So, there is a thread about changes to Ars Magica for a 6th edition, with lots of people pointing out that there is a limit to what you can change and still have Ars Magica. I'd like to remove that limit. What new games do you think would work well in Mythic Europe?
This can be really vague, as in my example.
I'd like to see a game where magical research is the focus of play, not just a downtime activity. The player characters never leave their labs, and that is actually the point. This was the only supplement I had to cancel due to lack of writers, and I think it's because the idea just doesn't fit into the mechanics of Ars Magica.
As someone who has almost exclusively played researcher/inventor type Magi over the years that is a game I would definitely play. I've sometimes thought about 'research as an adventure' for Ars but never really done anything with the idea. Original research as a core mechanic has an interesting property of meaning that a major part of the game is creating the rules of the game, or changing the existing rules. The game evolves as you play it.
The only thing I don't like is that this has made me aware there was the potential for a research focused 5e supplement, which is something I would have loved to have seen.
I think there is great potential for a game set in a much earlier Mythic Europe, before the 1st century. Magical traditions are varied and very distinct from one another (rather than being defined by 'how is it different from hermetic magic'?). A much greater emphasis on mysteries and mystery cults as the central mechanic for acquiring magical abilities (I'm a fan of ordeals). Magic and Faerie are the dominant powers of the day, with the dominion and infernal playing a less prominent role - perhaps the dominion is nascent and beginning to spread, maybe the realms are fundamentally different from how they are in Ars and something fundamental changed with the silencing of the oracles. A setting similar but different to the Mythic Europe of Ars, defined by the beliefs of the classical era rather than the medieval.
Of course there is a major issue with such a setting which is how to reconcile magical characters working together with the nature of the gift in a setting without the parma magica. Maybe the characters are not gifted at all and the entire game is played at what would be a companion level in Ars, with an emphasis on mysteries and ordeals to gain power.
Well... Okay, not just mundanes. Minor magical/faerie/infernal/divine traditions in a world of magic. For instance, Hermetic magic short-cuts so much interaction. I added a specific little story in Hibernia about a foreign magus who couldn’t work out why all the animals in every regio he went to went crazy towards him. It was because he used magic to step through the veil rather than paying attention to the proper rules and entering the regio the correct way.
A game where working with magic rather than solving problems through magic, that appeals to me. We can still tell great stories in the world without Parma Magica and without every character commanding every form and technique.
There’s such a wealth of hedge traditions defined in the game as it stands, that I would happily play ten years with those and never touch a magus in that time.
Without The Order’s restrictions, players and characters are free to do as they will without endless discussions on The Code.
So yeah, Mythic Europe... But without the Order of Hermes.
You’d still provide a treatment for The Order, but they would very much be the other.
As an aside... I thought hard about that laboratory adventures book. I think I timed out on submitting ideas for it. But if there’s anyone out there that remembers what they had wanted to do with it, let me know. Let’s see if we can resurrect the missing book...
I really like this idea. The hedge traditions and minor magics are in some ways more interesting than hermetic magic for their limitations and quirks (while hermetic magic is more of a supernatural swiss army knife).
I think you could pull this off very well with a game set just after the founding of the order, and have it be a sort of looming threat but not yet the dominant magical tradition of Europe. Alternatively a slightly later setting (14th-15th century) in which the parma magica has been leaked to other traditions, putting them on even footing with the order - or the order itself has fragmented for some reason.
Mythic Europe has already lots of ties with the surrounding seas. But despite covenants located there and the possibility to plan magical islands in them, the sea itself has not yet been used for what it is worth.
The same holds for the 13th century overland travels from Europe to the East.
It would be supplement book, just like the research or lab adventures book might have been. It would use the hints of classical epics and travelogues, the Norse sagas and Irish immram, the travelogues of 13th century voyagers like Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, William of Roebruk or Jacob d'Ancona.
It would also treat 13th century techniques for planning and organisation of voyages, ship building, navigation and mapping.
And finally it would detail some of the most interesting places encountered on such travels - best as places for adventures.
I've always felt there was something in the interaction of the Dominion with faerie, infernal and magical auras that might lend itself to a boardgame of four forces vying for control of a 13th century village.
I think that are endless PbtA games that could play off various aspects of the game...choosing a niche and then exploring it. Divine, Faerie, and so on.
Heck, I'm getting into some white wolf games lately and I know the lineage is there, but I feel that games really exploring various supernatural aspects of the setting would be fun. Well, they sort of exist (RoP) but I mean a whole game oriented around that (eg Changeling and so on)
The downside to the setting is that there is just so much. It can be a bit overwhelming. I don't know how quickly someone can get ramped up on the setting and "get" it...probably quickly, but I think this would be an issue for something like a DND module, where the tone and player expectations are so radically different.
I would like to see Magic Shoe/Tales of the Quaesitors. The high concept—"play Gumshoe in Mythic Europe!"—is gold, and it scratches my personal itch to see Quaesitors as something other than the punching bags of the Order, whose only role in stories is to show up and tell the PCs to stop having fun.
I'd like to see a solo game in which you make a magus in Mythic Europe, recruit companions and grogs, pursue lab work, improve your Arts and so on. App support would handle all the bookkeeping of covenant administration. I think this would make a great rainy day activity. There are rules for solo play on these forums and they're a good start. But I would also look to other games that successfully implemented or even cornered the market on solo play.
I am not entirely certain if it's the space for a complete new game - but I think exploring other Realms could be a good fun. A group of characters all taking actor-faerie roles trying to drive the completion of their story in a realm more strongly fae would be fun. Hedge wizards who are trying to survive in a world where some secret illuminati-style wizard cabal is slowly taking all the magical auras over, trying to survive the invasion of the Order of Hermes. Or a game set in a completely different time period, perhaps players all taking the role of grand wizards in the Cult of Mercury. Designing a game where the magic system doesn't involve the Hermetic Arts could be pretty hugely different.
The biggest problem with it, I think, is that most of it could be done as a supplement to the ArM5. I think there's a lot of space for options - board games, card games, short-term games instead of the years of magi games. Just train-of-thought ideas here.
Speaking of games that LOOK like they're based on Ars Magica, has everyone seen "Fall of Magic," in which you play as companions to a magus who is taking a boat into either the Faerie or Magic Realm, looking to renew magic in the world? The map unscrolls as you play! When I saw it, I thought, "this game was created by Ars Magica fans."
I would absolutely love to see a version of Ars magica set in a later time perhaps in 1500's or even the period of 1750-1850, early industrial age. I am fascinated by the idea of playing a Hermetic magus exploring the Americas, Asia or the African interior and interacting with the native magical forces found there. In addition I think that there is great potential for exploring the themes of urbanization and industrialization and how they would interact with hermetic magic. Ideally with the setting changed to allow for hermetic mages to operate in cities by e.g. deciding that dominion auras have suffered from the religious turmoil caused by the fracturing of the catholic church. Such that magic auras can suddenly exist much closer to cities than was previously possible or having Hermetic magi be able to operate better in dominion auras than they do in the current setting.
I am also very attracted to the setting of mythic scandinavia.
I would also like to see ars magica developed in a setting that was developed for the game, i.e. a different mythic europe, perhaps one where hermetic magi have managed to claim territory in some places but not in others. It could even feature all of the usual magical traditions and real history but transplanted into a fictional world.
The idea of turning research and laboratory work into a proper part of the game really appeals to me. I think the research and laboratory mechanics are already some of the strongest bits of ars magica and they would be even more outstanding if they could be made into a proper part of the game rather than being treated as "downtime". If you could somehow manage turning the daily life of a magus, especially research into a proper game I would be extremely impressed. I still remember reading about the original research mechanic/breakthrough mechanic and going "wow, this game even has a rule for how to expand the rules of its magic system all within the gameworld that my character exists in".
This seems like the right thread to summarize my pitch for Ars Magica 2220. It goes something like this.
Ars Magica 2220 is a science fantasy roleplaying game in which wizards and heroic companions united in a magical Order lead their loyal grogs in the exploration of the galaxy. Discover the strange mystical traditions of alien species; encounter fantastic creatures never before seen by human kind, even in myth; combine magic and technology to defend the Order against enemies from its legendary past—and new ones who have long gazed upon Earth with envy. Ars Magica 2220 is built on the setting of the classic Ars Magica game (5th edition) but advances it into a new era with new stories.
For those interested:
Everything in ArM5 is "canon." 2220 accepts all that, but jumps 1,000 years into the future.
The Criamon plot to bring down the moon and thus end time failed, and succeeded only in breaking the cosmos.
Which God then fixed with a "Reordering of the Cosmos" that gave us modern astronomy and physics. Earth orbits the sun, etc.
This broke much of Hermetic magic (Imaginem), and generations were spent reinventing what broke and patching holes.
Various rivals of the Order were integrated (rune wizards) or exterminated (Amazons), adding to the capacity of Hermetic magic.
When the Age of Pisces slowly ends, Hermetic magic begins to fail. This is parallel to the failing of Mercurian magic at the end of the last Astrological Age (see Mythic Places).
In the 22nd century, the last of House Bonisagus work with magi from the line of Caesarion (see Lands of the Nile) to reinvent Hermetic Theory for the new Age of Aquarius.
This ushers in the Order of Thoth, composed of many old houses and some new ones, led by House Caesarion.
System still uses 1d10 + Ability vs a target number. 1 is always bad; 10 is always good, and explodes on a stress die.
Lots of other details, but that's my rough sketch.
Lmao. I love the criamon trying to take down the moon.
So I'm curious how you deal with what I see as the fundamental issue with going forward in time with ars magica: in ars magica, the (wrong) things they believe about science are true. Species, humors, etc. And this deeply affects how magic works.
All of these differences are resolved in the Reordering of the Cosmos, when God fixes what House Criamon did. Criamon's attempt to bring down the moon is perhaps the best chapter of Dies Irae, the ArM5 book that details ending the world. After they try to bring down the moon to end time, God "fixes" everything, and the result is modern physics and astronomy.
This means lots of things Hermetic magic relies upon—like species and the humors—don't exist or work right anymore, which leads to generations of reinventing magic and patching holes on the part of the Order, led by Bonisagus.