The Latest News from Atlas Games


A Fiasco in Mythic Europe!


Fiasco is an award-winning roleplaying game from Bully Pulpit Games where players tell stories of greed, ambition, and other vices that steer the protagonists into darkly comic yet seriously disastrous situations. It's a great deal of fun and we're all big fans of it. At the heart of Fiasco is the playset, each of which contains the tables and set-up instructions players use to create a game's tragic circumstances.

We tasked Atlas Games alum Will Hindmarch with creating two Fiasco playsets set in Mythic Europe. One was to feature grogs, the other a covenant of ambitious magi. We were not disappointed! Both playsets are now available for free as part of our celebration of Ars Magica and our farewell to Line Editor David Chart. Bring all of your Ars Magica lore to the table and see what dire outcomes you and your friends can create.

Futura Artis Magicae: The Future of Ars Magica

With the announcement of Line Editor David Chart's retirement, it's a good time to talk about the future of Ars Magica and Mythic Europe, to give fans of the game some solid information about what they can look forward to.

Ars Magica Fifth Edition Ends

Thrice-Told Tales, the next book in the line, is at the printer now. After it hits the shelves of your local game store, there are only two more books we intend to release for Ars Magica Fifth Edition.
  • Lands of the Nile covers Egypt for Ars Magica Fifth Edition, as well as Ethiopia and Nubia. This book includes rules for Egyptian tombs and their treasures, the forbidden corpse magic of the Nubian pyramids, and the wonders of Nubian alchemy. Expected release: October 2015
  • Dies Irae ("Day of Wrath") describes four great threats to Mythic Europe, with stories centered around both attempting to stop these disasters, and surviving their aftermaths should the characters fail. These threats go far beyond what might destroy a single covenant, or even a single Tribunal. Rather, each one could lay waste to the whole of the world. When the fate of Mythic Europe is truly in their hands, will your characters rise to the challenge, or let everything fall to ash? Expected release: January/February 2016
Tales of the Quaesitors

Tales of the Quaesitors is the working title of a standalone roleplaying game set in Mythic Europe that uses Robin D. Laws' GUMSHOE system to present stories about the work of House Guernicus and those who would aid them in investigating Hermetic crimes.
  • Aims to present a completely new angle from which RPG fans can approach Mythic Europe. 
  • Tells stories of Hermetic crimes concealed in the shadows of mystery, waiting for your troupe of Quaesitors, Hoplites, and their investigative companions. 
  • Developed by Cam Banks and Jeff Tidball. 
  • Release date to be announced (though almost certainly not before the second half of 2016). 
Fiasco Playsets

Veteran Atlas Games designer and writer Will Hindmarch has prepared two disastrous Mythic European playsets for Fiasco, the game of powerful ambition and poor impulse control. Both playsets will be released for free on the Atlas Games website next week!
  • A Grog's Life: Love, Loss, and Secrets in the Covenant's Shadow centers on the hapless lives of grogs, those oft-maligned yet indispensable servants of Ars Magica's magi. 
  • A Covenant on Fire: Diabolism, Jealousy, and Revenge in Mythic Europe reveals the tragic end of a covenant of magi, as remembered by an aged monk on his death bed. 
  • These playsets represent yet another new way we wanted to explore the idea of roleplaying in Mythic Europe. 
A Sixth Edition?

We have had many inquiries from both fans and potential designers about a new edition of Ars Magica. While we are likely to do a sixth edition at some point in the future, we want to be clear that nothing we've announced here is that. We certainly have many ideas for what a new edition might look like, but such an undertaking won't be carried out lightly.

In the meantime, what we believe absolutely is that Ars Magica Fifth Edition is and continues to be a compelling, fun, mature product line with a deep backlist, excellent support, and a magnificent fan community. We think that it remains as viable for play now as it has been for the past twelve years. If you're a fan, we hope you'll continue to enjoy Ars Magica. If you've never given it a try, we hope you'll give it a go!

Ave David Chart, morituri te salutant!

What follows is, in its entirety, Ars Magica Fifth Edition Line Editor David Chart's farewell letter to fans of this prolific line of game sourcebooks, scenarios, and saga guides. Here at Atlas, we are tremendously grateful for all of David's hard work and exceptional service to the game that he ushered into its fifth incarnation, and wish him nothing but the best in the future. Read on...
At the end of 2015, I will retire as Ars Magica Line Editor. I choose the word "retire" deliberately; I am retiring because I have finished. I have done everything I wanted to do with Ars Magica, and it is time for me to move on, to let people with new ideas guide the game and its world into the future.
I first encountered Ars Magica through the review of the first edition in Dragon magazine. As I lived in the UK, and small-press RPGs were not readily available there in the late 1980s, the first edition I was able to read was the second edition, and I loved it. This was still before most people had the internet, so in 1991, I sent an actual, physical query letter to White Wolf. Mark Rein•Hagen replied, enthusiastically, and the first thing I wrote professionally was 'The Sorceress' Tower', for Ars Magica, published in White Wolf Magazine in 1993.
I contributed to the third edition Wizard's Grimoire, and by pure chance I was online when Wade Racine announced to the Berkeley Ars Magica mailing list that Wizards of the Coast were canceling Ars Magica. As a result, I quickly got caught up in the fan efforts to do something to save the game, including starting a mailing list that we called the Secret Masters of Ars Magica.
That got me an email from the real Secret Masters of Ars Magica, inviting me to join their list. I was added just before an existing member posted saying that I had got caught up in my own ego and saw myself as the great white hope of the game, which taught me the importance of not assuming that you know who is on a mailing list, even a private, invitation-only list. It also got me deeply involved in fourth edition.
When, in 2001, John Nephew asked me if I was interested in becoming Line Editor, I said yes. I started at the beginning of 2002, so when I retire I will have been Line Editor for 14 years.
I came to the job determined to make the game as good as it could be: rules that supported an Ars Magica style of play, accurate history, and historically inspired myth, all presented so as to be immediately useful in a game. After years of writing for the line, I already knew that it wouldn't be easy, but, of course, it was even harder than I had anticipated. To achieve it, I needed to recruit knowledgable authors and keen playtesters. The quality of fifth edition is largely due to their contributions.
The authors had to read large amounts of medieval history, distill it down into a useful draft, design and apply complex game mechanics, revise the draft in line with my comments, revise the draft in line with playtest comments, revise the draft in line with playtest comments again, and in some cases repeat even more times; a few books had four rounds of playtesting. That is a lot of work for a very small amount of money, so I am profoundly grateful for the endurance, enthusiasm, and erudition of the people who have written for me over the years.
Playtesters had a slightly easier role, but, on the other hand, they didn't get paid at all. Their dedication and diligence were also essential to the quality of the final books. The only way to catch all problems is to have a lot of people look at the draft, and the playtesters did that for us, over many years. Sometimes they had to read revised drafts that still contained things they had criticized, because we did not do everything they asked, but their input was essential, and I would like to thank them for all their work.
In recent years, I have felt that my main role was to keep the production system running, so that the authors and playtesters could work their magic and produce the books. In the same way, I want to thank Atlas for not micro-managing me, and for making sure that art, layout, printing, warehousing, and distribution all happened without requiring me to do anything. Sometimes, they went above and beyond, as when they printed a very short run of Apprentices with the dedication to the authors' (and my) children, which had been omitted from the main printing. It has been a pleasure working for them.
Looking back over Ars Magica Fifth Edition, I am very pleased with what we have produced. I think it is a very good role-playing game, with a rich background and effective mechanics. It is not to everyone's taste, but it is what I had hoped to produce. Is it perfect? Of course not. However, I am not sure that we could actually make it better; there are limits to what human beings can achieve.

That is why I am retiring. We have created a game line that I think is about as good as we could make it, and it fulfills my vision for Ars Magica. Its future lies with people who have a different vision, and can bring things to the game that I would not even imagine.

What's next for Ars Magica? Stay tuned! We'll have more news on Thursday...

Feng Shui 2: Action Movie Roleplaying now available in PDF

Grab your bag full of guns, rev up the muscle car, sharpen your butterfly swords, and summon your sorcerous energies — FENG SHUI 2 is now on sale! You can find it in electronic form at our online vendor partners:

Warehouse 23
Paizo Online Store

Look for the printed book to hit shelves later this summer, together with a host of additional bonus items & accessories, including Robin D. Laws' Blowing Up the Movies and the Secrets of the Chi War PDF!

Through the Aegis Hook: The Ax of Cú Roí mac Dáire

The Ax of Cú Roí mac Dáire  — which supposedly once belonged to the Ulster king Cú Roí mac Dáire — is a fairy weapon. Though it appears too large for anyone to wield properly, those who are brave-hearted and daring may use it one-handed, as if it were no heavier than a hand axe.
The Ax is one of the many treasures of the covenant of Longmist, located in the Hibernian Tribunal. In the illustration here, a valorous companion of the covenant fends off a pack of wolves, bolstered by the Ax and the strength of her own fierce character.

The Ax, like many of the other treasures in Through the Aegis for Ars Magica Fifth Edition, is a source of vis — magical power coveted by magi for their rituals. Here are some story ideas connected to the Ax of Cú Roí mac Dáire:

  • Your own magus may desire to draw upon this mystical energy to enchant other weapons in defense against your foes.
  • Perhaps you seek to rid your rivals at Longmist Covenant of the weapon and its secrets.
  • Your mentors in the Order of Hermes may have told you of the Ax's properties and are curious to know if Longmist has unlocked anything else tied to Ulster's line of mighty kings.
  • As a companion of Longmist like the woman in the illustration, surely being granted the Ax as a boon is a sign of great status. If rival wizards were to arrive and claim it as theirs, would you fight to keep it, or face losing your new esteem in the eyes of the Primus of Longmist?

See The Contested Isle: The Hibernian Tribunal for more details about Ulster and the other provinces of Ireland in Mythic Europe.

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