What is your favorite tribunal, and why?

My first and second sagas was set in the Theban tribunal, I just really like the geography and the state of the byzantine empire around 1200, It also helps that my native country is just outside the borders of mythic Europe and probably not populated enough at the time to support even a single small covenant.

It would also be interesting to hear of any that were set in areas outside the traditional tribunals, and the general opinion on such sagas.

  • Greater Alps
  • Iberian
  • Normandy
  • Provençe
  • Roman
  • Thebes
  • Transylvanian
  • Rhine
  • Novgorod
  • Stonehenge
  • Loch Leglean
  • Hibernian
  • Levant
  • Other
0 voters

So just a quick thing: Provence does not require a "ç" for the "c" to sound like "s", the "e" afterwards automatically indicates the pronounciation.

That being said, the Rhine is my favorite tribunal for 2 reasons:

1- I live there and walking around, visiting castle (ruins), cloisters and the countryside gives me inspiration for my game, and conversely what inlearned for mybgame does occasionally come up "IRL".

2-I like the Gild system which offers a kind of handrail and gives a good diegetic reason why the younger magi are protected, to some extent, from being bullied too much by the more competent ones: thisnwould lead to retaliation from the bruisers of the younger magi's Gild. The Gilds also give a quick instant characterisation to NPC magi, beyond their house and Covenant which is a nice shortcut.

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I voted Stonehenge for the same reason. Even without living there, it is the tribunal where the history and folklore is most familiar, by far.

But apart from that, I do not like favourites. Each tribunal has its own quirks which would be fun to explore. It is just so much harder to stay true to actual myths of a region where you have spent very little time and do not know the language(s).

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My favourite is Theban, as two of the best games I've played have been set there. The vast majority of my experience has been in Stonehenge, because my fellow English players like playing there and we have a bottomless well of history and folklore at our fingertips.

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I voted Rhine because I feel it is the most vanilla tribunal. But I like the Normandy and Provencal tribunals as well, because of the French history (which is part of my roots).

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I voted Levant because it's hosted the longest running game I've had. (~90 sessions)

I have run a couple of sagas set outside the tribunals. The first was on the Isle of Man, which is canonically in none of the three British Isles tribunals but which could join any of them. The Isle got many pages in the old Hermes Portal fanzine and it’s just a perfect little jewel of a setting, with rune wizards, dragons, distinctive folklore, and a geographical footprint small enough that you can walk anywhere and be back in time for lab work. The lack of tribunal resources meant the PC redcap was key, using his Seven League boots to run errands to Stonehenge. The PC Quesitor was the only Quaesitor. There was no Peripheral Code. Instead, the PCs could travel to all the nearby tribunals and decide which of those codes they liked the best.

My second border saga was on Malta, which has a rich archeological history with massive stone buildings older than (most of) Stonehenge and “built by giants”. This was part of a Tremere effort to create a Carthaginian Tribunal along the north coast of Africa. They were more isolated than Isle of Man and really had pretty free run of the place. They ended up creating a chest of pearls and buying the entire island free and clear from Emperor Frederick. Traveling to Venice got them involved in an effort to reform the Peripheral Code of the Roman Tribunal, which they ended up joining and abandoning the Carthaginian effort.

So all in all border sagas are tremendous fun. They put more responsibility on the players and covenant, since if the characters want anything done they usually have to do it themselves, and there’s no one looking over their shoulder. Consider the nearest cities and Mercer houses that ARE in the order, because your characters are going to be going there often to resupply and get news.

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Oh and I voted Other because I love the fact each tribunal is like its own mini-genre of Ars, supporting its own themes and flavor. I’ve run sagas in about half of them, played in all but Transylvania and Levant, and they’re just all really interesting. The trick is picking the right one for you and your table.

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I voted for the Rhine. In general, I think that ArM5 tribunal books are fantastic. So, while in the absence of any Tribunal books I'd vote for Rome (soo much stuff, way more than StoneHenge), overall my favourite Tribunal can only be one supported by an ArM5 book.

Why do I like the Rhine? It's hard to pin down. I'd say, echoing Arthur, because it feels the most vanilla Tribunal - despite Provence being "officially" the vanilla Tribunal. But the Rhine still somehow feels that way. I'd venture that it's because the Rhine, being the first Tribunal book published, did not try so very hard to establish its own quirky identity. Thus, it's the easiest canvas to paint with a saga's palette.

That's possibly the reason why Thebes, which I consider possibly the "objectively best written" Tribunal book, is only my third favourite Tribunal, and one of the reasons why Transylvania is my least favourite Tribunal: they are both very quirky milieus (Transylvania even more so than Thebes).

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The Rhine book has two big advantages. First, it has a starter saga in it, the Rhine Gorge, complete with sites to explore, covenfolk to recruit, nobles to mess with and monsters to slay.

And second, because it was published so early, it doesn’t reference any other book in the line. Faith & Flame is packed with mystery cults, for example, that you need another book to implement. Guardians of the Forest doesn’t send you to any book other than the core book. For a new GM, it’s great.

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@Oneshot you seem to be the only person (at the time of this writing) to have voted for Normandy. Could you articulate why that is the case?

Simple. The questionnaire allows only to vote for a single Tribunal. And the last story I wrote for Sub Rosa - unlikely to ever appear there - is located at Paris University in 1231. So I just had the huge unexplored story potential of Paris University in mind when voting. It was not a vote against other Tribunals.

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I voted Rhine, for a number of reasons. Althoygh I also very much like Hiberbia.

Rhine was the first Tribunal book I ever read. I first read ArM2 when it was the newest, but never got around to playing until 4th ed. My first saga was i Stonehenge, before that book was published, so we never bothered with it, because our saga was aldready defined.

I bought and read Guardians of the Forest for when I wrote my bit for Tales of Power, and the Rhine Tribunal stuck with me. I've played a few sagas there, we have one going on now, long time running. I also set my part for Through the Aegis there.

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Jason Tondro expressed most of the reasons why the Rhine is my favourite. I like Stonehenge and Hibernia as settings, because they are very easy for me to research as I live in the UK, but the Rhine book feels like a constant flow of ideas for cool stories.

Not a tribunal, but I also love the North Africa books, and hope to set a saga there in the future

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A while ago I started writing a series of articles helping storyguides run Ars Magica. I quickly decided I was actually distracting myself from what I should be doing, which was writing Ars fiction. But I did (almost) complete a long essay on “how to choose a starting tribunal.” I didn’t cover the Levant, but it’s otherwise pretty much done. It’s also long.

Some of you may find this useful.

Magicraft #2: Picking a Tribunal

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I picked the Levant tribual fo several reasons:

  1. Am coming from the region, so am familiar with some of the places.
  2. in 1220, due to Saladin's attacks, the Tribunal is in shambles, with most of it's territory subsumed by the Muslim, making the magi either hide their presence, or else flee. There's a small strip of land, and Crete, that are still in a Crusader State.
  3. It's sort of an Outside, and sort of a Tribunal, depending on how the ST decides the magi fared. And gives a chance for the PCs to change the course of history, before the crusader states finally collapse.
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shoot me a DM. I'm trying to finish out the art and we can see what can be done.

I chose Provence, but I'm biased.

The inclusion of the cults was intentional...I was trying to use the tools in the tool chest, but we drew back on what we had, and tried to make sure everything necessary to run the NPCs there was provided. If it's missing, it's my fault.

That said, while I adore BS&S and LoN for similar biases, I think Provence does an excellent job of presenting the connections between members of the Tribunal, and really gives a good foundation for how those covenants might interact-- something that I thought would be pretty important for some games, and I felt represented the most work for a SG, especially on the fly.

-Ben.

EDIT: I haven't gotten to internalize the latest Iberian, but I did like what I read on the first pass. I thought it was a good addition. I'll also throw out an agreement to @Doctorcomics regarding HP's Isle of Man issues. I ran my first sessions there as a SG, and loved what they provided.

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I picked Thebes. Reasons include:

  • Greco-roman mythology which I enjoy and intuitively know.
  • I enjoy the way the Theban polity works.
  • It's an awesome setting to introduce a new player who knows in - with the way the apprenticeship works, and the apprentice picking his parens, the player doesn't necessarily need to even know what the houses mean and you can start roleplaying.
  • Thousands of years of written material and legends everywhere. Not all tribunals have that, especially with those who have written 5E material.
  • Covenants feel unique.
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So i just listened to yhe arcane connection podcast on this topic.

The Rhine, as mentionned above is more self contained, because many of the books were not out yet (so no, "go to Realm of Power:X, page x-y" for the information needed, which isn't very new player friendly) and also has a kind of saga at the end, which is something that i feel is missing in many of the other books.

One thing that i regret is that for each tribunal, the dials (high/liw fantasy, Order control...) are pre set, which locks each historical region to a certain playstyle (unless a major rewrite is done). As a previous story-teller put it, he'd love to set a game in Mythic Hungary, but has no interest in a tremere dominated Tribunal.

On Thebes: I love greek mythology, it was my biggest interest as a kid until I got into Games Workshop games (and lore), but ibfind that it is far too present in the Theban write up compared to day to day local christian folklore. Same problem as trying to shoe horn Scandinavian vikings and Norse mythology in the 13th century when they were gone for a while by then (the last pagan Vikings being dead for barely a generation on Saaremaa, but the viking age being over in 1066, and Erik the Heathen was probably the last shot at a major Norse-pagan King).

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It's interesting I think, that so much of the focus in this thread appears to be on playing in the tribunals as they are presented in their respective books. It's not a complaint but for me, when I consider playing in a tribunal I am much more concerned with the historical landscape at the time and the folklore and myth of the region.

In any case, my favorite tribunal to work with is Provence because I have a lot of interest in the Jewish community in Montpellier. Additionally, the proximity to the Pyrenees has a lot of potential. I think that the Provence book is totally fine, but in prior Sagas I have largely reworked the details to incorporate more tension with non-Cather Good Men and Women and Sorginaks, as I think having amorphous external to the order threats to the magical dominance of the order is really useful.

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