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In general, there are too many Abilities in ArM5, especially for magi. Our house rules for Abilities are meant to reduce the pressure on magi to invest a lot of seasons into Abilities at the expense of their Arts and laboratory work, and to reduce the tendency of grogs and companions to accrue lengthy lists of Abilities.


Specialties in an Ability are optional. (The ArM5 rule book implies they're mandatory.) You can invent your own specialties, but the storyguide can veto any specialties that are overly broad or ambiguous.

If you do not have a specialty in an Ability, and want to add one, you may do so at the end of any season or any game session. Once you've chosen a specialty, you can't change it unless the storyguide agrees to make an exception for you.

New Abilities

We're leery of adding many new Abilities, but there is one omission from the ArM5 core book we want to correct:

We're using the crossbow statistics from Lords of Men

Consolidated Abilities

Some Abilities in the ArM5 rule books overlap considerably. We're eliminating some of the narrowly-defined Abilities and replacing them with more common Abilities with broader scope.

Ability Replaced by
Code of Hermes Order of Hermes Lore
Etiquette Charm, Area Lore, or Org. Lore
Profession:Apothecary Mythic Herbalism
Profession:Merchant Bargain
Profession:Scribe Artes Liberales
Theology Dominion Lore or Philosophiae

Modified Abilities

We've also modified the descriptions of some Abilities to make them more useful.

Area Lore

Area Lore includes knowledge of who's who, local customs, and politics. If you have a score in Area Lore, you can recognize the knights, nobles, priests, and other prominent people in the area and know their reputations and so on.

Area Lore also includes knowledge of the legends, supernatural creatures, and mystical places in the area.

The area for which you know Area Lore may not be larger than a county. You can choose a major city as the area you're familiar with, and that grants more detailed knowledge of the complex social fabric of the city.

Organization Lore: Nobles is still a valid Ability, and it provides knowledge of the knights and nobles of a larger area, such as a whole country. Area Lore can function like Organization Lore: Nobles, ableit in a more local area.


The Heartbeast Ability may be used while in animal form to substitute for any Ability that species would normally possess. So if a magus's heartbeast is a wolf and he has no score in Hunt, he may still hunt using his score in Heartbeast in lieu of his Hunt score.

The intent of this rule is both to make the Heartbeast Ability more relevant, and to minimize the number of skills a Bjornaer magus needs in order to live a normal life in beast form.


We don't use the group combat rules, which diminishes the value of Leadership quite a bit. Therefore we have two other, new uses for Leaderhip:

  • As an action, the leader may give all allies a +1 to Attack or Defense for one round. The number of allies affected may be up to the leader's Leadership score.
  • After an ally has failed a Brave roll, the leader may make a stress die + {Prs or Com} + Leadership roll against the original Ease Factor to make that ally pass the roll instead. This requires an action.