Starting new Ars5 Saga: Resources and advice, please!

So, no idea where the Covenant will be located. I plan on running a prelude game with the players as apprentices which will set up some future drama.

However, many of the players are unfamiliar with Ars Magica. So, this will be their first time. Any suggestions on how to introduce things? They've just come off of a Fading Suns game... Ars will be a change in mindset and playstyle, methinks.

Also, any good resources people might recommend. I'm familiar with Redcap, but wish there was a rating system in place so I might know what people find most useful...



I think you are on the right track starting them off as aprentices. I'm starting a new saga with new players that have never touched a game like this so I' doing the same so I can teach them in game how magic works. I'm also going to give them a piece of land when they gauntlet to make into their own covenent so I won't have to do all the work :smiling_imp: .

As to resources, your going to need to do some adapting, but check project redcap and other liked resources from the atlas games website. There are plently fo covenents and spellbok resources you can look through and get ideas from. Also check the used racks at local gaming stores and see if they have old adventure books for a few dollars, these can supply you with a huge amount of matierial to work from. Hope that was of help.

Remember that your magi may have story flaws. These are hooks that provide the stories for you. I'd make sure that each magus character had a story flaw.

Depending on how long you see the game lasting, feed in the hints during or between other stories.

I like to keep my saga in touch with the world around the magi. For instance, just last session, the chancelor of the local university died. He had been an ally and confidant for the last ten years (game time), ever since the magi had founded their covenant in Verona.

That event, in itself, is a landmark in the game and helps underline how things have changed.

Feel free to give yourself a villain. I know they're cliched but everybody loves a villain. The best kind are those that have the power/influence/balls to just put the characters' noses out of joint. Use him sparingly, but use him. He should be there to make the characters' lives a misery (note, I said "characters", not "players").

When grogs die, make sure they've had names and personalities. Marino was a bit-part grog brimming with bravery. Everybody knew that. And he got ripped apart by demonic imps. And everybody felt it because they knew him.

Oh, and get a different person each session to do a quick write-up of that session. They can pick whatever style they fancy. Email it round/blog it or something. As the storyguide, when it's your turn, feel free to add in "off-camera" moments and asides. Perhaps cut to scenes that explain some of the story for the players that perhaps even the characters don't know. That gives the whole thing a much more cinematic feel.

I'm sure there'll be more...

I do have a Villain in mind.

An older apprentice, who seems like he should have become a full wizard long ago. He's actually in league with his master, working to squeeze knowledge and power from the Brazen Head.

The prelude will see the apprentices interact with this elder apprentice, and eventually see him end up destroying their covenant and leaving them orphaned apprentices on the eve of their Gauntlet. All the mages, including the Villain's master, die in an infernal final scene, as the mage's tower crumbles around them.

The Villain escapes with the Brazen Head, his Master's death the price he agreed to to be the new owner of the Head.

That's my sketchy idea for the prelude.

I'm also thinking the Templars may be somehow involved, but perhaps not...


Hm, I wish there was a 5th edition screen, or some sort of reference sheet/rules crib sheet.

Anyone know of such a thing? Something I could slide inside my MasterScreen for reference?


Something to consider, I would start small.

Some GM's are prone to running out-buying every book, trying to read them all, and then cram all they have to offer into the first session, "Here's the huge world in 15 minutes!"

I'd avoid that, not only is the GM going to be sloppy, the players are going to be overwhelmed.

If your going with the apprentice angle, perhaps start at a Tribunal. Have all there Parens there and these senior wizards know what's going on, to them everything is casual and boring. Here you can introduce future story lines and suggest the world of Ars Magica. But allow the apprentices to act like newbies, raised in a lab most of their life they aren't familiar with the world of magi and don't know social rules of the Hermetic world.

The apprentices for whatever reason develope their own covenant, and for quite a while I'd leave them outside of the Hermetic world. Let them feel things out, developing a covenant based on what how they think a covenant should act, not on what a book says or suggests. Later, as they have a feel for things, then start showing them how others in the world of Ars act and resolve problems.

There is the formula summary appendix that is available on the Atlas site (this site) as a download.

I have indeed printed that up, and it will doubtless come in handy.

Other tables, though, such as Twilight and combat related ones, would be very nice to have, and I'm surprised no one has made such a beast...


As obvious it might seem, this is amazingly sound advise. I made that sakme mistake in the first saga I started. later I worked them introducing a topic at a time (cities, church, nobility, faeries, ....) only later on moving into more intermingled pictures with hundreds of twists once the players know where in hell they are located and who are the neighbours and such.

I started my apprentices (yep, I did the same) in 2 autumn covenants for their first 10 or so sessions, running small adventures where they proved themselves. In the meantime the players developed knowledge of the laboratory skills and located a pair of suitable sites for a covenant that were later discussed In Character (great RP oportunities there) where the apprentices of each covenant defended the pros (and cons of the other location) one of the locations for their wannabe covenant. Then you are up to the settling process: mundanes, nobility, magical sites, the church... all making observations of the bunch of weirdos that have appeared in the area.

So there you go. I would do both: start small and start cuddled, so if the players mess up real badly, you have the Big Parens to come up and mop up the mess. people also learn through blows :wink:



Hm, having them be from two different but nearby Covenants seems like an interesting idea. The apprentice may have formed their own network for survival and self-interest.

Hmm... if one Covenant suffered a disaster, the apprentices of that Covenant would rush off to get help from their neighbors, perhaps...