Who uses the "alternate characters" rules?

In the book there is a small section in the saga chapter about alternate characters.
It says:

[b]Alternative Characters p. 219 core book

in this version of troupe play each player has two or more characters,
but only plays one of them in a given session. At least one character
should be a magus, and at least one character should be a companion
(see page 17). There is nothing to stop a player having two magi and
four companions, if he can cope with only playing each character once
every six sessions or so, and with the book keeping of keeping each
character up to date.
If you play this way, it is essential that a players characters have
good reasons not to go on adventures together. They may dislike each
other, but this is not essential. Instead, one players companion oculd
be closely linked to another players magus, or the two characters
could have very different interests.
This stype of play is quite close to conventional roleplaying, in that
everyone has their own characters, and no one is handling more than
one character at once. As an extra bonus, it makes it easy for players
to introduce new characters if they become tired of an old character
or dont like the way he is developing in the saga. This style avoids
many of the serious problems that the conventional style raises in ars
magica, but it can still lead to rather more magi going on an
adventure than is ideal.

Does anyone use this? How many magi per player is too many?


Kind of how we've always done and taken for not being alternate, though not sure what's new about it? Unless the major is the more than one magus thing? Which we dont. But we do stress only playing one character in a session -with the odd short scene exception- even if that's a grog.

In my previous saga I decided to allow a player a second magus. The magus he began with was useless in the lab, but he wanted to explore that aspect of the game. So his second magus was introduced, one intended to stay in the lab and not venture forth too often. As it turned out his first magus died only two stories later (the gamma storyguide's first experience running an Ars Magica game, but of a disaster really). The player decided to just stick with the new magus as his only magus character, so there was no problem with the transition from one character to the next. However, I had a hard time integrating the second magus into the saga in an active role - it took ten stories or so for him to find his niche. Even though the results were mixed I'd be inclined allow it again if a player really wanted to do it.

This was back in the ArM4 days. I got the idea from the Saga of La Roche Caribet website, where it seemed to work considerably better. If it was good enough for the saga the line editor played in, I decided it was good enough for me. :slight_smile:

I've always played this way (there may have been a session or two in the past 19 years where a player had more than one grog or a magus player also played a shield grog). I've not yet had a player who had more than one magus and only twice have I had a player with more than one companion.

we use 1 magus and 1 companion with the occasional grog thrown in

How mature are the players in question? How sophisticated are they at story-telling vs. role playing? How much do they care about the Saga vs their character? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie-pop?

It can be done, I've done it and seen it done. It requires a player who is far more excited about the story than their character, and who more focused on being an author than having their alter-ego "succeed".

When a player can ignore OOC info and walk their character to their doom, and enjoy the result, that's a sign they can probably handle more than one mage.

On the other hand I never liked the thought of playing more than one grog, or even several, in a sessions, as I think the immersion and the quality of the story is undermined if anyone, except the SG (sigh poor us), has to play several characters present in one scene. We do also tend to have 'ownership' of the individual grogs, and their development, but circumstance might make them on loan to others (eg. being in the middle of a mulit-session story and your character either dies or get mauled enough to be sidetracked) if it is not possible within the frame of the current story to bring in one of that player's other characters.

Jubiii! Meta! I love it, I cherish it and I suck it in - cheers CH! :smiley:

I tend to shift between purposefully giving OOC info I know they can use, to either simply choose the path that makes them walk toward said doom, or simply to have the inter-player play get that extra bite.

Curious about your use of "story-telling vs. role playing" - I think there are two ways to care for you character (and probably countless others). Either caring for their integrity and being immersed in that character - this adds to the stories themselves as well as making the stories more intensely experienced be the player. The other is caring mostly for the degree of success of the character -as you lined it out yourself- and making the character a pure vessel for your own feelings of success, power, ambition and rush of blood to the head sort of thing, with little focus on the integrity of the character or the telling of a story. Both are fine, depending on what you prefer to play. Personally I certainly prefer the first kind of playing. And I tend to not use role-playing to label the second version, as I think you might have done in the above, but rather call it, somewhat affectionately (I have certainly started out there myself), roll-playing - since success and that rush of power seems so intimately linked to rolling of dice and of blasting your enemies. On one hand Ars Magica mechanics offers great power which feeds into this kind of play, but on the other hand I really dont have the impression that this kind of game is what lies closest to the heart of it..

In other words you might describe it as a balance between the three parts of Role, Playing and Game (though it is only two words in my native tongue), where the Game part is the segment stressing the use of die and rules and which might appeal the most, out of the three, to the powerplayers - aka the roll-players.

Make no mistake - I do like the rule and tossing of dice, and I like toying with the design of these rules, but I like them because the frame of the rules and the randomness of the dice is what offer us with curved balls and unforeseen challenges - that X factor that disrupts a story in a very positive way and which leads us to improvise and fabulate for the betterment of the story.

In short I just wanted to say that story-telling and role playing can walk neatly hand in hand, even being mutually reinforcing.

But this doesnt go for roll-playing! Which in its nature is not about the good story but about a specific story of "I rule! :smiling_imp: " (not to say that it might not be very much enjoyable by those who prefer it!).

Up until our last session, it would happen that players would be playing their Companion AND their Magus. If you have something going on at the Covenant, then this possibility goes way up...
The last session saw my companion die protecting another Magus from a threat...

We have some of the companions and mage living in other locales than the covenant, and only showing up when necessary. Or being visited if needed. examples include the priest from the local parish, a merchant in an nearby city, an exmiscellanea tree hugger (my character, as I am the SG) and a local wandering knight that uses the covenant as a base for his raid...err... adventures into the nearby regions. SOmetimes they are up there, sometimes they are not. it gives the current SG some fiat about the available characters (a combat event is quite boring for us if all the combat mosters ar epresent) and makes for dynamic situations and the possibility to play dudes that no way would reside with some crazed weirdos like the mages. Heck, the local priest even considers the magi dangerous heretics. :slight_smile:

So, we do have several characters per player, but generally we do not have the "I play 2-4 characters in a scene" situation, since we willingly remove them before the scene/adventure. It is not common for us to forcibly remove a lot of the characters, but we remove some in some cases to make the scene more entertaining. Something similar to what Chuchulainshound said about advancing the story instead of the characters.