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Ars Magica covenant
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Benedict



Joined: 22 Jan 2006
Posts: 256

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:00 pm    Post subject: Ars Magica covenant Reply with quote

If we were to play Ars Magica, where would we have the covenant and what would the covenant be like?
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Mikeythorn



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 364
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember creating one for a game I never ran just outside Palermo. It seemed an ideal place at the time - as the place was a real mix of cultures (it is in Italy, but was occupied by Moors until recently - and is currently under occupation by various feuding northern super-powers).

I like the idea of being somewhere where civilisations collide. It is the reason I bought "Blood and Sand" (although it was ultimately a very disappointing purchase) - it is set in the Holy Land and assumes the players are part of an occupying Christian power in a largely Moslem land.

Another place where cultures are bashing up against each other might be Spain. What I like about these settings is that there are major conflicts between mundanes which the Magi should really be above - but which they are going to have to try very hard to avoid getting tangled up in and which will make their activities just that much harder (obtaining more Vis might mean clashing with another covenant AND trekking across territory occupied by people who hate you because of your hair colour).

I think I would prefer a covenant to be small and self contained. I don't really like the idea of a large Summer covenant where the player Magi are just some amongst many mages. I like the idea of a covenant which is completely self contained (ie the only Magi are PCs). Therefore any major decisions the covenant needs to make must be made by the players. I have to admit a fondness for Pendragon "Nobles Book" style micro-management in games though.
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IdiotSavant



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1046
Location: Palmerston North (bugger)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oe thing I suggest is getting a wiki for your saga. We use one for collaborative setting development, covenent management, tracking the calendar, who's doign what, and all the neat stuff we create, and for some online play (e.g. wizard's councils). You can create a free one here:

http://www.schtuff.com/?action=space_create_show

(Note: http://arm5.schtuff.com/ is already taken Smile
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Benedict



Joined: 22 Jan 2006
Posts: 256

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IdiotSavant wrote:
Oe thing I suggest is getting a wiki for your saga.


Excellent suggestion. We already have a wiki up and running, so we should use it to detail the covenant.

By the way, I don't suppose you could tell us very briefly what sagas you have played? Just to give us some ideas.
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IdiotSavant



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
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Location: Palmerston North (bugger)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Benedict wrote:
IdiotSavant wrote:
Oe thing I suggest is getting a wiki for your saga.


Excellent suggestion. We already have a wiki up and running, so we should use it to detail the covenant.

By the way, I don't suppose you could tell us very briefly what sagas you have played? Just to give us some ideas.


Only two. The first was in ArM4, and involved a group of newly gauntletted magi res-establishing a covenant inthe Stonehenge Tribunal. We had little ide aof what we were doing, didn't troupe, and often got bogged down in historical trivia. Some of the archives are here:

http://pages.quicksilver.net.nz/mfn-0056/gaming/arsmagica/index.html

The second is set in the Rhine Tribunal, in a chapterhouse of Fengheld located at Fons Albae, the source of the Elbe, in Bohemia. This one is properly trouped - we rotate stoytelling, with the aim of one story per character group per year (typically revolving around the magus, but not always), with far less emphasis on the mundane and more on the supernatural. We've had demons, faeries, quaesitorial investigations (I play a quaesitor), and miracles (a group of PCs just witnessed the ahistorical martydom of St Engelbert of Berf). So far we're in our 7th year of play, apptoaching our second Tribunal, and still going strong. We use a wiki for management, but its private due to the danger of leaking playtest material to the internet.

Many of the ideas in Ancient magic can form the heart of a saga, for a Bonisagus or other researcher. And there's also enormous scope for a saga centering on the Mysteries (which we haven't really dealt with yet, despite two of our magi belonging to Mystery Houses). And of course there's the traditional Provencal Albegenisian Crusade Saga, though I've never done one of them.
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Benedict



Joined: 22 Jan 2006
Posts: 256

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Palermo and Spain are both good ideas. They are such incredibly interesting places and inspiring for thinking up adventures.

I don't suppose you have any notes about your Palermo covenant? I believe Russell was also working on a Palermo covenant.

I had been mulling over whether to suggest Scotland as a location. I have Lion of the North, which I am itching to use. The problem with having a covenant in a tribunal at the fringe of the Order is that you do kind of get tied down by the most significant characteristic of the region. For Blood and Fire that might be the conflict with the Muslims. For Lion of the North that might be the isolation of the tribunal. Does that make sense? Basically I think my point is that the mainland European tribunals have a broader scope.

But on the other hand, a saga could really benefit from being focussed. This would give the saga some definition and a series of adventures to fall back on. And the fringe tribunals are appropriate for this. For example, a Scottish saga could revolve around Saxon exiles fighting the Normans south of the border (one of the ideas in Lion of the North). It is important of course that the focus be something the players are interested in.

But more important than location, I think the covenant must have a shtick or two. Something that provide continuous conflict and something that the players can worry about. For example, the covenant might be greatly in debt to the noble that owns the lands (I think I used this idea for both the sagas I ran) or it is protecting some treasure, the Holy Prepuce perhaps or a great Hermetic secret.

I agree that the covenant should be small and spring. I also really like the idea of the covenant being under great pressure right from the beginning, so that its very survival is under threat. How the covenant overcomes the threats will determine its future direction. For example, the covenant might have a malign faerie infestation and whether the magi destroy the faeries or make peace with them is very significant for future events.
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Benedict



Joined: 22 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps we should come up with a series of very briefly outlined ideas, including where the covenant is based, what its shtick is, where the conflict is, where the saga might grow etc. and decide which ones seem to have potential for more development. Or is that just too ambitious?
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Benedict



Joined: 22 Jan 2006
Posts: 256

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IdiotSavant wrote:
Only two. The first was in ArM4, and involved a group of newly gauntletted magi res-establishing a covenant inthe Stonehenge Tribunal. We had little ide aof what we were doing, didn't troupe, and often got bogged down in historical trivia. Some of the archives are here:

http://pages.quicksilver.net.nz/mfn-0056/gaming/arsmagica/index.html


Sounds like both my previous efforts. One set in Transylvania with a horror theme (using lots of Ravenloft material) and one in the Savoy Alps. Neither lasted more than a handful of adventures. I think I had some nice ideas, but the sagas were doomed by the fact that I, as GM, did everything rather than having the group as a whole design the covenants and stuff.

Quote:
The second is set in the Rhine Tribunal, in a chapterhouse of Fengheld located at Fons Albae, the source of the Elbe, in Bohemia.


What's the secret to the success of this saga? Is it the fact that trouping gets everyone involved? Or is it the setting? I'm presuming this started as a playtest for the Rhine Tribunal book.
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IdiotSavant



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
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Location: Palmerston North (bugger)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Benedict wrote:
What's the secret to the success of this saga? Is it the fact that trouping gets everyone involved? Or is it the setting? I'm presuming this started as a playtest for the Rhine Tribunal book.


Well, some of the characters did, as we had to test out the minisaga in the book (which we now cannot use). But we'd learned a lot from the first effort, and one of the key lessons was to make Magi who are mad - or at the very least not boring and well-balanced. So we have strong characters with strong ideas about what they want to do in the world (cleanse Europe of demons, bring justice to the Order, integrate medicine into the Mystery of Verditius, or help their tribe). One adventure a year also means that they get a lot of face-time comparitively, rather than being lab rats, which keep sus thinking about them. it has advanced the stage where it is almost self-sustaining, and stories come naturaly from whathas gone before and the character's goals.

We don't have a big story for our covenant - though one might emerge, and there are mongols lurking 15 years or so in our future. Instead we have a host of individual stories - and some of the companions are getting their own stories too.
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Mikeythorn



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 364
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Benedict wrote:
I don't suppose you have any notes about your Palermo covenant? I believe Russell was also working on a Palermo covenant.


I might actually have some of them. I seem to recall seeing something like that during the shift to Petone. I might well have thrown them out at that point though.

Benedict wrote:
I had been mulling over whether to suggest Scotland as a location. I have Lion of the North, which I am itching to use. The problem with having a covenant in a tribunal at the fringe of the Order is that you do kind of get tied down by the most significant characteristic of the region. For Blood and Fire that might be the conflict with the Muslims. For Lion of the North that might be the isolation of the tribunal. Does that make sense? Basically I think my point is that the mainland European tribunals have a broader scope.


Scotland might be really interesting. You have the Saxon/Norman conflict you mention - plus the Scots/both thing. I think the point of these types of conflicts though is to emphasise that the Magi should be above involvement in such mundane affairs - but that they will still occasionally make their lives more difficult.
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Benedict



Joined: 22 Jan 2006
Posts: 256

PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikeythorn wrote:
Scotland might be really interesting. You have the Saxon/Norman conflict you mention - plus the Scots/both thing. I think the point of these types of conflicts though is to emphasise that the Magi should be above involvement in such mundane affairs - but that they will still occasionally make their lives more difficult.


Alternatively, the magi could be staunch Scottish patriots and rivals of the Saxon covenant. Therefore they are closely involved with mundane affairs, while claiming to be aloof.

I'm not sure I care much for the Order's prime directive against involvement with mundane affairs. I think it exists only to be broken.

We could also work in some highland–lowland animosity. Perhaps it could be a highland covenant established by a highlander trained in England, who returned to his homelands and pulled together a bunch of local hedge wizards.

Don't want to be unhelpful in suggesting the opposite to what you are saying, just trying to stimulate discussion.
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Mikeythorn



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like that idea. Particularly as the opposition to the Saxon covenant might also be put into a different context when the new invaders - the Normans start making an appearance.

I suspect the highland/lowland thing might be something that us players might find hard to roleplay though (how do highlanders act? How do lowlanders act? Why don't they like each other?).
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Benedict



Joined: 22 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still feel inclined towards your Palermo idea (without knowing anything about it). And Blood & Sand isn't half bad.

How about these vague ideas:

  • Scottish covenant. Tied up with mundane politics. Quite a marshal aspect. Ties to mundane authorities initially very useful but ultimately becomes difficult.
  • Palermo covenant. Based within the city. Sustains itself by maritime trade.
  • Cyprus covenant. Goal of the covenant is to retrieve vital magical artefacts from the Muslims (such as the Emerald Tablet). Ideally the magi will progressively explore deeper into Muslim territories and come to understand the Muslim world better.
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Mikeythorn



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I favour Cyprus or Palermo - I can't quite work out which is the most appealing though. Palermo is pretty close to North Africa though and is a jumping off point for crusaders - so the base there might also involve contact with the Muslim world.
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Benedict



Joined: 22 Jan 2006
Posts: 256

PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikeythorn wrote:
I think I favour Cyprus or Palermo - I can't quite work out which is the most appealing though. Palermo is pretty close to North Africa though and is a jumping off point for crusaders - so the base there might also involve contact with the Muslim world.


I agree. Let's go with Palermo.

I'll add a page to the wiki so we can get started.
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