Sub Rosa #10, Coming into Port!

A mild winter has left us busy but issue #10 is now here, full of stormy skies and unfamiliar magic, with a dash of mystery and a ship to sail it by. Accented with lavish art, you'll find pieces from Ars Magica veterans like Jeff Menges and Angela Taylor alongside Sub Rosa regulars like Vincent Belmont, Alexandra Dopp, Barrie James and Jason Tseng. Weighing in at 60 pages, the Storyguide's handbook considers the Dramatic Journey, Mark Lawford gives you the blueprints for a Hermetic Shipwright, and there are mystery cults and twilight scars to go around. Vulcanis Argens returns and there's a thundering scenario sure to keep your saga engaged, no matter what Tribunal your troupe calls home.

Don't let this issue set sail without you! Pick up your issue today!

As always, if you'd like to pick up a back issue of Sub Rosa, send $4.50(US) for single issues, $13(US) for a troupe issue via paypal to once you've completed your order. We're working to change this arrangement, and we'll post as soon as we have a better option.

Thanks to Albert, Galdric, and the Iron Bound Tome for their reviews, and as a reminder, we're offering a free copy of Sub Rosa #11 to the first three reviews of Sub Rosa #10!

Email your submissions or queries to and we'll get back to you quickly!


Had the issue for a few hours now so here is a quick review. Its another excellent issue.

This issue has a heavy focus on the mystery of ships with new ways to incorporate maritime elements and themes into games.

My first impression was that it contains material which can be used in any Ars Magica game, but also some great new ideas for odd encounters and scenarios. I have a love for boats and ships in roleplaying games as I think they were a fundamental part of the world, but are largely ignored in most settings. This issue provides magical backdrops and ideas, complete with stats, and a small scenario.This builds from material already published in the Hermetic projects book, but is provided stand alone for use as well.

One part of a story reminds me of a SpellJammer (ex-DnD) touch – which is all I needed to see to know I’d be reading the article a few times at least. I had a NPC Magus using a flying ship in a previous game, and the material is exactly the material I'd have developed given the fullness of time.

Some articles in particular made an impression:

* Artwork and presentation is good. Layout is clear, and while there is a lot of material in this issue it does not feel like a hotge-potge of elements.
  • Perhaps the best article in the issue is for GMs – a Storyguide’s perspective of telling Dramatic Journeys. It discusses advice and examples for how to guide the story through dramatic events, and how to ensure the result ends where everyone will be happy. It is an excellent article.

  • A walk through of very detailed character design: Hermetic Shipwright. This type of article demonstrates what value deep thinking about a character can have.

  • A mythic mini-scenario called Stormbreaker, which gives a setting, personalities, and particularly a very well illustrated backdrop for adding an odd story into a current Ars Magica game.

  • Twilight Scars, gives a very simple system for determining impact and severity of Twilight Scars (failed comprehension in twilight events), and then many pages of good examples for each, sorted by Art. This material is good enough and useful enough that it really could have been straight from the core ArM rules.

  • Mappa Mundi contains resources from around the internet which are useful for storytellers, and in this issue contains information on travel routes and times, treasure hordes, a viking mass grave, and even a set of glyphs for summoning demons.

  • I always like reading what the Ars line editor thinks, and what is occurring back at the Atlas Games studio.

I feel this issue is far more aimed at a more general audience instead of specalising on a specific region or setting, and explains its thinking very well to the reader.

IronBoundTome / Andrew ... 10-review/

I haven't finished reading it yet, but I agree with Ironboundtome in two things:

· The art and presentation is specially nice. I really love the cover.
· The SG Handbook piece is specially delightful. I think it should be read by any novice (or non-novice) SG before starting a saga, it would prevent many problems.

I can't wait to read the parts about Twilight Scars and all the bits related to ships... they look great!

By the way, adding the Metacreator file for the Hermetic Shipwright was a really nice complement.

Thanks for the nice comments. I have to say, I do agree with you on that cover. We're blessed that Jeff Menges looks after us so well. I think it's a superb piece in its own right, so thank you for commenting on it.


This is an unofficial review of Sub Rosa #10. By that I mean: I did a review for #9 and got a free copy of #10 out of it. I could do the same again and get a #11, and so on, but I want to encourage others to do reviews. So, I'll pay for #11 when it comes out, and someone else can do a review of #10 to get a free #11.

Part 0: The Artwork

It's been noted by others, so all I'm doing is concurring: The art of Sub Rosa #10 is very pretty. I don't consider myself competent to say anything more in-depth than that.

Part 1: From the Line Editor

Is there anyone who isn't looking forward to Grogs, coming out this July? Of course, David Chart's reminder about the value of Open Calls is probably more important.

Part 2: The Storyguide's Handbook: The Dramatic Journey, by Gerald Wylie

I suspect that my playstyle would clash badly with Mr. Wylie. Nonetheless he makes some very good points.

One thing I'd do, especially for new players, is have a list of "this is what is traditionally normal for the various social class, and this is what is traditionally normal for the various Houses". Players who aren't sure what to do then have something to either lean on for inspiration or rebel against, as they please. Another advantage is that, people being people, there ought to be no end of characters in Mythic Europe who quietly break whatever personal restrictions they feel are most onerous. These behaviors, being emotional and irrational, can drive stories.

One thing to note: Experienced players, with a strong sense of their own agency, can and do shatter the plans of a Storyguide. If you have players who do this, don't plan for an end. Make sure you know the agendas of the significant NPC participants, keep things moving, try to keep up but don't bring in Grudge Monsters, and remember that you should only grow the ever-more-horrifying reputation of the PCs if they get caught, leave witnesses alive, or leave too much evidence behind.

Part 3: Designing the Hermetic Shipwright, by Mark Lawford

First off: Bad Artist! No biscuit!

See, the thing about Rego Craft spells is that if you pay attention to the description of how they work, they are not in the style of "use telekinesis in place of tools". Therefore, the very cool Jedi Shipwright on page 14 isn't how it works. (It ought to be. First Verditius I ever designed was a mason-type who essentially sunk his hand into the stone and altered it into the desired shape by concentrating, via Re(Mu)Te.)

When it comes to building out the magus, let me just say: Every magus should at least think about using CrCo and CrMe to permanently boost important stats. It may take decades to arrange the necessary vis, and if you end up casting from a tablet you're running a bit of a risk, but the advantages make it worth considering.

In any event, Mr. Lawford is absolutely correct about his choice of House for the Shipwright - or at least he is as long as no clever Boni is able to Original Research the Elder Runes. If that ever happens, Verdi magi are still potentially the best, but the gap will have narrowed considerably.

As to the article itself, I like everything he has to say except the idea of waiting to take a familiar. The value of a familiar is based on how much Magic Theory it knows. My recommendation: Get one, teach it to read, and have it start studying Magic Theory. You can take time off to empower the bond when you have better scores, and in a few years it can add 5 or more to your lab total. Much better than a Forge companion.

Part 4: From the Journal of Vulcanis Argens, by Mark Lawford(I think)

My favorite part of these excerpts was the sense of "Oh, CRAP!" that came through when Vulcanis discovered what he discovered.

Part 5: The Cult of Silvanus, by David Stavely

An interesting pre-Christian cult that you can use if playing in Stonehenge. Alternately, members of the cult could find themselves displaced to the Continent and set up new luci. Given that they engage in agricultural protectionism, the process of setting up could have economic implications that take a generation to quiet down, unless the PCs do something about it.

Part 6: Stormbreaker, by Guy Leopold

The very first thing that catches my eye is the idea of adding extra botch dice to future social rolls if the PCs run roughshod over the affected NPCs. This - this is great. Botch dice don't matter too much as long as you don't have to make a botch check, but when that happens they can bring about utter disaster. An excellent way to represent passions and resentments simmering beneath the surface.

By the way, better hope that the magi don't have a L40 ReHe sight-range ship-moving effect. If they do have that kind of utility spell, they can probably stop the crash from happening.

I will also note that it may be some time before the PCs decide to go hunting for the creator of the ship, and they might easily decide to give up when people start asking for those 10-pound bribes.

Part 7: Twilight Scars, by Ben McFarland

Beautiful, nasty, and a very good reason to spend time mastering combat spells. Check this out for all sorts of wonderfully evil ideas.

Thrilled you enjoyed it! Thank you for taking the time to review it and we'll not consider this for a freebie since you've said so specifically.