Is it my troupe or the game?

I've only been playing ars magica for a year now. I love it. Some things I don't seem to get though.

The campaigns I've been playing in are pre-spring covenents, as in our characters meet for the first time in the first session. We generaly cannot get along long enough to form a covenent. Or do any lab work.

Many times I make sacrifices to my character in order to "get the story going" but then the other characters get the quisetors attention. Sigh.

Is it my Troupe or is it that all Magi are super paranoid, genocidal, megalomaniacs?

The amount of paranoia and lack of cooperativeness tells me that in the universe i play, the Order of Hermes cannot exist. It would have destroyed its self.

It is probably just your troupe. The characters are too chaotic &/or the SG is too strict. Try starting a game in the middle, a Summer covenant with some older magi above the players (to help keep them in line and protect them from the Q's).

Yah, it may be the troupe.

This last week we got into it, in and out of character...

The other characters got on my case because i wanted to "scry" for an invisible magus spying on us, since scying is illegal. I didn't want to dispell the guy's invisibility, because that would be an "attack" on another magus...

But i couldn't rationalize my character standing around with an invisible magus that she saw as a threat.

Of course it's a bit of both.

Magi should be a bit paranoid, especially about each other. So it's absolutely normal that your magi don't always work together too well. (In fact, it's one of the aspects of the game I really like)
After some time you should be moving on however. IMHO playing for a year should at least get your covenant started up.

Discuss with your players what they think about the situation. Maybe they too feel that your saga should progress some more. You can agree on diving into stories a bit less, not following up on every mistake a magus makes, that should speed up play.
From my limited experience I can say that playing out a developing covenant is quite rewarding. Playing the apprentices of other players' magi is also a nice role play opportunity.

Oh, and by the way: if other magi don't agree with your actions, simply don't tell them what you're doing. :smiley:

I think you made a particular fatal flaw:

THe PC's ALWAYS need a good reason to work together as a group. PC's who don't know each other typically RP out severe distrust of other players and rarely get along.

You need to change that. The fundamental assumption for starting out in my games is "you know each other and mostly get along, and here is why (insert solid logic here.)"

Give them a common enemy. Or, at least provide a threat large enough that they have to work together to deal with it. Or an opportunity so tantalising that they choose to work together rather than let the real enemy take the prize.

So, what if their covenant suddenly fell into ruin? Overnight. With no warning. How did it happen? Who made it happen? Why? How do they make it right again?

What if a new covenant formed very close by and started sending scouts into their land?

And, bearing in mind that you can do anything you like in your saga, what if a nearby covenant suddenly disappeared leaving all its stuff behind. Either you get it or the other covenants raid it.

Probably a bit of both.

The setting description does seem to imply that a certain amount of antisocial behaviour is normal for the order.

As for your specific case, the magus in question (if present) was clearly scrying on you, thus granting forfeit immunity.

In general though, it's probably best to start with an established covenant as this means the magi don't have to work with each other quite so much.
Another suggestion is to employ a troupe method so that only one player is running a mage at any given time.

Point out the following

  1. If you are not a covenant, any covenant in the tribunal can claim the vis sources as belonging to it (no vis for study)
  2. No covenant, you don't have resources and skills to get books, paper and all the other supplies mages need.
  3. No covenant and you lose access to potential inventive power of your fellow magi
  4. No covenant and you have little bargaining power at tribunal

These are the reasons mages form covenants. If you do it in the Rhine tirbunal, you even get a bunch of books, vis and other gifts to get started. Do it in Normandy and you have to have covenant to have claim on a vis source. Do it in the Loch legean or Novgorod tribunals and you have non-hermetic enemies to deal with.

Unlike D&D where if you don't form a group, you potentially can work independantly and grouping is only for short term threats. For magi, the covenant is a HUGE long term advantage and a necessity that can obviously be pointed out. Nomadic wandering only works in D&D, not in Medieval Europe.

As for the issue of scrying for invisible mage within the limits of your Aegis, guess what. That is legal. A covenant has the right to locate trespassers and insure their security (see True lineages and scrying). In fact using magic to invisibly spy on other mages is violating the scrying prohibition.

Before embarking in an Ars Magica saga I find it really useful to have a round table with the other gamers. There you can discuss the kind of saga you want, the level of combat you are searchinf for, how fast paced stories or long reaching story arcs, if they ar eintereste din politics, mundane stories, battleling Statanas or a great dragon.... and how the diverse characters plan to fit into the consensus story that you get out of this.

Starting in spring is a mistake we made repoeatedly as well. Our first really successful saga was set in an autumn covenant. The basic settlement was already stablished and we had some superiors to chastise us AND solve the mess if we performed badly. It was constraining, but it allowed a bunch of hotheaded players coming from LOTR (played DnD style) to find a much more narrative approach to roleplaying. After that we have played in summer, spring and autumn, but that first saga taught us quite a few things that we had been failing to grasp in our "let's get up from scratch" approach in our previous failed sagas. :slight_smile:

And yes, magi can be bickering. In 2 of the successful sagas we have played, 2 of the players have killed each other in wizard's war. That is not counterproductive at all if it makes the story advance and it is cool. In our case, it has been :slight_smile:



I should mention that i am a player in the troupe, not the story teller. Our storyteller is really good... It's just our characters rarely start off knowing each other. And everyone, PC and NPC, is so paranoid they never work together.

I would assume that somewhere in the world there is at least on covenant that does work together. Does trust each other. That one covenant would almost overnight become the most powerful force in the world, since every other magus in the world is a back biting, cut-throat, self centered megalomaniac, unable to work with anyone else.

Simple game theory. In a zero sum game cooperation breaks down, but in non-zero sum games cooperation is king. Since every other person is cut-throat looking for Win-Lose scenarios and the cooperative covenant will be looking for Win-Win scenarios. ie trading books, working together on discoveries, trading vis, sharing lab texts, or dare I say... all learn Wizard's Communion.

Thanks for the input. I'll bring it up at our next game. It is getting old not ever getting into forming a covenant and never doing lab work.

In the last campaign we played my character was killed after casting an Intellego Corpus on another PC to determine what was wrong with him, so i could make a decent Medicine roll.

I think that sometimes, people get caught up in roleplaying the generality of the character personality they have contrived, and forget that sometimes even the most fanatic person will find peace with the enemy or reach compromise. Personally, if I had a living enemy I'ld keep him close... if nothing else I can use him/her for cover or concealment :smiling_imp:

Point being, that from my experiences with 3rd and 4th edition Ars and my limited experience with 5th, groups much find a way to come together or else they will not survive the politics of Mythic Europe... Lets face it, annoy a couple of flambeau magi and you'll find yourself receiving notice of multi-partisan wizard's wars you'll probably not live long enough to see the end of. If character concepts breed conflict that overflows into wizard's war between players ... so be it, that can turn into a story all its own. (Does the war cause damage to resources claimed/used by other magi? Is anyone taking wagers on who will win? Are any companions or grogs partisan, biased, or motivated to act? Stories evolve) If you aren't one of the magi involved in such a war... do you offer to hide a target magi within your sanctum? A huge favor, that can give birth to a strong bond.

Just my two pence...

Sometimes too, someone has to change character because things don't exactly mesh. My current offline saga (vs my pbp ones), one player changed his character because his Mercere had alienated one of the founders repeatedly and his house had offended that maga and such. He made a new character that was doing well until he moved away.

The original SG had made a flambeau which he has since sent away and will be making a new character. We had a jerbiton queasitor that had been set up for failure (political move to show why only Guernicus should be queasitors) vanish into faerie and now he is playing Flambeau Auram specialist. Even outspoken Marko Markoko who rarely backs down on anything played his character and decided to change the character for one that better fit the chronicle and saga (one that didn't creep himself out so much).

Your saga is too soft and timid for Valten :smiling_imp:

I think it's the other way around, I and my characters are too soft for the saga and for the game setting.

Actually, he was referring to the saga he is in with me. Our mages had developed good mundane relations and alliances while Marko brought in a mage who believed in killing any mundane authority that wanted to bring him in for questioning. Ruthless and killer who believed mundanes should be serving mages. Add in blatant gift and proud and it was definately a trick.

lol sounds par for the course in the troupe i play. That is a proto-typical character in our troupe. Can get nothing done when everyone is like that.

Even the most obnoxious characters can work together, if they have a reason. Most of my characters are fairly strong willed , self centered and antisocial ALL of them have worked in a covenant because they see it as a good thing for them or they have codes of Homour or loyalty , despite the fact that in one off line game my character hates or is hated by pretty much every other PC and most of them don't like each other, we work together because the assets from the covenant are valuable there are plenty of outside threats and killing your fellow magi is just too much hassle .
I think the key is to make sure there is a reason to work together , and to not obsess about breaking the code which seems to be a theme. As long as you don't do anythign blatant with comeback to other magi there will not be a problem if occasionally you kill a mundane , or while doing some reasonable action scry on another magus by accident certainly you should not get marched for that. If a PC in a campaign I was playing in decided to kill anothe PC because he had used an InCo spell to help him I would have no choice but to kill the madman in cooperation with as many others as possible before he gets upset that I breathed to loud at him, seriously if the other players are that trigger happy and psycho play Paranoia instead until they get bored of being trigger happy maniacs

In one of the first groups I was in the troupe was pretty explicit about the difference between character and player, in that as new people joined, the player might be welcomed openly, but it might take an iteration or two to build a character who was accepted by the other magi. And sure enough a couple players brought in a new magi, applied for membership, and pissed off a character or two and wasn't invited in.

But this was a way to find a character who jelled with the group without there being a problem for the players themselves.

I totally understand that. I would like it if that were the case. I think my troupe is just dysfunctional; I may need to go looking for another group to play with. We keep starting with the whole group as "just out of apprenticeship" magi.

It's kinda hard to find motivation for a character that wants to hang out with other magi with no resources, no books, no vis... and then one of them goes on a killing rampage.

Nearly a year and 3 campaigns later... we're starting over and boom, satyr blooded female with epic presence and Venus blessing gets mistaken for a demon in the first 5 min, fight ensues. Even though the aggressor has fairy lore... the player just decides not to roll.