Apprentices: In my hands...

Ok, so my friend brought me the latest Ars Magica book from the Compleat Strategist in NYC.

It's a thin book, but we knew that.
I've really only skimmed it thus far, but it looks interesting, though the proof-reading seems to be not up to the usual Ars Magica standard.

Turbulences look interesting - basically the result of immaturity mixing with magical aptitude. Eventually it seems to you age out of it, but until then your magic may lash out based on your emotional tenor, causing a book to ignite, spontaneous winds, etc. etc. Sort of a mini-Twilight.

I also liked the section on birth apparitions and birth blessings, and the overall Mythic Europe look at birth and childhood. Every wizard's birth should be an event met by portents and dooms!

Any questions, let me know. Overall, this just gets me even more excited for Grogs, though in my Saga it is of immediate use, as we're seeing the first Apprentices being taken up.


Losing the Gift -- does the book clear up / solve the (apparent?) inconsistency in the Corebook about Failed Apprentices who no longer have the Gift, but can still provide the same assistance in the lab as a Gifted assistant?

Assuming the accident doesn't melt their brain out of their ears, I see no reason that their existing Magic Theory should be rendered unusable owing to the lack of their Gift. Yes, the can no longer work magic but then that's why the skill is called Magic Theory and not Magic Practical. I see no inconsistency with the Failed Apprentice flaw - although as an SG I'd have said failed apprentice be a miserable and surly person at being forced to assist someone in the lab knowing that the end results would forever be denied them. Experiments can be sabotaged. Normal lab work can suddenly require a roll on the experimentation table due to some creative interpretation of instructions "Oh, you mean X? I thought you meant Y!" ingenuous grin


This came up in a thread, relatively recently...

Also, I created a companion in a pbp saga here, who will be difficult to get into the lab and will want something out of the arrangement.

What are Cantations?
Generally, how does it handling gaining House Virtues?
Generally, what is a "standard apprenticeship?"
How are the rules for virtues, flaws and characteristics for children?
Does it have any rules for infant/childhood mortality?
In your opinion, is it worth the cover price (I'm going to buy it regardless, but do you think it's a good buy)?

Apprentices is in the shops? Excellent!

I'm eagerly awaiting shipment of playtester copies then, and I think I know at least one other person in my group who is also eager.

It's always extra exciting to see the finished result. Plus the layout and graphics and what have you. A paper copy always beats electronic regarding the 'feel' for me, although pdfs are immensely practical when you game paperless with Metacreator for charactersheets.

And I look forward to hearing commenta and to parttake in discussions - I'm sure I will have an oppinion.

How does the book handle gaining hermetic virtues and flaws. I assume a child would not commence apprenticeship with them so they must be gained in play.

I so badly want this book. Mine is currently n transit from Amazon.

Potentially important new guideline:
InVi 10: Detect the Gift, p. 33, box.

Teaching Hermetic Virtues: p. 40ff :slight_smile:
Might be too easy, I have yet to do a complete analysis.

Very important. I think last(?) time this was discussed on the forum, there was quite some wanting it lower still.

That's not exactly new. That was first put forth in Hedge Magic (page 6).

And I still think it's a smidge too high level.

Are there details of how you can use the Option: Extremely Complex Character Generation method.

Wha happens if you create a child with the Educated Virtue, or Apt Pupil, or Skilled Parens.

My copy was wedged in my front door when I got home tonight.

Initial impression was that it seemed a little thin. However there does seem to be a lot of good stuff crammed into it's 64 pages, well worth the 18 bucks I paid.

It seems to be a good combination of crunchy and chewy.

The section on medieval childhood is informative for me and provides some good flavor. In particular some of the discussion of the trials of a gifted childhood. Turbulence is kind of a nice new mechanic IMO. The OP described it as a mini twilight kind of deal, to me it's more like the stuff that happens to young wizards in the Harry Potter books. It fits well in the setting though. Apprentices even gives a quick discussion of schools of magic and why they are really hard to pull off. One of the points they make is that it can be a really bad idea to put a bunch of children with the gift under one roof. Adolescence and the social effects of the gift are not a very good combination. And then you have the new rules on turbulence, it's effected by strong emotion.

As near as I can tell the book doesn't touch on the Failed Apprentice virtue and lab work. Not really surprised the authors didn't want to step in that argument. It does give optional mechanics for how story guide characters could lose their gift. (Hint, don't push your lab assistants to hard or they might break) The book does very clearly state that PC's should only ever lose their gift if the players agree and never just as the result of dice rolls.

There are rules for playing kids and aging them. Giving you options to trade virtues & flaws at aging milestones. There are some guidelines dealing with specific virtues liked skilled parens or educated. Also a few child only virtue and flaws.

Also yes there is a discussion of the "standard apprenticeship" and using the very complex character generation method. Basically the book admits that if you role-play through the apprenticeship you'll end up with a character way ahead of "normal characters"

The system for teaching hermetic virtues isn't bad. Reminiscent of initiation rules and teaching. In theory full fledged Magi can teach each other hermetic virtues but, like teaching supernatural abilities, the required totals can quickly become impossible to reach. Still the implication that the Gentle Gift is something that can be taught is interesting from a philosophical/cosmological point of view in setting.

Also guidelines for how house virtues are passed on are included. They are different from the rules for teaching hermetic virtues and create some more pressure for parens to personally instruct apprentices as much as possible.

There is a nice little discussion of gauntlets and also on how Parma is imparted. It is actually possible and even expected for apprentices to accumulate xp in Parma without learning "the secret". Essentially banking the xp until the character is initiated into the order.

Wow! Sounds great. Really looking forward to my copy arriving.

Also good review. Very comprehensive. Well done.

I could see a gift being damaged that they can't handle the full flow of hermetic magic (broken gift is like some of the supernatural virtues, a touch of the realm) but they are still sensitive enough to help in the lab. Remember, they are only helping in the lab, not the bulk of it (same way familiars can help in the lab).

Well, I've got it now. I have to admit, I'm disappointed. I was hoping for more background and descriptive text about apprenticeship, opening the gift, etc. The game mechanics elements are nice, and I especially like the way virtues and flaws are handled at the stages of maturity, but it's very sparse on background material (which is really what I buy Ars Magica for). Three stars out of five. Nice, but not great.

Damn. Mechanics and few flavorful background text :frowning:

What about story ideas and story seeds? Are they around?


There are some story seeds in there.

The more I read it, the less I like it, personally. I was 3 stars at first, not so much now.

I really, really, really dislike the structure of opening the Gift and giving Hermetic Virtues and flaws. Apprentices, by and large will look very similar to their masters, and I just don't like that. It makes magic even more structured than it is. Further, the idea that the Gentle Gift can be taught from master to student contradicts canon. It's not that I think masters and apprentices shouldn't have commonality, such as I got my affinity to creo because my master also had such an affinity, mercurian because my pater was mercurian, we can find a long laundry list of those. No, my issue is what of the master who wants to fix all the things he finds wrong with himself? He doesn't like his Mercurian heritage because he can't do spontaneous casting except ceremonially, so he doesn't want to pass it to his apprentice, but wants to give him something else, like Flawless Magic? Going by apprentices, the only way to do this is for the master to hire another teacher with that virtue. That seems like a crutch and makes the order a far more congenial place than it would seem to be.

So a tenative HR is that the difficulty for passing a virtue onto a student is possible with texts acquired that detail how it is done. If the master has the virtue they don't need the text, or might get a substantial increase in ease factor for passing on a virtue they have. I don't know, it's just something I'm playing with in my head at this point.

I have just ordered it at the end of last week, since we'll start the apprentices very shortly, I'll use what I can, and post any HR's here when we make them.

Perhaps not hire an outsider. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that magi congregate in covenants? "I'll teach your apprentice x if you teach mine y (or give you vis, or write you a book, or whatever in exchange for the teaching.)"

I don't have a copy yet, but wouldn't that be viable? It wouldn't cover all virtues if you're only drawing from your own covenant, but it would probably cover most of the common ones. Want your apprentice to learn something esoteric and uncommon that you don't know? Yeah, I can imagine you'd have to hire another teacher. Call your redcap...

Allowing virtues to be learned from books seems problematic. Would you allow post-gauntlet magi to do so, and if not, why not? What about non-magi, children or adults learning (non-hermetic) virtues from books?

I should think that this is an oversight to be errataed soon. Apparently it got in, because the Gentle Gift has always played a special role in Ars and many people do not recall that it is indeed a Hermetic Virtue.