Ars Magica: Romandy
Miscellaneous House Rulings
Like many big game lines, 5th Edition Ars Magica has thousands of pages of rules and background information when you include all the supplements published.
In general, if it’s in the core book, it’s the ground rule unless I state otherwise (check out Dice Rolling Tweaks and Character Generation for examples). Beyond that, I don’t promise that I’ll necessarily allow any particular rule or bit of background information in any other publication.
Supplemental Rules: Definitely check with me instead of assuming I’ll use rules and mechanics from supplements.
Background Information: Anything you read in supplements could be—in the context of this campaign—either true, false, or simply plausible (by which I mean I’ll neither confirm or deny the information in question: it’ll ultimately be unimportant or for the PCs to discover along the way).
HBO Ars Magica again has some good points to make on official material, here about supplemental background information that the players should be aware of, and this campaign will adopt these rulings. Here’s what the GM says:
The Truth About Faeries
I have great respect for the work done on Atlas’s AM5 book Faeries; however, the entire concept of the true nature of faeries is a bit too “meta” for me. The idea that faeries don’t exist unless there’s a person around to engage with them is, I find, very counter intuitive. . . . [It also] makes House Merinita into an object of mockery and contempt. Quite frankly, the House becomes much less cool.
. . . [T]he true nature of faeries — what they are and how they interact with human beings — is unknown and potentially unknowable. Presumably the wisest of Merinitae know more, but whatever they know, it doesn’t look like the [stated truth in Faeries ] and they’re not telling anyone in any case.
Demons “Without Virtue”
The AM book Realms of Power: the Infernal discusses that, because demons lack the virtues of Fortitude, Patience and Prudence, they cannot (barring the use of Confidence points, which most demons do not have) plan ahead, continue to fight in the face of defeat, or work together.
[That ruling] makes adventures using demons much harder to design. See Tim Ferguson’s notes on Tales of Power for an example; because demons never work together, he had to rely on a large group of demons just coincidentally in the same place who just happen to be pursuing short-term goals which just happen to compound on each other to make an even worse situation. Blech.
I’m perfectly willing to acknowledge that demons do not have patience, fortitude or prudence. However, other forces can conspire to make a demon act in such a way that he appears to have those virtues, or at least might. For example, a demon who is afraid of punishment if he returns to Hell might be willing to fight on in the face of overwhelming odds. Likewise, demons might work together in the hope that they can each betray each other later.
In short, you can throw out the “Checklist for Roleplaying Demons” on p. 46 of Realms of Power: the Infernal.
[Addendum: I’ll add the point that many a virtue can be used to pursue evil ends. Patience and fortitude are great examples. So many villainous monsters, real and literary, could not achieve their diabolical goals without one or either virtue, right? So while demons could be, quite logically, antitheses of metaphysics behind virtues and therefore devoid of virtues, we’ll say it’s possible for demons to display otherwise virtuous traits when they’re means to dark deeds.]