Apprentices: In my hands...

So here's an attempt at a small, self contained and least intrusive errata to Apprentices addressing the teaching of certain Hermetic Virtues.

On p.41, after "Both teacher and student must be Gifted individuals trained in Hermetic Magic Theory." insert into the same paragraph the following phrase:
"The Troupe always decides, which Hermetic Virtues can be taught in this way. It may in particular exclude those Virtues directly related to the Gift, like Gentle Gift and Inoffensive to Animals, those for other reasons innate, like Mythic Blood, those related to position in the Order of Hermes, like Hermetic Prestige or such House Virtues as Colens Arcanorum (HoH:TL p. 25), those related to specific possessions, like Personal Vis Source, those requiring Initiation, or those just bestowing special training, like Mastered Spells and (Gild) Trained (GotF p. 20)." For the importance of the Troupe see . :slight_smile:

On p.41 "Each Minor Hermetic Virtue the character already possesses adds +3 to the Target Level, and each Major Hermetic Virtue adds +9." change to "Each Minor Hermetic Virtue the character already has been taught this way adds +3 to the Target Level, and each Major Hermetic Virtue adds +9." This is to keep the teaching process plausible and fair by avoiding unteachable Hermetic Virtues to affect it - without having to reorganise the mixed bunch Hermetic Virtues have become.

Authors and editor would need to vet this thoroughly, of course.

It has always been thus, and illustrates the value of the Gentle Gift.

Yes that is very true, but keep in mind teachers can impart a lot of experience points. Teachers can give 15xp, or more, very easily. Good Teacher, com 3 teaching score 5 give 11, 14 or 17 xp easily. Further if a magus can customize a lab for teaching can a dedicated classroom count as a lab allowing specialization points added into XP? If a magus spends time setting up a classroom, in preparation for apprentices or others to be taught, I'm hard pressed to say no. Ignoring the specialization question, though. Above standard Gifted students would receive 8, 11 or 14 xp, while Blatantly Gifted receive 5, 8 or 11. I don't see an issue with that. Without a magus sharing Parma, I'd do it exactly as above. Does the magus really care? Note im assuming in cases where multiple Gifted students are taught that the penalties don't stack. It could be argued, and I think has, that they might stack. Apprentices may answer that question.

Sharing Parma also requires the sharer of Parma remain in the room, keeping in sight of the teacher. It may or may not be desirable for the sharer. Although I might hand wave the keep in sight of requirement of sharing, but that raises other difficult issues completely unrelated to teaching apprentices.

I will do an exhaustive run through, at some point. That being said, David Chart's comment seems counter-intuitive. Opening the arts is a hermetic process how can an apprentice have hermetic virtues before they ever meet a master? What if the apprentice were discovered by a Shari, do those virtues then go to waste? Of course one can always say you could always give Hermetic virtues before when you created your character, but that is beside the point. To my thinking Hermetic virtues were always derived from something going on during the apprentice ship. Now we are saying it is innate or your master had it. The idea that Hermetic virtues are innate solve the Gent Gift conundrum, but seems less than satisfying. It may be that there are pre-Hermetic traits that masters can look for and can easily transform them into fully Hermetic virtues. I don't know...

The way I see it then a person with the Gift in some form can have a 'potential, innate, magical skill' . For ease of play we call this the Hermetic Virtue it becomes once his Arts have been Opened. remember that manu Hermetic V&Fs also apply for Hedge Magic, either as they are or slightly modified. So if said Gifted individual is instead taken as apprentice by a Folk Witch or Gruagachan or whatelse his 'innate skill' conforms to whatever most closely resembles the comparable Hermetic Virtue, only for the Hedge Magic rather than Hermetic.
If he is never inducted into any magic system then nothing happens with that 'innate skill'. Or in pure game-mechanical terms he has a useless Virtue taking up space in his budget.

You can't teach somebody something you don't know yourself. If you don' want your apprentice to become a copy of you, then don't teach him all your virtues. He might have some potential for developing something else, because he had an innate, potential virtue whoch did not manifest until later. This was perhaps why you took him as an apprentice, you felt this potential as you realized he was Gifted. It may manifest when the Arts are opened, by self-practice, by helping him focus, after a magical accident or complteley by itself at any time because of the constant exposure to magic.

Yeah, I think that's what I have to reconcile myself to. And I can.

That's true, you can't teach what you don't know. However, what degree of knowledge is necessary to teach it. Someone with an MT 5, IMO should have enough knowledge to understand the various Hermetic virtues sufficiently well that if he had step by step instructions that he could probably teach it. This is likely where I'm going IMS. I'm going to reduce the difficulty if the character possesses the virtue, and keep the difficulty indicated in Apprentices if he doesn't possess it, and to do this, he must have an MT of 5. There are numerous examples of people who know things in theory who teach it, but can't really practice it very well. I'm also going to say that these resources to teach virtues are pretty freely available.

One thing I kind of expected from Apprentices was introduction of the implicit Hermetic Flaw. A Hermetic Flaw is necessary if page 30 is correct.

In this instance, I would say should is a bit understand and it should have been written as must. We treat it as implicit that all Magi have a Hermetic flaw, right? I know MetaCreator does and complains unless I change the configuration. If an apprentice/magus hase only one hermetic flaw, it stands to reason it was inflicted upon them when their Arts were opened. Again, I haven't done an exhaustive read of Apprentices, but it appears possible that a Master sufficiently skilled at teaching or unwilling to teach Hermetic virtues that require he inflict a flaw could create an apprentice without a flaw.

This is perhaps rather a meta reasoning, but the reason I like the rules fo teaching virtues is simple.

With 15 seasons of teaching and just about any activities granting XPs beyond 2 per season, apprentices will be more powerful than the 240 XPs + 120 spell levels that the core book assumes.

Now some of those seasons of teaching will be used to teach virtues, meaning you could actually let your apprentice read a book once in a blue moon, without making (quite as much of) a mockery of the basic character creation process.

No, that's a very good reason, actually. Although letting an apprentice read books indiscriminately is going to make the apprentice far stronger than the 240 XP+120 spell levels, especially if the books are of a decent quality and higher level. Those L6Q21 or Q18+Book Learner make getting to 6 in an art a breeze. Yeah, they're expensive but I've seen them created.

First, put me in the "I like this book but I wish there was more to it" camp.

To echo other poster's comments, the medieval childhood stuff was very helpful to me since I have not invested a lot of my hobby time into that area of study. I love the fact that Ars authors actually do some good research instead of making it all up out of whole cloth. Kudos to David and his team!

Of special note, though, are the Turbulences. I'm not big on rolling dice when decent storytelling and role-playing can do, but while I wasn't one of the playtesters, I would say that it is a great mechanic and provides a good foundation for why Hermetic magic leads to Twilight and other magic leads to different Warping experiences. The fact that it points out the danger of apprenticeship in something as risky as the study of magic without absolutely ruining a character before they even "graduate" I think was particularly brilliant.

As for teaching Virtues and so forth, I think the mechanic -- in and of itself -- makes sense, but I would suggest as others have for the players to give it some more thought than simply running the numbers. Gaining or transforming a Virtue during training has immense story potential and, assuming the players want to game it out, it shouldn't be wasted in the same way (as intended, I think) that a Mystery initiation should never be. I suppose one could go through an initiation for a Virtue in a Mystery by declaration ("Um, yeah. Steve, you are right, the mystagogue is powerful enugh to confer the virtue. OK, after the Spring season your character has it.") but I would much prefer a session or three where the the storyguide has already made sure of the 'accounting' and we play out discovering the secret cave, outwitting the guardian, making The Choice, suffering The Sacrifice, and Discovering the Greater Capability.

In a similar vein, playing the child terrified and alone in a new town with strange things happening around you all the time would be a lot of fun. For a year, you are forced to learn a new language that sounds like that used in the church services that you used attend from an old cantakerous clerk who doesn't like you no matter what but who himself is just as scared as you of the Master of the House. But to make it more fun, a year later the Master of the House (whose name, you discover, is Ignis of the Flabeau family) shows up and has a particularly nasty and creepy smile on his face and says, "It is time, come with me." You run for the door, but he barks a word and you are strangely frozen. Scared out of your mind, the candle flames around the room suddenly glow 10 time brighter. THe Master "tsks", waves a hand and flames die back. He looks at you with that same nasty smile and begins waving his hands and, as he does, the ssmile changes to a look of reassurance and the fear washes away over two minutes. The door to the room you were told never to enter now opens and you see a door made, you swear, of golden light on the opposite side of the room. He gently grabs you by the hand, and you both walk through where, over the course of the next three months, he leads you along a path where people and animals made of flame ask you challenging questions, or wrestle you, or give you odd challenges, with the Master occasionally coaching you (and quietly cursing a mistake HE made). On one occasion the Master said "Oh no, I'm not making the same mistake my teacher did," and personally stabs a flaming wolf in the side, killing it before he bit you. While you got a couple bad burns from the whole experience (and a personal disgust with plants), you did pretty well and sometimes very surprisingly. You return from the golden door at the end of the season looking at the world and language in a very different way and having a new and VERY special understanding of fire.

Playing each step in the Opening of the Arts could fill several sessions if you wanted and the mechanic just provides a reasonableness test as with the Mystery initiation mechanic. Could the mechanic be abused? Sure, if you let it. Can it be gotten around? Of course, but why would you?

Finally, if there is one complaint that I have, it is common one -- I wish there was more to it. But I still am very much liking the book and would ask that the authors and the editor take it as encouragement to push a little harder for more detail, more examples, and maybe a little more storytelling on thier own part in the future.

Well done (and sorry for my own weak writing).


No. It has never been necessary, which is why it says "should" instead of "must".

All magi should have at least one hermetic flaw. That's the language. I can see how some might find it ambiguous. Should (see what I did there? :laughing:) there be exceptions? Why? What conditions create the exception? If hermetic magic theory is imperfect then everyone magus should (as in it is expeted, or required as those are alternative meanings of should). Or if you go to the present tense of should it's obvious. All magi shall have at least one hermetic flaw. Like a commandment. Are the Ten Commandments vague at all?

How many players actually create Magi without a Hermetic Flaw?

I'm trying to understand where you thought virtues and flaws come from. Before Apprentices how did you justify the V&F's of characters in their backgrounds? Did you feel all hermetic traits where imparted by a magi's parens? Did you feel they where all inborn? Have you ever created a character that had a hermetic flaw or virtue that resulted from a lab accident or an encounter with exotic magic during or after their apprenticeship? Personally I have used or at least seen every one of these methods for justifying a Virtue hermetic or otherwise in a background.

Unfortunately before Apprentices not all of these methods could be simulated in play. Sure you could create an apprentice character who had an inborn talent at something by just writing the virtue on there sheet. For instance "My character is a naturally sympathetic so she has a Focus in healing." or "My character just doesn't get magic in the abstract so he has Study Requirement." And you could always hope for a random events to come along and graft on a virtue. Though the player has very little control over those.

There where no hard and fast rules for the average parens teaching an average apprentice something like Mercurian, Deidne or Elemental magic for instance. Or any other Virtue it might make sense that a character has to be taught. Nor beyond Deficient arts was their any reason an apprentice would inherit flaws from their parens. These are both things I think the insinuate happens, and, judging from the backgrounds I see, most players assume as well.

How is teaching and inheritance done in play. Did these transfers happen automatically when the arts where opened, with seasons of teaching (somehow),over time as the apprentice absorbed knowledge, could they be avoided. Without any rules this had to be handled by fiat. Or use the mystery initiation or art opening rules from societies. (Which takes it out of the reach of average characters)

That's what the rules in Apprentices allows for it allows troupes to play through the apprenticeships and more reliably simulate the things that already show up in established characters backgrounds. The teaching rules now allow almost any Magus to pass on his style of magic to his apprentice if he chooses. Childhood & Inhereted V&F's allow a character to mature into their abilities during play or at least count on events conspiring to eventually grant a desired trait.

I assumed it was some combination before, but it was "magic" I didn't have a clear understanding and kind of worked through it by guess and by gosh. Some virtues and flaws were innate and some were taught or passed on. But how were the taught. Now I know how they were taught. I'm not sure about the innate ones, when the pop up or come into play at the apprentice level. If they are innate do they all suddenly appear at Opening the Arts? Is the Master than penalized for teaching his virtue to them?

I'm going to shutup until I work through it a couple of different ways. I'm speaking based on theory as I understand it, and am fully prepared to hear people say, no you're wrong you do it this way, as David Chart has done. I think working backward from some of the magi I've created will help solidify my understanding of what their masters would look like. It's an interesting exercise that will be, I hope better illuminating than working the other way around will be, but I'll do that, too.

RFC 2119. Overkill, but hey!

That's fine, I also think magi can botch on rituals. :smiley:

Errata proposal updated:

[i]RFC 2119 gives the following definitions:

MUST This word, or the terms "REQUIRED" or "SHALL", mean that the definition is an absolute requirement of the specification.
MUST NOT This phrase, or the phrase "SHALL NOT", mean that the definition is an absolute prohibition of the specification.
SHOULD This word, or the adjective "RECOMMENDED", mean that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular item, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course. [/i]

No, it is in no way what so ever ambigious, you´re just reading it as a binary statement when clearly it is not.
And if it had said "must have" instead, that´s such a stupid thing to enforce that i would ignore it.

Plenty. And if you were to discount those whose only such flaw is Blatant Gift, many more.

If I'm reading this right, you're proposed errata is that the troupe and/or storyguide has final veto power over the teaching of any given virtue? I submit that isn't errata, it's the core rule of every rpg... the Storyguide/DM/GM/whatever is the final arbiter of the rules.

I'm sorry, you're a sample of one. And if Gentle Gift is a Hermetic virtue why wouldn't Blatant be a hermetic flaw? That is a completely flawed assumption, that I, or anyone else for that matter, would discount Blatant Gift in this manner. If you play with the Gift having an impact on social interaction, Blatant Gift is a pretty bad flaw to overcome.

That you quote RFC 2119 is actually quite funny. Should has multiple meanings, one of which is must. RFC chooses to define it in one specific way, however I don't see that the Ars Magica game system was written with any acknowledgement of having applied RFC 2119. :laughing: It's not unreasonable for one to read it as being a necessary condition, especially when the next sentence is read after it: "Nobody fits perfectly into Hermetic theory." It is entirely reasonable to be read as: don't take a Hermetic Flaw: but then you better have a good reason for not taking the flaw. I would, for example, if a PC was deaf or mute consider waving the Hermetic flaw, that's a good reason, as the penalties she has for spell casting are sufficiently bad. Alternatively, the Hermetic flaw is optional, if the SG/Troupe think that all the other flaws are bad enough for the character. Again reasonable.

You read this quite right, and the errata proposal is indeed far weaker than I'd like it to be.

The underlying problem is, that the term 'Hermetic Virtues' includes just about every type of Virtue - many of which are obviously not teachable, while teaching others with the Apprentices system can to a campaign inflict serious trouble which emerges only later. The clean way to repair this would involve introducing subcategories to 'Hermetic Virtues', and assign one of them to every Hermetic Virtue around: this is far more than errata can do. Even just labeling all Hermetic Virtues either 'teachable' or not is out of scope for errata.
The only thing you can do in a paragraph or two is, to make this creation and adjudication of subcategories a job of each Troupe, warn in time that it is important, and adapt the rest of the chapter to it.
I believe that this is sufficient reason for the errata. Without it, the many literal guys out there would indeed not consider how it is the Troupe to make sense of supplements, but refer to Apprentices and conclude that the Gentle Gift or Hermetic Prestige can be taught by a parens.


I think most players create Magi with Hermetic Flaws often more then one. I don't think that necessarily comes from an awareness of or adherence to that particular section in the book. So I'm not sure that backs up the interpretation of it being a requirement in any way. That being said a Magi with say Hedge Wizard or Infamous Master fits perfectly within that requirement without their study or practice of magic being affected at all.

I guess that means you get a bad reputation if you do everything right.

I still think that all that is really needed is a "use your common sense" type sentence tacked in there somewhere. Or even better a "your troupe may prefer" statement.