Introducing an ars rookie

I'm absolutely positive this is the wrong forum for this, buthere goes anyway.... :slight_smile:

I'm finally waking up and abandoning d&d for good. I've played since the early 80s and I just can't hack the 'video game' they've turned it into. I miss the art of the fantasy game from back in tha day..

So I have two needs...

First, reliable guidelines for converting my old First editition AD&D, second edition and third edition stuff to Ars.. not just the cannon stuff I want to keep, but all of the original stuff I've made over the last 2+ decades. I'm not interested in converting ARS to D&D..either the new D&D or the old. I want to use some of that stuff in Ars Magica. If anybody has done this before I could use some help.

The second..well.. if anybody here lives in or near Omaha Nebraska and has room in their saga for a beginning player.... :wink:

Thanks for the attention. I'll go back to catching up on forums now.


Hi there Athelwulf! Welcome to the boards. And ArM.

I'm afraid I haven't done anything like that. Are you familiar with ? If not - browsing it is a very good way to reach great sites on Ars Magica. This page seems to be the only thing that addresses your question that I could find, but I haven't looked thoroughly - there may be more. :slight_smile:

We have had some discussions on the forum on the differnces between ArM and D&D adventures and the difficulties in converting them, but I'm afraid we haven't progressed more.

:slight_smile: Not really my neighborhood...

Wow.. This is going to be quite a difficult conversion, I think, since I can't seem to picture the genre on Ars Magica's rules!

Though, on a second though, it might be lots of fun (if deadly).

No idea where you can find guidelines though, but if you know both rules system well enough, all you need is to sit down and get to it. :slight_smile:

Make vis-less, non-ritual health spells available or make creo and corpus vis dirt cheap and readily available AND charged items (potions) with heahty rituals available: TADDA!! Ars transformed pretty much into something that you can play in the forgotten realms supplements right away without changes in style. The main difference is that mages become double class: mage/cleric diudes and the rest tend to be warriors, not paladins. Not a major conversion if you go for high fantasy setting.



Actually both of those sites will help a lot. It's always good to have input from someone who plays the new game. Thanks for the welcome. :slight_smile:

Now I'm wondering...the other site had examples of the modifiers used for fantasy races... Do I assume correctly that those modifiers have to be bought with virtues and flaws? Or just follow the D&D example and just give them as bonuses, the go with the 10 points from there?

I'm hoping it will be easier than I think. I started back in the old days before most of the supplements came out, so it was a lot more open. We have always run a more low-fantasy game.. and a very brutal one when it comes to combat. One of my favorite proverbs is that it doesn't matter how powerful you are, if you stick your face in the kobold hole enough times an infant with a toothpick will put your eye out. So deadly is just fine with me.

One of the attractive things to me about ARS is the advancement system. I never award experience during a scenario...always after. And I always have enforced study and training time rules.. Plus advancement happening over a season instead of a game session.. it just works for me. We like having a strongly medieval flavor in that regard.

Plus an excellent magic system. Keeps the Art expensive, difficult and rare. That's an absolute must. I've got a lot to learn about the system though.

Duly noted. But a Paldin could still be similuated with the right combination of virtues and flaws.. at least I THINK it could. Does increasing the number of virtue points or flaw points allowed have much of an unbalancing effect?

Crikey, time to go back to work already...



The V&F system is at the core of Ars Magfica. Increase/decrease in their availability can have huge repercussions in how poerful a character is.


True, but that the reason why Mysteries blew the lid off the game. It allows you to gain more virtues. Also note that Mythic Companions can take two poits of virtues for every one point of flaws, which may help you in creating that powerful palidan or ranger character. Making little race or class packages of V/F's might work too.

I stayed far away from 3rd edition D&D. I'd rather play the box set version. I saw a preview for 4th edition, and it just looks aweful. There is going to be a mass exodus to other systems.

I very much doubt it. 4e is going to attract most gamers regardless of its content, and I suspect a lot of people would be pleased with its content. I'm pretty sure from what I've seen that I'd like many of the changes, but not others, which will be a problem for me... for the first time I'll probable cobble together a homebrew system. Oh well.

I would love to see that conversion once it's done and convince my group to try it out Athelwulf, so if you need help writing anything let me know.

As for 3rd and 4th Edition, well I have to say 3rd was an improvement, on how things were organized, from 2nd. But then, all 2nd did to 1st was complicate it much!

No idea on 4th, but you shouldn't really believe people will abandon D&D Xavi, it's too big a fish, and while it is more appealing to the new generations of gamers than the older, this means it continues to grow as gaming does.

I would love to see that conversion once it's done and convince my group to try it out Athelwulf, so if you need help writing anything let me know.

I'm going to take a shot at converting one or two monsters. Then I'll post them here for you to try. My big concern is getting the mechanics right. Ifg I make something to tough I can back it weak and I beef it up. But getting the mechanics right while keeping the right feel to the critter will be the trick.

I'll try to write the first one tonight if I can.

Most of the older gamers I know have already decided not to buy it. Basically anybody over age 35. Not that it means that to be true of every old school guy, but maybe it is...

Seems to me what is going to happen is most people that played 1st ed or 2nd ed or the old box game will be keeping to their own homebrew or going to new systems while people that came in with 3rd ed are exited about the new version. So they'll be getting their sales from that and the younger video game crowd.

In fact I just came from a game store here in Omaha that trades in used games where I picked up a used copy of ArM4's Ultima Thule book. The kid at the counter who is about 24 years old was expressing a lot of the same opinions I have. Loss of feel, to much like an MMO...and cost.. WOTC seems to want to sell 4 to 6 hardcovers a month, and at $30 and up each it's just not worth going any further with the system. So he's just sticking with v 3.5. Might even get him to join me for Ars Magica sometime. :slight_smile:

I think the biggest problem with 4th is that they just got 3.5 covered. Just recently. The economics of changing a vast 3.5 library to 4th is too daunting. It may happen slowly, or not at all, but they're not going to find their customer base quite as eager to change over as to by one more 3.5 book. :wink:

Welcome, A!

Wow, quite a challenge. And on several levels, some you may not have foreseen. Nothing insurmountable, nor even difficult, just possibly several "...oh..." moments ahead of you.

  1. re non-human races.

Ars, obviously, is not set up for anything more than "half-elves", to borrow that term. And even then, there's Fae Blood, and Strong Fae Blood... which makes some sense. (I mean, if there are half-elves, why aren't there quarter and three-quarter elves???) Anyway...

Yeah, the Virtue/Flaw system as written is set up for "dull human type" to be the default. D&D tries to balance the "racial abilities" with in-game considerations, so if you want to create a "standard package", and call it balanced, that could work. Maybe several Virtues/Flaws for a lesser cost - become a non-human, get assigned a standard 5(?) pts in Virtues/Flaws, and still get up to 7 Virtues/Flaws of your choice, etc.

3rd ed established standardization for all races, 2nd ed allowed custom mix-and-match racial abilities - your call.

  1. Experience and Advancement.

One thing that D&D does is have system that ~tends~ to provide advancement after a few gaming sessions. Kill a few orcs, slay a small dragon, et voila, next level. But it doesn't matter if you do that in a day, or over a year - same XP.

One problem with Ars is that long adventures like dungeon crawls do NOT provide proportionally more advancement for a longer adventure. Be aware of this, and plan accordingly - it can take some mental gear shifting for a GM to create short, punchy adventures so that the adventure ends, and then Seasons can pass and characters can get bigger before the next one begins. Some of the "sequential" campaigns are just not practical. It might take your group years to play them out, but if only a year (4 seasons) pass for the Characters, the Players not going to be happy.

  1. In Ars, the most important character is the Covenant.

Magi come, magi go. Companions come, companions die. Grogs sometimes die almost before they've arrived. But the Covenant is the "entity" that provides continuity in the story, the single thread that ties them all together.

The closest D&D has is "the adventuring group". And in a typical D&D world, rarely do the Characters settle down. But in Ars, the advantages to settling down are legion, almost(?) a necessity. Ars wizards need their labs - unless you rewrite those rules (which you might well want to!). Otherwise, it may take some gear shifting for your players to get used to the new concept.

(Altho', even in Ars there are considerations for "Peregrinators", aka wandering magi, loners without a (currently available?) Covenant. They can "rent" lab space, and many Covenants take measures to make a profit from them by providing just that. A few vis (or whatever) gets you a season. You can't "personalize" the lab, but you got it for what you need.)

  1. Divine vs Arcane.

Altho' there are Ars books that deal with it, I'd just use the one magic system for all. Maybe limit Clerics to what Techs/Forms they have access to- and Druids likewise. No need to make the Players learn multiple magic systems - the one is enough.

  1. Healing, and "permanent" magics

Already discussed. I'd just make Vis more common, even an over-the-counter market commodity. Gives one more "treasure" that you can give away.

  1. Big Magic.

No, REALLY BIG magic. And potentially endless amounts of it. Ars can allow "beginning" characters access to earth-shattering spells much earlier than D&D ever would. Essentially, Ars Magi are "sorcerers", and if they specialize and focus, they can get hammers in that area that they can cast all day long.

And while Ars does not allow Plane Shifting and some other sorts, the top end of some Arts is much more terrifying than any 9th Level mallet. The Hermetic Oath binds Hermetic Magi in Mythic Europe... if you're not playing there, you may want to consider something similar. Maybe a Royal Writ, or an Order of Reasonable Wizards, or... something? Otherwise, you may see some ~real~ peasant abuse. :wink:

  1. Character/Class balance.

In Ars, Wizards are da bomb. No fighter, no rogue can match them. You may want to adopt a Troupe style, and let everyone play one wizard, and one "also ran" character. Players who Don't Play SpellCasters may be frustrated - or not - but there will be a growing power gap.

7.5) Semi-spell casters.

No such thing in Ars. Bards, Paladins, Rangers - either you got the Gift (and you are da bomb), or you just have some wampy Abilities that pale in comparison. And the Abilities don't tend to ever grow, not like spells do. Something else to plan for.

  1. (I forget what 8 is for)

Actually, that's enough. I'm sure (well, I'd hope!) that these spark some other realizations in others here, so that you have an easier time avoiding some of the more foreseeable pitfalls.

Good luck - let us know how it's going, and how it works out in practice!

You might want to check out Black Monks of Glastonbury. Whilst written for the 4e, it was part of Atlas's Coriolis line and has character stats for both d20 and ArM games. There are some notes regarding conversion as well; how to handle vis, and so forth. I believe that the suggestion is that a newly-Gauntletted magus translates to a 6th level wizard. The difference between 4e and 5e is not so great that you couldn't work out the variation.


I have Black Monks right here, and it does say that it's not meant as a conversion guide for d20, but in many cases, the d20 character statistics and the ArM statistics are right next to one another so it's fairly easy to see what the designers thought was roughly equivalent. It might help you convert your d20 material without too much heartache.

It's also not a bad supplement for getting a feel for stories that can interact with the Divine, Infernal, and Faerie. The whole thing could be a longer arc, rather than a single story.


To address some of the points raised by CuchubignameIcan'ttype:

  1. re non-human races.

I think the best option might be to have kits of Advantages and Disadvantages that demihumans have to take at character creation.
That means demihumans will have less points to customize their characters with Virtues and Flaws, which gives humans some advantage.

  1. Experience and Advancement.

Experience on adventures might need to be re-worked a bit, but just increasing the source Quality, or perhaps giving out multiple Exposure sources might fix it.

And yes, there ought to be some time in between adventures for season advancement, but instead of having the characters stay out of trouble for 3 years, I would, again, just increase the source Quality of things, to increase the amount of xp earned.

  1. In Ars, the most important character is the Covenant.

I agree with Cuchu here. Wizards, at the very least, will have to settle down and have a lab if you are sticking with the magic rules as they are.

  1. Divine vs Arcane.

Perhaps stick with the D&D approach of having separate spell lists. Not for mages, but for Clerics and the like. Leave the all open customized magic to Mages and limit the magic of others, while making it more readily available.

Make a list of spells that Clerics can learn, for example, then remove Spontaneous Spells from them. Keep Arts accelerated for them, but not so for Mages, much like Yair is doing in his experimental online game.

That way Mages get all the customization and wonders of magic, but advance way more slowly, while Clerics (and why not, Bards, Rangers and Paladins) advance more quickly but are fairly limited in what magics they can do.

You may also want to put a cap on secondary magic users' Arts.

Then again, I'm not sure how any of that would work...

  1. Healing, and "permanent" magics

To stick with D&D theme, disallow Hermetic Magic to actually heal living things completely?

  1. Big Magic.

De-accelerating Arts, as Yair did in his experimental online game, might solve this problem.

  1. Character/Class balance.

If BIG MAGIC is solved, this is solved.

7.5) Semi-spell casters.

See above.

  1. (I forget what 8 is for)

I forget too so...

Depends on what you mean by unbalancing.

The ArM model is that wizards are just plain more powerful than other characters. By a wide margin. If you want to bring companion type characters closer to wizards' capability, then I think adding more Virtues is the way to go. I believe it's in Houses of Hermes: True Lineages that there are rules for Mythic Companions -- companions who are closer to magi in capabilities. This might be worth a look if you want D&D style diversity of "classes" in your game.

No amount of virtues can equal the potential growth of Arts and Spells, imo. While they might be more balanced at first, even perhaps slightly to the mega-Virtue side, the wizard will leave them behind.

( Yeah, in retrospect, that may not have been the best choice, but it's what I got, and if nothing else, it's distinctive.

Cuchulain - Celtic (spec. Irish) hero
hound - dog; here, one that belongs to Cuchulain
Cuchulainshound - hella choice for a User ID. )

Well, I think I'm going to try to NOT outsmart myself here. I'm going to run an ad hoc saga for a while with ArM5 just the way it is. The last couple days I've devoted time to converting the Barghest from 3rd Edition D&D...well it's a little different now, but still a great critter. But it got me to thinking..

Why make too many wholesale changes to a game I find attractive because of the style it already has? So instead of doing that, I'll probably realign the campaign setting to focus more on 'Home Time' and keep the ArM rules intact.

I can reintroduce my homebrew as time goes on.

For anybody interested in it, here's my version of the Barghest for ArM5. I'm sure you alrady know what the monster is so I won't explain. If I'm not too loopy, a small group of 3 to 6 of them should give a typical middle summer covenant a decent fight. But maybe not. Rewrites welcome :slight_smile:.

ArM5 Version

Realm (might): Infernal (20)
Characteristics: Int +2, Per +2, Pre +2 , Com +2 , Str +3, Sta +1, Dex +2 , Qix +2
Size: +0
Age: N/A
Decrepitude: n/a
Warping Score: n/a
Confidence Score: 1 (3)
Virtues and Flaws: Berserk, Lightning Reflexes, Piercing Gaze
Personality Traits: Relentless +1, Murderous +3, Brave -1
Reputation: none
Combat: Bite Init +4, Attack +9, Defense +8, Damage +8
2 Claws, Init +4, Attack +8, Defense +8, Damage +6
Soak: +8
Fatigue Levels: OK, -1, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious
Wound Penalties: -1(1-5), -3(6-10), -5(11-15), Incapacitated (16-20), Dead (21+)
Abilities: Athletics +12, Awareness +11, Brawl +6, Entrancement +9, Hunt (track) +4, Guile (acting) +11, Intrigue +6, Leadership (intimidation) +11, Shapeshifter +3, Stealth +11
Equipment: Usually none. But may steal when in Goblin form.
Encumbrance: 0 (0)
Consume the Victim (0 points, Init + 2, Corpus). When a barghest slays a mortal human opponent, it can feed on the corpse, devouring both flesh and life force in a single round. Feeding destroys the victim’s body. A barghest advances in power by consuming corpses in this fashion. For every three suitable corpses a barghest devours, it gains +1 attack and +1 Defense, and it’s Strength and Stamina increase by +1. The barghest only advances by consuming the corpses of mortal human innocents or the helpless. A barghest that consumes 9 such individuals in one night through feeding immediately becomes a greater barghest upon completion of the act. ( haven't designed greater Barghest yet)

Change Shape (1 point, Init +2, Animal). A barghest can assume the shape of a goblin or a wolf as well as it’s normal lupine humanoid shape. This transformation takes one round. In goblin form, a barghest cannot use its natural weapons but can wield weapons and wear armor. In wolf form, a barghest loses its claw attacks but retains its bite attack.

Pass Without Trace (0 points, Init +9, Animal). A barghest in wolf form can pass through any terrain without leaving tracks or scent. They are impossible to track without the use of magic.

Blink, (2 points +4 Init, Animal) A barghest can “blink” back and forth between the mundane realm and the infernal realm. It appears as though it is winking in and out of reality very quickly and at random. While blinking, attacks against the barghest receive a –9 circumstance penalty on attack rolls since the creature is randomly concealed from attack. Likewise, individually targeted spells must be aimed at a –9 penalty to the aim roll. A barghest’s own attacks suffer a –5 penalty to attack rolls since it sometimes blinks as it is about to strike. If a blinking barghest appears in the area of effect of a duration spell, it is affected by the spell normally. Falling distances are halved while Blinking, since the creature is only in the mundane realm for half the fall.

While blinking, a barghest can attempt to step through solid objects, including living creatures. For each 5 feet of solid material it attempts to cross make a simple die roll against an Ease of 6. If the roll fails, then it appears in the same space as the solid material and is displaced to the nearest open space, taking a light wound for every 5 feet so moved. An blinking barghest is capable of moving in any direction, even up or down with it’s levitation ability. It may move through solid objects, including living creatures. The Blinking lasts for 30 seconds (6 rounds).

Levitate, (1 point, Init +8, corpus) The Barghest may rise vertically into the air as fast as smoke rises and descend safely. It may carry up to two hundred pounds while levitating. It may not move horizontally by levitating.

Aura of Despair (0 points, Always On, Mentem), The barghest’s presence causes great sadness, hopelessness and despair. All creatures within 30 paces and suffers 2 long-term fatigue levels from the negative emotions.

Gaze of Terror (2 points, Int +7, Mentem). Each creature in the monster’s field of vision hesitates, automatically losing initiative to the monster the next round and must pass a Leadership + Stamina test versus an Ease of 6 to avoid fleeing in panic. When using this power, the barghest’s eyes glow red.

Translocate (1 point, +8 Init, Animal) A barghest can instantly transfer itself from it’s current location to any other spot within 400 paces. It always arrive at exactly the spot desired—whether by simply visualizing the area or by stating direction. Using this power ends a Barghest’s turn. You can bring along objects as long as it can carry them. It may also bring one additional creature of size 0 or smaller. The barghest MUST arrive in an open space within 400 paces, either one in sight or that it knows but cannot see. If no such space exists, the power fails to work.

Vis: 6 Vim (heart) Infernally Tainted

A barghest is a lupine demon that can take the shape of a wolf or a goblin. In its natural form, it resembles a goblin–wolf hybrid with terrible jaws and sharp claws. As whelps, barghests are nearly indistinguishable from wolves, except for their size and claws. As they grow larger and stronger, their skin darkens to bluish red and eventually becomes blue altogether.
A full-grown barghest is about 6 feet long and weighs 180 pounds. A barghest’s eyes glow orange when the creature becomes excited.

Something tells me I need to study the book more :slight_smile:


It looks pretty cool. It has been so long since I played D&D, I have no Idea what a Bhargest is. I remember the Fiend Folio with the creepy sword dude on the cover.
Only flaw I spot in a brief skimming is that this thing isn't infernal. It's a malicious faerie. Demon's don't grow, they simply are. It changes from a goblin to a wolf and stuff. Mean faerie indeed, but I don't think he has any interest in corrupting my soul or specifically targeting the forces of holyness.

I believe Levitate should be animal, since it's levitating the barghest, the barghest is animal, so...

Hmmm, you might want to stick to ArM durations for some powers-- the use of rounds is not the standard... so Blinking would be 8points, and have a duration of diameter. ... I don't even know what art to base it off of-- not Animal, but Vim, probably, since you're shifting between realms. I think that's good, because it makes the power a serious investment of Might, which I think it should be.

Translocate is pretty much good, until you have him able to go to a place he "knows but cannot see." Then it enters the realm of an arcane connection range where he doesn't need an arcane connection. That makes it ... potent.

Change Shape doesn't provide a duration, or is it permanent until shifted back? Knowing the d20 monster, I'd assume permanent until shifted back, but you should clarify. Its statistics should probably change between wolf and goblinoid forms. I doubt it is as communicative in wolf form as in goblin form, for instance.

An excellent little critter, overall... what I've picked out are mostly nits, I think. Three would probably give a Spring Covenant a hard time, but a solid PeVi specialist is going to tear them up with a Demon's Eternal Oblivion multicast with good Penetration. A Summer covenant might get annoyed by six of them, but a 15 Pe, 15 Vi, with 3 Penetration, mastery of DEO in multicast and penetration, and a minor magical focus in demons...which could easily be found at a Summer covenant... would be able to fire off a pair of DEO 20 with 30 Penetration (before the roll) and pop off three of them at a shot. With only 10 Pe and 10 Vi, the same magus can nuke three every time as long as he doesn't botch. If there's an Infernal Aura, he might need to use a pawn of vis on each one. Depending on how they were armed, grogs would probably really not enjoy dealing with this monster.

You might include a weakness that allows a caster to apply arcane connections to the people they have recently consumed. Thus, if one has eaten little Mary, and magus Antonius has an arcane connection to Mary, he can boost his Penetration against that particular Barghest for limited timeframe.

just some thoughts,