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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:09 pm 
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Location: Sonthofen / Germany
For my Thule setting I am looking for a magic system that has a "medieval
feel" and is as close to what the people of the time thought about magic as
possible.

Unfortunately Call of Cthulhu has no real magic system, the BRP magic is a bit
too much fantasy for my taste, and the convocations of the Harnmaster magic
do not really fit in with what I know about the medieval view of magic.

I have been told that Ars Magica has exactly what I am looking for, and the co-
re rules of the fourth edition would be free, but I have never come in contact
with that game (I normally do not use magic in my settings), and it would be
nice if I had a few more informations about it before I decide whether to spend
time on it.

By the way, the magic system I am looking for does not really have to "work" in
the setting, the characters only have to believe that it does if things are done
right, and therefore the "medieval feeling" of the system is more important than
its actual mechanics are.

Thank you. :D


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:37 pm 
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I couldn't get into it unfortunately.
The art and presentation in 5th edition is awful, so perhaps 4th might be less off putting.
I felt the magic was formulaic, complex and low on charm.

It might work really well when you "get" it, and perhaps you will have greater luck, or it may simply match your taste better.
I played it tabletop and in a LARP at conventions and wasn't too keen.

There is plenty of detail and variety in there. And magic can pretty much do anything in it.
It has plenty of details on magical society in medieval Europe and might be a useful resource even if you don't like the magic system.
Plenty of tools in there you may find useful. I just personaly hate the presentation.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:41 pm 
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Thank you very much, it seems that Ars Magica could be more something
to mine for ideas than to actually use - which, in the case of this setting,
would be no problem. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:46 pm 
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Ars Magica is one of my favourite fantasy settings.

It's set in Mythic Europe (where faeries, dragons etc are real) and has an interesting thing called Troupe Play, where players create one main Magus character (who can be from one of many Houses with different specialities within the Order of Hermes, or could be an outsider), a few Companion characters (major secondary characters like priests, nobles, etc who are affiliated with the Covenant) and Grogs (lesser characters who do things like fight, rough people up, go stalking things through the woods etc).

Play focusses around the Covenant, which is the home base of the players' Magi and home to the Companions and Grogs, and whole campaigns often centre around setting up and founding the Covenant and guiding it through its "Seasons" where it gains power (Spring), fends off threats (usually from other covenants, nobles or the Church) and consolidates (Summer), fades in power (Autumn), and then eventually dies (Winter).

The magic system is great. You have 5 Techniques and 10 Forms (I may have the names switched around) and of course they're all in latin :). The five Techniques are Creo (Create), Muto (Change), Rego (Control), Intellego (Understand) and Perdo (Destroy). The 10 Forms cover Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Animals, Humans, Plants, Mind, Illusions, and Magic itself. You apply them by combining the forms with the techniques. So if you wanted to extinguish a forest fire then you may use Perdo Ignem (Destroy Fire), or you could use Creo Aquam (Create Water) to create a flood to douse the flames - the extent of your ability depends on how many points you have in each. You can also know fixed "Formulaic" spells that everyone can learn and repeat and generally have the same effect, or you can create them Spontaneously (which is riskier, but allows you to do unique things on the fly based on your knowledge). The magic system is pretty consistent and sensible I think, and in tune with medieval ideas about magic.

Another nice thing is that it has a decent research system where Magi can spend many seasons researching and developing new spells and magic items.

I think it's a fantastic game. There's lots to do and lots to deal with (faeries, demons, politics of the court and the Order, the church etc). If the 4th edition is available for free then I'd strongly recommend downloading it.

More info can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ars_Magica

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:39 pm 
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Thank you very much for the information, this really looks like something
that would fit well into my setting. :D

Many of the leading scholars and scientists of the time were members of
the Franciscan order (Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, etc.), and many of them
were under suspicion of heresy and magic use. My idea was to have an NPC
of that kind hide among the Franciscans who join the knights on Thule, in
order to avoid the "interest" of the Papal Inquisition. There would be many
interesting uses for such an NPC, for example as the source of new ideas
and insights, as the patron for unusual missions, and so on.

An entire covenant among the Franciscans could be even more interesting,
beginning with more "strange" people arriving on Thule to join the monastery,
conflicts between religion and scholarly pursuits within the monastery, and
so on. Yep, I begin to like the idea, it could lead to several nice sideline ad-
ventures - time to download Ars Magica. ;)


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:39 am 
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I know a couple of Franciscans. They can't do magic.
St Francis took a lot of his philosophy from Islam, according to them and they are kinda vocal on how certain Canon laws have squat to do with faith and should be removed (clerical celebacy for example isn't healthy they said, especialy for people who are supposed to give relationship counselling).
If medieval Franciscan were anything like the ones I know, I can see them getting up the churches nose enough to spark accusations of heresy and witchcraft ;)

Of course they could be pretending not to know magic.....
I'll keep an eye out in case...


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:05 am 
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Gallowglacht wrote:
If medieval Franciscan were anything like the ones I know, I can see them getting up the churches nose enough to spark accusations of heresy and witchcraft ;)

Well, they insisted loudly that clerics should be poor, and that human reasoning
could discover truths not found in the Bible. The Popes had to burn some of their
leaders at the stake to make them insist less loudly, but they never really gave
up their views, and so the relations between them and the Holy See were quite
frosty for most of the time.

Of course, they never did what we would consider magic, although some of them
seriously tried, but their scientific experiments were not understood by their supe-
riors, and their knowledge was sufficiently advanced to invoke Clarke's law and
look like magic to their contemporaries.

For example, Roger Bacon (died around 1290 AD) wrote about the possibility of cars
without horses, flying machines and submarines as the result of human reasoning -
things nowhere to be found in the Bible, and obviously only possible with satanic
magic and the aid of demons ...


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:42 pm 
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Location: Texas, USA
Ars Magica sounds interesting...

Can someone post a linky to the free download?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:53 pm 
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Cyborg IM1 wrote:
Can someone post a linky to the free download?

I got mine from a German website, which might be a bit difficult to navigate
if one does not speak German. However, it is also available at several other
places on the Internet, for example from Steve Jackson Games:
http://e23.sjgames.com/item.html?id=AG0204


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:25 pm 
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Thanks!

Yes, my German is very limited. High School was a long time ago! :oops:

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