Does Ars Magica NEED Mythic Europe as the setting?
- 1. No, we could have a complete new fantasy setting with new Houses and that would be great
- 2. We could have a fictionalised high fantasy version of Europe, like the Reik in WFRPG, and maybe new Houses
- 3. We could have 2, but keep the Order and Houses as is.
- 4. Mythic Europe should retain the default setting.
- 5. I would strongly oppose any non-Mythic Europe settings
OK, first up, I'm talking about a hypothetical Ars Magica 10th edition here. I reckon that by that time I will have followed plan "Kind Hearts & Coronets" through to its logical conclusion, and become Line Editor. This does rely on my knowing whoever Atlas appoint, as it "is so difficult to make a neat job of killing people with whom one is not on friendly terms". Also one has to bear in mind that the intervening editions will all vary tremendously -- I am sure the Ryan edition would have "all the exuberance of Chaucer without, happily, any of the concomitant crudities of his period." And ... but enough! One day! One day!
Secondly, I'm a huge fan of Ars Magica 4th and 5th editions, and Mythic Europe. I am also a big fan of 13th century history, and have an academic background in Religion/History/Folklore and I used to believe that was why Atlas hired me. Checking my emails from David that was not so -- actually it was because apparently I could type very quickly and no one else was available, at all, anywhere. Or something. Anyway I guess the reason I have stayed with the line writing so long is because I think David and a lot of the fans like what I term High History/High Myth - having a lot of fantastic elements but basing them on authentic medieval folklore and beliefs of the time and place, and making Mythic Europe weird by drawing upon the actual cultural gap between the 13th century and us.
However, in another post, I said that I thought a future edition should perhaps sacrifice Mythic Europe as the DEFAULT setting. In fact I would favour the publication of various settings, and move away from the historical model. The case has been made over the years by many people, but perhaps most recently by Matt Ryan in his blog here - metropollywog.wordpress.com/2014 ... beginning/
He points to a very real issue. There is another one. David Chart once wrote, in Sub Rosa I think which you should all buy on download - subrosamagazine.org/ - that great games can be summed up in two words, but Ars Magica takes more "Medieval Europe with Magic". I paraphrase, cos I'm hungry and need to go get food, so have not got time to quote directly, but I agree. However Ars is widely known among gamers as "the kewlest magic system ever", and oddly no one has ever emulated it. I don't think the Latin names of the Arts is an issue at all, and would probably retain them - 15 terms is not a lot for the atmosphere - but Ars makes for a great game about Wizards.
Now no game balance. You don't need that though. Make it a game about wizards, retain the Companions and Grogs and it can work. You can attract players who love magic, magic items, great monster design rules and amazing mechanical crunch. I don't think we go all indie twenty page rules only, I like the crunch in Ars, which makes it work.
You don't need Mythic Europe though, and it is offputting. Some people love the familiarity of the setting. Others who are in to worldbuilding want to make their own. Other just love fantasy settings, with orcs and goblins and more overt magic than any version of Mythic Europe.
More people don't like pretentious historians like me, who might claim their figures on the protein yield of the medieval turnip are wrong* (when I joined the Berklist the first major discussion I read was many pages on this very issues - yes really), or who hated history at school and have no idea who Phillip of Swabia was, or why they should care (I'm not sure either actually).
[size=150]THEY DO LOVE COOL MAGIC. AND DRAGONS. AND MAKING MAGIC ITEMS[/size]
Ars does those things beautifully you know. We have 5th edition. Now clearly when I have murdered my way to Line Editor for 10th Edition (OK, maybe 11th), purged the fan base and re-educated the authors, I intend to send the Paradigm Police from the Berklist to burn ever copy of Ars ever printed before my ONE TRUE EDITION. Mythic Europe will be as forgotten as House Diedne! (FX: Hysterical cackling, bats fly out of monitor, thunder lighting and Hell yawns open).
Oh, yes... Sorry, just plotting aloud. We have 5th edition. We have a lovingly described Mythic Europe. We can choose to jump on the new rules if we like them, and play them, or not. I don't know how many people stopped playing after 4th ed, and never moved to 5th, but we have a few 4th and 3rd ed players at GT UK each year, though less each time, and most at least now own a lot of 5th ed books i think.
I actually would probably not feature much in the Mythic Europe free Ars Magica. There are lot of Fantasy RPG authors out there, and my writing for the line probably is based on my knowing history and real folklore. Better people will write and edit the edition I think may come, but I don't think that is a bad thing. It saves me a lot of intriguing and plotting after all! Still, I think it might actually help bring more people in to Ars, because the magic system is something unique.
Finally my actual design ideas - I'm going to explain these more in a blog post, but I'm in favour of some indie inspired elements, including Story Flaws and Boons and Hooks used to create an overall Story Arc before the campaign starts, which paints broadly what the game is about by player consensus and ties what follows directly to the characters and covenant designed by the players, so the whole saga is focussed on them. Atlas hardly produce adventures, and I have an idea on how to make this work, so that the true strength of early editions is brought back in to very sharp relief. However that can wait for another time...