You could fiddle with the times if you don't like them. It's only a proposed house rule. Maybe it takes 2 days per level or whatever. Which means that copying "a typical tractatus" buggers up a whole season for the caster: as it takes more than 10 days.
Besides, already, a scribe can copy 3 tractatus in a season if you don't mind degrading the quality by 1. It doesn't seem unreasonable to me to allow the players to multiple this by five if they go to the bother of creating spells and so forth to do it. If you double the amount of time to copy a page, then using this houserule the spell is only about twice as fast as a scribe.
You also need to actually have 15 tractatus available that you want to copy, which is probably only going to be the case rarely.
Which is exactly why I explicitly suggest in the house rule that the person doing the concentrating needs to understand what is being copied, and so the concentrating can't be done via an item (unless the item is something really complicated that is somehow conscious and capable of understanding text).
Well, maybe not but the existing rules for scribes copying Summae depend on the Quality of the Summae for how long it takes. Quality seems like a nice, simple, abstract method for deciding how long it takes to copy something. Sure you complicate it if you like, but I don't think you gain anything much by doing so.
The copy you are making.
Because the caster has to explicitly copy the book letter by letter.
That's basically what I envisage is being captured by the fact that a caster who can understand the content needs to concentrate on what he is doing.
Anyway, it's just an idea for a houserule.
It doesn't seem unreasonable to me, and it seems much more reasonable to me than be various in-game reasons proposed for "copying can't be done."
Yes, it would work if you aren't particularly concerned about getting the book back other than by the normal means. This is, presumably, a book in some mundane's library? If its a covenant, you'd have to consider their Aegis and, if without permission, its obviously a low crime.
There's no 5th edition guideline for apportation of objects, but it wasn't deliberately eliminated, afaik. To move a body like that would be a base 35 Rego Corpus effect and Rego Animal (books are parchment, ie animal) says to refer to Corpus for other ways of moving things. Problem is you have to bump it to Arcane Connection range, since the thing you want to move is far away. That would put it up to lvl 55 (ie automatic Ritual time). So if you have the ability, you may want to make it an Enchanted Item to avoid that problem (because item effects can be >lvl 50 without automatically becoming rituals).
For copying, the main consideration is that it should cost something. The main limits on a magus' power are time and access to resources. A spell that gives more of both at no appreciable cost isn't a good idea. A copying Ritual would be appropriate...trading resources (vis) for time. Or perhaps a high powered combination of effects that lets one copy faster... but then its costing the magus Warping (ie trading the long term for the short term).
The only two things limiting the availability of books are the time to copy them and the willingness to share. Tractatus are valuable to everyone. I'd tend to think that if you could crank out a copy every season without interfering with your own labwork and trade it for something you could use, both problems would go away pretty quickly.
Well, I took that to mean the item couldn't be the focus of the original spell with the 'item maintains concentration' effect. I don't see any justification for preventing the use of Maintain the Demanding Spell, which just happens to be cast by an item. The only reason to put it on an item is to keep off the Warping anyway. Just cast a Moon duration Maintain otherwise.
My copy of the rules says its the level of the summa; no mention of Quality at all.
I don't think this works conceptually. You cast a spell on the book to make it faster for the magus to copy it? How does that work? Is "copyability" a trait that can be modified? That would be Muto then? I think the spell either has to be momentary on the book (ReAn) or concentration on the magus (Re? Mu? and warping, potentially). I suppose it could be Momentary on the book, then the proofreading takes whatever time you've assigned above....
This is the case that already exists. Mundane scribes can copy books about Arts as long as they have a score of 1 in Magic Theory (and can read etc). You don't need to be Gifted to have a Score in Magic Theory. There is nothing preventing a magus spending a season training a mundane scribe in Magic Theory and then setting him to work copying out tractatus, while the mage does some proper work.
Hmm...right you are. I still don't see why Quality isn't a reasonable, abstract method for deciding how long a Tractatus is. Sure, you can invent some other rules and keep a track of how many pages each book is or something, but that seems like lots of work for no particular gain.
You seem to be misunderstanding what I am trying to say.
The proposed house rule allows a spell to be cast on the copy (the blank book). It uses Re-Form to create in the blank book a copy letter-by-letter of another book (which the magus has in his other hand). It takes time and concentration, because the magus has to control letter by letter what he is copying (basically he needs to read the original). The time it takes is shorter than mundane means (so it is worthwhile if you really need to copy lots of books quickly), but it is still significant (if a magus wants to copy lots of books, he will still use up seasons of work) so it does not seem to create an unreasonable glut of books.
This seems like a much more fun approach than saying: "Yes, you can create a copy of a sword by using ReTe on a hunk of metal, but you can't create a copy of a book's content by using ReAn(He) on some vellum".
The only reason I can think of is to stop the development of a magic printing press...and the only reason I think that's a bad idea is that it should change the setting if it is widely used in the Order. I don't actually think that one PC covenant with a printing press (or photocopier) is a problem; it's a matter of whether it is plausible that no-one else has come up with the idea. And if there is no reason no-one else has come up with the idea, why hasn't every-one. Of course, you could get a long way with "they haven't thought of it", or "they can't be bothered" as an excuse.
Do you have another reason why copying should cost something?
This seems like a sensible statement, but I don't think it is.
Would you ban an InVi(He) spell that allowed a magus to quickly find vis in the forest, on the basis that it gives him more time and resources?
Surely, these sorts of spells are just the players being clever. I'd rather find ways to allow the players' clever ideas to work, than reasons why they can't work.
If by 'quickly' you mean in less than the season or so the rules specify? Yes, I would rule against that. Such spells may add a bit to the functional lab total or provide an excuse to find a particular kind of vis or something like that.
Yes, you can play the 'what if they didn't bother' game with spells, but copying books is so utterly obvious and necessary that there is really no reason for a copy spell to not be widespread and mandatory.
I love players being clever and using their magic in innovative ways. But I don't consider these 'clever'. They are so blindingly obvious that if they worked, the rules ought to be built around how they work because no one in their right mind would do it any other way. If you could photocopy books and scour the woods for vis with a spell, those things would be the way the world works. All this other drivel with actually looking or using scribes would make as much sense as someone today asking to use an 8 track cassette to store music.
Though, actually, I'd probably allow a duplicate book spell and just give it a functionally impossible Finesse roll due to the complexity like 21 or 24. And maybe there were enough spectacular disasters from corrupt texts in the past that the Order abandoned the use of such spells? Hmmm....
Edit: As another aside, IMC its not really typical for covenants to have Magic Theory trained scribes. Most wizards are too arrogant to read the rule book and realize a single season of tutoring in Hermetic Theory will make their scribes better. Their thought is usually more like "argh, useless mundanes! What do we pay them for anyway." Teaching Magic Theory to mundanes is like tossing pearls before swine.
There are quite a few covenants with properly trained scribes, but they usually came about it by accident.. an early scribe was a failed apprentice or a hedge wizard and happened to train his successors in the relevant abilities.
The inspeximus is the usual way final copies of books are done in my campaign.. the scribe copies the book and the magus proof reads it. Or a magus supervises multiple scribes during the process.
I'm not overly fond of the 'no magic theory means automatic corruption' rule anyway. I apply it to Grimoires and other lab texts, but for Theory less scribing of Arts books, there's a Profession: Scribe check involved to avoid errors.
OK, so transporting the book is somewhat prohibitive because of the level and the Aegis.
So, forgetting the Aegis for the moment, might an arcane connection to an individual page of a book allow the caster to view that page from a distance even if the book is closed?
I see that to view at a distance one must take into account the prevailing conditions of the area being viewed. So if one were to view a page at a distance and the book was closed the view would be, presumably, black.
But if one has an arcane connection to a page in a closed book might that connection allow a caster to "see" the page, despite prevailing conditions?
Getting back to the Aegis, I'm assuming (without books @ work) that penetration of an Aegis works the same as penetrating parma. Meaning that having an arcane connection to a covenant would aid in penetrating the Aegis.
BTW, I am kind of glad that it isn't easy to copy a book. I'm not necessarily trying to break the rules or game the system for an unfair advantage. For the character I had in mind manual scribing is juuuust fine.
"Viewing" the page by looking at it in a traditional crystal ball sense is certainly going to be a problem because the page is in darkness, as you menton.
There is a spell in Covenants called "Eternal Repetition in a Bottomless Pool" [CrIm 35 R: Arc D: Sun T: Ind] that lets one view the contents of a book in a scrying surface (pool of water or magical mirror). This includes turning the pages of the image by verbal command. You can definitely quibble with its interpretations of how the guidelines work, but its a published spell in an official supplement.
The key element there is getting an AC to the book that lasts long enough to use it for serious study.