scope of an area lore?

ArM5 states that the Area Lore ability covers "knowledge of one particular region, covenant, or even a village...the smaller the region, the more detailed your knowledge."

This would seem to leave a lot up to the troupe. With abilities that have a differing scope depending on a player choice, I tend to vary the ease factor accordingly. A player who wanted to recall the name of the local priest would have a low ease factor with the (that specific village) area lore; using (whole of france) area lore would have a much higher ease factor.

Several suplements have provided expanded uses for this ability. In LoM, Area Lore is used to gain terrain advantage prior to a battle. In RoP:M, those with the regio network minor virtue can use Area Lore to find entrances to their regio network. These uses have specific ease factors and mechanics surrounding them.

I'm making a magical creature with the regio network and well-travelled virtues. If he spends those 50xp on 2-3 small villages or large regions, it dramatically changes the avalability of his network.

I realize that since I'm creating the character, I'm the SG, and this is a YSMV matter, its really up to me, but the character will serve as an example to players for their own characters, and I like consistency. I'm wondering how other folks have handled this ability and if they've run into any problems or abuse?

I'm think that as a house-rule/guideline, I might state that Area Lores are centered on a location - the house you were born in, the covenant you reside in, the university you once attended, etc - and cover a 20 mile radius around that location. For each 20 miles beyond, your area lore is at -1, until it reaches 0, at which point it is useless.

Does this sound like a reasonable guideline for the scope?

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That seems all right, but a day's travel might be better. This might be less then 20 miles, but more accurately describes the actual effort needed to go there.

So, you would not allow an area lore: normandy tribunal for a redcap or an area lore: Mediterranean sea for a sailor? And would a guy with (local) village lore 3 know the same about vis stocks in the covenant located half a day's distance from the village as the autocrat with covenant lore 2?

We tend to go for higher and lower difficulties instead. Even if you have an area lore Normandy 10 you are NOT likely to know the name of the village priest in a small village, even if you know who rules those lands at the "count" level. It is not a hard rule, but I guess that the rules for area lore are precisely not hard with fixed difficulty numbers precisely because it is an extremely flexible ability in what it can represent.

IMS area lores tend to be at the county level, island or archipelago level or "realm" level. Some notable people has had Mythic Europe lore (a guy with mastered teleport spells interested in sociology) and covenant dungeon lore 6, the dungeon being less than 100 metres square but with a fair number of tunnels going in and out of it.


I understand your concerns. My problem is that while the ArM5 rules for Area Lore are vague for the reasons you noted, supplementary sources have been very specific.

The guy with Area Lore (Normandy) could make battle-related rolls per LoM all over the place, and the magical character with a regio network virtue and Area Lore (mediteranean) could make rolls to find regio entrances all over the place. My concern is that my players will abuse that if given latitude.

So I'm left with either more strictly defining the ability or modifying those rules based on the scope of each character's area lore. I tried to account for people having an area lore that declines the further away from the center, in 20 mile increments (a days travel). So a sailor with 2 area lores at +5 would know info on all the ports and such between two points 200 miles apart, for example. Its not perfect, I admit. This is more "thinking out loud" at this point.

Can you suggest a way to modify the rules I mentioned from the sourcebooks based on the scope of each character's area lore? It seems like even in that case, I'd need something of a baseline. Perhaps a 20 mile radius would be +3, a 100 mile radius would be baseline, and a tribunal size area would be -3?

Shouldn't your question then be, how to limit Area Lores used with Regio Network Virtues and LoM p.104f Territorial Advantage? Common sense would require detailed geographical knowledge, down to locations of swamps and caves, if one wishes to find Regios or gain a tactical advantages with Area Lore. The more vast Area Lores from ArM5 p.62 - like Area Lore (Normandy), which a Redcap, merchant or lord might still have - need not provide that at all.


Indeed. As I said earlier, the "conflict" between vague and precise mechanics can be either sorted out at the level of the ability or by addressing each precise mechanic. It seems more elegant to me if I can handle it at the front end, but as I've said elsewhere, I'm new to the game and not aware of all the conventions and built-in assumptions.

For my saga, something like area lore (mediterranean) would be excessive. I just forsee

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As I see it, the "conflict" between vague and precise mechanics can be either sorted out at the level of the ability or by addressing each precise mechanic. It seems more elegant to me if I can handle it at the front end, but as I've said elsewhere, I'm new to the game and not aware of all the conventions and built-in assumptions.

I just don't want to suprise my inexperienced players, who might take an area lore that is too narrow or wide for their intended use, and with no definitions, just some fluff to go on, we could easily interpret usage differently.

From the examples everyone has given, area lores seem to scale up from very small (one building, castle, pond, cave system, etc), small (one village and a days travel around it, one covenant and its area of interest), medium (one county,duchy, or small kingdom, or at least a large city and its suburbs/surroundings), large (one of the larger kingdoms or a tribunal) and gigantic (one sea or ocean and its coastlines, one continent.)

I guess I could assign modifiers to regio network location and territorial advantage rolls based on this scaling.

Very small (less than 1 mile radius): +6
Small (20 mile radius) +3
Medium (50 mile radius) 0
Large (250 mile radius) -3
Giagantic (1,000 mile radius) -6
For my saga, something like area lore (mediterranean) would be excessive, but I mention it here for the sake of argument.

Of course, these areas would be limited by geography and politics and would not be perfectly round, the "radius" is just a guideline for rough catagorization.

I'd apply these modifiers for rule-specific situations where the ease factor is firmly calculated, but the intended scope of the area lore involved is not. So far the only two I've run into are the afore-mentioned, but I've only gotten about half of the 5th edition material so far.

The stories I tell, in any system, tend to involve a lot of travel, so I know from past experience that it is important to clarify expectations on this particular type of skill early in the campaign.

For ad-hoc situations ("do I know of a dock-side in where sailors who don't ask questions can be found?") I would rely of specializations, character backgrounds, and story needs when setting ease factors.

The thing I don't like about this approach is that unlike my "centers on a point and declines with distance" idea, giving a number of different levels of area lore doesn't account for how most people would know the most about their home area, less about those areas within a day's travel (what my 20 mile radius was intended to represent), and less, but not necessarily nothing about those areas further and further away.

Still thinking out loud...

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The difficulty scale you posted is more or less how we do it. We sometimes assign even more extreme modifiers, but your scale looks perfectly sensible. :slight_smile:

And as One Shot said, an area lore does not need to provide all the info either.

One suggestion I would have is to leave ROP:M out of character creation. It has quite a few virtues and flaws that are quite extreme for regular play, specially if your troupe is not used to Ars. Teleporting and firebreathing mundanes are not common even in hermetic covenants.


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I informally go by the rule of "the larger the area the baility is about the larger things must be for you to know them".

For a village you should know most every house and person by reference at least. For a city you'll know the major buildings and names of important people (but more detail of your home neighbourhood). For a country you'll know the major rivers, cities and nobles. For an entire Tribunal this depends on the size, but something akin to that for country.

So if you have Area Lore: Germany and are in Cologne I'd say you were hard pressed to know even of the famous cathedral, but you know where that city is. If you have Area Lore: Cologne you may know of the largest neighbouring cities but nothing in detail about these and nothing general about more distant parts of the country.

I use Area Lore: [Tribunal] for Redcaps and also for quite a bit for other magi, to signify that they know which countries or duchies or whatever lie in that area, a few major cities and where (some of ) the covenants are. But also gladly buy one for a city or county for more local detail.

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Here it is rather a consideration, to

  • either remove important options from the core rule book from your game,
  • or use common sense when allowing later optional rules.

LoM Massed Combat rules may once in a while help a SG a lot, but refining them in a way that requires monitoring of all the published NPCs, and redefinition of some (like Lambert of Merinita, Maris of Tytalus, Tolides of Flambeau), would cause you far more work than you save by your "precise mechanic".

And making the options of RoP:M available for PC creation, without SG check and without some common sense applied, needs very cooperative and restrained players, or will destroy your campaign before it starts. Just consider what a player could do with Improved Ability (Brawl) balanced by Reduced Attack and Reduced Defense (Fist and Kick), or such. If you expect literal minded players in a newly started campaign, just proclaim RoP:M off limits and use it only for NPCs, until you have established some solid protocol on how to create and vet PCs.


I thought we were talking about area lore here...

Area lore combined with RP:M, that is what is really causing problems to the OP (regio networks et al).

That is my inclination as well. But it does not answer the OP.

I suggest keeping with Andersen's approach, and adding modifiers as per the suggestion above for the RoPM and LoM rules.

I guess I don't see the problem.

If they possess Area Lore for a large area and they roll successfully on the Int +Area Lore roll, I'd factor the proximity of the entrance to the character/party based on how high the roll is and how big the area is. Someone barely makes their roll of a 9 for Stonehenge Tribunal, they have to travel X days and deal with certain encounters. If their Area lore is more localized make it closer. If they exceed the 9 roll by a lot reduce the number of days down to an appropriate level. Say taking a day off (or something) for every multiple of 3 by which they exceeded the 9 difficulty factor. If they botch, well, that's always SG's discretion. :stuck_out_tongue:

I just went through humboldtscott's issues (Area Lore in LoM tactical advantages and RoP:M regio networks) under that same generalized perspective he took and I quoted. Easy, isn't it?

No, you talked a number of things that didn't have anything to do with area lore, and instead discussed how things never mentioned might impact his saga. While they are all true, I didn't find what you said particularly applicable to Area Lore, and was more along the lines of, if you don't understand it, don't use it. There are always unintended consequences for decisions, if you wanted to highlight those, focusing on Area Lore and it relates to the regio network is better than some generalized advice.

For example, opening up Regio networks opens up the entirety of Mythic Europe on a scale rivaled by Hermes and Mercere Portals, and in fact the Virtue is in many ways better than knowing about Hermes or Mercere portals, because those two are essentially ritual spells and require cooperation between the sights, and the end points can charge magi transfer fees that are quite high. Regio networks will free them from relying on such items. Allow the virtue with great caution.

I too support mr Andersen's interpretation - I thought this was actually RAW.

They're already in a modified semita errabunda, so they have a portal that "might" lead anywhere in ME. They aren't particularly interested in hermetic and house politics, so I can probably handwave effects on house mercere.

The regio network is comprised of rat holes, so anyone who wants to enter it will have to get real small. Its a magic network, but only found in human-settled areas, so he has to use his area lore and magic sensitivity to seek out magic auras that are not supressed by a more-powerful dominion aura.

And it is ruled over by the magic rat king, to whom all rats of virtue must pay homage. Just as the pc's might have to pay a toll on a river or a bribe at a city gate, Phineas must provide gifts to travel through the network. If he's just trying to get himself home, a bit of good cheese might suffice, but if he's trying to sneek a shrunken party of gifted magi through the hole, the bribes might get a lot more expensive (cheesy vis?).

So, yes, I apprecite the concern and I have tried to think through how this ability might be abused/break the setting and tried to provide appropriate limits.

I actually have no concerns. :laughing:
Almost everything (about this topic) is YSMV. It would make sense if they are using it to go out to Mythic Europe that they can find their way back. I think the Area Lore roll is necessary in a situation where the character/party finds itself in a location and needs to return home quickly, or at least more quickly in the manner they originally traveled. Say they traveled to Rome for some reason (not through the network), but needed to return home. The character with Regio network virtue has Area Lore: Roman Tribunal, and needs to find a network connection...

That would be another way to interpert results for locating regio network entrances. It still relys on some sort of scaling, and without guidance, there is still a lot of troupe/SG interpretation of how big a "big area" or "more localized area" is - individual troupe members and SG might interpret those two phrases quite differently (is a county-sized area "very localized" or "really big?").

So I wanted to know what more experienced SG's and troupes typically use for their area lores. Having gotten some good examples, I put together that simple list, which will help keep consistency as we newbies put together multiple grogs, companions, and magi.

And yes, once I've factored in ease factors, modifiers, etc, then a great result would mean an easily located and accessible regio entrance nearby and a barely made it result would turn up some vague info about an entrance some distance away, and perhaps no info about the potential hazards of that entrance.