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
This post (or any other post I made here) may not be quoted or copied beyond the SF RPG boards without my explicit permission.evildrganymede.net - visit the The Worldbuilding HubCheck out my Youtube channel for all my streamed gaming videos!