The Inventor's Challenge

Before creating a PbP topic, an introduction to test the waters.

The Inventor’s Challenge

A multi-player saga, without Storyteller


The year is 1175.

The Schism and the Sundering lead to significant magic knowledge losses: a whole tradition has been eradicated, hundreds of mages and dozens of archimages died or entered final Twilight, many books and items destroyed.

Sure, the Order is – for now - the most powerful group of magic practitioners in Europe. However, no significant breakthrough happened in the past centuries. Many mages believes that the peak of magical knowledge was reached long ago, and nobody can stand on the Founders’ shoulders.

Status quo is an illusion: either you grow and foster, or you decline and fester.

That’s the conclusion of several liked-minded mages coming from many Houses. Thus, they pooled their mind together and gathered resources to promote innovation and inventions as a last-ditch effort to stimulate magic development and prevent a slow winter of magic.

They are a minority.

The opposition is abundant: between those who find these claims downright ridiculous – how can you measure to Bonisagus? -, these who find these ideas dangerous – Limits exist for a good reason, those who feels their position threatened – Verditius and Bonisagus alike don’t appreciate to see their work downplayed, these who warns about the sin of Pride and Greed, and finally those who see such initiative as seed of trouble and chaos.

So far, the Code has not been violated… yet.

Thus, the Inventor’s Challenge was created.

Every 8 years, in a location to be announced 6 months ahead, a competition will be open to any member of the Order, to present their work, fitting in one the three following categories: improvement, innovation and breakthrough.

  • Improvement covers any clever use of existing magic, allowing to do something better than what is existing.

  • Innovation is something that has never been done before, within the current existing limits.

  • Breakthrough is something that achieves what was considered impossible by traditional, hermetic magic.

The presented work can be a spell, any type of enchanted item, original research, or any combination of thereof.

Each work will be judged based on its quality, innovation, and usefulness. Furthermore, it should be possible for any mage with the adequate skills to replicate the work with the appropriate notes.

Finally, the work should not require violating the Code, especially regarding Infernal and Faerie intervention.


This is the set-up to test my ST-less system. It is the third iteration from the initial work of quinchris, updated a couple of times by me.

There is no storyteller or gamemaster, instead there is a frame of rules that triggers adventure(s) and each player decides how he wants to tackle each challenge, determine with a few rolls the outcome and finally write a story about his mage adventure and progress.

I want to promote storytelling, if possible funny or dramatic, but ideally entertaining. It is not a power race.

The background is set with an Order that is rather conservative. Most mages are contempt with enjoying the benefit the Gift gave them, they definitely don’t want to upset the status quo. But other mages clearly see that as a slow sign of decline, and they want to infuse the Order with a renewed passion for Grand Magic – this is where the PC will fit in. Their mages are fresh out of apprenticeship, full of energy, dreams and hopes. They want to change the world, magically, socially, or physically. Whatever their motivation is, this contest of Inventor strikes a chord and resonate with some of their values. Knowing that some powerful mages are behind this initiative, they feel empowered.

Managing expectations

(Yep, being project manager IRL for too long leaves its marks :wink: )

The purpose is before all, to have fun while entertaining others. It is not a race to godhood – PCs should grow faster than the advancement rules after apprenticeship but might be less focus since adventures happen randomly.

Also, since the mage will be the only mage in his covenant, he probably will have to be more involved in the day-to-day activity since there is nobody else to tackle issues.

It is also an opportunity to test the full ruleset, so feedback welcome.

Duration/frequency: about 20 years, so 20 weeks from start, one year per week is the target. Because there is little interaction, and absolutely no direct interaction, there should not be situation where one player must wait on somebody else contribution. Redcap might have issues delivering on-time response, so that will happen. It will be clarified later on.

Character creation:

  • Only hermetic mage, no companion, no grogs – there are specialists to fulfil similar roles.

  • Mage will start straight out of apprenticeship, so no need for further advancement.

  • No virtues from initiation or Inner Mysteries at creation.

  • Only spells from the following rulebooks at creation: AM5, all three HoH, the Mysteries Revised Edition, Covenants.

  • Possibility to start with Parma higher than 1.

During development:

  • Only spell from listed rulebooks can be purchased from Redcap, other will have to be invented. Guidelines from any sourcebook can be used.

  • No spell or labtext from Transforming Mythic Europe, Mage of Hermes, Hermetic projects are available – but they can be invented. In fact, they can be a good source of inspiration if you don't know what to do or invent.

  • No Summae on Parma – direct teaching possible, tractatus are rare but available.

  • Requesting work from other mages (inventing spells, enchanting items, etc.) can be done, but must be paid in full with vis or BP.

How does it look like ?
Here is two samples I shared while I was testing and tweaking the rules:
Melios, the Architect (some scrolling is required)
Theodosis, Ex-Trianoma

The rules for this adventure:
Solo aventures - base rules.pdf (331.1 KB)
Multi-players rules.pdf (68.1 KB)

I am looking for three or four mages, and the pace of the saga, once started, should be one year per week, for about 20 years, as mentioned earlier.


What's your goal in posting here rather than the GM looking for players section?

1 Like