Apprentices: In my hands...

"O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars are in the poorest thing superfluous. ..."
I have been used to some more rigor from ArM rules than the occasional generic requirement to apply to them common sense. Which BTW is a practice greatly aided by precision.
The specific problem that in our case requires special adjudication by the Troupe can be described in a single phrase - so why avoid to describe it?

Cheers

I do not agree with the need for any errata at all.

As Stated before every rule in Ars Magica needs to be applied with common sense. Every action players take require the SG approval ( in one form or another).

As for making players to take a Hermatic Flaw at creation. Does it really make a difference, it's one minor flaw? If a player really does not want to as the others fit with his character concept better then why force him to play a character he does not want.

Munchkinism? Granted, not all Hermetic Flaws are equal, but by and large the characters I make and in the sagas I am playing in and running, magi have at least one Hermetic Flaw. Concept is fine, unless it's min-maxed to the nth degree. By and large, I can see certain magi character concepts not having a Hermetic Flaw, but it would be the exception rather than the rule. Also, some masters, according to the rules for teaching Virtues in Apprentices may have to inflict the flaw. If a flaw exists at Opening the Arts and is largely randomized, this could serve to differentiate the student and master, and I'd count it as an Ordeal of sorts and allow the bonus for including a Flaw when imparting a Virtue to apply when the master teaches the Virtue.

I just wrote a long response to this thread and lost it during proofreading, accidentally hitting some key and having the webpage jump.
Dammit.
Any way to recover it? Is there an autosave?

Matt Ryan

I use ForumRunner for android and the "send" and "cancel" buttons are inconveniently placed, causing this to happen to me quite frequently; I don't know of any way to rescue a lost post, but I've started writing most of mine in google docs, as that autosaves every few seconds, and then copy/pasting into forumrunner.

I’m glad some folks are enjoying the book and expected others wouldn’t like parts of it. I’ll just say a couple things.

First, I didn’t think I needed to say, “use the rules you find useful to your saga and ignore those that you don’t,” because everyone I know already does that. I do it. I figured I’d just give the reader the intelligence due him and get on with it.

Secondly, I decided not to provide a list of what Virtues and Flaws could or could not be taught by an apprentice’s master. The more I thought about it, and the more Virtues and Flaws I put on the list, I kept thinking, “why not.” And I couldn’t come up with a good enough reason (to me) for such a list. Any list that tells players what they can’t do kills stories. And we are dealing with magic. I mean, I don’t know how magic works in Mythic Europe, I just know that it does. Personally, I don’t think it follows biological rules, or modern science, or even medieval ideas of science. I think it is magic, essentially undefinable, and able to do all kinds of things.

In my modern-thinking-mind, I might think that the type of Gift a person is born with is either Gentle, regular, or Blatant and that can’t be changed. That is a very strict notion. In my narrative-generating-mind, I might think, “maybe a person can be born with the Gift and it can be awful and problematic and stick out like a poop in a punchbowl (Blatant), but a master that knows how to shape/blend/mutate it into a less pronounced manifestation can teach the apprentice how to tame it (regular Gift) or even hide it (Gentle Gift). That’s kind of cool. That is a story. Suddenly, I want my apprentice character to have the Gentle Gift but not start play with it. His master doesn’t have it, so I have to convince my master to find a magus who will teach it to me. What is that going to cost? Since money means nothing to wizards, I’ll have to convince him some other way. Maybe if I steal the dragon’s eggs for master he will let me perform a service for the magus I want to teach me, if I can convince him to teach me in the first place. I get a lot more mileage out of this than saying, “you can’t teach the Gentle Gift.”

That said, if you think it is dumb that a magus can teach the Gentle Gift, or Mythic Blood, or anything else, don’t let it work in your Mythic Europe. I once thought Mythic Blood should probably not be an allowable taught Virtue, but then thought (again), why not? Maybe the master who has Mythic Blood discovers that the apprentice has it also, and that his “instruction” will unlock it and allow him to use it. The apprentice wouldn’t be the first character with a surprise past that is suddenly awesome. Again, a prohibited list didn’t seem helpful, but silence lets players imagine run wild.

About the method itself, we discovered pretty early on that any system we designed to teach Hermetic Virtues had ten ways to abuse it. In a way, this is the less abusable one. To teach a Virtue the magus has to know it. If your apprentice wants a Virtue the master doesn’t know, he has to find a teacher. Bingo. Story. And let me say, your apprentice character can have any Virtue you want him to have, as long as it is legal under the core rules. If you want a Virtue that the master doesn’t have, and you don’t want to play through finding a teacher, and you are making the character before the character’s apprenticeship, take the Virtue as an Inherited Virtue. That is what Inherited Virtues are for. If you want the Gentle Gift, or Mythic Blood, or Puissant Muto (or anything) to develop during the character’s childhood, take the Inherited Virtue and then work with your troupe to decide how it manifests. Does it happen as the child’s Arts are Opened? Sounds good. Does it happen after he spills the cauldron brewing potions on himself? Sure. Does it happen after he sneaks out at night and touches a magic fish? Worked for Fionn mac Cumhaill. Without the sneaking.

The real measure of the teaching Hermetic Virtue rule is if it doesn’t work for other magi. I wanted a rule that lets magi teach apprentices, but wouldn’t let magi teach magi. There are other ways for magi to gain new Virtues. In my mind, Virtues should be taught during apprenticeship only. Did I design a rule that allows a magus to teach his apprentice but not his sodales? You tell me.

Finally, since this is my first post about the book, I want to mention how fantastic the arts looks. Atlas did a superb job with layout and the individual artists really drew great illustrations. They make the book shine, in my opinion.

I hope Apprentices adds to your saga, and if it doesn’t quite fit the bill, maybe the next one will.

Matt Ryan

Matt,
Thanks again for the work you do. I finally did get a chance to read it a bit more in depth last night. I did finally spot the Inherited Virtues section, which now helps bring it home and make some sense. This will be of great assistance in my saga.

Dear Matt,

thank you very much for the enlightening author's perspective on Apprentices, which surprised me not just a little. Why, you can see comparing it with e. g. LOM p.117f, or with a recent discussion on this forum also answered by Mark Lawford referring to Petalichus from MoH as canon.
I will print out your post and glue it to the inner front cover of Apprentices. So I have it handy, in case somebody tries to argue canon fron the book, which has already been attempted in this very thread, and will - given the subject of Apprentices, also come up in my group.
Concluding, let me stress that I consider your approach completely valid, and, in particular with supplements, saving a lot of hassle.

Cheers

Having now finished my read, I'll chime in as another satisfied customer. When I first picked up the book, I it did feel a bit light in my hand, but after a full read, I think it was exactly the right length. Personally, I would have liked a bit more info about gauntlets and a few other things, but overall, I think 64 pages of well-written and useful material is better than 128 pages of stretched-out fluff.

With our grogs having just picked up the covenant's first in-saga potential apprentice, the youngest child of the drowned from RotR in ToME, these matters have been on my mind - what is medieval childhood like, how does a child develop into a magus, and what are the story possibilities? - and this book adressed them all quite well. I think the rules for turbulences, cantations, teaching virtues, and bellum are just right.

I've used a lot of different rpg systems over the years. Scaling down a system designed around adult humans for use with children is an exceptionally difficult task. I've seen any number of good writers struggle and fail to get it right. Honestly, this was the first time I've seen a system that really works.

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