When a character takes damage, the damage is first reduced by any relevant armor the character has. Any remaining damage may wound the character. Compare the remaining damage to the character's wound threshold and determine a wound rank by the success level table, with a full failure as Rank 0, poor success as 1, Average success as 2, etc.
If the damage exceeds the target's wound threshold, the target must make a Knockdown Test. A Good Success on this test indicates the target suffers no ill effects from the attack. With an Average Success, the target is Staggered for wound Rank initiative phases. Failing this test leaves the target knocked down and prone, but if the target does not gain at least a Poor result, she is staggered as well.
Physical Wounds are considered open or stable. Open wounds are bleeding and have more severe effects on the character. The Ranks of all open wounds add 3 to the difficulty for any fatigue tests. Stable wounds have been bandaged and cared for, and so their wound Ranks add only 1 to fatigue test difficulties. Stable wounds can reopen through stress--whenever a person with a stable wound makes a test that stresses the wound and the last digit of the test result is less than or equal to the wound Rank, the wound is reopened. Note that if a person has multiple stressed wounds, only the highest Rank wound is considered.
Stabilizing an open wound requires a chirurgy test against 3 + the rank of the wound. An excellent success also reduces the Effective Wound Rank by one. A botch increases the Wound Rank by one.
Mental Wounds directly inhibit a character whenever they are relevant, rather than merely fatiguing the character. The character has a Step penalty equal to the highest relevant wound rank, plus one for each other relevant mental wound.
Wounded characters must also make Shock Tests to remain active. A Shock Test is called for whenever a character has been recently wounded (ie since the last Shock Test), and a break occurs in intensive activity (like getting knocked down in combat, or combat ending). The difficulty for a shock test is the total Ranks of open Wounds, and failure indicates a shock penalty equal to the highest open wound rank, or the total number of wounds, whichever is higher. Botching a Shock Test means the character has suffered a Mental Wound in addition to the effects of failure. The mental wound rank is determined by the Arbitrator (failure margin of the shock test is suggested), and the wound is in connection with some prominent aspect of the current situation (wounded by a Troll, by fire damage, on a boat, etc.). The effects of Shock remain until the character successfully reduces his fatigue penalty (or obtains a result that would reduce it, if he is not fatigued).
For each wound with real Rank over 1, roll on the Wound Recovery Table below using the wound's current effective rank (but not lower than Rank 2). The result is the number of days before the wound will heal one real Rank. When the wound heals, make another test if the wound is still over Rank 1. Rank 1 wounds heal in one day and Rank 0 wounds are scratches that are ignored once stabilized (ie a wound is healed once it is stable and Rank 0). A botch or a result of "X" indicates long term complications.
As characters exert effort, they make Fatigue Tests. Fatigue Tests come in two forms: exerting, or negative, and resting, or positive. Failure on an exerting fatigue test gives the character a cumulative Fatigue Penalty. This penalty reduces all steps except for Exerting Fatigue Tests, where the penalty reduces the test result directly. A negative result on an exerting fatigue test means the character has passed out. The base difficulty for an exerting test is 6, with failure increasing the fatigue penalty by one for each degree of failure. Each Success Level beyond Good lowers the fatigue penalty by one.
A resting fatigue test allows a character to reduce the fatigue penalty from rest. The base difficulty is 6, and each success level reduces the penalty by 1. Complete failure means the character may not attempt another resting test until a period of time has passed (use table for this).
Action sequences are divided into Rounds, which take a short amount of real time. Each character involved in a sequence begins a round by making an Initiative Test. The arbitrator then chooses an initiative number to start from for the sequence, and counts down to zero. On any given initiative step, a player may declare an action. The arbitrator then determines an initiative cost for that action, and when the player has spent that many initiative points, the action has completed.
Each point of Strain spent in a round increases the difficulty of the fatigue test that round by one.
Initiative Step Costs for common actions:
A mage has two groups of skills for manipulating magic. The first is the mage's Arts: five forms and nine techniques, which are combined together for spells. The second group is the mage skills: Channeling, Astral Matrix, Thread Weaving, Magic Theory, Finesse, Penetration, and Mage Barrier.
Summary of the casting process:
Building a spell matrix the standard way requires about 10 minutes, but no test. The Matrix Bonus is the caster's Form + Technique. The Casting Penalty is the spell level minus the Matrix Bonus, but is not less than zero. If the caster has an affinity, that also reduces the Casting Penalty.
The channeling test is made against 10+Casting Penalty. If the caster succeeds, but does not get at least a Good success, he casts successfully but loses a fatigue level. Note that Ars Magica spells do damage at a step of two-thirds their listed damage rating.
Since the Casting Penalty is generally quite high, mages commonly weave temporary threads prior to casting in order to increase the complexity of the matrix construct and bind it to the current situation. To weave a temporary thread, the mage makes a Thread Weaving Test against the spell magnitude (one fifth the level). The Rank of the temporary thread is the success margin (the test result minus the difficulty). Because these are temporary threads, they do not count against the limit on normal threads, but the mage still may not weave more temporary threads than his thread weaving rank. The mage must maintain concentration when weaving temporary threads. If his concentration is interrupted, all threads lose one rank every initiative step until concentration is restored (rank zero threads have faded away completely). Each thread may be woven either to the matrix or to the target. Weaving to the matrix reduces the casting penalty by the thread rank. Weaving to the target increases the penetration by the thread rank. Threads woven to the target are under the normal restrictions for weaving threads with respect to pattern items, key knowledges, and thread rank limits. Successful channeling washes away all temporary threads.
In some cases, a mage will want to make a matrix faster than the normal slow process. In these cases, the mage may make a Spell Matrix test against the spell level minus the mage's form and technique. Each successful test adds the success margin to the current Matrix Bonus (which starts at zero). The matrix bonus may not exceed the caster's form + technique + affinity (if applicable). A botch on this test adds the failure margin on to the matrix bonus, but the spell will be seriously flawed (the caster is not aware of this mistake).
It is possible to create a matrix on the fly without having learned a spell. In this case, the matrix test is made against a 10 higher difficulty and only adds the success level to the current matrix bonus. Additionally, because the spontaneous matrix is unstable, casting threads have a rank of the success level instead of the success margin.
Spell related initiative costs: (note that while a mage maintains concentration, he may use his Intelligence Step in place of his Quickness Step for initiative tests)
Distraction Difficulty Table:
Attributes: Intelligence, Perception, Strength, Stamina, Communication, Presence, Dexterity, Quickness. A value of 0 in an attribute is average, and +4 is an exceptional human level.
Set attributes using one of two methods: Roll (4 sets of d10-d10, and divide each number over one pair of attributes), or Purchase (take 7 points to distribute over all attributes, negative attributes buy more points).
Choose Variances: each character should choose positive and negative variances as fits the character concept. Variances don't have to balance exactly, but all combinations are subject to Arbitrator approval and revision. Generally, combinations of 10 points of positive variances and 7 points of negative variances are allowed.
Choose Personality Traits: select three to six simple traits and give each a score from -3 to +3. These should reflect the personality of the character and can be used to influence rolls.
Purchase skills. The cost of one skill rank is the value of the new rank. Each character gets 100 experience points to spend on skills. Mages get an additional 25 experience points to spend only on Arts. Most characters have Speak Dwarven 5, Scribe Dwarven 3, Speak (Own Race) Language 5, and Scribe (Own Race) 3. These skills do not cost any experience.
Assign Derived Statistics
Durability: Adepts with durability may buy a Tough knack once at each of Journeyman and Master status. Each Tough reduces the effective Rank for all wounds by one.
Self Trained: This journeyman knack may be purchased for any skill. It indicates that the adept may now train herself and develop sub-skills without aid.
Talent: This master level knack may be purchased for any skill with Self trained already. It indicates that the adept has a magically enhanced aptitude for the skill, and may spend Karma instead of experience to raise its rank by mere meditation.
Durability: If an adept has the Durability ability, he may subtract the Durability Rank from the total wound penalty to the fatigue test difficulty. Also, adepts with durability may make Recovery Tests. A Recovery Test reduces the effective rank of a wound. An adept may only attempt a recovery test on a specific wound once for each rank of durability. When reducing the effective rank, the difficulty is 3 + the real wound Rank, and each success level reduces the effective rank by one. An adept must be conscious to use Recovery Tests. (Note: this may be changed to make durability tests non-cumulative, so only the highest test result so far will matter.)
Dodge: A dodge is a specific attempt to get out of the way of a targeting action, such as a melee or missile attack. A Success on a Dodge Test against the attack roll indicates a successful dodge. A Poor Success gives the dodging character an armor bonus equal to the dodge rank. Armor Defeating attack rolls reduce the success level of the Dodge Test by one level.
Parry: Similar to Dodge, except a parry involves an attempt to deflect the attack. Parrying with a shield adds one level to the success level of the Parry Test.
Accept Blow: Almost the opposite of Dodge or Parry, Accept Blow allows an adept to choose to take a hit, in hopes of lessening its severity. By making a successful Accept Blow test against the opponent's Attack Step, the opponent's attack and damage steps are reduced by the Accept Blow Rank. Note that regardless of the attack test result, the blow does hit and the opponent rolls damage. (The attack test reduction is to make armor defeating hits less likely.)
Tiger Spring: It costs 1 Strain per extra point to spend more than one initiative point on a single step for any reason. No more than Rank points of Strain may be spent in this manner per round. A character may not take more than one action on a step (unless an ability specifically allows otherwise).
Double Action: Double Action allows an adept to spend initiative steps on more than one action at the same time. The adept may not overlap more than Rank actions in a round in this way, and any overlapped actions have their Rank limited to the Double Action Rank. (Double Action does not cost strain and does allow two actions on the same initiative step if used with Tiger Spring)
Crushing Blow: At an added cost of 1 Strain and 1 initiative step per Rank, the adept with Crushing Blow may increase attack damage step by up to the Crushing Blow Rank.
Anticipate Blow: By spending 1 Strain and one initiative step, the adept may make an Anticipate Blow test against the opponent's Spell Defense. Success on this test gives the adept an idea of the opponent's action and a Rank bonus to all defenses and the Rank of any actions which complete by the time the opponent's action does.
Momentum Attack: For 3 Strain (spent before the attack test), the adept may increase the knockdown difficulty of the attack and the stagger time by the Momentum Attack Rank. This ability has no extra effect if the base attack does not cause a roll for knockdown.