The revised House Bjornaer

I wonder why nobody has screamed at you so far,but from what I read in
Mystery Houses I designed and played my Bjornaers completly wrong since I started playing them in third Edition (grumble......).

My case ?
Ialways thought of them as skilled magical Shapechangers.
I always picked a lot of Muto/Corpus or Animal Spells like Shape of the Woodland Prowler or Disguise of the New Body and now I learn that this is a social Faux Pax which leads to a solid Bad Rep.

A Characters apperance is similiar to his Heartbeast.
My current Character has a Str 3/Sta 5, a Com a and Dex/Quik -2/-2
whats his Heartbeast ?

Nope not Bear,Eagle......

Has anybody similiar Problems ?
Sure he is redesigned from the third Ed.(which is the reason for some of the Stats),but there isn´t even a "neutral" Option for us poor Victims of
revised Books.

For the sake of my Players please be a bit more "conventionell" when
you do the next four Houses.I considered the first book True Lineages a
very good Book but Mystery Houses trys in my opinion to be too much.
Thank you.

As has been seen often in Ars Magica, I think this is a case of "different strokes for different folks". For my money, the Bjornaer write-up is the single best presentation of a House in 5th ed. I love the notion of a Mystery House where every step reflects, refines, and further emphasizes the central Mystery of the Heartbeast.

Overall, I think that AM, though a very small percentage of roleplayers in general, is a highly fractured market. We all seem to want something different. I, for example, dislike the emphasis on economics under 5th edition, but judging by the commentaries I have read many others approve of this. Some players seem to be trying to maintain heritage points because that it what the game has always been about while others are looking directly towards altering these same ideals because they have been done to tears. In other words, I don't think we are going to get a consensus on what AM should be about.

@Dread: what you say is exactly the same our poor Ursus said when he read the chapter :confused:
And now he plays a Bonisagus :wink:

Du hast ja so recht.
(Transl:You are so right.)
But to be honest I don´t want to change Characters again esp. because
since we started in 4th and I had an Ex Misc,Thessalian Witch (no longer feasible),a Flambeau (went away to have an Eye on a certain Bishop),a Criammon (went under with a Regio)and the revival of my Bjornaier (grunts).

The dread Comedian,

Actually, your portrayal of Bjornaer is true to form. At least according to Houses of Hermes from 4th Edition.

I'm not saying I don't like the new book, but I do wish they could be consistant. Retro-actively changing known/accepted facts about a House impacts everyone who happens to be playing or using the House in current play.

Overall though, I think I prefer the new House, its just difficult to mesh the new-reality with the old.

I don't think anyone is obligated to retroactively change their character because a new edition introduces something cool or uncool.

In our long running game we had Bjornear that saw shapechanging spells as pathetic mockeries of Bjornear magic as well as another who saw them as handy additional tools. This was long before 4th or 5th editions.

If the new edition doesn't fit your taste, the first thing is that you can ignore it. You've been playing a particular way and there's no need to change it. Always remember there are no roleplaying police to knock on your door and correct your wrongs. In our game, House Tremere doesn't exist and Certamin is banned!

However if you wish the embrace the supplement, then one can also embrace the strengths and weaknesses that come with it. Perhaps the new book means your Bjornear is a rebel or outcast. Embrace that aspect, make a part of the storytelling. Explain why you have a bad reputation, or explain why it's unfounded and undeserved. Work the inconsistencies into storytelling material and make it greater than either your previous material or the material presented in the book. Bring them together to create a very complex, very deep setting that is uniquely your own.

I´am currently brainstorming.....

I agree. I was a little taken aback, since every Bjornaer I've seen played has had multiple MuCo(An) spells to change into many forms... some even had MuAn spells designed to change from the heartbeast into another animal.

And if any of them had survived into 5th ed., they'd now be looked down upon by their brethern?

I'd go with an incredulous "You know better, so why do you bother?" rather than outright distaste. A bit like discussions about one's favourite beer.

I can live with the House having misgivings towards "natural" shapechanging abilities.

Another way to look at things is that just because something is a social Faux Pax does not mean it is not done or done commonly.

For example, during the period of Prohibition it was a social Faux Pax to drink. Yet many people did and even prominent polititians who openly said it was wrong still drank.

This is a common theme in life that things we make taboo have a reason behind them. Usually that reason is because it is being commonly done and some person decides that everyone doing something the same must be wrong.

Given the natural strength of ability for Bjornaers with their heartbeast to animal and muto abilities, it is likely part of the common mindset to increase this ability.

It is also quite likely that some small percentage would try to get the House to broaden their scope and declare such a practice as being wrong. The attempt to being recognized as more than animal specialists to the rest of the order.

Again, just because some leaders might say that the house of Bjoraern is more than animal specialists does not mean that many "secretly" are animal specialist. They just likely don't admit it openly though they are almost all thinking that it is okay if they personally do it.

Just one way to allow both the traditional accepted outlook and the newer outlook to harmonize.

Well it cleared a few things,that are useful.
For Example we finally know which kind of Spells affect Bjornae,and how.
On the other hand no more multiple Heartbeasts......,no Stones and Moles
anymore ( :smiling_imp: )as Heartbeasts,Houses to join.....

So you can't have a Chair as a heartbeast anymore?!?

There goes that idear.... :wink:

And a new master has come into his own.

Congratulations from far down the ladder.

Alexios ex Miscelanea (aka Lars Gerlach)

I can see clearly now the rain is gone,
I can see obstacles in my way,
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) sunshiny day.

Thank you very much. :smiley:

(Johnny Nash)

As a new player to the game, I had a ball reading through the Mystery Cults. I love the Bjornaer writeup, but then, I don't have any pre-conceived notions. I would also point out that it takes them from a group of vaguely defined shapechangers and gives the House tons of depth. What was a mildly interesting House has now become one I'm lookoing forward to playing.

As for the rest of the book, I'm deeply fond of two of four Merinita paths and love most of the flavor text as well.

I can't stand Criamon. The potential for abuse, especially in the Path of Strife, is tremendous. I do like the Path of Walking Backward and the labyrinth meditations, though. Those are REALLY sweet. But the House just doesn't do a thing for anyone in our troupe. We are reacting to it as some of the folks here are reacting to Bjornaer, so I have sympathy. What I don't understand is why it didn't run with the mystical traditions of the time. Gnostics, sufis, and the like would have, IMO, been a much better jumping off point. (But don't take it too badly, Timothy, because I LOVED Tremere)

Verditius remains much the same for me. It's a cool House, though one I have little personal interest in.

As games grow, they change. As a non-heritage player of Ars Magica, I've got to say that any description is an improvement. There isn't much for a noob to sink his teeth into in the main book, so while I haven't liked all the Houses presented thus far, I've found more information about where I'd like to steer them, which is a BIG plus.


Our Bjornaer has recently regained his heartbeast. He lost connection with it when a renegade magus that was hidden within his microcosm was torn from him.

He has been without his heartbeast for some time (by way of trial/quest/sacrifice) and now he has it back, the intent was to reward character and player through essentially initiation into Bjornaer mysteries.

Originally, I was just going to make up some virtue that allowed him to take a half-human, half-lupine form but I understand the new book describes this for us.

While we wait for the new book to arrive in our little corner of Stonehenge, could someone give me a rough guide to the new virtue so that we can allow our Bjornaer player to take advantage pending getting our hands on the book?



I've been thinking a lot about the possible redefinitions of the Houses from edition to edition. Being a relative noob, having come in on the 5th ed test, I don't have the "heritage issue" and so feel I'm viewing the Houses without much in the way of preconceived notions.

The text about each House in the core book is brief and in many cases doesn't leave much on which to hang one's hat, so the various HoH books I've seen have been a welcome relief for us noobs, as the word Tremere is more like to invoke images of blood sorcery-wielding vampires than it is the hidden Illuminati-like House that I've often seen 4th ed Tremere described as.

From my point of view, expansion of the Heartbeast was wonderful, especially given how the various mysteries all fold back into the Heartbeast, making it a very deep house.

Mind you, the one I'm really champing at the bit for is Flambeau. I know there has to be more to them than merely a bunch of pyromaniac/self-contained flamethrowers. With the expansions I've seen so far, and my interest in Houses that the core didn't grab me with, I'm very hopeful that it'll be as good as Bjornaer.

A bit of thread necromancy here, since I was discussing this with my friends after re-examining the old Houses of Hermes sourcebook...

Just a question to the author of this chapter of Mystery Cults (whoever it was, I don't have the book handy), as to the reason behind the change in mentality towards shapeshifting, if any.

Thanks in advance if I get any answer :slight_smile:

Bjornaer magi were stereotyped. Worse than Flambeau, in my opinion. At least Flambeau can be either Ignem or Perdo specialists. Bjornaer were being defined by a single Technique and Form combination. They must lose a lot of certamens... Since 2e, Bjornaer magi had been shamanic figures, D&D druids, or Beornlings from Tolkien. But their Hermetic training was no different to, say, a Jerbiton or Bonisagus. They spend 15 years reading classics, studying Latin, and picking up the basics of a scholarly tradition of magic. There are very few 'barbarian' cultures in Mythic Europe by the thirteenth century, and it seems wrong that a house of magicians should deliberately preserve such an anachronism outside of a ritual context.

The biggest change between 4e and 5e for Bjornaer is that they became a Mystery Cult. This meant that their outer mystery becomes something almost sacred to them. If a Bjornaer magus is also capable of adopting a lot of different shapes with his magic, the heartbeast becomes a lot less special. Metaphysically, the heartbeast is qualitatively different from a shapechanging spell, and the game mechanics are different as well. If the hearbeast is so integral to one's being, why the constant drive to take other animal forms?
Since 2e, Bjornaer have had enemies in the form of the Gothic shapeshifters. What are the main differences between them? Under 5e, the Shapeshifter Virtue permits multiple animal shapes, whereas Bjornaer are restricted to one. If Bjornaer are raised to hate and fear shapeshifters, why would they seek to emulate the main thing that makes them different from them? However, since there is a qualitative difference between shapeshifters and MuCo spells, there are some Bjornaer who still can be specialist shape-changers (just as there are magi from other houses who are specialist shape-changers) – but they might be seen as a bit suspicious by the rest of the house.

So you can see that this wasn't a change made on a whim.




That might have been your opinion.
I loved playing the old Bjornaers.
I never had the Idea they were sort of Druid like. Maybe good in Woods,very good with Shapes yes, but Druidic ? Nope.
They were portrayed like that in the Greater Rhine Tribunal. ( An opinion some of us never subscribed to)

...and suddenly they did not like to Shapeshift any more.
That was a lousy Idea, especially since they were supposed to descend from those Shapeshifters.
I greatly dislike the Mystery Bjornaers. Most other Houses got better with the Books but the Bjornaer and Flambeau got mauled.
But thats just my opinion.