Tips for Creating Custom Datasheets in MetaCreator for Ars Magica

Back in 2011 I wrote a custom datasheet for MetaCreator to add Crossbows in Ars Magica – and was asked recently how to do this (an AG link too); so this blog post is a few tips for getting started with metacreator custom datasheets (aside…please don’t tell me you’re not using bastard swords and crossbows in Ars Magica! Its in Lords of Men and the author also stated his intent on the Atlas Games forums in 2010, despite the name “bastard sword” not being used till many centuries later. For heavy hitting fighting characters they are excellent as they function as a long sword when used one handed and a two handed sword when used without a shield).

For MetaCreator – Adding new virtues, flaws, abilities, spells, equipment, and basically anything which is already established in the framework of Ars Magica in MetaCreator is as simple as creating a new DataSheet (a new .mds file) and editing it with the material you need.

The MC help for editing data files is pretty good and clear, the tips for that I have are:

  • To get a file, copy the current Ars .mds file and delete everything in it, but keep the structure. This ensures that the data will be read in as it will match the structure.
  • Keep the true Ars5 file open at the same time as you can copy/paste between files.
  • You’ll need to set the properties correctly if you want to reuse it, so: … a order or level of importance in the properties of the file.
  • Then copy paste a sample from the official file into your new file and edit names and details. Simple!

It’s not a great editing experience in terms of adding a lot of new data at once. I might have missed a programmatic way to do that.

Then you import the file using MC’s menu when a new character is being edited, and the new options will appear.

There are some file properties which need to be edited too but I can’t recall the tricks for that, but I do remember it didn’t take me long to suss how the versions and references hung together.

If you want to also add new formulas and rules that is much trickier, and it needs additional files.
E.g. the crossbow needed a weapon damage calculation to be slightly different, which meant editing in the macro language (and I’m a disastrously poor developer).

If you want to create your own help file which is usable from within the application then I wish you luck – I did it once successfully and it did my head in.

Ref: MetaCreator for Ars 5th edition by AlterEgo software

Metacreator screen and help file

The Cursed Gift of Daedalus

I’ve liked the idea of a flying companion in Ars Magica for a long time, and only now have a write up. This effect is the classic: “grant a man wings of a bird” and as such is such a wonderful match to the imagery of the Icarus and Daedalus legend. Daedalus certainly paid for his hubris is a most vicious way, and while his crafting of waxen wings wasn’t his only great achievement in the legends (i.e. the labyrinth was a wonder too), it is one that he is most famous for.

The Cursed Gift of Daedalus

Muto Corpus 30. R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Part, Req: Animal

Grants the target a pair of wings and the ability to fly.

(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 Part, +1 Requisite)

Obviously the MuCo5 guideline requires Target: Part to be effective, and Sun is a desirable duration as Concentration is just too risky. As a story suggestion – an Athletics ability check might be used for maneuvering at the story-guide’s discretion.


Milestone unlocked: 102 spells for Ars Magica


It’s been a while since I started blogging spells for Ars Magica – in fact several years. Recently I published my 102nd spell which I’m proud to have reached. If Ars blogging was a game an Achievement icon would have pop’ed onscreen, ding! All the spells can be found on this page.


A quirk of spell name styles

This post is an aside from my normal fare, being that it is just a random thought. Not a smackering of new rpg material is here to be found. Apologies. Please join me in a little navel gazing on what and how I like spell names to be.

An aspect of spell design I enjoy is the bit where I sit and ponder its name. Leaning back in the chair, partially stumped, looking for the right words. Right from the start an interesting spell name might lead to an unusual effect, outside optimal, but within the theme of the game. From the fist read of the Ars magica rules which to me renamed Lightning Bolt to the The Incantation of Lightning made me sit and take notice.
Some spells have names which reference history, others strange devices, and the really quirky require either a sense of humour, or a dark touch. As much as I love it, the folks doing the main writing for the Ars Magica line seem to have mastered the art. Clever bloody chaps.

Over the range of spells I’ve written there are a tendencies.

I tend to seek a naming convention for related similar spells. For example I like all the transformation into beast or monster spells to be like the core examples; Form of the Swishy Something. The recent post about Dragon transformation is still in draft, and that’s because I can’t suss a snappy name. I’ve got a second rate version, but it’s not right.

I tend to like and be slightly jealous of names which capture the essence if the effect, but also leave your mind to wander.

Thematically the essence of the creating wizard might be a factor, but more so the name should stand apart from the creator.

Which leads to a dislike of the creators name in spells. Mordenkainen was a groovy and opulent name for a Wizard, but his spells could have been so much more. Bigby was just kind of lazy. Viliano’s Sling might be a cool effect, but it strikes a little bluntly as a name.

So we get names like,

  • Object of Increased Size, Enlarged, or Gift of the Bear’s Fortitude to Beasts – which are plain paper dull, but will sort very well in a character sheet.
  • The Unobtrusive Observer’s Sight in Stone, and The Unobtrusive Observer’s Voice in Stone – which tells the reader that these effects are linked, and allows for variation for different senses and different forms later, with no change in the naming convention.
  • Withhold the Drunkard’s Muse, Taint the Drunkard’s Desire, Call for the Drunkard’s Demise – all of which share the theme of a spell to exploit those who cannot resist alcohol.
  • And The Harpies Screech or Blessing of Eternal Joy which should indicate clearly what it does.

Anyway, just random thoughts; happy gaming.