Apprentices and Failed Apprentices

A Failed Apprentice cannot have the Gift, but can still serve as a lab assistant (according to the description of the Virtue) ... which is kind of weird. The only other non-Gifted assistant allowed is a magus' familiar, which makes sense as an exception. In fact, Covenants states that "A full-time trained mundane assistant is instead [of being treated as a Gifted lab assistant] represented by the Servant Virtue". Hmmm.

So do "failed" apprentices count as "standard" apprentices? I've seen a bunch of discussions on this in the past, and I was wondering if the issue had been resolved in the meantime -- maybe in "Apprentices", which I do not own?

There is no general rule listed about who can be a lab assistant. Instead there is a list: those with the Gift, failed apprentices, familiars, and those who gave up the Gift through Becoming (they can still work in the lab). Also, others can help in more limited ways: servants and forge-companions. For the former list the common trait does not seem to be the Gift, but rather a past or present intimate connection with the Gift.


Resolved...? Why would we want it resolved? :smiley:

Imagine a person who had the Gift and understands the intricacies of Magic Theory on a fundamental level and just can no longer perform magic for some reason. Why wouldn't they be able to help in the lab? At least that's how I rationalize the fact that he can assist in the lab, as it is stated in the virtue. Note, a grog character with this virtue would probably be vetoed, in my sagas where I'm the SG. I'd rather that this virtue go to a companion level character and be played to some extent...

In what context do you ask?

They probably don't count as apprentices under the Code, as they have "failed", so you don't need to give them a season of training per year, and they probably(?) can't be confiscated by a Bonisagus. But depending on the Peripheral Code active in your Tribunal, in your saga, then they may have some residual status/rights.

I did not mean "legally", but "practically": can failed apprentices provide the same help in the lab as standard, gifted apprentices? Covenants seems to imply they actually provide a lesser bonus (1/2 their Int, and no bonus from MT).

An overly parsimonious reading could suggest that the the familiar might not be able to provide full assistance.

So, Looking at what the Failed Apprentice virtue says, and taking it on its face, it allows the character to help in the lab. Moving to page 103, there is no provision for another character to help in the lab. It specifically outlines Gifted and Magic Theory, but the virtue Failed Apprentice is, IMO, the loophole to the rule requiring the Gift and a score of at least 1 in Magic Theory. Now Covenants introduces yet another loophole, the Servant, who adds 1/2 his Int to the lab total. I think that's the extent of what's going on. Are we going to treat the familiars as servants, because they don't have the Gift? Because they certainly don't belong in the assistant category as the quotation above states...

Actually covenants says that mundane assistants count as Servants. The familiar is arguably not mundane.

From a game mechanics point of view, I would just apply the RAW in the corebook. The Lab rules tell us what a Lab Assistant does (adds Int and Magic Theory to the Lab Total) and describes two classes of individuals who can be Lab Assistants (characters with the Gift and Magic Theory, and familiars). Then, the Failed Apprentice Status Virtue merely adds a third class of individuals to Lab Assistant.

So, the failed apprentice adds her Int + Magic Theory as a bonus to the Lab Total, and counts towards the total number of assistants (from a Leadership point of view).

And a failed apprentice is not mundane either. They had The Gift.

An animal without any magic might might be reasonably considered mundane, though. You could argue shades that the familiar ceases to be mundane when he's bound, but...

In any event, if the Failed Apprentice still has some Supernatural virtue or flaw, would they be mundane? And then taking Richard Loves comment they weren't mundane and might retain some hidden essence not contained within the characters virtues and flaws...

Again, I think you're treating the Failed Apprentice too harshly, since the virtue confers the ability to assist in the lab, unambiguously, in the main rules, where there was no possibility of a "mundane" assistant previously. I'm personally fine with a "mundane" Failed Apprentice helping in the lab. I tend to think these characters could exercise some discretion as to the lab projects that they work on, and might be able to earn vis, much like a Redcap does, for performing certain services. He's not likely to be coerced through Mentem magics, due to the warping that might inflict, thus damaging a valuable resource. And, there is something to be said that his services could be too highly priced to make it worth it...

I agree. If you downgrade the failed apprentice's ability to assist in the Lab the Virtue doesn't really seem to do a great deal, and it is meant to be a Virtue.

Perhaps, that is certainly a possibility, although I'm not entirely convinced about its likelihood.

I'm not sure what a Failed Apprentice would use vis for? Perhaps he could buy items and a longevity potion, but unlike a Redcap he doesn't really seem likely to travel around to meet lots of magi (so has much less opportunity to buy things). I would have thought that room and board and some internal covenant status would largely be what he got for his assistance; much like any other custos level grog.

He could also be seen as a bit of a bad luck charm, and might also be considered a bit of an embarrassment. After all, a failed apprentice implies a failed master.

It's a continuum of possibility... I just seem to see a lot of discussion of how he helps in the lab, but not about who the failed apprentice is as a person. What he does, etc...

That failed apprentice might turn out to need vis to survive...


I keep wondering... just how common are failed apprentices? It's not all that easy to lose The Gift, is it?

Personally, I am intrigued by the Suppressed Gift flaw introduced in Apprentices. I'd be temped to require it for Failed Apprentices in my sagas. I think, to esselino's point, it represents a neat solution the "question" of Failed Apprentices by giving them a damaged form of The Gift.

Serf's Parma, but Suppressed Gift suggests that it might come back at some point, somehow. That may not be the desire of the player, at all.

I would nitpick on that and say that they HAVE the Gift. It just doesn´t work properly.

At which point the player and storyguide/troupe agree not to have the Gift come back for that character. That's a level of flexibility required in the design of any character, IMO.

Then why have the flaw? I'd have to look at it to see what else it entails, I'm not recalling all the details of the flaw, at the moment. Does it just impose the negative social consequences of the Gift? So, this makes them even more likely to become a tool of the magus...may not fit into the player's wishes. If the negative consequences are the issue, then Magical Air is a suitable flaw to substitute, IMO.

It does quite a bit more than that...

Edit: Not really sure how much of the text I'm allows to post, but basically it explicated gives you the Gift and allows you to have Arts but not advance them or use them. You suffer the social effects of the Gift.

Well, I quote from books all the time, but I attribute it, and it's here on the Atlas forum. I'd say a mod could excise it easily enough if it was troublesome... :smiley:

That [Suppressed Gift] does a lot more than what a character might ever be interested in doing and is a pretty hefty flaw to inflict on a character, especially a player character. I'd use that flaw as an excuse for exploring the losing and regaining of one's Gift, not as a means of limiting a character who is designed to never use Hermetic Arts.

If the troupe is going to have a discussion regarding the viability of a Failed Apprentice, the player making such a character should be allowed to make the character as much as possible with input from the troupe, but forcing specific flaw on a character who will never realize the return of his Gift is a very hefty penalty. Failed Apprentice is a virtue, and, IMO, shouldn't be "balanced" with mandatory flaws. If a player wants Suppressed Gift, by all means, I don't see a problem, but you suggested requiring it for anyone who takes Failed Apprentice in your sagas, which is an entirely different thing. Of course, it's your saga, your rules.

Well, Landed Noble requires Oath of Fealty. Diedne Magic requires Dark Secret (and you don't even get points for that one). I don't think it's unreasonable to say that Failed Apprentice requires Suppressed Gift. At the same time, as I also said, flexibility is required in character creation. In my saga, I would be inclined to make Suppressed Gift a requirement for Failed Apprentice in the same way Landed Noble requires Oath of Fealty but I would also be more than willing to discuss the matter with a player (in either case) if they had a character concept that required a different flaw or no such flaw. The "requirement" to my mind is much the same as in the examples I offered... a matter of background and setting informing rules decisions. Landed Nobles must have Oath of Fealty because to be a landed noble you must have sworn fealty to someone. Diedne magic requires Dark Secret because of the background of the Schism War. Failed Apprentice, to my mind, requires Suppressed Gift because a failed apprentice is someone who has lost their Gift and that's what the flaw is.