Jeff’s Game Blog has a great post of 20 quick questions for your campaign setting. I’m spinning up an Ars Magica game at the moment, and the answers demonstrate just how different it can be to a typical hack and slash setting.
- What is the deal with my cleric’s religion? If he is truly a believer then you might be somewhat a bad ass priest. Otherwise is probable your faith is more like a profession, than a calling. Either way the robes are usually comfortable, and the cannon law is very forgiving.
- Where can we go to buy standard equipment? If you mean food and clothes, the nearest moderate sized village is 14 miles east. If you mean weapons, then you’ll need a darn good reason to carry them or the local lord might get nasty. Maybe just anger the Lord and take them from him somewhat damaged?
- Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended? Talk to a Verditius magus, or make a deal with the covenant smith involving a lot of alcohol and silver. No city armorer will take you seriously.
- Who is the mightiest wizard in the land? Probably one of the House Primi, although amongst the upper scale of Magi it is really hard to tell. I heard of a lich living in northern Scotland who is pretty old, but he is also known to be overly nasty too.
- Who is the greatest warrior in the land? I’d say that would be a Magus too. A sword, lance, or heavy horse is not much of a match for a well placed Incantation of Lightning. Or perhaps a Bjornaer with a Lion heartshape.
- Who is the richest person in the land? Probably the King, although one of the bishops might give him a challenge when it comes to lifestyle.
- Where can we go to get some magical healing? Again, go to the Magi in the covenant – and hope you can either blackmail them, or they owe you a big favor. Wasting Vis on healing is almost crazy.
- Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath? A good (as in pious) priest, or a Magus. YMMV, as explaining undeath to a village priest will be odd. Entertaining for sure, but also odd.
- Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells? Or to ask another question: You mean you want to leave the Order of Hermes? Close your eyes and step toward the Flambeau Magus please.
- Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC? A city, burning at the stake, or in a covenant. Good people are hard to find.
- Where can I hire mercenaries? A moderate size town might avail a few bodyguards, otherwise a large town or city will be needed. Perhaps try chatting to your local lord about setting up a special deal, in exchange for some favour.
- Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law? In the wilderness nobody can hear you scream. In the cities, the laws tend to be enforced with a straight hand, although to be honest that depends who you know too. Do you have the social contacts virtue?
- Which way to the nearest tavern? The covenant has a main hall, will that do? And to find wenches, see same.
- What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous? Vikings, ghouls, storm mages, ghosts, ancient intelligent weapons, other Magi; and so on will all grant a good name and some fame for you. They also might kill, rape, pillage, possess, or burn you; which is far less worthy of a story. I’ll be in the main hall drinking with the wenches than you very much.
- Are there any wars brewing I could go fight? In Medieval Europe? Probably one per 2 year period either starting or ending. Did you hear the sermon on how great the crusade is? I hear they all get free absolution, which is normally so darn expensive.
- How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes? Generally speaking killing for sport is left to the nobility. Jousting is a great way to kill without consequences.
- Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight? Yes. Plenty. More than you could ever know.
- What is there to eat around here? Fish, sheep, goats, and plenty of mead and ale. The monsters of the area feed on peasants, but now and then they get a Companion and Magus too. Yummy.
- Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for? Yes, fingers of the Christ come in singles or boxes of ten. How many can I put you down for?
- Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure? The Pyrenees are known for a large drake, about the size of a small mountain – will that do? Else the Leviathan is probably somewhere off the coast of Italy.