Rival Magic: I has it!

After a ridiculous 5 hours in traffic, I return home with Rival Magic under my arm.

I've only had a brief chance to look it over, but it seems very interesting. I've skipped to the back and looked over the Soqotrans as they seemed most interesting to me with their spirit allies and so on. Tomorrow I'll dig a little deeper.

Any questions?



Are there new magic systems, or do they use already existing one (modified?)?

It takes 5 hours to get to 11 East 33rd from New Jersey? :astonished:

What Hermetic Limits does Rival Magic break?

I await the report eagerly. Sadly I still have to get this and the Sundered Eagle myself.


NDA over.

Game on.

THe Limit of Maximum Coolness.

This is cooler than anything, ever.


Based purely upon the ToC, only the Amazons appear to use a Hermetic-style Verb/Noun system...

The overall trip was not necessarily direct to the Compleat Strategist, but traffic in the initial direction was backed up, and traffic out was limited due to a bridge being down to a single lane. Also... rush hour. I was assisting a friend/player in buying a laptop, and figured if I was travelling for that, the book was JUST A SHORT DISTANCE AWAY.


As for Hermetic Limits:

The Amazons:
The magic of the Amazons could break the Limit of Energy, and allow lost Fatigue levels to be restored, theoretically.
The Limit of Arcane Connection could also be overcome via a Hermetic Breakthrough.

More interestingly, the Amazons could potentially have a lot to learn from Hermetic Magic, and Amazons dedicated to research could make for an interesting long-game in an Ars Saga.

The Augustan Brotherhood:
Though the section noting its potential breakthroughs notes possibilities, I don't quite understand them due to my brief look through the book. I'll return to this later as I absorb this section. I've looked into the Soqotrans and the Muspelli a bit more in my initial forays...

The Muspelli:
This (excellent) section does not go for Hermetic Breakthroughs as a goal of dealing with the group in question. The Muspelli gain their power from jotun patrons, and integrating that is noted as requiring an overhaul of the Hermetic engine, so to speak. Likely not enough benefit to undertake. It does note some avenues of research in brief:
Flexible Ritual Magic: The muspelli can do some crazy magical undertakings given time, and this gives them a tool which makes them a real potential threat to the Order.
Aura Alignment: conversion of points of a Magical aura to a specific alignment, likely as part of the Hermetic Architecture mystery Virtue.
Potent Mythic Blood: Lets a magus with a supernatural ancestor adopt a more potent form wherein magic and characteristics may be enchanced.

Another fun section (of the two I've spent more than a few moments looking at - they are all likely a treat if past books are any guide) that I looked at initially.
Potential breakthroughs:

No limits broken, but the section notes...

Greater Ease in Binding Familiars: ignore Might, and potentially bind a limited range of spirits.
Greater Longevity: a bonus to longevity rituals based on the Corpus score of the recipient.
New Durations: Ok, I spoke too soon... Perpetual duration is a hermetic breakthrough. Censer duration, similar to Fire duration.
Preserved Rolls: harvesting luck for future use.
The Spark: Need to read more to get the full import of this, but Soqotrans can use parts of a pawn of vis instead of a full pawn. Some ability to use the "Soqotran exchange rate" could potentially allow the Order to milk vis a good deal further.

Again, only had the book for a few hours active time, so I'll revisit these assessments later. Apologies to the authors if I mangle their work.


There are some

Allow me to elucidate!

The Amazons indeed have their own magical system. Originally sung praise to their Gods, Viea was able to modify these effects into a system using the stolen notebooks of Bonisagus. Now they draw upon the Magic Realm, and are more flexible and less static than the original songs used.

The system is founded on 3 Vowels and 5 Consonants:
Alala: to open
Ma'at: to measure
Papaios: to close

Api: the earth/day
Kardia: the heart
Nux: the sky/night
Soma: the body
Zoi: the spirits

Ranges used:
These are based on emotional connection. Pretty cool. A sister who becomes an enemy can still be targeted as a sister.

Sister: familiar companion, who you have campaigned with
Cousin: pretty much every other Amazon. Someone you have met and known the name of.
Seen Stranger: a foreigner or enemy that the caster can see and clearly identify from his surroundings.
Unseen Stranger: a foreigner or enemy who the sorceress can't see, but whom she has a detailed account and description of.


Exchange (a combat round)

Amazon Magic is available as incantations and rites. Rites are more or less rituals, but there are few known. Rites always inflict Warping on the sorceress and the target.
Also: Communication is the stat used in working out casting totals.

Warping for Amazons in the Sacred Sickness - seizures and contortions that wrack the body and mind. At 10 Warping, the spirit departs the body, to be potentially called upon by other sorceresses. The outcome of the Sacred Sickness episodes decides whether the spirit is well inclined to her sisters, or ill-inclined.

The Muspelli: Really like what I've read so far. A section exists describing various versions of the Muspelli found in similar cultures across the Known World, so your titan-inspired doomsday cult can exist in Greece, England, or Eastern Europe.

As for their Magic....

gotta be brief, as I have a split shift to work tonight (I must oversee the Sorceror's Apprentice being shown at my library, hehe)

The Muspelli have powerful ritual magic - utiseta, or "sitting out". BTW, the chains that bind their jotun masters? Those might just be Auras, and utiseta weakens Auras when performed within them.

They can use this magic to enhance supernatural abilities such as Entrancement, Hex, etc. giving them larger application and different range/duration/targets than the norm. Pretty crazy stuff and a nice add on to the rules. Some possible utiseta-enchanced uses of these supernatural abilities are noted, as well as their target numbers. Want an entranced thrall for 10 years? Ease Factor 27 and utiseta can help you hit that number.

Muspelli usually have a good number of such supernatural abilities, and the Muspelli section adds a bunch more.

Sjonhverfing: "eye-twisting", illusion effects.
Spadomur: Visions you call upon about a subject.
Storm's Eye: Storms, mainly at sea.
Summon Animals
Threads of Fate: Messing with luck, dice rolls, and so on. Awesome.
Valgaldrar: Need an army or corpse warriors? Enjoy this ability to revive corpses...
Wildfire: Fire and smoke effects.
Winter's Breath: Frost/ice/snow effects.

Without utiseta, limited. With it, potentially very very potent.

Additionally, Muspelli can take on a jotun-inspired form that empowers their magic and adds to their characteristics. Over time, they can enhance it.
As a fan of White Wolf's Kindred of the East P'o Form and Lunars in Exalted, I love this sort of stuff!

Anyhow, here it is called the Etin-Mod. It is pretty cool!

Ok, late for work. More later!

At work now, but in summation:

The Amazons use a magical system vaguely similar to Hermetic Magic, due to Viea's influence. It is more limited, however.

The Augustans, from my brief survey, use a different system not founded on existant rules systems, but not as comprehensive as a Hermetic System. More on this as I pick it apart.

The Muspelli predominantly use Supernatural Abilities, but use their own ritual magic-style system to empower them beyond the bonds of a common user of Hex and so on. They also have a new system of "empowered form" adoption and advancement.

The Soqotrans use a magical system founded around being bound to spirit beings while young, with education into a magical tradition/focus based on your tribe (Olibanum, Aloe, Cinnabar, Myrrh, and...Robot. No... ok, went back and looked. There's no 5th tribe.). ALSO, their magic is based on their 4 magical skills, which are Supernatural Abilities.

Aloe: Restoration/Regrowth. Want to make a sword from a sliver of a sword? Aloe-a-go-go!
Cinnabar: Preservation. Even of things like luck, or courage.
Myrrh: Commemoration and enchancement of a thing's "mythicness". Want to be as farsighted as Argus? Apply here.
Olibanum: Magical commands. As noted in the text, this is the most readily equatable to a Hermetic Art. One Confidence point if you can tell me which one...

The spirit allies of the sorcerors are linked to magical trees and plants on the island, by the way, thus the names of the tribes and magical traditions. These spirits provide instruction, so a sorcerer likely needs to stick close to home if they want to learn things. Spirits are generally not gung-ho about leaving the aloe patch they are connected to untended, so the Soqotrans tend to stick close to home.

Soqotrans are pretty awesome in their homeland - which they rule, but not necessarily outside of it. A fair chunk of their grimoires (though by no means all of them - there is a fair spread of interesting effects) are tailored to interact with their somewhat exotic and fantastical island chain, the spirits thereon, and the things sorcerers in their position care about: trade, ships, dealing with hostile spirits and so on that an island-bound group of sorcerers need. Magical geckos, giant centipedes, magical herons, jinniyah good and bad, and so on are also described and statted out. These are important as service to the spirits and the island can equate to enhanced assistance and power from these spirits. Might points can be used to boost your magical die rolls, for example...

They've got some interesting Range/Duration/Targets, based on censer, incense, and similar.
They also NEED to spend vis to cast their spells, at minimum 1/10 of a pawn.

I'll be giving them a fuller look later. They look like a lot of fun, and I am saddened that my troupe just left the East after a year adventuring, questing, and so on. Soqotra would have been a lot of fun!

My brief thoughts on Rival Magic:

If you liked Ancient Magic, Rival Magic is a pretty keen book.
If you wanted to have some interesting antagonists or foils, Rival Magic is a pretty useful tome.
If you are interested in Order Politics, Rival Magic has some neat options for "foreign powers" for the Order to engage with in various ways. The Muspelli section also provides a "Norse Magical Compact" featuring pretty much every Norse magical tradition (or some extrapolated ones from Hedge Magic) we've seen in 5th edition joining forces into a rough sketch of a "Norse Magical Society" that a saga could potentially be constructed upon. Not the "Order of Odin", but probably easily misinterpretated as them.


Thanks a lot for the break down of the book. I am specially interested in knowing that Viea found a path into 5th edition. I like that girl.


There's the -possibility- of a 5th tribe, as a plot hook. That would be Tribe Ambegris.

So do I get this right?
This book contains four new sets of rules for doing magic?
Plus, a lot of ideas how to break and abuse ArM5?

So what is the GOOD news?

Lol yeah that was noticeable. Spadomur// Spådomar(prophecies)... Utiseta... lol the Finnish news in Swedish TV are called Uutiset...

Anyway, the book sounds rather interesting.

Pft, spoilsport.


This is fun, this is a divide which seems to occur pretty frequently here. On the right, people thinking there are enough rules as it is, on the left, people first asking "where's the crunch" :laughing:

I'm not worried at all about additionnal magic systems, these help different characters and traditions feel and be different IMO, and what I've read seems cool and interesting, but:

  • I'm worried about potential abuse and further munchkinism.
  • I wonder how these might be used, aside from an all-rival campain for the players, or as antagonists for the GM. Hedge magics could go alongside Hermetics, but I'm not sure if it is possible here (save, of course, if everyone throws away verisimilitude to allow their buddy to play his Muspelli, for exemple).

Well, keep in mind you don't need to use anything in your games if you don't want to, so let's try to focus on the positive.

In order of ease of integration into a game from a rules standpoint/difference from the rules you're already using:

  1. Muspelli are super easy, but pretty flavorful. They've got a quite simple method for boosting their supernatual abilities, and the Etin-Mod is not a brain-cracker if you've ever had to design a Bjornaer using Mystery Cults. The benefit to the game overwhelms the difficulty of the rules - you've already been using them, and utiseta is just a small expansion of Supernatural Abilities to let them go toe-to-toe on some level with Hermetic power. You could even avoid the new Supernatural Abilities and just use the ones from the Core + Utiseta to make for some interesting characters without having to learn anything majorly new.

  2. The Amazons: Their arts are fundamentally similar to Hermetic Magic, though there are fewer of them, and they use Communication over Stamina for casting. They have a few unusual R/D/T aspects, but they're not mindblowing and if you can grok Hermetic magic, this should not be too hard.

  3. The Soqotrans: Their magic is fairly different. Each "art" is a skill, they use fractions of vis, and vis adds to magical endeavors differently than standard. Their castings generally are meant to take a while, and feature incense (their vis container). They're sufficiently different that you're likely learning some new stuff, but if you want a different feel to magic and an exotic experience with spirits teaching magic (and to an extent controlling the sorcerers beholden to them), island politics, and so on, Soqotra is worth the effort, I think.

  4. The Augustan Brotherhood. Their arts are a mix of progressions (Difficult/Accelerated/etc - can't remember which are which - the "forms" seemed to be Difficult, if memory serves?) and can do things Hermetic Magic cannot. If you dislike having to acclimatize to a new system, skip these folks.

That said, each of these traditions is more than just some magical systems, and the focus is in no sense dedicated to Breakthroughs, though they are mentioned. There are places described, creatures given statistics, histories, organizations, story seeds, maps, equipment stats, and so on a plenty. No actual adventures, but there is a lot of stuff here to fuel stories or entire sagas with.

I'm not saying everyone should love this book, but the book contains an amazing amount of material for the number of pages it takes up. Some of the rules-fu in the book is quite elegant - I'm really taken by utiseta, for example. Other aspects are just plain imaginative (Soqotra) and after looking at the Augustan Brotherhood, I am starting to like the space they exist within and the interesting things they can do with their magic.

Some of us like the added crunch of new rules more than others do. I'm firmly in the camp of there being enough complexity in Ars Magica as it is. When I buy supplements these days I seldom do more than skim the detailed rules sections, while devouring the flavor and background. I don't think I'll be picking up Rival Magic because it seems like the ratio of background to crunch is way out of line for my tastes. This is unfortunate, because from the way the background has been described here I know that there are parts I'd love, but not enough to make up for the huge amount of new and inevitably lightly playtested rules.

Just for fun, let me suggest a rules-light approach:

  1. Muspelli. What's wrong with using Rune Magic? One system of Nordic Magic is enough for me. Throw in the various Giants Blood type virtues already out there in existing supplements.

  2. The Amazons. Since their magic is nearly Hermetic, how about using....Hermetic Magic? Take away the Parma, take away the OOH's collections of books and lab texts, and maybe throw in some restrictions on spont magic, maybe some Deficient Forms or other hermetic flaws, and voila, easy as pie and completely playtested. It's what I'd expect someone to learn from Bonisagus's stolen notebooks.

  3. The Soqotrans. Ok, you've got me there. I don't understand them enough to comment usefully. They look pretty cool and exotic though.

  4. The Augustan Brotherhood. Virgil Magus is way cool. So cool in fact, that he ought to fit in with Hermetic Magic, since that's what most of the players use. If you have to have a hedge tradition, everyone likes Learned Magic. With two such popular options, why create a whole new system for Virgil?

See, I never got into Rune Magic, though I own the books. I'm a bit of a reflexive book purchaser, however, though I do tend to incorporate bits of the books that feature into my plans, or make my plans around really cool bits.

So, for me, never having looked at Rune Magic for more than a minute, the Muspelli are FAR easier, grounded as they are in Supernatural Abilities (easy) and a means to boost them that is simple to calculate (easier than 95% of Hermetic Labwork). The Etin-Mod is not a major addition to the rules. As for Giants Blood, that's a common virtue for the Muspelli, and can enhance the Etin-Mod form. If Etin-Mod is too much, easy enough to ditch it, but Supernatural Abilities plus utesina is, for me, easier than incorporating Rune Magic. If you dig the Rune Magic, have at it.

If you are of a mind that Hermetic Magic is the best way to make antagonists, that is totally fine. The Amazons, to my mind, are the most similar to Hermetic Magic. You could theoretically make use of their Ranges and so on to give a different twist to Hermetic Magic. Essentially, reading over their section could let you tweak Hermetic Magic in such a way as to give it a different feel while using the rules you're used to and inclined to use - as opposed to going all in and adopting Alala Soma and so on into your rules toolbox. The history of the Amazons, their culture, Viea, and their rather impressive plans for the Order can still be of use, I think.

I still need to read a lot of the rules-crunch, but half of the Soqotrans are their setting, as opposed to their rules stuff.

I'm not sure I will ever have the answer to "why do we need a new system". I actually never used Hedge Magic as a book, so never got into the buzz for it, though it seemed handy to have and an interesting read. Sometimes you just want to have something with a very distinctive difference from Hermetic Magic. Often new R/D/T can accomplish this, though sometimes you want to violate the limitations of Hermetic Magic rather than just put the same rules in a funny dress.

Could there possibly be a better consistency amongst all the various rules modules for magical traditions across Ars5? Yes, I think so, and the writers seem to have said as much. That might make it less onerous when learning the rules for new magical styles in Ars Magica.

That said, I do think sometimes you want things to REALLY feel different, then effort must be made.

I will note that there's a fair bit of non-rules stuff - backgrounds, setting, etc. that sets Rival Magic a bit above a purely rules-oriented book like Hedge Magic, for me at least.

As a side note, the notebooks of Bonisagus are not the origins for the Amazon's magic. The notebooks were used to codify what the Amazons already were doing, and make these arts easier to teach and more predictable ( I am paraphrasing a bit from memory as to the impact of the notebooks on the extant Amazon magic). The notebooks only became an influence after Viea fled to the island of the Amazons and helped them. Some might say her help had its own agenda, and that might be reflected in changes to Amazon magic.