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Interest in Ars Magica


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I am interested in starting an Ars Magica game, structured much like the Stargate Game and was wondering if anyone would be interested in playing/joining?

For those not familiar with the game...

Originally Posted By: The Core Book
Ars Magica is a roleplaying game whereing you and your friends tell the stories of a group of powerful Wizards, Magi of the Order of Hermes, and their allies in the world of Mythic Europe. Mythic Europe is much like the Europe of 1220, the middle ages, but dragons, demons, angels, and faeries are all unquestionably real and no aspect of society is untouched by myth

If that sounds interesting to you or you'd like more details let me know! Right now I am thinking of setting the game in England (The Stonehenge Tribunal) and the characters will have been sent to the remnents of a old covenant (A place where magi live and work together) to find out what happened there and rebuild the site.

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That is one person interested! Yay!

Okay, for those of you unfamiliar, here is a glossary of terms used for the game.

Bonisagus: The brilliant 8th century magus who developed the Parma Magica and, with the help of the other Founders, the whole of Hermetic Magic. The founder of House Bonisagus.

The Church: All Christians, whether priests or not. Also used to refer specifically to the organizational structures of the Church in Western Europe.

companion: A game term, not used by characters, referring to central characters who are not magi

Covenant: Strictly, a group of magi bound together by an agreement going beyond the Code of Hermes. By extension, the place where those magi live, and all the other people who live there with them. Almost all Ars Magica sagas center on a covenant.

The Divine: The greatest power in the Universe, generally believed to be the creator and sustainer of all existence. It backs the Church, the Jews, and the Muslims.

Faerie: One of the four mystic realms. Faeries always care about humans, sometimes in the way a torturer cares about his victims.

filius/filia: A magus trained by a given magus. Only used after apprenticeship. After the Gauntlet, the new magus becomes the filius of the magus who trained him.

Formulaic Magic: Spells that have been worked out in detail ahead of time. They have one effect each, but magi can only use their full power through Formulaic magic.

The Founders: The 12 magi who founded the Order of Hermes in the 8th century. Bonisagus, Bjornaer, Criamon, Diedne, Flambeau, Guernicus, Jerbiton, Mercere, Merinita, Tremere, Tytalus, and Verditius. In many modern accounts, Diedne’s name is replaced with Trianoma’s.

Gauntlet: In full, the Apprentice’s Gauntlet. The final test administered to an apprentice to determine whether he is ready to become a magus; it differs significantly between houses.

The Gift: The ability to use almost any form of magic, with proper training. All magi have The Gift. The Gift makes normal people and animals around the character uneasy.

Grog: A game term referring to supporting player characters. Characters also use it, but mainly to refer to warriors employed by a covenant.

Hedge Magic: A contemptuous term used within the Order of Hermes for any magic other than Hermetic Magic.

Hermetic Magic: The extremely powerful and flexible magic practiced by members of the Order of Hermes.

The Infernal: One of the four mystic realms. Infernal creatures seek to corrupt and destroy people.

Magic: One of the four mystic realms. Magical creatures often do not care one way or the other about humans.

maga/magus/magi: A member of the Order of Hermes who can use Hermetic magic. Used by both players and characters. “Maga” is the feminine form, “magus is the masculine form, and “magi” is the plural form.

Mythic Europe: The world of Ars Magica. Much like medieval Europe in 1220, except that the myths are true.

Order of Hermes: An order of wizards stretching across the whole of Mythic Europe, bound by an oath that keeps them from fighting each other or trying to rule the mundanes. One of the most central organizations in the game.

parens: The magus who trained another magus. This title is only used after apprenticeship; at Gauntlet, the master becomes the parens of the new magus.

Parma Magica: A ritual learned by all Hermetic magi at the conclusion of their apprenticeship, which allows them to resist magic. The first of Bonisagus’s great discoveries.

Quaesitor: The investigators of the Order of Hermes, they find Hermetic criminals and present evidence of their crimes at tribunal.

Redcap: One of the messengers of the Order of Hermes. Most do not have The Gift.

The Schism War: A war in the early 11th century in which House Diedne was eliminated, and which nearly tore the Order apart.

sodalis (pl. sodales): The normal term used by magi to refer to other magi. It is a term used between equals, and emphasizes that all hermetic magi are equal within the Order.

spell: An individual use of magic, generally Hermetic magic. There is no real limit on the number of spells a magus can cast in a day, although casting too many in quick succession is likely to exhaust him.

Spontaneous magic: magic created by a magus on the spur of the moment, to meet an immediate need. Generally much weaker than Formulaic magic, but much more flexible.

Trianoma: The maga who met Bonisagus soon after he invented the Parma Magica, and took on the political mission of bringing Europe’s wizards together in a single Order.

Tribunal: 1) one of the thirteen areas into which the Order of Hermes divides Mythic Europe. 2) The meetings of the magi in one of those areas, held once every 7 years.

Vis: Raw magic. The most valuable thing to most magi.

Next up I'll post a little blurb on each of the current Houses in the Order of Hermes. All magi belong to one of the Houses, usually the same House as that of their parens but not always.

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Hehehehe...Yes, White Wolf owned the rights to the game at one point and many of the familiar systems in oWoD were born from Ars Magica. the AM canon was also invisioned as part of the history of the oWoD.


Interested in Playing?

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The Order of Hermes is divided into Twelve Houses, all but Ex Miscellanea descend in some way from one of the Twelve Founders. This is a brief overview of the Houses, but it is important to remember that individuals within a House can vary widely.

The Twelve Houses fall into three groups. Four (Bonisagus, Guernicus, Mercere, and Tremere) are true lineages, made up of those trained by someone trained by someone (etc) trained by the founder of the House. It is not possible to join those houses later. Four Houses (Bjornaer, Criamon, Merinita, and Verditius) are Mystery Cults, and magi can join those Houses by being initiated into the cult. Such initiations teach the Outer Mystery of the cult, the only cult ability that is not kept largely secret. The last four (Ex Miscellanea, Flambeau, Jerbiton, and Tytalus) are gatherings of magi with common interests. It is relatively easy to join these Houses after training, and magi who feel that they do not fit into their old Houses often do. Ex Miscellanea, in particular, will take anyone with The Gift, a smattering of Latin & Magic Theory, and the ability to raise a Parma Magica – and many members will teach the last three to potential recruits.

It is only possible to be a member of one House at a time.

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House Bonisagus

Bonisagus (BOH-nee-SAH-goos) invented the Hermetic theory of magic, and his student, the maga Trianoma, masterminded the formation of the Order. House Bonisagus is a true lineage and all of it’s members can trace their heritage back to Bonisagus himself.

House Bonisagus is split into two strands, the political and the theoretical. Theoretical Bonisagus magi concentrate on pushing back the boundaries of Hermetic magic. They a considered the undisputed masters of Magic Theory. Political Bonisagus magi, often called “Followers of Trianoma,” concentrate on keeping the order together and excel at politics.

House Guernicus

House Guernicus (GWAIR-nee-kuss) is a true lineage and all it’s members descend from Guernicus the Founder. He believed that the Order needed strictly enforced rules if it was to survive. Members of this House are judges of the Order, investigating wrongdoing and bringing cases against those who transgress the Code of Hermes and the Peripheral Code. They believe the Order will collapse through internal conflict without their fierce stewardship. The House is sometimes known informally as House Quaesitor as “quaesitor” is the title of those magi empowered by the Order to investigate crimes.

Although House Guernicus trains and inducts their own apprentices, other magi can also join the ranks of the quaesitores, and one of the highest honors in the Order is to be invited by the elders of the House to become a quaesitor. Such magi invariably retain membership in their original House. A starting maga can only be a quaesitor if she was trained in House Guernicus.

Quaesitors are sometimes asked to investigate possible crimes, or to mediate disputes between magi and covenants. While this does take time, the custom of the Order is that the Quaesitors be given a few pawns of vis as a gift in return for their efforts.

House Mercere

The founder of this House lost his magical powers but remained involved in the Order. He assumed a non-magical role valuable to other magi – that of messenger. His followers continue to fill that roll. All members of House Mercere (mare-KAY-ray or mare-SARE in vulgar Latin), regardless of whether they possess The Gift are recognized as magi of the order. Even un-Gifted Mercere spend 15 years in apprenticeship like other magi.

Followers of Mercere are more commonly known as “Redcaps” because of the headgear they wear as a badge of office. Redcaps are permitted to attend Hermetic Tribunals, but by convention they only vote if they have The Gift.

House Tremere

Members of House Tremere (tray-MARE-ay or trey-MARE) emphasize the importance of judgment, strategy, and detailed planning. They believe in respect of superiors and in asserting authority over minions. Dignity is of the utmost concern.

House Tremere is considered one of the more sensible and stable Houses, providing strength and courage when needed and refraining from action when peace better serves the Order.

House Tremere is a True Lineage and all members can trace their lineage through their masters back to Tremere the Founder. It is not possible to join the House from outside.

Certamen (The art of magical dueling) was invented by Tremere the Founder, and his House retains a great deal of interest in it. In addition, Tremere magi hold their filii’s voting sigil (Their physical representation for their right to vote at Tribunal) until the filius beats the parens in Certamen, or until the parens dies. If a Tremere magus who does not hold his own sigil trains an apprentice, the new magus’ sigil is held by the parens of the training magus, assuming that magus holds his own sigil. If he does not, the sigil is passed back up the chain until it reaches a magus who does hold his own sigil. As a result of this custom, House Tremere’s votes are concentrated in a very limited number of hands.

Next up will be the Mystery Cults.

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This is the Atlas Games page for Ars Magica 5th edition


This is the Warehouse 23 library of 5th edition AM stuff


I'm sure you can get it at Drivethru RPG and places like that. Also, you can still download 4th edition AM for free from Warhouse 23. That will give you an overview of what the game is like and you will be able to read more about the background in it.

For more info feel free to contact me via PM.

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Sweet, that is two players. I'll need at least one more player before I can get things rolling but I will glady take more interested parites

Rorx and Alex, I tend to use the Troupe style of play so each player will create a magus and a companion. Also, I'm open to locations suggestions on where you'd like the Saga to be set. I mentioned England (as that is what I'm most familiar with) but not married to it, so if you'd like to set it somewhere else we can discuss that.

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Cautiously interested. Might have to back out if posting to existing games becomes an issue though. frown

Still, I like the world and the theory of it all. And I really like the idea of having two PC's for different purposes. Sounds neat.

I'm curious about the mystery cults...and my Companion would be a sly sort of sneak, I think.

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It's nice to see some more interest smile Okay, Max, do you want me to post up the blurbs on the remaining Houses?

Also, I'll have up my character creation guidelines up shortly. There shouldn't be any major suprises there but I just want to be clear on a few points.

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Okay just so everyone knows, I've PMed Chosen about getting a forum for the game and I'm just waiting to hear back from him. If you guys would like to discuss the concepts for you mage and companion feel free.

I am tentaviely locating the campaign in Cornwall. It supposed to be a fairly magical land and at this time period isn't as populated as most of the rest of England, so while I can still invlove mundane and noble politics, you guys won't get suffocated with.

Just a note, Cornish would be the common language so if any of your characters are from the local area, that will be their native tongue.

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I've been asked a couple of times about "splat books" now so I figure I should say something about them before people go charging forward with character creation.

While I have many of the books I have not had a chance to read them all and I'm still getting used to everything in the core rules. That said I don't want to eliminate them entirely. If there is something from one of the books that you are interested in using PM me with the concept, what book it's in and what I need to read to understand it. Then we can talk about it and hopefully work it in somehow.

This way I don't have to read every suplement cover to cover and have my head explode! laugh

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Hmm, Cornwall in 1220?

It was a centre of mining even back in Roman times (from memory) as it was a major place for Tin amongst other things.

England at the time probably has several langauges - Saxon for the peasantry - left over from pre-norman times, the Nobility may still have a prediliction to French as a formal language. Latin of course is the langauge of the Church. Wales and Scotland also have their own langauges (Welsh and Gaelic). I'm not sure about areas like Northumberland that had a relatively large influx of Norse settlers, there could still be vestiges of Norse influences in their langauge or indeed chunks of it.

Anyway, just some random comments that are probably of no use or interest, but it's one of those days today. wink

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Actually that information is very useful. I know about the mining and in this time period Tin isn't the only thing being pulled out of the ground in Cornwall. You guys might want to keep that in mind smile

The languages are a bit of a tumble. Saxon English from my understanding is widespred in England. Cornish is a type of Celtic (so I'll amend the language rules to just "celtic" for anyone from Cornwall) and there is resistance to changing the local language to the more widespread Saxon English (Just English from here on). French is the language of the Norman and Angevin decended nobility so you probably will only hear it when dealing with certain Nobles. Although I'm not aware if any of the nobility in Cornwall is french decended.

Scots Gaelic, Cymraeg (Welsh), Erse, and Manx are all based off the old Celtic language as well and while they are separate languages I'm going to lump them under "Celtic" with Cornish for ease of play. On the roleplay side if you encounter any of those languages we can roleplay the degree to which each of the characters involved truly understands on another.

Norse is largely used in the Scottish Highlands, the Hebrides and costal Ireland so it probably won't be an issue. Latin is also the language of the Order of Hermes. Vulgar Latin is often used for every day conversation while the more formal form is used for spell casting.

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Hrm.. I can't afford the book. I have most of the 4th edition books (including Heirs to Merlin, the Stonehenge Tribunal book, if you're interested), so how different is the chargen system, besides the point-buy stats and the merit values?

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There are some major differences in how Abilities/Skill are bought. They break it down into different stages of the character's life; Early Childhood, Later Life, and Apprenticeship. Only Magi use the Apprenticeship catagory obviously.

First off remember that no ability can go above 5 for characters under the age of 30.

Early Childhood (The first 5 years of life) gives you Native Language 5, and 45 points to divied between (Area) Lore (for the place or places the character is growing up), Athletics, Awareness, Brawl, Charm, Folk Ken, Guile, Living Language (Other than the character's Native), Stealth, Survival, and Swim.

Later Life gives you 15 Points per year after early childhood, which may be placed in any Abilities, as long as the character has a virtue that permits her to learn those Abilities. Academic, Arcane, and Martial Abilities require a Virtue, as do Supernatural Virtues.

Characters with the Wealthy Virtue gain 20 points per year, while characters with the Poor Flaw get 10 Points per years. Only companions qualify to Wealthy or Poor.

So a Companion who is 25 years old would have 300 points to spend on abilities.

Apprenticeship is 15 years long and gives the Mage 240 Points for both Arts and Abilities, and 120 levels of Spells. The games suggests splitting the Points in to 120 for Abilities and 120 for Arts but that isn't a requirement. The Game also suggests the following 90 Point expenditure;

Artes Liberales 1 (this allows you the read and write Latin)

Latin 4

Magic Theory 3 (Any lower and the Magi cannot set up a Lab)

Parma Magica 1 (Hagher than 1 is not allowed)

Latin 4 and Artes Liberales (Liberal Arts) is needed to read the books of the Order which will really harm your ability to gorw and develop, and characters with a latin score of less than 5 cannot write books for their Library which could be an issue for the growth of the library and covenant.

So a Magi who went into Apprenticeship at the age of 8 gains his Early Childhood Points, 45 Points for Later Life, and His Apprenticeship Point and will be 23 at the start of the game. Does that make sense?

Oh, I'd like the Magi to start off relatively young, no older than 25. Companions can be up to 30. Remember that Aging Rolls begin at 35 so the younger characters are the longer it will be before they will start suffering the effects of Age.

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Okay, Now that we have our own Forum, I'm going to start a thread about character creation and one to discuss character concepts.

Also If I could get a role call from my players, just so I know who is still interested.

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The Basica story of the Game hasn't changed although I'm sure some details have been altered through Edition changes (and company changes). The biggest difference from 3rd to 4th is moving the date up to 1220 ad.

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Yes we are playing 5th. White Wolf produced 3rd Edition before selling it to Atlas Games who then put out 4th Edition, changing certain aspects of the game and accelerating the timeline up to 1220.

5th Edition didn't change the setting, just cleared up many glaring rules issues.

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The Certamen rules are about as complex as the 4th ed. combat rules.

The Combat rules are now so simple it's a bit of a shame to trick out a Tremere for it.

I'll find a way, of course. Battle leader is an admirable position. I'll just need a good Vanguard companion.

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Jordan, a generation question for you - I picked up Elemental Magic and Secondary Interest, which give you extra xp in other areas as you learn various Arts, do they apply during generation like Affinity does or only during the game? Either is fine, just need to know for working things out. wink

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I'm going to rule that they only apply after character generation for a couple of reasons. First, unlike Affinity, it doesn't state that they do. Second, creation would get messy as you'ds need to know how many individual sources you'd studied from during apprenticeship and there is no way to tell really.

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