Thoughts for rejuvenating the saga

As we discussed before the holiday season, we need additional players if we want this saga to take off.

I want to share some thoughts and get the feedback of the current players before I make an announcement that we are looking for more players.

My recent thoughts about running a successful PbP saga is that we need:

  1. Enough players for the saga to achieve a level of activity that is self-sustaining;
  2. A significant proportion of those players need to be ready to be Beta storyguides, to avoid overwhelming the Alpha storyguide (me);
  3. Some in-character reason that allows magi to join or leave the covenant without long notice, to make it easier to deal with turnover.

The current structure of the saga, however, makes a few things difficult. The small size of the covenant site tend to limit the number of magi. Furthermore, having all the members be members of House Bonisagus really stretches the believability of having numerous young magi pass through here.

So I'd like to suggest the following changes to the nature of the covenant and saga:

  • The covenant is no longer constituted as a single-House covenant. So new magi from all Houses would be allowed to join.
  • The site is bigger that originally imagined. Or maybe there are some labs outside, either instead or adjacent to the brewery? The cave is no longer in a regio, just a cave beneath the brewery?
  • When the covenant is created, it was dedicated to investigating disappearence of House Merinita. This means that, although not all the magi need to have such an investigation as a primary interest, they are at least intrigued by that disappearance (or they are faking it).
  • As part of the "House Loyalty" theme, we could specify that each of the magus or maga is secretly reporting to his House as to the progress of the investigation, and possibly the other goings-on of the covenant. (Concern: Would this cause too much distrust between the magi?)

What do you think? Do you have additional suggestions?

If I may reply, I don't think the single House is a problem for the Saga, it makes it it's own unique flavor, and I, for one, think that it's interesting to see different shades of one House in one Covenant.

I don't mind being a Beta SG, now that I have a bit of experience running a couple of stories, in another game am in.

The Merinita disappearance should definitely stay as the main focus of the Covenant, but I think even if it was the main focus of the Saga, not having it be the main focus of every Magi is a good way to allow others to add their own take on it, with a different focus.

To allow for players moving in and out, if interest wanes or waxes, you could have House Bonisagus have member magi be able to 'rotate' back to Durenmar if they have 'important research'.

I thought so as well when I established the saga. But it only did with a small group (3-4 magi) who didn't change for a while. That clashes with what I've come to think of as conditions for a successful PbP saga.

The total population of House Bonisagus is established in HoH:TL (p.5) as being 81 (specifically 52 Bonisagi and 29 Trianomae). How many of those would be young magi looking for a covenant in the Rhine? That is where having magi "rotate" to the covenant and out stretches believability.

There wouldn't be more than 5-6 young members of the House who are just out of Gauntlet in the whole Order. Having them gather in the same Tribunal (let alone the same covenant) is already a big stretch. Having more of them rotate in to replace players who wander off moves it past the realm of the possible.

That being said, it might still work if many of the magi are Bonisagi (say about half of them), with a few covenant members being of other Houses (either because they are genuinely investigating the disappearance of House Merinita, or because they are planted as "spies" by their House).

If we are to recruit enough new players to truly restart the saga as you originally intended, we need the capacity to rotate a good few mages in and out. Therefore, we either need a much bigger covenant site (with a few magi in the background until their players return) or to have several magi leave and become peregrinators (which is perfectly viable in the Rhine Tribunal as written).

I think the crucial questions are: what is stopping people from joining - is it having to play a Bonisagus, or the theme? If it is playing a Bonisagus, then we need to open up the houses available. If it's the theme, then it's up to you how far you want to alter the theme until the game is too different to your original concept to be worth playing.

As for realism and having all the young magi out of Gauntlet at the same time - whenever you play Ars, you have to set a baseline for what characters people play. The default assumption is "freshly gauntleted magi, and grogs and companions who aren't so old they're aging badly" - it's amazing how often newly gauntleted magi join forces at the same location, almost as amazing as how many D&D adventurers drink at the same tavern or Warhammer characters get thrown in the same jail cell. If you really want realism, then you need to find some way to extend the concept of troupe play so that people acknowledge their characters will be different ages and power levels and not feel hard done by.

Now I want to write a set of suggestions for how to set up a saga with characters of wildly differering power levels while soothing people's innate sense of fairness.

I don't see a problem expanding the covenant site to accomodate additional players -- either by making the underground complex larger, or by adding a few sancta outside near the brewery. (That is one of the first changes I am proposing in my first post -- the second bullet point.)

I hadn't thought about some of the players being peregrinators -- that might be a good way to vet new players by only giving them that status until we can see some long-term commitment.

I don't think the big dificulty is getting more people to join. Every time I've put up a call for players, I have gotten more than enough expressions of interest. The big difficulty is getting people to stay interested through the character design process, up to the point the first story starts and after that. After an initial burst of ideas, things can bog down.

That problem can be compounded when the characters are more experienced than just-Gauntleted magi -- the complexity of post-apprenticeship advancement can be daunting for some, and it requires a lot of work regarding the resources available for very detailed advancement. I haven't met a player yet who liked the post-Gauntlet advancement rules from the core book. All that being said, I wouldn't have a problem with some magi being more experienced, if we can manage it in a decent timeline.

Once stories start, the slow pace of PbP stories also takes its toll on players, who often loose interest and wander off, or have to leave due to real-life events. Even the simplest story can take months to tell, as we have seen with "Let It Snow, Let It Rain".

Regarding realism, it isn't the initial run that is causing me problems; we've all lived that contrived excuse for the initial meeting of a group. It is rather the recurring nature of what we risk having here, as young Bonisagus after young Bonisagus join this covenant. You quickly reach a point where you have to ret-con the very existence of past members, or you have to drastically increase the number of magi in the House.

Allowing other Houses has some side benefits for the saga, I think. First, it avoids the "all Houses in one" syndrome, where the character concept of a player is crammed into a Bonisagus template. The value of the House virtue is also diminished when everyone has it. Second, introducing a few members from other Houses provides us with some tension between members, because they each know their loyalty is divided between their House and the covenant.

Enough, gotta work now! :wink: