Part of what I like about Ars Magica combat is it can be brief and bloody, just like one would expect from a game featuring medieval bloodletting.
Admittedly, the game's focus is not combat, but with most groups, it comes up - especially if the group is new to the game and coming off of D&D or Mage: The Ascension or some other game with lower lethality. Admittedly, the mages are not used to having shield grogs - especially the armorclad Flambeau Knight who would likely never want someone to die in his place.
In any case, on the one hand I'm not a storyguide who likes to hide my dice behind a screen, and I don't like to fudge rolls. If dice are in the game, they should have some point.
That said, when a person works to hard on a character, and builds in hooks that are part of the long term storyline of a Covenant, having them killed in one punch seems a bit too gritty and anticlimactic for my tastes.
SO, where is the middle ground? How have people responded to this lethality when it comes to companions and mages?
For my part, I'm considering a system of player fiat using a number of tokens. When a oneshot death hits, a player can choose to take one. The selection of tokens does not refresh until all are used.
Red (x2): The Martyred Comrade - someone near you intervenes to take the horrific wound.
Black: The Cruel Wound - Some sort of horrible wound falls upon the victim, taking the form of an appropriate Minor Flaw. A form of destiny, this horrible wound cannot be healed by magic.
White: Magic Gone Wild - the mage uses a fast-cast defense to avoid their fate, but their arts betray them. Roll botch dice as appropriate, then add 2 automatic Twilight Points. Rather than certain death, the victim face Wizard's Twilight as their defense magic goes awry.
Grey: The Angel of Death appears before you and stays the stroke that would otherwise end your life. It is not your time yet. Choose a short-term goal important to your character; upon completing it, the Angel of Death will come to collect what you owe.
(A form of short term death prophecy. This token is not refreshed until the destined-to-die succeeds in his goal.)
Orange: The Devil himself appears before you, and offers you continued life in exchange for... something. The details of the pact are worked out between the victim and the Storyguide after the session is over. Usually, the victim is marked in some way. Note: this violates the Code of Hermes. (This token can only be used once in any Saga)
Purple: Courage of Heroes - The victim calls upon all of their hard-won knowledge to turn an otherwise mortal wound into a graze. The character spends 5 Adventure Exp and avoids certain death due to their superior knowledge.
Green (x2): Flat of the Blade - rather than taking a lethal wound, the lucky target instead receives damage as if it were scuffling damage. This may leave them gasping for breath and out of the fight, but at least they're not dead.
I'm still mulling this over.
Originally, I offered folks a 'miracle' if they would do something that enriched the game - a diary, make some grogs, put together a playlist of music, etc. etc. Some went for it, others said they were too busy (which I saw as them saying it was not a priority - fair enough).
How have others approached this issue? IS it even an issue for most SGs?