Normandy Tournament, any experiences?

Greeting ArM community

Does anybody have experiences or recommendations for running a Normandy saga with regards to the Tournament?
It seems to me to be cumbersome and time consuming and require lots of book keeping.

What works for you, and what doesn't?
Do you stat a lot of the teams' champions ro run evenst in detail? If so, are these champions progressed over time?
Or do you just wing it? If so, any good tips?

Also how does this work for the saga? Do the PCs need to focus much on training for the tournament events, or do they simply not care about the resources to be won?
How do the tournament rankings affect the plotics for the next period?

Ping my Norwegian friends from GTUK, I seem to remember at least one of you running a Normandy saga.

We are currently running a saga in Normandy in which the tribunal's tournament has its importance.

During the player's first tribunal, the tournament took a whole session (I am talking 12-15hrs) counting, inevitably, some time to discuss house rules...

We played each challenge in detail, including the melee with grogs.

I have not stated all the opponents. In my experience, the most complex is the Hastilidium. With 3 magi per side, with each team having their own strategy, it makes for a lot of spellcasting.

For the certamens, I base the opponents on the Arts of the player's magi, factoring age, and give approximate values. The players have Order of Hermes Lore rolls to see if they know the reputations of the opponents, their strengths, their weaknesses.

So, I would say that I "wing it". Of course, with time, it builds the population of the tribunal (and surrounding). I included a champion for the Dimicatio, an old Flambeau magi, who starts with a BoAF with increased magnitudes for fancy effects. If the opponent dispells it, then he takes the ca. He like to think of him as a (medieval equivalent of a) star. The best tip I can think of is to back opponent's strengths and weaknesses with interesting personalities.

One effect the tournament had is that, between the player characters, Dimicatio is often used to settle disagreements rather than Certamens, which is something that came from them. I think this is particularly interesting : it shows how young magi react and adapt to the environment. So, naturally, this and the rewards from the tribunal made such that early in their careers, they did focus on trainings for the tournament, but I don't think it would be necessary. It is true that they started young magi in an Autumn alliance, where they received their 1 mandatory vis per year, and had to work hard for any extra ressources. I think it contributed to driving them to train for the tournaments.

We did not play much with the plotting potential of the ranking, so I cannot comment on that one.

We did 4 tribunal until now, I think. The tournaments were not played in such detail during the last two, but we keep track of the team's successes and failures.

So, that is how we play it. Hope my comments help!

Not played the Normandy Tribunal per se, but we lifted a huge chunk of it for our saga and gave it a go.

The main things are:

  1. not all magi are going to be good competitors in the tourney. If the tourney goes for a long time (and it will), make sure those players have something to do. Otherwise they're going to be sitting at the table bored and watching their fellows do everything.

  2. many of the events can take a VERY long time to resolve. Dimicatio is relatiely fast, Certamen is not. The Certamen tournament can be interesting, but by nature of it being a knock-out event you end up with progressively more players sitting on the sidelines.

  3. We found the grog-events actually more engaging, as it involved more of the players simultaneously.

We didn't really play with the politics stuff.

The tournament is extremely long and cumbersome. It's a fun way of determining what you can win as covenant resources, but we only played it the once as a visiting team from Stonehenge. If we had to actually play through that every 7 game years, we'd have died of boredom and repetition by now, so you may need to house rule some abstractions to keep it flowing.

As darkwing says, it gets cumbersome.

I would absolutely run the first one as an all-session event, but after that look for ways to fast-track many of the events. I'd even go so far as resolving the entire thing with three or four dice rolls if the tribunal has more important things (Com + Intrigue, I'm looking at you).

The tourney itself makes a better backdrop than a main event. The various events as a whole aren't exciting after the first time, but the specific duel within the tourney where a PC faces off against their arch-nemesis in their ongoing rivalry is.

This was very much my impression as well.
But tht goes for a lot of events, really.

We played the tourney twice, in both cases with visiting teams from other Tribunals (none of us is too fond of Normandy as a setting, though we are getting to like it better over time).

The first time I had thought the tourney a bit silly and somewhat boring - although a nice exercise for some rookie players who wanted to play out certamen, dimicatio (with fast-cast defenses) and so on. After playing it, we all realized the tournament was far, far more challenging than the sum of the individual events, because ranking higher can often mean a smaller prize! (except for the very top positions). So the second time it was played as a game of intrigue and dirty deals, with the PCs trying to jockey for the 14th position (which is by far the best of all positions from the 8th on). It was a lot of fun.

I have often said I thought the Tournament a mistake - and I created it. However I have started on some rules to allow abstraction - Karl has seen them - and I shall send them to Christian if he wants them. If they work for them I will try and make them available somehow, maybe from the Atlas site.

CJ x

Not so much a mistake as an experiment which, if it did not succeed entirely, is still very useful in its effect.

It has all of the problems of Tribunal play, and certamen play, and no real space to deal with these larger system issues in.

Actually, that's be a decent book. A book on Tribunals not being boring.

I agree. a book on Tribunals is the thing I'd like to see. Maybe we should write one?

CJ x

think that would be a good idea. Ben had a Sub Rosa article a while back and we drew on some of the Tribunal information in ArM3 A Midsummer Night's Dream for Provencal.

Yes please CJ. Straight from the horse's mouth it is, that should be good. I believe you have my email adress in your archive?

The idea of a 'how to Tribunal' article or similar sounds very appealing.

For a game running canonically, the first tribunal itself is almost but not quite one of the first things that happens in the game. 1221 comes up awfully fast for a game starting in Spring, 1220.

Yeah, that's a real problem and one we tried to look at for Faith and Flame, which has has issues with the last 2 Tribunals.