Welcome to 2017

Happy new year to all the folk reading the blog. Hope 2017 is interesting and challenging in a good way. This year I’m set on reaching another spell milestone and also adding the odd campaign or story elements into the posts. To that end I might also see about getting some material out in the Ars Magica community too – subject to life’s regular demands. That’s not a resolution. 

There is a renewed interest in the Ars Magica community for content now that the official line has stopped publishing new books – in the Sub Rosa magazine (where I’ve had one thing published) and in a new magazine called Peripheral Code which started very recently. Both take submissions, have the support of Atlas Games, and also have writers from the product line and the community involved. It’s a time where the community now gets to write and direct the 5th edition material that is shared to the public which is exciting and positive.

While I’m not playing a face to face RPG game I am playing in several forum games of Ars; a slow burn based in Eastern Europe with a Bonisagus, a Scottish Merintia, a picked up Tremere based in the mountains of Andorra, and hopefully to start a Scandinavian game with a Mage specialising in ice and snow survival. 

Happy gaming folks. 

Sub Rosa issue 18 released


SubRosaCover18The Ars Magica fanzine Sub Rosa #18 has just been published. This issue focuses on magical and mundane beasts, and rather than just being a list of stat blocks it contains background, story threads, abilities, creation rules, and all sorts of extra content for story guides to use in Ars Magica sagas.

The issue also contains a short story, a detailed write-up on advancing a magus using the Intangible Assassin style, and an alternative way of generating Shape and Material bonuses. Issue 18 is 128 pages long, so very good value.

Of particular interest to me is the custom spells offered as part of the Advancing the Intangible Assassin article. I love new spells.

An excellent issue, well worth a read.

I’ve been published in Sub Rosa magazine, Issue 17 now available

Issue 17 is the newest issue of Sub Rosa for Ars Magica, and it’s available now. And for the first time I have an article published. It is a simple contribution – a collection of new spells for Ars Magica. After reviewing the mag cover to cover I’m a little embarrassed by such a simple list when compared to the creative and historic material the Sub Rosa magazine contains. I am darn chuffed though.

Sub Rosa Issue 17 cover

Making an Object Immovable

Terram is also for generic effects, in this case two spells for making objects immovable. The Ars Magica sourcebook Transforming Mythic Europe (p125) has a section on creating motive power, even almost covering spell levels into equivalent horse power. That section uses a Base 2 for the spell effects as it is designing spells to rotate gears which can be considered slightly unnatural, however holding an object mid-air is highly natural which needs a Base 3.

For most purposes the first spell will be more than enough, as I thought the effect could be used to hold doors closed, block areas, create impromptu stairs, hold aloft torches, etc.

Object is Stubborn

Rego Terram 10, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

The object touched becomes almost immovable, and if moved will seek to return to the spot where it was initially placed. The object can be placed to float in mid air. The spell ends prematurely if the object is moved more than a pace from the position it is placed.

The object can be slowing shifted by an exceptionally strong person or many people (combined strength of greater that +5), or a stronger magical force (higher than Base 3) can move the object very slowly. The force of resistance is equivalent to one horse power. Casting requisites are required.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +2 Sun)

The a longer duration and more powerful version.

Object is Immovable

Rego Terram 20, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

The object touched becomes almost immovable, and if moved will seek to return to the spot where it was initially placed. The object can be placed to float in mid air. The spell ends prematurely if the object is moved more than a pace from the position it is placed.

The object can be slowing shifted by an exceptionally strong person or many people (combined strength of greater that +50), or a stronger magical force (higher than Base 4) can move the object very slowly. The force of resistance is equivalent to ten horse power. Casting requisites are required.

(Base 3, +1 for increased strength, +1 Touch, +3 Moon)

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.

Sub Rosa Issue 10 Review

The next issue of the Ars Magica magazine Sub Rosa was  released on June 6, and like last issues there is a lot worth considering for Ars Magica players.

This issue has a heavy focus on the mystery of ships with new ways to incorporate maritime elements and themes into games.

“A mild winter has left us busy but issue #10 is now here, full of stormy skies and unfamiliar magic, with a dash of mystery and a ship to sail it by.

Accented with lavish art, you’ll find pieces from Ars Magica veterans like Jeff Menges and Angela Taylor alongside Sub Rosa regulars like Vincent Belmont, Alexandra Dopp, Barrie James and Jason Tseng.

Weighing in at 60 pages, the Storyguide’s handbook considers the Dramatic Journey, Mark Lawford gives you the blueprints for a Hermetic Shipwright, and there are mystery cults and twilight scars to go around.

Vulcanis Argens returns and there’s a thundering scenario sure to keep your saga engaged, no matter what Tribunal your troupe calls home.” (cont)

Quick Review – Another excellent issue. My first impression was that it contains material which I can use in any Ars Magica game, but also some great new ideas for odd encounters and scenarios.

I have a love for boats and ships in roleplaying games as I think they were a fundamental part of the world, but are largely ignored in most settings. This issue provides magical backdrops and ideas, complete with stats, and a small scenario.This builds from material already published in the Hermetic projects book, but is provided stand alone for use as well.

One part of a story reminds me of a SpellJammer touch – which is all I needed to see to know I’d be reading the article a few times at least. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading