How much should there be of books, items etc.

How common are devices of various levels, and how long do they last?

How common are the high art and ability levels necessary to write good books and how often do those people write them?

How common are magical and faerie creatures of various levels?

I'm starting my first saga and I need to have an idea. Probably going to be Novgorov Tribunal if that helps.

You can express the figures as per magus or per area, whichever seems more reasonable. I'm working on the assumption that each magus gets about 6-7 pawns of Vis a year on average (although obviously it varies a lot) How much more is out there to be used by fairies or magical creatures?

The obvious and unhelpful answer is: as common as you want them to be. Unfortunately, it's also true. The answers to all those questions are very saga dependent. In the interests of being helpful, I can give you my answers. :slight_smile:

In my saga, charged items are fairly common among magi as are lesser enchanted items. Enchanted items are rarer because of the time required to make them.

In my saga, out of 30-40 magi, only 3-4 are old enough to have very high level arts and abilities and only one of those is a particular good writer. In my saga magi of a particular level of skill feel a need to write a least one high level summa, as a prestige thing. Tractatii, on the other hand, are very common.

In my saga, low level magical creatures (might 10-15) are fairly common. Higher level creatures are rarer, perhaps one or two per magical area and truely powerful beings are extremely rare. The strength of a magical creature, in my saga, is directly related to the strength of the aura in which they level. A magical forest with an aura of 2 might be home to a pack of magical wolves (might 10) lead by a more powerful alpha wolf (might 20). A powerful magical hill (aura 6) might be home to an equally powerful faerie king and his entire court.

In the end, it depends on the kind of saga you want to run.

As for books, you can reference Semita errabunda on the Atlas Game website and Covenants:

You will learn about roots and branches there, and see some examples.

Novgorod (with a d) tends to be wilder and less developed. Hermetic neighbors and libraries are fewer, major cities are farther apart.

But LT is right - it's purely a judgment call. You know your players, you know whether they like a challenge or not, what they consider a challenge, and whether they like to swim in "treasure" or not.

If you're starting with a Spring Covenant, do not make "everything" about that a challenge - then there's no room for any other story, and that can get old fast, depending.

Think about what happens in the years before a new covenant gets set up. Older covenants or Parens give the magi some supplies and resources. Maybe they ask for favours in return, maybe not, but the new effort is not without "backing". Maybe they have a neighbor who is in the same boat, and they can trade. Maybe they have a neighbor who is not very friendly, and they can steal from them.

The previous responses to your query have it right, in my view: there's no canonical answer, do what works best for your saga.

Having said that, my opinion is that high-powered sagas tend to lead to conclusions that have non-trivial implications about the game universe at large. One example is a conversation I participated in about apprentice training that moved on to the basic question of: how many +5 Com individuals are there in the world? This doesn't seem like it matters much, but because Com plays directly into the experience a teacher gives a student (and, more importantly for magi, the quality of books written), it can have pretty massive implications.

If you take the perspective that your saga's covenant is the luckiest/most heroic/whatever covenant in the area, and therefore ends up managing to get more vis/books/people/cool stuff than other covenants, your world balance isn't threatened, but political balance with other covenants may be. If word gets out, will other covenant's magi be trying to move in to your covenant, because you've got the best books, tutors, and most vis? Will they be ganging up to take your covenant down?

On the other hand, if you go power-heavy and assume that's normal for covenants in general, I think you tend to run into inconsistencies in the world, such as "why haven't all these hermetic breakthroughs already been made? It's so easy! And how can any faerie be a threat?" (Don't get me wrong; there are ways savvy storytellers can work around those issues.)

I find that the average Saga you hear about runs a bit power-heavy for my tastes. This is understandable, as many RPGs scratch people's wish-fulfillment itches, so they want characters who can be the best at something. If that's what your players want, than I'd definitely recommend trying to come up with a Saga concept that goes well with that.... something properly epic. But if you want something more gritty, aiming to make goodies more scarce would probably be advisable.

The challenges on the frontier tend to be more mythic and less political (compared to, say, Rome), you can probably afford to worry about player balance versus the order at large less. Perhaps have fun with a situation where your characters are the best at their specialties, perhaps that the order has ever seen... but nobody cares, because they're off pioneering outside of civilized society.

In my saga, as far as books go, Higher Quality Books are more sought after than low of course, and great efforts are made to procure and copy these. To me, it doesn't matter that only a few select magi will have a Com of +3 or better &/or the Good Teacher Virtue. All it takes is a few of these guys throughout the ages.

For example, many of you are Tolkien fans (I prefer Howard, but same situation). Tolkien fans often think highly of that author, perhaps ascribing him a very high Com score? Yet we all have read him. Crap writers are many times much more common, but I have read less of their work and more of the Quality work. Bad writers don't often bother writing at all, and mediocre ones don't get circulated much. The really good authors, these are the ones that people seek out, get copied the most often, and would be in the wider circulation. They would also cost more, because people feel that they are valueable enough to demand a price, so keep that in mind.

Actually tolkien is quite a lousy writer. It is the content of his books that matter. To me tolkien books would be high level but low quality summae.



The problem that I have with that logic is that it assumes such books are available for circulation. Just because everyone wants a copy of Bonisagus's personal diary containing the Secrets of Ultimate Power(tm) does not mean that Durenmar lets people copy it, or even read it. More likely, given the way medieval libraries worked, it means that the book is keep under lock and key, perhaps literally chained the a shelf, surrounded by powerful wards and guarded by a fire breathing three-headed dog. Maybe, if you were very nice, had excellent letters of reference from a least three Arch Magi and grovelled a lot, they might let you look at it. Everyone else is stuck with the books you write after having read the Great Book.

Even if some of the great books are available, the quality of the copies... each one painstacking made by hand... comes into question.

People today have read Tolken because we have printing presses, public libraries and bookstores. If you had to copy the entire text of the Lord of the Rings out longhand in order to own it... and could only do so by first finding someone who already had a copy and second convincing him to let you borrow it long enough to copy... I suspect that while lots of people may have heard of Tolken, far fewer would have actually read him.

Actually, I would agree. But my old-old gaming buddies are Tolkien fanatics, so I presumes all of his fans were that way. I myself prefer Howard or Moorcock for the high-fantasy swords & sorcery, or for the more laid back novel style, I am partial to CS Lewis over Tolkien.

But I digress.
Say you are a physicist. Would you rather walk 30 miles and plunk down 20 bucks for a physics book written by me (who has no official science education), or would you rather walk twice as far and pay twice as much for a physics bbook by Hawking or Einstien? I would think the latter would be much more common an occurance than the former.

Assuming that books are available for money, sure I'll pay for Einstien... but my possition is that that's not a valid assumption for the period.

Almost certainly true in many circles, but the Order is explicitly anachronistic in that respect - books, and the trade in books and lab-texts, is very much the lifeblood of the order. This isn't to say that there won't be huge costs in acquiring the good books, and the Cow and Calf Oath means that the spread won't be as rapid as might be possible, but certainly the Redcaps will make it know who has the really good or rare books and what they're willing to trade for them. Getting average books should be easy; getting the very good or rare ones should be a story in itself, but doable.

IMHO, you are comparing apples & oarnges. I am not speaking of a personal diary, a notebook of breakthrough discoveries, or a manual on mysteries. Just Arts, not a mystery to any magus, just Hermetic Arts.

:laughing:, and people think I play high fantasy! Cool idea though. Mind if I swipe it?

No. That is not fun to play, nor is it fun (for me) to mandate to my players. That is much to excessive. Maybe a favor for an Archmagus, or something similar. But not grovelling to three different ones.

My point is that no one wants to put forth this effort on crappy books. Good books get copied and recopied endlessly. Crappy ones gen made into matress stuffing and fireplace kindling. Thus, good books are more common than junk.

I didn't. Just the old cartoons and the later movies. I didn't like his prose style. Too sleepy :smiley:

If I am only gonna copy one book, I am going to make it the best one I can. In this case, I would pass over Tolkien and spend my efforts on obtaining a copy of "The Cat who Walked through Walls" by Heinlien. Aside from a commentary on preference, the point is I would spend my time obtaining the better book. If I am the one who owns the better book, I am going to profit much more from allowing people to copy that one as opposed to the lesser one.

Back to the original topic though; the availability of books of good quality and high level is a very individual thing, set according to thr preferred tone of the saga. Just realize that having a bunch of good books is just as reasonable, if not more so, than having a bunch of mediocre ones. Neither style is more correct than the other (though I will say having the bbetter books will make it easier on you to run the game, IMO). As far as skill level, no one with a negative communication score should bother writing, and at least half of those writers people are interested in trading works by would have the Good Teacher Virtue. I mean, not all of us are writers, right?. Why assume every magus in the Order is trying to publish a book? Setting the "average" text according to the "average" magus seems quite unrealistic.

Actually, you said it much better than I could. Adaquate books should be easy to obtain, bad ones are rare and should be ignored. Good books and excellent books are indeed available. There should be costs; vis, money, favors, etceteras; but they are there if one is willing to put forth the effort to obbtain them.

Be my guest. :smiley:

I've been in sagas where summae above Level 12 are rare and ones where Level 15 is the norm. I've seen sagas where magical items of 3rd magnitude power "spells" are horded and where 5th magnitude are handed out in a hoohum manner to custos and mundanes.

yeah, it varies...

off topic:
No, he wasn't. He was a professor of (Old) English literature. He uses all the tricks of the trade from narrative perspectives, to flashbacks, foreshadowing, imagery. It's all there. Even playing with West Saxon stylistic devices. Some of his works got published unfinished - it's there that you can see the difference.

on topic:
I think the books on creo, corpus and vim should be among the best. Vim-vis is easy to get, and the other two because all magi want to live forever...

OYT: knowing the tools and using them well are 2 different thingsd. The lord of the rings is boring as hell in quite a few parts. It lacks pace for a road/adventure book and it is too descriptive in some unnecessary passages (like the reader has no imagination or something). But that is my impression. YMMV :slight_smile:

More off Topic:

Tolkien was a fatastic storyteller and had a supurb creative imagination. But IMHO, and it seems Xavi's too, he wasn't that great of a writer. He was boring. I fell asleep trying to read LotR so many times. Page after page after page of walking though an Englishesque countryside, page after page of green hills, some cool part with a barrow wight, then Tom Bombadil knocks me unconscious every time. It is just so boring! Now, compare him to Robert E. Howard, who also had a massive abount of unfinished manuscrpts finished and published by other authors. First of all, Howard was an innovator, and he practically invented the sword & sorcery genre we all take for granted today. Every page of his writing is full of interest and excitement. And there is several layers; the surface layer of action, the introspective layer of psuedo history based on real world history, a deeper layer of philosophy and science fiction, and finally a depth of character and personal morality that is hard to catch the first few readings.

To bring it somewhat back closer to topic, I would rate Tolkien as having a higher Level (for the ability of Fantasy Lore I suppose), whereas Howard either had a higher communication or some special virtue, as I feel his writing is of a higher Quality. I say that solely based on the fact that he can keep my interest and I will absorb more reading his books than Tolkien's.

I'll use that statement to segway into this: I think the old school "Strong Writer" Virtue makes more sense than "Good Teacher". One can be an excellent writer but a lousy teacher in person. The old virtue also affected the speed at which you write, which I also think is more realistic.

And once again I have managed a post that carries discussion even further off topic. Sorry :mrgreen:

Most pupils think that Shakespeare and Joyce are boring. Most people seem to agree that they are great writers (and yes, it can be argued that Middleton and Sterne are even greater). So greatness has nothing to do with not boring.
And yes (again), Tolkien can be horribly boring sometimes.

To me that reads "high level, low quality" :slight_smile: