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Ars Magica (First Edition)

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(This page is about the First Edition core rule book. For a complete list of pages related to First Edition, see Category:ArM1.

The first edition of Ars Magica (or ArM1, for short) was published in 1987 by the now-defunct company Lion Rampant.

Ars Magica (First Edition)
Cover illustration for Ars Magica (First Edition)
Product Information
Rules Edition: First
Abbreviation: ArM1
Product Type: core rules
Author(s): Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein·Hagen
Publisher: Lion Rampant
Product Number: unknown
ISBN: None; ArM1 was printed by a small press and was not assigned an ISBN.
Release date: 1987
Format: Softcover, 160 pages
Availability: Out of print; rare

First Edition Ars Magica is long out of print. A copy seems to surface for auction on E-Bay every few years, but commands a collector's price: often $75 or more.

Subject and Contents[edit]

At the time, ArM1 was a very innovative game that broke new ground in several ways. Back in 1987, the fantasy role-playing genre was dominated by First Edition AD&D, with Runequest a distant second. Ars Magica was a radical break from AD&D, putting a strong emphasis on story and characterization.

It created an open-ended magic system that allowed players to invent an unlimited variety of new spells by combining Forms and Techniques. It introduced Troupe Style play, where players rotate roles like actors in a repertory troupe. It introduced Personality Traits, which quantify a character's personality as well has his/her physical and mental abilities. It deliberately cast aside the idea that all player-characters should be equal in power, and made magi a great deal more powerful than grogs or companions.

Contributions to Canon[edit]

Most of the mechanics of Ars Magica were introduced with First Edition.

Comparison with Other Editions[edit]

On the other hand, there were several aspects of ArM1 that would seem odd to someone familiar with later editions:

  • Houses didn't exist. They were introduced in ArM2
  • Magi tracked their study and laboratory work in months, not seasons
  • Parma Magica was a Rego Vim General spell, not an Ability
  • The Code of Hermes was not written down specifically, only described in general terms
  • Grogs could not have Virtues and Flaws

Errata[edit]

There are no errata for First Edition, but the Revised Edition was published fairly soon after it (in 1989).

Awards[edit]

The First Edition of Ars Magica won the Origins Gamer's Choice Award for 1988.

Opinion and Commentary[edit]

If you have read or played First Edition, feel free to contribute by adding your impressions here.

External Links[edit]

Legacy Page[edit]

The history of this page before February 5, 2012 is located at Legacy:arm1.