Personality traits and casting with armor


I am a returning SM from 3rd ed and, before start my 5th campaign, got a few questions...

Could anyone give me a list of personnaliti traits... I know there was one in 3rd Rule-Book and i would find it very usefull to get my hands on it.

Second, im trying to figure out how to answer to players wanting to cast in armor and cant find a answer anywhere... I would find it very "unfair" to let a Magi cast in armor...

BTW: i find the hard cover books AMAZING! Already bough the 4 realms, convenants and 3 houses, and the mysteri cult one. Great stuff

Armor causes no restriction.

There are no restrictions on magi wearing armour, indeed some warrior magi specialise in close combat and Magic. It does mean that mundane warriors do not have an advantage over magi but this is Ars Magica there is no balance between the power of a magi and a mundane a mage is always more powerful

Except the load penalties it causes of course.

But everyone gets those and magic can be used to avoid load penalties.

The problem with armor is that it can mean that by the time you need to start casting spells you have already made 3 fatigue checks or so (long treck, terrible weather...) so suddently you are looking at 10 minutes of rest after casting each spontaneous spell, not 2 minutes. Same for the penalties you will get to cast anything.

But no, wearing armour is not a problem. Most of our mages (and all the grogs) carry some sort of light armor when they head into unknown or dangerous lands. Several of the mages in my diverse sagas have been known to go everywhere fully clad in armor, no matter what (and getting in jail for that, sometimes).


Of course, there are many spells one could use regularly with sun duration to mimic the effcts of armour without the burden of actually wearing it. Oh, nd in covenants of course, you have to pay for its upkeep as well - although it is trivial I agree.

For my mages who wear armour they normally use spells to boost Soak as well as the Armour because their aim is to become invincible in hand to hand combat

Aye, I see that. I suppose I am reluctant to admit there is such a need. Powergaming issues aside, there are so many other methods to defeat mundanes less messy I incline towards ignoring that possibility. I recognise others do not share that belief.

No I don't think there are any powergaming issues involved. The aim of being strong in mellee combat is to defeat opponents with high magic resistance as it avoids using magic on the opposition directly. In my actual experience using the strategy as opposed to just dissaproving on principle it is no more powerful than other mage's strategies .
It can also be a low visibility strategy as it ennables combat without using visible magic in front of mundanes , admittedly that is not an issue for my Giant blooded mage who follows this strategy but it can be an issue for many mages .

I agree there are no powergaming issues here, hermetic magi can defeat almost non magical right out of the box... as a roleplayer of more years than I care to admit it just 'feels' like powergaming. This particular approach in especially. I rather suspect it is that very feeling that caused the OP to list the question. It probably is the most effective method for mageslaying though, assuming your troupe have sensibly forbidden the purple dot approach to this function.

It is easy to forget that to a very great extent Ars Magica IS powergaming - you play characters which can overthrow kings and live several lifespans deloping powers beyind the wit of mortal man. At the age of 25 they, in many ways, command more power than the Princes of the Holy Roman Empire and if only they could have a conversation with him they could probably get him to dance around naked or whatever [insert your favourite wish here].

Good to have you back. Fifth edition is, in my humble opinion, superb. You're in for a great saga.

As to your questions, there isn't really a list of personality traits. Think of them more as terms you'd use to describe your characters. Having said that... If you haven't picked up Metacreator yet, I'd recommend it. That has just about everything you could need (including lists of personality traits to choose from). It really does make creating and maintaining characters so easy.

Now, armour. Your magus may very well want to wear armour. There's nothing in magical terms to prevent him. But bear in mind that the wearing of armour is unusual unless you have a role that demands it, such as those paid to guard the gates, wage war, or bear the weight of leadership. If you're wearing armour in public then you're probably making a statement.

As a means to improve soak, there are plenty of magical options, so I wouldn't be worried about how hard a given magus is to hurt. In any case, if the grogs are doing their jobs properly they'll be defending the magi and nobody will get to the magi. Personally, I'd let the players armour their magi in any way they want... or can afford.

A player in my saga (and longtime friend of these forums) wanted to play a warrior-mage; he chose Short-Ranged Magic as a Hermetic Flaw for his character, who consequently ended up in House Flambeau's School of Ramius. Of course the player didn't need to choose a character who needed to wear armour, but this character does need a high soak.

no need - you got my wish right

Now, armour. Your magus may very well want to wear armour. There's nothing in magical terms to prevent him. But bear in mind that the wearing of armour is unusual unless you have a role that demands it, such as those paid to guard the gates, wage war, or bear the weight of leadership. If you're wearing armour in public then you're probably making a statement.


True enough, but unless you have tempered your gift in some way the good people of mythic europe know you're a freak already. They already spit as you wask past a mutter mantra under their breath when you walk by, wave witch bottles filled with wire and their own miturants... the list goes on. Not to mention the fact that many of us like to wander around in robes and a big hat painted with many bright and guady colours. Armour is unusual, but the gift is downright freakish, I doubt it would attract any additional attention, but may discolour that attention.

You are right about the statement though, it says quite clearly, I am a fighting man... and if that is how you dress for shopping that is indeed odd.

A magus of my creation (Par-Renatus Ex Verditius) has the gentle gift, but it's still not unusual for him to wear armour. He's distantly related to a count (nephew), and has been on crusade. In addition, he simply likes the way he looks in chainmail, as opposed to robes. It makes him distinctive amongst his fellow mages, which is important to a good many of them.

And any mundanes who have a problem with it ARE dealing with someone who can handle themselves in combat (He's a slow caster, so he learned to be handy with a longsword (Single weapon 4, Longsword)) without using magic, but who can, if given a little warning, defend himself even more effectively.

However, I don't foresee him needing to fight too much, it's Just part of who he is that he's armed and armoured unless otherwise needing to be. If he's at a formal party, he would wear appropriate clothes, though odds are he'd keep his sword on if it was allowed. If he's in the lab, the sword is by the door, the chainmail is worn to protect against occasional lab explosions. But more importantly, it's his right to wear it, so he does.

Interresting... And yes, as some have said, i am afraid of power gaming, so the point that a magi could defeat XYZ out of the box is very appreciated. Alo of good comments but i will play devils advocate on this subject to be certain :slight_smile:

In my point of view, ArM is "anything they tought to be true, is true." Dragons, trolls... Certain illeness could be cure by simple bleeding and so on... What if popular belief said magus could'nt cast in armor... Would that make it true ? I am not a big historical buff as many of you might be, but in my little imersion, i dont recall to have seen a mage portrait wearing armor... why do most other mediaval games forbid casting in armor if theirs not a belief behind it?

As i said im dong the devils advocate because i feel that rules are one thing and Concept/background/setting to be another... What if this is a setting issue and not a rule one?

And no, i dont have the meta-creator... ill look into it ty

That's because most other games have "game balance" at their core. Ars Magica doesn't, or at least not in the way that others do.

An example...

D&D (classic or new-fangled) has Wizards that start weak but progress to be pretty powerful. That's part of their schtick. Fighters on the other hand tend to start relatively handy and, while they get new toys, their role doesn't change too much from the original "hit it till it bleeds". In this case, if you allowed Wizards to wear armour, they suddenly have AC in the same range as a Fighter, which plays against balance. All the gubbins about armour being restrictive or interfering with arcane energies is flim flam.

Classically, with references such as Merlin and Gandalf, we rarely see Wizards in armour as they're represented as lore-masters, scholars, poets, and bards even. It isn't in their role or character to wear armour.

Ars Magica accepts and embraces Magi as powerful users of magic. It doesn't need to balance a Magus against a grog as there's frankly little contest. Would stripping a magus of armour restore "game balance" (i.e. level the playing field) with the grog or companion? No, probably not. And nor should it. Your magi are the main characters. Everyone else is a supporting part.

And Ars Magica has the Order of Hermes, comprised of twelve Houses, each of which represents a different take on what it is to be a Magus. Some of those reflect more scholarly pursuits, while others revel in conflict and challenge. The natural deciding factor on whether your Magus should wear armour or not is whether it fits that character concept. A scholarly Bonisagus or a Verditius carpenter may have little use for armour. But a crusading Flambeau or a Merinita knight of a Faerie Court will both want armour as it is fitting to their role.

In other fantasy games I think the fact that magi do not wear armour comes pretty much from Gandalf in LoTR and has nothing to do with history. There are certainly other fantasy games where mages can where armour .
In those other games their is an attempt to balance the classes and so Wizards get powerful spells but poor hp, poor armour and poor weapons. In AM mages are meant to be more powerful so why worry. OTH if it outrages you and your players feelings you can ban mages wearing armour but I cannot think of a rules justification for it you could say large quantities of Iron intefere with magic then of course why can mages effect people in armour.
Another way would be to include an armour wearing skill (I have no idea of the mechanics) which would make it harder for magi to wear armour or at least reduce their other abilities if they want to wear armour.

Not all magi wear armour in the 4 saga I am involved with only abour 20% of the magi wear armour and several of those who don't are combat magi. It is easy enougth to set ReTe effects to render yourself immune to mundane weapons anyway many young magi can cast such spells. Many of those who do wear armour so so for style reasons and rarely find any use for it as most battles are decided by their magic . only 1 mage in those 4 saga resorts to hand to hand combat as a first choice and that mage is a giant blooded mage who knows a huge range of personal enhancement spells (and she still uses a ReTe ward against mundane weapons)

here is a mage about 6 years out of apprentice ship who does not wear armour but who can pretty much wipe out any group of mundanes she encounters and shortly she will have a PeTe spell to destroy any weapon touching her so armour is not necessary

Game balance.

To my knowledge at least, there was no such belief. But i dont know everything of course, noone does.

And a suggestion is that you use the penalties for reduced gesturing based on the stiffer and heavier type of armour the higher penalty(while only 2 levels to choose from by RAW, you could easily spread it out if you want to, or just keep it simple with those 2 ).

One of my favorite use of the Restriction flaw is to use the classical "cant touch iron(or some other metal) while casting".

I could see an argument that wearing armor restricts gestures. Casting spells while in armor, particularly gauntlets, imposes the same penalty that subtle gestures do. I'd have trouble writing neatly and clearly while wearing winter gloves, so to me this is a reasonable restriction on spellcasting.

I love AM, but I also love game balance. To me, there's nothing wrong with ensuring that no one idea is over-powered or that a particular concept has the odds stacked against it.