Converting the Ars Magica magic system to D20...

Just out of curiousity, do you think it's even possible?

Now before you bring out the pitchfork and torches for daring to taint the amazing AM magic system with D&D, hear me out. Having played both games for several years now, I've never stopped wondering if there would come the day that you could have the AM magic system in all it's glory work in the confines of the D20 system. Naturally, you're wondering why I don't just stick to the AM system. Answer to that is that the few players I have are rabid D&D fans that just recently compromised enough to actually leave 2.0 aside to give 3.5 a chance. They've pretty much decided that D20 is indeed the "one system to rule them all", which is sad to say.

What I was thinking was that if Atlas Games ever did manage to create a way to plug the AM magic system into D20 and sell it, they could not only make some money but introduce new players to Ars Magica. One of the biggest pet peeves with the D20 system from most I've spoken with is the magic system. Supplements dealing with changing the magic system in some way or another seem to be some of the biggest sellers in the 3rd party OGL market. Seeing as how not a single one of them yet has managed to capture the essence of having "The Gift" the way Ars Magica does, I imagine that the AM system would come out on top. I know it's the first magic system I think of when the topic of mediaeval fantasy comes up, and if D20 players got a taste of the freedom the AM magic system brings, we'd have converts quicker than a bonfire at a Flambeau picnic.

What do you think?

I don't know the URL but I have seen a website up with a fair bit of work on this very thing. I'm sure you could find it if you searched a bit.

I think that your best bet would be to go half way and take some of the Ars magic system without haveing to torque your D20 to far out of shape in order to fit in concepts that it was not meant to do.

Here's what I would do for D&D, I'd create a new core class in to emulate some of the basic abilities of a magus;

Give them a specific number of points to spend on techniques and forms every level.

Shorten the labwork to work within the timeframe and expenses of a D&D game.

Replace fatigue loss with whatever they changed 3.0 bashing damage to in 3.5

magic theory = knowlegel arcane
concentration = concentration
Finesse/penetration = spellcraft

Drop parma entirley or make it a restricted skill (is restricted the right word? I mean a skill like use magic device where you have to be the correct class to take it).

It would be quite a load of work to tweak everything so it balances with the D&D chalenge ratng sytem but I can imagine it being done.

All the same I like my D&D to be D&D and my Ars magica to be Ars magica. I'm not certain that I'd like the final produce as much as old fasion spell slots and I know I wouldn't like it as much as I like Ars.

good luck to you though.

why not instead go for other worlds translated into the glory of the ArM magic system?

modern medicine has cure (painful, I will admit) for rabies...

you could try them with Black Monks of Glastonbury

What if you used the Warlock as a template.
The Core Ability is Eldritch Blast.
There are other Invocations that modify this ability.

So design a number of basic Technique type powers.
All the Forms can be used as Invocations that modify these.

@ Erik Tyrell: I came across the very website you mentioned not long after making my post, thanks to the magic of Google. Not fully completed yet, but definitely looks promising. I've bookmarked it for further research.

I like your idea for the magus class. I see your point in keeping D&D and Ars Magica seperate, but having played Ars Magica for as long as I have, the magic system of D&D is just so dissapointing. To be honest, D&D is losing it's appeal to as a system the more I run it, but I'm trying to keep it interesting since my players swear by it.

My goal is to get my players to take a break from D&D and at least give Ars Magica a sincere attempt as I think it's the better system. Once that's accomplished, who knows. I hear nWoD Mage is pretty sweet. :slight_smile:


@ Caribet:

Actually, that was my original plan. I figured that if I brought the Forgotten Realms over the Ars Magica system, I'd have no problem convincing my players to give it a chance. What I got was "Why use another system if we're still playing D&D?" I'm inclined to think it was the idea of no standard classes that spooked them the most.

Unless it's a crowbar to the head to knock the ridiculous amount of stubborness from a bunch of older gamers, it's not going to be effective. You'd think that gamers in their late 20s wouldn't be this hard get into new things.

Hmm, that's actually a good idea. That'll at least serve to get them out of the Forgotten Realms and introduce them to 13th Century Britain, although it may not be fantasy enough for them. I'll give it a shot.

You could let them play Mythic Companions? Get one or two of them to be Mercere magi, and the rest of them Redcaps with the Blood of Heroes. You could very easily have a Fighter Redcap, a Druid Redcap, and a Rogue Redcap, and you've got a great reason for them to stick together, plus many ideas for things they might do. Adventuring is something the House encourages, so you could do the typical D&D thing for a while, seeking out ancient tombs and monsters and suchlike without breaking the setting.

I'm not sure if it would prove useful, but Black Monks of Glastonbury is an excellent dual statted adventure for D20/Ars. I think that might at least familarise your players with the Ars background, allowing for an easier sell? I know this is the complete reverse of wah you want to do - graft the magic bits of Ars in to a D&D background- but it might be worth considering?

Also worth a look is the UA/D20 dual tatted Ascension of the Magdalene, just because it set in Prague in the time of Rudolph and features all the obvious High Magick Renaissance suspects - but that is absolutely nothing to do with Ars Magica!

cj x

I toyed with the idea of such a conversion, but ultimately decided the Ars Magica magic system is just incompatible with the class-level and experience structure of D&D. I'm now toying instead of converting D&D's great options and modularity of non-mage characters and its more tactical combat into Ars Magica, but I'm finding it rather difficult and overwhelming; I doubt I can afford to give the issue the time it deserves.

I personally would seek to use a flexible verb-noun system for a D&D game, rather than try to duplicate the Heremtic system in all its glory. I hear good things about The Elements of Magic, which takes this approach, but I haven't read it.

There are advantages to the D&D system, however. It is more clear cut, simple to run, and clear. There are enough rule arguments in a D&D

This site has an URL?

Indeed it does, my good man.