No thread on MagicShoe yet? OK there is not much known but it is exciting news! Nowadays all the best news gets leaked elsewhere!
Sorry, context please?
MagicShoe is a stand alone Ars product in early development by Cam Banks, using the GUMSHOE system to tell stories of Quaesitores solving crimes in Mythic Europe.
It could be good. I've often thought The Simple Art of Murder might be a way forward for some of our stories. I find the idea that each scene should be so good that the murderer is not the point to be quite interesting.
The idea was to work on other approaches to Mythic Europe. We don't think that Ars Magica proper can be all things to all people, but Mythic Europe would be a fun setting even for people who don't like detailed, complex rules.The hope is that Magic Shoe will appeal to them, so that we don't need to try turning Ars Magica into something completely different and risk alienating the current fan base.
I'm not closely involved with this, because I'm busy with ArM5. The flip side of that is that the development of Magic Shoe will have absolutely no impact on the development of the ArM5 line.
I'm looking forward to seeing it. It's been quite a long time since there's been an Ars Magica product, apart from fanzines, that I haven't been intimately involved with.
I like investigative rpg - I wrote for Call of Cthulhu (as Chris Jerome - only my Ars Magica stuff bears my real name). I love Trail of Cthulhu and own three other Gumshoe games so I think this will be fun.
However investigations are hard to do in Ars. The reason is Intellego magics that make whodunit often a case of casting a single spell. Of course not all investigations are murder mysteries...
I doubt this is a game for me, so hearing it won't impact the ArM5 development is good news to me.
CJ expresses the Common Wisdom: that Quaesitor stories are unusual because the facts are easy to determine and the real determinants of innocence or guilt is really the debate over whether or not the known act actually broke the Code or not.
I also remember an episode of Arcane Connection in which CJ noted that not only had he never played a Quaesitor, but that no one in any of his games has played one. They are just so unpopular. Quaesitores are the wet blankets of the Order. Everything fun is prohibited by the Code, so who wants to play the guy that tells the other players they can't have fun?
But the idea of Mythic Europe magical detectives is very interesting to me and I have played Quaesitores before. So I am very much looking forward to Magic Shoe and Cam proving the Common Wisdom wrong.
Intelligo spells make everything simple and routine until some demon goes and implants a mundane with a false memory just for giggles.
I do love to upset the Common Wisdom.
I ran an alpha playtest of this game at Metatopia last weekend, using preliminary Ars Magica magic rules ported into GUMSHOE and Bishop's Staff as the scenario. Keep in mind that GUMSHOE is not about whether or not you find clues - you're going to find clues, it's what you do with them when you've got them. "Clue" in this instance is short hand for "information the GM has prepared to give you" and each clue points in a new direction, moving the scenario along.
For the playtest, I wrote up GUMSHOE stats for a Quaesitor from House Guernicus, a Hoplite from Flambeau, a Redcap from Mercere, and a Turb Captain. Grogs were handled as a pool of generic points possessed in varying amounts by the player characters, who could "spend" them to create actual named grog characters defined by how many points were used to create them. For example, the Turb Captain player created a 4 point woodsman and a couple of 2 point shield grogs. The grogs are then under the control of the player who created them.
I'm still working out many of the kinks, but so far, so good. Expect this to be a very investigation/mystery/intrigue centered sort of game, set in Mythic Europe, featuring magi, companions, and covenants. It is not Ars Magica 6th Edition, it will be a standalone experience.
Happy to answer questions or field comments!
What skills are General not pool? That was my first thought My second was I assume magic is still Tech + Form? I tried it once but did it by dividing all Arts by 5 to create pools, and then using the pools for Spont Magic but formulaic spells were effectively reusable special abilities.
That was more of a direct conversion though than a real Gumshoe version such as you are planning. In Ars 5 escalating power levels mean by a mere 60 or so years out of Gauntlet it's hard to challenge magi with physical or whodunnit type issues.
I await this development with interest and perhaps some trepidation.
There's not as much pressure with an alternative rules set to mimic the core rules set, if that helps any. For example, there's no need to concern with the rate of advancement or development when the game isn't going to assume that your character is going to spend 60 years kicking up their Arts to huge levels. This game is going to assume that your Arts are, for the most part, going to range from 0 to 20 at the very most, and my demo characters didn't have any Arts rated higher than 8.
0 to 20 is the sane range for Arts. Even in sagas that have been running 20+ years with characters a century out of Gauntlet Arts of 25+ are uncommon from what I see.
You may hit a cultural issue with Ars players though. Those who are used to 4th and 5th ed are an odd bunch: only folks I have ever seen The Rise of Tiamat problem with.
Allow me to explain: I start to run that campaign from the Hoard book - 1st level D&D 5 characters dropped in to the action and save town. Grateful citizens then say "can you do next mission to save us all!"
Most role players say "cool we are heroes let's do this". Ars players say "we are second level now"; if only 2% of people make it to 3rd level then there are better qualified people here. lots of them. Now let's assume only one in 25,000 make it to tenth level: if we sail to Waterdeep or locate someone with teleport we can fix this by teatime...
This is a problem with playing Quaesitors with Ars players: they expect older and more powerful magi to get involved. They just don't seem to think in the terms most frpg people do - and given 4th and 5th ed were not fantasy hero games but extended metaphors for scientific research methodology for people who want extra homework who is surprised?
Now none of this is a problem: Magic Shoe will bring new people in and the culture will change.This forum reflects the 5th ed mindset where simulationst modeling is the norm: in fact the difference between Ars fans and D&D fans seems to be in the occupational groups and the fact based on the limited data I collected Ars fans were significantly less likely to have ever read comic books, fantasy books or watched fantasy films.They are much more likely to read nonfiction and view current affairs shows. However I need to do a proper survey sometime!
Are players have usually played far more systems too. So all is good and Gumshoe a good fit: but the conservatism of this forum in sticking to the Ars "canon" takes some getting used to. As a heretic who advocates change i know!
I'm looking forward to the project.
I've used Mythic Europe as a background for other systems and had great fun. The background is so deep that it offers incredible immersion.
And as far as Quaesitors go, we have used them. When we playtested Provencal my troupe made a pair of Quaesitor working together, a la House Tremere, whose mission was to investigate the deaths of several prominent tribunal members. Was it due to the crusade or was there something else going on? I won't spoil Faith & Flame for anyone who has not yet bought that most excellent book.
I don't own any Gumshoe products, but will likely buy one today. Pelgrane Press is my second favorite gaming company and I admire their product line. I've got the complete collection of Dying Earth rpg products and have recently purchased their 13th Age line. Very nicely done.
Another variation on this them is to adapt Dogs in the Vineyard. You and your group of hoplites/quaesitors deal with one problem covenant per episode or mini-arc. Covenants are generated using DitV rules, the territorial authorities are the nobility, etc.
Not exactly the same, but with a similar focus on decision over investigation.
As an FYI, consider me extremely interested in this product!
I love Ars5th for what it provides and I have had some great long term games with it.
However, after a nearly 3 year saga that sort of fizzled out, I would love a way to revisit Mythic Europe in one-shot form with lighter rules. Many of my players have shifted away from rules-heavy systems, so MagicShoe may be a way for us to meet in the middle and play stories in a setting I enjoy, even if the awesome long-term rules are not being used.
Ars5th is a banquet that requires a fair amount of prep, but when everyone is on the same page, it cannot be beat.
But what I need these days are food trucks, essentially. Our schedules have changed, and we can't get our old group together like we used to. One shot or short run games would be a boon.
I must be an extreme outlier then. As I fit BOTH descriptions.