Lots of evidence this guy is a necromancer and/or diabolist, including a body that matches the description of a missing magus. The enemy has been gathering Hermetic scraps, trying to discern Hermetic Powers and weaknesses. Including the fragments of the of the broken Mercere Portal, he had been using non-hermetic necromancy to try and get it working - you had travelled through the ghost of a Mercere Portal in circumstances that would be incredibly difficult to replicate. There are some prisoners / future sacrifices caged nearby you can talk to (possible grogs and/or Companions). The bad necromancer is away, but will return in a day or so. You are only a few days away from a port that can take you back to Europe, if you can find your way out of the mazy regionne, and avoid its assorted (undead) guardians. Chance to rescue stolen Hermetic secrets, foil the plans of a recurring villain, and gain honour by returning the body of the slain magus.