Saturday, March 30, 2013

Some more thoughts on Ars Magica

My last post on Ars Magica had 187 views, and only one comment about someone who had actually played the game. I think it's kind of telling that they basically ripped the themes from the game and ditched the rest.

It seems like AM is a game many people have read, been very impressed by and then not played as written! I guess that those who kept the covenant management system are the same kind of people who play merchant campaigns in Traveller, keeping tabs on earnings, losses and mortgage payment. I have enough of that in real life.

The really detailed magic system is another matter. It seems like everyone loves the idea of being able to craft spells on the fly and using some kind of and system, just like spell points and all those ideas. But, even though I'm not a fan of the classic system of D&D it's easy and it works, even though it lacks flavour. Maybe this is the part of AM which actually change how people play.

Then there's that part which I find kind of funny, namely the "troupe style play", which is actually just they old way to play, reinvented. Having multiple characters per player is not new, and that I've even tried myself with great success.
"it is recommended that the GM keep the number of players in his party small - two or three players with up to four characters apiece is ideal."
That's T&T 5th ed. from 1979.  Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Maybe I'll get to run Ars Magica one day, and then it will be nothing like written, I bet.

8 comments:

  1. I remember trying to get a game of Ars Magica going when it first came out. My two players spent four hours working up characters and then decided they didn't like the game enough to play it. They found the concept of having to play some withered up cripple just to cast spells unappealing. What can you say? to each his own.

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  2. Like most(all) I've never played, but, my understanding of Troupe Play was not multiple characters per player. Rather a single group of characters (the covenant) shared by all players. Sharing your precious character, was a non-starter for most gamers I know.

    I've found that open ended mechanics, esp sadly ones that require imagination and/or player initiative, (like Ars Magic), "scare off" most players.

    So, unless the stars align and you find a group of cooperative, story driven, medieval europhile, experienced gamers. Getting Ars Magica game together seems, unlikely.

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    1. I enjoyed a couple ArM 3rd ed. chronicles years ago.

      Since i am european (austria) and very into history (~800 years of family tree), i love this kind of rpg.

      But i have also seen some lesser souls being scared away from it just because of what i would call the games major strenghts -- its implied historic-fantasy, the free-form magick system and covenant style play.

      A good storyguide can do away with the implied convenant vs troupe play and just run a classic party style chronicle.

      I have also greatly enjoyed a crossover into the Mythus/Aerth Setting (Dangerous Journeys).

      Still Ars Magicka even without the implied World Of Darkness (1.0) context is a great Setting and Game System, even though i like much more rules-lite these days.

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    2. Norman, there are those subtle differences. Good point. I do think the stable system is related, though.

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    3. Anonymous,

      Interesting. Feel free to share experiences, on your own blog or here.

      The WoD link I never liked, otoh I think the game system and those parts are the most interesting parts. I almost never got as far as the setting...

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    4. Now becoming un-anonymous see

      http://terefang.blogspot.com/

      Delete

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