Most useful books?

As mentioned in another thread, I'm filling out my Ars Magica collection right now. I'm on a budget, and so don't want to be a true collector, simply get the most useful books. I haven't run in a while, and so while I can read a copy here or there at a friends house on game night, don't actually know how useful some of these books are. It doesn't seem like there's a thread about this, so while I have bought some books already, I think throwing everything out there would be helpful for future readers.

Edited to add: I may or may not get around to playing in my brother's game, or I may run a game of my own. I'm particularly asking from the perspective of a GM.

So, of the product list, which do you find the most useful/helpful in your games? :

Ars Magica 5th Edition Core Rulebook

The Fallen Fane LARP

The Broken Covenant of Calebais

Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal

Houses of Hermes: True Lineages

Realms of Power: The Divine

The Mysteries, Revised Edition


Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults

Realms of Power: The Infernal

City & Guild

Ancient Magic

Houses of Hermes: Societates

The Lion and the Lily: The Normandy Tribunal

Art & Academe

Realms of Power: Magic

Hedge Magic, Revised Edition

Realms of Power: Faerie

Tales of Mythic Europe

Magi of Hermes

Lords of Men

The Sundered Eagle: The Theban Tribunal

Core Rule Book - wthout ths, you have nothing.

I've been most pleased with Covenants - I suppose you can live without it, but it has piles of ideas.

I consider the HoH-trilogy under one, and tend to have everyone read at least the chapter for the House they have picked.
Many read more.

Mysteries changes everything, and with HoH: MC has become much better integrated into the Order.

Beyond these, things are more about the sort of stories you want to tell: a lot of stories taking place n a city? Get G&G, RoP: Divine/Infernal.
Monsterhunts? any of the RoP (possibly except Divine) are good for this. Hedge Magi? There's a book about them! The list goes on.

Also, amazingly, the Trbunalbooks for this edtion are very good!

I think A&A probably sees the most use in my sagas...

Tales of Mythic Europe
Magi of Hermes
Lords of Men

But then, I'm biased.

Okay, some questions:
Do you do much storyguiding? If not, is that something you'd like to do? (I think you've answered the first part, but bear with me)
Do you have a hankering to play characters based in any of the four realms?
Is your magus exploring mysteries or exotic magic?
How important are companion and grog characters in your saga, and are you looking to invest more in them?

And now the reasoning:
The House and Tribunal books are great sources of stories for your fellow players. You'll always find something that you can tailor to them. For instance, if one of your fellow players has a Bonisagus, True Lineages is a gift of little stories and events that you can adapt. And the Tribunal books can inspire relationships between your own saga's magi and covenants, which again gives you content.

The Realm books tend to speak for themselves, but really if you want to play a faerie or a diabolist or someone gifted with Divine power, your best bet is to pick up the appropriate book. It's fair to say that the Realm books really hit their stride later on, but I have been finding Infernal indispensable of late and the Divine is still really useful even in Mundane situations (they all gotta pray, right?).

Mysteries and Ancient Magic are heavily used in my saga. Our whole covenant is built around the principle of rediscovering and protecting and old mystery cult, and my Verditius is seeking out inspiration in bending Heron's arts to his own magic. It means that all of our magi are doing something very different all the time.

Art & Academe and City & Guild will really sort out your companions and grogs. Once my current companion character dies of old age I'm definitely looking to bring in a physician based on the A&A book. And C&G has been quite useful recently too.

So in rounding out your collection, I'd advise looking at what you're most likely to use. They're all a damned good read. I mean, I've not even mentioned Hedge Magic Revised, which is superb if you just want to try something a little different. Or Covenants (which built my workshop out nicely, thank you), which is almost required reading.

So take a look at what you're most likely to use, or what really intrigues you, and buy in that order.

I put these at the top because they work for any saga and tend to see a lot of use:

  1. Core rule book
  2. HoH books
  3. Covenants

To work with what's above:

  1. RoP:M - It's handy for familiars, and you could use this to make faeries, demons, etc. Even if the faeries, demons, etc. are a little different, working off of the book's guidelines helps you approach things.
  2. Mysteries - This ties in tightly with HoH:MC and it gives a lot more variety to the magi.

Personally, I rank C&G pretty high. That, A&A, and LoM help me a lot filling in the mundane setting. I feel like they add a lot of flavor to my magi, too, because that's half the world they live in. Plus, the magi will tend to hire craftsmen and academics and interact with nobles.

You might consider getting a single tribunal book after figuring out where you want to set things. A tribunal book about a far-off tribunal isn't going to get so much use. But using one for the tribunal you're in makes that particular book very valuable.


  1. Houses of Hermes - all three
  2. Realms of Power - Magic and Faerie (of course, buy Inferial and Divine if you're going to have demons and angels in your saga)
  3. The Mysteries
    in fact I wouldn't start playing without books mentioned above :wink: then go
  4. Tribunal books (5th edition, older stuff is slightly worse) - full of ideas, doesn't matter where you play.
  5. Covenants

trat should do the trick :slight_smile:

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