In other news

I can’t say it’s completely against my better judgment, because my better judgment usually isn’t around to get opposed to things. But I’m going to run an Ars Magica game.

I’ve got two players, possibly three, if the mister wants to get involved. I’ll be the main GM, with room for the other players to run some stories when they want to. I have to admit, I’m pretty excited, because I’m all about beginning things. Creating characters, storylines, projects.

I am absolutely awful at finishing them.

This doesn’t bode well for grad school, but I finished it successfully once, I’m sure I can do it again.

Anyway. We’re using 5th edition, and I’m setting it in Spain. This is mostly because I’ve got a decent handle on the history and culture, and I feel I can keep the atmosphere and setting clear and consistent. No D&D “10 x 20 foot room” for me.

I love RPGs. It’s not really comparable to anything, not even improv theater. I generally try to explain tabletop and LA RPGs as those cops ‘n’ robbers games we all played as kids, except someone is in charge of at least an outline for the story, and there are rules to prevent the inevitable “I killed you” “no you didn’t” “of yes I did” “oh no you didn’t!”

Rules. The bane of my existence. I’d make a rotten programmer because logic — well, logic and I have an uneasy truce. I’m a fan of intuition, fudging things out of laziness and service to the story. But that means, in a worst-case scenario, that I’m inconsistent. And that is nothing short of death for any game.

I’ve partly sorted out Champions, so I figure I can comprehend Ars. But studying the rules is hard. my brain goes on little jaunts into lovely day dream lands where I ruminate on the really cool hidden surprises I have in store for this particular Ars saga. I think about what I’ll have for dinner, or whether there’s a cat belly close enough to rub, or if I remember where I put my watch this time around.

If I could sort out a way to maintain internal consistency without resorting to mechanics at all, I would. But if I were that efficient, my logic circuits would be pretty strong and I wouldn’t fear the mighty ruleset. Which leaves me with no other option than to study, which is something I need to get done before my first classes start.

Plush die

I WANT THIS. I do. It's so...cuddly. Can you imagine a White Wolf game with these? You'd have to have a Chuck E. Cheese style ball pit for all the dice! (Courtesy ToyVault.)

And there’s that pesky SWTOR, too. I love MMOs (nowhere near as much as I love tabletop), but man do they just eat time.

As I said, the game is set in Spain. I’ve been to southern and central Spain, but a bit of fiddling with Google maps let me discover the lovely little township of Arnedillo. It’s got Roman baths, and thermal springs! That in itself is a story source. The covenant will not be very far away, perhaps half a day’s walk which is actually a shorter distance than it might seem, but up and down some steep mountainsides. The area is also amenable to grape growing, so wine will play a part somehow.


A small, medieval town. In existence since the 11th century, situated at the top of a ridge, with hot springs and Roman baths. I'd visit, if I were in Spain. (Courtesy Wikipedia.)

The covenant’s a winter one, but the local tribunal hasn’t heard from the covenant in nearly ten years. Hence an expedition of young magi who don’t have the clout to refuse. And there’s the start!

I suppose I could summarize games here, if there were interest. There’s a little wikia I’ve put together for the game, too, but it’s pretty sketchy at the moment. I do want to try to get some more of it filled in this weekend. We’ll see if thick summer weather will let me think straight enough to do it.


About incognitiously

A published author and a produced playwright, I'm someone who spends most of my time thinking about stories, writing them, reading them, watching them or hearing them. In short, I make stuff up, unless the truth is even better. And even then it's an iffy proposition. Currently researching the dialogic nature of transmedia storytelling for a Doctorate of Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology. View all posts by incognitiously

3 responses to “In other news

  • bearonthecouch

    I’m now imagining playing a White Wolf game in a Chuck-E-Cheese ballpit full of those cuddly d10s! It’d be awesome!

  • Matt Ryan

    Fantastic news and have fun. Don’t be daunted by the rules. Essentially it is Characteristic + Ability + die roll vs. an Ease Factor (9 is standard). For spells it is essentially Characteristic + Art Technique + Art Form + die roll vs. level of spell. There are lots and lots of mechanical fiddly bits, but if you concentrate on those two formulas you will be fine.

    Remember that the folks at Atlas Games’ forums are always ready to help.

    Let us know how it progresses.

  • TyphoonAndrew

    Glad to see a new Ars Magica game picking up, you’ve hit the nail on the head imho – go for a setting you know and love and all else should be great.
    As far as rules complexity we do a lot of “resolving through story” in my game as the outcomes are more meaningful if they match the story path.

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