Yet Another Wacky Rules Variant

These do the following:

  1. Simplify the character sheets of magi; this is especially useful for PBeM games. (Were I to run one, I'd adopt these rules or something like them.)

  2. Give magi more options.

  3. Everything is now an Ability.

The power level remains similar.

Here goes!

  1. All Arts are Abilities.

Any virtue that can be taken for an Ability works exactly the same way with an Art. Cautious with Ignem reduces all botch rolls involving Ignem by 2, possibly eliminating the chance for a botch, Puissant Ignem adds 2 to an effective Ignem score, and so on.

Studying or writing books about Arts works like working with any other Ability.

  1. A magus' Casting Score is calculated as usual for all magics.

Note that Casting Scores tend to be significantly lower than canonically.

  1. When casting a Formulaic spell, including Rituals, a magus' Casting Total equals twice her Casting Score, plus modifiers to Casting Totals.

  2. When casting Spontaneous Magic under the canonical "divide by two" rules, a magus' Casting Total instead equals her Casting Score plus modifiers to Casting Totals.

  3. When casting Spontaneous Magic under the canonical "divide by five" rules, a magus' Casting Total instead equals her Casting Score divided by two, plus modifiers to Casting Totals.

  4. A magus' Lab Total is calculated differently: Any component of the Lab Total that would also modify a Casting Score (Arts, a Focus, Aura, etc) is doubled, as is Intelligence. All other modifiers to a Lab Total, such as Magic Theory, Inventive Genius and Verditius Runes are added without doubling.

--So far, I've just juggled the numbers; power levels for all magic remains about the same. Some virtues improve a little, some lose a little, nothing big. So why bother with new rules?

  1. The ability to understand and use the Hermetic Forms for magic provides similar insight and ability to use these Forms in a mundane fashion. Thus, a Form, perhaps with requisites, can substitute for any Ability, except for the following:
  • Supernatural Abilities must be bought normally, because these are a different kind of magic and a different understanding of the world.
  • Languages must be bought normally, because Hermetic Magic is tied to to a language, and because God has done a number on language.
  • Academic and Arcane knowledges must usually be bought normally.
  • Area and Organization Lores have aspects that are too particular to be covered by Arts (so a magus might use Intelligence+(Co,Te) to find a blacksmith, and on a good roll might naturally gravitate to where the best blacksmith in town must live, but will not be able to determine that this man is 32 years old and named Thomas.)
  • A magus cannot use Arts for Martial Abilities unless he has a virtue that would otherwise allow him to do so.

Corpus and Mentem will show up extremely often, and should usually be requisited.

Examples: Guess tomorow's weather, as a sailor might: Int+Auram. Swim a long distance: Sta+(Co,Aq). Read someone's facial expression to determine if he's lying: Per+(Me, Im). Brawl: Dex+(Co, An). Whittle a stick: Dex+Herbam. Sneak: Dex+(Co,Au or maybe An). Find a needle in a haystack: Per+(Te, He). Lift a large, wooden chest: Str+(Co,He).

The rules are different, not simplified, so no it doesnt.
I would even say that some of your modifications are more complex than the original.

??? No it doesnt?
If you want to give more options, invent and/or allow more Virtues and Flaws, works alot easier.

That however is an innovation that could be worth looking into.
I think it will be hard to avoid misuse of this, but it could perhaps be a fun addition.

I think you don't get it. A magus' character sheet is suddenly reduced to 15 Arts, a few Arcane and Academic Abilities, maybe a Supernatural Ability, and that's it.

Depends what I want to accomplish. Magi do have a lot more options, under this system. A magus with 1xp in each Art can attempt virtually any mundane activity. A Terram specialist understands iron well enough to forge a sword without needing to learn a Craft skill; an Aquam specialist can swim and sail, a Vim specialist knows about angels and demons... Those are a lot more options.

That however is an innovation that could be worth looking into.
I think it will be hard to avoid misuse of this, but it could perhaps be a fun addition.

This is what these rules are all about.



No i didnt get it. Making no difference between magic and mundane abilities(only a fool would try to advance both)? Sorry but i think that sucks severely.

Of course, it also reduces number of skills dramatically, all XP you gain will go to arts/MT. Now, disregarding anything else, i think thats going to break the system as it is. Probably break it badly.

How does the system break badly?

An intriguing idea, but probably not one I’d play as written. Just perusing it, it produces some incongruities that, to me, feel outside the setting. That’s not necessarily bad, but I think it would take away from my fun were I to play it.

I haven’t “crunched any numbers”, but it seems to me that:

  1. Corpus specialists get a huge boost. They become skilled unarmed combatants and powerful athletes with incredible stamina – not only that, this increases as they age!

Requisites mitigate this somewhat, but this seems to me like it would produce oddities that are hard to explain away and just make no sense in the setting. In your “lift a heavy wooden box” example, it seems hard to justify the Herbam requisite without some serious mental gymnastics. My ability to lift the box is limited by my lack of knowledge about its composition?

Necromancers (or other specialists in Corpus and Mentem) get an even bigger boost. Not only are they athletes and warriors, they’re also masterful manipulators and readers of people. I guess that’s OK, but does it really feel right that all necromancers automatically have these abilities?

  1. Some arts seem to become more powerful in a mundane sense than others. Corpus and Mentem are already mentioned, but arts like Imaginem (which I could see replacing Guile, Disguise, even Legerdemain) and Animal (animal handling, combat against animals, hunting, maybe even tracking), for example, would benefit hugely. On the other hand, I don’t see Ignem benefiting much at all. I think this would affect what sorts of magi grow old and powerful and how they treat one another and mundanes, which is another big change to the setting.

  2. What happens to companions? Under this system, they hardly even seem needed. Are the regular old abilities still around, but only companions can have them? Or can magi have “normal” abilities (Swim, Ride, Athletics, Awareness, etc), but usually don’t because their arts cover those bases? Does a “normal” ability stack with a “Form” ability? If we still have to keep track of “normal” abilities, have we really simplified anything? What about abilities magi learn as children? Do they still have those “normal” abilities, or are they translated into Arts somehow?

This seems like an interesting variant, but it doesn’t feel like Ars at all. I just don’t think the world would be the same. Wizards who’re skilled with magic of the body may not in fact be skilled with their physical body at all; that’s part of the stereotype of a wizard. This system, to me, seems to divorce us from the magical, medieval, Mythic Europe setting. It might be a fun game, but it wouldn’t be Ars Magica.

Although, this might make an interesting Mystery virtue... apply your Form bonus from a specific Form to a wider variety of situations?

Actually, the best variat you ever came up with was years and years ago on the Berklist, concer ning magic resistance. You wrote a long essay on an alternate way to apply Magic Resistance, do you recall? That would be interesting to repost somewhere.

I have them somewhere, I think. I'll see if I can dig them up for you.



I think that the idea of these rules is that magi do really have the mundane abilities too, but in practice they always use their magic to achieve what would otherwise have been done mundanely. Additionally, their mundane skills are low, as they improve their magic preferentially. So, because of these factors the system "simplifies" by not bothering to track the mundane skills of the magi.

It's not a bad idea actually --- certainly in a normal saga I already find myself only bothering to keep track of the Arts scores of important NPC magi, and just guessing at their mundane ability scores as they are needed.

The thing that doesn't work very well (for these rules as a simulation of the normal rules, at least) is that it's actually not true that magi always use their magic in preference to their mundane skills. For example in combat, it's frequently better, albeit risky, for a magus to attack targets with Magic Resistance with mundane means (an axe, for example). As that way he doesn't need to worry about Penetration.

These proposed simplified rules seem to loss this sort of subtlety in the rules.

What art would cover martial skills? And cooking? Are you sure sailing would be covered by aquam? Climb is herbam? I doubt my mother (a skilled gardener) would even KNOW how to climb a tree, let alone TRY it... :confused:

While there is potential and I thought "hey! cool!" when I fist saw it, there is also the wrestler drawbacks and the like as noted before, and areas where not everything is that clear cut....

Needs some work before being considered kosher for me :slight_smile:


I get a Mystic Hong-Kong Sensei vibe from this variant. Ars Shui? :slight_smile:

I don't think that you need to make this clear cut, it should just depend on context. So, shooting wooden arrows at someone might be Herbam. Or it might be Corpus. It'd be up to the players/storyguide to agree.

Of course, your mother (presumably) knows only mundane gardening rather than Herbam. Remember Herbam (when paired with Muto or Rego) can control or change the shape of trees. So, someone with Herbam could make hand-holds etc as they climbed. This seems quite reasonable, to me. Climbing something else, say a cliff, could be Terram.

I guess it might help if you think about what happens when your magi go travelling away from the covenant through a forest to a village.

Do they

  1. use their Survival skill to light a fire, and use their Area Lore to find the way to the village, and their Swim skill to ford a swollen river in their path?

Or 2) use CrIg effects to keep dry etc, InHe effects to find the direction of the village, and ReAq effects to part the river?

or 3) get the grogs to worry about all that.

The more your magi tend to 2 (or 3) (or the more you want them to be like 2 or 3), the less important it seems to be to keep track of the mundane skills of magi?

Yeah, this is a first cut. I've been toying with it for a while and finally decided to set something down.

For example, I could easily remove Magic Theory from the picture, and declare that Arts scores include the appropriate theory. This reduces lab totals, sure, but that's not so terrible, especially if I just double lab totals.

smile See? Changing things already, and I've removed an Ability.

Deviant rules aren't for everyone. Hell, some of my own deviant rules don't play well together.

If I look at the world in a mundane way, it makes very little sense. But magi have a different understanding of the world, where understanding the fundamentals of Herbam does allow plant materials to be moved. That already exists in the system.

Depends on the kind of necromancer. Hermetic magi who specialize in "necromancy" are still not very good at necromancy! They're magi; they're something else.

Some Arts are already better than others, true. I'd almost always have Mentem and Corpus take a requisite, maybe Animal for instinctual or animalistic behavior, maybe an element for a particular emotion or humor, Imaginem for understanding thoughts from expressions. Disguise would be Imaginem, sure, as with a spell, but for mundane use I'd demand an appropriate requisite. The materials being used are not Imaginem, after all!

But even now, some Arts are better than others. Just the way it is.

That's right! I'm thinking of games in which clutter is not desired, such as a PBeM. In many games, it's best when each player focuses on a single character.

Even so, most magi won't want to spend their time at mundane pursuits, just because they can. And when they do, it's better if they succeed at their specialties.

As an SG using this system, a magus building a ship might use (He, Aq) and a magus sailing a ship might use (Aq, Au), depending on what feels right. This won't work well in some games, but really moves things along in others.

They get dropped off magi's character sheets.

For a game in which I'd use this variant, I'd have childhood Abilities drop off the map: Each child gets a Living Language and a small Area Lore. That's enough.

It wouldn't to you. But I've been thinking that rules like this might make the game feel more like AM, in a way, allowing a whole new kind of spontaneous magic.

That would be an interesting Virtue, perhaps not even a Mystery virtue.



A magus could have the mundane Ability too, but I'd discourage it as SG, and life would discourage it too, since these rules make Arts so much better. What magus would take Craft: Blacksmith when he could boost Terram instead? The mundane use of the Art wouldn't even be affected by Auras, or cause Warping.


That's just the sort of thing that I want to streamline.

Using this system, a magus might do the same thing using Arts in a mundane way, and there would be no Magic Resistance involved. Though he'd need a Virtue that gave him Martial skills if he wanted to be effective with that axe.




Brawl is probably (Co, An). Using a staff (Co, He). A sword (Co, Te).

Maybe your mother lacks a clear appreciation of Herbam and is stuck with Gardener.

(Hmm. Am I breaking an Internet rule by talking about your mother? :slight_smile: )

Yeah, it needs some work.



slow grin

I wasn't thinking of Feng Shui, but was thinking about trimming things down and speeding things up, to promote action and narrative flow.



Yes! Yes! To Obi-Wan you must listen!

And under this system, a magus might look like he's doing #1, but use Per+Herbam to find his way through the forest, Per+Aquam to ford the river (or Co/Aq), Int+(Me, Te) or something similar to figure out where people are likely to have placed a village, if there is one, Dex+Ignem to light a fire....



Then climbing a cliff is terram, climbing up on the back of a person corpus, climbing up a piece of rope made from animal hide is animal, etc etc and yes its gets totally insane.
Or ALL climbing becomes Rego and suddenly Rego gives bonus to all movement abilities including fighting etc etc and the system breaks even worse!
Serious rethinking required.

Just Forms.

Yes, it needs another go.

Is complexity of character sheets really a problem in PBeM?

In PBeM doesn't everyone have plenty of time to consult rulebooks, keep track of heaps of numbers in glorious spreadsheets, and generally faff about with their characters? The opportunity to cope with complexity is practically a feature of PBeM (IMO).

Rules similar to these would seem to be more useful for something like a Larp, where people don't want to feel pressured to remember loads of numbers.