Ars Magica Fantasy Setting

It's an interesting idea, but I tend to think that most Magi concepts focus on a few TeFo combinations and one or two specific applications of magic already. Most Magi generally only bother to learn Forms out of their specialties so they can take an apprentice. Therefor I would not consider having access to more forms to be a big advantage. In fact in many cases it ends up as a disadvantage. So I wouldn't think of offering any extra benefit from being a member of a selective tradition or even an orphan.

I've been wanting to do an alternate setting for a long time. I've actual been secretly hoping for an updated mythic Africa or Egypt. Or even better a mythic new world, as magi would have little trouble traversing the Atlantic Ocean. I've also considered adapting it into other fantasy settings where there are bigger badder things than magi. My key problem is I don't have the time to work on such a large scale project myself.

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Thinking in stereotypical ways as in setting with your elves, dwarves and halflings, in a most tolkeineske way. Fantasy does not equal "stagnation and more of the same", which is the basic problem of most setting being created for N systems.

As for the "hermetic magic" I was referring to the naming not the system.... Of course the "hermetic magic" system would be the core of the system BUT obviously named differently. That was my intention...

As for balance, like I said, the setting I was envisioning had several powerful factions, both formal "orders" and informal, some secret, organizations AND elder races returning to power. On such a tense setting power ends balancing it self on self preservation. :wink:

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One of the thinks I wanted in my Nathas game was to subvert my players ideas of fantasy tropes by including lots of the standard tolkeinesque races but giving them a twist. So my dwarves are conservative and power hungry to a fanatical degree. The main dwarven nation exists in a state of semi-permanent civil war. Dwarven clans conduct constant low level warfare, assassinations and scheming against each other. The only dwarves to subvert this did so by forming a very militant communist state with plans of global domination (and the serious planning that gets them there).

My elves are divided into two nations, one is a vicious Nietzschean meritocracy led by powerful mages and fanatical priests who have as their greatest virtue 100% commitment to whatever it is they choose to do (i.e. sculptors and wizards are theoretically of equal status as long as they really, really commit to it). The other is a dictatorship headed by a fearsome empress, who enforces her will with a secret police force and who has banned the study of intellego magic in her realm, reserving it for her police and agents.

My southern orcs have been pogromed by the elves for centuries and have adopted complex systems to fool the elves into leaving their major population centres alone by presenting obvious military targets and sacrificing many soldiers so that their civilians can survive. These orcs learnt magic from captured elves and are on a long, long, long term plan to destroy the elven nation, partly by manipulating the huge northern orc hordes and partly by exploiting their relationship with the PCs.

My minotaurs are largely peaceful agrarians and are very friendly.

My Goblins are often friendly (although others are fond of raiding) and were one of the first races to trade with my PCs. Spidervenom brandy sold by the goblins is considered a delicacy.

Cliches and tropes can be fun when you subvert them.


Hi Guys!

I am almost certainly one of the heretics, as I absolutely worship the magic system of AM5, but like to storytell on heavily modded Mythic Europe or a Fantasy setting. I come to think that one problem (or at least a possible one) of fantasy (high or low) is the MORAL aspects of magic that affects the mage's environment and the caster herself. I mean (and possibly the bare thought is just outrageously heretical :slight_smile: ) that a necromancer, who messes with souls (in general) considered as black magic user. There are war mages in some fantasy settings where if you carelessly slay the enemy and your own troops or allies this activity considered as black magic.

I know that in Ars Magica the setting works in a way that the Order itself sanctions the careless magi and not the nature of the magic causes some kind of corruption.

In our settings one of the idea (to give dark or black magic a corruptive nature) was the option of Chthonic magic virtue (which strengthens the mage's power by the smaller art can be added again) itself accessible to all magi but with the price of a necessary sacrifice of blood (and life energy - wound level) either own or others. The nature of this kind of magic taints the user and accumulates dark magic points (which increases as an ability). I examine the issue in every year and award black magic points from 0-5 but in extreme cases it can be more.

0 - when the mage didn't use any dark magic.
1 - when he used it 1x or 2x that year.
2 - when used 3-5x
3 - when used 6-10x
4 - when used 11-20x
5 - when used 21+ times

Every season which involves dark magic in the lab or any other activity results in gaining 1 extra dark magic point.

As the ability increases it gets more visible and detectable around the score level of 4-5, it is getting more and more difficult to hide. We normally don't use the gift's social flaw for a normal magic but it can be taken as a hermetic flaw if needed. The Dark mage gets it by the time and her aura becomes tainted, they start to gain personality flaws such as ambitious, proud, greedy... it attracts demons more as they try to corrupt her even more. It is generally seen as against the code if someone uses too much dark magic and can be ended with a wizards march (of course it all depends on the said magical tradition). Extremely powerful dark magi have difficulty to cooperate and function within the Order (if that Order not specially based on constant rivalry and assassination).

So basically that is the idea. I would like to hear opinions or possibly different approaches to this issue.


To me, this sounds like infernal warping. Not that I have read up on 5ed infernal mechanics, but this is what I would hope to find when I do.

Not that I am particularly fond of paving the way to corruption with game mechanics, but, well, ...

However, I would have expected a gentler gift, rather than a more blatant, from the corruption, simply due to the deceptive nature of the infernal. Making the Gift blatant is not a good way to make agents of Hell.

My only real objection, though, is that this serves to suppress, rather than promote, moral aspects. The mechanics reduces sin (or whatever you want to call it) to a tradeoff ... an exchange of powers ... and this is a distraction from the moral dilemma which should be roleplayed.


The thing is in the setting we normally play things are more or less different. Take Infernal. We do not really have infernal. We just have magic realm. Which is more a cross over of magic and infernal. Demons are not part of the world. They are more like aliens who corrupted the only realm (magic). In this setting the magic and its users are highly unpredictable. Lots of botch and warping. So using magic itself is a risk but using dark magic which is entirely marked and tainted by demons is prohibited by the majority of mages and any tradition which respects "order" and "nature".

Sin is normally subjective but in this universe (at least from the magical point of view) is more or less established. I am not saying that things are black or white. On the opposite, many "good" magi cross the line because they do not follow entirely these rules and have repercussions.

If you want to play a mage with unquestionable ethics in the magical sense. You shouldn't cross these boundaries. I am even thinking if just a simple botch can give you this as well. Or incorporate it to the normal warping...

That sounds rather Moorcockian. Is it? With its magic originating from Chaos.

However, whether it is the Realm of Magic, the Realm of Evil or the Realm of Chaos, the magic points you describe sounds like another flavour of warping. It is not fundamentally different from warping ... the question is about the nature of the realm to which the wizard warps.


The setting would be based largely on warhammer fantasy in regarding all magic from the Realm of chaos. I am also not sure if it is that "infectious" as well. Meaning the spreading corruption and all. But first I would go with a NO.

To be honest, my first intention was with this dark magic rule was to "mark" the mage. I can also imagine a PeVi spell to cover the signs of dark magic but these are for the duration only if personal range or enchantment.

The rules you describe still seem to fill the same role as warping does in vanilla Ars Magica. Keep in mind that in ArM warping often does cause physical deformation. It is only gifted people of the various traditions that are able to avoid this. Normal people gain flaws when they hit certain warping milestones and even a virtue in the end. There is also considerable diversity in the form that warping takes for people of different magical traditions.

It is also worthy of note that PeVi would be the wrong TeFo to hide mark caused by warping. MuCo would be much more appropriate if it is a physical mark upon the body. Perdo cannot improve things (sort of).

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Regarding PeVi or MuCo. I personally find it fascinating in AM that you can achieve almost the same thing with 2 different approach. So I do not really mind if someone try to hide the physical marks of warping. In my understanding to make something less warped by the forces of chaos is rather a healing or improving power so I would allow CrVi to "temporarly heal" these marks. Anyway I think in Ars it is important for the Group have a great flexibility towards the rules and also need to trust the SG that he wants the story to be more colourful and doesnt want to punish the players all the time. And I am glad that our group is highly flexible.

I am aware of the nature of warping in AM and that it is very different to different traditions and also to mundanes. My intention was rather to create something more appropriate to the setting. On the other hand I find the twilight scars occuring only during twilight which is very complicated also I would love to see a mechanism which gives you more ideas regarding whats happening with the spell that started the warping/twilight. Also the twilight experiance is very much up to the SG. There are a few suggestions regarding positive or negative twilight experience but I always feel as a SG that if I do this or that it is too drastic or just not very imaginative. A couple more examples regarding twilight exp. and outcome would be great.

I am thinking about Extended Tzeentch Curse in WFRP or Mutations... you could either roll or choose from the list. I might just plain implement that in our rules.

I can subscribe to that.

OTOH. I feel that very rich examples in canon tend to inflate the power level ... it takes less courage from the SG to filter fan created examples and stay true to the saga style.

I liked the 3ed enhanced understanding which allowed the twilit to author books up to 2/3 of own score.


You might be right abput this, but if you aproach these things with open mind you and discuss it with the party IMHO it sould not be a problem.

The 3rd edition book example is very good. Thanks :slight_smile:

I have to point out that Ars Magica 1st edition was actually this - the Mythic Europe setting was not really developed until the 2nd edition, although the medieval elements were implied.


When Xothique and Averoigne hit the public domain...

(For now I believe TSR owns Averoigne)

Most fantasy setting hand wave away magic. They just say everything is sort of the same...... but there's magic! {jazz hands}

It's a little cheesy generally. You think about the effect cannons had on defence and fortifications. Any earthquake spell or the like have Castles become obsolete, and if anything, death traps. Don't mention dwarves living underground..... High magic setting shouldn't have walls and castles, unless there is significant magical protection on those walls and castles, or magic is so rare or controlled it's not an issue.

D&D having you go to a cleric and pay for holy water and spells. What the? If little Timmy falls down and breaks his leg, the cleric heals it because Timmy's family is a devoted worshipper of the god. Polio, Mumps, Measles, the priests deal with it.

If magic is common, large cities would have fresh water brought by magic. Which large courthouse wouldn't have a permanent truth spell?

Integrating magic in to a setting and making it logically fit in to society, needs a lot of thought.

Are the mundanes jealous of the magi living longer lives? Even if you don't use the gift causes people uneasiness, are they hated? A few psycho mages burning down some towns single-handedly. Magi mind controlling, Magi creepily turning a sheep in to a human and doing things. Magic can bring a lot more hate and fear than the average pyscho can

Are they loved by society because they use magic to make the lives of everyone better. Magi could be very popular casting crop growth spells, during a magi apprenticeship have a rego herbam guy grow trees, cut them in to planks and make furniture, etc. The magi become Ikea.

There are a lot of questioned to be answered.


ArM has answered them satisfactorily IMHO. The Gift is rare. Most magicians have rather weak powers, narrow scope, and can rarely make totally predictable effect. Most people do not trust wizards, partly because of the Gift and partly because their charms and curses are subtle and with no definite and predictable effect. The Hermetic magi, who have the most wide scope, predictable and powerful effects are very few in numbers, about 1000 in all of Europe. Most of them have better things to do than to provide trivial services to local lords and peasants.

With 5ed, there seems to be more magi, and the Order is less seclusive, and the Hedge traditions have more powers. That breaks old answers, and new ones have to be found.


100% agree with you. The Gift engendering hatred and thus wizards being recluses explains away most issues. Add The OoH keeping in check rogue wizards solves the rest. It all fits. it's very well thought out.

My comment was in the context on taking the AM noun-verb lab style magic system to a different setting.

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Most game worlds are broken even before you add high power magic, so why bother? It is hardly a surprise that isn't less broken with added magic.

It is not exactly rocket science to make it work. World Tree shows how you can take the noun-verb system into a world where magic is ubiquitous. But then World Tree has nothing of what you would expect in a fantasy world. There isn't even a human race, although four out of eight PC races are anthropomorphic,

And another fact is that when I am talking about a fantasy setting I do NOT want to produce a product for the wider community. Barely 3 person will play on it and the issues which will arise abou world building and implementing AM magic in there are to be discussed in a friendly and accepting environment. As I said earlier: flexibility is key IMHO. It is a game, and therefore fun is an essential factor.

In short, I feel that all the questions can be easily answered in a small and flexible group where the goal is fun. I always come to this forum to look for ideas and advices also to see how others like to play and through that we can improve our group's game experience.