Saga Discussions (OOC)

I am open to include all books, including 4th for Alps. The needs of the story should of course take precedence in terms of needing to change up things in a tribunal ie. if it is necessary to alter a certain magus' motivation to go after us, fine. Change the location of a covenant to make sense, fine. Etc.

but if someone wants to keep track of them I'm fine with them, too.

Not that l do like to keep track of them, but l have a bit of experience with ArM finance and as long as my system will remain clear for all players, l could bring it here (google sheet with tables and a bit of macros, that also helps in keeping track of time, exp, items, lab, etc, whatever.

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I'd be for all books as well, and 4e for tribunals where needed. Just because a book is included doesn't mean we have to go down that rabbit-hole, but it allows the option there if someone wants to.

I agree that reading the tribunal books like textbooks is no good, but it's nice to be able to look things up if you don't have inspiration for a made-up answer; we should probably say "the tribunal books apply unless superseded by SG"

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One of the difficulties of using everything is that it represents a large number of rule systems, including some that don’t mesh well together (for example, the finance rules in Covenants and the labour points in City and Guild). Many represent options sets that require decisions from each troupe before they are introduced, as they change the setting, the tone of the saga or the power level (such as Transforming Mythic Europe).

So I would propose a hierarchy of books, from the more vanilla to those only used for inspiration.

First category is what I consider “Core”. Pretty much everything described in them can be used without needing a whole lot of discussion, though there may be the occasional tidbit that need some tweaking or which may be set aside. It doesn’t mean that we have to use all of the content in there, but rather that these rules are available to anyone who would like to use them. Those would be:

  • Ars Magica 5th Edition
  • Houses of Hermes: True Lineages
  • Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults
  • Houses of Hermes: Societates
  • Covenants

Second category is what I consider optional add-ons. These are things we can pick and choose as needed or desired, but for which I suggest we obtain troupe approval on a case-by-case basis. Those would be:

  • The Mysteries – except for the general mystery rules, which can be considered core
  • Realms of Power: Faerie
  • Realms of Power: The Divine
  • Realms of Power: The Infernal *
  • Realms of Power: Magic
  • Apprentices
  • Grogs
  • City and Guild
  • Art and Academe *
  • Hedge Magic

Third category is what I consider saga resources. These describe the setting and how people behave. The content there may be used as inspiration to set the tone and the background for the saga. Any specific rules can be ignored by default, but the troupe may decide to use them as needed. Those would be:

  • Guardians of the Forest (The Rhine Tribunal)
  • The Lion and the Lily (The Normandy Tribunal)
  • Sanctuary of Ice (The Tribunal of the Greater Alps) – even though it is a 4th edition book
  • Faith and Flame (The Tribunal of Provence)
  • The Church
  • Lord of Men *

Fourth category is everything else. That content would be mostly for use by a storyguide to tell a specific story (or set of stories). Use by a player (for their own character instead of for a story) is subject to troupe approval.

(Note that I do not currently own the books marked by a *. I can purchase them if someone wants to use an important part of the book, but otherwise I am in no hurry to get those.)

I can stand behind that suggestion for a hierarchy of sourcebooks.

Works for me, too.

Tier system makes sense. I do think A&A and ROP:M are more important than the others in T2 because the deep dive into medieval science and the magic realm comes up in most sagas.

3. Starting year of the saga

I generally like to start my games at least a few years before the "official" 5th edition year of 1220. This gives the flexibility of mining the history section of the various books.

What would you think of starting the saga earlier in time? If so, how much earlier?

4. Starting level of magi and advancement rule

It would certainly make sense for the magi in this saga to be at least a few years post-Gauntlet. On the other hand, advancing magi can be quite time-consuming and requires a lot of decisions regarding resources available (notably raw vis), lab work, stories, etc.

How experienced would you like your magi to be at the start of the saga? Should all magi be roughly the same age (post-Gauntlet years)?

Yes, it's handy to start a little before for exactly that reason. I don't know enough history of the region to know if there is a great event shortly before 1220 there we might want to start before. Generally I would go with somewhere in the 1200-1220 region.

From the premise it makes sense for the magi to be fairly young but also probably not right from gauntlet. As you said, though, after gauntlet can get messy and takes a lot more work. I'd probably ballpark up to 3-6 years or so, making it at least a few but not too many and keeping magi close in age.

Sometimes I've done things like let the younger magi have more points to spend for the covenant to help balance things out.

I don't love the core quick advancement stuff. At the very least they could have done 32/year - 6/(lab season) and have gotten roughly the same result without the screwiness; that very screwiness is why the core book itself recommends gaming the system.

Just to catch up, I like the list of books and the tier system described above.

I like the idea of the starting date being more interesting than less, so if we have interesting bits from an earlier date than 1220, I say we go for it.

I wouldn't mind having a slightly larger age range, maybe like 3-10 years post gauntlet for the characters. It is much more important to me that all the magi have solid narrative reasons for being at the covenant than they all have the same power level.

Book tier seems fine to me and l do not have much preference for any given year.
However, l would pretty much like to have something like 5-10 years of experience to flex my magi a bit before game.

I agree, it's nice to start with a bit of advancement, but I also don't like the standard "quick advancement" rules, to the point that if we're going to use them I'd rather just start at gauntlet, and maybe have some early bumps of a few years.

I tend to favour a more narrative approach to post-Gauntlet advancement (which I also personally use when developping a character).

Basically, in that approach you tell a story of what you character is doing, whom he meets and study, what he finds, etc. It takes some writing skill and thought. The exact rewards (xp, vis and other stuff) are then discussed with the troupe depending on what makes sense. The amounts stated in the post-Gauntlet advancement rules in the ArM5 book is only used as a guideline.

For example, here is what I once wrote a few years ago while developping a magus (a Gentle-Gifted blacksmith of a slightly modified Rustic tradition from HoH:S p.130). Tthis is a bit long-winded and could be shorter:

  • Year 1, Spring Season:After gathering my tools, clothing and few personal items into the cart that was provided by my pater’s covenant, I have taken to the roads of the Kingdom (of Poland). Travelling proves a little more difficult than I remember, as my mule is headstrong and the roads themselves badly maintained. But I am learning to take care of the mule, at least.”
    The first three villages that I visited did not require much of my services. They already had access to a blacksmith from neighbouring villages, so had on small work for me. Nonetheless, they were warm enough in their welcome.”
    The fourth village was a different matter. Going farther upcountry brought me to a place sadly in need of my skills. I spent the rest of spring there, fixing a host of farming tools, hinges, and such. The villagers were quite happy about this, since it made planting season easier. I did not make much coin, for they did not have much, but was paid in what little food they had, as well as shelter for me and my mule.”
    One woman had a lingering sickness. I told her I would pray with her for her recovery, and did what I could to strengthen her health with magic. By the time I left the village, she seemed to be doing better.”
    Exposure: 2 xp (Craft: Blacksmith 1 xp, Animal Handling 1 xp)

  • Year 1, Summer Season:Travelling ever further upcountry provided me with another village where I could practice my craft. This one had a nearby mine and already had a blacksmith, but he could not keep up with all the work. He agreed to take me on as a helper for the season. This proved quite fruitful to my skills as a smith.”
    There was an orphan girl there named Maria. Her mother had died the year previous and now her father in a recent mine accident. She has no relatives in the area, so she was begging for food and almost starving, the poor thing. So I took her in. At 7, she doesn’t eat much.”
    The villagers are decent folk, though. When they learned I was taking care of Maria, they got much friendlier and open with me. I spent a few nights drinking dark beer with the men, listening to stories. The women have been good to me too, letting me purchase food for me and Maria, or cooking for us.”
    One of the stories I heard is about a mineshaft that was abandoned some years ago because miners kept getting disoriented in it. I went to investigate, but the shaft looked to dangerous for me to go into, it was very unstable. However, some unusual flowers growing near the entrance caught my attention. Their roots proved to have some bulbs growing on them that contain a little Herbam vis, so I gathered as much as I could, but also left enough that they could multiply. This proved to be worth 2 pawns. When I came back in the area later during the summer, another patch of the flowers did not contain any vis. I went back to the original site but they showed no raw vis there either, so this may be a seasonal source. The dried roots have retained their potency.”
    Training: 6 xp (Craft: Blacksmith, Training Source Quality of 8, not full-time training)
    Items obtained: 2 pawns of Herbam (root nodules of mountain flowers)

  • Year 1, Autumn Season:Maria and I have travelled on to another village now. She is getting less scrawny and she sometimes smiles at my jokes. After a season spent at a mining village I wanted to get back to growing things. And harvest time means a lot of tools to be sharpened and repaired for farmers. So down-country we went, but eastward.”
    We found another village that was happy to have us. It is far larger than the villages I grew up in, with an inn and a separate tavern. They also have a smith there, but with so many farms scattered around, having someone like me who could make the rounds to make small repairs was welcomed. I also helped the local smith when he had larger jobs or simply making nails for him. A boring job, but nails are always needed. And he taught me some new things.”
    One of the wenches working at the tavern was quite friendly with me, and she thought Maria is cute. Anna was surprised when I told her the girl isn’t mine. It was clear that she had no intention of leaving her village, but when I left we were still friends. I may come back around here.”
    While making the rounds around the farms, I learned that something was digging holes in the fields at night. The farmers were puzzled, so a few of them decided to stay up one night to see if they could catch whatever was doing this. After putting Maria to bed, I joined with them, curious as well. We saw nothing, but heard grumbling noises coming from the fields. Whenever we would close with the noises, it would move off and start elsewhere.”
    The next night I came back alone, after giving myself the eyes of a cat. What I discovered was what looked like a small stunted man, no more than 2 feet tall, digging with a large wooden spade. He was grumbling as he dug. He jumped when I asked him what he was looking for. Since I had no light source, he had not seen me approach.”
    The faerie (for that was surely what it was) told me that he had buried a cockatrice egg so it would be safe, but that the marker he had put on top of it had been removed. So now he couldn’t find it anymore. If it hatched before he found it, the cockatrice would die and poison the field. All the while the stunted man was grumbling, and he grumbled even more when he asked me for my help. The egg looked just like a rock to humans, from his tale. So I asked him if he could bring me a feather from the cockatrice that had laid the egg. We bargained a bit as to the price of my help, and struck a deal. He said he would get the feather the next night.”
    The next night, he was back with the feather. Using spontaneous magic and the cockatrice feather as an arcane connection, I was able to pace the field until we found the egg. As a price for my help, he let me keep the cockatrice feather, and would bring me the shells of the egg once the egg is hatched. He fulfilled his part of the bargain and brought me the shell before I left the village with Maria.”
    Note: The spell used to locate the cockatrice egg was based on Probe for Pure Silvers (InTe 4). The cockatrice feather was not really used as an arcane connection, but to provide a reference to the smell of the cockatrice’s egg.
    Training: 6 xp (Training Source Quality of 9, but not full-time training): Craft: Blacksmith 4 xp, Animal Handling 1 xp (from talking with farmers), Bargain 1 xp (diverted from training xp to account for the very short story and accumulated bargaining from the season)
    Items obtained: Cockatrice egg shells (proved to contain 2 pawns of Terram vis, he didn’t know this, he simply took a chance that they would be valuable), Cockatrice feather (no obvious magical properties, although it might provide some Form and Material modifiers for a magic item)

  • Year 1, Winter Season:Winter on the road did not appeal to me, and I had Maria to think about. So I headed back to the covenant where Brictius sometimes live. I made some efforts to shelter my protégé from the worst of the weirdness by having her stay at the nearby village with a good family.”
    I bargained for the use of a laboratory and access to the library against 1 pawn of my newly acquired Herbam vis. I also traded the information about the Herbam flowers against future access to covenant resources for 2 more seasons, provided some raw vis could be harvested from them.”
    I spent most of the winter learning more about Intellego, as the covenant had a very good beginner Summa on the subject.”
    Books: Summa with Quality 12 and Level 5, so 12 xp added

The end result for that first year was 26 xp, 3 pawns of raw vis and a cockatrice feather with no obvious magical properties. He took a child under his protection (Dependents flaw).

The amount of xp was on the low side but it seemed to make sense based on what he did during the year, but I had him find a few pawns of raw vis to make up for it.

That goes on for 10 more seasons before the magus arrived at the covenant we'd created for the saga. Over the total of 3.5 years, he accumulated 76 xp, 3 points of Warping (for botches), 19 pawns of raw vis (stories and trade), a Q10 tractatus (which he has read) and a few interesting items.

I'd say 1200-1205 gives us a starting date where we might feel we will have settled well in once the year 1220 rolls around.

5-10 years post gauntlet, with advancement that can be individually tailored - such as your description Arthur, but with a keen eye for no large power discrepancies between players would be my suggestion. Say two players advance their magi 10 years, it shouldn't be that once ends up with 240xp and the other with 410 (bar virtues of course)

Your approach is very nice, l'm all into it!

Far more holistic, and it avoids the whole mess of the core rules advancement. Plus it provides great background. Works for me.

It's pretty cool, but what if the magus just wants to sit and read? Are we just assuming they're cursed with interesting lives?

I would assume you write that they studied in some library, and reasonable Quality books can be assumed.

That's why I mentioned that it was a bit on the long-winded side of things. But a narrative part is a chance to integrate any social or story flaw that your character has. Note the winter season in the above text -- this was the occasion to make a trade of information, taking care of the girl, and commenting on the book he was reading.

It could have been the occasion to meet a new friend or cross path with an enemy, discover a tidbit of information about the hosting covenant, initiate contact with someone that eventually leads to being invited to join a covenant (hint hint). Perhaps he planned on spending the season reading, but something happened to upset those plans. Essentially, bring the character to life. After all, even a magus doesn't spend much more than 60 hours a week reading. That leaves plenty of time for social occasions, small incidents, a redcap visit, a romantic encounter, etc. Whatever feels appropriate to your character. Or even something totally unexpected or unrelated to your magus.

At the same time, it will allow you to bring the setting to life as well. In addition to enriching the background of your character, you also start creating the details that can be called upon to create further stories. For your own character, but also for the others. Anyone who create a story for your magus can mine your narrative for hooks that will get him involved in the story, while also giving you a chance to seed allies and contacts in his background that you may be able to call upon later on. And whichever character your magus meets, you can reuse later on in other stories you tell for the other players.

I have moved the previous posts under the saga forum so we can continue the discussions here.