New Saga for new players

Looking to start a new Saga for a fresh group of players. And I was wondering what you out there have found to be stumble blocks in your games. Either as players of as gm.

For instance there will be a difference between what the players know about the world and the magic and what the characters knows. But I have found that some things are harder to grasp. So I was trying to construct some early adventures around them in hopes that the players will more easily grasp the concepts.

So what are you guys experience on this. Have you found anything in particular hard to grasp (and how would you go about trying to make it easier to grasp).

One issue that messed up two of my new players was not getting the way that size and targets work. If you have a magus character who is using corpus or animal give them plenty of forewarning so they'll know what to expect the first time they encounter a giant or a horse.

In my games in the early 90's I set up characters with good books and lots if vis. This didn't work out well for me at all. More recently I've had enough vis to errect the aegis of the hearth and have a bit more for the magi which they have to seriously consider what tey want to do with it do they use it for a ritual or do they enchant an item? They should always be more excelent uses for vis than vis to spend. Also high level and quality sumas allow the characters all to be the same and cruise to high levels of power, I've had much more fun when these are absent and the characters are trading for tractati.

I also like to try to press the characters to make sure that the PC's have at most 3 seasons of study/lab time per year but coordination from the PC's can make this unrealistic, then I drop it, but making a full four seasons of study a year a result of the efforts of the PC's rather than something that was just handed to them is good to.

Be clear about your houserules:

  • wards?

  • pink dot?

  • mastery 1 effect on ritual botches?

  • post gauntlet development rules (best avoid any characters with post gauntlet experience. It is a quagmire.)

  • PeVi nerfing, if you want that

  • Limit yourself and your players to the books you have and understand

  • Stay away from ice magic

  • Create a story that is set in a part of Mythic Europe you know more about than your players if you have the sourcebook. If you have no tribunal sourcebooks at all, choose a place that hasn't been written about in a 5th ed sourcebook or your players will tell you: "But the Peripheral Code of the Transsylvanian tribunal says that ...)

Pralix - why stay away from ice magic?

Because it leads to endless debates of whether ice is terram, aquam, or PeIg: Do not try to answer these questions here. Start a new thread if you really want to explore them.

We recently had the same thing in a game I was playing - the SG invited one of our mutual friends who'd recently been playing an ice mage in D&D to join a team exploring Calebais. The SG said "Help them make a mage - what magic does ice fall under anyway?" I sighed at this highly experienced SG forgetting his own house rules, and pointed out it would be easier to just freeze everything using PeIg for lots of damage as this sidesteps the "what form is ice" question while doing what the D&D player wanted.

On these boards there is a big division as to whether to :
dive straight into the magic, which is a big part of what makes Ars cool but also leads to the big lists of spell guidelines and doing maths to work out final spell levels which can put some people off, or
:to start with grogs/companions and get people involved in the coolness of Mythic Europe while getting them used to the basic mechanics of the game (a grogs introductory scenario means you can explain basic rules as you go and not need people to read anything before play).

Biggest problem I had when first playing Ars was people looked at character creation and went "oh the virtues and flaws are cool", then got to the huge chapter of spell guidelines and started losing enthusiasm. Maybe a gauntlet session where people are taken through what their magi can do as part of their "coming of age" as a magus, or starting with pre-generated magi for a brief adventure, would help people get a handle on the magic and how they want to do it.

Thanks for all the tips =) much appreciated

I've been running a saga for three years now. Most of us had a little experience of Ars Magica before the saga began, but not much, and after three years we still feel we are only brushing the surface of the game. Ars Magica can easily be overwhelming and I think it is a good idea to narrow things down the start.

I don't know how far into the process you are but assuming you are starting from scratch my advice would be:
i. Decide on the tribunal you want the game set in first of all. As SG you might want to pick the one you like best, or offer a few options to your players. We play in the Provencal Tribunal which is thought of as a fairly vanilla tribunal in that it doesn't go against the assumptions you might have about Order of Hermes and Mythic Europe given in the core book. I think it works well for beginning players.
ii. Then you need to decide on a covenant. Playing a band of new gauntletted magi creating a covenant from scratch could make for a fun saga but could be daunting for new players. You could instead design a covenant formed 5-10 years ago (and so with some limited income, labs set up, basic library, but still lots of room for improvement) or as I did have a Winter covenant ready for the magi to renew it. Either way, you want the PC magi to be the main players. My old winter magi are taking rather too long to die off...
iv. Even with a winter covenant, try to keep the covenant relatively small scale so players aren't overwhelmed. I created a large sprawling covenant in a massive aura sitting on top of a regio. It made for an exciting set up, full of possibilities, but I have had a hard job keeping up with everything my players want to do in their own covenant.
v. Character creation takes time. I would give players free range to do what they want from the core book but to keep supplements off limits to begin with. Concentrate on magi characters. Newly gauntletted magi are quite weak. I would recommend starting players with magi 5-10 years out of apprenticeship. That should enable them to round out their arts, get a wider range of spells, etc.
vi. If they want to design a companion character at this stage, make sure each companion has a close relationship to someone else's mage character or to the covenant in general. A player's companion character shouldn't be a companion to their own mage character as the player can't easily play both characters simultaneously.
vii. Covenant hooks and story flaws will likely generate over half of your adventures. The broader world (especially if you use a tribunal book) will create the rest. Don't plan any stories in advance of character and covenant generation.
viii. You can't cover everything; be led by your players. It might be a good idea to concentrate on the magic realm to begin with (and so ignore faerie, divine and infernal) although of course if a PC has a faerie-related character then faerie is going to enter the game. My saga's covenant is near Montpellier and I thought that city and its university would be an important feature of the game. My player ignored it, and with it mundane scholarship and urban life have been largely absent from the game. That's fine - we have more than enough on our plates. Embarassingly we have only moved through ten seasons in over 60 sessions!

There is lots of good advice here, no doubt reflected in what I have written above: ... -part-one/



There are a few threads around here about various kinds of advice for new players and GMs of AM. Worth searching for.