Referee’s Bookshelf: Realms of Power Series for 5th Edition Ars Magica

So, as mentioned I’ve been running some Ars Magica for the Monday evening group, and after the first block of sessions I’m now looking at preparation for the next set. My plan is to introduce new concepts to the game bit by bit, giving myself a chance to fully look over supplements and decide exactly what parts of them to incorporate into the game as I go. The first set of supplements I’m going to look at are the Realms of Power books.

Part of the Hermetic theory of magic followed by Ars Magica PCs is that supernatural events can all be traced back to one of four sources, known as the Realms of Power – the Divine, the Infernal, Magic and Faerie. (The less said about 3rd Edition’s Realm of Reason the better.) Whilst past editions have had supplements dedicated to some of these realms – Faerie was detailed in Faeries for 2nd edition and Faeries Revised for 3rd and 4th, and the Divine was looked at in Pax Dei for 3rd – neither the Infernal nor Magic have had a supplement devoted exclusively to covering those Realms before 5th Edition. Indeed, the 5th Edition Realms of Power series is a noteworthy example of the more systematic approach Atlas has taken with supplements for 5th Edition. This makes sense because although not all the Realms are created equal – the Divine, in particular, enjoys a certain pre-eminence for obvious reasons – all four are of comparable significance when it comes to being sources of supernatural phenomena – and, thus, they’re all equally useful for generating adventure hooks for Ars Magica.

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Sinister People, Secret Places: the English Supplements of 1st Edition Kult

Having previously reviewed (and thought favourably of) the first English-language edition of gnostic horrorRPG Kult, I thought I would check out the supplements that were released for it. Both of these were translations of material originally released for the Swedish version of the game; Legions of Darkness translates a supplement written for the Swedish 1st Edition by game creators Gunilla Johnsson and Michael Petersén, and is therefore closest in style and presentation to the core book, whilst Metropolis was originally written by different authors for the Swedish 2nd Edition, which introduces a number of cosmology tweaks. (For instance, this seems to be where the English 2nd/3rd Editions got the idea for the Demiurge’s palace being present in Metropolis but vacant, rather than being absent with a terrifying chasm that even the Devil himself fears to descend in its place.)

Let’s start with Legions of Darkness. As with the core rulebook, the original Swedish version of this was a boxed set of three booklets that was turned into a single book for the English version. Whilst it is a slight shame that the English 1st Edition didn’t come as a box so that referees could pass the player’s book around the table without exposing the players to referee-only secrets, in this case I don’t really think anything is lost from the slight change in format, since all this material is GM-only stuff anyway and turning it into a boxed set seems kind of pointless.

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ENWorld’s Hot Roleplaying Games – November 2014

Time to check in again on ENWorld’s chart of hot RPGs – particularly since there’s some new data being tracked which I think is particularly interesting.

As usual, remember that RPGs are scored on the chart based on what’s being actively discussed on as wide a pool of internet fora and blogs as they can find RSS feeds for. It isn’t tracking sales, and it isn’t even tracking popularity (because conceivably a game could get onto the chart if there were a sufficiently virulent negative reaction to it). Note that I’m presenting here the scores assigned to each game, not the percentages (which can tend to obscure whether there’s been a recent explosion of RPG discussion – as there has been for 5E – or whether things are comparatively quiet on the RPG talkosphere).

RANK	GAME					SCORE
1	D&D 5th Edition				1404
2	FATE					 276
3	Old School Revival (OSR)		 270
4	D&D 3rd Edition/3.5			 242
5	Savage Worlds				 157
6	World of Darkness			 153
7	Traveller				 120
7	Call of Cthulhu				 120
9	OD&D					 111
10	Pathfinder RPG				 108
10	D&D 4th Edition				 108
12	Dread					  89
13	Dungeon World				  86
14	Shadowrun				  82
15	AD&D 2nd Edition			  79
16	GURPS					  67
17	AD&D 1st Edition			  64
18	Dungeon Crawl Classics			  63
19	Numenera				  55
20	The Strange				  54
21	RIFTS					  49
22	13th Age				  48
23	Star Wars: Edge of the Empire		  46
23	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	  46
25	Warhammer 40K				  43
26	ICONS					  38
27	Castles & Crusades			  37
28	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	  33
29	DC Heroes				  32
30	Feng Shui				  28
31	Apocalypse World			  27
31	Star Trek				  27
33	Dragon Age				  26
34	Gumshoe					  25
35	Firefly					  22
36	Warhammer FRP				  19
37	Stars Without Number			  17
37	Earthdawn				  17
37	Deadlands				  17
40	d20 Modern				  14
40	BESM					  14
42	The One Ring				  13
43	Colonial Gothic				  12
43	Eclipse Phase				  12
45	Exalted					  11
46	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			  10
47	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			   9
48	Iron Kingdoms				   8
48	Gamma World				   8
50	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		   7
50	A Song of Ice & Fire			   7
50	HERO System / Champions			   7
53	CORTEX System				   6
53	Hackmaster				   6
53	Aberrant				   6
56	Mutant Chronicles			   5
57	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	   4
58	Ars Magica				   3
58	Star Wars (d6)				   3
58	d20 Future				   3
58	Brave New World				   3
62	Paranoia				   2
62	TMNT					   2
62	Fading Suns				   2
62	Marvel SAGA				   2
66	Chainmail				   1
66	True20					   1
66	Runequest				   1
66	Smallville				   1
70	Alternity				   0
70	Golden Heroes / Squadron UK		   0
70	Ashen Stars				   0
70	Hobomancer				   0
70	Rotted Capes				   0
70	Villians & Vigilantes			   0
70	Silver Age Sentinels			   0
70	Other Superhero RPGs			   0
70	Marvel Super Heroes			   0
--	Dnd/Pathfinder				 DNC
--	Stage					 DNC
*DNC = Did Not Chart

RANK	OFFICIAL FORA				SCORE
1	Paizo					 256
2	Wizards of the Coast			 107

Note that according to the chart page a 0 score doesn’t mean nobody’s mentioned a particular game – a statistically significant sample has shown up but no more than that. For sanity’s sake I’m only tracking zero-scores which previously scored. Games which did not chart presumably either failed to even yield a statistically significant sample or have had their categories retired from the chart (as appears to be the case with the redundant Dnd/Pathfinder category).

What you will notice at the bottom of the chart is that ENWorld has started tracking the levels of traffic for Paizo and Wizards’ official discussion boards. As the chart page on ENWorld explains, typically they don’t track official fora, on the basis that it would skew the charts unless every single official forum were tracked. Weirdly, they seem to be including the fora in the main charts, but this seems to be exactly the sort of apples to oranges comparison they claim to want to avoid, so I have separated them out here.

Continue reading “ENWorld’s Hot Roleplaying Games – November 2014”