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Alternate systems for Ars Magica-style play?

Matt Sheridan

Minus 10 horse points.
Validated User
Weeelllll... I guess I'm gonna be that guy and recommend Fate Core with the Words of Power official supplement. Words of Power doesn't exactly do the verb-noun thing -- it deals with what they call first, second, and third syllables of those words of power. But, upon reading Words of Power, I should think that a verb-noun setup wouldn't be too difficult to implement. If you're not familiar, Fate Core is really more medium-light in the way of crunch, though it's often thought of as rules-light. Definitely lighter than Ars, though.

I haven't played/ran a game of Dresden Files, so others could come in and either recommend it or explain the magic rules a bit better.

Fate Core also is easy to play "everyone's a mage" and still have mechanical differentiation amongst the mages as well as "everyone plays multiple characters". Quite easy, in fact. Many games have niches (and therefore demand niche protection) for PCs but Fate is one where a group can play "everyone's a [soldier | mage | stormtrooper | king's musketeer]" and yet everyone can feel empowered and not-samey.
Yeah, I should have mentioned Dresden Files as one of the options currently in the running. Fate is usually my go-to system for "concept first" games like this. I'm not sure Dresden's magic system is as fine-grained and detailed as I'm looking for, though. Maybe if I import Spheres (and their power-level benchmarks) from some version of Mage, that'd get me closer. And maybe I could even crib some stuff from Ars Magica...

Words of Power is totally new to me, by the way. Thanks for pointing that one out! It's amazing how many magic systems there are for Fate, and yet it always seems difficult to get one that's a perfect fit.

I don't know much about it, but someone has an Ars Magica Apocalypse World hack called "Wizard World".

http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=7217.0
Cool! I'll check that out when I'm on a connection that can access Dropbox. ApoWo seems like an odd fit, but I'm really interested in how they'd make that work.

If you resin mage, use Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade. It's set in the renaissance, so its closer to medieval fantasy, and the "paradox" of Ascension is looser, allowing for much more high fantasy style magic.

Or use Mage the Awakening 2e, which does away with paradox entirely.
Whoa, is Mage: The Awakening 2e out yet? I only heard it was even in production somewhat recently. It's definitely news to me that it ditches Paradox! That's a huge change.

Well, they're working on an official GUMSHOE version of AM, so there'll be that.
Man, that's an interesting prospect. I'll have to keep an eye out for that. Thanks!
 

Jack Thursby

Yes, I work for Digicorp.
Validated User
Ha! I feel like I should be getting a "...preach on, Brother Norseman! Preach on!" right about now, as I'm apparently preaching to the choir! LOL

Yeah, I should have mentioned Dresden Files as one of the options currently in the running. Fate is usually my go-to system for "concept first" games like this. I'm not sure Dresden's magic system is as fine-grained and detailed as I'm looking for, though. Maybe if I import Spheres (and their power-level benchmarks) from some version of Mage, that'd get me closer. And maybe I could even crib some stuff from Ars Magica...
This is getting me to wonder if FAE might not be a bad book to check out in regards to the verb-noun magical system of Ars. Each word in Ars could be an approach, if that makes sense. Hm... I'll have to think more about this. It might end up being worthless...


Words of Power is totally new to me, by the way. Thanks for pointing that one out! It's amazing how many magic systems there are for Fate, and yet it always seems difficult to get one that's a perfect fit.
Yeah, I know, right? Some are easier to hack than others, but I think it's pretty cool that there are so many legit ways to go about doing similar things with Fate. But, you're welcome! I hope you find it at least somewhat useful for your purpose. :)
 

Errol216

Registered User
Validated User
Or use Mage the Awakening 2e, which does away with paradox entirely.
This is incorrect. Awakening 2e does away with the covert/vulgar thing and replaces it with the Reach mechanics. Paradox is still there; it's just different.

That said, Practice/Arcanum is pretty close to Ars Magica's Verb/Noun. If you want to use 2e, the current fan speculation says the official stuff will be out at the end of the year. We're working off spoilers at the moment.
 

Michael Tree

Registered User
Validated User
This is incorrect. Awakening 2e does away with the covert/vulgar thing and replaces it with the Reach mechanics. Paradox is still there; it's just different.
My bad, that's basically what I meant. Still, the new Paradox is a lot more about pushing your abilities too far and losing control, which can fit a fantasy setting well. It's easy to just discard the effect that sleepers have on magic and paradox.
 

Bobcat11

Registered User
Validated User
I'm not much of a Fate fan myself, but Strands of Power has a section on magic that seemed perfect for Ars Magic / Mage type magic.
 

Jere

Allohistorical
Validated User
Troupe style is just an enshrining an aspect of the social contract bolstered by a mechanic that made your mage want/need to stay home if you wanted to gain any real power. In order to replicate you need:

1. A base/center of play that is a character on its own (police squad, academy/university, government agency, corporation ... the list is endless)
2. A unit of time as standard (one week, one month, one quarter, a semester, etc)
3. A mechanism for advancing off adventure during that unit of time.

So for example, a game set in a university archaeology department where the mages are the archaeologists, the companions are specialists (the pilot, the translator, the fixer) and the grogs are grad students and assorted locals. Every semester someone goes on a dig (one or two archaeologists) and the others stay back and write their papers, attend symposiums and the like. All for the glory of the department.

Throw in arcane power from some of the examples given and you pretty much have what makes Ars Magica unique. You'll probably even get the esoteric arguing, but instead of Latin it will be pot shards and chronologies.
 
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