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logo derived from Angela Taylor's beautiful art for Grand Tribunal 2008

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Image From The Wizard Torn

An Online Ars Magica Weekend; 13th to 15th November 2020

Hello and welcome to Image as I call the con when time is short. There is now less than a week to go, so I am going to put the start putting up a lot of material. Firstly, I am listing the games available and various sessions here and am asking you to fill in a second form and submit it to register your interest in playing a game. Obviously games are by their nature limited in how many players they can take, and I think the only fair way is to assign people first come first served. Hopefully there will be enough games for everyone to play at least twice over the weekend, and many of you will find once quite enough. If you are the kind of person who enjoys this you should probably also think about registering and buying a ticket for Grand Tribunal 2021 from here.

First of all though, let us start with...

How To Register

The convention is free, and all we ask is that you play games and enjoy them, with courtesy and consideration, and maybe consider coming to Grand Tribunal 2021 if you can. The last couple of years have been difficult, and last year extremely so - but we carry on! :) So if you would like to buy a ticket for Grand Tribunal please do -- buy tickets here for 2021; and obviously continue to support Atlas Games' Ars Magica role-playing game. Maybe go buy yourself a gift there? You can also support our friends at Sub Rosa magazine.

Despite being free, we do as you to register; to give CJ permission to mail you about the con. vention, and ask you to let him know if you are offering games. The Registration form is at register here. Signing up for games will be via email.

How To Offer A Game

We very much encourage you to offer to run an Ars Magica scenario, or even a different Atlas Games rpg (Unknown Armies, Rune, Feng Shui etc) at the convention. All you have to do is fill in this form: offer a game here! and CJ will message you to confirm.


Schedule for the Weekend (will update frequently)

The current proposed schedule is (ALL TIMES ARE GMT) as follows

FRIDAY 13th November

7PM to 8.30PM GMT ZOOM SOCIAL AND INTRODUCTIONS

Come along, make friends, talk about Ars Magica. You will just click on a link join us but do get a microphone and if you wish - it is optional - a camera ready. All you need is to have registered so I can send you the email link.

9.30PM to 10.30PM GMT DISCORD SOCIAL AND INTRODUCTIONS

For those who don't get on with Zoom, the Image From The Wizard Torn Discord server will be the place to meet and chat.

Videos for your Viewing Pleasure

There will also be a program of pre-recorded videos, and interviews with other Ars Magica fans. They will go live at 5.15pm

Timothy Ferguson chats with CJ

Interview with David Chart (and what CJ looks like when woken up suddenly!)


SATURDAY 14th NOVEMBER

The day will be divided in to four sessions. If you are going to offer a game please let me know which slots suit you best. I have done my best to ensure all relevant time zones are covered to some extents, so everyone can make at least one session. Pregenerated characters will be provided for each game by the Storyguide.

SESSION 1: 10AM to 2PM GMT ALL GAMES NOW FILLED

The Abbey is usually a peaceful place for the cats to nap, eat and occasionally hunt, but this week is the Charter Fair and it appears to be more than their humans can handle. Can the feline friends drag themselves away from their favourite sleeping spots to help?

A tale of apprentices at a covenant on the North Yorkshire Moors who decide to take a night off to visit the fair; if they can escape the magi and grogs scrutiny. Very suitable for people with no experience of Ars Magica.

SESSION 2: 2.30PM to 6.30PM

Sir Nathaniel is famed not only for his big moneybags and adventurous friends, but for the scrapes his servants get up to. They are well paid for what is quite a respectable job, even if the master seems a bit weird, but coin and wine do go missing, and Beryl's requests always fare better than the lord's. But now them upstairs have been away for a week, and something is WRONG. It's almost as if the prized possessions aren't behaving any better than the servants...

The junior characters of the Covenant are sent on an important mission to a mystical creature to sway her heart from unforgiving to love...

Pendle, Lancashire. Famous for it's witches, but also the mysterious treacle mines, a potent source of Imaginem vis. When the party set off to collect the vis on a beautiful autumn day, all seemed well. A magi and their apprentice, a hedge witch companion and her magical fox friend, and two lewd and crude grogs. Yet soon it becomes clear all is not well!

SESSION 3: 7PM to 11PM

It is 1195 and the grand Verditius Contest is convening at the domus magna. All of the magi of the house are gathering to show the wonderful magic items they have created, boast and pursue vendettas against their fellow craft-magi. This year however House Verditius politics has taken a darker, deadly turn, and decisions made here might shape the future of Mythic Europe.

SESSION 4: 11.30PM through till 3.30AM Sunday morning

The young magi of a newly-reformed spring covenant are asked to investigate the disappearance of the wife and infant son of the heir to the Welsh Throne. Following the clues of a cryptic Faerie verse, the magi must rescue the pair and return them before the child's baptism on the Feast of St. Cybil. Along the way, they may discover some history about their covenant.

SUNDAY 15th NOVEMBER

This will be the same but with three sessions (and the one that started the previous night!)

SESSION 1: 10AM to 2PM GMT

Ippikin's Edge, Ars Magica - The magi of the Hazel Grove are investigating a man selling magical books in Much Wenlock, close to Wales. They have identified a diabolist and an unknown Hermetic mage as customers. How is this possible so close to Wenlock Priory, and what does it have to do with the robber knight with the long chin by the limestone cliff?


SESSION 2: 2.30PM to 6.30PM

This is a repeat of Saturday's game so please do not sign up for it twice :)

OR

October 1217, and a ragtag band of companions, grogs and heroes find themselves facing a French invasion, rebellious barons, and worst of all King John of England!

SESSION 3: 7PM to 11PM

The magi search for information has led them to the possible lair of a great wyrm. A bargain must be struck, not only with the dragon, but also with the nearby monastery that has mysterious ties to the beast.

OR

The year is 1963. Winter. Bitterly cold. The place is just outside New York, at an old friend's mansion. The event is a party, to celebrate life, the future, and your friend the professor's discoveries.

Of course, that's when it starts to go wrong...

Designed for 4-5 players, as that's all I'll be pre-generating characters for. Ars Magica 5th edition with a modern day setting twist. Companion level characters. Essentially a pseudo-noir-pulp-action story with Ars Magica mixed in.

Convention Rules

Our Ethos and policies are available here. Please that the ANTI-HARASSMENT POLICY applies to ONLINE GAMES as much as GRAND TRIBUNAL games. If you are made uncomfortable, please message CJ or another mod at any time. Becky will also be available to discuss issues in total confidence if you do not which to raise them with an organiser. Email smith.becky@talk21.com if required.

A Quick Guide to Software for the Convention

Software comes in two forms for our purposes - voice chat software, and virtual table tops/dice apps. What you need will depend on the games you sign up for and what your Storyguide is using.

Chat Software

Pretty much essential unless playing by typing, which certainly can be done and is welcome. The default though is you will need a working MICROPHONE and speakers or built in sound; so we can hear you and you can hear us. You can use a webcam if you want, though if bandwidth is an issue in a game it might be best not to at times, but usually it is nice to see the other players. Check your microphone works: you can usually do this in your software. We may be able to help with technical issues though through the Discord Server. There are several alternatives, and which are in use will depend on your Storyguide personal preference, though both Zoom and Discord will be used on Friday night and both can be installed on most PCs without any great technical expertise. If you can, having both will always be useful, but you only use one at a time. Both Discord and Zoom work on Apple, Android or PC machines and phones.

1. DISCORD is a popular app used for gaming. "Discord download". There are useful instructions on how it works here "Discord Guide". Your username will begin with a # symbol and have a four digit number after it, so mine is chrisjensenromer#7319 and you should send me a friend request. The section you are joining (called a 'server') is called Image From The Wizard Torn and contains both text and voice channels. Text channels are good places to leave messages, and there is a space called "The Grand Tribunal" for exactly that.

Once you have installed DISCORD you can join the convention server Image from the Wizard Torn here

There are also Voice Channels, which is where some games will be run, or at least the voice part of the game. Storyguides can create new text channels for individual games to share images etc as well if they wish, and I will put a dice roller in the channel so everyone can roll dice on Discord. The default for the channel by the way is not to alert you to notifications unless you are tagged by name, so if you can pop in several times this week to keep up to date with plans.

2. ZOOM is a lot simpler to use. The Storyguide emails you a link and you click on it: this takes your to a Waiting Room, and they admit you. Each Zoom session can have a unique link. I will email everyone registered with a Zoom link for the Friday social sessions. Unlike DISCORD you do not need to create an account or do anything much beyond click on the link, but you can speed things up by installing the app now (on a phone got your APP Store) using this link, first option unless on a mobile device ["https://zoom.us/download"]. Zoom has a number of options for screen sharing and sharing files, text chat but is mainly video or voice chat.

Virtual Tabletops (VTT)

These are computer programs that are designed specifically for playing RPGs online. There are quite a few of them, and I will add to this list as people express an interest in using them. None of them currently offer official support to Ars Magica, but Fantasy Grounds has a very good fan built extension that works quite well. You do not need to use a VTT to play, unless your Storyguide wishes to -- some games can run in just Discord or Zoom, or even Facebook chat -- but several of the games will use this software so it is worth learning about it.

1. FANTASY GROUNDS comes in two versions, Classic or Unity. You want Fantasy Grounds Unity that only officially left development in November. We have been using it since March, and it will slowly replace the older Fantasy Grounds Classic which probably still has more users. The expansions that run on them are work on either version, but you need to download and install the right version for your Storyguide's game. In all cases so far this is FANTASY GROUNDS UNITY, not the old Classic version. Installing it also takes time, and possibly fiddling with settings, so if you plan to use it you will need to download it from here: ["https://www.fantasygrounds.com"]. You do NOT need to buy a license; only the Storyguide needs that, you can use the free demo to play endless games forever. (You can also referee games with people who have a licence). You will need to register for their forum, and create an account, then install, then run update. Updates are frequent, and to connect you must all be running the same version, so run update ten minutes before the game start. To connect you will need the GM's user name and the password for the adventure from them. Fantasy Grounds does not include a chat program, so you will also need to use Zoom or Discord, which ever the Storyguide specifies.

2. ROLL20 This is a very simple and easy to use VTT that is incredibly popular, and free (though there are pro versions that you can license if a GM). You just need a link and a password from your Storyguide, and they will need your email to issue the invite through the program. The good news is ROLL20 has built in video and voice chat, so theoretically there is no need of Zoom or Discord -- however it is decidedly unstable at times and hard to get to work properly, so we often end up using something else for voice. There are Roll20 apps, but I don't think there is much to install, and you just learn how it works as you go. This tutorial ["https://wiki.roll20.net/Roll20_Crash_Course"] will teach you how to set up a campaign, use characters etc and is very simple to follow.

Image from the Wizard Torn convention for Atlas Games' Ars Magica role-playing game.

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