The Tin Islands project for Ars Magica is beginning to take some shape in my mind.   Here’s what is going to make it distinctive.

All players will get a two page version of the basic Ars Magica rules. My first attempt at this is over here.

All Latin terms will be given in English, other than “magus”. This includes the Arts. The Forms and Techniques will be called Nouns and Verbs.

The confidence mechnanic will not be used.

The group combat mechanic will not be used.

All characters will be humans : no spirits, magical animals, faeries or whatever else you can think of.

I’m thinking of strategically not giving any of the fighters missle weapons, to simplify combat.

All player characters will be fully statted for people wanting to play the standard game, but will also receive Simplified Sheet. On your simplified sheet,all the sums will be done, so instead of Awareness (enemies) 6 (+2 Perception, +3 Knack) for a scout, your sheet will just say Awareness +11 (12 if spotting enemies). I’m tempted to just can specialisations, actually..opinions?

Similarly formulaic spells will have a big bold number which is just the required Casting Roll.  They may have a Penetration Bonus number. They won’t have the little code at the beginning (CrCo35) or the bit where the author shows his working at the end (Base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Sun). The goal is to eliminate everything that the forces the new player to learn how to play our way.

Each magus character will have something like a miracle menu from Nobilis, which gives them a spont magic cheat sheet. So it will say “You need to roll a 5 and spend Fatigue to do A, B, or C.”

Characters who fight will have more detailed character sheets, explaining wounds, fatigue and combat.


10 replies on “Tin Islands Project : What’s different to normal?

  1. I’d include two versions of the characters. This one, and the normal one, in case you have a proficient player at the table.

    I’d keep the specialties, because everyone likes to look for ways to meet that specialty in order to get the bonus.

    If we can keep the rules reduction to a single page, we should. I think the summary page in the back of the core book is a good example of this.


  2. No, you get one version. 8)

    Well, you get two, but one is in the GM’s pack, for if the group wants to play on.

    Proficient players aren’t the target of the scenario, and I don’t want to pad the whole thing out with informaton for a non-target audience. Also, I don’t want profieicent players trying to use rules, like Confidence that I’ve cut out to keep things simple. A proficient player reading this should be SGing.

    The point is to keep it simple: the proficient player is going to need to scale down.

    I’m still not sure on specialisations; it seems like a lot of work for very little bang. Still, we’ll see what other commenters like.

    I’d like to keep the rules to one page. “Promises, Promises” has 2 pages, and its certainly not going to be longer than that.


    1. The reason I say “two versions” is that in a convention environment, you seem to often get the veteran player who brings along the newbie friend, and this would give the scenario more versatility.


      1. Just this once, couldn’t the experienced player just scale it back a bit?

        It might be worth an extra page for experienced players. They won’t need to read the two pages of rules, so its still relatively simple.


    2. I quite like specialisations. They are a good way to give hints to players as to the personality and sorts of things that their characters should be doing. If you give a character a specialisation, then the player will probably try to use that specialisation whenever a plausible opportunity occurs.

      A character with Hunt (poaching) is a bit different to a character with Hunt (with falcons), and as long as the specialisations are consistent and coherent they will encourage the player to play each character in a different way.


  3. Last weekend I played with my brother, his two sons, and my son. The boys are 10, 11, and 14. The two youngest thought that the specialty after their character’s Ability was the ONLY activity the character could perform in this skill set. Thus, Athletics (running) meant the character could only run, not climb or jump, etc.

    I’m not saying that adult players will have this difficulty, but I’m agreeing with Timothy that specialties are an unnecessary complication for brand new players.


  4. Personally, I love the specialties because it adds more flavor. If it’s not too cumbersome, keep them. If it adds too many numbers on the page… ditch it.

    And I don’t think it’s too much to ask a veteran to scale down. We all know it’s about story, anyway, and the GM can explain the situation to the vet.


  5. If you’re going for “simple” I’m wondering if leaving out magi from the mystery houses isn’t an idea worth considering. Also a Guernicus can bring up all kinds of issues that might be easier just doing without.


  6. Strategically not giving “fighters” missile weapons doesn’t really solve characters wanting to pick things up and throw them in play (or looting missile weapons from opponents).

    Which is the sort of thing that players are liable to want to do.


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