Given some of the [strike]conversations[/strike] debates I have had about how the rules of this book fit in with the rest of the saga, has anyone else here actually used the rules from this book, and of so how did you integrate the rules?
I'm not sure about what debates you are referring to, but yes, we have actually used the rules - at least those for labor, for crafting and craftshops, for wondrous items, for intrigue, and for (some of the) "seasonal" activities/adventures. I am not sure what you mean by "integrating" the rules.
I have used the rules to let the players know when their newly hired glass-blower would be good enough to start producing superior quality tools
"Integrating" in the sense of how the bonuses provided by quality goods could potentially impact other rules such as book creation (core book and Covenants) and lab improvements (Covenants), for example.
I've used some of the rules a lot. I've dealt with crafting Quality and Excellent stuff as well as enchanting things via the method there. I've also used Labor Points with a craftsman attached to a covenant. But I'm not sure what you're looking for.
Item quality specifically. If a lab is built with someone whose workshop total is above 15 and whose craft ability is above 6, what aspects of the lab are boosted by the quality of craftsmanship? Same for the production of books...
I see. Well...
If I understand the question correctly, the short answer is that we do not allow the bonus to apply to the Quality (in the sense of Study Total) of books of high quality (in the sense of City and Guild). The long answer is the following. Note that scribing, bookbinding and illumination are Professions (Covenants, p.88), so they are limited to Superior Quality (C&G p.76), i.e. a +1 bonus in a specific circumstance. We consider this a more complex version of the rule from Covenants, p.88, that gives a +1 bonus to the Quality (in the sense of Study Total) of a book if the Scribe, Bookbinder and Illuminator are "skilled" i.e. have a Profession score of 6+. So, the book Quality (in the sense of Study Total) gets a bonus if the bookbinding/scribing/illuminating is Superior (in the sense of C&G), rather than if the artisan has an Ability score of 6+ (a simpler approximation). However, note that a Parcamenarius who produces high quality parchment gives a corresponding bonus to the work (and, mechanically, to the totals) of the scribe/bookbinder/illuminator
Similarly, if a great glassblower provides super-excellent (say, +3 bonus) glassware to a magus' laboratory, we do not add that bonus to a magus' lab total (though we would add it to the lab total for enchanting the glassware, of course, as per C&G p.70). Instead, we simply assume that high quality goods/services "give access" to the various Laboratory Virtues in Covenants, such as Superior Tools or Superior Equipment. Note that for these particular two Virtues the rules in Covenants say (like for books, above) that you can get them from Craftsmen with an Ability score of 6+. Using the C&G rules, we assume instead that if you can get two "appropriate" +1 "C&G quality" bonuses then you get the +1 Safety and +1 Items bonuses that the Superior tools Virtue gives you. This is true for any other "appropriate" Laboratory Virtue. E.g. Palatial gives +1 General Quality, +3 Upkeep, +2 Health, +4 Aesthetics, +2 Teaching, 1 point on any other Specialization: it's a total bonus of +1+2+4+2+1=+10, so you need a total bonus of +10 from various appropriate Craftsmen/Professionals to gain the Palatial Virtue. In all cases, the bonuses from Covenants are what we use for adjudicating what can be reasonably gained from very skilled Craftsmen/Professionals.
For the lab I would just use what's in Covenants. There are a few levels of equipment and tools. Perhaps Excellent+1 and Excellent+2 give Superior Equipment/Tools, and Excellent+3 or better give Flawless Equipment/Tools. I expect it's easier to translate in such a way than to start worrying about how many pieces of which types provide how much bonus.
For books a score of 6 is required to even get the +1 for whatever part of the book the person makes. Craft/Profession 6 can already handle workshop totals up to 20 (just before Excellent+3). However, I would suggest that higher workshop totals are needed along with that Craft/Profession 6 to handle things like resonant materials. I would follow the spell difficulties to gauge that. That would seem to allow better work without having to deal with both systems, again translating what workshop total will handle what part of the Covenants rules. I would note, however, that I'm not sure Profession produces workshop totals as Craft does. I would have to go through C&G more thoroughly than I can right now to double check.
Actually, for the pure and simple reason of avoiding that rules headache, I've ruled in my games that high workshop totals don't have an effect on stuff you get with laboratory Virtues and Flaws, except for cost saving in some cases. I think my view somewhat contradicts canon, but I've always ruled very much in the "it's the idea that counts" fashion, where I focus on the fact that the Focus and lab materials and stuff are Virtues and Flaws, not regular resources, so a Major Focus is always assumed to be the very best it can be for its purpose. Of course, I don't think it would be wrong to allow items of Exceptional Quality to further improve upon the main applicable bonus of the Virtues that provide such a thing, but you do need to be careful with how you do it. First of all, any Upkeep changes would be proportional to the original bonus/Upkeep relationship, so if you had Greater Expansion and wanted to make a version with +3 to General Quality/Specialization of Choice rather than +2, the Upkeep cost of +4 would increase proportionally to +6. (As usual with crafting, this Upkeep increase is mainly relevant to how much money your craftspeople are able to save you.) In order to make these updates, you must choose a Virtue that already exists, provides a bonus of at least +1 to either General Quality or any Lab Specialization, and makes sense to provide those benefits to the extent you're trying to achieve (this requires troupe adjudication, but for example, you can't make a lab more safe by creating a better lab assistant in the workshop, and Superior/Excessive Lighting can only be improved upon so much before the benefits the magus would gain from the increased light would be cancelled out by everything being way too bright). Partly to prevent people massing hundreds of points of lab bonus and partly because Magic things react more to the increased supernatural perfection of something than whatever job it's actually doing, in order to improve upon anything in of the lab bonuses, you must be producing items of Exceptional Quality. The bonus on the item of exceptional quality must exceed the highest bonus the Virtue or Flaw provides to the lab, and the Virtue gets a stacking bonus equal to (points by which your item quality exceeds greatest initial Virtue bonus)/2, which can be applied to any one of the bonus when it would apply to one of your lab activities.
This sounds complicated, but it's actually not. Do the basic math regarding how your Workshop Total (and thus your Exceptional Items) compare to the bonuses the item already has, divide the difference by 2, and mark the Virtue with a flat bonus to activities where it applies.
I don't intend to use it in my games, but this is how I would adjudicate allowing crafting to affect laboratories in order to avoid drastically increasing the power of magi. What do you think?