How to get a campaign going?

I've been with Ars Magica since mid-4th edition, but I haven't been able to play it much. I started running it when the 5th edition came out, but all the campaigns seem to fall apart after a few sessions.
The players I most often have in the group are used to D&D, and they're not very active when it comes to "in-character" roleplaying. But they really want to play in a stable campaign, but for some reason things just slow down and it keeps falling apart. As a Storyguide, I get bored when the players don't take the initiative to do things, and since I like to play "in-character" with NPCs, I often feel it can overwhelm the players in roleplaying scenes.

So, I have yet to play in a good and stable Ars Magica campaign. Maybe it's because I live in Oslo, and there seems to be few Ars Magica groups here, at least from my experience. Or maybe we should just go for a different rpg with this group? But since Ars is my favorite, I would love some good advice too get the campaign going. Specific advice on how to start the campaign, what kind of characters and covenant to go for, are also very welcome.



try starting with more action and then ween them off it as you bring in more roleplaying?

I know a few people in Oslo interested in getting a campaign going, but we seem to have the same problem.

Always something in the way, either an exam, a holiday trip, or a party.

I think you really need at least one more person in the troupe, in addition to the most regular storyguide, that takes initiative when it comes to building the setting and premises for the campaign.

One problem we've had of course, is that I've been studying in England the last three years, but with Google Earth and Skype at hand we might try to set up something anyway. Maybe based around a website that includes the necessary resources.

I always like to have some historical backdrop to keep it more real so the fact that I need to research stuff has slowed progress down as well.

Work on the greed....

Give the one that takes the most initiative, and give that person the most goodies, and that extra point of experience...

Include an NPC to give them hints or as an example...

I would love to get a good campaign going in Oslo, as Storyguide or player. Would be great. Maybe we could get some people together? :slight_smile:

Perhaps there is hope? :unamused:


Maybe, if you have a bit of patience. At the moment I'm too busy with work, and in the beginning of September I'm going back to England for a little while, possibly a longer while. I won't know till around mid-September whether I'll be staying in Oslo or London the next few months.

Well, there should be more Ars Magica-players in Oslo.. even good ones. But if it's one rpg I have alot of patience with, it's this one. :stuck_out_tongue:


Try getting more players, like six or seven of them and play with whoever shows up. That way you get on average three to four players for every session. That's using one of ArM primary strenghts IMO, as it's uniqely suited for that kind of campaign.

I agree that you might want to start the campaign off with a bunch of action, then once things settle down, ease in the role-playing.

Perhaps it's a winter covenant, where a recent disaster occurred. The characters are recruited to investigate and then get rid of the problem.

Did a diabolist live at the former covenant, and set loose something big and bad? The demon destroyed the covenant, and left a bunch of demon-lings behind. These have been ravaging the contryside. Plenty of combat to do in the beginning, then the mages get to explore the old ruined covenant and find creepy things, magic items, old library, etc. Eventually, as they must recruit new custos, the role-playing begins. Later, once the players are strong enough, they must destroy the big bad demon....

Anyway, good luck out there....

Well, if you have players who are more into D&D, you could even set a Saga up a bit like a D&D game, where maybe just one player is a magus and the others are companions or grogs, and they're wandering about, getting into trouble, having adventures while the magus is looking for a covenant to join. At some point, if they find one, other players can create their own magi as they please and move on from there...

Try to somehow get them interested in the strengths of the magic in Ars: Lab Projects and Spontaneous Spells.

Once they get it, that they can try and make up any spell, either to just cast or to invent and later on master, that ought to do the trick.

If one were very cunning and plotting against them, set them up! Research their spells, and make a situation where none of their spells are truly relevant, but their Arts are high enough to improvise said magic. If this pays off well enough, they might even run to their Labs to actually invent formulaic versions of these. The spell lists are fine, but this is the game where you should not be limited by this, once creativity sets in, these things should move under own accord. If you always seem to miss that particluar spell, you'll invent it! Just make sure they don't get disheartened if all their formulaic spells from the book are useless.
Getting this started, their next magus will have more home-brewed spells due to experience.

Build the covenant together, so everybody gets a say (within reasons), that way they might feel more inspired. Start out with a few important NPCs, friends, allies, rivals. Have someone turn on them! That should get them fired up, because treachery is unforgivable. Invent some gimmick or mcguffin to base the starting stoires about. A priceless artefact, an ancient book, precious gems or materials for lab work, mythic animals. it need not be something they can use right now, but something they don't want their rivals or enemies to have, and then have the gimmick change hands more than once. It must be something they cannot easily protect.

If they're used to D&D, have the enemy Magi have lots of grogs they can slaughter! No orcs? Kill something else! Zombies, demonic creatures etc.


If they absolutely cannot be steered away from D&D (rolls eyes) then there is this possibility I stumbled across in a random Ars search a while back... ... /index.htm

It seems to be based on 4th ed rather than 5th and I can't say how extensive its transaltion into d20 it is (since I wouldn't touch D20 or any D&Desque system with a 10 foot staff) but if it helps, enjoy!

Well, I've given up making an Ars campaign with that group. I'll rather go for my other (and quite different) setting, Iron Kingdoms. They're more suited for that.
But I'm a player in another Ars group now, so I don't mind :slight_smile:


Yes, sadly some so-called gamers have no imagination beyond rolling dice. lol. Their loss.