Hey, Torben, Julia, Simone, Reiner, Bodo, Carsten, Sven and Philipp, potential future participants of the new Ars Magica group in Frankfurt: don´t read this stuff: it´s your saga!
I´m planning a new saga in the Rhine Tribunal. I´ll start with the "Curse of the rhine gorge" setting as written in "Guardians of the forest". The Nibelungenlied (GotF, p. 10) will be the historical background (happened in the 5th century).
First, my thoughts circled the "curse". GotF states, all powers at the rhine gorge, be it covenants of the order of hermes, mundane rulers or whatever are able to develop their power, but will fail inevitably after 77 years. Because of that, at the beginning of my planning I had to answer 2 questions:
- What is the reason for the cyclic loss of power?
- Is it possible to prevent this? (such a rupture of the curse could be the overall goal of the saga).
My first step was to read the story of the Nibelungen and the rhinegold as written by Wagner in his opera-cycle "The ring of the Nibelung" (Der Ring des Nibelungen). I was amazed about the fact, that Wagner´s story has some similarities to the Nibelungenlied, but contains significant differences, too. Particularly the fact, that Wagners opera-cycle contains more myth and magic than the Nibelungenlied was inviting for me. So I took the foundation myth from Wagner, used the Nibelungenlied as primal historical event that caused the curse and supposed many repeating-history-scenarios of broken down powers at the rhine (as indicated in GotF). The last of these scenarios could be the saga of the players: they should experience the story similar to the story-line of Wagners "The ring of the Nibelung". Thus the players will have possibilities to draw comparisons between their story and the past, but there will be sufficient surprise-moments, too.
Wagners answer of question 1 is: There are different forces fighting for the rhinegold. Their combat leads to the destruction of the most powerful forces at the end. Only the mundanes remain. This explanation generates a new question: Why does the process last 77 years and why does he repeat many times? GotF contains an answer I like: it´s a game of faeries. To be precise: the intrigues and the battles for the rhinegold give the faeries vitality. After 77 years, the combatants are reduced to impotence, so sometimes later, the faeries have to start the events again to gain new vitality. (The question: "Why exactly 77 years every time?" I´m answering: "Because this is the story of the faeries", for now... perhaps I´ll find a better reason in the future). One of the powerful forces in Wagner´s opera-cycle are the nordic gods. In Ars Magica they are faeries (RoP:F even contains some of their servants: The Valkyries). I connected the facts and developed the conception, that Wagner´s nordic gods (especially Wotan (aka Odin)) need the dramatic furor of fighting for the rhinegold to receive vitality. This is the reason, why they periodically enable other forces (humans or the magical folk of the Nibelungen for example) to gain possession of the treasure. In Wagners opera-cycle at the beginning the rhinegold lies at the bottom of the rhine, guarded by the rhinedaughters. The rhinedaughters are a kind of watersprites, but they are not interested in dealing with humans. In my eyes, in the Ars Magica context they could be magical creatures, perhaps Theoi. Wagner´s story line contains four mighty forces: the nordic gods (~ faeries), the Nibelungen (~ dwarves, connected to a magical regio) and giants (living in the same magical regio as the Nibelungen). The last force are the humans (living in Mythic Europe, of course). At the end of Wagners opera-cycle, after a lot of struggle, the rhinegold returns to the rhinedaughters. So it seems to me, that the rhine is the recurrent resting place for the treasure, if one of the story cycles is ended. Perhaps there - at the bottom of the rhine - is another regio, that contains the rhinegold in this times.
In my saga, I´m planning to deploy Wagner´s character "Siegmund" as player character. "Siegmund" is the father of "Siegfried" and his fatherhood connects the central character of Wagner´s story line with the covenant. If the story unfolds as in Wagner´s "The ring of the Nibelung" the giants will be beaten to death, the Nibelungen will be powerless and got robbed of the rhinegold they possessed for a while. This two story events are easy to integrate in my saga. More difficult is the integration of the nordic faerie-gods. At the end of the story her leader Wotan burns down Valhalla because all his efforts to win the rhinegold back (or at least give it back to the rhinedaughters) proved fruitless. He is ensnared in different treaties and not able to act without breaking one of them. So he commits a kind of suicide and destroys the place where he and his fellow-faerie-gods are dwelling. The end of Wagner´s opera-cycle shows a burning section of the sky and the remaining humans can see, that the events and their actions caused "Götterdämmerung", the twilight of the gods, the end of the civilisation as the characters know it.
This leads to my question: I have to consider where the faerie gods reside (or maybe better: where you can find Valhalla). What do you think about this ideas: The story the characters of my saga are participating in (the curse of the rhine gorge), is about to change: Maybe Wotan will never be able to take the rhinegold from the rhinedaughters and to give it someone else. This source of vitality could be dried up for the nordic faerie-gods. It is possible that at the end Valhalla is burning and the faerie gods are destroying themselves. In this case the curse of the rhine gorge will be ended and the story has changed dramatically. This is a case for the "path of chance", so our Valhalla could be in Arcadia.
At the moment I´m thinking about possible endings of the saga in the view of the PC´s. I like the option, that the characters are able to witness the fall of the nordic faerie-gods. Of course, a burning Valhalla in Arcadia can´t be seen at the sky of Mythic Europe. But maybe something else is possible: If the nordic faerie-gods are vanquished, their story in Arcadia is ended once and for all. The events take the quality of a faerie tale or myth told again and yet again basically alike. The story of the nordic faerie-gods isn´t open any more. That could mean, that you cannot reach Valhalla per "path of chance" anymore. But Instead maybe you can reach it per "road of destiny". The story of the nordic faerie gods became a pagan legend. If this is true, Valhalla burned in Arcadia, only to appear in Elysium. The characters could visit both parts of the faerie realm and realize, that the events, they took part in, lead to an ending and created a legend. Do you think, something like that is possible in the World view of the Ars Magica Background?