The Alpine Apprentice Saga

I have been reluctant to share details of my latest saga, intimidated by the many longtime players here. However, as I read the current thread on apprenticeship and XP-boosting virtues, I thought some might find our experience useful.

The new saga is officially called "HBO Ars Magica," with the conceit that it is AM as a cable channel might produce it, inspired by shows like GoT, Sopranos, or the Wire. However, our "first season" covers apprenticeship and is set in the Greater Alps. I picked the Alps because it was a good way to kick the pcs out of their current situation at the end of the season, as the newly-Gauntleted magi are exported to the sea. With the Hibernia book expected soon, we are planning to spend Season Two there.

The game has only met a couple of times. We pass a year between sessions, to move through apprenticeship in a timely manner. The saga began in 1205, so the PCs would be taking their Gauntlets in 1220. Because this is the Greater Alps, their masters and covenants have access to a lot of resources, and I think it is fair to call this a relatively high-magic game.

The events of 1205 are here:
In brief, twenty Gifted children were brought to the Alps by a redcap, who was in turn intercepted by rogue magi and murdered. The children were led off and briefly squabbled over by the magi before the children were found and rescued by the Order. The children were presented for selection by Alpine masters and, over the course of the year, their Arts were opened and they began instruction in Latin and the liberal arts, in a school-like setting.

The events of 1206 are here:
While studying together at the covenant of the Icy North, four of the children were led away by a ghost to a remote chapter house, where they were forced to fight a giant. Eventually they found their way back.

Elsewhere on the site you will find stats for all the PCs and NPCs, including various magi from Snctuary of Ice which I have updated for 5th edition. My thanks to Timothy Ferguson, who graciously answered some questions from me in this regard.

Erm, yeah... so the Book is a Tytalus thing, no?

Lovely story. Very 4-colors. :wink:

Thanks for reading and writing.

Yes, the Book of Instruction is discussed in HoH: Societas.

Thanks for sharing - many wonderful ideas in here! :slight_smile:

Oh, very nice indeed, thanks!

We've had our third session. In the Summer of 1207, the apprentices attended the Hermetic Midsummer Fair for the first time, where they accidentally bought Amaranth, a banned substance in the Tribunal, innocently associated with diabolists, and hurriedly fled the scene as two of their fellow apprentices were kidnapped by demons!

Oh, and one of the apprentices intentionally brought terrible disgrace upon his Tremere domina.

Read all about it! ... aga-1/1207

I did that! The disgrace part. But it was a pretty Tremere thing to do. If it all works out, that is.
Oh, and I had a big hand in the running away part. That wasn't so Tremere. :smiley:

This entire concept is really really cool. I like what you have done and how you are organizing things. And as you further play the saga I am interested in hearing how you guys developed and progressed in story, plot, and characters. So yeah, very cool.


I am liking this. Just FYI.



Thanks, Ken! And everyone who has taken the time to keep up with the Saga and post.

In two days we will do our fourth episode, "Tribunal." For those who are interested, we have an Episode Guide for a big chunk of the first season.

Episode 101: Presentation (Spring of 1205, Jason Tondro)
Episode 102: Ghosts (Autumn of 1206, Jason Tondro)
Episode 103: Shopping (Summer of 1207, Jason Tondro)
Episode 104: Tribunal (Winter of 1208, Jason Tondro)
Episode 105: "Yuletide" (Winter of 1209, James Seals)
Episode 106: The Decennial Games (Winter of 1210, John Post)
Episode 107: Peregrinatio, Part One (Summer of 1212, Jason Tondro)
Episode 108: Peregrinatio, Part Two (Summer of 1212, Jason Tondro)
Episode 109: The Trouble With Alys (Spring of 1213, John Post)
Episode 110: The Frog and the Ox (Spring of 1214, Jeremiah Wishon)

Cool! So how are the xp gathering virtues helping out the annoying little apprentices? Do they make them strong and mighty?

PCs with Apt Student have benefited most so far, as the apprentices had six seasons of study from a Doctor of Arts named Profundus. He taught them Latin, Artes Liberales, Philosophiae, and Magic Theory. Because his teaching total was 22, I gave everyone 2 points in anything else Profundus knew, to reflect those moments of "personal time." Apt Students got 7 instead of 2.

More of a factor has been "Fan Points," which is a house rule I put in the game to reward inefficient mechanical choices. Ars has a heavy temptation to make min/maxed hyper-efficient characters, and people who make bad decisions early on can find themselves screwed for the life of the character. To balance this somewhat, I reward occasional "Fan Points" for doing stuff contrary to efficiency, like making a 6 year old when you could have made a 14 year old, or letting me decide what House your apprentice is recruited into, instead of picking for yourself.

Fan points can be spent in many ways, but one of those ways is to take control of a seasonal activity. So if your master, who happens to be an Ex Miscellanea Quaesitor, has to go on the Tribunal circuit for six months, and you don't want to get two seasons of Practice XP in Code of Hermes, you can spend a Fan point and get a season in the library, reading one of the a Roots.


You might want to be careful, since you are accumulating fan points of your own! How will you spend them?

Speaking of which, I noticed that the sources of all experience points and where they are expended, are all listed. However, no similar accounting exists for fan points. I, for one, would find it very helpful to see how each fan point was earned, and how each was spent. This game mechanic is unique to your saga, and I would very much enjoy seeing exactly how you are using it.



I tried to keep track of Fan points on my end, but it proved one too many fiddly bits to watch. Now I let players do it. But I can tell you some:

Players who made a PC age 8 got 1 fan. Those who were younger got 3.
Players who gave me a choice of two Houses for their PC got 1 fan. Those who gave me complete control over the characters House got 3.
In the second episode I offered a few more fan point bounties: 1 point to up to three pcs who took another PC as "my best friend." No one has claimed this. I also offered a point to a PC who said, to another PC, "I owe you my life." Rene got this, and owes his life to Gustov.
I will offer fan points for PC romances next, but I am waiting for them to age a year or two, and run out of fans.
Several pcs spent fans to get access to books and teachers. Akakios spent a Fan to get his Ghost Mom into the covenant. Gustov spent fans to study from the Roots, instead of learning Code of Hermes lore. Rene spent a fan point when he faced the giant, to find a greatsword in the clutter. A few fan points have been spent in lieu of confidence.

Thanks. One of the things I noticed, is that the amount of experience points earned is dramatically different over the course of 4 years, from a low of something like 180, to a high of something like 300. Yes, I can get a bit OCD :slight_smile:. Experience granting virtues do not really account for this, so I was curious about what was going on. I guess I still don't know!

Again, thanks; I am enjoying your website.



You're very kind to be reading. Thanks you so much, and I'm glad to answer what questions I can.

The PC's get experience season by season according to whatever their master makes them do. For some PCs, this means lab work. Eva, for example, is spending 6 seasons in a row in the lab, broken up only once by the mandatory season of instruction from her domina, Balbina. That year, Eva got about 27 XP: 2 XP each in three seasons of Exposure, and one season reading a book for 21 XP in Creo. (Balbina is a very poor teacher, and so her method of 'teaching' is to put a book in front of her apprentice.) in contrast, Rene's master, Hugh of Flambeau, had to spend a few seasons chasing diabolists around the Alps. So he just gave Rene to the covenant's drill instructor (a teacher of Martial skills) for three seasons, during which Rene, including the benefit for his Apt Student virtue, earned over 50 XP. I used this as an excuse to give him his free House Virtue as well, which for his particular fighting school is the Warrior Virtue. (See Houses of Hermes: Societas for this.) so Rene got about 100 XP in one year.

One of the reasons to roleplay through the apprenticeship was to see exactly how it would all play out in terms of PC XP. I knew that, regardless of what happened, the pcs would get far more XP than an official magus gets if generated with the rules as written. Every year, I try to do two things: put the PC in a task his dominus would logically assign him to, while also give the PC something more interesting than "three seasons in the lab and one of instruction." Most of the time it works. But it's not all balanced. Some pcs are a lot more points than others. But as they become more specialized, and focus on particular kinds of magic, this will be less important. It won't matter that one guy has more points than another, because each PC will be the best person in the group at the particular kind of magic he does well.

Last week we had our fourth session. You can read the synopsis here: ... eater-Alps

In brief, the apprentices attended their first Tribunal, during which Breandan's plot to protect his domina from Ostracism found its resolution. The apprentices were swept up in one maga's efforts to help House Jerbiton, reeling from the fall of Constantinople.

The saga has now advanced to Winter of 1209, when my Beta Storyguides are blissfully coming to my rescue for a couple of episodes.

fans demand their regularly scheduled broadcasts!!!!


We only wrapped the session ~35 minutes ago.

The saga has progressed through the end of 1209, when the apprentices saved a local cobbler from being executed for the murder of his own son.