For a while now I have had a nagging question. Why has there been no high fantasy ArM setting in a non-ME world been developed?
There have been so many people I met who dig many ArM feature, troupe play, covenants, etc., but cant get past the ME element. That want more high fantasy and dont like to attend to all that historical background tht we tend to savour. (Personally, I would prefer ArM in ME to a non-earth high fantasy setting.)
But it seems to me ArM could produce quality high fantasy too. It also seems to me the market is ripe for: I have been hearing a lot of grumbling about the newest edition of D&D. Sure the typical ArM player probably wont buy those books. But then, most gamers prefer highfantasy, right? And the idea is to make money and not just please people like me.
So if money is to be made why hasnt it been done? Is there a legal issue? Or am I wrong in thinking there is room in the market for such a product? Or is there some other reason?
I am just wondering why Atlas games does not produce a whole new product line based on ArM but in a high fantasy setting. It just seems to me they can make a good amount of money. I checked the latest D&D version this summer. It is awful and I here a lot of people complaining. My old gaming group has not bought a single book from the new edition. Although a few did torrent it.
Anyway, I could be wrong about the market. Maybe it wouldnt sell, but I would bet that it would do well.
I myself like to play High Fantasy in Mythic Europe. I am tired of generic fantasy worlds. And, thogh I know it is heresy to the ears of many gamers, I am tired of the classic fantasy worlds too. I am tired of Tolkien, done with Greyhawk, and sick of the rest of them too.
Ars Magica magic does allow for some pretty high fantasy action. It should be up to the GM to invent his own fantasy world if that's what he wants. That's what I used to do back in AD&D (I did not like Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms either).
I did play an Ars game set in REH's Hyborian Age, but that was just a compromise to lure traditional gamers into the ArM system. After they learned it, shuffling them over to classic Mythic Europe was actually quite easy.
I think it would not do as well as you suspect. Ars Magica is a niche game from a small company. The game is mainly bought up by existing fans, written & developed by existing fans, and marketed to new players by existing fans. The majority of the fanbase likes Mythic Europe, they like the Order of Hermes and its Houses. Deviate from these and you have just mechanics. Dry and divorced mechanics. The problem is that these mechanics are rooted in the setting. The magic system, though originally loose and ill defined in earlier editions, is now solidly grounded on medevial European myth and lore. How can you use Aristotelian philosophy in a world with no Aristotle, or a world without Greco-Roman thought & learning?
I think you'll find a lot of ArM players agree with the sentiment that (at least sometimes) generic fantasy worlds are boring. That's why we are playing ArM --- it's set in a different, interesting fantasy world.
As to the question:
a) You can play canon ArM as very High Fantasy if you want: you can make faerie and magical regios totally alien, have mundane nobles fighting wars and signing treaties with faerie lords, have faerie merchants attending mundane markets, have invisible demons killing people who drink at a tainted well, etc.
b) If you want to remove ArM from the setting there isn't much there. You're basically left with a character generation system, troupe play, an emphasis on long-term character development, and the magic rules. It would be a lot of work to make a (good) new game based on these components, and it would only be as good as the new setting you choose.
I'd say just simply use it without saying it's Aristote's. IMHO it has even vaguely inspired the gygaxian cosmology of the early AD&D (elemantary plane of Fire is not far from the aristotelian sphere of Fire ...). The gain is you can change it a bit, fine tunes one thing or another without having to justify yourself in front of an angry Aristote ghost .
I totally agree and that why a high fantasy guide would useful : not to make an D&D ArM but to propose ways to separate rules and cosmology/metaphysics/magic on one side and ME settings on the other.
I have to admit I don't understand why this method would be a divorce from the spirit of the game. ArM hermetic theory of magic is pure game invention, unrelated neither to Aristote nor to others as far as I know. It is a high fantasy element ! Why not others ?
I don't know the answer, but I would imagine there is no "high fantasy" setting using the Ars Magica mechanics for the same reason that Atlas Games doesn't do adventure supplements for Ars Magica. The game doesn't sell well enough to warrant going into a new, non-core area.
Despite the fact that you say you know many people who would buy such a product, I doubt it is as many people who would buy a Thesselay, Transylvania, or Hibernia Tribunal book. There are plenty of areas in Mythic Europe that have not yet been covered. I think many people would buy new versions of the old 3rd Edition Tribunal books before expanding into the non-core areas. Once Atlas fills in these holes, then maybe it can start working on Ars Magica: Mythic Cathay, Mythic North America, High Fantasy, etc. That day, however, is still some time off.
What I imagine a high fantasy guide could be is not a generic system guide .
It's more about detailed guidelines on how to use more or less same magic system, physic/metaphysics/medecine and cosmology but without historical, geographical and religious constraints of Mythic Europe. Possible subjets : non abrahamic or multi-divinity divine realm(s), power balanced realms, alternative definition of fairy or magic realm, other realm(s), non-ME ancient magic, new non-ME additions (I 've proposed the Etherium material in another post), strongly mundane interfering OoH and consequences on society, etc.
Put in other words : I can mostly use A&A in a new setting of my own by myself, but it much more difficult with RoP:Divine without advices. Maybe high fantasy is not the proper term for this (english is not my best friend here).
It's not at all about generic rule mechanics but about how to preserve fundamental ArM concepts of magic/metaphysics in another setting. These concepts are childlish or inexistant in Fudge or Gurps magic.
The point is ArM magic system and metaphysics are very coherent. You can make reasonnings : a point can be analysed and answered in game terms by references to fundamentals axioms of magic (rarely metagames reasons are invoked). This forum is the best example : magic induced sleeping of non sleeping creture, existance of magical solid warm ice, theory of arcane connexion in both directions, ... are very exciting discussions.
I don't know another magic systems in which you can make such reasonnings. The same pleasure to think about the ArM theory of magic or about the tensorial algebra of special relativity (at less for me ...). I'd dream to have this pleasure outside ME ... So bad the economic reason.