Ars Magica Fantasy Setting

First off, since this is my first topic here, I salut you all.

Being a RPG player for many years now... hell, close to 20 or so, and having played "Ars Magica" for a long time (you could say it ruined any and all games magic related since they all are sub par when compared with Ars Magica), I really feel, given the absolute and intrinsic value of it´s system, that it would enrich any fantasy world, and god knows many such settings need a boost in quality. More, there are many fantasy worlds from good novels´writers that would really need a rich, intense and creative magic system, with spontaneous magic, to make it into RPG.

Do you guys know of any such project, a fantasy setting that uses Ars Magica system?

But what I would like to see is Atlas Games developing a line of fantasy products using ars magica system, with twists and rules adapted to specific magic houses, regions, cultures. As an example I would LOVE to see Steve Erikson´s epic Malazan Book of the Fallen world brought into the RPG world. But with the potential of the system Atlas Games could really push the envelope in terms of originality and create a new classic in Fantasy RPG games.

PS: Hope I will be deemed an Heretic :wink:

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Well, there is World Tree which uses a system quite similar to Ars Magica, but it's pretty non-standard itself and would probably qualify as a lateral move if anything. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Tree ... ng_game%29

That said, the idea of redesigning Ars to make it more of a conventional fantasy setting is somewhat controversial among Ars Magica fans who feel strongly attached to the Mythic European setting. Personally, I think Ars Magica's core system is flexible enough to work in a variety of settings, but admit that the magic system itself is rather tied to the Aristotelian conceits of the game's default setting and any 'World Books' would likely require that certain liberties be taken to accommodate the idiosyncrasies of their respective settings.

I know it´s a tad controversial among hardcore fans, and as I´ve said I´ve played ars magica in it´s original setting for quite some time, on a very long and successful campaign. BUT that said I really feel that with such a good system, and I don´t mean just the magic system, though for sure it´s the crown jewel, I can´t see why limit it to just the original Mythic Europe setting.

It´s true that would need an adaptation to the idiosyncrasies of the new fantasy setting as should in ALL cases, with all systems. I see only merits in building a fantasy world line parallel to the traditional Mythic Europe setting, and one that would gain ars magica a lot of new fan base. I would be a challenge BUT if successful it could revolutionize the industry. I must say that if there is few things that annoy me (and I´m being soft here) more than the generalization of a system upon which sprout setting like mushrooms, BUT, on the other hand I just feel that Ars Magica system really deserves to be taken to the next level and introduced into an original fantasy setting, one which was built with the magic system in mind, taking full advantage of it and in a way that sets it apart from the average, and very ordinary, tolkiensesk world.

In Mythic Europe magi, though very powerful, have to take it very carefully, secluded with a more passive, or at least shadowy,approach. Now take a world with a very dark tone to it, controlled by powerful, conflicting, mage orders, from different traditions (and thus slightly different approaches to magic) and different races, dealing with dark aspects, such as slavery and necromancy. Regarding the races depth with introduction of elder races once again active in the world, and very powerful. Speaking for myself I would buy every damned book released for such a setting with the ars magica system.

Have you seen GribbletheMunchkin and his Scions of Nathas?

Thx for the link m8, interesting read.

As I said this system has the potential for greatness in fantasy settings. I for one am used to build my own material, but mostly the adventures themselves, preferring an existing setting, with as much material as possible, to which I always had my twist, sometimes going into quite a literally opposed road, but that´s the beauty of it. For starts I would say a core book with the rules (adapted to the specifics of the setting) and basic gazetteer, introduction to the history and timeline, and major players/factions, with 2 subsequent books, a in-depth Atlas and a Monster manual detailing the creatures native to the world. It would be a blast...

Then why don't we (the community) make one? Ala Vanillia Covenants or Vaults of the Order,

I don't think I'm the only one who is attached to ME, (the number of times this has come up shows that), but there is enough conceptual space for one, especially if it is 'openly optional'* as a fan project would be.

*From what I picked up last time, a lot of people were of the opinion that it was of no intrest to them, and that they'd never use or buy such a book. Seeing as how every book in the line aside from the core is, technically, optional this confused me.

Then again, I am admittedly more intrested in alternate hermetic historical settings; leaving ME as is but changing the Order...

I'd be willing to assist in either or both of those projects. In fact, whatever it may be about, doing a community project just sounds cool.

Creating a fantasy setting based on Ars Magica's core mechanics is certainly a thought I've toyed with. I think it would fit very well into the standard fantasy trope of having a huge empire of magic that fell apart (commonly seen in the Forgotten Realms, but also present in Greyhawk and other settings).

A big decision facing such a conversion is how powerful to make Hermetic magic. If current ArM5 mechanics are adhered to, it means wizards are exceptionally powerful (yet still fragile). I personally prefer to make wizards somewhat weaker, so as to leave room for other Mythic elements (such as dragons) and keep some importance to mundane society. So I'd go with diminished rules for wizard powers, like Arts as Abilities, and beefed up rules for Companions, like making them all Mythic Companions. But that would rob the setting of much of its point, namely being about playing uber-powerful Hermetic magi in a fantasy setting.

Another big decision is how to treat the Gift. I personally like the current interpretation, both because it fits well with the idea that everyone fears the fallen Wizard-Lords of the Fallen Empire of Magic, and because it gives room for Companion characters just like in the usual ArM5 game. But again, it robs the uumph out of a game based on exploring the cool magic system.

Another big decision is how closely one wants to keep to the historical world. One of the reasons I never pursued this idea is that the longer I thought about it the more I realized I basically wanted Mythic Europe instead of a fantasy setting: I wanted to rule over France, not The Kingdom of Fyrondy; I wanted to battle the Mongol horde, not the generic Horde with the serial numbers filed off. The result of all this thinking was that I started to develop a setting based on the fall of the Byzantine empire, but as a high-fantasy version: with the muslims on the east being Orcs, the nomads of the north being Centaurs, the Gauls having been faerie-blooded "elves", and so on.

The biggest hurdle is in figuring out what traditions of magic really fit the core system, and then writing the world around that. And that kinda depends on the cosmology, too - if there are cool ghosts, then writing up a Rego Mentem tradition suddenly invites adding necromancy to the package (making for some very disturbing dark wizard-kings).

Anyway, it's a cool undertaking. I don't have the time to do any real work on it, but it's a great fan project. And potentially a great official project, too. I don't like the idea of a fantasy setting replacing Mythic Europe as the default setting, but as a stand-alone product/line it would be fine.

YR7 you are thinking in a most conventional way in terms of fantasy setting... Ars Magica can give you so much more.

It´s true the magic system gives it´s users a significant power BUT that power would be shared (with minor and even some major tweaks) among ALL factions and forces, and if you bring in elder races (and you can include the dragons here plus 2 or 3 proto-humanoids), that though far fewer in number command even greater, rawer, power, you will have a setting in which all forces will have to somehow weight their actions, make full use of it´s "mundane assets" . And this "mundane assets" should not be taken lightly given how the combat system works, though in any case the system would need to be reworked to give them a fair chance to raise in power and skill, on par with mage´s progression (though always at a personal level of power lower then the magic users given the intrinsic nature of it´s force). If you add to it the presence of strong demonic forces and necromancy.

With some many forces at work and with a complex political chess it will also bring to the forefront the possibility of intrigue and indirect action, alliances and covert war.

The possibilities and untold, and has Atlas has shown they have the skill to create a vivid (in this case dark) setting, full of originality and foreboding.

While it it doesn't seem to be a problem at first, I think the greatest limitation for an Alternate Setting is that there is so many directions to go in. I think everyone has their own Idea's about what they like in the main setting and what they would like to see in a new setting. Weather your talking an "official" product or a large scale fan project I think you'd have trouble coming up with a consensus and a coherent theme that would draw a large audience.

Some people would love dark warring wizard kings others meh. Still other people might want a alternate world pseudo history or high fantasy DnD adventuring, or even a techno-magic clockpunk world. All things you could pull off (and be great) with the rules.

Not that home brew settings and small projects can't work great. I myself have been toying with a mini pseudo europe parallel with elements of GURPS Fantasy's Banestorms that's supposed to play like high fantasy DnD. More as a place for characters from the main setting to experience and react to some of the standard fantasy tropes that don't fit into Mythic Europe. But that's what sounds cool to me.

High Fantasy is already contained within Ars. Just live in a good strong Faerie regio.

More seriously, trying to convert Ars Magica to such a world would be pointless if the intention is to copy another's work. Ars Magica's setting flows so well because it factors in how the rules cause things to actually be. Other good game settings do this as well, to greater or lesser degrees. Most D&D settings with a big focus on the wizardly people do similar things; wizards can change history through sheer personal power and could individually take out demigods, yet in, say, Dragonlance, large groups of wizards have surrendered to large armies in the past because they have a limit to how many spells they can "memorize" in a day and they would've been killed as they tried to sleep and re-memorize their spells. That surrender shaped the landscape of the world and future opinions of wizards.

Likewise, your average fantasy setting, if the Ars Magica rules were tossed in, would likely break quickly in play, because the rules and the logic stop correlating with each other. Three particular difficulties with the conversion are 1) While Hermetic wizards can botch and thus don't technically have endless spellcasting, if they aren't casting spells that hit their limits they don't get exhausted, 2) mundanes can't really get very strong/useful and unless they, like, get better armor or Stamina-boosting rituals from mighty Magi, a lightning bolt to the face will fry you just as well regardless of age and experience, and 3) rare in games other than Ars Magica, weaker spells are more able to penetrate magic resistance and items need to do so. Generally, in other games, the logic is the reverse; while in Ars weaker spells leave "leftover energy" for penetration, most games have all the power in the spell anyway, and many setting histories (notably Faerun's in games, and Lord of the Rings and Earthsea for fantasy novels) are based on a given wizard finally punching through a bad guy's magic aversion with a bigger and more powerful spell.

So, yeah. To avoid setting implosions, it's best to build from the ground up. This is high fantasy with Ars rules, so we'll ignore the idea of mundanes independently possessing power in the long run. Let's first establish some ground rules. Will the Realms take different forms and functions? They're currently built heavily around medieval life and superstitions. Will they become more independent, lively forms? Would they acclimate to societal differences? Or would they wane and wax in response to their functions becoming more (Magic and Faerie) or less (possibly Infernal and definitely Divine) relevant to society compared to their Mythic European counterparts? Perhaps they'll also take more of a modern fantasy approach, with Infernal creatures being more blunt and potentially converted to good, with Elves or Dwarves or, hell, Moglins making Faerie kingdoms. Or maybe they'd still function similarly, but without the connect to society (otherwise, society would still need to be composed of ignorant, superstitious peasants, in which case feudalism would quickly re-present itself as the most logical governing system, and we'd end up with another Mythic Europe with more overt Faeries). Indeed, self-sufficient Realms are almost necessary in a truly high-fantasy world, which would weaken or deprive the Fae of many sources of power.

Once you've decided their form and relevance, you need to think about their effects on the world at large. Assuming the Gift remains unchanged, Gifted people suddenly are the somewhat more potentially powerful outliers of a rather powerful society. Depending on what counts as low-class in the local governing system, there may be a wider power discrepancy compared to other low-class peers, but any noble/high-ranking official/whatever worth their salt will have access, directly or indirectly, to loads of power from some realm.

Magi will likely be far more influential on a day-to-day basis, as enchanted items and such are more necessities than niceties when dealing with other supernaturally-augmented problems, and if you're trying for the fantasy vibe then magic shouldn't be secret, though perhaps it would still be reclusive since the Gift does things.

Of course, that isn't exactly necessary, it's just extremely likely. Higher fantasy worlds will probably be higher-powered and have more vis simply because the creatures and phenomena responsible for the "growth" of vis are more abundant and accessible. So the big political monkeys will likely have a lot of vis to pay greedy wizards in. This is actually another reason to be really careful about designing a political system for the fantasy world to avoid feudalism, because if vis is more accessible and can be directly converted into magic services on the market, land becomes even more valuable, and the magical power provided by winning vis-rich lands from opponents cancels out the losses normally associated with the recent completion of war. On top of this, having vassals to harvest and send in vis becomes highly profitable, and long story short feudalism actually becomes practical rather than a mediocre system held together by tradition and lack of quick and effective communication ability.

I have more to say, but it's 2 AM so I'll keep rambling after some sleep. I think I'd still replace the OoH as the predominant magical force, but that depends on what is done with the place's history and culture.

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The obvious problem is the one that the canon AM setting addresses - that a single AM mage can be SO powerful that little can slow them down if they put their mind toward something. At least not in the short term - long-term, sure, there's always a bigger fish in the pond, but until that fish hears about what's going on, it's very lop-sided, as a rule.

But remember, depending on the assumptions of the game world, that includes NPC wizards. Kinda like a D&D world where most of the population is between 0-3rd level, but the wizards are all 15th++ - the power balance is just off.

I suggest the first question we need to ask ourselves is - what's the point? What kind of stories we want to tell, by creating or playing in such a setting?

For me, the answer is along the line of [i]simulation[/i] - finding out what would happen when you drop "real" Hermetic magic onto a fairly standard fantasy world. I want to explore how wizard empires rise and fall, how the wizards deal with the Infernal or the Divine, how the mundanes fare and what society looks like.

There won't be a single answer to that, if only because the answer really depends a lot on the design choices. But I think the underlying theme should be this idea of examining the ramifications of Hermetic magic - both in-game, and in the setting's history.

With that in mind, I'd suggest making the Order of Hermes and Hermetic Magic a new thing. Have there be ruins and cultural legacies of ancient wizard-empires, but have that knowledge of "True Magic" be lost. And then rediscovered by Bonisagus, just recently. The PCs would be the first apprentices of the Founders, the first generation of truly Hermetic magic. This will allow us to explore the social ramifications of magic as history on one hand, yet give the PCs the freedom to redefine and discover what wielding Hermetic magic means in the setting on the other hand. The distance in time and, possibly, in magical practices means that they can do so without fear of being inconsistent with how things are "supposed" to work.

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Validation!

I developed the Nathas setting because I love high fantasy, I'm a long time Forgotten Realms fan and that setting is wonderful for high magic. The only issue was the DnD rules which pretty much blend all magic into 2 systems, arcane and divine. The novels have great richness amongst magic with Elven magic being notably different to Netherese etc.

I thought it would be fun being a player in a setting where huge amounts of magic is just lying around, but is all mysterious and unknown. My world therefore is set in the ruins of a powerful Elven civilization (which was wiped out about two centuries ago). The players have been exploring the ruins, meeting the locals, including the descendents of those elves, and the elves that did the wiping out, and the ancient and (in Ars terms well into Winter) crumbling Lizardman civilization, and the young and expansionist (largely peacefully) minotaurs, and the varied and friendly/homicidal goblins (only ever referred to in setting as Little Green Men of the Forest), and the political and constantly in civil war Dwarves, and the other dwarves who have avoided civil war by forming a militaristic communist empire, and the dumb orcs of the north who are everyones whipping boy (except every few centuries when they flood from the mountains in vast, vast hordes and ruin everything) and the orcs of the south, who are far too crafty and genre savvy for anyones comfort.

The game is now 20 years in, in game time. The players are getting to the point when they can start to think big, which is what I always wanted. One of them is developing rituals with circle targets to improve physical stats and plans to cast them during festivals to boost the entire populations of towns up to +5. Another is slowly going about the process of creating an undersea refuge/town that his people can flee too if their main cities fall.

I think importantly I made the PCs the defacto rulers of their people and gave them more defined "Classes" with larger numbers of free virtues/flaws. This gave their characters somewhere to start from and guided their attitudes. For instance, one character is a paladin knight of the order of the Iron Warriors of the Tyge. The Tyge was a large river that marked her homelands northern border, many miles from any major population centres. Her order defended the kingdom by holding the river against vast hordes of undead. She therefore tends to think of her people in idealised terms, they are the good thing she must protect from danger. She is therefore very active in raising fortifications, training militias and generally riding out to kick the arse of anything that threatens her people. Another player played a paladin from the Knights of the Scarlett City, an order founded to keep an eye on the nations mages (whom everyone distrusts, mage wars, tyranny, history, blah blah). Her character is almost entirely focused internally, tends to view her populace as weak and needing protection from mages going "bad" and keeps a really, really close eye on the mages. We have another class called priests who serve the people to ensure worship for their gods (stealing an idea from forgotten realms, gods are empowered by worship, empower their priests who serve the people to encourage worship). Each god has a different portfolio and the priests serve in those areas. Our priest of Eravisci (god of knowledge) is very mage like, very well educated and spends his time sorting out the nations education system and acting as a judge. Our priest of Carnutes (goddess of celebration) leads public festivals, officiates over many weddings and spends lots of time healing and visiting the sick.

Making the PCs rulers gave me, the SG, huge numbers of plot hooks to rope them in with.

As for the system, it works well in a higher fantasy setting. Our most dangerous characters are usually melee types, the paladins and our "heartbeast is a lion" druid. We have a corpus specialist who can do quite horrible things too. Almost all of the opponents that the PCs will face have some form of MR, the Elves get form bonuses and a MR stat a bit like parma, the Dwarves have runic equipment that can nullify magic entirely, no one has yet been crazy enough to try and cast anything on one of the toads, the bloated magic users of the lizard people nations.

I'm not sure how easy it would be to adapt an existing setting to Ars, my guess is that like other posters have set, it might well upset the delicate balance of the setting.

I agree with others that adding AM mage to a stereotypical fantasy setting won't work unless the assumption is that AM magic is new.

That said the more I ponder this question the more difficult it gets.

  1. What type of stories is this world meant to tell?

  2. What kind of history does this world have?

  3. What kind of inherent conflicts and obstacles are there?

  4. AM magic as is or modified?

  5. If modified, what modifications?

Etc

Personally I'm a fan of mageocracies ruling the world and fighting with each other.

Have you thought "heroes against individuals, magi against armies"?

  • give Mythic Companions some MR
  • reduce magnitude all higher R/D/T, using Arts as Abilities

Right now there's a difference of 3 magnitudes = 15 penetration between T:Ind and T:Struct. If someone can cast a T:Structure spell, he'll have a strong penetration against individuals. Either drop a magnitude {T:Struct becomes +2} or reduce a magnitude to +3 {T:Struct = 9 penetration difference}

Two points regarding most posts so far...

First of all people still keep thinking in Stereotypical ways when regarding fantasy worlds.... And that is the bane of most settings on most systems. RPG´s greatest gift is that it allows us personal freedom to experience and give life to our imagination. Why we keep repeating ourselves doing the same thing all over again is beyond me. That´s not to say that there aren´t original ideias out there, though in most cases they lack the depth, the production/editing power of the more professional companies.

Why would we use the Order of Hermes or "hermetic" magic? That is linked to the historical setting original to the Ars Magica... besides there is no need for it since a new foundation for the magic theory would arise from the history created for the setting being developed. It´s intrinsic and unique to each setting, and assuredly would have different views to account for different traditions or magic schools (for race and philosophy).

Second point to me regards the subjective nature of the power of magi.

Quote from "Cuchulainshound "- "that a single AM mage can be SO powerful that little can slow them down if they put their mind toward something. At least not in the short term - long-term, sure, there's always a bigger fish in the pond, but until that fish hears about what's going on, it's very lop-sided, as a rule."

It all depends on how things are balanced in the setting. When you have major OPPOSING forces, that can and will use deadly lethal force, either directly or indirectly, and there is a high degree of uncertainty ever present, the power use tends to be more kept in check for self preservation. This is even truer on games without the artificial segmentation based on levels. It´s true that the rules would have to be somewhat changed to allow for a bit more relevancy from non-magi, specially where it concerns progression and customization of functions (though i don´t feel any need to make specific, closed tree, classes), BUT the from my personal experience even a grog simpleton CAN be deadly to a magi. When you change into a real, hard and raw, gritty setting, with hardened, seasoned fighters, rogues, assassins (as in professional roles with according skills and knowledge), on a system that does´t allow for much dmg before death, you got yourselves an intense and impending sense of doom if your magi pc´s think they can waltz through everything.

And don´t forget one thing, as there are many traditions in the historical setting, e.g. Kabbalah, nordic magic, etc..., so too would a fantasy setting have many traditions, with specific idiosyncrasies and limitations (even if it has the basic ars magica layout some forms or techniques could be missing or merged, which could be forbidden by cannon for instance), at the same time the limitations under which hermetic magi work would not be applied, e.g. concerning necromancy and healing.

Even the laws of physics, and the manifestation of magical power in the physical world could operate major changes and have a big impact on the balancing of power. What if there was a special kind of vís that could be used by non-gifted to which the gifted were particularly susceptible, or that tampers with it. Assassins could be very effective indeed.

But that´s the beauty of a NEW world, where your imagination is the limit and the rules can be customized to reflect it.

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A few folks and I are starting an alternate setting AM pbp game called Tales of Crimson and Gold. As a tongue in cheek concept it's Rifts for Ars Magica, and I am fully expecting a kitchen-sink hodgepodge of conflicting themes and disparate power levels. Have a read if you want to see the details of what has changed in the setting (TLDR = almost everything cannon is now irrelevant if we choose).

I'm not sure what the stories will be yet, but I'm anticipating many of the problems outlined in this discussion to be very prevalent for us. As the SG I'm hoping to work through them as needed.

(a) Effort in setting prep - I cant create a holistic world setting, flexible magic system, all the npcs, etc. Nobody has that time, and collaboration rarely works well unless a few people carry the primary work. Instead I'll write up what I need to to frame a story, and suss the rest in play at the time of posting. That approach is the only way to write when you are time limited. Iknow it will eb frustrating for the players, which is why the initial players are from my normal face to face table.

That means that the players and SG both have an obligation to accept the rough spots, contribute material, and accept that the contribution of others may not be what I had in mind.

(b) A game can't be ad-hoc and also say "that is not allowed" too often. I am accepting of this, but also worried by it. Could be a disaster, and certainly will be for any person who quotes rules and settings, or any player who desires a detailed backdrop. Going with the flow might bend the setting a lot, but it is already deliberately bend.

A commercially published setting does not have this degree of flexibility, because it will be and should be viewed as a product. I'd dearly love to write an alternate setting, but my job and family come first. I'd buy the Pdf if it was published too. Creation of an alternate setting book, akin to one of the dnd style world books or Rifts expansion setting books is what I can picture, and from my novice rpg publishing experience it is a monster project for a small audience.

(c) Power differences and the agency of the PCs. I'm openly allowing the players to write up and play whatever they like, up to a moderate power magus. So far we have two drafted companions who are moderate, and a few magi who are far more powerful by comparison. To challenge them I intend to use the strengths of the pbp format; (1) focus on the motivations and challenges to their view of the worlds, and (2) keep them facing their own challenges without always having the entire "party" present. A pbp game can run concurrent sessions better than a tabletop game, and a minute can be a lifetime.

(d) changes to magic, power, etc - I have not altered much in the plan, except for the removal of Parma Magica. While the thread has a great view on the PM being a factor in power level control, I am interested to see how everyone behaves when nobody in play has the protection of Parma. Beast still have MR, but the ability was never published by Bonisagus. It is an experiment.

Wider. ..

This thread discussion is darn useful, and while I love the high fantasy aspect which can be played for Ars - I was one of the responders in the poll a while ago who said "keep it low fantasy mythic for core material please". This is because the game has a fan base who continually contribute, continually purchase books, and provide a tiny but exciting and evocative forum.

As most of the participants here already like how 5e is approaching the game, I think moving too far away from that, or a setting change, or trying to force a 6e too early will potentially alienate a large segment of players. For a start my investment in the 5e range of products is very large. It is the same reason that I am highly skeptical of the next iteration of DnD - why buy a product which is almost the same, but different? I've seen folks recently play 4e with mods very happily.

How much material would be present if D.C. and a few of the other primary contributors left, or didn't contribute to the alternate setting? (predisposing that that would, which is drawing a long bow) I'd guess not much. And highly opinionated people like myself do not have the time to finish a blogpost, so certainly cannot regularly create a finished book each season. That might also be seen to imply that the authors have a kind of ransom on the themes in 5e, but I prefer to think of that as a strong creative influence instead, and remember that it is a trust that has been earned many times over. I'm still trying to finish a part of the Vanilla Covenants Project, and shamefully it won't be soon. I love the VCP idea, it's just taking a boat load of time.

If an alternate setting was drafted or setup to accept contributing ideas I'd very happily pipe in with suggestions, but couldn't do much more than that. Happy for whatever madness in out little pbp stories in ToCG to be borrowed and used if they are entertaining, but I think the product line needs to stick to it's strengths and go forward.

I don't see anyone suggesting a "sterotypical" fantasy setting. I do see (almost) everyone citing problems that would predictably arise with almost any high-fantasy setting.

The Order? Meh, no reason (except as below).

As for why one would use "Hermetic" magic, you'd use that because, with the exception of the relatively few supplemental rules for alternatives forms, that's the core system, that is AM.

Well, I'm glad we agree, and that your acknowledge that obstacle.

Yes, it does depend, entirely, on that very point - and that balance is not going to be a cakewalk to achieve outside of some formal or informal social institution that, if not "like" The Order, then that fills the same power vacuum, to be the big stick that makes every would-be rogue mage (read "Player Character"????) think twice.

Possible solutions that jump immediately to mind might include (individually or collectively)...

o A wizard on every corner. So many wielders of magic, of one sort or another, that any single one who tries to be large and in-charge would be rat-packed. Better with "guilds" and some (in)formal alliances to coordinate the self-policing, - and, hey! That's leaning toward An Order (or more than one).

o The Grand Vizier. Whether as a Magocrat himself or a powerful court wizard to a mundane(ish?) ruler, someone who is, by themselves, so large that no one would (lightly) consider challenging them or the authority they represent.

o The Church. Or more than one. A Divine (by some definition of the term) alternative or adjunct to the Vizier and/or "a wizard on every corner". With or without ties to the local crown.

o Everyone's a hero. Okay, not "everyone" - but adding Mythic Companions to the norm of the population.
But none of that contradicts nor prevents what I suggested earlier - that short-term, acute, "here and now" applications of magic are impossible to stop, and a pain to address within the game. And once you have that "balancing force", unless it's by creating peers to the magi who are found naturally in society, you end up with something that limits magi just as much as The Order and in a very similar way, if by a diff name.

Saying the word "balance" is far, far easier than achieving that state, esp in a homebrew world from scratch. :wink:

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I don't think it is difficult to keep Ars Magica mechanics to transpose it to a purely heroic fantasy system.
As long as GM and players agree not to challenge why the vision of the world is directly influenced by Plato, you can keep 95% of the rules.
You will have to tweak or rename Philosophae & Artes Liberales, and even though, only if you want to use some extension books, which rely much more on the Antiquities paradigm background.
You probably need to assume that if there is this generic magic system it is because it is how the laws of magic are defined and not because a bright mind manage to aggregate dozen of traditions in one single system. Maybe it is the legacy of Elves, other Older beings or a God of Magic. Some it changes the background of the Arts, but the mechanic remains the same.

One way to slightly tweak the system for an heroic fantasy and replace the 12 Houses is to have magus belonging to a tradition, and this tradition has only access to a limited set of Forms. To have access to other Forms, PC needs to have virtues or possibly Dark Secret if certains Forms are forbidden by their tradition.

I used this system and this how it worked:

  • Academic magician: you have studied all 15 Arts, you can take up to 10 virtues & flaws
  • Selective tradition: you belong to a tradition which only include up to 6 Forms. You have one additional virtue for free.
  • Orphan tradition: your tradition is very specific, possibly dying because of its lack of strength and limited power vs the other traditions. You only have three Forms at most. You have an additional two virtues for free.

Additionally, Orphan tradition could have instead of regular forms some very unique one like Arms, Armor and Tools, which works accross the traditional Forms, but represent the unique skills of the tradition. (To make a flaming sword - Blade of the Virulent Flame - the forge-mage will use Creo Arms, Arms replacing Ignem in this case; it is completely breaking the fundmental of Bonisagus theory, but who cares :smiling_imp: - the main risk is players trying to abuse this extra flexibility to come with über-forms so you will have to monitor a bit the definition of this unique forms).

For example, you can have a tradition based on the five Elements of Chinese magic: Water, Fire, Earth, Metal and Wood. Possibly adding Vim for the Void. Metal will be following the same base spell as Terram, without the additional levels +2 to handle Metal (dirt.>stone->metal, +2 magnitude).

Maybe Necromancer are expert in Corpus and Mentem - or maybe you decided that Mentem becomes "Spirit" and therefore cannot use the emotion or mental element covered by Mentem. But in return, they have access to the advantage of the Canaic traditions ?

As you said, we will both burn on the heretic pyres, but we can have fun in the meantime :smiley:

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