The Ars Magica Frequently Asked Questions

These pages are dedicated to the roleplaying game known as Ars Magica, currently published by Atlas Games. They are intended to provide answers to common questions concerning its setting, rules, play and community. The collection of information contained in this document has grown rather extensive, so if you are just getting yourself up to speed before joining one of the mailing lists, you might want to start by reading the sections on the most frequently asked questions for the current edition.

Questions are collected from the Ars Magica mailing list(s) and from the Atlas Games discussion forums. I try to keep on top of what questions are being asked at a given time and also to synthesize the gist of the answers being provided. You can make my job easier by submitting questions and (especially) answers. You'll be given credit for answers you write, and who knows, you may even become famous.

What's New?

December 15, 2007:
November 11, 2007:
February 4, 2007:



November 15, 2006:

Started cleaning up the broken and outdated links. Many are fixed, many still remain.



March 13, 2006:
Added "What is the difference between Fourth and Fifth Edition?". Updated the entries about crossbows and casting from text.
October 19, 2005:
Added Are pagan gods Magical or Faerie? and How does multiple casting work?. Updated Can I write for Ars Magica?. Updated and re-organized the information on upcoming supplements. Changed formatting of "what's new?" section so it looks worse on my PC but better on my handheld. :-)
June 5, 2005:
Re-organized a little. Added I Need an Official Ruling on (X). Added a question on Faerie Magic and revised the Tremere vampire and White Wolf Storyteller (World of Darkness) questions. Finally added mention of the Official Ars Magica Discussion Forum. Cleaned up numerous, egregious HTML errors on the index page: if the FAQ has been looking funny in your browser, it should be better now.
April 6, 2005:
Updated information about upcoming supplements.

Table of Contents

If you're looking for something specific, check out the (fairly) comprehensive index.

  1. What is Ars Magica?
    1. Introduction to Ars Magica
    2. A role-playing game
    3. No "real magic"
    4. Mythic Europe
    5. Superb magic system
    6. Covenants
    7. Troupe-style play
  2. Frequently Asked Questions for Fifth Edition
    1. About the Rules
      1. Rule Status Questions
      2. Characters, Abilities, Virtues and Flaws
      3. Spells and Spellcasting
      4. Magic Resistance and Parma Magica
      5. Laboratory Work
      6. Books, Study, and Experience
      7. Combat
    2. About the Setting
      1. What is the Medieval Paradigm?
      2. What is this about Tremere and vampires?
      3. "How do I say (something) in Latin?"
      4. In Ars Magica, are the pagan gods Magical, Faerie, or what?
    3. About the community
      1. "Can I write an entry for this FAQ?"
      2. "How many people make up the Ars Magica community?"
      3. "How can I find a troupe to join?"
      4. "How is Ars Magica related to White Wolf's Storyteller system (World of Darkness setting) games?"
    4. About the line
      1. What is the release schedule for Ars Magica supplements?
      2. Are the older Tribunal books still useful?
      3. Where can I find older (Fourth Edition and earlier) supplements that are now out of print?
      4. Will Atlas make available free downloads with conversion stats for older supplements to Fifth Edition?
      5. "Why do some of the newer supplements have hard covers?"
      6. "Is there a d20 conversion for Ars Magica?"
      7. "Can I write a supplement for Ars Magica?"
      8. "Which book(s) should I buy?"
      9. "Who is the current line developer?"
  3. Questions for Fourth Edition and Older
    1. About the Fourth Edition rules
      1. "How does the Parma Magica work?"
      2. "Is Perdo Imáginem too easy?"
      3. "How do I use Range, Duration, and Target?"
      4. Can my wizard create ritual spell to lift an entire mountain five hundred feet into the air permanently? If so, what level would it be?
      5. Can a magus create a golem and switch minds with it and thus escape old age?
      6. Is ice part of Aquam, or what?
      7. "Is combat busted?"
    2. A sample combat
    3. "What are the differences between editions?"
    4. About the setting
      1. "What will Mythic Europe look like in the future?"
      2. "Are the Jews/Moslems/Pagans Damned?"
      3. "Why don't magi use magic to make money?"
      4. "Who is tougher, magi or mundanes?"
      5. "What is True Reason?"
  4. Where can I find more information about Ars Magica?
    1. Mailing Lists
      1. General mailing list information
      2. Common mailing list abbreviations and jargon
      3. The ArM Code
    2. The Official Discussion Forum
    3. Publications
      1. The Redcap: News from the Order of Hermes
      2. Ars Mag
      3. Mythic Perspectives
      4. Hermes' Portal
      5. Other articles
    4. Links
    5. Suggested reading
      1. Introductory histories
      2. Regional histories
      3. Intellectual histories
      4. Social and economic histories
      5. History of magic
      6. Military histories
      7. Medieval literature
      8. Fiction
      9. Other RPGs
  5. History of Ars Magica
    1. A History of Ars Magica
      1. Lion Rampant
      2. Atlas Games (old-school)
      3. White Wolf
      4. Wizards of the Coast
      5. Atlas Games (Fourth & Fifth Editions)
    2. Product List

Contributors: David Anderson, Shannon Appel, Joshua Badgley, David Cake, David Chart, Erik Dahl, Jérôme Darmont, Michaël de Verteuil, Timothy Ferguson, Jeremiah Genest, Andrew Gronosky, Eric Grove-Stephensen, Chris Hansen, Kevin R. Hardwick, George Heintzelman, Peter Hentges, Lucy Hewitt, Chad Hooper, Leif Olav Jøsang, John Kasab, Stuart Kenny, Ian Klinck, Eric Kouris, Lydia Leong, Precoz Liar, Alon Lichinski, Frank Lohmann, Adam Mosley, Jamieson Norrish, Tim O'Brien, Eric Pommer, Jérémy Provost, Wade Racine, Max Rible, Roderick Robertson, Matt Ryan, Steve Saunders, Steve Schonberger, Elliot Smorodinsky, Daniel C. Sobral, Neil Taylor, Sheila Thomas, Erik Tyrrell, Robbie Westmoreland, Alex White, Andy Young. Special thanks to: David Chart, John Nephew, and Wade Racine.

Copyright information

This FAQ is administered by Andrew Gronosky. Please send questions, additions or comments to the maintainer.