Can apprentices work in the lab by themelves to create items?
As long as their arts have been opened and they have a lab and whatever Vis they need.
They won't be very good though given the low magic theorty/arts combo.
My PC's apprentice has just built a miserichord that degrades and ignores metal armour.
Well, that's a good question...
(I was just about to and agree, but then realized something...)
By RAW definition, "an apprentice" is created when the mage opens their Arts. They then have all arts at "0" - ready to spont anything their little hearts can dream of (and their little skill can achieve!).
But their Magic Theory is not "0" - it's non-existent. And without at least 1 experience point in some Abilities (like Magic Theory), that Ability cannot be used at all.
We all know that it takes "Magic Theory 3" just to set up a standard lab. And we know that a (standard, human*) Lab Assistant must have both "The Gift* and a score of at least 1 in Magic Theory" (p 103).
(* Or something to this same effect. There is some debate re the wording/interpretation of this "requirement". But for humans, most agree that The Gift seems to be required.)Now, the rules never specifically state anything like "Only characters with Magic Theory can create a Lab Total". However, I would suggest, since the LT formula is "Te+Fo+ Magic Theory + Int...", that without at least a "0" in Magic Theory they cannot meet the implied requirement for that formula - MTh is not "0", it's undefined, entirely missing.
So, I would say "no" - not until they have both their Arts opened and at least 1 xp in Magic Theory (and maybe not until MTh 1). (with a big ol' ysmv, natch!)
But short of that, there is no diff between "an apprentice" and "a magi" except social convention - no mystical distinction in ability, only how The Order views them etc. As far as ability to use a lab, they are otherwise identical except in skill.
Actually I was just comming back to post that you would need at least 1 xp in magic theory.
But can see an arguement for having a 3 in the topic in order to use a lab properly, one may need to set it up.
(I was that close to missing it too - not something you often have to think about.)
Nod, nod. I am just a little surprised you did not teach your future apprentice any Magic Theory before opening his/her Arts. But that's the Bonisagus in me that thinks so.
You also can't Fix an Arcane Connection without a score in Magic Theory, because with 0 Magic Theory you cannot use any pawns of vis in a season.
But there might be a few exotic (perhaps Mystery Cult) uses of the lab that don't require use either vis or Magic Theory. For example, I think some Mystery Cult Lab Activities generate faux Lab Totals that use Cult Lore instead of Magic Theory. But they'd be very rare, and the apprentice would likely be practically useless at the activity anyway.
You can teach your apprentice Magic Theory before the Arts are Opened. But she is not usually considered legally to be your apprentice until her Arts have been Opened. Which means that if you are paranoid about somebody stealing your apprentice candidate you need to open her Arts as quickly as possible.
Of course, a Bonisagus magus can just take the apprentice back if somebody else steals her, and opens her Arts (perhaps unless she is stolen by another Bonisagus).
Oh yes, I'd forgotten that. Must be that Bonisagus blood again. Although now that I checked HoH:TL, it's barely earlier than that : "formal and witnessed offer to teach them" and "begin Hermetic initiation as soon as practicable." It's kinda hard to say that learning some MT is covered by this.