Author Topic: Ars Magica: The Astrolabe of the Magi sea adventure  (Read 5691 times)

Offline Anrawel

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Ars Magica: The Astrolabe of the Magi sea adventure
« on: 14:51, Friday 09 Mar, 2012. »
Dear Players,

This is an adventure for those who love magic, history, twists or happy endings. It will appeal to sea-gazing dreamers, those with a sense of justice and maybe romantics. Like the Princess Bride, this story has almost everything. No prior knowledge required. If you think history should stay in the past gathering dust, and hate talk of ships, this may not be your goblet of mead.

PS. You get to choose the ending, but it's a happy ending to you?

Note: I will be using Ars Magica 4th edition with house rules, to play as rules medium-light. You don't have to read the rules but they're free here http://www.atlas-games.com/arsmagica/. We probably won't use the downtime system until the end, instead racing for revenge, treasure and a better life. You can modify an existing character.

I have now obtained reliable babysitting so this will be running entirely or mostly at the Swan.

First rules change: Completely ignore Penetration. We won't use Finesse much either.
Second rules change: You won't get much of a covenant so I'll allow one extra quality or extraordinary item per character, at maximum a level 10  once per day spell effect, or +2 in appropriate virtues.
Main difference from 5th edition: Story virtues do count as flaws.

There is an opportunity to play as the ship's figurehead, but you would need help if you move around on the land.

Offline Anrawel

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Ars Magica Characters
« Reply #1 on: 21:58, Wednesday 16 May, 2012. »
Characters...  So far we have a Bjornaer cat magus, who can morph into a blurry lion form and who was trained at the covenant,
a Bjornaer bird magus !
a  Jerbiton magus
a mute Templar
and an unaging wanderer.

Fortunately for the Templar Charlie finally decided to have him know how to write. Otherwise it would be an Og miniplot (jumping up and down waving hands about). Even so there may be some errors in translation in future scenes...

They are all returning to the Perio covenant, which is run by a Bonisagus mage (npc). There are/were other magi, but one seems to be mad and the others seem to be missing. Even the cat isn't sure if his parens is actually around as one of the animals, as it's unlike her not to communicate for over 6 months.

All but the cat have joined the covenant recently. Pretty much all they know about it is that it's poor, has a good library, isn't too far from the sea and that loony ex-wizard Galen seems harmless.

Offline Anrawel

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Ars Magica: Cast Adrift
« Reply #2 on: 18:02, Sunday 27 May, 2012. »
Our intrepid band returned home from a hunt for muto vis (stuff that boosts change spells, or funny split lizard skins, as far as some were concerned). We established that Elgato has been at the covenant for 16 years, but most mages have disappeared over that time. On arrival, Elgato had an odd sort of conversation with the mad mage Galen, who also commented on flowers only Jouces could see. Galen was a Verditius but said to have lost his Gift in an accident. Galen gave Egato a carved wooden bird, apparently for Anastasia, before saying she was in danger and asking if they'd seen her. Bizarrely, he ended the conversation with hello.

The party noted the paucity of servants, leaving Sir Jouces the Templar to tie the horses! They reported to the bookish older Magus Hieronus ex Bonisagus who broke the news that the covenant was not only poor but owned the land on a lease only and were about to be evicted. He spoke of a solution to both problems as his friend the abbot of a monastery would buy a staff borne by one of the 3 Wise Men - the Astrolabe of the Magi - for a good price. Hieronus had a letter from Sicily with a lead on this relic. However, the party would need a ship.

In the meantime there was an urgent request from the only nearby friendly tavern for help. The party mostly having stayed there recalled the innkeeper as a good fellow. All adventurers (players) went. On the way they encountered a fleeing scared Muslim who suggested the nearby battleground was not going well for his side. They let him go.

On arrival at the tavern, Los Orobos, they were greeted by new staff and served wine, ale, milk, soup, ribs and bread. However, the tavernkeeper was said to be delayed in an urgent meeting. Meanwhile, a lady called Aline from the Bjornaer covenant further inland introduced herself as a mage's wife, and remarked on the sad story of Galen and Anastasia. She still didn't understand why Anastasia had attacked Galen as from all accounts they had been in love, but it was clear Anastasia did it as she fled shortly afterwards and the Tremere and Quaesitor had shown a playback of Anastasia standing outside Galen's lab casting a perdo corpus spell, it wasn't clear exactly what spell. There was no sound. Additionally, there had been a whiff of cinnamon in the lab, which was the signature spell effect of Anastasia ex Flambeau. She was marched and hunted.

Soon after the end of this story the characters began to fall asleep. Melchior, a companion of indeterminate years, noticed and made himself sick. So he remembers that strong men came up and invited him to go along with them and his friends 'to another room for a conversation.' As others were carried off, Melchior agreed, it seeming pointless to argue.

Gradually, the party awoke in what was evidently a ship's hold at sea, given the way it lurched, swayed and creaked. They were gagged with their feet bound behind them. Elgato began to free himself, but Greywing had a bright idea and moved the timber beam they were tied to (for confirmation by player). Some casks, particularly a fine wine, bore the mark of the Castilian royal family. Somebody suggested setting fire to the boat, at which Jouces wrote a note not to burn it, for he had no chance of swimming.

Greywing similarly relocated the trapdoor. Melchior stabbing a few sailors sleeping in the berth above, the party advanced. Faced by defensive men-at-arms, Melchior negotiated a ceasefire: the party would have the run of the ship and be treated as honoured guests, but go along with the captain wishing to take them to see someone. From discussion and reading the Captain's orders, they discovered Prince Enriques of Spain wanted them to be roughly questioned/tortured for information about the Astrolabe. Should they be not forthcoming he wanted them taken to a contact in Florence. Should he not catch up with the ship he wanted it to wait for him in Sicily, where more funds would be available for the Captain. The party were warned not to anger the Prince or a mage who was helping him!

The party instructed the Captain to dock at Marseilles where they offloaded the prince's spy who boasted of 'my usual methods' of getting information and having done many different jobs for the Prince. They also offloaded the men at arms and some of the sailors, but declined to let the Captain leave. They now need to recruit more sailors, and Marseilles is a reputed pirate port. They have also taken most of the Captain's chest of gold for the purpose, but let him keep a handful.

They have not yet noticed the name of their vessel.
« Last Edit: 17:40, Sunday 24 Jun, 2012. by Anrawel »

Offline Chalkos

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Re: Ars Magica: The Astrolabe of the Magi sea adventure
« Reply #3 on: 13:05, Sunday 10 Jun, 2012. »
Sorry - I think there's a good chance I'm going to miss this Monday's game. It's not certain yet, but is seeming likely.

Offline Anrawel

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Re: Ars Magica: The Astrolabe of the Magi sea adventure
« Reply #4 on: 07:48, Saturday 16 Jun, 2012. »
Thanks for letting me know. I was going to reply, but couldn't log in!

This Monday's game will be a shorter one as I don't have babysitting so will bring Miriam. We'll run from 7.30 if all are present or to cover small details, till 10pm or 9.30 at earliest. If that's too short or you're busy, please leave a message for me here or 07896544144. I now have internet on the run  :)
« Last Edit: 07:50, Saturday 16 Jun, 2012. by Anrawel »

Offline Anrawel

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Re: Ars Magica: The Astrolabe of the Magi sea adventure
« Reply #5 on: 08:06, Saturday 16 Jun, 2012. »
Plot continuing...   28 May:

The Perio party marched all sailors off the ship at Marseilles, except a 16 year old and Captain Antonio. Elgato had to check some of the suspiciously large bundles, but at least the sailors had picked the lock of the Prince's quarters. The Capt. advised they need 16-18 crew to sail (with night shift) so 20 would be ideal. Companions, Melchior and Jouces went to the Dancing Mermaid tavern looking for crew.

Melchior spun the story he had suggested to the magi: they were sailing to find a holy relic, sponsored by a Spanish nobleman for some penance he had done. They would pay the suggested rate of 1 silver/day per experienced sailor, 1 silver/2 days for deckhands. Melchior asked an elderly man he heard conversing in Latin to translate. Charlie's Templar Jouces, being from the South of France,understood the Occitan perfectly well – it was his 1st language. Pity he can't speak.

 When asked the name of their ship, Melchior could only describe it as 'the Spanish ship with a symbol on the sail with a crown on'!

 

Two crew could speak Latin: a woman called Alys who agreed to wait on 'the lady scholar' on condition she not be considered unable to do anything a man could do, and an odd man called Dubois who Elgato and Melchior reckon seems Fae. He speaks Latin with a strange accent, is tall and lanky with pointed features and spiky brown hair, and moves like he's not quite in his element. He also plays the flute but usually stays aloof from others.

 

In the evening two messengers came to the ship. The first delivered a letter to the Prince to the Captain. The second was a Redcap with an urgent request from House Jerbiton of Sam's character. He went to check it out.
 

Enough crew was gathered between pub patrons, people who heard about it and dock loaders who hopped aboard on the last day, so that Capt. Antonio could reject 4 and still end up with 19. The Captain picked his 1st and 2nd mate, set them to work and with money Jouces handed over, bought some fresh provisions and rum to replace the stolen.

 

The party agreed to go to Sicily. Jouces took over cooking as he's fairly good at it. Elgato continued hunting mice. Greywing improved the wind. Late in the day a black weather front crossed their path. Greywing held a breaking the oncoming wave spell to keep the ship steady as the rain hit hard. There was a man overboard. Elgato reluctantly jumped in after. Elgato turned into a fish in midair, noticed by Dubois and one other sailor.

 

Elgato found the drowning sailor but wasn't strong enough. He used a couple of barely successful spontaneous spells to turn himself more dolphin-like, but while doing this a shark approached and dived after him. Elgato tried to turn himself into a sea monster – and botched. The shark became a sea monster instead! However, it was a very confused sea monster for long enough for Elgato to reach the ship and tie the sailor on to a rope, and Greywing to drop her spell and lightning bolt the creature. It lost most of its tail.

 

It got choppy. Melchior stopped a sailor being sick over the wrong side, into the wind. The sea monster dived in pain and came up on the other side of the ship. Greywing, thinking lightning in the rain with metal fittings about could be dangerous, iced up the water around the sea monster. The ice has cracked a lot, but it stopped the sea monster being able to reach the mast. Elgato came back aboard. The Captain ran around giving orders to seal & bail a leak. Dubois jumped onto the ice with a spear and started climbing up the scales. The mages are starting to look tired, and the Templar is still in the kitchen.

11 June

The sea monster was vanquished with the help of the ship's ballistae. Death would have been a mercy as Elgato had been jabbing it in both eyes and turned into a giant hedgehog in its mouth!

Dubois had also stuck it with a rather special-looking spear while Greywing mercifully decided not to lightning strike the lot of them. Greywing collected the vis neatly from the magical beast but doesn't yet know what kind.

Melchior meanwhile revived the drowned sailor. He then tied himself on and set off under the ship to try to extricate the sea monster's spikes from it. He was successful when the beast died.

The party were apprised by the Captain of the need to make port soon and purchase repairs, or at least beach if the rain stopped. The nearest coast was 2 days away with luck in Sardinia, and the pitch patches to the 4 holes will hold for 2-3 days. Greywing while trying to provide this weather (at touch range) went into Twilight 400 feet up!  Luckily she returned shortly.

Lo and behold, sunrise revealed a rather pretty port, all fresh and welcoming with unrecognised banners. Greywing evinced suspicion, Dubois was sent for, examined the city and advised this could be the sort of place where bargains are 'different' and they should keep most sailors aboard and not eat or drink there.

Greywing gave orders to keep clear and scouted aloft while the nameless ship sailed in circles. Sure enough, the town was pretty and clean, with welcoming signs and people who could have been your home friends' cousins. There was a name on a sign: Welcome to Aliena. It was decided to skip the port and sail onwards. Winds permitting!
« Last Edit: 17:43, Sunday 24 Jun, 2012. by Anrawel »

Offline Anrawel

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Re: Ars Magica: The Astrolabe of the Magi sea adventure
« Reply #6 on: 08:08, Saturday 16 Jun, 2012. »
Please note if you haven't seen the above: Monday 18th's Ars Magica will finish earlier as I don't have babysitting so will bring Miriam. We'll run from 7.30 if all are present or to cover small details, till 10pm, or 9.30 at earliest. If that's too short or you're busy, please leave a message for me here or 07896544144.

Please check this page for cancellations on Sunday eve or Monday lunchtime.

Offline Anrawel

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Ars Magica: The table turned
« Reply #7 on: 17:37, Sunday 24 Jun, 2012. »
Sorry a bit late with update this week. But I have the rulebooks back!

Welcome to our two new players, Joe and Will. One is a companion shapeshifting snake and the other is a companion shapeshifting bear. So we now have a seagull, a cat, a bear, a snake (was nearly a hippo) and last week we had a parrot temporarily played by Miriam. Anyone have a job for a zoo?

Last Monday the unnamed Spanish ship was on course for Sardinia (Sasari) when it sighted a distant ship and also some rocks. Captain duly changed course to avoid rocks, causing ship to head towards other ship. Players figured out rocks were illusion. Greywing & Elgato also got the sense of being magically spied on.

A fire broke out on their ship. Sailors jumping overboard. Greywing cast a spell to put out ALL fires on the ship which had no effect. Established fire was illusory, and Melchior jumped up and down in it to show it. Explained to sailors as a trick of the light (Melchior is very persuasive). Took sailors back on board.

Greywing scouted French ship. Had crossbowmen and an ornate tent with a Christian symbol. Also had Will and Joe's characters aboard. She cast wind attacks at the crossbowmen repeatedly until most had lost their crossbows. Bishop came out and swore at them. Two were also knocked into the sea, fortunately Will & Joe fished them out again. The enemy mage discovered her, as an illusory hawk appeared to scare the seabird and Greywing lightning-bolted it.

Spanish ship prepared their crew of mostly pirates to attack the enemy ship, hiding behind barrels. French managed one crossbow volley which tore a sail and jammed steering. The Spanish Captain, Antonio, exclaimed that the 'bishop' waving his hands around on deck was the mage who had been one of their kidnappers.

A bear-lion-pirate brawl ensued. Elgato managed to get the 'bishop' by the throat and drag him into the sea. The French Captain demanding what in the hells was going on, a cease-fire was then called. He was further amazed when the pirates let him leave with his ship and cargo, taking only the 'bishop,' and claimed to be acting on behalf of Castillian Prince Enriques!

Will and Joe were present at negotiations and decided to swap ships. The players have their unconscious prisoner. Will he talk? Will the next danger be illusory or real? Find out tomorrow!





Offline Anrawel

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Re: Ars Magica: The Astrolabe of the Magi sea adventure
« Reply #8 on: 13:34, Sunday 01 Jul, 2012. »
Game on for Monday of course... Elgato's expected to be sleeping off his current adventures.

Party are currently in Sasari port, having secured 4.5 gold for the 'bishop's' cross by wagering on their cat. Elgato may have attracted attention to himself by holding up 9 claws in one paw! The goldsmith was heard to give instructions to bet on that cat in the taverns.

The prisoner is dead. Apparently he said, 'If I am not a Bishop then let God strike me down with lightning' and God obliged. That would explain the general smell of burned flesh from the stateroom and charred wood. Players are discussing selling the charred wood as relics!

Melchior rather distinguished himself as the only physician by stabbing the prisoner in the hand... Under these circumstances he divulged that the Prince wants his ship back and has sent a pardoner (priest who collects money for forgiveness of sins and keeps part of it) to Florence to make life difficult for the party. If he catches up with them! He also said that the astrolabe was a magical artifact.

He tried to bargain further offering something the Prince wants to avoid, but the bargain was not struck. Not sure that the mage's name came up at all.

While the party were discussing options to get rid of their prisoner, he started to put thoughts into Melchior and Jouces ('Jax') minds, making them want to protect him and help him escape. Hence the rather hasty barbecue.

The only other news is a lot of money was handed over to Captain Antonio for paying sailors and making repairs. Now to see if he wants to jump ship!
« Last Edit: 13:36, Sunday 01 Jul, 2012. by Anrawel »

Offline Will W

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Re: Ars Magica: The Astrolabe of the Magi sea adventure
« Reply #9 on: 18:52, Monday 23 Jul, 2012. »
Hi Anna,

I'm afraid i have a bad case of the flu and have been bed bound for the last few days, so I won't be able to make it.
I apologise again,
Will

Offline Anrawel

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Re: Ars Magica: The Astrolabe of the Magi sea adventure
« Reply #10 on: 18:56, Sunday 29 Jul, 2012. »
Hope you're feeling. better. now, Will! Tomorrow  Miriam will be along so I'll try to start about 7.45 & stop about  half 10.

Brief plot update: Repairs done. Greywing flew back to the Iberian covenant to check for more info or research. Melchior Jouces
 Elgato bought Latin newssheet. Astrolabe heard of & 3 ships ahead.

Offline Anrawel

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Ars Magica 4 Lost Magi
« Reply #11 on: 20:47, Sunday 29 Jul, 2012. »
Harbour guards didn't believe the party didn'  know their ship's name! Got past with the Templar's respectability. At sea, recognised an island from legend book as the Living Island, which has animal vis.  Sighted 2 small buildings & a mermaid. Mermaid turned out to be a mage and very interested in Spain and Perio, conversing in Aragonese with Elgato. He recognised her from various tales as Anastasia - the magazine marched for attacking Galen. She said she was framed. Elgato said he didn't care. She agreed to accompany them on condition all present swore to defend her, as she swore i n return to defend them. Some vis was extracted.

Offline Anrawel

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Ars M: No game Mon 6 Aug
« Reply #12 on: 18:52, Saturday 04 Aug, 2012. »
Sorry for fairly short notice. I can't guarantee babysitting yet despite trying to get friend or professional and we have a very early start on Tuesday. Back as usual on the 13th. Could anyone with their numbers kindly let Charlie, Felicity Will & Joe know lest they don't look here.
Anna