I would love some help with my first character for an ars magica game. details below

so for my first character i am playing a Bjornaer of clan Ilfetu from Scandinavia who still holds to the faith of his ancestors. his goal is to integrate runic magic into hermetic theory thus both bringing prestige to his house and his faith. my only thing is i cannot come up with an appropriate heartbeast nor a good backstory for my parens. i would love some help with this if you do not mind

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For my character i was thinking a lighter lithe, magi who has low social intelligence but at the same time angered easily. and for my parens they do not need to be in Scandinavia they just need a reason to be there about 17 years before the game starts

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The backstory for your parens can be somewhat left up to your StoryGuide, unless they're requiring you to write up a backstory for an NPC they use!

For animal choice of heartbeast, it depends on what kind of use you want to have it in stories. Spy? A bird is great. Fight? A bear is fun. Ocean/Water themed game, a Dolphin or Whale could be neat. Or a more uncommon animal in europe, such as a Lion/Tiger or Elephant.

Heron (HoH:MC p.13 box Story Seed: In Search of a Heron)?

Being an Ilfetu from Scandinavia is all the input you need for a dramatic life. The only canon covenant in Scandinavia 1220 is Heorot (GotF p.90f), opposed by Crintera!

For choosing a Bjornaer heartbeast seeing as you already have an appearance and personality in mind, I'd look at what beasts match that (because Bjornaer do generally look a bit like their heartbeast in human form, and do generally have a temperament that is somewhat appropriate to it).

Light and lithe rules out things like bears and other big heavy animals, and temperament wise wrath is choleric. If you have access to the book Art & Academe there is a good breakdown of humors and how they relate to personality but here's a quick list of choleric traits and compatible secondary traits (choleric and phlegmatic are opposed and generally don't mix):

Choleric: Self-Reliant, Optimistic, Courageous, Decisive, Determined, Domineering, Proud, Hot-Tempered, Angry, Prejudiced, Cruel

Melancholic: Caring, Loyal, Sensitive, Altruistic, Creative, Idealistic, Generous, Just, Pessimistic, Pompous, Vengeful, Touchy, Unsociable, Envious

Phlegmatic: Calm, Dependable, Contemplative, Easy Going, Peaceful, Loyal, Prudent, Lazy, Fearful, Stubborn, Paranoid, Selfish, Avaricious

So considering "low social intelligence" plus "angered easily" I'd suggest the character is Choleric+Melancholic. Lithe heartbeasts which fit that personality could be:

Stag, Horse (Choleric/Melancholic mix, Choleric dominant)
All the Melancholic/Choleric mix ones are big and bulky, not lithe
Lynx, Wolf (Pure Choleric)
Antelope, Rat, Goat (Pure Melancholic)

Those are just suggestions though, and there's no requirement to stick hard to the "heartbeast matches look and personality" thing. If you have access to Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults, the Bjornaer has further advice/suggestions on this too.

IIRC there is some vague and obscure refrerence in GotF to a secret Bjornaer covenant in scandinavia. I'll see if I ccan find it.

That the character is from Scandinavia does not necessarily mean they have been trained there.

A character who gets taken from their homeland as a child then returns years later as a semi-outsider to their native culture is a pretty interesting plot, in fact. A "Child of Two Worlds" sort of thing.

Too hermetic to be fully trusted by norse magicians, but at the same time too norse to be fully trusted by the order.

Maybe the parens could be from Oculus Septentrionalis? It means they have to be gentle gifted and fairly subtle, but it would give a very easy explanation for them having a Scandinavian apprentice. If there was a Bjornaer in O.S. it would make sense for them to range north fairly often, as being in heartbeast form in a town isn't exactly "subtle use of magic".

Or a parens from Loch Leglean could work too - there are strong ties between the isles and Norway (they are loosely part of the Norwegian kingdom until 1266, with active, if sporadic, norse governance). Could be quite easy to come up with a reason for a magus in western Scotland to have had to travel to Norway at some point and stumble across a gifted child.

And it does not have to be their parens who was travelling. A gifted child travelling abroad with their parents when they get noticed by some magus is also a possibility.


Apart from Crintera, there is a second covenant of Bjornaer magi named
Sinus Wodinis on the southeast coast of Norway. Presumably part of the Novgorod Tribunal, the existence of this covenant is known only to Crintera, and even they only became aware of its presence recently to the Novgorod Tribunal, there was no need to seek recognition of their covenant from the Rhine. However the magi plan to attend the next Rhine Tribunal gathering in 1221.


Being a hedgie who got the "Join or die" notice from the Order could work. Would explain their attraction towards rune magic(possibly the kind of magic theynwere doing before?).

my heartbeast would be a wolverine but i think that might be too strong for the first few levels. my backstory is that he was born to a family of rune mages who were persecuted for their beliefs. his parents were killed when he was young and he was taken in by a family of bjornaer who trained him in the ways of magic. he eventually leaves to find his own path and learn more about his heritage.

Never concern yourself with overpowered in context of a heartbeast. No animal will be stronger than a min-maxed magi.
I could create a 20 year old magi that could do an incantation of lightning, or a mind control spell straight through a gauntleted wizards level 1 parma. A 20 year old wizard war focused magi could easily throw 3 multi-casted Pilums of fire which could penetrate a level 3 parma. A wolverine is nothing compared to that.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying heartbeasts suck. Heartbeats are a lot of fun. Combat capable beats like bears, or spying animals like crows, they are versatile. Overpowered, not so much.


Levels? What is this arcana of which you speak? :wink:
And no, don't worry about it. Bear heart beasts are rather common.
@Lee gave you a few examples above, there are more in this thread: Frightening Munckinism

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The only way to get a Heartbeast be 'overpowered' is through investing heavily in the Inner Heartbeast, whether you chose to go Anima, Chimeric, or Epitome.

There are ways in which having a Heartbeast can be an advantage in some situations, but it's not gonna be Overpowered. Most animals can have some advantage in certain situations. A cat can go most places without attracting too much attention. A bird can fly, and scout from a great distance. Large Animals like bears, and such can be great for combat, while Horses, and other fast animals can travel great distances faster.