Apprentices: In my hands...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You may have not seen the Sub Rosa letter from me, but it took us almost seven years and four rounds of playtest to get something that seemed solid. It is very reassuring to find that someone thinks it does.

I agree, the childhood stuff is well done. I had skimmed over it in the interest of getting to the apprenticeship when I first acquired the book. I had some time this weekend to read it more in-depth.

I'm still working through the apprenticeship process. Getting a SQ of 21 is going to be a challenge for most magi if they need to teach a major virtue without inflicting a flaw. That's going to be an extremely rare magus, which is probably as it should be. I have a magus character who has Good Teacher, teaching 5, com 3. His SQ is 20: 3+5+3+6+3 (Com + Teaching +3+bonus+Good Teacher). This also becomes problematic if any inherited Hermetic virtues have manifested before the virtue is taught, which ads a +3 or +9 for each of those virtues, respectively. At first blush it seems extremely difficult to impart virtues, again requires working through it a bit more. If there is an Inherited Hermetic flaw, I'm inclined to have it manifest at Arts opening, and it counts as a reduction in necessary SQ for later on.

Canon's for -authors-.

An argument to canon at your table is always a failed argument.

I fear, that this is not a comment very helpful for groups playing Ars.

Just consider the enormous effort ArM5 has made in the beginning to have rules and the game world, Mythic Europe and the Order of Hermes, match. This was a feat that set apart ArM5 from most other RPGs and defined it over many books. So it is natural for gamers to expect further ArM5 books to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, and to try to use the rules in them to look for the possibilities and limitations of the game world, Nothing else is ArM5 game groups discussing canon.

I would never tell gamers who expect that from ArM5 off by just stating "Canon's for -authors-". For a few books still, they will - quite rightfully - expect the consideration which the core book, the HoHs, A&A, C&G, LoM, The Church and also MoH have shown. I have given a few examples of this already, and here would refer you only to David Chart's design notes on the Atlas page introducing ArM5.

Of course, Apprentices is not to be used that way, and maybe the books following it are neither, so we have to break it to our groups that these books are mere quarries for ideas, as typical RPG supplements are. To do this, Matt's candid post in this thread will help a lot, as will David's explanation, how difficult it was to complete Apprentices.

I feel, that once an RPG has a certain amount of material assembled, writing further quality stuff becomes more and more difficult, as the initially necessary shortcuts start to catch up with you. And if you then attempt to write on a subject like apprentices, which lies at the root of almost each of the defining PCs of the ArM world, this problem is likely very much exacerbated.

So it is logical to find Apprentices as a watershed book, in which it has become very clear that from now on the Troupe needs to march on its own (see the French childrens' song 'Dans la troupe': "La meilleure façon d' marcher, c'est encore la nôtre / C'est de mettre un pied d'vant l'autre / Et d' recommencer." :slight_smile: ), and looking for canon in the rules will not sustain it any more.

Cheers

I take Timothy's comment to mean something to the effect of: don't rely on the books for all the rules to run your saga. He may not meant it that way, of course. The SG and the troupe as a whole have to come to some sort of agreement. They always do, wither it is an implicit or explicit agreement. If I take a piece from the book and say this is the way it is and the entire table doesn't share that opinion, then the argument has failed. I may be 100% correct, but if the table is against me, it really doesn't matter. I tend to make game rulings extremely conservatively when in play, but allow myself to be over-ruled by consensus from the table. If I have thought about something for a long time, to make a house rule for something, I'll present it to the troupe for their approval. There must be a consensus, though. If there is a loud dissenter, I try and find out why, as the ruling probably hurts one (or more) of their characters.

My initial dislike of Apprentices was based on the fact that I'd have to HR the process of imparting Hermetic Virtues, which I'd basically been doing anyway. That didn't leave me entirely satisfied. I'm still thinking that teaching Hermetic Virtues is an extremely tall order, even with ability to inflict a flaw. I still have to come up with more HRs for this process than I like, given the publication exists.
Getting to SQ 21 to impart a major Hermetic Virtue is pretty tough , as I said previously. Getting to 12 (to impart the Major Virtue with a Major Flaw) could be tough for the magus who doesn't have teaching, has a low positive (or negative com). It could be that the magus with low com has to look for a more specific kind of apprentice, one that is more complete (has several Inherited Virtues), whereas a good teacher can be less choosy and find the proverbial diamond in the rough and polish him. Both of those have compelling stories attached to them. I'm still ruminating on the entire process.

I feel you have misunderstood my meaning, and so I'll try to present it again, in a more verbose form.

The function of canon is for authors to create a seamless setting, and that setting's function is to act as the basic point from which negotiations of play contract in your group begin. As such, canon has no role at your table. A person who aregues from canon, as presented in your original quote, is misunderstanding what the canon is for.

This is not the way things work in games where the rules are designed to enforce fairness. D&D for example, uses the rules to blanace play. Ars doesn't do this: the rules are deliberately designed so that your group can do things which, to other groups, would appear obviously broken. So, in D&D if two players say,

"I'd like to play a demon-blooded character."
"I think they aren't any fun and would prefer you didn't."
then in that situation
"But it's in the book!"
acts as a sort of tiebreaker.

In Ars, the conversation should go something like this:

"I'd like to play a demon blooded knight."
"I think they aren't any fun at all and would prefer you didn't."
"It's in Realms of Power : Infernal!"
"And...?"

That something is in the book just means its in the basic state from which negotiation ensues, it doesn't make its presence in the setting better or righter, or give it any real weight compared to "I won't enjoy that. Let's talk some more."

The function of canon is to keep the -authors- in line, so that your initial gamestate for negotiation is pretty straightforward. It's not designed for players to use it to debate with each other. That's simply not what it is for. A player saying "It's in the book!" is actually saying "It's up for negotiation!" and that's generally not what they mean. They generally mean "In non-storytelling games, this has been a trump card for me! Back down!" When actually saying "X is in the book" has no particular relevance to your game state. When my wife sits down to paint, some of her canvasses come from the store with a layer of white undercoat. That doesn't mean the finished painting needs to be white. You have canon as the starting point for your discussion: it's not mean to be used in a "pure" or "by the book" form, any more than the prewhitened canvas is meant to be hung on the wall as a finished piece.

Ars is a game of continual negotiation, at your table, about how you, perosonally, want to play. Canon's not designed to be used as more than a starting point in this. Canon binds authors: not players.A player arguing from canon is not using it for what it is intended to be used for.

Oh, the -books- do, because the books are written by authors, and canon is for authors. Your -game- does not use canon in this way.

I'm not clear on how the documents you cite support your view. Indeed, I think they say the opposite pretty clearly.

Apprentices is canon, in the sense that when a future author decides to stat an apprentice, he or she will be expected to follow these rules or have a good reason why they didn't. If, thought, one of your players is using "It's written down! It's canon!" in a discussion around your gaming table, then they have misunderstood what canon is for.

I'm not able to understand the French song, I'm sorry so I hope it didn;t make a particular point by it, but even in this last sentence you seem to be suggesting that groups could previously play in a sort of "pure" way advocated by some D&D players, where it's all by the book and only by the book. Ars has never worked that way. Never. It has always been about your choices, expressed through your play contract. That's why when there are disputes we say "Ask your troupe" not "Ask your GM". The rules have never been the one proper way to play, they've always been a guide to negotiation of play.

I feel you have misunderstood my meaning, and so I'll try to present it again, in a more verbose form.

The function of canon is for authors to create a seamless setting, and that setting's function is to act as the basic point from which negotiations of play contract in your group begin. As such, canon has no role at your table. A person who aregues from canon, as presented in your original quote, is misunderstanding what the canon is for.

This is not the way things work in games where the rules are designed to enforce fairness. D&D for example, uses the rules to blanace play. Ars doesn't do this: the rules are deliberately designed so that your group can do things which, to other groups, would appear obviously broken. So, in D&D if two players say,

"I'd like to play a demon-blooded character."
"I think they aren't any fun and would prefer you didn't."
then in that situation
"But it's in the book!"
acts as a sort of tiebreaker.

In Ars, the conversation should go something like this:

"I'd like to play a demon blooded knight."
"I think they aren't any fun at all and would prefer you didn't."
"It's in Realms of Power : Infernal!"
"And...?"

That something is in the book just means its in the basic state from which negotiation ensues, it doesn't make its presence in the setting better or righter, or give it any real weight compared to "I won't enjoy that. Let's talk some more."

The function of canon is to keep the -authors- in line, so that your initial gamestate for negotiation is pretty straightforward. It's not designed for players to use it to debate with each other. That's simply not what it is for. A player saying "It's in the book!" is actually saying "It's up for negotiation!" and that's generally not what they mean. They generally mean "In non-storytelling games, this has been a trump card for me! Back down!" When actually saying "X is in the book" has no particular relevance to your game state. When my wife sits down to paint, some of her canvasses come from the store with a layer of white undercoat. That doesn't mean the finished painting needs to be white. You have canon as the starting point for your discussion: it's not mean to be used in a "pure" or "by the book" form, any more than the prewhitened canvas is meant to be hung on the wall as a finished piece.

Ars is a game of continual negotiation, at your table, about how you, perosonally, want to play. Canon's not designed to be used as more than a starting point in this. Canon binds authors: not players.A player arguing from canon is not using it for what it is intended to be used for.

Oh, the -books- do, because the books are written by authors, and canon is for authors. Your -game- does not use canon in this way.

I'm not clear on how the documents you cite support your view. Indeed, I think they say the opposite pretty clearly.

Apprentices is canon, in the sense that when a future author decides to stat an apprentice, he or she will be expected to follow these rules or have a good reason why they didn't. If, thought, one of your players is using "It's written down! It's canon!" in a discussion around your gaming table, then they have misunderstood what canon is for.

I'm not able to understand the French song, I'm sorry so I hope it didn;t make a particular point by it, but even in this last sentence you seem to be suggesting that groups could previously play in a sort of "pure" way advocated by some D&D players, where it's all by the book and only by the book. Ars has never worked that way. Never. It has always been about your choices, expressed through your play contract. That's why when there are disputes we say "Ask your troupe" not "Ask your GM". The rules have never been the one proper way to play, they've always been a guide to negotiation of play.

Even if nothing finds its way into your game unaltered, someones idea to get you started will help.

You may say "this and that is no good" which starts a discussion, the end of the discussion might be something the whole troupe decides on, starting without a framework is harder.

Oh, I agree with that. I also agree that rules providing a model for expected sequence of play are useful.

Hi Tim,

I quote from your second post. (Just in case there is any difference to the first, that I did not find.)

The future author you assume with Apprentices cannot usually do what you claim. Why? Because e. g. p. 41 of Apprentices, as is, makes no sense, and requires the adjuducation by the Troupe to be useful at all. Matt in his first post on this thread has given a very good reason, why this is the case.

For a simple example, read Apprentices p. 41: "Each Minor Hermetic Virtue the character already possesses adds +3 to the Target Level, and each Major Hermetic Virtue adds +9."
This plainly and simply states, that it is harder to teach a Hermetic Virtue to an apprentice from the Rhine Tribunal, after he has had his Eichengilde Training in Durenmar, hence has now the Minor Hermetic Virtue Eichengilde Training (GotF p. 20). Or after he has been given - somehow - an item producing Vis, hence has now the Minor Hermetic Virtue Personal Vis Source. Or after he – again somehow – got famous, hence has the Minor Hermetic Virtue Hermetic Prestige.
I don’t believe that you would want to bind authors to this.
Usually with ArM5 this is cause for errata – but with Apprentices there won’t be such, for the reason Matt has given.

Cheers

Authors abide by this kind of stuff, even if it does not make much sense. Otherwise you break the canon decided by the line, and that is a "cannot be done in 99.9% of circumstances" issue. So yes, people will have more problems teaching hermetic virtues to well trained and famous apprentices with an external vis source IF they are writing for the line. This is what the rules say.

Still, it is easy to make an apprentice that FIRST gets his virtues and AFTETR THAT gets all those exctra hermetic virtues that can be achieved without a direct tinkering with their Gift and magic capabilities. As such, I do not find this to be too limiting. :slight_smile:

Cheers,
Xavi

Timothy, actually. 8)

That a rule can only work with the adjudication of the troupe is not new.

As an example, it's a "problem" all of the line's authors for all of the Tribunal books have faced, and they face it deliberately because I built it that way. In Covenants, the number of Hooks a covenant can take is set by the amount of play a real life group of people does. It's "six months' play", so if you play often, you get more, and if you play monthly, you get less. And NPC covenants need to scale against that. How do we scale NPC covenants? We just shoot basically for what we think most of he playtester groups will say is reasonable. So, what will happen here is that authors will just shoot for a conservat5ive middle, or pitch ideas that people let slide because of their innate coolness.

It's worked so far, for the last however many years.

If the page makes utterly no sense, and is important, an errata will be issued eventually, because Matt's aesthetics aside, there's a business case to be made that the line can't be unwritable. If it just says "Do what you like. I'm not your mother." then actually the future author can write in canon really easily. He just does what he likes and sees if the playtesters think it is cool. If it says "Hey, this is more difficult than you thought." well, for the characters in the setting, it has always been difficult, and they've had years to work on ways to fix their problems, or live with them, and we can examine their responses to the difficulty.

That seems a trival sort of problem, though, for a future writer. I mean, on the level of "You can't really define any covenants in Covenants, because it is not the Tribunal book."* or "You can't actually use Hermetic Architecture to build a flying castle for that flying castle thing.", "Where does Bob get the extra +3 bonus from?" is kind of small biscuits. I mean, I may not be understanding the problem, but it seems kind of minor compared to "You villain is a demon. You realise demons aren't able to engage in long term planning, because the requires the virtue of patience, right?".

  • None of these are actual quotes, but they are real writing challenges I've faced when writing some of the books. I'm not sure the problem presented has the same sort of "Damn, start again. No. Can't start again. Start -thinking- about starting again." quality to it.

Assuming there's a situation where there's a dramatic necessity to know how all of this fit together for an NPC in a book (which seems a tall ask since we usually don't stat magi, let alone apprentices), If it causes too many problems, it'll get errated. If it doesn't, it doesn't. We could just retcon the Eichengilde Training so that it has some mystic mumbojumbo that makes it easier, or something. I admit I'd need to look up Eichengilde Training, because I can't recall what it is. I've not played a game set in the Rhine in real-life years. Other authors work on that stuff, and I tend to rework real life historical documents, so this may not be a workable solution. Working on the basic assumption David's not an idiot, if this causes problems, he won't carry it around like a dead albatross: something will be done.

It basically looks like a comic book continuity problem: either you are the sort of fan who says "The authors suck, none of this stuff links together and therefore it is all crap." or you say "How do we link all this stuff together with fancfic?" The writers, by the nature of the thing we are doing, have to be guys in the second set. So, if there's a problem, and we can't just let it go, eventually someone will fix it. The idea that the book breaks canon because it has troupe input seems a bit, well, unlikely, given some of the stuff I pulled in Covenants. All of that unreliable narrator / ask your troupe stuff actually makes it easier for an author to come in later and say "There's no rule against X, and X is cool, so watch me do X."

So, although I've not seen the specific example, I have to say I'm realtively sanguine about canon surviving. What you do at your own table is something outside that. I, for example, prefer to play diceless.

Wouldn't you think it perfectly ridiculous, if every published magus teaching an apprentice would from now on stick to this sequence? :wink:

There are more preposterous things in RAW that we dead with regularly. per the RAW pink dot defense would be a common feasture in the order.

So far apprentices have NEVER taken on the spotlight. I doiubt they will see much use in supplements from now on. I find this book to be quite a player/saga utility book, not a book that is going to be used to describe anything. Or not much. If an apprentice is stated up in a future supplement, he will have a series of virtues and flaws from the book for sure, but he is unlikely to describe HOW he got those virtues and flaws, basucally because it is quite unlikely to be relevant at all to the situation being presented.

IMS I change RAW all the time. If I wrote for the line I would abide by the previous stuff that has been published, even if I found it to be debatable in some cases. As timothy said, RAW is an authors thing :slight_smile: IMS all the rules in Covenants, ROP:M and C&G get only cursory use if we use them at all, for example. However, when a workshop is presented in canon, it is defined how many labor points it costs to do X and Y et al. I find it sensible even if I do not like the concept of labor points myself.

Cheers,
Xavi

Yes, sorry: they are a way to try and cut down the accounting for every penny element that seemed inherent in having merchants. They were the best I could come up with.

Are you sure?
youtube.com/watch?v=JTbrIo1p-So
:mrgreen:

Sorry for the offtopic...

I am not really sure that I understand these arguments about "canon" are all about but as this thread seems to be getting a bit esoteric I am going to repeat what I said earlier.

I think that Apprentices is a great book. I have had a few weeks with it now and it has only done good things for my game.

To all the writers, editors, play testers I say "Keep up the good work."

(Gild) Trained is the equivalent of Skilled Parens. For Apprentice, all it means is that someone in the gild has a Teaching Source Quality 3 above normal.

As for the rest, there's nothing that stops you from gaining Hermetic Virtues after you've been trained by your parens.

No complaints at all! It is just that I am more a handwaver than a hard number cruncher. As such me and my troupe find the level of detail in ArM5 rules disturbing. We think that the detail is too much for us, but as said by another poster it is MUCH better to have this and modify it (easier) than not to have a reference environment at all. :slight_smile:

Cheers,
Xavi

After looking at p. 6 of Covenants again (in particular the end of the introductory chapter of 'Chapter 2 Boons & Hooks', and the end of the following 'Paying for your choices' chapter), I would say that you made abundantly clear there, that the entire 'Chapter 2 Boons & Hooks' has no bearing to canon of Mythic Europe. And if a writer provides a PC covenant like an ArM5 Triamore and wishes to stick to Boons & Hooks balance for that, there is no problem with that either.

If one would just add something in the same vein to Apprentices, namely how this book is meant to provide ideas for detailed development of characters specific to players' campaigns only, it would safely remove a problem.

That's good to know.

I agree with you here completely. Just that I did not find this "unreliable narrator / ask your troupe stuff" signaled in Apprentices, like you did e. g. signal it in Covenants for 'Boons & Hooks'. So I made an attempt to remedy this with https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/card-board-games-archive-links/116/1 - which certainly still can be improved. But for now I just have Matt's post on this thread pasted to the book.

Cheers