Playing Ars Magica with BW rules?

I found Ars Magica to be a one of the greatest magic system of all time, and that, because of it’s “rigid” structure : with magic, you can only interact with Reality through certain manners (a combination of 5 techniques and 10 forms), and this is because this is not the “true” way to use magic (Like “God” would do…) A Quest for the Absolute (how to Reach / Escape the Twilight) with, well, totaly un-absolute means… There is beautful tragedy there, at tone with soon-to-coom Apocalypse That Shall Come that (well, In my mind!) was the vibe during the middle age…

… yet, even though Ars Magica revolved around Magic, it WAS a political game. And I don’t remember any good “political rules…”. I’ve read around the forum that some attempt where made to Burn Mythic Europe. Setting-wise, this would be really easy, I suppose : just remove the Orcs, Elves and Dwarves, and you got yourself a Mythic Europe setting… All the political aspect would be covered with the BW rules, but what about the magic system?

Anyone tried to convert/translate the “same” system into BW? I by “same”, I mean all the formes, techniques…

… or is this conversion/translation is a futile attempt, because, say, Ars Magica is more designed in a task-resolution approach and and BW, conflict-resolution…? (… does this last question make sense to you?)


Actually Ars Magica has a set of debate rules that is similar in concept to Duel of Wits. They’re available free at Atlas’ Website.

I love both Burning Wheel and Ars Magica, but they seem to have fundamentally different hard coded settings, and assumptions. Many of the things that seem central to Ars Magica Play to me (troupe play, the covenant as the central character, the importance of off screen activity like writing tomes and research, the detail of the magic system) seem antithetical to Burning Wheel to me.

Oh I did not know that Ars Magica had rules like these… It’s true that the last time I read a Ars Magica was around 1998, and it was the third edition…

I think Troupe Play could work fine with a kind-off GM-less BW game. Well, not GM-less, but with alternating GM. When I used to play Ars Magica, usally one player played his Magi and the others played companions and stuff. The off-screen activity could be resolved easily… it’s just, basicaly, practices of certain stats with neat narratives. The convenant, ans mostly, the magic system might not work, though.

Thanks for sharing!

I suppose it all depends on what you like about AM. I will say that if you haven’t looked at AM since 1998 5th Edition is a vast improvement.

However you go about it keep me posted! I’m a huge fan of AM.

BW would be great for the social interactions and politics, but the magic system is hard to transfer. I’ll agree with Crunch though, the current incarnation of ars is very good.

They managed to make chargen into even more of a chore than earlier (you need a spreadsheet to make a mage), but the rest works a lot better in play and there are neat subsystems for a lot of interesting stuff. They are distributed across the various books a bit randomly, but they are pretty solid. And chargen is good, it just takes a lot of time and arithmetic.

If you have access to the Magic Burner, you could do pretty well just by adding Abstraction & Distillation to Sorcery.