Ars Magica Tablelands

Does anybody knows abìnything about Tablelands, the supplement that allows to play Ars Magica in a more traditional fantasy setting ? Like, have they written more or anything else, because last time i have found only a pdf of six pages.

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I wrote Tablelands. I shared it here on these forums, and the thread immediately became so toxic and demoralizing that I blocked it from my feed and never looked back. (Thank you Moderators for giving us that tool!)

I’m glad you like it and I encourage you to do whatever you want with it. If you’d like to chat about it feel free to message me directly. I don’t anticipate writing anything more for it, but with the upcoming open license, any else could!


Thank you for replying, i have some idea for some original supplements myself and i have to thank yours for inspiring me.


I call that a success!


I'm sorry to hear that. Usually these forums are less toxic. For what it's worth, I "liked" your post, and my only cricism was that there are no rules for demi-humans (and suggested some). I really like the idea of playing Ars Magica in a regular fantasy setting, and I think yours was an excellent hack for that.


Thank you! I appreciate your support.

“Tablelands” is really just a framework to help a table of players figure out how to build a setting themselves, and to suggest that maybe you didn’t need to write a 200-page book before playing. Maybe you could make it up as you went. But it was a fun exercise to design a setting intentionally as different from the Order of Hermes as possible.

Now that we know an open license is coming, lots of folks are talking about writing original settings. That’s awesome! But I do hope our fellow authors start small. It’s tempting to imagine a big, detailed, mechanics-heavy setting, but that sort of thing is a tremendous amount of time and work, and the likeliest outcome is simply never finishing. A short, minimalist manuscript may seem out of character for Ars, but that’s exactly what early editions of the game did.


Thank you for writing this. There should be options always. Not everyone wants to run the game as presented as mythic Europe


In the first ed Ars Magica, Mythic Europe was presented as one of many possible settings. The game was really about designing a great fantasy magic system. It wasn't until the second edition that ME became a defining feature of the game. I've long been intrigued by the idea of running ArM in a fantasy setting, as I get really frustrated with the magic systems of more popular games.

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If you play Ars Magica for the sake of the magic system, and want a non-historical fantasy setting, I would recommend WorldTree.

OK. Granted. That is not the rank-and-file fantasy setting either, but it does take away every assumption and prejudice of the historical world.

Something that often seems missed in these discussions is the possibility of a pseudo-historical fantasy setting, like Jack Vance's Lyonesse, or the setting of The King of Elfland's Daughter (a lot of Dunsany would fit Ars quite well, come to think of it). This allows for a lot of setting elements to be the same, while not worrying at all about historical "canon", and feeling free to add much more high fantasy elements.

That's what Mythic Europe already is, with different troupes taking different ratios of pseudo and history. I agree that The King of Elfland's Daughter is a story that could fit into ME. And into many other worlds. The reason why it fits is that it does not provide a full world by itself. It is a story, and it describes a few scenes, but a world is many scenes and many locations and many times, and most importantly the relations between them.


You're right that Mythic Europe is already a pseudo-historical setting. But the default is clearly much stronger on the "historical" than something like Lyonesse. My point is just that you can have a clearly non-historical fantasy setting which retains more of the setting elements than is usually assumed in these discussions.

I suspect I also have a lower barrier for what counts as a setting than you do, given the Dunsany comments, but that's a bit more tangential.

My concern is not what «counts» as a setting, but what the troupe needs a common understanding of.

The world imposes constraints on what the players can do; battling against the constraints is what makes the story interesting. In a sandboxed game where the players make grand schemes before they play them out at the table, they have to understand those constraints as well as the GM. Without constraints anything goes, and there is no tension in the story, and thus it is boring. In a railroaded story, the GM can make up the constraints as he goes along, but player agency requires a shared conception of the constraints before they come up in the story.


That's true - but I think that for character generation a vague idea is ok, and session zero can be a time to make characters and flesh out the setting together. This strikes me as particularly good for maximum troupe play with everyone SGing.

Alternatively, an SG who wants more creative control can flesh out from the starting inspiration of "the world implied by King of Elfland's Daughter" beforehand do they have a more complete setting to present. Either way, I don't think the problem of fleshing out a world is unique to a pseudo-historical setting - most GMs for "typical" fantasy games will start with a loose set of inspiration and do something similar to these options.

Session zero can do a lot of good, but there is no way you are going to cover a complex world in a single session zero. Of course, the challenge is not unique to pseudo-historical settings; it is going to be a challenge for any troupe comprising more than a single person. My point is that the more of the background you share before session zero, the more you will share after session zero.

The «"typical" fantasy games» is not really a relevant comparison, because the typical RPG is rather railroaded stories where the GM only reveals a fraction of the world, of their choosing.

Of course, you do not have to make it historical, even in a sandboxed game, but the history part is shared a priori while the pseudo-part has to be made up and shared a posteriori, and every bit that is shared a priori makes it a little bit easier, which is why why my two favourite RPGs are Ars Magica and Call of Cthulhu.

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Maybe my experience is slightly different to yours - I've not played in many railroady games even outside Ars Magica. And there are at least two quite different, broad playstyles that come to mind - PbtA and OSR - that often embrace sandbox play and a more open "build as you go" approach.

Ultimately I think we're both "right" here, it's just a matter of troupe preference. If your table all like doing lots of their own research so they can independently take advantage of setting elements, your way is not just superior but mandatory. Many others will be happy to just ask the SG about ways they can take advantage of the setting according to an idea they've had.

For many tables I've played in, the difference between telling them the game is set in 1920s Paris or 1220s North Africa vs "inspired by by setting of Earthsea, with elements x, y, and z from the Holy Roman Empire" prior to session 0 is negligible.

I think the difference is in how much you want to push limits and how wide you want to make the sandbox. Because, if you have a lot of power and freedom, you cannot run every conceivable idea past the SG. Presumably even the SG has a life outside the game. There is not a sharp difference between railroad and sandbox, and I might just expect more from the sandbox than you do.

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