[Grand Tribunal] How To Incorporate Grand Tribunal into Ars

Hi all

I've recently bought a copy of Grand Tribunal and had a few games, and I think it's an interesting and challenging game.

What I'd love to do is find a way of incorporating a competitive game of Grand Tribunal with our Ars troupe to fit into the events in our Ars Magica Saga. Basically, the idea being that the three players compete in the board game to make an ingame event/ occurrence fall in their mage's favour over the other two.

Unfortunately, none of the mages in our Covenant are Verditus mages, and as such competing to make the best magical item really isn't any of the mages' particular 'cups of tea'.

Anyone got any interesting ideas on how I can incorporate it in?



Hmmm... tricky business.

I'd either simply go with chess or something similar, or dice etc. Or simply invent something new and original with a medieval feel to it. If they are magi and not interested in items it might be a game using terms from Certamen or gauntlets or historical struggles of the Order....

Keep us posted - it's an interesting idea!


As I typically explain it, I designed Grand Tribunal because I liked the magic item creation system in Ars so much that I thought there ought to be a separate game to simulate it. (Of course, the final presentation is a game that someone can enjoy even if that person is not an Ars player.)

But for many of the item names and resource ideas, I thought back to my Ars Magica campaign that I had back in New York. Even though my Magus was not a Verditius mage (he was a Bonisagus "lab rat"), and we actually did not have any Verditius mages at the covenant, we all did very well working on our separate projects. I personally kept a little notebook of my magic item ideas, and during sessions of "down time," I'd strategize exaxctly how many Seasons certain effects would take to invest, and how much Vis I had to collect in order to complete the next stage of each project. I was the Alpha Storyguide for my group, but my Beta took over frequently enough that at the end of the Saga, I had some pretty interesting things, including a monacle that would sense Regios and Auras.

If I were still Storyguiding, I don't know that I would necessarily use a session of Grand Tribunal to pass Tribunals, or to simulate magic item creation. If a player in Grand Tribunal is allowed to keep that Staff of Lightning with the big spells on it, for example, and that item is translated into Ars terms, it might be unbalancing to the game.

I remember running a game of Middle Earth Role Playing (the good ol' ICE system, mind you) using some of the Middle Earth: The Wizards (ME:TW) CCG cards. I was a total fanatic of ME:TW, and I was enamored with all of the cool items, locations, and hazards in the game. So, I took a bunch of ME:TW hazards and made a little "event deck." Every time the players in the RPG seemed to get bored, I had them run into the hazard on the next card, which I picked randomly. Even I didn't know what was coming next, so it was interesting for me. If they were successful, I would pick an item card at random as a recovered treasure. We would use the Locations to choose the next destination for the party, and then I'd make up a reason and the background for why they were adventuring there.

You might consider doing something like this with the Grand Tribunal components. Perhaps you could use the cards like the old Lion Rampant Whimsy cards--you throw one in when needed and it affects the game play. Think of story ideas that the cards would be based on, for example:

  1. Perhaps a neighboring Covenant donates certain enchanted Items to the players' covenant as part of a desperate alliance pact against a powerful enemy; pick five Item cards at random and stat them out using the RPG rules, keeping their names and power levels.

  2. A Magus gets special permission to spend a Season in an exclusive Arcane Library. He finds a rare Grimoire of a forgotten Arch-Mage. Randomly select 8-12 Spells; these are the ones the Magus can choose from to copy.

  3. Take the four Private Mentor Resource cards out of the deck and stat them out as NPC's. They could be itinerant magi who visit the Covenant; pull them at random and let them visit in separate years. Or perhaps any or all of them are Parens of player PC's, who show up from time to time.

  4. The next time players hunt or gather vis, use one of the vis tracks to determine how much they find at the conclusion of the adventure. Each spot in the Uncontested track could be a Season, with the Winter season yielding nothing; the magus who donates a Season to collect the vis gets the larger number, and anyone who shows up late gets less. The Contested "die" on the Grand Tribunal board would be an Ars Magica stress die, but the magi have to do something special to get that many vis, and each magus who wants vis must pay the first for the privilege.

Does that give you some ideas?


Phil Chase

Hi Phil

Thanks for the ideas! I'll hopefully run some of them (if our lead storyguide lets me!).


Wow, I haven't thought about those Whimsy cards in forever.

Off to ebay!

Thanks for a great board game, by the way, lots of fun!