New to Ars Magica... some product questions

I’ve just managed to find myself a mint condition copy of the 5th Edition rules in hardcover which I’m chuffed about. I think the hardcover has been out of stock for a while.

I’m totally new to Ars Magica and am looking forward to reading it.

I’ve come from mainly a D&D background so, instinctively, I was going to pick up a Bestiary and, maybe, a GM’s screen but, by the look of it, they didn’t produce these for 5th Edition. Was there a reason for that?

A Bestiary was available for 3rd and 4th Editions. And a GM’s screen was available for 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions.

I’m sure they are non-essential, but I just thought that was interesting.


As far as I know there are no GM screen for the english 5th of the game.

Some non human creatures are found in chapter 13 of the main rulebook.

There are no main bestiary book, instead most of the non human creatures can be found in the four "Realm of Power" books :

  • Realm of Power : Faerie
  • Realm of Power : Magic
  • Realm of Power : The Infernal
  • Realm of Power : The Divine

I would get them in this order (the first two are mostly on an equal footing).

There are also creatures specific to certain locations or stories in the revelant book (such as the Drac in Faith & Flame for the Provence Tribunal, as an example)

You should note that the game is designed to run very differently from a regular D&D game, creatures can work as fighting antagonists for your players, but most of them are designed and exist to provide other kinds of challenges and interactions.

Also there is a free PDF for mundane beasts (wolves, horses, bears...)

The official version is here :

An unofficial but much larger one is here :

And welcome to this wonderful game !


You might also be interested in Hooks, Tales of Mythic Europe, and Antagonists.

A bit of advice: to make Ars work, you really need to let go of your dnd habits. Ars does not thrive in monster of the week stories.

Last, but not least: Welcome! I hope you have fun, and wish you good luck with your first game :slight_smile:


Thanks so much for the links.

And that's good to know there's a lot of creatures in the Realms of Powers books.

If I were to get my hands on a copy of the 4th Edition Bestiary, would it be difficult to do a conversion to 5th Edition? Are 4E monster stats very different to 5E?

Thanks, I'll check those books out, too.

And, yes, I'm definitely up for getting out of the D&D mentality and trying something different.

I'm just a bit of a sucker for a nice bestiary book :smile:


Yes they are somewhat different from 4th to 5th, that said, most of the creatures in the bestiary have been converted, IIRC.

Ars Magica is very different to D&D, it’s more story based, using magic etc to complete the story. While Dungeon crawl activities can be done, combat in Ars is especially deadly, and healing is expensive to undertake.

Still Ars can be adapted to your groups play style, it’s flexiblity is what makes it outstanding. Make it your own.


For the setting, I would recommend the Tribunal book for where you want to set your game, and Houses of Hermes: True Lineages, which i consider to be the core book about how the Order of Hermes works. The Mysteries is an essential expansion of the magic system, but it may be more useful as a game progresses than at the beginning.

Antagonists isn’t an essential book mechanically, but it provides a good overview of what kind of stories one can tell, and what sorts of people and forces the characters will come up against.


I partly agree.

Getting the Tribunal book for the region to play in is the best first move.

The house of hermes books are more or less important depending on which houses the mages are playing. Nemely, the ones of the mages in the party are very inportant, the othera, not so much.

I do not think that the Mysteries is necessary at all. I wouldn't even rank it in my top 15.

Then i would say either realm of power infernal or faerie, depending on whether the party is more about clear moral vhoices or ambiguity.


I consider HoH True Lineages more generally useful than the other two houses books, because it describes the history of the Order, how hermetic law and tribunals work, and how redcaps and communications work. Plus, its changes to house Tremere reform the house IMO.

For a bestiary, there’s a free pdf of mundane animals high can be helpful, because they can actually be a threat in mythic Europe.


Welcome to the Ars community :slight_smile:

I would recommend first just reading the core book. If something strikes your fancy and you want to read up more on it, then buy the appropriate supplement. What will serve you really depends on your tastes.

I'd suggest noting some themes or ideas you want to follow through on, based on that. Then consider first if you want a tribunal book. Most tribunal books are quite focused on supporting certain themes, as well as providing general background on the tribunal, including some creatures and many locations. So reading one can help you develop ideas and set-pieces, NPCs, and so on. You can read up a bit more on what each tribunal is all about in the Project Redcap page

Another major point to consider is how narrativist you want your antagonists to be. Faeries, in the Realms of Power: Faerie book at least, are very much all about stories and narrative, less so about game mechanics. Whereas the Realms of Power: Magic book has what I think is the most detailed creature-creation and management toolkit, which is very mechanical. Even if you intend to run many Infernal or Divine antagonists, I'd suggest picking up either RoPF or RoPM for ideas on creature (and perhaps adventure) design to fit these two playstyles. At any rate, the Realms of Power: X books contain the "bestiaries" of the game.

Of course, a scenario would also include creatures, and a goood one that fits you could ease you into the "Ars Magica Way of Doing Things" - but I'd be hard pressed to suggest a particular one. I frankly think the old Pact of Pasaquine is the best introduction to the setting, but it's very old-edition and utterly fails to meet 5th edition expectations / rules.

Have fun :slight_smile:


I am not sure that question is entirely meaningful, but let's try to answer some related questions.

Firstly, it may be worth getting the bestiary (3ed/4ed should be equally fine), but the stats is frankly the least interesting part of the contents. I like the book because of the descriptions of the beasts' personality and associated story hooks. Where 5ed focus on the rules to make beasts in the RoP book, 3ed/4ed gives you more examples in fewer pages, which I find useful.

Secondly, on one hand, using 3ed or 4ed stats as is rarely poses a problem. On the other hand, animal stats tend to be very different in 5ed, but that seems to me to be because 5ed is better researched.

Thirdly, if you find monster stats terribly important, you will probably find that the encounters you design will either be too deadly or boringly trivial. Monsters are first and foremost people to interact with, and the only important stats are the personality traits. Combat is rarely worthwhile.

Let me stress that last point. Where D&D is designed to make balanced combat encounters and let the characters proceed quickly to the next encounter, Ars Magica is designed to make combat more authentic. Even the victor is likely to be injured, and even medium injury is a season lost and a risk of infection and death.


A pinch of magi can murder-hobo a whole forest, the surrounding villages, and a few castles with some preparation. All that before breakfast. The issue is how the rest of the Order will react to your wanton disregard of your Oath.

  • "I will not interfere with the affairs of mundanes and thereby bring ruin upon my sodales"

Your players are their own brakes, they decide which consequences they will have to deal with. If you have the political clout to convince your sodales that you did not bring ruin upon them, you're golden.


Thanks so much, folks, for all the great advice. I'm looking forward to this new type of gaming.

I checked out those Realms of Power books and they look like great resources - even for other games.

So I got a bit carried away and tracked down hardcover copies and ordered them! (I was almost going to give up on finding a hardcover of the Divine book - people are asking crazy prices for it - but then luckily found one reasonably priced.)

I will investigate all the other books mentioned in this thread, but one other book I was thinking about getting was the 3rd Edition book Mythic Europe. You can find these all day long at cheap prices.

But before I go ahead on that... I just wanted to ask if there is a 5th Edition equivalent to the Mythic Europe book. Looking at the product list on the Atlas Games site, there doesn't seem to be one general book. Instead there are 9 x "World" books that drill into specific regions. I suppose the idea is to pick your region and just get that book.


No, there isn't any 5e Mythic Europe book.

The corresponding information is mostly spread throughout a number of other books.
The books that cover a specific region for information about that region.
Art & Academe, City & Guild, Lords of Men, The Church, and to some extent RoP: Divine cover specific aspects of life in Mythic Europe.


Probably add tribunal books to Erik's list ...

You are right @dead , in that 3ed, to a large extent. promoted one homogenous-looking Mythic Europe, whereas 5ed (and probably 4ed too) has made an effort to make each tribunal unique in several respects. Unless you are a vehement reader, it is not worth getting them all before your first game; better pick a tribunal and try the game. Faith and Flame (Provence) is generally recommended as the vanilla flavour. Rhine is also popular. I think Thebes woirks fine for beginners if you want a political game with a lot of Hermetic interaction. I like Normandy, but many players don't. Transylvania and Hibernia are quite weird, and I would recommend having played a bit before tackling that. I reckon those who dislike Normandy would say the same thing about that.

One thing to say about 3ed is that White Wolf put a quite distinct, and dark, flavour on the world. Reading Mythic Europe will likely give you a different feel, still stuck in the dark ages with extra demons on top, than corresponding text in 5ed which points much more towards a Europe growing and prospering. Other than that, there is nothing to say that Mythic Europe is a bad buy; it is lore building rather than mechanics.


I'm biased, but I'm pretty happy with my 5th Edition Storyguide Screen:

(Please note it makes extensive use of layering for look and feel options, so you want a PDF viewer that supports Acrobat layers.)

If you end up using it, I'd welcome any feedback.

(Also, incidentally, if you're bringing over any long-time D&D players (of 3.0/d20 vintage) my Ars Magica Fifth Edition Character Sheet 2.0 on the same page is purposefully designed to be familiar-ish to d20 players.)



OK, thanks. Maybe I'll leave off getting Mythic Europe for now if the flavour is quite different. I don't think I'm interested in the WoD version.

The Transylvania sourcebook could be interesting even though you've said it's a bit weird and not ideal for beginners. What is happening with Vlad Dracula in Mythic Europe?

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Thanks, Patrick. GM's screen and character sheets look great!

It will be a while before I can use it, but I'll let you know how I go.


The Transylvania Tribunal is controled by House Tremere. Not a lot of wiggle room.


I don't remember Vlad, but vampires are faeries, and their rules are in the Transylvania book.