Ars Magica Fifth Edition Iron Magus

I hate to post an invitation at the same time as Timothy. But I'm doing it anyway. :blush:

They're are lots of game here dealing with the storytelling aspects of Ars magica. I'm hoping to start one that's got a heavy emphasis on the game mechanics.

This is the site of an on line exalted game that I very much admire. Please take a second to read a few of the posts: ... 1168322098
This game does not attempt to create a moving large scale narrative. Rather, the game consists of a group of people having fun weaving descriptions of fight scenes and exalted mechanics together to create little vignettes of high action but kicking. These vignettes are, in my opinion, made more beautiful and meaningful by the inclusion of all of the game mechanics (providing that you know how to interpret them).

It is my belief that the laboratory/advancement rules in fifth edition Ars Magica are the most enjoyable set of RPG mechanics that have yet to be put to paper by the human race. It is my hope to showcase these mechanics in a manner that is in some ways similar to the way that Exalted combat is showcased on the Games of Divinity site.

Campaign Title: Iron Magus.
System: Ars Magica Fifth edition with EVERYTHING.
Players Wanted: I think that I'd need three players to make it work.
Posting Rate: Once per two or three weeks but they would need to be significant sized posts.
Combat Rules: We won't see combat but we'll probably have to look at how new spells and such interact with the system.
Dice-Rolling Rules: Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm open to anything that the players want but I think the simplest answer is that I do all of the die rolling. I don't foresee die rolling being used outside of vis study and experimentation.
Advancement Rules: Characters will be created immediately out of apprenticeship at age 27. They will then be advanced 15 years using the laboratory and advancement rules with reference to the first standing contest: "Magnificent Abode of the Iron Magus". This 43 year old magus will then be used for all subsequent contests (baring a general desire to use older or younger magi)
Special Rules: I've got a few concerning vis, books, mundane resources, and virtues. I'll add them in a second post
Deadline: I'll start it up after we've got three PC's.
Campaign Description: The point of this game is to utilize the laboratory mechanics to resolve issues, not with power and efficiency, but with style and panache.

I will present challenges such as

In six years the lord of Wasserburg a somewhat prosperous costal city will die of natural causes and his son will take his post. An agreement between the tribunal and the old lord of Wasserburg will expire upon his death. Create spells and enchanted devices that can be employed once these six years elapse to create a profitable wool trade within the city. Most of the city's residents should not know that the magi are behind the new industry.


In three years time on the evening of the winter solstice the remains of an ancient army of 3,000 Goths will rise as ghosts to attempt to continue their defense against the foreigners who invaded their lands. Prepare the ancient battlefield for their return in such a manner as to protect the land's living residents and/or to turn the ghosts to your own purposes

The players will take their 43 year old magi into their labs and libraries for the allotted time and come up with ways to meet the challenge, (often times making deals with their fellow magi to gather the resources that they need). But the important issue isn't meeting the challenge effectively. The important issue is meeting the challenge with style. This game is intended to be about character. Everything that a PC does should reflect that character's personality. It just isn't going to have a great deal of plot and I can't promise that we'll ee any significant story elements unless you all try very hard. I'd advise you to look at games of divinity and see that there is an opportunity to roleplay within a mechanics focused game.

Assuming that I can find three players who are interested in this game, the first challenge will be a combination challenge/ character creation event: "Magnificent Abode of the Iron Magus". It should take the characters from their gauntlet at age 27 to being the age 43 magi which I hope to use for all further challenges. This challenge will involve the magi's own laboratories and sanctums.

I should note that one of my hopes with this game is that, should we acquire a sufficient number of players, people could move in and out of the game at their whim without disturbing any long term story. The game won't be critically injured by drop outs and it won't have its credibility strained by new folks jumping in (these have been problems that I have seen in previous PbP games).

I have to agree, I really loved the laboratory system of ars, and I spent hours and hours just thinking up cool and inventive items and new laboratory upgrades.. can definitely count me in :slight_smile:

Excellent, with Scott David Orr from the Berk List we've got two. One more and we can get started.


Would I be significantly hampered with access to only the core book? Also, given that the challenges would take place over set times, will there be opportunities to develop the characters? From the way you've phrased things, it sounds as if we will be mroe or less locked into the abilities we have at age 43. If the characters do develop, how will we handle the acquisition of resources, etc, given the relative absence of roleplaying, etc.?


A bit. The mystery information and the expanded spell guidelines, virtues and flaws in Mysteries revised, and the Houses of hermes series are lots of fun but they aren't really a source of world shattering power. There is sufficient power and there are sufficient options in the core book to allow characters at least as strong as anything that can be pulled out of the the house books and mysteries revised.

However the laboratory personalization rules and the book rules in covenants will, I suspect, play a very significant part in the game and you'll want to use them even if you're just describing things to me and I'm translating the ideas into mechanics.

The opportunities to role play the characters will chiefly consist of interaction with the other players and evocative descriptions of the character's actions.

I'm afraid that I'm, at the moment, unwilling to devote the time necessary to make a moving story in the sense that the other PbP games on this forum have. If a moving story with interaction and plot is what you're looking for I'd advise that you join one of the other games here. I hope not to frequently write NPC dialog.

resource acquisition will be handled by trade and cleverness on the part of the characters. I've got a meager (but possibly complete due to their simplicity) collection of rules for trade set up in my head that I'll put down for comment and criticism when we have players to start the game. We'll work with them until they're acceptable to everyone.

One of the aspects of the apprenticeship to apprenticeship + 16 years event is to have each character develop a secondary source of income for themselves.

The reason that I've chosen to keep the age fixed at 43 is to allow people to jump into the game at any point and to allow people to bring in new characters that they think will be more fun than their previous characters. If the group decides that they want to run the game older or younger I'd be perfectly willing to change.


I'd be interested. I'm planning on picking up more of the books anyway, so I shouldn't be hindered for too long. Is there still room?


Yes, there certainly is.

In regards to virtues and flaws during character creation:

There are only two virtues that I think are inappropriate for this game (I'm sure that my opinion on this matter willl change in time). These two virtues are Cthonic magic and elder verditious runes. Both of these virtues grant exceptionally high bonuses to an extremely wide range of activities. In fact, were these virtues legal in this game the good taste of the players would be the one and only disincentive to not bend all of one's character's efforts to acquiring them.

Personal vis source will provide three pawns of vis every even numbered year. The player will specifiy the arts of each of the three pawns at character creation and the arts of the pawns will not change.

Story flaws are a problem. My first suggestion follows but I'm not particularily attached to it and I'm willing to hear alternatives. A minor story flaw will provide no mechanical effects. I'd like you color your descriptions of the character's activities by reference to the minor story flaw at least once per event. Major story flaws I would like the character to take some action in regards to on at least one occation during every event.

In regards to the acquisition of materals by trade:

Characters will be able to trade any vis they posess through the redcaps using these rules
1 pawn of a technique may be traded for 1 pawn of any form
2 pawns of technique vis may be traded for 1 pawn of any technique
2 pawns of form vis may be traded for 1 pawn of any form
3 pawns of vim vis may be traded for 2 pawns of any form
3 pawns of form vis may be traded for 1 pawn of any technique

Characters may trade any books that they write using the following rules
The first copy of a book traded through the redcaps will return either a book on the same subject with a quality one higher than the text produced or a book on a different subject with a quality on elower than the text traded.
The second copy of a book traded will return a book with a quality two lower than the first book traded.
The third copy of a book traded will return a book with a quality three lower than the first book traded.
After three copies of a book have been traded the market for that text will be saturated.

Laboratory texts of original spells may be traded for other laboratory texts detailing spells from the core book. In general the laboratory text traded must be two magnitudes higher than the effect of the laboratory text recieved.

It takes two sesons to complete a trade.

Naturally one could attempt to trade lab notes for vis or enchanted devices for tractaus and the like. We'll make up some additional guidelines for this when the situation arrises. I will create the guidelines based not on the covenant build poin tcosts of the items but on my estimation of how much time and vis it takes to produce what is given versus what is desired.

resources available to the players

at the start of their post apprenticeship carreer every magus will have:

an income of 3 pawns of vis every even numbered year. These pawns will be distributed as follows one pawn of technique (the technique to be chosen by the player at the start of the game and will not change) 1 pawn of a form similarly chosen at the start of the game and 1 pawn of vim vis.

150 points of tractati with a maximum quality of 12. All of these tractati are protected by a restrictive version the cow and calf oath and may not be legally copied or distributed.

A room large enough to construct a laboratory with a +2 size

sufficient funds to create and upkeep a laboratory with an average upkeep cost.

sufficient additional funds to afford to pay two specialists to perform a job for the character one time per year. (such as a bookbnder and an illuminator but not a scribe during a single year)

petty cash enough to gather any other material necessary for the magus's upkeep within reason.

The covenant itself has a library consisting of a level 5 quality 15 summa in every art. A level 6 qualtiy 14 summa in magic theory and level 3 quality 10 summas in parma magica, finesse, concentration, penetration, faerie lore, divine lore, magic lore, and infernal lore.

The turb will make an instructor with a teaching score of 3 a communication of +2 and three levels of any military skill available to the magi.

The first event will be as follows. At the end of sixteen years the characters will be judged by how well appointed their laboratories are, not just in terms of raw bonuses and luxury but also in terms of how clever and interesting their improvements and enchantments in their laboratory are.

There are the following complications

Within the first five years every character must through spells enchantments or sheer cleverness acquire a source of additional income. Characters will be judged on the style and productivity of their endevor.

Within the first ten years every member of the covenant is obligated to present the turb with an enchanted device to assisst in the defense of the covenant in the case of an emergency (not necesarily only an attack). Characters will be judged on the style and utility of this gift.

At ten years after apprenticeship every laboratory in the covenant will become infested by a plauge of small supernatural ceatures with a might of 10 (it's just the nature of the aura, you can't do anything about it). More details of the infestation will be supplied later. Characters will find a way to protect their laboatories from this scourge. They will natually be judged on their use of good taste in this undertaking as well.

So there you are, sixteen years. Four little things to worry about. You should still have lots of time left for study to prepare your character for the rest of the game.

Concerning the nature of competition:

I believe that the best way to determine the victor in an event of this sort is to have the competitors vote.

At the end of an event each player should vote for someone else's submission. There will be no tie breakers. Ties are just fine.

Naturally it is in good form to comment on the strong poins of all of the other submissions.

I will try and serve as an impartial rules ajudicator and work to answer your questions about what you can and can't do.

It occurs to me now that this game is somewhat inspired by the Baron Von Munchousen RPG.

Those of you who are familiar with it may get a better idea what I think that we should shoot for (which doesn't have to be what you're shoting for) by thinking about this.

[i]Corvis of Mercere:"So tell me Ustavious how was it that you managed to defeat the Giants of Ulster by use of a one eyed otter and a flying boat?"

Ustavious of Tremere: "A grand tale indeed my friend, let me wet my throat before I reagale you with the details."[/i]

I'm thinking of taking a Verditius, but I'm wondering how the whole crafting thing is going to work, as I've never actually used the crafting rules in city and guilds (in our last game, we just assumed the rough crafting was built into the item creation rules, as the city and guilds rules always seemed kinda clunky, and more for general craft work).

So just curious on your thoughts of it and how it all ties together with hermetic item creation.

If I recall correctly, the City and Guild rules state that an item to needs to be of a certain quality or it can't be enchanted. The rules also say that the quality is represented by a total of attribute + skill + workshop modifier+ supplies modifier (sort of the craft equivelent of a lab total). In the core rules we didn't worry about this.

Now using these rules verditious need to have crafting skills that can "make the cut" or they won't be able enchant their own items and they'll miss out on the craft skill bonus and their verditious runes bonus. This could be a problem for some Verditious character concepts.

Are you asking if I am going to enforce these optional rules, ignore them, or modifiy them?

My default assumption is that I was going to use everything (largely because it's an easy way to adjuducate things). I'm certainly willing to alter stuff for a better game. Please tell me your thoughts on the subject.

(My thought is that if these are more trouble than they're work we'll just dump them)

Verditious are very appropriate for the game but please note my house rule that I believe the verditious elder runes virtue is too powerful and I'd prefer not to use it.

(I don't want folks getting really jazzed up about their elder runes totals and then become annoyed when they learn that they can't have them).

Of course between verditious magic and the options of reforging, item atunement, and bind magical creatures verditious still are the gretest crafters in the game. It's just that now the game doesn't need to be only about Verditious characters.

Some thoughts on Mystery initiation

My present plans are as follows:

You'll need to have a mystery cult lore score of 1 to undergo intiation in a minor minor from a cult.

You'll need to have a Cult lore score of 3 (?) to undergo initiation in a major virtue (I want to use the suggested levels of cult lore from the mysteries book I'm not sure that I recall them correctly)

In addition you need to increase your cult lore score by at least one level between every initiation.

I don't forsee the initations ever taking less than a season (no sacrifice - no results) but I'll examine the scripts before hand and make allowances for any personal abilities that your character has.

How to raise cult lore: a single season of tutalage from an instructor of comunication +1 and teaching 2(magi) is available from every esoteric cult for an earnest applicant. Beyond this, additional seasons of tuition and tractati are available for any member of the cult who spends seasons working for the cult, we'll try and find a fair balance.

The four house cults are an exception. They have greater openness and books of house lore are available and they can be leant to the characters at a rate that is better than fair (I.E. if you write a good tractatus on house criamon lore you will be lent two or more equivelent tractatus for your own study).

I intend on using most of the cults from mysteries revised there are some exceptions. One of these is the charasmatic "initiation of the month themed" cult from the example cults chapter (I can't recall the name at the moment). I also recall that one of the cults first intiates the members into the mystery of inscription on the soul, then for the next intiation requires that the character destroy their talisman :open_mouth:. We'll change that.

For virtues without already supplied scripts you the player should submit a script to me and I'll ok it or tell you my resevations.

The boards are up please sign up for the play by post user group.


I'm intrigued. Is your game still open? As a storyguide, I usually concentrate on the story. Your Iron Magus idea is just great, and it would be a nice counterpart to my weekly game.

If I missed the boat, that's cool, but if berths are still open, I'd like to book passage.

Matt Ryan