I´ve been an Ars Magica storyguide for 23 years. For a long time I played Ars Magica with one group and had a lot of fun. We started with the third edition, converted to the fourth, then to the fifth. Though the last edition consists of nearly 50 sourcebooks with lots of extra rules, our game settled at a medium level of complexity. Many rules we simply ignored. The campaign is still alive after 23 years.
3 years ago I started a new Ars Magica campaign in another city with other players. Quickly I noticed that this group was very different. The players had very good rules knowledge, they were very good in optimizing their characters, we had tiring discussions about prizes and experience points, the rules got applied at the best possible way relating to their characters and their mages had goals like "becoming the youngest archmage in europe". My preparations went overboard, because I had to consider far too much rules, the game bored me more and more and I was offended at the haggling at the gaming table. (I have to add, that the players are all experienced roleplayers. Two of them are even familiar with pbta and similar games. Nonetheless, in this Ars Magica campaign they act like heavy tacticians and powergamers.)
At the same time I became acquainted with rules light story games and fell in love with norwegian minimal games (Archipelago etc.). My reservations to be the storyguide in this Ars Magica group grew bigger.
Today it was discussion time. The players want to continue the campaign, but I´m not able to go on as we did so far. I think, at the end, they understood my problems with the status quo. At least, it seemed as they´d be willing to accept some experiments, if this could save the campaign.
Then I drove home and thought.
What, if I take the setting and the content of our game alone. I chuck out all the rules and game values. The players know their characters even without numbers. They too know roughly, what they are able to do. So, why not putting something like a deck of Archipelago decision cards (Yes, and... Yes, but... No, but... etc.) on the table and saying: "Alright - the game goes on"?
What do you think? Did someone do something like this in the past? I´d like to hear about it!