What playstyle and format do you use?

This is mostly just out of idle curiosity. There are a lot of different ways to play Ars, so I'm interested to hear how everybody handles things. Everything is multiple choice, in case more than one answer applies.

Are you playing a saga at the moment?

  • I'm currently running a saga
  • I'm currently playing in a saga
  • I'm not playing or running at saga right now

0 voters

Where do you play?

  • My saga is play-by-post
  • My saga is played on a virtual tabletop (e.g. Roll20)
  • My saga is played in person
  • Other

0 voters

What is the pace of your saga?

  • My saga is slow paced (2+ game sessions per season)
  • My saga is medium paced (1-4 seasons per game session)
  • My saga is fast paced (more than a year per game session)
  • My saga is pulsed (timescale varies between game sessions)

0 voters

How does your saga handle storytelling?

  • My saga has a single storyteller
  • My saga has a single main storyteller, but sometimes guest storytellers run a story
  • My saga has an alpha storyteller and beta storytellers who run individual stories regularly
  • My saga has everyone act as the storyteller roughly the same amount
  • Something else

0 voters

How does your saga handle characters?

  • In my saga players only have one character who they play all the time
  • In my saga players have a Magus and a Companion, but no pooled characters
  • In my saga each player has a Magus and Companion and there is a shared pool of grogs
  • In my saga each player has a Magus and there is a shared pool of Companions and Grogs
  • In my saga all characters are pooled
  • Something else

0 voters

How often are magi involved in stories?

  • Stories usually involve all the Magi
  • Stories usually involve most of the Magi
  • Stories usually involve one or two Magi
  • Stories usually involve one Magus
  • Magi do not usually get directly involved in stories
  • Stories usually revolve around Companions
  • Stories usually revolve around grogs

0 voters

How much research does your saga involve?

  • My saga is not set in a historical setting
  • None, my saga does not focus on historical details
  • Low, the broad historical details are there but it's not a priority
  • Low, but we use a tribunal book for more detail in our covenant's locale
  • Medium, you need to have read a little bit of history to keep up with the details
  • High, you need to have read a book on the period for the area to keep up
  • Extreme, you need to have read multiple books and translated primary sources to keep up
  • Extreme+, I learnt to read Latin for a roleplay game, my life is spiralling out of control, please send help
  • Extreme++, All the players in my saga are medievalists and historians

0 voters

What is the general theme(s) of your saga?

  • High Fantasy
  • Intrigue
  • Hermetic Life
  • Mundane Interactions
  • Action-Adventure
  • Investigation
  • Politics
  • Creation/Research
  • Other

0 voters

For me, I'm in one saga, we play over a virtual tabletop and Discord, it's pulsed (we'll have a story happening in a single season take multiple sessions, then we'll get through multiple seasons a session for a it, then another story will slow things back down).

We don't have an alpha storyteller, everything is collective and everyone takes turns running individual stories (some players have taken charge of ongoing plotlines and run every adventure in them.).

Everyone has one or more Magi (secondary magi are usually antagonists, important allies, or apprenticed to other player's magi - not full magi of the covenant) and there is a large shared pool of Companions and Grogs. Our stories usually involve mostly magi, and grogs feature more as accessories to Magi rather than being payed in their own right (but not always).

We put in a fairly high amount of research, and historical events feature pretty prominently in the saga. We focus mainly on a mix of Research, Mundane Interactions, and the occasional bout of action-adventure.

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So right now I am in one saga where we play using the google suite (Docs and Chat), it is pulsed, a typical session covering anything from from 1/2 a season to 3 seasons, depending on if we go on a big adventure or not. But 1 season/session is probably the most common for us.

We have only one story teller, and while the idea of experimenting with someone running instead for a one-off within the world, this has not happened.

We each have a mage, which go out on almost every adventure. Grogs and all but one companions are shared (the last companion was gen'd by one player specifically to be there backup character as their magea often gets wounded). Most of us have a familiar as well, but the stories are driven by the Magi or the Covenant's (fraught) relations with the mundane power blocks around us. Grogs are used interchangeably but even the named ones are rarely played more than once (we have a good roster of stated grogs) although they might be used for the odd roll (we send the crew to town, the captain makes a carouse/bargain roll or whatever is appropriate).

We did a fair amount of research, I contacted a historian friend of mine (who works in a museum, in the country where our saga takes place) to get good details, but due to the low amount of contemporary written sources, a fair amount is ad lib'd.

We have some research but the primary focus of our game is (mis)adventures and our interactions with the mundane world (getting the Anathema called on us by the local bishop, befriending pirates, fighting crusading armies).

I'm running a saga on the Isle of Man and playing in a saga on Malta. One is live, the other is over Discord.

The hardest question on this survey to answer was "general themes"; my idea of a theme is very different than yours!

Both my sagas are Spring covenants that are just starting up, and they're spending a lot of time just doing the things spring covenants need to do: exploring the area, finding vis sources, establishing relationships with the locals, and dealing with the Story Flaws that the PCs themselves chose. Both sagas, by choice of players other than myself, are about establishing covenants outside of Hermetic borders, and the politics that comes from that.

Ha, yes, the 'themes' bit is the hardest to make into a poll, so I just went with the suggested ones in the 5e core rulebook. If only you could put a write in option on these polls (if you can and I've missed it, then all I can say is whoops).

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1 IRL saga (Ars magica obviously). We have a alpha storyguide, but I'm the main (beta) storyguide (51% of our sessions are me) and we also have a second beta story guide.

We SG are the main group. i joined the group in 2008, and the alpha storyguide was already there alpha storyguiding. The beta storyguide joined later, but was a friend from the alpha (with whom he was player in an another group). We have had up to 9 members, and now we are 6. We play +- 2 times per month.

I put all informations on a gdrive file so i keep statistics. (In a previous saga with the same storyguides but different players, I even had statistics over places where we played, XPs distribution and the like, but it was a bit too much, even for me.)

So from the time I (re)joined the group after a break middle april-may 2014 to december 2014 when the alphastory guide came back to me, we have had 146 sessions.
On those, 146 sessions, we have had 92 adventures, taking a total of 105 seasons ingame.
The time was autumn 1224 when I rejoined (the group did start in spring 1220) and we are currently (last session 2 weeks ago) at end winter 1286.

On those 146 sessions, I have been 71,75 times SG, the alpha storyguide 38,5, the other BSG 29,25 and we had 3,5 sessions related to tribunal (which are often multiSG sessions since each of us says or add something to the flow of the game).

The ASG campaign theme was religion and intrigue. I guess that's why it failed and let people down (players went from interested [when it came to make the Order some kind of monastic order under the rule of God) to uninterested. I don't know exactly, I missed the last sessions due to personal reasons at the time.

The other BSG campaign was enemity from another parallel world similar to us but with 3d edition events like (Vampire tremere,...) and they did try to invade us.

My campaign, the only one remaining as of now, revolves around prophecy and the upcoming of the "Renaissance" ... or to be more precise in the way I (emphasis on the I) perceive it, the evolution of sciences, explorations.
As of a session on the 16th augustus 2015, they know what will happen at the end. That's the prophecy. They know Durenmar is the last covenant standing, the others have been destroyed, primi are dead; remain the last primus and inhabitants. The armies of demon-like creature use gun-powder weapon and the prophecy says that someone appear and kill the big bad with the help of a kind of Terminator magical item.

in game, they just put the "someone" in stasis, with the Terminator magical item.

Now they wait for the "big bad" (whom they killed the same-name spoke person) to appear. it's supposed to be Rhea, a Titan... (at first they thought it was a normal witch but now they are no more sure).

Next step is said to one player but they must decipher it: as long as the prophecy isn't fullfilled, the time is circling. The protanoi of magic has said so: "you are now waiting for an event, which those who want to make happen are not skilled enough. So if you are waiting for it to happen to evolve, make it happen. otherwise, prophecy obliges, you will rewind again until it happens".

I don't know how to classify this as theme, so I put "high fantasy, politics, intrigue".

As for historical setting: i like to settle it as much as possible, but i realise players are either oblivious to it, or clearly misslead by wrong thinkings (such as "women are low persons so if you play a woman character it's like a free general flaw" or "bow can pierce plate armor easily"), which I have a hard time to refute, since I'm not an expert, and not willing to fight because i don't know enough (my knowledge mostly comes from various youtube analysis and tests, not history books). But it makes trying to remain historical rather boring ...

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The last game I had was quite different than previous ones: It started in the 780's, blatantly OP, fast paced, high fantasy game with massive historical changes.

After playing it that way, I'm not sure I can even play the game again. It was fun. It also signaled to me that the game had to change itself in a more fundamental way than I first thought.

The game itself was in person, PC's only played a single mage, with some tag along grogs played by me, the ST.

Great poll btw, should be referenced in the 6th ed thread.

In hindsight a question I forgot to include but which has a pretty big impact on some of the others is “how long does a typical session last?”. My own groups play very regularly every week but it’s just a few hours squeezed in after work, whereas I know some people prefer to have longer sessions and sometimes less frequently.

Two things that surprised me:

  1. Most people still play in person. For me in person sessions are very rare these days and a nightmare to coordinate – we might manage one around this time of year when people are all in one place visiting family, but otherwise my groups are geographically pretty scattered.

  2. A supermajority have only a single storyteller. This one really surprised me, because Ars was the game that introduced me to ‘troupe style’ roleplaying and I’ve never played it any other way than full on troupe style (everyone acts as Storyteller about the same amount, very collaborative). We enjoyed this so much that we more often than not use a troupe style when playing other games now as well (have been playing through Rough Nights and Hard Days for WFRP 4e recently, taking turns to run each linked adventure).

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We too have suffered from the adulting related issues lately, but still manage an average of two four hour sessions/month.

Re-troupe play, I only ever play my own mage because of ASD related stuff, though others have played various grogs on and off (two of the PC magi keep getting fried by Ig spells, hence their shield grogs get a lot of mileage). One of the covenant players (Jank) is currently looking into running a grog only session, though, which ought to be fun.

Well, I would love to have an actual tabletop game, but people who like Ars Magica are few and far between where I am so online voice gaming is the next best thing

When running an ArM game I usually prepare for three to four hour sessions.

Mostly, we play 2times per month, for +- 7-8 hours on saturdays. We are a group of 6, and if we are 4, we do a session.

My current group is meeting in person, once a week (minus people travelling). We're doing a troupe-style play with each person STing a different aspect of the world. We usually run 3-4 hours with some notable distractions because people are looking up rules and making plans for their magi advancement.
In the past I've done an every-other-week or once-a-month 8 hour session with a meal included, and it was great and would never really work for a lot of people nowadays due to schedule restrictions.

I managed to convince my old rpg group to play Ars and they love it, so we play in person.
We are currently doing a very slow paced saga (11 sessions and like a month has passed) because they are struggling with some problems before placing the covenant. Once that is solved we will speed it up.
I'm the main storyguide and I don't think I will ever be a player. We tried it once with a failed saga and perhaps my players are very conservative about it. Nevertheless I'm going to be a 'player' via opposing npc and enjoying the process. I won't do the sin of DMNPC because the relevant ones are my players!
I use google drive and World Anvil to have everything in order. I lile the idea of a wiki por me and my players to look up and the drive is more like a digital notebook for write stuff and prepare adventures.

@Elaterid, am I the second Ig magnets?
I'd say that only one the Raven gets toasted that often, I don't think anyone grogs up that much...

The Ig magnet rankings so far look like this:

Ravna: 1 incapacitating wound (Smyrna 1), 1 medium (Hibernia?)
Hoedekin: 3-4 heavy (siege of UT), 1 medium (Smyrna 1)
Cyra: 1 medium (Smyrna 1), 1 light (the elemental incident)
Izaak: 1 medium (Smyrna 2).

The wages of UT's heroics tend to be paid out in scar tissue.

Anyhoo, back on topic...

As much as I like the idea of play by post, I suspect it comes badly unstuck when RPing combat.

Play by Post as the main method of play has never appealed to me, but my group sometimes uses it to play out something that only involves one or two characters so as to keep the sessions free for stuff that involves more people or will have things like combat.

For example if a magus is undergoing a mystery initiation alone and it seems interesting to RP we might have it happen as a slow burning play by post thing while continuing with other things in the normal sessions.

We never used play by post in our real.life sagas. We used it for OOC discussions that sometimes ended up being in character councils/discussions in practical terms, but it has always been a preparation tool, not an actual gaming tool

We usually play around a table, for about 5-6 hours at a time.

I have suggested using PbPost for elements that mostly only included a single character/player, but it has not proven terribly popular.

I'm just starting a group if entirely new people, but we'll be playing online. Ars doesn't have the kind of tactical play I'd refuse to do outright without physical minis, and I've only managed to get the core of the group together over a pretty wide area. Meeting physically for most of the RPGs I'm in no longer works outside of some occasional one-shots.

I think ArM adventures would work great via PbP, but the time scale I don't think translates well to that format. ArM doesn't need lots of back and forth between players and GM; so it's not unreasonable for everyone to get their posts in for a day, and then the GM can respond and set necessary check levels (even rolling for players if everyone agrees to that). Having long scale advancement seems very difficult to get in though, as just doing a single 2-3 hours of meeting in meatspace or in a chatroom can take months if not longer with PbP. Seems to me like doing a game straight out of gauntlet (as my group is planning for simplicity's sake) could involve a half year before you get past a single year in game.

That said, I've been involved with a group recently that only progressed IC via PbP, but we had weekly voice sessions where we would crank out a lot of posts in a few hours. It would be much easier to breeze past an adventure in a much more timely fashion or incorporate more flavor for seasonal research activities than just relegating it a downtime thing everyone does inbetween sessions. That could work well for ArM, although I think that format mostly is to maintain a certain seriousness to the IC game stuff that is mostly absent from most games I'm involved in.