Sixth edition being looked at?

Did you forget about the merinita mystery? she is obviously a faerie.

In general, yes.

Obviously yes, and the top pick is simple: tribunal books.

I want to see a new reimagination in 6e of the setting with two rival Orders, a western one in league with the Catholic Church, and an eastern one allied with the Orthodox Church. :wink:

personally I'd rather see one with greater church-magus separation. Plus a lot less of reading of reality as being described accurately by the bible...

I wouldn't be in favor of the ties to the Churches but I would like seeing different Hermetic orders in the Orthodox East and the Islamic World. The monolithic Order of Hermes dominating everywhere is a little bit boring.

I don't mind the biblical connections, they fit the period. I'd like to see more esoteric religion though and less Thomas Aquinas and official church doctrine as reality.

I want more ambiguity when it comes to religion. When the rules of reality basically go "yep, these folks are pretty much right" it makes you wonder why anybody else believes anything else. I mean I suppose that would make non-Christians a bit like anti-vaxers or flat earthers today, sure they exist but... I would like a world where theology is less certain than that. Maybe Christianity is right, or maybe the Greek concept of the divine as something above the gods and without personality has been invaded by faerie gods who are slowly corrupting it through the faiths they have brought humanity and the conflicts and stories that come with them...

I agree. I don't understand why Ars players want to nail down all the details of Heaven and Hell, God and the soul. These things should be beyond the ken of Hermetic Magic and taken on faith, just like are in the real world. I have very little interest in playing Ars Theologica.

The vast majority of people in mythic Europe are worshippers of a divine religion (generally Christianity, but not always).

For the rest, my take on it is that worshipping faerie (or infernal) creatures is generally more likely to give you immediate concrete (worldy) benefits than the divine even if those benefits are much less valuable in the long run. A lot of people are shortsighted, so these appeal.

Plus of course there's the weight of social pressure and custom for mundane societies, and the fact that some magi may believe that Twilight gets them out of God's judgement (accuracy on that one is likely to be undefined/saga-specific, but regardless of its actual truth I see a lot of pagan magi believing it and a lot of Christian magi thinking it's obvious rubbish).

I think ArM5 handles the Divine well in that it does allow it great ambiguity in that it supports all monotheistic religions - including "heresies", rival religions, fringe cults, and whatnot.

Where I think the Divine fails is when it comes to angels. They are presented as too united, which undermines the schisms on Earth in this supernatural setting, where every holy man and man of stature could summon or be visited by angels. This offers less chances for roleplaying fun, where angels work across each other, too.

I would advocate for a God that is inscrutable even to the divine Host, and for the great angles to have conflicting opinions on what God is, what he wants, how best to transcend and ascend to unity with him, and so on. The Host shouldn't be actively fighting with each other, except maybe on Earth, due to their Temperance, Faith and Hope, but it should not be as united and as sure of God's will as presented in canon.

I think ArM5 handles the Divine well in that it does allow it great ambiguity in that it supports all monotheistic religions - including "heresies", rival religions, fringe cults, and whatnot.

Where I think the Divine fails is when it comes to angels. They are presented as too united, which undermines the schisms on Earth in this supernatural setting, where every holy man and man of stature could summon or be visited by angels. This offers less chances for roleplaying fun, where angels work across each other, too.

I would advocate for a God that is inscrutable even to the divine Host, and for the great angles to have conflicting opinions on what God is, what he wants, how best to transcend and ascend to unity with him, and so on. The Host shouldn't be actively fighting with each other, except maybe on Earth, due to their Temperance, Faith and Hope, but it should not be as united and as sure of God's will as presented in canon.

Slightly more on topic, one thing I'd like from 6th edition is character generation it's easier to get right the first time.

Even with experienced players, I'd estimate that fewer than a third of characters I've seen built are completely rules legal the first time I look at them, due to some combination of:

  • Too many personality flaws
  • Too many story flaws
  • They need a virtue they don't have to spend those xp on that particular ability prior to gauntlet
  • Not restricted the abilities of childhood xp properly
  • More than 5 points of minor flaws
  • Forgotten about the 5xp you get free from supernatural virtues

Plus probably a bunch of other problems I'm forgetting right now (although magi do usually seem to have at least one hermetic flaw - I'm not sure if this because they're actually aware of that rule or is just co-incidence, though). That's before you get to problems like virtue and xp counts not adding up properly.

I'm not really sure how I'd improve this. I really like the flexibility of the Ars Magica system, and wouldn't want it to be drastically simplified, because that's also likely to give fewer options. It would be nice to have fewer obscure restrictions, but I have the horrible feeling if you did start deleting some of them you'd suddenly get reminded that there's a reason you're not currently allowed to take five personality flaws.

I have the feeling that this is a combination of player familiarity with creation and presentation in the rulebook.

Most of the time, we're making characters at the outset, and then we don't do that again for a while, so even with veteran players, it's probably the section least used. For the book, I'd probably like to see it move to two columns versus three, but I'm not sure how much that would help. It may just need a good summary page (which it kind of has in the breakout box in that chapter, but clearly, there are elements missing, like those you note.)

I think the game would benefit greatly from a play mat, which could double as a rules reference sheet.

This is exactly my problem. It means you cannot have a devout pagan, they are only selfish and short sighted. It is a rather extreme statement of religious bigotry for the game to support. People willing to die for the faith of their ancestors should not be reduced to such caricature simply because they are not the dominant religion of the time. I can see people believing them to be short sighted and greedy, because the people believing this are bigots. To have them inherently be so because of game rules is something else.

Hi,

I feel total sympathy with your position while disagreeing.

Start with the total sympathy? Ok. For all that AM covers a period that occurred a long time ago, it covers a very real place that is not at all far away. Many of the very real peoples and ideologies in the world of AM exist today, attended by friction, prejudice, bigotry, hatred and violence that sometimes hibernate but have never died. It totally makes sense for a real person who identifies with or sympathizes with paganism to pay close attention to how pagans are portrayed. I am not a pagan, yet due to my own culture and upbringing, I am sensitive to a host of perspectives which I consider pernicious and wholly illegitimate when they arise in the real world, and possibly insensitive and even dangerous in fiction and games.

On the other hand, I think Mythic Europe breaks if Christianity does not hold a privileged place. I say this, even though I'm not at all a fan of medieval Christianity! It's just that if ME isn't a place where a fool says in his heart, "there is no God," and where 'they have eyes but do not see' then the dominant (but IMO false!) belief isn't true, shattering the very premise of what ME is.

If anything, from a setting perspective, my problem is that people of goodwill but of different religious beliefs can more easily sort things out, RAW. It's relatively easy to detect that Faerie is not Infernal and that all monotheistic religions are Divine. This might be necessary for modern sensibilities, but utterly fails to model the actual history or (perhaps more important), common medieval beliefs about how things work.

A setting in which Faerie-like or pagan magics and religions were peers of (or superior to) Christianity is no less legitimate, and might be more fun, but becomes something very different. Nothing wrong with your wanting that kind of setting change in AM6, though!

I think it would be more interesting to double down on Christianity having a privileged place, with sidebars and other text taking pains to explain that this is not (necessarily) how things work IRL, and that there are very real cultural issues in the real world that need to be understood and be sensitive to, if only to differentiate AM from all those other games in which polytheism utterly dominates.

But the desire not to celebrate cultural marginalization and worse is also a legitimate perspective, one that is currently playing out in various ways. For all that I disagree, I might literally be on the wrong side of history.

Anyway,

Ken

I think Christianity can have a privileged place without being blatantly RIGHT. It can have an edge in power, and certainly be more socially acceptable, without the rules being a regurgitation of predominantly Christian mythology accompanied by statistics. There needs to be some reason for Christian-Muslim conflict that isn't just a hand waved demonic interference when the Pope is calling for Crusades as the supposedly (according to the Catholics of the time) earthly representative of God. There needs to be a place, if even a diminished place, for the devout pagan, other than the selfish aid to faeries or a dupe of demons.
Personally I think divine power should be more based on faith- where a bigoted Christian will get bigoted messages from a bigoted God because that is what they believe, while a progressive Christian will get progressive messages. The paradigm is caught in the paradox that the divine supposedly cannot contradict itself, while the religions representing it clearly do. In AM this is "settled" with all religions being imperfect, but some are more imperfect that others, while others are shut out entirely. It is to a degree, the "detect evil" problem pointed out by another player (ironically as something they claimed AM avoids), but with the game system picking sides with real world religions rather than cartoonish fantasy religions.

I tend to favor a split between The Divine and The Dominion.

The Divine is the mysterious supernatural force. The actual Divine, of course, has Might to overwhelm anything. It's agents are thus endowed with sufficient Might to perform those acts It wishes.

The Dominion is the local representation, which may be this or that sect of this or that religion, and while they are basically right, they are all incomplete; you might say that the Dominions' Divine Theory is flawed. The various Dominions are much like fractious family; they don't agree and often clash, sometimes violently and with great passion. They have Might scores of varying potency, depending on many factors, and tend to be stronger in their controlled lands.

So when two religions are diametrically opposed on an issue they are basically right?
Or does having a mistress imperil your soul in Germany but not in France? Or is the state of your soul dependent on a combination of your actions and the faith you profess? Is a Cathar both condemned and saved? Does it depend on where they live? (or die?) Is a follower of Odin judged by Christian standards? Muslim? It is one thing when everything is ambiguous, another when things get spelled out by supernatural entities and lore.

About the Divine trumping everything else. One thing to remember is that we are looking at Ars Magica.

Ars is a pretty old game -- first edition came out in 1987, thirty years ago! -- and while it was a remarkably innovative game at the time, the creators did many goofy things too. I'm not talking about the Latin grammar mistakes. I'm talking about stuff like Hermetic magic, with its 10 Forms and 5 Techniques with goofy latin names, as removed as anything can be from both real world hermeticism and medieval magical practices. Really, the Order of Hermes, compared to the myriad of flavourful traditions described in HMRE, RM, RoP:D, RoP:I, RoP:F etc. is truly terrible fiction. But if we took it away, it would no longer be Ars Magica. The same holds for the principle "the Divine trumps everything else": if I had to design a game from scratch, I would probably not take this route, but if I had to redesign Ars Magica, I'd leave it as it is.

I think David Chart did a terrific job in keeping Ars Magica faithful to its "roots" (from Hermetic magic, to Virtues and Flaws and the eight characteristics, the simple and stress and botch dice etc.), while perfecting its "spirit", which is that of an rpg focusing on wizards set in Mythic Europe. In this sense, I think that 5th edition is virtually impossible to beat with a 6th edition; the only thing I see beating it is a game - perhaps even one set in "Mythic Europe" - that is not Ars Magica.

I do not think there is much room for additional material; though I would not have expected some supplements like Transforming Mythic Europe to be as useful as they were, so I might well be wrong. I do not think, in particular, that mapping out all the Tribunals would be a good idea; I like the current selection, with a "vanilla" Tribunal and a number of other options for different flavour, leaving the rest of Mythic Europe "open" (or one might simply scour the 3rd and 4th edition Tribunal books; the only problematic issue in this regard is the Levant). Three things I would enjoy would be the following:
a) Mythic Personalities. Ars Magica renditions of some famous characters of the time; how to play them as companions (or maybe as magi) and build sagas around them. From TannHauser to Albertus Magnus, from Fibonacci to Saladin, with a sprinkling of "lesser" but still historical or pseudohistorical characters that would work well in sagas.
b) The Little Book of Saga Architecture. Currently, saga structure is very freeform (though Boons and Hooks and Story Flaws help a lot in this sense); the result is that often sagas bog down, or simply come out ... not as a book would come out. It would be nice to have some mechanics that helped the troupe pace a saga right, manage returning antagonists, support "thrice told tales", make consequences happen if the PCs are heroic vs. cautious etc. Whimsy Cards too!
c) The Hermetic Millennium. From its early roots of the Order at the beginning of the 8th century, when Bonisagus had not yet met Trianoma, all the way to the end of the Reinassance in the 17th century, how does the Order evolve, magically and socially? What was the magic of the founders in the 8th century, how effective were longevity potions in the 11th century, what new House will join the Order in the 14th century, and will the Limit of the Divine be pierced in the 17th century, bringing the downfall of the Order with it? This sourcebook would help playing sagas in alternate periods, including really, really long sagas that span several centuries.

I wonder... historical or not, how would people feel if the whole Arts/Forms things changed? Would that completely ruin Ars for the current fans?