Little more reading, just wanted to add I like your description for House Merinita - I've always struggled with them and how the faerie realm works in 5e, but enjoyed your alternative and makes a interesting mirror to the more courtly noble Jerbitons.
When writing the piece I was thinking about all of the Houses and how they fit into Mythic Europe. I've felt that 5th ed houses don't feel very medieval in many ways and so on writing them wanted to tie the houses (and also social class of birth) a little more into the game. One of the big areas that the houses don't cover much is the vast majority of the population in terms of the working class.
So thinking about this I took the idea of the Wise One social status from 5th, Realms of Power (Faerie) and the Merinita writeup from Houses of Hermes and combined them together. Having a house form from the hedge magi that serve various communities made sense to me, as I assume in the early times of the Order the vast majority of magi were born from the working class and (for the most part) life would keep them there. I was concerned it might step on Ex Misc toes, but the houses forms a specific style that Ex miscies do not have.
Hope people can give it a bit of a read, or better yet, a play to see how it goes!
Opinions, mine. I've seen some similar things over the past decade. Glad it works for your group. I notice that a lot of work went into this! Overall, my impression is that things are simplified for the most part, which I like, but there is a corresponding reduction, which I don't. Game balance is changed but I cannot say improved or worsened.
Getting rid of characteristics is good.
Also very good: Many abilities no longer involve skill rolls. Fewer rolls better.
An interesting idea, but I don't like the implementation. Why not just declare that every character has a profession, that a normal profession includes 3 set skills and one elective that can go above 2, with Hermetic Magus maybe having more (Finesse, Concentration, MT, Phil, AL, ...?) Simpler. You can then have a benefit that adds 3 more skills, and a flaw for never being able to have a profession. Impact on character sheet? A few asterixes. But I think a pure carrot approach works even better: If each professional skill adds +2, and the restriction on level 2 is removed, the effect is that characters automatically have reasonable scores in skills they should, without thinking about it, and are not restricted in customizing their character, such as the farmer with the most beautiful voice, etc.
The effect of weal/woe (D&D5 advantage/disadvantage) might need scrutiny.
Do you really intend a 19% botch chance for woe? Even 10% botch chance for normal skill use seems rather high. And if you do intend this, do you also intend a reduction to 1% for weal (which, btw, is the normal botch probability for AM5?)
Also, this benefit does nothing in unstressed circumstances, since no die is rolled, and only provides a slight average boost under stress. Very different from D&D5, due to d10 vs d20. So it doesn't do what people might think it does. (More reliable, but not much better.)
If a benefit is equivalent to a major virtue, magi are at +9/-6 (+6/-3), including personality/story stuff, which is close to AM5 (up to +11/-10, and 7 points for characteristics). But the high granularity here, combined with the way weal/woe doesn't stack reduce choices a lot. The simplicity is very good, but I think something important has been lost.
The value of virtues seem all over the map. Some are quite a bit worse than AM5 equivalents, and some quite a bit better.
Some of the package virtues are interesting, such as Necromancer, Illusionist, Verditius and Merinita. Some virtues seem totally nerfed for some reason, such as Strong Faerie Blood. Changing FFM to Boosted Magic is interesting, if I read it right, but it might just be a nerf. Diedne Magic is pretty worthless, because so much spontaneous magic is cast diceless with these rules. Battlemage is excellent because of the way resistance now works, and because these rules add new restrictions to magi holding weapons and using armor. Not sure if D&Difying AM in this way is good or bad. Bjornaer is not very good because the better animals aren't very good, and it's even worse because you can't carry around your vis. (Why do mice, hawks, molluscs and bears have the same skills? Why?) Mythic Blood seems quite good. Subtle Magic, possibly also good, especially given the armor rules. Gentle Gift is nerfed. Inventor is totally awesome (unless you're a Verditius, due to overlap :/)... experiment every season for a 36% chance to either break a Hermetic Limit or gain 30xp (64% for something good.)
Vanilla AM also has imbalanced virtues, with some more intriguing than others, but it also has far more of them and much finer granularity.
There are many kinds of v/fs missing here, and many different kinds of magus also are gone.
I like using Warping as a measure of power and deviation from normality.
I'd avoid division if possible, even by 2. Otherwise, fine (though of course I'd say that!)
Everyone is better at this now. Avoid division ftw. But there is no virtue that makes a character good at this. And the only flaw that makes a character worse utterly removes player agency when invoked.
Familiars and Talismans:
Taking one of these dramatically reduces your maximum lifespan, due to extra Warping and faster Twilight. Possibly in half! Taking both is even worse. Are you sure this is what you wanted? Really?
This take on Mythic Europe is fine, but is a very subjective kind of realism. Multilingual characters were not common. Tinker is a profession, and not something a typical medieval peasant farmer can do. Not sure why spears can have +2 quality and 1h swords only +1. Etc. Nothing wrong with moving more toward D&D-style or some other personal vision of medieval Europe from AM5-style.
I vastly prefer your Schism War to AM5's. Except I wouldn't have expected Diedne to be killed by a rock. Even so, your version is more epic, less tawdry, and really does have the effect of dividing the history of the Order in two, clearing the ground.
Describing Tremere as a family is a nice touch, keeping with AM tradition but a new twist. Not better or worse, just nice.
Certamen cultural rule is broken. As in, utterly broken. Effectively, if Magus A is stronger than Magus B, and wants to kill him or injure him or anything else, he need only challenge him to Certamen. If Magus B refuses, Magus A is allowed to cast a spell. If he doesn't refuse, he will lose, and then Magus A will cast a spell.
I very much like the looseness of how the Code is interpreted, allowing for very different meanings of "endangering the Order," etc. I also notice that Bonisagi cannot grab apprentices, and that there's nothing explicit about trafficking with demons.
Of course I like this. Listing all the books is ugh, and the AM5 rules for individual books utterly fail to represent what these books are. But why fixed at 7? A better library and a better scholar might do better. And the converse. (Where are the virtues/flaws?) 7xp seems low to me, but that's a matter of aesthetics. Still, choosing between 7xp and dealing with finding a suitable library, versus 2xp exposure and a season of lab work, or finding a good trainer/teacher, I suspect the 7xp is not worthwhile. (And if you're an Inventor, you have 19% probability of 30xp, which with exposure xp exceeds 7xp on its own.)
Don't like all the dice rolling now needed. Don't like all the restrictions. I understand the theory behind the changes, but that's as far as it goes. Not sure why these changes which take us even further from D&D belong with these rules' general theme of moving closer.
My favorite thing:
Eliminating simple dice rolls.
Thanks so much for giving this such an in depth look! It's changed (and is still changing I suppose!) quite a lot.
Quite a few hours put in . My little test group had a lot of fun with the small campaign we ran (Peripheral Code ran my campaign taking much of the lore I've written here. Hope someone got a giggle out of it!)
Glad you liked them, and I wholeheartedly agree. Generally speaking the fewer rolls the better.
I agree. Reading through it again I think it's a bit complicated.
My main goal with professions was a limitation on skill ranks, because the higher the dice modifiers go the more the system groans in complaint. The d10 isn't a forgiving dice, but I couldn't bring myself to change the old d10 for Ars.
I'm comfortable with the botch being higher because the effects of botching are no longer catastrophic. In 5th a botch is catastrophic, where in my fan 6th it adds a complication to the situation.
You are correct about unstressed circumstances which may be a slight flaw, but the real benefit is in avoiding the woe.
My goals with Benefits was for new players to let new players easily pick strong magical themes. The fairy mage, the lab rat, the battle-wizard, so on and so forth. While granularity is gone, so is some of the (IMHO) unneccesary hunting of flaws to make up for virtues, or vice versa. It also means less time (for new players) to agonise over which mysterious thing sounds worse. Hunting for new powers and taking flaws is now in game rather than almost all pre-game.
Animals and Bjornaer : While I admit I generalised a bit here, I also respond with: is a bear a better (i.e. more skilled) hunter than a wolf, or are they both just specialised in different things given their general body shapes and other evolutionary traits? Hence why in the animals section animals have special traits to represent that, with specialisations representing the differences of skills or terrain. Bjornaer get to use their own skills (No double training for them) so can be mightily skilled indeed as many shapes. Admittedly the not being able to carry around Vis is a problem!
Inventor might be a bit too much! Have to check those experimentation rules, but I don't mind an inventor having weird or wacky spells.
A mollusc would have no skills, but I admit the game as written makes that unclear
I like using Warping as a measure of power and deviation from normality.
I'd avoid division if possible, even by 2. Otherwise, fine (though of course I'd say that!)
I hate division in games. Couldn't quite figure how to get around it.
You are right. I think I should have a good look over the Diedne virtue to do this...
Not really. Most magi die at about 150 of old age anyway. I did some maths on this ages ago and I may be remembering poorly, but having one or two of permanent warping effects will still have you popping the old wizard clogs at about 150 without hitting the real high end of the warping. Having all of the above is difficult.
Familiars are a hard one. Having a good bronze cord actually increases your age.
Multilingual: I respectfully disagree. Many people traveled extensively for work or pilgrimage and traders from other countries were common.
Tinker: Again, while I agree that Tinker is a profession, I disagree in spirit. Most farmers could also be adequate (read, not professional perhaps) metal and woodworkers, and many more would be skilled in a variety of things from music to dancing and perhaps much more. Starting as a farmers son does not necessarily stay that way; being that people could often be quite mobile they may have a large number of skills in different areas.
Moving toward D+D: While I want to shy back from going anywhere near full D+D, I do like the ease of combat and flow of actions. My group (all D+D heads) absolutely hated Ars 5th combat and I had my little bugbears, though they were mostly around the weapons table and the multipliers of group combat. It also means those coming over from D+D have a much easier time around the combat, which is probably where they'll think the game takes place before being hooked into lab work like the rest of us
Certamen in 5th and earlier was always a niggle for me. It's a duel without fangs where the players can win on minor matters of precedence. Now players can go hammer and tongs without causing destruction on a massive scale and if they win can win big. But there's a risk you can end up with a cascade of duels.
The political ramifications are this; there is now legal duelling. Some people duel for honour - these people get to beat their chests and boast about how tough they are but don't end up killing anyone or causing more than hurt egos. There are people who duel for profit. There's those that bully others. Sounds to me like adventure hooks waiting to happen
I always felt the Code was a legal structure designed so the player characters had to rail against it.
Bonisagi: They can to an extent, I think mentioned in the Bonisagi write up. Being offered a Bonisagi apprenticeship is like being offered entrance into a presigious university. The old master might not have an apprentice but they will get a lot of respect for being awesome. Probably worth it .
7 xp: I wanted to focus on studying from vis as being much more viable. Studying from Vis is much more rewarding because there is a sacrifice involved; libraries you can just keep reading until they cap out. 7 XP means that in 1 season you are competent (Rank 1) and in 3 (Rank 2) you are proficient enough to make a basic wage.
I think you are right in there's quite a lot of rolling, probably too much - though I think I mention that they are all done with Simple rules (i.e. don't roll) unless there's an action sequence happening.
Mainly what I was going for was a 'charging up the power' and then 'casting the spell' style. If there's an action sequence then the charging can be slowed, but not stopped without the ritualists getting some way to defend themselves.
Thanks so much for your time and effort, Ken! You've made me really consider a number of thinks in a potential re-write! Hope the read was enjoyable!
NP. I'm a firm believer in house rules and system tweaking.
If that's your goal, you only sort of achieve it, and my previous suggestions don't help at all. You do make that high skill rank more expensive, by forcing a player who wants to optimize one skill to take two other real skills and one useless profession skill at two levels lower.
But those other two real skills might still be very useful, especially if the player chooses a good set of skills when he makes up his profession.
Clearly, he would never add a fourth skill to the profession, unless he also wants to max that. But nothing in your rules stop him from taking a second profession.
I'm also not a fan of your goal. A legendary archer or swordsman really ought to be vastly superior to ordinary fighting men, and Mythic Europe ought to support the existence of such characters. I think this is another instance of a general flattening tendency in these rules, which is very much my least favorite thing about them. Except for magi, whose Arts are unconstrained, these rules are far flatter than D&D5 with its "bounded accuracy," because D&D5 also offers automatic and powerful class features.
One roll in ten is a complication. Essentially, your design means that no interesting scene can go as planned.
Some people like that.
I noticed your goals. But the themes are now far fewer, and usually less strong. The limitations of the design begin during character creation, and become more obvious when hunting for powers and flaws in-game, as the limited and overlapping set of benefits become more of a constraint.
Of course, it is reasonable to decide that you really prefer characters with just one or two benefits, and that this limited palette suits your campaign world very nicely.
Still, if each benefit represents a theme, you need to have MANY MORE of them than canon to reflect a similarly rich setting, because players don't get to combine them much to create new themes. Every theme you allow has an associated benefit, and there aren't many benefits listed here.
I think this is totally the wrong question, even if I don't mention that evolution has no place in Mythic Europe.
The real question is: Why does a PC shift into bear or eagle form, and do these rules model that nicely? And a Bjornaer PC becomes an eagle to soar over the land and see everything; a bear to ravage his foes; a wolf to travel long distances and endure and sneak up and fight at the end. The game cannot model real ecosystems well, not and be playable. A game must model what characters will expect to do.
AM5's rich set of animal qualities do a wonderful job of evoking animals and what players will want out of them. Not perfect, though.
Yawn. Not worth my one free benefit, which better be awesome, because your goal is for one benefit to define a theme. Your bears and eagles and wolves are not awesome.
Well, not very many. If I read correctly, each shape comes out of a cord, of which there are four. So a Bjornaer who takes multiple anemic shapes loses out on the other cords, and on adding qualities to all the shapes.
I do like that they get to use their own skills, a lack I noticed immediately in AM5. Even so, this major virtue ought to be much better than the canonical minor virtue, and it simply is not. Worse, because animal skills are so anemic, a character who relies on his own skills might as well stay in human form, and benefit from good armor and weapons, and magic items and vis.
Weird and wacky is fine. Breaking the limit of fatigue ASAP is probably not what you have in mind! I don't think Inventor is the problem; it's what happens on a 10 that's a problem and that libraries only provide 7xp.
I think Inventor is one of the better designed benefits: If I take this, I'm really a good inventor! I'm rewarded for trying to invent things! I'm not an Inventor in Name Only.
Magi gain 1wp/year base, so automatically go Final Twilight 330 years after Gauntlet, assuming nothing else goes wrong whatsoever. Familiar? That's 165 years max. Familiar+talisman? That's 110 max. But there will be other effects, so real-life results will be rather worse.
I don't really like the deterministic cap.
In a normal saga, this doesn't matter; it's always worthwhile to take flaws that kill you faster to gain power now, at least from a charop perspective, because few sagas last very long.
But magi, IC, probably know that getting a familiar or talisman halves their lifespan....
Not compared to the 90% of people who never got more than two markets away from their hovels, and a good chunk of the rest who stayed near their towns, etc.
I think that D&D combat over most editions gets far too little credit, and is vastly superior to that of most rpgs.
AC really is about preventing hits more than absorbing damage. A person who trains in combat will be reasonably good with most weapons, though will obviously have special proficiency in one or two, so THAC0 and friends do a far better job (for a game system) than lots of individual weapon skills. Etc.
Legal duelling is different from enforced legal autodefeat for refusing, including a final spell which can be lethal. In your culture, a magus who thinks he will be challenged to hopeless Certamen is probably best off ignoring the Code entirely, because this Certamen is every bit as deadly as Wizard's War.
I've always preferred Certamen to be similar to (anachronistic) duelling culture, where there are social penalties for refusing a legitimate duel, but this isn't that either.
Yes. Mutants are illegal, but you are a mutant...
But it's up to the orignal master. No snatching.
Studying from vis under these rules still is a very bad idea.
Too little vis in most games. Not enough xp per pawn.
I think this can be simplified. The ritual takes time. It can be interrupted. The only time a roll is needed is maybe a casting roll (maybe; many rituals can be diceless) and per real interruption. If the magi lose control of the ritual, the GM decides what happens. Done.
The formatting was a challenge, but I found your perspective worthwhile and your vision coherent.
Some thoughts after Ovarwa's post...
Ritual magic is a type of Hermetic magic that allows powerful effects beyond that of normal Hermetic magic, but at a cost. Rituals can only be cast when the caster is holding a ritual focus and knows the magical instructions of the ritual. Ritual magic may utilise special durations and targets, allows assistants in casting, and requires the sacrifice of vis. Some ritual spells must be cast at auspicious times and/or at a specific target.
Rituals always take one minute to cast and cost pawns of vis equal to the magnitude of the effect. Any vis used must match the Form or Technique of the spell. The vis is spent upon beginning the ritual. Rituals cannot use the Simple Magic rules, and hence always have a chance of botching.
When the ritual begins the ritualist or ritualists gather the magical energy needed for the ritual. All involved in the casting must concentrate on the ritual for the casting time and must also know their steps they must take in the ritual. They must concentrate for the entire minute. If the caster or their assistants are distracted they must make a concentration roll at an ease factor appropriate to the level of distraction. If they fail, they may not participate in the ritual, either as the caster or an assistant, and lose two Fatigue Points. So long as a single caster continues to concentrate the ritual may still be cast by any still participating.
Once the gathering energy process is complete the caster generates a ritual casting score and compares it with the ritual focus level. If the ritual casting total is equal to or higher than the focus level the ritual is cast. Life boost may be used to increase the casting score, but affects all of those participating in the ritual. If the spell is not able to be cast because the Casting Score does not meet the focus level, a magical botch occurs.
If the caster is reduced to exhausted from losing Fatigue, a magical botch occurs. Ritual casters may choose to give up casting before the ritual is ready, which does not botch the spell.
Ritual Casting Score = Action Roll + Technique + Form + Artes Liberales + Philosophiae + Aura + Assistant Bonus vs Ritual Focus level
Ritual Vis Cost = Vis equal to Ritual Focus Magnitude
Assistant Bonus = Concentration + Warping Rank
For Hermetic magi, only those with the Gift may join in on the ritual. This is known as Wizards Communion. The number of assistants that join is limited by the Magic Theory of the caster who was originally designated to be the caster. Each assistant gives a bonus to the Ritual Casting Score equal to their Concentration + Warping.
And a virtue change...
You are a master of magic linked to a sacrificial tradition. If you sacrifice a supernatural animal or any human as a part of ceremonial magic you gain two Fatigue Points to which you may spend to boost the spell as per the Life Boost effect, in addition to your own. Creatures created through Hermetic magic do not give this benefit.
Greatly improved, imo.
Usually still bad. Unless I owned Old McDonald's Farm of Supernatural Critters, or were an evil NPC, I'd always just take your Mythic Blood and have 2 extra FP for any magic. (Diedne Magic not being a great virtue is traditional for AM, and not just AM5!)
BTW, there are a few other Benefits like this. For example, Magic Focus: Your sample illusionist has this for Illusions, but if it were me I'd just take Deft Form: Imaginem and get much more for it. (The issue here is that because Weal/Woe is almost always your go-to bonus, both MF and DF provide it, whereas in AM5, a MF provides a very large targeted boost in a scope usually narrower than a Form. In your rules, DF is a fine virtue. MF not so much.)
Diedne: True enough! Here's another crack...
You are a master of ceremonial magic and gain additional facility when you use Ceremonial magic due to having a more personal relationship with the spirits and forces that you call upon. Any time you use Ceremonial Magic you gain an additional Fatigue Point which must be used to boost the spell being cast. You may combine this with the normal ability to boost your spells with Life Boost, for a maximum of 3 fatigue points spent on any single spell. This does not apply to Ritual Magic.
Diedne Magic (Simple and Generally Useful)
You always roll dice when casting Spontaneous Magic, with or without Ceremony, and those dice are always considered to be a 10. Finesse rolls with such spells have Weal.
The why of it: Spontaneous Casting Scores are now fixed, removing some of the extra thinking and variables from spontaneous magic that really slow down a game, which this character will want to do a lot. The extra benefit is +7 (or +4.5 compared to diced), but that goes against a doubled spell level so the impact is reasonable: Less than 1 magnitude. The wording is also much simpler, and there is no dependency on Life Boost, whose rules can change. Spontaneous Magic thus gets a reasonable boost in power, and gains the consistency, safety and flexibility one might expect of the legendary line of Diedne. In a way, this is similar to your original version, though better and useful even when dice would not normally be rolled.
Worth taking. (But not so good that a character can be a great magus only by focusing on spontaneous magic.)
BTW, I think the covenants rules need revisiting. These retain much of the complexity of AM5, but lose my favorite part of AM5 rules, the vast list of inspirational Hooks and Boons. Many of these are campaigns-in-a-box! A few of these taken together kind of remind me of the old GURPS "choose 3 random sourcebooks" campaign generation trope, except these probably blend together less oddly.
For example, the price of vis sources should not scale like skills. For one thing, the rule encourages diversifying types, which is probably best anyway, so that point buy leads to a single optimized allocation. For another, a great simplification to the game would be to have a single kind of vis, not Form specific. Finally, the amount of vis needed by a covenant, and therefore the true value of the source, is proportional to the number of magi. 30 pawns of vis for a small covenant of two magi is far more powerful than 30 pawns for a large covenant of ten magi!
The AM5 covenant build point rules are not a high point of the game's design, imo, and I think you're missing an opportunity to both simplify and improve, while retaining and building upon the best stuff.
(Tangentially, I'm also not sure that quadratic cost for Arts and Abilities is really needed. It was state of the art game design back in the 80s. That was then. There are other ways to eliminate the problem of pumping a single skill too high.)
Finally (for now ), between my noticing both your thread and Timothy's "Simplifying Ars Magica" writeup linked from his podcast thread, I found myself thinking (again) about professions in AM.
I think that profession is probably the most important character attribute. I can define most minor characters just by profession, which in AM usually implies a gender. I might have to tack on a culture, though sometimes this too is included in the profession. I probably don't have to tack on a personality... but I can.
So really, a minor character has exactly one stat: Profession. Do I really need to know anything about the veteran English Man-at-Arms beyond what I've just said if his only role is to charge the Scots with a few hundred of his fellows? Right. I might need to know a little more about the Ambitious, Competent Farmer's Daughter. If she's attractive enough to be a bit out of the ordinary for a healthy girl her age, she might even be a Beautiful, Ambitious, Competent Farmer's Daughter.
And... that's character creation. All of it. It works for a baron too, if he's a minor character. Or even if he gets a lot of screen time.
Major characters? We can continue building up from there. A major character might have two or three skills unexpected for someone of his origin or profession. He might have a second profession, or perhaps have a totally weird profession, like Jack-of-all-Trades or Hermetic Magus. He might have other special abilities. But a character sheet would now list very few skills, because most aspects of normal people are normal, and even most aspects of most abnormal people.)
The key point here is that where AM and other games of that vintage begin with the assumption that characters are complicated, with many moving parts, because PCs can be anything, and then maybe let you scale down, I think that it might be much easier to scale up from something dead simple, keeping in mind that each scale-up should be as simple as possible.
As for skills so too for Arts: Assuming we want to keep the Arts as they are (they are sacred cows, alas), we still don't need to clutter most character sheets with all of them, if we held that magi generally improve most Arts slowly and at a steady rate, and can really only focus on Arts for which they have special affinity. Perhaps they get two such Arts for free, a third if another Art is nerfed, more if they have the right virtues, fewer for the right Flaws. Much less to track now. Magic Theory can easily be subsumed in all this. Perhaps Finesse and Penetration too. Want your magic to be especially precise or overwhelming? Want to be especially good in the lab? Virtues! Or perhaps magi get a few virtues to personalize their magic; a generalist might not be especially good at any Art, but have other advantages.
The distinction between major and minor characters, which I think is useful, also points to wanting major and minor versions of Flaws and Virtues. There is a place for a character who is so Ambitious that it needs to be called out, but also a place for a character whose ambition is totally epic. There is a place for someone slightly touched by the Fae, and for someone still in touch with humanity. A place for the strongest man in the county and for the love child of Samson and Hercules (don't ask).
I hope I’m not misrepresenting or misunderstanding Ken, but I agree that striving for simplicity certainly seems an admirable direction. My feeling is that replacing one set of complicated rules with another set that is marginally less complicated, but which is philosophically pushing people in the direction of solving problems by adding complexity and rules is not really winning much.
Perhaps I’m just being Seduced by the New, but I thought the Wizard World hack (a Dungeon World approach) seemed pretty neat, and when I read it, I was even more struck by Blades in the Dark, which seems a great fit for the Ars style: a criminal gang with a strong tie to a location seems a pretty great parallel to a group of magi with their lives invested in the welfare of a location that binds them into a unit.
Simplifying AM is a difficult topic because much of what attracts many players to these rules lies in their complexity. Go too far and things break fundamentally, because the result no longer feels like AM. Where that place is depends on preference. At some point, game rules that default to Rule 0 all the time, either by design, brokenness or both are not worth having.
In this context, the kinds of simplification that seem most relevant to me are those that the author has highlighted, based on his preferences:
If a professional skill is introduced, how do we use that to express characters more eloquently, and perhaps more simply, rather than by adding complexity?
If we limit the number of virtues and flaws a character can have, how do we preserve a wide variety of character types in a way that the rules support?
If we simplify game mechanics by reducing stacking modifiers in favor of a single, and hopefully simpler weal/woe mechanic, what about the modifiers that are still present, and what about the problem of character same-ness?
Most of all, is it always true that when we eliminate options, we really simplify? (Obviously, I think not.)
I don't think Arghmark's rules can or ought really support highlighting just two or three Arts, though I do think an opportunity was lost regarding profession. But having a professional skill to consolidate related abilities wasn't his goal. In a previous post, he explained that this was added to make it harder to have high skills. Something like Fate's pyramid or stack (depending on which game) can work for this too (Want a skill at 11? In the best case, you need 10 other skills at 10, 9, 8...). That adds a different kind of complexity.
The Diedne virtue is elegant and achieves that 'master of spontaneous' very well.
Covenants: You are likely right. It's one of the areas I spent the least amount of time on other than the adaption of the library rules. I'll have another gander though...
There is a little hack for Blades in the Dark called Harbinger of Twilight that is based around a wizards group. Everything in it sounds very Ars inspired. They only thing that stops me from trying it for Ars is there no art combination and I feel that its essential to the Ars feel. The rules for factions and the Faction Sheets are really interesting and I have steal some ideas for my regular Ars saga. The author (Ben Wright) warns that this is in Alpha status.
From the description:
"Harbingers of Twilight is a game about a group of intrepid mages building a supernatural endeavor in a renaissance-era fantastical region. There are mysteries, traps, dangerous bargains, sinister feuds, deception, betrayals, victories, and death. We'll play to find out if the neophyte circle can thrive amidst the teeming threats of rival societies, powerful families, vengeful creatures, the Guards, and the idiosyncrasies of the mages' own vice."
In the other hand, Wizard World is a wonderful game, ready to be played as it is. I thing is great game for introducing new players to the setting and after a few session convert the characters to full Ars Magica when everyone grasp the basics.
Thanks for the link to the Harbingers mod!
I agree that Wizard World is a great set of rules. In fact, given that, I’m a little intrigued by the fact that you still see eventual adoption of the full Ars Magica rules as the outcome to which players should be striving.
A less crunchy, story based RPG around wizards in a covenant is admirable and I can see many benefits to it.
Unfortunately, it isn't IMHO necessarily Ars Magica either. When I was writing my bit I always wanted to consider what really made Ars... Ars.
My resolutions were thus -
Things I needed to keep, for good or ill -
The Arts, all of them, and the idea of granular progression of those arts. Why? Because IMO the Arts and the magic system are the most major innovation and the best magic system I've come across. That being said, I've changed a lot of the levels and clarified many of the Arts, especially Muto, Auram and Vim.
The D10, despite it's flaws, though thinking about it now I that's possibly more about me not wanting to have to re-jigger the magic system too much. If I were to do it again maybe I'd consider a nicer curve of probabilities.
Laboratory stuff and seasonal progression.
Story based main characters.
Things I could happily change or discard entirely -
- Pretty much everything else.
I think I almost entirely agree with your list of priorities. The magic system (techniques and forms),the setting and the seasonal slow pace of play seem to be ArM’s unique selling points. The d10 system and the more complicated rules seem strictly optional. From what I’ve read of Wizard World, I think the major failing it might have with respect to your list would be granular levels of TeFo — it only only allows -1 up to +3 in each I think.
Thanks for your reply!
All right, translation complete!
why did you change the dice system, which was very efficient?
When abilities are on a small scale and you have no characteristics, a d10 brings too much randomness.
unfortunately, it fails to address one of the biggest flaws, and makes it bigger
Ars Magica 6 must either be d6, or it must completely redesign all numbers. The beautiful thing about d6 is that you can simply lower all difficulties by 2 or 3 and still use the 5th edition stuff.