New Storyguide Advice

A few tweaks, based on my own understanding:

  • The Theban tribunal is actually pretty high vis (despite what HoH:MC says in the Bind Magical Creatures section of the Verditius chapter of Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults - the main Theban book makes it clear it's plentiful).
  • I wouldn't have said the Transylvanian tribunal has loads of politics, as such. In many ways, it has much less politics than other tribunals. What it will have, however, is people you have specific obligations to (which may well extend to flat out giving you orders, especially for Tremere PCs). To my mind, this is different from politics in that it's already clearly defined what the position is, rather than something the PCs are constantly having to deal and negotiate for. Depending on your point of view, this can either be a problem or a way to move your senior NPCs out of the covenant. Judging by what you were saying about the PCs being the ones to initiate contact, probably still not what you're looking for, though.
  • The Normany tribunal being low divine interaction - I don't think there is much in the way of major divine politics going on, but divine auras are going to be problem - most of the tribunal is heavily populated, which means a lot of it is going to be covered in at least a weak aura. There are also lots of monasteries and pilgrimage routes.

That's an option too. But I'd steer clear of it for a low-politics game. Corrupt cops get on everyone's case if they're not getting the taste, and the OP definitely sounds like he doesn't want his saga to be about exploring the corruption of the Rhine Tribunal.

Good corrections! My memory must have defaulted to something mentioned in Houses of Hermes.

I'd still say that Transylvania is extremely political, because any time a political event that concerns House Tremere happens anywhere in the friggin' Order, the entire Tribunal goes into either scheming mode or overdrive to fix the thing concerning them. I mean, Tremere is the second most political House in the Order right after Trianoma Bonisagi, and there are a lot more Tremere if I recall correctly, all of whom have something to contribute to the giant politics lean. Being in the Tribunal dominated by them has been a political nightmare, in my own games at any rate.

Really, if he weren't so limited in Tribunals, I'd recommend Levant in a heartbeat, but we're working with what we've got, so... I still recommend either Rhine or Thebes.

Yes, if I weren't limited in Tribunal books, I'd have others for option.

Spoke to a couple of the players, and it looks like we'll be in the Rhine Tribunal. They don't know enough to make more solid decisions, so I'll make that. From what the book tells me, the Lower Lorraine, near Cambrai, would be ideal (unless I'm missing something?); relatively isolated from other covenants except for Triamore, near the border to Normandy such that if they really wanted they could join in the Tournament, and such.

And now is the decision for the elder magi in the covenant; one to three (someone strongly suggested 3 over 1, any specific reason?), introverted, eccentric, and accepted the new members so they don't have to deal with the responsibility as much. I can imagine them having amended the charter to account for this goal. I'm not sure what kind of revisions/caveats they would include though.

The first session (in a month or so from now) is still up for debate. I like either idea I've had of the first session being either character building (magi only) or a session with pre-made covenfolk grogs prepping the place for the new arrivals. Any suggestions there?

I recommended three over one for a few reasons. Three magi provides more variety than one; a variety of goals, a variety of stories you can tie the characters into through them, and a greater variety of interesting things they've done in terms of created magic items and Hermetic reputations. Plus, relevantly, three old but not ancient magi makes more sense in the context of a covenant; after all, you can't charter a covenant with a single magus, and if the rest of his sodales had died of age or Final Twilight, he'd almost certainly be too ancient to remain in the saga for any significant amount of time.

As for a first session... That depends. In my personal experience, the first characters you build shouldn't (necessarily) be magi, but the first ones you play should be so that you're getting an accurate feel for how the game works.

My only thought - understand that build points for Covenents are, well, cheap. They represent only the general guideline for what you want the covenant to look like at day 0 of the campaign. Magi are VERY good at rejecting the reality around them (either social, political or physical), and replacing it with their own.

Boons and Hooks are there only to get the campaign started - it may very well veer off wildly in another direction, once (say) the Rego Terram specialist decides that this paltry fortress they live in is much too small, and spends a season or two deciding to build the largest, self-sustaining castle in all of Mythic Europe. Or someone else decides that the library is much too small, spends a few season harvesting vis, and splurges it all in the book trade.

Of course, if those are the stories you built into the covenant (poor defenses, or no points in the library), then that's no problem - those are the kind of stories you WANTED to tell. But if they weren't specifically hooks, it's still not a problem: they're functionally boons now, so you may as well work them into the story of your Covenent.

So, really - if you've been a GM before you probably know this, but it bears repeating - just roll with what your PC's do, and tell stories based on that.

Oh - and if you're looking for a good place to start a covenant library, here's the Book of Roaming: [url]https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/what-spells-should-every-covenant-have-arcane-connection/7833/99] - basically the list of "every spell a starting covenant should have, as roughly determined by us, the forum-goers".

Just got a very rough outline for one of the players, they're going to be all about the fae. From what I know of her, I'm going to have a player that will want to have at least some stories involve their activities. Andresina also seems like an open area that's relatively isolated from the covenants, got some magical history, very near a principal forest for the fae, and the nearby town of Toul is of mediocre strength; anything I'm missing out for goals here?

EDIT: One of my players has brought up potential concern with having the first session be character creation. All of the players are used to games like D&D, and at least one player worries about option paralysis with character creation. Is there any advice for introducing everyone more readily? I keep thinking an introductory session with pre-mades before creation would help (maybe not grogs, but something with magic?), but I don't know if this would create its own problems...

About "option paralysis", there are several actions you can take to smooth that. They involve a bit more work from your side, but remain very doable. And I tried all of them with good success.

First thing, ask them ahead of time what kind of magus they would like to play.
Then two options for you:

  1. you make skeleton character: assign characteristic, select one major virtue, two minor, same with flaws. Pick up skills, assign level but leave 30 xp for customisation. Same with Arts and spells.
  2. you pick up from internet, magi of Hermes and other books fully premade magus and hand them to play.

Then you made it clear to your players that they are not final characters: they will be able to change virtues, flaws, spells arts - everything. For the coming 4-5 sessions they can swap, replace and tweak.
As the learn the system, get more into their PC, they will make their final choice.

What is very important is that they come up at the PC creation session with already concept of magus. Then you guide them through the House selection, virtues/flaw selection and finally arts and spells.
As long as you let them tweak their character over the next sessions, they should be fine.

For those you are intimidate by the spell system, let them take "Non-spontaneous magic" flaw. It is a crippling flaw for somebody who knows how to use the system, but I had a player who selected it specifically because he did not want to have to deal with all that. On contrary, stay away from the more "intensive " virtue: let those one to players who can figure out the system otherwise the game will lag when you will have to take over the math to determine spell level, effect, penetration and what not.

Ezechiel, do you mean taking weak and difficult spontaneous magic which leave you unable to cast spontaneous spells?

Spontaneous magic is a bit of a honey trap. It looks good, but it is hard to use unless you are proficient in a narrow field and/or have an encyclopedic knowledge of the guidelines and know what is within your character's reach.

Yes. I did not have the rulebook with me. Thanks for clarifying.

I found some information and looked at the map for locations for the custom covenant to be installed for the players to move into. As I consider you guys more versed in the historical and metagame lore than I, I would highly appreciate any advice for which location to use.* Swan Castle

  • Andresina
  • Luneburg Heath
  • Pomeranian Forest
  • Brunn
  • Eifel Mountains
  • Sanctuary of Hercules
  • Giant's Castle

Not per source material. I happened to be reading about this last night. The Rhine quaesitores are few (there are three of them noted that I recall), locally concentrated, and pressed. One is very old and spread thin, the second is overzealous, the third very young, socially junior, and politically pocketed.

YSMV, of course.

If you're looking to run a saga with strong fae involvement of a kind that most players will find familiar, a very low divine/infernal influence and a fair amount of isolation from both mundanes and hermetic politics, I'd suggest checking out the Hibernian tribunal.

Rhine makes a good fallback, but Hibernian sounds like it covers pretty much everything you want.

Another piece of advice: don't let anyone take the Diedne Magic virtue.

There's two reasons for this:

  1. it involves heavy use of spontaneous magic, which seems fun but will slow the game down.

It is better for the new player to actually appreciate formulaic magic, and to get involved in the balance between the two systems. Diedne magic skews them very heavily towards spontaneous magic, and a new player likely doesn't have the wisdom / understanding to realise they should be curbing spontaneous magic in the presence of others. It leads to what looks like faster power early on; though like all fast routes to power it comes with a cost:

  1. it leads to situations where the other PCs probably have to either turn on the Diedne PC in a very final/fatal way or become accessory to a heinous crime

In short, while it can lead to stories it can also very easily end to a short, bloody and brutal end to either that PC or the entire saga. And asking the other players to be forced into a choice of turning on and killing your own beloved character is a bit of a selfish move. Many groups won't cope well with this (despite thinking they will); in my opinion it is far safer to just avoid the entire thing.

Elementalist and Secondary Insight are also two suboptimal major Hermetic Virtues. They seem good at first blush, but there's a lot of debate here about how they aren't all that good. I know I've seen several HR fixes to Elementalist here, but very few for Secondary Insight. Secondary Insight is OK for a player who's wanting to micromanage their advancement, I suppose.

Just with Faeries you already have plenty of story potential since they "live" on stories :smiley: .
Between rivalry between Courts, their need to create story, facilitating relationship between mundanes and faeries... You don't need to introduce any other elements to have endless supply of story material.

A piece of advice, don't rush to introduce all the elements of RoP:Faerie. Learning Faerie magic and sympathy traits is a whole set of additional rule to get acquainted with.
As you get more comfortable with the core rule and the player discovers more about Faeries, introduce bit by bits new elements. It will be quite nice as it contributes to keep the discovery aspect of the game for the players and the PCs at the same time. It avoids also from you to dump a lot of information regarding the Fae world.

Regarding PCs creation, I am sure some PCs will have (strong) faerie blood. But advise them against taking a high score in Faerie Lore. Possibly limit it to 2. It will prevent the need for "info dump" as I mentionned earlier and it will give them a goal to become more knowledgeable as they will be more and more frequently in contact with Faes.
To explain a relatively low Faerie Lore despite their blood or back history, it is easy to explain:

  • it is due to an ancestor but themselves where never really exposed to Fae
  • they were kidnapped when their were baby, but retrieved/returned/escaped when they were still young so they did not have time to really learn much
  • a curse stole some of their memory (and it can go nicely with Latent Magical Ability, especially if the player is willing to set aside some XP at the creation, for example)
  • they were initially trained by a Merinita but a Bonisagus snatched a few years into his/her apprenticeship, hence the magus was never properly initiated into Merinita mysteries, faerie magic and lore.

I just make Secondary Insight a minor virtue. It sits well at the minor level.

While we're talking virtues and flaws, I get good mileage out of getting every new magus to pick a focus of some kind, either major or minor. I think most old-hand players do this without really thinking.

Focus is a great virtue, not only because of the mechanical benefit but also because it gives you something to hang your hat on re: spell development. It gives the character (surprisingly) focus; which helps overcome the whole paralysis of choice issue.

Just remember that a magus can only have one focus. :slight_smile:

Really? Hm... Mechanically, a Magical Focus is great, but I tend not to encourage specialization too strongly for new players. For one thing, if their magic is weaker due to being less centralized, it lets me throw weaker, lower-Might creatures at their character, which I consider a plus due to the unchanging humanity of magi. Even as their magic becomes more and more powerful to amazing heights, their Form bonuses don't do a terrible lot, and unless they specialize in defense-improving spells they remain just as vulnerable to many human-killing things. With stronger new players, I have to throw stronger creatures at them to avoid easy instant breakage, but stronger creatures also provide much more dangerous retaliation in response to surviving because of newbie mistakes. Weaker magi lets me throw weaker creatures into the fray, who aren't instantly decimated even by good choices (thus keeping the fight/scrying/competition/whatever) interesting, without penalizing the magus nearly as hard for making a bad decision.

Plus, and equally helpfully, they get to experiment with multiple types of magic, which is a bad thing for those with aforementioned option paralysis, but lets them find what they actually like to do and would want to specialize in more easily.

Just my nickel of input, because pennies are useless and should be abolished.

Interesting, have you playtested this?
We talked about this, and the same solution popped up. I did some math on this, and it's a tad powerful (but not horribly so) for a minor virtue.

I rather dislike the Magical Focus virtues myself, and may well have infected my group with this opinion.
It feels like a clutch for the lazy, IMAO.
We also tend to prefer to deal with choice paralysis, rather than hide it away.
Obviously, YSMV.

For the Giant's Castle, You are near two Covenants and one is quite powerful(Irencillia). Upside is that neither is Durenmar or Dankmar :slight_smile:. I like the area. I would not worry too much about the history at the moment unless you really really want to fold it into a first game. Hermetic politics should be enough for new players.