As someone interested in spirits and whatnot in Ars Magica, I've been considering this book. However I'm curious if any of you are familiar with it enough to give brief reviews and/or opinions as to whether it is compatible mechanically/thematically with 5e?
I haven't really read it in decades, and I don't use it my current campaign. However, I kinda trawled it recently for the Order of Hermes Chronology project I've been doing (didn't really add anything for that).
I can't really give you much of a review on how good the content is, but IIRC it does have some decent rules for shamanic characters - and there are 4 additional shamanic arts; Travel, Control, Alter, Ritual. Mechanically I personally wouldn't see much issue at all to use it as is for stats, bestiary etc in 5e. Everything is same or just minor things ÌMO. If I wanted to use it in my campaign, I wouldn't need to put any work on that part at all I think (stats, abilities, traits, arts etc are all really the same). New v/f's have ranges rather than just minor/major but easily used as is. Additional mechanics should not need any work really - or just minor for "taste".
Thematically may be trickier. I'm not sure it would be for my game (but I was considering dreaming/travel perhaps being fun). The book is written in White Wolf era in early 90's - so it has quite a different feel from Arm5e. If you have a keen interest, you can find it 2nd hand cheaply (at least I could last I looked).
There seems to be some reasonably fun information about - and rules for - spirit travel to "Near lands" and "Far Lands" and interaction with spirits and other shamans there and how the special regios work. From a quick look it looks pretty much as it could slot in as-is in ArM5e.
Well, for what it's worth, I talked with an Native Shaman from Vancouver Island as a teenager in the late 90s, and asked him questions about the concepts from the book. He confirmed the belief in the near lands and far lands, and generally seemed impressed that a white kid understood some of his belief system at all.
Mechanically, I have only vague recollections of how it works. Good luck!
..This material was revised in AM4 (dragon&bear); I'm not sure if this was done to simplify or to fix mechanical issues.
..A shaman gets real MR from his spirit, which might be more powerful than is appropriate for a hedge or rival tradition in AM5.
..The Far Lands were described as being equivalent to the Twilight Void, but this might not work well with AM5 mechanics, such as in RoPM. Or maybe it works fine? AM3's take on the realms was not to everyone's taste and differs from AM5, so it's worth a careful read to be sure.
..Some of the mechanics felt awkward. I vaguely remember feeling disappointed.
If you want to reflavor existing AM5 mechanics, either Natural Magic + Summon or just plain Sahir might do the job, perhaps either with Nightwalking or dream magic.
I have this, but it's also been a while since I read it.
From memory it's pretty interesting and I would agree that mechanically it wouldn't be hard to port over to 5th edition using Accelerated Abilities rules (or Difficult Arts, I always get those confused LOL).
However, in reference to one of the other poster's comment my impression was it's very continental American-influenced shamanism as opposed to Siberian shamanism, possibly with some neo-Pagan elements thrown in so it may not be "medievally authentic" if that is important to you. It's not like most other game systems of the time were any better in terms of representing shamanism.
And look that's not unreasonable, given most of 3rd edition was published before Wikipedia and other internet resources / interlibrary loans / Amazon allowed ready access to more accurate source material. Sure that doesn't explain all the demons in ToH: Iberia, but you do have to interpret a lot of the further afield than UK tribunals from the earlier editions with a grain of salt (SoI is pretty accurate but then Timothy is a librarian, likewise the Levant book but Niall is actually a medieval Islam historian, can't comment about the Dragon and the Bear / Slavic accuracy).
So YMMV and DYOR, "not a historian/anthropologist" and all the usual caveats LOL.
I think a somewhat similar tradition might be built using some powers and virtues from a variety of traditions, including Spirit Pact virtue (RoP:M p88), Nightwalkers, and, maybe, Fetch (from Gruagachan tradition), both the latter two are in Hedge Magic. Second sight would also, obviously, be a must. Maybe to flesh out the tradition give them some Folk Witch abilities as well. But then I think this is also probably more based on N. American Native shamanism than Mongolian, Lapp, etc. all of which I know quite a bit less about than my meagre understanding of Native American traditions.
Yes... something like that. I think I wrote up some notes somewhere, but the best summary is in this Mongol thread: Mongols in 5th which I pasted in the suggested summary of what a "magus-level" shaman would be like, but I think I was asked not to be too detailed so as to not make it canonical and also to leave room for interpretation.
At one stage I considered having them built off "Spirit Votary" as the core but can't recall why i abandoned that, it seemed easier to just mix in some existing powers and abilities. One of the issues with that though would have been the need to have multiple books to make the tradition work or otherwise reprint large parts of HMRE, which was against line policy as, to be fair, people wanted new material when they bought a supplement, not just a whole lot of reprinted material.
Given we already had sahir as the "rival tradition" ie near Hermetic power level tradition for the book tCatC, there wasn't really room for another one although I think if you did do a Mythic Steppe Saga, then "magus-level" Mongol shamans are a reasonable idea.
An Open Ars Magica ruleset would go some way to offsetting the reprinting concern if it followed the "mechanics are open, campaign content is copyright" precedents...
This all very interesting and the mechanics for some of these abilities make me want to dig into this. However what I'm really interested in that it sounded like this book might have is a description of the spiritual aspect of the world. How common are spirits, and where are you going to run into them etc. This is something I think that we could use more detail/guidance on in 5e.
It sounds like this book has some of that yet perhaps not as much as I would be hoping for, while laying out a spirit oriented hedge tradition (which would also interest me).
An unrelated novel that I haven't finished yet that seems like it might be of interest to explore some of this, Mythic Europe outside of Mythic Europe, is "The Years of Rice and Salt" by Kim Stanley Robinson. The first part of the book has a main character who is a Mongol warrior (though perhaps ethnically something else) and knows a lot about Bardo and other Tibetan Buddhist ideas which seem to be true in the novel. Gave me a view of the Mongols being much less religiously monolithic than I had previously assumed. Interesting book outside of my relating it to an expanded Mythic Europe and I need to get back to it which I will when I finish the library loans I was waiting on when I started it.