So, I've been speaking in praise of ArM on RPG.net lately, which got me thinking about the little ideas I like about ArM... and the little things I don't. To counterbalance the good things, I think it's only right I rant off on the bad.
I don't think we've ever had a flamewar around here. That may be about to change.
Chapter Houses: This idea dilutes the meaning and importance of covenants. It turns existing covenants into corporate-like hungry power structures, wishing to annex and consturct new covenants (oh, sorry, "chapter houses") rather than simply be a home and base for a certain group of magi. With this option available, no tribunal would allow the formation of new covenants - why new covenants, when you can build up new chapter houses loyal to you instead? At the same time, a covenant becomes an empty, dispersed political entity as its members scatter across the entire tribunal (and beyond...).
Satan: You'd think Satan would be evil, but why must he be bad? I don't like The Infernal's depiction, or rather lack of depiction, of Satan. Having all three religions equally right worked in The Divine, as it was basically like saying all are equally wrong on the specifics. Having all three very different images of Satan presented apparently all paradoxically being true at the same time does not work.
The authors should have chosen a more direct path, even if it would have displeased some readers. The idea that demons cannot follow the Christian virtues was interesting and productive, for example, even if it was at odds with how demons are often depicted. If they would have made the oppositon to these virtues the core of what a demon is, and what Satan is, it would have infused the Infernal with far more evil and meaning IMO.
I'm sure I'll come up with others. Feel free to fan the flames.
Not much. I found some of the descriptions in the houses quite weird (like the superpowerful mercere, or the existance of "duelling schools" in an organization of 80-ish dudes, where such "schools" would have 2 members at most, and represent quirks in the approach to duelling of the tremere using it, not a proper school), but not much. UIf we disregard the whole structure of the OoH, but that is a different issue that has never bothered me at all, so no problems here
Some of the clauses of the code of hermes sound quite saga specific to me, though, and it seems that the creators of the code did not pay much attention at the consequences that this design could have. Small details that do tend to bge story hoooks, though, so in fact I have mixed feelings about this.
Defining the garden of eden. I hated that. Such ultrapowerful stuff should not be clearly defined ever, IMO. *
I do not have mystery cults or ROP:I yet.
SO as you can see, extremely small stuff, even if I can rant quite a bit about them.
Some of the covenant creation guidelines do not seem to have passed through the munchkin filter.
Rules creep in later supplements as opposed to plain old V&F (TMRE being quite a good equilibrium if you want both) and lack of city hooks and flavor in some new supplements, like C&G, that is barely usable to run adventures in the city, as opposed to play a significant part of the saga in the city.
Unecessary complications in regios and some lab activities.
Houses: On rereading House Criamon's description, I realized it doesn't quite add up to its description per HOH:MC. Ooops.
Otherwise, I agree with Xavi that some of the divisions in the houses are rather foolish. Having several clans and then several septs in the small House Bjornaer comes to mind.
Code: I'm not at all certain whether a better, as-in more conductive to play, code can be presented. Any ideas?
Garden of Eden: Totally agree. Didn't notice it was there!
As opposed to crossbows or other mundane animals... but yeah, I get what you're saying.
True. Which I think is a bit disheartening - especially since an inflation might undermine the feeling of awe and wonder for each seperate mysteries. That is why it is to me very important to keep a majority of those a potential rather than a broad fact. And to have the cults and groups surrounding the mysteries stay closeknit and close-mouthed.
Yeah, as someone who does not have access to all the Mysteries, it does sound at times like the heinous flood of "Prestige Classes" to a certain other game- to the point where the original, basic core rulebook was something that was left behind as quickly as possible by most anyone.
Especially in a game where time is mutable (you can build a 100 year old magus if you want), the "penalty" of requiring some years to achieve such is a questionable balance against the power it yields, in game terms.
I actually really like Mysteries. They allow for strange, unique powers, interesting group dynamics, and perks to drive PCs (and hence stories). I agree they work best in moderation, though. The bulk of the Order should practice Hermetic magic, but a few secretive cults practicing exotic magic are cool. (Although the most secretive will probably be the Infernal cult that.... oops, said too much....)
Though it does sound that way in my experience your fear does not come to pass in actual play.
To use your D&D analogy the "core classes" compare quite favorably to the "prestige classes" in terms of power and versitility.
I haven't seen the 100 year old magi that you mention in play and I think that at 50-60 years out of apprenticeship or so the balance might shift and there is more advantage than disadvantage (in terms of power) to mystery initiation. I also think that it is entirely appropriate that, as a rule, 100 year old magi have tricks up their sleeve that others can't possibly see comming. (verditious elder runes are an exception to this. They kick ass from about 13 years out of apprenticeship onwards)
There is quite a bit of stuff in Ancient magic that does this but nothing comes to mind from Mysteries revised or Mystery cults that allows one to cast range AC spells without an AC. What are you talking about?
Not much. I found some of the descriptions in the houses quite weird (like the superpowerful mercere, or the existance of "duelling schools" in an organization of 80-ish dudes, where such "schools" would have 2 members at most, and represent quirks in the approach to duelling of the tremere using it, not a proper school),
As is sometimes the case, if something looks stupid, its because you haven't grasped the concept.
The Schools of Certamen are not Tremere-only. They are also popular Tytalus, Jerbiton, Criamon and arguably others depending on how the authors have defined them. Indeed, one school is exclusively the province of House Bjornaer.
It's not 80 guys. It's never been 80 guys. Even if it were 80 guys, for that to become schools of 2 each would require there to be 40 schools, which is false.
Schools are OK, but with such small OoH they seem a little bit out of focus. Not as out of focus as other memberships (like the bjornaer septs, discussed in other threads) but they still seem like kewl powerz as well somehow. Even if they are less powerful than regular certamen*. They look a little bit out of focus, but they do not bother me much, really. They made for some nice NPC character concepts taking them as inspiration, in fact I am repeating myself since you have read this ad nauseam, but it seems like a need to rulify (I think I just invented a word...) what could have been said as fluff pieces only to represent certamen approaches: aggressive, defensive, balanced.... whatever. It seems that if something is not in rules, it is not good for the RPG, where I would like to stress the importance of roleplaying. it is the basis of the game. mechanics are just support tools. I somewhat feel that the focus is in mechanics in this edition. Pitty.
*IIRC they were less powerful, but can't recall right now.
hehe - just to kindly reremark (hey - lets keep the keddle on the new words ) that I disagree. 5th edition surely put a lot of attention to mechanics, I think it was needed! Earlier editions (especially 3rd fumbling things up and 4th trying to untangle it) have to a large extent been plagued by numerous inconsistencies, unclarities and confusion. In a way I find that I need to put much less effort, or just basic frustration, into using aka grasping the mechanics. That way to me the rules play less of a role compared to earlier, but that is excatly because they got attention and ingenuity.
Added to that I find that to me wereas each extra add-on rule in the earlier editions made me cross and confused at the same time, I react very differently to the add-ons to the current edition. Why? Because the vast majority seems to have coherent 'logos'. Where they use to distract they now seem to strengthen the games mechanics. I have no idea whether this is blind luck, a turb of great authors or whether Atlas and the line developer have held the reins tighter or with a greater concept of a vision on where to steer the game.
Having said that, I have a somewhat different comment concerning the focus on mechanics. I'm interested in RPG-meta and I'm interested in how we tell the stories. And what tools we employ. I tried earlier to start a discussion on meta here but it never really gained momentum for a lift-off. And I really haven't seen much discussion of how either. Maybe it is completely natural for a forum for a specific game that the discussions here center on rules, and somewhat on setting, only. Make no mistake - I like discussing rules here, and especially in terms of how they influence and can be meshed with the setting. But I miss the other part - not that I cant discuss those things elsewhere, but it's just not the same as with the people telling stories in the same frame and universe.
I think the reason that made me say this, is that in that regard I agree with you Xavier, that from the forum you get the impression that Ars is all about rule mechanics. But it really isn't, even if it is only in that language that we communicate here. In fact I'd stake a lot on the claim that despite all playing Ars Magica our individuals sagas are probably extremely heterogen, and very little of it has anything to do with rules. Just with various preferences and approaches to roleplaying in generel.
Which also happens to be something that is very difficult to quantify in a discussion on a board - especialy when there is no tradition of discussing meta.
No - you still need to have sensed the Target (see TMRE p.116, which is a clarification of ArM5 p.92)
Remember: an AC lets you target something you can't sense, but the sense can be mundane, mystical or a spell (eg Detection).
Further - the Range of a Detection need not be the same as a subsequent spell. So if you can see someone, you can cast a Sight spell, but if you have the special Virtue and can see (sense) them standing on a path leading to you, you can benefit from a reduced Range (Road = Voice) ... saves 1 Mag.
lots of Virtues exist which either grant extra magnitudes of effect, or reduce spell magnitude, in specific circumstances.
In this case you ought to observe that D&A without an AC is frankly rather weak compared to spell casting, and it is designed to encourage a more traditional approach using ACs
many spells permit travel ... in general travel via intermediate routes (walking, flying, swimming, burrowing) does not require an AC to get you there - nor need you even know where you are going - just explore until you arrive.
Dream Travel is essentially the same: according to the Dreamers, the Dreamscape is a real place which they enter and travel through. They are all Dream places and don't really exist. (Unless, you are referring to discovering someone else's Greater Dream Portal and leaving through that?)
Well, according to its membership page all of his posts are on Mon Mar 12, 2007, between 6:47 am and 7:02 am [my local time]. So while it's prolific, it isn't here for a long time yet... I suspect a spambot, rather than an actual person.
I'm afraid Atlas hasn't really been able to filter out these annoying spammers. Despite putting people on the task...