Was looking for some saga advice & clarification on assigning 'real time events'
How do storyguides out there corodinate their sagas outide lab/season parts.
For example, it seems that to plan your 'on screen' events, i.e the traditional roleplaying in 'real time', you must involve the players somehow; otherwise when it comes to assigning seasons, the players will choose a mix of characters (magi & companions) that may scupper (to fuck up!) your well laid plans?
As by way of example there are 4 pc magi (Tremere, Bjorner, Tytalus & Jerbiton)
Storyguide has written a year of real time events some of which involves spending time in York; the Jerbiton has the gentle gift & good levels of Me & Im - this character would be ideal in the urban.
party mix must be 2 magi & 2 companions but none of the 2 magi is the Jerbiton magi. The storyguides plans for the Jerbiton are now laid low. The Jerbiton spends the year translating lab texts or some such
So people might say tough roll with it, you,ve still got magic right? not the ideal situation for characters but that seems par for the course with gaming. be boring if everything was convenient to the pc's.
We like to play through the actual events for a given Season first then. after all of those have been resolved, ask each player what their characters were doing for the remainder of the seasons in question (or otherwise allocating XP).
If the players did not chose it, well, they will need to develop a way to solve their problem using other abilities No biggie. The perfect tool for the perfect job will not always be available. In fact it is fairly common even to force this to be the case. Example: you hear about a wizard march and are summoned to it. The PC select the heavy fighters in the group and prepare for the adventure. They leave towards the meeting point. Now you say one week passes. And now the REAL adventure begins when the wizard that is about to be marched attacks the covenant to raid their vis stores! What do the PC that remained in the covenant do? 8) Not something to be abused, but shows this, that you will need to solve problems with imperfect characters for the occasion more than once.
It was years ago but I had a game where all of the more investigation focused characters and magi were sailing off to Crete leaving only the perdo focused flambeau at the covenant, upon whom I sprung a murder mystery adventure thinking "now for once the characters can't use their magic to cut through the plot like a hot knife through butter". The character immediately went to the body and cast whispers through the black gate. Looking at his character sheet I realized that my evening's plans were now shattered and my mystery game quickly morphed into a off the top of my head extended chase scene with the murderer running for his life.
I still find myself underestimating the power of magi, hermetic magic is just really widely applicable.
Personally, I would have worked that by simply saying that the victim had not seen his murderer... You can't reveal what you don't know. But still given him some clues to move the story along. :mrgreen:
In our saga we use a Wiki, which has a yearly diary on it. Each player writes in the diary what his/her magus character intends to do in each season, this includes lab activities, travel plans, etc. Players who are being storyguides can then look at the diary to find out which magi are likely to be available/unavailable for particular sorts of adventures. If the storyguide has a story in mind that desparately needs (or desparately does not need) a certain character to be present, then the storyguide just has to wait for a timeslot when the right characters are present.
Of course, the diary is only about intentions. Sometimes/often, during play the characters change their mind --- e.g. when the mongol horde unexpectedly invaded our locality, the magi suddenly had new priorities.
And, of course, it sometimes all goes horribly wrong. A character who was meant to be present at the covenant for a story in autumn (say) got delayed somewhere during another story in summer. In which case, the magi who are available just have to muddle-through as best as they can.
I don't think that I would have done that. I think that if the characters can cast a spell (or do anything else) that realistically should solve a problem, then the storyguide should let that happen.
It is very tempting as the storyguide to find endless reasons why spells won't be effective, but that seems to be defeating the point of Ars Magica, to me. Once, you start going down that path, it is very easy to end up creating quite dysfunctional sagas where the only characters who get into simple stand up fights, are the characters who are no good at combat, and the only characters who end up with an investigation-story, are the characters who lack proper investigation spells.
As a player, if my character has been designed with the tools to solve a problem, there is nothing more frustrating and insulting than to have some rubbish "exception" thrown up to stop my character doing what he is meant to do.
I didn't say this should be done all the time, only that if there is a story to be told, you have to work with the character's capabilities to make sure that a story can be told. No single spell should solve everything in the story. Thus the suggestion that sometimes, being able to speak with the dead victim is not sufficient to solve a murder mystery.
Whenever you have a situation where a spell can unravel a story, you have a couple of choices:
Let the story unravel. That may be boring for both the player and the storyguide, or not.
Adapt the story so that the spell helps move the story along without destroying it.
Transform the story completely so that using the spell means the focus is now on something else.
The choice can chance from one situation to another. In the thick of the moment, Erik chose the third option. I simply suggested a way that the second option could have been used as well.
The goal of the storyguide is not to foil the players all the time, I agree. It is to create stories for them and with them. Sometimes that means foiling them, because overcoming difficulties is what makes a story memorable. Other times that means having them easily overcome one difficulty with magic, but having to deal with the consequences of their actions.