Best Explanation for Failed Apprentice Ever

Teaching was an example but certainly there are more. You also have former players who become coaches, scouts, physical therapists, general managers, grounds keepers, sports reporters, book makers, publicists, and yes probably even personal assistants. Their love of the game keeps them involved even though the may no longer have the stuff to still step out on the field.

It's a pretty common human behavior.

And people go in completely different directions their interests and talents might take them normally. For example, The former air force pilot who goes to work in Hollywood hangs out with Charlie Sheen as a drinking buddy, but never makes it big, then returns home and pursues a teaching career (this is a real person by the way). How many college athletes pursue careers outside of their athletic interests?

I find we're arguing past each other. This is a character motivation issue. I could be the Failed Apprentice that hates working in the lab and would much rather paint, sculpt, write a bawdy comedy, what have you. A failed apprentice doesn't have to want to be in the lab, and could be doing everything they could to be going into the lab.

Sure. The two critical points are, however:

  1. A failed apprentice could find being a lab assistant anything from GREAT! to insufferable; but the point "since he is a Failed apprentice, he'll certainly want to change occupation" is invalid.

  2. Unless his "internal" motivation for pursuing something else is really, really strong, there are some truly remarkable incentives for him to become a lab assistant; so the vast majority of the times, that's what he'll do.

Full disclosure. In the Saga I just started. (Working title Go Team Mentem! Think! Think!) One of the players created a companion who was once an apprentice but was turned into a spirit of knowledge and magic. Yes he has all the virtues listed above plus an obscene MT and an intelligence of 6 or 7. Yes the player named him Robert. No he doesn't live in a skull. (yet)

In his defense it's not just rampant munchkinism. One of the theme's was to have several characters epitomize different mental stats.

  1. It's not invalid, it's an opinion, a trait. If this is a character someone is playing in my troupe, well, he'd be kinda bored with doing stuff for magi and would want to go off and do his own thing.
  2. Why isn't his interenal motivation for something else, really, really strong? These are incentives of a physical, if mundane nature.

Magi pursue their Arts for ever greater rewards related to ever greater levels of power. Well, except some Jerbiton, who only pursue their Arts until they can do whatever they wanted to do with their Arts, and then they pursue other interests. They only study Arts as a means to get to their ultimate, or at least intermediate, goals. For many magi their goals are ever higher Arts, doing cool stuff with magic. What does the failed apprentice have for goals?

You made a comment about working on Wall Street being paid a lot, many of those people who are now working on Wall Street lead lives of quiet desparation. They pursue monetary rewards, and they become burned out. I see much the same happening for a fully fleshed out failed apprentice. Sure, they'll be gung ho, but should eventually crash and burn. They derive no real benefit from their work. They produce nothing, they have every need catered to, how utterly boring a character to play!

Turning your statement on it's head: there are some truly remarkable incentives for a magus to make the failed apprentice a lab assistant. The prospective lab assistant may have entirely different ideas.

shrug And as a spirit, his help should be hard to obtain and his interests fickle, no? What really interesting project is a magus going to undertake, in order to lure the spirit into the lab and assist him for a season or 12?
You can always do X, you can always have another person/entity help you do X. Why do you do X? Why does the other person/entity want to help? I handwave those questions when it comes to the familiar and the apprentice, they really don't have much of a choice (although there are always exceptions, especially if another player is playing the familiar or apprentice). If the lab assistant is an NPC, why do they do what they do is an essential question that must be answered.

Say the failed apprentice ain't gonna study magic theory no more, wouldn't that make for some interesting stories?

Hard to obtain nah just pay em in vis. Also what else is a a character who is essentially an embodiment of Magic Theory going to want to do with it's time. If anything knowing the player this character will probably be fighting to keep the Magus in the lab.

I can hear the discussion now "What do you mean your reading a book this season? What about all your research? We could make some of those potions you like? Or Distilling Vis you can never have enough Vis."

My first thought when I saw the thread title was, "I swear, I thought he would float!"

I think that's a fair point, and many people who work as lab assistants are hoping to one day climb up the ladder - and that isn't possible for a fail apprentice.

On the other hand if they have the skills to be a lab assistant and their living arrangement is good they may be content with this being their livelihood. There are after all professional lab techs. Having an overly specific skill-set means you have limited job opportunities, and someone with a fair handle on magic theory is going to have a difficult time using it outside of a covenant.

Now they may want to give up on magic entirely, or perhaps they can translate their skills to working in an apothecary or something similar, so they do have options. But I think it's also perfectly reasonable for someone to stay on as an assistant in perpetuity if they like the subject and the environment. Also, while such a person may not want magi's pity I don't see why gifts or payment in the form of magic items or longevity potions need to carry such a stigma.

It is unlikely that an apprentice would want to work for someone who botched opening his gift, unless the alternatives are even worse. But in this case perhaps the failed apprentice would be interested in working at a rival covenant. Lot's of interesting story ideas there.

I may be employing a modern paradigm in assessing the situation, but this makes me think of the ubergeek who can't get promoted. He's so good at what he does that his employer throws gobs of cash at him, but doesn't really put challenging work in front of him, so he's bored. Or the ubergeek is a prima donna and demands an inordinate amount of control over a project. I see all these possibilities playing out with a failed apprentice.

The failed apprentice is a character. I think such a character has such a high degree of importance that it should fill a player's companion slot. I think such a character has a high degree of control in picking the choice projects he works on. If I were playing such a character I would be negotiating some quid pro quo player to player and character to character. If the failed apprentice is there to provide a bonus to a lab total, well, that's just boring. If the failed apprentice has de facto control of the covenant's magic research because he's very selective about the projects he's working on, well, that's very interesting, and could be a hoot to play.

In the discussion so far, I've seen very little mention of buying his service with magic items, I see mainly he's a conduit for increasing magi's lab scores. And yes, he does do that (increase lab scores).

I agree this is absolutely a character option. As I said, the character in my saga was a Jerbiton student, and losing his Gift was (physically) traumatic for him, so it seemed only reasonable to turn his attention to art, contributing only in the projects he considers attractive enough. (I must confess, though, that he has not been offered any longevity ritual yet as an “incentive”…)

However, I can also perfectly envision a frustrated Bonisagus Failed Apprentice who helps in any conceivable project because he just loves Magic Theory even if he cannot work it no more, which fits the “genius-turned-teacher” you guys talked about earlier. Lots of options (and stories) come to mind, as long as the character is a real (companion-level) character with a real personality and not “just” a lab bonus.

And obviously, I'm stating the two extremes for such a character: being used as a lab bonus, and dictating the course of magical research of a covenant. As with all things, the interesting bits are somewhere in the middle, because it's a continuum of possibilities between the two endpoints.

Failed apprentices can do a lot of things and might enjoy the lab work but then again, they might want something else.

Like most companions: 2 seasons a year are job (exposure only) and two are what they want. So you could easily have failed apprentice help in lab to earn keep 2 seasons of exposure to magic theory (what else would they get from lab work) and then 2 seasons to pursue whatever else suits them.

Odds are as a failed apprentiece, they know latin, artes liberalies and can study from mundane books.

You know, I have no problem with Failed Apprentices being grogs. However, that is largely because my sagas never treat grogs as just numbers on a page. We treat every grog as a character, just a supporting character.

From a rough back-of-the-napkin calculation, there may be about ten people who qualify as Failed Apprentices in the order (based on 2-3 new apprentices per tribunal per year, of whom 1% lose their Gift entirely, which doesn't include people whose Arts are improperly opened or lose their supernatural abilities). And of those ten Failed Apprentices (assuming they all continue to be attached to the Order in some manner), there are at least a dozen different reasons for that character to do so.

For example, Claudia (my Failed Apprentice from Phoenix: Rise from the Ashes and Shores of Albion) lost her Gift and was disfigured when her master's laboratory exploded (he was apparently killed). She decided to stay with the Covenant because she was so disfigured that she couldn't go back home again, and wanted to continue to serve as best she could, to give herself a reason to live basically. This won't work for every Failed Apprentice, but every character is different.

I'm actually curious how much the Apprentices book will discuss these issues. I see losing the Gift as a sub-heading on the ToC

Well, here's my take on the Failed Apprentice character...

Only read the first page of this great thread so far (the rest in the following day or so, since I am catching up with A LOT of stuff you all wrote!). However I wanted to make a contribution.

The magi get hold of the failed apprentice of a former exmiscellanea magus that was killed in a recent wizard's war. During the war a powerful VIm spell damaged his gift, and he appears unable to cast spells anymore and has no Gift. Still, he is fairly young, frustrasted and wants to live a GRAND life. He comes from a backward place, like northern loch leglean or the like, so he is quite impressed with the lifestyle of the magi. His training in magic theory is excellent. The teenager is willing to act as an assistant, and rapidly finds his way up the ladder. He reaches the player's covenant as a gidft from one of their patrons, that places this exxtremely valuable resurce in the hands of the PCs as a gift.

However, ther eis more trhan meets the eye. The character is either an UnGifted magician from a hedge tradition or a Gifted member of a hedge tradition with the gentle gift. In either case he has the Unaging virtue, that accounts for his apparent youthfulness. he has placed a Curse on himself that does nto allow him to be targeted with Memtem magics easily, and that makes this effect to appear as it could make his Gift come back if dispelled. Will the magi try to dispell the effect that seems tomake him a guy able to give them a +10 to +20 lab bonus? Will they try to uncover the truth at all? What are the real motives of the magician? Is he really a hedfge magician or has someone make him believe so?

chan chaN CHANNN!!!!



PS: (Gentle Gift), Unaging, "Failed Apprentice", infernal magical tradition for added fun, Dark Secret, and a funky political and magical agenda.

This is rather important to me. Because what the Failed Apprentice wants might not have much bearing on his or her destiny and future at all. Why would the Order let (possibly disgruntled) very useful kids/youth run away or leave? They will know secrets of the Order (at least if they didn't burn out on opening of the arts and have no magic theory) and the (former) Master will be responsible for any trouble they might cause now or in the future. (At least in my world you're the Master of your apprentice forever, not only in the Order but in all crafts, and the code holds you responsible for hunting down your (former) apprentices if they cause trouble)

Even my kind and friendly magi from several Sagas would not let a Failed Apprentice leave. They would treat them kindly (probably with pity) and offer comforts and chances for learning and opportunities to realize themselves like only rich nobility could dream of, but it would be a golden cage. There is no way any Failed Apprentice would be allowed to leave the Order (but possibly the local covenant). They could run, but having a fixed AC to your apprentice is the normal case in my Order (so you can save them, teleport them home, box their ears, etc.) so a Failed Apprentice would be found (unless a Plot like other magi, faeries, demons or God hides them).

(btw: The fixed AC to the apprentice is formally destroyed as a part of the initiation ritual to the Parma Mystery when an Apprentice becomes a Wizard. If I went for the canon "no mystery, just a skill and an oath", the AC would still be made and formally returned to the newly gauntleted Magus on swearing the Oath.).