If the Arm6 rumor is true - what must be changed?

So, change nothing, but emphasizes it more? Like "Any spell designed must include a description of how your sigil manifests through it"?

(And re-reading me, I find myself rather condescending, while I was mostly unsure. Hope I didn't come of as wrong).

Funny - that's almost the opposite of what I want.
I like the way each tradition has its own system - indeed there's too much stream-lining in non-Hermetic magic in this edition!

I side with Timothy. I remember the days of rolemaster (that went so far to include a birth complications chart)

I never claimed I wanted shudder Rulemaster.
Just that it's a nice touch when the magical raditions aren't all identical.

If I wanted wanted magic to be magic, and the differences between eg Hermetic Magic and witchcraft or even shamanism to be purelya matter of style, I'd be playing Mage, neh?

I agree,

Though it would be nice if the frameworks (along with things like initiations, etc) where consolidated into the rulebook so that each book doesn't need to reprint the same stuff over and over, and it's easy to reference.

I think it's best to move the discussion to another thread: Multicasting and Concentration rolls

This is an interesting thread. My only comment on the truth of the rumour is that, even if it is true, two to three years is the shortest time frame.

My current thinking is that I don't want to do a conventional ArM6. I do have a vision for Ars Magica, but ArM5 is the realisation of that vision. It's not perfect, but it is pretty good (in my opinion). Thus, if I did a standard ArM6, in the mould of the earlier revisions, it wouldn't be that different from ArM5, and then we'd produce the House books, Realm books, Mythic Europe books, Tribunal books, and so on, all over again. But I don't think that they'd be different enough to make people happy about buying them.

Take a look at the suggestions on this thread. Ignore Timothy's suggestions for making ArM6 diceless; that would mean, essentially, writing a new game in the same setting. The other suggestions, even the most radical like "overhaul the spell guidelines", would not change anything fundamental. They'd make all ArM5 supplements mechanically incompatible with ArM6, but revised versions of the supplements would not be that different.

As a result, I think that a classic ArM6 revision would be best headed by someone else, with a different vision for the game, so that you actually get supplements that are different enough to be worth buying.

I am thinking about "ArM5 Revised", however. There are things that can be changed without making supplements obsolete, and there's quite a bit of material that could be consolidated into the core book, cleaned up, and errata'd. That has yet to progress beyond "thinking", though, so that is also at least two or three years in the future, even if my thinking leads to deciding to do it.

I think the "ArM6 rumour" came from me - and I remember a while ago you writing something like "in three or four years, I'll start thinking about 6th edition".

Anyway, I think a ArM5 Revised is a far better idea. It would allow you and Atlas to incorporate some of the excellent elements of supplements into the core rules (initiations, crossbows, revised covenant rules, new spell guidelines, etc) while ensuring that everything remained consistent and compatible.

I agree that ArM5 is about as good as the game can get. Just needs tidying up around the edges with the benefits of years of hindsight.


I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the discussion has focused on rules instead of on the setting. For many players, the setting is absolutely compelling and is the whole reason for the game's appeal. On the sensible motto of "don't fix what isn't broken," then the desired revisions focus on mechanics.

I could (and in fact I think I will) spin off a discussion about big, radical, sweeping changes to the setting that people might be able to envision that would make a great game. Forgive the heresy but I think it is possible to change the Order of Hermes, the Houses, and so on so that the end result would better please me. But that game would not please everyone else, and it could not be said to be Ars Magica as we know it. I doubt it would take off because not everyone would be on board with the rewrite.

Getting back to the subject of this thread, "what must change," what this says to me is that the rules must change because people want improvements in balance and playability. The setting must not change (much) because even if some players wanted very much for the setting to change, there would be an equally important and influential group who want to change it in the opposite way, or don't want it to change at all. Re-printing the same supplements over again for each edition wouldn't work, as David pointed out.

What this says to me is that if there is an ArM6, the nature of the product line must change. It would be OK I think for most people if there were one or two books that consist of old stuff revised and updated for new rules. After that, the products would have to be something new, not re-treads of previous supplements. What would those kinds of products look like? I don't really know because I don't have the business knowledge of what sells. I think Magi of Hermes is a great example though of the right direction. It doesn't really expand the setting (thank goodness) but it's a great sourcebook. I can also envision books like other game lines have, "players' guide" or "storyguide's companion" and the like, being useful. I for one think a campaign sourcebook like Triamore would be great, though Triamore as executed was not my cup of tea.

There is, however, a significant minority who like the mechanics but don't like the setting.

Right. Timothy's suggestion of going diceless would have the same effect. They might well be great games, but they wouldn't be Ars Magica. If you want a different game (and I do; see my blog for the beginnings of my work on it: http://www.davidchart.com/Blog/category/roleplaying/game-design/) you should actually write a different game, not try to transform Ars Magica into it.

Although it is worth noting that people want contradictory changes, even there. The area of consensus is pretty small.

Look at the supplements we've produced for ArM5, and that other game lines produce. Books of new rules and substantial expansions of the setting are what sell.

The question then, should be, to what extent should many of these new rules be integrated into the "core" in any Revision...

First, let me say I wish Project Redcap would become ArM5.5 or at least its heart. There are certain things that cannot be made into books: spells, items, sample talismans, typical libraries. MoH merely scratches the surface of what can be done with a cooperative effort of all present. I believe the web would bring players and push them to buy books. I believe community comments would improve quality and breath life into the game. Going web is about as unconventional as it could be.


+1. I don't understand neither Ablation nor Weal and I don't see myself ever using them. If they were verbs I could use with Aquam, then at least I wouldn't have to learn a new system and understand how to use it properly.

We toyed with this. Why use Bargain, Charm or Etiquette if your Intrigue is much higher? One idea was to penalize by one ease factor (-3) when you substitute one "attack" social skill by another. Or use Etiquette as your Intrigue specialization. Expending 25 xp to get score 5 is slightly better than 30 xp to get all others to score 2 and clearly shows how you approach others.

I think it's more than that. Right now picking certain Virtues is anti-munchkinism. All Virtues should be somewhat balanced and offer similar initial bonuses. Elemental Magic is a good example, there are minor virtues better than this. (I know there's another elementalist virtue elsewhere)

For instance, I would merge the Affinity/Puissant duality. Abilities would start at 30xp with a 25% fractional bonus (i.e. 4 to raise). I would widen Major Focus to Technique (Minor with Form) with a 50% bonus instead of 100%. Let the player convince the troop his focus has the same breadth.

I find it hard for a young mage to put enough penetration in an item. I wonder if using some form of ladder reduction could work.

+1. Maybe require a spell mastery for that.

I agree, as long as the creature can tone down its might to hide itself.

Yes, this is what I believe should be on the web. It doesn't fit in a book.

I used to play SFB and there never was a rule with more than 50 words. It amazes me that I have to read a few 100 words to understand something that I can then explain in 20 words or so. Roleplay is a completely different universe from wargames and I wouldn't want it any other way, but hey.
"The Longevity Ritual takes one season to develop, you may direct, assist or simply be present for the season. Performing it requires an investment of vis based on your current age. It gives a bonus to the Aging roll. Its effects lasts until you suffer an aging crisis. You may perform it again to reactivate its effects. You may replace it at any time."

I agree invisibility shouldn't be an absolute, but I would take an approach closer to anamorph in HoH:S (p65). Every magnitude should reduce the ease factor of detection. At high enough levels, you become Somebody Else's Problem in pure hhgg style.


A magus should be able to downcast his spells. You know it Touch, you can cast it Personal. No reduction in level or improved penetration though.


Another place where we had discussions. Someone wanted to use the Art table for languages.

I agree that mechanically it would be a new game, yes. I also do accept that its not what anyone else wants, and so its never going to happen. 8)

We could make that happen. I think some kind of "creative director" for the community would be necessary, or else we'd end up with a hodgepodge of conflicting material. It could be an elected, volunteer position though.

Doing that would close off the possibility of Atlas Games selling supplements of new spells, items, sample talismans, and the like. That is not necessarily the end of the world because according to David those things don't sell on their own anyway. One would have to be careful not to compete with the for-profit product line: another reason to have a creative director.

Now, imagine if the core book were basically a PDF, updated annually with clarifications and rule fixes that feed back from the community, and one could get hard copies through a print-on-demand service. That could be interesting... If a supplement gets out of date and people want it converted to updated rules, PDF/print-on-demand could take care of that too as long as there is a way to motivate people to do quality work on the conversion (whether by pay or some other means).

As I understand it, this vision is shared, at least in part, by those involved in maintaining HermesWeb/Project Redcap.

Just to clarify any ambiguities, it should be noted that projects such as this are web projects maintained by the global, independent web community. One can't (and shouldn't) control the web, and therefore can't (and shouldn't) control the result of work created by means of it. This may or may not result in poor quality of the final work, but will, in any case, differ from the traditional editing and publishing process of a book. For one thing, the alternative modus operandi comprehends a different approach regarding traditional quality assurance, but also, and more importantly, the fact that you effectively cannot control the final result. You can only channel the work flow.

I'm not saying that it is impossible to spawn high quality products that way — far from it. The daily work of the open source community proves the very antipode. Resulting work is just likely to be different from a book that is being edited, from the very start, with regard to satisfying the greatest possible intersection of tastes, or even different from a reviewed and edited article in an encapsulated medium such as Sub Rosa Magazine published via PDF. It's imperative to note the difference. Consequently, the notion of referring to an open web project as a successor, or revised edition of a continued commercial product would strike me as... odd, yet (to a certain degree) remarkable.

There's one more thing regarding web communities: although the consuming, reactive community is sprawlingly energetic, there's only a small number of people who actively contribute to web projects to keep their respective spirit alive. It goes without saying that a static, stagnant community is unable to produce quality products.

My wife and I are participants in one of the largest volunteer communities on the web: Librivox. We, as an unfunded and basically anarchic collective, read audiobooks into the public domain. We have hundreds of readers, and we have 30 000 completed works. As someone who is part of something like this, I'd like to point out something else which you really need to keep these things working. It's not just about contributors, its about entusiastic and supportive recipients.

Here on the Atlas forumn, we are gamers. We are very polite by the standards of, say RPGSite, or even RPG.net, but we like to tinker, and so the first thing we hear about most books isn't "Thanks for this, this is great." it's "I've found a possible errata." or "This book isn't for me because I wanted X, and this is Y". Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing in our current setting: it how gamers work.

Compare, though, Librivox, which says, basically:

No unasked for criticism of readers, ever.

We do not care about your right to free speech.

We do not care about your right to an opinion.

We do not care that if they followed your advice, their technique would improve.

We do not care that you are steering others away from bad recordings, and so you are helping people.

No unasked for criticism of readers, ever.

Now, I don't think Ars fandom is designed to do what it needs to do to get something like librivox going, which is that it needs to sincerely encourage people who produce work which it enjoys, and just not talk about work it doesn't enjoy. I know I left the mailing list in disgust after one too many flamewars about me being a game wrecking nazi sympathiser. I know some of the other authors now prefer here to there because life's too short for fanrage.

I'm not trying to criticise how we do things -here-. This is not a call for change. As I say, we are very polite by gamer standards. What I am trying to say is that if you want a perpetually renewed edition, put together on their own time by volunteers, then the Ars community will need to be even less like a community of gamers, and even more like the community of Librivox listeners, because without the right sort of audience, great works of collaborative internet art like LV just do not seem to happen. And the right kind of audience does not have the, perfectly understandable, opinion that they have paid X for the book, and so they have a right to an opinion and to answers.

That simply doesn't work for shareware development communities. If you want ArM Perpetual Electronic Edition, you'll only get it by making the fandom here into something like, oh, the fandom for Dresden Files RPG, or the cult around Amber Diceless (of which I'm a lapsed but enthusiastic member, so I get to call us a cult.) or the cult around Nobilis (which I'd be a member of if Hitherby Dragons made any sense to me.) As a fandon, if you want that sort of thing, you need to conciously and formally choose to behave in a very ungamerish way.

This sounds great. I am a new player who had just bought a number of fifth edition supplements (which I've enjoyed), but I was getting somewhat wary of buying more of the 5th Edition supplements because of this thread, though the ones I have are top notch and the rest look great too. Thanks for posting this comment, Mr. Chart - from my point of view, it is good to know that if an Ars6 does come along in a few years, it will largely be the same game compatible with Ars5 books.

(I recieved True Lineages, Guardians of the Forest, and The Infernal in the mail today, and I'm looking forward to reading and using them!)

I agree that the problem with using something like project Redcap as the basis for ArM5.5 is that it will become a hodgepodge of conflicting material.

ArM5 already suffers from this to some extent. Material currently gets written and published which interacts strangely with (or duplicates in intent but differs in detail from) other material sometimes even in the same book. This is just a fact of having multiple authors and a now enormous canon of material. And this is with the consistent and excellent hand of David Chart at the tiller. I don't think that a volunteer, elected creative director would have any chance of controlling the material sufficiently.

To be honest, that sounds like a company going out of business and on the brink of collapse.

I think that the better strategy would be for Atlas to professionally rewrite the core rulebook from scratch, but with the same rules that currently stand in it. Probably under the guidance of David. So it is a new edition of the same rules. It is a refinement, rather than a reinvention. Concentrate on clarifying the text, correcting errata, and introducing and grouping some of the better / more useful mechanics and ideas from the supplements. Where something is useful, but maybe not required, have references from the Core rulebook out to the supplements, which provide greater detail. Integrate the core rulebook better with the supplements.

That way it is all compatible with what already exists. No supplement needs to be rewritten. New supplements can continue to be released.

And greatly preferred that is indeed.

Wikipedia does not have a creative director, not does Dwarf Fortress. The internet is an out-of-control self-organizing mess. Writing in a book makes it canon, using the internet allows to freely experiment with different default libraries, various talismans and enchanted devices. If the experiment fails, you trash it without having an impact on canon. If it succeeds it becomes the basis for book material.

Inconsistencies occur because people aren't on the same page. With the amount of eyeballs we have any inconsistency would be found, loopholes fixed, and then the editor can pick and choose what they want from a consistent base. Same quality for half the work.


I cannot find talisman samples, I've looked at half the PbP saga and searched the forum. Even the recent thread didn't offer any actual sample. I have learned a lot through this search but it was not easy. Half the players don't bother and just wing it because there's no resources. What cannot go into books should be freely accessible to make them want the supplement that explains the sample they're interested in.