The Diary of Erinn [Rules & development]

Hello there!

A few days ago someone posted a suggestion about a solo game. I have decided to give it a try, even if I can't promise any success. Most of the stuff is likely to take the form of a diary written by the main character. Or Erinn, his cat familiar.

I will start designing the character and the few companions that will go with him in this pseudo-literary adventure. let's see if I reach any level.

Since this is a saga the posts will be:

  1. House rules for the saga. My house rules to be applied

  2. The "covenant". I will go for the magical ship design that was mentioned as well. Sounds cool to me :slight_smile:

  3. The characters. The main character will be a magus with a magical focus in wood. Being a ship dweller (and former shipwright) I thought it would be cool :slight_smile: For some weird reason I also want him to be a cat skinchanger that hates to be wet. Great place being in a ship, for that :stuck_out_tongue:

  4. The story proper.

Let's see if I can do something worthwhile....



Personal wards (R:pers, D:mom, T: pers) give a soak bonus equal to its magnitude. If the Art is not soakable (ie: Mentem spells) the Ward gives a +1 to the Natural Resistance roll of the target per magnitude

Circle wards do not need to penetrate. A supernatural creature wanting to enter or leave the circle ward needs to beat its level with their might + Penetration.

Parma magica can be stacked in a circle and protects everybody within, but that leaves the magus protection-less if he leaves the circle. He needs to destroy the circle before being able to recast the parma at a Personal range, so that creates a window of opportunity of Diameter duration where he is defenseless

The Gift causes a -5 to social interaction. The Blatant gift causes a -10 to social interaction.

This prevents low level Imaginem spells (like aura of ennobled presence) to offset completely the bad modifiers imposed by the Gift and reinforces the role played by mundanes that collaborate with magi.


Magic/Faerie lore become one ability (Legend Lore)

Divine/Infernal lore become one ability (Divine Lore)

Finesse & penetration are a single ability (Finesse)

Carouse becomes part of Athletics (for power drinking) or is disregarded in favour of roleplay scenes

Swim is a specialty of Athletics: if you know how to swim your specialization MUST be swimming. Otherwise it is assumed you don’t know how to swim.

There are only 3 Social abilities, not 6.

  •     [b]Folk Ken.[/b] To detect the reaction of others to social interaction
  •     [b]Intrigue [/b](etiquette guile, bargain); interchanges of information in a parry-riposte kind of interaction between 2+ people. Any competitive interchange. Getting some info out of an unwilling (or willing) target, being rude behind a façade of etiquette or negotiating something are examples of Intrigue.
  •     [b]Charm [/b](etiquette, guile, intrigue). Any kind of polite or seductive interchange between 2 or more people, or between a person and an audience. Any collaborative interchange or unidirectional discourse. Getting n audience to agree with your discourse, seduce someone or be polite in a social situation are examples of Charm.

Code of hermes Lore is inscribed into Order of hermes lore.

The several area lores also take into account local law and parts of civil & canon law: the Area lore score can be used instead of civil & canon law with an appropriate penalty

Both Strong writer and strong reader add +1Q to Source quality. In the case of strong reader it also ups the total XP you can obtain from books to 16 XP/season.


A completely alternative combat system will be used. It might be published in a future Sub Rosa or Sanctum Hermeticum if I end up writing it well. It has been tested IMS repeatedly to a high success in our opinion. It streamlines the calculations and makes the weapon choice much LESS important compared to the ability of the fighters. At least in our opinion :slight_smile:


We use the old 3rd edition soak rules: you never roll to soak but simply add +6 to your soak score. Only damage is rolled, soak is a fixed number


2 types of book: authorities and tractatus

All books that are not authorities are Tractatus as per the rules. A summa is a collection of tractatus or a single high quality tractatus. Only 2+ tractatus bound in a single volume can be made Resonant as per the covenants rules.

The maximum level of tractatus you can read in a season is 15 levels. Any extra levels in the tractatus(es) that you are reading are lost (ie: if you read 2 quality 10 tractatus you get 15XP, with the remaining 5 XP being “lost”). The tractatus you read in a season can be on diverse subjects, but all need to be Ability tractatus or Art tractatus; you cannot mix and match them. (ie: you can read a Q9 Herbam tractatus and a Q6 Creo tractatus, but you cannot read a Q10 Philosophiae book and a Q5 Intellego one).

You can write a tractatus per 5 levels of an Art or 2 levels in an ability.

Tractatus quality: 6 + communication. For both arts and abilities.

Good binding, illumination AND illustrations (all together) add +1Q to a tractatus

Resonant materials add +1Q to a tractatus compilation (a summa). At least 2 tractatus on the same Art must be wound together to be elegible for ressonant materials

An authority is a level 4 tractatus. You can read it over and over again, though: there is no limit to how much you can learn out of it. The paradigmatic Authority book in Mythic Europe is the Bible. There are no Art authorities.

Writing authorities is not available to player characters.

An authority costs 20 build points per ability it covers

The covenant

The covenant will be a smallish ship, but one that is able to take to the high seas and contain a lab. One of the smallest cargo cogs (are they in period???) would fit the bill I guess. Since only one magus will be present, I will make it a weak covenant (300 or less build points).

Since it will be a ship it will have no aura. It will have a small complement of some grogs, but not many and will have some items to help its navigation and adventuring through dangerous lands. Less than 20 people in total for sure, and if I can make it less than 10, the better :wink: The ship will also contain a few cats, but that is an other issue.

I will be searching inspiration in the much maligned Mythic Seas book for this vessel. Unless someone has a better idea, that is :slight_smile:

The exact stats of the "covenant" weill be worked during the first posts/stories



I am not sure if you want other people to post on this topic (in such a case you can ask it to be erased, no problem)

But I really like a lot your rules about abilities and learning from books.
I've always find social skills to be confusing (and I DMed a lot with them). I found your definitions to clears things up a lot: competitive and cooperative skill, and another for social perception.

Your book learning rules make it simple while interesting and game balanced. It makes me think about other interesting variations...tell me if you want to hear it on this thread.

I also would like to know your alternative combat system.

I don't say that often, but really some of those alternative rules are the kind I would like to see in our saga.

Xavi is an insane genius :smiley:

Usually, when I first see one of his ideas, my initial reaction is puzzlement and confusion. Then, after analyzing what he is trying to do, many of his ideas prove to be quite wise indeed. For example, it was from Xavi that I adapted the idea that Personal Wards against substances add a Soak bonus.

This is a development thread, so feel perfectly fine to comment on it :slight_smile:

I will later post a second thread with the story proper, once I get the basics settled, and there I will prefer people not to post to prevent breaking the flow of the diary. But here, feel free to comment, praise denigrate or do whatever you want to do with the idea :wink:

I am glad you like the rules. These have been playtested IMS and they seem to work fine for us. One thing we have found is that a library does look like a library instead of 3 odd books here and there: you have a load of them, even if most of them are low level ones. It makes us slightly more comfortable with the concept of massive libraries for old covenants :slight_smile: where the books are useful instead of repetition over repetition of useless summae because there are higher level books out there. :slight_smile:

The social rules are still far from clear cut, but in our opinion clear the area quite a bit, and do not make social interaction a skill management nightmare. Far from black-white combos though: you'll find quite a few situation where both charm and intrigue can be argued to be the applicable skill. With the current system the case is even worse, though, so we still think it is an improvement :slight_smile:

I would love to see other hosue rule ideas. I alwauys draw inspiration from them. In fact most of our hourse rules was inspired by the Ars Magica Simplex system by Jerome Darmont and others. We like simplier rules, so we developed our own Ars Lite as a consequence.

The alternative combat system is large, so you will have to wait for me to find the time to put up an abreviated bit or finish the full version and publish it :slight_smile:

Thank you!

Thanks again!! :laughing: LMAO



EDIT: added the provision for Mentem wards. I had forgotten about them, basically because IIRC they have never been used IMS so I dunno if they will be OK or not. Still they seem feasible.

Actually, "the sea" is a fairly wild place - it might not be hard to find and note areas of the sea that do have an aura, tho' staying there for an entire season might be a challenge. And ports would suffer the Dominion, so that's a pain as well.

Well, reading your ideas just gave some to me, and I'll share them in case someone find it of interest. Your's are very fine as they are, though.

First, our saga have erased climb and swim in favor of athletics. Athletics is how fit you are, adept at moving your body and such.
You can swim if you can, and you know how to climb if so ( :wink: )
You can learn to swim or climb with a season of training or such, and you gain XP in the athletic skill.

Carouse is a social skill, mainly, IMO. It's the "information gathering" of D&D, and serve to know things or enter into contact where otherwise impossible.

My ideas are about the books.
Your rules are the most brilliant here, I think.

+There could be Autorities that gives 1 XP, 2 XP, 3 XP or 4 XP.

+I would permit autorities in Arts, but maybe not that gives 4 XP.

+I would permit someone with 20 in an Art to write an autority giving 1 XP, 30 for 2 XP and with a legendary 40 (or good writter?), 3 XP.

+I always felt the rules for the covenants are too much complex to really use in a game. I would bring in more abstract rules, using your rules:
Each season in a Spring covenant's library gives 12 XP
Summer library: 14 XP
Autumn library: 16 XP
(in fact, I would five 4 less XP, because I prefer less power level of mages, here Mileage Vary, but it's the same idea :slight_smile:)
You could find so many reasons to explain why it is so.
This gives a real incentive to help your covenant, and really gives the feeling that a good library is better than a bad library.

+I feel no virtue should give more XP in a season. Good reader could give 3 XP more with the same XP cap. This helps extract the knowledge from rare books or from rare learning sources. You can get more from a small library.

Some other rules I forgot to post above (I just edited the message to include them there)

The Gift causes a -5 to social interaction. The Blatant gift causes a -10 to social interaction.

This prevents low level Imaginem spells (like aura of ennobled presence) to offset completely the bad modifiers imposed by the Gift and reinforces the role played by mundanes that collaborate with magi.

Code of hermes Lore is inscribed into Order of hermes lore.

The several area lores also take into account local law and parts of civil & canon law: the Area lore score can be used instead of civil & canon law with an appropriate penalty


We use the old 3rd edition soak rules: you never roll to soak but simply add +6 to your soak score. Only damage is rolled, soak is a fixed number

I really like the proposed changes for libraries and the like. In fact you can create generic libraries buy this process: you simply assume that a spring library contains books on all arts up to level 12, for example. Further books need to be bought with regular development points. That could be worked around. :slight_smile: A basic Winter library could contain books of 7+D10 quality. Roll for each art once to determine quality, as per the old 3rd edition rules :slight_smile:

IMS the authorities are Q4, but I am thinking about upgrading it to Q5 for this experiment. it is still not overpowering IMO and might give them some edge there

Climb is an ability? In any case it is included in athletics IMS as well.

No, sorry. This was old 4th ed stuff...

I also agree with your Area Lore description. I would event go as far as say that it is so in the RAW.
Someone with good Area Lore should know how to live in an area: not going against the law, what kind of creature is there in the forest, how to not be captured by goblins while traveling on that particular road, etc.

Same with Profession, IMHO: I found it stange that a shield grog would have the skill etiquette with a speciality: Mages.
I think it should be Profession: Shield Grog. And with that one skill, he can do about all that is demanded from a shield grog under normal circumstances: that comprise etiquette with mages and at the covenant.

It is not that a shield grogs knows about etiquette , and are better with etiquette dealing with mages. It is that shield grogs knows how to deal with mages, using some etiquette, and knows about nothing on etiquette. (that's my expectations about shield grog, at least.)

Skills definitions are crossing each others and I think it's better that way.

If a shield grog does his job, he'll be sure to pick some Etiquette through exposure from tagging along wherever his magus goes.

Well, you make a good point, but in the end, it all depends on where you go with your shield grog, and what he is willing to learn.
My view was tainted with the idea that etiquette was more of something that nobility and clergy learn, while the book imply otherwise. So I may be wrong here.
My main point is more that we should make more wide uses of some general skills, like area lore and profession.

Edit: moved to a new thread

Isn't it always? They never learn, do they, the lazy oafs. :slight_smile:

The actual behavior that's expected of you (and what you can expect of others) varies with your social class and the circumstances, but it's all covered by Etiquette. Servants learn when to remain unobtrusive, but also observe nobles socializing and so pick up the relevant bits of Etiquette -- with the more experienced ones quietly sneering when you boorish Gifted magus makes what is to them an obvious faux-pas.

True. On the other hand, it could be argued that Profession: Shield Grog would integrate things like Awareness, Single Weapon... General skills are, to me at least, somewhat harder to adjudicate.

NOTA: We also merged hunt and survival, hunt being a specialisation of the larger skill, survival.

Actually, I understand ArsMagica's etiquette is about all proper human behaviors. So there is an etiquette of peasants behavior, when in taverns, as well as when in the Royal court or when meeting a bishop.
I didn't verified this, but from memory 13 century etiquette has nothing to do with renaissance's etiquette: nobles eat with their bare hands and there where no widespread formal protocol among all nobility. The concept of faux-pas was more a thing of the renaissance, the way I remember.
(I not telling it's not interesting to add into an ArsMagica game, mind you.)

Farmer would be a more friendly exemple to show what I mean. Prof: Farmer at 5 should allow comptetent level for all that farmer needs to do. Allow a way to protect his animals from wolves, for exemple. You probably know how to sell with surplus production at the nearby town. No need for a bargain skill here: that guy hardly sell or buy once a year.

Add in Area Lore and if there is an infernal wolf in the area for two century, people living there certainly have learned of a way to deal (co-exist) with it. no infernal lore needed here.

This solve the problem I had with grogs lacking sufficient skills point to be good at what they do each day. IMHO, a farmer with 30 years of experience should be about as good with things about farming as a mage of the same age is with magic.

I never quite liked the list of skills at Ars Magica.

Here is a list of skills we never significantly used in our games:
Animal handling, Athletics, Brawl, Carouse, Charm, Legerdemain, Music, Ride.

That's why I would prefer some skill: Profession: Noble (!) that would comprise a choice of riding, music, etiquette, falconry, brawl, etc.
Profession: Clergy etiquette, concentration, artes liberales, Church Lore, maybe theology, etc
With the more specific skills being tailored to the style of the game (read: adventures) played.
Who really wants to put XP into a legerdemain skill in a Ars Magica campaign ? Isn't that part of the larger skill: Profession: entertainer or rogue, troubadour or what you may ?
They've done a good job with the martial skills from 4th to 5th (now there is only 4 or 5). I think they should have gone further with the other skills.
While I (a scholar) can make the difference between Artes Liberales and Philosophy, most people have more difficulty at that level. This should be all put into a single skill, academic cursus. Law, Theology and Medecine being other skills, because they are a lenghty specialisation and practical use of that academic knowledge.
All Lores should be choosent by each particular troupe, as it is closely linked to a campaign. The rules should take that into account. Some saga will not care for any dominion/infernal lore as it deal with fearies, while ours deal with two different kind of deamons, and we have two skills for our infenal ennemies. (the 2nd kind being from the east and are mysterious to the Order...)

Mages have similar problem with equilibrium of skills. If you have the possibility of putting 30 xp into Parma magica OR finesse (or anything else), what would you do ? Of course YMMV, but still...

Anyway...seems like I wanted to write alot ^^

Good idea. NOw that I am being a tad radical with the HR, I think I will mess a little bit with the abilities during this weekend.

Brawl and ride are 2 abilities I have used quite extensively IMS, though. Don't you kick and punch in tavern brawls? :laughing:



Ahah, yes, it may happen.:stuck_out_tongue:
I don't want to say it's impossible. But did the brawl rolls results made at taverns were significant for the story ? Again, it's not impossible, it depends on the saga.
But, unless you are trying outrun and catch people while on horseback, on a regular basis, I don't see a use for a score dedicated to riding. This is an important medieval skill, though.