Sub Rosa #15 is here!

Issue 15 has left the laboratory with a leap and a roar!

Sometimes it takes a little longer for a breakthrough than you wanted, but the results are just more rewarding. This time around we've got an 80-page issue, jam-packed with scenario ideas, adventure, bloodlines, mechanics, and more. It's full of our artistic regulars like Angela Taylor, Barrie James, and Patrick Demo, as well as a healthy contribution from Elizabeth Porter.

We get you ready for issue 16's alternative settings with Jason Tondro's Rats Magica. Gerald Wylie returns to look at the ubiquitous cattle raid as a story event and we see some alternative covenant finance rules from Mark Shirley. There's a body in the bog for your dose of adventure, a second series of Bonisagus lineages by Mark Baker, and more mythic bloodlines-- this time based out of Stonehenge. Regular favorite, Vulcanis Argens provides a new installment, and new to this issue but a blast from the past for readers of Hermes Portal, we have a Heretic's Corner, where Xavier Requejo examines the idea of fixed art scores. Finally, there's a great piece looking at character design focusing on the Intangible Tunnel by Pelle Kofod and Christian Rosenkjaer Andersen.

We're hoping you'll pick up this issue and take a look. For those keeping track, issue 16 should be relatively close on its heels and issue 17 not far behind that!

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 (so we can both see you've made 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. At this point, you really have no choice but to believe me.

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 #16 the first three reviewers of issue #15 still stands-- if you've got #15 and want #16 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.


This was so much fun to work on, and I'm indebted to Mark and Ben for allowing me to indulge my obsession with diminutive long-whiskered wizards.

Hope everyone enjoys it.


It should now be with contributors and subscribers.

Thanks to all involved for making this a great issue.

It's the first thing I turned to Jason and I've enjoyed what I've read so far (admittedly in a bit of a rush).
(I'm a big Mouse Guard fan, so I'm seeing possibilities here and was planning to draw attention to it on my blog if I get a chance).

Not sure about the implications of the accelerated mechanics but you seem to have covered a lot of the possibilities.

Nice work!


Thank you, sincerely. Last night Jonathan Tweet said he "Loved the rats!" so I think I have officially won Ars Magica and can now pass into Twilight.

There's so much great stuff in this issue. I was immediately struck by the genius of the Cattle Raid article, because every covenant in Hibernia is required to keep cattle, so this story is applicable to everyone in that region. And the "Body in the Bog" adventure is another really great idea which is perfect for a one-session story.

The chief inspiration for Rats Magica is, of course, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, and its associated animated adaptation, The Secret of Nimh. The setting also includes homages to other famous rat stories, of which there are an astonishing number, including the motion picture Willard and the influential short story "Flowers for Algernon" (adapted into more than one film, most recently as the John Travolta vehicle Phenomenon). It was while researching "Flowers for Algernon" that I found out the name meant "with mustache," which I presume is why the rat is named this in Keyes' story, even though Wikipedia tells me he is named after Swinburne. "With Mustache" just seems like a perfect name for a long-whiskered rat.

Mark was very generous to allow me to write the article, since the concept is more than a little goofy, but I have tried to play it straight. He even offered to let me do a sequel article, since my first draft was quite long, but I finally decided not to leave anything on the table and include as much of the concept as I could, leaving out only my supporting cast of mice and rats (mostly named after characters from the Rescuers) because Ars Magica stat blocks are crazy.

It was not until the very last draft, as Mark wisely asked me "What will Hermetic magi want to get out of these rats?" that I realized that, because of their accelerated lifespan, Magi Aux Gernon are perfect for original research and experimentation. When I realized that, quite by accident, the game mechanics of Ars Magica had given me LAB RATS, and that stories about them became commentaries on the modern use of animals in research, I knew the Secret Masters of Ars Magica were on my side.

And then I saw the art yesterday and was just blown away. I've published for other games before, but never Ars, and this has been a bucket list weekend.

I'm remiss not to have mentioned the design article by Pelle Kofod and Christian Rosenkjaer Andersen, focusing on the Intangible Tunnel. I've fixed that and recommend it-- it's a great read.


... if a bit crunchy at times. :wink:

...and perhaps argumentative the rest of the time :stuck_out_tongue:

Isn't it a bad sign when one of the authors write something like that about their own article?

I think "crunchy" and "argumentative" means it's perfectly at home here!

Certainly. Sub Rosa's meant to be a space where boundaries can be pushed and experimental ideas can be explored. Sometimes that means crunchy, argumentative, both, or neither. :wink:


Are you still offering free copies for reviews?

We sure are-- I don't think we've seen one yet for issue #15, and #14 was the first time in many issues where we gave away all three.


Rat Magica was pretty cool and fun and inspirational. I think it was cute abd fun and quite playable. I kind of want yobplay it to be honest. I also liked that it was believable. It could happen and make sense.

I'm at work so I only read that so far.

Just a short bump to remind folks:

Heck, you can post your review in this thread, that's cool!



I'm going to start sending out feelers for artists for Sub Rosa #16 shortly, and there's still three free issues on the table for the first three reviews posted to either this thread or elsewhere on the internet-- you've just got to send us a note, pointing us to the review.



A short review of Sub Rosa #15 - since no-one else has done one yet!
Step by Step:

  • Under the Rose - A nice peek into the mind of one of the authors of Faith & Flame, though I'd have prefered if it had been signed.
  • From the Line Editor - It's always interesting to read what the Line Editor has to say, though by now, it's maybe a bit old news.
  • The Cattle Raid as a Story - Ah yes, the cattle raid! One of the most iconic stories of Ireland and to a lesser degree, Scotland. Littered with quotes from the classics, how could you not love this article? I've run the cattle raid as a story myself a few times, but much more thought has gone into this article than I ever invested into those raids. In many ways, it is more of a guide to writing and structuring stories than simply a guide to cattle raids - highly recommended. My only complaint is probably that it is suggested that a single raid can net you a Minor Source of Income, which I find perhaps overly generous. But that's a minor detail, not an actual issue.
  • Covenant Finances: An Alternative - I'll level with you all. I haven't been able to test this. Indeed I can barely get my troupe to use the system from Covenants, despite the fact that we use Metacreator, so we'd basically just have to keep track of how many characters were around. I think this article looks interesting, but I fear that the odds of ever getting to use it are effectively infinitesimal.
  • From the Journal of Vulcanis Argens - Always entertaining to read, though I never did find out if these were notes from someone's actual saga, or more traditional fiction set in Mythic Europe.
  • Rats Magica - I ... I'm not really sure what to think of this. It's an interesting variant of Ars Magica to be sure, but I'm a bit put off by some of the details (pawns of Vis being overly divisible, odd statement about the Vis cost of binding a familiar, and whatever the box about Rats as Familiars imply, all Familiars can explicitly assist in the lab) as well as the whole idea which is rather more high fantasy than I usually strive for in Ars Magica. Again, one of those articles that are interesting to read, but that I suspect I will never use.
  • The Second Lineage: Explorers of Time and Space - A collection of bonisagi. I like them. I could easily see some of them making appearances in my upcomming saga. Or even my current.
  • New Heresies: Fixed Arts - See, this is probably the reason why I've put off this review for so long. I want to say something nice about everyone. In this case I have to admit, I reject the premiss and I reject the proposed solution. Even if this was a relevant problem, which I would argue that it is not, it would be a meta-problem, to be fixed in meta and not in rules. YSMV.
  • The Body in the Bog - A story, which is always useful. Can be played as written, or plundered mercilessly for ideas.
  • Designing The Intangible Assassin - an otimization article, for Ars Magica? And building on a concept already discussed in Hermetic Projects, no less? And yet the authors must have felt a need for the article. The article itself is perhaps more mechanical in approach than I'd have prefered, but the authors do seem prepared to argue their points. No mention is made of the Wizard's Communion though. An interesting read I feel, if very focused, and with thorough examples.
  • Mythic Bloodlines: More than the Founders - Mythic Blood has always been one of those Virtues I never really knew what to do with. How could I be anything but pleased to see a series of articles full of suggestions for it?
  • Mappa Mundi - A few extra notes on Provencal and stuff that didn't make it into Faith and Flame. All in very short form sadly, as it's full of clever plothooks. I like it!

Thanks for taking the time to write a review, Tellus! That's the first one claimed for Issue #16 (which has the artists busily working away on it right now), and I know all the contributors appreciate the comments.

Still two more on the table for those willing to post their thoughts on the issue.

Thanks for the write-up.

So to confirm on the Journal of Vulcanis Argens... It is the highly-biased in-character journal of the Verditius I played from around 2004/5 through to 2009. Events as represented may not have happened exactly as in the game, but that's because he's an arrogant man with an over-developed sense of entitlement and fewer morals than he cares to recognise, turning vices to virtues at every step.

The articles are so far essentially what I wrote up during that game to share just with the others in the troupe. I'm coming to the end of those original pieces though so whatever continues will ultimately become new content based on my recollections of sessions that took place some years ago.

Of course, I might just bring the Vernal Inquisition and the fall of Donum Chanuti forward... Next issue is where things take a decidedly horrible turn.