Starting new 5E Campaign- Input/Ideas Requested

Im definitely mindful of that!

In gerneral, I'm a "Rules-Light" player/DM myself, and that works for my existing groups.

But this group is cobbled together with people who I think will appreciate the depth and complexity of the setting and the rules, so Im willing to stretch myself.

I also informed them that there will be a STEEP learning curve for everyone (myself included!), and that, while I'll try to apply "Rules as Written" [RAW] whenever possible, I also subscribe to the "Rule of Cool" to encourage creative thinking/playing.

And, as an aside, I found a pretty cool "Grogs-Only" adventure in the 4E "Faerie Stories" supplement that really piqued my interest for the group....

And thinking about Tarragon Vale: I think it would be interesting to have the 7-year tribunal in the 2nd or 3rd episode (after "Ghoul of St Lazare") and have them still have a seat for the Covenant with no representatives present. (I think this group.will appreciate that potential mystery!)

3 Likes

To echo what others have said: as a Storyguide, do not worry about what stories to run.
Instead, make sure your players understand that ArM5 has an explicit mechanism for them to express their preferences about what stories will be run - and in fact rewards them, in character, for using that mechanism.

The mechanism has three components:
a) Hooks - these are the stories that your Covenant as a whole will be involved in. If the troupe (including you, the SG!) collectively chooses Poverty, it's a way to say "hey, we want stories about wealth creation - whether it's treasure hunting or business development".
b) Story Flaws - these are the stories that each player wants his magus (and/or companion) to be hit with. By taking Enemy a magus' player is saying "I want this opponent to constantly come and threaten my magus. I will enjoy the fight (or maybe the flight) even though my magus may not. Bring the heat on!".
c) Major Personality Flaws - these are the stories that each player wants his magus (and/or companion) to obsessively seek out. By taking Hatred, a magus' player is saying "I want to play a variant of ArM5 where my victory points are not measured by how high my Arts are, what enchantments I made, what reputation I have - but how much hurt I managed to inflict to this dastardly entity". Note the difference: Story Flaws produce stories that come looking for the PC; Major Personality Flaws produce stories that the PC goes looking for.

Together, these will produce multiple storylines (for example, if you have three magi each taking either a Story or Major Personality Flaw, and your Covenant has three Hooks, that's six storylines even disregarding Companions), so you will not lack inspiration, quite the opposite. In fact, it's crucial to try to tie as many as possible of the Hooks, Story Flaws and Major Personality Flaws together, so that a single situation will engage multiple characters, possibly in multiple ways: Common Enemies, a Covenant in Poverty and an Avaricious (or Generous!) character, etc.

6 Likes

Regarding steep learning curve, my suggestion:
After the mages are created, before the covenant creation, do a 4-seasons free-lab session, where each mage must invent either a spell or an enchanted item. Give them 10 paws of any virtus, an aura of +3, any book they want to use is Q14, L15 or Q 15 L5 for abilities, no lab note available. It is a parting gift from their master, or from a friend-mage or in payment for a future favor (depending on their choice of flaw/virtue).

They can use these seasons as they want as long as that by the end they have a functional magical item or a working spell. So they can spend three seasons to buff up their skill so they can one-shot their research or two seasons to improve and two to invent. Or one to open an item, two to improve their skill, and the last one to instill an effect. Or do 4 minor items in 4 seasons.

It will let them test and understand the lab rules. It might also give them an opportunity to adjust some skill or even flaw/virtue. It is a little power boost (although I don't think they will manage to invent a spell higher than level 15-20 unless heavy specialisation and magical focus), but it is such a big help to get acquainted with the core lab rule that it is worth it. They will get a sense of how much study they need to do before they can invent a spell, they will understand that trading for labtext can be a lot more effective than inventing spell unless it is truly original (on a personal note, I consider that only spells in the core rulebook have easy-to-get labtexts).

Although it is simple math, there are many variable so it can easily get confusing, and at the same time, they will see how to derive a spell level from the base effect and the Target/Range/Duration parameters.

As a little bonus, here my
Spell parameters summary.pdf (83.7 KB)
to be shared with your friends.

2 Likes

For Covenant and characters, put in a grace period within which changes can be made. Let people play their characters a few times before "locking in" their virtues and flaws. (Maybe recommend people leave a few empty slots initially.) If people decide they really need a book on Parma Magica, let them trade for one easily.

Definitely in the cards for that! I'm pretty flexible abut letting people tweak their characters within reason in the early goings, especially in a complex ruleset.

Im thinking of running a short scenario, then skipping a year and having the 7-year Tribunal. (PCs are 6 years out of apprenticeship.)

I like the idea floated above of letting rhe PCS fool with rhe lab/research rules early on. Maybe the Tribunal requires that the PCs bring a new spell, item, or piece of research to their presentation at the tribunal?

2 Likes