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, the Divine was looked at in Pax Dei for 3rd, and the Infernal also got a 3rd Edition supplement in the form of The Maleficium – the Magic Realm never had a supplement devoted exclusively to it 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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Referee’s Bookshelf: Faith & Flame – The Provençal Tribunal

So, I kicked off my Ars Magica campaign recently, and for this first clutch of sessions the main aim has been to establish the magi characters and their Covenant and give it a geographical and historical context within Mythic Europe. The players decided to locate their Covenant in the Provençal Tribunal, because in the default 5th Edition start date of 1220 you’re at an interesting point in the Albigensian Crusade where the first burst of the Crusade has petered out and the Cathars and Count of Toulouse have made something of a comeback and it could conceivably go either way from here.

As luck would have it, Atlas Games recently put out Faith & Flame, the Tribunal sourcebook for Provençal, so that’s been the supplement I’ve been primarily using to run the campaign at this point.

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Thoughts On Ars Magica Ahead of a Campaign

It’s beginning to look like I’m going to be running some Ars Magica for my Monday night group, having wrapped up my Traveller campaign for the time being. A big reason is that membership of the Monday evening group has been fluid for a good long while, so the ship’s crew in Traveller was becoming cluttered with former player characters and my planning was littered with exciting backstories generated by the Traveller lifepath system that I couldn’t really address properly due to the absence of the players in question. Ars Magica, conversely, is a bit more suited to PCs appearing and disappearing; even an important player character could conceivably get lost in Wizard’s Twilight for years or get sent by their House to the other end of Europe on a mission, and not every PC will participate in every adventure anyway if you go with the aspect of “troupe-style” play which has each player potentially running multiple characters.

The other big reason is that Ars Magica is awesome, so when the Monday gang mentioned enjoying it in the past I jumped at the chance to run some.

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