Sub Rosa #11, This Ain't Ars Grogica!

Sure, they're not the reason for the rolling, but grogs help make Ars Magica games go, and they're the focus of issue #11! We've got a full harvest of rough warriors often tasked with keeping your magi safe and decidedly fletching-free, lovingly crafted by Ben McFarland, with Mark Lawford, Matt Ryan and David Staveley. Gerald Wylie returns to tackle the difficult existence of outlaws and what it means for the Storyguide running your saga.

But don't think magi are ignored this issue! Mark Shirley provides an excellent look at training packages for magi-- riffing from the system presented in Grogs, while Mark Lawford gives you the in-depth look at creating a Hermetic Architect from apprenticeship to maturity.

Offering their generous and lovely talents, you'll find the pages of this issue graced with the artwork of Angela Taylor, Barrie James, Jason Tseng, Kyle Cabral, and Patrick Demo.

We've got the Journal of Vulcanis Argens, supplemental rules on conception, and a sordid adventure of revenge and lost love by newcomer Edward Kendrick! Round things out with David Chart's news from the line, a Mappa Mundi column actually focused on maps, more metacreator files and handouts than you can swing a flail at, and this is an issue you won't want to pass up.

So join the turb and pick up Sub Rosa #11 today!

I'll note, with a hint of pride, that this issue matches our run with that of Mythic Perspectives!

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.

Still not convinced to pick up 64 pages of goodness? Check out the preview here.


I have sent my funds off. Let's all home I have not made a dogs breakfast of this.

If all goes well I should have enough new ars magica stuff to get me through to the new tribunal book.

Drat and blast, I am now seriously tempted to get Sub Rosa. :slight_smile:

Yes, this is perfect stuff until Against the Dark arrives!

I just received it and took a swift look through it. Got hit in my nose by some tough grogs hiding in there...

Come on in, the water's lovely.

I got mine last night. I should have subscribed from the start, the quality is great. I particularly like the Training packages for Magi.

I am now flicking through old issues, so much greatness. I was engrossed by the massive list of sample Twilight Scars/side effects.

I forgot to mention it, but our policy of providing a free copy of issue #12 the first three reviewers of issue #11 still stands-- if you've got #11 and want #12 for free, let us know what you thought of this issue.


Wherein Albert Reviews Sub Rosa #11:

From the Line Editor:

It's always good to hear that the the Sparkling Abomination will be entirely absent from a book that will, of necessity, deal with vampires. Granted, it ought be assumed that any gameline with an ounce of self-respect will be free of the vileness that is Meyersism, but then we must remember what happened a couple of decades back with the Riceists.

As for the rest, the long process of getting a book out? Informative, if a bit disconcerting. Perhaps more of us should volunteer as playtesters?

The Storyguide's Handbook: Outlawry, by Gerald Wylie

I have one nit to pick with this article: Gerald Wylie does not define (so far as I could discover) "chattels" within the article. I was already aware of one definition of chattel: "slave", but under common law, chattels refer to any personal, movable property.

Other than that, it is an excellent article. In addition, it is useful to the point of necessity, given how a Covenant often operates outside of ordinary society.

Conception and Pregnancy, by Richard Wiles and Cameron Weeden

Even when I have issues with an article, I try to focus on the positive.

Here's the positive: It's possible the system provided might actually work in the home system it was imported from.

Unfortunately, it doesn't fit Ars Magica.

Primus: A character's fertility, or lack thereof, ought to be a matter for Virtues and Flaws - if it's important enough to track at all. (Given the givens, the ability to create life with every ahem probably counts as a Flaw due to the potential for complications.)

Secundus: This is Ars Magica, not D&D. We don't use percentiles, d4s, or d20s, we use stress dice and ease factors. If you want to port from one system to another, make sure the end product uses the end system. For example: Make conception a matter of a Sta(f) + Sta(m)/2 stress roll, ease factor based on general frequency of intercourse.

Tertius: This is Ars Magica. There is none of this minor/medium/major nonsense. Detail how Medicine, Chirurgy, and/or Herbalism can interact with the conception roll. Give us the relevant baseline TeCorpus effects. Possibly toss in some support for other magic systems - the Folk Witches and Cunning Men are good picks for a bit of system-lovin' - and you're done.

I could go on for a bit longer, but what's the point? At best, this article offers ideas, but you'll have to do the actual conversion to Ars Magica yourself.

Training Packages for Magi, by Mark Shirley

Mark Shirley says he's been using this system for a couple of decades. Given how polished it is, both here and in Grogs, I believe him.

Honestly, there's not much to say: Read the article yourself, enjoy one of the masters at his craft, and use it. Use it a lot.

From the Journal of Vulcanis Argens

Ah, another tale from the sociopaths' table. Perhaps it's just me, but if I were Storyguiding this group I would be working on my poker face and getting ready to entrap the PCs in a web woven from their own hubris.

The Vitruvian Magus: Building the Hermetic Architect
, by Mark Lawford

Mark Lawford's build of a Hermetic Archtect is as well done as his earlier build of a Hermetic Shipwright. I will only mention, once again, that CrCo and CrMe rituals to boost stats are corebook canon. Initial stats just aren't that important in a long-running saga - and a long-running saga is precisely what you need to take a Hermetic Architect from Guantlet to enchanting a castle.

Welcome to the Turb, by Ben McFarland, David Staveley, Mark Lawford, and Matt Ryan

A nice article with several story seeds detailed for easy use.

However, I would suggest altering the new Polygot virtue: Change it from Affinity to Puissant. Simply put: You have to get what would be 4 levels in a skill before Affinities are worth even +1. Make it Puissant and the character becomes passable in new languages very quickly, and that's pretty much what we want with Polygot.

The Body on the Shore, by Edward Kendrick

Given the presence of magic, the murderer does a good job of hiding - but where magic is used to break pursuit, there should be the opportunity for a magus with good Penetration to break the obscuring magic, not merely a fiat declaration of evasion.

Likewise, some {REDACTED}, such as the canon {REDACTED}, make the environmental dangers of the climax . . . less than dangerous.

Unless, that is, the troupe doesn't mind being railroaded.

As always, Mappa Mundi has all sorts of resources that an Ars Magica fan will find interesting. Remember, this is the RPG for kids who like extra homework. Here's the extra, so enjoy.


I was under the impression that Puissant only applied to one Ability. Would that not mean that you would require a different Puissant for each new language.

I can see a Major version of puissant that applies across certain groups of abilities, like languages. I know quite a few people that have a knack for picking up new languages.

But why not just use Linguist (HoH: TL, p. 25)

Because I was unaware of it, I guess. Is it a general virtue or a heroic one (I hated heroic virtues BTW, but that is me)

Is it really worth a Major virtue? Particularly given the player still has to put xp into each skill in order to get it up to 1 or 2

Perhaps some one could refresh me as to what Linguist does.

My thoughts is a new minor virtue that gives an additional 2 exp free that can only be spent on local languages, up to a max rank of 2. I know this has been previously suggested as a house rule for all characters which is where I stole it from.

I am also inclined to hand wave Puissient language to apply to all (not Dead and especially not Latin) languages. Yes you could stack this with the new Language Virtue. Yes this will make a character very good at learning all sorts of languages but that might be useful for a covenant. An Interpreter would be a cool covenant role for a Grog or Companion. As it takes 2 or three virtues it would be a shtick of that particular character.

Thoughts? Feel free to tell me I suck.

I know there are some people out there, particularly in the Church, who are very good at languages.

Obviously I am veering away from the Topic which it the Latest issue of the SubRosa, which I love BTW

General Virtue, from the Bonisagus Chapter.

...and it's not just you

You know, I'd even done a hunt for pertinent virtues. sigh

That would work, too. Although, Polyglot is slightly better than Linguist at the price of written vs. spoken language for Polyglot (and Linguist applies to dead languages, too, so it has its own strength). If we went with Linguist, Falco would need to speak probably two fewer languages, which might not be a bad thing in some sagas.


Let's side-by-side them, so there aren't any Serf's Parma issues:

Linguist: Minor General Virtue

You are extremely proficient learning new languages. All Study Totals for any Language are increased by a quarter, as (are) any experience points you put into any language at character creation. Both Living and Dead languages are augmented with this Virtue.

Polyglot: Minor, General Virtue

This virtue grants Affinity for all Living Languages. The character is adept at learning the spoken word, but cannot gain experience points from texts on a language and has a -3 penalty to Living Language ability scores (other than his native language) when attempting to comprehend something he reads. He benefits normally from exposure, a teacher, or practice. The character still needs Artes Liberales to read and write.

(e.g. A Catalan character from Barcelona with Polyglot has a Living Language: Greek score of 4. When reading a Greek Bible, his score of 4 is considered a 1.)

Polyglot, the Altimate Rewrite: Minor, General Virtue

This virtue grants Puissant for all Living Languages. The character is adept at learning the spoken word, but cannot gain experience points from texts on a language and has a -3 penalty to Living Language ability scores (other than his native language) when attempting to comprehend something he reads. He benefits normally from exposure, a teacher, or practice. The character still needs Artes Liberales to read and write.

Example: A Catalan character from Barcelona has Polygot, and spends a season in a city where Living Language: Greek is spoken. After a couple of months - ie, after 5 out of the 8 language xp are earned for the season - she is "haltingly functional" in Greek, although she can only barely pick out a few words if she attempts to read a book or a sign. A regular character would, at this point, be able to both speak and read Greek at the "basic questions and answers" level.

After a full year in the the Greek city, our Catalan lass is fluent in spoken Greek, albeit with an accent everyone assures her is charming. She still has a lot of trouble trying to read Greek, though. A regular character would, by this point, be "haltingly functional" in Greek, both spoken and verbal.

I prefer my suggested version because it allows a well-traveled character to act as a basic interpreter for just about anywhere he or she has spent any time in. "Yeah, I've been around. I can make myself understood in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Norse . . ."


There's a heroic virtue for that



4 xp -> 5.
You save {6, 10, 15} xp per language for score {3, 4, 5}.

4 xp -> 6. But to read you need score 7 (94 xp -> 141)
You save {10, 16, 25} xp per language for score {3, 4, 5}, but you lose 44 xp per read language (nothing, since everyone uses latin, right?).

2 free levels. But to read you need score 5 (75 xp)
You save {25, 35, 45} xp per language for score {3, 4, 5}, but you lose 25 xp per read language.

I would rather have Polyglot only offer a +1 bonus to spoken score along with negating the related language penalty (maybe -3 still is -1).