Hello all, so I was (re-)reading Dies Irae (still not sure what I think of it to be honest but that is for another thread) when I came to the realization that Ars Magica doesn't exactly have a rise of a Dark Lord sort of story plot and stuff. And then I thought, well, why not, it could be an interesting campaign / saga idea (all its themes, the rise, the fight, and the aftermath) to play in. The nature of the player magi being major foes of said Dark Lord could totally provide the focal point of their rise to power, being the force that defeated said Dark Lord would give them a greater voice in Tribunal and in Hermetic society, which could come in handy in the post-war political phases and stuff.
Anyway, I don't have that many already formed ideas (no essay or anything with my thoughts) but I wanted to share the idea and see what other members of the forum think about. I do think it would be cool if said Dark Lord was a Hermetic mage (male or female, do not care, Dark Lady just as much as a Dark Lord could be interesting) rather than having it be a foreign or hedge tradition or supernatural creature or whatever. Beyond that thought I am kind of interested in hearing what your thoughts are on interesting plot elements, story seeds, campaign elements, future potentials, and game modifications that such a rise could create. As well as the thought on what sort of Hermetic foe could become the Dark Lord, what the Houses would think/do about it, what the Hedge Wizard organizations would do, how it would effect the Magical, Faerie, Infernal, and Divine forces, and of course what it would do to the Mundane lords and orders.
I like Big Bad Plots. A lot of fantasy settings are staged after the Great Magical Cataclysm, after the fall of the Necromancer King, and so on. I think Ars Magica is well poised to become such a setting, with the PCs playing in the time when the great wizard-empires are being built, or when the Necromancer King conquers his kingdom, and so on. \
There are a few things needed to pull this off. First, one must limit the Divine's involvement. Presumably, God doesn't directly intervenes to stop the Mad King just like he doesn't directly intervenes to stop the countless religious wars and atrocities. And similarly, the Divine's angels and saints and holy men and so on must be sufficiently-weak to be squashable by the Bad Guys.
Secondly, Hermetic society must be made to be mostly combat-ineffectual (this actually isn't a huge shift; one can easily see most magi as being mystics of various sorts rather than fighters), and the ones that are effectual must be splintered between different camps, one of which at least serving the Dark Lord.
With Hermetic power-levels and by throwing away their Oath, the splintered militant magi can easily conquer entire nations, setting themselves up as wizard-kings or propping up an occult power such as the Infernal or the Titans.
If you want to maintain most the paradigm, the BidBadGuy should be an hermetic magus to be the most effective: he will have access to Parma, Aegis and more important knowledge of the Order and how hermetic magic works, with its limits and strength.
To give him access to plenty of ressources and support, make it the leader or second in command of a Mystery Cults. Up to you to decide how much the Cult is supporting his plan. Are they pawns in his plan, are they allies or did he just wanted to plunder their Mystery.
Mystery Cult with access to some form of Immortality can make for a long campaign, spanning over one hundred years, with an enemy seemingly defeat several times, but coming back each time.
Some suggestions: he manage to integrate in Hermetic magic the ability to minimise the interaction with hostile Aura (from Legend of Hermes) and uses his skills and his ability to perform magic in Divine Aura to impersonate a cardinal or even the Pope. Like YR7 suggested, you need to make some assumption to let this happen, chief of all: God does not intervene, up to mankind to decide its own fate. He decide to organise limite Crusade to pillage ressources of covenants in certain area (Albigean Crusade), or to plunder ressources from mystical jews.
At the same time, he started to teach magic to an inner circle of gifted priest, strengthening the Inquisition with a mixture of Relics and magic.
He won't confront the Order head first, but will make some attempt to rally Christian magi, creating a Schism within the Order.
Trying to release some Cosmokrator from the chains put on them by Faeries could also be a plot. With a moral dilemna: are the PCs going to support the comeback of all Gods, could it be a new golden age of magic or will it precipitate Armagueddon ?
Though I probably read it it didn't stick in my head, but I reread it. I like the nature of him going from spirit to mortal and having knoweldge of different magic styles. There are elements of the story that sound very useful, but then elements that I just don't really like. But as a personality trait it very much could work and I like his general plans.
Its totally a nice start, that is for sure.
I agree. I think being at the cusp of transformation and the end of the old and the start of the new, or the transition into something different could be quite fun, adn very much showcasing the power of the player characters. Plus the idea that last generation the Necromancer King (or the Dark Lord, or whatever the title) fell but now is coming back could totally be an interesting idea.
I very much second the limiting the Divine's involvement, I don't think having the agents of God come around and stop the plans of the Darkness to be fun. A way to do this is to say Free Will prevails, but also another option is that since the Darkness is mostly limiting itself (publically, at least at first) to say the Magical and Faerie worlds the Divine doesn't fully need to get involved. But by the time it does effect the other worlds maybe the mortal agents of the divine are a bit weaker than normal and so its harder for it do to stuff.
Its the same with the Infernal, I don't want said Dark Lord to be a demon or infernally powered - he can be evil, obviously and he can steal bits of power from others, but being a Demon directly in my head reduces the potency of the Magic chronicle, and I don't super like that.
On the social ramifications of the Order and stuff, definitely. I like the one mention in Dies Irae that says the Order is not looking for another Schism War, and so would be a bit more resistant to directly marching against an entire subset of the Order. This can be especially interesting if this Mad King doesn't actually take only magi from one House, but rather his minions are from all of them in a very wide spread nature. which also hampers the various Houses from fully marhselling their forces, because they themselves have been manipulated.
The idea of said Hermetic Dark Lord attempting to manipulate a Hedge faction, or maybe trying to free the Titans could be interesting. Especially if at some elements what they are doing is actually a positive thing for the Order - imagine the Mad King finding a method of using Hermetic Magic to gain supremacy over the Infernal - say breaking the lesser limit of the Infernal - a trait which when spread to other factions could actually benefit the order. Which could lead to interesting issues.
Obviously what the players do is what the players do, but I wonder if a potential apocalyptic event could be an outcome, and if so what sort of victory for the darkness would look like. But even success by the forces of 'good' should probably change the balance of power among both the supernatural and mundane elements of the world. The Order of Hermes would probably not be the same.
Your idea of it being a Hermetic Magus makes perfect sense, as does him having power over a Mystery Cult of some form. Maybe he could even grow to manipulate a Hedge tradition of one kind or another.
The benefit your outline suggesstion is that it allows his presence to be a behind the scenes element for the early period, allowing the players the ability to have a 'normal' campaign while getting the feel of things before being thrust into more world shacking importnace. I do like him having a breakthroiugh that breaks a particular limit or reduces a sort of difficulty that others face, though him being a priest is not something I am sure I would wnat to go in, but it iss very much an idea.
Your mention of him releasing some sort of magic creature is an itneresting one. And it leads to the idea of the 'Twilight of the Gods from Dies Irae, which has a lot of potential though I would have to change certain results as there are elements of it I do not like (the breaking of bonds of familiars and the removal of Hermetic power less they bond to a higher creature annoys me, for example). One of the elements I do like of thi sis the potential of changing the power of the Faerie, reducing its power and subsuming it into the power of magic - the surviving faeries might need to make oaths of feality to magi in order to get the energy they need, which is very similar to what the House Elves of Harry Potter need to get to survive, the connection intrigues me SOOOOOOO much!
That is really cool. Did you make any changes to it and stuff, or did you go with what the book says. I'm curious to see how it played and and stuff.
The idea of this sort of plot line really interests me. It allows for the ST to have events that can be thrown at the players, which start small and as secondary elements but grow in potency and effect as the magi get powerful. It can also be twisted in many directions depending on what is going on. For example, victory over the dark might have the mundane world in ruins, with the Order being the ones to step in. Or maybe the mundane world didn't really know about the conflict, except in a few isolated incidents, but the Houses of the Order are in many ways damaged to the point where new governing bodies need to be established - maybe around 'Houses' established by the player magi and their allies. Or whatever, but the point is that at the end the magical world might look different from what it looked like at the start. Whichc totally could be fun if the players immerse themselves in what is going on. Heck even magic itself could be a bit different - with certain lesser limits broken and certain new traits becoming a norm based on research discovered to survive the onslaught of the Dark Lord.
My use of thr Spider in HBO Ars Magica is in its introductory stages. The player magi, while very competent compared to other newly-Gauntleted magi, are still only a half dozen years out of apprenticeship. My decision to use Spider came when I originally wanted to use the waimie (from Antagonists, I think), but there are no snakes in Ireland thanks to St Patrick. So I came here and asked what should I do instead, and someone suggested swapping the snakes for spiders, because that would evoke The Spider, who may or may not be involved. Then Thrice-Told Tales came out, and he seemed to be a pretty straight up nemesis for the entire Order at that point.
So far, the covenant has come under attack by vis-eating spiders who were on the site before the PC's arrived. They've confronted but failed to slay Old Nan, the spider babysitter in Hooks (I think) who I have made into an agent of The Spider. I have plans to introduce the character of The Spider mentioned in The Travels of Fedoso, who may or may not be connected to the other The Spider, and the PC Verditius will take this Fedoso-Spider as a familiar. The Bonisagus PC wants to integrate Rune Magic, which will lead him to followers of the Spider or maybe even the Spider himself. In short, the covenant is being spied upon by the Dark Lord, who is gathering intelligence on them but who does not currently consider them a real adversary, just more of an obstacle to be overcome on the way to his larger goal.
I probably won't actually use the adventure in Thrice-Told Tales at all, and I'll revise or edit his background as presented there, as necessary to fit my PCs, but in general he's such a great Voldemort that I see no use in reinventing the wheel.
These would be priests with Holy Magic or something similar (something with a little more "oomph" than the Augustan Brotherhood). Depending on your saga, these adversaries could be (or be connected to) Michael Scot, Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, or Thomas Aquinas. The enemy is not "evil." They are pious to a fault. But their world has no room for the semi-pagan Order of Hermes, and they will use the instruments of God to destroy the Order.
They will have spent time in the Holy Land searching for relics capable of generating massive effects; an initial adventure with this adversary in my saga was the players investigating a covenant destroyed after its aegis was spontaneously negated and aura temporarily shifted to Divine 8 by the use of a shard of the original Ten Commandments, allowing a devastating attack by mundane forces. They will also use the power of miracles, such as assassinating people by speaking the ancient long names of God out loud.
Worst of all, they operate within the mundane. Unlike a necromancer or a vampire king, the local lords can't be convinced to band together against a common foe and march on the mountain or the castle without worry that the Code of Hermes is being more than bent. If the Light Lords field an army, fighting it would violate the code. Gathering one's own allies among those willing to fight the Church (I'm looking at you, Manfred of Sicily) would violate the Code further.
Most of what you say is good, DeficientIntellego, but it's worth pointing out that the whole reason the Code prevents magi from coming to blows with the Church is that the Divine is one of the few forces capable of destroying the Order. If the Church is already making a concentrated effort to destroy the Order, and getting the hell out of dodge or politically neutralizing the movement aren't options, nobody's going to cite the Code to stop the Order from blitzkreiging that attack effort into fine ash. Measures put into place to prevent war tend to come down once one side has opened fire.
An interesting conflict that I tend to use for a Big Bad has to do with the war between Fredrick II and the Pope, frequently throwing in factions of the Augustinian Brotherhood on both sides. Historically a number of unsavory things have been done in the name of religion, and the infernal is always working to try and corrupt agents of the divine, which could be Fredrick II (fighting a corrupt church) as well as the Papal forces (plus the Muslims aren't exactly on friendly terms here), and when the AB has an interest in the Order all kinds of options come into play.
This is a good point. My setup was that it was a secret group inside the Church, not an initiative known, much less approved of, by the Pope. It would be a different issue if the Church were at war with the Order.
What I want to add here through a secret order in the Church is twofold:
A counter-magic that is truly challenging because it cannot totally be defended against, and
The addition of complexity to the "let's march an army to the castle of the lich king" paradigm, where there aren't really plausible repercussions from people you wouldn't otherwise have a disagreement with about destroying the Big Bad.
I see what you mean. My response was more geared towards your comment that fighting an army they fielded would break the Code, which I don't see as at all true. To a lesser extent, if people are channeling God's miracles in an effort to destroy the Order, that suggests God being against the magi, which again would likely lead the magi to conclude that it's better to fight and take a chance of being obliterated rather than simply rolling over and being slowly but surely dismantled.
The idea still works great, but requires just as much finesse on the part of the Light Lords as it does for the magi. They don't get to do anything as bold as field an army or even directly attack a covenant without the Order taking the invitation to bring fire to their doorsteps. Heck, since they're just agents of the Divine, they'll have to be careful hidden-in-the-shadows type figures (or, well, the Pope and his Cardinals, but see above for such a move on their part) to not have their identities discovered by sneakier magi who don't mind using magic to find a petty mortal trying to threaten their Order. As the books themselves say, when somebody says they want to "kill all mages" or something, the Order's policy is to take them at their word and meet it with as much force as necessary.
Which actually reminds me that the best way for an evil guy from outside both the Order and the Church to get his opportunity to rise in power would be to pull strings from the background to start a Crusade by the Church against the Order. If you violate either sector as-is, you get crushed by either Divine power or the greatest magic the world has to offer. Knock them both down a peg, and then one sufficiently powerful guy really could force everything under his heel.
It seems to me that, whatever faction a Dark Lord grows out of, unless he or she is Infernal or a hedge magician, the Code will serve as a screen for him to hide behind until either a) he emerges from behind it to enact his Master Stroke, or b) the players succeed in flushing him out. This seems like a major milestone in any Dark Lord saga.
The code, which I jauntily summarize as "Don't do anything fun," restricts magi from various interactions with mundane authorities, fairies, the church, and other magi. The wording is fussy enough that any Dark Lord worth his salt will turn it to his advantage. It will allow him to operate in secret, building his power, and will restrict the options of PCs who act against him. But, eventually, presumably, things will get so bad that there will come a crisis point when the magi must break the Code to save the Order. See, for example, the Sundering, which is an in-canon Dark Lord plot.
If someone wants to run an alternate-future Ars Magica in which the Code has been revised or rewritten, the aftermath of a Dark Lord makes a great explanation for that revision.
I like how you took the various plot lines and campaign elements and turned it into a uniform organized plot, very cool, very interesting.
Yep. Totally. I was reading that section and I thought of that and was like "YES." Its a nifty way to go about it and I totally approve of the message. I also like the way he is a character which traveled around the 'world' and learned the secrets and magics of 'many different cultures, that part made him really cool. It kind of makes it also important to not directly face him in battle, since he can throw magics at the player magi that they cannot equal because they have only one power. BUT, it could also provide the potential for said magi to maybe investigate and see if they can go and understand other magic groups in order to gain enough understanding to defeat him in time. But unlike him, they wouldn't be that against sharing it. Hmm, this gives me an idea that I will post at the bottom of this comment.
Its a very interesting idea, and I like the ramifications of the hidden war, I just don't exactly like the whole Divine/Dominion nature of thing. To me, personally, just as a matter of taste, I like my magical orders, characters, and realms being the focus point of Ars Magica rather than letting the other Realms run roughshod over magic.
I do like the idea of there being certain events of a religious organization nature, cause the potential of hiding a more metaphysical supernatural event in a seemingly mundane thing - like a crusade -is very interesting.
I can also say this that the moment a bunch of people with pitchfolks started coming at the tower of my character or his covenant I would have him use using magic blatantly as a defense- maybe through less deadly at means, but I would do what needed to be done.
I think there is great potential in 'hiding' a magical war at the same time as a mundane war is going on. That way its hard for people who are already dying from normal mundane things to suddenly come out and say the war occurred due to magical means. Its hard for politicians and religious leaders to know whether city x was destroyed by magical war or mundane war.
This sounds like a perfect way to go about it. Hide your magical / supernatural tampering in an otherwise mundane war. It sounds very interesting and does much to obfuscate the dark happenings going on.
Yes. I really like this, pretty much to the last word. I think its a brilliant way to organize the saga about a dark lord and stuff. I think it has a lot of potential to start off 'slow and hidden' and maybe even an occasional hook, but as time goes on it grows and grows in visibility till it takes over the saga, but by that time its expected and even hopefully wanted and a natural outgrowth of what has been going on. But even better, by this point the player magi are actually probably pretty powerful and important and thus its a very magical act of power.
Now the random plot idea that you helped to spur on.
If only I could actually have a game of Ars Magica, it would be so cool!!!
New Dark Lord Idea
Instead of us having the Dark Lord be a direct, present, fact for most of the campaign let us instead have his presence be something from years ago - maybe an event from when the player magi were young apprentices or children or something. Basically, this evil dark force did much horrible things generations ago, but was defeated. But certain signs seem to indicate that it might be growing in potency and strength, that its attempting to make a come back. To figure if this is truly what is happening the sponsoring elder magi of the player magi ask them to go on a mystical fact-finding and magical learning quest around the whole of the world. The quest is to follow the signs pointing to the path of the dark lord, tracing what he did in his youth, upon gauntlet, in his learning times, upon his mastery, and then upon his declaring of war. Trying to trace his steps isn't going to be a constant thing, because sometimes the path runs dry and the signs become hidden till some random find or breakthrough is made. The player magi have to face and deal with the consequences of the dark lords plot, like going to an old town which was trusting but now is not and so they have to prove that not all magical folk are as dark as the mysterious figure their community talked about. Obviously the benefit of writing the wrongs and following in his footsteps (and figuring out how to defeat his traps) would lead the player magi to gaining knoweldge, additional contacts, and a great deal of power - both supernatural in general and magical in specific. As the campaign goes on the various 'Dark Lord' hooks become more and more common, till in the later portion it pretty much overwhelms the other more common and standard plot hooks that are common in Ars Magica games. At a later phase the threat of the dark lord becomes more apparent, and to them and their allies it seems that his return and rise is more imminent - and then a twist has to occur (like the one where the innocent boy has had him all the time) that spurs on the fun and creates more danger and excitement (don't know what it is, but it could be cool - maybe the master they were all friends with was the dark lord or maybe their is a prophesy about them, or stuff). This could lead to the next phase, fighting the dark lord and stuff - which could lead to all sorts of epic level adventure which could cause world shattering events that could topple governments, cultures, the environment, supernatural realms, even the Order itself, all based on the player actions. This could even lead to a final endgame phase where they get to forge from their victory (or from the ruins of their defeat) a new world, in one way or another.
What would also be really cool about this is that it creates a campaign of travel and adventure in different locations, and it (importantly to me) provides connections to diverse new magical fields and maybe eventually breakthroughs that lead said magics to be combined with the Hermetic system, making things even more impressive. Plus friends can be made and alliances forged by working together to defeat the threats that are discovered to have been created by the mysterious dark lord who may or may not still be alive - but the learned say is probably still around.
It is the idea of being always on the move that distinguishes your saga from other Dark Lord ideas. I have always liked the idea of a lot of travel in Ars Magica, even as I've been mediocre at implementing it. Covenants are by nature sedentary, and a mobile covenant has so many drawbacks (no Aegis, or an expensive Aegis because it is cast more often; low quality or dangerous to use labs; few reliable vis sources) that few players are keen on them.
One common way to make the mobile covenant more appealing it to make it cool with pirates, magic transportation, or both. THROUGH THE AEGIS has a covenant based on a small fleet of ships, there's a Verditius covenant/fleet in, I think, Thebes, and the old MYTHIC SEAS book had a magical boat perfect for such things. LEGENDS OF HERMES has the flying castle. There's a Criamon covenant in Stonehenge that operates out of wagons.
What I might do is structure the saga as using ALL of these options, in turn. The PCs don't belong to a single covenant, but rather travel with whatever traveling covenant gets them where they need to go. If you can give them even more travel options, you have a pretty fun theme for the first half of the campaign, until the Dark Lord is revealed and most of the exploration stops. Undersea adventure inside a whale, flying adventure in balloons... I used a ghost barge to good effect. (By the rules of HOUSES OF HERMES: TRUE LINEAGES, a ghost who is the pilot of a ship can manifest the ship itself, which Muto Mentem magic can then make solid. I used Caligula's barge sunk on Lake Nemi, conjured by a Tremere Necromancer.) It's fun to imagine how each House or Tribunal might have a traveling component to it, and you can cycle through all of them as your PCs follow the trail.
It sounds kind of like a magical Verne novel, which knocks my socks off. Until it suddenly turns into a war.
Yeah the travel element is interesting and in some ways unique and it takes Ars Magica in a slightly different direction. Plus the ability to in a single overall campaign visit the far flung places that the books talk about and that I as a reader went "oh boy that sounds cool" would be fun. I could even see the potential of beta STs with interest in particular regions providing the direction for that region, if it got to that point.
Covenant wise, yeah I see the difficulty there. To be honest if I was to have the players spending so much time traveling I would try and find a way to give them access to some sort of covenant site protected by aegis and wards and properly outfitted and such. (Maybe only lacking vis sources, which they gain as treasure from adventure or acts of diplomacy or negotiated contracts). I am not sure how this would work, but there are some examples that could serve as inspiration. Example being the boat coveant from Thebes with aura or the use of a Magic creature that created a regio or maybe even having their covenant site exist within a regio which has doorways that lead to various other cities around all of mythic Europe - that way their base could be centralized but they can go and travel all around the world.
(I don't own Mythic Seas so I will have to look at that in a bit.)
The major issue with the whole they move between covenants is that either they seem like freeloaders or they are utilizng the negotiations of the parens which means a lot of delicate stuff went on behind the scenes that they couldn't participate in, which takes away their agency. At a certain point one has to do what one has to do, but I think making friends and contacts and such things as something they might do is probably better than handing it to them already neatly created with a bow.
I totally agree with you on the nature of the campaign - that at this point its magcial travel and adventure (with the connected idea of searching out the sites of power that the Dark Lord went to), but even places he didn't viist could give them a bit of fun to explore and gather and stuff. Then enough understanding is achieved and knoweldge of the DARK RITUAL that he preformed is gained, and suddenly something happens that turns the campaign from travel around the world to making a stand against him. Before that all the really cool nifty adventures, like you say. (The ghost barge is a nifty idea, very interesting to do; I like the potential of using the powers of Magical beings as a basis for the places and stuff the characters have and can use.)
While everything you wrote is really cool, this part just brought a big smile on my face. I LOVE the idea, it is such a great tag line for the campaign concept, and gives a sense of the adventure that is going to happen but also the potential of there being something much larger and much more effecting.
So I was trying to look up places he might have gone and things he might have done that could be potentially saga setting worthy and one of the ideas I had was that the Fourth Crusade (and the sacking of Constantinople) was when he was last active; he wanted to either reduce the power of the Byzantine Empire or he needed something immense in Constantinople that he could get on his own, so he manipulated things. Either around that time or soon afterward he actually was defeated (probably by the parens of the player magi) which leads up to this more recent period of peace.
One of the very nifty things I wouldn't mind throwing into the saga is the idea that the boundaries between Magic and Faere are unraveled, to where Magic dominants the other landscape. This will lead to Faerie creatures either dying out or needing to create active bonds with humans in order to get the energy they need to survive. And while a single faerie can bond with a single mundane human, those Gifted can actually bond with a whole host of faeries, creating gatherings of faeries which bond to lineage, clan, and house as a sort of servant caste.
A random thought is that I would love to find a way to use the Fallen Temple of Mercury from Mythic Locations, something about that location draws me in and begs for me to use it. I wonder if there might be a potential to use this site and connect it with the whole being able to travel far and wide - like maybe a Mercurian ritual could be found that connects the regio temple to the ruins of other temple and shrine sites of Mercury throughout the territory that was the former Roman world (and a bit beyond it, cause nothing says the Mercurian cult had to strictly stay within Roman boundaries). The site itself gives the potential for adventure and a place to call home and access to the potential treasure troves of lost and ancient Mercurian rituals and legends, which could totally provide great benefit for many different reasons.
But yeah, was wondering if any thoughts based on using this as a sort of site for a dark lord seeker campaign came to you guys.
The Fourth Crusade is a great setting for a moment crucial to the Dark Lord's plans. Dark Lord plots are often about uncovering history, a "Shadows of the Past" chapter. Old School Dark Lord sagas allow someone knowledgable to narrate the event, or the PCs reconstruct the event through clues. New School Dark Lord sagas involve the PCs actually traveling back in time to witness it, or somehow reliving the scene through the memories of someone who was there. It is often a "Point Of No Return" moment for the Dark Lord; that is, this is the moment when the Dark Lord could have stopped at the edge, but instead pushed his victim off the edge to his death, sealing the Dark Lord's status as Dark Lord. Constantinople is the home to so many relics and magical traditions already that, if you don't stumble upon a perfect candidate, you can invent one and it'll totally fit.
I know what you mean about the Mercurian Temple. I've often been reading Ars books and just felt, OMG, I have to work this in somehow. So if you feel that way about the Temple, then you should totally run with that. The GM needs to have fun too, or the game will never sustain.
I wonder if them getting involved could actually lead to a disaster for them or their downfall. I don't entirely know, its not like its all decided and stuff, but I have an image of the fall of the faerie era and them trying to get in on the ground floor of the Dark Lord story could cause that. hmm
The diaster could be something like them doing something or taking something that the Dark Lord needs, and him turning his powerful gaze against them - no molesting the faeries my ass, he would say. Or it could be cause the Dark Lord actually serves something greater - or pretends to serve something greater - from the Magical realm and by defeating them or gathering their power he can take work to free his supposed master, only to attempt to usurp the power directly. Since, you know, he is no where near loyal or willing to actually serve another for the long haul.
That makes a lot of sense and is totally an interesting and fun way to go about things. And yeah, the idea of events from the past atching up with the present is a great one, as is learning about what happened previously. I could see the parens of the player magi informing them of a particular battle, and I can also see later on (maybe while visting the Magic realm) they get an image of the Dark Lord doing something in the city that is just woe. Like, and this is just a random thought, the fact that a lot of things in Ars Magica have guardian spirits and such that protect them and maybe what the Dark Lord needed was (among ancient tomes and relics) was the symbolism of Roman Supremacy which the Bzyantine Empire had as the official successor state, which is why it was doing really well for a while. Having such a major symbol of power, imperium, and potency would do a lot for whatever the Dark Lord wanted to accomplish. He probably succeded in part of his plan - the city was trashed of course - but was trumped in another part, leading to his defeat and 'death' not long afterward.
And yeah, basically once a group of players learn that so much of the disaster in Constantinople was organized and orchestrated and pushed into happening by him directly the chance of them looking at him with "he can be redeemed" eyes is a bit less likely. And its always good to have the players know without a shadow of a doubt that defeating him is the right thing to do. (Visions of what would happen if he won could totally help with this).
Yeah on the Mercurian Temple, its one of those locations that come back to me again and again. It has all the sorts of stuff I love - an ancient history, a settlement that needs rebuilding, heck a monster that is actually potentially somone that can be befriended, a lot of information, various magical items, and the potential to lead to other elements. I close the book, put it on the shelf, only to take the book again and read it not that much after cause its awesome. I just need some way to invoke it within a saga without it seeming forced upon and stuff.
Heck, I could always have the idea of the player magi being the apprentices of magi who together went and visited the Mercurian temple and so upon their gauntlet they 'decided' to use it as a covenant site, with the masters discovering something special and secret about it that they begged their apprentices to go out and fix. And stuff. hehe
(I have this as its own post cause I think what it represents should be separated, even though I posted the previous comment.)
How does this sound as a saga set up for a Dark Lord plot. I tried to keep options open but at the same time there are certain elements and concepts that are chosen as consistent that the players would know about before even coming into it. So I just want to hear what you guys might think about it as a campaign saga idea?
ARS MAGICA CAMPAIGN
A few decades ago a magus fell to darkness and began a series of horrific events in order to gain power and destroy his enemies, in no particular order. Against this rising tide of darkness a number of magi began working together to fight and end his delusions of grander. This included them working together in 1203 to try and stop him from getting full victory during the horrific Sack of Constantinople. A few years later and a few years more of battle the group of magi came together and launched themselves against the dark wizard, defeating him and bringing about peace. Upon the defeat of the dark wizard they split up in location, going off to their various covenants to continue their personal projects, though they always kept in contact. It was also at this time, during the Tribunal meeting, that they each took on an apprentice and began teaching them the Hermetic arts.
Fourteen years later the apprentices they all choose came up for gauntlet within the Tribunal of Thebes. Said apprentices all knew each other, with some being closer than others, and had even gone through some small-scale adventurers together when their masters visited each other. It was during some of these visits that the apprentices had come to a realization that their masters didn't think the dark wizard was truly dead, and that it worried them a bit. This came to a point where the apprentices actually learned, without any shadow of a doubt, that the dark wizard was in fact not dead and that he was simply biding his time. It was at this point that they made a pact, to work together to try and trace the steps the dark wizard took in his path of towards power. And once that was done they would work together to destroy him once and for all. It was to this end that even before the Tribunal meeting finished the gathering of new magi decided to work together to found their own covenant, rather than move into an already existing covenant. They would use the freedom they would gain to chart their own course, to make their own home, and to work on their projects and plans without oversight of elders. As part of this is the realization that they have roughly seven years till the next Tribunal to prove themselves in their chosen location and the purpose of the covenant.
The saga will start at the closing of the Tribunal, just as they all gather around a specially lit fire where they make plans to discuss where they will go and what they will do.
o The saga will have as its home tribunal that of Thebes, though there will be some widespread travel all around Mythic Earth. The Theban Tribunal requires each recognized covenant to have both an official Purpose and Patron. The Purpose is [i]the defeat of the dark wizard which terrorizes the supernatural world[/i]. The Patron would be a Magical (or potentially Faerie) being which will ally with the covenant members.
o The saga will start in 2020, right at the end of the last Tribunal. The next Tribunal meeting is in 2027, at which they will have to prove themselves according to Theban law. In 2028 the Hermetic world has its next Grand Tribunal.
o Before saga start all magi characters have had a run-in with something or someone that is clearly aligned or connected with the dark wizard. This provides them with full proof that he was not destroyed, and that he will in fact come back at some point.
o All the player magi know each other, have in fact met each other in their youth and apprenticeship. This is despite whatever difference they may have in home covenant or House or even master.
o 1192 - The dark wizard begins his rise.
o 1203 - Sack of Constantinople
o 1205 - The dark wizard is defeated; the order magi began separating
o 1206 - Tribunal meeting; the children found by the order magi become inducted as apprentices in this Tribunal.
o 1213 - Tribunal meeting; the apprentices are halfway in their apprenticeship.
o 1220 - [Present Year] Tribunal meeting, the apprentices become full magi. Start of saga.
o 1227 - [Future] Tribunal meeting, the magi get recognition.
o 1228 - [Future] Grand Tribunal meeting
PS. Oh and if the players decide to go to Candia (Crete, which in all honestly I would describe with all the potential of it) I could easily but a Mercurian Temple site since the Romans were there and stuff and could totally have built such a site. Which allows me to do what helps me to enjoy things but it also allows me to continue to progress in the themes that are described.