Puella Magi Ars Magica

Hello, hello, friends! I want to cludge the Ars Magica system to work for Puella Magi Madoka Magica roleplaying. There are a couple of dedicated Madoka Magica RPGs, but none of them offer a magic system that's remotely robust enough for my tastes. So I decided to use the game with the most robust magic system I know, and add/remove/alter things to make it all fit together. Here's a preliminary round of rule changes, just to get my ideas on the table to be critiqued and to open up discussion.

  1. Time. Magical girls heal rapidly compared to normal people, have to fight a lot, gain power at supernatural rates, and typically don't live long. Seasons are right out as a time measurement. I'd probably use a lunar or monthly time chart for normally-seasonal activities, though even that might be on the long side. In addition, the contracting of a magical girl, despite being instantaneous, will probably include the entire benefits of a Hermetic apprenticeship within it, so that magical girls are immediately strong enough to have fun with their magic and fight Witches/Wraiths.

  2. Warping. Warping is the thing that will probably change the most in the system, as it will fluctuate in both directions rapidly, and it probably shouldn't be called Warping despite functioning similarly. Instead, they have Despair, representing how clouded over their soul gem is. There are two ways to gain Despair points, which scale into a Despair score the same way Warping points do. First is, well, experiencing despair; suitably traumatic or emotionally afflicting events will cause your Despair score to go up. Frankly, I have no idea how to make this system any more fleshed out than "SG and players agree on it," though I'm sure it wouldn't be impossible to devise a rough system for how many points equates to what levels of despair and the like. The second way is that you'll gain points equal to the Magnitude of any spell you cast. In either case, however, this cannot cause you to do the magical girls' Twilight-equivalent until your Despair score is past a certain threshold which I haven't decided upon yet. 10 seems too high, but I'd need to play test to see how quickly Despair tends to rack up. Their Despair event would be made like a Twilight check, with a success resulting in boons as usual and a scaling back of your Despair points as you overcome the emotional strife in your heart and awaken new power, while failure causes you to either become a Witch or disappear to the Law of Cycles depending on whether your game takes place before or after the events of the series.

  3. Vis. Vis can only be found by killing Witches (or Wraiths in post-series games) and functions differently in some ways. Vis is kept in Witch bodies in the form of grief seeds, or as curse cubes in Wraiths. Rather than carrying around the seed, magical girls will typically transfer the vis into their soul gems, at which point it is in many respects used up and cannot be transferred back out. When a magical girl transfers vis into her soul gem, she subtracts Despair points from herself equal to five times the number of pawns of vis transferred. (As such, a girl who keeps an entire grief seed to herself can expect to purify herself of Despair equal to the Might score of the Witch.) In addition, a magical girl can treat vis absorbed this way as a learning source as if she had studied it for the seasonal period if she wishes, replacing whatever experience gain she might have garnered from other activities. Lastly, the magical girl gains a floating +2 to a future spell casting roll per pawn of vis, and these build up over time; expending these boosts falls under the normal rules for using vis to empower spell casting, with each +2 being treated as one pawn of vis for limits on how many you can use at once and added botch dice. Actually, this floating pool will probably also be how Rituals are funded, since it maintains pre-existing balance considerations better than if I just made it a matter of adding more Despair points or something.

  4. Magic Resistance. Magic Resistance as used in Ars Magica doesn't really work for this universe, but girls here are also much sturdier than Hermetic magi, who are basically normal humans unless they buff themselves with spells. The Parma Magica skill and Might score defenses continue to exist, but provide bonuses to withstanding supernatural assault rather than a Magic Resistance score. For example, one would get a bonus to Soak against all magical attacks equal to their Parma Magica score or Might/5, stacking with Form bonuses, and sometimes allow defensive checks where they couldn't be made in the first place (for example, some sort of mentally-based check to resist Mentem spells, which normally just work without resistance in absence of Magic Resistance or True Feeling).

  5. Realms and creatures. Some Realm is getting the shaft (pun intended); no way around it, most likely, simply because so few creature types exist in Madoka Magica. Realms are somewhat unclear for some beings in the series. It's obvious magical girls are Magic, but how about Witches and Wraiths? Witches are magical girls who were transformed by their despair, so are they Magic, or are they Infernal? Probably Infernal, because they feed on people's spirits and are basically lashing out due to constant suffering, but it's important to also think of this from the combat angle since they create regios around themselves and magical girls thus have to go into their auras to fight them. Wraiths? Wraiths could be anything except Divine. They're created from people's curses (as in, people emotionally cursing one another or their own fates), so are they Magic emotion spirits, Faerie beings who are literally the curses personified, or Infernal spirits representing the evil and negative parts of human emotion? And don't get me started on Incubators, who have telltale signs for several Realms. Magic because they awaken magical girls' power and only interact with humans because they have something tangible to gain from it... Faerie because their goal is so intimately tied to human emotion, particularly the crescent from hope to despair... Infernal because the contract for becoming a magical girl is basically getting your wish granted in exchange for having your soul tampered with and having to violently risk yourself for the rest of your life... And through it all, no matter which way you slice it, you aren't ever ending up with more than three Realms in play, since magical girl, incubator, and Witch/Wraith are the only existent creatures (though that isn't to say they're one-dimensional; Witches in particular can come in just about every form available to Magic, Faerie, or Infernal beings since they aren't bound by normal logic).

That's about what I've come up with so far. Your thoughts are not just welcome but mandatory. Bring on the constructive criticism and ideas!


I didn't know there was such rpgs, but Puelli Madoka was an excellent anime, and I loved it.

  1. for time: why not consider them to have become faeries by the contract, or "borrowing" abilies from the little contracting animal (Kyuhei or i don't remember his name). Else, external soul would fit the healing factor quite nicely (warp in lieu of wound) AND be fitting for the "if you destroy the gem, the girl is dead on the spot". If you wanna stick to Ars magica, another option for the "learning fast" is considering that the contract is some form of binding (infernal ROP) which allow them to use the abilities of the demon (// faerie option).

  2. considering spells to create "Despair" in the caster as "potent spells" create warping in the target (in our Ars Magica usual game) is not unthinkable : I think it's pretty thematic. For Despair in "emotional situations"; something using personality traits need a check, and on when it botches, gain X despair points? X being the number of botch dices. Number of botche dices could be calculated using the scale of personality traits (in absolute value, of course):
    1 minor emotions
    3 minor flaw level emotion
    6 major flaw level emotion
    7 obsession level emotion
    10 madness level emotion

Maybe use a x2 dice factor when emotion felt is "negative" (that is on the scale of virtue/sin that Ars use, but which, IIRC, is also similar to Puella principle).

I don't remember enough of the rest of the anime and have no idea about their RPGs to help you more. I'll come around when I have some time to read further adivces.

Just a quick note: "puella magi" means "the wizard's girl".
As in, a companion character :slight_smile:
I'm not sure if that's what you had in mind.

My understanding of Latin is limited, but the PMMM community tends to translate that bit as "Girl of the Sorcerer," which has different connotations related to the Faustian bargain-like nature of becoming magical girls and their eventual transformation into Witches. Either way though, I didn't come up with the title of the series this is based on, so it's sort of a moot point.

Right, that's also a very valid (and almost identical) translation.
My understanding of this PMMM community is exceedingly limited (as in, I'm not even sure what the acronym stands for), but from what you wrote I thought you were attempting to translate "magical girl", which recurs often in your text, rather than something that (at least to me) sounds like "the magician's girl(friend?)". But if the latter is what you were actually aiming for, my intervention was unwarranted!

PMMM - Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It's an anime, quite well-known as far as anime goes but not quite to the extent of stuff like Dragon Ball and Pokemon that everybody knows about even if they only know anime as "that stuff the weird pimply nerds watch, and wait isn't like half of it porn?". It's a relentless deconstruction of magical girl shows like Sailor Moon, and has a pretty dark and excellently crafted storyline with amazing attention to detail (and isn't very long, twelve episodes), so if you're at all into or looking to get into anime, I recommend it! (Though I've given away some of the big twists just in the opening post, so... Eh, whatever, recommendation stands.)

Thank you for the linguistic check-up though, stuff like that is part of what makes me so happy to be in the Ars Magica community. :slight_smile:

Ahhh. Now I see!
That would be something between "Madoka, the magician's magical girl" and "magical Madoka, the magician's girl".
I guess Madoka is the name of the girl :slight_smile: Perfect Latin and nice alliteration!
A title like PuellaE Magi Ars Magica, "The magic art/craft of the magician's girl" would not have confused me :slight_smile:

Mmm. Despair accumulation is a bit tricky, but ... as far as I understand it, it "goes down" if the lass experiences no desperate circumstances and casts no magic right? Then I'd just treat is as, say, wounds/fatigue which the witch incurs when casting or ... despairing. Vis heals wounds/fatigue/despair!

The joke is that it can also mean "slave of the deceiver," which if you've seen the anime, is a much more accurate translation.

A re-skin of painful magic perhaps?

Actually, no. If anything, the opposite would probably be true... The magical girl contracting process is designed to force girls to keep getting into fights with Witches to purify themselves of Despair, so I don't think letting it go down any other way really fits. Then again, that doesn't necessarily discount the wounds idea entirely, just would have to tweak how the "healing" works.

My latin isn´t good enough to say for certain if you´re wrong or right about that specific reading, but i DO know what it´s supposed to mean.

Puella as in girl with the focus on being a child or someone that has not finished growing up.
And puella magi as in literally meaning "magical girl", ie they have not yet "matured" into witches(ie the monsters of the week, kinda)... It´s basically telling the truth except doing it in such a way that it hides the truth. It IS a deconstruction of the magical girl genre after all.

"Puella Magi was supposed to be latin for "Magical Girl"."

Whoever actually did the naming is said to have felt that not using "magi" would have been detrimental to people´s basic understanding of the title(people understand the word "magi", but not necessarily that "maga" is essentially the same thing but in female form), and so it got the wrong ending.

Anyway, correct me if i´m wrong, but isn´t "magi" the neutral plural rather than male? It´s way too long since last looked it up...

As it often works in gender-loaded languages, magi is both the neutral and masculine plural. If a group of Order of Hermes members has all males, they're magi; if they're half male and half female, they're still magi; if they're mostly female but have one male they're still magi; but if and only if they're all female, they're magae instead.

... And then you've got magus and maga, which are the singular forms.

Is a magus under a feminine muto'ed version of himself a maga?

My answer would be no, given that I don't believe changing somebody's physical body would have any effect on their gender identity.

If the spell changed the magus' gender identity, then yes, I suppose he'd become she and she'd be a maga.

But that's just my modern liberal gums flapping. I really have no idea how people defined gender and which parts would have to change for them to consider it changed. Would somebody's genitalia changing immediately cause them to consider that person the other gender, or would they go on as if that person were still the same in all meaningful ways (land and property rights, sexism, etc.) on the belief that gender is internal as well? It's not the most realistic scenario, so data is limited.

Thank you. I was almost certain that "magi" was not by default male, but couldn´t remember details.