House rules

This saga uses the rules from Ars Magica Fifth Edition, core book and supplements included. The intention House Rules are mainly to provide for advanced character creation, facilitate PbP gaming, and appeal to the aesthetics of the storyguide and players.

The backstory is *mostly* drawn from fifth edition material, but I am also using many elements from earlier editions (mainly the history of Provencal, Iberia, House Flambeau, and tidbits from the WGRE). If you are new to the game with ArM5, there is no need to worry. Simply inform others of your experience and we will help you along.
The current date is Winter 1235, start of the new year (this saga dates years as starting in Winter). The location is the independent province of Andorra. The covenant (so named after this region and claiming Hermetic authority over it) is located in the Parish of Ordino, atop a plateau overlooking the village of Arans (in the shadow of Mount Arans).
The covenant has been doing some rebuilding and reorganizing after a serious attack a few years ago, and they are as thriving and prosperous as ever. But as they expand their influence, they also increase their entanglements. The bread and butter of Andorra has ever been adventure and glory, but these are distractions from the difficult decisions that now present themselves. There is also the mystery of what happened with the attack from a few years ago, and Carmen's desire to find or avenge her father.

The background of my soap opera is as above, but this saga will be driven by the stories of the players. Players will be magi and companions (and grogs) recruited to join the rejuvenation, and/or were drawn for a more personal reason.

Old House Rules

Prime Directive

I am allowing a lot of options and permitting you to play with power. The system is easily abused, so don't abuse it. Be sane, be reasonable, stick with a concept, and focus on story and character.
And, if you have a good character concept that requires some bending of these or other rules, talk to the troupe as a whole and perhaps we can flex things a bit.

Character Creation

For grogs and Magi, both young and advanced, follow the link

Language and Area Lore

The languages spoken in the area and their relationship, are detailed here

Arms and Armors

Complete rules to equip your shield grogs and warrior magi!

Hermetic Economics

If, during chargen, you want to buy a longevity ritual, enchanted item or an item of quality, how do you do? You look at Hermetic Economics, of course!


(see also: Latest Breakthroughs and Integrations)
Of important notice, the house rules on Magic can affect character creation. Be sure to familiarize yourself with them.


Everyone gets to hit the ground running.
Each magus is granted of one of the covenant's several towers, containing the Standard Andorra Lab. This automatically includes the Free Virtues of Dedicated Building and Superior Construction (+1 Safety, +1 Upkeep, +2 Aesthetics, +1 Rego). Easy modifications & additions include Defenses, Elevated, Grand Entrance, Guard, and Servant. The magus may optionally choose some interior space (that happens to be available), but this means certain features may not be available (such as Dedicated Building, plus Grand Entrance &/or Elevated may not be available as depending on the situation).
The option for Magical Heating &/or Magical Lighting is available to any who choose it (each chosen as either Excessive &/or Superior Heating/Lighting, but none increases Upkeep and choosing both some form of Magical Heat *and* some kind of Magical Light lowers the Lab's Upkeep by one point.
Further, every magus may choose from three more options:
1) to start off with the Standard Lab as described above, including the features and options already given, and/or any other Free Virtues &/or Flaws as applicable (including Magic Items);
2) Modify and Refine the Standard Lab according to standard rules and options given below;
3) Create a Custom Lab by having spent points on Lab Virtues and Flaws, again using standard rules with options described below.

Standard Lab
I already told you what the Standard Lab is and what your options with it are.

Customized Lab
You may spend your first season to modify and customize a standard lab with a balanced number of Virtues & Flaws. This not the same as Refinement and that score is not changed.
Refined Lab
All the standard rules for Refinement apply, save that you are able to reduce the amount of time it takes to install Virtues &/or Remove Flaws by including or replacing them with New Flaws. Consider a Minor Virtue as being worth 1 point and a Major Virtue as 2. A Minor Flaw is -1 and a Major Flaw is -2. The total number of points is the number of seasons it takes to install of these Virtues with these Flaws, but the minimum is at least one season in addition to the season of Refinement. This also means that, without changing refinement, it takes a season to change and rearrange all of a Labs Virtues & Flaws as long as they achieve the exact same balance as they did previously.
This increased speed is part of the magical nature of the covenant's aura, and no one is even aware of it.
Purchased Lab
You may spend points from Mustering Out to purchase Virtues & Flaws for your lab, or to transfer a lab you created in play to the covenant. Again, this is just the magical nature of the Aura at work here, and you are not even aware it is happening.
The following rules replace what was written before, but according to my calculations having looked at all current labs, this formula makes everything fit.

  • Nonstandard Lab: Pyramid Value of Size x 10 (eg. +1 costs 10, +2 costs 30, +3 costs 60)
  • Refined Lab: Refinement x 5 (up to a maximum of your Magic Theory minus 3)
  • Virtues: 5 points for Minor, 10 points for Major; may include Flaws, since Virtues - Flaws may not exceed Size + Refinement)
  • Extra Lab: 25 points (an additional Standard Lab, fully equipped)
  • Retained Lab: 25 points (if you designed, refined, &/or modified a lab during your character's pre-game development, you may transfer that lab in it's entirety to your new location).

E.G. Vocis spent 40 points on his Lab, including 15 points for a Refinement of 3 (the maximum he is able), 10 points for Size +1, 5 points for a Minor Virtue, and 10 points for a Major Virtue.
((Vocis had previously spent 10 points for a Minor Virtue and mistakenly paid 30 points for a Major instead of 20, then he further neglected to balance the Virtues with Flaws or Increased Size, which may be my fault for dismissing a valid question when I was distracted))


As for Upkeep, the Covenant bears the cost of the first 10£ of your expenses (Upkeep +3). Above that, the covenant splits the cost with you. However, you recieve an annual Salary of 6£ and 3 pawns of Vim, you recieve an annual Stipend of 6£ and 3 pawns of Vim if you serve a Covenant Office, and you can earn a Wage once a year of 6£ and 3 pawns of Vim for performing extra duties. Vis of another Form may be taken in lieu of Vim, this is just a term of accounting. A pawn of a Technique may be taken in place of 2 pawns of Vim. The covenant will buy & sell (or rather, exchange) vis for silver and visa versa at an even rate of 12£ per pawn of Vim. Exchanges such as this are not to exceed the value of a Rook of Vim in a given three-year span.

E.G. Vulcanus has a Lab Upkeep of +6, an annual expense of 21£ of silver, The covenant covers the first 10£ off the top, and pays half of the remaining 11£ to leave Vulcanus bearing the burden of 5.5£. He receives a Stipend as Artifex of 6£, leaving him with one-half £. He also receives a Salary as a Master, and often earns Wages for his extra duties.


Ability Virtues

Certain Virtues grant bonus xp during character creation. Examples include Warrior, Educated, Arcane Lore, Hermetic Experience, Skilled Parens, Well Traveled, etcetera. Treat these as more than just a bonus to your char-gen package. They are part of your characters essential history. They include contacts and ties to your past; an eclectic cabal, old army buddies, a university, etc. This is not to be treated as a Story Flaw or an extra Virtue. It is just a resource that gives as good as it gets. Complimentary Virtues and Flaws may be taken to accentuate your past experience.


You may not create an Archmagus character. This will take many years of game time, but it is conceivable to have this as a future goal. Keep in mind that the Archmagi are an informal society that have their own customs aside from the Code of Hermes. An Archmagus does not have to accept your challenge, though it is possible that he may be ridiculed by his peers if he rejects worthy challengers.
No Archmagus will consider a challenge from someone who has not trained and gauntleted an apprentice. This is the minimum requirement, one needs to have achieved several other accomplishments before being considered worthy. Examples include…

  • Achieving an Acclaim or Prestige score of 4 or higher
  • Invent a new spell or enchantment of at least the 7th magnitude
  • Achieve some noteworthy magical or political accomplishment

Spell Mastery

The following list includes all existing Mastery abilities and a few new ones. Notes indicate Frequency and Origin. Existing Mastery abilities are given a page number reference, and new or modified abilities are given a full description.

Frequency & Origin

Frequency refers to how frequently the ability is encountered and how readily available the knowledge is. The scale is as follows:

  • Common: Automatically available to any magus
  • Uncommon: Available to most magi with the most tenuous of explanations
  • Rare: Normally available to a select group, requiring the magus to be part of that group or be taught the ability by one of them
  • Very Rare: Available to an exclusive group, usually requiring a special Virtue or Mystery or at least an agreement to keep it exclusive within the group

Origin refers to the original development of the Mastery ability. For Common & Uncommon masteries, this may be merely historical reference. For Rare and Very Rare, this indicates the requirements for that mastery.

Mastery Abilities

Acute Sense (1)
True Lineages, p.71
Taken the first time
(Uncommon, Quasitores)

Acute Sense (2)
True Lineages, p.71
This may be taken a second time for improved effect
(Rare, Quasitores)

Adaptive Casting
True Lineages, p.99
(Uncommon, Cult of Mercury)

Apatropaic Mastery
Infernal, p.122
(Uncommon, Demon Hunters & Infernalists)

Aura Mastery
You are adept at casting the Mastered Spell in one or more specific areas (you may be attuned to one location per point of Mastery). It may be a famiarity with ley lines or certain conjunctions of the sun-moon-stars reflected in geography, or just about any quasi-mystical excuse. Double the value of any bonus that aura provides, or halve any penalty inflicted. This does not affect botch dice.
(Rare, House Diedne, House Merinita)

Boosted Casting
True Lineages, p.99
(Uncommon, Mutantes)

Ceremonial Casting
True Lineages, p.99
Though originally developed by the Cult of Mercury, this is readily available to any magus.
(Common, Cult of Mercury)

Disguised Casting
True Lineages, p.99
(Rare, Cult of Mercury or House Tytalus)

Efficient Casting
You are much more efficient at empowering rituals, achieving results while using less vis than normally required. Subtract your Mastery Score from the amount of vis normally required. This reduction may not exceed the strength of the local Magic Aura, and can reduce the amount by no more than half. This was developed in imitation of Mercurian Magic, and if combined with that Virtue this is even more efficient. Reduce the required vis by half for that Virtue first, then apply the effects of Mastery. In any case, the vis cost can be reduced no lower than a single pawn.
Efficient Casting also allows you to add your Mastery Score to the amount of vis you are able to handle when casting the spell, even if it is not a Ritual.
(Rare, Cult of Mercury)

Faerie Attunement
Having trained under a Merinitae magus, you may add the full bonus of any Faerie aura you're in to your casting roll. You still don't count as "attuned to faerie", and thus still suffer extra botch dices due to the Aura, although you can subtract your Mastery score to the extra botch dices given by the Aura.
(Uncommon, House Merinita)

Fast Casting
ArM5, p.87

Choose one Parameter of the spell (Range, Duration, or Target/Size). You can alter that parameter by up to one magnitude up or down (or equivalent yet different). How this parameter is flexed is determined when this mastery is chosen. You can take this mastery multiple times to flex different parameters in different ways. You cannot flex two parameters at once unless Flex (specific combination) is chosen as a third separate mastery, and you may not stack two flexings on a single parameter.
This mastery is fully compatible with Flexible Formulaic Magic, and magi with that virtue may freely combine or stack those effects with this mastery.
(Rare, Cult of Mercury/Flexible Formulaic Magic)

Forceful Casting
This mastery is applied to spells that have force involved; be it an amount of damage caused, kinetic strength, a volume of energy, or some such. Each time this mastery is chosen, you may opt to add one magnitude of Force to the level of the spell (such as adding +5 to direct damage spells). You may choose this mastery multiple times and vary the amount of increased force, but each magnitude added increases the effective Level of the spell, so you may not take it beyond the tenth magnitude unless the spell is already a ritual.
When you employ Forceful Casting, you must always use a Loud Voice and Exaggerated Gestures (or expend a Fatigue Level instead).
(Uncommon, House Flambeau)

Goetic Mastery
Infernal, p.124
(Very Rare, Goat Magic which is banned)

Harnessed Casting
True Lineages, p.99
(Rare, Mutantes)

Hastened Ritual
This Mastery is intended for Ritual spells, reducing the time required to cast it. Subtract your Mastery score from the minutes per magnitude (base 15) that it would normally take. That is, it takes (15 - Mastery) minutes to cast the spell. However, casting a ritual in a haste fashion such as this is risky, adding one botch die per minute of reduction you take advantage of (you don't have to go as quickly as your full mastery score indicates). You may take this Mastery multiple times to multiply the effect, so taking it twice means reducing the time to 15 - (twice Mastery) minutes per magnitude, taking it three times takes three times your mastery score minutes of the base 15 per magnitude, etcetera.
This Mastery was originally developed by the Cult of Mercury, and is especially useful to those with the Mercurian Magic Virtue as they may employ it without restriction. Other magi must utilize a Casting Space similar to the sort described in HoH-Societates on page 59-60. The speed of casting may not exceed that appropriate for the quality of said space, regardless of Mastery Score and number of times improved upon.
(Rare, Cult of Mercury)

Imperturbable Casting
Societates, p.33

Introspective Casting
This mastery is used with spells that provide knowledge or information (mainly Intellego spells), allowing you to add your Mastery score to rolls involving the effects of such spells.
(Uncommon, Quasitores)

Lab Mastery
True Lineages, p.100
from Mastery is applied to your Magic Theory score. This has the same general effect, adding a bonus to your overall Lab Total. But this may affect other calculations based on Magic Theory, such as how many pawns of vis you can work with or the maximum value of Shape & Material bonuses.
(Uncommon, Cult of Mercury or House Verditius)

Learn From Mistakes
True Lineages, p.100
(Rare, Cult of Mercury)

Life-linked Ritual
This Mastery allows the caster to draw upon their internal life energies to fuel the Ritual spell in place of vis. They may spend a number of Long-Term Fatigue Levels up to their Mastery score as if they were actual vis. For some magi, this can result in Rituals powered by pure life energy. Pawns of life energy still contribute to Botch dice however.
This is a Rare Mastery, requiring a specific Virtue or Mystery. Normally that would make it Very Rare, but there are several options and different ways that naturally synch with this ability.
(Rare; Mercurian Magic1, Life Boost, Leper Magus, Diedne Magic, Imbued with Spirit of (Form)2)
1 Pawns of "life energy" do not count towards Botch dice
2 uses Short Term Fatigue

Magic Resistance
ArM5, p.87

Multiple Casting
ArM5, p.87

Obfuscated Casting
Societates, p.34
(Uncommon, House Tytalus)

Optimized Mastery
This requires the Lab Mastery ability, and is generally available to House Verditius (though can be learned from the lab notes of a magus who utilized this mastery in the project). Like Lab Mastery, this only applies when instilling an effect similar to the mastered spell. For the purpose of calculating the amount of vis needed to instill the enchantment, you may subtract your Mastery score from the level. This does not make the enchantment easier, just less expensive. No matter how well the effect is optimized, it requires a minimum of one pawn to enchant.
(Rare, House Verditius)

ArM5, p.87
You may choose this mastery additional times to add another +1 to Penetration (in addition to your mastery score bonus for choosing it the first time).

Precise Casting
Societates, p.34
(Common, House Flambeau)

Quick Casting
Societates, p.34
(Common, House Flambeau)

Quiet Casting
ArM5, p.87

Societates, p. 129
Note: the bonus is to the effect level of the spell (or the roll), not the actual level.
(Common, Lineage of Praelix)

Secure Casting
You are quite secure and competent with the Mastered spell, and are much less likely to mishandle the magic. Subtract twice your Mastery Score from any botch dice (doubling the normal benefit of mastery). This is especially useful for Ritual Spells that are cast frequently, or spells normally cast in a foreign aura.
(Uncommon, House Bonisagus)

Silent Casting
ArM5, p.87: Requires Quiet Casting (Common)

Stalwart Casting
True Lineages, p.100 (Cult of Mercury, Rare)

Still Casting
ArM5, p.87 (Common)

Soft Magic
High Powered magic of the seventh magnitude or more inflict Warping, and with Constant Effects this can result in high levels of accumulation. One point when cast, plus one per season and one per year. The exception is if the magic was Designed for or Cast by the subject, who only receive one per year for constant effects.
This Mastery allows you to "soften" the way you cast the Mastered spell upon others, treating it as if it were designed for or cast by them (no Warping for a high level effect and only one point per year if constant). A Softly Cast spell has no Penetration ("Forceless Casting"), and take a full round to cast. For Rituals, the time required is not altered, but may not be reduced by other factors.
(Uncommon, House Bonisagus)

Tethered Casting
True Lineages, p.100
(Mutantes, Rare)

Societates, p. 129
Note: the bonus is to the effect level of the spell (or the roll), not the actual level. As per those rules, add three times mastery score to rolls to PeVi spells thus mastered to counter or cancel magic.
(Common, Lineage of Praelix)

Vacillated Casting
When you cast a spell, you are able to "hold" it by Concentration, opting to release or decline it later as you choose. When you release the spell, you may choose to do so quickly as if it were Fast Cast. This is inefficient, as the spell had to have been cast and held in a previous round. Concentration is automatic unless something perturbs you. If you fail your Concentration roll, the spell dissipates.
(Uncommon, House Flambeau)


Confidence Points are used as normal, but are gained differently. Characters begin each story with their full allotment of Confidence points, which equals one plus twice their score. If it is a long story, Confidence may be recovered with proper rest and nourishment, as if Long Term Fatigue. One night’s rest recovers one point of Confidence *or* a Long Term Fatigue, not both. Confidence may not recover faster than Fatigue. A full day and night will recover one of each though.


At the end of Stories, Players are awarded with points of Fortune. This is in replacement of the confidence award and is based on similar criteria. It is the *Player* that receives this award, not the characters. In the spirit of Troupe Style play, the Storyguide is also a player and deserves an award for running the story. The way this works is that the SG awards the other players, and they select one amongst themselves to decide what to award the SG.

Gaining Fortune

Awards typically range from 2 to 3 points. Exceptional performance could earn up to five. With that in mind, the award can be arbitrary three or based on more exacting standards. Participants deserve points for any of the following reasons…

  • Achieving a personal goal and/or contributing to the success of a group goal
  • Overcoming adversity, such as succeeding in a difficult task, triumphing against arduous obstacles, and enduring a lengthy story
  • Entertaining Roleplaying, Good Gaming, Meaningful Participation, and basically Running/Playing a Fun Story
  • Bonus: Receive a point or more for any good reason not already covered. This could be for doing something cool, an exceptional and well timed roll, a clever idea employed with success, being exceptionally entertaining, or some-such.

The Simple Way
Or you can keep it simple. Award 2 points for a Good Story/Performance, 3 for a Great one, and 4 if Excellent. The storyguide may assign one bonus point, and the one chosen to decide the storyguide award may assign one bonus point. No one can receive more than one bonus point, and no one may give the point to themselves.

Fortune Score

Look at the pyramid value of your Fortune Points. That is, the Art Score they would buy if they were Experience Points. This is your Fortune Score. For example, if you have six Fortune points your Score is 3. If you have seventeen your score is 5.

This is the limit on how many points you can use in any one instance, as defined below. Your score will naturally fluctuate as you gain and use Fortune, altering the amount you can use for the next instance.

Using Fortune

Fortune Points can be used for several benefits. There are many minor uses that will quickly eat up points, making it difficult to save up for greater benefits. The number of Fortune points that can be spent in any one instance equals the players Fortune Score at the time of the expenditure. Players may use & spend Fortune on any character they are playing or controlling at the time of the expenditure.

Instances of the use of Fortune and the Benefits are as follow…

  • Gain a Bonus to Active Rolls: Add +1 per point spent to the results of any roll in active “on-stage” play. Like Confidence, this can be done with multiple rolls in the same round, but cannot benefit seasonal activities. Also, like Confidence, the bonus can be added after the roll is made. Those with the Luck Virtue get a matching bonus of up to +3 if they spend the points before the roll. This can be spent in addition to Confidence and other bonuses. (Instance = Roll)
  • Substitute for Vis when Spellcasting. This costs two points per pawn, and each “pawn” adds two botch dice instead of one. The roll is always stressful even if mastered. The “vis” may be used in whatever way desired with the spell, but is used up the instant casting is finished (or interrupted). This can be a Ritual Spell, a Boosted Spell, a simple Casting Bonus, or whatever. This can only be done once per spell. (Instance = Spell)
  • Recover Energy: Fortune can enhance Recovery of Fatigue & Confidence. (Instance = Recovery Period)
  • Short-Term Fatigue: Fatigue recovery is discussed in core rules, with the time required to restore one Short-Term level depending on a variety of factors. Fortune can be spent to recover additional levels in this interval (instead of waiting for the next few successive intervals). In the time it takes to recover one level, recover a second by spending 1 Fortune point, a third by spending 3, a fourth for 6, etceteras. The Long-Winded halve the cost (round up).
  • Long-Term Fatigue: It takes a full night’s rest to recover a single Long Term Fatigue Level. Fortune can be spent to increase the amount recovered in that interval. It takes 1 point to recover a second Long-Term level, 3 points for a third, and etcetera. The Long-Winded halve the cost (round up).
  • Confidence: It takes a full night’s rest to recover a Confidence point. It costs 1 Fortune point to recover a second, 3 for a third, etcetera. The Self-Confident halve this cost (round up). Confidence may not be recovered faster than Fatigue, and only one level/point is recovered for free. So, it takes one night’s rest to recover one Long-Term Fatigue Level or Confidence Point for free. It costs 1 Fortune Point to recover one of each, 2 for two of one and one of the other, 4 for two of each, 6 for three and two, 9 for three of each, and etcetera. For those with half-costs for one or the other, the math is here before you.
  • Withstand Injury: Fortune can be used to lessen the severity of an Injury as it is being received. This is regardless of source; combat wound, poison, disease, magic, or whatever. It costs 1 point to turn a Light Wound into the loss of a Long-Term Fatigue Level. 3 points lessens a Medium Wound to a Light Wound, 6 reduces Heavy to Medium, and 10 to lower Incapacitated to Heavy. If the player is able to spend it, injury can be reduced several steps, with a minimum result of Fatigue Loss. (Interval = Injury as Received)
  • Survive Death: This depends on how dead the character should be. It takes 15 points to survive Probable Death, 21 for Apparent Death, 28 for Certain Death, and etcetera for magnitudes of severity beyond. This can be very harsh. So if you spend all your points and other players match that amount, the character survives even if the total falls short. (Instance = Survival of Death)
  • Helping Others: Players may spend their own points for the benefit of others, provided they are willing. This can be in addition to or instead of what that player is using in an instance
  • Awarding Others: A player may give out Fortune points to another player for any reason that strikes their fancy. This can be an award for doing something cool, a token of appreciation, bribery, or whatever. The award must take place during an receive story, and both players must be participants in that story. The fortune scores of both the giver and receiver limit how many points may be transferred (no more than the lowest score). A player may only gift a specific other player once per story, though one may give them out to and/or receive them from multiple players Personal award gifts are usually given out at the end of a story.
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