Breakthrough questions

My PC is a spont-only generalist Seeker and Mystagogue. There are enough insight sources about breakthroughs he fancies in Ancient Magic, Hedge Magic, Legends of Hermes, and Mythic Locations to keep him happy and busy with Seeker adventures and integration research for a long time. He is also going to have few problems inventing initiation scripts for the Virtues he acquires. So far, so good.

Eventually, however, he is going to wish for complete Hermetic integration of the various Hermetic and Supernatural Virtues he acquired, for the sake of improving the Order even if it does not personally benefits him. In all likelihood, he is going to shun risky original research at least until warping stops being a problem thanks to immortality. I do not understand if there are going to be worthwhile insight sources for full-integration research or it is going to be original research. E.g. can you use the same or similar insight sources you used for first-stage integration, your own Lab Text notes, or the ones of other mages that researched the same breakthrough?

Moreover, I am contemplating using Weak Scholar as an Ordeal for self-initiation. My PC cannot use formulaic magic, so he could not care less about spell Lab Texts. Difficulties with using the enchanting device LT of other mages are probably going to be an occasional irritant, but not a serious burden. However, I really wish to avoid making him any less than optimal at breakthrough research. Would Weak Scholar be a significant problem in this regard?

Really? Because when you have an insight you generally have to invent a spell in order to translate that insight into breakthrough points, so if he is destroying his lab total in inventing spells he is shooting his research in the foot.

Well, he cannot use formulaic spells in the first place, so I expect creation of enchanted devices to be his main source of breakthrough points. IIUC, spells and enchanted devices work equally well as point sources, and he is a competent enchanter. I am not entirely sure if theoretical research to create spells he cannot cast himself to test them would work as a point source, but I tend to be skeptical. Unless perhaps he uses workarounds such as letting research associates casting the spell for him, or using casting tablets.

I agree with your scepticism, depending a little bit on why he cannot use spells. And yes, enchantment works as well as spells, except for the vis cost. If vis is scarce, the wasted vis for flawed experimental devices is going to be annoying, but if original research is all that matters, it is fine.

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Rigid Magic and Unstructured Caster. He plans to recover use of ritual effects through the Quick Charged Items and Ritual Items breakthroughs, since he acknowledges inability to use them is a serious disability. However, his entire build is optimized for spont magic, with enchanted devices and other supernatural powers as secondary backups, and he could not care less about the loss of formulaic magic.

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It sounds like spell experimentation would be out of character even if it be possible. I hope you have plenty of vis :slight_smile:

He is a competent Mystagogue and enthusiastic Seeker (his other passions besides spont magic, immortality, and defending Faerie and Magic from the accursed Dominion and mundanes). Over time, he is going to have Hermetic Alchemy, Major Philosophic Alchemy, Bind Magical Creatures, Confluence of the Realms, and Hermetic Viresculture among the many initiations and breakthroughs he is going to pursue, so I do not expect vis supply to be too much of an issue past a point.

Keep in mind that with ancient magic and inspiration you will have to invent whatever the inspiration directs you to invent- your character does not get a choice. Most of the time this is in the form of spells, unless your SG decides your limitations will change this.

Well, donning my old cap of assistant SG in charge of rule matters, I fail to see a meaningful or justifiable difference between shaping a magical effect in a spell and enchanting the same effect in a device. It seems sophistry to me.

Moreover, my PC 's Gift has been optimized for spont magic, adequate for enchanting, and crippled for formulaic magic since the beginning, and the vast majority of the many Initiations he took only reinforced this tendency. It is entirely plausible and likely his Gift adapted to minimize potential reliance on a form of magic he never used.

It depends on how your SG reads inspiration from ancient sources- but textually it dos indicate that the same source of inspiration will provide the same lab activity to develop the breakthrough regardless of who examines it, suggesting that the tendency to get spells is a property of the artifacts being examined rather than the magus examining them. The issue isn't about validity of the lab work, it's about having to work with what you find instead of being able to dictate how you will do your research.

As I see it (and I have considerable experience with being de facto SG for these issues), this is a mere RAW wording artifact that works from the assumption most mages are able to use spells and shall find natural to use them for experimentation rather than enchanting in order to spare time and vis. For mages like mine, however, the same kind of insight shall naturally translate into being an enchanted device effect since for Hermetic magic a given magical effect works exactly the same as a spell or an enchanted effect.

As I said, YSMV, but RAW indicates it is based on the source of the inspiration, not the magus, and at minimum you should check with your SG before shooting yourself in the foot based on an assumption no matter how well supported you might feel it is.

I am more more or less my own SG on the issue. In my old group the SG delegated me authority on rule issues, we played my PC and our saga for considerable time, and I am reviving (and retroactively revising) them for solo play continuation. With all due respect, I think you are misinterpreting the spirit of the rule and falling prey to literalist sophistry and lawyering. Given the way Hermetic magic works, the source of inspiration cannot determine whether the mage chooses to embody such inspiration for a given magical effect in a spell or a device, since they work exactly the same.

Cannot? Ancient Magic p. 8 "Tha same source provides the same insight for any magus who studies it." and in the next section "A particular insight allows the researcher to create one specific effect. This effect might be a spell, or an effect enchanted into an item...However spells are by far the most common."

Overly literal, perhaps, but it seems pretty clear to me that RAW indicates the insights work in exactly the way you claim they cannot. OTOH if you are your own SG then it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or what RAW is.

As I see it, the quotation does not contradict the general rule that any given magical effect of Hermetic magic works the same as a spell or an enchanted effect, and the mage is always free to use them either way, barring the ritual exception (w/o the right kind of Virtue or breakthrough) or specific Flaws making the mage unable to use one or the other. Spells are simply more used because they are easier and cheaper.

Anyway, yes, I have been my own SG on rule issues, by troupe delegation or solo play, for this PC since it was created, and I decide my interpretation better fulfils the spirit of the rule and the nature of Hermetic magic.

On second thoughts, it seems this discussion went aside from the original issue.

Furthr down "The researcher must invent exactly the effect inspired by the Insight. He may not vary the Range, Duration, or Target, or any other parameters". By my reading that would include the parameter of being a spell, enchantment, or something else.

That's not what a parameter usually means. It concerns R/D/T definition.

This literally states, Range, duration or target, or any other parameter. Which means a parameter that is not range, duration, or target.

I'm with silveroak in how he interprets the sources of insight for ancient magic breakthroughs - the PC has no choice in whether the insight will lead to a formulaic spell research or an enchanted item - ancient magic research is basically the PC going through pre-approved formulas or items that the storyteller allows him to research until such a time as he achieves a breakthrough, at which point he can design his own effects normally. Sometimes, those researchs for breakthrough points could generate useless effects (e.g. it could be a fertility ritual personalized for a mother that is 2000 year deceased), much like original research is often done using minor variations of the same spell over and over again. You either go through the trouble of doing it, or you forget that source of insight.

You can choose to vary that in your campaign, or to cleverly arrange for sources of insight that you want to introduce and create, of course, but that interpretation is not RAW, and the choice to introduce relevant effect is purely a GM choice, not a requirement.

Even assuming I yield to majority opinion, I've checked my books and PC notes.

As it concerns the breakthroughs I find interesting and useful for my PC, most (including the two priority ones to restore access to ritual effects) do not involve spells at all (Quick Charged Items, Ritual Items, Hermetic Virescolture), resemble enchanted devices more than anything else for integration research purposes (Hermetic Rune Magic), have plenty of items among example effects (Fertility Ritual Magic) or the sources of insight (Energy Magic, Sense of the Mystic).

The troublesome exceptions concern Conciatta's research (all but one sources of insight are spells), Hyperborean Magic vis-less permanent spells (involves spell-like effects, obviously), and Hermetic Realm Initiation (all given examples are spells or rituals). I suppose as it concerns the these breakthroughs, I shall have to restrain my Seeker greed and postpone their pursuit when immortality shall make original research riskless in warping terms, or alternatively tell my SG self to provide the character with plenty of items left around by Conciatta, Hyperborean wizards, and Sahirs.

This check also suggested me that Weak Scholar is only likely to become a serious problem for the PC's research when he pursues a breakthrough of another Hermetic mage that involves spell-like effects.