Ars Magica Sample of Play

The magi have discovered a magical regio near their covenant, and decide to investigate. Margo is playing Iocasta ex Criamon and Charles plays Calamus ex Bonisagus. The other two players, Owen and Brianna are playing Andrew, a musician with the virtue Second Sight, and two grogs (Mattias and Hubert). Peter, the Story Guide, sets the scene …

Peter: As you step off the bridge over the stream and into the regio, a lightly wooded forest spreads out before you. Several of the trees look ancient, and the undergrowth is thick in places. A path leads from the foot of the bridge, winding through the trees.

Margo: Iocasta sniffs the air, and starts casting a spell to detect vis.

Peter: With a duration of concentration and range sight, that’s a level five Intellego Vim spell. To cast with fatigue, you’ll need to cast a level 10 spell.

Margo: I have a high Vim score, so it might be possible to cast without fatigue, or to get a duration of sun. <Margo rolls a die, with a result of 7.> With my Intellego Vim score of 13, that’s at least 20, so I’ll expend the fatigue level to get at least level 10 and a sun duration. Iocasta chuckles a bit as the spell takes effect.

Peter: The colors around you sharpen a bit, but nothing glows brightly indicating the presence of vis.

Charles, speaking as Calamus: I think we should best stay on the path. We know not what lives in this place, and t’would be best to avoid antagonizing those who may be our hosts.

Owen: Andrew is using his Second Sight to see if there’s anything he can notice that way. <Owen rolls a die, with a result of 2.> With my Perception and Second Sight skill, that’s five, probably not enough to see anything new.

Peter: Nope, nothing else comes into focus for you. What are the grogs doing?

Briana: Mattias and Hubert are a little surprised to find themselves in the wood. Mattias will keep his axe handy, but Hubert is ogling the surroundings. He moves to the middle of the path after Calamus’ warning.

Charles: Let’s move forward on the path, and keep our eyes open.

Peter: Okay. The path curves toward the left, going uphill away from the bridge, then curves back right and descends. A break in the trees reveals a depression in the forest, filled with bright blue, pink and purple wildflowers. Many red and gold butterflies flutter around the flowers. The path continues, curving to the right around the depression. Iocasta, several of the flowers glow brightly in your enhanced vision but they don’t seem to have a steady glow.

Margo: Ooh. Iocasta gets excited about the vis. What do you mean the glow isn’t steady? Is there vis there?

Peter: Roll your perception plus Awarness to get a better look; are you stepping off the path?

Charles: No!

Margo: I’d rather see what I can tell from here. <Margo rolls a die, getting a 2.> So that’s four. Can I tell what’s making the vis flicker?

Peter: Not without getting closer.

Margo: I don’t want to get too close just yet. Let’s keep going.

Briana: The grogs look around, trying to see what caused the break in the trees or if anything else might be living in the depression.

Peter: Okay, roll your Perception plus Awareness.

Briana: <Rolling a die for each grog.>  Mattias rolled a five, and Hubert rolled a seven if his specialty in wooded areas applies.

Peter: The specialty applies, and Hubert notices that a huge broken stump lies just off the path, outside the depression. The fallen tree should have blocked the path when it fell, but it doesn’t. You can still see the trunk of the tree, slightly raised off the ground in the middle of the depression, and some of the branches on the far side. It looks like the tree took down a number of smaller trees when it fell. As you get closer to the broken stump, it appears the path branches here, one way continuing around and out of the depression, the other way leading to the trunk of the tree, which has apparently been used as a natural bridge over the depression.

Owen: Is it big and sturdy enough to walk across?

Peter: While it is wide enough to go single file, it looks a little tricky in places. The very bottom of the depression isn’t visible due to the flowers and other growth, but you guess a fall would be at most ten feet.

Margo: I’d love to get a closer look at the flowers, so I’m going to walk out onto the log bridge.

Briana: Hubert will follow, since he wants to stick close to Iocasta. He know the kinds of trouble she can get herself into, and wants to be close to help get her out.

Peter: As Iocasta steps onto the log, it rocks a bit to one side.

Charles: Wait a moment, Iocasta. Let me secure the bridge before you walk out. Calamus wants to cast a Rego Herbam spell to hold the log steady. <Charles rolls a die, getting a result of 1; he rolls again, getting a 10.> Wow! That’s twenty, plus my Rego Herbam casting score of eleven, for 31, plus whatever the aura is.

Peter: Nice roll! Keeping the log steady with a concentration duration would be a level five spell. That log is not moving, as long as you concentrate, and you don’t need to use a fatigue level.

Margo: Excellent! Iocasta walks out onto the bridge.

Briana: Hubert follows, but not too close.

Peter: Even though the log is steady, the surface is still pretty uneven. You need to make dexterity stress rolls of three or better to avoid slipping off. <Peter decided that the original ease factor of nine should be greatly reduced, given Calamus’ success with his steadying spell.>

Margo: I rolled a nine, plus my Dexterity of one for ten. Iocasta practically skips along, she’s so excited about the vis!

Briana: <Her die roll shows a zero.> Uh-oh. That’s not good. Even with my Dexterity and Athletics skill, if I can use it here, I’m only at a two.

Peter: Hubert is going to slip off the log and fall. Roll two botch dice; let’s see if anything really bad happens. <Neither of the botch dice Briana rolls shows a zero.> Okay, Hubert gets snagged on a branch sticking out from the log, and loses his balance trying to get loose. He does manage to grab the branch as he slides off the log, which eases his fall. He ends up on his back, cushioned by the underbrush, as a flurry of butterflies and flower petals form a cloud around him, but he is uninjured.

Margo: Iocasta sighs, and shakes her head at the grog’s clumsiness, but she asks Hubert if he’s okay.

Briana: I think so, mistress, just had the wind knocked out me. Hubert’s going to get up, and walk back to the others.

Peter: Hubert brushes off the foliage stuck to him, and starts back up the side of the depression, crushing some of the plants in his way. A woman with tightly curled ram’s horns in her hair appears in front of Hubert, and demands, “What have you done to my children, mortal?” Calamus, the sudden appearance requires that you make a Concentration roll of at least six to maintain your steadying spell.

Charles: <Rolling a die, and adding his Stamina and Concentration.> No problem. Calamus’ eyes widen at the sudden appearance, but his spell does not waver.

Margo: Iocasta glances nervously at Calamus, then addresses the woman. “Good morning, Fair One. We mean no harm to you or your family!”

Peter: The woman takes a step closer to Hubert, and you see the plants bend around her so that her movement does not bruise them. You also notice that she while she has two legs, she has the lower body and legs of a goat. A set of reed pipes hangs around her neck, and a small pouch from a belt at her waist. She responds, “No harm?! It will be weeks before those crushed by this oaf return to health! You should not have come here.” Hubert, what do you do?

Briana: Hubert takes a step back and pulls his axe from his belt.

Margo: “Hubert, put that away!” Iocasta strides back along the log toward the rest of the group.

Peter: The faun’s eyes flash silver at the sight of the axe. “I should expel you for your insolence!”

At this point, the players have a number of options. Perhaps one of the magi could attempt to pull Hubert out of the depression with a Rego Corpus spell. Andrew could use his Enchanting Music ability to try to calm the situation. Hubert could beg forgiveness. The group could try to bargain with the faun. Starting a fight is also an option, but probably not desirable, given that the magi set out to explore the regio, and probably want to be able to come back at some point. Peter, as Story Guide, know what the faun wants, and the powers she can bring to bear on the situation. The entire group knows that this story is about exploration and investigation, so they are probably not going to try to make an enemy or engage someone they just met in physical combat.

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