Proposed Rulings for New Campaign

Hi everyone.

Having played ARM4 twice before (although one of those games never got far past the first few initial sessions) and run ARM5 once, I am stepping back into the breach as a SG for a group of (worryingly) enthusiastic players, none of whom have played Ars Magica before but all of whom seem very sold on the concept.

Below are the rulings, modifications and house rules I'm thinking of using. I'd be grateful if you could collectively run your eyes over these and tell me what you think. As an experienced GM in a number of systems, I am naturally both fond of and fearful of player ingenuity, and so would like to guide their creativity into good things, rather than picking apart ARM5 at the seams.

The design principles for these house rules are to help mitigate the following issues, which I believe to be adverse to Ars Magica:

  • Studying from books is a strongly dominant strategy.
  • Book trading is massively overpowered.
  • Supernatural creatures are hunted for vis rather than being feared.
  • There's too much bookkeeping.
  • While I am generally a huge fan of ARM5's consistently excellent sourcebooks, I am worried about the general power creep and complexity creep that sourcebooks always introduce to games.
  • I have tried to give a definitive ruling to solve every disputed area. I don't know or particularly care if it's the "right" solution according to RAW, but I've tried to go with the easiest one or the one which produces the outcome which creates the best gaming experience.

I have added examples and notes explaining decisions in italics, in order to gain the quality bonus from a glossed text.

Basic Principles:
a) All dice will be rolled in the presence of the SG. No arguments.
b) I'm not going to police anyone on their bookkeeping. If you're going to cheat on a tabletop RPG, you're already a sad enough specimen that nothing I can say will convince you otherwise.
c) Unless you have a strong desire to do otherwise, all wizards were born in 1195 (except if you have Magister in Artibus, as below).
d) All PC wizards start as newly gauntletted. No exceptions.
e) You may have one wizard and one companion at once. You may at any point abandon your wizard in favour of an apprentice, or abandon your companion to create a new one. Once abandoned, a character is permanently an NPC and can never become a PC again under any circumstances.
f) Character death may be commuted to a permanent injury where the troupe decides that it's appropriate. The character will receive a flaw to represent this. This will not happen in cases of character death due to recklessness or in situations where it's dramatically appropriate.
Characters dying because of bad die rolls is not fun. However, this should not be taken as a license to act recklessly.
g) In cases of injury (as above), Twilight, Warping or other situations where characters receive Virtues or Flaws, the player does not get to select their own; it will be chosen by the troupe and moderated by the SG.

Books:
a) Hermetic books can only be scribed by a wizard, apprentice or failed apprentice.
This is a departure from RAW. However, in my experience, RAW seem to encourage covenants to be book-production factories, churning out endless copies of high-quality tractati for export. This is not the game I wish to run.
b) The rules from Covenants regarding books will not be used.
Bookkeeping and the prevalence of high-quality books are already problems; I don't want to aggravate them.

Virtues and Flaws:
a) Secondary Insight and Elemental Magic apply their bonuses to all advancement totals, including exposure and adventure XP.
b) Chaotic Magic is disallowed due to excessively poor wording.
c) Curse of Venus is disallowed for wizards, but encouraged for companions.
d) Not more than one of the following per character: Book Learner, Strong Parens, Good Teacher and Puissant Magic Theory.
Bonisagus will be forgiven Puissant MT. Verditius with Puissant MT will be looked at with extreme suspicion.
e) Affinities for Forms are actively encouraged as they add flavour.
f) Magister in Artibus is allowed for Magi. The mage cannot begin their Apprenticeship until they have graduated from university and completed their two-year teaching regency; meaning that their minimum age is now (40-Int).
g) Virtues and Flaws from City & Guild, Art & Academe, The Church and Lords of Men are actively encouraged as they add medieval flavour.
h) Virtues and Flaws from the Realms of Power books are allowed. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis as necessary.
i) Virtues and Flaws from the Houses of Hermes books are allowed even for out-of-House characters, except where specifically noted otherwise.
Obviously, you can't start with Elder Runes if you're a Bjornaer. On the other hand, I have nothing against you being a Leadworker.
j) Non-Hermetic magi may not be created as player characters. Non-wizards using the wizard character slot, created from the Mercere book or from Art & Academe, will be glared at until their character sheets spontaneously combust.

Auras:
a) Friendly auras add to botch dice.
I like this rule, as it brings into play a continuum between power and safety, which is something very fun in RPGs. If you want to be safe, put your lab in a 1pt aura. If you want power, pick a 6pt aura and enjoy those experiments.

Lab:
a) You may experiment when learning from raw vis.
Studying raw vis should be more powerful but less safe than reading tractati.
b) The only people who can help in the laboratory are: Other magi, apprentices, failed apprentices and familiars.
Verditius forge companions use their own rules, but don't count as proper "lab assistance" as detailed in ARM5 lab chapter. I want to lay this down explicitly due to the confusion regarding failed apprentices.
c) The rules from Covenants regarding labs will not be used.

Apprentices:
a) The initial character sheet of the apprentice is decided by another player at the table (usually the person who has the least to do currently, or who enjoys number-crunching the most).
The parens's player will receive some basic information when finding the apprentice (attributes, notable ability scores, virtues and flaws where they'd be evident, and a Major Hermetic Virtue if the character has one), but the rest has to wait until the Arts are opened. This is partially for sadism/realism reasons, but mainly because I don't want players to get into the mindset of "holding out for the perfect apprentice".
b) Whether on adventures or after graduation, an apprentice will never be played by either their parens's player, or the player who statted them.
I do not want players to make uber-apprentices and then take them as PCs.

Companions:
a) It is the companion's player's job to ensure that seasonal play, levelling and ageing occurs.
b) When you make a companion, make sure that this companion has "dramatic links" to at least two other companions, and at least two wizards other than your own.
c) No more than one Redcap, Failed Apprentice or Landed Noble will be allowed. No Greater Nobles will be allowed.
The first three should be rare. The last one will naturally have the game revolve around them, which I'm dubious about.
d) Supernatural Merits and Flaws with sources other than the Magic Realm are positively encouraged.

Grogs:
a) Do not belong to any particular player.
b) Have no free seasons per year, and therefore cannot assist in the lab or take part in any other seasonal play except Training.
c) Have a "last played" date. When you pick them up for a new adventure, level and age them to the current point.
Having to make ageing rolls for a dozen different grogs every winter, with half of them fated never to be played again anyway, slows the game down massively.

NPCs:
a) It is a basic principle in all of my games that NPCs use the same rules as PCs, are not necessarily level-appropriate challenges for the PCs, and have their own hopes, fears, ambitions and desires.
b) Every other Hermetic mage should be considered to be a player character played by someone at some other table somewhere, and consequently should be treated with a degree of fear and respect.
c) Every person in the world is considered to be good at the skills necessary for them to continue living and thriving (which may not be the skills you'd expect them to have; a blacksmith may be a lousy blacksmith and thrive, if he's a shrewd businessman.)
I shouldn't have to state these, but sadly the "oh, he's just an NPC, he won't do that" mindset keeps coming up.

Parma Magica:
a) A previously-mundane weapon which has been targeted with magic can strike through the parma, but loses the benefits of the magical effects while doing so.
I'm aware that this is not RAW, but it strikes me as the best way of avoiding the pink dot defence.
b) An item created via Creo magic, or enchanted in a lab, is bounced entirely by the Parma.
Stated explicitly so as to contrast with the above ruling.

Enchanted Items:
a) You must open an item for enchantment before you can take it as a talisman.
This means that your Magic Theory must be high enough for the components in the talisman. There is some discussion as to whether this is RAW or not, so I am explicitly stating it here.
b) Reducing enchantment duration to multiply your excess only works for invested items. When the duration ends, the "space" inside the item stops being taken up and a new enchantment may be placed into that "space".
c) An enchantment placed into an item cannot be given more Penetration than twice the enchanter's Penetration ability (plus Puissant if necessary).
For example, if your Penetration is 4, you may add +4 levels to the enchantment, giving it a total Penetration of 8.

Supernatural Creatures:
a) Wards do not have to penetrate.
For example, a level 30 ward vs faeries for which you rolled a 21 and spent fatigue, is still effective against Might 30 faeries.
b) Might stripping spells must penetrate.
I feel intuitively that it should be easier to ward against something than to destroy it.
c) Magic Resistance is always equal to the maximum Might, rather than the current score.

Mastery Abilities:
a) The mastery abilities from the Mercere book are allowed, even to non-Mercere.
b) Multiple cast spells targeted at the same target do not resolve separately; rather, they're treated as a single, more powerful spell. In the case of damage spells, each additional copy adds +5 to the damage roll. All other cases will be ruled on as and when they come up.

Warping:
a) All wards except the Aegis and Parma cause warping. However, the "half the time" rule will be strictly applied; warding yourself while you're sleeping does not cause warping as you spend less than half the day sleeping.
b) Creo momentary rituals which increase your attributes count as constant effects for the purpose of warping.
c) Covenfolk are aware of what Warping is, are aware of roughly how it's caused, and are terrified of receiving it.
Experienced covenfolk should exhibit the same self-preservation instincts as miners or nuclear plant workers, and will work to minimise their exposure to dangerous situations. Reckless covenfolk do not live long enough to reproduce.

Equipment:
a) Nomenclature: the short sword should be considered a "common quality arming sword." The long sword should be considered a "good quality arming sword."
The stats don't change, but the names become genre rather than D&D.
b) Longbows add one botch dice per level of skill below five.
[i]Longbows are famously difficult to learn to use. I had considered making them use a different skill which is slower to buy up, but finally decided that this ruling (while not really representing the mechanism particularly well) is the easiest way to reflect how longbows are not an amateur's equipment.[i]
c) When charging with a lance, add the horse's Str to your damage roll.
In my opinion, a charging knight with a lance should be the single most deadly thing on the medieval battlefield.
d) Tridents should be considered as mis-statted.
If the numbers given in Lords of Men are correct, then why did every medieval army not issue them as standard equipment?

These seem reasonable to me.

How do you plan to deal with the killed by Parma issue. Transform a boulder into a pebble. Throw pebble at Magus. Pebble turns back into boulder when it lands on Magus, crushes Magus into a chunky goo. A handful of gravel can wipe out a dragon or a Grand Tribunal.

Presuming you believe rituals should be cast under stressful conditions (there's a thread where this is highly contested), this would suggest that a 4th Magnitude Aegis of the Hearth will give 7 botch dice in a default +3 aura, and 9 in a +5, pretty standard aura.
How else does this affect the saga? Does it affect lab work? Can someone with a high safety score in their lab mitigate the botch dice? Wait, no, you nerfed those rules by ignoring covenants.
This is one of those far reaching things that sounds good initially, but can create all kinds of problems down the road. And why hasn't Durenmar, with it's +7 aura blown itself to smithereens a time or 20 already?

  1. Are magically created swords stopped by parma but not other forms of magic resistance like relics or an ogre's Might score?

  2. If you do not like libraries, make books have a single score (quality) that adds to the level of the knowledge like XP. 3 books of quality 10 (30 total) would mean your score in said Art or knowledge in your library would be 3 :slight_smile: Makes large collections count, but makes it more difficult to accumulate vast quantities of knowledge (large levels) that way. You can reward writing books and spells by reputations instead. hmm... maybe I should write this down myself...

  3. Do not count spell level in lab botches. Allow a form of spell mastery to reduce botches. That solves most of the issues by Jonathan.link. :slight_smile: Or make them cast it via communion, so the final level they are casting is a level 5 spell. Add mastery that reduces the botch dice and you end up with powerful aegises that rarely botch. It has the nice side effect of making wizard's communion more valuable as well.

  4. I would veto 99% of the supplements. If they are new to the game they will have their hands full with the basic book alone. And in any case I would veto the sillyness that is ROP:magic when it comes to PC virtues

  5. Ars Magica combat stats are notoriously badly done, so dpo not feel weird if a trident (or a whip, as it used to be) is the definitive weapon out there. most people I have encountered in real life have rewritten the whole combat step of Ars Magica anyway.

In general, quite OK :slight_smile: you dealt with a lot of the funky stuff out there.

Cheers,
Xavi

Actually, each participant adds a botch die as well. This is what happens when one goes fiddling with the rules, unintended consequences and further retweaking.

I guess I'm viewing this as an onerous game contract. Designed to limit the power of magi. The best way to limit the power of magi is to not let them all go out adventuring together and also to not let them stay in the lab all the time. More than any game the players have a big say in how the game gets played. Do they want all these limitations or is it the SG? As they get more interested, they may sign up to the board and learn that there's a lot of serious discussion going on.

I'd turn this around and say, I'd like us to go through this saga conservatively, don't make me bust out dozens of house rules, and let's agree collectively on how we're going to play. I as SG have the right to make any rule I like. The rest of the troupe has a right to over-rule that with consensus. If they don't like it, they won't want to play it...

Makes them ridiculously useless. With this you´re basically stating that you wish to remove them from the game, i would advise you to do that instead rather than making them an exception.

Need to decide how to handle multicast Might stripping spells as well. Maybe add 1/5 of damage from all beyond the first? Melds neatly with the usual damage spells.

Dont they always? Or do you mean to run it like we do, that only damage higher than Might causes damage?
And yes, totally agree.

A very needed change indeed.

That is RAW.

I can understand this perfectly, but it is VERY low, and will be severely unfavourable to any item-focused magi.

I wont say for sure if it´s against RAW, but i think would advise against it. Unless you specifically want talismans to be highly restricted to minimal number of component parts. Which frankly at least i find boring and makes Talismans far less useful, and not useful enough. Being able to have several components means chances are better that you can get the attunements you WANT from it, dont forget that every attunement still takes a whole season to get done, this is a LOT of time for some of the relatively small bonuses.

1 is just fine as a way to get rid of that annoying flaw yes.
2, unless i misrecall, an item created permanently by Creo magic is not bounced by RAW.

That i give a big thumbs up for. Some people seem to want the player characters to be the only "serious" characters around. I totally disagree with that. Just make sure that you throw out some sort of warnings if players are risking a confrontation or the ire of an extreme NPC. Like, if s/he´s got a CrIg casting total of 150, make sure it´s mentioned somehow that character X can burn a kingdom to the ground with a single spell or something similar descriptional.
Unless of course the players do something stupid or clearly skips past any attempts at knowledge. Then they fry and you start a new campaign. :mrgreen:

A solution to this, dont roll, every 5 years or so you modify them as if you had rolled a predetermined set of roll results, letting you adjust them quickly based on a template. And, only if you want it, add a single roll to see if they die or disappear for some reason.

OR, to the covenant as a whole! Sometimes much better than links to other characters.

Good idea, always liked allowing that.

HUGE OUCHY!
Sorry, but i would strongly advise against this. Or be prepared for a massive throughput of new magi because old ones are going to go twilight far too often.
Also, the "Cautious Sorcerer" is going to be one of the most overused Virtues without a doubt. As well as Flawless Magic. And Familliars will also quickly become highly popular.

No it does not. The Aura bonus is NOT a big thing 99% of the time, getting 3-5 extra botch dice however is a massive risk.

Good idea, just remember to also state that they only apply ONCE per season, otherwise they can be severely exploited.

Why?

DONT be too hard about Magic Theory. Even with BOTH Affinity and Puissant, the bonus is still not huge. I would exclude it from your list completely.

Silly.

The main danger is coming up with those without discussing with the Troupe. While it is good you plan ahead what might be part of the contract, it ultimately depends on what the Troupe wants to play. I suggest you have them read this thread and then discuss what your expectations (and theirs) are.

Maybe a quarter of those ruling are worth keeping, the rest is mostly harmless.

I'm not sure what this is saying? It is RAW that you can only attune a talisman if you have opened the item for enchantment.

The rules for a compound device state that you can either open it as a total of all the components or the highest single component.
Items can be attuned when you increase vis capacity or instill an effect.

If this is saying that the only way a compound device can be opened is by a sum of all the components, but not by selecting the component that requires the most pawns of vis, this pretty well nerfs compound devices, period. So the originally proposed rule needs some clarification.

Of course, whatever suits the sort of game you and your troupe want to play is fine. It's your saga.

But I would make the following comments.

I'm not quite sure what the point of this rule is. I find it really helpful if the troupe is much more flexible on what is a PC and and NPC, and it relieves the main storyguide from needing to micromanage lots of NPCs (both during a story and between stories) if you can let the other players sort out what some "NPCs" are doing.

This seems relatively sensible but don't be afraid of killing characters. Grogs are partly there so that you can tell stories where characters die.

Also, don't even be afraid of killing magi and companions. And remember that death doesn't have to remove a character from your story. The death of an important character gives the survivors an excellent reason to start dabbling in necromancy, or to risk mounting a rescue mission in hell, or something similarly mad.

Why? The rules are a bit fiddly, but I find that these rules give your magi excellent reasons for doing wizardy seeming things. The bonuses are not usually wildly unbalancing; and you can just restrict specific bonuses if they start to become problematic.

Hi :slight_smile:

Oh, wow. There are a lot of them :smiley: I don't think you've addressed what "non nutritious" means in the context of magicked (non-permanent Creo/Muto) food and drink. My own pet peeve is, also, how familiars advance - as per RoP:M, by standard core, or simply acquiring the magus' scores? I suggest the latter if you want to ease-up on book-keeping and avoid the absurdity of all familiars suddenly being so interested in learning MT. Hmm... I'm sure there are other issues I've missed, too :smiley:

While this is great, I'd suggest also considering the "It's just a flesh wound" option. Basically - if the character's death is not called for (i.e. it's just stupid dice), the character gets to be Incapacitated instead of Dead when the dust settles (or somesuch). There is no need to encumber characters with Flaws. I say this from the experience of having the character's of a particular player of mine die off at alarming regularity - in D&D, which meant their level dropped so much he preferred to draw new ones.

Another point to consider is that while being Dead is no fun, neither is being in Twilight! I'd strongly encourage you to rule that Temporary Twilight will last only as long as the SG decides it, not as long as the dice say.

While I can certainly see the rationale there, I'd suggesting borrowing the idea of "resonant materials" from Covenants instead. This way, the reason that only a magus can write books is that books on magic must be written using resonant materials, and woven together by minor magic. It's just cooler to have that book on Ignem written down on dragon scales.

Also - be clear whether you allow Casting Tablets. While they are very thematic, I'd suggest not to - they seriously undermine the balance of what magic a wizard can "know" and use.

Cool, but definitely limit to once per season, as mentioned above.

Why in the Four Realms would you deny magi the woes of Love?

Hmph. I don't really see the point in that list.
I would, on the contrary, allow multiple "strong parens" virtues a la "Gild Training".

I'd suggest instead "No more than one XP-boosting Virtue may apply per Season". So - you can't read a book in a wonderous setting to get a Study Bonus on top of your Book Learner, and then spread it out using your Secondary Insight to the Arts you've got an Affinity in... :smiley:

I think you meant "... will be looked at as quite sensible".

Focuses add more. But are waaay to powerful, really. Since you're house-ruling everything, you might want to take them down a peg. Or two.

Don't burden new players with all that stuff. Well, do if you want to - but I think just the core book is intimidatingly-big enough.

Blessed Bonisagus forbid!

I think lots of them don't work for normal PCs. I suggest at least doing the opposite - saying they're off-limits, but exceptions can be considered. I also, again, recommend not overburdening the PCs with lots of books.

That is a good idea.

If you want this effect, consider multiplying the aura bonus, as suggested in another thread recently. As-is, you've got only a meager "power" in return for lots of risk.

I actually like that friendly auras don't add botch dice. You get that "homely" feeling.

But... they're so colorful! I find the fact that labs are different and detailed to be worth the extra book-keeping. I suggest providing a "middle-path" - allow adding in enchantments and effort as per the general guidelines given at the end of the chapter, to provide bonuses, instead of the complicated lab virtues system. That way at least you can still have a lab with a magical-light-show providing a bonus for Imaginem magic and so on. Adds color to the setting - and covenant.

Hmph. I'm of the "PCs are special" camp. Sure, everyone plays by the same rules - but the PCs have lots more adventures, and rewards, and V&F, then your average Johnus Magus. Some NPC magi may be player-equivalent, or more, but generally speaking NPCs are just not as.... "obssessive-compulsive" as PCs. Obssessed with power and compulsively drawn to adventure, that is.

You mean the magic fails to affect what's protected by the Parma, right? Not that the glowing pink dots suddenly blink out all across the polearm as its tip strikes the magus?

I personally don't really mind the pink-dot loophole, but sure, that's a way to address it.

So if I take a sword and enchant it with effect X, it bounces off parma; but if I can a spell with effect X on it, the sword passes through Parma? Strange, but - your game, your rules. It sounds fine balance-wise.

Nah, the space is gone for good. No "refunds" on magic items. Just make new ones, if you want... new ones. Your rule allows for versatility in stuffing effects into magic items, which is not in RAW. I don't really like that, but I don't think it's a problem.

Harsh. But why this figure? Why tie it to the penetration ability, or to such a low multiplier? I'd suggested limiting it to one quarter the lab total. That way, the penetration of items would suffice to deal with low-level threats, leaving potent ones to the PCs to face off directly. I'd also consider allowing Sympathy Magic (arcane connections et al) to increase penetration, just because it's cool.

Oh, yes.

What about Aegis? How does it work, again? Lots of confusion there.

I hate might-strippers with the burning intensity of a thousand suns. Especially low-level mutliple-cast ones. I suggest making them Rituals. And making them only apply to manifestations of eternal creatures, such as angels, demons, genii loci, saints, and so on; so you strip the local raw vis used to manifest the body, not the actual immortal spirit. Because really, ridding the world of the infernal one demon at a time gets really tired and really boring really fast.

Yes.

Yeah, nerf those abominations!

As said above, you better consider might-strippers as well.

I can see the rationale, both story-wise and mechanically, but it just doesn't make much Magic Theoretic sense. I'd suggest ruling instead that they are always powerful magic "not designed" for the target, thus producing warping when affecting the target. But once changed, the change is natural, so piling further warping just doesn't make sense. (And, as said above, essentially neuters the option.) Alternatively, say that such spells must be tailored-made for the target, so a "Circle of Bonisagus' Intelligence" won't turn every magus in the Tribunal into a +5 Int genius.

Warping actually ain't that bad. Usually. But fine.

I prefer to lower its Attack bonus. To something like -5 or worse. You're just not going to hit anything unless you're highly trained, and even then the weapon's major advantage is its absurdly-long range. Which is great for mass-combat, but for skirmishes you want that nice short-bow by your side, and a fine marksman to wield it.

I think I still prefer my fix which makes Wards not be an exception: drop all the general ward guidelines. If you want to ward against magical animals, make a ward against animals and penetrate with it. Use the same type of guidelines for other things. It fixes even more issues than dropping penetration does. For example, why is it easier to ward against a wolf with Magic Might 1 than it is to ward against a non-magical wolf if the magical one should have more magic resistance than the non-magical one? It also has some cool other effects, like desperately searching for some arcane connection to make your ward work against a high Might being instead of it simply working or not working based on its level.

Chris

As said, this causes lots of issues and consistency problems.
Something similar I suggested, but didn't have the possibility to try, is to have PM be to magic what sunlight is to vampires: It destroys the weak ones, and repells the stronger ones.
That is, have PM cancel low-level magic (as in your A), such as under lvl 10, and have it repel the rest (as per RAW). It still creates some problems but is clear, consistent, and also eliminates the "pink dot" problem. Note, though, that I've yet to see someone attempt a pink dot, so House Ruling might not be nescessary, depending on your players.

Funny, suggested almost the same thing on these same boards. That is, when multicasting, consider that a single spell is cast, with each copy increasing its base level by one magnitude when applicable (ie mostly on Creo/Rego damage spells, PeCo and might strip spells).
While we're at it, if you (rightly) fear Might critters are too easily destroyed by might-stripping spells, you might be interested by the idea of adding a measure of MIght Soak

Why? In earlier edition, that was one of the main strengths of the Hermetic system - that knowledge could be written down and shared with students born long after the original author's death. In 5th, anyone with the right skills could so now that restriction is mostly based on tradition.

Depending on what exactly you mean by this. I assume you mean the guidelines suggested in Covenants? Then yes, books are a bit cheap.

Get metacreator.

Much less pronounced in ArM than in most other games I've seen.
It still exists ofcourse, in some books more than others, but yeah.

No comment.

Why? Are you hunting for that myth more elusive than the White Hart, namely Game Balance?
These choice balance out if you run more than a few stories. If your sagas span decades, commin straight from the Gauntlet is usually an advantage.

What is the problem you're trying to handle here?

This is RAW - though if you're playing troupestyle, make it a troupe decission. That's not my impression though?

That's in the errata, isn't it?

Talk to Christian Andersen he can explain them so they make sense.

Why? This seems silly and pointless. Especially since magi are (typically) are even worse equipped than companions to deal with infatuations..

Why? I agree that the combination can be nasty, but just one of them?
As for the Verditii with Puissant MT, those are common as dirt. I tend to look to see if they have both Puissant MT and Affinity MT - those are the specialists.

Flavourful, but if you're so worried about powercreep and overpowered characters, why not just use the core book alone?

...I assume you meant the reverse of what you wrote?

Despite leadworker being perhaps less well-phrased than Chaotic Magic? Impressive.
Oh well, the author did clarify here on the forum.

Yeah... we used to play like that. Don't unless you love SGing Twilight episodes.

Why? I dont necessarily disagree, but I'd like to know your reasons.

Why not? They are extremely flavourful, while rarely being truely worth it, because you have to spend so much time on your lab if you want a serious bonus.
Just prevent labs the size of footie fields and you should be good.

We usually have them as PCs these days, adding an 'Apprentice slot' to the "Magus + Companion" constellation.

That's quite strict. Someone mentioned dramatic links to the covenant, I vastly prefer that one.
Also, 2 other companions and 2 other magi? How big is your troupe?

Why not? Given a sense of ownership and you can get that player to do the book keeping.

Or practice, presumably.
I'd also assume they can be taught, even if they cannot teach.
Now, by p. 37 grogs cannot have the Gift, so obviously they cannot assist in the lab.
Unless you allow grogs to be failed apprentices, but you were already restricting that one.
Just throwing out a thought here: Failed apprentice with Affinity MT and Puissant MT.

get metacreator.

You really shouldn't have to, but yes, they are.
PCs tend to be a little more OCD about things, that's about it.
OCD is not uncommon in the order, and while it is generally left untreated, it appears to be actively encouraged in certain houses.

So, if I use magic (probably MuTe) to weaken an opponent's weapon, the same applies?

RAW would be: Must penetrate per normal penetration rules. Items created ritually (D: Momentary) are not magical and so need not penetrate.

As mentioned, these are RAW.

Harsh. Probably overly so.
Though I agree that Item penetration is 'too good'. I would probably impose a limit based on MT - would keep the Verditius still in the game.

This is RAW

agreed but not realistic :wink:

Agreed, though please note that by RAW this (MaxMight) is reduced by might strippers.
If magical being are created (by you) as full characters, I can recommend the Major Immunity (Might Strippers) virtue.

I'd have just banned them instead, but to each his own I suppose.

Why? Keeps down book keeping, what else?
Doesn't solve the main problem with multi casting, namely Might Strippers.

Then they must be dispellable, which momentary spells are not. Just do away with them if you really think they are so nasty.

Previous editions added the Size of the horse, not the Strength.

Oh, and - multiply the Magic Resistance of critters. To Might x2 at least, perhaps more. I'd also suggest further boosting the MR of spirits of places within their places (genii loci, faerie lords, forest spirits...). In fact, I'd suggest simply saying that MR of critters will be set by you, so that you'll have the flexibility to change your politics as the saga develops and you see what your PCs are capable of, and what they're not.

IF you want Parma to be effective, you might want to change that too. Parma is already good at blocking hedge wizards and critters, but Hermetic magi have obscene penetration. An archmagus can probably regularly cast a killing spell with penetration exceeding 100 (much more if he puts effort/raw vis into it), while I reckon his MR would be around 45 in some relevant combinations (Form 15, Parma 6), perhaps 70 if he's lucky (Form 40) . So a battle between magi is like a shooting contest of who shoots first. If you don't like that, you can try massaging the mechanics - but the truth is, it's quite difficult to strike a balance.

Laertes, you've opened Pandora's box. Hope you know that now. :smiley:

I'm of two minds on this. Doing this should be done with caution, and I would only do it if you find your magi are regularly battling Hermetic enemies. In most cases this shouldn't be, because while the Order may be competitive, by and large, the members of the Order do not go out and attack their fellow magi. Wizard's War exists, but even the greatest Archmagus can botch...

Firstly: It appears that my idea regarding aura was a bad one. Thinking about it, yes, it basically makes high auras uninhabitable by magi, which is definitely not something that's particularly within the flavour of Mythic Europe. Thank you to pretty much everyone on this point.

I am also interested that my views on the Realms of Power books (which I thought had some nice bits and pieces here and there, amidst the This-is-nice-but-does-not-apply-to-Hermetic-Magi content) and my views on Covenants (which I thought was complexity for its own sake) seem to be the inverse of the consensus here.

If I haven't addressed it below, then I have read it but didn't want to make a post much longer.

Alas; this seems to be a worse problem than pink dot, and off the top of my head I can't think of a reconciliation. Given the choice between a world of perfect pink dot defences and a world where parma is dangerous, I might have to take the cop-out solution of abandoning hard-and-fast rules and applying rule 7, much as I loathe doing so.

Having different rules for each type of generalised magic resistance seems like too much work for too little benefit. I'd apply the same rules to each.

I like the rules for books in vanilla ARM5 (simplicity is an oft-forgotten virtue in game design), but your ideas intrigue me and it's definitely something I'd enjoy playing around with.

I don't dislike books; the image of wizards studying from books is a powerfully iconic one. I just dislike strongly dominant strategies. IMHO, a book should grant a lower advancement total than either teaching or experimentation. It's strength comes from the fact that many people can read it over the years, making it grant more XP over its lifetime and meaning that it's a good long-term investment.

The "Mythic Europe" books (The Church, City & Guild, Art & Academe, Lords of Men) are magnificent and flavoursome, and I definitely want to encourage their use as they can anchor characters into the world around them. With regards to ROP:M, there are a handful of virtues and flaws out of it that I think are quite fun (Magical Blood, Atlantean Magic, the one which lets you refine form vis rather than Vim) and which I'd be sad to have to disallow. Everything else... sure. Can it, especially at chargen.

Combat systems are usually the low point of their respective game; it's something I'm used to as a GM. However, as David Chart et al have worked hard on this one, I'd like to give it a chance and see how it performs.

It's for me, rather than for them. This isn't a document I'm going to present to my players; rather, this is to work out in my mind which rulings seem to be the most sensible in various situations, so that when they come up, I can come out with an answer which is thought-through and has been moderated by people who understand the ramifications of the system. Much as I would love to be able to bust out spontaneous rulings with the wisdom of a forum full of grognards, I'm not able to do so and consequently I try to find workarounds.

Naturally, if the players come to me and say, Laertes, we'd prefer a different ruling, then I'm happy to discuss this. (The same applies for RAW and the Limits of Hermetic Magic.)

I didn't actually have any particularly strong reasons for this ruling; it just seemed like the right way to close the loophole of "I hire the worst grogs in the world and then up their stats to +3 permanently." Warping seemed a sensible way to handle this.

Works.

Hmmm. Possibly some multiple of that, then? I'm hesitant to let people arm their grogs with wands of massively high penetration and use them to kill wizards as that's not as flavoursome as engaging in magical duels.

I'm convinced. Your position may not be RAW but it creates a far more interesting world, where people make complex talismans right off the bat and then upgrade them constantly across their lifetimes. I'm going with that, unless there's any unforeseen consequences anyone knows of (and there are ALWAYS unforeseen consequences)?

In my previous campaign, that list was heavily oversubscribed, and most players who missed them on their initial chargen later confessed that, given the chance, they would go back and add them. It just seemed pointless. To me, an obviously right choice is an artefact of bad game design (which Ars Magica is mostly blessedly free of). Better to give everybody +2 to lab totals than require everybody to take a flaw to balance out their Puissant Magic Theory.

Regarding Verditius, I realise that they need a strong lab total. It just seems, to me, to be a story/mechanics disconnect in that these are more characteristics which you'd expect a Bonisagus to have. Verditius should be friendly, quarrelsome and crippled, not shy, bookish and theoretically-inclined.

Ask my L5R party as to whether I'm afraid to kill characters when their time is up. evil grin

In most games I've run, I have tried to strike a balance between "player characters can't die, but everyone they kill stays dead... somehow" and "Aragorn dies at the start of the campaign due to a bad die roll, now half my plot is pointless".

In a lot of fights, where I'm using them as pacing or as filler or as catharsis, I will simply handwave any serious injuries to PCs. In more serious fights, or ones which the PCs have gotten into via their natural PCish curiosity, I don't want to kill characters but also don't want to deprive them of some consequences for their actions. If nothing else, "kill that magical boar that took my leg" is an amazing character motivation.

My one lament is that PCs always fight to the death. A saga in which villains were allowed to surrender, and PCs willing to do so, would be incredibly fun in a comic-book recurring-villain fashion. Alas, this sort of cold-blooded ruthless cruelty seems inherent in the roleplaying hobby.

I like that; it also adds some inherent mystery to it, and makes Twilight less Random Number God-dy. (Which it is, to a terrifying degree).

My instinct as regards temporary twilight durations is to take advantage of troupe style play and get the player to play a grog while his wizard is elsewhere. I don't know if this works or not.

I haven't actually played with them. I went through the Covenants book, looked at them and said, "My word, these add a great deal of complexity at an early stage of the game, which is just when players are already wading through enough other complexity."

If they don't slow down play or force player characters into overspecialisation traps, then I'm entirely happy to use them. Possibly start with the labs rules disallowed, and then phase them in as the covenant gets back to its feet?

My own opinion on "non nutritious" is that, from a metagame perspective, you don't get to have sealed systems; a covenant needs either peasants or vis. Explaining this within the Hermetic context can be done through various means.

Familiar advancement was something I'd missed completely. My instinct is to handwave it as you do. It's not as though, with enchanting the bond and suchlike, there isn't enough room in the familiar rules for people to have fun.

I like that. Serf's parma on whether I use it or not - I'm going to have to go and reread Covenants.

Casting tablets will not be used. I shall add that to the list above. Thanks for the heads up.

I'd always assumed that there was an Exalted-style timings system at work here:

Step 1: Work out advancement total, including affinities et al.
Step 2: Apply XP from advancement total.
Step 3: Work out bonuses from Elemental Magic, Secondary Insight, et al.
Step 4: Apply that.

Step 4 does not trigger a further round of Step 3. That always seemed fairly intuitive to me.

I'd be happy for the mage to take a variant wherein they were the ones who suffered the woes, rather than inflicting them on innocent bystanders and then hiding in their labs.

That's a very neat solution. I'm not sure that it fits the problem in question - I like XP-manipulation Virtues, but I dislike "mandatory" virtues, the ones which are obviously correct choices.

Both good ideas. Unsure which to go with.

Chris, you're a genius. This looks like it might actually...

...wait for it...

...be an elegant solution. I am definitely stealing this.

Game balance is something I'm ambivalent about - the search for balance creates problems worse than imbalance. On the other hand, I want players to feel that their characters are balanced against one another, at least at character creation.

I've not had the problem come up, but it's occurred to me that having a laissez-faire attitude to character switching might lead to a single player juggling through a stable of PCs. Needless to say, I feel that this is a Rule 7 violation.

I've already had one player come up to me excitedly and say, "Hey, if I get into a really good Twilight, I can pick up a whole load of Major Hermetic Virtues! I wonder which ones I should get first?" I'm paraphrasing but only very slightly.

IMHO, Twilight should not be a cheap and reliable way of initiating virtues.

Regarding troupe style, I would love to run in a more troupe style way. I'm hesitant to do it with a new party, however.

I like the concept of a continuum of safety vs power, because it offers a real choice with no obvious right answer. In this case, you gain about half again as much XP by doubling your chance of a botch. Is that worth it? Flambeau McBlowStuffUp and Criamon McTwilight might believe one thing; Bonisagus McWriteBooks and Jerbiton McNotActuallyDoingAnyMagic might take a different angle. That's an interesting choice that I want to give my players, because it shows off their characters' attitudes to magic.

Six players. Dramatic links to the covenant is an alternate idea and a good one. I wanted to have the links to 4 other characters so that, on average, any given combination of characters is a moderately coherent party. However, if the character has a good reason to stick around and help the covenant, I'd be okay with them having fewer links.

Hmmm. Fair point. My reason for wanting grogs to be communal is in order to foster a Paranoia-style sense of black comedy with Grog adventures. If they belong to you, you'll care if they die and then your wizards won't send them off like hunchbacked minions on pointless missions. And pointless "Go, my minions, do [this thing I could do in ten minutes]! And field-test this device while you're at it!" missions are something I want to encourage my players to do to their grogs.

More prosaically, I'm worried that making the player do the bookkeeping will put players off playing grogs.

If someone brings one of those to my table, the following dialogue will happen:

FAILED APPRENTICE: I'm an amazing lab helper.
TRIANOMA WIZARD: Indeed you are. Come to Durenmar and work for us.
APPRENTICE: What's in it for me?
TRIANOMA: Rego Mentem.
APPRENTICE: But I'm loyal to my employers.
TRIANOMA: Did you not hear me when I said Rego Mentem?
APPRENTICE: My previous employers will be very cross with you.
TRIANOMA: I can't hear them over the sound of everyone at Durenmar being pleased with me.
APPRENTICE: This is possibly a code violation.
TRIANOMA: Take it up with my puissant intrigue.

Actually, in retrospect, my first post basically flung every Pandora's Box on the forum open and invited people to take their pick.

Mea culpa, guys.

I thought I should also post something about the campaign idea. Anyone who thinks they're playing in it, please look away now; unless you've found this thread a long time after the game, in which case, that's kind of cool.

We're starting in whichever Tribunal my players would like the most(probably either Stonehenge or Iberia), with the classic story seed of "rebuild the crumbling, ancient covenant". There will be heavy Diedne stuff in the background of the covenant, plus some other odds and ends and a load of things which aren't related to the plot, but are just the relics of some old, insane, hate-filled magi having lived here for centuries, plotting against one another and carrying on their own weird, player-character-ish schemes. There'll be a number of dungeon crawls available within the covenant itself, together with the option to construct one's lab inside the ruins of someone's old lab. The aura, needless to say, is complex as hell after centuries of vis extraction, lab experimentation, ritual magic, and really menacing Merinita faerie stuff. All three surviving elder magi hate each other and will never cooperate with each other, although they'll gleefully help the PCs in their schemes. The Vis sources are all contested, the books are all sitting in people's sancta, and the covenfolk are showing signs of warping, inbreeding, and the results of Merinita Target: Bloodline creo corpus and creo mentem rituals.

Over time, the PCs learn that some of the weird stuff (not all, but some) is caused by Diedne survivors gradually unearthing old magics and buried treasures here. Yes, I'm running an infernal Diedne antagonist, although with the twist that most Diedne were not originally diabolists until the Schism war forced them to be less than fussy about their bedfellows. They're living on the epicentre of the resurgence, which of course is going to be slow, patient, careful, hidden, and designed to wipe the Order off the map.

Meanwhile, I will also be using the Amazons from Rival Magic. While slightly silly, the idea of covert strike teams attacking covenants to steal their stuff is very cool. I aim to cause paranoia, as covenants assume their mundane rivals and neighbours were responsible, and relationships slowly crumble into feuding and occasion all-out war. The Amazons are going to be played as subtle and militaristic, and very interested in stealing Hermetic magical secrets in order to integrate them into their own theories.

Both antagonist groups will be slow, patient and careful. Ideally the players won't realise that there are two different foes for some time, and towards the end the Diedne and Amazons will be fighting each other as much as the Order (which, by that time, may well be paralysed by paranoia, suspicion, infighting, and loss of resources.) I imagine that the game will run over about 100 years in-character, and maybe 2 years OOC, with weekly sessions consisting of 3-5 seasons and an adventure.

On Parma magic and the pink dot loophole there is the following get around https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/eliminating-the-pink-dot-with-as-little-alteration-as-possib/330/1 Found it from a link in the FAQ on Parma Magic & the pink dot loophole on project redcap :smiley:

Also on this

Verditus I think often need the Hight MT for the Vis use in the lab, and the greater Shape and material bonus' it lets them apply - not just for the +2 Lab total...

I would keep things simple at first, and expand with supplements, later. If you need a document like this, what do the players need? You can think through all the answers you want, but something will always come up. What then? It's better to say to the players I'm going to rule extremely conservatively, but I expect and want you guys to come up with good arguments to the contrary. I put myself in a position of being convinced. Some at the table might agree with you, and some might not. And then there are the times everyone disagrees with you and you have to bend. Let the troupe have a bigger say in how things work.

They add a great deal of complexity, but they don't have to, and perhaps should not be added at the very beginning of play. In other words, don't use build points to specialize a lab, do it over time and create stories about the process. And as far as overspecialization traps, well, that's kind of the fun of things. I have a character with a lab created such that she can't enchant items. This will get rectified, eventually...

Why? Maybe that failed apprentice has hunger for (form) vis. I have a character like that. If someone brings a character ask him to make him at odds with his wizard. I do not advocate allowing a failed apprentice to slip into a grog spot, it should be a companion level character. If a player wants to play him, let him. He'll likely be stuck in the lab about half the time, in any event. He might also cause some inter-character conflict with magi trying to get him to work on their projects, and he turns to them and says, "What's in it for me?" Yeah, you can ReMe all you want, there are consequences for that kind thing, and if you're just going to say no because you don't like the Failed Apprentice with +5 Int MT of 6+2, adding 13 to a lab total, then you're treating the character as a lab addition. Treat the character as a character and make the player bring him to life. If he's not living up to expectations give the player a warning. If he still doesn't, have him redo it from scratch.

Also, let me add another thing you had originally mentioned if a player doesn't like his magus, that he has to play one through apprenticeship. I think this is problematic, especially with new players. Players are going to create designs that they like on paper but hate in play. There should be some flexibility in allowing them to change the design around a bit, or reintroduce a new concept at a later time, somehow. Playing 15 years as an apprentice is going to seriously sideline the player from the saga. Apprentices are outclassed in every department. Grogs fight, Companions companion, and magi work magic. Until the apprentice is nearly gauntleted, the apprentice is far weaker than all of them.