System Changes

At some point in the next couple of years all the tribunals will have been done at least once. Hopefully we will also get the Diedne books. Assuming the economy continues to improve, these factors would argue for a new edition. Sixth Ed maybe two or three years off doesn't seem unreasonable. If there were a new edition what would you like to see?

My list:
Add a willpower stat and replace Quik with Per.
Early (1000s), classic and late (1400s?) setting options.
Standardized handling of gifted and ungifted magic users. Perhaps gifted advance as an art and ungifted as a skill.
Some rules for greater environmental interactions. Maybe something like the FATE system where scenes have aspects, actions that are in harmony with the scenes aspects get bonuses.
Is there any way that rune magic can be reworked into a system where the runes are primarily cosmetic? Trying to remember what each runes little individual use is can become frustrating.
Alchemy/ herbalism should become its own subsystem, and there should be greater consistency on what alchemy can do.
Pick two or three non-European views of magic and turn them into other major traditions that are eqivalent in power to the OoH. The orders magic should be more powerful than anything else in Europe, but not everything else in the world. These magic systems need to get at least two chapters in their respective books.
Can we make covenants have less of a resemblance to university history departments?

Unless I missed something, Hibernia hasn't been done, and I've not seen any plans for a Hibernia sourcebook (shame, really). Provençal, I'm not sure has been done either; I think it was the default setting for one of the early editions (maybe 1st or 2nd) but it hasn't been done as an actual sourcebook a la Iberia or Loch Leglean). A quick check of my Covenant Directory spreadsheet cross-referencing Project: Redcap confirms that neither Hibernia nor Provençal have ever been detailed, so we still have two Tribunals that (to the best of my knowledge) remain unexplored for the foreseeable future.

Personally, I don't see a need for a 6th edition at this time...unless it's a new edition for the sake of having a new edition.

As far as your individual suggestions:

So, you'd be getting rid of Quickness (since you're replacing it with a Characteristic that we already have) and adding a Characteristic for Willpower? I do agree that there should be some mechanic for handling fact, I'm sure there is, I just haven't figured it out yet.

Don't need a new edition for that. Won't be anything official, but I'm sure if someone submitted something to Sub Rosa, or did a fansite for such an alternate setting, I'm sure it would gather a few pageviews.

I don't follow.

See above, the bit about alternate settings.

The ones I play in tend to resemble high schools or Faber College than history departments.

Can we make covenants have less of a resemblance to university history departments?[/quote]
Just ignore the part of the code that demands being totally irrelevant in the real world...


Joking aside, I think that can be done just on player choice and how the storyguide trolls his/her story hooks. As for the rest of it, well, I think that STA makes a good substitute for "willpower" in the sagas I play in so no need for a change there.

Different timeframes would be interesting so some sort of "meta" setting book -- even in the current edition -- could be very interesting to me where knowledgable authors flesh out a few different time periods and suggest reasonable adjustment overlays appropriate to the period. Something like guidelines (notice: not "rules") for:
-- text availability (1000AD hermetic text availability could be quite low, for example)
-- vis availability (much more to be found, perhaps)
-- population (both Hermetic and mundane)
-- major Hermetic magic developments (certain spell guidelines could be later discoveries such as Vim magics affecting all Fae or some Jerbiton figures out in, say, 1450 AD how to add your Philosophy knowledge into the lab total)
-- some suggested major Hermetic events (A new House from, say, the budding of a largish Ex Misc tradition led by an Archmagus or an esoteric Mystery tradition becomes a fifth exoteric Mystery House or even merging with -- and changing the Code for -- the joining of one of the traditions from the Rivals book)
-- suggested cataclysms for the Order on the scale of the Schism War
-- for the really cle=ver: an outline for how "what really happened" that explains how the Order existed and operated that lead to fictional history matching real world hostory to the player's particular chosen time period (not being an historian, this is well beyond my capabilities)

Anyway, I would really be interested in a book like that in the current edition let alone any hypothetical future one.

There are 4 physical and 4 mental skills, I wouldn't change that balance. Perhaps 3 physical, 3 mental and 3 social would be ok but I don't see what'd be gained considering Abilities are already split that way.

I'd rather eliminate the Char+Ability and use vague qualities like S&M bonuses with some stacking rule. That seems to be what recent system use.

6th edition?

  • Remove Hermetic Magic from the setting. Recalibrate supernatural creatures since you no longer need to be fighting archangels and princes of hell to have a fair fight (one that the PC have a slight possibility of losing). Dragon hunting ceases to be a weekend sports activity.
  • Use the massive amount (read: too many) non hermetic magic systems to create the Order of Hermes. The setting will have a much better feel for medieval magic doing that.
  • Remove 95% of the books from the setting.


Maybe he's a playtester and knows something we don't?

Provencal was default in 2nd and to some degree 3rd edition - personally I expect that's the last tribunal to get it's own book, what with all the already nailed-in chamber pots and what-not.

The reason covenants seem to have similar cultures is the insistence in the fanbase that all of the books happen simultaneously on a single world. This means that when you write each tribunal book, you need to write as if the players may want to put a covenant there, and in the early books particularly you can check off "This is a young rival. This is an older bully covenant you can't just destroy." and so on. This is why when you look at the early Tibunals, you can see there are some covenants filling particular roles. This means when you look at Mythic Europe as a whole, covenants tend to live in a particular way, but really that's because you are seeing a basic set of plot hooks used several times.

Really -your- covenant should not look like the ones in the book. Your covenant should look like something out of Italo Calvino. The thing is that a lot of groups don't want the covenants which they visit to look odd. I recall some blowback from the covenant which looks like a giant stone sundew flower, for example.

Changes I'd like:

I don't see the point of Characteristics. I think a Willpower stat's bot a great idea, unless I'm misunderstanding its use, because function in, say, horror games, is to allow the GM to force the player to admit the character is scared, and take control of the character's mind from the player. Then again, I don't like an Int or a Dex stat either. Magi: we get it: you are clever. I'm not sure we need a stat for that when we have the Virtue system and you can trade stats for virtue points (a little known rule) Stats are virtues pretending to be something else. I'd like instead for you to pick your VandF and have each one reflected in how you look, move or act, so that you have a frame for your character from your mechanics. Not just Int +3 (add one word description here).

I'd like each Tribunal book to live in its own little world, preferably with genre support. I like the horror chapter at the end of Transylvania, and I'd like to have something similar in each Tribunal. Transylvania gets it because you as the buyer hear "Transylvania" and you may think something like movie Transylvania, which is nothing like real Transylvania, so we need to bridge the gap, but I think we'd have done better to say "Normandy: Theme is Hermetic Chivalry" and really hammer the fun things that could be done with the idea home.

I'd move the Tribunal boundaries so they aren't obviously a Diplomacy map. Normandy and Stonehenge should be in the same Tribunal, for example. I think that's a lot more interesting than where the border is now, and it makes more use of the fact that the King of England speaks Norman French, as does his whole court.

I'd remove at least one and possibly two of the British Isles Tribunals. They exist because the people who drew the map wanted ot play there, and so they have small tribunals, but they didn't play in the Rhineland or Levant, so they are comparatively huge. I think it would be a lot more interesting, if, say, Loch Leagan and Hibernia were a single Tribunal which centred on magi in the Hebredies. I mean Argyll's technically not even in Scotland in's lord does homage to the King of Norway.

Alternatively, I'd cut up the Rhineland more.

I'd take the Greeks seriously in the Order's history, and move at least two houses to Greece. Guernicus and Jerbiton by preference.

I'd change auras so they give bonuses for themed things, like say, storm magic or healing magic, rather than all magic generically.

I'd redo Wales. Has anyone noticed we have ignorted Wales because that's where Blackthorn is, and you'd be mad to live near them, because basically the make Wales into Mordor?

I want at least one book which is just Sicily and the Holy Roman Emporer. Seriously, we need to do Italy again, and how. If we are doing different time periods, City and Guild is basically a Renaissance Venice of Genoa book.

I'd get rid of A&A: it's a great book, but it's the big book of "Timothy, you can't do that." when I'm writing, and if I keep stubbing my toes on it, new authors will have the same and worse. Also, it prevents the characters ever discovering something new on a cosmological level if you take it as Canon. I personally hate the idea that anyone's game is Canon, although I know many of you disagree, but there really shouldn't be a book telling me why I can't make a firearm (even though the Chinese have them in 1220), or why I can't discover the Earth goes about the sun (even though some ancient Greeks had worked it out), -unless- there's a pretty clear statement that if I want to have fun, then there's no actual reason I can't and canon be darned.

I have this idea for a game based on the founding of the Royal Society, so I can see time period books...the idea they should all be linked isn't something I'd favor, though.

I have thought this for a long time. Ars Magica has a very good system that could be used for other periods but, IMHO, is held back by A&A. It would be very hard for Ars to move forward in a time line because the Core of the game prevents discovery ( in anything other than magic). There is nothing to discover because we already know how it works. It says it right there.

But because it is a good system any SG could ignore A&A and set the time forward and use Newtonian Physicis. You would be on your own since David Chart said that Newton's discoveries would never happen in the game.

It could just be basic inference. We are doing ArM5 Tribunal Books. We are doing the ones that have not previously been done. It seems reasonable to infer that we plan to do the remaining Tribunals in the next few years. Also correct.

Anyway, for ArM6:

Not quite yet. I'm not finished.

I'd dump the whole of ArM5 canon, just as I did with ArM1-4, and save take the bits I liked.

But, most importantly, I'd want someone else to do it. There are a lot of interesting things that could be done with the game, but the interesting things I wanted to do with the game are (or will be) ArM5. A&A is a very important part of what I wanted to do with ArM5, but there are other possible visions of the game. If someone else takes over, that will help ensure that it's not just a new edition for the sake of doing a new edition, but rather a new edition because there's something new and interesting to do with the line.

In any case, there won't be a new edition for several years, at least; I still have several years of ArM5 books at various stages of development. (To forestall speculation, "several" means "more than two and less than eight", but I'm not going to be more specific than that. That said, plans for more than two years in the future are subject to change radically before that point in time actually arrives, because that's how life works.)


my favorite post to date!

I want to stick with Ars 5 until the very marrow has been sucked out. I don't understand a desire or need for a 6...

With respect to the current AM writers, I dread a new edition. I'm moving back to my old state and I've got some friends excited for AM5. I'm nagging them to read the core book, which they're doing, slowly but surely. I've just spent some money on a few other supplemental books. I wouldn't wnat to have to re-convince them to do AM6.

More to the point, Ars Magica Fifth Edition is EXCELLENT. I think David, TImothy, and all the others, have done a tremendous job with it. Each book I read is wonderfully done. (I haven't read A&A at all, so I have no reason to fear it). From Tribuanl books to Covenants to Houses of Hermes, you all have done a wonderful job. I would dread sweeping those all away and rolling the dice, so to speak, with a new edition.

Granted, I'm just one gamer and just one fan, and I haven't spent much money at that. But I would much rather enjoy the larger product line of AM5, and buy books to add to the library, then junk the ones I have and wait for 6th ed.
Ars Magica Fifth Edition is excellent. Let's keep celebrating it!

And that's the best reason. You need a different drive to get a different result, and it's hard not to fall in the same old groove.

It's good to know that there's still lots of life left on the line.

Yes, the research is wonderful and well presented. Once every 4 books I find a minor typo (like "capitol" or "principle and secondary") but perfection is more a path than a place.

I may sound like a crotchety old man here, but when there's a new edition (as David says, in 2-8 years) I really hope it will get back to basics. It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when (apart from the magic system), Ars Magica was a rules-light game!

I play Fifth Edition and I think it's the Best Edition Ever (TM). But 90% of the rules outside the core book, I don't use. That includes 90% of the rules I wrote, BTW -- they seemed like a good idea at the time, and I hope they work for someone else, but man! they're too cumbersome.


I might be missing something, but I think most of the crunch and complexity of the rules comes into play during advancement. During play, the rules are still pretty straight forward and not all that cumbersome.

I agree, but I'd add that I see the complexity during preparation, as I'm assembling stories. Actual play, less so.



In the end there are quite a lot of magic systems and mechanics to be remembered. if you allow the use of non hermetic magics and the V&F in the supplements you will end up with quite a lot of different mechanics that you need to remember in play as well. If the adventure takes more than a few days quite a lot of the supernatural virtues can be invoked in "short term lab activities", and this also adds complexity to the mix.

But yes, most of the crazy crunch comes in downtime.


And dang, whatever else is in the pipeline, I can see at least 8 (maybe 10 or 12) other books waiting to be made--pushing all the boundaries out, like Cahokia, the Swahili Coast, India, maybe Transcaucasia/Scandinavia and one other, and then, because I'm indulgent, a solid trio of Roman Tribunal books. If they're not being done for this edition, I'd stack on new visions of Iberia and Novgorod, and want to look hard at a take (or a book of takes) on the Schism War. That's three years worth of material right there. Push the parts of A&A out of the way that hinder things and dig in. Besides, if a new edition was in the works then, you'd want to have something to play with while you developed and playtested ArM6. :smiley:


I tend to use more books for character creation than to just run a game. :open_mouth: