Rules That Should Be Core

Over the course of ArM5, we created a lot of new rules. Some of them, in retrospect, would have been better in the core rulebook, but as they hadn’t been written yet, we couldn’t include them. Which rules, or rule clarifications, from supplements do you think should really be part of the core of the game?

Please post here, so that other people can agree or disagree, and feel free to discuss why something does or doesn’t deserve core status. However, please do not discuss anything else in this thread, so that the main point doesn’t get buried. I will move off-topic posts.

I am afraid that I cannot, right now, say much about why I am asking about this, except that it is not purely personal interest. I have created another thread where you can speculate, however.


I would like to see a collection of the mechanisms for research, mystery initiations, and books - writing, translating, and repairing - that are scattered across the Ars Magica 5 line.

Not specific mysteries, merely the rules for creating and modifying initiation scripts. Such as a list of target number modifiers, some examples for script bonuses, and an explanation of any quirky cases that are unclear. For example, the Fraternity of Samos requires a specific score in some skills - how is that determined? Is there an exam, which counts as a quest?


Heartbeast & shapeshifting rules
The Mundane Bestiary
Casting Tablets
Mystery Mechanics


The mystery mechanism for earning Virtues via stories. Basically it's an experience system.

  1. The expanded selection of boons in Covenants.
  2. All the different spell mastery options
  3. Mystery Rules/Rules for earning virtues via Story
  4. Bestiary
  5. Library Rules
  6. All the spell guidelines
  7. Rules for summoning magical/faerie/infernal beings
  8. Certain key Virtues/Flaws that show up over and over as recommended (i.e. Independent Study, HoH:MC pg 86)
  9. Heartshape rules
  10. Magical Breakthrough rules - especially given that the game is all about magic.
  11. Some rules on how the various levels of Area Lore is supposed to work.

The guilds from the Rhine tribunal.

The system of having magical political parties really ought to be core. It is a brilliant way to inform the political stance of a magus and the fact that magi choose to join guilds based on their personal convictions rather than their house adds a lot of depth to characters and what can be done with them.

Contrast e.g. membership in house Jerbiton versus membership in the apple guild. A member of house Jerbiton will be expected to favor mundane integration because their pater told them to. A member of the apple guild favors mundane integration because that what they believe in.

Having guilds as a core system will allow the houses to be more like lineages and societies without including personality types.

  1. The expanded outer House Mysteries. Labyrinth meditations, charms, etc.
  2. Slightly expanded list of Supernatural abilities (summoning, Persona)
  3. Most of the additional spell mastery options (not including highly specific ones like those in RoP:I)
  4. Expanded ceremonial magic rules from HoH:S
  5. Craft magic consolidated from the various books (A&A, HoH:S, Covenants, Core, and any others)
  6. Replace the core virtues replaced by later virtues (magical Warder instead of Ghostly Warder, Inoffensive to (Beings) instead of Inoffensive to Animals)
  7. Favored Abilities rules as part of the Learning Supernatural Abilities section (mostly relevant for ex Misc)
  8. A few sample ex Misc traditions
  9. Guidelines, “all” seems excessive but definitely need the spirit ones, more of the craft ones
  10. Breakthrough/Insight

Here are my big ones.

  • Spell Guidelines: These need to all be consolidated, plus the clarifications of varies Guidelines. Consider expanding the list with Guidelines that can be used with more than one Form. Using a Guideline for one Form for a spell using another Form has been done many times throughout the line, but unless you look at the individual spell you would not know this.

  • Spell Mastery abilities (All the non-specialist ones): Many of these are actually common throughout the Order. "Adaptive Casting" specifically requires clarification on how it works if the person has Spell Mastery for multiple versions of a spell.

  • Supernatural Ability Rules: The rules for Supernatural Abilities found in HoH:S, p. 103 should have been in the Core Book. I have to point out its location to someone on the forums every month or two.

  • Casting Tablets: Nothing else to say, they should be Core.

  • Craft Magic: Rules and clarification of the Craft Magic Spells found in the Core already. Currently you have to look in at least four different books and still make some table calls.

  • Lab and Lab Activity expansions: Especially Original Research and Integration. While not as essential, the Lab rules from Covenants would be a nice addition.

  • Virtues & Flaws: All the "non-special" Virtues and Flaws scattered throughout the line. Especially the ones that were corrected/updated in later books.

  • Shape & Material: There are several of these which most people would not even know about if it was not for the Index. At least the more common ones should be added.

  • Book of Mundane Beast: While this is a free supplement, it should have been included in the Core book.

  • Mystery Initiation and all the associated rules, they're basically as core now as everything in the main book
  • Original Research + Integration, they feel like a basic element in the setting, and in my experience I've had a lot of players using one or the other (or both)
  • A consolidated list of guidelines
  • A consolidated list of form and material bonuses
  • Some of the additional "how it works" information from Art & Academe, specially the expanded explanation about Mentem magic; while I understand not all can or should be moved to core, how exactly Mentem works feels like something really useful, since it's something that's often used with mundanes
  • The expanded First Aid rules from Art & Academe, since they can be condensed to less than half a page in their most basic form.
  • Disease rules from Art & Academe.
  • Consolidated info on auras from different Realms; not all their rules mind you, but the basics like the different guidelines as to their levels or what causes them, and their additional rules (tarnished infernal auras, tempered divine auras, aligned magical auras, etc).
  • Maybe the same consolidation of rules for vis and regiones, though that seems to be less important.
  • A consolidation and explanation of the concept of Accelerated (Supernatural) Abilities vs Arts.
  • clarification as to what is a Hermetic virtue, and what is meant by a virtue that can only be selected if gifted
  • Clarification as to advancement of beings with might, and the fact that being a familiar allows for vis-less adavancement.
  • Do Familiars have to die if their bond-partner dies? (i.e. why would immortal beingings agree to become a familiar ever)

Sticking to the absolute essentials:

  • Mystery initiation and scripts
  • Original research, breakthroughs and integration
  • Consolidated spell guidelines
  • Consolidated shape & material bonuses

I would like having too much but the things I really missed when I started were :

  • The rule to create Ex Miscellanea and supernatural abilities from Societas when I startd with just the core book.

  • The rule about summoning and controling elementals from RoP:Magic is really intersting (with example of elemental ready to use for different might/element)

  • The extended rules for necromancer from True Ligneage and the stat of animated corpse from Hermetic Project could be really usefull too.

(Both necromancy and summoning magic are really popular among RPG player, and having everything in the core book would be great)

  • Adding a reminder for teleportation spell about the casting requisites

  • Book price from Covenant

Optionnal :

  • Debate rules to influence vote from Societas
  • Breakout from True Lineage

The last one is crossing with the "Hard to find rules" post but it something I really misse while starting, and it would be typical NPC stat (a lord, a town priest, a soldier, a criminal, a merchant, a hunter), with the bare minimum of Virtues and Flaws


Perhaps not as essential, but something I often run into since I tend to play Ex Miscellanea or Hedge Wizards;

Vis Study for Supernatural Abilities.

Some traditions are implied to be able to do this. Others outright stated. Can Hermetic Magi with Supernatural Abilities improve them through Vis study?

More often than not, for my Hedgies the only source would be Practice, due to the lack of Teachers or Books, which in play really isn't a practical approach, unless I got Independent Study and Affinity for relevant ability to boot.


The most important rule clarification is what are affected by wound penalties. The amount of threads on that issue.....

One interpretation means at a certain point it's better for a wizard to hit a heavily damaged enemy with a spoon, than a pilum of fire.

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Rego Craft Magic with Finesse also comes to mind.

Another point is that some things simply do not have enough description. I had a friend read the book, and he could not, for the life of him figure out how gifted characters were actually supposed to get or find companion/grog characters associated with them, when The Gift is basically People Repellent.


I'm going to be an outlier and say I believe most of the things brought in this thread shouldn't be core, otherwise we'd have no supplements, and a core rulebook of 500+ pages. In my mind, an RPG shouldn't be designed in such a way as to make supplements useless or purely fluff. This doesn't mean that creating resources that compile rules, etc. shouldn't be created, but Atlas with its index of virtues, etc. has done that nicely. An index of rules could also be nice, and yes, a consolidation of rules that are piecemeal in different books could be nice, but I don't think either fits the definition of "should be core". I don't think the core rulebook needs to incorporate most of what is found in the houses, mystery or realm books, or in covenants. I may consider them core rules, but that mostly says something about me, and not about what was needed in the core rulebook.

I do believe, however, that core mechanics should be sufficient to play core concepts without opening another book (another book might expand it, but that's a different story). The book of mundane beasts pretty much fits that definition, otherwise the Heartbeast, shapeshifters and muto corpus animal spells are basically reduced to changing into an animal to be discrete or for transportation, but there is no functional way to have an animal form in combat, or to assess a skill check while in animal form by the core book.


Fascinatingly, core is ambiguous. Atlas has five books which, in their wording, make up core. The community tends, I think, to refer to just the main rulebook as core. Not sure what @David_Chart intended ...

While I think that a 500-page main rulebook would be ok, I absolutely agree with you that this thread promotes too much for one book. However, it would make sense to designate a three-volume core ruleset to cover it.

Speaking of which, The Mysteries and Covenants make perfect sense as core books, hardly optional, except that if Covenants really is core, then the Covenants chapter in the main book is superfluous. I can't imagine why Lords of Men and The Church have been made core books. OTOH Houses of Hermes is to me core volumes, which should really be the first book new players read after core.


I would really like to see more better, more detailed, rules for creating a more advanced (older) magus. Rules that allow for creating a character with a familiar, a talisman, a reputation, magic items, an amount vis to dispose of during character creation, specification of what strength of longevity ritual is appropriate and rules that divide up the allocated xp into chunks that have to be spent on specific things.

more detailed spell design guidelines.

Descriptions on how auras and regiones work, beyond the few words dedicated to the subject in the current book.


Strangely, even if I have suggested some rules to add, I am also 100% agreed with you, I think some of the suggestions are way too specific for my taste and can be an obstacle for new players


I'm joining this chorus. For example, I think core rulebooks covenant part should just be a template spring, summer, autumn, winter covenant with a line at the end something like "These are standard covenants, the story guide and the troupe can adjust any aspects of the covenant to fit better with their story."

A caveat on the above. There are some places I'd like a bit more detail.

There are only 10 major hermetic virtues in the core rulebook. As the Magi tend to be the major focus, I would like to see a few more major virtues in core rules, as major virtues are quite defining, and with more virtues there's less chance of a troupe having a double up major virtue.

A concise bestiary. I don't need paragraphs on what a bear, lion, wolf, draft horse, racing horse, grumpy male deer etc, is. I think most of us know. A paragraph saying these are common animals that may be encountered, then stats, great. It could literally be 2 - 4 pages I'd think.