Presence /Communications?

Hi all,

I and my group are new to Ars Magica and now the rules questions start to pop up.

First I wonder what the actual difference between the attributes Presence and Communications is? I understand the use of Communications more or less when teaching or writing books, but I would like some examples when Presence is used.
For example which attribute is used when a character is speaking in front of a crowd trying to convince them of his opinions in a matter. Is it Communications for his ability to speak or Presence because of his ability to make an impression?

Then I have a player who likes to play fighters using two weapons and I can't find any rules for that in the main book. Does it exist in any of the supplements?
If not i was thinking about a house rule where he buys a minor Virtue that gives him the ability to use Single Weapon but he can add the stats of his left hand and right hand weapon, just like it's done when wielding a shield and a weapon.
What do you think, would that be balanced enough?

For 2 hands, my campagnion, a sword master, is actually using it. IMS we house rule: +3 for attack or defense, at choice of the player for the second weapon.
If i had had the both weapon stats, it would have been too powerful, overall if you have 2 excellents swords.

(My next sword will give me a +4 in initiative... can you imagine with 2 swords? Although my initiative is already +8... i would have +12, and for the attack (where i have put my HR +3), i would have 23 in place of 22 base... but for the damage, i have in fact 7, and with your suggested rule, i would have 13...)

I think it's really too powerful.

For presence and communication, I understand that like ths:

  • when you speak (intimidation, charm...) i use com
  • when you just don't speak (intimidate gaze, stand with both hands on the hips...) i would use pres.

Yes. And welcome to Ars!

I'm sure others will add useful insights, but I will offer my efforts.

When a character walks into a room, when you first meet them, that's Presence. When it's time to lead and there's little time for words, that's Presence. When you try to remember people you met at the party, that's (their) Presence. Presence is abstract and social, almost purely instinctual. It can be instantaneous.

Communication is the ability to use verbal or written medium to achieve an end - to educate, to persuade, to explain, to convince, to entertain. It takes time to Communicate.

Often the same action can be seen two different ways. A well-crafted compliment works on Communication - successful flattery works on Presence. Explaining how the torture will proceed is Communication - scaring a prisoner is Presence. The ability to weave an airtight, believable lie to a jury is Communication - the ability to make that lie believed at a gut level is Presence. The ability to make a solid argument is Communication - the ability to hold a crowd's attention is Presence.

I believe I have usually good Communication. But I know I often get too wordy, and so my Presence is often less good. Are you following what I'm saying? Am I personally impressing you by how I'm saying it? Would you follow me into a library? Into battle? Communication, Presence.

He has chosen poorly, for this game is not Ars Bellicum. AM downplays "fighters" in favor of mages - oddly enough. There is an unsubstantiated rumour that a new optional combat system is coming out soon - more detailed, and one that can meet your needs.

Virtues should limit rare abilities, or open a door to a truly powerful avenue. I'm not sure two-weapon is that.

I'd say just add a new skill, "dual weapon", and call it good. No need for a Virtue unless you think the skill is both rare and valuable enough. But don't just double the stats for a sword to make "two-sword" - dual weapons don't do "double damage" - they tend to sacrifice defense for offense, or whatever. No "two attacks/round" or anything - just take the main weapon, and adjust accordingly - it's not a shield, it's a second weapon.

Which is already very good - better than carrying a large, heavy shield.

Now, I'm by no means an historian and I don't want to attrack Berklist-style flames, but if two-weapon fighting was, historically, really better than having a shield, I think it would have been part of standard training - whether or not you're actually ambidextrous you'd still be drilled in two-weapon fighting rather than in the use of a shield. This would have left a deeper mark than the occasional story and the fantasy trope.


One of my characters is a Cyrano-like being.
Ugly, but he is a wonderful writer.

Actually, a sword master with a shield is not very cool. Even for my chain mail, it looks "bad" with the image.. The only reason i have it it's because a soak of 1 is not enough when dealing with mages.

And for a sword master with 8+2, i think that having only a +3 is fair enough. My SG had rejected my proposal of having 2* the ability taken in account. I'm not wondering why :smiley:

I agree that two weapns should not be more powerfull then shield and weapon. I think +1 to both attack and defense should be good enough.

Happily we don't play like that, because I would have to take a magical shield with bonus at attack ^^.

Exar, whose sword master like to keep his attack advantage with some attack pressing secret technique and do a killing blow in the 2d round.

I think the rules should support the sword-and-shield as the superior armaments, as that's in keeping with my view of a the Knight and professional soldier of the setting. However, unique martial traditions could have their own benefits. So I'd suggest taking a Virtue and having it allow a benefit comparable to or weaker than a shield, or perhaps even superior to it if the virtue is rare and/or impossible to achieve. So, a Celtic Axewielder might allow the person a bonus to Attack instead of Defense comparable to a shield if he uses two axes; but not much more, as then any culture would develop such techniques. On the other hand, a Criamon magus on the Path of Strife may add his (astronomically high) Enigmatic Wisdom to either Attack or Defense (IIRC) if he uses only a sword, as this level of mystic swordmastery is so hard to achieve and so rare that it doesn't upset the setting at all.

As for Presence and Communication, well... For me, Presence measures the ability to impress with personality and spirit, while Communication measures the ability to express yourself and communicate ideas. Both can, and often do, involve words. It is usually possible to achieve a given social task by both, if only with slight adjustment to the description. For example, you might construct a convincing lie with Communication, explaining all the apparent contradictions away, but equally you can tell a lie so honestly and with such conviction that you are believed (Presence). It takes Presence to convince someone to love you, but Communication to express your love to her. Using logic and reasoning, you can win an argument with Communication; using fervor and rhetoric, you can win it with Presence. Leadership, however, is entirely a matter of Presence, while clarity of writing a matter of Communication.

Thank you all for the extensive answers!

I will see what we will do with the rules for two weapon fighting. I agree that it should not be more effective to fight with two weapons rather than weapon+shield as that was the most common combination for normal warriors throughout most of medieval history.
As for a weaponmaster it could be different though. They should have put more training into becoming good with a certain combination. I haven't got the feel for how much a minor virtue is worth in game terms but perhaps they aren't supposed to be used like this.
Perhaps adding a skill as Cuchulainshound is the best approach as it means he has to spend points in two skills to be able to use the weapons with both one and two hands.

Even minor virtues do not all provide equivalent benefits, but, for what it's worth, Puissant Ability gives an unconditional +2. I suppose you can use that as a benchmark.

Historically, using two weapons mostly made it harder to disarm you. For some, an axe was used to disable an opponents shield (hit the shield hard with the axe, and leave it stuck in the shield - allowing the weight to drag the shield down). This would probably best be simulated by allowing you to sacrifice an axe instead of a fatigue level to get your weapon skill added that round. Other 2-weapon techniques was usually about having a spare brawling weapon in case you were disarmed, or your opponent got too close. A parrying dagger might be allowed to resemble a buckler for combat stats.

ACtually two weapon style came to the fore when you started using lighter weapons and armor for in society. I think it is mostly product of the italian renessaince where you would have sword and parrying dagger because those could be be worn everywhere, the shield not being common to walk around.

It is a product of the same period as the buckler, rapier and Epee.

I could be wrong, but I believe that some Norse sagas relate of bear-shirters using a weapon in each hand - but again, that tends to be "lighter armour" combat.

I don't think we should take the account of the bear-shirters or berserkers very literary. After all those guys went into combat wearing only a bearskin - according to myth...

Well AM is Mythic Europe, so it could work...

Bears also go into combat wearing only a bearskin. I've heard that they are quite feared despite that. :wink:

In addition an arsenal of sharp and pointy items!

The thing about bears going only with a bearskin into combat is a YMMV issue. Serious


I had heard that berserker "bear skins" were woven over a mail hauberk.
Or is that an Ultima Thule misconception?

Probably right. Otherwise they would find a rather fast pass into valhalla. Not a bad thing per se, but going there having killed some enemies in the process is always better, I guess. Otherwise if I was a normal warrior I would fear mor ethe old veteran than a berserker any day of the week :slight_smile: