Experience awards

My group has just started to play our first Ars Magica saga and we enjoy it a lot. The familiarity with the setting makes a huge positive change compared to other fantasy games.

Now I have started looking at the experience awards rules more closely and find them not very generous at all.
5-10 experience points for adventuring a whole season (3 months). Is that correct? That means it will take ages for the player characters to get better. Even if they stay home and practice with books or teachers they don't seem to get that much more points either.

Am I missing something here? Shall I award extra points after each game session?

If this is as it should be according to the basic rules, does anyone use any house rules to improve advancement rate?

Study xp for Magi are actually very generous, if they have a decent library or even vis, they should advance quickly compared to their startint status.

Regarding the non-magi...yeah, it probably will seem a bit slow.

That is correct yes.

As the group i play with think that isnt good enough, we dont have any restrictions on "adventuring" XP gained, beyond being "reasonable"(ie like realistic needs for rest etc).
The "can only gain XP once per season" even if the reason for it only takes a few hours or days, is just ridiculous.

If you´re going to run a relatively short campaign you could even try using months instead of seasons as the basic timeframe for both XP gain and work, mind however that if you run a longterm story like this it will get hideously overpowered eventually.
But it works nicely if you want visible development for characters during a story that is just a few years, at the very most a few decades.

It is slow in comparison to D&D where characters go from nothing to gods in one or two years. However this advancement rate puts adventure in line with other methods of study. It is generally better than practice and not as good as studying with a good teacher.

Confidence points are the benefit gained from adventures not knowledge.

Previous editions of the game gave out a few exp points after every adventure that were not tied to seasonal activities. It was a bit of a strain on suspension of disbelief but if your players really want power and you are unwilling to allow seasons and years to pass between adventures then it would probably make your game more fun.

I enjoy spreading the story out over decades of time, this also allows advancement and the passing of time really adds to the story (at least the stories that I choose to tell).

My HR is that I award up to 15xps for adventure. The scale is 5xps for a minor adventure, 10xps for a major one, and 15 for an adventure that's really mythic and cool.

In our saga:

a adventure which was played in 1 session (+- 8 hours of game) is 10 -15 px, depending on the result (fail or success), at SG wish.

i have been myself the SG of one adventure who take 3 sessions (... ^^ it was an opened promenade in the country ^^) and i have given 25px for it.

but before the last session, we played 14hours, finishing an adventure (+15px) and doing a complete adventure (+20px). It was a 1pm - 4am game which gave us 35px. Good night time!

And, sometimes, we play 2 adventures in 1 season. All is SG decisions and calendar issues.

WOW! That XP level can break a saga rather easily.... Unless you want the DnD style, that is, where remaining at home is less than useless anbd you only get XP form adventures....

IMS adventures tend to yeld rthe same ammount of XP as remaining at home, on average. Around 5-7XP. That along with the "XP once per season only" works for us. Assuming that a 1 week trip can give you more XP on swordfighting than regular practice is suspect as well :wink:

In general, the XP system tends to work well if you plan to have a saga that will last years. In fact, IMS it is rather normal to have characters die of old age. those tell stories about the 6 or 7 trips they made with the magi to this and that place, but generally stayed at home, as a proper labourer, fearful of his Master and the Almighty Lord should. :slight_smile:


Yeah, I like to keep it more balanced too. One source per season. I rule that exceptional adventures can be worth up to 15 because the most exceptional books and teachers are worth 15. If an adventure takes multiple seasons, as a whole it may be worth more, but still only an average of 5 to 15 a season. (The books in the library are also exceptional, one is a Creo Summa written by Bonisagus, L20 Q15)

Compared to a flat 30 xp for a year during CharGen, it's perfectly generous.

Experience is time-based, not "challenge"-based. Unlike other games, a character cannot kill a dragon and become perfectly fluent and literate in Arabic over the weekend while their buddies learn much less by taking lessons in a university.

So, the difference is that (as mentioned above), unlike certain other games that will go nameless here, a character cannot become a weapons master during a hike to the next village, no matter how many bandits are along the way. That means that detailed adventures, "dungeon crawls" that take many gaming sessions to cover a few days, are not always the best choice.

Do toss out "exposure" experience on top of other stuff - for languages, for Area lore around the covenant, for Organization lore for the local Grogs/townsfolk, so that characters don't have to spend points to find the garderobe at night, nor remember whether the covenant has one blacksmith or two.

Characters progress slowly, and over time. It's a different feel unless the SG jumps ahead a few years - which is always an option.

The thing to remember is that ArsM isn't like most rpgs. The basic assumption is that adventures might happen once a year or even once every couple of years. The rest is what most games consider "downtime." Advancement occurs not during, or because of, adventures but between adventures because of study, practice and other "downtime" activities.

I tend to think of it this way, spring and fall everyone else is tied with agricultural activities, and winter keeps everyone at home, so summer is "adventuring season." That means a typical year in my saga has 3 seasons of advancement/lab work and one season for adventuring. I usually try run through such a year in one or maybe two sessions, so each session has an adventure, bookended by advancement seasons.

I am reminded of the old FGU game Bushido, where one gained "levels" via combat experience (which had its own advantages), but gained skill proficiency only via training. So every character wanted nothing more than a couple years of free time and the coin to hire private training. Then, a quick tour around Monster Island or whatever, and back into the dojo.

Bushido had a pre-made sheet that broke the year into 36 japanese "weeks" of 10 days each - that was a bit more detailed than the seasons AM uses, but same basic approach. Spend years slaughtering all the ninja, bandits and goblins you want - you'll be double tough "level-wise", but just a clown in the skill department. :wink:

There is the speed of your saga to consider.

Average speed is to spend about (flawed Parma) 2 gaming sessions per in-game year, on average. (/flawed Parma) That means that if you spend 4 evenings playing out the intrige at the tribunal, you might discuss with your group to skip a few years.

It takes seasons to learn abilities, invent spells and make magic items. Therefore your characters need free seasons. Your troupe should allow the characters some down time between stories. If the players like to develop their characters (xp-wise), you need to pace your game. (I know I like to have some seasons to invent spells or build a lab in the first place)

If you have the saga speed sorted out, the xp for adventures is OK. It's logical that you learn faster when training from an excellent teacher that when fighting wild boars. (adventure can get you some skills you wont find in books though)

I like the idea of giving out exposure experience on top of the normal experience gain per season. In other games, which don't have as good of an xp system as Ars (imo), it has been common for my story tellers to grant a level 1 skill in something pertaining to the adventure. Usually in a skill the player would normally not buy. Simulating some exposure to something.

Like your character may be spending all season studying Vim. But He gets bugged every time he steps out for a meal by the grogs to do stuff. If the character has no Guile, then maybe granting +2 xp in it, on top of whatever will be gained from studying Vim, for continuously needing to come up with excuses.

Obviously it would be a judgment call, but could help round out characters.

I think my group might be comparing too much with other rpg games that we have played and does focus more on adventuring (not necessarily dungeon-crawls since I find that very boring).

We will probably have more focus on adventures than the average ArMag group at least to start with, since not all of my players like the idea of playing magi and spend a lot of time studying and researching spells.

I like the idea of XP being time-based though and think it is much more realistic than many other game systems. It's just a matter of getting used to it i guess.

I also liked the suggestion to award Exposure XPs for general knowledge that the players probably won't put much experience in during game anyway. That i will use.

My group also tend to focus a lot on actual roleplaying, which mean that a meeting between NPCs and the PCs can sometimes take an hour or more in real time to play out just because the discussion that arises are amusing. This means that there is no chance we will ever be able to run a whole adventure in one game session, which usually is around 7-8 hours long.
So there is our problem with slow advancement. But maybe we should step out of our cupboard and try something totally different for once. :slight_smile:

Thanks for your advice everyone! This is a great forum.

I give out 1-3 xp per session, regardless.

1 for showing up.
2-3 for excellence in roleplaying. (this encourages players to get out of their shells.)

I use Confidence points for this sort of reward. I keep the flow of xp relatively constant at 5 per season (or fraction) that a story took. More dangerous or challenging stories get up to 10 per season (or fraction). Its better than Practice, but not (usually) better than study. However, it is the only way to gain Confidence points, and my players go through them like toffees.

Confidence gets awarded exactly as firth5 describes above for his xp awards, but I also have extra Cnf for the completion of goals, as per the main rules. The awards for good roleplaying or figuring something out tend to be immediate, rather than waiting until the end of the session. Furthermore, as per RoP:tI, I hand out immediate Confidence for particularly sinful acts. Sinning feels good...


Huh, it's been so long since I read those rules, I'd forgotten about that. Does the same go for particularly pious acts? I think they should. One often feels elated after doing something really good.

I'm totally going to steal the confidence for sinning. "Sinning feels good..." nice.

It's amazing how quickly your players get paranoid about off-the-cuff Cnf awards... :smiling_imp:

It has to be an intentional sin, and I don't overuse the mechanic (killing another person in battle doesn't count, but murdering in cold blood does). It has the best effect in Infernal auras and against demons.

Succubus to magus: "Go on, hit me again! You know you want to!"


But good deeds have their own rewards - getting to Heaven. The path to Hell is much easier to travel.

Confession your sins and completing penance gives you a faith point through the sacrament of Absolution, but that is as close as the rules get.