Physical props at the gaming table

Salve! I am relatively new to running Ars Magica, but my experience of other games has shown that tangible representations of in-game things can be really useful in easing cognitive load. As I am soon to begin a new saga, I have been considering possibilities.

The obvious ones to me are vis tokens and fillable index cards (perhaps printed to look "medievalish") for books, enchanted items, and formulaic spells. I also have coloured tokens to track momentum in Star Trek Adventures, which I will likely use to track Confidence Pts. But I would be really interested to hear tips from anyone who has gone further with in-person props and visual aids. Please post suggestions below!

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The most useful player aid I have ever used is the spell card. I often have new players who aren’t familiar with Ars Magica, and what they think a spell does is not the same as what it actually does. Not everyone will look a spell up in a book. So I make everyone cards for their spells. These are the size of Magic cards, printed at home and put into sleeves. They have the text of the spell; another card lists all the common abbreviations for Range, Duration, Target, and the Arts.

Spell cards work. Players flip through them when they’re trying to figure out what to do. They’re fast and easy. I wish we had official versions but my simple one does the job!


Nice, good service for your players.
Like cards with powers in a board game, very visual.

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Those look great! What sort of template do you use?

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They are completely homemade, created years ago as a Pages file. (Pages is the iOS word processor app.) I literally used the “draw shapes” tool to create a single card out of boxes, and then copy/pasted the result 8 times, assembling the results into a 3 x 3 grid. When I need to make new cards, I duplicate that page and, on my tablet, go in manually and enter text into each field.

Any real graphic designer would laugh for days. But it did the job.

I have since made some basic vis tokens with the power of MS PowerPoint, each with the Latin name and rough English version. I initially made them with the Verditius runes for each Art, but have since considered that, for new players, a more "intuitive" symbol might be better (I found Imaginem particularly tricky here). I attach both below. The colours are based on the effects of "Sense the Nature of Vis", appropriately enough.


These are great! When it comes to making actual tokens, how do you suggest we proceed? Just print these out on the stiffest paper our printer can handle?

That was my plan! Alternatively to print them on regular paper and stick them onto stiff card. I also have access to a paper cutter at work that I could use to actually chop the things out if I decide the repetitive strain injury isn't worth it

If you have access to a laser cutter, you could import the design and carve & cut in wood or plastic.

I don't, but that would be a very cool idea. For now I decided cutting out loads of circles was a faff, so rearranged them into a grid of squares, with the Order of Hermes symbol on the back of each (folding will also make them more rigid, as the best my printer can do is still a bit flimsy).


If you can get hold of one use a badge cutter, most big crafting shops sell them