Oh No, P-p-p-politics!

Who's the most politically active character you've ever played? The magus going around Tribunal trading favors here and pushing social and legal reform (or resisting such) there, or the minor noble playing hidden chess master and manipulating the fealty game to thrust himself into undue prominence without touching his battlefield performance, stuff like that, only more character-specific and grand. I want to hear your stories! Mostly because I've never actually given much thought to anything more than base-level politics, and I think I might get some inspiration from seeing how more driven characters work.

Talpa from ArM4's atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/covenant150.zip is an attempt at a long haul politician in the Stonehenge tribunal, drawn out over 150 years.


My gifted Mercere, caecilia de Valois is probably my most political character in any Ars Magica campaign I ever played.

We are playing in the Theban Tribunal with a covenant in central Athens. The covenant has four Magi, 3 Jerbiton and Caecilia. As a gifted Mercere, she often abstains from voting, unless it deals with her House, but she is often meddling with the mundane and hermetic politics in order to get what she wants, which is first and foremost a stable Duchy of Athens and secondly that all Mercere are treated good and respected by other Magi.

She comes from the Transylvanian Tribunal and thus is biased towards the Gigas line of latinizing the Theban Tribunal. But she thinks that they are doing it the wrong way. I made her as a good orator and writter so high communication and "good teacher" as well as "pussian profession (orator) are her main forte. Focusing on studying intrigue, artes liberales and Philosophia as academic skills.

At the moment she is trying to make a point by writing her really good books and after 30 years in game time, she has just gotten profession scribe to 6. So now she can do books with a base of 14 in quality and with her husband (one of the Jerbitons, who is a famous illuminator (skill 8) and painter of christian paintings), she produces books of Quality 15 or more. She refuse to write these book in Greek as "they will lose their spirit in translation" and always makes deals the few times they are sold that 1) They may not be copied without her permission 2) They may not be translated without her permission and they may not be resold without her permission. At the same time, she has quite a few people who make sure that the tribunal will hear when she has written a new book and how good it is.

The magi of Thebes have tried to make her write in Greek, but she has refused and some of them are getting angry with her. To protect her from their anger, she has started to write very good books in Ancient Christian Theology and Church History and donated these books to the local archbishop and even though she is a woman, the archbishop thinks highly of her and see her as an asset to the Latin Church (to which she is a very pious follower). She also spent a few years in a convent to explore the Christian life better and abstained from magic usage during this time both as a religious test and to feel equal to her nongifted brothers and sisters of her house.

So now, she is slowly becoming a known writer of New Testamet Exegesis and Church History to such a level that those in the Order who oposes her feels that it would be bad if they attacked her, as the Church might investigate (or at least that is what she thinks). So at the same time, she is writing books i Magic Theory, Arts & Forms and Spell Mastery - always in Latin, thus making all young magi wanting to learn Latn to study from her books. She also requires that all who want to read her books give a book in Latin, written in their own hand (not translated by others).

So last session, Gigas gave her a small stipend of silver, gold and vis in order to publish more boks. For as it looks now, she is publishing at least 1 book in a topic every year or 2 novels (about courting, farmpeoples life, or the life in the convent) and she is preparing to start writing her masterpiece like Homer or Virgil, and she is planning to take a few years to do it.

I cut my teeth on Ars Magica over 20 years ago with a decidedly apolitical Merinita magus, but soon became the beta-Gm, and eventually the alpha-GM of that campaign. During my tenure as beta-GM, I ran, among other NPCs, a local thegn, but there wasn't much political intrigue for me in that campaign. By the time I became alpha-GM, the player characters were so entrenched in the magical and faerie realms that mundane politics was no longer of much concern to them.

Now, however, I am running a game set in Corsica, and it has been heavily political! When the PCs arrived there, Corsica was under the rulership of the Genoans, but they and their bloody rivals the Pisans had finally meted out an accord by which, through a marriage, the rulership of Corsica would pass to House Visconti. The PCs became embroiled in the politics of this transfer of power, perhaps dangerously so: a Quaesitor was sent from Rome to investigate their hand in it, to see if charges should be brought for meddling in mundane affairs. The investigation revealed no evidence of wrongdoing, though the local Doge has actually granted the magi a deed of a few acres of land near Porto Vecchio.

The magi have the mundane politics under control for the moment, but they've agreed to mint commemorative coins for the Doge featuring his image to be given to any family who has a child and names it after him or his new bride, and has declared the coins to have currency value as well! I keep trying to lure the PCs into inappropriate meddling with mundanes, but so far they have been very careful to insulate themselves.

Things are starting to heat up on the faerie front, and with a rival covenant, but I am keeping the Church at their heels as a main foil. I suppose that's political in a sense, but perhaps not the kind about which the OP intended to inquire.

Share however much or as little as you like, but struggles involving power balance between supernatural forces are no less interesting or political than mundane politics, assuming they cover similar bases - obviously, a massive free for all does not count as politics, but there are usually lots of ways to manipulate social systems and negotiate your way out of direct conflict and into what you want, and that's basically where politics lie. Especially with rule-based creatures like the Fae and an ultimately political force like the Church, there's a lot to be found there that isn't just about convincing guys to give you rights to land. So if you feel like going into that, I'd love to hear about it.

Well, sure, LuckyMage! I've always said that asking people about their campaigns is like asking them about their children; they're always happy to talk about it at length. I'm about to take my kids to Margate to see the airshow, but I will tell you all about it as soon as possible...maybe tomorrow evening I'll write all about it.

Okay, well...pretty much the entire campaign is built around politics.

Hermetic Politics

The story started when an NPC Archmage from an Autumn Covenant in the French Alps and his amicus in in Bavaria sent their apprentices, a PC Criamon Maga and a PC Tytalus Magus, to Corsica to create a "sister covenant" or "chapter house" of the French Alps Covenant. As far as the PCs and I know, the whole premise of this undertaking is dubious under the rules of the Order. Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but there's no such thing, really, as a "chapter house" or "sister covenant"...a new Covenant is a new Covenant, and calling it a "chapter house" or "sister covenant" doesn't give the Archmage's Covenant any extra power over the new Covenant or in Tribunal voting. Just what the Archmage's motive is for suggesting that the new Corsican Covenant his apprentice and his amicus's apprentice are founding is somehow an extension of his own Autumn Covenant is unclear to the PCs. (In my mind, in fact, the Archmage is going to attempt to break some new ground in Hermetic politics by declaring that his apprentice's Spring Covenant is somehow beholden or a foreign chapter house of his own Autumn Covenant. That will come to a head later, at the Grand Tribunal, which is 5 years away in game time.)

Faerie Politics

The first encounter the PCs had upon arriving in Corsica was being attacked by "boars" when the found the old Roman ruins they had been tasked with restoring for their Covenant tower. The boars turned out, in fact, to be footsoldiers for the local fata queen, Lady Troia, a lascivious pig-woman who rules from the muddy coast north of Porto Vecchio. She declared the PCs intruders upon the temple of Carmenta, an old Roman goddess of fertility. The PCs had to do some political wrangling with Lady Troia, and managed to establish good relations with her court by promising that they would restore the temple, re-dedicate it to the goddess Carmenta, and build their tower next to it. They even named their Covenant "Riacciu Carmenta," which, in the medieval Corsican dialect means roughly, "Reclaim Carmenta." Lady Troia was pleased to know the goddess's temple would be restored to its former glory, though, after three years, she has yet to visit the Covenant grounds to check up on the project. Fae have their own timetable, you know. How will she react when she finally gets there is anyone's guess.

Mundane Politics

The Archmage sent his apprentice to Corsica with the Autumn Covenant's master carpenter, a lusty Frenchman with an insatiable desire for the ladies. Within their first few days in Porto Vecchio, the carpenter had slept with the harbormaster's wife, causing a disastrous cascade of vendettas. The harbormaster paddled north along the coast to Porto Cardo, where the Genoan Doge lived, and told him that some "French lords" had set up shop near Porto Vecchio to claim rulership. The Doge was in no mood for claim jumpers as the Genoans and the Pisans were vying for control over Corsica at the time, with the Genoans currently in power. The Doge made a hasty trip to Porto Vecchio with a detachment of swordsmen and the harbormaster, but the PCs waxed political, and managed to convince the Doge that they were mere "scholars," not "French lords," and had no interest in challenging the Doge's rulership, but rather wished to build a "university" on the site. He was relieved to hear this, not wishing a war on two fronts, and even invited them to build the university in Porto Cardo, but they gave some excuse why they preferred the southern location (not wanting to tell him it was a Magical Regio), and he actually deeded them the acres so that they could have their university.

The Doge then invited the scholars to a wedding between his female cousin and a noble of the Pisan Visconti family; the marriage would end the fighting between the Genoans and the Pisans over Corsica and allow the "two households, both alike in dignity," to share rulership in peace. Only, at the wedding, it came to light that the Pisan groom was, in fact, the Genoan Doge's co-joined twin brother from whom he had been separated at birth by a gypsy who had stolen the twin and sold him to a Pisan nobleman. The outrage of the lifetime of lies by his family caused the Genoan Doge to call off the wedding between his cousin and his Pisan brother in anger. The wise Magi and companions of Riaccu Carmenta were able to calm the situation, and, with the aid of baptismal records and political cajoling, persuaded the Doge to permit the wedding, at which he granted rule of Corsica to Pisa. The Magi were later investigated by a Quaesitor (also a PC) for this meddling, but the Quaesitor found no wrongdoing on their part, and has now become their "legal counsel" in the many entanglements that have snared them since.

Church Politics

An accidental lab explosion by the midwife ex Miscellanea maga of Riacciu Carmenta caused a tree to grow in the middle of her earth-mound lab, which had been used by her mater, also the town midwife before, and her mater, also the town midwife before her, and so on. For a century, the line of midwives had been burying those who died in childbirth under the earth-mound laboratory, causing the ground to be rich with corpus vis. The tree that grew there from the lab explosion shed its leaves that autumn, impregnating everyone down-wind from the tree, which was basically every woman of child-rearing age in the entire town of Porto Vecchio. There was a baby boom nine months later, garnering the attention of the Church, based on an old Apocryphal prophesy of a Second Coming occurring under similar circumstances. The Church sent the Lupus Dei, a group of religious commandos, to storm the Covenant, but the Magi and their grogs managed to capture and/or kill all of the invaders. They don't know how the Church will react, but they fear retribution will be swift and terrible...and it will be.

Good stuff! I like it :slight_smile:

Thank you, sir!