Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ars Magica - the game I would love to love

Sometimes I'm reminded of games which promised, but never delivered. For me one such game is Ars Magica. But, I still have some hope for it. Maybe you can help me? First some background.

A friend of mine bought the 2nd ed game, and we loved the idea of it. We went nuts with all the possibilities inherent in the system of Merits and Flaws. I shudder to think what would have happened had we found out about GURPS...

We generated tons of characters for that game, but never played more than a try out session to see if we could do a fight and cast a spell.

Some years later, when we had done the same with 3rd ed I actually got to play it, now in its 4th ed. It turned out we spent forever generating a covenant, planning its location, planning how to staff the kitchen and how many guards we needed and how much we would earn each year, spend on taxes and...

You get the picture.

I've now done that a few times. It bores me to tears.

Where's the game about a mythic Europe and the wonders of magic? If anyone know of an actual play recording from a podcast or similar which shows how the game can be that and not quartermaster-in-the-middle-ages please tell!

I'd love to hear some people play the game. Playing it when it's fun.

Filling in tax return forms and using MS Excel is not my way of fun, not even with magic.

Feel free to suggest some actual play recordings, if they exist!


  1. Here's some links (but be warned, they used Ars Magica in the loosest way. They did not adhere strictly to the rules):

    1. Many thanks. I guess this is a game more talked about than played, because I have found very little of actual play...

  2. I'm in the same boat. I think Ars Magica has a huge amount of potential and I'd love to play it. My local conventions don't ever list it as an event, so I can only assume there aren't many players out there.

    My impression is people are interested in it from a design perspective (i.e. not a Vancian/D&D level based system), but I have yet to find anyone that plays or wants to play.

    Rounding up 4-6 people to play D&D is tough. Rounding up 4-6 Ars Magica players is nearly impossible, at least in my neck of the woods.

    You may want to check out Monte Cook's World of Darkness or Elements of Magic by EN Publishling if you are interested in a different/flexible magic system for 3E D&D. You might be able to incorporate those magic systems into a Mythic Europe setting and use your Ars Magica books for the setting.


    1. Thanks for your suggestions Adam!

      My thinking now is that DragonQuest is the game that has potential to do what Ars Magica doesn't do for me. Lot of colourful magic and none of that resource management of a covenant.

      Who knows, maybe I'm missing something big there.

      Anyway, we'll see if I ever got to try it out.

  3. Hi Andreas,

    I'm not familiar with DragonQuest, but I'll keep an eye out for it.

    I think many of the elements of Ars Magica can be easily applied to other RPG's. The problem is the magic system can’t (which is arguably the whole reason to play AM). There are some home brew Ars Magica to d20 conversions, but they don’t really have the feel of Ars Magica to me.

    Elements of Magic is an interesting read, but it has tons of resource management. Like AM, I have yet to meet anyone who has actually played it. The magic system in Monte Cook’s World of Darkness is a streamlined version Elements of Magic in my opinion.

    There have been a multitude of games that have attempted alternative magic systems with various levels of success. Most fall short in my opinion, usually because they become very cumbersome to keep track of. Like you mentioned, I have enough accounting in my life managing my back accounts and paying my bills.



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