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Ars Magica, Fifth Edition (Ars Magica Fantasy Roleplaying) Hardcover – November 10, 2004
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The setting is "Mythic Europe," possessing all the places and people we know from history classes, but with magic and wizards added to spice things up. The first thing I thought of was it would be great for folks who have more than a passing interest in things Medieval and Renaissance. Perhaps history teachers might use this for enrichment in their high school classes, even. Having personally slogged through the "D&D is Devil Worship" eighties, I was intrigued to see that the Church and the God worshiped by the Hebrews, Christians, and Muslims is recognized as the most powerful political and spiritual source in the setting.
Many games today have a system where you can buy extra benefits for your character at creation by taking additional faults. I understand this is one of the first systems to do so. There are some delightful ideas in this section of the book. I really enjoyed reading through them. "Difficult Underlings" and "Offensive to Animals" are two of my favorites.
From checking the fan sites before and after my purchase, I got the impression that the players generally liked this update/edition of the rules. I also understand that the drive behind the fixes and improvements in this edition came from a fellow named David Chart. Mr. Tweet gets top bill for 5E, but Mr. Chart gets the fan site love. Not having seen previous editions, I will take the fans' word that this is a nice tightening and fixing of the RAW (rules as written).
I have no problems with the production values of this book. I don't see any marking that might indicate what printing I purchased, but I do not agree with the previous reviewer that the printing was substandard. It won't lay flat like some gamers prefer; it's a nice tight binding that will hold up well to being hauled back and forth to games.
I highly recommend Ars Magica. Cool setting, lots of ideas to take to another game, and a good recent update to the rules system.