So last night was the first real session of the long planned Scions of Nathas Saga, a campaign i've been planning and talking about on the boards for, ooooh, about 3 years.
I've got one experienced Ars Magica player (The guy who used to play Santiago in the Brunnaburgh saga), another guy who played a past edition and two newbies. My first session was thus designed to not only set the scene but give them some gentle introductions to the game covering a few bases such as skill checks, combat, casting spells and so on. I plan to introduce more elements of the game such as labwork, spell design and so on in future sessions.
So to set the stage:
My saga is waaaaaay non-canon. Its set on a fictional world, the entire world has been conquered by an undead warlord, only one nation holds out against the vast forces of the evil liche. This nation is called Nathas and is protected primarily by a number of magical organisations. There are five orders of paladins, gods-blessed warriors. There are the druids, magi with strong interest in nature magics and in particular at keeping nature in balance with men. There are the five churchs, one for each of the gods of the pantheon, led by powerful priests and there are the three great mage orders. The country is protected from undead intrusion by very powerful wards, however, these wards have recently failed and vast armies of undead have swept from the north and are driving the humans before them. The paladin orders have been largely crushed in battle through sheer weight in numbers. All resistance has been crushed, only the capital city, on the south coast remains, and the undead are now marching on that in armies millions strong.
Our four heroes are
Ser Florus the Huntress - A paladin of the Iron Warriors of the Tyge, an order sworn to defend the river (the Tyge) that forms the northern border. With her order largely destroyed trying to hold back the undead, Florus and her talkative companion, Astrum the Stallion of Virtue, have come to the capital to sell their lives dearly protecting the innocent. Serious, focused and a seasoned warrior, Florus has fairly weak magic but considerable practical experienced of campaigning.
Wyndham - A druid with a lion heartbeast, Wyndham's previous life was spent protecting some of the rarer magical beasts of the forests from human encroachment. This all ended when his forests were overun by undead. Shocked at the destruction of his lifes work, Wyndham and his magical animal companion (a lioness) fled to the capital to consult with the senior druids of the high council.
Ignacious: A mage in the Watchful Order of Nassia (a group of mages who recovered and safely store or dispose of dangerous magic from the ancient Magewar era) has come to the capital on instructions from his masters to deliver a powerful magical artifact. A master of magically manipulating stone, Ignacious has suffered a bizarre magical accident that left half his face as craggy stone. Ignacious has two Raven companions, one magical, the other not.
Gendo: A mage of the Most Learned Scholars of Hyksos (a proud and traditional group of magi), Gendo is married and has a daughter, both wife and daughter accompanied him to the capital after the destruction of his home city. Gendo is a generalist and master of spontaneous magic. He is also an excellent entertainer of children using illusions and storytelling.
Our four heroes are all in the city when the undead begin their siege. Rapidly spotted and sent to work by very senior people, they can't help but notice several strange things.
- There are several large warehouses usually used for storage of grain that currently have thousands of civilians in, patiently waiting.
- the great trade square that these warehouses abut have a very large number of very senior magi present, they appear to be preparing for some kind of ritual.
They are quickly given tasks by a very senior paladin called Ser Aegeon. Florus and Gendo are sent to the great library to recover some books and a very famous scholar, while Wyndham and Ignacious are sent to the council chambers to hide a small metal sphere (which Ignacious promptly recognises as a magical doomsday device known as a Sphere of Devastation).
While the tasks are easily completed, both groups are attacked by small bands of undead, seemingly being teleported at random into the city (good chance to get my players to test out the magic and combat systems). They defeat the undead and make it back to the square. Ser Aegeon is debriefing them when he is given some news about the siege at the north gate which causes him to go all funny and ride off in a hurry. Another paladin sends our heroes off to loot the city's vis exchange and return with whatever they can find.
Our brave heroes decide to make the journey across the city quicker, Wyndham changes into a lion and casts beast of outlandish size on both himself and his magical animal companion and our heroes ride the elephant size lions through town at great speed (except for Ser Florus who of course rides Astrum).
The merchants at the vis exchange are most helpful, all except for one terrfied chap who is determined to leave with "His share" of the vis. After a swift negotiation employing intimidation, bargaining and charm, our heroes manage to secure the chaps vis while promising to pay him back 120% after the siege.
They return to the square with the vis just as Ser Aegeons unconcious and heavily wounded body is rolled back in on a cart.
A senior wizard gathers the PCs and explains "The Plan". The city is essentially lost, they might hold out for a few days but the numbers opposing them are simply too vast. Instead the council have concocted a plan to spirit away as many of their civilians as possible to other worlds using (highly illegal and dangerous) dimensional magic. Small groups of spellcasters led by senior paladins will lead each refugee group. The PCs will accompany one group with Ser Aegeon in charge, which given that he is unconcious and bleeding out means they'll be in charge until he recovers. Once the refugee groups are gone, the Watchful order is going to break out the magical doomsday devices and "nuke" the city, destroying any evidence that the refugees escaped and thus ensuring that the liche-king thinks he got everyone.
On cue, the mages who've been busy casting serious ritual magic in the square finish their spell and three giant portals open up. Our heroes shephard their wards through and leap through the portals, experiencing an ichky moment as the denizens of the ether (i.e. the magical goop between worlds) press in against them before the portal spits them out on a grassy hill.
Back in Nathas the Watchful order trigger their items and finish their rituals and the city is destroyed. Our heroes see a giant blast of flame come through the portal, only to be cut off asthe concentrating magi keeping the portal open are vaporised.
Our four heroes look about them, seeing a green and pleasant land of rolling hills and forests, and of course, their people, 1500 refugees.
Taking stock, they realise their refugees have been pre-selected, they have a nice mix of craftsmen and farmers, several hundred children and no old or very ill people beyond the senior scholars and Ser Aegeon. They have some building materials and some food (2 weeks worth) and water (4 days worth) along with tents for 500 people and some tools.
They quickly organise the people, latrines are dug, tents erected and hunters deployed.
And that was the end of the first session. Next session will be trying to find water, explore their new world and handle 1500 refugees.