Your 5 chosen Ars books

Hypothetical case. You are.moving to a tropical island without internet but with an active RPG community. You have to choose 5 ars màgica supplements and ditch the rest because there is no space in your luggage. You can also keep one core book (any edition).

What would be your choices?

My case.

Realms of power the infernal. The best realm book IMO. Lots of flavor, lots of antagonists, and some cool magic systems that can we tweaked to represent other traditions as well.

Hedge Magic. For me it would be a putty having to choose between this one rival magic and ancient.magic, but I would choose this one since I think the traditions represent a much truer medieval magic approach than the core book. Along with spirit masters from ROP:I they cover most of what I like regarding job magic systems.

Lion of the North. The Loch Leglean tribunal book. My fav of all time. The core of the best foundation story in the line ever and a powerful nemesis for any saga. A challenging and evocative setting full of exploration, settled English lowlands and a clash of approaches to magic. An amazing campaign setting with a frontier feel both magically and mundanely.

Heirs to Merlin or Guardians of the Forests. The former because it is the vanilla settling, what most tribunals should look like. I do not like the fact that most tribunal need to be so distinctive as to be totally dysfunctional none with the other. GotF for me still kept the setting of previous editions true while having some local quirks, and it is rich and well designed with plenty of story ideas.

I would have also liked to keep triamore, houses of hermes, and some of the adventure books and hooks (including a.medieval tapestry), but alas, 5 books I said. :slight_smile:

For the core book I would take the 5th edition one, even if it lacks the all important setting chapter on the orde of Hermes.

So, what would be your choices?


1 Like

The books I use the most are:

  • Covenants
  • Grogs
  • Realms of Power: Magic
  • Hedge Magic
  • Mysteries Revised Edition

I'd like to bring along Through the Aegis and a Tribunal book, but the main point of a those books for me are to save time on research, and if I'm alone on an island, I'll have plenty of time to ... make all that stuff up I guess, cause I ain't gonna be doin no research on a tropical island!


given the typical population of a desert Island and the relative popularity of various RPGs I would be lucky to find an Ars Magica group on the Island.
Of course how I'm moving there with such a peculiar limitation on shipping capabilities is beyond me, as is the question of how it is impossible to get internet when satellite signals are inherently stronger in the tropics due to the orbital geometry of satellites...
But since all of my ars magica books are on my hard drive, its really an all or nothing issue...

  • Covenants: It's more fun to trick out your crib
  • Grogs: They're everywhere and the package system is easy to use
  • Lords of Men: Good medieval flavor
  • Guardians of the Forest: Favorite tribunal
  • True Lineages: Research rules and Bonisagi play well in the Rhine Tribunal.

Mysteries Revised
RoP Magic
Faith & Flame

another one... maybe HOHMC

I said tropical island, but one with an active RPG community, and not necessarily a small one :slight_smile: I like those answers!


  • The 5th ed corebook, because duh.

  • HoH: Mystery Cults

  • HoH: Societes

  • HoH: True Lineages

Because they contain a lot of cool stuff on how Hermetic society in general works.

  • City and Guild
  • Art and Acadame

I can make up fantasy elements more or less from a whole cloth, but I'm not a historian.

While posting elsewhere and coming back here, and reading others, one question has to be answered: before this trip, did I read every book or not?

If yes, as i said.

if not: covenants, a&a, all HOH, 5ed.

Good question. Let's assume you have a complete Ars Magica collection before you move to the island.

A few people keep mentioning the core ArM5 book. I had thought the question was five books beyond the core. Let my answer presume that assumption. At minimum, I could get by with the core and the WGRE. That is a fourth ed book, but it contains more information about Hermetic culture and history than any fifth edition book. And the lab rules there are much easier and efficient. The rest I can HR from memory.
If I can bring my lap top, I don't need any books. At this point, I have the entire line on PDF. Plus a bunch of stuff rom earlier editions. Just a few months ago, I got a copy of ArM2! Never played it, but I would love to try it.
But this defies the nature of the question.
To be honest, I would love to bring more than one game. I have yet to try Blades in the Dark and Mage the Awakening, though I do have them. As PDFs. And FS2 (another Atlas game).

PDF is cheating :stuck_out_tongue: Other games would be great, I am sure. Maybe bringing them is the reason you cannot bring more Ars supplements to the island :wink: Blades is a great game, but I am not very comfortable with PbtA games. no idea about mage but the other WoD games were a little bit over the top in supernatural teenager angst for my liking.

It is a core book + 5 books. I put this in case someone preferred a precvious edirtion. I was tempted to write 3rd edition there since I liked the feeling of that edition even if it was way less robust rules-wise.

True about WGRE. I forgot about that one. will need to check it again now that I am having a personal revival regaridng ArM. Not that I am playing it per the rules (we have a whatsapp campaign with the feeling of ArM but the rules are extremely different besudes using spell magnitudes calculated like Ars) but it is fun. Regarding older editions I have all the core books (ArM1-5) in paper. Some supplements still lacking though. I would not bring those to the island.


To the essence of if I had to restrict my games to 5 books beyond the core- covenants and the four house books is what I would have to go with. I would really like to have mysteries and ancient magic as well, but to me the 4 house books and covenants are necessities, almost core rules in themselves.

Silveroak, but there are only 3 house books?

What you didn't get the Diedne house book?

Kidding aside, I'd probably go with ancient magic next, and an index card with the lab rules for creating a breakthrough from Mysteries.

Core, RoPM, TMRE, a tribunal book (probbaly GotF or Heirs to Merlin), True Lineages.
I know everyone loves Covenants, but I never use it.

Core - I prefer 5th.

Covenants - always fills me with interesting ideas for covenants, both as a player taking part in covenant creation and as a storyguide when creating interesting ones to visit.

HoH:True Lineages - the new research rules and details of the Hermetic Code and tribunal procedures is really helpful, as are the timelines.

HoH:Mystery Cults - I love playing Bjornaer and Merinita, and this book contains just enough rules about initations that you can get away without having The Mysteries.

I love a good set of scenarios, especially some to help me run when inspiration is lacking or when trying to kick off a saga. I'd either take Thrice-Told Tales or (if I can be cheeky) a few issues of Sub Rosa bound into a folder (CJ ran several Sub Rosa scenarios for our group and I ran the one with the magic-realm travelling ship, so I have a high opinion of SR scenarios)

Generally, I'd prefer a good book on history and a good book on mythology or folk tales to a Tribunal book - if those weren't available on my island, I'd take either The Sundered Eagle or The Contested Isle for their mix of history and the supernatural, and for their balance of Divine, Magic and Faerie ideas.

If I didn't take a Tribunal book, I'd take Realms of Power: Magic as a favourite with all the animals, spirits and magic objects.

Not making the cut - Hoh: Societates - I don't use the extra rules in this one much, and while I love playing Ex Miscellanea I prefer to create my own by negotiation with the SG.

Ones dealing with the mundane (Lords of Men, City & Guild, Art & Academe, The Church) all have their good points, but are less useful if you've read enough history and aren't setting your game in such a way that you really focus on daily manor life/major trade guilds/universities/major religious institutions for a big chunk of your adventures.

Alternativey: If I had enough players who loved the middle east, I'd take Cradle & Crescent and the four Realms of Power books and just head east with the sahir through many varied lands. I might be tempted to dump RoP: Faeries or Infernal and add Between Sand and Sea for adventures in the Sahara.

1 Like

As I read the OP it's 5 supplements and one core book. If that's the case I'll take the ArM 5th ed. core book and...

  1. HoH:TL
  2. HoH:MC
  3. HoH:S
  4. TMRE
  5. HMRE

If not, then I'll remove HMRE and replace it with the core.

Hard to say.

The Sundered Eagle
HoH: True Lineages
Cradle and the Crescent

If it is Ars Magica 5th Edition, then I’d choose The Mysteries, Art & Academy (love the material in these two), Covenants, Faith & Flame and Tales of Mythic Europe. I’d be pretty conscious of not having any Houses or Realms books though.

If I were choosing from any edition, I’d go for 2nd Edition, and choose Order of Hermes, Covenants, Faeries, The Medieval Bestiary and still take The Mysteries (1st edition, I guess - even though it was written for 4th edition).