Very very long saga?

Alright, say I have a saga running, that starts at 1220.
Say that each player has his own magus.
Say that each magus lives to be about 100 years old.
Say that each magus takes an apprentice.
Say that after the players' magi die, they would like to play the apprentices.

Say that this goes on for a while. If that's so, then the players go through history. Gun powder. America. WWI, WWII. The present day.

Should this be allowed? How should the game mechanics be altered?
What should I, as the storyguide, do about it?

MHO, game mechanics would be altered as some science changed. Newton would have a radical change on the game mechanics. Right now there is no momentum. After Newton there will be momentum and energy.

You would have to decide if there is new magic going forward or just modifying the old laws.

Well, I really like the idea of leaving the mechanics exactly the same (we have a HR that states that things can be propelled by magic, because it seems rather dum that they can't be...), with exactly the same arts. There will have to be a change in abilities though, adding abilities like driving, piloting, computer use, demolitions and what not.

Another interesting question, is: What will become of the order? What will each house turn into? Should some houses turn into corporations, or should those be covenants?

There are two aspects to this really:

  1. Does the world still work the same way in the future, and
  2. Does history unfold in the same way?

Personally, I'd answer yes to the first and not necessarily to the second.

The world simply works the way it does and no amount of scientific research is going to change that. Newton, if he even exists in the future of this game world, doesn't discover or describe Gravity with a capital "G". He may describe the mathematical principles that govern the relationship of different substances to the cosmological spheres in a way that could be analagous to gravity (small "g"). But he could equally be blessed with the Gift, taken by a Bonisagus friar and go on to finally unify the five disparate Techniques into a single all-encompassing Technique, thereby casting aside the incorrect understanding of the past and ushering in an enlightened age.

Future history is whatever you make of it. England could, with the covert help of House Jerbiton, retake the old English lands in France. A stepping stone to a new righteous English empire. Or House Flambeau may overstep the mark in Iberia, trying to follow in some concocted legends about their Founder, and the Islamic summoners may take the whole peninsula in retaliation.

Run riot. It's yours. If you want the Order to lift proscriptions against acting as court wizards, go ahead, and that one decision is likely to change mundane politics across all Mythic Europe forever.

But I'd be inclined to keep the game world physics exactly as they are. They don't need to change, and it actually makes less sense for them to change. They aren't what they are simply because that's what people believe they are. They simply are.

One view on the progress of time would be that as humanity expands and erodes the wilds, vis sources disappear and those that survive become the object of fierce competition by the covenants that struggle to survive. No vis = no longevity ritual, no focus or any other invested device. With vis becoming scarcer and more fought over the Order of Hermes would start to collapse as younger covenants are unwilling to accept the stronger ones ownership of the rarer magic auras and the accompanying vis sources, also more individual magi disappear into the wilderness beyond the bounds of europe, Africa and Asia at first, but as soon as America is discovered magical colonists would follow seeking to escape the dominion. Another side effect is that magi would be less and less able to perform rituals, and unless they could secure a good vis source would be more stingy with longevity rituals so would be more likely to have a shorter lifespan.

Could the Order survive as the wild is eroded and covenants become more and more centered in cities, especially in the growing number of universities? Probably not is my view. Closer association with mundanes, and reduction in the power of covenants, especially losing grogs as mundane nobles refuse to accept large group of soldiers in their cities means that the lesser city based covenants lose power and become more associations of friends sharing knowledge and loaning each other magical texts than political entities. Older established covenants in the wild, still keeping their traditional power and structure would not recognize such groupings as legitimate covenants and seek to deny them recognition in tribunal or they would have to recognize all groupings of 'hermits'. As tribunal meetings become more elitist and reserved for only the powerful they lose their legitimacy and their decisions become increasingly irrelevant. As the tribunals start to be ignored, some regions stop holding them, and a tribunal becomes the name for a meeting between two large covenants which include a quaesitore, but their decisions affecting anyone but themselves are futile. A two tiered order emerges, on one level the common magi, living in a town or city pretending to be a scholar and with access only to libraries and to magical texts that become increasingly corrupt and weaker as usage, copying and theft erodes their levels. The other level is the elitist covenants hidden deep in regios in forests that are protected as hunting reserves, or deep in mountain ranges, with the odd rare covenant hidden underwater or something like it relying purely on magic to survive, they have plentiful vis from their tightly controlled sites and are weighed down with more magical devices than most common wizards ever see. They are also targets whenever they leave their hidden covenants, whether to jealous lesser magi, to hedge magi or to the powers of the infernal or the divine. Finding apprentices for the elite becomes harder and fewer are trained with access to all the resources of the Old Order. Coven folk of these covenants are warping beyond sanity as the concentrated magic use in those areas pushes the magic level of the regios and auras slowly up over time.

By the 18th century the Elite covenants have all but collapsed in rotten isolation, the city wizards have shared their eroding knowledge with all the hedge mages who have also headed into the city forming a new magical society that is small association of mages more powerful than hedge mages, but lacking the knowledge of a full wizard, vis is non existant and invested devices and carefully preserved heirlooms passed from master to apprentice. Each association comes to its own arrangement with the power of their land, whether hiding or serving, and few know how to contact more than one or two magi in association other than their own. Sharing of secrets between association is rare and is traded as favours.

Far off in the new world small associations have grown that are strong and vibrant with the huge number of vis sources they secured there after the proto Order in the Tribunal of Atlantis declare war on the 'Order of Shamans', seeing an organized enemy where none existed. Their vis sources means that experimentation can continue to make up for losing magical texts, and the longevity rituals they perform give them the lifespan to reach high levels in the arts. Finally they turn their sights back on the Old World, seeing the slow migration of hedge wizards coming to steal their resources as a threat and an opportunity to recover secrets lost and left behind.

In Asia those magicians descended from the migrants heading east found rich civilizations that they had to join to blend in and survive. Apprentices were taken amongst the native population and within only a single century the Wizards have been aclimitized to their new lands as they try to integrate the local magical traditions. By this time their legacy has been lost except for legends of strange powers and scary stories of armies of aggresive arrogant Wizards chanting 'join or die'. As the colonists heading east try to expand their control from walled trading enclaves into the heartlands of populations, these descendants are the ones agitating to keep the foreigners out, these tensions lead to the opium wars of China as the western nations use force to overcome native objection. India falls to divide and conquer.

You are, of course, free to run your game in any manner you and your players choose, but according to the RAW, there is no such thing as momentum. This isn't because Reality is Defined by Belief, it's because that's what reality is in Mythic Europe. There is no Gravity, Inertia, etc. to discover; they don't exist in the game world.

In the days of yore, when I had more hair and much smaller belts, White Wolf ran the world. WW brought the Belief Defines Reality idea into the Third Edition to lay the groundwork for Ars Magica's Mythic Europe to be the historical background for the modern day World of Darkness setting. White Wolf doesn't run the show anymore. Tremere aren't Vampires, beliefs don't define reality, and there isn't a demon under ever rock in Italy. Reason is Dead!

And I say a little prayer every night in thanks...

You will spend years gaming to reach those times so after 5-10 years you may start to think about it. I bet you will have your own answers. :smiley:

This in part is why we, from the start, have always played with real physics etc., we simply use the real historical explanation, people got some things wrong, while others are just oddly explained.

It would be crazy to start out without momentum and then a´la ka-POW, just because one dude comes up with the idea, it exists? That to me would be a total gamebreaker, as it would simply not be realistic in context or not.
Either start and keep using either reality OR fake world, absolutely do NOT change midway.

Hmm? Then how DID we end up with:


I swear that I am not contrary on purpose :laughing:
My answers would be the opposite. The world doesn't operate the same way in the future, and history (mostly) unfolds the same way. I do like the though, something like the alternate history Europa from Girl Genius comics (Magi would be the Sparks). But allow me to describe my alternate view...

Some people delve deeply into the whole "science of the middle ages" thing and go by Aristotelan philosophy. Some don't get so heavy into it. In the latter case, it is simple enough to say that understanding was (and still is) incomplete. Just gloss over it. Magic still works the same way though. In fact, you can make some Virtues and Flaws mixing science and magic. The standard is that you still have to abide by strict medieval philosophy in your magic theory. A Minor Virtue would be that you have adapted to some modern scientific thought, and a Major Virtue would be to have a very scientific approach to magic. As an example, the old school magic used Auram for Lightning. The modern school magus affects Electricity using whatever Form represents the medium of said electricity (Auram for Lightning still, but also Terram to affect currents in wires and such). The Advanced science magus realizes that electro-magnitism is power, and uses Vim.

However, if you are heavy into applying medieval philosophy, then either go the route others have mentioned, or invent an excuse as to why things changed (and perhaps they keep changing). Perhaps it is caused by the changing Zodiac age, or perhaps there was a strange botch with a level 100 ritual. How this affects magic could be a myriad mixture of options. Everything still works the same, magic doesn't have to make sense. Or perhaps old spells work the same but newer spells follow different rules. The posibilities are endless.

As for history, having the medieval philosophic paradigm apply throughout the ages unto today will indeed alter hstory (though you could mimic the course of events). But if science (or understanding thereof) changes through the ages, then for the most part history remains mostly the same (other than events players directly involve themselves in). I like to think of the Order of Hermes as being a part and parcel of history. They existed long before 1220, and Mythic Europe is mostly the same as historic Europe; other than the presence of magi in the background of course. Magi affect history, but more so history affects them. They are the cause of some historic events, and they are the effect of or affected by some other events.

Other ideas: In the modern day, magic is actually more plentiful in terms of magi if comparing straight numbers. But percentice based, magi make up a much lower proportion of the population. If the gift is a one-in-a-million ratio in 1220, say it is a 1-in-fifty-milliion ratio in 2009. Also. resources are more plentiful overall, but much less so on a per capita basis.

Just some alternate ideas :slight_smile:

Well, our beliefs about Mythic Europe obviously define the game world, because it's a work of fiction. The beliefs of the fictional denizens of Mythic Europe do not, however, exert any causal influence on the nature of their world; they just happen to have a lot of true beliefs.

As to the main question, my personal opinion is that RAW Mythic Europe can't go anywhere near the history of the real world, partly because it's very likely that America doesn't exist, but mainly because momentum doesn't and the celestial spheres do. I'd also advise against trying to run a long saga where it does, because Hermetic magi are powerful. You'll end up having to tell the players that they can't do stuff, just to keep history on track. A long saga is fine, but let the players take history in the direction they want.

I prefer the direction of telling a Mythic tale over an historic one. Future Mythic Europe will, if were to run such a saga, be only more Mythic, in a direction set by the players - perhaps they will unite the Forest Spirit, or maybe they will turn the Order into a Holy Society using Holy Magic, whatever. I don't want to change the metaphysics of the setting into the scientific ones, I like fantasy better.

As for your games, they should be whatever you find appealing. If you want a game where history remains true and the laws of the universe change with the times - go for it.

I think I'm used to it. Play any way you want to.

I understand your point on RAW but in fact momentum does exist in Mythical Europe or there would be no missile weapons in the game. So perhaps that part of reality is wrong.

You misunderstood my use of Newton as an example. Momentum exists. It just was not defined until Newton. Now it could be incorporated into Magic theory if you wanted.

You should read Art & Academe. It gives a lot of good insight into the Mythic European view of the way the world works. In Mythic Europe, momentum does not cause missiles to fly. If Mark Shirley sees this thread, I'm sure he can explain it better, but it's my recollection that missiles are propelled forward because of a vacum caused by the flight of the missile. Nature abhors a vacum and the air rushes in behind the missile which pushes the object forward, until it hits something solid. In Mytic Europe, it's not momentum. The Ancient and Medieval scholars had very detailed, and often bizarre, explanations for the way the world workes without relying on momentum. In the RAW for Mythic Europe, those beliefs are true. If you want to use Real World physics, that's fine, but it's a home rule.

The problem with using the physics of Mythic Europe is that most people don't know or understand them, so they fall back on real world physics, which most of us understand better. That's fine if that's the way you want to run your game. It does make it easier to run. It also makes it easier to run a game set in the modern world, but lots of people want more flavor than role playing in their home towns gives. It's up to you to decide where you want to draw the line between easy and flavorful.

EDIT: To correct the space where the vacum was formed. It was behind the missile, not in front of it, which would just be silly.

I agree with John Post in ME momentum does not exist , of course in the real 13th century momentum existed and the explantaion of philosophers of the time for how things worked was wrong .
This poses a problem for a multi generational game moving forward to the present . You need to decide which model of physics is true or if it changes and then you have to decide how things which where not known to the medieval mind fit heremtic magic (Electricity, Nuclear Physics, Electromagnetic radiation) Although most of this won't matter until you hit the end of the 19th century

Hi folks,

When looking at the development of history in Ars Magica, I see the setting a bit like the primary setting in His Dark Materials (you know, the trilogy by Phillip Pullman). You basically have our world, reality in this world functions a bit different. The map looks a bit different (there are no land, only boiling water, around the Equator, for instance). But historical people exist, and history will "try to keep up", conforming to these different laws of reality (magic exists and so on). History might come out differently in some places, but the world will basically be the same as in our own, real-world history.

I've been over and over the bit about Metaphysics in Art & Academe. Momentum might not exist, but this doesn't limit reality too much, or make it different from ours. In Mythic Europe, everything in reality is composed of partices, if I understand it right. These are either hot and dry, hot and moist, cold and dry or cold and moist. All these particles offers resistance to each other, and the colder and dryer the particles are, the faster it will be able to move through particles that are "lighter" (more hot and moist). Also, the more particles something has to move through, the slower it goes through it. That's why, if you throw a huge flat stone in the water, with the flat side first, it will sink slower than a small stone. But it will sink. Also, that's why a metal-tipped arrow is more deadly than an arrow with a tip of wood. And it's also why a chain mail is much more effective than leather armor to stop such arrows. It all depends on the interaction between particles. An arrow shot by a bow is given much more strength to move the particles it needs to move to create the "vacium". And this doesn't always mean the air. It means the leather of in the armor of the target, the target's flesh.. and if the arrow has more force left, it can even move through it's target and so on. That's my intepretation of it.

But what does this mean? Nothing much, really. Things in Mythic Europe acts much the same as in our real world. It's just explained in a different way. This different way might be correct in Mythic Europe, but the arrow will still fly off the bow and armor will still protect the target from it, depending on how many cold and dry particles the armor is made of. A stronger man will throw a spear harder and it will fly further, but not because of the momentum, but because of the spear's greater ability to overcome the resistance of partices on its flight, be it air, leather, metal or flesh. This is how I read that bit in Art & Academe, at least.

But how about bigger, better armor? That's easy. Plate mail, for instance, is made of even more dry and cold particles, so you need a very dry and cold weapon with alot of force behind it (remember, force is not momentum, but the ability to move through such particles) to countering it's resistance and hurt someone wearing it. And how to explain gunpowder? Well, that has been discussed before, but in my campaign, I'm considering making it an alchemical or magical substance that mimics certain Flambeau spells. How the mundanes got their hands on this? Well, that's another story. But safe to say, some rogue Veditius is sitting somewhere with an evil grin on his face. :smiling_imp:

Now wouldn't it be cool to have a book, or even a chapter a book that helps the Storyguide with longer campaigns, and what the future will be like in Mythic Europe. What kind of technological wonder might be invented, and how will this interact with the metaphysics in Mythic Europe? Maybe a "Storyguide's Saga Book"? :slight_smile:



Just thought I'd add my 2 cents.

Not going to talk physics but thought I could share a couple of examples of how you might handle historical events that did happen here in the real world and therefore stand a good chance of showing up in the game world.

In one saga a ran a PC had a Quaesitor who recieved orders to "find and put an end to" a rogue alchemist who The Order said had been dabbling in Black Magic. The orders were vague and just seemed a bit off, but the PC went and did as he was told. He defeated him with some difficulty since the alchemist seemed to command much greater power than he should and also had "an aura unlike anything you've encountered before". In reality the "alchemist" had discovered black powder, many years before anyone else in Europe had and the Order saw what a threat it was and ordered him dead. The Aura he had was of course, Reason.

Another saga I ran the players spent several years trying to unravel a mysterious plot between several high ranking members of various houses. In the end they discovered a conspiracy to unleash a disease (The Black Death) into cities across Europe to stem the growing tide of mundanes and their Holy Auras and prevent their further dwindling of magic in the world. When they made that discovery some of them agreed with the goals and begin to assist the plotters. The others were forced to remain silent, since if mundanes found out the Order had caused millions of deaths they would all be hunted and killed.

Both of those are examples of how you can use history as a plot device and not make any serious changes to the timeline at all. Yes the black death happened, but who is to say it wasn't the worlds first act of covert bioterrorism? No Europeans didn't invent gun powder in 1235, because the player was there to prevent it.

See, you can pull the old switcheroo on your players. Yes they did affect the timeline. They made it exactly the way history remembers it.

And, of course, Newton was a keen alchemist. Keynes described him as "not the first of the age of reason... but the last of the magicians". Had magic been an actual force in our world, I'm not sure he'd have bothered with gravitation. He'd have probably done something much more interesting with his apple than just watch it drop off.


After coming off the back off 4 sessions of a spring covenant game, where we played a very slow paced style, I'm very interested in the idea of moving things foward very fast.

While i very much like the idea of having a text detailing the change of magic over the course of history, like many others have said (in one way or another), it is very much down to each individual person/group.

For example, I really like the Dresden Files books, and for me, I would focus on how magic changes across the centuries, including how The Gift changes from hindering social interaction to hindering technology use, which I realise wouldn't be for everyone, how AURAs fade so that magi can cast their magics in cities without penalties from the dominion, and how the Order of Hermes and every other Mythic creature/person now hides from mundanes (and yes, I am also play and GM world of darkness games...). I plan to actually start researching these ideas, but I doubt many folks will actually find them useful apart from my own gaming gorup, because everyone has their own ideas of how the future of the Mythic world should unfold from the 13th century (does America exist, what about Atlantis maybe etc etc)

Good luck with any texts you do come up with, and I would be more than interested to read how to choose to portary things :slight_smile:


PS Just for my 2 cents, I assume real world physics with incorrect explanations for RAW...