Keeping it a little low, a little gritty

Folks, as we have received so many books for the line, I am noticing an interesting phenomenon as I rev up my own little saga (I've been playing but not running for years, now). It seems that the setting is getting getting ... polished. I'm not really complaining, mind you. Love the books -- even the parts that some of the older players seem to complain about (Criamon, Flambeau, blah, blah, blah). But it seems that as I have been getting a broader scope of vision and as that vision has resolved finer detail, I'm struggling just a bit to maintain a sense of the effort of living, the fight for knowledge, and the wonder and tragedy of lost things.

So, how do you do it (or not)?


1.) Be willing to houserule anything

2.) Through out any part of the setting that bothers you.

3.) Develope a good premise that you have good group buy in for. "i.e. Hey I want to play a game about a spring covenant of desperate young magi forced into a horrible cursed swamp, because there are Too Many Magi, and this is one of hte last places to go. "

Well, I haven't GM'd enough of a saga to really answer that, but in the saga I'm playing, the GM maintains a really incredible balance. He's really good about dangling carrots in front of us, then just as we (finally) get it, a new carrot is there to take it's place. If I'm reading you right... I think this is key. And just when the players are getting complacent (or just downright stupid), he snatches something away from us, or gives us a Sophie's choice situation, where we'll lose something of value either way.

A couple of things that help with the "grittiness" however:
a) we're in Novgorod Tribunal, which is vast, empty, filled with Pagans, and now the Mongols are invading.
b) we had a lot of work to do to set up our covenant in the middle of nowhere, and spent a lot of game-time arranging for resources, new trade routes, etc. We got peripherally involved in the Crusader siege of Riga, and were able to gain additional covenant folk from the refugees there.
c) the various covenants in the tribunal bicker a lot, and each fills a "role" -- miltant, learned scholars, experimental magic, reclusive, etc. So each has a kind of personality at the tribunal. We find ourselves the deciding vote on crucial issues. This has been an important part of this story: even though we (were) one of the weaker covenants, we were at the center of things because we were willing to be "adventurers." It helped that we were given a dark prophecy that spoke of the end of the world, which included 4 elusive artifacts that might prevent this apocalypse....
b) did I mention the Mongols are invading?

So if you're looking for grittiness, I'd say look for a mythical setting that you find dirty and intriguing, and set your saga there. Look for conflict... there certainly is plenty of that in Mythic Europe. ... as there is now.


Thanks for the replies.

So let me broaden the question a bit. To keep the OoH special and powerful, how do you show that special-ness off? My current thinking in a very dry sort of way is to limit the number Gifted hedgies to no more than 1 for every 5 or 6 magi in the Tribunal (more, perhaps, on the fringes) on the theory that an un-Gifted hedgie is, with rare exception, not a powerful one as well as the idea that Gifted folks get snapped up as apprentices pretty quickly by the Order before they are too far gone.

Other ideas?


Keep Parma Magica and all forms of Magic Resistance out of the hands of hedgies, and the Hermetic magi will naturally reign supreme :smiley:

I usually run stories for one magus at a time, with the other players playing companions and/or grogs. No magus is a master of everything so there are plenty of ways to challenge a lone magus, and yet every magus is good at something so there is always a chance to play to his strengths and let the player enjoy the power a bit. If you play with 4 or 5 magi then pretty much it just becomes a question of which specialist steps to the front and solves the problem with a couple of spells. There's a huge difference in the play experience. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.

Along with this, make sure that hedgies lack the learning resources that the Order has. The biggest advantage the Order of Hermes has is the legacy of centuries of cooperation across Europe, represented by its libaries. Members should be able to learn more quickly and more broadly than other magicians.

We tend to do the same. We even plan who is going to be in the next adventure in advance, so the SG can plan accordingly and present a start scene that could rise the interest of several magi, but where only one goes out.


In an area with extremeist magi, there are no hedgies(join or DIE!)... :wink:

Everywhere else i would assume MORE hedgies than OOH Magi. They can rarely compete with hermetic magi, and keep Parma out of their hands(as you should) and they will only be a threat or problem if you want them to be.