Hedge Magic/Peasant Magic


I'm starting up a new campaign of Ars Magica, but to change things around, we're doing a high fantasy Ars Magica. I've really only run into a single snag. I'm trying to get a good system hammered out for peasant magic. I don't want it to be anywhere near as powerful, flexible, or varied as Hermetic magic (In this world, wizards are a far cry more mighty than simple magicians), but I'd like it to mimic some of the lower level stuff.

Admittedly, I never did pick up a previous edition of Hedge Magic (Nor can I afford to at the moment), and I'm not sure how Hedge Magic worked.

Is there anyone who can give me a quick and dirty version of how Hedge Magic worked, or is there a site I can visit for info?

Right now, I have each "peasant magic" spell as a supernatural ability to be learned, with casting a matter of beating an ease factor based on magnitude with no possibility of penetration. For some odd reason, it still isn't sitting right with me.

Anyone have any suggestions? I know I'm going to catch Hell for even running a High Fantasy campaign, but please bear with me.

If you pick up a copy of Houses of Hermes: Societates (which you probably should along with the other HoH books - they're incredibly useful) you'll find stats in the Ex Misc chapter for several hedge magics, and some rough guidelines for creating your own.

If you want average folk to have access to some sort of peasant hedge magic, just make a weaker version of one of the hedge magics in the book, grant it to everyone without requiring a virtue, and link the ability rolls to one of the Realm Lore abilities instead of a seperate supernatural ability.

If you just want, say, a few wise elder types in various villages that know various minor magical traditions, you can simply give them the hedge magic virtues.

The rules for Supernatural abilities on p18 of ArM5 say that you need a Virtue for a character to have a specific Supernatural Ability or have The Gift and teacher with high scores to teach you an Ability.

A modest change that would allow a pretty high fantasy saga would be to create a minor Virtue (call it "Hedge Gift", say) that allows you to learn any Supernatural Ability (though, not any Arts or Accelerated Abilities, which should require The Gift, IMO -- see HoH:S) according to the rules on p62ff in the core book.

By requiring the Virtue you can leave the other rules largely intact and you don't end up having to come up with a deeper explanation for why it is that every peasant ISN'T a demon-hunting, butt-kicking, gold-making super hero.

Just my two cents,


I didn't get Societates yet. I guess I'm making that my next purchase.

Thanks for your help.

Oh, it'll be a good buy, but you don't need it.

Just make up an Ability and associated characteristic and assign ease factors with the 3=Trivial, 6=simple, etc. scheme.

So, want a firestarter?

Touch a candlewick or dried leaves to light it: STA+FS+die=3
Look at a prepared stack of dried wood: STA+FS+die=9
Look at a soaked castle gate from 100yds when people are firing arrows at you: STA+FS+die=24 (plus 2 botch dice)

Anyhow, just depends on how much power you want to inject into the peasantry.


A "generic" peasant magic?

Make it an ability, and allow ritual spontaneous magic. Durations longer than mom require an item to serve as a focus to the spell. It it is broken or destroyed, the spells ceases at once.

Ooo. This is good too. All the Arts are Hermetic, but you can say that, actually, Bonisagus was "inspired" by such peasant magic.

It seems that you would have to keep track of Art scores for everyone though (even if they are mostly zeros) or, instead of the accelerated Arts, there can be corresponding Abilities just to keep the peasants from getting scores of 5 in all the arts easily. Still a lot of book-keeping though.

Hmm. I'm liking this approach as well if I every do a high fantasy world again.


This is good, although I think I'd want to fiddle with it a little my self.

I'd also tie it to some sort of Lore ability, possibly Fairy Lore or Folk Magic Lore or the like. But a spontaneous ritual magic using something like Int + Lore means that you might be able to get someone casting level 10 spells and that's about it.


Btw, verticius, I meant 1 ability (Be it "Folk Magic", or else) being used for all these rituals, not Art-like abilities. Something Like Stat + Folk Magic + Stress Die.
More flexibility, less power.

You could even allow vis-boosting (with max pawns = lore score), which would put every folk magician in concurrence with the Order.

home.houston.rr.com/rwestmorelan ... magic.html
A good simple system using lores for folk magic.

Ah, very good. Thanks for the clarification. Still like it.


Good :smiley: Have fun! :smiley:

I just read this. EXTREMELY well thought out and elegant. I can't comment on what historical points there are, but as a game element, this is an excellent HR, IMHO.