Solo Ars Magica

I have been interested in Ars Magica for a while, but I can't convince either of my rpg groups to give it a shot. I have tried a few solo sagas, which are fun, but end degrading into glorified daydreaming far too quickly. I have spent a good while looking for a decent alternative, but none exist. So I am going to make one. I have begun work on a simple (ok, horrendously complex) java program to assist in solo sagas.

Each season, the program will generate events to contend with, you play them out to determine how successful you are at resolving them, and the program generates the results (eg: rewards) of your level of completion.

Events are in three categories:
Requests which may be completed for a reward
eg: a younger covenant requests books for their library, offers vis
Rumors, which may be investigated to discover new events or plot hooks
eg: local sheep are going missing. Investigation reveals presence of a dragon.
Disasters which may be prevented
eg: a bad storm or fire threatens grogs or property

Once I finish that, I want to make a basic system for generating and managing antagonists, basically determining an agenda and a threatening action each season.

The actual coding of the program is pretty straight forward, it will just take a LOT of time.

However, as I am not the most familiar with the game, I need help coming up with events and such that would make sense in the setting. Also, I would like suggestions for other things that the program should do. So, what would you like to see in a program like this?

Other disasters includes plagues, crusades or even two lords contesting the covenant's lands.

The project has a potentially huge scope of work, it's something I've thought about, myself. But my coding skills are mostly sufficient for scripting, and not advanced coding something on this scale would require. I wish you all the luck.

I would love to see that piece of code when you have something useful!

Now, what's wrong with glorified daydreaming? Roleplaying is already glorified make-believe. :laughing: Seriously, you could get almost the same effect by mixing up multicolored flash cards.

As far as what events to include... For starters, perhaps some "unlockable" events would be in order? Particularly flagrant mundane interference and the like would cause Quaesitor-related stories, but otherwise they wouldn't make sense

A difficult thing about such a program, unfortunately, is that it only generally works if you can tailor game options, so you can, for example, have more political hooks and fewer monster hooks. Otherwise, people will be encouraged to skip seasons until they find ones they like, somewhat defeating the point. (Not a problem if you don't intend to share it)

I am categorizing the events to allow people to customize the ratios of events they receive. So one could do high politics or no politics or in between, or live monster free or up to your neck in magical beasts. The goal is to allow as wide a variety of sagas as possible while not generating nonsensical events.

Keep in mind, this is Ars Magica. The core rulebook goes into some detail about this, but a story about a dragon looking for political assistance in establishing its own non-mundane kingdom isn't any more abnormal or even uncommon than a story about a noble wanting the covenant to get rid of a pillaging dragon. Serf's Parma, but I do believe the book's own example was about a good dragon asking for help slaying an evil knight, even though in most other fantasy media it would be the good knight asking for help slaying the evil dragon. So you really might need to change your standards on what is "nonsensical."

By nonsensical I mean getting "the local lord wants you to heal his wife with magic" as an event and succeeding followed by "the (same) local lord declares all magic, and thus you, to be the work of the devil, and vows to purge all magic from his lands". The two events don't belong in the same story without an in between event like "local priest turns local lord against magic". Nonsensical combinations of events are what I will try to avoid.

Another way would be to generate 2 events, you get to pick which is real.

This is a good idea, but Ill amend it to you get one event with the option to declare it unfit for your story, if you do you are given two options for replacement, so that you would only need to take action to correct a out of place event, instead of extra out of character decisions every time an event happens.

Certainly an ambitious project! Good luck with it.

I'd suggest also allowing for variable saga pacing - generate events every season, or every year, or every seven years... Have some kind of random distribution for a slow, medium, and fast saga, and also for a pulsed saga (high-frequency of events in the beginning, then as these story lines are resolved moved to a slower pace, then another surge in activity as a new set of storylines is introduced, then slow down again, and so on and so on...).

You might also want to keep track of relationships with recurring covenants/NPCs to make the saga more consistent.

You can allow some events that can be altered in specific ways by the player, to tailor the saga to his interests (e.g. "[fire?] elementals are materializing in the nearby city" or "a bard passes through the covenant, telling tales of what appears to be a [light(Ignem)] focused regio" allowing the player to tailor the Art to one of the 15, instead of having 15 different events that are each unlikely to interest the player as he's interested in Ignem).

When you get to the antagonists part, you can have schemes divided into categories: antagonist of type X [magus/Magical/Faerie...] is pursuing agenda of type Y [Wilderist, amassing political power in the Order, controlling mundane politics, and so on....].

I would suggest a low or high fantasy toggle.

I would figure that's included in the whole "ratio of each type of story" deal, since more creature-based stories and fewer mundane stories will certainly give a higher-fantasy feel.

I can easily see this happening, the one as a consequence of the other. The local lord wants the magus to heal his wife with magic. She tries, fails miserably (botches?), and the wife dies anyway. The lord then blames the magus, and by extension all wizards, for his wife's death and vows to purge all magic from his lands.

..or if it worked, and the lord was secertly hoping it wouldn't, so he could marry someone young and rich...

Well that would be incredibly stupid on the noble's part. Magi would be considered enough of an unreliable resource in most depictions of Mythic Europe that no noble would get any political or social flak for not trusting one to attempt healing his wife, and they're reclusive enough that even with a bit of social pressure to ask them he could simply say he sent a messenger and the covenant never responded. Point being, a noble worth their salt should never ask a coalition of powerful wizards for a favor as part of a scheme relying on them failing at said favor. Because you can usually pretend to have asked or to have had a good reason not to ask, and if you do ask they probably won't fail.

I suppose that's a bit off-topic, though.

I think the book, Central Casting, Heroes of Legend (By Task Force games, of all people!) ... st-edition would be very helpful to this project.

I used to have a copy, that was pretty nice to generate background... and future-ground. :wink:

Looks interesting, thanks for the suggestion, definitely looks useful for other things too.

I am trying to decide how to best handle npc's. I am currently leaning towards a system where the event tells you what type of npc is involved and lets you choose a specific npc that makes sense. I am also working on a threat system, where the player defines the threats they are facing in the saga, and then the system generates an event chain for each threat.

Plus, I have finally convinced some people to play the game with me! Actual experience playing/running Ars Magica should be helpful.

I sent you a PM but you might have not noticed it.

Glad for you that you find some players ! ... but keep working on your project, others might be interested :wink: