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November 2nd, 2012, 15:07
Several udates for Ars Magica were made since our last report on the Kickstarter campaing for this game, which is currently at 51K of the 290K goal with still 16 days to go.
The latest update is about combat.
Getting into Trouble
As mentioned in previous Updates, Combat can come as a result of Opportunities (your Covenfolk are ambushed, you prepare a raid against the local banditry, something goes terribly wrong and so on) and during the course of quests. Combat is party based, highly tactical, abstract and very old school.
The Middle Ages were Lethal
First of all, combat in the Ars Magica tabletop game is not something to take lightly. For those of you unfamiliar with the rules, hitting or missing is determined by a simple roll based on Attack and Defense factors, with degree of damage based on your weapon and the defender’s ability to ‘Soak’, or resist, wounding. A strong and well-armored warrior can dispatch many foes…but eventually even the greatest will fall due to fatigue and wounds. A weak and unarmored wizard, on the other hand is hopeless in a melee, and a dagger in the right hands can end your favorite character in a heartbeat.
Be careful.
Combat in Years of Conquest uses the tabletop system in full and adds in an extra dimension of environmental effects. On the tabletop, you have a GM to tell you what your surroundings are, and in the video game you have the Environment. This is an abstract set of features and conditions which are reachable by any party (with some restrictions on positionality) within the bounds of the combat. It’s very diverse, and can range from a tree, your wagon, a muddy pool and a boulder, all in one encounter.
Negotiating with the Battlefield
Your party, and your opponent, use these environmental features to take shelter, improve their defenses, carry our special attacks, and to gain other bonuses. Unlike other tactical rpgs, the limits of your positional tactics aren’t flanks and area of effect cones, but rather the interaction of where you’ve positioned your characters versus where they’ve positioned their characters, and how you can best use that to your advantage. Characters themselves can be features, too- an important distinction when you really need to protect someone, for instance your mage.
A quick example of a typical combat situation might be helpful here: a warrior is making use of a ‘Narrow Ground’ feature so that your melee can only attack him, and no one else on the field. Meanwhile, an archer is at a ‘Tree Limb’ feature, which improves his ranged attacks. You might instruct your characters to contest the ‘Narrow Ground’ feature and rob the warrior of its bonus, direct your mage to snap the ‘Tree Limb’ and send the archer plummeting, take cover behind a ‘Boulder’, or make use of a ‘Witty Taunt’ action to bring the warrior to you (thereby removing the feature from them.) Only through careful use of the Environment will you be victorious- and since unused parts of the Environment refresh each round to reflect the shifting circumstances in combat, you’ll need to be constantly adapting tactics to succeed.
Magic and the Environment
For most of your covenfolk, features offer variations on key concepts: attack, defense, denial and movement. For your mages, however, features offer unique ways to set your opponent on fire, snare them, charm them to your side and empower your magic. Every feature usually has one or more spell action associated with it, allowing mages proficient with spells (or good at Spontaneous Magic) the ability to use the Environment against your foes. Turning your opponents ‘Narrow Ground’ into a muddy trap, using tree branches to capture the archer or tossing the boulder on top of a bandit is just the beginning…
Sweet Victory
Combat continues until one party flees, surrenders or is charmed into submission. And if you hold the field you’ll able to recover your wounded, loot, and progress…if not, well…you might find some of those lost items in a merchant’s inventory down the road. No promises.
More information.
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November 2nd, 2012, 15:07
I am completely unfamiliar with this setting and not really sure what to expect. I am envisioning HoMM'eque battles combined with the diplomacy and territorial mechanics of a Civ game, combined with spontaneous magic (for use in combat only?)… am I far off?

This really only got on my radar after Obsidian's support, but I just don't know what to expect. Hopefully after their upcoming combat update, things will become slightly clearer.
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November 2nd, 2012, 15:32
The table top game is different from most other table top RPGs in several respects. This is how it is "supposed" to go (at least in earlier 1st through 4th editions, I am not familiar with the latest):

Each player creates several characters. Usually one wizard, one companion, and one or more grogs.

The wizards are, well, wizards. They are probably the most powerful characters in the game overall where power == ability to affect the outcome of game sessions. There are all kinds of ways to build wizards. The Ars Magica system is vastly more flexible that D&D and such.

Companions are everyone else who isn't a wizard (or a grog). So you can get smiths, rogues, bards, priests, knights, traders, and whatever.

Grogs are the redshirts of the team, basically simple fighters to guard the others.

All the characters the players create are part of a "covenant" (think "coven"), a place where the wizards live and the others hang out/help them/work. So really the group is playing as the whole covenant.

When an adventure happens everyone chooses to play their wizard, companion, or one or more of the grogs as they think is appropriate for the adventure. Usually you will have one adventure per season of the year.
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November 2nd, 2012, 19:16
Well, I broke down and backed this one. Sounds interesting. Put my money where my mouth is. I've often said I wish more games would be based upon real rule sets. I get so tired of gimmicky skill trees and original mechanics, which almost inevitably lead to too much simplicity for my taste.
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November 3rd, 2012, 02:42
I played Ars Magica tabletop game(years ago back when it was still a White Wolf game, White Wolf is the company behind Vampire:The Masquerade)and had alot of fun with it. Not sure what the new 5th edition is like, but if it's similar to how it was back then, I'd probably like it. I really hope this game can get funded, unfortunately Ars Magica is a somewhat obscure game that not enough people know about, that is what worries me, why it may not get fully funded. However, I think if people who are into rpg's became aware of it and looked into it, they'd probably become interested.
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