Tuesday, September 10, 2013

1 Character, 13 Systems - Part 9: Ars Magica

    I described my character, Korsanian, in a previous post here
    Low-detail, sort of, again with the Ars Magica system:

Books Used: Ars Magica (4th ed) core rulebook
Approximate time to create: 55 min

Korsanian Vambrae  -  Magi, House Ex Miscellanea

Intelligence  +3
Perception  +3
Strength  -2
Stamina  0
Presence  0
Communication  0
Dexterity  -1
Quickness  -1

Hedge Wizard (-1)
Slow Caster (-1)
Susceptibility to Infernal Power (-4)
Enemies (-2)
Tainted with Evil (-1)

Magical Animal Companion (2)
Second Sight (1)
Magic Sensitivity (1)
Magic Resistance (4)
Herbalism (1)
Alchemy (1)

Magic Theory  +3
Parma Magica  +2
Scribe Latin  +1
Speak Latin  +3
Speak own language  +4
Longshaft Weapons  +2
Crossbows  +3
Animal Handling  +2
Survival  +3
Occult Lore  +3
Northern Kingdom Lore  +2
Alchemy  +3
Herbalism  +3
Magic Sensitivity  +3
Awareness  +3

Magical Training:
  Intellego (perceive)  +8
  Perdo (destroy)  +10
  Imaginem (image)  +1
  Mentem (thought)  +2
  Vim (magic)  +10
Spells: 150 levels

  6 Body levels
  6 Fatigue levels
Soak: 0

Quarterstaff-  Initiative +3,  Attack +1, Defense +3, Damage +1, Combat Fatigue -2, Space: 3, Range: Reach
Light Crossbow-  Initiative -4, Attack +6, Defense -5, Damage +10, Combat Fatigue -1, Space: 1, Range: Far

    Since Ars Magica is based in "Mythic Europe" there are not any races other than human.  Also all magi belong to the "Hermetic Order" which has various Houses, the character's (Ex Miscellanea) is for random magic users.  I like and hate this system at the same time.  I like how some things turned out.  His weapons worked perfectly, I love that Ars gives a defense bonus to melee weapons (since keeping someone at sword-point is inherently defensive), so the quarterstaff is defensive but with his strength penalty not very offensive.  The crossbow on the other hand is very offensive (uses his perception score to hit) and damaging, but leaves him defenseless.  His Perdo Vim, or 'Destroy Magic', is nicely impressive; but the system is also flexible.  So Perdo Imaginem is 'Destroy Image', or invisibility.  Perdo Mentem 'destroys thoughts'.  This opens up lots of creative ways he can use his power with a simple verb/noun structure.  What stinks though, is while the essence of magic is simple, the exact effects and spell lists are terribly complex.  It is easy to have a level 40 spell (compared to Pathfinder's max of level 9, which was god-like power).  There are not quite as simple ways to determine your exact effect, and here's where that system knowledge is essential.  After a quick read-through I gave up trying to pick his specific spell levels.  Again we have alchemy and herbalism but no real solid numbers or items to use.  The Flaw/Virtue system is nice, you have to take flaws to afford virtues; but the lists are terribly long and convoluted (I totally forgot to get his small size as a flaw) - even though the lists are far shorter than GURPS or Hero System they are somehow harder to read (I guess this is another place where system knowledge is needed).
    Overall the character came out pretty good.  He hit the right feel, and got the key abilities.  I love his magic the best of all, the flexibility of the system is awesome, but I'm not sure how easily or well it would play at the table.  It might look nicer than it rolls.  I wouldn't mind trying him out, though he was made for a much higher fantasy setting than what Ars is based on.  I'm genuinely mixed on this, I like him and I'm kind of disappointed at the same time.  I guess only playing would really say how good he came out.

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