Ars Magica Expanded Notes

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Ars Magica: Nova Semitae Saga
Game Start
Anno Domini MCCXX, hiems
A.D. 1220, winter
5 Neanne 1, Hiems
Game Year
Anno Domini MCCXXXV, hiems
A.D. 1235, winter
6 Aulus 2, Hiems
Magi of Nova Semitae
Geoffroy de Dreux of Jerbiton
Joshua Levi of Verditius
Magni of Flambeau
Obscurus Ignis of Flambeau
NPC Magi
Aulus · Neanne · Fr. Thomas
Aline · Ysabelo

Hermetic Status
Lady Angharad ferch Madog, Princess of Powys Fadog
Ritter Sigmund, German ex-Crusader
Sir Daniele d'Audrieu, Norman merchant
Sir William Cornwell, English ex-Crusader
Other Characters
Covenfolk · Agents
The Redcaps · Notable NPCs
Chart of Languages Spoken
Notable Animals
Hortense of House Bonisagus
The Covenant
Covenant Charter · Membership Record
Record of Offices · Covenant Service
Council Voting Records · Hermetic Politics
Stonehenge Tribunal
Mundane Geography · Mundane Politics
Village of Melverley · Melverley Castle
Village Laws · Village Rumors
Medieval Farming
Covenant Resources
Covenant Library · Varana's Tomb
Hospital · Hospital Library
Vis Sources and Stores
Covenant Magical Items · Mundane Wealth
Classes and Training · Covenant Experts
Covenant Mechanics
Ars Magica House Rules
Ars Magica Expanded Notes
Campaign Log · Loose Ends
Ars Magica PC Reference
Player Resources (PDFs)
Experience Point Worksheet
Character Sheet (Variant 1)
Character Sheet (Variant 2)
Experience Point Chart

Combat Stats

An at-a-glance formula sheet for combat

INIT : Dex + Weapon Init - Enc + stress

ATK : Dex + Weapon Skill + Weapon Atk + Stress

DEF : Dex + Weapon Skill + Weapon Def. + Stress

DAM : Str + Weapon Dam + Atk Bonus

SOAK = Str + Armor

Certamen Stats

INIT : Dex + Finesse + stress

ATK : Pre + Technique or Form + Stress

DEF : Per + Technique or Form + Stress

Attack Advantage: Attack Total - Defense Total (if Attack is higher)

Weakening Total: Intelligence + Penetration + Attack Advantage

Resistance Total = Stamina + Parma Magica

Long-Term Events


When doing another activity as a work season, you can gain 2 XP in abilities or Arts which were used consistently during the season.


  • Langauges: You spend time in an area where the language is spoken natively, you earn 8 XP per season practicing until your score reaches 5; after this, you earn 5 XP per season.


  • You work with your trainer, who must have a minimum score of two before you can be trained. The master must have a higher score, and the master may be doing a "work" season.
  • You gain (master's score in ability) + 3 XP per season, until your score equals the master's
  • Hermetic Arts cannot be increased with these training rules


  • Formal teaching where the teacher dedicates a season teaching 1 or more people
  • The teacher must have a 2 in an Ability or a 5 in an Art in order to teach it.
  • Student and Teacher must have a common language and the teacher must have a higher score than the student
  • Teacher can teach a number of students equal to (Teaching skill) x 5, or one student if they have a 0 in Teaching
  • The student(s) gain (Teacher's Communication) + (Teaching Skill) + 3 + bonus XP in the Ability or Art taught
  • Bonus: 6 if only one student taught; 3 if two students; 0 if three or more students
  • Teacher only gains exposure in Teaching, or the Language skill used

Studying Vis

  • Only magi may do this
  • Need vis of the type relevant to the subject being studied, equal to one pawn per 5 levels of the Art, minimum 1
  • Gain (Stress Die + Aura) XP in the art
  • If the Stress Die double botches, the magus enters Wizard's Twilight (ArM5, p. 88)

Reading Books

  • The reader gains XP equal to the Quality in the subject of the book (Art or Ability)
  • A tractatus can only be read once
  • A summa may be continually read until the reader's score in the subject equals the Level of the summa; botch dice is equal to the number of dice used in the study

Writing and Copying Books

Also: Enhanced Writing Rules in consideration in House Rules document

Writing a Tractatus

  • Quality is equal to (Communication + 6)
  • Takes 1 season to write
  • Author may write a number of tractatus equal to half their score in an Ability or 1/5th their score in an Art, rounded up

Writing a Summa

  • May write a summa whose level is up to 1/2 their score in an Art or Ability
  • Quality is equal to (Communication + 6 + bonus)
  • Bonus: If the author selects a level lower than 1/2 their score they gain a bonus of 1 per level dropped for an Art summa, or 3 per level dropped for an Ability summa.
  • Final Quality cannot exceed 2 x (Communication + 6 + Virtue bonuses)
  • You accumulate points equal to (Communication + Language) per season while writing a summa. When these points equals the level of the summa (for Arts) or five times the level of the summa (for Abilities), the summa is complete. You may not change the level if your abilities or Arts increase while writing the book.

Copying books

  • A scribe can copy carefully or quickly. Copying quickly reduces the Quality of a book
  • Copying carefully takes 1 season per tractatus; copying a summa accumulates (6 + Profession: Scribe) points per season - work is done when these points equals the level of the summa
  • Copying quickly triples the above rate (3 tractatus per season, or accumulate 18 + (3 x Profession: Scrube) points per season - however, doing this lowers the Quality by 1 for all copied works
  • A scribe needs a Language ability of 3 in the text's language in order to copy it correctly, a 1 in an Realm Lore ability or Supernatural ability for those books, or a 1 in Magic Theory in order to copy books on Hermetic Arts or Parma Magica

Lab Texts

  • A magus can write out (20 x Speak Latin) levels of lab texts per season into a readable (translated) format
  • A magus can copy (60 x Profession: Scribe) levels of lab texts per season
  • A magus can learn another magus' lab text shorthand. Each season studying it accumulates points equal to Lab total in the Form+Technique; once you exceed the lab text's level, you understand that author's text. This requires a laboratory
  • A magus can translate another magus' lab notes that he understands. This is (Speak Latin x 20) levels per season and doesn't require a laboratory

Character Experience Points

Taken from a previous e-mail clarifying experience point gain, including our House Rules:

Each character should be receiving XP every season in some form. There are multiple sources of XP, and you receive XP from all of them that apply to your character. These are:

  1. Standard XP: How much you receive depends on what you're doing that season, and it can be basically broken down into two types of seasonal work: a) Working season; b) Personal season. See below for detailed explanation.
  2. Adventure XP: If your character goes on an adventure, he or she receives xp that may be spent on any skills or Arts used. Adventure XP can be earned in either a Working or Personal season.
  3. Correspondence XP: Literate characters (all magi at least) can engage in useful correspondence with people around Europe. See below for detailed explanation.
  4. House Ruled XP: I also give extra xp in Languages and Area Lore to represent the slow accumulation of knowledge while you live in an area. Magi also earn spell mastery xp for casting formulaic spells. See below for detailed explanation.

Standard XP

Working Season

Any season you're doing something that doesn't have a Study Total for what it is you're doing. Enchanting an item, writing a book, tilling the fields, training grogs, traveling to Constantinople, etc. For any working season, you receive 2 xp in a skill (or Art, for magi) in whatever it is you're doing.

For example, in the season you're enchanting plows, you would receive 2 xp in Magic Theory, Rego, or Terram. If you're writing a book, you would receive 2 xp in Concentration or Profession Scribe. If you're teaching a student you would receive 2 xp in Teaching or whatever subject you're teaching. Godwin needs to spend 2 seasons going around Europe selling his "relics" to maintain his Merchant social class. In those seasons, he earns 2 xp in Bargain, Area Lore, languages, Guile, etc.

NOTE: Non-magi owe 2 seasons of "work" per year to maintain their station. The Wealth virtue reduces this to 1 season of work per year while the Poor flaw increases this to 3 seasons per year. Characters directly supported by the covenant (magi or most companions) cannot have either Wealthy or Poor, and no characters currently have either in any case.

Personal Season

This is any season where you're doing something that generates a Study Total. This is reading a book, studying from raw vis, practicing a skill or spell, or receiving teaching or training. You receive the xp generated from the Study Total. (Some characters are especially good at Teaching; Franklin the translator is very busy in 1221 because of this.) See the Long-Term Events chapter starting on p. 163 for explanations of this.

Adventure XP

XP earned on adventures should be spent on anything that the character would have practiced, used, or could conceivably have learn while on the adventure. During the Irish mission, for example, Stealth, Area Lore, Speak Irish Gaelic, Infernal Lore, Faerie Lore, or Athletics are all good places to sink points into.

Correspondence XP

Literate characters can write letters to others of their social class. Magi can write to other magi, nobles can write to other nobles, academics write to other academics, etc. Each season you decide to engage in letter writing, you earn 1 xp in a given skill or Art -- though it has to be something that can reasonably be discussed via letters. (Magic Theory is fine, but Single Weapon is not.) This takes no appreciable time during the season, so there is no reason for magi to not do it. Some companions and grogs can engage in correspondence, but they must be both literate and have the Social virtue to explain what group they're writing to.

If the character belongs to multiple social classes (say, Adria and Geoffrey who are both magi and nobles), they may correspond with either class. If a character develops a relationship with a specific member of another social class (during adventures, most likely), then you may correspond with those.

Magi can correspond with their parens and any member of their former covenant at the very least. Some Houses are more social and will invite or initiate correspondence with new members they hear about through the Redcap gossip network. If you get into trouble, expect a Quaesitor to write or visit.

House Rule XP

The reason for both these house rules is to get everyone eventually speaking common languages and to know the area around the covenant. Frequently in Ars Magica sagas, magi will live in an area for 10 years but somehow never know anything about the area despite going out frequently to deal with ghosts, collect vis, deal with nobles and the Church. Or not know the language of the locals, despite having to deal with them every day to get things done. This way, you don't have to spend valuable xp just to get basic familiarity, but still leaves specialists as valuable.

Slow Language Exposure

Every season you spend in a given region, you receive 1 xp in a language used in that area. Because of Nova Semitae's position on the English-Welsh border and its unique population of jews, characters can receive xp in Middle English, Welsh, or Medieval Hebrew. Some can gain xp in Norman French if they deal with nobles, though very few can claim that. This xp stops once you hit Speak (Language) 4, or 50xp. This gets you in a decent, workable state with that language, but any further fluency requires effort. (As mentioned yesterday, Chieko is probably a Speak English 4 speaker. You can do most daily business, but some idioms and expressions will go by.)

Slow Area Lore Exposure

Every year, at the start of the Winter season, all characters receive 2 xp in Area Lore (Melverley/Nova Semitae). This represents increasing awareness of the villages, landmarks, vis sites, etc. around the covenant. For someone who wanders (like Godwin), this would be Area Lore (England) or Area Lore (Wales), because he "lives" in the general area, and not so much a specific area. This bonus xp stops when you've reached Area Lore 2, or 15xp. Further advancement requires effort.

Spell Mastery XP

Once per session, per spell, a magus can earn 1 xp towards mastering that spell. This helps encourage use of the spell mastery rules which are a rich set of rules representing a magus' facility with magic but get rarely used because experience points are often dedicated to other skills.


This is a summary of the creation of talismans:

  • The physical object may be crafted by someone else.
  • The first season, the object must be prepared for enchantment (p. 97). Notes: This *must* be done by the magus and cannot be farmed out. Also note that this is just the initial preparation; unlike regular Invested Devices, Talismans may continually be opened to more enchantments as a magus' Arts improve.
  • Per our house rules, the magus "attunes" the magical enchanted device to him/herself in the same season as creation. This requires a lab but does not require a lab total. Only one item can be attuned as a Talisman at any given time. Attuning to a new device deattunes the previous item. Alternatively, a magus can attune an existing device created by him/her in one season and open two casting bonuses in the same season.
  • See p. 98 for additional rules regarding Talismans - they're expandable, easier to enchant, and can take casting bonuses while you instill effects.

Longevity Rituals and Aging

Longevity Rituals

  • This is a magus-only full-season activity
  • A Ritual is unique to an individual and so laboratory texts of other people's rituals won't give you any bonuses
  • The base Lab Total for this activity uses Creo as the technique and Corpus or Vim as the Form
    • A magus with a relevant Virtue may incorporate use of that Virtue and thus use another form instead of Corpus or Vim
  • This requires 1 pawn of relevant vis for every 5 years of age (rounded up)
    • Using extra vis adds +1 to the Lab Total
  • The Ritual lasts until you fail an Aging Crisis (see below); instead of suffering the Crisis effect, the Ritual's magic is expended instead
    • If your Ritual is expended, you can replicate the Ritual with an expenditure of vis (the same as the original lab activity), but no significant use of time
  • Primary Benefit: When doing Aging checks (see below), you gain -1 for every 5 points of your Longevity Ritual (rounded up), helping you avoid aging effects longer.
  • You can create Longevity Rituals for others
  • This is a Creo Corpus Lab Total; the magus needs a Lab Total of at least 30
  • Characters with the Gift or other Supernatural Virtues gain a benefit equal to a magus
  • Mundane characters only gain a benefit of -1 for every 10 points of the Longevity Ritual (rounded up)


  • Starting in the Winter season a character is age 35 or older, a character must make the following Aging roll:
    • Aging Roll: stress die (no botch) + age/10 (rounded up) - Living Conditions modifier - Longevity Ritual Modifier
  • Characters younger than 35 under the effects of a Longevity Ritual should also roll, but treat all stress die rolls of 10 or above as 9 until they reach age 35
    • This is to calculate the Apparent Age

Aging-Related Scores

  • When tracking Aging, two new concepts are introduced: Aging Points and Decrepitude

Aging Points

  • Aging Points are accumulated on each Characteristic. This can be donated with a number in parenthesis
    • e.g. Int +3 (1) means the character has an Intelligence of +3 with one Aging Point
  • When a Characteristic accumulates a number of aging points greater than the Characteristic, that Characteristic score drops by 1 and the Aging points reset
    • e.g. If a magus with Int +3 (3) gains another Aging point in Intelligence, their Int becomes Int +2 (0)


  • Each Aging point counts as an experience point towards Decrepitude, which increases as an Ability
    • e.g. A character with 17 Aging Points has a Decrepitude score of 2
  • A Decrepitude Score of 4 or higher means the character is very frail and must roll on the Crisis table if they undertake any stressful activities, such as a long journey or any combat
  • Characters with a Decrepitude of 5 or higher are bedridden and will die within a few months. They cannot be helped by mortal intervention.

Living Conditions Modifiers

Living Conditions Modifier
Wealthy, or in a healthy location +2
Typical Summer/Autumn covenant (magus) +2
Typical Summer/Autumn covenant (mundane) +1
Typical Spring/Winter covenant (magus) +1
Average peasant 0
Poor, unhealthy location, or typical town -2

Aging Rolls

Aging Roll Result
2 or less No apparent aging
3 or more Apparent aging increases by one year
10-12 1 Aging Point in any Characteristic
13 Gain sufficient Aging Points (in any Characteristic) to reach the next level of Decrepitude, and Crisis
14 1 Aging Point in Dexterity
15 1 Aging Point in Stamina
16 1 Aging Point in Perception
17 1 Aging Point in Presence
18 1 Aging Point in Strength and Stamina
19 1 Aging Point in Dexterity and Luck
20 1 Aging Point in Communication and Presence
21 1 Aging Point in Intelligence and Perception
22+ Gain sufficient Aging Points (in any Characteristic) to reach the next level in Decrepitude, and Crisi

Aging Crisis

Crisis Roll Result
8 or less Bedridden for a week
9-14 Bedridden for a month
15 Minor illness. Stamina roll of 3+ or CrCo 20 to survive
16 Serious illness. Stamina roll of 6+ or CrCo 25 to survive
17 Major illness. Stamina roll of 9+ or CrCo 30 to survive
18 Critical illness. Stamina roll of 12+ or CrCo 35 to survive
19+ Terminal illness. CrCo 40 required to survive