Apprentices: In my hands...

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.


Yes, that's certainly possible, but it has all kinds of problems. Mercurians won't want to teach others Mercurian magic, for example, a master may not want to "trade" the teaching, because they don't want their apprentice to have the other master's virtues.

I wouldn't allow a virtue to be "purchased" from books, but I would bestow a virtue on an apprentice who read relentlessly on a particular subject to the exclusion of other stuff, perhaps...maybe.

One of the philosphical things I have a problem with, which is touched on in Apprentices, is the idea that good books are given to apprentices straight off. We have a Creo volume L6Q21. I'll give it to my apprentice to read while I'm reading something else. To us, as players and modern people used to have books lying about, it makes sense. Apprentices does indicate that books are precious and suggests that they shouldn't be given very freely.

While that is quite possible, having read through Apprentices I don't see a lot of wiggle room for transforming a Supernatural Virtue into the Gentle Gift. It would also make the Gentle Gift a virtue that a character must have, which is contradictory to the book. My underlying issue is that Apprentices seems to create more problems than it solves. If you Errata Gentle Gift and say it and perhaps it alone is innate, then why can't other virtues be innate?

What it amounts to is that Apprentices seems to create more problems than it solves. This is just my opinion based on playing Ars for a while and thinking through the apprentice process. It could be nothing but a paradigm conflict. Even if it is declared errata and fixed, I still have difficult time with the entire Virtue Flaw transmission process in general.

Of course, that's what a really high-quality summa is for - taking someone who doesn't have very much knowledge and making them competent in one season.

Personally, I'd say that if you're a child, you have to roll every season you study from a book. On a low roll you cause wear and tear. On a botch you do something really bad. Your botch dice are equal to your childhood penalty score. If you've hit adolescence, your botch dice are 5 + any personality traits or flaws that enhance being a horny teen.

The easiest way to errata it is making Gentle Gift a Major Supernatural Virtue, hence implicitly out of reach of a parens in Apprentices, and implicitly no longer counting against the ArM5 p.37 limit of a single Major Hermetic Virtue. Both are likely welcome results.
Establishing a category of 'Innate Hermetic Virtues' would be a second approach, with some more additional rules needed to make it fly.
Why this would necessarily make Gentle Gift a must have virtue escapes me. It is still a Major Virtue, with associated cost. Note, that with Apprentices rules also very few parentes (namely those with Com+Teaching >= 9) will be able to bestow any Major Hermetic Virtue without inflicting a Major Hermetic Flaw in the process - so the cost for standard Major Hermetic Virtues has not much changed either, as long as SGs avoid weird extremes in a PC's parentes.


Since the book is not a PDF, (and I don't have it with me) doesn't the parentes need a rather high InVi lab total to preserve Supernatural Gifts? Again, goes to my point: Apprentices creates more problems than it solves.

Do you somehow imply, that errataing handling of the Gentle Gift in Apprentices would lead to requiring parentes to preserve it as a Supernatural Virtue? Apparently you know how it would turn out already - while I don't.


Found it, the rules for opening the Arts as it applies to Supernatural Virtues in HoH:S
I'm not implying, but am stating exactly that. Apprentices and Houses of Hermes:Societas both follow the same formula for Opening the Arts and preserving Supernatural Virtues. If the Gentle Gift is a Major Supernatural Virtue (without a corresponding ability), the magus must have an InVi lab total of 30 to open the Arts. To preserve the Supernatural Virtue requires a lab total of 60.

60 isn't uber specialized, but it is marginally specialized. It, at the very least, suggests that Supernatural Virtues within Magi are rather rare, two or more are exceptional.

Personally I felt there where quite a lot for such a thin book. (23 plus several, IMO good, flavor sidebars)

See I didn't see that. Most of the new rules that allow a Master to imbue virtues and flaws are a matter of choice. They are things a Master CAN do if they have the desire and ability. I haven't crunched the numbers but I don't think it's easy enough that there is even an assumption it WILL happen. Mostly the average master will have to be content with having their pupil develop along what ever route they normally would. With perhaps a little nudging.

Noble's Parma, but I'm not sure it was part of cannon as much as strongly hinted at, if even that. As I said before it seems weird. A sentence like "Use your common sense as to what Virtues can or can not be gained this way." wouldn't have gone amiss in that section. That being said I would think many of those choices are saga dependent.

The way I see it before Apprentices there where no clear ways for a character to accomplish either task. There was no reliable way for a Magus to pass on their style of magic to the next generation or inversely to correct for their inadequacies. To me both seam like legitimate character goals but before this book they could only be accomplished by fiat. Now at least there is a frame work for the arrogant Magi to be able to pump out a pupil who practices magic "The Right Way". As far as passing on skills they lack goes, I see nothing wrong with Magi having to wade into the waters of Hermetic Politics to do so.


When I said some, I did perhaps undersell it. There were a lot of sidebars.

Sure, the master can imbue the virtue, if he has it. He cannot imbue a virtue he doesn't have. If these are Hermetic virtues, I should think that a master can imbue any virtue he pleases, if he has the ability, otherwise to do so. I'm teetering on an HR that allows the player(s) a choice in a hermetic virtue or flaw that comes about as a result of opening the Arts, match major for major minor for minor, it doesn't matter, could even be 1 major for 3 minors or 1 minor for 1 major (these are all comparing virtues to flaws, respectively). It's going to be a way to define the character and what path he'll follow through apprenticeship. It seems mystical. The Master (as a character) shouldn't know what he's going to get out of this process of Opening the Arts. It happens, he determines the results, and then he plans out how he's going to work with what he's got going forward. Seems mythical to me, that's just my opinion. And if someone wanted to randomize results, I'd be fine with that.

When HoH:S suggests that Jerbiton search for Gently gifted apprentices and are willing to take less intelligent magi as a result, that really strongly suggests that Gently Gifted is innate. It's not explicit, but to my reading it's darn close to saying Gentle Gift is innate.

Perhaps I liked the ambiguity, the wiggle room to let my imagination flow.

I would never have come up with some concepts I did, or quite simply they likely wouldn't exist in a "real" mythic europe.
Concepts such as Tektonius, my Rigid Magic Unstructured caster, which came about as a result of the discussion of Unstructured Caster Hermetic Flaw. He can't cast any spells he knows! The other is Talia, who had deficient Ignem and the master didn't knowingly inflict that flaw on her, and tried to fix it, or she had it innately and he tried to overcompensate for it. Those concepts become less plausible when viewed through the lens of Apprentices.

Well the rules in Apprentices aren't limiting. Being taught by your master or getting a particular virtue or flaw during your opening aren't the only ways a character can acquire these traits. Nothing says that Hermetic virtues and flaws can't be the result of inborn talents or other life events not controlled by the master. They are still just like other Virtues and Flaws that way.

Certainly Magi can still be surprised by the talents and limitations of their apprentices.

The fact that apprentices could have inborn virtues would explain why Jerbitons would still seek out children with the Gentle Gift even if it can be taught. It's hard enough to teach it as is. If a child already has another major or even a couple of minor hermetic virtues it becomes nearly impossible to teach by the new rules.

No the rules for Apprentices aren't strictly ruling out my interpretation of what is possible. I guess I found the treatment rather simplistic, and not holistic, if that makes any sense.

You really state that "errataing handling of the Gentle Gift in Apprentices would lead to requiring parentes to preserve it as a Supernatural Virtue"? Weird, weird. Actually I don't believe that you want to do this, though you stress it explicitly.

That's all true, but misses the point.