Nami in Domus Suam

So, I am working on a Ars Magica one shot that I could run at conventions. My goal is to have a game
suitable for beginners while still being interesting to experienced players that allows them to explore
how the magic system works and a bit about the setting,.

I made up what I thought was a diverse group of possible player characters, but I would be the first to
admit that the characters I developed don’t cover the entire range of characters that would work in this
adventure. On another thread, someone said that making player characters for this one shot might be a fun challenge. So, if you are interested, please submit a magus character with the following constraints.

a. The central concept of the adventure is that a covenant believes that the Order of Hermes
would advance if newly gauntleted magi had a chance to improve their arts prior to having
to go out into the world. They want to offer a select few the opportunity to stay at their
covenant and improve their arts and are providing a competition to allow them to
determine who to invite. Thus, the player characters need to have a reason to come and
compete. Maybe they come to compete because they just like completion (looking at you
house Tytalus) or because their house wants to know what is going on (looking at you house
Tremere and Gurnicus) or because the reward sounds appealing (see below).

b. The goal of the game is to get people to play around with the magic system but not laboratory work, as the game is about the competition which takes place over seven days. That is one reason the covenant is set in a Level 7 magical aura, to make spontaneous magic a lot easier to work. Please don’t give them Weak Spontaneous Magic, it is more crippling than usual in this scenario. Please don’t
give them Diedre Magic, it is unbalancing.

c. The goal is to allow players to explore the Hermetic Magic System. While a 55 year old
gruagach who just joined the Order two years ago might seem like a fun idea, it wouldn’t
really give a new player an idea of how hermetic magic works and would add an order of
level of complexity for me.

d. The character can be up to two years post gauntlet, use that time for XP for Arts or Abilities, not to
develop spells. I don’t want to make assumptions about the lab quality and aura. The two years after gauntlet was based on trying to have the competition every three years. I used a d6 to determine if
the character was 0, 1 or 2 years past gauntlet, you can do the same or just pick.

e. The covenant asks that those participating in the competition agree that using magic to
monitor and evaluate the competition is not to be considered scrying. Only create
characters who would agree to this. One of the characters evaluating the competition is
deaf, and without magic, it is hard for her to evaluate, this is pretty non negotiable.

f. Don’t have characters attached to the character (Dependent, True Love, animal companion)
that are susceptible to warping from being in a high aura. Winning and then having their
dependant, true love, animal companion undergo warping would be sad.

g. No Cathars or Muslims or Infernalists. I know that in the RAW, Cathars can be Divine, but I
find their beliefs particularly loathsome, and they are all unknowing Infernalists in games I
run. As for Muslims, one of the three judges of the contest has “Hates Moors” as a
personality flaw and this game is set in the Iberian Tribunal. She would veto any Muslim and
I would hate to have some so handicapped at the start. As for being an Infernalist, at some
point the game is going to switch from being a light hearted competition between player
characters to a fight against infernalists, and while I am going to use metagame information
to suggest that one of the players is an infernalist, I don’t want there to actually be an

h. Try to avoid flaws like Poor Student that make learning from books hard. While they don’t
have any impact on game play, the covenant will be providing invitations to those they
believe will benefit from their offer, and Poor Student makes learning from books less

i. Have to speak Latin. While you can be a mage from the Thebian Tribunal, you have to be
able to speak to the covenfolk and other players.

j .Unbeknownst to the playes, the evaluation criteria for being invited is how well the characters work well with other rather than how good they are at being on teams that win. So, piling on character traits that encourage the character to fight with other player characters is stacking the deck against the player who will eventually be playing the character.

k. Susceptible to Infernal Power is bad news in this plot,

Those are my known constraints. I bet there are further constraints that will not recognize until I see
the character and go, Wait, no, that is bad. If I come up with a constraint only after you have created
the character, please listen to what I provide as the reasoning for the constraint and see if you
understand my point of view.

Invitation. *Covenant Nani in Domum Suam is holding a contest starting on March 15 1222 AD and
proceeding to March 22, 1222 to allow up to three magi who have been gauntleted after 1219 AD to stay at their covenant for five years. This stay will include free use of the library and use of a basic lab. At the end of the fourth year, the magus or maga will be given up to ten pawns of any form vis they choose, and at the end of the fifth year they will be given 10 pounds of gold.

Interested magi should contact the Redcap carrying this message to be given directions to a
location near Barcelona, Santiago De Compestela or Toledo where they will be brought to Nani in
Domum Suam.*

Cloelia of Bonisangus was an important early figure at Nami in Domus Saum, driving the creation of the covenant, its goal of creating a place for newly gauntleted magi to improve before going out into the
world. She was first apprenticed to a Tytalus, but rescued by a Bonisangus after only a few years. She believed that conflict promoted by Tytalus is unproductive, that if magi would be brought together and became friends when they were younger, they would be able to combine their efforts and reach greater heights than if they were always competing as individuals. Her goal was to create a covenant where this could happen, where new magi would be brought in and learn together while they were young. She recruited two other magi (Hughard of Flambeau and Muriel of Jerbiton) and started Nami in Domum Suam, created the items which allowed the dwarves to masquerade as humans as well as pay them in water transformed into ale. Sadly, she died prior to the covenant first inviting magi to stay.

Hughard of Flambeau is a founding member of the covenant and the one who deals with outside
threats. He is the one who dealt with the dragon that was terrorizing the dwarves. His magical focus is
on Intellego, Perdo, Immaginem and Vim, he has raised his Parma Magica to an incredible level and has many spells useful in dispelling Infernalist and Sahir effects. He supports the idea of creating a place for newly gauntleted magi to study because he believes that this is his opportunity to share his perspective and help shape the Order. He has an Eagle as a familiar.

Muriel of Jerbiton is the other founding member of the covenant and focuses on the Hermetic Library.
Her goal is to be known as the foremost expert on Mentem, by creating the best primer and textbook on Mentem possible. She is deaf, and tends to focus on the written work to the exclusion of everything
else. Her familiar is a cat.

Anna of Verditius was brought in after Cloelia died. She was a woodworker, and it was her who created
the magical flying wagons that can change their appearance to clouds and which are used to bring
supplies to the covenant. The wagons are operated by dwarves changed into human shape, the
transformation keeping them from acclimatizing from being out of a magical aura. She hates Moors, her criteria in the competition is to help magi who dislike Moors and exclude magi who like Moors. Her familiar is also a cat.

The covenant is in a Level 7 rego, and has a Level 6 rego alongside it where the dwarves live and mine. The area the covenant is in used to be owned by a dragon. He forced the dwarves to give him gold and he ate one of them on the new moon. Hughard killed it back when the covenant was founded, which caused a lot of good feeling toward him from the dwarves. This good feeling was encouraged when Cloelia created barrels that transformed water to ale with enough penetration that the dwarves could drink it, as the dwarves were immune to deprivation, the fact that the ale didn’t have nutritional value didn’t bother them. The dwarves agreed to provide servants and gold, the magi agreed to protect them and give them ale. The covenant created a number of rings which the dwarves wear that change them into either human adults or human children so that the dwarves can serve them outside the covenant without drawing attention or being acclimatized. In the early days of the covenant, humans were brought in to train the dwarves in particular skills, even with the penalty from magical might, the
dwarves might was still low enough that they learned the skills eventually. As a result, the covenant
now has unaging servants who are skilled in all manner of human crafts. The dwarves have learned
Latin as well. The population is slowly growing now that the dragon is not eating them, it is likely that
some would enjoy serving magi when they leave, so long as they can be under a continual magical effect and not acclimatize.

The covenant is in the Cantabrian Mountains, in the west, between the border between Galicia and
Leon. The covenant has more gold than it has any practical use for, but they do their best not to flood
the market in any particular place. That is the primary reason they have the flying wagons, to spread
their purchases and sales around.

Personally I find the Catholic beliefs of the time loathsome but that doesn't mean I would assign them all to be infernalists. Also Cathar beliefs were all over the place, and often intermixed with Catholic beliefs. The main reason they were declared to be such a major heresy compared to numerous other groups which had similar or even more egregiously divergent viewpoints was that they specifically rejected the catholic authority and in fact called the pope an infernalist. The Pope therefore called a crusade against them to maintain his secular power base- but then again Innocent III was very focused on extending the secular power of the church as a binding authority over all nations and pretty much excommunicated or put under interdict nearly everyone at some point or another.

At the risk or derailing all the posts on this thread...

Orthodox Christian and Jewish belief is that God created the world and proclaimed it good, Evil is defined as doing things which are improper, Sex inside of marriage is proper, sex outside of marriage is improper, growing food and eating it was proper, eating food you stole was improper.

Cathars believed that the Demiurge created the physical world and it is a trap, that the linking of a soul with a physical body is a curse that people should strive to overcome.

You see, I like the physical world. There are so many things that can be innocently enjoyed, eating a tasty apple, the smell of grass and trees, the feeling of contentment of a full stomach, the loving embrace of your husband or wife, a good chicken dinner, the list goes on and on. The idea that the physical world is bad seems like an infernal deception.

Look, it is not my place to judge actual Cathars in history, nor justify how they were mistreated. If someone wanted to bring in a Cathar for a long running campaign, I would want them to know how I understood their theology but I wouldn't stop them. But for a one shot, where someone is provided a character with little input about those implications, I would prefer not to.

Ok, some questions for the OP:

  1. Given that it's meant for "beginners", should we avoid V&Fs, spell guidelines etc. from supplements other than the corebook?
  2. Should we avoid Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic for the same reasons we should avoid Diedne magic?

That depends on if you have a master index made up or not. If you do for all the ones you want to use so it is all together then go ahead. Atlas has a bunch of them you can download from their site.

If fact even if you are only using the ones in the Core Book I would recommend putting together at least an index for spell effect base levels. Since you are running a one shot for inexperienced AM players, it will give them an idea of things they can spont.

So I also like the idea of running the Cathars as unknowing Infernalists. It makes for infernalists who are not chaotic-stupid running around causing havoc "just because"

The no-Muslim thing is more puzzling, I would definitely remove that, since I don't see how it would improve the game/story but risks alienating player. Suppose that you have a Pakistani-born player who comes to join the game and you're just going to bombard them with IC anti Muslim rhetoric? I would really suggest changing that part of Anna. Especially since this is a one off...

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To be fair, I also use unknowing infernalists- they are just more likely to be crusaders who have read the mallus and taken up arms alongside people with honest faith. I feel like the deluded infernalist works much better on an individual scale rather than a blanket category of "objective religious bigotry". Then again the fact that I have had people IRL tell me that I was a satanist and didn't know it because of my religion contributes to that perspective.

I don't want to limit Virtues and Flaws based on what book they are from. For instance Linguist seems like a perfectly reasonable Virtue to have. Same goes for formulaic spells known by the character,. If they are excluded, it will be for other reasons.

If I disallowed Life Linked Spontaneous Magic, it wouldn't be because it is overpowered like Diedre but because it is all to likely for a player to put himself out of action for long periods of time. Normal fatigue using spontaneous magic costs one fatigue level which can be recovered in two minutes if the magus started at fresh. If a magus uses Life Linked Spontaneous Magic and uses additional fatigue levels, it takes additional time to recover, and if you keep casting at something less than Fresh, it only gets worse. An experienced player would know when and when not to use this virtue, a new player might put himself out of the game and sour himself on the whole system as a result.

So, if someone wanted to make a character with Life Linked Spontaneous Magic, they should keep the above in mind. I won't reject a character automatically, but I would want some idea of how I could guide a player so they avoided that pitfall.

The amount of paper I am handing out is truly massive. Each player gets their character sheet, a description of the virtues and flaws pertaining to that character, a description of ranges, targets and duration, a explanation of the limits of Hermetic Magic are, an explanation of what makes up an individual for each form, description of each of their characters formulaic spells and an example of some spontaneous spells their character could expect to can cast.

I have two copies of the core rulebook, During the contests I will allow each team to reference to core rule book for the spell guidelines. Having one item they have to share among their teammates should encourage them to work together.

I suspect that a player who is a Muslim would not be surprised that there are characters who are prejudiced against Muslims. in 13th century Iberia. What he would object to is the idea that those prejudices are right. I don't plan to imply that.

Anna will be asking questions about how the player characters feel about Muslims and may mention that her family was killed by Moors (that is the sort of thing that I play by ear.) Having Anna try to use the conversation at dinner to determine the player characters opinions of Muslims gives me a focus, in how I handle her conversation which I would be sad to lose.

What if I start the game with the following statement: This is a game set in 13th Century Europe, and the NPCs mostly hold ideas from that time. The fact that a major NPC has a belief or prejudice of some sort does not mean it it correct in the game or held by me the GM. I don't think that would be enough if someone was playing a Muslim character which is why I don't want people to submit Muslim characters, but it should keep things civil enough.

Let me put this another way:

You could build the character around anything, but you chose to make it around xenophobia.

Considering that rpgs are already a crushingly white hobby, I think that this sends really the wrong message out to fresh potential players.

Can one build an entire campaign around crusading flambeaux who shout deus vult at every corner and live out the far rights fantasy of ethnic cleansing? Yes, and it would even make sense in setting.

Should one run that? I would not...

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And it would have been so easy to only allow "good christians, no outsiders" to remove irish/slav pagans, jews, AND muslims. That would have been with its times.

Instead, we get loathsome modern xeno.

to be fair, Iberia identifies themselves as being related to the Irish (not sure of why, but it is historical) so the Irish are safe.
besides anti-irish sentiment began later, in the US it was 19th century, for England it was 18th.

It depends. The nobility wanted to identify as Vandals so they'd use axes just to show what Germanic people they were...

Frankly folks, I've seen over a dozen posts in this thread, almost all derailing the OP, some attacking dwightemarsh and not one of them providing any of the help this thread was supposed to be about. I feel ashamed for all of you. I'll try to make up by posting a couple of characters myself.

dwightemarsh, ignore anyone who's telling you that you are running your game "wrongly". Their comments are not even worth replying to.

What is this thread supposed to be about? Because it opens with

Quite simply, people can and should do whatever they want between friends at home, and that's a great thing about this hobby. However, the thing with Conventions is that it introduces new players to the hobby, and as such the ST/GM becomes the ambassador of the hobby. The point of these games are to introduce new players to the key elements of the game, so throwing in bigotry right from the get go is both a mis-representation of the game (since the Order is specifically open to people based on the Gift rather than religious/gender/ethnic lines) and on top of that, it is just running the risk of alienating potential new players. There are tragically many stories of people from less represented group in the hobby who were put off by weird convention experiences, and if we want the rather small current player pool to increase in size, we need to be inclusive. It's a pretty simple cost/benefit analysis.


Closed topic temporarily due to complaints. Everyone please take the time to think about your posts, and come back on Saturday with a more cooperative approach. Thank you.

This topic was automatically opened after 5 days.

I agree with that sentiment in most occasions, however, it is not an absolute. The game is meant to be fun. While there has to be risk of failure for the success to feel sweet, there are generally boundaries when failure occurs.

Some people might have their gaming experience really soured if when captured their character gets pack raped; or when tortured fails a dice roll, gives out critical information, and the bad guys kill the characters loved ones; etc.

Any extreme incidents such as the examples above, or extreme options, such as bigotry, racism, homophobia, misogyny, misandry, whatever, there needs to be a good knowledge of the playing group to understand if they would want that level of "grittiness" in their game.

It's why you have goblins, drow, orcs, zombie hordes, demons etc, in other games. Villains you can hate with no care. "Orc raiders destroyed my village and made me an orphan. I will destroy the Orcs, to make lands safe for cultured folk" works. Change Orcs to Saracens, Muslims, Jew, etc, it has a different tone.

On one level I think, "It's a game, get over it, it doesn't mean the person supports the characters views" however, I accept I am a coldly rational person who doesn't get caught up in emotional issues as much as most.

For a con, without knowing the people and how they will emotionally react to a complex and potentially offensive story element, I can't imagine their being suitable benefit in the story line compared to the cost to keep the character's bigotry.