Thanks, it took a few hours to write but was worth the effort.
Now, Inventive Genius. The virtue usually gives a boost to lab totals when inventing new spells, crafting magic items and making potions.
Now, elementalists do not have spells and cannot craft magic items. In fact, the only technique that generates something that resembles a lab total is Refining. The only potion they can make are longevity potions with Refining. Medicinal Refining can also make potions to increase vigor and natural aptitude.
Boniface has Philosophical Refining, so the only type of potion he can make is longevity potion for himself. So it's a given that Inventive Genius will apply to that. If he learns Medicinal Refining at some point, it will also apply to the other kind of potions.
What else could Inventing Genius be used for? Well, Philosophical Refining can also do 3 more things:
Extract vis from aura,
Increase or decrease the Might of supernatural animals (which also produces vis),
Transfer vis from one object to another (which transform it to elemental vis if it wasn't already but wastes half of it),
Allows the philosopher to use vis associated to any Art in his elemental magic (to boost a total).
Now, the simplest solution would be to say that Inventive Genius gives a +3 bonus to all Refining totals, or +6 if he decides to experiment (using the same rules as Hermetic magi in the core book).
It doesn't seem overpowered at first glance, but it is a bit better than just taking Puissant Refining, which would give a straight-up +3, as it gives +6 when experimenting. If, of course, experimenting is possible at all for elementalists, as it is not something mentioned for them.
We could exclude extracting vis from aura for the purposes of Inventive Genius, as Hermetic magi do not get a bonus for this.
On the other hand, I think it should apply to increasing or decreasing the Might of supernatural animals, as this is kind of similar to enchanting items.
I was leaning more toward what Arthur says here. have you checked the breakthrough mechanics? (I haven't yet, BTW). I think we need to go that route to do what you intend to do with the character (develop a unified elementalist MT). Basically you are trying to be a mini-bonisagus, meshing together several approaches to elementalism into a unified magic system. If I got it right you are trying to get the 3 tyupes of elementalism and convert them to one: Controlling refining and summoning and the 4 Forms. that is quite an undertake, but achievable if we do it right. Also being able to cast rego effects on stuff on a moment's notice (either spontaneous or formulaic spellcasting). Difficult but can be explored as well
I checked the Original Research section from HoH:TL and it's a tough fit. For the most part, it hinges on performing Experimentation on lab work to make discoveries towards your planned breaktrough. Each discovery, once stabilized, gives you breaktrough points based on its magnitude.
And that's the big rub for elementalists. The only thing that constitutes lab work is Refining, and at first glance its variety seemed severely limited. But maybe not as much as I first thought:
Extract vis from aura: 4 possible Forms can be used for extraction, so limited variety there.
Fairly boring, produces vis as the main result.
Risks include : things go boom, warping, damaging the aura, bringing down the Aegis, etc.
Potential benefits include: imbuing an item with power (enchanting items), extracting vis of a non-elemental Art, etc.
Increase or decrease the Might of supernatural animals: much more variety with different creatures (even from different Realms, though experimenting with demons or angels would be unwise) and each creatures can be experimented on twice (once to increase, once to decrease).
Can more easily lead to stories, produced vis as a by-product of the activity.
Risks include: things go boom, warping, animal getting free, animal affiliated with a strong power (like Anduinna) who gets pissed off, etc.
Potential benefits include: transform the animal into something more powerful, something akin to familiar bond, etc.
Note that Harlan is definitively not a potential subject.
Transfer vis from one object to another: numerous Arts, convert vis from non-Elemental vis to any of the 4 elements.
Again, we are playing with vis.
Risks include: things go boom, warping, etc.
Potential benefits include: imbuing an item with power (enchanting items), etc.
Allows the philosopher to use vis associated to any Art in his elemental magic (to boost a total): not a lab activity, so no experimentaiton possible on this.
Longevity potion: a few times, perhaps, but Boniface can only experiment on himself...
Risks include: inflicts flaws, deteriorate his health, warping, things go boom, etc.
Potential benefits include: improved longevity potion, other personal enchanments, etc.
So there are some interesting possibilities there, but it is limited in that everything involves raw vis. It also does nothing to explore improvements that could be brought to the other elemental techniques.
For Summoning and Controlling, we go try to use the Study from vis (ArM p.165) and Pratice mechanics (ArM5 p.164) mixed with the Experimentation rules. No lab total would be generated, but experimentation could perhaps generate a small bonus to the Study Total. We still roll on the Experimentation table as with lab work. Study from vis would be used with the Arts, while Practice could be used for Concentration, Finesse and Penetration. This could yield discoveries regarding something akin to formulaic magic, increased durations or range, safer magic, etc.
The elementalist must be able to both gesture and speak an arcane incantation to a target within range of his voice, which takes him a single round to perform. It always costs a short-term Fatigue level. The effect must Penetrate the target's Magic Resistance, and be high enough based on the Size of the target.
The text in Hedge Magic p.25 specifies that an elemental philosopical can affect the motion of natural materials with the appropriate element, or organic materials using his lowest Form. The example given is to increase his Soak, for which ne must maintain Concentration for at least one combat round.
It has been pretty much established on this forum that the elementalist can control the motion of object in various ways. For example, he could use it to throw a stone for the equivalent of The Invisible Sling (must penetrate) or Sling of Vilano (requires a Finesse roll).
The example with increased Soak seem to indicate clearly that spells can be cast with a Concentration duration. So the elementalist could levitate a stone and keep it afloat for as long as he concentrates.
Organic materials can be affected using the lowest Form as a requisite. A big question is whether that includes living creatures. I would propose that it does, so that the elementalist can levitate himself or another creature. Let me know if it does not.
Hedge Magic also indicates that the elementalist can give a command to animals of a temperament appropriate to the element used, as long as his Controlling Total exceeds both the Size and Might of the animal on the Summoning chart. The target must carry out a single command to the best of its ability. If it is held within a container (from Summoning) when the command is given, the animal may leave while it is about this task, but must immediately return once the command has been fulfilled. This is basically the Hermetic equivalent of a Mentem-type effect of Animal.
Ok, by default Inventive Genius does not affect the totals for the elementalist (except his own Longevity potion) as you well pointed out, That does not change here. this problem also exist for a lot of other traditions, that can only take partial advantage of Inventive genius since it is witten for Hermetic usage. Tough luck. Inventive Genius will be there if you try to break your own limits.
REFINING: Your suggestions are good, but since you say it is better than Puissant. So, let's make it risky and interesting: you can use Inventive Genius if you experiment. You double the risk bonus with Controlling (+2, +4 or +6), but must roll on the extraordinary results table normally.
I am more intereste din what you want to achieve and how you plan to do it. it is clear that going along the well thread path will not allow you to earn XP towards a unified Elementalist MT or other breakthroughs. So what do you plan to do? This way we can design a path of advancement for you.
INITIATION SCRIPTS: sounds fair to use inventive genius here. The option to modify an initiation script should be easy (few breakthrough points) with several initiation scripts on similar Virtues that require different ordeals) could easily work and be easy to research.
LAB EXPERIMENTATION: You can experiment summoning different critters and different containers for example, and even using elemental magic to modify the humors with theurgy and stuff like that. All tis could count as lab experimentation by Practice in your arts. Or stuff like that.
CONTROLLING: Yes, you can affect living creatures. let's see where that leads us. If we find it is broken we can change it later. Or you can reach for a breakthrough there. But for starters you will be able to affect living creatures.
Note that Inventive Genius does not help when performing Original Research (from HoH:TL) directly. It only does insofar as it increases the lab total of the project used to generate a discovery. So, at best, it allows the magus to increase the magnitude of a given discovery (so 1 more xp, but also 1 more warping).
Modifying an initiation script does not require a breakthrough (in the Original Research sense). TMRE has specific rules for modifying (p.17) and creating new experimental (p.18) Initiation Scripts. Inventive Genius plays no role there either, so giving a bonus would be something new that also affects other traditions.
Excellent, I can work with that!
New and Improved Initiation Scripts
The first thing he'd like to do is work on initiation scripts, to generate modified scripts and brand new ones. The goal would be to broaden the capabilities of his tradition by adding scripts to initiate Philosophical Controlling and Philosophical Divining (major virtues both). Same with the Theurgical and Medicinal versions of elementalism (adding those is only a minor virtue if one has access to the Philosophical version). The TMRE rules cover that, though I can't find whether that takes any significant amount of time.
That in part depends on Boniface's standing in his tradition and how much material he has access to. Considering his high Intelligence and Presence, it would make sense for his tradition to help him in his work as they will receive benefits from it. Amongst other things, increasing his Organization Lore: Philosopher of Chartres would help (it is the Mystery Cult Lore of his tradition).
Also, access to the initiation scripts from other elementalist traditions would help (for Controlling, Refining, Theurgy and Medice), but I don't expect much to be available there unless these are texts his tradition was never was able to benefit from.
The second thing he'd like is to add safer ways to work elemental magic. Right now, Summoning, Controlling and Divining always use a stress die. Being able to introduce something like formulaic spells, even if weaker than regular elementalist effects, would be a major improvement for the tradition in one or more ways (use a simple die in non-stress die, does not automatically incur fatigue, faster casting for Summoning, greater ranges, greater durations). That will require original research.
Of course, to fuel his studies and work he will need vis. It would make sense for him to experiment pretty much every time he does that, as it may yield some additional insights.
Finally, as he gains knowledge and discovers new things, he will want to wrtie those down and dissiminate them to his tradition.
Of course, it's only a rough plan at this time, and it will evolve as outside events impact of them. But it's a start.
Sounds fair. Thanks for the planning.
Inventive genius should contribute to breakthroughs IMO. When I fully read the rules for breakthroughs I will keep an eye open for this. I will reread the part on initiation scripts as well.
One more thing that Boniface will want to do is contact other elementalist traditions in the Order (first) or known to the Order, to see if there exist a willingness to exchange knowledge to create a common ground.
I have to say that I do not see much point in developing an Elementalist MT except for Refining (use MT instead of Medicine / Philosophiae / Realm Lore). 60 points for that sound like A LOT for the end result, so I would make it a minor breakthrough. I am still unsure if it would be worth it, but since it is effectively a "free" breakthrough (ypou simply experiment when using refining, with no drawbacks to your refining activity unles you roll castastrophically) I do not see much problem in allowing it.
However, you would need some Insight to do that. Other traditions (medicinal and theurgical) would be required IMO, sicne you are trying to achieve an integrated Elementalist theory, so you need their feedback. your own tradition would look at you and tell "man, just use Philosophiae". Some spirits might be able to help as well, but since you are no theurgist that might be tricky.
My previous comments stand. It is just that I do not see Elemental MT being used in summoning and controlling.... except that you could summon vis and create permanent effects using the equivalent of D: Ring (no fatigue required) "items" with controlling maybe? A chamber of spring breezes or a permanent torch sound feasible. a POF wand does not, even if a charged item could be discussed maybe. But that would require a larger breakthrough. I am just throwing ideas around now.
Developping a unified Elemental Magic Theory (EMT) is not high on my priority list. It only becomes interesting if he succeeds in initiating into the Theurgy and Medicine parts all the elemental techniques. It is only at that point that it might become interesting, as it could be used instead of Philosophiae, (Realm) Lore and Medicine.
Frankly, developping a truly universal EMT is probably only possible once he has found a way to add 1 major virtue (Philosophical Divining) and 8 minor virtues (Theurgical and Medicinal aspects for all techniques). That is why I was putting the research into initiation scripts first in my list.
The other big thing of interest would be finding a way to introduce some form of elemental magic that moves away from the ceremonial (Summoning) and spontaneous (Controlling and Divining) abilities the tradition currently has. Both always use a stress die, which makes the magic unreliable and dangerous. Studying something like the Learned Magician's charms or Folk Witch's potions to develop some form of item enchantments, or even better the "cantrips" of the old Mercurian traditions to develop some sort of formulaic magic, would greatly improve the tradition. This can be done either from a strictly Philosophical standpoint, or under a unified EMT.
Another tangencial thing that could be researched is a mash of the various Philosophical techniques that could result in the ability to bind a magical animal as a familiar. This does not require EMT. The Folk Witch tradition could provide additional insights there, but Philosophical Elementalism already has much of what it might take. Experimentation with any of the Philosophical techniques, when focused on magical animals, could provide insights there. The existence of Harlan as a magical animal companion would also provide some inspiration and incentive for Boniface.