The latest Bundles of Holding feature Ars Magica. I’m going to start this rundown of the bundles with a short history lesson. Indulge me.
Ars Magica is a venerable RPG that has been passed around extensively between publishers. It was originally published in 1987, making it a year older than me. The first two editions were published by Lion Rampant Games, one of the two companies that merged in the early nineties to become White Wolf Game Studio. White Wolf, creators of my beloved World of Darkness games, put out the third edition before selling the rights to the game to Wizards of the coast in 1994. Wizards, publishers of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, put out the fourth edition in 1996 and then sold the right to Atlas Games in 1998. Atlas put out the fifth edition of Ars Magica in 2004. This brings us pretty much up to date. On to the bundles!
The first of the two Ars Magica bundles is a revival of a summer 2014 bundle. This bundle will, at the price of $14.95, give you the core rules and a selection of supplements. This is the tier that you need to get started with Ars Magica. The supplements give further options for the player in creating their characters, such as the ability to play as young, untested wizards using the Apprentices book. The full contents of this tier are:
- Ars Magica Fifth Edition: The complete, current 240-page rulebook.
- Covenants (retail $15): The essential guide to help players improve the homes of their magi.
- Houses of Hermes: True Lineages (retail $12): A detailed treatise on four powerful Houses of the Order of Hermes.
- Apprentices (retail $7): Become a young student of the Art of Magic.
- The Living Covenant: Over two dozen free characters and setting files from the Atlas Games website, collected here for the first time in one handy 42-page booklet.
Beat the threshold price (a little over $25 at the time of writing) and you will receive a second tier of books. The titles in this tier include a selection of sample adventures in the Tales of Mythic Europe and The Broken Covenant of Calebais books. The full tier includes:
- Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults (retail $15): The second treatise on the Hermetic Houses.
- Houses of Hermes: Societates (retail $15): The third and final Hermetic Houses volume.
- The Broken Covenant of Calebais (retail $10): The first-ever ArM adventure, originally written by Mark Rein-Hagen and Jonathan Tweet, now updated for the current edition.
- The Lion and the Lily (retail $15): The Normandy Tribunal sourcebook about the many active covenants in densely populated northern France.
- Tales of Mythic Europe: Nine short adventures that push your saga to the limits of Mythic Europe.
This bundle can be found and purchased by clicking here.
The second bundle, the first tier of which is priced at $12.95, assumes you already have the core Ars Magica ruleset, as included in the first bundle. it builds on the other bundle’s collection, giving you access to more varied types of magic. The three titles in this tier all expand on the available variety, with my favourite being the Hedge Magic books, because of the more naturalistic, elemental magics it introduces. The three titles in this tier are:
- Ancient Magic (retail price $15): Nine lost traditions, like Canaanite necromancy, Hyperborean hymns, fertility cult fetishes, and the mystical coordinates of Ptolemy, plus rules for integrating their secrets into your saga.
- Hedge Magic (Revised) (retail $15): Elementalists, village witches, nightwalkers, Learned Magicians, and others the Order of Hermes ignores at its peril.
- The Mysteries (Revised) (retail $15): Hermetic alchemy and astrology, divination and augury, spirit magic, theurgy, the Great Talisman, arithmetical and Mercurian magic, and the mysteries of dreams.
This tier, currently sitting at a threshold price of $22.22, further widens the variety of spells and spellcasters in Ars Magica. The middle eastern setting elements of The Cradle & the Crescent are interesting and give a slightly different flavour to the standard. Similarly, the scenarios in Tales of Power give a new challenge for players who have developed their characters over time, gathering much experience and power. The full tier includes:
- Rival Magic (retail $15): Amazons, Muspelli, Soqotran sorcerers, and the Augustan Brotherhood — even more magicians the Order of Hermes likes to ignore.
- The Cradle & The Crescent (retail $15): The Islamic lands of the Mythic Middle East — jinn, Zoroastrian priests, the Order of Suleiman, and more.
- Hermetic Projects (retail $15): Build your own volcano lair, a tower to Heaven, or a mythic menagerie — or research the path to immortality.
- Tales of Power (retail $15): Five far-ranging stories (scenarios) aimed at powerful magi.
This bundle can be found by clicking here.