העמותה למשחקי תפקידים בישראל (אתר היסטורי)Everything You Wanted to Know about Ars Magica and Didn't have the Time to Ask / יוסי גורוביץ - העמותה למשחקי תפקידים בישראל (אתר היסטורי)
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Everything You Wanted to Know about Ars Magica and Didn't have the Time to Ask / יוסי גורוביץ

Everything You Wanted to Know about Ars Magica and Didn't have the Time to Ask By Yossi Gurvitz

What is Ars Magica?
Ars Magica (ArM) is a fantasy game, set in Mythical Europe.

What is Mythical Europe?
Mythical Europe (ME) is medieval Europe, with a twist. The ArM paradigm says that "Mythical Europe is medieval Europe as its inhabitants thought of it". This means, for example, that the Sun revolves around the Earth; that there are demons everywhere, trying to corrupt the innocent; that there are faeries, and dragons, and giants, though most people don't deal with them in daily life; that kings do, in fact, have the ability to cure diseases; that some relics do have holy power; and, most importantly, that magic works.
Individual storyguides stretch the paradigm as they see fit; some may decide that Jews are, in fact, cursed by God; some may decide that the heretical movements have truth on their side, and that the Catholic Church is, indeed, satanic. Both attitudes are acceptable, though none are canonic, and "paradigm arguments" are common among ArM storyguides and players.

What character types can I play in ArM?
There are three basic character concepts: the magus, the companion, and the grog. Every player plays a magus, a companion, and the troupe (the group of players) take turns playing grogs.
The magus is the central character; the game, after all, is about magic and its practitioners. Magi are, as a rule, the most powerful characters. They have, at least, fifteen years of practice behind them. All have the Gift to work magic, but this gift is double-edged: it allows them to work magic, but it alienates them from their fellow beings, since the Gift can be sensed, and is sensed as unnatural. Animals shy away, humans are mistrustful, and in extreme cases can be more hostile than usual. Magi are social misfits; they are, therefore, organized in the Order of Hermes (see more, below).
Grogs are cannon fodder, pure and simple. Think of them as Enterprise Security Teams – you know, the poor schmucks sent charging into danger, who are commonly referred to in the casual "he's dead, Jim". But, this being a roleplaying game, you actually get to play them, get to know their daily life, so different from those of the magi. Just don't grow attached to them; they don't have much of a chance to use the aging rules, if you know what I mean. A group of grogs is often called a turb, a polite Latin term for "mob".
Companions cover the middle ground between magus and grog. They are more powerful and important that grogs, but are rarely a match for a magus. They are the vital connection between magi (who are poor at human relations) and the general, pitch-fork wielding populace. They are minor noblemen, ladies-in-waiting, errant knights, wandering monks, minor priests, and the better-trained warriors.

What is magic?
Magic is the ability of a magus to manipulate the world around him and get some unusual results. Hermetic theory claims that the power for magic comes from the Forms spoken of Plato; that when a magus tries to manipulate something, he channels the power of the pure, ideal Form, and shapes it.
Hermetic theory (formed by Bonisagus, the founder of the Order) recognizes fifteen magical arts, divided into techniques and forms. Techniques are the act; forms are the manipulated, well, forms. There are five techniques and ten forms, and they are listed below:

Techniques
Creo – "I create". The ability of the magus to create something, or restore it to its original status.
Intellego – "I understand" or "I learn". The ability of the magus to gain information on\from a form.
Muto – "I change". The ability of a magus to change the attributes of forms.
Perdo – "I destroy". I bet you can figure what this does for yourself.
Rego – "I control", or "I rule". The ability to manipulate forms.

Forms
Animal – animals and anything that pertains to animals, including dead animals.
Aquam – Water and other liquids which are not a part of a living creature.
Auram – Winds.
Corpus – the human body, both dead and alive. The creation of a fully functioning human is impossible; this is left to God alone.
Herbam – Trees and other plants, including things made out of wood.
Ignem – Fire and heat, or lack thereof.
Imaginem – Illusions, phantasms and sounds; all things which are unreal. Some magi – notably Daramus ab Montem ex Bonisago – despise this form for its "unreal and unimportant" effects, but most magi consider this attack on the Hermetic Theory of Bonisagus to be sacrilege.
Mentem – The ability to manipulate human minds (and ghosts).
Terram – Land and metals, including things made of them, such as stone walls.
Vim- Literally, "power". The ability to affect magic and magical creatures (notably demons).
A magus' ability to use magic is represented by the sum of technique + form. For instance, if a magus wants to heal a wounded man, he'd better have a good creo corpus score.

Limitations of Hermetic magic
Hermetic magic cannot do the following:
Affect Divine Will (most usually, this means Divine Will as expressed in miracles)
Create true human life. That's the province of God alone.
Alter the True Nature of humans – if someone was born blind, magic won't restore his sight. His blindness is part of his essential nature. This usually refers to the art of Creo: magi have no problem whatsoever with making people go blind (and restoring sight lost to accidental or magical blindness), but they can't fix that was unwhole to begin with.
Dead souls, who went either to heaven or hell, cannot be affected by magic. You cannot summon the shade of a properly buried person; if a shade does show up, it's a demon masquerading as the dead soul.
Magic cannot determine whether a demon lies or not – unless the demon wants it to. Lies are part of the true nature of demons.
Magic cannot effect penetrate the lunar sphere – that is, it only affects things on Earth and below (Hell included, but it's basically a bad idea).
There are forms of non-Hermetic magic that break the above limitations, but I won't deal with them here, for they are tedious and tiresome, and often munchkinistic.
Magic isn't permanent, unless you use vis (crystalized raw magical power, which also serves as currency among magi).
Restore fatigue. Magic weakens the user, and magic cannot restore the fatigue lost.

How many kinds of spells are there?
Basically, three.
Formulaic spells are spells which were studied and memorized by the magus. As a rule, they achieve a similar result each time they are used. Formulaic spells can be mastered, in which case there is no chance of magical mishap.
Spontaneous spells are created hurriedly, on the spur of the moment, and are much less predictable and much more dangerous.
Ritual spells always use vis, always take a hell of a lot of time, but can achieve things normal spells can't.

What is the Order of Hermes?
The Order or Hermes is a coalition of magi, banded together for mutual protection and benefit. The Order was formed in 737 by Bonisagus and other magi, who swore the Oath of Bonisagus (see below). The followers of those magi soon created "houses", loose affiliations of magi who share some core traditions.
The Houses are:
Bonisagus – the followers of Bonisagus enjoy prestige, and are among the best researchers of the Order. They have the right to take the apprentices of other magi, if they think it right; and in return, they must share the fruit of their research with the rest of the Order. The Primus (leading magus) of Bonisagus is also the leader of the Order as a whole. The House is of Roman origin.
Bjornear – The followers of Bjornear all have "heart-beasts", that is, an animal side to their True Nature. They can easily shape-shift into their animal form and back to human form. They cannot, however, have animal familiars. They have a mysterious meeting every 12 years, the details of which they refuse to share with other magi. Of distinctly Germanic origin.
Criamon – The followers of Criamon are mystics, trying to figure out the nature of the mysterious Enigma, the secret behind all secrets, which they claim is magical in nature. They have little use for mundane humans, or, for that matter, for other magi. They often tattoo their bodies. They may seem like cranks, but their wisdom seems to work: they enter Twilight (see below) more frequently than other magi – but they are also less prone to its negative effects. A Roman house.
Ex Miscellanea – A large and disorganized house, including many members whose magic is non-Hermetic in nature. Non-Roman (for lack of a better definition) house, and also with very little political influence.
Flambeau – The members of this house revel in destructive magic. Most of them use Ignem magics, as their founder did, but some of the more "subtle" members use Perdo instead. Bad, mad, and dangerous to know. Of Roman origin.
Jerbiton – The members of this house are the gate to the mundane world. They cultivate ties with mundanes, and believe that mundane belief and art are of importance. They mostly choose their apprentices from noble families. Of Roman origin.
Mercere – The founder of this house lost his ability to use magic shortly after joining the Order, and his followers have become, as a rule, the messengers of the Order. A few of them have magical abilities, but most are non-Gifted. Those mundanes have the status of a magus, but cannot vote at Tribunal. Of Roman origin; not that it really matters anymore.
Merinita – They were once herbam specialists, but have since turned to the ways of the fae. They mostly study faerie magic, can have strange magical effects, have connections to the fae, and many of them have faerie blood. Of Roman origin; now Germaic.
Quaesitoris – The official name is Guernicus, but few use it anymore. The members of this house are the investigators and prosecutors of the Order; in extreme cases, they may also be judges. There are quaesitoris who are not of this house, but they are few. Highly Roman.
Tremere – Control freaks. Their house is organized as a pyramid, with power concentrated in the apex. Young members do not have their sigil, and must defeat their masters to get it. Scheming and manipulation are the order of the day. This house tried, in the 9th century, to take over the Order, but failed miserably. The rumors of vampirism are highly exaggerated, and according to canon, vampirism in this house was stamped out in 1215. Of Roman origin and Teutonic precision.
Tytalus – The members of this house like competition. For its own end. In the late 10th century, some of them entered a game with the devil, and lost badly. They lost their souls, and nearly took the Order with them. The Quaesitoris purged the house, but the (few) members of this house are still distrusted. Of Roman origin. Have an ongoing semi-friendly feud with the Tremere. Tremere and Tytalus (who was lost in faerie a long time ago) studied under the same master, and members of both houses refer to each other as "cousins".
Verditius – Veridius magi cannot cast spells without "spell foci", items which help them concentrate. They compensate for this being master crafters of magical items, and have a competition every seven years. Of Roman origin.

What is the Hermetic Code?
The Hermetic code is a system of laws that govern the Order of Hermes. They are enforced by the quaesitoris and the tribunals (see below).
The basics are:
No magus may attack another, unless he has declared an official Wizard's War at least a month in advance. This is a hanging offense.
No magus may scry upon another using magic (note that using mundane spies is perfectly acceptable). This, too, is a hanging offense.
No magus may deal with demon. Guess what is the penalty?
Magi may not "interfere in the affairs of mundanes". This is vague, and open to heated debates.
Magi may not "molest the faeries". What this means depends on the mood of the tribunal.
An apprentice becomes a magus once he swears the Hermetic Oath.
All magi may participate in tribunals. Tribunals are held every seven years (or more often, in cases of emergency). Each magus' vote is equal to another's, with the exception that Mercere (who don't, as a rule, have a gift) and Quaesitoris (who should be impartial) cannot vote. Generally, tribunals try cases of breaking the code, and decide upon issues of policy.

Certamen
Two magi who have a dispute, and do not wish to bother a quaesitor (who may demand payment) or wait seven years for a tribunal, and do not think it is important enough to kill each other over it, may decide to settle their disputes by certamen. Certamen is a non-deadly magical duel. The two sides decide upon their terms – and once a certamen is won, the loser must abide by the results. Breaking your promise is an offense that a tribunal can, and will, deal with. The challenger calls out the technique he will use, and the other magus responds with the form (for instance, magus A says "Creo", and magus B, after deciding upon terms, answers with "Corpus").

Can a member leave the Order?
Yes, he can. The Order will, however, renounce him and call a Wizard's March (a free-for-all wizard's war against the offender) against him, so it's a very bad idea. There are ways to circumvent this, but they are very difficult. It's a safe bet that if you join a monastery, the magi won't charge in after you – but do you really want to spend all your life chanting psalms within the same four walls?

What's with the Latin?
Magi are educated people, so they use the language of the (very small) educated class, which is Latin.

What is the official starting date for ArM sagas?
Canonically, 1220. But your mileage may vary; my current saga began in 1068, and I've heard of Black Death sagas.

Who publishes ArM?
Atlas Games do, and it's the 4th editions. Earlier editions were published by Lion Rampart and White Wolf.

פורסם ב10 באוקטובר 2008 בקטגוריה סקירות על-ידי jerusalem | לתגובות - בפורום | Tags: , ,

 

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