A simple die question.

I'm new to Ars Magica and working my way through the 5th Edition rulebook. I have a pretty basic question.
Although it is reasonably clear when you use a Stress die, there don't seem to be any guidelines, that I have discovered so far, on when you use a Simple die instead of a Stress die :question:

Can someone point me in the direction of where I can find such guidelines :question:

Cheers, Banjo

A simple die is used when something is not done in a stressful situation and is not itself a stressful thing to do. So, for example, if you're trying to forage while you're in no rush and can just go back to town, that would involve a simple die. However, being in a serene setting won't help you when performing any of the Goetic Arts because they are themselves always inherently stressful.

Does that help?


Well sort of, if it didn't say under stress die, that if there is no chance of a botch a 0 is just a 0.

In the forage situation you described, you could easily just do away with any die roll at all.

I really have difficulty understanding the difference and the point of the "Simple Die", it just seems to add an extra difficulty for little game benefit :wink:


Simple die means there is no risk nor chance for epic fail or success (cant botch but also cannot get a dieroll multiplier as with stressroll).

Yes, I know what a simple die is, there just seem to be no guidelines on when to use it, or any real point in using it, as far as I can see :wink:

As far as I can see on page 6 of the rules it defines what a simple die is, but does not explain anywhere when it is used :question:

Can you point me to elsewhere in the rules where use of a Simple dice is explained :question:

Actually, if you roll a 1 on your stress die, and roll again, the next die rolled is, by the definition on page 6, a Simple die. Rolling a 1 again on that die allows you to multiply the end result and roll another Simple die, and so one.....


They basically got rid of Quality Die, but then kept the rules for it to make things more confusing :stuck_out_tongue:

There are 3 die rolls:

Simple: Just roll, 0 is a 10, 1 is a 1

Quality: 0 is a 10, 1 is roll gain, if you roll something other then a 1 its Die * 2 ^ (number of times a 1 was rolled)

Stress: same as Quality with 0 being a potential botch, if no botches rolled 0 counts as a 0. If you roll a 1 then a zero after that is a 10 just like Quality.

They got rid of Quality and just say Stress with no chance to botch. I kinda want to go through with a marker and blot out in my books where it says that and write Quality

Not having played AM before, and reading the rules as written, it goes like this ?

  1. Roll a simply die when there is no chance of a botch and no chance of a great success or just to create a random number (1-10) in many, if not most, cases.

  2. In all other occasions (the vast majority?), roll one Stress die.

2a. If it comes up a 1, roll again, x the result as long as 1's keep coming up, a 0 = 10, etc..

2b. If a 0 comes up, roll a number of botch dice, depending on the situation, if 0's come up you have a botch, with the number of 0's giving you the degree of the botch.

Is this correct :question:

I don't think the rules were ever run past someone who had never played Ars Magica before, otherwise some of these basic holes may have been filled or at least better explained :wink:

Cheers, Banjo

Well i think you got it right.

But for the rules explanation problem, i dare to disagree : i started with fifth edition as half of my troup and we did not find the rules confusing (and english is not our native language).

I haven't any problems with the dies...

I don't have any real problems with the various dice, it was just that the Simple die use was not really explained. I downloaded the free 4th Edition and it had a much better explanation, plus, being a PDF, I could search it for examples :slight_smile:

They were. There was a whole playtest group of Ars Magica novices in the final round. They just didn't have any problem with this bit.

You say that you're clear on when you use a stress die. Since there are only two types of die, I'm not quite sure what you are confused about with respect to simple dice: you use them when you don't use a stress die.

When to use each die is also addressed throughout the book, for example under spell basics, on page 81. The majority of formulae also specify which type of die to use. (See pages 168, 170, 171, and 179 for examples.) You possibly haven't got to that bit yet.

Here are some examples off the top of my head...

Ability: Survival
1a) I'm walking to town. I'm short on cash, so I see if I can find some food out here in the wilderness for free. If I fail, it's no big deal, I'll just have to spend a coin to eat when I get to town. Simple Die.

1b) We're out in the middle of nowhere. Our food is gone. We will start losing fatigue and/or body levels if I don't find food. Stress die.

Spell: Circling Winds of Protection (an improved version that has Duration: Sun)
2a) I'm at home in my covenant, but going out into the countryside today. I know there are bandits out there. In fact, I want to hunt them down for raiding my supply wagon. I know they use bows. I will cast my all-day Circling Winds of Protection spell. If I fail, no big deal, I'll just try again until I get it right. Simple Die.

2b) I see the bandits advancing on us. Some are drawing arrows to shoot at us from their bows. I have to cast this spell now if I want protection. Stress Die.

Ability: Legerdemain
3a) The street is deserted. I have a lookout. I have all the time I need to pick this lock. If I fail the roll, I guess it's beyond my ability. Maybe then I'll just smash the lock with my hammer. Simple Die.

3b) I need to pick this lock right now, to get through this door quickly. I can hear the guard coming. I'm out past curfew, and I don't want to explain to them why. Stress die.

It has been our group's experience that some magi have a bunch of spells that they will cast on themselves or their comrades (protective spells, perception-enhancing spells, etc) if they know they're going out on an adventure. If you have time to cast them in peace and quiet, it can be a simple die (or, if your casting total is high enough, don't even bother with the die).


Yes. "Whole playtest group" means "whole group".

Obviously I'll have to buy an indulgence for questioning the infallibility of the "sacred" text :smiling_imp:

We've got a whole errata page that says it's not infallible...

Yes, I noticed that :wink:

We are now in danger of arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin :slight_smile:

Last night at a regular RPG session I got our group (none of have played AM before) to read page 6 of the rules and tell me what you used a Simple die for. Not one could give an answer. I then showed them the 4th edition explanation and the light dawned .... I shall rest my case there :bulb:

Why didn't you just explain it to them? Why the need to conduct experiments?

To see if it was just me who couldn't understand.