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

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XP Calculation (ArM How To)

As a response to the confusion* I had when my players were creating characters, here is a summary how XP is calculated for characters in Ars Magica; using a slightly different method from the default in the style of explanation. The outcome is the same, and I find the points breakdown far easier to spend during creation, especially when done by hand.

As there are two broad character types in Ars Magica, the character generation is also designed in two ways: there are rules for Magi, and rules for everyone else. The Companion and Grog (mundanes) rules are very simple, and the Magi rules are far more complicated.

XP in 5th edition has been heavily base-lined, so that the points spent in Abilities (skills) are the same as the points spent on Arts and Spells (magical powers). The characters spend them in different ways, but essentially as the points are the same, I sum up the totals, and set checkpoints for the minimum spend in the different areas.

The examples below for Magi demonstrate how powerful having post-apprenticeship years are before play begins, so it is worth noting that it is not typical to do this for young Magi, or that it might create an imbalance between characters. Be wary allowing too many years post-apprenticeship, and always enforce the Warp point penalties (2 per year post-apprenticeship).

XP Formula: Early Childhood + Later Life (+ Apprenticeship + Post-Apprenticeship)

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Quick names for Characters

I had a quick thought about character names for rpg games – typically a name should reflect something about the character, and also serve as a reminder for the gm or player about a deeper character. On the surface that is somewhat hard. So here are two suggestions:

Pick them from MMO directories.

The Wow Armory is good and searching by a guild or server will give you a toon list to start from. That said though warcrat players are also a bloody stupid bunch at times as proved by a GuildOx article which shows the popular names by class – no surprise the most popular are god damned horrid.

There is a pool of millions of players out there that create characters in mmos every week. Amongst them are truly great,and totally awful names; don’t be shy.

Grab a baby naming book.

Baby name books are great when your setting is quasi-earth, as they often have lists for “powerful, “fun”, “biblical”, etc. Most used book stores will have one or two, and you’ll not pay much for them.

A good book Pdf is also good, and recently I grabbed a 25001 baby name book on Pdf, and its made is so much easier.