I have just started a new saga with some beginner players, and I am trying to figure out a way to get them hooked on finding vis sources, since this of course is a good story hook, and something that most magi spent some time doing.
my question is: How would a hermetic magus search for Vis sources? The world is a big place, and vis sources are not common, so is there any way that a magus or covenant could look for vis in any kind of structured way? It doesnt make sense to me to introduce all the vis sources as "random story seeds", the magi should search them out. the question is how? any good ideas?
Well it depends how vis rich you want your saga to be as to how difficult you make the process. In my last gaming group, the SG was moderate to scant in term of how much vis we could find and some of our troupe's magi spent many seasons searching to no avail.
However, when he was inclined to allow success, the routine often involved a number of facets:
- InVi spells had to be active in the process
- General leads were sourced from encounters with commonfolk who would be questioned as to odd occurrences in the area, the specific date (likely an ausicious date of the year like a solstice or equinox or other historic/pagan festival) or season when these occurrences were known to happen.
- monitoring that area physically or with magic until said event reoccurred and then returning to that scene to do more in depth investigation.
Often vis sources were one offs, however. Fighting and slaying magic beasts and harvesting their vis, etc.
Im sure others have differing methodologies that work just as well or better than that.
Mechanically or thematically?
If it's rules you want, there's some stuff at the beginning of Faerie Stories, but considering how important the vis supply is to controlling a saga, you may just want to go with whatever amount of vis you are comfortable giving them.
Unless your magi are able to cast large-scale InVi vis-detection spells, the main avenue for locating vis is through investigation of local rumors, legends and the like.
Even if the players are beginners, any gauntleted magus knows about vis already, so you shouldn't feel bad about reminding them, over and over, that they're going to need vis for this, vis for that, vis for their yearly Aegis, for their Longevity potions, for their enchantments, for their rituals, for study, etc... And there's vis in the countryside! Ripe for the picking!
Then, ask them how they are going about it. There is vis to be found in the countryside, damn it!
Since they're beginners, accept whatever idea they have and get them started on whatever vis hunt you have prepared. Get them to interview the locals (Yay! The Gift! Woohooo! Fun!). Wait in the woods to see what tree the faerie boar is digging truffles from. And so on and so forth.
Legends leading to Vis may be researched in books and records stored in the covenant library or even in local church records. Give out the broad hint "unusual events" and see where they look. If they just cannot get up, you can drop in their lap a mention of a vis source that they uncovered while researching something else in the library. I used this gimmick when I revealed an old Mercurian Ritual that called forth enchanted bulls that had to be battled Mano e Toro in the mosquito-infested swamps. The bullfighting ended up being too easy. Nevertheless, other evens occurred in the marsh and on the road back.
Another Vis source could come about by accident. Say some locals eat some "special" mushrooms or drink from a special spring that puts them to sleep. The magi are called to help with the victims and trace the condition back to the Vis source.
Maybe have the Tytalus in the bunch (or from a neighboring covenant) have a vis hunt competition. The winner is who finds the most and takes all.
great ideas everyone, really appreciated the good storie hooks.
I guess I will have to remind them several times that Vis is a resource they need more of in order to get things flowing
Have the PC magi run into a group of foreign magi, being very suspect and protective of apparantly nothing, but still wanting to stay at this particular place at this particular time, coincidentally at Equinoq/Solstice.
This should peak the curiosity of the PCs, or at least get their kettles boiling, what with the rivals on their turf. And then have them try to first identify it as a vis source, and then win it. Using perhaps trickery, legal mumbo jumbo or downright confrontation. Perhaps even have the rivals try and weasel out of Certamen, or twisting ther results or so.
Also, I totally agree, than starting magi may not be able to use heavy InVi, and must rely on local legends, rumours, strange occurences or even accidents when the mundanes eat the magical fruit or so, or alternatively get their hands on old books and sources of knowledge. Say, the journal of an old magus once roaming these parts, or from a previous covenant holding these lands in their control.
Searching about legend and story tells in the area where they live...
This is a good way to find some place of magic... After that, find the vis and how to recolt it is another story.
Still remembering a story about a vis source, a water plant and a water's drake....
One of our solutions was to hand a companion a lesser enchanted device that enables him to smell vis when it is near by.
The companion in question is a travelling merchant/tinker/spy who rapidly learned that the freaks would pay stupid money for weird smelling stuff, giving good incentive for him to trace down leads of weirdness.
Our SG uses this as a way of introducing new vis sources from time to time, and as a more regular source of random one off vis supplies.
Most of the discoveries need further investigation by Magi, so it is not a way of circumventing stories, more a way of introducing them really.