What Mythic Europe do YOU want?

What would you AS A PLAYER like Mythic Europe to become?

  • No Fundamental Change
  • A World with an Hermetic Foothold
  • A Change in History
  • A Change in the World
  • A Change in the Order
  • Other

0 voters

Let's say you're playing in a long saga, that spans about 120 years (1220 to ~1350). You start as magi fresh out of gauntlet, and when the saga concludes you're powerful wizards. The saga uses a populated setting to start from, and your covenant is a bit isolated (say, on an isolated hilltop) but still in considerable contact with mundane society (there is a monastery nearby, you trade with the city, administer agricultural land, and so on).
My question is: what would you AS A PLAYER like Mythic Europe to change into by the saga's conclusion? What change (if any) would be fun to play out? Here are some options, feel free to comment or suggest others!

  1. No Fundamental Change: It is a world where the supernatural elements do not overrun the setting, where at 1350 there are still monasteries, nobles, and so on in much the same overall situation as things were back in 1220. History probably largely follows the same plot as in our world, the Order exists but does not significantly affect things at least at the fundamental level.

  2. A World with an Hermetic Foothold: You want magi and magic to become a more significant part of the setting, playing out the ramifications of having magic by diverging from history but not drastically changing the world. This covers anything from magi being recognized and grudgingly tolerated as lords of magical auras and places (much as, say, Jew moneylenders are tolerated) to the Order aiding peasants by blessing the crops.

  3. A Change in History: You would like the Order's existence to change history, but not to change the world significantly. Having Genghis Khan not die and suffering a Mongol attack might be fine, for example. Having the Mongols conquer the land and turn it into a magical empire where magi are welcome is not.

  4. A Change in the World: You would like the world to change on a fundamental level and become more amicable to magi. Perhaps you would like the population to abandon Christianity and return to their pagan faith, and the Order to return to prominence as a Cult of Hermes. Perhaps you would like the supernatural elements in the world to overwhelm the mundanes, leaving them in isolated pockets of civilization and mundanity while the world around them changes to become more high-fantasy. Whatever the change, you would like most of the world (or, say, the Rhine Tribunal) to become a place where magi can function more freely, at least from the point of view of not having problems with mundanes.

  5. A Change in the Order: You would like the world to remain much as it is, at least in its historical elements, but the Order to change substantially. For example, you would like the Order to become more Christian (and so, perhaps, accepted by mundane society). Or perhaps you would like the Order to become a secret society, living in the fringes between the mundane world and a hidden Mythic world.

  6. Other: Please comment with your other options!

I chose "a change in the world" but I had misgivings about doing so. your description specifically states that this option makes the world more amicable to magic. I think that over the course of a long game characters will be come powerful enough to change the world to the scope described, yet as a player I wouldn't want to have it assured that the end result will be magi-friendly.

Oh, I ain't talking about what's ASSURED, I just want to get a feel as to what is DESIRED.
Generally speaking though, in my games the overall desired goals are pretty much assured to succeed barring several serious botched adventures. I want to tell a tale where the characters ultimately succeed in their goals, even if not quite in the manner they anticipated, not a story of dismal failure.

I run into an issue when dealing with magi of the type portrayed in Ars Magica when trying to maintain as much "actual history" as possible. It would seem to me that the very presence of magi, working overtly or not, would alter history, perhaps in some very significant ways. While the Order is not out to rule the world, they certainly could, at least until God stepped in and said enough. But I believe that the presence of magi would fundamentally alter the course of events.

You don't think it has??? :open_mouth:

You don't think certain world leaders are really mindless automaton that are occasionally (clearly not always) controlled by elder magi of a secretive order??? :smiling_imp:



That's my point, Corbon. It would have to, by it's very nature. If you assume angels, demons, faeries, mythic beasts, and wizards DO exist and have real temporal power, then the world MUST be different. Sure, the Order will March anyone who gets too far out of line, but I can see several scenarios where that wouldn't matter in the least (at least not until afterward).

Example One

Take for example, a Magus living in a remote covenant along the path of the Crusades. He's a good Christian, so they leave him be (we'll assume the Crusaders to be holier than they were). He does the same, until they trample through his vegetable garden (or some other such activity).

Now, this particular Magus has the Wrathful major flaw. He goes ballistic over this affront to his being and decimates that particular group of soldiers, weakening them severely enough that it turns the tide of the battle that should have historically taken place, letting the Muslim forces win. Thus history is changed.

Does he get marched? Probably. But with Wrathful, he's unlikely to think of the consequences until it's too late.

Example Two

A Jerbiton maga living in... oh... Bordeaux or someplace rather cosmopolitan. This maga doesn't like the way things are shaping up, as the new ruler is looking a little too devoutly Christian and has a thing for the "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" bit. This isn't bad, but the locals are starting to take up the call and it's getting difficult to be a magi around these parts. Worse, the increased religiosity of the area is weakening the magical aura and replacing it with the divine.

Can anyone honestly tell me that the magi would allow such a thing to continue, given the cost? Or is it more likely that they would do something subtle to sway the ruler and populace to their side? Perhaps they arrange an attack by an illusory beast that they could then put down, earning the favor of the ruler. Perhaps they go for a little more direct influence. But I find it very hard to believe that the magi would sit and do nothing, regardless of whether that's what history calls for.


To my mind, the very presence of magi, demons, angels, mythic beasts, and the assumption that the Medieval Paradigm is true is already such a massive alteration from our own world that history has no choice but to follow different paths than it did in our own world. I know a lot of people who play the game are at least amateur (if not degree holding) historians, and that's great. My own SG falls into this camp himself.

But I would say that the world as we know it cannot be the same as the world of Mythic Europe. The changes are not subtle ones. None of the armies in real Europe ever had to contend with a dragon. No villages were pillaged by ogres. The fae never stole real children, as far as our scientific minds will allow (though I'm not personally so sure). In our Europe, wizards were soothsayers and necromancers. Diviners the whole lot of them, with some cursecraft thrown in. We had nothing like House Flambeau, wizards who can conjure fire at a whim, blast demons into eternal oblivion, raise mighty towers, or be borne aloft by winds.

So, given the presence of all these vastly powerful beings, it seems logical to my mind that history cannot possibly be as we know it. The variations would be small in most places, but eventually someone is going to do something that makes some of these vastly powerful beings put their feet down and say "Now let us tell you how it's going to be."

So of course I think it has, Corbon. I can't see any other way. I find it impossible to believe that the powerful magi, dragons, and the like would step aside just so history can run exactly the same as it does in our world. This is, after all, a fantasy game. Hence the magic and stuff.

I can appreciate a love of history. It's just that with a world in which so many of the givens are altered so drastically, the world of the game and the world of history are so fundamentally different that history HAS to change.


Not to mention that it's a game, and that if history gets in the way of enjoyment, it has to go, or the players will.

The way I see it: it's the player's game, it will go where the players want it to. Sure, having the Order change history makes sense. So does having it change things which turns out to MAKE history follow their historic source. Everything can be shoehorned, the question isn't what makes sense, it's what makes fun.

For me, having the magi continually treated as lepers and constantly chafing below mundane dominance is not fun, which is why I favor A Change in the World - I want a saga where the usual problems associated with the mundanes (mundane encroachment, the covenfolk turning faithful and raising a dominion aura, land-ownership woes, feuding neighboring nobles, and so on) are RESOLVED, not just postponed. I want the saga to MAKE A DIFFERENCE, I want the magi to succeed in changing Mythic Europe into a world more to their liking (which, naturally, means changing it to a place more amicable to magi, since they're as selfish as anyone else).
That's a personal preference, and apprently a minority one.

My current saga will, apparently, be a low-magic one. Ogres, for example, are Hungarians with Giant Blood. The SG is an historian. I suspect whatever we do won't amount to much since the setting will not stray from real history, which is a bit frustrating for me.
To be fair, he hinted we CAN make a difference and bolster paganism in Pomerania for example (we play circa 950). We'll see how it works in play.


I couldn't agree more. While history acts mostly as a backdrop due to our remote location (the island of Formentera, the smallest of the Balaeric Islands), I tend to look at the magi as a whole and say, "These are people with the power to change the world. I find it hard to believe that they would sit idly and let mundane humanity run them over."

Sure, they've got problems in dealing with the divine and infernal, but they have tremendous power beyond that. While some may argue that they don't like to leave their labs, I find it hard to fathom that they would fail to act against a threat to their way of life. If magic itself is threatened, they would literally have no choice but to fight or dwindle.

It's much the same in the real world. In my own life, I like to live in a blissful peace. But someone threatened my friends, my folks, my kids, or my wife, there would be hell to pay. They are part of my Essential Nature, if you will. They are part of what makes me who and what I am. Looking through a magi's eyes, would it be any different for them?

No, not just problems.

The divine is so much powerfuler than the weak and only tolerated 3 other realms.
The divine is omnipotent, because god is omnipotent, so magi havent change history because they fear the absolute power of the dominion. And if the divine wants it there is no "reason", no stronger pagan worshipping, no godlike-magi.
And IF the divine wants this to happen, it is all in the ultimate plan of god.

Very true. For another analogy - I am drafted from the reserves every year or so. I don't like being torn from my life and labs, I certainly don't like putting my life on the line when it's for active duty. Yet I do it, for it is ultimately necessary to preserve my way of life - for me, my friends, family, and nation. I don't see why magi wouldn't go to a lot of effort to preserve the Order's lands, resources, and lives - just like I do to preserve my nation's. Nationality may be a foreign concept at the time, but being a small part of a greater community certainly isn't.

The core state of affairs in Ars Magica forces magi to be very careful lest they piss anyone off - with nobles, the Church, fearies, everyone. That's a position of weakness that I find unlikely to be accepted, especially in regards to "mere" mundanes. Humility may be a virtue, but I don't see magi as that virtuous.

The omnipotency of god doesn't work in psychology anymore than it does in philosophy. I don't find it plausible that the Order will accept as superior any being, EVEN IF IT IS SUPERIOR OBJECTIVELY. Again, I don't see magi as being so inhumanly hubmle. We're talking about people that can level mountains with a wave of a hand, for pete's sake.
More importantly, I don't see playing a powerful magus only to be smakced by overpowering Divine omnipotence as FUN. Not on a regular basis, anyways (it can be fun as a conundrun, something to work around in an adventure; it isn't fun as a theme, having your aspirations and desires foiled by a railroading metaplot).

As I see the setting, the Divine IS omnipotent but his manifestations are not and his designs incomprehensible. If the players want to change the setting to accord with the magi's prideful aspirations, the SG should work with it and have the Divine present obstacles that can be worked around and resolved in interesting ways rather than use god's omnipotence to foil them.

If you look at the bible now, which is one of the most known "history" books. There was no real direct divine intervention since christ, where in the old testimate god was smiting people and cities left and right.
I'd view the time period that most saga's are played as a time when "he's out to lunch" No world covering floods, no people turning into pillars of salt, ect... So if you want to flex your magic might and take over france there isn't much to stop you besides other magii that want a slice of the action. A few great plagues or wars will remove any influence you'd gained and set "history" back on course.

In my mind the order accelerates it's own down fall by keeping it's hands off mundanes, while "the boss is out to lunch" they could throw some weight around and cut back the divine auras, regrow the magical ones. If they go to far they'll know real fast :wink:

The bible is not really a good source of "history" post Christ. The bible can be best summed up by the two titles for the books of Luke and Acts. Luke is sometimes also known by biblical scholars as how "Christ came to the Hebrews," and Acts as how "Christ came to the Gentiles." These titles refer to the first chapters of these works and the author's audience of Theophilus ( or lover of God ).

Descriptions of God's work in lives is best done by looking at a book on the saints and martyrs. Sainthood requires at least three miracles to be associated with the invocation of the saint.

It is much more likely that the reason that the order has rules on mucking around with the lives of mundanes is that the older more senior magi don't want everyone mucking up their carefully laid plans. Nothing worse then having ten different magi Rego Mentum the mind of the same noble to the point that they are useless basket case.

Likely, the many senior magi that vote on the Grand Tribunal have a very specific goal they are attempting to bring into being and do not want everyone getting their own theories on how things should be run. Too many cooks in the kitchen will spoil the pot.

Sorry, you appear to have been completely oblivious to my, entirely humurous but valid nonetheless, point. :blush:

I was jokingly postulating the AM5 Canon is real. The order still exists, but 8 centuries later is more secretive than ever before (and probably has different skill sets).
All manner of supernatural or weird effects are explainable by this, from the supposed appearances of ghostly longbowmen at Mons, to UFOs, to certain current world leaders. :bulb: :slight_smile:

This then leads to the point, which is history changing from what to what? just because you think that AM5 Canon is not real, thus if it were real history would be different, doesn't make it so. In your example you mentioned a crusaders being weakoned by a wrathful magus. How do you know they were going to win that battle against the muslims. Perhaps in a non-canon history line they instead took a wrong path, ran out of water and were weakoned enough by thirst to lose the battle anyway. Basically this is getting into timeline theory or whatever the fancy name for such might be, and I think that this is vague enough for all (or at least very many) interpretations of history paths to be valid.

In effect, I'm saying I completely disagree with you that a canon AM5 could not end up with history looking the way it does now IRL.


It could, but that will mean killing off everything Mythic in the setting including the Order, or at least turning it all into a secret world much like the World of Darkness.
I don't know about you, but for me that's simply not fun. I like my RPGs pretty high fantasy, and I like my character's actions to affect the setting rather than being immaterial due to a preordained course of events (real-world history, metaplot, whatever).
There is an RPG, I forgot its name, where the GM designs the story completely, including the PCs actions. The only input the other players have is in the internal monologues of the characters, the reasons they do what they do. This might be an interesting experience if done right, but not a long term RPG campaign, IMO. I'd like to make more of a difference.

I'd be inclined to agree with Corbon. In most of the Ars Magica sagas I've played or run, there has been the explicit assumption that history will most likely take much the same course in the game as in reality.

The implicit assumption behind this, for myself and most of the people with whom I've played, is that the future of the Order of Hermes was to end up something like that of White Wolf's modern-day setting. Only without all the compulsory crushed velvet and eyeliner.

In both of the lengthy sagas I've run, the players were involved with historical events, and did their best to shape them, but history turned out more-or-less as it did in the books. In my Provence saga, in fact, the Albigensian crusade, taking a cue from White Wolf's Mage, destroyed almost all of the Tribunal's covenants, and killed or drove off most of the magi. Mythic Europe as such moved closer to real history.

That's cool if it ends up that way, but I sure wouldn't want to play in a game where the magi didn't at least have a possibility of sending the crusaders fleeing to the hills in defeat. To change history from a resource into a restrictive metaplot would not be the way that I'd want to play or the way that I'd like prospective players thinking that the game is played.

5e core says that the default assumption is that history has somehow come out more or less the same by 1220, though with more supernatural explanations or involvement in various events, but may diverge more widely due to PC actions.

Of course, there's always the option of setting your saga early in the Order's history, to actually play out how much history diverges due to an organized order of magic.

I don't believe that trying to keep the game close to established history is restrictive, in fact I think an approximately historically accurate Mythic Europe is one of the game's greatest strengths, without which it would turn into just another generic mediaeval-style rpg. From experience I can confidently say that it's quite possible to run a successful game this way.

In fact, I'd go further, and say that, whilst one has to be flexible in accounting for the players' chioces and goals, I've never begun a saga in any system without having most of the details of the story's exposition and conclusion planned out before play begins. I realise that not everybody runs their games like this, but it works for me, and for my players.