How have you introduced new players to the game?

I reckon you just dropped out of a game, right?

Tune down, or it will not be the last time.


So I ran a game at Garycon with all new players. I'd spent about an hour beforehand, discussing some elements of the setting-- mainly the Order of Hermes and a bit about the realms.

We had one ringer in the group-- which helps, although I could have filled in this role, if necessary-- and he played one of the two magi. The other was a complete newcomer.

I reinforced, several times, that all roles are just d10 + Characteristic + Ability (+ Sometimes modifiers), and we stuck with that for nearly everything. By about halfway through, they were cruising on that. We had one exploding roll actually hit 41, the second highest I've ever seen, and from a grog again, too. We had two botches, which were fun to play out.

The table had two magi, three companions, and two players running grog turb sergeants/a captain. They saw how all the components could interact, how we could cover extended periods (the adventure took place over a few days followed by a few weeks travel), and how not every encounter needs to be resolved by punching in the face; I even had the grog turb captain itching for violence.

They did a great job playing with the magic-- although some of the magi's sheet is currently in a form of "Do you want to cast spontaneous spells that involve X or Y?" which I may revise to include actual stats, so a ringer can easily work with it.

All of the players ended as fans, and said they'd definitely play again. One player was going to pick up a few books to try at home.

I also played in a game at Gencon, where we were all magi. We had four out of six players who were veterans at that game, but the new players came online pretty quick. Hopefully, we'll get that adventure in Sub Rosa #21. We had some grogs along, but they were mostly handwaved by the GM, IIRC.

I think having all of the roles evident at the table is a good plan, and a story that involves all of the roles. We were playing Timothy's Escape to the Tin Islands, which I've run many times for tables of mostly-new players (usually no more than one veteran player) and done some edits to for how I play it. So far, most tables approach the different parts of the first act differently. I've only had one group get to the Tin Islands, and they only got a session into that act. We had to quit with the first appearance of the main antagonist.

I use English verbs and nouns for the Techniques & Forms, and try to repeat back the Latin to get people accustomed to using them. I've got my 12-year old on board with the magic system after about a half hour of review, so most players should be able to handle it. The scenario definitely helps. I think having one which actively involves all the roles and has a certain level of tension and urgency helps. I think involving the whole covenant, including the covenfolk helps to show the community element of the game. I think starting them in a familiar, urban environment helps, then transitioning to a bit more fantastic environment helps.


I wrote a simple introduction to give a start point for being a grog, using the standard soldier from the core book. It's a bit like the introduction in an early 80s RPG.

I've put it up at if anyone wants to take a look. Let me know if you think it works or not.

Would a similar set for an apprentice wizard help?

While having more tables at GenCon would definitely raise the number of new players interested in the game, I think being bound to a 4 hour time block (6-hour if you're lucky) is not a good way to show off a system designed to traverse years of story; That said, I think you can definitely show off the magic system, the variability of effects you can do with spontaneous and formulaic magic, the glories of having grogs on the front line.... really, it would be hard to incorporate a lot of disparate Ars magica elements into a single short run like that.

I really am curious how this adventure was set up. boiling Ars Magica into a Con game seems... difficult to me.
On a related note, I'm interested in looking at a number of pre-set adventures to get ideas to make my own run faster and cleaner when I'm doing them for my home group. Do you have any suggestions of particular adventures that you feel do well at incorporating companions, grogs and magi all together?

1 hr tops, cut short by pedantic fans is my experience at conventions. No point in reserving more time. No offense, but the point is much like these forums the very ones that love the game the most ruin it for new players.

This subject keeps coming up as of late. It seems like this convention experience hurt you very deeply. Despite previous posts by anaguard10 on this forum suggesting anger at the game developers themselves, most of the arguments I've seen are that the game is good but the players should be free to re-interpret the rules and setting if they are insufficient or uncomfortable. From a player's perspective, this is desirable so the characters we play and the world they inhabit make sense to us. You aren't the only player who desires that; I've seen plenty of folks talking about developing high fantasy alternate settings for Ars Magica, here and elsewhere. It appears that you believe new players should be accommodated in a way that dismisses the stereotype of Ars Magica as a stuffy or exclusive experience. Is this correct?

The other party in this debate also likes the game, and also wants new players to have a good experience. They have a different interpretation of what that looks like; the other party seems to believe the Rules As Written are where new players should always start, due to the richness of the canon setting and the complexity of the game mechanics. They aren't the only player that desires that; from a Game Master's perspective, the intricate ways that splatbooks interact with each other in Ars Magica mean that any change in the mechanics should be quality tested before putting it into a live game. They believe that before going off on their own, a new player should have a grasp of the game's default state. Is this correct?

If both of these are the points of view the parties in this debate uphold, it appears that both of you want the same thing. We all want new players to have a basic grasp of the game and to enjoy the unique features of Ars Magica. However, our visions of how to aid a new player differ, and we keep shouting over each other out of fear that the game will either spiral out of control or be too rigid to appeal to anyone. As long as these two parties continue viewing each other as enemies, neither party will win. In fact, starting a tavern brawl in several threads on Ars Magica's official forums will probably make the game seem unappealing to new players because it inevitably leads to rhetorical violence.

It is not my place to give people orders, so I offer a suggestion to take or leave; If these two parties cannot put aside their differences, they should continue their debate in Private Messages so as to not frighten the new players they wish to protect. If these two parties can put aside their differences and come to a compromise, they might consider starting a new thread dedicated solely to this debate; not to censure or gate off the conversation, but to make all conversation easier to follow. I was taught that classical debates were not meant to be a war in which one side beats down the other, but a constructive process by which the truth is revealed through comparing different points of view. I don't know if that ideal is true today (or if it ever was true), but for the sake of the game I would prefer it to be true.

That doesn't match up to my experience. I think your experience sounds unfortunate to me.

I've run an Ars LARP at Gencon (which I didn't think people were going to dig, but then it suddenly filled up at the last moment and they had a blast), I've seen a very interesting adventure set in 17C New England at Gencon (in fact, it ran an arc over several Gencons), there was an apprentices level game that tried for something Hogwartish, but I couldn't get in. I played in the Magic Shoe demo at Gencon two years back; it was fun, and focused primarily on solving a Quaesitorial investigation. I played in the one session last year, which was solving a problem for a covenant, and we were all mostly magi, which kicks up the power level in my experience, and then I've run my adventure...fiveish times at convention. All of those games were 4+ hours. All of my games generally had one ringer at the table who knew the system, but didn't push things, since it was stated that the focus was to show the game to other people. The games I've played have had about half to two-thirds of the players be veterans, but the new players were brought up to speed pretty quick.

This game isn't overcomplex. It's less complex than Pathfinder. It's more complex than Savage Worlds. It's a bit more complex than Trail of Cthulhu. I'd put it at about par with 5E D&D, but there's homework you have to do for your characters. It's not hard homework, it's not crazy involved homework, but there's some homework. Bringing new players into the fold, in my opinion, is more about establishing more shared adventure spaces like Calabais. I think kickstarting an anthology of pre-gen zero-entry introductory adventures might be helpful. Yes, the history's there, but that's a strength and not a weakness. Every other game, you have to wait for the supplement about some region or people. In Ars, it's already there, in the history section. What we really need is a combined bestiary, with clear, combined rules for making the various creature types (and examples with seeds) in one book-- so creating new stuff for different places is easier and not across four books. We need a playmat, with all the spell guidelines around the edge, so that as you play, you don't need a book to reference or a deck of cards, it's right there, in vinyl, waiting for a quick reference.

Those things, and maybe a strong Gencon presence of dedicated SGs, willing to run a REDACTED ton of Ars for four days, and I bet there'd be a bit of a ground swell. We just have to reinforce the fact that it's a table of consensus, that YSMV, that we're working with guidelines and this is Ars Magica, not Scientia Magica. There's wiggle room, there's adjustment, there room for taste and playstyle. Rules as Intended should be the byword. Leave the strict interpretation for your table (and consensus) and talk about options.

I'll bring new players to the Order of Hermes every chance I get. So far, so good.


I find it rare to debate topics with the idea of getting to a resolvable conclusion outside of with friends. I don't know if it's the medium itself, that of forum postings, or what which makes it hard. My experience and the experience of a rl player in a game I'm trying to get off the ground haven't been very constructive here. You are right though, the interaction itself is one that will push new players away.

Being followed from thread to thread to rehash arguments is definitely outside the realm of constructive argumentation.

I agree. It's as complex as you would like it. One of my favorite blurbs in ArM is on page 221, "The Extreme-Research Saga". I love it, in part because "Learn Latin" and "get a phd in medieval studies while just researching for your saga" are what made my favorite Ars Magica Storyteller so amazing. He actually had a phd in philosophy I think... he didn't do it for Ars Magica, but it was the reason for his love of it.

I run it really trimmed down. Make note cards to help new players with spontaneous Magic and make spontaneous Magic more narrative heavy, giving little bonuses here and there for well described scenes. My root is in the amateur acting and storytelling. So my interpretations of rules are more as guidelines to help balance for Story.

I really only start citing rules and what not if a player wants to push or break rules. Which is most of my closer friends which like to push my buttons lol. The meta game there is can I run the game with my friend trying to break it. That is easily solved with a "if you buy beer, you can" solution.

I'm working on a hybrid Fate Ars Magica at the moment which streamlines things even further, almost too much. The point there is to abstract as much of the math as possible and instead center on a character's Essential Nature. My friends that love Excel hate that version though and prefer the "extreme in depth heavy" version of everything.

Indeed. If you feel persecuted by this specific forum user, that's all the more reason to make a thread just for this topic. Upon more thought, that may be better than private messages. That way if the debate devolves into personal attacks again, the moderators can step in.

...huh. Compared to places like RPG dot net, the mods have a real soft touch around here. It's as if they trust us to act like adults...

You can't block admins or moderators, so anyone that runs a play by post game here can harass you.

If you believe the problem is one of nepotism, then a clear statement of feelings may be more constructive than accusing the other party of nepotism. A basic Pascal's Wager grid:

Party is nepotistic + accuse them of nepotism = Party turtles up and refuses to change

Party is not nepotistic + accuse them of nepotism = Party is offended by seemingly irrational behavior

Party is nepotistic + explanation of emotions = Small chance of other party changing their mind

Party is not nepotistic + explanation of emotions = Party apologizes for misunderstanding

It's a common fallacy that saying how you feel is a sign of weakness. On the contrary, when a person can state the reasons for their belief, their argument will appear stronger.

Sorry, can I just clarify how I've wrecked GenCon games from the other side of the Earth? I've been to GenConOz once, and ran an Ars table, which made it all the way through an adventure which I then wrote up and posted for free on the web. Are you mistaking me for someone else?

I believe that the occasional criticisms of you by T Riffix Rex stem from your one (IMO fairly constructive) comment in the Acting and Storytelling thread. Since that point, you've been slammed a few times here and there in his posts.

Oh, thanks. I don't recall it. I'll go have a look.


Ah, right. Thanks.

I'll leave that to One Shot, who has more patience than I do, beyond pointing out that I didn't shit on anyone, that I'm not an Atlas employee, and that's my podcast has Atlas's written approval.

On the broader point of bringing in new people...I've written free intro adventures, free setting material, put my own money into various projects...I've done what I can. I'm a hobbyist though. Saving or expanding Ars Magica isn't my job - the authors were pay for hire freelancers and what I, and the others, do for Ars now we are doing for personal amusement. It's not fair to expect more than that from us.

Who are you addressing?

Or maybe we can just drop it. I mean... it's novel on the internet, I know.

Gladly. Thank you for taking the time to listen and consider this point of view.

Another thought is in one game I introduced the players to the game with their PC's as 7th year apprentices around age 14-15. They got so many XP per apprentice adventure, in addition to their taught XP. They SLOWLY got to pick their arts, and finally received spells at the very end of their training. It worked well.