Welcome to Agios Minas!
I. Ars Magica the Game.
In medieval Europe there were three classes of people: the nobility known as those who protect the lands, the clergy or those who pray, and the peasants who toil the earth. In Ars Magica we will pretend that there was a fourth class: those who work magic. We will jointly tell a story revolving around the wizards who populate fantasy novels and legends. In Ars Magica wizards are not independent, but usually live commonly in a covenant; a magical manor house usually about the size of an average monastery.
Magi live (mostly) peacefully together because they belong to the greatest magical society ever to exist: The Order of Hermes. The order is founded on the idea of a unified theory of magic grounded in Greek mysteries, astrology, knowledge from ancient Alexandria, and other mystical stuff. The order brings together different mages for the shared goal of sharing mystical knowledge and furthering the development of their magical powers.While wizards are the heart of Ars Magica, they cannot do everything. Men and women of extraordinary skill (called companions) are drawn to the covenant. These adventures serve as the protectors, liaisons to the outside world, and friends of wizards. Further, the lands around the covenant are populated with peasants (called grogs) who farm the land and provide the wizards food. In Ars Magica players fill out the roles of the covenant to tell its story. This means having the opportunity to play wizards, companions, and grogs
II. Agios Minas Covenant
This game will take place in the covenant of Agios Minas on the island of Cyprus. The following is a brief description of the history of the covenant and the setting. As a note many of these events are historical but I have reserved the right to change history if I feel like it.
For years the covenant of Agios Minas in Cyprus, a remote corner of the Byzantium Empire, was resided in by a powerful cabal of four magi. The mages lived in an old monastery, previously abandoned by its order of monks. The holdings of the covenant encompassed the monastery, several fields worked by peasants, and the nearby hamlet of Pegeas. The magi specialized in unraveling the mysteries of Greek antiquity and uncovering magical artifacts lost to the ocean. In 1191 Richard the Lion Heart landed in Cyprus while on the third crusade and conquered the island. Richard largely ignored the mages and the mages mostly ignored Richard which made both parties happy.
There was trouble in paradise when Richard sold the island to the Knights Templar in 1192. The templar’s interest in harnessing magical power led them to raid the covenant in search of secrets. They forced the mages to flee though the mages were able to hold off the invaders long enough to take all of their books and artifacts with them. This marked the beginning of a period in which the order of Hermes had no presence on the island of Cyprus.
Finding little left of interest the templar burned the old monastery to the ground, imposed their rule on the hamlet of Pegeas, and then left. Harsh Templar rule on Cyprus led quickly to a commoner revolt. While the templar successfully quelled the rebellion they decided it was a good time to sell the island to King Guy de Lusignan.
At the time Guy was a king without a kingdom. He had held the throne of Jerusalem, but lost it in 1187 when Saladin kicked the crusader kingdom out of the holy lands. Cyprus was richer and more bountiful than Jerusalem though not as prestigious. Guy successfully restored order to the island. He lived their happily for two years before dying from food poisoning due to “eating too much fish”. It is now 1220 and the Cyprus is an established fiefdom ruled by European nobility. The current king of Cyprus, Hugh I, inherited the throne of when he was 8 months old and is now the tender age of 4.
The old covenant of Agios Minas was abandoned for 28 years. The peasants, living in relative isolation from the rest of the island, were left on their own. They have engaged in subsistence agriculture since the templar invasion. A former member of the old covenant of Agios Minas, a willful and respected French mage Carolina de Luca secured a charter from the order of Hermes to rebuild the covenant. The magi who once lived there have been absorbed into other covenants and have no interest in returning. Needing other mages to populate the covenant, Carolyn has traveled to magical councils across the continent. She has sent a call for mages from anywhere on Europe to join her. The player character mages of the game are the ones who responded to her call.
III. Game Overview
In our play by email game of Ars Magica you can play as one or more types of characters:
Mages: the lords of the covenant who wield the tremendous power of magic.
Companions: Special humans who aid mages.
Grogs: the peasants who handle practical matters around the covenant.
Traditionally each player in an Ars Magica game plays one mage, one companion, and several grogs. In this way the players work together to play each other’s NPCs, giving the game greater life. That being said, if a player wants to play fewer characters that is fine. Below I estimated a predication of the minimum time commitment for each type of character.
I still have some thinking to do about how the play by email game will work exactly. My initial thought is to have turn orders twice a month. Two weekends a month players have the option of sending in turn orders and I make the commitment to respond the following weekend. I am open to having it less often but I could not make the commitment to reply to turn orders more than twice a month. I am thinking one season of the game time will pass in about a month of real life time. Game time could move faster or slower though depending on what is happening in game.
The heart of the game will be player initiated role-playing. I can think of some ways the players will interact:
1. Email: players interact via letters that represent actual letters/messages sent to each other in the game.
2. AIM chat: this would be an easy way to do conversations between two characters.
3. Forums: I have found in past online gaming that forums are great for facilitating character interaction. If the players are interested I could look into the logistics of getting this set up. Alternatively we could do facebook groups where we agree to only post in character (has fewer possibilities in my mind than the forums).
IV. Time Commitments
This would be the minimum expected time per character of a given type. It should be
light enough to allow people who are interested to play multiple characters.
1. There is no time commitment to playing a grog as long as you are willing to allow me to take control of the character if another player wants to interact with him and you do not feel like it. Likewise, you do not need to send in turn orders for your grogs. If you do not send a turn order I will assume your grog is going about their daily life business.
2. Time commitment for companions: 20 minutes a month. Like grogs there is no expectation for companions to send in turn orders. The 20 mins above is because I would like you to give at least brief responses to others who seek out your character to interact with. Of course longer responses will make the game more lively and fun.
3. Time commitment for mages: 1 –1.5 hours a month. At the very least I would like mages to do turn one turn order a month. If it is a busy month for you it is OK to just let me know generally what you are doing. Also since the magi are the leaders of the covenant you might have to deal more with others seeking you out. That being said if you really wanted to play a Magi that just sits in their lab doing research and refuses to talk to anyone then we could probably work something out. While they have a slightly higher time commitment I hope at least 2 – 3 people will be interested in playing mages in order to fill out the covenant.
V. Types of Plot:
As GM I will develop plots for the characters that do turn orders. If you do not do turn orders you will not get as much GM plot but you can still role-play your characters with others.
1. Grogs: light hearted, fun plots which reflect the struggles of ordinary people living in an extraordinary place. Imagine plots such as: a back fired spell turns one of your cows got invisible – can you get a mage to turn it back? a traveling huckster is cheating villagers out of their money, there are weird noises coming from out of the ol’ hill where granddad met grandma, one of the companions is trying to get the grogs to stop drinking and gambling, and so on.
2. Companions: your job is to act as intermediaries between the covenant and the world outside. Plots could involve dealing with the European nobility, dealing with clergymen, finding magical ingredients, investigating the grogs to find out which one is a fairy in disguise, killing the thing your mage accidentally summoned, etc.
3. Mages: many magi only spend their time studying magic; however, there is a great deal a full-fledged wizard can get involved in. This includes: politicking with other wizards, unraveling the meaning behind ancient scrolls, dealing with fairy lords and demons that are running amok, interviewing peasants to see if their folk tales hints to uncovering magical treasure.