Sub Rosa # 21 review

Hi everyone,

It appears that I was away from the forum when the sub rosa # 21 was released, and then the forum was down. Now it's up for almost a month, and I'm thinking about reviewing it.

So let's break it down.

The theme is "heaven and hell"; and in comparison with secret & lies (issue # 20) it's not what i like most about Ars magica (hell maybe, heaven no).

What is it in it?

Under the rose: I have nothing to say. As i'm not already in the theme, I'm (or rather was) already in expectation of what to see in it. It's a short summary of each part. And some link to "MeWe" which I don't know, and didn't check the link to start in fact.

Direct from atlas game : it's a new name, Jason Alexander. Except I don't know him. Never read anything of him on this forum? maybe he uses a username I didn't notice, or maybe he posted mainly during the time i was less active. Whatever, he may still be good. What matters most is that I don't know what to expect from Atlas game. A new edition of Ars? i wouldn't buy it. I like the 5ED, and I will never pay 1000 euros again for another RPG. Never. It was a one time crush (i'm not sure if that word exist, it was a crazy thought from me was what I want to say), but it's not worth it as much as I like the game.

What I want is the other ED book redone, especially/only the tribunal books, and especially the 3ED (Rome/Iberia/Loch Leglean!!) which were bad imo.
Scenarios, settings, whatever. Covenants! Give me more covenants. I'd take it.
I agree with the editor that it may be end autumn for the 5ED (and the Ars magica setting itself). Winter? as long as the forum are up, i don't think it. (I said so to the staff during the time forums were down.)

SG hand's book: divine numbers In this part from "academician" Gerald Wylie, we delve in numbers and their relation to the divine.

As I'm not a faithful person, nor a believer, all which is "religion" themed only gets my attention when it gives me ideas about adventures. Numbers I like but I was not really sold on those numbers, really too close to the "divine" texts (bible and such). Besides, my troupe is not in the number thing more than me, so ... probably never use it.

Shape and material were a bit better idea, but well, my ASG refuse any additional sourced s&m, requiring vulgar alchemy - which is quite logical seen this virtue- to create them. Same for durations and targets and breakthroughs.

Hidden powers: masters of the beast : an infernal cult. I didn't delve in it much, because at our saga level of power, those little whorshippers of devil are killed on a whim by any magus. Normal penetration being in the 40 and magical items being in the 100... I need more meat. When a character is intrigue based, it doesn't need a sheet, just a background, but anything with no resistance to mentem (or being a demon) is useless.
Finally, since I have never seen any player really succed at having fun to play an infernal character infernally, it's not even useful to play as a player.

But I guess it provides lot of informations for some SG dealing with less powered characters.

Running a tribunal gathering since our saga as gone from 1220 to 1286 now, I know how to run a tribunal. The piece gave me some ideas, but I didn't have time to use them. Besides, I already know that tribunal gathering is not every player cup of tea. Some are just waiting for the next adventure.

Set piece: the monastery again: I already have done an adventure in a monastery, so I would have loved to have this information some years ago. Maybe I will use it in another adventure, but I need to find an adventure-theme so that it is pertinent. It completes "The church" book well.

Companion piece: Steppo the adamite : because i'm playing a companion who has gone from an arsonist to a true faithed rewarded character (i could even have opted to become the official angel of the covenant, but wanted to continue play this companion longer so refused, and said "maybe later"), I have found some inspiration in this.

The hill of hell : it's an adventure, which I was not really fan of. Maybe it's the "very religion-based" theme, i don't know. So i will not say "it's really bad" and can't really review more. (I'm not a professional reviewer, just a fellow player trying to help, so sorry :/)
It's an adventure with much material (map etc.) and I prefer loose adventures because I know from experience that players NEVER follow the script when you are not in a trainrail-type scenario. And i have not liked rail-scenarion for a long time.
I would say it's the biggest part of the fanzine.

Companion piece: Damian the infernalist : a scientific (i guess) but also infernalist. Infernalist was maybe the manner to get in this subrosa fanzine, but I clearly would have preferred if he was just a normal scientific person. The "infernalist" side make it rather hard for me to take him into account, because power level as said before.

SG handbook: Purgatory When i saw that, i had just left an adventure from our ASG in purgatory. Since both weren't really the same, I felt I couldn't use it, and so just relegated it to "another saga time, maybe" or "if he asks me to play that purgatory thing as to be part of the adventure the second time".
However there are MUCH seeds if you want to use the purgatory. It's big.

Mappa mundi. A lot of information, it's impressive.

This sub rosa was not my cup of tea, but I can't throw it by the window: it was very meaty. There were ideas EVERYWHERE. I guess heaven and hell are themes which are interesting for many players.


This helps remind me that I was going to write a review months ago, and kept putting it off. Now I would have to read it again! And Heaven and Hell are amongst my least favorite subjects in Ars.

1 Like

Thanks for taking time out to review. It's always appreciated, whether the issue hits home for you or not. Hopefully, like any anthology-style magazine, next issue will have more for you.

Here's my take on reviewing Sub Rosa 21: Heaven and Hell.

Like the first reviewer, I'm perhaps not the best audience: I tolerate the Infernal in the game, but the Divine's presence and omnipotence has always irked me a trifle. Nonetheless, this issue is fine work, if not my own personal cup of tea.
Here are my thoughts:

Under the Rose: This seems an excellent summary of the issue's contents; clear and concise. I quite appreciated it.

Direct from atlas: Something of a love letter in the wake of the 5th Edition's end. A nice personal touch, certainly.

Storyguide's Handbook: Divine numbers: ah, here's the rub. While this article is a fine and useful expansion to the game use of gematria in the faiths of Mythic Europe, I for one would have preferred to see the casual sidebar on Magic and Fae numbers of mystic significance expanded and elaborated.

Hidden Powers: This Infernalist society for mercantile mundanes struck me as a well-done piece, if a trifle too narrow. How would the cult react to hedge magicians or members of rival traditions, for example? I feel it might have been more interesting to provide, for instance, a corrupt learned magician or spirit votary among the inner circle, for example.

Running a Tribunal: A well-done synopsis, but I felt it could have gone into greater detail. Perhaps further examples or story seeds?

Set Piece: Monastery: A well written location, as all in this series of articles has been. I quite liked this.
Companion Piece: Steppo the Adamite: Well-written and potentially quite useful. The only trick missed here I can see is a possible tie-in between the angelic True Names and Adamic.

The Hill of Hell: A very well-done adventure, quite evocative. It did leave me thinking 'And this attracts my players' characters, decidedly non-devout members of a sorcerous order founded by devotees of a pagan god, how?' I imagine it could flow more smoothly if one's stories involve the divine though.

Companion Piece: Damian, Physician and Infernalist: A foil and alter-image of steppo, with similar utility re : True Names. I'd have liked to see his abilities be more useful in temping magi with favors 'but, you could do so much for them! Think of how they shall esteem you!' is as valid a lure of pride and vanity as any, after all.. Also, tie ins here to Babel would have been oppurtune.

Storyguide's handbook: Purgatory: Oh, my... I must give the writer credit for grasping the nettle squarely! Purgatory and its related doctrines are rather unpopular theology in this day and age. Quite expansive and well-done! I personally would have liked to see a little on the pagan magic and fae afterworlds of regret as well, but thats just me. I like pagan survivals and feel its a fine mythic element, my campaign being high-fantasy , low-historicity.

Mappa Mundi: An interesting collection of related links and expansions on the articles.