Ars Magica 2ed bundle sale

Atlas Games have put up a bundle of most (all?) of the Ars Magica 2ed books in PDF.

  1. It's available if people want it, until 8 July.
  2. Is this worth getting for people who are playing a 5e game?

I have a lot of these in print format: some of them are very good, but I wouldn't say the bundle is really worth it for a 5th edition game. All the mechanics have been superseded and a lot of the setting info likewise.

That said, if you are a big fan of Ars Magica you will get something out of them. The adventure hooks (of which there are many in every book, even setting aside the complete modules) can be taken and used as-is, and The Order of Hermes gives you an overview of all the houses, and details of Hermetic life, which is especially useful if you don't have the Houses of Hermes trilogy. Some of the canon is outdated but if you don't have HoH you probably don't care anyway.

I should add to the above - 2nd edition is an entirely playable version of the game, and it's much looser and less crunchy than 5th edition. It is still Jonathan Tweet's preferred edition, I believe. So you may want to get the bundle just to try out a very early version of the game we all enjoy.

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Houses of Hermes is excellent and provides ideas you could still use.

I bought Bats of Mercille and The Sorcerer's Slave years ago and was a bit disappointed with them as scenarios. I would need to ask around the serious Ars veterans if any of the other scenarios were good.

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You can really tell that Bats of Mercille started out as a convention game designed to show off the system & setting in a very straightforward "go there, hit stuff" way. The most interestint thing about it is that one of the first adventures for Mage: The Ascension builds off it in The Angel of Mercy.

I think some of the scenarios have promise, but the main issue is that the general approach to scenarios has changed so much between editions. 2nd ed is very much "the GM has a story to tell, the players are along for the ride", the same emphasis I see in early White Wolf products. 5th ed products tend to be extremely open ended, setting up an evolving situation which the PCs can drop into and disrupt, rather than providing a "plot".

Worth noting the product in the bundle is the 2nd ed Order of Hermes (which covers life in the Order, the Code, the Tribunals, and the Houses) rather than the 3rd ed Houses of Hermes, which zeroes in on the houses. The 2nd edition book is spread thinner because the 2e core book has almost no info on the Order itself, and only one page on the Houses, whereas by 3rd a lot of the high level info was in the core book.