Genii Loci Campaign

Hey all,

So one of the ideas that I have always had a love for was the concept of placing a Genii Loci of a place. I remember getting the Mystery Cult book and reading the Guardian of Nature (pg. 105) major virtue and falling in love with the idea of a magus who was transformed to be the spirit of a place. I then remember getting the Magic book and reading the section on Genii Loci and falling in love with the concept all over again. Even the movie Stardust gave me ideas, the idea of the wall leading to a vast world is similar to a portal to a regio, and the fact that the rulers of the nation are linked to their kindgom is also kind of like a spirit of a place.

Ars Magica is uniquely situated compared to most games in that its magic system is designed pretty open ended, that almost anything is possible with but a moment of thought and figuring out and tinkering with what was written. For some ideas it would take a long time to develop, for others (like this one) all the tools are already described and it just is a matter of putting things together. The idea for a campaign is not one actually set in the Ars Magica universe, though it uses its rules.

The idea is that once long ago the World was a single vast majestic magical garden, but either due to war or deprivation or the horrors of mankind the single greater garden was split into a thousand thousand pieces. These innumerable shards of the once all-encompassing Garden were surrounded by the dregs of mundanity, the places of the mundane mortal world. For these garden shards to truly survive they need a guardian spirit, a watcher and tender who will work tirelessly to enable the garden to survive, to prosper, to grow larger than what its original fragmented piece. Some of these guardians are sites given power - the most basic of spiritual forces - while the greatest have humans transformed through a mystical process into a genii loci, one known as a Gaian. These figures of power can be backed by four sources of power (the realms of Magic, Faerie, Divine and Infernal), though all four are part of the once greater united whole that existed in the primordial times of the Earth Garden. Though one of the Gaians cannot truly leave their place of power, their home, their sanctuary, their Garden, they can imbue small pieces of themselves into objects and creatures and then travel around the mundane world with said focus.

Story arcs might include working with the Gaians of other Gardens to try and create a peaceful relationship or to further the goals of the group. Covenants can still exist, being an alliance of Gaians who share a common goal and a common meeting place where they all may gather and created using fragments of their greater power. The alignments of Magic, Faerie, Divine, and Infernal quite clearly provide story lines and both positive and negative relationships between the various groups (though I would remove the utter potency of the Divine, the idea that the primordial Earth Garden was all in one, not four aspects working together and apart).

The magi-level character each player would have would be a Gaian, while the Companion level character might be an human agent or supporter who knows about the Gaians and wishes to support their continued existence and the majesty that they bring to the world. Grog-level characters could be the animals that live in the Garden as well as the human inhabitants to might conceivably live in the villages that could theoretically exist in and around a particular Garden. I could even see allowing a Gaian to have the Gifted Quality and know 'Hermetic' Magic, representing that they are able to utilize the natural magics of existence to effect the world - strongly in their own Garden, at normalized levels outside of it, and pretty weakly in the Garden of another Gaian.

Those who read this, if this concept strikes your interest I would love to have a discussion in terms of campaign organization, magical rules, and story lines. I think theoretically it could be pretty fun, and like I said it has been one of those (of many) ideas that have been peculating in the back of my mind for years now. hehe So yeah, I would love to hear what you all have to say on this. :slight_smile:

Very interesting idea. One of the issues that might pop up is that a lot of the action might be reactionary, such as foiling various plots and events that threaten to damage or corrupt your forest. In cases like that, only the largest events would occur in more than garden at a time. Further, your Gaians are mostly stuck in one place. Together, these factors might not encourage interacting as a group. Instead of having each magi level character be a Genii Loci as described in the book, what about splitting up the aspects of the forest and dividing them between the magi level characters. For example, if you had three players, one is in charge of the forest's animals, one is in charge of the plants, and one is in charge of the weather and water. If you have more players you could divide the aspects farther, so one player might get the birds and another the land animals. These Genii Loci might be entirely separate spirits (maybe some of the them are refugees fleeing from their own destroyed gardens?), or they might be fragmented shards of consciousness that are part of the same entity. Or, this might dilute the individual power level you have in mind...anyway, just an idea.

Yeah that is a good point, and I think the reactionary nature of the saga would be one of the facts that make the game pretty hard to play. Most players want to be proactive, to be the ones to go to a dungeon or a tower or whatever, they don't want to sit at home and place house. Even if said house is the size of a province or kingdom, lol.

A way to create interaction might be have a threat exist that all Gaians are threatened by - maybe call it the Blight, which can course through any and every Garden as a slithering postulance that can corrupt even the stoutest and righteous of Garden.

You idea to make the players lesser aspects (avatars in a way) of the greater Gaian is an interesting one. I like the idea in basic (i.e. that the players have a character they play which is aspected towards an aspect of reality and is part of a Gaian) though I think it would be cool if they also are able to play as a Gaian itself. It really is a good idea, and I like the idea that a Gaian might have lesser genii loci under their control, beings called Archons who represent aspects of the greater being - Archon of Animals, Archon of Plants, Archon of Sea and Sky, etc. Maybe these Archons could be Companion-level characters played by a player and bounded to a Gaian other than their own magus-level character.

An idea, to make adventure possible, is that it becomes possible for a community of Gaians to place portions of their power into a mortal human, uplifted them to a half-status. It is these multi-faceted avatars that go on adventure, that interact with the world itself.

It can also be said that when the original Earth Garden shattered into its myriad of pieces certain passageways were formed from the destruction, and these mystic Roadways connect the individual realms, hold places of ancient power and majesty, and hold enough intrinsic magic that even Gaians can go in them for a season at a time without sacrificing their power or their life force. Obviously, the more use some of these roadways get the more power that becomes intrinsic to them - with the greater ones manifesting as realms of the greater Garden network but also somewhat separate from it.

A further idea I had, which would go quite different from what is normal Ars Magica philosophy, is that the Infernal isn't actually 'Wrong', though it can be said to be evil. That once upon a time in the unified Earth Garden the entity was complete and united, it understood itself and its wants and needs that their was no division. The Shattering itself wasn't just a physical splitting of the once singular Garden into a myriad of shards, it also divided the spiritual nature of the singular entity into four energy aspects - Magic, Faerie, Divine, and Infernal. All are real, natural, and equal to each other - and each have Gaians that naturally are part of it - but they are all motivated by different needs and wants. (Basically, the Infernal would be [in simple D&D terms Lawful Evil, with the Lawful part representing its nature as a part of the greater Garden).

The real enemy, the real force of darkness and corruption, is the Blight.


If you wanted to stick closer to the published setting you could separate the Divine and Infernal realms from the typical setting and make the forests Magical or Fey with dark or light aspects. That could fit more easily with the concept of all the aspects being part of a larger balanced whole. If you go this route, the Divine and Infernal are both acting as blight to the forests. The big advantage here, besides sticking closer to RAW, is that it provides a more nuanced opponent and prevents the players from seeking a final victory condition. If your enemy is a magical blight it is only natural that you players will want to cure or defeat it. If the antagonist is two opposed realms your players are much more likely to try both direct opposition and more subtle strategies of playing one enemy against the other. They also are less likely to expect that they will ever have some final climactic event where they end the Divine and Infernal realms for all time, rather they should focus on gaining advantage in an eternal struggle.

Very interesting ideas. I like the picture of the Gaians, and the whole set-up.

The idea of splitting up the Gaian reminds me of two things. First, there is the "covenant patron" concept from Sundered Eagle. You can have your covenant serve the covenant's "patron", which is the Gaian. I would make him a genius locus with an Aura in his center of power that is based on the spirit's Might, and will advance the Gaian as per the RoPM rules as the PCs obtain his goals. This will increase their covenant's aura (and the spirit's Might), as well as providing all sorts of new Powers for the spirit to draw on and help the PCs with.

The second thing it reminded me of was the game Nobilis, where you play a bunch of godlings forming the Estate of some God (roughly; the game uses other terms). In Nobilis, each godling embodies one idea and together the god encompasses all these ideas (and perhaps some more). The bad guys are the Excursions, that want to undo creation - eliminating one abstract idea from it at a time. Thus, an excurcsian might attack the godling of Chivalrous Love; if he succeeds, there won't be any Chivalrous Love in existence, it would cease to exist in the world.

You might find some inspiration in that game. Your covenant's magi might similarly have a (free ?) Magical Focus that defines and colors their magic, and serve a Gaian that emobides this focus. Different Gaians' realms will differ greatly to fit their foci. And the Blight might wish to undo their existence, eradicating this aspect of existence not only from the defeated Gaian's realm but from all realms, from existence itself. Combining Gaians may allow for a pantheon of "gods" to appear, overseeing a world that embodies all their foci, utlimately building towards a comprehensive world that embodies all aspects of existence.

Anyway - nice ideas, thanks for sharing.

One last idea that just popped into my head. You could also have a counterpoint to the Magic/Fey forests in the Genii Loci of towns/cities/settlements fighting against the encroaching wilderness. Our modern sensibilities paint the wilderness in far nicer terms than the Medieval Paradigm would. The wilderness was a dark and dangerous threat that had to be beaten back, lest it overrun civilization.

If you're going with the 'Garden' idea, you are aware you're also going with a Christian Doctrine, which would be interesting to weld in as a possibility (the truth of which is at SG discretion)?

Namely... Eden.


I like the idea of having divine and infernal aspects be 'coloring' and modifications on Magical and Faerie gardens. I think it gives a more nuanced aspect to this saga idea, which works and doesn't create a single big bad entity that all forces would unite together to fight against. Rather, it creates competition a give and take tug-of-war sort of action, which makes stories so much better.

I would say that the biggest differences between Magical Gardens and Faerie Gardens is how they look at humanity - Faerie Gardens play up human importance, while Magical Gardens seek balance and the empowerment of all (with humans simply being part of said all). And of course Light locations and Dark locations would effect this based on its realm.

I would mention that I wouldn't have the four Realms have their own dimensional places - there isn't Arcadia, at least not in the sense that standard Ars Magica has it. Rather Arcadia might be an ancient Garden ruled by a highly potent Gaian.

But yeah this sort of idea is pretty cool.

Oh, as a note while they are called Gardens I don't automatically assume that they are forest places - most are but not all. Some might be 'vast' oceans with tiny islands. Others might have cities surrounded by walls that lead to nothing. Others might be part forest and part town, with humans and animals both living in accordance with various declarations of the Gaian.

But yeah, I do like the idea of there being a conflict between the Natural Gardens and the Constructed Gardens, considering what sort of resources an produce and philsophies they all create.


Thanks for the positive feedback, I appreciate the kind words and the interesting points.

Yeah, when reading Sundered Eagle that part - that all covenants need to ahve a spirit patron - litterally called out to me and brought a big old smile on my face. Its so cool, I could see so many opportuntiies in a standard game for such a patron to be story seed worthy. Its such a great idea.

I would like to say that I would like to keep the concpet that the magi-level characters are the Gaians themselves, which means each player plays as a Gaian. But all your ideas are perfect for the Companion-level characters that will serve each Gaian. Such figures might be mystically enhanced humans, mundane beings, or even magical creatures of one kind or another.

Using their success as a method to make the continued growth of a Gaian is an interesting one - and one that I like. I could see that if a companion group achieves a major victory we could count their success as 'vis' that can be used to reduce the penalty for Advancement thanks to Might rating. Thus there is a benefit to having adventurers and allies, especially if they are not truly a part of the Garden, for their actions might make it easier for a Gaian to grow and development - even a Magical one whose powers aren't as human based.

I will totally look up Nobilis, I haven't read it before though I have heard of it. Its funny cause its totally in my interests so I am not sure why I haven't gotten my hands on it before. lol

I like your idea on what would happen if a bunch of Gaians came together to create a Pantheon. I think that is a really awesome idea as a sort of campaign goal - getting enough power and majesty and 'land' to be able to create a place which embodies the concepts of the Gaians. I might use some of the ideas from the Wizard's Communion Spell to figure out multiple people coming together. Thus the Pantheon of Gaians become more powerful than the parts - maybe even letting them have Might Pool boosts.

It would be especially interesting if a boost and a bonus was given by allying with a 'dark' Gaian (though not one corrupted by Blight), because having a dark lord like Gaian could enhance its security against the Blight while also giving its people a need for adventure.


Yeah, Eden might be one of the names for the origional primordial Garden Earth. Something happened to remove its all-encompassing presence, something much more grand than humanity simply being kicked out of it. But having some ties to that mythic legend would empower the saga in my opinion. :slight_smile:


I think combining the idea of the Blight as a force that is insidieous in its unconscious need to corrupt and destroy with the idea that Darkness and Light are not realms of power but aspects of Faerie and Magical would be a really cool idea.

As would be the idea that a bunch of Gaians can come together in Covenant, creating a pact between each other and the living beings that fall under their purview. Such pact would give them a special place where they can communally gather and meet and prepare as well as be empowered to fight the forces that might seek to end the Gardens.

Quickly before I go

I, too, thought of nobilis, it seems like you want to reenact it.

What bothers me is that you change the infernal... Yet your description of the Blight is totally it. So, IMO, there's little point in it.

To take back someone's idea, what you could do is play to standard Ars idea of the divine Encroaching on magic. Mix it up a little with Moorcock's idea of Law.

You could have had your unified Garden, who went under assault by the Blight (take the infernal as it is, a force of corruption and evil, it's exactly your description of it). It held it at bay. Not easily, but it was not hugely taxing.

Yet, some day, a new force appeared, de-enchanting the world, eating away at the Garden, saping its strength. Call it the Null, give it the divine's effects of lessening other powers: Where it is, magic cease to exist.
Gaia could no longer hold back the Blight, and was shattered between magical (pure nature) and faerie forces (more aspected toward sentient beings). The Gaeans would have been destroyed by either of the two forces, if these wouldn't have proved as anthitetic to one another as they are to Gaia: The Blight eats at the Null,the Null makes the Blight blank and sterile.
That's not to say that Gaea can't have both Blossom and Decay forces, like Creo and Perdo, Light and Summer, whatever.

Both the Blight and the Null can have servants. The Blight ones have all sort of foul powers and can corrupt Gaeans. Read the infernal, you just want it.
The Null is harder, but I'd say give them all MR, the highest of all realms, powers akin to Perdo Vim to nullify magic and sap Might, and the best weapons and armors of all realm.

So you have the Null vs Gaeans vs the Blight.
AND internal gaeans struggle and dissensiions, between the forces of Creation and those of decay, between Water and Fire, man and Animal...
The Gaians must both survive against 2 different and hostile forces, manage to unite despite their differences, and defeat their ennemies, something they couldn't manage when they were one, at full strength. Good luck.

The Fixer

Its so funny that everybody is mentioning Nobilis, cause despite how seemingly attuned with my interests the book is I have no experience with it. But I fixed that - I went on amazon and ordered the current edition's core book. hehe

Even with that said, I still think that Ars Magica is a perfect system to use to write up and stat and play out such ideas as gods - with its 'freeform' magic system nearly any sort of power can be written up.

Your point is well made, thought provoking and awesome - in every single way. I have been working, which is why I haven't responded yet, but since you posted it I have been going "yes, yes, that is awesome" and quite a lot of ideas have been flowing in my head.

Which of course makes me quite grateful you posted your idea.

I don't exactly like the name Null, and I am thinking of using the name The Void, but in all honesty your idea will be totally used cause its perfect. In fact your entire basic outline of events - The Blight fights Gaia, Gaia is able to balance it out so the fight is nearly eternal, out of nowhere comes the Void which upsets the balance and causes Gaia to be shattered, from the shattered bits comes the much smaller Gardens and Gaians, all seemed lost and then the Void and the Blight started fighting, providing the Gaians with some time to figure out a plan - is totally going to be used as is.

It really is awesome and I totally love everything about it. And I totally appreciate you commenting.


Now I just need to organize my thoughts and the great comments posted up here, try and find a player base, and then try and run a campaign with this concept. While the first couple of activities are quite definitely going to come about - I am not sure about actually playing it anytime soon, though such a thing would be awesome to do!