New Saga help

So I started a new Saga just last week which the troupe decided to see what I would do with the Rhine Gorge. After reaching Mainz having our Tytalis joust in competition and an drunken outburst in the middle of it form our resident Rabbi Verdi(gental gift) and Delusional Bonsagios(blatent gift) and nearly got lynched. They were saved buy our sly Jeberton and the Tytalis. We stopped right before reaching the first destroyed covenet they want to investigate, which I have decided was an infernally corrupt covenent.

I've decided for the sake of ease to go with the plot hook of Rudeshiem where the baron stumbles into the old bricked up part of the covenet beneath the castle. Now my troupe has unanimously voted for a dungeon crawl despite my better judgment and I was wondering if anyone had a good ideas on how I would go about it without it being and feeling like a D&D session of 10x10 stone walls? I have RoP: Infernal and just about every other 4th and 5th ed books. And our rabbi has a demon after him as a story flaw (pride).

My second area of help is our mad Bonsagius. He sees the future, like 17th-21st century as well as his more current future. This has been fun, because I just dig up pictures and hand them to him and he gets to try to make sense of them in historic and magical context, but his first invention is going to be a "walkie talkie" type device. I'm figuring ReIm to target: arcane connection (the other device) now can they be made as a pair or do they need to be made separately? I'll post what I come up with for it later but I haven’t seen anything that says weather 2 arcane connected enchantments can be essentially one device.

Help, questions, comments are all welcome. I'm also hoping to keep up this thread to add to the story as it unfolds.

(Please excuse my terrible spelling)

Remember that it was a ruined how did it become ruined? The dungeon crawl should be almost like a cross between the marines walking through the Colonists' structure in Aliens and the search for Frodo in Cirith Ungol. A mythic europe equivalent of the cup of coffee next to a donut with one bite taken out-- all drenched by the slow drip of water from the ceiling.

There should be bodies left where they fell. Remnants of the former sanctum owners' defenses. Signs of combat. An eerie silence, maybe broken by ghostly reenactments of horrible moments seen from just the victim's point of view. Raw claw marks on stone, melted stone, metal and bone in a wad of slag.

Covenants have more than just magi, too. There are the grogs and the covenfolk. Families. When a covenant self-destructs, all those people are going to try escaping, try to get out with what they can, as best they can... and there should be the rushed signs of that doomed run, the people caught in doorjams, cut down in hallways, crushed against archways.

There should be the demons caught in ring wards or led into traps. Demons left too weak to escape but still strong enough to put up a vicious fight. Demons perhaps caught in bodies they possessed and now can't leave for some reason. Demons that have hoarded away some of the choicer bits of hermetic loot, knowing they'll be able to barter it for their freedom-- all the while tainting it or infesting it with some fragment of themselves.

In my mind, they should be nervous as they march through. A palapable infernal aura, that acidic taste of vomit on the back of your throat that you can't swallow away. Torches that flicker despite a lack of a breeze, magical light that dims noticibly, scents of sulfur, of smoke, rotten meat and burnt hair. By the time they leave, they should be questioning whether or not they want to try rehabilitating the structure. They should be shaking their heads at the desire to go in that hole in the first place-- after all, some bricked up that passage instead of what dwelt inside for a reason. Let them learn that reason firsthand.


Thanks for the advice, it's very useful. I'll post how it goes over in a few weeks (we meet biweekly).

Take in mind that dungeon crawls (and combat, in general) is deadly in Ars Magica. There are no instant health spells, so you will start suffering grievous wounds really fast, even against minor opposition. In a regular dungeon crawl a pair of the mages can die without much problems if the opposition is weak but the characters press onwards. I would warn your players about this. But exploration is always cool.

I would recommend having only very weak opposition there. Make it a dangerous session in mood, but not in the real o`pposition. Playing with dim light and ominous music does a lot towards creating a sense of dread to the players. Try to play it like a call of chtulhu session, I would say.



I disagree...if only that this is an opportunity to demonstrate that lethality. Don't softball it, don't make the inhabitants too weak. Why would the covenant have fallen to a low end foe? Certainly a less potent demon might have gotten the drop on a magus or two, but not the whole covenant.

You could keep the lethality, but hedge in each demon, allowing the characters to fall back, retreat, return as necessary. The archway bricked over by surviving grogs who couldn't handle what was inside and who waited as long as they dared for the magus that tried to cover their retreat and paid for it with his life, maybe slaying the last free demon, but still leaving the structure infested with the numerous trapped lesser demons.

But put the fear of the infernal in them, let them see what happens when ThingsGoWrong(TM). The whole place is a standing warning, but one without a sign.


If the PCs are doing a dungeon crawl , what preparations are they making?
How are they going to equip themselves?
If the PCs are gone more than a day , the Baron might get nervous and have the area bricked up again.

Is anyone going to do any research into what might be down there?
Going through the family archives looking for architectural plans could be a start.
Get them to use any relevant Lore skills that they might have.

If the bricked up part beneath the castle is part of a former covenant ,
what about using Mistridge (a 3rd Ed book) if you have it.
It has plans for a Tower , and you could use the below ground parts to explore.

Do you want the area to have an Infernal Aura , or even a Regio?
Remind your players about Holy Days , and how it might be better
to enter such an area on a day where the aura will be lower
(even if only by 01 point).
Infernal auras increase by 01 at night.
Magic Theory might cover the waxing and waning of aura strength , in general ,
if no-one has Dominion or Infernal Lore.

It is possible to have ghosts as well , if a large number of people died in the area.
Any seemingly intact sanctum could be looted by the PCs ,
but the magus who owned it may only have been in a prolonged twilight.

With possible demonic influence afoot , what about creating a false sanctum full of potentially corrupting items.

Obviously there should be some reward for your players ,
so everything should not be cursed or unusable.
Let them find a hidden cache of books (mix of mundane & magical).
These need not be written in Latin for the mundane books.
A vis source is always a good option , it could be in a magic aura ,
but players have to navigate an Infernal aura to get to it on a regular basis.
(another hazard can be used if you don't have an ongoing Infernal aura)

With the Rüdesheim legend (page 121) , you could always alter it to suit your saga.
Suppose the noble lord did indeed offer up a prayer ,
when it was not answered , he called upon the Devil instead.
The story of the daughter (Mechthild) committing suicide was a cover-up.
She was instead sacrificed to hell.

Her spirit cannot be released until her body is found and given a sanctified burial.
The body is the focus of the Infernal Aura.
Removing it will cause the aura to eventually degrade ,
but only if the truth about her death is made known as well.
Conversely , the aura can be strengthened
if an innocent is sacrificed and the death covered up.

The current Baron could do penance for the crime of his ancestor.
He is not guilty of any crime , but a show of Piety never hurts and may do some good.

For an extra complication you could have the young knight from Bolanden still around.
If you don't want everything to be Infernal , he could be a Divine champion.
He was placed in an enchanted sleep (or whatever)
and circumstances now allow him to help right the wrong done so many years ago.
This could be a Fae intervention if you don't want the Divine involved.

Wow, thank you all for the great ideas. Ravenscroft, you are a genius. I do own Mistridge I think I'll thumb through it today. I still have 2 weeks to prep due to Saint Patricks Day. So I still have plenty of time to get this all together. I think leathality is a must. They have 10 grogs going down with them and I expect them to loose quite a few to get the point of combat down in this game.