Thursday, October 4, 2012

In A Darker Age

I asked the three remaining players in our group what I should run as our next campaign and the votes are in and tallied. The winner is...

The gang has chosen Ars Magica over Traveller and while I am a bit surprised, I am totally cool with the decision. Ars Magica is one of my all time favorite games to GM and it's been ages since I've run it so all is good.

Now I am more than certain that, as Zak S. might put it, I run this game badwrong (or is it wrongbad? I can never get that straight). I focus considerably less on history and historical accuracy in favor of a 'timeless, folklore quality', as a friend of mine once put it.

I quite enjoy keeping the trappings of the region and culture I am using in mind as veracious to the time and place my campaign is set in as I can, but it is only to reinforce the atmosphere of the game. Political, social and economic elements of the medieval period (usually the late 12th or early 13th centuries for me) serve largely as background.

That said, I would like to set the campaign in a region that has interesting goings on and is thick with folklore.

I have run most of my previous Ars Magica campaigns in either England or France. For England I have primary focused on Wales and the South Western coast. For France, I prefer the regions of Brittany, Normandy and Flanders.

The research I did for my Smurfs game, strangely enough, would excellent source material for use in a campaign that revisits Flanders and the areas that make up what is now modern day Belgium.

Roman-Germany, Black Forest and all, would also be an excellent location.

Any ideas or recommendations? Any one run or play Ars Magica who'd like to offer up some input?

Looking forward to the mythic past,

Barking Alien


  1. Great fun- a game I'd like to get back to the table again eventually.

  2. The one time I ran it I had the group take on the responsibility of rebuilding a school that have been ravaged by time and outside forces. It gave them a bit of focus, some local communities with which to interact, and a bit of mystery about the previous school.

    1. I like this idea a lot. New blood coming in to an old covenant that has seen better days. Can they return it to its former glory? Surpass it? Do any of the old guard remain who don't like these young whelps coming in to their home and thinking they know better than experienced Magi with years of learning under their belted robes.

      Hmmm. Possibilities.

  3. In the Ars Magica game I played in, we were on an island in the Eastern Mediterranean. We eventually went to Constantinople for the showdown with the Big Bad, which was lots of fun. Given the time period you prefer, Crete or Cyprus during the Crusades period could be a good background - exotic, slightly unworldly, and a cultural fault line between East, West, Africa and Asia.

    1. I know this sounds odd but I don't want to go too exotic.

      My current group has never played Ars Magica before. Based on what they've experienced in the past, especially as it concerns medieval fantasy games, I think they may need time to absorb and get used to it.

      If they have to also assimilate to a setting that is very complex or strange I am afraid it will be too much to cover at once. I could lose them in the opening sessions as they try to make heads or tails of things, system and setting alike.

      I do like the idea of travel as you know and having the PCs based on an island while the feature villain is a good distance away on a mainland is neat.

      Again, I think I have a way to pull this off in the Normandy Tribunal area (France, Brittany, Normandy, Flanders).