Project: Redcap; the crossroads of the Order


Ars Magica Fourth Edition

From Project: Redcap

(This page is about the Fourth Edition core rules. For a complete list of Fourth Edition books and supplements, see Category:ArM4.)

Ars Magica Fourth Edition logo
Ars Magica Fourth Edition
Cover illustration for Ars Magica Fourth Edition
Product Information
Rules Edition: Fourth
Abbreviation: ArM4
Product Type: core rules
Author(s): David Chart
Publisher: Atlas Games
Product Number: AG0204
ISBN: 1-887801-55-3 (softcover), 1-887801-56-1 (hardcover)
Release date: December 1996
Format: Softcover and Hardcover, 272 pages
Availability: Out of print, free PDF available

Ars Magica Fourth Edition (short: ArM4) refers to the fourth edition of Ars Magica in general, and the core rulebook of that edition in particular.

ArM4 was published by Atlas Games in 1996. This edition was released as a free PDF for download in 2004, several months before Fifth Edition came out. Although available free of charge, this edition is still under copyright and is still subject to Project Redcap's copyright policy.

There is an official product page at the Atlas Games Web site.

Free Download![edit]

The Fourth Edition rule book is available for free download. This is a great way to get acquainted with the game and its setting.

Fifth Edition is more up-to-date and is generally considered better, but Fourth Edition is perfectly playable and was well-regarded in its time (see the reviews below).


Errata for the Fourth Edition rules can be found at the Atlas Games Web site.

Subject and Contents[edit]

Fourth edition introduced Spell guidelines to make designing Hermetic spells and effects more systematic.

The combat rules were revised for Fourth Edition but were widely considered to have drawbacks; see the Fifth edition design notes on combat for a summary of the problems.

Opinion and Reviews[edit]

Until about 2005, the original Ars Magica FAQ site solicited reviews of Ars Magica products from the community. The online review submission form is no longer available, but please feel free to edit this page to add your own comments. A synopsis of the survey results for this book is:

FAQ Rating: **** (14 reviews; 0 *, 1 **, 7 ***, 6 ****)

  • A revision of the most amazingly detailed magic system for any RPG, ArM4 would be the perfect medieval fantasy RPG if not for the combat system and the dearth of information the Houses. Apart from that, everything you need to play is included here.
  • Introduces many insufficiently playtested features, some of which fall flat. Has unfortunately dropped much of the flavour text from previous editions often leaving raw game mechanics to bear the load of creating colour and context, a task which is often beyond them. Nonetheless a significant improvement over earlier excellent editions of an excellent game.
  • Less background and more rules than 3rd edition.
  • Much better than 3rd. Ed. I own two copies. 'nuff said.
  • Necessary, of course, but neither beautiful or particularly functional.
  • Well done and the core book. Combat "updates" are bad, and the art is inappropriate for a medieval rpg.
  • Better update of the rules; too many issues to cover in a short review.
  • Good overall, lacks flavour of 3rd Edition, but rules are easier to follow in parts.
  • Very good overall. Possible improvements: combat system (it's way too complex for such a poor result) and characteristics (there are too many).

Related Pages[edit]

The edit history of this page before August 6, 2010 is archived at Legacy:fourth_edition. .