Best Realia Choices

So I was recently wondering what would be the best way to go with a large collection of realia. First, a source quality of 2 is completely useless since a magus could just get that same experience from exposure while developing spells or something else, and thus gain much more than just the 2 experience. But what is the ideal size? There are two competing factors. One is what size is most efficient. The other is what size will provide the maximum amount of experience. Former is easy: as large as possible. The second works out to roughly 2.8854, or 3 since we need whole numbers. This means, no matter what size a collection of realia, it will provide more experience if it is broken into smaller collections, the limit being down to groups of 4 realia (size/quality 3). This provides a nice option for magi. Most would consider size/quality 3 to be too small to be worth the effort of studying repeatedly. But for any given collection this trade-off exists, and it can be a serious choice with larger collections. For example, at 10 you can study 10 times at quality 10 each time. A quality of 10 is pretty good. But so is a quality of 9. Breaking the collection into two 9s would allow study 18 times at quality 9 each time. A non-specialist in that Art would probably prefer the former while a specialist would probably prefer the latter. Anyway, I thought this trade-off worked out nicely mathematically since there is no one right way to go.


First, I'll posit that there's an infinite number of vain tractatus (Quality 6). For instance, using Q9 Realia gives {18 * 9 = 162 xp} while using Q10 Realia gives {10 * 10 + 8 * 6 = 148 xp} or a loss of 14 xp after 18 seasons. Note that this is the same as {18 * (9 - 6) = 54 xp} vs {10 * (10 - 6) = 40 xp}.

Then you recalibrate vain tractatus to Q7, which yields {18 * 2 = 36} vs {10 * 3 = 30} and a loss of 6 xp.

Second, you have to consider how many seasons you are willing to spend on an Art. Clearly 18 seasons is nothing if it's your main Art, therefore you might wish to try Q8 Realia {36 * 2 = 72 xp} vs {18 * 3 = 54 xp} or 18 xp. Assuming Q7 tractatus, there's no loss at all.

Trying with Q7 Realia {72 * 1 = 72 xp} vs {36 * 2 = 72 xp}, no loss.


The best realia choice is Quality 8. Below that, it's no better than vain tractatus.

I'm with Callen on this one. Q8 is only the best choice on the assumption that you're going to focus hard on that art and you have seasons to spare. If you're not, the lost xp over time for a higher quality realia is meaningless because you're time-limited, so you're going to want the one that provides the most xp in the limited time that you have.

While most realia are probably constructed by people who obsess over the art, not all of them will behave optimally and not all of them will be the ones primarily using it.

This does bring up an interesting aside: what is the visible difference between a q10 realia collection and 2x q9s? If you find a realia collection in an abandoned covenant, is it clear what you're dealing with or is it up to the finder to work out how to break down the collection?

As Kid Gloves said, you other assumptions in there, certainly far more than an unlimited supply of Q6 tractatus. I'll agree that considering Q6 tractatus freely available is probably a good assumption to work with. Even if it's not exactly true, it will probably work out to essentially be true in essence. However, there are then multiple other assumptions that have been built into your Q8 argument. One of them Kid Gloves pointed out: perhaps you really don't want to invest so much time in that Art, while you are assuming all students will. But even if a student does want to invest the time, you're making another assumption. Let me show you with an example:

I have a quality-14 realia collection. (Yes, that's over 8000 pieces.) 14x14=196. But you might want to put in more seasons, and just about anyone would be willing to use it if it's at least as good as a sound tractatus. So let's split it up. Next is 2x13x13=338, followed by 4x12x12=576, and then 8x11x11=968, and then 16x10x10=1600. Let's look at these last two. The quality-11 group provides for 88 seasons. A student could study that for 22 solid years and, depending on where the student started, get well over 40 in an Art. 22 years is roughly 20% of the magus's lifetime. How much more might a magus spend on a realia? The quality-10 group provides for 160 seasons. A student could study that for 40 solid years and, depending on where the student started, get well over 55 in an Art. 40 years is roughly 40% of the magus's lifetime. I would think that much is becoming highly unlikely. I would think no one would split this group below the quality-11 group since there are bound to be some good tractatus and other things available besides just this massive collection.

What this example shows is that the unlimited supply of Q6 tractatus assumption really needs to be adjusted to an unlimited supply of a higher quality source based on the size of the realia collection to be split because that realia collection itself can become an essentially unlimited supply. So even when working with the assumption that a student will spend tons of time studying this particular Art, Q8 may well not be the ideal. Rather, I would say your argument shows that quality-8 is the smallest you'd want to split a larger collection into and that you would not want to split lower quality realia collections.


Well, if you only tl;dr you'll miss the point I guess.

Realia are good if they are cool. If ythey are not cool, you are better off with tractatus. Cooll realia are powerful ones that are just plain awesome. Maths are just not cool for Ars. I rest my case :mrgreen:

This is why you can't have a merchant system based on something other than Labour points.


It seems that

:smiley: I disagree! Mathematics can be cool; and it's an indespensable tool for the good game designer. I've seen a lot of games with "cool" concepts that ended being unplayable because their designers did not have a sufficient grasp of the mechanics. It's a very common problem in the industry. I think realia are a cool concept. To analyse them, however, I think you should break up the two situations when they are "bought" with covenant build points, and when they are build in game by the PCs. I shall start with the latter.

Realia assembled "in play"
From what I've seen in my games, in a number of Arts it's not exceedingly difficult to get, over a few decades, a collection of about 1000 specimens. That's a level 11 collection (more precisely, 1024 specimens are level 11). Herbam or Terram come immediately to mind. The cool part is that the magus need not spend seasonal effort in doing so, though the player needs to get creative. He can have grogs roaming mythic europe and beyond collecting samples. He can collect them while on an adventure (they make really cool "treasure"). He can buy them from merchants. Etc. By the time a specialist magus is old enough that he's exhausted most good tractati in the field, he has the equivalent of 11 tractatus level 11, or 20 level 10, or 36 level 9, to keep studying without resorting to vis. Nothing truly extraordinary, but a nice little bonus with a lot of colour. Going up to level 14 or so (8192 specimens) starts to get definitely harder, but it's still feasible. At this level, you probably have all the study material you want for the rest of your life. A level 14 collection means 88 seasons of study at a (fair) quality 11, enough to push your ability in the Art into the low 40s on its own.

Realia bought with build points
The real problem with realia bought with build points is that, at low levels, they aren't really worth the cost, while at high levels they are really too powerful. Let's look at a level 6 collection, that costs 21 build points. I'd rather get two good tractatus, Q10 and Q11, that I can probably barter with other covenants for more texts of similar quality, than a level 6 collection from which I can study for 6 seasons with a paltry Q6 (or 24 seasons at Q3!). But at really high levels, collections are really worth it for the specialist -- this also mean that you can get a lot of profit by allowing other specialists to study from them. Consider a level 20 collection. That's over half a million specimens, or about the same number of books in the library of Alexandria. Legendary, but not outright impossible. It costs a whopping 210 points. However, it means 18*4=72 seasons of study at Q18 -- enough to bring a student to the low 50s on its own. It's a "supersumma" that gives a student all he'll ever need in one Art, and that up to 4 students can study simultaneously (or 8 with just a -1 penalty). In many ways, it's too powerful, though it would certainly be a central feature of the saga and make for a lot of fine stories.

Summarizing, I think realia are cool, and work well mechanically if assembled "in play". Bought with build points, they have the problem that at low levels they are not worth it, and at high levels they are potentially game-breaking and certainly saga-defining; a level range 10-14 seems a reasonable one (but note how the level 14 collection, which costs less than twice the level 10 collection, it's worth far more than twice as much).

Where can I find the math assotiated with Realia as Covenants 102 dont help me at all to understand how to calculate what tractus level result from how many items.
Even the errata didnt help me in this :frowning:.
It only says 1 item = QL 1 Tractus 2 item = QL 2 4 item = QL 3 and 32 item = QL 6 and my mathematic is not good enough the understand what base formulae is behind this.

of pieces = 2sup[/sup], where q is the Quality. So

Quality 1 -> 2[sup]0[/sup]=1 piece
Quality 2 -> 2[sup]1[/sup]=2 pieces
Quality 3 -> 2[sup]2[/sup]=4 pieces
Quality 4 -> 2[sup]3[/sup]=8 pieces
Quality 5 -> 2[sup]4[/sup]=16 pieces
Quality 6 -> 2[sup]5[/sup]=32 pieces
Quality 7 -> 2[sup]6[/sup]=64 pieces
Quality 8 -> 2[sup]7[/sup]=128 pieces
Quality 9 -> 2[sup]8[/sup]=256 pieces
Quality 10 -> 2[sup]9[/sup]=512 pieces
Quality 11 -> 2[sup]10[/sup]=1024 pieces
Quality 12 -> 2[sup]11[/sup]=2048 pieces
Quality 13 -> 2[sup]12[/sup]=4096 pieces
Quality 14 -> 2[sup]13[/sup]=8192 pieces

Just keep doubling the number of pieces each time you increase the Quality by 1.


Thanks for this info. Now I maybe even can use this within our game :slight_smile: