Wishlist: Ars Magica 6

Pilum of Fire is the size of a large campfire? So a group sized PoF is the size of 10 large campfire?
Granted, I know it's flavor text, but the description says it's a 2 foot spear shaped jet of fire coming from your hands. And it's hot enough to do +15 damage, while a normal fire is +5 damage. So, there's a bit of inconsistency here.

I can create a Group version of PoF, I have for IoL for one character. The application of these spells is inconsistently applied in different sagas, too. T:Group is the 10 Pila created, while there might be 10 recipients, do these also have to maintain the rules for Groups, and be closely connected in some manner? Also, there is Arc of Fiery Ribbons which is the only spell which does damage over an Arc, I suppose out to 15/50 paces.

Sagitari Lux was my version. Light arrows.

+5 fire damage across an area large enough to hold half a dozen men in close formation because it was 10 shots essentially. I'd say 24 men when you up it to 100 shots, etc.

But it's SG discretion there.

It's more than SG discretion. Page 111, center column, says:

There has always been an attitude of consensus in Ars Magica-- you're supposed to talk out the effects as a group. Yes, the SG is the one implementing the results, but the implicit point there is that you're all going to be the SG at some point.

Page 86 indicates that the troupe should use its judgement in aiming. Page 92, the troupe should decide about the Road range. Page 101, the troupe should decide if a spell is similar for research, or if your magus can use a different form of vis for a longevity ritual.

Discussion, discretion, consensus. It's Ars Magica, not Scientia Magica-- an art. There's wiggle room, discussion. Everyone at the table has a role in arbitrating the magic-- that's baked in from the start.

And let's not also forget The Central Rule on page 111.
House rules are all well and good, but honestly it's a bit of a cop out to say that you need to solve it for your troupe. All troupes already do this for a wide variety of rules. One common HR is penetration not applying to the Aegis (and Wards). Another common one is adventure experience being awarded and earned in seasons of lab work, when it is clear that adventure experience requires spending the entire season in contemplation of the adventure... Rules get adjusted all the time to the will of the troupe/SG.

But Area of effect spells or even targeting multiple people is not well developed in Ars. We have a Target (Group) which is open to interpretation. Since Creo creates things of a specific Form (Target), but might affect other targets (hereafter called recipients), how does T:Group work? Does T:Group work if the Group obeys the underlying rules for the group? Does it create 10 multiply indpendent targetable spells (MITS) that can be sent against opponents as desired? Does it always create 10, and if the Group is less than 10 spread them evenly among the group members, or is it just the number in the group? If the recipient group is greater than 10 does it just fail because the group is to large to be affected? That's Group, and it is ill-defined canonically to address this issue, and could easily be cleaned up.

Arc of Fiery Ribbons is a canonical spell that uses the Group guidelines, but as written could be interpreted to affect many more than 10 recpients, too.

Yes... As written, it is a favored target for FFM... for a mere 1 magnitude, use the exact same text but to range Sight...

This is inaccurate, it's confusing targets with people affected.

The "Group" in this case is not 10 people. That's not how the Target variable works.

The Group is a fire the size of 10 large campfires. That's the Group. If I let that loose in a crowded ship's hold, I might hit 30 people with it. The target may or may not have anything to do with number of people affected, it has everything to do with the size of the effect. I create the same spell with Target:Structure, and I can easily hit more than 100 people. Target guides the area of the effect.

If it's the base Individual of fire, a group is the size of 10 large campfires. Clearly Pilum of Fire and Arc of Fiery Ribbons are different than the base individual, since they do damage in excess of a large campfire (listed as +5 damage in the damage section of Obstacles chapter). They appear to be, again, from the flavor text smaller, and by extrapolation, hotter/more damaging.

I can get behind the idea that the Target of a spell might affect more than 10 recipients, indeed, I'm all for it. Again, as I have said, this is or can easily be interpreted differently by different troupes and SGs, and there isn't (clear) guidance on it. And looking at Ovarwa's comment, it's plain to see that he and his troupe(s) have interpreted Arc of Fiery Ribbons to work all the way out to Sight Range, which could conceivable cover an entire town. That's plainly larger than 10 campfires. And even at normal range, of 15 paces, I'd say that 117 square feet is probably more than 10 large campfires, unless we are saying that a large campfire is 10 square feet... To me, that's a bonfire (10 square foot area of fire).

Rather than derail this further, I've started a new discussion on this, over here.

Here is one I do not worry about. You have an action on your initiative. A combat round is as long as it takes to do something that the SG allows before someone else gets a shot.

Fast cast is a reactionary action with a Spontaneous spell. It allows the caster to get a defensive spell out as another is cast. It does not go before the first spell because it is reactionary. You can react to a fast cast spell. you can react to a man-at-arms swinging a large piece of metal at you ( or a grog). It is not an offensive maneuver.


We gained a lot of clarity in AM5, in going to firm spell guidelines. I think we lost something too, compared to when we eyeballed a bunch of examples to calibrate power.

Using the guidelines lets us calculate guidelines with great precision, but we sometimes get multiple results and accuracy can go out the window.

There's something to be said for having a lot of canonical examples to be used when gauging power, as using this as the primary gauge. I am pretty sure that if I wrote up a spell, and asked a bunch of seasoned D&D players of a given edition what level it should be for a wizard (mu before D&D3 :slight_smile:), I'd have consensus plus or minus a level, or perhaps agreement that the spell does not belong.

There's also a problem: As supplements accumulate, authors toss in spells at the levels they want, and handwave. Guidelines don't help with this.

Guidelines work best to describe what can be done.



Authors certainly do not handwave. Anything we describe in a supplement must be something a player can achieve or do. I put a spell in F&F, and had to describe the effect exactly through construction, and that had to be cleared by David and playtesters (through several rounds). If it didn't clear those reviews, it had to be reworked until it did.

I haven't created a new guideline, but if I did, I imagine it would certainly go through the same process. All of the Ars Magica design (of which I have been familiar with, but I presume applies to design before I was involved) goes through playtest.

I was about to cmplain about this as well, but then I realised that he appears to be refering to the early editions (1st-3rd edition), which had no formal guidelines.

I am glad you have not given up hope, for nor have I.
Pehaps the scope of ambition needs to be limited. Fundamental questions need to be asked. How much space can be added? What can be chucked off to a follow up book? What needs to be fixed. Not just can or should, but needs it. What needs to be added? What needs to be clarified?
The art and color needs improvement. Obviously. Some good Virues & Flaws should be added to the core, as well as spell guidelines and maybe a few mystery examples. Not a lot rules wise needs changing. Just expanded a bit and clarified. Your problem, I am guessing, is that you have too many people with too many ideas of too many little fixes and too many contradicting ideas.
Whittle it down to a clear vision, select a few of your most trusted to follow your vision, and try again.


I think a lot of this can be accomplished with something like a Storyteller's Handbook. Revisions and clarifications can just be in a separate book (I doubt something like this would be economically feasible in a free pdf). I think rewriting the main book, while it could help new folks coming in fresh, would only confuse folks who have the old book with having to go through and find all the tiny fixes. I still have a hard enough time coming from older editions to 5e as practically every word was rewritten. Doing so again with a rewrite would be onerous, imo.



I am referring to AM5. I am saying that the guidelines do not help as much as might be expected.

I am not saying that all of the authors handwave all of the time. I am implying--and now saying--that spells make it through playtest that, imo, do not belong. Sometimes Limits are broken. MMVs, of course.

Stuff makes it through, especially if a spell is worded cleverly enough; this is similar to the way a persuasive player can convince most of a troupe to let something go through, in the absence of a guideline, where a less persuasive player has difficulty getting even more tepid stuff accepted.

The big book of magi has at least one instance (I'm being cautious, book not being present) in which different authors create spells with similar effects and astonishingly different levels. Both versions were accepted. Check out the 2 weaver magi to see what I mean.

Finally, I'm not saying that playtest is bad simply because it doesn't catch this stuff. AM books are complicated, and there's a lot to get right. Playability, readability and fun are more important than consistency.

But if Ben is saying that AM5 playtest catches all inconsistencies, whether it pertains to spells or to the differences between ME and Real medieval Europe or to the implications of various rules, I'll call shenanigans.



There is no carbon in Mythic Europe.
I see no consistency in why a given virtue is Hermetic for Hedge Wizard A but Supernatural for Hedge Wizard B.

If Ben was saying that, he'd be obviously wrong.

"The authors handwave", however, suggests that they do not try to apply the guidelines, and deliberately try to fast-talk spell effects past the playtesters (and other authors). I am confident that that does not happen. The authors are always trying to accurately apply the guidelines, or create new guidelines that fit with the old, and while playtest isn't perfect, it gets them closer to that goal.

In this case, "MMV" means "the authors do not handwave", any more than you are handwaving when you say that the spells don't fit. (Actually, you are handwaving, because you are simply asserting, without showing your working for any particular spell, but that's because you are posting to a forum, not writing for publication. You are allowed to handwave here. It's a good thing.)

Yes, I'm handwaving at the moment, books not handy. There are a few spells that I would definitely characterize as handwaving, most obviously (to me) in the House Guernicus writeup. There's the ReMe "trust me" spell in which there is a tortured (ie handwaving) explanation as to why that spell is so different from Aura of Rightful Authority, followed by a spell that would ordinarily require a Bjornaer mystery because it keeps affecting new targets.

So now I'm not handwaving. Though I might still be very, very wrong. Or, at least, other people can legitimately disagree (my permission not needed :slight_smile:).



Ah, well, if you're going back to things written over ten years ago by someone not in the current author pool... There may well be a bit of handwaving in the early supplements, because I've put quite a bit of effort into tightening up procedures to make sure that published spells have as clear a derivation as possible from the RAW. I'm not sure that makes the authors happy; it certainly makes them work hard.


I'm getting old! Time isn't what it was. It used to feel that an entire year could go by without an AM release, and now it feels like there's something every quarter; what's with that?

More seriously, I do understand that your art has improved over time, as has that of the usual suspect authors. I just don't have a great sense of time when I think of the AM5 rules, but take them more as a whole. I could grovel through books to find other instances I consider problematic, but yes, it is more difficult.

For what it's worth, I do own everything AM5 (I think). That might not make the authors (or editor!) happy, but it certainly represents a small impetus to keep going.



So, how does it feel owning a book collection worth a used car?

On-topic, although I agree with some streamlining to the combat rules, I also think the new core rules would benefit from a bit of text (and I mean a bit, maybe two paragraphs and a sidebar at most) giving tips for arbitrating mass combat so people have at least a bare minimum rules support to work with before the supplement with the complete rules comes out six years later. Not dogging you on that, of course, Lords of Men was a great choice for a book to put those rules in, but my general philosophy for books with lots of splats intended in the future (such as Ars Magica) is that the Core book should at least give a little bit of guidance for the things the game will give a chapter or two to in a later supplement. This is the same principle I applied to what I said before, where you don't need to give examples or anything, but try giving players a very vague idea of how Method+Power combinations work for non-Hermetic traditions so people can start designing their own in the intermission between the Core release and when the supplement in question comes out, just like how there are those vague Core guidelines for making creatures with Might and Powers.

But yeah. A little bit of mass combat stuff, sure to be very appreciated by people who like that style of game.