A General Sourcebook

I’m new to Ars Magica and after getting the core rules (which I love) I was disappointed to see that there was no general worldbook for the setting. I do see that the game lends itself to in-depth sourcebooks but I still think something general would be nice to have. Offhand I’m thinking of that it could devote a few pages to each House, Tribunal, and Realm and perhaps include some of the over-arching politics of the Order of Hermes. A book that is one half an almanac for Mythic Europe and one half general sourcebook with a few game elements (virtues, flaws, critters, characters, etc.).

I imagine a book like this would have a difficult time finding a target audience which is probably why it doesn’t exist. Trying to include lots of new information for long time players would likely leave the book feeling artificial – why does the ‘general’ book have details the ‘detailed’ books lack? On the other hand directing this primarily at new players probably isn’t economical even if most passages are lifted from previous works – a process which probably doesn’t cut the workload down all that much.

Still I thought I’d bring this up if only to see what people think and to an extent it seems to fit in with the ArM6/5rev discussions going on :slight_smile:

There was a book for 3rd edition called "Mythic Europe" that I found quite useful back in the day.

That's one half of the reason. The other reason comes from the other side: once the "general" book exists, you either have to assume that everyone has it, or duplicate material in the "detailed" books.

I'm also not at all sure how a general setting book would be done. If you just want an overview of the mundane parts of the setting, you can go and buy an introduction to medieval history. If you want it turned into easily gameable material, then I don't think you can have the whole of Mythic Europe done in half of one book. We'd have to omit a huge amount, and I can't think of any sensible editorial policy that still leaves you with a general setting book. Even if we could so that, you can't actually play in the whole of Mythic Europe at once, so you might as well go with a Tribunal book, which would provide more immediately useful information for your saga.

Essentially, I think it's an idea that sounds good in general terms, but none of the specific realisations I can think of sound all that useful.

Those are good points, I suppose a book that more generally covered Mythic Europe would really need to be built around a specific event or time period – with the setting information included as a supplement to the story rather than the focus. It would no longer be a general worldbook but it would also avoid most of these problems.

I originally thought about this because after picking up the core rulebook there was no obvious ‘next book’ to get. The House books made sense but there are three of them which seemed like a lot at once. A Tribunal book would also make sense but neither Normandy nor the Rhine really interests me and the older books don’t seem like a good idea for someone learning the rules; I am however eagerly awaiting the Sundered Eagle as I quite enjoy the Fourth Crusade.

I think we’ll pick up Tales of Mythic Europe as our ‘next book’ and end up in the British Isles for our introductory game.

I guess everyone has different opinions on these things, but I would recommend that the "next book" is a Tribunal book. I know that you say that you don't think you'll like Rhine or Normandy, but I'd still suggest that you buy one --- probably the Rhine book. It really, IMO, shows how the Order works and how magi do and do not interact with the rest of Mythic Europe. Even if you don't ultimately play in the Rhine, there's nothing wrong with lifting most of the Hermetic bits and plonking them down somewhere else. If you wanted, say, to quickly get a British Isles saga started, then lifting all the magi from the Rhine and plonking them down in the British Isles somewhere would be a good start. You'd have to research/make-up your own information about the mundanes. But the Hermetic landscape would be good to go.

It may seem obvious but, the House books are of the most use to the players that have magi belonging to those Houses.

I think that's a good direction to take. A book on the Schism War or Roman Times seems quite desirable by the fans. I can't imagine it would sell too well, though - the diehard fans will buy it, but not the others.

Getting a book of adventures is a good idea for a "second book" to be sure. Contrary to Richard, I don't think the Rhine makes for a good template of how the Order works, even though it makes a great example of a tribunal (I think it's the best Tribunal book, bar none). To get how the Order works, I suggest getting True Lineages. Even if none of your players play magi from those Houses, the book offers important bits about how Hermetic law and the Mercere network works, and this is a big part of the setting. Note that further rules on politics are in Societates, so if you want better rules to handle that sort of thing I suggest you go there too - but it is True Lineages that talks most about how the Order works.

I'm looking forward to Sundered Eagle too. I just wish Atlas would publish it in PDF too....

"The Next Book"
It is surely a pickle to choose. Back when I first started playing (4th ed), one of the veteran players (back from the 3rd ed days) whipped up a list of covenants for the Stonehenge Tribunal, and during play de defined some of the NPC magi there. Once Heirs to Merlin came out, I immediately thought "Wow I gotta get this". But after a brief discussion with said veteran, we ended up not getting it, since we had aldready defined everyting. The following saga set in Normandy followed the same procedure, it was sort of a spin-off and we had already defined some of the covenants and magi in Norandy, so it was a question of filling out the holes.

But in retrospect, I'd like to have used a Tribunal book, instead of trying to do it myself. There are always gaps and inconsisyencies, which the published works during playtest and editing have corrected. So if I'll be starting a new saga now, I would like to try and do it this way.

From a 5th ed viewpoint, I agree that True Lineages might be a good second book, since there are general things about the workings of many important elements of the Order - Mercere/Redcaps, Quaesitores/legal system and Bonisagi and their special deal with pilfering apprentices and sharing research. I'd also like to point out that Mystery Cults did wonders for my understanding of the Mystery Cult Houses and their workings. The material about these in the core rulesa are a bit thin. I had no idea which Virtues to allow a magus from these to initiate, or how, if I had started playing before I got the book. Tales of Mythic Europe seems a good choice as well, for easy acces to stories and inspiration to making your own - especially if you're new to this game and setting.

Next book to take. Always subjec t to personal preference.

  • Tales of Mythic Europe
    Adventure book. Shows how the OoH interacts with a lot of people and how things can turn out both in hermetic stuff, supernatural adfventures and purely mundane ones.

  • Hourses of hermes: True lineages
    The rules IMO are quite bad, but the bits about the code of hermes are priceless. In my saga Quaesitors are not the flower lovers that they seem to be in that book, though, but a bunch of ruthless bastards.

  • Tribunal book: Heirs to Merlin (4th edition)
    It is 4th edition, but does not contain a single game stat. As such it makes for a book usable under any game system and certainly 100% valid in 5th edition. Written by the line editor (David Chart) no less.

  • The 15 (free download) issues of Hermes Portal.
    Unfortunately defunct fanzine, but you can really easily milk that one for ideas and you will get a feeling of the OoH wiorks. Most articles are by the current authors of the Ars books, so it is far from "low quality" stuff. In a sense I have always felt that this was a testing ground for people that planned to write for the line.
    pagesperso-orange.fr/styren/herm ... ermes1.htm

  • Project Redcap and Durenmar
    2 useful sites for material
    Project Redcap is the web portal for all the sagasd and Ars resources online. perusing through other people's sagas is bound tyo make ideas spring in your mind like mushrooms :slight_smile:
    Durenmar.de is a site containing a lot of random stuff. Can be somewhat diffircult to navigate, but highly useful stuff there.

In the end I recommended 3 books and quite a few free online material. After that, you can get whatever you want. :slight_smile: Hope you find that useful. A plain old history book might get useful here to get a layout of general medieval society in your area.


My own 2nd book was "Covenants", but OTOH thats because im a rule tinkerer. :wink:

A "general setting" book really would be good though. A basic description of all tribunals, all houses(because the core book is minimalistic on the latter and has virtually nothing of the first), a bunch of "critters", some additional example spells, maybe a rough description of the "world" extending on the little thats in the core book, ie. the things that couldnt be stuffed into the core book but would be REALLY helpful for new players.

Based on your suggestion i said taht the first option is a "Travelling gguide" to Mythic Europe, a Road Guide, maybe in that should be a good idea.

Thanks for the suggestions guys!

That sounds great, I had avoided this book before because it was a previous edition but obviously that doesn't matter. I'm a little embarrassed to admit it here but I discovered Ars Magica because I enjoyed David Chart's Warhammer books so much and wanted to see what else he was working on. Finding out that he was no longer writing for Ars Magica was disappointing although it hasn't dampened my enjoyment. :slight_smile:

I don't think that's anything to be embarrassed about... (Thank you.)

I'm very pleased to hear it. I think we have an excellent set of authors working on the game.

I guess embarrassed is the wrong word – I’m just self conscious gushing right in front of you :slight_smile:

I still treasure my copy of Mythic Europe. I find it useful even now. And having just checked on eBay, there are at least a couple of copies available for an absolute steal.