Breakthrough: Hermetic Teacher

If you are farming out the stabilization process then you can simply produce lots of one or two magnitude effects (spells, items whatever). Minimal chance of warping, and no chance of twilight. It would certainly be expensive to hire magi, but its doable. Or you can just make the apprentice do it. I'm sure the tribunal would love the excuse: "I didn't train my apprentices this year because I misplaced all of them in Twilight. I'm sure they'll be back soon." Hiring magi probably costs a good bit of cash. Actually lets do the math for apprentices for this high powered research project. Assume we have a good supply of vis, a good lab (high safety, high spec for experimentation) and three apprentices. Assuming we pre-train latin and such, we'll have them with MT 6 in two years. For 117 apprentice-seasons of work.
If we make them produce level ten items (helps improve the lab too!) We have a 35% chance a year of discovery. 80% chance of stabilization. And maybe 2 seasons of writing out lab texts per apprentice. A bit of math on excell tells me we make .56 breakthrough points a season on average! (After subtracting off the 6 seasons of writing and the38 of stabilizing.) Not enough for a breakthrough by the time the little buggers finish, but probably just about a major.

Now the most important part is to use Perdo magic to wipe the little guy's memories of everything except those classes you spent teaching them. Also rego mentum magic is needed to keep them from murdering you and running away. Three good bludgeons and you are probably dead.

Far too many house rule ifs for me to discuss any further, sorry.


To bring this thread back on track:

I have been confronted lately with the problem, how an existing covenant might set up a small university close nearby. The covenant is situated near a major trade route, so students could reach it easily.
The Custos of the local Franciscans - a well-reputed, energetic and inspiring doctor medicinae - is currently setting up a studium medicinae for his Order three miles away from the covenant, to provide the hospitals in the rich cities around with trained orderlies, paramedics and - come time - perhaps even with doctors. He would accept non-Franciscan students, as long as his brethren can use the covenant library within reason. So medicine would be covered for the students.
Two magi from the covenant have lectured quadrivium in Paris, but as magi are busy with other topics now. Still they might provide contacts, guidance and the occasional lecture still.
The covenant would not have the university offer Theology and Church Law, to avoid problems with the local bishop, with whom relations are correct, but not exactly cordial: he tries to place spies in the covenant.

Given that outline, what is needed to attract students beyond those of the Franciscan studium? A Grammaticus and an excellent, somewhat famous Civilist. Nobles will not pay for occasional lectures on advanced Artes Liberales, but if we can promise them, that their sons will learn Latin, Grammar, Roman Civil law and the law of the HRE at the university, that might appeal to many.
And if the covenant's fencing-master takes on students for pay, too, kind of an academy for noble students might well be started.

The only one really benefiting from the RoP:M p.47 Virtue Unaffected by the Gift would be the Grammaticus, as we could put our apprentices (and apprentices-to-be) among his pupils, and he would stay a fair and good teacher for them.
Also there is not really a motivation to shift the covenant's resources towards Breakthrough research for Hermetic Teacher or such: once the apprentices can read and write Latin, an optimized education for them would rely mainly on books, not on teachers. They could still mingle with the rich and/or noble students and, if inclined and capable, form lasting friendships and relations. But they would form the alumni of a small, separate school for advanced Artes Liberales and Natural Philosophy, with access to 'advanced' books on these topics, and to the 'rooms' of their teachers.

We haven't yet decided whether the benefit is worth the hassle, despite the good starting position of the covenant. But these currently half-baked plans might perhaps also help Doctorcomics with the set-up of his covenant-university.


The pea underneath this particular mattress is a Saga idea I call "Oxford Magica," which is essentially an alternate Ars in which Hermetic magic is taught openly at a small number of universities around Europe, including Oxford. It is certainly inspired by the Potterverse, but because I am a medievalist by training and love the historical nature of Ars, I want to use as much of Ars Magica as I can.

The idea got kicked around for a while and then Apprentices came out, which specifically addresses the scholastic approach to learning magic, and the barriers to it. And, again, I am paraphrasing, but Apprentices concludes with the observation that, "Most magi think that, until you find a way to teach the Arts to a group of students at once, a Hermetic school is a waste of time."

So that is where I started. But the other most important issue, again according to Apprentices, is the fact that the Gift makes classrooms frightening, angry, suspicious places where the teacher is not trusted and the other students are all perceived as cheaters who are out to get you. Speaking purely from personal experience as a college English teacher, this is indeed the worst of all possible classrooms.

Some folks here have suggested we do away with teachers altogether, that we just come up with rules for multiple people reading the same book. Fair enough, and it is easy to imagine seasons in which a student hurriedly copies a summa for himself, then studies from it. But as a GM I want stories with a student-teacher relationship, scenes and sessions of play in which a teacher is up there in front of the classroom, or taking the students out into the Faerie woods to lecture, or whatever. And so the obvious solution to this is a Hermetic Teacher breakthrough. I don't actually need a PC to do it. I was just using it as a way to understand the Breakthrough rules, and I thought, if I could see how long it would take a PC to do it, that would help as I construct the timeline for Oxford Magica, which would probably be set in the late 13th or early 14th century anyway.

Solving the negative effects of the Gift for all the students is another issue, and as noted there are multiple solutions. If the class is small enough, the teacher can just extend his Parma over everyone, but this makes classes very small indeed. That works if you have one magus at a covenant who is teaching three or four apprentices at once. It's not practical for a class with 20 students, brought together from throughout the British Isles.

You could, in theory, teach the Parma at the beginning of instruction instead of the end, but this seems a real stretch considering the general paranoia regarding Parma in the Order. But it would solve the problem.

And, of course, you could do another Breakthrough. My suggestion is a modification to Aegis of the Hearth so that it blocks the social effects of the Gift. Aegis is itself a Breakthrough based on Parma, according to HoH:TL, so this seems entirely reasonable to me. But it is important and I would probably call it a Major Breakthrough. Your Saga May Vary.

A Saga which has these two breakthroughs and which allows time for the breakthroughs to spread would be very different than a traditional Ars game. Apprentices wouldn't be taught by their masters. Instead, a few universities in Europe act as magnets where students are sent to learn for two seasons of the year. Perhaps they return in Summer and Winter to perform lab service. The increased efficiency of scholastic training has many implications for the skill of magi, but also for the length of instruction; pupils might spend a few years in a cathedral or parish school learning Latin and Artes before going to the University for their training in the Arts.

Of course there are many other concerns and questions, and the high level of research is what has put me off this Saga. But I keep noodling around with it, and hope to run it one day.

Or a minor breakthrough to allow someone with the Gentle Gift to cover an area with his Parma (five or ten people per level in the skill). It keeps the Gentle Gift a major virtue, solves the student problem, and can't be easily abused because of the ritual requirement. If you think it's still a problem, make it so each level of "sharing" reduces the mage's Parma. Cover 50 people? No problem, but your Parma is now effectively zero. Hope you can trust everyone......

Other alternative: have everyone who is Gifted at the university spend a season being Trained by a Jerbiton in Gentle Gift. It takes a season and requires a min-maxed instructor, but it can be done. Alternately, have that be one of the graduation requirements of the previous class - you have to train the NEXT class in Gentle Gift - or else pay someone else to do it. (Or consider it the Season of Service for any Jerbiton in the house.) That is, unfortunately, a labor-intensive way of doing it. But it is within the current ruleset.

Of course, if you're setting up your own university/Hogwarts system, you could argue that you're actually setting up a Mystery Cult, with Lore:Hogwarts being the Mystery Cult skill. So the process of being enrolled at the University is actually the first Initiation script:

  1. Must travel a long ways.
  2. Must give a significant amount
  3. Must be trained by the mystagouge
  4. Must gain specialized equipment
  5. etc.

At the end, the Initiate learns either Gentle Gifted or Unaffected by the Gift, depending on the individual (or power of the script, actually).

EDIT - the Mystery Cult idea is probably the easiest to implement, assuming it gets applied to every student - which means it would probably grant Unaffected by the Gift, along with some sort of Minor Flaw, such as "Loyalty: Hogwarts", or something like that. Do Initiation scripts, by definition, require a season's time for the Mystagouge? I forget... (I thought that was one of the options you could use to make it easier, but wasn't a necessity.)

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I think the Unaffected by the Gift idea being "taught" is probably the best one.

There's still the issue of teaching Hermetic magic to multiple students from one source.

Very solid, and I don't think you even need a min/maxed instructor. Teach the Gentle Gift to all students before you open the Arts, and the lab total is quite reasonable, serfs parma. Your starting instructors are very likely to be Jerbition, a university would appeal, I think, more to them then any other House, and as they retire, there will be a vastly larger pool of candidates with the Gentle Gift to choose from.

Where would I find rules allowing a Jerbiton (or anyone else) with Gentle Gift to "Train" another magus in it? Are you talking about an Initiation?

Being able to farm out the stabilization process is a house rule. Making your apprentices perform the research for you and stealing all the credit is not. An apprentice can do everything a Hermetic Magi can do. They can cast every spell, perform every lab activity. Sure their totals might be a bit lower, but getting a lab total of ten is hardly difficult.

Apprentices? I'd guess p40, Teaching Hermetic Virtues. IIRC you can only teach what you have.

He is talking about Apprentices, p.40f, Teaching Hermetic Virtues - and playing fast and loose with it. The author of Apprentices wrote here on the forum: - so keep that well in mind.

Anyway, if you are planning a campaign in the 14th century (and, as I assume, before the plague of 1348), Europe has become very different from the Mythic Europe setting in early 13th century. Population has grown, methods of agriculture improved and many, many wildernesses in Western and Middle Europe have been claimed for the plough, for herds or even for noble sports. Society there has also changed a lot: the economy is money-based almost everywhere, towns and cities are more independent and powerful, the Catholic Church is more centralized and better organized.

You have to decide, what has happened to the Order in the roughly 100 years since the classical Ars setting. Wilderness-based covenants in Western and Middle Europe might mostly have vanished. The Gentle Gift might have become dominant in the Order, even just because the remaining covenants - having now a choice between far more candidates for apprenticeship - follow the example of Schola Pythagoranis (Heirs to Merlin p.126ff), Oculus Septentrionalis (GotF p.70ff) or Cunfin (TLatL p.106ff) and do not take in apprentices without it. And the large libraries once hidden in the wilderness might be lost now with their covenants in some cataclysms. You could go as far as having magi answer: "Durenmar? I know no Durenmar!".
So, if a magus with Gentle Gift in a remote British covenant has devoted his life to his inclination for teaching in person, has come up with a Hermetic Teacher Breakthrough and developed it to a level, that reading a tractatus is sufficient to obtain its benefits, he might find more interest than he expected himself, in a greatly reduced Order.


Um, I thought he was talking about learning Supernatural abilities, which is in the core book. The trick was, ever level in a Form or Art counted against the lab total, making it very hard for any sort of experienced magi to learn them. But there was no real difficulty if you taught someone before they opened their Arts. In canon, you just need the Gift. Now, I know this is canon for stuff with skill levels, such as Enchanting Music, but I can't remember if you can do it for raw virtues like Gentle Gift. I would swear there's even a sidebar talking about how many virtues are taught, mage to apprentice. Again, memory.

Gentle Gift in the core book p.42 is marked as a Hermetic Virtue. So that wouldn't work even if it were an Ability.:wink:


Yep, I was referring to the Apprentice's version of "How do folks learn Virtues?" The answer is "you get minor ones via exposure to Arcane instruction - 10 seasons per minor virtue" or else "Your paren teaches them to you one they know in a season through an improvised/simplified initiation script, based on Teaching." The requirement is as follows:

Com + Teaching + 3 (+6 for 1:1 instruction) vs. 15 for minor virtues, or 21 for Major ones. No die roll: either you've got the levels, or you don't.

Hence my "you need to be min/maxed to pull this off". You can add in minor or major hermetic flaws to make it easier (+3/+9 on the total, respectively), but that's kind of a deuchebaggy move.

So the average Magi would need to have a Com+Teaching of 12 or better to actually teach Gentle Gift - So, likely Com 3 + Teaching 5 (Apprentices) + Strong Teacher.

OK, not COMPLETELY min-maxed, but it's certainly a bit optimized on Teaching. Drop Strong Teacher if you think it's OK to saddle your apprentice with a minor hermetic flaw in return for a major virtue - hey, it might be. That... is actually within the realm of reasonable possibility, if you looked for Jerbiton and/or other magi with good interpersonal skills.

And there's nothing in Apprentices that says you can't teach other magi, although I admit I hadn't seen the author's commentary on it. And the subject is about teaching relatively young magi (pre-gauntlet, I thought? Although this is an alt-future, so that might be a moot point), so they're still technically apprentices anyway.

That being said, I do agree with the question of "if it was that easy, why isn't everyone doing it?" There are answers to that, of course - the easiest being "it's labor-intensive". And I agree with Jonothan that it probably'd be easier to have everyone learn "Unaffected by the Gift". Unfortunately, it's a General virtue rather than a Hermetic one, so you can't pick it up this way. However, going back to the "Hogwarts Initation script" idea, it's relatively easy to do:

  1. Must travel to the University on the on the start of the Fall simester( Must travel to specific time/place +3)
  2. Must purchase school supplies (Sacrifice of goods/wealth +1)
  3. Student is hazed as part of the initiation process (Minor ordeal +3 - also allows non-Gifted initiates, I believe)
  4. Learning to work around magic is appropriate for a mystery cult based around teaching magic (Sympathetic bonus, +3)

Assuming the Headmistress/Mystagouge has Unaffected by the Gift, they would need a Com+Mystery Cult Lore(Hogwarts) of 5 or more (4+1 with specialization). Which is certainly doable. Seeing as Mystery Cult lore is pretty much the history, culture, and organization of your cult, I'm sure "Hogwarts: a History" is at least a lvl 3 summae...

No, that's not fast and loose with the rules, those are explicitly the rules.

Well, you're leaving out some important modifications. For every Hermetic Virtue an apprentice (or magus) knows, it becomes harder to pass on more virtues, and so there is a modifier. IIRC it's -3 per minor virtue and -6 per major and then there are bonuses for passing on a Hermetic Flaw of +3/+6 for minor/major.

(Underscore mine.)

I underlined the relevant part, which both Tugdual and I understood as a reference to Apprentices p.40ff. Now we know that Saxonous intended another reference, whose relevance is resolved in the meantime.

So do you really wish to say about

the following:

Then certainly ArM5 p.63 is not the rules you think of. So it is Apprentices p.40ff - despite its author stressing that these are not "the rules" for anything? So every student is an apprentice to a parens with the Gentle Gift? And a Teaching Source Quality of 21 is quite reasonable? Well, in that case I'd rather remind you of , in particular of:


Yet you can change your Gift to the Gentle Gift via a Mystery Cult Path so it is not unheard of...

Quoting me out of context, that's really quite nice.

It is perfectly reasonable, under RAW, to teach the Gentle Gift, I'd even go so far as to say it's possible before Opening the Arts. It's not something I'm terribly fond of, but Matt Ryan made a compelling argument. Of course, no one bothered to point out at the time that I wasn't correct, one of the Criamon paths has a method for gaining the Gentle Gift, but that's a Mystery Initiation, and not exactly on point. But let's stick to the matter at hand, shall we?

The necessary SQ, 21 to teach a major Hermetic virtue, when no other Hermetic Virtues are present. It's pretty hard to get to a teaching SQ 21 as a magus. Let's start off some obvious bonuses, constant +3, single student, and Good Teacher, which adds 14 to the SQ. We need to get 7 more out of Com and Teaching. Com 2 and Teaching 5, Com 3 and Teaching 4, take your pick. So now he's taught the Gentle Gift, and didn't impart a flaw. It only gets worse for anything else to be taught, especially another Hermetic Virtue. And I was wrong before, but, One Shot, you were kind enough not to point it out, it's +9 when teaching a Major Hermetic Virtue. So now the next Major that a prospective student might want is going to require a SQ of 30 without a flaw, 27 with a minor flaw, or back to 21 with a major flaw.

shrug I think this kind of school environment could be in response to the mundane world encroaching on the magical places, and it wouldn't be unreasonable to see it setup in some of the more well settled Tribunals like Normandy and Rome. But again, it's not playing fast and loose with the rules. It makes other things much harder to pull off, and I'd still stick to the limit of 10 points of virtues and flaws and the free House virtue, until they get involved in a Mystery Cult...

Going back to my point, it's not playing fast and loose with the rules, it is, explicitly in the rules. And if that choice is made, to teach all the apprentices the Gentle Gift, it just means that it will be harder to teach them anything else. So what?

Probably most importantly, in this setting, what's in it for the teachers? These all have to be magi who are Good Teachers, high come scores, and a significant amount of teaching ability, and they also probably have to have the Gentle Gift themselves (even the ones who teach other Major Hermetic Virtues later on in the curriculum, because their students won't have Parma, and will be affected by the teacher's Gift). What is their motivation for teaching in this setting. They certainly don't get a lab slave for up to 45 seasons in exchange for 15 seasons of teaching.

I think we have all missed a step. The biggest problem with a Hermetic University is, I believe we all agree, the social effects of The Gift. Assuming you have several "professors" lined up, do Original Research, with each Mage getting two or so breakthroughs, which shouldn't take long, assuming that magi who are eager to start a University have high Magic Theory. Then pool the breakthrough points. Now Original Research can be hard to work out with the Storyteller, but that won't be an issue here, because they won't be doing "Original Research", they will be incorporating The Gentle Gift into Hermetic Theory, so the social effects of The Gift will be removed for the Order itself. That would be fame enough to share, as well as solving the teaching problem, and no arguments about possible or power levels (save for those games which have banned the Gentle Gift, I suppose.). And far more efficient in time, resources, and Vis, then teaching the virtue to everyone or using a Mystery Cult, and it's one of the few virtues that is not reduced in power by sharing.......