WITH REGRETS AND APOLOGIES: Attention all players

I’ll be repeating this announcement by e-mail so that no one can miss it.

I’m pretty sure that you must have discerned it was coming already.

With deep apologies for getting your hopes up and then letting you down, I’ve decided to fold the Saga of Voluntas. I had great hopes for it but the format of play by post is not one I’ve found friendly.

The experience of playing on line during lockdown has made me aware of the degree to which I am suffering (and probably always have suffered) from nerves and stage fright before running a game. I have found it hard to prepare for games but easy enough to run them once we were all seated and ready to go.

But the start-stop-start-again-and-then-wait nature of the game medium here meant that I was waiting for each fresh posting not with joy but with dread and finding it hard to move the game along with the pace that I now realise was part of my process for running an RPG.

Also there is the problem that the original structure of AM was written so that one person at a time was playing a mage and the others were support characters. Keeping a separate plot line going for each magus proved too hard for me and I was already collapsing the storylines into each other. This I think fails to be fair to the players and to the characters and it would be even more unfair to ask you to spend months waiting for a single magus plotline to resolve while you didn’t get to advance their interests.

Whatever the reasons though, I seem to have over-reached myself and must therefore withdraw.

Again my apologies. I may try to run AM again on line but only as a regular ‘round the table’ game with everyone there and online at the same time.

But not just now I think.




Hi Michael - no worries, an interesting experiment! My first ever shot at play by forum and can see the difficulties of the format, and (as an IRL GM) the dedication and patience required by the GM (and the players).

Mostly, be kind to yourself; there is no way a game should make you dread the next move! And apologies if any of my approach to the game caused unnecessary palpitations.



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Is that really how it worked? I never got that from reading the edition that I have. That seems like a really limiting structure, for exactly the reasons you describe.


I, too, found that play-by-post was too time-consuming and too anxiogenic for me to keep it up. At least it taught me how much I depend on pace when I am GMing.

It was intended that the Companions and even the Grogs got as much action as the Magus.

Yes, there are occasions when Magi gather together, mostly for politics local or Tribunal wide. But they’re too diverse a bunch, persuing too diverse a set of interests to do that all the time.


I run a lot of campaigns where player characters are in separate threads and don’t spend much time together. When I ran Unmoved Movers, my postapocalyptic GURPS campaign set in the world of Atlas Shrugged, for example, the player characters weren’t all in the same place and working together till the final two sessions of a two-year campaign. Perhaps more comparably, when I ran Manse, which had four characters per player and may have been somewhat more comparable to Ars Magica in that, the characters who were senior adult members of aristocratic lineages of sorcerers more or less never were all doing things together, though two of them were heads of lineages and thus attended the ruling council’s meetings.

But it sounded as if you were describing a situation where a single mage would be the only active mage character for an entire session, or even a series of multiple sessions. That seems to me to be a different issue, and it’s not something I would think of doing. My practice has been to see that every character (in a campaign with one character per player) or at least some characters for every player (in a campaign like Manse) gets camera time in every episode; that is, rather than playing out a single thread as a single ongoing story, we have interwoven narratives all advancing in parallel. And I’m not sure now if that’s what you’re actually describing or if you actually mean that most of the mages are kept off camera till one mage’s ongoing plot is fully resolved.

The difference in AM is that the Magi really, really need their downtime.

They need it to grow and learn and become more powerful. They need it to plough into the library, to research new spells, to make cool magical items.

Going on an adventure is a distraction for a mage. They don’t earn nearly enough points to compensate them for the lost season.

So it’s not that the Storyguide is giving one magus at a time the spotlight. It’s that he’s only dragging one magus at a time away from their primary focus.

Dear Mike
Commiserations. I can see the issue with myriad magi all clamouring for attention in what I have imagined to be a rather laconic game at the table.
One small glimmer… you know the system much better now. That’s going to help next time.
Another, smaller, you really inspired me on the podcast to get my finger out and actually want to buy the game (again) and read it and make a few characters!
Some more nerdy roleplayers at a Cambridge con we have both attended really made me bounce right off the game once, you have made me think I should try again some two decades on.

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I’m glad that out of my frustration someone got inspiration.