Questions from a new GM

Hello follow magic enthuasiasts!

after years of campaigning I manage to form a group to play AM with. We play about once a month and convenant concept is nice to keep everyone invested and with a player writing a summary after each session it´s easy to keep track of the story. So far so good, but of course as a GM I struggle with a few things that weren´t a problem when we played D&D or DSA (The black eye - german RPG). I hope that you guys can help me out and give some hints on how to handle these kinds of problems.

First I got a player who is really into maximizing his characters, who tend to be somewhat blank slates in terms of roleplay. I managed to coax a few virtues and flaws out of him to make the character more interesting, but he is still rather powerful compared to the other mages. He has Life boost and life-linked spontaneous magic, giving him a potentially high penetration and a broad range of spontaneous effects to work with. In nearly all situations where the PCs have time to rest up for a bit (so he can regain lost fatigue levels) he outshines everyone and is able to perform very flexible and with creativity deadly effects. This goes to an extend where he is able to outshine a dedicated Flambeau mage in combat.

How would you handle this? I do not want to limit his creativity or put down house rules that are aimend directly at this combination - but ofc it´s hard for me to challenge my convenant whenever he´s around.

Secondly for the same character: He is able to turn into a raven and with enduring magic and harnessed magic this is a pretty neat thing for mage out of the gauntlet. Now he was to invent some sort of intellego spell that help to navigate. Basically a magical GPS. :wink: Now I know about the limit of sight being able to stop this in a sallite-navigation form, but then again intellego magic is able to bypass that in some cases. So how would you handle the ability to turn into a raven and basically extending the effective range of my mages by a lot? He is also actively campaigning for every mage to get this spell in some form - thus I´ll have a squad of flying mages on my hands. :wink:

Lastly I have a slight problem in managing the troupe playstyle, since my players in most cases want to throw everything they have at a problem. For the first few adventures I kinda pushed them towards a 1-2 mages and grogs set-up (with means of storytelling - not bullying) but since they start to make enemies the reasons for some mages to stay at home go down. Anyway this a generic problem of AM I guess, but I would really like to know how you manage this without resorting to meta-gaming and relying on the "goodwill" of your players.

Thanks for reading and I hope you guys have time to help me out!

best regards


i dont think the magus you are talking about is so powerfull. A mage with flawless magic, life boost and a minor focus thowing stones can be much more dangerous.
you must keep allways in mind: travel cost long term fatigue, this is a drawback of the build of your power seeker players build. Other flaw is the twilight risk.
The mages must have their own agenda. The story flaws can put them in diferents and personal adventures or obligations. A favor can be the study of a rare item or simply destilling vis.
In ars msgica the players have a lot of power, but they are limited for a code and a institution, and quaesitores can handle even a powerfull build. Keep record of the players actions and show them the consecuences.
If you want less mages in stories just give less exp and they will tend to study.
Maybe you are more focused in challenge. Try to give more color to the covenant, the npc and try stories of secondary characters. All mages go in adventure... maybe a forgotten antagonist was waiting the moment to visit the covenant.


And welcome!

Something seems awry here. This character's Big Shtick is that he can do One Big Formulaic Thing before needing to rest. Or One Moderate Spontaneous Thing. That is useful and flexible, but not overly powerful in combat; a "dedicated Flambeau mage" can utterly and repeatedly put this to shame right out of Gauntlet.

I find myself wondering what is wrong with the Flambeau!

Indeed, having both Life Boost and LLSM seems actually more flavorful to me than optimal. Both virtues are self-limiting.

(You are remembering to account for Fatigue penalties after casting, right? And that LLSM spells are always stress dice, risking botch and injury?)

This character will do poorly in any situation where he has to follow up his cool, fatigue-powered spell, with something else. Kill the bad guy, get tired, prepare for a well-earned rest, but didn't realize that his big brother was just around the corner? Oops. No time to rest? Oops.

This character will also have issues in situations where there are lots of botch dice, because LLSM botches are even worse than usual: The spell's casting total is declared before rolling, a botched roll is considered 0, so that's 1 fatigue per 5 Casting Total. Will he really cast that in an adverse Aura?

No need to punish him with extra botch dice beyond what the rules demand; these virtues balance themselves.

An Intellego spell should be useful, and Hermetic Magic is both powerful and flexible. I congratulate your player on playing the game. But as GM, you should definitely require the player to describe the effect in medieval terms. There is no GPS in Mythic Europe! So let him work up a suitable description, let him find appropriate spell guidelines, range, duration, target. You have enough work as GM! Then, once he has everything together, check his work to see if it makes sense for you.

But once everyone is a raven, they get big spellcasting penalties. They are vulnerable in combat due to their small size. Don't make a habit of it, but every now and then, have a hawk dive 'out of the sun' and surprise a raven with an attack. They're ravens, right?

By 'extend range', do you mean that magi can go places? Magi can do this anyway, in many ways. A magus who wants to travel is going to travel! By 'extend range', do you mean that Sight spells cast from on high have long ranges? Yes. Of course, something far away also needs to be discerned.

BTW, I have not looked at the rules for harnessed magic in a long time... but it doesn't let him cast Self spells as Touch iirc.

I advise you to let them. But I also advise you to enforce the social penalties: Magi get a -3 and start off on poor terms. I also advise you to enforce seasonal interruptions: If a problem takes more than a few days, a season in the lab might get ruined. Feel free to pose problems when a character is working on a project that requires vis, and gently remind him that getting involved in an adventure can ruin his season and cause him to lose the vis. Also feel free to rule that any day in which the character even consults lightly on a problem counts fully as a day lost, since the magus is distracted, and the day is not spent fully focused on the project.

Unless you are wedded to a certain style of play or a certain kind of game, I think you are fortunate to have players that want to try out their magi and who take the initiative to use their powers in interesting ways.

I'd make sure that you are applying the rules for Life Boost and LLSM correctly.

Good luck! :slight_smile:



Ars Magica is a game where magi are supposed to be "powerful". If the player is having fun with his character being "powerful", you are doing it right! It seems to me you have two different problems. The first is that you do not know how to challenge this character. The second is that this character outshines other player-controlled magi. It's a bit hard to give solutions without knowing more, but I'll try my best.

Let's start with "challenges". First of all, note that not all challenges are supposed to be hard to overcome. It can be a lot of fun for players who like to play "powerful" magi to occasionally, or even often, face obstacles that they can vaporize :slight_smile: You just don't want to always do it, because the game then gets boring. As for challenges that are hard to overcome... resist the temptation of just throwing "bigger and bigger" opponents against the character, it creates a feeling of antagonism between storyguide and player and turns the game from a roleplaying experience into a rather boring, no-win exercise. Instead, try to think "laterally", remembering that, just like in real life, physical violence only plays a small part in the lives of most people.

For example, have the character meet some other romantically compatible character and see if the player is interested in playing the romance out ... if he is, great! The powerful magus can easily vaporize the dragon that kidnapped the maiden he's fallen in love with (play it out, the player will feel empowered) ... but what will he do when she falls in love with his shield grog? What if she wants to become a nun? An alternative that always works well is investigation; this is particularly true in Ars Magica 5th edition where Hermetic magic can't see the past. Yet another is Hermetic politics: in general you can't use magic to influence your Hermetic peers (or can only do so in very limited ways), so the player will have to resort to strategy and roleplaying.

But more than anything, instead of throwing obstacles against a "resisting" character, try to see what the player wants his character to achieve. It can be grand; in fact, it's better if it's grand. Encourage him in this sense. Does he want to create a new kingdom - perhaps raising it from the sea? Found a new Hermetic House? Restore the old pagan gods to their glory? Break the big challenge into many little steps, throw some unexpected situations in, and see the player achieve his goal a little at a time. This has the great advantage of making the player feel invested in the story, and have the "personality" of the character emerge naturally.

This partially solves the issue of the character outshining other magi. Unless they are designed as totally incompetent, it's really unlikely that they can be outshone in every aspect, and even less likely that they step on each other's toes if they are working towards different goals. At what Arts are they better? In what characteristics are they better? Do they have NPCs that like them but hate the "optimized" magus? In general, instead of trying to cripple the one optimized magus, it's much better to try to optimize the other magi too. If you post them -- characteristics, Virtues and Flaws, and most importantly personality and goals -- the rest of the forum will be glad to help.

It also solves the "troupe style" problem you raise below.

I'm not too sure what he's trying to achieve. Does he want to know just where he is when navigating unfamiliar terrain? Use a R:Per version (probably he can cast it spontaneously) of The Inexorable Search (Intellego Corpus, from the corebook). And, as a side note, flying by shapeshifting into a bird is far from the only way to have a magus fly, and often not the most efficient (think about casting spells when shapeshifted ... no Voice and no Gestures)!

I've found that the problem you describe is often the result of the Storyguide trying to "push" player characters, and in particular magi, into difficult situations of his own devising, often at the limits of what they can solve if they pour everything they have into it, challenge after challenge after challenge. This is what many other rpgs, from D&D to Call of Chthulhu, tend to produce ... and it can be fun, but it is often not the most fun way to play Ars Magica (nor what would happen in most people lives -- I mean, did you get caught up in a murder case, then had to fight against some politician trying to have your house razed, then had to save your girlfriend after she got kidnapped, and finally had to scrape up money to pay for a cure for your best friend's cancer all in the past six months? I bet not!) Try to have the players push you, the Storyguide, by telling you what each magus (and companion) would like to achieve in his life, and what types of situations he should be confronted with. This creates very strong centrifugal forces, with one character trying to e.g. dominate the politics of the region, another trying to achieve a magic research breakthrough, another trying to fend off the temptations of his personal demon, and yet another trying to win his beloved's heart. This means that only rarely will magi go embark on the same story, because each is really trying to achieve and/or is pursued by something different, and sees working towards the goals of the others as a waste of time. Then again, sometimes you can knit together two or more plotlines (maybe the main political adversary of one PC is the love of another PC!), or just occasionally through a big challenge against the entire covenant.

In this sense Ars Magica has four wonderful tools.
The first are Story Flaws -- basically a way of giving PCs a few extra Virtue points in exchange for having them declare "I want these external challenges to every-so-often knock at my character's door". Maybe it's a Dependent or Faerie Friend that gets into/ stirs up trouble. Maybe it's a Dark Secret Flaw that threatens consequences unless a character takes action. Maybe it's Venus' Curse -- the character tends to fall in love with the wrong type of people, and have the wrong type of people fall in love with him. These are not things that are supposed to be really, really hard to overcome -- they are just supposed to require action and thought and choices.
The second are Personality Flaws -- like Story Flaws, but these are about Stories that come from "inside" the character. Maybe he's really greedy, or lusty. Maybe he's really ambitious. Maybe he has vowed revenge against some other character, or he's obsessed about finding out what happened to his lost parens.
The third are Covenant Hooks, which are a bit like Story Flaws, but involve the entire covenant (and "reward" the entire covenant with points with which to buy Boons).
The fourth are Seasonal Activities. Unlike in most other rpgs, where characters "get better" (richer, more capable, etc.) by facing adventures and so are in some sense always eager for the next adventure, in Ars Magica a character tends to "get better" by doing stuff on his own; and there are lots of mechanics (starting from the magi lab rules) that support these resource-management minigames. A character should (like in real life) consider time a precious commodity to be spent on achieving his life's goals, with adventures being the occasional trouble intruding on one's life, best avoided but occasionally unavoidable because they either come after you, or they are the only way to achieve some goal (e.g. rescue your sweetheart from the dragon).

There are a number of ways to challenge the troupe on this. Ars Magica is played much like many superhero games. Set up specific challenges that will aloow the other magi to shine as well, instead of actively trying to make things difficult for the optimized character. To do that, you need to identify each of the other character's strengths.

As others have mentioned, both Life-Linked Spontaneous Magic and Life Boost use the same currency: Fatigue Levels. So you could put the character in a situation where he has to carefully manage his Fatigue Levels. Enforce the fatigue penalties. Occasionally put the character in situations where he won't have time to recover them -- it could be a pursuit scene, a larger-scale combat scene where there are too many targets to affect all at once, a smaller number of opponents that are just hardened enough that a single spell cannot disable them all at once, etc.

Also, a single magus cannot be everywhere at once. So create situations where the characters need to split into smaller groups. More on this below.

If all the magi are travelling together to go solve a problem, who is there to defend their home base, their covenant? Perhaps their enemy is drawing them away on purpose, either to attack their covenant while they are away, or simply to have them waste their time chasing ghosts. Any number of opponents can do this effectively, through various means. Demons will try to plant false leads that will get the magi's strength to work against themselves by commiting something others will perceive as gratuitious crimes. Faeries will play with the magi, "dying" only to come back later. Enemy magi will use political means to discredit the characters or move against them at Tribunal.

And there are always more powerful magi around. Though they are bound by the same limits as the characters, in regards to Hermetic Law, they probably have a more extensive network of relationship.

Also, a rival covenant could establish themselve close enough to your characters' covenant to actively compete with the same resources. You cannot simply kill rival magi,because they are protected by the Code of Hermes. So you need to move politically, or beat them at Certamen for specific conflicts, or come to a mutually beneficial arrangment with them.

Finally, as ezzelino mentioned, moving towards character-driven stories can be a great way to change the tone. It doesn't matter as much if the the powerful magus joins the story if the story is about resolving another magus' personal relationship problem. He might be able to beat some of the challenges in rescuing the damsel in distress, for example, but if she is on love with the other magus he won't be the one who goes to see her noble father to ask her hand in mariage (and deal with the repercussions).

You have gotten a lot of good advice in this thread already, so I will only add one thing:

Any character who relies on spontaneous magic -- life-boosted or not -- is going to be outstripped in power by the formulaic spells cast by other players as the campaign goes on. Antagonists will have higher and higher Might scores and Magic Resistance. Your optimized spontaneous caster will get better -- but the formulaic casters will get better faster and have increasingly better penetration scores. Before long, the spontaneous caster is just not going to be able to reliably penetrate magic resistance, while the Flambeau will be using his Pilum of Fire with Mastery 3 (multiple casting, penetration, magic resistance) to throw 4 +15 damage spells in a single round. (Oh, and he'll also be immune to Pilum of Fire!)

Spontaneous magic can be very useful at the beginning of a campaign. But soon it becomes useful primarily for handling minor tasks when your other specialists aren't around.


Very much. (PoF is damage 25 iirc. AoFR@20, BoAF@30. I could remember wrong.)

FWIW, I think that if the other players are happy, don't worry about it. (Again, unless there is a particular kind of game you want to run. As GM, you have a right to have fun too! For example, if you prefer a game where the action is local and long distance travel is rare, there are things you can do. First, you can talk to the players. You can agree that teleport spells are much more difficult (magnitudes, finesse, need to penetrate sometimes.) Your high-Might faerie NPCs might take umbrage when PCs violate boundaries by flying across their domains without permission or respect. Invisible regio boundaries in the air are fun: I particularly like these for "travel is difficult" sagas: The boundaries between mundane places are not merely mundane. Crossing that mountain range is trivial? Maybe a physical crossing of the Alps is the only known gateway between the regios of north and south, and that gateway is only open sometimes, but fortunately it is easy to tell when it is open by the relative lack of snow and storm...

For me, the great divide between "high powered" and "low powered" gaming is "what do the PCs decide to do" versus "can the PCs do it." The PCs cannot do everything in a high powered game, but faced with a situation they can almost always do something, and usually more than one something. Each choice comes with a set of consequences and implications. Do you destroy the village in order to save it, or keep your hands clean? No right answer here. Side with the disputant who is legally in the right or with the one who is morally in the right? Again, no right answer here: upholding a bad law has value, as does upholding a good law that has a rarely used loophole. It's sort of like playing the USA: You can do almost anything, right down to killing off most enemies with near-impunity, but maybe you'd rather live with the problem than live with yourself afterward? And you cannot do everything. And solving one problem often creates another. And sometimes the problem is choosing from among many ways to deal with a problem rather than trying to solve it somehow.

It's a different kind of game, I think, the antithesis of the D&D3 era "Epic Level Handbook," whose idea of epic play was "just like low level play, but with bigger numbers! Hey, check out our Epic City Guard and our Epic Militia! Go rescue the Epic Princess...."



Just to confirm what Doctorcomics said, PoF is +15 damage.
Arc of Fiery Ribbons is +10 damage but it is a Group/AoE spell.
Ball of Abysmal Flame is +30 damage.

I agree with everything said above; here's the following that I hope adds a little more:

  1. Life-linked spontaneous magic is sometimes its own limiter. You may find that, without planning specifically for it, that you have a climactic moment where the magus with that virtue can succeed, but the magnitude of the effect will cost him dearly. In my ArM4 career a player maga destroyed the "big bad" with a particularly powerful CrAn(Co) spell, but it left her completely spent in the middle of a decaying labyrinth in the middle of nowhere in Scotland, and many of the other players already were at Heavy Wound levels or unconscious. Getting out was non-trivial.

  2. One of the things that can keep magi from all going out in a group is game speed and paying close attention to travel time/away from lab rules. If there's enough time between adventures to get some of them interested in undertaking long-term "awesome" projects, then in season 3 of their 5-season projects you say something like, "it's Grand Tribunal Time! Who's traveling the season and a half back and forth from your covenant in Ireland to Durenmar?" You may find that only one magus or maga may be taking the sigils for the others.

Also helpful in this is paying attention to how vis sources are harvested. If you don't have Covenants, to summarize, in there are a lot of ideas for vis sources where someone has to be at a certain place at a certain time and do some magic things that don't necessarily need to be rolled for, but do need to be done, like casting a Level 15 spell at a tree or a rock at sunset on the solstice. Don't do this every time, because that's a jerk thing, but every once in a while, have an adventure roll over one of these times, so you say, "look, it's only three days down the Rhine to get to that faerie forest, but someone with the right powers has to stay behind to comfort the crying ghost that appears at the megalith once a year so she can give us her spectral necklace again or we won't get the 4 pawns of Mentem vis that we usually get in autumn."

  1. One of the questions I have for your game is, do the players have individual goals, or is "being an awesome covenant" override personal goals? In most of my games, my players had very specific interests as magi, so sometimes one would, for example, be getting the next level of his/her Mystery House mystery, which is decidedly not a "everyone come along" affair, when things happened that others would go on adventures for. If your players do have individual goals, encourage them, especially if they require a lot of work exclusive to that character, so when one of them says, "I need to leave right now to go to a regio that appears once a century and kill a dragon for its teeth," another will say, "I really can't interrupt binding my familiar right now."

If they're all on the same page, so they want to "win at being a covenant," make mundane and hermetic events take place concurrently with their goals. They need to go somewhere to investigate this awesome potential vis source, but someone has to go to tribunal. The local bishop is going to stop by while most of the party is going to March that diabolist wizard, and he doesn't want to talk to the autocrat.

First of all: Thank you for all your advice! It certainly gave me some ideas and smoothed my doubts about the character in question.

Since some of asked about the covenant and the mages that control it let me outline the current state:

It is a spring covenant located in the Rhine Tribunal, but not yet recognized since the next Tribunal is 5 years away and they are still looking to find sponsors from all covenants. From the start I decided that they have the support of Durenmar, Fengheim and Triamore - since 3 mages passed their gauntlet there. All three have ofc different expectations on how the mages will help them in their goals. The other covenants inside the Tribunal are still undecided - some not even knowning that new covenant exists - and waiting to be persuaded for sponsorship. This sets up a lot of hermetic politics, which will happen until the tribunal or at the next gathering at least. Due to time contrains - and other stories - I´m not sure if we´ll be able to play through all the travel and discussions with the undecided covenants.

The unnamed covenant (players cannot decide on a name for some reason) is located deep inside the Westerwald - a vast expense of woodlands east of the rhine valley - hidden away from all eyes. It is pretty close to former diedne covenant (Oakdell, or Eichental in german), which will be a major story at some point. It lies above the caves of the fearie lords of the bright winter, who rules a vast network of mines and tunnels counting their coins and looking to make "war" on a different faerie court. They share those caves with an old dragon, whos lair is rather close to the covenant - which ofc will be a major story when the players find out.

Right now they are mostly focused on establishing themselves, making money, hiring construction workers and not enraging the local populace. The last one they failed, since they both employed rather heavy handed mentem magic and some of the mages wanted to do all the talking. Right now they managed to create a false tale about a newly arrived nobleman, who takes most of the blame for these botches. There is a good chance that the smarter nobles will figure it out sooner rather than later.

As for pre-existing enemies there are two story flaws (or three) that come into play: First of our Quaesitor Victorian made an enemy of a demon named Xerxes during his apprenticeship and a conspiracy to both temp his grogs and destabilize the region is in play. Victor (the character I talked about earlier) has a vengeful master, who luckyly lives far away but is still trying to locate his former student. They are of the house Tytalus, so this should be fun in the future. :slight_smile:

The other mages are of the houses Flambeau (italian firemage who wanted to become a hoplite, but failed due to politics), Jerbition (pretty much non-existant right now since the player has RL troubles), Bjonaer (newly arrived) and my maga of house Mercere. She plays a minor role, but is my ticket to someone else being GM for a change in some sort of travel adventure. :wink:

The most immediate conflict is with a loose tribe of fearies, who are protectors of the small animals of the forest. Since the covenant survives on hunting and pelts right now the conflict is pretty obvious. In the first battle the mages were victorious and now the faeries are in hibernation (they follow a bear like scheme). Should the players not manage to cast an Aegies soon (they are having trouble finding someone to learn the spell) it could get rather ugly.

The companions are wide-spread, but havent player a huge role yet due to the mages taking charge of everything down to day-to-day oversight of building. I guess I may have giving them too much exp. for adventures and thus they see no reason to study. They are starting to now though, since they understand that they have some pretty good books.

I hope this gives general overview on the convenant and you guys some idea on how things are going!

Now for your ideas:

Love stories aren´t very well liked in my group - mostly because we had a GM once who really overdid it and made everyone feel somewhat awkward. But in general I very much like the idea of having the character care about certain NPCs, only to find them loyal to someone else. Not sure yet of how to actually make that happen, but once I do it will certainly happen. As for hermetic politics there is a lot of that ahead for the player, but their immediate problem (spring convenant, money, security etc.) take priority I think. There are two demons at play in the rhein-valley one being the enemy of Victorian and the other being a former bishop from the guardians of the forest sourcebook. (Hatto) Since I rather like the idea of temptation in a spring convenant I hope to flesh this out more in the future.

The idea about nuissances (both magical and fearies) appeals to me and makes sense, since they do not have an Aegis up. It´s just a matter of creating somethings that is annoying enough to get the attention of some of the mages, but not dangerous enough to add to their already full plate. I´ll have to think on that!

I would like to make more personal stories about the goals of mages, but right now they really don´t have any. They are more waiting for the next thing to happen and improving their skills, as well as building up the covenant. The lack of laboratories doesn´t help with this, which was probably a mistake on my part. They only have one they have to share right now and for some reason they rather have walls than labs, even though they are hidden away and no army would be able to attack them right now. But who knows, maybe they are secret plan to become military overlords in the near future. Which could be interesting since they are sandwiched between two mighty archbishops (Cologne and Mainz).

I think the main problem with the character was, that we didn´t take full account of fatigue penalties all the time. It´s a new system for us, so some stuff gets dragged under sometimes. I´ll make sure that they keep track of it and try to keep up some minor pressure during adventures, rather than one big bang at the end. As for travelling, I´ll just have to accept that this character will be able to do that in a major way. Falcons and natural hazards are not big deal for a raven (they are big beasts, saw one just outside my house) and he can turn into human form at will, so as long as he manages to get close to the ground animals won´t be much of a thread.

Again thanks for your advice and I hope my little write-up here is interesting to you! When I have some more time on my hands I´ll check if I overlooked something and didn´t reply to a suggestion properly!

Best regards



If they don't have personal goals, ping them with a variety of minor inconveniences and entanglements, to see what fits. A peasant fleeing from her lord who seeks refuge at the covenant, and he follows? An outlaw band that thinks the covenant location is a great hiding place between Cologne and Mainz? An itinerant monk or priest who really wants to help the magi? Anyone the players seem to like or hate can be grown into something more; the characters will want to do something, have influence, etc. Awkward love stories? Ok, then let the PCs take sides in an NPCs love story. PCs aren't greedy? Ok, but NPCs are. Even if the players try hard to stay neutral, bam, you have a goal that can drive a saga as you escalate provocations. It works for Westerns, and will work for you.

Raptors in real life take down prey many times their size. Especially in Mythic Europe, there's always a bigger fish. Or bird. Or a sky spirit upset that you're flying across their patch of sky, not even a real raven. Or a faerie raven deciding to challenge (or worse, court :slight_smile:; the faerie knows its courtship is awkward!). But yes, accepting that the magus can travel is even better! And if your magi can travel, Trouble can travel to your magi too. And it should. (There's a reason the Mirror of Opposition was always a party favorite!)



Depending on how close to Koblenz they are, they could be dealing with three Prince-Archbishops; the archbishopric of Trier stretches a lot farther north than one would initially think.

In my Rhine sagas from 1220-1225, I tend to make Archbishop of Cologne Englebert (II) of Berg very "active," as he had his hands in a lot of different mundane activities during his tenure (guardian of Frederick II's son, involved in a lot of disputes with rival clergy and noblemen, some of whom he was related to). It's possible that the Archbishop of Cologne may try to plant spies in local covenants.

From 1220-1242, Theodorich (II) of Wied is Archbishop of Trier, and he is a huge supporter of the Teutonic Knights; historically, he grants the Knights some land near Koblenz. How near is it to the Covenant? Probably not near enough for an aura conflict, but having holy knights running around the edges of one's lands is never something magi want.

I don't have as interesting a hook on the Archbishop of Mainz, but German Wikipedia says Siegfried (II) of Eppstein became more politically active after Archbishop Englebert is stabbed to death in 1225.

Back to spies for a sec - you have a Tytalus tormenting master and a demon as enemies. Both of these are opponents who may use agents. The Tytalus is obvious - he'll use human spies of one sort or another.

The demon, though, can run a lot of interference without himself setting foot on the covenant. Infernal wolves can scope out the outskirts, and either possessed humans or merely folks who made a deal with a demon (sometimes diabolists, sometimes just impious peasants looking for an easy way out due to a bad harvest or a sick child) can wander on to the covenant grounds to spy or to make trouble. Dealing with a bunch of construction sabotage at night by a bunch of sad sack peasants, half of whom don't remember what they were doing, is infuriating and may force some "splitting of the party," e.g., "one of our magi has to stay home in case we need to magically exorcise a bunch of possessed peasants before they undermine the library foundation AGAIN."

Depending on how sophisticated your demon is, he could use as his agent someone the magi can't just zap - say, for example, Xerxes has promised the second son of a local nobleman the lands of the covenant and a beautiful wife if he drives the magi out, so now he's attacking their supply caravans or trying to lure away the grogs with higher pay or riling up the neighbors or all of the above.

Since ArM4, I've thrown gray poker chips at my players to represent fatigue points (in ArM4, I did wounds with red chips, but the damage system's different now). You might find that having a physical representation of fatigue reminds you and the players about it.

A Golden eagle will seriously wreck him. They can tak down deer, a raven shouldn't be a problem. Magi are squishy, and without the benefit of a [strike]meat shield[/strike]grog, they can be easily incapacitated. Remember, if they are jostled, forced to dodge or hit with a weapon, they have to make a successful concentration roll to cast spells.

Congratulations and welcome.
I personally like the Rhine Tribunal because of the politics, the necessary interaction with other magi as well as the mundanes. I was growing tired of isolated sagas, where each week there was a new annoyance from a faerie, magic beast or demon.
I am in a Rhine saga myself, we've played monthly for little over a year starting with Tribunal of 1221 where Murion wants magi to settle the Rhine Gorge (except we greatly changed this to encompass a larger area along the Rhine and Ruhn, more os less what is Westphalia today). We've just rounded the Tribunal of 1227 where the support we spent the last 6 years working diplomacy for was made official and our covenant was founded.
This kind of start makes for a different Spring start, where the things we work for are not (primarily) physical resources but political support. We allow our magi to fairly easy get hold of a small to moderate amount of vis sources, books and lab texts so we don't have to spend all our time scraping resources together. The gifts given to us by the established covenants were a great boon. This kind of start means relations are formed gradually but still in the early stages of the sage, players get more acquainted with the other covenants and magi, and plotlines happening for others - with or without the player magi's participation - are established.
I was also tired of Spring sagas, but this method worked out quite well and was different that what I've tried several times before.

It sounds like you will have your work cut out for you regarding mundane meddling. Magi insisting on being the one to speak to mundanes will result in much trouble. It sounds like you need some good Companions to do the talking for you: tame noblemen, merchants, scholars etc.

Even a story arc here. A golden eagle with Magic Might 10, displeased about a lesser magical bird pretending to ownership of his skies, swoops down from out of nowhere to attack the magus in raven form. The magus might eventually get a familiar out of this, should he manage to befriend the eagle, but first he has to survive the unexpected onslaught...

But yes, even a mundane golden eagle can do serious damage. Even lesser raptors.



I've been on a mobile device posting here. It's a bit of a pain. But a Google search for "golden eagle deer" has a couple of intriguing results in videos and several pictures.

If you remove the Rego requisite on Coat of Flame, does the subject deal +5 fire damage to anything they touch for the duration?

It sounds like some foreign auras, magical might would really reign in things some. THe player that relies on all the sponts will start having trouble when he stumbles into a faerie aura 4 (sure +2 to casting roll but 4 extra botch dice roughly 1 in 10 spells). Multiple foes will slow him down too since group makes spells harder to cast.

Raven form is great except that you have hunters in the woods, eagles, other mages/supernaturals looking for lab components, enemies that can attack and there is that -15 for no voice/no gestures

XP can be limited to skills that are used on adventure and NOT including arts. I might allow penetration or finesse or concentration, or spell mastery to boost with adventure xp but generally not academic skills or arts so casting won't get better without staying home.

The demon can easily send a group of demonic foes (say some birds and wolves so group can't target them all) and then the flambeau who can use formulaic spells over and over without fatigue will shine. Make the attacks sequential in nature, perhaps after a few days of travel and long term fatigue (task with a time limit really work well for insuring the LT fatigue is there).

to do well in all areas, he also has to be somewhat of a generalist hit him in the arts where he is not so strong. STart a quaesitorial investigation of them base on rumors the queasitor heard while passing through town.

They need lab equipment, seasons to set up lab (2), get a covenant building built and you can't trust grogs to supervise all of it or your lab gear might end up in the kitchen or your precious paper used to help insulate a cold wall.

Then of course they need sponsors from Crintera and Irencillia and their faerie relations are really going to kill that. That might lead to quests where some of their tricks don't work or some faerie/magical creature with impose flaw power imposes the flaw that means you can't do spont magic for a month.

Depending on what they touch, probably yes. They also set flammable things they touch on fire, if they can be set on fire by a +5 level flame, which is to say dry wood, charcoal, and even-more-flammable things.

Nasty thing to do to a village, I would think.

But not paper. The only consistent rule in RPGs is that paper is only flammable when it's inconvenient to the players for it to catch on fire.