OK, folks. Being out here in Mythic California lends a cetain perspective to life in Europe. No, I'm not going to re-hash old jokes. I am very curious, however, in how living in Europe adds or detracts to experience of playing Ars Magica.
Do you find yourself choosing locations that you are personally familiar with, or specifically avoiding setting a saga in your "home tribunal"? My brother plays in a Shadowrun story set in the San Francisco bay area and he and his troupe (yes, they do it troupe style) spend a lot of time arguing about location details instead of playing the game. Yes, Shadowrun is "Mythic Future" but I think you see my point.
Do you find yourself more accepting of the idea that 10 meter by 10 meter apartment in a castle is actually "luxurious"? Personally, I feel such an apratment as barely adequate, but the idea of trying to fit in a working laboratory in such a space as well, gives me the wiggins.
Do the ArM5 playing from Scandanavia feel left out?
There are a lot of other questions, but I think those are enough to start the discussion.
Avoid, by all means, avoid. At least for people like me, that live in a politically challenged area 8coming down from stuff in the middle ages and up to the 18th century as the reason why) it is better not to delve in such issues. tempers flare too easily on certain fields. We tried that, and ended up real bad (the group actually stoped playing together for 9 months as a consequence)
So we avoid such issues like the plague. I think the nearest campaign to our home location of Barcelona is the current campaign in Britanny. Played in Grece, Loch Leglean and Ireland before that.
before the current campaign we started a saga in Portugal, and it seemed to be working OK, basicvally because portugal's history is only tangentially linked with what happened in Catalonia. But the players blew up the saga (massive pyrotechnia) before any real developments happened and I was still being extra careful in politics, thinking about relegating them to the bottom of tyhe preferences ladder for the campaign, so dunno what would have happened. Our more "flambeau style" players IRL have left the group, but it was still an issue I did not want to ruin the fun.
Your brother's problem also happened, but to a much smaller detail compared to the political charge of the catalan saga.
Dave from my group actually went out and was able to get a feel for a location he's using in our current story. That's the beauty of playing on your front doorstep I guess.
That was something we found a little difficult when we were playing our Veronese saga... Having said that, when we started as a group numpteen years ago we wanted somewhere we couldn't up and visit as it kept it very different, new and fresh.
My troupe and I live in Manchester in the UK and our saga is set just between Manchester and Liverpool. What with Ars being pre-industrial revolution and both cities only really coming to life in the industrial age, its a bit of a backwater. The nearest town is Thelwall, which only exists now as a little village (a suburb of Warrington).
Being in the same area as my setting doesn't provide much benefit although when i mention the magi going up into the moors, everyone knows what and where they are.
Aside from that living in Britain definately has a positive impact on historical sagas (over living stateside I'd guess). After all, being British we all live in Castles.
We certainly have lots of castles dotted around though and I still love visiting them. You are left with good impressions of size, style and ideas of how comfortable castles were (or weren't).
For instance, anyone who has explored a real castle will be able to tell you how cold they always are. Even in summer, the insides of castles are cold. Must be the stone, but it makes you realise that a spell to make a room warm in winter wouldn't be a waste of a magus' time but a REAL crowd pleaser.
Reading up about local history always throws up a few plot ideas too. My sagas covenant is named after the battle of Brunnaburgh (hence the covenant of Brunnabrugh) which was a battle staged somewhere near where i live.
I just realized no one of us remembered well the lifestyle of our ancestors. The politics is easy to follow but the lifestyle is far more important I think. We had some memories and fancies from school but everything was fake.
So I suggest everybody of your party should read the Researching a setting chapter on the page 220. Than choose a research level and keep it.
Keep it coming, this is very interesting. The politics point is one I should have thought about, but just didn't.
It is strange (not funny at all, really) how certain political issues and wounds will carry for a lot longer.
As an example of how I should have caught on, while obviously not a medieval point, I lived in southern Pensylvania for a couple years. Fifteen minutes from Gettysburg. For those that don't know, this was -- in the opinion of many -- the location of the turning point of the American Civil War (aka The War Between the States). Even though this happened ~130 years ago, a lot of people in the area still are (a) impassioned in thier views on the reasons for the war in the first place, (b) think of the political and military players of the time in terms of 'heroes' and 'villians', (c) some wish ferverently for a different result, and, in some more extreme cases (d) consider thier political choices SOLELY in the context of the political framework of the issues in 1860-1875. You learn very fast that there are some things you don't talk about in a particular way.
Personally, I would find is fascinating to play through some of the issues extant in the time of Mythic Europe, but I can see how that would get easier the further removed from the location I am. If my family was from the golden horn and a member of my troupe was from Venice ... well, I think the group could discover just long certain wounds take to heal.
Don't care about such things. It has its charm, but I find it easier to avoid it, as it becomes easier to make use of one's imagination rather than feeling constrained by what I know.
So, even in my home tribunal, if I want a covenant near a town and with an undergroups complex nearby, i just place it, rather than feeling sorry I can't find such a place.
Same thing if I want an evil black satanistic dark noble living in his sorcerous and malefic castle of infernal hellstone and other such frivolities
So, mythic europe is kinda like a parallel universe. Mostly similar, but with enough differences that I can think of it like I could think about mythic california.
Well, it is luxurious, at least for me You'd die in my appartment.
Moreover, most people today live in far greater luxury than people did at the time, and a castle is somewhat different from a loft so no, this doesn't feel ridiculous to me.
Both, actually. It depends on the players. Beginners feel more comfortable with a place they know, the ArM mood is easier to set up. Once experienced, they tend to like more exotism. And sometimes get back to no-so-exotic settings (with the same group of players, we had a covenant move from the Provencal to the Iberian Tribunal; and another from Iceland to England).
WEven if our disastrous catalan ArM3 campaign was a fiasco, it left us with a feeling that was good enough to try to play again later on. It put down the founding for later developments elsewhere. Obviously when you are no longer in high school and you are more moderate in your political views or the way you take the political views of others it is easier to set up the saga as well!
The only things are easier here getting local history books and maps and I like high level history.
On the tourist maps there are some info about the medieval history of the settlements so it is easy to build in. And sometimes there are interesting sounding places on the maps like fay farm, witch cut, sacrifice stone, gate of the hell. Yes, they are all real places and suggest stories in themself.
Right. Seeing as I appear to be the only one in the current thread, I'll step up and speak for the scandinavian contingent of ArM-players.
I for one don't feel particularly left out. Ok, the OoH didn't "exist" in scandinavia per se, but then again, neither does VtM particularly concern itself with us northmen, nor does CoC. It's all a matter of perspective.
Also, there are ways to incorporate a local knowledge of scandinavia in a saga without twisting the narrative too much. One of the more memorable sagas for me was a saga where our troupe played latin magi questing primarily in scandinavia. That gave the opportunity of players interacting with their hypothetical mythic "ancestors" from the point of view of "civilised" peoples such as characters from the Languedoc or Holy Roman empire. Encountering the Order of Odin was a bit like getting your arse handed to you by Darth Vader. Sure it smarts... but it's also cool 8) .
Furthermore, I like living in the area were I set a lot of my sagas, and I think my players do to. It's fun to make local stereotypes into characters and have mock-arguments based on our preconceptions. I mean, the Danes and Swedes (of which I am the latter) have always had a certain rivalry/enmity going on, and more than once it's led to open war.
As for people getting ticked off by bringing up certain local themes, politically or historically, I've always had very little understanding for this type of behaviour. One of the Danish kings, Kristian, (I forget which one) burned Stockholm to the ground and set about killing Swedish noblemen by beheading them in the town square. Sources state about 300 people killed over four days. The Swedish epithet, that still sticks to this day, is "Kristian the tyrant". In Denmark though, he's still called "Kristian the good". Should this bother me? Should I be prepared to face harsh words and tread carefully when describing this in a saga? Pfft. Now if that isn't silly I don't know what is.
I make sure that my players are very clear on this issue. If you identify yourself with your mythic "ancestors" to such a degree that you would actually start a real-life argument over two ethnic groups fighting each other in-game, you are clearly not suited for this hobby. Nor are you suited for any form of intellectual debate or hypothetical philosophy, not to mention social interaction with people who's opinions differ from yours.
As a final note I think it's great to be able to visit the places that get described in sagas. I and my previous troupe actually went to Carcassonne after having played a saga set there for two years. It was great, and while Carcassonne doesn't need anything added to be absolutely breathtaking, visiting certain streets or sections of wall were your character did this or that, or the saga had it's turning point is almost supernatural.
My troupe lives in the Netherlands, and we play a covenant in Hillegersberg. In Mythic Europe it was a marshland. Nowadays it is part of Rotterdam and the remaining part of the marsh is agricultural land. So unfortunately we can not use the surrounding as inspiration for the atmosphere. But we can use local stories and myths, and we know the places. I think most people who use their local surrounding have this experience.
I live just outside London, UK. I've delved into / pre-planned two ArM campaigns. The first is pretty much the standard ArM Provence setting, which is always an area that's interested me historically - however, I prefer Aquitaine, with the interesting Anglo-Frankish-Basque dynamic.
The other I planned was an early medieval campaign set in Sherwood Forest, c. 1100. I planned this at a time when I was working in Nottinghamshire, and I found heaps of history resources in the local library.
I'm looking forward to the Normandy sourcebook, another place I'd love to set a campaign. But I do like setting campaigns in England (as was), just because the compactness of the campaign setting and the relative isolation of the island offers a wonderful self contained environment in which to play. All of which is only expounded by numerous interesting historical episodes such as the civil war under King Stephen, the absentee kingship of Richard, the revolutionary barons of King John and the French invasion in the early years of Henry III.
Well, I live in what is supposed to be the Greater Alps Tribunal and I always find it funny when I compare Mythic Europe with reality, alone considering some Locations......
Use a Map People. It really helps.