Can the Luck virtue be used for Original Research?

The issue is that a bonus, in this circumstance, isn't necessarily good - you aren't trying to roll high. Rather, you're trying to hit a specific number. Which means that rolling higher MIGHT be good. To say that you're adding the bonus beforehand means that you could be potentially adding a number that makes you fail (if, for example, you already successfully rolled a 1,5, with no Experimental bonus). Which means that your good luck...gave you bad luck? Which contradicts the point of the virtue.

Hence my "you have to make that judgement after you roll, or otherwise it may be bad luck" argument.

Note that I've also pointed out that the larger your Experimental bonus is, the more skill-based the roll becomes, and thus (arguably) the less luck plays a part, as discussed more below.

Actually, someone with an Experimental bonus of +3 will always add +3 to their roll. At that point, you can THEN choose to either add up to an additional +/- 3 to the final result, after you roll. (This is the official errata, rather than my partially-remembered version.) So, the total swing will end up being from 0 to +6. So, with 3 points of (non-variable, mandatory) Luck, the swing would be +3 to +9. EDIT - which puts us into the awkward role of trying to explain the following probability curve.

Without Luck = valid rolls are 4,5,6,7,8,9, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, or 1/1/2 = 64.1%
+1 (mandatory) Luck = valid rolls are 3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, or 1/1/2 = 73.1%
+2 (mandatory) Luck = Valid rolls are 2,3,4,5,6,7,8, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, or 1/1/2 = 73.1%
+3 (mandatory) Luck = Valid rolls are 1, 2,3,4,5,6,7, 1/2, 1/3, = 72.0%

This is the problem with trying to hit a number, rather than trying to just roll high: the intuitive understanding that "bonuses are good" breaks down.

In contrast, if you choose to let luck be post-roll and variable (ie, you can choose to add from 0 to your max), then the curve looks like this: (EDIT - yes, I know I'm not being super-precise on these numbers. They're close enough for me, for this post, though.)
Without luck: 4,5,6,7,8,9, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/1/2, or = 64.1%
+1 (variable) luck: 3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/1/2 = 74.1%
+2 (Variable) luck = 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/1/2, = 84.1%
+3 (Variable) luck = 1, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 = basically 90%

Note on the last roll, a 1 does count here: 1+9 = 10, which I believe means you have hit a Discovery, even though you need to still re-roll to see what you actually get in ADDITION to the discovery. And to be fair to OneShot, he feels that this curve, at the extreme ends, is simply too easy. I can see his point, but my usual response is "meh. You're taking warp anyway, and this is a pretty optimized character to do exactly this. Let 'em have it."

1 Like

@KevinSchultz. I have not checked your numbers, but it seems just right that a SG should rule that Luck gives, say a +1 bonus to the roll, or maybe a +2 bonus (based on the fact that there's some Luck involved, but it's not all about Luck), turning the probability of success from 64.1% without Luck, to 73.1% with Luck.

1 Like

I think the key question is how much of it os luck as defined by the advantage.
I mean everything in the game is luck in terms of game mechanics, but the luck advantage is designed for things like games of chance, not combat (where even in the real world luck plays a huge factor)
On the other side of this is the fact that magical research not only doesn't use the scientific method, it has never heard of it. It takes place in a world where entities do multiply needlessly, since there are new spells being invented which implies more varieties of spell spirits.
Specifically it states that it may apply where luck is more of a factor than skill or talent. Since the amount you can vary your outcome carries based on a skill, I would say it does not apply.

1 Like

Except that you just described poker and Blackjack - both of which are games of chance that allow for skill to be involved; Poker more than blackjack, of course. That's why it's a variable of +1 to +3.

1 Like

yeah, even back in the day (before the errata) it was understood that a mandatory +1 was the largest jump in probability - as it allows you to roll a 9+1. (+10%) Without that, you could only succeed by open-ending, and rolling a 1/5. (1%). A +2 would let your roll an 8, a 1/4, or a 1/1/2. (11.1%) A +3 would only let your roll a 7, though. (back to 10%).

However, in thinking about it more, anything more than a +1 means that your "luck" starts getting into the "roll twice and take both" results - which means it doubles your chances of botching. Which puts it into the unfortunate realm of saying that your Luck has increased the chance of catastrophic failure...which makes no sense.

1 Like

Just because the game mechanic involves rolling dice does not mean that the outcome is luck based.
dice or cards are inherently random. There is nothing to indicate that there is something inherently random- beyond the meta-mechanics of game rules- that is intrinsically random.

1 Like

Other than a direct quote from the text.

So, yes. It's less random than the core Experimentation rules. (Originally described it wasn't, but with the errata it now is.) That phrase is likely what the OP saw, and was asking about. This whole discussion has essentially been a question of "what does 'large' mean in this context?"

If you don't have the capacity to "hedge your bets" using the rules; i.e. if you have a Hermetic Theory of 0 (which is possible - a single point in it, and your specialization isn't relevent), then actually it IS completely random. it gets slightly less random the more you push it, using the probability curves described above.

My current claim is that "large" is dependent on how skilled you are - if you don't have any skill, then it's completely random and your luck bonus would be +3; moderately skilled means is moderately random, meaning you get a +2. Greatly skilled means it's only slightly random, and you get a +1.

1 Like

I think the other question is whether fortune and luck are the same thing, but looking at it from this perspective should lucky just not grant a flat +3 bonus to magic theory for calculating how much you can hedge your roll?

1 Like

According to the dictionary they are. (Or at least the Bing dictionary.)

Separate any other evidence (ie, any other ruling in AM that calls out Fortune as a specific game mechanic), I'd rule them as equivalent.

Because the Luck description says "add +1 to +3 to the roll", rather than "to the ability" - In any other circumstance those would be equal, but this is the one scenario in which it isn't. Probably because you aren't actually rolling MT here. For example - you don't add Int or Inventive Genius when determining your maximum Experimental bonus, I believe, even though most rolls are Stat+Ability+Modifiers.

Ars Magica is usually pretty specific about those sorts of things - it's explicitly called out in Spontaneous casting, for example. (ie, which modifiers are added in before you /2 or /5, or after.)

1 Like

unlike luck fortune has an implied sense of inevitability which may not be readily apparent- thus are fortunes told, rather than luck. It seems to sit on the tipping point between predestination and luck.
As to the specificity of the text, that is a highly variable claim...

1 Like

Except when it isn't. "Here, have this luck charm - it will bring you good fortune!" isn't a contradiction in terms, nor does it contradict the meaning as described above, nor does it contradict the everyday use of either term. Perhaps there's more of a general sense, but it's still well within the context of both terms.

Well, "variable" in the sense of "that's almost literally what it says". Or specifically "You perform well in situations where luck is more of a factor than skill or talent. You get +1 to +3 (storyguide's discretion) on rolls in such situations, depending on how much luck is involved." In that context, "+1 to +3 on rolls" means adding +1 to +3 to rolls. It doesn't mean "add it to a separate ability, then divide by 5 and round down, and then add that number if it isn't more than +3." If we assume words have meaning, you're arguing against the explicit meaning of the text - the words that would make it mean what you want it to aren't there. As such, I'd say the impetus is upon you to show that your meaning is more accurate.

Or to throw it back at you: can you point out a scenario in which adding +1 to +3 to a roll doesn't end up with adding +1 to +3 to the roll? The closest one is in Formulaic Magic vs. Spontaneous magic: - the difference between a Casting Score and a Casting Total. Note that the rules are pretty explicit about the relationship between Score and total and the roll involved, and where /2 and /5 occurs. (AM5th, pg. 81).

Based on that, if Experimentation were listed as "Figure out your Magic Theory, then roll a die, then divide the whole thing by 5", then you'd have a point - the die roll is inside the brackets, as it were, and the total is /5. But it isn't. The die roll is outside the brackets (MT skill/5) +d10. Therefore, with luck, you'd add whatever bonus your storyguide feels appropriate to the d10.

Another example would be Pussiant (magic theory) - it adds to your MT total, not to the roll. Hence, it gets added in before the /5.

1 Like


This also implies, that no storyguide has to determine the Luck bonus after the roll, or allow negative bonuses. One needs a quite accommodating storyguide to permit 'threading the needle' with a Luck bonus at the roll on the Extraordinary Results Chart for Discovery in Original Research.


1 Like

read literally the SG would determine the bonus then throw the die and add that amount to the die roll, which would be ultimately meaningless since adding a constant number to a die roll in an attempt to hit a specific value does not change the odds of hitting that value.
Obviously this is a case where the rules did not consider all the implications of the RAW. I'm shocked, shocked I tell you (see reference in Casablanca)
And yes, fortune can refer to luck, but that does not mean that it inherently means luck. in a world with needlessly multiplied entities fortune may be capricious without being random. It is ultimately a storyguide decision, and personally I think the best interest for this sort of topic is to offer up as many perspectives for a storyteller to consider as possible rather than trying to argue for One True Way.
If you allow those with luck to adjust the roll by an additional +/-3 then luck will become a very valuable virtue for researchers, being the equivalent of a situational +15 to magic theory (plus potentially exceeding the normal bonus limit) by comparison, inventive genius gives a +3 on lab totals to create new spells, +6 with experimentation, and no benefit to research. Indeed no other virtue seems to matter to research, except by obvious extension puissant magic theory or affinity for magic theory. This suggests a significant impact is possible on the rate of breakthroughs if lucky is allowed to influence the outcome to such a degree.

1 Like

The definition of Luck allows you to add what value is "appropriate". If you don't know what value is appropriate until after you roll the die, then the GM can reasonably wait until after rolling the die to see what value was appropriate. In every scenario in Ars BUT this, this is a meaningless distinction. This is the one scenario in which it isn't. As the text allows for it (or at the least, is vague enough to not prohibit it), it seems reasonable to wait to see what the value ought to be.

But again - if yo don't want to add it, then that's your prerogative. If you do want to add it, and use the RAW, then you'd need to add it after the die roll - as otherwise, it violates the "you perform well" part of the description. (As potentially adding it beforehand would make you perform worse.)

1 Like

Nope. Read literally, " get +1 to +3 (storyguide's discretion) on rolls in such situations." I have not been able to find any explicit rule that says you determine what a bonus is before you physically roll the die.

I completely concede that this is splitting hairs, and that in every scenario BUT this you would figure out the bonus beforehand, as it would make no difference in the end. But in this scenario, it's a hair-split that allows the RAW to not contradict itself, and thus allows the RAW to operate as it explicitly says that its supposed to (as defined in the Luck virtue - the "you perform well" clause.) That's why I'm doing this.

EDIT - and not to put too fine a point on it, but I would imagine that most of us don't really keep track of when we calculate our bonuses - for me at least, it's usually "OK, roll Initiative...I got a 5. Wait, what' my reflexes? oh, right, -1...and attack bonus of +2. OK, it's a 6." that's a prime example of adding in the bonuses AFTER the roll, and frankly no one cares. The only difference between that and what we're discussing here is that (unlike everywhere else in the game) there's a variable whose utility isn't understood until that roll is done.

EDIT II - also, I'm pretty sure the only reason we think we calculate bonuses before the die roll is because most of the summary formula are written as Attribute + Ability + Die roll - ie, literally putting the words to the left of the die roll itself. However, none of those say when modifiers are added in. (Which, again - completely splitting hairs and not relevant for 99.99% of the game. This is the one time it is.)

It could very well be. However, if the RAW was broken, I'd say so, and recommend an alternative. And in fact, I did, at the beginning of this thread, before OneShot pointed out the errata. However - it's not broken (in the sense that if you follow it, it provides a rough approximation in game mechanics of what it lays out to model). If you don't want to add Luck to the roll, then don't - that's completely allowable by RAW. If you do want to add it but don't want to follow the RAW, then that's fine as well - but be upfront about that. But if you want to add it in, and you want to follow RAW, then you need to determine how much of a bonus you think it will be, and then you need to add up to that amount in after the roll, to the player's benefit. Otherwise, you're going to violate some part of the RAW - probably the definition of the Luck virtue itself.

Again - If you want to give alternatives that aren't RAW, feel free to do so - just be clear that you're giving them as such. For now, I'm completely fine with leaving the argument as "absent any explicit clarification, you don't think a word synonymous with Luck should be considered Luck." Have fun with that.

No idea where you're getting a +15 from; the maximum in the RAW is currently 0 to +6: your base Experimentation bonus of +3 (from having a Magic Theory of 11+ and pushing your experiment), and then an additional +/-3 from the Original Research rules errata. That combines to a 0 to +6.

Assuming Luck adds a 0 to +3 (post-roll), then you get a total bonus of 0 to +9, essentially granting a 90% likelihood of success. If you let it be up to +/- 3 (post roll), then it would have a -3 to 9 spread, for a total spread of 12. (However, that -3 would only come into play if you open-ended, so it doesn't meaningfully affect the probability.) I'm arguing for the "up to 9" level. Although, as I stated in a previous post, only technically - if you have a 11+ in Magic Theory, then this isn't nearly based on luck than if you had a 0 in MT. For me GMing, I'd probably rule that it would be a +1 Luck bonus in that scenario.

However, I have no real problem (personally) with someone having a 90% likelihood of success on this roll - Integration is the nearest thing we have to compare, and it's entirely possible to design a beginning character who can do that with 100% reliability. (Int +5, Pussiant MT, Affinity with MT, Inventive Genius, Cautious with MT; depending on how you treat the Age XP cap for Affinity abilities, you can get a guaranteed 18 on that roll.) Original Research has the chance of blowing yourself up with Warp, so I have no real qualms with designing a character who can at least get the Discovery roll most of the time.

EDIT III - and in thinking about it a bit more, the whole point of the errata for this ruleset was to acknowledge that flat bonuses simply don't work in this context: that you HAVE to have some sort of way to potentially cancel them out if you roll to high, or else the bonus is actually a penalty. That's certainly precedent for wrangling the rules for this particular scenario so that you can variable-add a bonus in, as that's apparently what the authors actually want us to do. As such, this entire exercise could be considered me trying to interpret the RAW in such a way as to be consistent with the errata ruling.

1 Like

You seem to be double counting the risk modifier, which according to RAW is limited for original research to Magic Theory/5. Thus granting an extra +3 is the same as adding +15 to Magic Theory.
The fact is that any reasonable approach here will be a violation of RAW, including your conclusion based on twisted logic to the various rules.

1 Like

It's the errata - OneShot linked to it in the 4th post on this thread.

In the math described above, it's d10 +3, and they roll an 8 +3 = 11. They then "add or subtract all or part of your risk modifier" (in this case, -1) to get a 10.

Essentially, if you've got a +3 risk modifier, you determine the effects of Experimentation normally (ie, d10+3), and then see if that result is within +/-3 of a Discovery. If it is, you've stabilized the result. (You still deal with the normal consequences of your experimentation, however.) Hence, the full range is d10 + (0 to 6).

To be fair - when I first read that, I interpreted it just as, instead of adding your risk modifier, you could add or subtract UP TO your risk modifier, either way (ie, instead of adding +3, you could just add or subtract up to 3). But upon closer inspection, it really does look like it's saying you add the risk modifier (and thus determine the results of the experiment), AND THEN add or subtract up to the risk modifier, again (to determine if you stabilized the result).

The reason I use that interpretation is due to the "determine the effect of the spell" clause, with the "the result is still modified" example - if you were just straight-up not using the original Risk Modifier (and instead replacing it with a positive or negative variable), then that requirement wouldn't make any sense.

1 Like

I read that as saying you apply the full Risk Modifier to determine the "normal" effect of the experimentation but can choose to apply less of the Risk Modifier to determine the "supplementary result" if preferred. Applying the RM twice feels like it makes discovery too easy.

The whole section, with or without the errata, is close to incomprehensible, in my opinion.

1 Like

Yeah, that was my original understanding as well - but if that was the case, then it would read "you may then subtract up to your Risk Modifier to determine." It's the also that seems to require that you first add the modifier, and then (potentially) add or subtract it again.

This is based on my assumption that "Consult the Extraordinary Results Chart as normal..." means you roll it as normal...complete with adding in your Risk Modifier. you THEN "...may also choose to add or subtract all or part of your risk modifier...."

Or to look at it differently, to get it closer to your interpretation, that also would need to be an instead, instead.

The example implies that they added in the +3, and then choose to subtract 1. (rather than just adding 2). Sure, they might be simply indicating the "supplementary result" - but if that's the case, then it's even more poorly worded than my interpretation.

And consider that the sister-rule for this is Integration, which can be rolled with a 100% success rate, and with no warp (but with more in-game story requirements.) Personally, I consider that to be enough of a tradeoff. But, of course, YSMV.

Personally, if I were to re-write this, I would just say "you must score a 10 or better on the Experimental Results chart. Doing so stabilizes the result, although you still must deal with the consequences of your actual roll, be it a Modified result, a Discovery, or even a complete failure (if you had to roll twice, and botched one or both of the additional rolls)." I'm pretty sure that's ALMOST what the RAW was supposed to be. Unfortunately, it doesn't address what happens with the "I rolled twice and botched one of those" scenarios.

1 Like

Integration is based on long story arcs of discovering ancient secrets, thematically appropriate to the saga, and learning from them. Original research is about rolling dice and ticking off seasons. There's no comparison. If you have to allow original research at all, it should be much harder.

1 Like