Ars Magica 767: Rules Changes

SKILL ROLLS: When making a skill roll, add DOUBLE the skill number to your roll to figure success or failure. I want skill and experience to matter as much or more than luck when both come into play, and this is a step in the right direction. Knacks do not enjoy this doubling, and in cases where Talents and Skills add (such as Healing and Chirurgy) only the higher of the two is doubled. Static measures of ability, i.e. in cases where no dice are rolled, Lab Totals, etc., rules stand as written.

Any time the book requires a roll to use an ability (say to use the talent Visions to have a vision), the number needed is now half again as high (so to have a vision takes an 18+ roll, not a 12+ roll), rounding down. This seems nasty, but your adding the skill twice, so it should work out.

Note his counts in combat as well, so everyone's First Strike, Attack, and Damage scores on weapons are going to get correspondingly higher. Note that while unarmored opponents get double their dodge or parry score to avoid being hit in the first place (everyone does), but when it comes to calculating damage, completely unarmored people are at a disadvantage compared to vanilla AM. Fantastic beasts, etc. will probably also have bonuses to their natural armor, but mundane humans will not.

This also applies to healing: the recovery table difficulties are multiplied by 1.5 and the healer's Chirurgy skill is doubled. Trying to recover without a healer is, in fact, more difficult than in vanilla AM.


Magi start with 120 points in the magical arts and 120 points of spells, rather than 150 of each. In addition, each magus chooses either two forms or one technique which they cannot use at ALL for ANY magic, in spells or labwork or anything. Further, If Magi have Flaws at all, at least half of these flaws (rounded towards zero) must be Hermetic in nature. (So if you only take a total of +3 in virtues, only -1 of your flaws has to be Hermetic). Magus minimum/maximum ages are each 5 years higher than the book says, as you've been apprentices for far too long. Chris' and Mark's characters are going to be still older than that, as it fits in with their character idea and they asked nicely. Magi start with Magic Theory at 4 instead of 5, and (obviously) no Hermes Lore or Hermes History skills, as there is no Order of Hermes. No Parma Magica, either, but you will have some protection due to a lasting enchantment from Bonisagus.

Spells of level 40 and above are off limits: many of them haven't been invented yet, and/or Bonisagus never taught them to you. Also, any spells of General level cannot be taken above level 20; for basically the same reason. Don't let this cause concern: I'll be adjusting Faerie/Ghost/Demon/Critter mights down a little too, in most (not necessarily all) cases. The spells ``Eyes of the Past'', ``Incantation of Summoning the Dead'', and ``Summon the Haunting Spirit'' are ruled out as well: a large part of this campaign (at the beginning at least) is a murder mystery, and spells of this type make murder mysteries too easy.

Rules for companion character creation stand as written: the fact that Bonisagus treated his apprentices badly doesn't affect people who are not his apprentices.

Characters can have scores in skills/talents/knowledges above five. Five is considered in general the epitome of competence in a given area, but it's not meant as a ceiling to ability.

I see no reason why the scores in a characteristic pair can't be more than 1 apart in general. The idea behind the rule (I think) is the two scores in a pair should be reasonably close together; I don't have a problem with "reasonable" described as 2 (or even 3) apart. I would say both scores in a pair should be either nonnegative or nonpositive; no "Dex +2, Qik -1" combinations. And no characteristic should be higher than +5, even though this rules change makes that numerically possible.


Ignore encumberance rules; if I think you're overencumbered, I'll think up a nasty penalty as the situation allows. Armor protection scores are as follows:

       MATERIAL:        TYPE:
                       Cuirass        Hauberk          Full
       Leather/Fur        2              4               6
       Heavy/Hard L.      3              8               9
       Ring Mail          6             10              11
       Scale Mail         8             12             N/A
       Chain Mail        11             15              17
       Plate Mail       N/A            N/A             N/A

Mostly, I expect this matters little to you, but I thought it should be noted. Also, taking any weapon or armor that is expensive is a virtue, "Superior Armaments" (+2).

About the value of medicine: not having a rulebook handy, I'm prepared to say medicine is a knowledge of value, but not towards the recovery of patients in field conditions (i.e. without shelter or controlled circumstances to work under). It probably has nothing to do with the recovery of patients from normal seeming wounds, so much as from illness or poisons (which WOULD make it relevant in Grigori's case, but not in the grog's, for example).


Casting Requisites: if a spell has a casting requisite, average your score in that requisite with your score in the form of the spell (if requisite was a form), or technique (otherwise). Don't use the lower of the two scores. If your score in the requisite is higher than your score in the form (or tech), treat the spell as though it has no requisite.

Casting a formulaic spell: use Int instead of Stm. I don't know why they put Stm in that total.
Casting a spontaneous spell: rules stand as written.
Using vis in spell casting: If a spell is ritual, it requires vis to cast, and that vis must match the tech or form of the spell. If the spell is *not* ritual, the vis may be of any type, but if it does match the tech or form of the spell, it counts double.
Certamen: Doesn't exist. It's just a myth. Never heard of it.

IN THE LAB: You don't start out with labs of your own; you may assemble them over time, if you ever stop running. Only a couple of changes here.

Studying from vis: You can study from 4 or more pawns of vis, but it takes extra time; 4-6 pawns takes 2 seasons of uninterrupted study, 7-9 take 3 seasons, etc. Rules are the same as for studying from 3 or fewer pawns, except (obviously) the multiplier is longer. Notice that, for high scores, this is a change in your favor: studying from 4 pawns in 2 seasons will generally benefit you more than studying 2 pawns in one season, and 2 pawns in the next.

Making magical objects: if you're trying to instill the effect of a spell into an object and you don't know the spell (or have a written version handy), you are experimenting. To avoid experimenting, invent the spell first (this is time consuming).

AM2 states the rate at which a tome on a magical Art can be copied is 9 levels per season. The new number of levels that can be copied in a season is equal to your Scribe + Magic Theory + 1. That's for direct copying; if you wish to translte an Art book from one language into another, use as your Scribe score the lower Scribe language score involved -1. If you do not have a Scribe language score for a particular language, you obviously cannot copy from a book in that language or translate a book into that language.

For writing a magical text, AM2 states the rate is 3 levels per season. The actual rate is: Ave(Scribe & Magic Theory) - 1. This rate applies until you reach half your score in that art; after that, the rate is 1 level per season, up to the score in your art (you can't write a book containing more than you know).

For grimoires, they say you can copy 60 levels of spells in a season. Change that to (Scribe + Magic Theory - 2) x 10. This applies whether it comes from another grimoire or your own head. The speed for inventing spells or learning spells remains the same.

About Dominion effects: I am hereby ruling that the discomfort Gifted people sometimes cause children, animals, and (in some cases) adults is not 2-way. In other words, the Dominion causes no discomfort to people with the Gift, blatant or otherwise. Magi can attend mass, take communion, etc. with no physical discomfort.

Answering a second point, the accouterments of magi are by no means restricted to latin texts: labs, in particular, involve a variety of items and equipment well beyond the common folk's experience, and the church scholar's experience as well. Going without labs is certainly feasible, but there will be a collection of things you won't be able to do without one (invent spells, learn from vis, invent/investigate magic items, gather vis from an aura, brew potions, open foci, maybe more). In general, only reading, writing or copying texts are the main "Lab activities" that can take place without a lab. Assembling a lab in a city can be a lot of work, and *could* be visible if not handled right. A lab in action is not noisy per se, but *can be* noisy, or smelly (don't entertain guests). And if a lab explodes, rest assured the neighbors will know.

As far as the verbal component of spells, the rules (to my knowledge) don't get too specific on this point, but the rule of thumb I've always used is like words & gestures from champions rules: an incantation cannot be mistaken for conversation, or subtly inserted into a conversation without even the most inattentive listener knowing something is wrong. From that, it follows that incantations are not in Latin, or any particular language. Incantations do not sound like "I love Satan, I love Satan", but passing them off as prayers is a stretch.

To answer questions about church investigation of magical practices: in general, the church isn't overly concerned unless they either (a) see an overt display of magical power themselves or (b) they receive complaints from their flock of people acting mysteriously or about whom they are largely uncomfortable. The church position on magic is distrust and discomfort: they are aware of it, and deem it in general a meance to godfearing folk. However, with the exception of maleficium and diabolism, it is in general judged too small a threat to the godfearing to merit a formal reaction by the church; individual parishes and bishoprics must weigh the menace of individual hedge wizards, wise women and magi against the difficulty involved in attempting to remove same from the community. In general, they choose to let them stay, so long as they are not causing a great disruption among the flock.

EXPERIENCE IN GENERAL: After every adventure, magi will gain 3 exp for talents, skills or knowledges, and companions will gain 2. If this seems unfair to the companions, remember they have a big head start in the experience point department. Further, should a season pass without an adventure in it, the companion gains a further 2 exp. Magi do not, unless they spend that season specifically training in a skill or reading a mundane book. In that case, they gain 3 exp. in the given skill or knowledge. I think the companion will always remain the most skilled member of the party.


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Sun Jul 16 15:38:20 2006