Ars Magica – Fifth Edition, Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein-Hagen

Review by Steve Dean

The first thing you will notice is the size of the thing, over 235 pages stuffed with info and wrapped in a hard cover. Inside, the pages are well presented, with a decorative edge and headings in a reddish brown ink. It looks pretty good, although the artworks is mostly average, and some of the gothic letters are hard to make out. There’s everything in here you need to play the game, from the obvious character creation and spells, to maps and some sample creatures, suggested story lines and some character sheets at the back.

The game system itself is weighted towards longer campaigns, and the GM, or ‘storyguide’ in this case, can actually change quite easily, with the previous GM becoming a player. As you would expect, this is a magic heavy setting, the primary characters are all magi. Players will have several characters on the go at the same time, not all being played at once of course, but rotated as the spotlight falls on them so to speak. These companions and ‘grogs’ are likely to be low level magic users or just warriors.

Overall it seems a complete and well rounded system for the more mature player, and I mean mentally not physically. If you’re the kind of player who wants to do a million damage and chop people’s heads off in one swipe of your ridiculously over powered sword, this system isn’t for you.

The one minor gripe I have is the references to the Christian church. ‘The Church: All Christians.’ and ‘The Order is well aware that the Church, with God’s backing, could wipe them out with no problem.’ Firstly, why don’t they? and yes they have other books with info on other religions, but it’s a bit unoriginal and too westernised for me.

Ars Magica – Fifth Edition, Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein-Hagen, Atlas Games, £19.99.

About Stephen Theaker (306 Articles)
Stephen Theaker's reviews, interviews and articles have appeared in Interzone, Black Static, Prism and the BFS Journal. Among other work for the BFS, he has been awards administrator, short story competition administrator, Dark Horizons editor, FantasyCon secretary and treasurer, and (briefly) chair.