Sub Rosa #14: Pressing Onward!

Who wants to live forever?

Sub Rosa #14 has arrived it's got us thinking about legacy as we press into 2014. There are 76 delicious pages of material in this issue; Gerald Wylie returns to consider the process of crafting stories for Ars Magica in the Storyguide's Handbook, Mark Lawford gives us an alternative of Verditius Longevity Devices, and Mark Shirley takes a hard look at the demographics of the Order of Hermes. Vulcanis Argens enters into the breach for another installment and Jérôme Darmont brings us a one-shot adventure that's all about love. Ben McFarland considers options for the Mythic Blood Virtue and David Agnew presents three potential Companions for the new Hibernian Tribunal book, The Contested Isle. Finally, newcomer Mark Baker offers up lineages for House Bonisagus, and Mappa Mundi is chock full of resources for your saga's next trip to the Emerald Isle.

The art comes to us by Sub Rosa veterans Angela Taylor, Patrick Demo, Jason Tseng, and Elizabeth Porter, and they'll knock your socks off. Combine that eyecandy with the gorgeous supplemental character sheet for Verditius devices and a bundle of single-page characters for Jérôme Darmont's adventure and you'll find Sub Rosa a downright steal.

Don't wait for an aging crisis, pick up your copy today!

As always, if you'd like to purchase an 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. We've been somewhat preoccupied with things we cannot talk about, but you're going to love. We promise. Swear it, even. On our familiars' lives. Trust us on this.

Five years into this, and you still need convincing? We've put together a short preview here!

Our policy of providing a free copy of issue #15 the first three reviewers of issue #14 still stands-- if you've got #14 and want #15 for free, let us know what you thought of this issue. Post your review and send us an email to We'll hook you up. So far, we've left one issue on the table for the last three issues; you could buy this one and potentially not buy one again for a long long time, if you're willing to let us know what you think everytime.


I'm being impatient to read mine.


Looks great! Can't wait to grab it...

Got mine. Looking great. And color images!!!

Is there a way to pay ahead? Or subscribe rather than just picking up one at a time? (looking for the buy 4 discount and not have to wait for the next three to get it).

I'm not sure what you mean?

If you'd like to subscribe to 14-17, you can pay $16 and then we will send you 14 now, and 15-17 when they're done.

Or, you can get a different set of 4 issues for $16, like 11-14, or 5, 9, 13, and 14, or even 13 and 14 now and 15 and 16 when they come out; that kind of arrangement...

Does that answer your question?



Yes! That's great!

Although, now that I've paid for 14, what can I do?

Check your private messages... :slight_smile:

I'd rather keep this thread focused on the issue!

...Although, if you posted a review of #14, you'd get #15 for free...and could essentially get all of them for free, if you kept reviewing them. :wink:


Once again, stirling work good sirs!


Just a small bump to remind folks-- if you picked up a copy of SR#14 and want a copy of SR#15 for free, take a few moments and post us a review of the contents, then we'll hook you up when the next issue is complete.

SR#15 and #16 are in the works now, so you can bet we're looking forward to your comments.



Page 19 suggests that airgetlámha provide a Longevity Bonus equal to the number of pawns used to open them for enchantment. This is incorrect. As elsewhere in the article, the bonus is equal to the crafter's Dexterity + Craft Ability at the time the airgetlám is created.

OK, here's my review for Sub Rosa #14:

Overall, this was another solid issue, maybe not so rounded as #13 (just because it is not a monographic as such), but with a distinctly “Hibernian” feel. As usual the artwork is functional, with some color illustrations in some sections. And this issue we also have a few computer graphics that come very handy in their sections!

Going to the point:

Under the Rose: A review of year 2013 for Ars Magica… And what a year it was! Seeing it all together we had four new books (which is a lot), a podcast, the vanilla covenant project and of course, the Diedne special in Sub Rosa, among others. Not bad. Not bad at all.

From the Line Editor: David Chart discusses the last book, Transforming Mythic Europe, which inevitably leads to the “Why haven’t Hermetic magi done this before?” issue. Mr Chart gives some reasons for this, which I personally think are rather plausible: making these changes in the past would have required a concerted effort that was not so easy to meet with the Order being relatively small and thinly spread. Most importantly, David states that from the canonical start of sagas in 1220, the path is free for anyone to follow, and thus indeed “transforming Europe” is as good a goal as any for a PC covenant… But also, one that is not so easy to accomplish.

The Storyguide’s Handbook - The Path Less Traveled: Gerald Wylie explains how using mind-mapping techniques can be (strongly) beneficial for your stories/sagas. Developing a saga or story arc visually can help a storyguide notice the weak points in his plots and easily check if the general flow of the game is the right one. Also, some additional advice is given depending on the kind of game you want to run. I recently read GM-help books such as Never Unprepared or Odyssey, so I found this article really interesting for all kind of storyguides. As a personal suggestion related to this, I think any SG should keep an eye on the Realm Works software, soon to be released. It will make your life (or your saga management) easier.

Verditius Longevity Devices: Mark Lawford presents two device-based Verditius mysteries as alternatives to longevity rituals. The first uses a “phylactery”, an enchanted device that adds a bonus to aging rolls based on the crafting skill of the magus. The second one, the Mystery of Credne, is native to Hibernia, and could be forgotten as of today. It is based on replacing body parts to get a bonus to aging rolls. This is an extremely interesting option not only to make, err… cyborg wizards... but also to develop some thematic stories. In fact, I think this mystery could easily be used as a really interesting story (or even saga) seed for a game set in Hibernia… The piece also includes a new sheet where you can record all the airgetlámha, or physical changes your character has undergone. (By the way, I have to ask: what’s with all this body-mangling articles in SR lately? First we had the Divisible Men and now this!).

Demography of the Order of Hermes: The title is self-explaining. A lengthy analysis of the demographic growth of the Order of Hermes across time, since its creation to 1220, and then into the future. The article takes into account the influence of Order-wide events (including the Schism War, among others) in this demographic growth. It also states some details and conditions that could influence the growth of the Order in the future, which I think can be helpful in a long saga. I found this article interesting, but also very heavy on demographic terms and explanations. This is stated in advance by the author, Mark Shirley, so don’t take this as a criticism...

From the Journal of Vulcanis Argens: In this installment, our Verditius ponders on how to create an “intelligent” magical chess board, is initiated in a Verditius mystery and learns some new craft skills to be better prepared for the future. Ah, the life of a Verditius is a busy one! I found this installment really amusing and atmospheric.

An Eternal Love: This is a short adventure with an old-edition flavor (the PCs are from Bentalone and the story is set in Provence) that could be used very easily in a convention or as an introductory adventure for beginners. The adventure’s main theme is revenge, and it has a bit of everything: murder, romance, treachery, a seedy hedgie, some crazy German mercenaries… The adventure includes all the necessary PCs stats, so you won’t need much prep even if you want to use it with a group of players new to AM. It looks like it could be run in just one session.

Mythic Bloodlines: More than the Founders. Well, here we have a little gem by Ben McFarland. This is a new section with new suggestions for mythic-blooded characters. This first installment, focused on Novgorod and Scandinavia, is chock-full of great ideas based on mythic characters from these areas, including suggestions for Foci, Powers and personalities. Have you ever wanted to play a character that is a descendant of Baba Yaga? Now it’s your chance. I can’t wait to read more of this section in the future.

Companion Piece: The Three Good Men of Bréifne: I have always loved SR’s companion pieces, and this is no exception. Herein is presented a trio of roguish Irish characters: a clothier, a butcher and a weaver… only that they are more than that. These three guys can be used in any kind of ways in a saga set in Hibernia: as occasional NPC allies, as companions for all kind of purposes (exploration, combat, even some magic…). They have a variety of skills that can prove very useful for any covenant. Also, the Metacreator sheets for these characters are included in the SR 14 package, which is always a bonus, so… what else can you ask for?

The First Lineage - The Inventors: Mark Baker presents a full lineage of Bonisagus magi, descending from one of Bonisagus’ own (and less known) apprentices. This is a lineage of inventors, and you can find all kind of researchers here, from the ruthless maga who makes weird experiments with villagers and turns them into snakes to the casual, absent-minded scholar who can blow his own covenant with some of his projects. (And then, of course, we have Seneca…). Each magus has a brief description including goals, personality and even a story seed to introduce him in your saga. Even though the magi as a “lineage” seemed a bit too wacky to me, I found this a good source for possible breakthrough ideas if you ever need them.

Mappa Mundi: Resources on the web for people interested in running sagas in the Hibernian Tribunal. Some interesting books are mentioned there!

As I said, this was another solid issue. You guys are doing a great work. As a final note, I’d like to make a suggestion regarding the navigation of the magazine. Have you considered including bookmarks for each section in the PDF file? I’m aware that you can navigate the file from the Contents page, but I think that having the sections bookmarked, allowing you to go from any section to any other section, would make navigation even easier…

Thanks for the very kind words. I'll certainly look into those additional bookmarks. I haven't yet worked out how to have those show up but that may be a limitation of MS Publisher. In the meantime, you can use the "Sub Rosa" button at the edge of the page to jump back to the contents page.

We are looking to do a bit of a redesign in the near future so we'll also look at the navigation options then.

Thanks again for your thoughts on issue 14 and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Another review of SR#14 over at the Iron Bound Tome blog!

That's two of the three, one more freebie issue out there, up for grabs.


Here is mine.

SubRosa 14 follows the exciting SubRosa #13 which covered Diedne house quite vastly. It sets up a peak of information, because it was HUGE. The issue #13 is like the stepstone with which all new SubRosa will be compared, considering length, content, accuracy.

Let's the game begin! (but of course, with kindness and fun, because it's a funzine)

From the line editor : David talks about Transforming Mythic Europe. I haven't this book yet, waiting for many books to be published by Atlas to do a grouped buying on the american amazon website which cost so much with transport fee to Europe. At the question "why no magi changed Europe before 1220", I think that his answer is quite a lot similar to "why haven't magi do more breakthrough in the game". I expected a plain "because there would be no place for PCs to be the one doing it, which is quite the purpose of the game" but it was a bit more elaborated than that.

The storyguide's handbook : as usual since a few issues, give us tips to create adventures. This time, we are introduced to the mindmapping process. I knew that from work, where there had been quite an emphasis on it, because it's "à la mode" or trendy. Personaly I tried to use it, but it was hard, because I know that my PCs will never really have the same ideas confronted to a situation than me. So I'm using a lot of time to try to figure which thing they would go for... often needing a non-linear mindmapping, which are often quite complexe and quickly. I haven't downloaded any of the programs proposed, and used only my pen&paper tool. But it was interesting. I think that article is something you have to read, try, reread, retry, etc. only to stop reading it when you are quite experienced with it. Links to free (or not) softwares are included, which is not bad. A meta-analyses of your mindmap form is also included, which is really interesting.

Verditius longevity devices : this chapter will try to gather 2 ideas which, at firest, are contradictory: the house verditius, and the desire to prolonge life. I doubt(ed) that those two may be put together, since items are maybe the least of the thing I consider leading to a longer life, but well. We all know the lich thing and I gave the chapter a try. There was a part on the phylactery, which was thematic. Second was a mystery of Credne. I read it but I didn't like the theme. I found that we were going to the cyborg part of the game, and my Mythic Europe is not that way. Plus, I think the airgetlam brings too much maths. I think that I would perhaps use the phylactery mystery, but not this one.

Demography of the Order of hermès : this is a subject which is highly debatted in my troupe. Me and my ASG are not at all of the same opinion, and I read this article with interest since I'm convinced that any source of information is quite useful to counter his arguments. Looking at the past and to the future, there are sharts, and explanations of the considerations used to create those. I think this is one of the article I will use the most because it is something of "metaknowledge of the game" which you are always using, consciently or not.

From the journal àf Vulcanis Argens : well, like previously: information, ideas of stories, under the form of a journal. Each reader like this or that, or all or nothing. But the concept don't change much.

An eternal love : an old adventure by Jérome Darmont. I already used it before, so when I read it, it was nothing new, just adapted. The story includes principaly elements of meddling with mundanes, and relation to nobles. There are no magical battle, but rather subtle interactions. Combat magi not required.

Mythic bloodlines: more than the founders. Interesting article. It provides fact and information about some well known folklore persons and creatures, from which the magi could be descending. Useful for those magi who are using mythic blood.

Companion piece: the three good men of breifne : like always, this companion piece give us companions ready to play, with background and characteristics. IIRC, every previous time, it was linked to the recently published book. This time, it's related to the hibernian tribunal, covered by the Contested Isle. Seen their background, I personaly would not use them if not in their normal ground.

The first lineage : the inventers. The author (mark baker) is writing about Bonisagus lineage. Since Bonisagus is a true lineage, it's quite important in the in-game universe to know. If a player ask you a question about the first Bonisagi, you have answers ready. The bonisagi presented have some characteristics and virtues and flaws of note. Their area of expertise, quote or interesting features are given, to enhance their credibility. I liked the Sepentia Bonisagus theme. What a cold blooded researcher!

Something I believed would be there but wasn't, was the article from the view of Diedne by Naomi Rivkis. But reading those pages of SubRosa again, I misread, and it was never intended to be "in the future issue of Sub Rosa" but rather "in a future...". Argh!

So to conclude. I liked 2 metagaming articles (demography and mindmappin); I will probably use 2 others (Bonisagus and Phylactery mystery). If I ever need a mythic blood idea, I know I can find lot of thematic ones here, and in case of question about Bonisagus background, I'll just be sure to reread the last article.

Well, it seems I am late for the review thing. I have mine half written, so I am likely to post it anyway later this week.


So, Xavi, what did you think?


That I have to get back to the office after easter to get the word document in my pendrive. DOH! :unamused: Posting as soon as I have it.

Sub Roda Issue #14, a review by Gremlin44

The issue begins, as always, with 'Under the Rose' which in this issue serves as a kind of 'year in review' for Ars Magica's 2013 product line as well as talking about previous issue of SR, the GT conventions and CJ Romer's Arcane Connection Podcast . It's a very thorough accounting of the last year's Ars Magica news, but hasn't much to offer those who keep themselves up to date on the subject.

Next comes David Chart's 'News From the Line Editor' where he talks about the (then most recent) supplement "Transforming Mythic Europe" and explains the design philosophy and offers some in-game suggestions for why the presence of Hermetic magi hasn't changed Mythic Europe from its historical form. As always, this feature proved and entertaining and thought-provoking read.

"The Path Less Travelled" is part of Gerald Wylie's ongoing 'Storyguide's Handbook' feature and in this issue he covers how to use the technique of Mind Mapping to facilitate adventure generation. The suggested method is certainly an interesting one and seems like it could be very useful for helping to flesh out adventure ideas, but it also looks like it would require a certain skill investment in learning how to do it well. In any case, the article did get me thinking rather more deeply than usual about how I prepare adventures for my troupe and by extension, how I might improve myself in that area so on that front at least, I thought this piece to be very successful.

In "Verditius Longevity Devices" Mark Lawford introduces two new Verditius Mystery Virtues designed with the express purpose of extending the magus' lifespan "Hermetic Phylactery", and "Airgetlamha". Both, however, use a similar mechanic by which the number of pawns of Vis used to open an item for enchantment apply themselves as an Ageing bonus. I haven't had a player run a Verditius magus in my sagas for some time so I'm not always up to date on the optimization aspects of that House, but for the most parts the new mysteries seem to be balanced - they allow a young maga to get a better bonus than she could probably expect using the standard Creo/Corpus formula, but this comes at the expense of having to Invest a new Longevity Focus whenever she suffers an Ageing Crisis. This isn't so much a problem with the 'Phylactery', but seems like it could quickly become overwhelming when applied to the airgetlamha virtue (which involves replacing parts of the subject's body with mechanical simulacra). Overall, the new mysteries are interesting and appear reasonably balanced. I'm not sure I'd initiate them if I were playing a Verditius magus, but the ideas themselves are evocative enough that I like the idea of them existing in Mythic Europe anyway.

From there, we find Mark Shirley's "Demography of the Order of Hermes" another thought provoking piece that examines the population of Hermetic Magi in Mythic Europe and from the available data extrapolates data for various points in the Order's history and makes predictions about it's future growth and the ramifications thereof. The article itself is interesting and many of the potential hindrances to the OoH from continuing the exponential phase of its growth would make for good story seeds in their own right. I can't really think of how I'd use this in my own sagas (the sparsity of data about the Order's size and composition in previous eras makes some of the conclusions debatable), but at least it provides some fun food for thought.

"From the Journal of Vulcanis Argens" Normally I'm not a fan of fiction piece in gaming supplements, but this piece written with the conceit of being an excerpt from the journal of a Hermetic magus (the titular Vulcanis Argens), didn't bother me too much. Presumably because the journal gimmick kept it concise and to the point.

"An Eternal Love" is a translation of a scenario written by Jerome Darmont and originally published for the Ars Magica fanzine 'Ars Mag' way back during third edition. The context of this review did not afford me time to run the adventure, but the central premise is a good one and I liked the characters provided. The downsides of the story are that it's somewhat specific to the characters provided meaning SGs might have some trouble integrating it into their own saga. There were also a few sections where the translation was a little rough, nothing that rendered the text impenetrable, but some of the word choices are a bit odd. Overall, I found this bit to be a fun read, but don't think I'm likely to find much use for it in our own saga.

"Mythic Bloodlines" is an article by Ben McFarland which describes a number of mythical sources for a character's 'Mythic Blood' vitue complete with suggestions for Powers, Personality Flaws, and Magical Foci. Featured characters include - Baba Yaga, Snaer the Old, Thorbjorg, Vainamoinen, Louthi, and Ilmarinen. I was only familiar with a few of the entries described here, but all sound like interesting options. If there's criticism to be had here it's most of the sample characters are only really appropriate for Northern and Eastern parts of Europe, but even that is a relatively minor complaint in an otherwise satisfactory article.

"The Three Good Men of Breifne" is part of another ongoing series of articles highlighting companion characters called 'Companion Piece'. This issue's writeup is courtesy of David Agnew and covers a trio of companions from Connacht: Eoin, Risteard, and Somhairle. Individually, the characters are interesting and would make a good fit for many a Hibernian covenant. As a group, however, they would seem frustrating to use as companions since they work extremely well together, but few troupes are going to need three players running Companions during a single story. The character are quite handy in the context of NPC antagonists or allies for a group of magi who need things done in and around Connacht.

"The Inventors" is the first entry in a series of articles by Mark Baker about various Hermetic lineages within House Bonisagus, "The First Lineage". The titular lineage descends from Hypatia ex Bonisagus whom I don't think we've seen before and isn't described in the article itself, but it doesn't really matter since according to the family tree provided, she only trained a single apprentice, Bellia, who can for all intents and purposes serve as the founder of this lineage. There are about 14 magi described with sort of truncated stats one sees in the various Tribunal books. The article doesn't really go into much detail about the lineage itself, but the individual magi it details are all fairly interesting and make for a fun read.

"Mappa Mundi" Another regular feature, this installment lists resources that might be useful to those troupes wanting to run a game set in Mythic Ireland. I don't think I've read any of the recommended books so I can't personally speak to their quality, but the descriptions certainly sound intriguing.

Overall, Sub Rosa #14 is another very solid issue and one I would feel very confident recommending to other Ars Magica players. Unfortunately, I haven't been following the last few Sub Rosas so I lack a frame of reference to compare it to other recent issues, but I can say that I have no regrets whatsoever at having paid $4 for it as part of the fanzine bundle.

Thanks for the feedback! I'm more used to write scientific papers in English. I'll keep that in mind next time.