Library Worries?

Hey all,

I'll be starting my Venice Saga next week and am currently finishing off the covenant creation bits and bobs and need some advice on power levels.

But first up, a brief overview of the saga concept - Runied Winter Covenant in Venice is being re-establish by freshly gaunleted magi at the request of the Rome tribunal. The last former member disappeared 5 years ago.

I've been building up the covenant with the idea that the library is mostly intact from its winter status, a few enchanted devices remain (many were traded out in its downfall) but they dont know of any Vis sources and have no mundane income to begin with...

So the library is quite the point that with Magical,, Mundane and spell texts I have spent 1154 points....which is huge according to the power levels...but the magi are all fresh from gaunlet (it made character gen easier as they are all newbies) - so they wont want for books but vis and silver is gonna be a major problem (they have 10 Vim in stock and 200 pounds of silver)..

Have I gone a little overboard for the Library?



Any saga's details are a matter of taste, but for my taste? Yeah, it's too much. Of course the details surrounding the Tribunal's 'request' might be relevant. I have a hard time believing that if the Winter covenant was disbanded by the Tribunal, that there wouldn't be a fire sale on those books. It's surprising that magi who could have used their votes to profit from the declaration of disbanding, instead decided to hand it off to newbies.

My solution is that the library isn't actually in tact. Cut down the 'available' books to something more reasonable. Assume that the rest of the books are there, but damaged in ways that make study from them not worth while. I'd then have the new covenant chartered by the Tribunal to do what it can over the next couple of decades to restoring the rest of the library as a 'Common' library for the whole tribunal (sort of like they do in the Normandy Tribunal). This way I can see the incentives working out such that a tribunal vote to give the new covenant to newbies seems rational. Mind you, to a certain extent, they'd have to be newbies that are largely trusted (anyone got hermetic prestige?) and or policed (any Quaesitores in the group that could be put 'on assignment'?).

By my tastes, yes, you have. Books are the main mechanism for power-leveling magi's arts. And chances are high that the magi will try and take some of the books they don't want and pawn them off for the vis and money they need. (But, if they're all busily reading Q15 books for several years, they probably won't be in a hurry to get vis... who needs to make stuff when there's all this to learn? :slight_smile: )

A lot of people like high power campaigns, of course... so if that's your poison, then you're probably not terribly far from where you want to be.

I would say its just fine. Its proper to the theme and having a huge library wont help them rescue the finances or get any Vis needed, so they will likely be quite busy with that. It should be a good tradeoff.

Only if you expect a VERY long saga where you totally do NOT want anyone to reach powerful levels, only then might it be a problem.

While i totally disagree with your "taste affirmation", i most certainly do agree with the above, there needs to be a reason both for so much of the library being untouched and intact as well as for being left in the care of "noobs".
An alternative to above could be to send a couple of old, powerful, high prestige and totally excentric magi NPCs along, with them being formally the leaders, but they´re just happy to be left alone...
A possible explanation for the library could be that its a chapter house for a powerful covenant that might be too disorganised to "get to it" until now, or simply had no "free" magi willing to go there and get the place back in shape, and instead some sort of deal was done with these newbies, like perhaps free priority access to the library or maybe free copies of it.

Libraries can go much higher as well in points without being a big problem(exception being the one i mentioned above, long saga where the SG wants power levels kept low).

What's to disagree with? That different groups have different tastes in the way that the enjoy the hobby would be self evident I would think. Are you saying that I should have been more strongly 'against' his library? I am strongly against it, but would only say so without necessarily passing judgment that it was 'wrong'. It could be 'right' for his game, depending on the particulars of how he and his troupe want to proceed. As such, I feel comfortable in my position without feeling the need to dictate to others on what is ultimately a matter of style (and therefore subjective).

Not at all. The Lirary I am using is at least two or three times that size, and everything has worked out just fine. Mind you, not worrying about size has allowed me to do some interesting things like toss in a few useless or redundant books (more than one summa on the same topic) and cover topics other libraries never touch (a Tractatus on Bargain for example).

Play with power. The story then becomes a matter of what the characters do with their power. And in consideration of their shortcomings (littl vis or silver, no TV and no beer), I think that a high level / quality library is almost a necessary trade off. They need to survive somehow, and book trading/copying may very well b the niche they need to prosper.

The way we've run the library in our current saga is to not have one.

By that I don't mean that we're all wierdy-beardy magi who don't have or need a library, just that as a troupe we didn't sit down to design it. We have a set number of points (I guess, I don't run the library) and we fill it as we go. So long as it seems reasonable at the time of request it goes in the library and eats up a slot. Once we've used it, it exists within the library, because frankly until we use something it doesn't matter whether it's there or not.

That means that we avoid the whole library design thing, allows us access to story-progressing content as we need it, and allows the SG at the time to make a decision on whether getting the book/spell/casting tablet is something he wants to play through as a story event (the book having been eaten by a gribbly who must now be found and learned from... etc) or is happy just to hand it over.

All that said, 1100 sounds a little high just to dish out.

As the above people have said, a good in-game justification of the large library is important, and can help color the saga to boot.

One possibility is to have all of the books there, but initially hard to access (in part or in whole). Is there some reason that the magi formerly in residence could have set traps or wards on various rooms, or perhaps there are magical obstacles between the PCs and the books that emerged from whatever event caused the old covenant to be abandoned? That way, just getting access to the awesome library becomes story potential.

So far, the Library of Andorra is up to 2606 points (so I guess saying 3x the size was an exaggeration). That library is posted here on the Atlas Forums in my PbP game. Anyone and everyone is free to use it for designing their own libraries. I myself swiped the title of a book or two from Ars fan sites way back in the 90’s

Min you, this only represents a portion of the library. I did not stat the lower quality miscellaneous texts of the General Library that visitors can use. Just the Exclusive Library used by member magi. And I still have not included the Lab Texts as of yet.

Running Grand Total (156 Books, 2606 Points)
Subtotal of Arts (60 Books, 1046 Points)
Subtotal of Arcane Abilities (59 Books, 706 Points)
Subtotal of Academic & Other Abilities (37 Books, 854 Points)

Marko, I did use Andorra's library as a guide :wink:

My library contains a couple of books that surpass the limits of core - I stole the Bible idea (L9 summae on Theology), also have a L9 Summae for Magic Theory. Alot of the other mundane books cover aspects of political interaction, as the covenant was the usual meeting place for tribunal meetings of Rome (and will continue to be, to keep the players on their toes).

The reason the library is intact and hasnt been looted is simple - most of the other covenants in the tribunal are old and powerful, and they did not want their competitors to have access. This lead to no one having access. So a decision was made to have it re-established by fresh magi from their gaunlets; preferably from beyond the Tribunal.

I have quite a few plot idea to keep them busy in the early years - interactions with the Dodge (introductions, thenlater, hes gonna ask for help in gaining trade rights to the black sea [was lost when Constant.. fell]), despites between convenants needing to be settled held at the covenant, finding new mundane wealth sources (the first story), finding new vis sources.

With only 3 players,at least 1 magi will be busy every season probably (just because of the ressources they lack, it will likely be a slow saga to begin with).

I also gave the library a couple of themes, there are especially good texts on Aquam and Aura (one former magus was a powerful weather magus), another theme of mentem magics due to politicing.....

And finally, I am a fairly generous SG - often giving out more XP (in other systems) than recommanded in the books just because I like my players to have options for their characters.

Cheers all


Awesomeness :smiley:

A strong library can be a source for some interesting stories, especially since older and more powerful magi will want access to what you have. Jelousy :smiling_imp: . Further, it opens the posibility of exchanging copy work or scribal hospitality (giving visiting magi an excuse to put around your library season is always a good storyhook). Finally, since you are using the Andorra library, you may notice that I buried story hooks in the descriptions of the titles. One of my players is planning a beta story based off of ideas he got from one of those books.


I must admit that currently I'm not using the expanded rules for quality of books (unlike Andorra), as I havent yet got my head round them - but I'll put some time into reading them throughly sometime soon(ish).

Another point I have yet to do is come up with author names for the books - I am trying to find a name generator somewhere that randomly genreates old european names, but so far no luck...

All of my players are newbies to Ars Magica so I'm not sure if they'll notice the details of the libraries books or not...but having visiting magi come visiting is gonna be a major feature - as every 'old' covenant is gonna come calling trying to make 'friends' and bad mouth their enemies to this new covenant (it is so vauble as its in a magical Regio in the heart of Venice with a Magic Aura of 6 at the highest level..)


Eh, exactly what i said? Sorry if you took it as something more than it was meant to be.
Just a matter of stating that while i disagreed with your taste i agreed with a specific part of it.

Im totally inline with Marko in this case if you have doubts on my opinion.

Hmm, that sounds like a useful way to handle it... Could VERY much have had use for that variant the first campaign we played, lol...

Direwolf,... no problem.