My Thoughts on Ars Magica

I love it.

So I was sitting back and working on personal stories and settings when the idea of making an island came to me. Which then led me to Ars Magica. Which then led me to going to my home office and looking through my Ars Magica books. Which then led me to designing multiple spells to create a vast assort of islands and towers and all such things.

Which once again brought out my love of Ars Magica.

Which led me to creat ea list of things I like, things I dislike, and things I would want.

Which then led me to sharing it. :slight_smile:

These are my thoughts and of course yours might vary and such. So feel free to comment on my thoughts while also sharing your own.

PS. Though Ars Magica might have stopped being produced on an active level when I look at my collection of books (everying of current edition plus a few fromt he previous) I am nothing but happy.

Things I Like

o Mythic Europe and its sibling Mythic Earth.
o The Gift as a special trait that separates those with magic from those without it.
o The Order of Hermes and the structure of its Tribunals. The Hemetic Houses. The suppremacy of the PC group.
o Covenants.
o Magic Auras, Magic Regiones.
o The Arts. The Forms and Techniques. (A thousand this.)
o The presence of Spontaneous, Formulaic, and Ritual spells.
o Spell Guidelines. (A thousand this!)
o Spell Mastery Abilities.
o Familars, Magic Items, Longevity Rituals, Laboratory Projects
o Parma Magica.
o Aegis of the Hearth
o Vis to be used to empower spellcasting.
o Supernatural Virtues that grant access to certain sideways powers.
o Breakthroughs that can enhance and change Hermetic magic.
o The stats of characters. Attributes, Willpower, Virtues, magic.
o The multiple ways one can get Experience and how they can overlap during a season.
o The way non-Hermetic powers are mapped to Hermetic Arts.

Thinks I Dislike

o How mundanes react to the Gift. o Warping. Especially the fact that those with the Gift can get warping from being around certain magic things.
o That Formulaic Spells are restricted up to Level 50.
o The Finesse Ability. (A thousand this)
o Hermetic Magi cannot serve as court wizards. (A thousand this)
o The Rules of Combat.
o The supremacy of the Divine and the inability to know the Infernal.
o The way dice roll works. Including simple and stress die.
o The PACE as a unit of measurement in spells, please just use feet or whatnot.
o The way Virtues need to be balanced and how some things are Hermetic when they shouldn't be.

Things I Want

o Space enlarging magics.
o Aura and regio creation magics made easier.
o The ability to change the Art to which raw vis is attune. (This doesn't have to be easy, it could be a laboratory project.)
o The ability to restore Fatigue and such.
o The ability to know and overpower things of the Infernal.
o The ability to manipulate Aging in more ways.
o Potential to travel beyond the Earth if wanted.
o Ways to make certain rituals easy and simple to cast. (Perfect example the Aegis of the Hearth).

1 Like

My two c ents

Not sure I understand you right. you mean "those without the gift"?

Merinita glamour can do it. Better left for those special magi.

Use breakthrough but be careful, full of abuse point.

If allowed, it reduces the interest of vis: just consider there is only "vim" vis and use it for anything. It breaks the equilibrium of the game : vis extraction is more powerful, vis hunt is useless. Killing magical beings for vis is useless, magic beings are more numbered, faerie are not played with by magi, etc.

integration breakthrough in folk witch chapter of HMRE

"know" is harder. "Overpower" ,just use DEO and silver cord. For "know"... random lab experimentations side effect. I had one with an experimentation: a "detect magical /faerie beings of X might with y penetration" turned into "demons " because of lab special event during experimentation.

Lesser and greater elixir from TMRE, sahir breakthroughgs (C&C), breakthrough from player ideas (using rules of HOHTL bonisagus section)

if you mean alternative realms, arcadia and magical realm (RoPF and RoPM); if you mean other worlds..twilights are good for that. If you mean something ala Marelle of Zelasny chronicles of amber, not sure it fits with the theme.

  • lab experimentations side/bonus effect (I have had a -2 pawn vis used on a level 65 ritual, you could decide a -x' time to cast in place...)
  • integration breakthrough (folk witch chapter iirc of HMRE)

Nah, :slight_smile:, I meant those with the Gift. Technically eben mgi get Warping form powerful mystical effects and constant mystical effects. Minus the noted exceptes of they make. I don't think that's right.

I'm sorry but it's faerie not magic and bot at all what I want thematically. I don't see this as good enough.

I want wizard bags and tents and rooms which are bigger on the inside. I like that and think it fits.

You make a good point here. By maybe a compromise of it being a laboratory project could work. That it takes seasons and maybe yields 2:1, two units sacrificed gives 1 unit of the alternate. That way it works if necessary but not is optimal.

Actually I can see stories about this. Hehe

Some of what you point out exists as hermetic extensions are fine, but my point is I want them as automatically present.

Example, Fatigue recharge and knowing demons. I dislike the commonness of the Infernal.

I like the way you think! This kind of effect would be perfect for a high level magus to create... though how one might get it depends on what result the magus desires.

-If we only want to store more stuff in a single container, that's as simple as a Muto Terram enchantment to shrink our coins and supplies to a quarter or even a tenth of their original size. Such an enchantment has to have the "Enchanted item maintains concentration" tag so it doesn't rupture our bag or chest, of course. If raw power isn't an obstacle, the extreme ends of Muto Terram would let us compress our supplies into jewels, or even use another element tag to turn it into feathers or a stiff breeze, or a loud noise. Okay, that last example is nearly guaranteed to disintegrate the object... Perdo Terram could temporarily destroy the weight of any metal or stone you're carrying, that's more practical. Hermetic Magic (and the physics of Mythic Europe in general) tends to ignore Square Cube Law when enough brute force is applied.

-However, it sounds like we want human beings to be able to enter a space that is bigger on the inside, and that's more tricky. Though it's not exactly what we're looking for, an easier way to achieve this is through a Rego Corpus enchantment on a doorway which teleports people to a much larger structure elsewhere; this is how we get our secret underwater covenants and our knockoff Towers of Babelses, but baking this enchantment into a tent flap could give us the Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion effect we desire (or half of it; the food and ghostly servants will have to be supplied on a per-case basis. On the bright side, morning checkout time is not enforced!). The biggest obstacle here is distance. Rego Corpus teleportation has difficulty going farther than a thematically appropriate seven leagues (see Leap of Homecoming), so a tent like this would be a narrow-use tool without some Breakthroughs to increase the valid distance or a little help from one of the mystery cults.

-But we still don't have what we're seeking, we still don't have a literal pocket dimension. Realms of Power: Magic established that Hermetic Magic has the capability to punch new doorways into a Regio, or to shunt part of an existing Magic aura into a new Regio, only that either A; nobody has attempted to do that yet, or B; nobody has survived an attempt for long enough to share the idea. Ripping away a large chunk of reality to create extra space for a dining room is exactly the kind of lunacy I'd want to see in a covenant. I'm not entirely sure a Magic Regio entrance can be made portable through Hermetic magic alone, but again, Breakthroughs. This is similar from gaining a level in a game with a class and level system, only in this case we would canonically have the first Mythic European to accomplish this. Ever. That attitude is one of the big draws this game has to me, that we all start from the same point but gradually change the setting as we go.

My motivation in all this isn't to dismiss the complaint as invalid. I can understand wanting to have something outside of what is possible in game mechanics; this kind of problem is more visible in D&D-alikes where everyone has tried to fit a square character concept into a round character class at some point, but it happens even in Ars Magica. As always, Rule Zero applies for edge cases; get the troupe to agree that it would be cool if that Breakthrough already existed, and we're good to go. I don't suggest bringing that into a convention game, but for ArM5th's intended environment of a game among friends this policy is perfect.

...I'm also willing to discuss the problem of the Infernal if everyone agrees to be civil. Theology is a real tough nut to crack.

Your table, your Game - make those changes! :smiley:

Some of my own table changes

  • Divine Auras are based on the Home - houses of peasants, merchants and nobles have Divine Auras because they are Homes. Churches have Divine Auras because they are Houses (Home) of God. Public buildings/streets etc no aura. I like Urban Fantasy, simple.

  • Vis is a single type, just plain vis - alot less book keeping.

  • Creo Vim to create a magical aura within a bounded space (room/structure/boundary etc). Base, General: Magnitude -6 for Aura level, max level 9 (just taken form Hermetic Architecture really)

  • Mu(Cr)Te(Vi) Base 4 to double the interior space of a bounded space (room/structure/boundary) because as you say, Tardis/Harry Porter physics are fun . Still not sure whether to have it primary Creo or Muto - Creo would allow a ritual version, whereas Muto means an ongoing enchantment.

  • Simplified Library rules (4th ed / peripheral code as a foundation), because Covenant creation is a pain as is.

  • Lab texts don't exist.

  • 2d6 dice mechanic, and remove attributes. Attributes always felt like an afterthought on the impact they have on most dice rolls, so not needed. 2d6 as I like bell curve distribution and don't like stress roll explosions of madness. Keep same TN thresholds.

  • Powerful mysterical effects inflicting warping means Ritual magic, not Lvl30+.

  • Level 50 Formulaic not automatically a ritual.

Mixes things up alot, not traditional Ars, but its what I like :slight_smile:



Muto Terram enchantment to shrink the coins and such within a bag is nice.

A Rego Corpus enchantment on a doorway could be quite used to bring people to a bigger area.

Using magic to create auras to me isn't that difficult mechanically - cast a large scale spell, it creates a supernatural tether and magic aura of at least 1. Hehe

Creating a Regio though is a bit different but im not super against giving it a high guideline within Creo Vim.

On the final point of demons. This isn't the world of darkness, which is a good game, and so I don't want demons lurking behind everything like some sources seem to indicate.

My other thing is how demons are immune to being sensed and such. No offense, screw that. Magic should be able to detect and know. So the limit of infernal is a big nope for me.


Your note about Divine is interesting. I like the idea.

There are also the rules in Mythic Locations in the Temple of Mercury chapter which I like. :slight_smile:

But yeah creating Magic auras are simple. Hehe

Creo!!! Because permanent is important in my estimation.

So your going with Terram as the Technique, not Vim. That's interesting. I like the idea of course and it's a lot more simple then I was going to go.

Other rules

I like your dice roll rule. So much simpler. So much better.

On characteristics at first I was shaking my head but the more I'm thinking on it the more I realize yeah as a part of a dice pool it's not really used.

Heck one could replace the Stamina in dice pools with say Magic Theory. Simple. Hehe

Honestly I would just remove the whole powerful mystical effect as far as people with the Gift are concerned. To me Warping happens when you super fail and not because magic is around you.

As I said to you, I like your way of thinking. :slight_smile:

My Verditius on the forum game I'm in designed a 'charm bracelet' that just turns things touched into little trinkets that hang on the bracelet. It was a fun MuTe project. Sadly I was a few points away from making it absolutely dumb fun. :slight_smile:

I feel at this point it's worth mentioning the difference between what hermetic theory can do theoretically and what it has done. There's nothing in hermetic theory saying that you can't create regios (which conveniently gives you a TARDIS.) There just happens to be nobody who's found out HOW yet. Make your players experiment for it (or you could just have someone already find it, your saga.) A good place to glance at, the ROP:M has rules for increasing/decreasing auras over time, and one of the side effects can be regio creation.

The 'demons behind everything' isn't as strong as you thing, but mythic Europe is based on medieval beliefs, which actually often just blame demons for things in my brief studies. As far as the Limit of the Infernal, I rather enjoy it, but I certainly understand your preference. You go rock that. :slight_smile:

The hard part of the 'form' is that no form really encompasses 'space', just like no form encompasses 'time'. I lean towards Vim rather than Terram, but accept both arguments. However, I definitely feel that 'Creo because permanent' is looking at it wrong. A magic item is just as permanent, if not more so, than a ritual - and if you cast a CreoForm once to create a Portable Hole at Momentary duration, then you're looking at the possible interpretation that 'portable hole' you created is not magical, because you Ritual cast it. The TARDIS is definitely an enchanted item, and I lean towards Cr(Mu)Vi as the form, because it clearly creates a regio inside itself - possibly with a Terram requisite because the regio is filled with metal and machinery. (And Mentem because it thinks.. and, and and...)

Terram is used for the 'TARDIS' effect because it is what is used in Hermetic Architecture example spells, and by core, it also the form used to link spaces - Hermes Portal :slight_smile:



If you just want your Covenant to have this effect and are willing to forego casting spells like that, then you can simply take the unnatural law Boone.



I'm not that experienced a player, but to me the brilliance of Ars Magica isn't just that it's a well-designed system or a well-realised world. It's that the magic system is intentionally limited by removing those things that often break other games.

Manipulation of space, manipulation of time, healing Fatigue, forcing truth out of demons, and other things like that would have led to a lot of headaches. Leaving them out, so that the game focuses on centre cases and not on edge ones, was a stroke of genius.


Since you feel this way, in light of your other thread, I would encourage you to be very careful about Breakthroughs.

There are rules for Breakthroughs, but you might want to avoid these. Many of the limits on Hermetic Magic are about preserving a kind of game balance and world, pure and simple. Tamper with these, and you don't just change or break the game world, but change or break your game. Often, a Breakthrough heralds the end of a campaign, either the climax of long and deliberate effort or an accidental side effect of not having read this post. :slight_smile:/2 Deciding to allow a Breakthrough ought then occur among players rather than characters, and the steps required involve specific story requirements rather than anything that might generate grist for the necessary die rolls, which themselves seem unnecessary, even detrimental.



Gah! For some reason I get the words Form and Technique flipped around and I don't know why. I mean it makes perfect sense as is. So shrug. lol

Well my answer is that there should be a way to make Muto also ritually permanent. hehe

The funny thing is I lean towards Vim as well but then we get things like the Hermes Portals and they are Terram and so it becomes the eternal question.

Yep. This. hehe

Nah, that seems to 'easy'. hehe

Especially as I want my magus (or magi in general) to be able to cast such magics.


Oh. So I am currently kneck deep in character creation and adventure design for the sheer fun of it. But this leads me to certain realizations and such.

One of which is Langauges. I don't like how they are organized via XP.

Soooooo I was thinking. It might be cool to make them Accelerated Abilities. At least among the PC class of characters not as a general world statement.

Additional note. I TOTALLY love the whole element of the ruined Temple of Mercury in Mythic Locations. Both the location and the Minotaur that lives there and who my character is totally going to befriend and gain as a magical companion (yep) is totally something that needs to be played and stuff in.

That and Candia and Talos, that material is fun to read as well.

Glamour was already mentioned and now the D: Until seems fitting to you. Heru, you are screaming to get a Merinita and not realizing it! [size=50](or an Infernalist, with D: Forsaken)[/size]

Otherwise, making a Muto spell permanent (or any other than Creo, for that matter) is dangerously powerful and also breaks the idea of the natural essence of things, which you can't change through magic. And you can override it anyway with Ring / Circle parameters, with some complications that can actually be fun to play; ¿you want to trap someone forever? Dig a hole, carve a circle around, put him in the hole, and cast a MuCo(Aq), D: Ring, T: Circle spell. And so on.

I borrowed from somewhere a House Rule regarding languages, lowering the score required to do anything (except writing books) by 1 point. Home Language begins at 4, and magi must learn Latin at just 3. It saves you 25 xps in childhood (that we also houseruled to be spent in Area Lores and more livng languages) and 20 xps for magi (which is ok, as we require them to have quite a few aditional abilities. And some of them used these spare points to take a point or two in Greek and Egyptian, which is just so cool). Also, one season of exposure and training can make any character become functional enough to communicate during adventures with the local folks in a new language. And all our language problems (and we had a few, as the covenant is wandering a bit) were solved.

Thanks Ken! That's definitely worth considering, especially as I hadn't thought of it before. I would like to have some small Breakthroughs to invent new ranges, targets and durations; but probably not anything bigger.

I was playing around with the idea of saying that, in my saga, the Eye range was a recent invention. This would show the players that research is something that happens. It also allows for fun in-character interactions: I want to show a mage at Tribunal who's been reinventing all her old Mentem spells to use Eye, or an archmage sniffily dismissing it as just fashion.


That's great! It's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. You are the decider, not the dice, and you're letting people know that some things can happen. You might also include, at the same Tribunal, some elder crazy magus who scoffs at the Eye discovery, because he's on the verge of breaking the limit of the Divine, or Fatigue... never mind that he's blown up his lab five times along with two familiars over the past century, always on the cusp of a Real Triumph. If someone wants a Breakthrough, decide if it fits. If it doesn't, the character knows that it's not going to happen, since he is a skilled magus. If it can happen, you can decide on the steps needed to maybe make it happen, and either tell the player all at once, or let each step reveal the next requirement, raising stakes and investment. Both ways have merit; the second is more dramatic but I prefer the first because players always need more empowerment and because it has a kind of suspense of its own.



I like having breakthroughs throughout the Order's history - I think it adds (even more) depth to the narrative of the Order. One aspect which I've taken from discussions on these boards previously is Longevity rituals for non-gifted is a recent invention, to help account for the lack of narrative for exceptionally long lived ungifted individuals. Even in HoH: True Lineages, they dont include any narratives for long lived ungifted Mercere.

Some of my changes I wrote of above I have as breakthroughs during the Order's history - creating magical auras for example. It creates the narrative of older autumn/winter covenants remaining in their mostly isolated, odd locations for their Aura, while younger, newer covenants have the freedom to be founded anywhere as they can create an aura. Urban covenants are still kinda rare simply due to the Gift causing so much trouble (I consider the -3 to be a significant issue), but House Jerbition is actively sponsoring both Subtle/Still magic integration and Gentle Gift integration (I like the idea of Jerbition magi acting as Hermetic Patrons to their more reclusive lab rat colleagues in the Order).


Thanks Ken and Kal!

I'm going to start a new topic to discuss this because I'd like to hear opinions on it.

I can never really get away from my wish to develop Hermetic space and aura magics. Hehe

But yeah I'm totally thinking thusly :

Creo Vim to create an aura from nothing and Muto Vim to enlarge one already present.

Muto Terram to expanded bounded space as size magics are Muto. But movement and control magics are Rego and so I could see Rego doing it as well.

I also see the advantages of binding it to Muto as magic items are cool.


I was wondering shouldn't familiar bond powers be Personal as the bond is of the self? I see why they made it Touch but I totally could see it it as Personal.


By the way I was wondering on the idea of making long-term projects monthly rather than seasonal.


I'm also a big fan on making it so those associated with a realm only get Warping from personal botches and not from any other sources.

The idea of a magus being effected by high level spells and whatnot make no sense to me. He has the Gift, magic is in his blood.


I'm reading through Legends of Hermes which leads me to reading my copy of Iberia Tribunal which makes me REALLY sad that it didn't have a 5th edition version. Same with Greater Alps (though that has at least some really thought provoking advebture and geogralhy material in it) and technically Rome as well.

Especially with the whole demon thing being downplayed. Thankfully!

I play them in that regards - explains why effects don't have to penetrate either partner's magic resistance. If an enchantment effects both magus and familair at the same time, it requires T: Group. All enchantment are limited to R: Personal.

I've considered this for a modern game, as experience from Vampire games set pre and post digial era reveals how much quicker the story can progress thanks to mobile phones and the internet (let alone Smart phones).

I have a table rule that Powerful Mystical Effect means any Ritual magic cast on the target. Means you have to make a choice between instant healing magics + warping, or long term healing (as I dont like vis being limited - I find resource stories uninteresting).

I'm strongly against meddling with Auras. Being able to create Auras at will would remove the drama of being inside hostile auras and give magi the extra power of having an easy way to get an extra casting bonus whenever they wished, which at the end would just get auras devaluated. Who cares about villages having a Divine Aura of +1 if you can surround you in a bigger magical aura at will?

Also the ability to create auras would remove the setting perspective of magical auras fading because of the expansion of civilization and the Dominion, which is a pretty big thematic aspect of Ars Magica. Remove it and you will have a generic fantasy game where magic isn't fading and maybe condemned to eventual extintion. It can make a nice game, but I think it loses a lot of flavour.

I've also disagreed with that whenever I had read about it here. If you were one of my players at my game, I would have said 'no' to you quite a few times, but as you insist, I would just allow it: it's your player, it's magic, so after all why not if you are going to have fun with it.

The only problem would be that as Glamour already does that with MuIm(Te), base 10, and Glamour have its limitations (the requisite, plus the Vulnerable flaw), so it would need to be harder in order to keep Glamour useful (meaning avoiding our Merinita feeling stupid for being able to do something with a lot of effort and limitations and finding that it was a lot easier in another way).

And it's hard: we could agree that 'inner space' could be a property of something, so changing the inner space of a stone room would require a base level of only 2 (1 for changing one property of dirt, +1 for stone), which is 4 magnitudes below the Glamour base. Maybe creating two sets of properties of stuff, the easy one at level 1 (for all MuTe spells in canon, for example), and the hard one with a base of 10 (for stuff like this). Then expanding the shape of a stone room would be MuTe 15 (base 10, +1 stone), harder than Glamour, but maybe not too much.

I understand the bond as the link between a magus and his familiar. Making it personal would make the familiar and the magus like one single target, which is odd. And that's what Talismans are, I guess.

I'd seen that rule before and used it briefly, mostly aimed to make magi able to work on their long term projects while keeping grogs and companions not dying of decrepitude. The problem is that it devaluates the meaning of all lab activities; every magi in canon would be quite different then. And some activities would just be an open door to muchkinism: if you let magi study vis or books at 3 times their current speed, the amount of XPs they can get increases wildly.

But that doesn't mean that it's good for you on the long term, or that it's ok if it increases. Whatever is inside you, when it grows, becomes a problem. Maybe warping is just magic cancer.

It's hard from magi to go into Final Twilight before dying of Decrepitude with the rules as they are, but around 50% of them are supposed to do so. Removing warping would render Final Twilight something quite strange that you would probably never see.

Summing it all allowing Auras, making lab activities monthly and dispatching warping would all end in making magi just yet more powerful. But I think they are pretty much powerful as they are.