City and Guild

So. How's it coming? Will I be able to read it by my Dec. 10 session? Inquiring mind wants to know!

It wasn't at my FLGS last night, and they're normally the first people to receive a book after Atlas (seeing as how they share a warehouse).

We were expecting the books next Tuesday, but they were delivered this afternoon. Still, since we gave distributors an order deadline next week and we now do stagger-shipping, we won't start shipping US customers until Tuesday (unless somehow everyone gets their numbers in early on Monday and I can start the stagger-ship that day).

Some non-US orders were in hand already, so I actually have them shipping out this afternoon. (We don't stagger ship non-US customers because there's no point in guessing the vagaries of international shipping, what with freight consolidation, customs clearances, foreign holidays, yadda yadda.)

I am pretty disapointed by C&G. I don't expect my players to play a craftman in such detail, and I regret interactions between the Order of Hermes and the world of city, craft and commerce take so little space. I'm affraid I'll never use this sourcebook. :frowning:

It is a hard one to use, I think. It's going to be one of those back-burner type books that I'll come back to if a) I set up another city-based saga or b) I play a mercantile companion (or magus, I guess).

Yup. Aside from these two things and a mystic artisan type (a forge-companion?), I sadly see little use in this one :frowning:

I happen to enjoy micro-covenant-management (at least, as far as income sources go) and using the pence-shilling-crown coinage rather than "The Mythic pound."

I was thinking, by the book's description, that I might rather enjoy integrating the City and Guild book into my games.

All I've been hearing on this forum is negative commentary about C&G, and how they were disappointed by it. It's making me consider NOT getting the book (and that's wierd for me, as I buy all Ars books "just because").

Is there anyone here who actually enjoyed the book that could give me an assesment of the book's content?

Well, I happen to think that the Ars line should support much more than just the magi. After all, it wasn't just the idea of playing a magus that drew me the game all those years ago, it was the world itself.

Quite rightly the focus of the game has to be the magi, the covenant and the order but that doesn't have to be the case with each book and I think that's what City and Guild achieves.

I can see a time when I'm fed up with yet "new" ways to add +1 to a spell casting total or a lab total when using Aquam... but giving me the tools I need to explore new parts of Mythic Europe? New ingredients for my stories? Bring 'em on.

The only reason that City and Guild isn't immediately useful to me is that my group is taking a break from our city-based saga in favour of a high-magic "more traditional" saga.

My companion character is however a Venditor so I guess I should explore C&G in that light but I haven't played that character very much so far.

I also want to add my voice to the "acclaim" side of the ledger.

For someone who is most definitely not a historian and has not had a decade-and-a-half's experience palying the game, this book goes a long way towards helping me as a player understand the mechanics and philosophy of living in Mythic Europe.

If anything, I would say that it is an EXCELLENT book for the beginning player and storyguide. Why? For the simple reason that it adds background flavor that folks without experience in the game would take a year or two to develop -- if the new player is part of a more experienced troupe.

If the new player doesn't have the mentors around, ramping up in the game is very difficult. Not because the mechanics are complicated, at all, but because this book adds a lot of texture to the tapestry. How important a person is a master tanner? What is life of a common serivngperson/farmer/miller/goldsmith like? Just how careless does it sound when a magus says "It's just a horse, why are you angry?". Why DON'T the peasants rise up against thier lords and masters more often? And the list goes on. With the arguable exception of the Covenants supplement, that texture and feeling are not nearly as well fleshed out.

Also, this book is great at reducing "overhead." While most of the requisite research for finding out how much 3 chickens cost is well within the ability of any ArM player, most new players, and some of the more established regular players (such as myself), lack the interest to conduct said research in the timeframe that the question really needs to be answered. So, without the book, the question does not get answered or it gets guessed at (often wrongly) and that leads to a level of untidiness that some don't like. With the book, a new storyguide or new player has a lot of the info at hand and lets them play the game at full flavor without serious interruption or retroactive "um, guys, I just found out that we really could have bought 4 riding horses..." kind of events.

For the player with lots of experience and/or interest and ability in research, the book may or may not be the most useful of the supplements out there. But for a new player or storyguide, I would buy this book before I bought, say, Ancient Magic, Mysteries, or either of the RoP books. Those books WOULD follow closely, however.

In summary:
-- If you are an old-school Ars player/storyguide: Eh, buy it as the budget allows but after you make sure you have enough beer for the next session.
-- If you have a new player in your troupe or anticipate such: Definitely buy it and let the new person borrow it for a few weeks, pointing out to him or her "you're going to have to play a local smith from time to time -- be sure to read pages blah to blah-di-blah so you have a good motivation for your decisions..."
-- If you ARE a new player or storyguide: Buy it RIGHT NOW. Fills in a lot of holes that experienced players won't think or bother to teach.

As a note to the authors: I think you did a great job organizing all that flavor and texture and it is written in a manner that gets a new person excited about the game's setting. Great job!

As a note to the Line Editor and Publisher: Fantastic planning decision! ArM5 is a great game, but it is not an easy-start game and bringing new people into the fold is much easier with this book. Just servicing the established fan-base would have been a big mistake. Frankly, I worry about great games like this because, like some churches, the congragation ages and shrinks for lack of new blood. Great choice in making the one-foundation/flavor-book-per-year decision.

Best regards,


Thank you for the input. It's appreciated.

Buy it anyway.

It is still an ars book, still pretty interesting, and may be usefull at times (The ressources section at the end may be used with your covenant, for exemple).
It would be the last book I'd buy, but I'd buy it again nonetheless

I do agree with that, but my players mostly want to play their magi, and they want to explore new parts of Mythic Europe with them. It would be so wonderful to explore cities with magi, but C&G is almost entirely focused on mundane affairs. New rules for craftmanship bore me as surely as new rules for magic.

New rules for magic BORE you?

I suppose I'd be the opposite, as new magic stuff infinitely fascinate me to the point of near-obsession.

Thank you very much and I'm happy that you enjoy C&G.

Matt Ryan

They do. I want more fluff I badly need (settings, scenarios) and fewer new rules I can't digest and won't use. I'm getting old, I guess.

I think there's a strong difference between new ideas for Hermetic or non-hermetic magic and padding that allows a magus to add some new/old ability to his spell/lab total.

I'm not interested in adding more numbers as we've already got the formulae worked out and the fewer exceptions to that the better.

But, the ability to make devices think, or... or... well, something else that's new, now that's different.

I couldn't agree more with you, Mark.

I suppose my own bias plays in by the fact that I've never played anything in an RPG that didn't involve being a magician, magus, sorcerer, Jedi Consular, wizard, et cetera.

Well, my friend, it is time for you to do so!! :slight_smile:

For example, you might want to try playing a wiley noble with a high Intrigue (and Code of Hermes/Order of Hermes Lore) skill AND play him as a Mythic Companion for all those bonus Virtue points. Just see if you CAN subvert some of these all-too-arrogant wizards. They're usually a little desperate for land and freedom of action, surely a deal can be struck. Having a wizard or two at your beck and call would put them in thier place and would give you access to power indeed. All it takes is a little planning... (heh heh heh).


In the four Ars Magica games I've run/played in, I've had a merchant concept (either mundane or even magical) in three of them. I was very grateful for C&G, although I wish it had come out in time for the three games where I had a mercantile minded player.

Perhaps my experience is the fluke, though.