Hey guys. So I was originally going to run a game in Fate Core for my friends (based on Attack on Titan), but we decided that shucking most of the supernatural stuff out of Ars Magica and running with what’s left was more in line with what we wanted in terms of story structure, character differentiation and development, the troupe system, and all that. The main thing that feels lost in transition is the sense of cinematography Fate Core has, particularly when it comes to combat. We like the building up of advantages, creative tactics, bonuses for dramatic social manipulation, cool special moves, and just generally rewarding doing something more evocative than attacking until the other person is dead. Do you guys have any houserules you can recommend to help us recapture that kind of gameplay element in Ars Magica?
My first experience with Ars Magica we would have bonuses based on cinematic descriptions. +1 to +3. The Storyteller also required some description for spending confidence and doing spontaneous Magic.
One of the older editions had a bonus for it duelling and possibly in spontaneous Magic, don't quote me on the latter my memory is off as to what was house rules and what was in older editions.
There are quite a few things you can do to marry Fate with Ars Magica. One of the most obvious is using Confidence and regaining confidence through good role play and cinematic descriptions. Another being personality traits, reputations, and Essential Qualities. All three can be used, if you choose, to lend mechanical bonuses outside of their normal use to reward cinematic descriptions.
For instance a magical Cat of Virtue will simply have "Cat: +3" as an essential quality. Well, what does that mean? If you replace all the virtues and qualities listed for a cat with "cat: +3"... and use the bonus for it's essential nature instead when the player invokes them. This is very similar to a player invoking a character's Fate Aspect. Instead of spending a Fate point our an Ars Magica Confidence, have the player describe the scene for the bonus. Or have the Storyteller do so.
One of the under used aspects of the 5th edition is adding a descriptive adjective to each Characteristic. Now there are virtues in 5hh that make them heroic, and I think in older editions a 4 or higher was always heroic and would grant a bonus if the circumstances arose.
Have players give a description for any characteristic with a bonus or minus, then use those like you would Aspects for a +1 or -1. Again to gain said bonus or avoid the extra minus have the player describe cinematicly. Even without the bonus, I like to add descriptions for my own use simply to remind me of the character and how to play them.
Spontaneous Magic is always a good time to describe cinematicly even without any house rule modification. The flaws Chaotic Magic and Weird Magic come to mind.
I think that the Optional Combat Rules found in the Lords of Men supplement are what your are searching for. For social situations you can use the system from Dynasties & Demagogues.
As anything Ars related, these are more formulas to remember and more tables to consult, so proceed with caution.
Hope this helps