absract vs detailed libraries

hi all

i'm looking for people thougths on which is better to run, easier to run and more interesting : absract linraries or detailed?

when i say detailed, i mean what 5th ed currently uses, books are individuals, spell books write sbout a single spell etc
absract would be what we had in earlier editions, where you migt have your library of ignem at 4...

our group is very rules light, so im wondering whether an absract library might work better?


I'm not sure what you mean by abstract library, but in Guardians of the forest, ther eis Durenmar, which basically says:
Roll your dice and you'll get a book.

Depends. You mean that you say "you have a Summa on Aquam at level 9 quality 12"? Or you want a 3rd edition experience system for the library?

If simple means the former, I prefer detailed books. That book on aquam can contain story hooks, and have a link to the history of the order or significance for the characters (maybe it was written by their great-parens!). A book on aquam, with the covers made depicting Noah's ark battling against the waves in an Imaginem vignete that seems to show the ark moving and creaking under the force of the sea and called "Aquam: the hammer of God" where the Author (a Felix of Jerbiton, marched later for diabolism) discusses aquam. It makes special emphasis in manners to use Aquam to cause as much destruction as possible with all Techniques, both alone and in conjunction with other Elemental arts. This has a much higher appeal than the dry line written above.

I assume that by abstract libraries, you refer to the single stat libraries of 1st - 3rd edition?
I liked them, but I think you'd need to go back to Arts not being based on XPs for them to work properly.
If you want the retain Arts based on XPs (as per 4th and 5th edition), my suggestion would instead be to simply write up some hefty summa, use detailed books but tacitly agreed to not have a huge variety, maybe even remove tractatuus from the equation, to make sure that you only had to worry about that one big tome.

You can still run abstract libraries using ArM5 rules. You simply need to establish various thresholds of xp for each Art. For example:

"Creo: 10 xp per season up to a score of 12, then 7 xp until level 15."
"Ignem: 15 xp until level 10. Up to 2 seasons at 9 xp no matter the level."

That is basically what the basic rules are -- an abstract way of looking at books. These two examples are bascially the same as "Creo: L12Q10 summa, L15Q7 summa" and "Ignem: L10Q15 summa and 2 Q9 tractatus".

You don't need to detail what those books contain.

Only way to make things simpler would be to drop the tractatus mechanic altogether and say that as you add books to the library, that raises the Level or Quality of the library for that Art. Then everything could be described as a set of LxQy stats for each Art. (This can be as simple as a single Level-Quality pair, but multiple pairs can establish thresholds as the Creo example shows.)

Just my 2 cents.

I've had certain volumes and books take on importance and significance in my games. I like being able to put the detail in to the library it makes the game richer. But if you aren't going to tell stories about the books and you want to lighten the bookkeeping load I only really had one problem with second or third edition libraries: they were part of an advancement system that made it really difficult to advance beyond ~20 in an art score. This made broadening one's focus a much more beneficial thing to do from a cost benefit perspective, thus all older magi began to look the same as they brought lots of arts up to level 18 or so and then stopped. I prefer that specialization is easier and more rewarding in fifth edition than it was in third. (not that fifth edition art advancement is without its areas where improvement could be made).

If you move to a more abstract library system please take this in to account.

Being an old timer of sorts I started out reading 2nd ed, so I know very well about the 'single digit libraries', but did not actually play until well after 4th was out.

By single digit I mean each Ability and Art was rated with just one number, to represent an abstraction of the collection of books it covered. Advancement was whole levels at a time.

As I started playing 4th ed I really, really liked the extra detail. I liked the partial advancement where several lesser sources could eventually raise a level. I liked the different book types. I liked WGRE's even more advanced book rules with commentaries glosses, Physical Quality etc.
it was great fun and good for flavour and stories to invent book titles and authors and use them in play.

Once I switched to 5th ed I accepted the few simplifications. I tried for a system for Physcial Quality adapted to 5th ed, but eventually I discarded it due to unnecessary complexity.

Time and time again I fondly remember the aesthetics of the simplicity of the early editions. I've even tried to finangle up a system, but have abandoned it. As we use Metacreator such a system needs to be fudgable by this as well.

I think my opinion is: If detailed libraries is something the Troupe wants - then go nuts. I've played with players who convince themselves Ars Magica is very complex, and fall over themselves to whine over that this and that about rules and setting has been changed from earlier editions. For these kind of people, a detailed library confuses them and puts them off.

For simplicity you could just put a generic summa for each art into the library, this even works in MC.