How do you educate your players

Although I have been running Ars over perhaps 5 years, I run the game fairly infrequently. We are only just about getting round to having a second Storyguide involved. The players therefore have not invested in books other than the core rules.

How do you impart the information to the player that the characters would have? Particularly, now that HoH:S has arrived, how do you get the house information to them (particularly without just giving them the whole chapter - where's the mystery if you know everything?)

I've used copying certain parts of a chapter for Guernicus but it's slow!

Thanks in advance.

Okay, first thing... buy more books.

Right, if you can't get your troupe to do that then I'd simply suggest lending them yours and letting them fill their boots. In all honesty I think they'd gain far more than whatever they might lose through knowing too much. The art of a great story is not the end, of course, but how you get there. The more the players know and look for and anticipate the easier your job becomes. They're doing half the work of enthusing themselves already.

Hi Cornelius!

I agree. And especially when playing a troupe-style game. But then again it is all about the game you want, and frankly the maturity of the players (including oneself :blush: ) - but those two should go hand in hand regardless.

I havent gone as far as to buy extra books, but I see the point though. 3 of my players have core books of their own, and one player bought the specific House-book himself and one played I've handed a copy of his House - the rest time will tell as their houses are covered in the latest book.

I think most of all it is instrumental to "educate" through playing - not only because it is more fun, effective and contextual - but also because those details are often what makes Mythic Europe come alive ingame. And there are so many ways to do it without it turning into a lecture - as side comments to descriptions, dialogue etc.
I knew it would be very important when I started this troupe some odd years ago - and was more less as new to me as to them (beside a few trial runs and having collected and read the game for years), which is why as mentioned before I made my troupe start as apprentices. And we actually ended up playing apprentices only (and grogs/companions) for more than 2 years of real time. Beside having a blast from it, it was a great way to time the learning curve of players and characters alike smoothing them into the world and the mechanics aswell.

Finally - handouts. I had created a lot of info, IC and OOC, on the specific setting etc - but I've also made ingame handouts on the Order. The first session for example was a lecture in latin and of course the Code was the used text. Beside a small recitation in latin (the apprentices in choir from a latin handout with heaps of fun.. (never put a grumpy flambeau to do such a job..)) then shifted to our own language after a bit of jawbreaking on the latin and continued on, giving them an introduction to the Code.

One apprentice was taught a lot of Artes Liberales and Order of Hermes Org Lore - to which I made an IC handout text on the Order's History (written by his master) complete with illuminations and flayed parchment - beside hopefully being inspirational to read it was also an object ingame making it possible for the characters to relate to, having an opportunity to discuss it, and thus take the information to heart while at the same time establishing the mood.

Having said that, it is a continuing challenge - and I guess a forum like this is partly appealing because of the possibility to discuss some odd or small details in depths - which might not always for various reasons happen within a troupe.

And why should they? I'm sure the nice people at Atlas would like to sell more copies, but it shouldn't be necessary for everyone to have a whole library of books just to play the game!

I always try to avoid buying more than a minimum of published material for any game system that is being used by any of my roleplaying friends. I do that partly because one of them may have chosen to use published scenario material and I don't want to see spoilers, and partly because any of them may have chosen to change or ignore some part of the published material so what's in the books won't be true for their games.

Similarly, I never use the published background and world setting when I run a game. I've run a fair bit of RuneQuest over the years, but never used the world of Glorantha as a setting. I appreciate the setting, and I enjoy the stories I've read that are set in and about it (especially Oliver Dickinson's Griselda stories, which are well worth a read even if you don't play RQ), but I don't use it in my games. Why not? Because I can't be bothered to learn it well enough - my players have read those things too, and if I use the setting at all they will expect me to adhere to the published canon. If I have to work hard enough on the background to get it right, that spoils my enjoyment of the whole GMing process, if I do a half-arsed job it disappoints the players and spoils their enjoyment. I've no time for it. This is my story, dammit, not Greg Stafford's!

Mythic Europe is a bit different. It's based, to an extent, on true history. There's something somehow worthy and satisfying about learning about actual historical events; something that doesn't come from learning about someone else's fictional universe. The Houses of Hermes are quite entertaining, in their way, but the more published material there is about them the less likely it is that I'll ever use them in a game I run. I may buy the books and pinch the ideas - the same laziness that disinclines me to learn them well enough to run them encourages me to do that - but I won't be using them because it's too much trouble.

I always find, as a player, that the most satisfying way to learn about the game world is through play. Let the characters find things out in game-time, don't expect the players to know it all already.

I recently asked a good friend, who is SG for a saga in which I play very occasionally, what he thought of the Covenants book. I thought the book might be useful as the SG of the group in which I play regularly is talking about getting us to set up our own covenant - and he's the type of SG who likes to use the published canon where possible. He said "Well, it's quite nicely done, but it's mostly a lot of rules for things that you don't really need rules for." Unfortunately there's a lot of books like that about.

Your frequency of play will certainly determine your need for additional rules..
Our group plays almost weekly, and we have at least two copies of each book. We have found certain books that the usefulness isn't there, so we only have one of those. Usually, this patterns around what the books are about. Books that directly impact someones character, will always spawn multiple purchases. The various Order books fall into that catagory. Books that add fluff to the game usually get bought only once...Indeed the Covenants book falls into this catagory. While wonderfully written, you would only use this to fill in your game. If you are only playing once a month or less, you probably don't need this one. City and Guild would also fall into this catagory...

Furion, is there any chance of you putting on the web your briefing documents? They sound the sort of thing that other GMs would like to pirate or adapt for their own campaigns.

Indeed, an Ars Magica equivalent of the 'What my Father Taught Me...' briefings from 3rd edition RuneQuest would be a useful thing for all...

Beside the sheer size I would... if it wasnt in Danish - which probably isnt much use to you. But it was based on a text in back of the 3rd/4th edition Houses of Hermes (before we had the new ones). The latin version of the code is already out there on the net - but that was more of a tool than a proper introduction in itself.

Being in Danish I can cope with! :slight_smile: Actually, how much you want the players to know does vary a lot from saga to saga. I think I discuss the issue in TMRE actually. I generally favour letting the players go a their own pace, and read as they choose now - I can't control their buying the books, and some do while others don't. The one thing we have found indispensable though is having multiple copies of the core rule book, as many players seem to find a great deal of pleasure in plotting ans scheming their advancement between sessions.

Still, I would enjoy seeing more handouts, like a 'Quick Start Guide to the Houses' for absolutely new players. I'll write one for the Atlas Site if it doesn't already exist and anyone is interested?

cj x

I'd definitely be interested.

Not in need for one just at the moment but would definately still be interested as well.