Question for GM and Conceptors : I had destroy the Order

Yeah. That's the difference between a GM and an SG. A GM/DM is the enemy of the players, tries to trick them with traps and tricks. An SG realizes he is not above his fellow players, merely first amongst equals. A GM hides things from you, or obscures things so you can be deceived. An SG has a more open discourse, will share information that the character may not have so that his fellow player can help shape and guide the story. GM's turn quickly into killer DM's, trying to railroad players through every nuance of the plot he wrote. SG's are more free-form, allowing their fellow players to help shape the plot. GM's impose arbitrary rules and enjoy watching players become frustrated. An SG discusses rules openly with his troupe, and delights in watching characters grow and prosper.

I have no sympathy for GM's. They have no role in Ars Magica, and are simply a hold over style of playing gamers are familiar with, and they stick to it because they fear the unknown. Ars Magica is designed for tropue style and SG's, ever since early editions. It has a markedly different structure, and using traditional style gaming models will lead to frustration.

Just one man's opinion. Take it for what it is worth :wink:

You have a point, and I admit to having more experience out of Ars Magica than in it, but still, you shouldn't ask your current SG to find flaws in your own plan.

That, and the execution of the plan would have dealt a lot of game damage as well as the failure of it, to me it seems this is not a troupe style campaign.



When you cast a spell with a normal Circle target, you need to be able to trace the circle around the actual target. So if you want to target the Sherwood Forest with a Circle spell, you need to trace a circle around the Sherwood Forest.

When you cast that spell with an Arcane Circle, you still need to trace a circle every bit as large as before, but it can be somewhere else. So if you want to target the Sherwood Forest with an Arcane Circle spell, you must still trace a circle large enough to enclose the Sherwood Forest, but you can do it in the Sahara Desert.

The circle must also be perfect.

This large circle requires two stress rolls every round, one Dex and one Concentration.

So, the circle for your spell requires a space large enough for you to trace a perfect circle many miles in diameter, and you will need to succeed at literally millions of stress rolls, failing none and certainly botching none! The character doesn't get to sleep or eat while doing this, imposing more stress rolls and making the usual rolls more difficult. Just one botch--and with so many rolls there will be a botch--and anything can happen.

Read page 96 of TMRE slowly. It's all there.



Well, that depends. Sometimes your character has skills in areas that the player does not. Let's say the character is a veteran general with high scores in Leadership and Strategy (Strategy is a 4th ed skill from Ordo Noblis that I have ported over to 5th for my games). Anyway, say that you are the player, and you have never even won a game of checkers in you life. The SG and Troupe should indeed point out the flaws in your plan, so that you can play the character more realistically. It in no way takes away from the enjoyment of the story. Ars Magica is not D&D. It is not Warhammer nor is it any other strategy and tactics game. It can have dramatic elements based on strategy and tactics, but it is not a war game. It is a story game. Success is measured by how well you play in character and story-tell. The goal is the story, not the clever plan. It spoils nothing to give the player a helping hand with his plan. Conversely, the player is expected to help the story along, have the character do things he knows are foolish but knows his character wouldn't realize that, have the character limit themself for the good of the story, and at times run a portion of the story themselves.

And again, just my opinion. But it is based on observation. In my experience, games last longer and have more depth when players participate in troupe style.



Blunt but not nasty, I think. Engaging and challenging, but not insulting.

I notice that the tenor of the OP's postings have changed from "it's not fair" to "I'll talk with my GM but meanwhile, I'd like to understand how Arcane Circle works."

These are different conversations!

Other possible conversations:

"My GM did this. What would you have done?"

"What can I do as a player to make sure that disappointments like this don't occur again?"

And so on.



A somewhat blinkered view of things. All tabletop Ars magica games I have played or run have been run as GM/Players and it is a style that has advantages over the troupe style as well as disadvantages. I find it easier to run a deep mysterious metaplot as there is no risk of someone else casuing problems for the plot and it makes it easier for characters to maintain secrets from other characters which can make for a fun game.

I never see any RPG as competetive as GM or SG i create a situation and see how the characters cope with it I think you are misinterpreting what I would consider Bad GM'ing as GM'ing.

Getting back to the situation at hand if there was a reason the character would have know whyhis ritual would do far more than he intended I would have told him in advance or at least warned of the possibility the only reason I would have let him go ahead and implement his scheme and then ahve a disaster is if there was a factor unknown to him which caused the disaster

  1. All magic and faerie powers really come from the infernal (ooops)
  2. Either the designer of the ritual or someone who helped him design it or cast it had eveil secret plans and deliberatly screwed it up (probably infernal related in this case)
  3. At some point the player had botched a dice roll which I had made for him and had not realised it.

In this case I think the I would have said something along the lines of a Perdo Vim ritual of this magnitude has never been cast before and could have unforseen consequences some theorist think it may drive a hole through the Emperium and destroy all magic but others disagree.
(Some scientists thought the Trinity test would destroy the world and they tried it . A peVi 100 ritual is the same sort of thing)
But if there was a good reason the player did not know then I would have let it happen.
If I just felt the effect was not something I wanted in the game I would have told the player the spell is beyond the limits of hermetic magic .

Looking at the original post in detail I think that there was probably something specific about the demon bound to the Rhine that the player did not know or another demon he did not know about was in the area of effect such as the demon which is providing power to the Order of Hermes. I think the player just destroyed something he knew very little about and is now payin gthe consequences research into the cause of the effect would be interesting the GM may actually be entirely in the right .


grin I have a different opinion!

I see "SG" as marketing. Lots of games differentiate themselves by coining new terms for old denominations. Story Guide, Storyteller, Director, and I shall refrain from pulling out Aria or Immortals to find their words.

I use GM for all of them. :slight_smile: I see many different GMing styles. Each offers immense benefits when run well and characteristic modes of failure when run poorly.

An "adversarial" GM is at his best when he is also scrupulously fair. His games are challenging and inventive. Players know that they have earned their way, and whining is kept to a mininum because it obviously doesn't work. Adversarial GMs at their worst get their jollies from screwing players. They are arbitrary and vindictive.

A "storyguide" GM is at his best when he has a great story to tell and a troupe that is on his wavelength. Players know that their input into the nature of the game matters, and experience the joys of a structured tale. But these GMs at their worst railroad players, especially by insinuating Mary Sue characters of his own into the group. Players know that groupthink and metagaming are highly effective, as is coasting along with what the GM and a consenting majority want. Game rules are less trustworthy than the group mind.

Troupe style gaming also has its ups and downs: Everyone feels that they participate in the game design and gets to contribute to the world. GMing duties are divided, so there is no single point of failure. But stories tend to be "flabbier" since everyone has a character on the line. World consistency goes way down because things work differently under each GM. And the buck stops nowhere.

I think every game has problems and virtues, and any style can work well or fail utterly.



Point taken Andrew, but all the games I have been involved in that you were a part of have been full on Troupe style :wink:.

I myself have found that deep complicated metaplots are richer (and run better) when the troupe is involved. I often ask players for their input, and find myself shaping the gaming reality around their expectations. We create a common vision. As SG, I create a setting, but I let the players share in the direction of the story.

And point by Ken, understood and I see where you are coming from. Troupe style does need an "alpha" SG, so that the buck stops somewhere.


Adversarial games are out of style in many places, and it's easy to forget the joys of playing in a well-run game of that kind!

From the start, you know that merchant is going to fleece you if he can, and maybe he's not a merchant at all! You know that you need to be on your toes to face cunning opponents calibrated to kill your character if you play below weight. Traps? Ambushes? You betcha! World against you? Well, duh! Keep your sword sharp and your intention true--and your rulebook handy so you can push the limits.



Thanks for your explications.
So i could not create a ring of 3 000 kilometer radius. Too may stress die of concentration and finesse.
And cast a spell with a target arcane circle need to touch its entirely.
With these elements Maybe the GM will reconsiderate this spell.
For me the GM had to advice honestly a player for the consequences or any changes of rules. I do this when i'm a GM.


Not to mention needing a place large enough for you to place that perfect circle!

I don't know what you mean by that.

Different GMs, different styles. I'm not saying he handled this well, fwiw.



Also, note that magic was severely impeded. Maybe the GM was at the point that, when people can make a level 100 ritual, he wanted to reset the game, and this nice little PeVi spell with umpteen botch dice was a player incentive to do so.

The worst, the spell works perfectly. No botch at all.
The ritual level 100 have a target : arcane circle.
With the different explications i understand this. My Magus must trace the full circonference of the circle. 3 000 kilometers radius, it's impossible !
As soon as possible i talk to him.


VERY funny...


I'm the SG/GM of this saga. Yesss... The one with Dracien of Bonisagus. Nice to meet all of you.

Just to let you know, I can change a lot of things in my saga. And I can make a lot of change when a player is inventive and intelligent.

The same, of course, for a stupid and prideful player.

But before, I need to explain how I'm playing demons and angels.
All of you are right. We're not in D&D, warhammer, or stormbringer. We're in ars magica (and I'm not a novice for this game, I'm playing at this game since 1995, already 14 years).

And I completely disagree with the way the authors treated the RoP Infernal.
There's no demon. No visible at least. There is magical, faeric or divine beings (and I even introduced some creatures which origin is completely outside of the four realms), yes, I agree.
But no demons.
The devil is the Ennemy, the great threat. He's the one whispering to the ears of the humans. No need for this to be real, to be visible. So, no demons you can beat with a good sortilege, no demon you can kick out with an aegis, no demon you can fight with a sword. No Balrogs, no Arioch, nothing at all.
But they're everywhere, you can be sure of it.
So, when Dracien came with his crazy ritual (and I was surprised !) I let him do it. I helped him to make his ritual, and I change some of the rules to adapt this ritual, so it can be possible... I was the devil.
The SG is the one playing the devil. And he whispered crazy promises to Dracien of Bonisagus (and all of them were true, depending of the point of view: he said to Dracien: You will be recognized within the whole order (as a fool !); Your name will be on the lips of all magicians for the eternity... etc, etc...).

BUT, at the same time, God (so, the SG) is behind, to say to Dracien:
-Are you sure you verificate all the components ?
-Are you sure you're not wrong ?
-Why no one before ever tried this ritual ?

God gave a lot of ways to escape for Dracien:
-A gruagach gave him some informations about the future of the order, and some of the effect of the ritual.
-I gave to him the possibility to explain his ritual at the grand tribunal, and he lied to the whole order by saying "It will affect specifically the demon (a creature they were not sure it was infernal) trapped in the Rhine gorge" !!! (yes the saga was situated in this place, and the players get the mission from the order to solve this problem).
-I told him numerous times that it wasn't possible to distinguish between magical/faeric auras and infernal auras...
-I even told him, twice, that his ritual would affect magical creatures !!! (I told him that it could affect a dragon the first time, or a Kosmokrator the second time). No comments !

And at the time of the spellcasting, I asked him:

No regrets ?

And, without paying attention to the warnings of the other players, he casted his spell.

I think I was fair, really.

Dracien was about to be a great bonisagus, he was a brilliant character, and the most powerful of the covenant. He was the head of the covenant, and their representant to the tribunal.
He was about to create his cult, to access to high position within his house, and the fraternity of samos...

He fell... and from a very high position.

Why ? Because of four cardinal sins:

-Gluttony: he wanted to destroy ALL the demons
-Envy: he wanted to take the place of Murion of Bonisagus (yes !).
-Sloth: Instead to research informations on the creature trapped, he tried to destroy all. Easier and faster, he said !
-PRIDE: When I asked him "why no one tried this before ?", his answer was: because no one was able to perform this ritual before..." More or less, he was sure to be more powerful than the founders or all the archmagi of the order. And he was sure with this to be accepted by the fraternity of samos as the new candidate for the final secret of this fraternity: to get his place among the old gods...

I agree with those who said that the SG is not an adversary, but is helping his players to enjoy a good story.

And it was a good story, the fell of a powerful magus, by the infernal manipulation of his sloth, gluttony, envy and pride.

To finish, the order is not destroyed, but considerably weakened now, and an anathema was decreted on all of the accomplices of dracien the fool (reputation 10 within the order).

But before, I gave a chance to all players (yes, even to Dracien !!!). A NPC named Otsihpem, presented (by himself) as a very very old egyptian priest, gave them the possibility to flee to the south of the sun, behind the fire ring.

Some accepted the offer. Dracien of Bonisagus, not.
So I showed to the players the end of Dracien and his death by the hands of his sodales from the order.
He heard an angry roar from nowhere, and finally:

"You are in a white, immense hall. You can see a creature with multicolor wings, and a sad and gentle smile on its face.
Welcome to the purgatory, Dracien.

Really, I think it was a good story, and a good lesson for this player (always complaining, even here, always ruling the game for other players in place of his SG, reading the supplements of ars magica, when I told him not to read them, always annoying other players with his pride: I'm the most powerful, the most influent, I can destroy a dragon with my little finger... etc...).

But I liked the end of Dracien, so I offered to the player a bonus of 200 xp to create his new PC.

In conclusion to this long post (not the one I wanted to send to present myself, I'm sorry :angry: ), I can say:
We're playing a (very) high level saga. But for good players, a lot of possibilities.
I told them at the beginning: You can do WHAT YOU WANT. But, if you're doing something stupid, no complaints. Ok ?
And, a lot of times, they were in some unexpected and very twisted situations. But each time, they get fantastic rewards (good library and so an easy progression, very good and powerful magical artefacts, very good vis income, a lot of magical creatures to help them, powerful allies...) and of course a very high difficulty with the ennemies and a lot of risks, of course.

So what ?
Dracien is free to leave this saga if he's not agree. But he's the only one to disagree. All other players smiled, when they saw this catastrophic event. I think all other players were happy to see this, and indeed, they told me they were !
And yes, it was time to begin a new season to this saga, with new and young characters, but not like this, not like this !!!
Now I can't even use the new supplement about the mythical places !!! :angry:

PS: for the hard core gamers, fanatics of rules...
I won't bother to explain the details. I used the basis of the ritual, and change a little the others rules. Hey, the devil can do what it wants !
But the central diamond of this ritual was :
A circle to destroy the might. No specification in the guidelines about what this might can be. If you want to differentiate between the different mights, you need an intellego complement.
But the intellego art can't differentiate the infernal.

That's all. I ignored the others details, and let the player create (very carefully, you can be sure) the ritual.

One last word:
He's complaining now, but he could have asked here before to create the ritual. But nooo... He was sooo sure...
Too much pride, too much pride...



It's always good to hear the other side!

Thank you for sharing your perspective.

It's tough being a GM, especially in a game like Ars Magica where the rules (IMNVHO) provide poor support. I run demons the same way you do, FWIW. In a normal game, I'd not have handled this as you did, but in a high level game I probably would have. Not that my opinion matters one way or the other--if it works for you, it's good.

Thank you once again for your post; I hope both that your saga still works well after the change, and that things work out between you and your player, one way or the other.



So you allowed to turn every rule in Dracien's favor to create a good story. Except one at the end. :smiley:
The story shall be more important than the rules all the time.

Otsihpem? :mrgreen:

Yes and no...

The basis are the most important rules. I never changed them. But the details... The mysteries, the infernal, the divine, etc, etc...

What I don't change in reality are the limits of the hermetism. The other things can be altered, but only for a good reason, and usually I'm giving some warnings to the players and I let the final decision to them. It depends if the ideas given by the players are good or bad.

But here: I let Dracien create by himself the ritual. I explained when he had questions (never the good questions, unfortunately), but let him do it, completely !

So, in reality, he changes the rules by himself, and I said, well, ok !

I'm sure that if the ritual was good, he would have never complained about one or two mistakes in his ritual...

So that's why I think it's funny when he complains after about the rules. I'm not the one who did these changes, these mistakes !

Here the idea was bad, but the player was so full of himself that I think: He need a good lesson. That's all. So I allowed the minor changes made to the rules.

Of course, I would have never accepted changes to the basic rules (the limits of hermetism) without a breakthrough...

And, oh, yes...

Otsihpem... :mrgreen:

You can clearly justify your position on this and I doubt I can persuade you to take another look at what you've done, how you've done it, and why, but having read your response I would have felt very aggrieved at that kind of treatment.

It's one thing to change one of the cornerstones of the ars magica universe, but it's quite another to change the rules without a) letting the players know, and b) guiding the players through your version of the rules. I think that's unfair and sets up the very worst kind of storyguide and player relationship; one in which the SG has all the power and the player(s) have none.

A player shouldn't have to go outside his troupe to find out whether an application of the rules is going to work or not. You could have very easily put him straight about the ritual he was trying to create, both in terms of the rules and the changes you've made to the cosmology. That, my friend, is part of the storyguide's role. Tempting a player is part of the game, duping a character into doing something dangerous or ill-advised is part of the game, but duping one of your players just for kicks doesn't feel right to me. I don't think you were fair as the whole thing was based on an incorrect information.

There are plenty of ways to play out these kinds of temptation storylines without preying on the lack of knowledge possessed by one of your players.

The problem with this is that the functioning of the perdo vim might destruction effect doesn't 'require' you to know what you are targetting. Default design on this affect is that it only affects one realm. You have to add magnitudes to the spell to make it include other realms. So if he designed an effect to destroy infernal might without adding those magnitudes, it is incapable of affecting something with magic might for example. People complain instead that players make low powered infernal might desctruction spells and use them to 'test' things to see if they are demons. If it hurts it, it is a demon. Which is a blunt but effective way of bypassing the limitations on intellego. Applying the same restriction somehow to Perdo would, IMO, necessitate the complete revision of the Vim guidelines.

This may be something of an incongruity with the way the Vim guidelines are designed... but as is, if you allowed him to create a giant circle for his perdo vim effect... it 'should', IMO, have only affected demons or other creatures of infernal might.

Now in your saga you seem to have a totally different understanding/view of how the infernal should work, and by that I would infer how the other realms and indeed magic should interact with it... so, I can understand you not liking that bit of RAW.