What, exactly, is this ‘Schism War’ we’ve been hearing about?
If you aren’t an Ars Magica fan already, you may be puzzled by the references to the Schism War which have been flying around. This major event, which occurs right at the beginning of our period, opens with rumors of diabolism, blood sacrifice and apocalypse, and ends with the utter destruction of one of the thirteen Houses of Hermes: an unprecedented event in the history of the Order.
For those of you who are Ars Magica fans, you’ll have the pleasure of witnessing these events on the ground, and may even have a hand in shaping a little piece of their outcome…
It's the devil you know…
In the late tenth century, the leaders of House Tytalus were found to be making pacts with demons, believing that they had the strength to compel the loyal service of the fallen without falling to sin themselves.
They were wrong, and they paid the price as the Order purged their House.
In the aftermath, magi became ever more suspicious of one another's activities, demanding to inspect covenants, demands that were refused. Tribunals froze into deadlock as magi who were not directly involved avoided taking sides, and frustrated individuals took matters into their own hands.
Whispers become Swords
The Order of Hermes recognizes Wizard's War, by which a magus takes himself and his opponent outside the protection of the laws of the Order for one lunar month. During a Wizard's War, a magus may do anything to his opponent that his power permits, and such wars were declared to force investigations of suspect covenants.
The target of a Wizard's War may, of course, defend herself in any way she can; many died in these clashes.
1) How did you first learn about the Ars Magica tabletop game?
You know, I don't completely remember when I first learned about Ars Magica. But I certainly bought my first Ars Magica 5th edition book at Origins 2005, the year after it won an Origins Award. Through my college years, I actually collected way more RPGs than I played, and the magic system of Ars Magica, in addition to the narrative style, hooked me fast and hard.
For what was the first time in my experience, I had a magic system that really felt systematic. Magi weren't anything like the D&D style wizards that I'd stopped finding satisfying. Ars Magica magi didn't just have a list of five spells that they could memorize; they could create entirely new spells, they could have strengths in different sorts of magic that didn't rely on spell lists… it really opened my eyes to how interestingly magic could be modeled in a game.