Questions for a New Saga

I have a few questions for an upcoming Saga.

First of all I have found people not having played Ars Magica before, so I am teaching new people this great system!

Thinking of starting another saga set in The Alpine area. These thoughts/questions up.

What languages are akin to Latin? I mean, I know the Romance languages obviously derive from them. And I read a bit on the languages of the day on wikipedia. It seems in the area the Saga would be set Gallo-Romance was used. On the page I found the Gallo-Romance (8th century) to Vulgar Latin (7th century) to be quite similar, like a -1 to ability checks common amongst dialects. So how great would the difference be down to ”real” classical Latin? -2? -3? Ideas?

Basically characters are not allowed to have Latin as a native tongue, but there are obviously languages similar to it, where you could default some minusses and be able to speak it at level 5, if your score in the other language is high enough.

The other thing is Magister in Artibus.

The idea I had was a maga with this virtue, but instead of having gained her degree and experience at a University she was taught by hired-in teachers and magi from other covenants, giving her the equivalent degree. The caveat of the virtue – teaching for two seasons – would be spent teaching, highly valued, grogs, companions, apprentices and even other magi at other covenants in the tribunal.

The thing I am thinking about though is the two seasons worth of work. As written you would get Exposure xp for these two seasons, meaning she would get 4xp for half the year. Advancing your magus (in an easy way) after apprenticeship nets you about 30xp a year. Meaning an average of 7,5xp a season. If she gets 7,5 in the other seasons and 2 in 2 of them, she gets about 19xp a year. 1/3 less.

Now getting 300 extra xp at character creation from Magister in Artibus is obviously a huge boost! It costs a Greater Virtue, and you have to do something specific for 2 seasons, but still 300 xp is a lot. Since another average magus gets 11 xp more per year, after roughly 30 years he would have caught up xp wise and at that point start to take over on the xp-balance scales.

In my view there is obviously an advantage to the maga with Magister in Artibus for 30years, and then she loses that edge – the thing is they will both probalby live longer than 30 years. And after 30 years more, where he would then be +300xp over her, he still continues for the decades to come, to rack in more xp.

Of course the game should not only be about xp and power, but with a game that can stretch out to you playing 100+ years as your magus/maga, I do think the difference is signifant...

So my question – would it be fair to either: Raise the exposure xp to 3 or 4 (For everyone of course), would it be possible to say: Yes you teach the apprentices for two seaons, but since you teach 8 hours, sleep 8 hours, you have 8 hours where you can actually study something else because you then choose another source of xp? (I don't really like this one because why would anyone go for exposure xp then? A mitigating factor could be if doing another source of strenous work ie. Study, you would have to roll on the aging tabel one extra time every year even if not at age 35 yet)

Thoughts? I want to balance the fact that Magister in Artibus is a good virtue, and comes with responsibilities, but also make the long term xp implications reasonable...

NB. I am the alpha storyteller, but don't want it to be a case of ”Because I am alpha storyteller I get to make/change rules which specifically makes it easier/better for my character”.


It is important to consider, that after start of the game the character with Magister in Artibus is not obliged to teach any more. The only thing that would suffer is his academic reputation and his venia legendi at a university, both of which your character might not have at all.
You might also consider, that a character schooled at a covenant may be better off with other Virtues like: Gild Trained (GotF p.20), Skilled Parens and (if he really wants to get that musty academic smell in his clothes from 3 years of study) Baccalaureus (A&A p.90). These might make him fit better into the world where he learned most of the time.

My experience is that before trying a game it is better not to mess with the mechanics too much, especially XP ones.

Having said that, what OneShot pointed out is quite sensible. She is not a magister in artobus in her background, but a very well trained woman. There are virtues to simulate that already :slight_smile: Privileged upbringing also helps her here.

Thank you for your feedback - I am a rather experienced GM and player in Ars Magica, but the depth of the game means that there are still areas which can confound me lol :slight_smile:

You and everybody. :slight_smile:

Btw. It did not even hit me that technically you don't have to continue teaching after character creation - the only thing is obviously her reputation would be severely damaged since the expectation of her teaching at the other covenants would mean they would find her disreputable and untrustworthy...

There is one thing to point out when mixing Magister in Artibus and Hermetic apprenticeship: these both take time!

The apprenticeship takes 15 years, while studying up to Magister takes 8. As you need to have some 7-8 years before you can reasonably begin your apprenticeship, this means a starting age of 30 or over.

@ Oneshot

Not necessarily - the rules as written state you are at least 25-int years old. It does not say the two mix. As the social status is compatible with Hermetic Magus it makes sense for them to have specified that.

The rules state, that "you have, however, spent eight years in a university". That is not time you have spent in a covenant or wizard's lab then.

Depending on whether your parens was ok with you going because you became a better apprentice...obviously you would have to be probably 16yo to enroll, but you could go for the 16th to 24th year of apprenticeship, having the summer off to be taught be your parens. Yes, they would not be able to use you in the lab for 8 years - so unlikely, but not impossible...

That is something tricky to sort out / house rule with your troupe, provided that they buy your argument.

A master who organizes his research after the university schedule of his apprentice? Really? Why not then have your master be a university professor at the same time? Or your covenant a university?

I completely agree that it is finicky...just saying it is not impossible. Good idea about using other virtues though to illustrate her education, then her teaching at covenants can always be "just" part of her background !


If you want her to have MiA, I recommend you go for it! It's 240xp, iirc, not 300xp. But still. Technically, as has been pointed out above, the background you suggest does not reflect the virtue, but nothing is harmed by saying that your maga has equivalent education, though having equivalent reputation is more difficult to explain. PCs are exceptional, however, so if you have some explanation that satisfies your group, fine.

I also notice that the xp-efficient university academic virtues effectively privilege this kind of education above some of the educational systems of other, non-Christian cultures, which is not reasonable for the period.

Art and Academe has a virtue Magister in Medicina, which is the Doctor virtue for medicine; a woman can earn this degree in one or two places, for realsies. That's not exactly the background you propose, however.

Doctor is the most efficient virtue in the game for explicitly granting xps, though there are tight restrictions on how these are spent. The best such virtue for a maga is Gild Trained, which provides 90xp to be spent on pretty much anything; slightly less efficient than a doctorate but more flexible. Baccalaureate also provides 90xp, but, like MiA, technically requires attending a university. Good Parens provides 60xp for almost anything plus 30 levels of spells; not quite as good as Gild training.

Penultimately, my favorite virtue for granting xps is Strong Faerie Blood. It does not explicitly grant xps, but does let you start a character 15 years older with no penalty; that's 225xp taken before apprenticeship (+5xp because you start with Second Sight 1). These can only be spent on general abilities, unless the character also has some virtue that allows xps to be spent elsewhere, such as Educated, Warrior, Baccalaureate or some Supernatural Ability.

Finally, I would not worry about accounting for age, beyond setting age to what is described in the virtue. Normal character creation handwaves exactly what happened before the start of play, and will rarely result in the same characters that would occur through seasonal advancement, in which virtues like MiA don't make much sense anyway.

But all this is a matter of aesthetics.



Thank you for your input Ovarwa - yes 240xp not 300...

I think adding some of the other virtues like gild trained, educated, arcane lore, baccalaureus (and state this is education by other magi) would make more sense than shoehorning her into a Magister titel or even Doctorate. Thanks!

technically if you start with MiA and do not teach you also lose the social status- which may or may not be important to your character. It can mean loss of access to academic resources and contacts that are available due to that status, as well as having different laws applied to that character by mundane courts- which given the status of hermetic magus may or may not be an issue.

Two types of mage could pretend to have Magister in Attribus: a Jerbiton, teaching in university - and as such possess all the advantages and restriction coming with such position. The second one is a bit more tricky, but a Tytalus with an adequate Persona.
In both case, because they will meddle with mundane, Gentle Gift is almost a requirement.
Why a mage would be willing to be a professor ? It might grant him access to unique resources. Sure, the Order has probably the best collection of books all things considered, but there is probably some unique works that are hard or impossible for some reason to copy or acquire, and some hermetic library are not open to every mage. Teaching at a University is also an opportunity to meddle with nobility.

Now the concept of a teacher for other magus is a bit more tricky to implement since it is suggested that magus are in general quite proud and unwilling to acknowledge another mage as their master. I remember reading a paragraph about mage cooperation in labwork - there is always a leader, thus by default the other are his subordinate. The same would apply for teaching to other magus - although mechanically speaking that would the most efficient way for a mage to progress: a mage with a level 35 in one Art would only be able to write a Summae a fraction of his level but could teach up to this level...

Teaching to covenfolk or apprentice does not suffer from the same social stigma, but at the same time, does not require such high skill level: a Profession (Teacher) at +5, and the various skills at 3 would me more than enough for most apprentice training even for a group of apprentices.

what would be the point of profession:teacher here instead of simply a teaching ability?

My mistake. Teaching is what I was looking for. I am out of practice :wink:

Yes, we all still find new things. And you are great at starting up sagas. I still remember how you did it years ago in Grotten for both new players and me as an experienced one.

What is the character's backstory?
If the character was somehow affiliated with a university or a professor before being found and taken as apprentice, a way should be found for the two to mix. I could accept a good backstory, where an apprentice spent 8 years at university. As an apprentice you need to be taught by your parens for 1 season. The other 3 seasons are assumed to be some mix of exposure for when in the lab, readin in library and perhaps practice or training - whic in the end adds up to the standard magus exp. As covered in Apprentices, a saga where a player magus teaches his apprentice, and lets him study in a good library, makes him way better than the norm.
Attending university, does they take up 2 seasons per year or all 4? This is important for how the two mesh. Normally in ArM, when working you spend 2 seasons at work and the other two for whatever, affected by wealth level to either 1 or 3.
Id you assume the training for Magister in Artibus works like Hermetic apprenticeship, then you might recieve Teaching (therefore a high quality) for 2 seasons and the other 2 seasons for more casual things, like practice, study on your own etc. or exposure if you are teaching younger students.

I'd say that attending university during apprenticeship doesn't add fully together, since some of the exp for one thing come from seasons suddenly taken by the other. But it will be the seasons of statistically low exp you skip. This would be the technically correct way for me. But I admit I'd hate to do the math, and migth just roll with it. An easy fix could be to deduct seasons of exposure from the exp budget, so just say that each year doing double-study you subtract 4 exp for Hermetic Apprenticeship and 4 exp from Magister in Artibus exp. If it takes 8 years at uni to become MiA, subtract 32 exp from the 240 exo and 120 spell levels, and 32 from the 240 exp for MiA.
Or have the two training periods not be at the same time, design an older magus to get all the exp.

So adding to that getting taught by their parens for one season, leaves only one season to help the lab and copying books for the parens. That seems like a pretty poor deal for a magus who has to lose a season a year.