Wishlist: Ars Magica 6

There is a reason I don't often draw attention to just how long it's been.

Dunno. Seems like I just turn round, and there's another book waiting to come out.

Thank you.

That makes me very happy.

This is one of those things that sounds like a good idea, but really isn't.

The problem is that when people come to actually write the book, six years later, giving their full attention to a proper treatment of the topic, with the benefit of six years' experience of the rules -- they have to use rules that people came up with quickly, on the side, six years earlier. Either that, or you have rules in a supplement that explicitly replace rules in the core book, which is a problem for the people who used those rules a lot, that is, the very people who are interested in rules for this topic.

Incidentally, the reason why ArM5 has no reference to Methods & Powers is that Erik Dahl came up with the mechanic while he was doing RoP: Divine. It didn't exist when ArM5 was released, so we couldn't refer to it. Unless ArM6 is to be a full line of light revisions of ArM5 books, it won't be possible to do this sort of thing for ArM6 either.

Yes. Finding a sensible answer to those questions is the problem.

OK, so there are some uncontroversial points.

So, you don't want an expanded bestiary, basic rules for non-Hermetic magic, guidance on the Eastern Church and Islam, examples and guidelines on troupe-style play, something about supernatural powers from other realms, more information on how the Order actually functions, mass combat rules, and others I've forgotten.

That's fine. But it is controversial.

That is exactly the problem.

Whittling it down to the clear vision is the hard bit. If the book is not ArM6, what is it? Even if it is ArM6, what should be in the core book?

As I say, I suspect that there is a solution. But I don't have it yet.

Hm... You make good points. Still, though, at least in the case of massed combat, even if you change everything from the ground up without giving two figs about people who have now been using rules that are updated out of existence, I consider that better than them being forced to entirely wing it for however many years, if only marginally. As a general rule, prone to exception as all general rules are, new players tend to be big fans of guidance, and if it's done well ArM6 will draw quite a few new people in, so it's just something to think about.

Wow - I'm impressed on how much discussion posting that review generated!

David, I think the future editions as mentioned before, kind of put you between a rock and a hard place.

Rock: Too many minor fiddly changes - no veteran player can keep the changes straight.

Hard place: A huge overhaul - split the fandom.

To play devil's advocate, lets say the problem is that Ars Magica needs multiple core rule books like NWoD.

Corebook1: "Mythic Europe"
This books gives an overview of Mythic Europe with no OoH. Gives rules for making Grogs - and Heroic characters. Also, perhaps instead of Covenants, which are in fact, not a physical thing in real life, "Community" building. Can be for a noble, church, or groups of wizards.

Corebook 2: "Order of Hermes"
This book has the Hermetic V&F, full writeups of houses, mysteries, spells, guidelines, lab. Additional rules for hermetic communities.

And etc.

This allows for a lot more capacity to put in more detailed information.

I don't know how that worked for NWoD, but this smacks way too much of D&D's three-Core-book division. That might well turn off budget rpg players.

There is a difference between what I want and what is needed
. I do like many of those things, but I am not sure if they would enhance or complicate the situation.
Bestiary, Yes. Troupe style guidance? Yes. Hedge Magic and other powers? Not needed for core. There are plenty of Supernatural Abilities in core. Maybe add a few more but no need to go nuts. Eastern Church and Islam? Not a lot needed. Maybe a paragraph? Operation of the Order? Maybe a little bit. Not sure what is needed or missing from core. Making Flambeau Spanish again would be nice, but that is far outside the scope of discussing a Revised ArM5. :mrgreen: Combat rules? Though a good idea, there is not a lot that can be done without making major changes. Maybe a few LoM ideas can be fitted in. Maybe not. Mass combat seems like something outside the scope of the core book.
However, that chapter can be retermed maybe? "Action and Activity"?
Several years ago, I recall, you had put together a think tank concerning this idea. Round about then I dropped off the planet and did not participate. If you were ever to try this again, I would like to be part of the discussion.

Under the NDA. Ahem.

But yes, I looked into it in considerable detail, getting input from a wide range of people. That's what convinced me that the project is not at all straightforward. Anything practical would need to exclude material that a lot of people thought was important. (It might, just, have been possible to do it while including everything that one person thought was important, but even that was touch-and-go.) The project would need a clear vision, and I haven't come up with one that works.

Well... considering that there are used cars worth very, very little, I probably own such a collection even excluding my AM5 books; some used cars are more expensive than everything I own. Also, internet pricing makes the books rather less expensive; 30% off with no sales tax is pretty normal. Finally, book costs are insignificant next to the cost of living in the Silicon Valley.



Too many chiefs and not enough indians?
"I have come down from violet skies to save the day..."
I do happen to have a clear vision, and am happy to share it with you.

  • The concept is a revision of the current edition. Something more than mere erratta correctiom, yet far less than a new edition.
  • If any alterations are to be made, they should be limited to fixes and additions. NO changes. There may be some solid good ideas for simple changes, but they don't belong here.
  • It is impossible to include everything. There are issues of space as well as integrity of concept. There may be bugs we will simply have to go on living with, such as the Pink Dot and the Combat system.
  • There are things the book should include. Art & Color (and reference to that sexy Spanish edition) were already mentioned. Erratta fixes. Different flavor text. Not that there is anything wrong with the current text, just an opportunity to add something new using the space at hand. Rules that contradict or are contradicted by rules in other books. Essential spell guidelines. The Mundane Bestiary and a page or two about animals. Supernatural is tricky, because there are four ways of doing it. I have an idea, but it is a rough ashler. Then blah blah blah, etcetera.
  • Not every good idea will make it, so some things will have to be left on the cutting room floor. Different people will have different ideas of what is important. Granted. That is where your duty as editor is essential. The hard choices must be left in the hads of one person.

That is the blurred lines of my vison. With discussion and refinement, I can clarify it. For you well know this is but the tip of the iceburg.

1.) On yet another "wishlist" thing, would be if the OoH has not changed history, is to be powered down in some an in context setting reason.

As many on the board have shown, a dedicated Magus can get very high arts fairly reasonable circumstances over several decades of study. Introduce some Mystery Cult virtues and BOOM we've got even higher arts (from an affinity) and even Good Teacher, Improved Communication and Great Communication can be initiated.

Then, we introduce the fact that a Mortal with Magic Theory 3 and a decent Scribe score can make good copies. And then introduce a note from Covenants saying poor wizards just aren't trying hard enough to be ridiculously wealthy.

So, to solve the (perceived) problem of "Why isn't the Order overflowing with much higher quality summae/tractus?" I move that only Gifted people can copy books, and from there, magical texts need either a story event to find special ingredients, or simply, some # of pawns of vis to "seal" the magic.

2.) Do we need the Arts as we currently have them? Again, this comes down to how much change is wanted.

Could Muto and Rego be merged? What about Perdo and Rego?

Could Auram, Aquam, Ignem and Terram be merged?

Could Herbam and Terram be merged?

Could Corpus and Animal be merged?

Could Corpus and Animal and Herbam be merged?

Could Imaginem and Mentem be merged?


I'm curious how many people have bought the core rules from 3rd to 4th to 5th edition of AM.

I agree that an AM6, if it happens, cannot be too radically different from the games that came before.

I think that D&D4 is an extreme case; it isn't simply a new edition, but a new game. It is further away from D&D3 in many ways than AM is.

L5Rv2 was pretty bad in its own right.

Shadowrun..... the game changed companies too, and the WizKidz (sp?) or whoever they were did not seem to support the game as well as FASA. Though I do know people who prefer the classic SR dice mechanic. (I don't like the vast difference between target 5 and 6; the impossibility of rolling a 7 does not bother me as much.)

Then there are games that slowly fail because they are just more of the same.

I think the biggest thing I'd like to see in AM6 is a change of year. Then, everything AM5 remains usuable for "Ars Magica 13c", with Ars Magica 6 being branded as, say, "Ars Magica 999," with new rules and new supplements (and real live Diedne, just for Marko!)

Arts would remain the same in name. Founders, largely the same. The whole "medieval paradigm" would shift, having lost some of its favorite philosophers. Rules changes? Sure. A caveat that AM 1200 is not necessarily the future of AM 999. Publishing AM5 supplements from time to time? Sure.

Calling it a new edition might piss people off, sure. But call it a new setting, and ooh.



If you are gonna change years, I say make it 1444. Or some such. The near future of the Order. Explain away changes as progress.

I'd say put it around 1230, when Fredrick II crowned himself King of Jerusalem while excommunicated and the city is placed under interdict under orders of the Pope- placing the holiest city under divine interdiction has to have some metaphysical repercussions, and could explain a whole slew of changes that take the game away from the idea that mythic reality and Christian ideology are the same thing.

The only reason I disagree with the above is that the majority of AM5 players set their games in 1220, that being the canon starting date, and many who research the near future for their games would already have interacted several times with the core setting features. I am actually a fan of scaling it back to the late 10th Century, myself. Just far enough back that people can prequel their AM5 sagas... But maybe that's something only I enjoy doing :stuck_out_tongue:

I should warn - once more - against advancing the date of canon Ars in ArM6.

The historical middle ages change a lot from 1220 to 1240 already: the population in Europe increases, many more wildernesses get put to the plough, new technologies appear, the church consolidates, the balance between pope and emperor shifts, and Aristotelian scholasticism starts to turn from future promise to reality. This means that the - typically historical - base to start a campaign from shifts, and the reuse of ArM5 supplements based on history becomes suspect.


Raises hand - but then, I have every edition of the core rules, so yeah.

It would make me very sad, certainly.

Well, unsurprsingly I suppose, as WotC hired Jonathan Tweet to write D&D3. A name some of you might be familiar with.

L5R3e had some problems as well, but yeah.

Yeah... I'll stick with SR3, thank you so very much. And it's impossible to roll a 6, not a 7 :wink:

Not the worst suggestion of the lot.

I'd really recommend agains this, but that might just be personal preferences.
999 AD (as suggeste above) would be interesting. 1444 ... less so, to me.

I myself bought the core rules from 3rd edition onwards, the supplements from 2nd edition onwards (I started playing just before 3rd, so by the time I bought the core books it was already out). Then I bought back to 1st edition.

Don't have it all, though.

Yet. :wink:

As for the AM6 wishlist, what I would most like to have is a consistent set of rules for creating Might creatures that was the same accross all four Realms. I obviously don't mean that Faerie and Infernal creatures (for example) should be the same, but that the core mechanics for creating them would, so that you didn't have to learn a whole new set of creature creation rules for each Realm.

One of the things I really really like about characters in Ars Magica is that they are all created the same, no matter if they are PCs or NPCs. Even grogs and companions are created the same, with the only variation being in the Virtues & Flaws they can legally get. This makes creating characters not only easier, but also makes the whole world come alive, feeling more coherent, more like a real breathing world instead of just a backdrop for players' adventures.

I would really like it if supernatural creatures would have the same kind of unified mechanism when it comes to creating them.

As for combat, I feel I'm the odd ball here but I really really like AM5 combat a lot.

Maybe a compromise solution for the time being might be to do a "rules index", sort of. A small reference as to what rules exist in canon, and in which book (and page) they live.

I feel this might help people locate rules that are now, as you said, scattered across supplements, and even help people notice some of rules they didn't know about. Might even help sales, as it could motivate some people to buy a book they previously didn't realize they could have an interest in, by knowing what new or expanded rules are in there.

I'm not talking about a rules compilation, just an index. Not the full text of the rules in one place, but just a reference as to where they are and what they are about.

Then again, this seems like a lot of work that could definitely not be monetized, so it's probably best left for a community project.

I own hardcopies of the core rules for every edition except 3rd and have purchased the PDF of 5th at least twice.

I probably would have also bought 3rd if I'd been playing at the time, but I wasn't and it slipped under my radar. These days, I've heard so much bad stuff about it that I'm unlikely to pick it up except perhaps just for the sake of completing the collection.

Offhand, I can't think of any dice mechanic I like better than the original SR mechanic. If the probability breakpoints bother you, houserule that 5+ becomes d6+4 and it smooths things out quite a bit. It also makes really high target numbers harder to hit, but (as a GM) I considered that a feature, not a bug.

I'd definitely go for that.

Likewise, at least in principle. In practice, it runs slow for my group, but we've only used it once or twice in anger and I could see it speeding up a lot if we were more practiced with it.

But, yeah, our current saga came about largely from us screwing around with a D&D retroclone's combat system a few months back until I finally realized that we'd practically reinvented the ArM5 combat system, so I was able to use that to convince them to give ArM a try.