So in a perverse spirit of experimentation I quickly created today a variant to help introduce new folks to Ars Magica, then tested it on my normally non-rpg playing housemate and some of my hardcore group. We join the session just after i have passed out the character sheets and explained the plan for a 36 session saga arc, covering the whole life cycle from Spring to Winter of the covenant and the magi who live therein... The camerawork is terrible, it was filmed on my phone. Apologies, but I wanted to prove a point not win a BAFTA this week
Part One Covenant Creation - youtube.com/watch?v=ToJf8FGo8zM
Part Two Covenant Creation - youtube.com/watch?v=SKI-n9I984s
Part Three Covenant Hooks Explained - youtube.com/watch?v=8h0VaZku3KY
Part Five Character Generation - youtube.com/watch?v=Hgmljd4Tb_w
Part Six Character |Generation continued - youtube.com/watch?v=oFptGI_VZYA
For anyone curious about the design - Stats and Virtues and Flaws are eliminated and replaced by new systems, but Study Totals, Books, Arts and Spells works the same way. Abilities are now on the same scale as Arts (as in 4th ed). Magi get House Templates which assign two or three abilities some starting points, including Parma Magica and Magic Theory. Latin and your Native Tongue are assigned free, with a single ability point buying fluency in another language. All magi can write any language they can speak.
Each magi's individual Gift gives effectively three Magical Foci, and one Magical vulnerability. Virtues and Flaws are replaced by Stories, and the player selects 3-5 of these and assigns 9 points between them, covering the first 9 sessions of the saga - the Spring part. The Storyguide then builds in challenges they must overcome to complete that particular Story Arc, hopefully in the number of sessions they have assigned. So if my character takes Enemy: The Baron FitzWarren (4), then in one session I may meet and be forced to annoy FitzWarren, in the second I find his beautiful daughter and annoy him further, in the third I elope with her and bring the Baron's men chasing after me hard on my heels all the way back to the covenant where my friends have to decide whether to hand me over or not, and in a fourth Session I must try and resolve the problem - perhaps by making friends with the Baron and performing some task that earns his forgiveness such as saving his life, or perhaps by killing him, and being rejected by his daughter. Either way the storyline hopefully resolves within the 9 weeks - but it might not if i fail to find a resolution... Each character has one House related story they are involved with too.
In the Summer part of the arc the character then takes new stories, as tehy develop as people and provoke new conflicts.
Interesting! I think I prefer normal Ars, but it's an intriguing variant for sure.
Well I can't improve on 5th ed in a couple of hours, and probably not in a lifetime.
What I can do is retool it to do a different job: here to let people who know Ars quickly set up a saga without needing to refer to the books - well if I had put the abilities on the reference sheet anyway! - except when choosing or designing spells, and which encourages a story led approach to character design rather than trying to create what you want Magic the Gathering style from your "hand" of Virtues and Flaws. My variant best for Storyguides who cycle to game sessions uphill as they don't need all the books!
Is it awful that I'd like a copy of the sheets you used in the variant? Even if I don't really plan on using it but I'd find it engaging...
Sure i'll upload them. The covenant design stuff might prove useful to some people. The dice force players to make choices and build with what they have
I will check with time soon.