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Default Ars Magica - interview @ RPGCodex

October 25th, 2012, 15:32
RPGCodex has teamed up with Josh Sawyer to put together some questions they could ask the Ars Magica devs about their Kickstarter game.
For those unfamiliar with the Ars Magica PnP system, can you briefly present it and point out its main strengths? How faithfully do you intend to reproduce these strengths and the PnP system in general, including the fatigue-based magic system, in your game?

This is a tough question. How to distill the magic, history, role-playing, alchemy, mystery, faith and personality of the table-top game? It defies classification.

In short, Ars Magica is a role-playing game set in Medieval history, in which you chart the rise and fall (and perhaps rise again) of a Covenant of mages and their underlings. The forces of the supernatural surround you: faeries, demons, magical beasts, and the encroaching world of the mundanes and the Dominion. Every character in the Covenant has a life of their own, with likes and dislikes of their own, and you can play any of them when you need them. Their personalities grow as the years pass, and by the end of every Ars Magica Saga you usually have a story or two to tell about everyone, even the least peasant. The heart of the Covenant is the mages, and each of them are vying for greater knowledge, power and prestige. The magic system is pseudo-scientific, and applies an interesting rigor to spells which you see virtually nowhere else. Your mages can research, study, and distill the forces of magic, creating ever more powerful, useful, or fun spells. Furthermore, via Spontaneous Magic, you can create a Spell to do most anything within the limit of your ability. We could go on and on, but that hits all the key topics. : )

We strongly feel that magic is an omnipresent part of the Ars Magica system, so it's omnipresent in our game, too. Whether you are looking at the Covenant map, in an Adventure, or a Combat, the spells which are contextual to the situation are available for use. And if you don't know the Spell, you can always try it Spontaneously. The Fatigue mechanic (and Twilight, too) are present, per the 5E rules.
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October 25th, 2012, 15:32
Handling spontaneous magic is going to be very difficult for them as the spells can do literally anything. That is one of the really fun things when playing the PnP game.
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October 25th, 2012, 16:37
Yep. From what I've read, they're planning to implement what are available in the published works. True spontaneity probably won't be possible any time soon, but I could see them eventually implementing a more limited form of spell variation. I.e. something resembling the Champions' powers system.
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October 25th, 2012, 17:19
BTW, for those who aren't familiar with Ars Magica magic works like this:

There are 5 "verb" magic skills and 10 "noun" skills. Latin is used for the names. You combine a verb and noun skill to cast a spell.

(from Wikipedia)
Creo is the technique that lets the Magus create from nothingness, or make something a more "perfect" examplar of its kind; this includes healing as healed bodies are "more perfect" than wounded bodies.

Intellego lets the Magus perceive or understand.

Muto lets the Magus change the basic characteristics of something, giving something capabilities or properties not naturally associated with its kind.

Perdo lets the Magus destroy, deteriorate, make something age and other similar effects - essentially, making something a worse example of its kind.

Rego lets the Magus control or manipulate something without affecting its basic characteristics.

Animal is used for animals. Since bacteria were unknown in medieval times, illnesses are evil spirits, which come under Vim.

Auram is used for anything that has to do with the air, including lightning. Weather phenomena such as rain and hail may be covered by Auram or Aquam.

Aquam is used for water, or any other liquid. This includes ice in the 5th edition; In 4th edition, Ice was Terram, since it is a solid.

Corpus (the incorrect declension Corporem was used in older editions) is used for the human body.

Herbam is used for plants and fungi, and their products - cotton, wood, flour, etc.

Ignem is used for fire, and fire's basic effects of light and heat.

Imaginem deals with images, sounds, and other senses, though humans' ability to perceive them is part of Mentem.

Mentem deals with intelligence and the mind, such as human or ghosts. The minds of animals are not affected by Mentem but by Animal.

Terram stands for earth and minerals, or any other non-living solid.

Vim has to do with pure magic; many spells to ban or control demons and other supernatural beings also belong to this Art, as such beings often have a form that expresses magically.

So a "fireball" spell would be a powerful Creo Ignem (create fire). But Creo Ignem could also be used to light a campfire, create a light, dry out wet clothing, incinerate an entire forest, or anything else involving the creation of heat/fire/light.

One of the really fun things is that you can think of lots of way to do something. So using the "dry out some clothing" example above I could use Creo Ignem to warm it and thus dry it, Perdo Aquam to destroy the water in it, Rego Aquam to remove the water from it, Creo Aurum to create a breeze to dry it, and so on.

There are lists of fixed spells that you can learn in addition to the spontaeous magic. The fixed spells are easier to cast and more effective but of course far less flexible.
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