Modern Ars Magica questions

I am trying to set an ars magica game in the present, anyone try that and can give me pointers? also, how do you handle guns and other modern weaponry.
Please feel free to mail me at

I thank any and everyone who helps.

White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension was envisioned as "Ars Magica in the Modern World" and there are many books for that still available, older editions quite cheaply, plust stuff on the web for it.

Ars Moderna: ... /index.php

Ars Magicia 2000:

Modern Weapons: ... opic=74414

I know I've followed a link off of the atlas game site showing an active Modern Ars game, but for the life of me I can't find it.

I tried as much as possible to be somewhat "Realistic" about a more modern game of Ars Magica. I put it in the wild west. Did a lot of research over all, and started the game.

Only to find my Mages more than willing to solve all thier martial problems with a gun. Not magic. even among other Mages.

The Code is conspicuosly silent even in the current setting on a mage taking a sword and pushing it through an enemy mages gut, entirely without the use of magic.

Imagine how much worse it beomces when two mages decide they wanna have it out without breaking the "rules" in a modern game wiht guns.

BLAM BLAM! And the Quaesitor is just left shrugging with a "I can;t do a damn thing about it!' look on his face.

If you want to use guns. I highly reccomend you don't go more modern than the musket. ONe opening shot and then resorting to the old stand bys is easy enough to deal with. Trying to figure out how to deal with the damage rate, and rapid fire of an uzi in a given round is a monster headache waiting to happen.

Try using Mage : The Awakening (the new WoD book) and Armory.

While the Awakening Magic System is not the same as Ars Magica ,
you could adapt some of the spells to Ars Magica ,
especially the Shielding spells (damage protection).

Even using Ars Magica versus guns ,
is a Ward against Bullets (ReTe) any less effective.
(no matter how many bullets are fired)

(Edit : Ack, I've been used as a reference...!!!)

This is what I said on the matter some three years ago...
(Remember, this was 4th Edition Stuff...)

Interesting thought exercise...

Remember, that arrows do have more penetrating power than a handgun, and do more damage (This is true; An arrow fired from a composite bow went farther into a target and left a wider wound channel than a .38 caliber pistol round fire from a police service revolver). So, on average, 9mm Parabellum round should do as much damage as an arrow fired from a long bow.

Against handguns, I would count the full soak of the armor against tha damage, because handgun rounds are big and slow. Rifle rounds, have much more energy than a pistol round. I would only count Stamina + Size as the soak score, +1 if the armor has padding, +2 for partial plate, and +3 for full plate armor of the late medieval period.

Modern Armor converts all pistol damage into 'Brawl' damage. Against rifle rounds, it only converts half. Against Armor Piercing rounds armor is half as effective. They also do half damage. Armor is twice as effective against Hollowpoint and DumDum rounds.

Anyone getting hit with a bullet (unless it's an extremely small - .22 short cartridge for example) goes down. How hard they go down is dependant on the weapon. That's why the .45 ACP pistol was in use for so long (WWI to present day); It does the job of stopping an oncoming assailant rather well.

Also, most firearms have an effective range that is far less than thier maximum range. For handguns (glock 9mm) and submachineguns (H&K MP5) this is about 15 meters; Ars Magica 'Near' range. While most Assault Rifles have ranges in the 300 meter range, they are most effective at 90-100 meters, Ars Magica 'Far' range. The same applies to Battle Rifles, though thier maximum range is about double that of an Assault Rifle (which technically are carbines). Hunting /Sniping rifles would have an effect range of 'Sight'.

Also, if the target can't see it coming, they do not get the opportunity to have a defence roll (this is stated in the rules RE: missile fire). So while that +10 damage may seem underpowered for a sniper rifle, remember that if you are sucessfull, your full attack score (Per + Skill + Atk + Die) will be added to that damage score, and applied against the target's soak. So it would be quite possible to kill someone in a single shot with a good roll.

Now comes the sticker; Realistic rate of fire versus something the game can tolerate. I would use the existing rate table, modified with 2 categories at the top, adding 3 and 4 attacks (during melee and magic phase, at increments of 5 past the "2 attacks" entry). Various actions take a certain number. A single shot takes a single action. A short burst (3 rounds, uses 3 bullets) takes 2 actions; long bursts (half the magazine, not available on all weapons) uses three actions, as does reloading the weapon. Emptying the weapon (empties the magazine, not available on all weapons) uses 4 actions. Accuracy decreases by 2 for every category above 'single' shot, but damage increases by 50% for a short burst, doubled for a long burst, and is treble for those who enjoy emptying a full magazine against targets. One could also spray an area, taking 4 actions, and dividing the damage up between the number of targets in the area (this would be done at the base attack score).

When used as a melee weapon, I would treat pistols and sub-machineguns as clubs, rifles without bayonets as maces, and rifles with bayonets as short spears.

Magic could obviously be used to defend or enhance a modern firearm. Spells to defend against incoming fire would be ReTe L25, defend against all incoming attacks, seen or unseen). Spells to lighten, enhance damage or accuracy are covered in the Parma Fabula.

Thoughts, comments, criticisms (Raises Ward against Heat and Flames)?

And also the following...

Timothy Ferguson wrote (again):

I'd note here that your medieval longbow is nothing like a
modern composite bow in terms of power. I'd present as evidence
that medieval knights on Crusade used cloth pads as effective
armour against arrows.

Really? The deputy who demonstrated this to us was using a old wooden, composite, recurved bow, using wooden arrows with target points (probably worse than the spike tip used to penetrate armor). The modern compound bow (something a verditious might create) put the arrow (wood, with a 2 blade steel broadhead) -thru- the dummy.

Effectiveness of an arrow depends greatly on the head; most arrows fired in warfare were just sharpened wooden shafts with 3 feathers (or leather) for fletching, if you were lucky. 2 was more typical. So cloth padding would be effective armor for a blunt wooden shaft. But not for a AP spike or for a hunting head. Crossbow bolts, though, are another story. Sabot rounds were the first projectiles for medieval cannon; simply a large crossbow bolt with 2 leather washers on the nock, with a charge of powder behind it... It would be devastating against armored knights, if it wasn't so damn unreliable...

If one really enforces the "If you can't see it, you can't get out of the way" rule for missile fire, guns are extremely deadly.

Obviously, the rules have changes RE: Missile fire, but I still think the ideas presented stand. With a gun, you have to roll your initiative every time (any botch indicates a jam or worse...), and for every 5-7 points of your total, you get a shot (starting at your roll, then working your way down. To help even things out, Firearms would have either no or negative initiative modifiers (the faster the rate of fire of the weapon, the lower this penalty would be).


As great a pearl of a RPG-system, and especially the magic mechanics, I still thinks that the most important part of a functional and interesting RPG experience is integrity between rules and setting. I could see many potential settings for Ars, but a modern game would for me move it too much away from what makes it in sync with the world in which the rules are to be used. IMO.

But if it makes you tick nothing should encourage you from going ahead. In line with some of the others I would also recommend you to take a peak at Mage: Ascension (NOT the same as the Awakening, which is newer, which are different editions of the same game yet VERY different) or if you'd like something inbetween to have a look at Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade.

And I would also advice you to keep combat very mortal - no matter the means - as this is one of the charateristics with Ars. Even if guns might up the mortality or deadliness, this would even more stress the power of magic - being able to withstand wounds, recover from them and to have surprises to gain the upper hand is indeed still powerful. In spite of technological development.

In any regard, good luck and enjoy!

Unless the Oath has changed in a specific modern setting, I'm pretty sure that the Oath of Hermes would cover this situation already.

I don't see anything that limits the Oath to restricting attempts to slay another magus by magic. As I see it, this covers attempts to kill another magus by any means outside of Wizards' War.

Another resource you might find useful (including rules for using firearms in combat) is Pax Hermetica at SHR: ... intro.html

I certainly concur. Hermetic Law is quite simple, and scrying as an exeption, the means you use are not important. Both in terms of how you make it bad with the infernal, faeries or the mundanes, or attack and possible kill another magus.

The magi hunting you to bring you to justice might even do it even more ferociously if you brutally and unsofisticated killed a sodalis with a sword (or gun) - quite an affront to hermetic learning.

I haven't read all the sites listed extensively, however I wonder if a Modern version of Ars is as simple as it sounds. If the Medieval Paradigm survived to the modern age, along with the order of Hermes, wouldn't the world be a much different place? The Loch Ness monster would be real, as would Bigfoot, the Fairy interest of the 1800s would certainly have left a more lasting impression. Certainly Harry Houdini would be revered as a breakthrough scientist, instead of a gifted entertainer. Would scientists find that they in fact couldn't reach the moon? It seems to me that such a game would be more like Shadowrun than Ars Magica.

If, on the other hand, the world has changed in the intervening centuries, we would need a whole new set of magic rules. How would this "Age of Reason" change a mage's magic and the Order itself? Would you bring back the "True Reason" and Aura of Reason from previous editions? There might not be an Ignum art as we know heat is energy. Animal and Corpus would certainly meld, as we now know most animals are almost identical to humans.

Of course, I speak of my preferences. Perhaps Magi are merely deluded worshipers of bygone deities, using the same old tired formulas to produce the same old tired effects. Or maybe God, in his infinite wisdom, put multiple truths on the earth for each to discover. Thus there is a fundamental "wood" form which includes atoms just like everything else.

Well my initial idea isn't to make guns widely available, kinda like an alternate world where magic was is still practiced. as such, waepons would be harder to come by as many would see no use for it. Also, since magic is a manipulation of natural things, magic would be unable to affect artificial objects such as styrofoam or plastic, which I figured would add a degree of dificulty in using magic to solve all problems like a lot of my players tend to do.
Also, an Idea I had for fire arms is having a negetive modifier for every shot past the first. This is something for automatic weapons, like an uzi. after the first shot you get -3 to hit consecutively after the first shot. so shot one is -0, shot 2 is -3, shot 3 is -6, so on and so forth to a determined number.
Lemme know what you al think.

I also think that transplanting Ars Magica into the modern world would be somewhat anachronistic - because it is so heavily inspired by the medieval paradigm.

There are plenty of 'modern magic' games out there:

White Wolf's Mage games.
Atlas Games' own Unknown Armies.
Eden Studio's Witchcraft.

I'd also suggest games like Delta Green and Conspiracy X as being modern 'magic' games of a sort that both have secret organisations that are similar to modern incarnations of the Order of Hermes.

There is also Nobilis, which has some similar design features to Ars Magica, but is diceless and a much broader, surreal type of fantasy.

another interesting take on Modern + Magic is ShadowRun. I've played that extensively (though some years back now!) and it was great fun! The integration of guns, spells, skills and wired-reflexes was fine and worked well. (apart from the pre-written adventures, where the authors usually focused on only one aspect and could be thwarted by using the alternative -- shoot the shaman, spell-blast the goons... The home-written games worked better)

Truly, I wouldn't start with ArM if you want a techno-focused game...

More interesting is a Cthulhu style setting (without the Cthulhu monsters) where magic is secretive and hidden, and reliant on ancient tomes now little understood. That might suit ArM better?