Between the forums coming back and the discussions going on I decided to once again turn my attention to the books of Ars Magica. Panning through them I opened up the Dragon and the Boar, the Novgorod Tribunal book from last addition. As I read through it I found myself going "but what should I do here?" over and over again.
So I put the question to the forum, what sort of interesting and fun and adventurous story seeds do you think would fit well in Novgorod. What would be an interesting quest chain or adventure arc or campaign focus for that Tribunal?
At quick glance through my books I can't help but think that The Flying Castle of Thomae from the Legends of Hermes might fit there in an interesting starting quest sort of way, but as that could fit in many places that doesn't say much about the Tribunal itself.
So one big thing happening in the Novgorod Tribunal in the span of any game starting in the 1220s is the Northern Crusade, whether in Northen Poland (Prussia), the baltic states and Finland the Pagan vs Christian will be a major background element.
A bit further down the timeline, the Mongol conquests are also really big (and mentioned a fair bit in the Cradle and the Crescent).
The Catholic vs Orthodox would certainly be a big theme much as it is in the Theban tribunal.
I think the Baltic crusade is a great campaign to be set in Novgorod. Depending on the Covenant composition, the party might be tempted to side with either Pagan locals, Catholic Germans or Orthodox near local Russians. No matter who they chose they would run into conflict with Divine religious authorities (since this would be a very schism heavy region) and at the same time it would be possible to inject of lot of folklore Faerie elements through the locals who remain stoutly against the crusaders. The whole events are fairly well documented from the Crusader and Russian sides (not so much by the Livonian tribes...)
There might also be escaped heretics living in the area hiding from being persecuted by the Catholics, ranging from Cathars to heresies which became in later years the foundation for the protestant reformation.
Regarding the Mongol invasions, remember that they started to prod the Novgorod Tribunal in the 1220s, when they ran over Volga Bulgaria, driving some cumans (like Khan Köten) further west. They actually went as far as Crimea on their way to Volga Bulgaria.
You can mine a lot of interesting story arcs from the ripples of that two year long cavalry ride, and the magi who are trying to figure out what this new menace might be before they return.
Thank you all for the many helpful ideas on this. I appreciate it. (Though it does make me wish that Atlas continued writing so that all tribunals had a 5e book, its a shame they didn't do that.)
Sooo we have Crusades, Schisms, and Invasions. We also have a place of wooden villages (nothing wrong with that) and hidden places, all perfect for mages.
I guess I was thinking about other stuff as when one really thinks about it those are all very good main saga concepts.
I always think Novgorod Tribunal as something like Wild East of Orden.
Code exist in "classic" version, not some "Yes, but..." from Normandy or Hibernia. But tribunal is very big and vast, and not have many Quesitors. If no witness it's no Crime, yes?
And I very interesting in mongol invasion, or more precisely Mystic side of mongol invasion. Something that make Orden think that, maybe, they not the biggest fish in the pool.
The fact that everything seems to be wrapped around the Mongol Invasion seems to be like a missed opportunity. Now, that is not me saying don't cover that element, but I don't think it should be forced as a sort of automatic core plot.
Hermetic magi, and campaigns around then, have may reasons that the invasion could be either ignored or not focused on. Example being "our covenant is in a regio and thus is safe" to "our covenant is in the mountains and so safe" to whatever.
Looking things up in an attempt to find something interesting I found the Giant Mountains (Karkonosze) and the Guardian Rübezahl who lives within it. Said mythic being could be an interesting plot point.
So the whole reason this came up was that I am writing a sort of solo campaign element where the main character mage spends every other year traveling and adventuring in a new tribunal (with the between years having him be in his home covenant in the Roman Tribunal), While there were plenty of tribunal specific adventures I could find for him in the other tribunals (thanks to their books) I don't know what I could have him do in Novgorod.
My current and really only idea so far is to use the Flying Castle of Thomae hook from Legends of Hermes as the point. But I wanted more. Also I am not sure how to start it off.
One thing that's interesting about Novgorod is that the Tribunal is essentially nonexistent, and so is Hermetic Law. Consider how much interference your players' covenant wants to get up to in the absence of Quaesitores who care...
I am having a story in Novgorod tribunal right now. The magi settled in an old (originally disappeared due to Winter) covenant in Pomeralia (near Gdansk), and trying to solve both the inherited and current problems. (I can send you more info in private, even I can share my files, but they are in Hungarian. )
Also there is the Thousand Caves covenant, and it has an interesting Hermetic project about merging together the Magic and Faerie powers. This has more parts, not just the Hermetic project part.
Well, the Three Lakes Covenant (see AM4th Suppl „The Dragon And The Bear“, p 110) is composed of a great amount of Guernicus magi and, as of 1220, is a very active Hermetic political protagonist (or antagonist, as in case of the Thousand Caves Covenant). It is located north of the then thriving city of Novgorod with a Hermetic Portal to the politically active Leczyca covenant in Poland.
So, Novgorod may be a far corner of the Order of Hermes but Three Lakes Covenant is the watchful eye of the order in this wild region. And this is a guarantee for a lot of fun, nevertheless, in a lot of ways, though