Sub Rosa Issue 14 review

Sub Rosa is a darn good, and perhaps the only English fan magazine for the Ars Magica roleplaying game.

Overall: It is again excellent.

A player or GM or Ars Magica should seriously consider buying each issue of the magazine. It has direct input from David Chart (the line editor of Ars Magica), a seriously good set of articles which explore aspects of the setting and the game well beyond the material that can be found in the official source books.

One particular note which caused me to stop and re-read the page was David Chart’s (Ars line editor) statement in his column that “fundamentally, Mythic Europe makes no sense”.

It is said as a lead up to the new book called Transforming Mythic Europe, but is also resonates with something that my regular players have been saying for decades.

I am seriously considering buying this book to read about the implications of dramatically altering the setting. Initially I think the effect is obvious, but beyond that, I’ve not stopped to consider the 100, 300, 500 year view. The book does appear to maintain that the huge and radical change of Mythic Europe has not happened in the setting as yet, as this book is how to deal with the introduction of that concept. So there is still a framework that fits with the rest of the setting, and I suspect that Transforming Mythic Europe will be more about Hermetic power options than social and political impacts.

Having David speak so plainly is incredible, and I doubt we’ll see another fan magazine for another RPG which has such an involved and open editor.

Quick Summary:

The Storyguide’s Handbook – again gives useful information for GMs, and everything provided applies across any RPG, not just Ars Magica. This article deals with keeping players engaged and how to deal with their unpredictability. If you are familiar with mind mapping tools this will be easy to pickup. I’m a fan of notes, but frankly do not find mind mapping useful, unless it is formulated in a manner to deal with other organised ways of thinking.

I think if this being akin to Risk management in Project Management. Have a plan, identify your risks and issues, mitigate them with strategies, and if they occur then stress the detail. Document light, plan long.

An article for alternative Longevity Rituals is provided, based upon the creation of very special enchanted devices for Verditius Magi. It is very interesting and I could see a Vertitius magus using these.

Mark Shirley has written an article about the population of Magi in the setting and used statistical models to extrapolate the implications of the suggested population sizes from the core material. I think the Magi population has always seemed small, and this article demonstrates (to me, not in it’s writing) that the order is almost too small to be viable.

SR #14 also has a scenario with full character sheets, a very detailed set of companions with stand alone story and many story seeds, and a discussion of the hermetic line of invention through House Bonisagus.

Go read it.

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Sub Rosa Issue 9 review

The Ars Magica magazine Sub Rosa has been regularly published for many years, and through that time the contributors have assisted in the creation of many new ideas into the game system.

Issue 9 was released on Feb 3 and it is a great read for Ars Magica fans. I agree with the blurb from the mag’s website:

“Emerging from the Winter cold, Sub Rosa #9 is here with 68 pages of content, including bonus material for the recently released The Cradle and the Crescent.

We offer up beasts, jinn, sahir, companions, and all manner of juicy details to expand your stories in the Mythic Middle East, straight from the designers and playtester Jason Brennan.

We’ve also got articles on a pious Companion knight, over 30 mythic texts and Gerald Wylie’s Storyguide’s Handbook offers up great advice for simplifying covenant creation!…(cont)”

Overall: Sub Rosa is well worth the money, full of material that either has a direct application to Ars Magica games, or is fascinating reading / fluff which will expand your appreciation of the setting and scope.

I plan on buying every issue. Issue 9 is one of the best I’ve seen.

Quick Review: If you purchased the Cradle and Crescent sourcebook you should also purchase this issue. There is so much material in this issue which directly relates to that source book, and expands on that book that it is an absolute no-brainer. The mag authors have stated openly that much of the material is information that could not fit within the published book, and so its like getting a USD$5 expansion to the book.

The mag is always high quality, well presented, and has regular contributors who are the authors of the source material. So Sub Rosa is generally almost as good as the source material itself.

It is clearly a work of a passionate dedicated team, who take the quality of the material very seriously. I’ve read a few issues now and I find something in each issue to use in my Ars Magica games.

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