Wishlist: Ars Magica 6

What would you wish for in Ars Magica 6?

My list of wishes:

  • I like the amount of randomness in spells, but I think there is too much randomness in skills because the numbers involved are ususally smaller. This could be achieved either by using d6 for skills and 2d6 for spells, or by using d10/2 for skills, or by somehow increasing skill totals (like making skills chaeaper to buy).
  • I'd love this game to become more like Fate: replacing numbers by words is never easy, but if it's done well, the results are amazing.
  • I'd like to see PeVi spells nerfed a little.
  • Turining characteristics into virtues seems like a good idea (not my idea, I read it somewhere, but it sounds palusible and reduces the number of Str-3 characters (min-maxing) if done right.
  • Clear-cut rules on how magical defenses work, complete with examples of play. Ideally, this should take care of all pink dots somehow (which is a difficult thing to do)
  • A setting around 1250 would make a lot of things easier, because it matches most people's expectations of the Middle Ages more closely (role of cities, stone castles etc)
  • A Roman Tribunal book (or two or three, because it has so much potential)
  • A ready-to-play saga as a first supplement for the new edition


  • Arts as Abilities. Because Hermetic power level is too high.
  • More balanced virtues. Because Magical Focus shouldn't trump other virtues.
  • More consistency in general. Because top Hermetic age should actually fit Warping Points gained.
  • Standards for a saga. Because groups need guidelines on how accessible are books in the setting.
  • Standards for character advancement; detailed ones. Because people need guidelines on how high Parma is.
  • Different Characteristics grant a bonus to different Techniques (Great Communication gives a bonus to Rego, Great Perception to Intellego, and so on). Perhaps turn Chars into Virtues entirely, yes.
  • One single Universal Spell Guidelines chart. All TeFo combinations work off it, detailing examples and providing extra rules for the combos.
  • Difficult Mentem. InMe and ReMe in particular should be very difficult to pull off, perhaps even protected by a new Limit of Magic. (The Limit of the Soul: you cannot affect the intellect, which includes thinking, decision making, and so on; you can still affect memory and perception, as well as base emotions such as lust and hunger but not high ones like love and tranquility.)
  • Difficult invisibility. It sucks.
  • Difficult teleportation. It sucks. Reduces some tedium, but still sucks.
  • new Limit of the Eternal: you cannot destroy something eternal, like souls, ghosts, angels, demons, or titans. This includes lowering their Might Score. You can still control them, drain their Might Pool, and so on.
  • Reducing Magic Resistance: MR lowers effect-level of magic; for damage this means it adds to Soak. Possible since it all uses the same Universal Spell Guidelines chart.
  • Indirect magic still protected from by Parma. Waves some words around it; "it has been touched by magic" or whatever. Necessary for game balance.
  • A spectrum of settings: the standard Mythic Europe, the low-magic mythic Europe, and the high-magic Mythic europe. Because rules for micromanaging your workshop do not belong in the same setting as rules for siphoning power from chained titans.
  • Limited penetration for magic items. Wizards get to wield cool magic and fight the dragon, not the grogs.
  • No longevity rituals. Because being too old makes fitting in history weird.
  • a ready-to-play complete saga, absolutely. While we're at it:
  • a ready-to-play complete group of players, right next door to you and eager to play ArM. Because we all deserve that.
  • a new day, Arsday, added to the week. Because we all deserve more time to play ArM.

That it doesn't happen for a long time. :slight_smile:

I've spent a lot on ArM5 source books, and while I think the game is far from perfect it is good enough for me.

This wouldn't be Ars Magica.

Not really a huge fan, but could we at least consider a multi-dice model if we want to reduce randomness?
If that is our main purpose, we should work towards a bellcurve, rather than a flat probability, surely?

So people tell me. I've never seen it done well, nor am I a huge fan of the GM fiat involved.

A lot for preference.

So.. back to 1st edition?

We're close to having this already

almost impossible without intelligent MR.

Seriously? 1250 is practically renaissance! If anything, I'm move it to rather earlier.

One already exists - it's just horribly outdated/not terribly good

The concept boggles my mind in so many bad ways.

Not the fix I'm looking for.
I'd rather go back to earlier mechanics. But then, I never did understand why people so wanted Arts based on XPs, when it so clearly led to an increase in power.

Agreed. Especially the second half of that sentence.

You're refering to p. 32 of the corebook, correct?
Yes, certain assumptions are made on that page that just aren't suppported by the rules.
For one thing, it is extremely difficult to keep the XPs gained during apprenticeship that low.

I'm not sure I understand what you even mean here? And as for eg. accessability of books, that should really be up to the troupe and depend on the given saga!
Don't you lot sit down and talk such things over at the beginning of every new saga? Mind you, a check list of things that the troupe should at least talk about before saga start might be useful.

I'm sorry. The only possible answers I have for this are rude.

But why?

So, 1st edition?

You mean like the list of Supplemental Guidelines combined with the guidelines from the core book?
Or did you mean a short, sweet and simple, like "MuXx 5, make mior change for subject"? Because that's been tried, and turned out so loose in definitions it was useless.
If you think you can do better though, feel free to try.

So, mind control is right out? Meh.
We could however consider re-introducing the resistance rolls seen in earlier editions.

Yes, invisibility is probably too easy these days. Came with the higher Arts.
Plenty of ways to counter it mind you, though our Imaginem-lover whines.

Excellent argument. Simple and eloquent.
Are you enforcing casting requisites? Because that cut somewhat down on teleporting here.

So, no real way to deal with Demons et al?
I'm not really opposed to this, just curious why you want such a blanket ban.

I thought we wanted stronger MR, that actually mattered?

A. A dreamer. Must be nice.

Sad/funny thing is, half the indirect effects suggested in societates are impossible, according to core book.
Not sure I see why it's necesary for game balance though. Especially as these effects are often easy to guard against, and people already complain about MR being too weak...

Already exists


And what solution do you propose?

And the ancient wizard is a trope. Mind you, it's also a trope that the ancient sage should look old and wizened, which is not currently the case.



If there is to be an Ars Magica 6 I'd want it to be a cleaned up version of Ars Magica 5 not a significant reworking. More of the level of Ars4 to Ars 5 than the level of AD&D to 3rd ed D20 D&D. (rework the muto vim rules - in fact a fair number of the spell guidelines and virtues, do character generation as a life path but with the same underlying numbers to be both easier for new players and more descriptive). What I'd really like to do (and this would be financial suicide) is to go through the existing fifth edition line and rework all of the rules centered portions of books to be smoother and work together better now that they've been out for a decade. I like the book topics and re-edits with a keen eye for resolving rules issues would be great. Naturally much could be rewritten totally like Antagonists, the scenarios in the church book, Magi of Hermes, Tales of Mythic Europe, etcetra but a re-edit rather than a re-write of the realm books Mysteries, covenants and so on would be faster and very possibly better. (I'd want to go back and do old tribunal books rather than the fifth edition ones).

Large changes such Arts as abilities and removal of attributes are not what I'm looking for. They seem to me to be simplicity for the sake of simplicity, with the assumption that a simpler game is better/easier/faster in play. I've not seen this happen in practice with any regularity. The simplicity of a set of rules in my experience is not strongly correlated with how easy it is to play or how well it plays. Great and awful games come in both simple and complex styles, so do fast and slow games. (Of course I'd redo the combat rules, it's not like I'm against any change).

It seems to me that D&D4 for lost much of its audience because it was too different from its predecessor, it looks like there was a similar loss between shadowrun 3 and 4 and L5R 1 and 2. This isn't a tragedy if the game can pick up a new audience but I don't think Ars is in a position to do this. (That's not an argument about what would be the best possible game, but the fact that it lines up with what I believe is the best possible game prompts me to write it.)

On the depressing side, there's no certainty Ars Magica 6 will happen at all, much less imediately. It's quite possible that Ars Magica 5 will end and there will be no Ars Magica 6 for quite some time, if ever.

What, specifically, would make this not-Ars-Magica?

I haven't even gotten to the part where we play at the Founding and nix the Houses :smiley:

I'd move it to the Founding. Have weak pre-Hermetic (i.e. Hedge) Magic, and half the problems about the power level of magic disappear.

Going back to point-increases is possible, I guess. The game kinda loses consistency a bit with that approach, though. I haven't given this option too much thought.

Quoted for truth.

The game already lists the things that are to be discussed, and does so fairly well. But that discussion still misses some issues and doesn't really provide a coherent view of the "Standard" choices and what they amount to. I'm just saying that section should be improved, to give players a better grip on the standard choices and what are their implications. I am by no means suggesting that the accessibility of books be restricted by the rules; only that the group will find actual guidelines in the book about what the setting and rules assume, and what are the ramifications of deviating from these choices, so that they could make their decisions in an informed manner.

This goes back to the above point - if you don't know what kind of Parma, Forms, Arts, and so on the Order's NPCs are assumed to be packing, you don't know something that potentially underlies a lot of PC-NPC and background dynamics. You can decide this on your own, of course, but the game would be better if the designers thought about how MR works in Hermetic society and filled you in on it, so you could have some standards and reference points to work off. Again, not rules - just guidelines and the implications.

Because it's cool. :slight_smile: I don't like that every magus is tough and sturdy, and I do like that the expert in Intellego is also very perceptive. Feels very... thematic. I like it.

I mean this, yes. I agree it can't work by itself, but I also think it can be made to work with some exceptions and examples given in the TeFo lists. So you get a mostly-unified system, combining both a master chart and specific TeFo charts.

Mind control is highly overrated :smiley:
Doing the "these are not the droids you are looking for" bit is cool. Doing the "now tell me everything you know and take me to your leader" bit just ruins perfectly good adventures. I think this kind of power eliminates whole types of adventures, it does the game a disservice.

That would certainly be cool.

Yes, that's a big part of the problem.

Having everyone need to counter it is annoying, though. And having invisible mages a-adventuring, while effective, is not... pretty.

That describes all my arguments, ever :smiley:

Yeah... one Re-master just shrugs them off. Another character just walked around naked, Imaginem-ing some cover. Yuck.

On the contrary - you deal with the demons. You just do it by exorcising them or binding them into an item or behind a circular ward/prison or so on. Not by killing them. Much more colorful, and opens up many more avenues for adventures.

I want this ban because I find the idea of "Ridding the world of the Infernal, one demon at a time!" ugly, that destroying a ghost cheapens the whole afterlife and cosmology, and that destroying Magical spirits rather than chaining them runs against the whole titanomachia theme. Overall, making these things eternal just makes for a cooler setting and cooler gaming IMO.

Yeah. It kinda runs counter to that, ah? Well, I'm big. I can contain contradictions. :slight_smile:

An MR that reduces magic instead of stopping it is just so much more ... appropriate. In the way the natural resistance rolls are. I don't know, it feels right to me. It also makes the game easier to balance, I think, as you can start designing MR against spell level so that wizard fights (or wizard-monster fights) will work right.

You say I'm a dreamer. Well I'm not the only one. Perhaps one day you'll join us. And the Ars-World will be as one. :smiley:

It's necessary for game balance because otherwise that whole MR mechanics is just side-tracked. Instead of the huge dragon being a formidable opponent, he's just a very big target.

These effects aren't easy to guard against, not generally, not without weaving an endless barrage of warding spells on you that make the game an ugly "guess his weakspot; then kill him easily" game. MR=Soak eliminates such direct kills, without needing all those complex wards, and without giving advantage to wizards that work indirectly.

Yes. But should be made more explicit. As in "Here is the Thebes tribunal for the standard, balanced, setting; here is the Thebes tribunal with the magic dialed up to 10".

Hey, we said I'm a dreamer!

Limiting the penetration of magic items :slight_smile: To perhaps (Lab Total/4), say. So you can forge items to let your grogs/companions deal with the minor stuff, that you've grown past, while keeping the high-penetration to your spells.

Lets have character gain Decrepitude Points each year from age 35. At one point per year, you reach Decrepitude Score 6, aka Death, at age 130 IIRC. Add in Aging Crisis rolls each year, and have magic resolve Aging Crisis as normal. What you have is magi that live to venerable age and are old and look it, yet not magi that live to 170 years old by the background-advancement rules nor (even worse) hundreds of years old by carefully avoiding botching.

Have fun now!

Ars Magica 5.5, not 6.

A cleaned up and better organized rulebook. Integration of important rules and principles introduced in the post-rulebook material.

Really, that's it. I am not minded to spend much on a new fully blown edition. Having played since the dark days of Third, it could easily be a base breaker, particularly if there's as strong a break with this edition as there was last time.

(cranky voice) Kids these days complain about Parma. In my day, there wern't hardly no rules on it a'tall! One fella in my group tried to rework it usin' differential analysis!

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Technically, there's a stat for "Apparent Age," which does absolutely nothing, so a Hermetic magus who's a century or two old is likely to look over a century old (but be pretty healthy and spry) unless he's a Creo Corpus specialist or buys his potions from one. And having a giant Santa-esque white beard but still being able to humiliate all the young'uns at Sunday football is quite in-schtick.

So very, very true.

That's an interesting option, and I'd love to see a source book on the subject. Not sure I'd like it to be the default setting though.

Loosing consistency? Just because Arts behave differently from Abilities? Hardly.

The game already lists the things that are to be discussed, and does so fairly well. But that discussion still misses some issues and doesn't really provide a coherent view of the "Standard" choices and what they amount to. I'm just saying that section should be improved, to give players a better grip on the standard choices and what are their implications. I am by no means suggesting that the accessibility of books be restricted by the rules; only that the group will find actual guidelines in the book about what the setting and rules assume, and what are the ramifications of deviating from these choices, so that they could make their decisions in an informed manner.
Hard to disagree with that, However, that's really not what I read in the post I quoted.

But you phrased it as if you wanted a rule, or a very strong guideline.
If multiple sets of guidelines were given, I could live with this.

I agree that it feels off that "every magus is tough and sturdy", though it's still better that when older versions of GURPS had fatigue based on strength, so most wizards ended up looking like steroid monsters. Using characteristics as a bonus to Arts is a bad fix though. Much better magic that compensates for your weaknesses. The deaf magus who's skilled at Intelligo because he can't hear strikes me as a more interesting (and plausible) character than Heimdal being even better at Intelligo magics, just because he can hear the grass grow. I think what you're looking for is as simple as taking Stamina out of the casting total.

good luck with making those.
I won't hold my breath though.

It is, which was kinda the point I was warming up for.

I take it you're not part of the "Ars Magica is about consequences" crowd? Because that could be argued to be the trigger for the story of the evening.
Depending on your troupe, obviously.

I was kinda sad to see them go to be honest - some of them are still around, mostly under Auram though.

There are ways to overcome it. But given how powerful Hermetic Magic is, maybe we should ask why it is that invisibility is considered such a problem?

No comment.
Though I do remember a GURPS magic school where one year, illusory prom-outfits were the Thing to Wear.

I actually (more or less) agree with this, for the record.

No comment.

That makes really big effects the way to get through MR, which may be intuitive (to some at least), but sadly makes for bad-ish game design, since it effectively eliminates the decision-step of what spell to use. Essentially, bigger will always be better, which gets boring rather fast.

Do you use grogs in your sagas? Because in my experience (and YSVM), indirect magics are little different from grog attacks, except usually less effective.
And if you're vulnerable to thrown rocks, grogs will gut you right quick. Especially in groups.

Again, compare to combat grogs.

Not my prefered solution, but we do agree that a solution is needed.

Have you play-tested this model?

I'm quite aware of this, thank you.
One of my sagas had a running joke with an elder magus that looked about 30 years younger than he really was, which was still over 110 years of age.

My problem is that, from what I've seen, it tends to extend the periode of time where you look middle-aged, more than it really affects for how long you look old. Which I think is upside-down.
But it's hardly in any way important.

not to sidetrack the conversation too much, but I find that closing the relevant rule loopholes (altering the penetration for charged devices and removing all the benefits from effect expiry) goes a great way to making this not a problem. Changing the penetration bonus for a level of the device to 1 or 1.5 per level could reduce it further with little extra rules baggage, but I'm not at all sure that even those who've had more difficulties than me with penetrating items would find it to be worth it.

As far as a rules clean up that would add more baggage, I favor have all sorts of spells and effects that target other spells and effects, including darn near all of the art of vim and stuff like discern the images of truth and falsehood, to work off of base spell level rather than final spell level. It shouldn't be harder to dispel a created wall that was cast at range AC than one that was cast at range touch.

I'd also like to have conventional wards be stationary only (stuff you could cast at ring, room or structure or cast on an item to prevent it from being touched by a faerie but the spell is broken if the item is moved). Any personal wards or wards that move at all should be spell that grant a soak bonus. Ward against heat and flame is good, the (IMHO) silly "can't be touched by humans" ward from Magi of Hermes is bad.

The thing I struggled with the most when learning this system was spending XP during character creation. Not so much how much XP it takes to advance an Ability or an Art, but that the XP for Abilities, Arts, and Spells was all lumped into one large pool. Had I not had Meta Creator to help me during character creation, I would have completely botched character creation. Character creation is difficult enough without having to think to yourself "I have this many XP to spend, but I gotta make sure I spend this much on Arts and this much on Spells, which leaves me this much for Abilities".

So my one wish - at least for now - is to just split out the different sections for character creation and give them their own build amounts. If you have to spend 120 XP on Arts, then just have the rules state "You get this much for Abilities, and this much for Spells, and this much for Arts" instead of saying "You have this much XP to spend". And maybe that's the way the book does it already but MC just lumps everything together, which would mean I'd like MC to be updated for this.

And now I'm rambling, so I'll stop. :slight_smile:

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Erik: You seem like a sensible fellow, I agree with those thoughts, in the main.

Severus: That used to be the case, in earlier editions. Now it's sort of jumbled together.

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Severus: You don't spend your XP on spells when making a character :confused: I mean, you can when you're making your character post-Gauntlet, but that's optional; you're also allowed to use Lab Seasons, which is generally more efficient. And the other split is only 120-120 as a recommendation; it would be completely reasonable to have a character who spends more or less one way simply due to how they were taught. I myself usually put a good 20 XP more in Arts than Abilities most of the time. I like the level of customization the XP blob gives me.

YR7: Hm... Maybe there could be a way to make two different forms of item enchantment? On the one hand, yeah, I may not 100% agree with it, but I understand the perspective that you wouldn't want magi to be able to give grogs their magic items so they can solve major issues. At the same time, though, I think there should still be a way for magi to make items as strong as they can for personal use, and that can actually be worth something as gifts for other magi. So... Maybe leave Talisman effects as-is, and include rules for making weak items anyone can use and stronger items only usable by the Gifted?

Alternatively... I wasn't a fan of it, because again while I get where you're coming from, I myself like non-magical people to be able to have strong items, but my troupe did once try a houserule you might enjoy that hugely limited the power of non-magical people wielding magic items by effectively making it impossible to reliably activate effects over level 23 (and for many grogs, disabling the ability to use items entirely). The houserule was that anybody without either the Gift or strong Supernatural blood (so Strong Faerie Blood and most Mythic Companion Virtues enabled regular item usage) had to make an Int + Finesse roll against an Ease Factor of the level of the effect to be activated. Basically, the oldest, smartest, and most naturally talented grogs might be able to wield a Wand of PoF with no Penetration that runs all day, or that can only be used once a day but affects fairly substantial creatures (Might 20 or lower) so they're weakened and can be beaten off by the other grogs if the magi are out of town. Younger but relatively smart grogs can have nicer no-Penetration swords that work about every other day (Edge of the Razor, Personal range).

Tweak it as you like, but I thought you might find it interesting.

Anyway, for a 5.5 (which I'd much prefer to a 6), I'd like to see magic in general brought "up to code," with the core and stuff from earlier books in the line updated to the quality standard of later books.

-The biggest thing I want is to see Hermetic Virtues/Flaws properly disentangled. "Supernatural Virtue that requires the Gift (e.g Gentle Gift, Twilight Prone)," "Supernatural Virtue, requiring the Gift, that affects the function of Hermetic magic (Affinity with Art, Weak Spontaneous Magic)," and "Virtue/Flaw that is specific to Hermetic magi for reasons unrelated to the Gift (Hermetic Prestige, Infamous Master)." In the corebook, before Gifted non-magi were a thing, "Hermetic" was an easy shorthand, but now it's just a pain in the toosh.
-Realm Magic (Divine, Infernal and Faerie) traditions to get the same level of treatment that hedge magic gets, and a proper equivalency set up for infernal characters and characters with True Faith (don't know how RoP:F does it) to Gifted characters, preferably through Opening equivalents for the traditions in question. I've already kvetched on this subject more than once before, but simply using the Mythic Companion rules for characters who can be freely taught Realm Powers is a system that doesn't seem to have been thought through, and results in characters with already somewhat-weak powers (Difficult Art Major Virtues on both Technique and Form) weakened further at character creation.

I agree that we need more of an Ars Magica 5.5 than a 6.0, but there are some things that really need addressing:

Magic Resistance: Just make it a Dodge, Soak or Resistance bonus (depending on the effect) - and while we're at it, make every spell aimed. I hate how very agile mundanes can't avoid fireballs and death spells at all.

Combat is annoyingly abstract. Simple positioning and action/movement rules would be nice.

Wards need fixing, especially Aegis of the Hearth, which is a complete complicated mess. If Aegis is an outgrowth of Parma, let it act like Parma and give the participants/buildings/objects MR while in the bounded area. Wards working as a dodge/soak/resistance bonus (similar to MR) cleans up the 'absolute-ness' of wards and harmonizes the system (Parma just becomes and all-purpose ward against magic, in effect).

Virtues and Flaws need some heavy re-balancing. Changing from +1/+3 to a more granular 1-5 scale would help. Make Magic Foci into an Accelerated Ability.

A steady income writing for the line.
Or turnip protein yeild tables.

Oh OK, something that looks little like Ars 4 to 5, because we have that and it has been done beautifully. If Ars 4 and 5 are a symphony played by a top orchestra, Ars 6 should be a punk/garage cover thereof. No more evolution time for revolution. No D&D 3.5 or NWoD --- a ballsy riff on the game from first principles that makes you fume scream and lash out at it like it is the arrogant hero of a Harlequin romance until you get it all the misunderstanding melts away and you see Ars should have always been this way and you will never love another game....

Yep.Take an axe to Ars and weld it back together in to the gaming hotrod of the Gods.

Trust me. You want this.

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A clever marketing strategy. Forget improving the system, it's as good as it'll get in terms of number of people who like it for what it really is. So make it something different. Get new players who didn't like the old premise, and trick your old players into wasting money on the new core rulebook because they trust Atlas Games. I applaud your presentation.

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I'm also in the ArM5.5 rather than ArM6 camp... I'm good with MR being a sort of resistance that has to be overcome, but that's a long ago, far away argument. Wards need a bit of clarification-- but then if they just create a layer of resistance, like MR, well, then problem solved.

What I'd really like seen is the collection of all the magical subtraditions, the guidelines, the bits and pieces scattered across books and brought into a single book, and with it, optional guidelines for integrating nonHermetic traditions into Hermetic magic-- so, here's Folk Witch magic as a nonHermetic magic, and here's how it fits into Hermetic Magic if it's integrated. (but do that for all of them, Muspelli, Elementalists, Virgillians, whatever)

With that book, take all of Lords of Men, and stuff it back into the combat section where it belongs.

I don't need the Hotrod of the Gods so much as the elegant refinement of what we have now. Right now, this is a nice, 8-year blended malt. I want the delicious complexity of a 16-year jet fuel. I don't think there's a lot I'd want to muck with otherwise; I'm pretty content with allowing the troupe to pin down the finer details of things like, "do you need terram to teleport when you're wearing armor?"

I would agree, we need more adventures, more baseline sagas, more great material to bring people into this game. That's what I want, more than anything. I want a tribunal adventure that covers NPCs and Verditius faires, and Redcap deliveries, and business within and without the Tribunal, as well as a political web loaded with biases and prejudices, and a variety of options to play based on the hooks of the covenant, so that you spend a bit of time setting up the saga, letting the characters get some investment, cutting their own switch, and then boom! the storylines that play out of that tribunal gathering spin out for years. It would be drinking from the well of Hermetic culture and creating such an immersive experience. Doing this for each tribunal would be absolutely glorious.


The question is about Ars 6, a hypothetical edition.

Such an edition can not be 5b because we have all the books we need for centuries of gaming for 5th?

Therefore it has to be something different enough to justify itself. Hence my playful comments above.

In reality I expect people to be playing 5th ed in 30 years. Plenty of people are still playing 2nd 3rd and 4th out there, with sagas from 15 to 20 years old. They don't always interact with the forum because their games are based on the rules they started them with. I now know of four pre-2000 sagas still going regularly in the UK - there may be more? They simply never needed 4th or 5th ed!

CJ x

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