Proposed Rulings for New Campaign

What is the purpose of the first session?

The adventure you're suggesting will introduce the basic combat and character rules, the Infernal but in an ubsubtle plot that does not do justice to its corrupting yet virtue-free nature in RAW Ars (whether you want to adopt this view is a different question), and then a taste of formulaic magic. Is this really what you want to open with? First impressions count, and I stand by my suggestion to open with the very best ArM has to offer - whatever you think that is.

I suggest deciding first what you think will be the coolest thing about playing your ArM campaign, and starting with something along this theme. From what you've written of it, it seems you are excited about subtle plot of hidden villains against a confused, highly-magical backdrop. So do something like that, in miniature. To give them a taste of the entire campaign, if you will.

A classic start is Nigrasaxa - that showcases Twilight, magic use, and covenfolk/grogs. Why not change it to suit your theme? Instead of Twilight, have the dead magus botch a deal with the Infernal. Replace the lightning with minor demons. Have the entire covenant sink into an Infernal aura. Getting to the wizard's lab will allow the magi to solve the aura problem, but the demons will persist; perhaps the mage bargained for immortality, and was granted his wish in the form of eternal Infernal torment, sending the covenant to Hell and leaving him paralyzed with pain - so the curse will be lifted when he is killed. Which, at this point, he'll be begging for - which will work for the demon, too, since this earns him his soul. The next session will be devoted to politics, internal and external, as the PCs try to control the covenfolk and deal with the impending Quaesitorial visit. This kind of story, while far simpler and more brute, highlights that the Infernal can be patient and clever and pit one magus against the other, will showcase strange confusing environments and highly magical traps in the wizard's sanctum, and allows room for having PC magi as well as PC grogs (by switching point of view/characters) to showcase both levels of play.

Of course, since this is my adventure-building it probably won't suit your tastes. But I suggest sticking to what gets you excited about the game - hopefully, your excitement will rub off on the players and session. This is especially important in a first session with a new party of gamers and a new game system, IMO.

I would do a mage-less adventure to start. In the second you get the full might of magic thwn in your face once you get the basic hang of the mechanics of the game. Been there, and IMO it works quite well.

Regarding the suggested adventure, here it comes. ... _Home.html

Played it 3 times at conventions using different rules systems (and for my game using Ars), and it works well.


He specifically said "This means that your Magic Theory must be high enough for the components in the talisman", and that part is what my reply focused on.

And that IS what he said quite clearly without any need for clarfication.

I strongly dislike the optional rules in Covenants for improving books and don't use them, even when I built a Com:+3 magus with Good Teacher explicitly to write books. But the easiest way to limit books is just to make trade more difficult. You don't have to make infinite books available. I have seen the arguments that state that there should be infinite number of tractatus for trade, but Zaccheaus writes pretty good tractatus. Doesn't do him any good, and while he writes a book every couple of years, that doesn't really keep up with the requirements of a covenant with 5 or 6 magi who are looking for new study opportunities. So, he is going to study Vim from vis next season, as that is the only source for Vim he can have.

I found it ambiguous. And that doesn't negate my commentary that such a decision nerfs talismans or other compound devices. If someone is going to make HR it needs to be crystal clear. The OP indicated he didn't know if it was RAW, I countered that under RAW there are two methods for opening for enchantment, he's HR'ing it down to one, the most restrictive. The problem with instituting a lot of HRs is that eventually interested players read the rule book and see something was restricted. If the HR is poorly worded, then it will get questioned.
I don't need clarification. The players might.

I'm pretty open about my rulings. I tend towards the viewpoint of, "hey, guys, here's my take on this aspect of the game. Here's what the RAW say. I'm not particularly interested in what the correct interpretation of RAW is, so much as I want to emphasise setting and genre coherency and maximise playability. If you disagree with me, I'm entirely open to being convinced; let's have this discussion at a point that isn't disruptively in the middle of a tense scene, and we can see if there's a way to play it that creates a better experience for everyone."

In this instance, I read what Direwolf wrote and was convinced that his take on the rules led to better play, and thus have changed my opinion.

Now, If the guy who's carefully built his MT + Puissant up to 9 and can now actually use rubies in his creations, doesn't want everybody else to get a free ride when building their Talismans, then I'd be a bit more suspicious about his arguments. I'll definitely listen to them; I'll then ask the other players for their opinions, which I suspect may differ. On the other hand, players are a masochistic lot, and they may decide that they'd like Talismans to be a late-game thing rather than something a magus has throughout their career. If that's the game they want to play, then I'll run that game for them.

After further deliberation, here's my plan for the beginning of the game:

  1. Introductory one-off, set in the Normandy Tribunal and Tournament. The PCs are 20ypg magi who are troubleshooting the event. Various things will go wrong, of course, and hilarity will be had but eventually the day will be saved. More importantly it will give them a good example of how the Order works, and will allow me to showcase the diversity of what Hermetic magic can achieve, and the sheer diversity of Hermetic wizards which you can create simply out of the book, without needing anything obscure or Mysterious.

(As an aside, troubleshooting for a large event is the most player-character task I know of in the real world.)

  1. Create-a-grog workshop, followed by running Going Home, which looks like an awesome convention one-off. Props to Kevin Hassall for writing it, and to Xavi for pointing me at it. This session will give the players experience in creating characters and will show them how Ars Magica character generation works, and how the little things occur.

  2. Creation of wizards, introduction to the covenant, the setting and the NPCs. At this point, wizard characters will still be relatively protean. Buyer's remorse is a real thing and I want my players to be able to twiddle their characters until they're happy with them.

  3. Adventure! As a rule of thumb, I'm going to be trying to bring up two character story flaws, and one covenant hook, in every adventure. (I find that three things happening in a four-hour session makes for good play.) I'll then give 3-5 seasons of downtime before the next session; I want to have a fairly fast progression because seasonal play and the soap opera factor are the things I enjoy most about Ars Magica. Yes, I'm having an external antagonist, but they're only there to impel action. The real plot comes from what the PCs do and how the world is changed by their actions.

Here are the characters I was going to run with for the one-off at the Tribunal:

A genial Bjornaer with a raven heartbeast who enjoys making contacts, meeting people and hearing stories. Focusses heavily on Auram magic, and has Deft form with it. Has Flawless magic and has milked it heavily, having a variety of mastered spells.

A Bonisagus interested in meeting other researchers and on spending his vis pocket money on as good a book as he can find. Does Animal and Vim magic, plus has enough other arts here and there to have an impressive list of low-level utility spells.

A Flambeau from a mundane noble family, who holds himself to the ideal of a magical knight and wants to prove himself in front of the others. Does Ignem, Creo and Perdo, with substantial tidbits from other parts of Ignem and from Creo and Perdo with other forms. Has Mythic Blood with the power of flight.

A Merinita Elemental magician who specialises in Muto magic in all four elements. Wants an apprentice and is hoping to find some leads on one. Is a notorious gossip with a wide circle of acquaintances whom he's hoping to catch up with, many of them only correspondents who he's never met in the flesh.

A Tremere duellist / necromancer, built with the classic tines of Intellego / Rego / Corpus / Mentem. Is here supporting his house, naturally, but also wants to prove himself in the Certamen. Has both positive and negative cyclic magic, making him weak between noon and nightfall, but strong between midnight and dawn.

A Gently gifted Tytalus, who's abrasive and superior but very competent at actually getting things done. Has impressive social skills, and is a fairly good mundane warrior. Sees himself as "the only sane man" whilst surrounded by head-in-the-clouds academics. Does Terram and Imaginem magic, and isn't bad with either.

I will be generating a seventh character, an ungifted Mercere who's loaded down with impressive amounts of magic items, just in case I have any tagalongs, or one of these PCs ends up being disliked by everyone. I will also be printing out and bringing along Erik Tyrell's excellent list of level 3 spells for the purposes of spontaneous magic.

Is there a link for that list of 3rd level spells? That could really help my players learn how to use them without attempts turning into 30+ minutes of page flipping and discussion.

Erm... Clarify to me this "free ride" you speak of? If their MT cannot handle enchanting ruby, they cannot make talisman with ruby either. Compound item must have the MOST expensive part opened at the minimum. That rule applies to all magi, your MT-specialist would not be losing anything unless he consciously chose to go down the most difficult path and opening up the compound item with cost of all parts.

Which, by the way, would grant him far more space for enchantments compared to his compatriots. If you make compound item but only open one part, then all of that compound item is stuck with space of that part. If you open all parts, you can use their whole size.

Talisman is just odd exception in the sense that it has space for enchantments which can be increased later on.

Or that is my recollection of it.

Previously in this thread, Direwolf75 made the point that if you house-rule away the 2xMT requirement for opening Talismans, it leads to what I personally consider to be a better game. This is basically giving everyone except the MT specialist a "free ride".

As you point out, the guy who sweated his MT may just be able to do this himself, without the rules being changed. Therefore, he might feel that he's getting robbed, since what should rightfully be his just reward for his hard work, is now being given to everyone.

If this lessens his enjoyment of the game, that's a bad thing. However, if it increases everyone else's enjoyment, it's a good thing. Which way the balance of utility lies, depends on the circumstances, and is best discussed with the group. I personally have limited patience for people who insist on RAW in order that their optimised builds work, but that's just me.

Must have missed it, despite my best attempt to find, but I was under impression that Direwolf has only argued for possibility of opening a compound item by openin it's single most expensive part, as if separate item, instead of paying vis expense of every single component. He has not taken any position on removing 2xMT of vis per season.

As I noted, talismans are exceptions of the rule with the ability to get more space for enchantments as mage grows in power. Your specialist can still make regular invested items at ludicrously high points because he can build invested items around sizes, shapes and materials that he can open in single season.
His competitors still cannot do that, but are most likely limited to using the single most expensive component.

They are also limited in the number of components, you can only have as many components as is your MT. So for those with low MT, there will be no oak staff, with bronze shodding and silver filigree, topped by glass ball filled with mercury in which is contained piece of magnet inside golden ring.

I do not see the limitation necessarily being in actual limit of vis per season for talisman creation, but amount of components mages can put together. And there your MT specialist still shines. He could make my sample staff and add some flamboyant crap on it easily. Because with smart use of materials, you can keep the need of vis for talisman rather low, ensuring that you use items with highest cost in smallest possible amounts to avoid size multipliers.

My sample staff would be enchantable in terms of vis with MT5, with gold ring being most expensive part. But you cannot put together 7 components with MT5, even if you houserule away the limitation of vis per season.

I have been reading through all these posts and I have seen most things addressed in interesting ways that there are a few I would comment on.

Curse of Venus and Magi. One of my most memorable mages was gentle gifted JErbiton, chaste with curse of venus. At the covenant we had a lusty companion doctor, another jerbiton who was nominally the ruler of the land (it was a gift by Holy Roman emperor to him for a favor done) and some interesting grogs. It made for a lot of amusing things including fact that every sunday morning for a morning mass, the one Jerbiton would walk down to the church and order the priest to post the bans. Every sunday afternoon, my character would walk down to the church for afternoon mass and prayers and make sure the banns were not posted or removed. Meanwhile the Doctor was saying, "Just lay with me this once, it won't really count. You can still be chaste otherwise." Even turning him into a rabbit to get nights rest several times didn't make for a long term solution. The effect on the grogs caused several fights for who got to guard her on a couple adventurers. Retreat to lab only just put it off for a season or two.

It added to a lot of adventures as well with random npcs on adventures suddenly showing up in middle of night to serenade the lovely woman that caught their eye and heart and cause loss of sleep.

It would be just as bad though with a gifted pc since the gifted one has even less ability to sway suitors socially as they are enamored by the mysterious and strange one.

Might stripping: I am thinking a possible fix is as follows:

Non-Ritual Might strippers:
Creatures purely made of magic ((demons, angels, DAimons, spirits, ghosts), it strips might points first and then disperses the creature until might is regenerated (preferably at a slower than normal rate)

Creatures with physical nature (beasts of virtue, avatars of daimons, dragons, magical cats, faeries): it strips out the might points but can't touch the might score. This means their magical powers that cost might are disabled but that dragon still has its claws, bite, large bulk and any magical powers with 0 might cost.

Ritual Might Strippers work as normal but you have to catch and hold the target to use them.

Finally, the pink dot:

Parma blocks any magic from touching/affecting the protected magi and their possessions unless it penetrates. It does not dispel any magic or undo magic on an actual object.

Example: Sword enchanted with pink dot. The pink dot only affects the sword so mundane blow hits magi but pink dot is unaffected. Sword enchanted with flame or poison. the flame and poison are magical so parma keeps them from affecting the mage, sword blow still hits and does damage. Magically created rock dropped on magi: it is all magic for it being there so it is bounced. Stones enchanted to pebbles and thrown at magi: like pink dot, magic only affects the stones so pebbles hit the magi.

This does leave open a rose transformed to sword will still do sword damage and not be affected by Parma but you know, I like it, it is poetic.

That's the issue with Curse of Venus for magi. Story flaws should pull them out of their lab, not chase them back into it.

I like this.

That still leaves open the parma kill concept. I muto a few boulders into a handful of pebbles. I throw them at you. What happens? If a rose-sword works as a sword (which I agree is poetic), then a boulder-pebble will still strike as a boulder.

But it does create stories. Remember, magis need to leave labs for various reasons. The nobleman that saw the mage on one of her journeys finally tracks her down suddenly there is plot and story. She might hide in her lab but the covenant gets put under seige to turn over the beauty the man wants to marry is a plot. Remember, story flaws are to provide stories and events for the troupe, they don't always need to involve the character in specific other than indirectly.

The other thing you can do is say might score is part of a creature's essential nature and then hermetic magic can touch the might points but not the score at all.

The rose turned into a sword strikes as a sword, then the boulder turned into a pebble will strike as a pebble.

You turn a pebble into a boulder: you still have to strike with it and that would be aiming rolls since if the magic guides it, the magic can't affect the mage so it loses guidance and control as it gets to parma.

It isn't perfect but there is no perfect solution, but still it covers a lot.

Generally true, but Story flaws are the players way of telling you these are the kinds of stories I want to have about my character, other than the ones that concern the covenant. If a player chooses a particular story flaw for their character, that's their choice and part of their play contract. If they balk at a story resulting from a flaw of their own choosing, then inflict another flaw on the player...

Story flaws don't pull a character out of the lab/covenant, the SG does. The story flaw is just the agreement between SG and player on what kinds of stories they need to be...

I'm going to consider that. It looks neat, but this whole thing has taught me to be wary of neat answers.

That's good advice.

Seen this before. With all due respect, you're not coherent.

This works as either:

  • Temporary suppression of Magic (pink dot, flame, poison don't exist inside the parma). And don't tell me it ain't that: Here's a sword that continuously produces flame or poison, but ceases to do so inside your parma. And it is inside, since it strikes you.
  • Regular "shield" parma (magically created rock is bounced)
  • Nothing (Rocks changed into peebles, then thrown at the magus): Magic is not suppressed (thus, rocks stay peebles) nor bounced (the peebles hit the magi)

In short, this model is roughly "intelligent parma", working under SG ruling so that the effect most "cool" and most favorable to the magi is chosen.
Which is exactly why RAW parma works using only model 2.

For example, how would you treat a sharpened sword? Probably under Shield Parma. Why not under Suppression parma? Because it "feels" better.
And then, there are the poison tricks.
Poison turned into water? Water turned into poison?

I agree that having Magic Suppression is the way to kill off Pink dot, but that we also need Shield Parma to avoid some unwanted problems. But IMO, we can't rely on handwavium to discriminate between the two.
Which is why I propose to have this exact same distinction, but with a clear rule and distinction, being that suppression only affects low-level effects (under lvl 05-10, whatever), which are exactly the ones used for pink dot.


I don't like the shield or suppression model. Magic resistance protects you from Magic affecting you. It does not dispel magical effects, it does not effect magic working on other things. THat is the model that I work off. There are Intellego spells to detect poison, PeTe/PeHe to destroy the rose sword etc.

I like the bouncing of objects created by magic or directed by magic because it is magic directly affecting person. There is no unmagical reality behind it. The transformed items affecting are really there and magic is affecting them (just as pink dot is affecting the sword).

There is issue that parma might prevent a mage from ever seeing an illusion because the species are created by magic and parma would block it. I am not sure about that.

Yes, this is something completely different from the way that most people look at Parma but the breakthrough on Parma is that it prevents you from being affected by the gift allowing mages to work together. No other form of magic resistance in the game (faith, hedge wizards, magical might, etc) blocks the effect of the gift. This allows cooperation (with apprentices, fellow mages, grogs, even strangers if you extend parma) that is unprecedented and that is one of the true powers of the order. Mages can live together and support each other.

Parma doesn't help against Imaginem. It's what makes it amongst the best of the forms.


In the end, teamwork is the Order's greatest weapon. Even more so than fast-cast Creo Vim spells which give somebody 2 warping, making them resist twilight and thus helpless while you knife them.