I'm thinking of whether to allow commentaries, and if so how. Which of the following you think will be best? Or do you think some other option works even better?

  1. Tractatus at +1 Quality
    A commentary is a tractatus written on another work, genreally a summa. If you've read the summa in question [spent a Season on it] you can read the tractatus with a +1 bonus to quality. If you haven't read the summa, you can...
    1.a) not read the tractatus with benefit.
    1.b) read the tractatus with a +0 to quality.
    1.c) read the tractatus with a -1 to quality.

This means that you'll need to remember which summa you've read (normally you only need to remember which tractatus). And the quality is increased, making increasing your arts just a tad easier.

  1. Summa of higher levels
    A commetary builds on another summa, allowing it to detail only the higher levels. The writer writes a summa, but need only write the levels above the level of the summa he is commenting on. Anyone that has read the original summa and has a score at its topic equal to its level can read the commentary with full benefit, as if it it was a summa. If the reader doesn't have the requisite level in the topic, however, he cannot benefit from the commentary at all. If he has the requisite level but hasn't read the original summa, he...
    2.a) can't benefit either.
    2.b) suffers a -2 penalty to the source quality.
    2.c) suffers a -2 penalty to the source quality for the first Season of study (until he gets used to the terminology and so on).

A commentary ...
2.1) cannot be written on another commentary, only on a summa.
2.2) may be written on another commentary, not just on a summa.

Like before, you need to remember which summa you've read. Now we gain a more complex system, however, with books building up on other books, without increasing learning speed.

  1. Pure flavor
    Saying a work is a commentary on some other work is pure flavor. It doesn't have any mechanical effect.

I can't remember exactly, but I think commentaries are covered in Covenants, along with glosses and other collections of medieval books. Nor do I remember how they are handled. I think a commentary adds +1 to the quality of the original book, but that might be the rule for glosses.

Matt Ryan

I've done similar to your summa of higher levels by having a minimum level you need before you can read the book. (based on the idea that you won't understand advanced physics if you've never even had an intro course) It allows a high level book to be introduced but garentees that some work will be done if the player wants to read it.

I like your idea with the tractatus, requiring a book to be read before you can benefit.

For keeping track of what you've read...just print out a list of your library and put a check mark on what you've read.

I agree with the rulebook.
1a, 2a, 2.1

Yeah, I think they use my 1a.

Interesting. It's simpler than mine, but loses the effect of making authorities meaningful. Hmph.

Well, I actually plan to have a spreadsheet, but yes. :slight_smile:

2.a.1 isn't in the rulebook, is it? I take it you mean you agree with 1a, which is what Covenant says.

I go along with Agnar, but with one thing...

There has been a lot of talk about (another thread) about advancement speed...
If you are going to include these, you might think about reducing the overall quality of books...

That will really make it difficukt to recruit players :slight_smile:

I don't think it's needed.

I like the idea of commentaries being a type of tractatus, but I’m not sure that a simple +1 to quality would tempt me to write one. In your saga, is there a set of summae which covers every Art and which every magus can be expected to have read? Without such a collection, it seems that the loss in portability is a bit more of a hassle than the +1 quality is a benefit.

One way to increase both benefit and hassle would be to grant the “Good Teacher” virtue to the commentary if the magus has read the original summa or grant the “Incomprehensible” flaw if he hasn’t. (i.e. Add three to the quality if you’ve read the summa, halve the quality if you haven’t.) Whether that’s too hefty on benefit or hassle is going to depend on the availability of the “standard summa” in your saga.

A bit of that would tend to happen naturally given the house rules suggested in (another thread). High book quality scores require high Com. By decreasing Art scores, there will be fewer people with the magically augmented Com necessary to write such books. That having been said, it might be more interesting to regulate advancement by increasing scarcity rather than nerfing quality.

For instance, one idea I’ve been kicking around is to decrease the level of summae while increasing both the quality and scarcity of tractatus. Decreasing the level of summae prevents a magus from obtaining a relatively high Art score by sitting in the library for two or three years, while increasing the quality of tractatus might make books a bit more exciting. In my saga, our covenant library tends to accumulate lots of tractatus that are only of interest to a single magus. “He has his Herbam books, I have my Creo books.” That sort of thing. A quick 20 XP, however, would definitely tempt me to read a tractatus in an Art I’m not normally interested in. If I only come across one of these wonder-books every two or three years, though, my overall rate of advancement is still reduced from where it would be if I read two or three normal tractatus per year.

Well, I’d play, and it looks like Urien might. Pity that we’re on different continents.

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Online it is... :open_mouth:

okay..the eye poping stuff first...

:open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth:
We have hundreds of books in our library...
We have one 20/20 incomprehensible
We have one Q:33 tractatus with special properties...
We have one Q: 26 tractatus
All the rest of the books are like 5-10 Q.
So thats like four Q:20 plus books out of hundreds...
Do you regularly have 20's?

---Increasing Art scores....sure, but if you don't have a lot of Vis, thats not possible.
--Is your game Vis rich?
Scarcity? That might be interesting, but if you lower Q, then you can dole them out (make them work for); the Magi spend more time studying for the same scores (read: slow advancement)

Ouch. Would you then give them all the other bonuses they can get...?

Remember, you can add enchantments(items), enhancements and other things to the lab to increase the Q of study...Once you add in Book learner (+3) then you are talking about maybe.. +2 (items), +2 from lab improvements, +3 thats +7. So in effect those bonuses add to the 'normal' quality of 6. Once you add in +5 for Communication, (guess?) +5 for various improvements to the work itself (illuminations and such) ... So thats what? 23?
Okay, so you LIKE having books with Qualities that high..
Consider...thats one season... if the quality was 7, he would have to work like mad for three seasons (plus) to get that. During that whole time, you are throwing things at him to interrupt drives the players nuts when they can't get a whole season of study (or less). So if you can interupt them, so they only get 3 points of study, or they take the Experience from the story..say 7...and try again next season..if they can.
You then have more control of the character development...

Have you ever studied for 8 straight seasons? It gets boring...
By doing what I have stated above, you keep the characters jumping..they can't get in a lot of study, but they earn a lot of EXP for other things...and they actually get to PLAY, instead of book keep.
A lot of folks have talked about the fact that AM is about the stories...
Seems you can get in more stories this way, and enjoy the howls of the players as they try to figure out who is going to handle THIS problem, so they can study...
Also, when you throw in that Q: 20 book that the fairy is offering for a certain thing, they will jump, because its so high Q that they can actually get somewhere from ONE seasons study.
Another point is that if you lower the quality, they will not put as much stock in study, and will spend more time looking for Vis, gathering things for items (that will increase quality), and developing spells to do things...
(shrug) personal style I guess...


A thought occurs to me, YR7. I agree that 8 or more seasons of study would make for boring sessions, but the way around that is to stagger the actual saga and allow for bookkeeping activities between sessions.

That way they get the best of both worlds (study/advancement and roleplaying).

I am curious if you could provide me with some details about how enchanted devices can add to study totals. I understand how lab improvements and virtues can but not every player chooses "Book Learner" (or Good Teacher for that matter) as a virtue (never met any actually) for their character. I would guess only those wishing to develop a Bonisagus study hound might be so inclined.

As for the writer end of the equation, I also don't know too many characters with a +5 Com (most preferring instead a high Int and/or possibly stamina). In games Ive played any books beyond the 10-12(max) range were already deemed exceptional and costly works obtainable only through Redcaps at exhorbitant Vis prices.

Not to mention this, consider that anyone capable of writing a book of level 20 or more would either be an extremely ooooold and powerful magus or one of the founders perhaps lol. Getting a such a work would be beyond the ability of most Spring or even many Summer covenants unless they were literally swimming in Vis.

Hehe one of my own character designs was a Jerbiton magus with Com +5 and the Good Teacher Virtue. This caracter made his home covennat rich and important only because of him and his scribe companion. There were even a small war in his tribunal between some covennats who wanted to have him for its own.

But besindes my character I think even if there are only ~5 magi per magi generation ( ~1000 Magi and 5 generations) with these stats amd everyone writes 20 tractati in his whole life there are 500 different tractati with a 16-17 quality with perhaps douzends of copies for every book.

Not to mention the Art 35-43 magi that innitiate the Good Teacher Virtue and a +5 Communication via CrMe casting Tablets that write their 20/17 summae as their ultimate work for which they will beremembered even in many, many years.

I think its in the Covenants book. There was a thread a while back, and I remember Erik T. and others discussing it. A level twenty effect would give a +1 to (say) study totals. If you made several of these, it would be useful. My Verdi made two. Of course he was/is careful not to use them more than two seasons a year, for the Warping effect...but then again who has time to study that much... :wink:

Problem: Increasing my Ignem by (say) 6 points during three seasons...during the fourth I get attacked and that score hasn't been recorded...My resistance is lower, my attacks are lower...I get killed because we didnt take the time to record them...The fourth season I try to learn a spell...lab total not high enough to learn it...oops, haven't recorded it...
(not happy)

Agreed. Many who post here disagree though.

When we formed our Covenant, our group met to determine what our resources were. I managed to push us up to 30 pawns a year to start...(I wanted 40), but the others wanted some more books. I explained that with 40 a year, we could buy what we wanted..that extra ten would help a lot over the years...
We now have a lot of books and a lot of Vis sources...but having 30 a year was better than the original 15 they wanted...
Its better to have an income, than a prize.
All things being equal.

Heavens no. In case it wasn’t clear, this is the germ of a house rule I've been kicking around, not something I've actually done in a campaign. IMS, most of our tractatus have quality 7 or 8. (OK, we do have one Q14 in Infernal Lore, but that was written by a diabolist, and I smirked a lot when I introduced it into the saga. No one has had the courage to read it, yet. Alas.) Judging by the sample covenant libraries in Semita Errabunda and the core book, the "Atlas Standard Quality" seems to be 9 – 11, which means that we're rather low. And, where in blazes did you get tractatus with qualities in the 20s and 30s? :open_mouth: (And can you hook me up with your supplier? :slight_smile: )

Do you consider your own saga vis rich? Our saga incomes are pretty similar. And yet, I'd be willing to expend two (or more) decades from the proceeds from a moderate Mentem source to be able to give Cicero pointers. Moreover, from the quality of tractatus in various 5th ed works, I judge that either many magi are doing just that or that the "Good Teacher" virtue is a lot more common than I'd thought.

Ah, but that would go against my other objective - making tractatus a treasure rather than a commodity. It’s awfully hard to motivate players with tractatus given the RAW, and do you really want to do the bookkeeping for a library with hundreds of books? And, like you said, spending eight straight seasons studying is really boring. If the players only get to read every two to four years or so, they'll have to get out of the library more and into the lab or go adventuring. If you think Ars should be about stories (and I agree that it should be), why do you want your players in the library hiding from adventure?

Serf's parma, but I believe that lab improvements (i.e. a positive score in "texts") only adds to your lab total when working from lab texts, not to your source quality total when reading. I'll check that tonight.

No this is not what I meant. When I say stagger, I mean the story is essentially put on hold and the entire troupe is given several years worth of seasons to do with as they please. They can then submit their seasons in one giant block to the SG who approves each and sends back any comments (i.e. you study Creo in Winter 1229 not Autumn cause that is when Bozosagus wants to study that book, etc.). The players record and update their sheets before the next session and when everybody meets up again, it's several years later and the story continues.

As for these high level books, I have no problem with the availability of high level stuff (or lots of vis for that matter) but one has to work with what one is offered when the SG doesn't share the same generous view of things.

I would preface that by saying however that it should be remembered that a level 20 summa requires an Art score of 40 and that is already legendary level by canon standards. Figuring that the standard Quality calc is COM + 6 (+ bonus) even with a +5 COM and Good Teacher virtue thats only a Q14. To get to suggested Q levels above one would logically need to be a monolith of Hermetic fame at over 40 (by some margin I dare say) to lower the summa level by 6 points to get +6 in Q to make Q20.

All I can say is, my character would love to have an inside contact in such covenants to pass him copies of such books at prices cheaper than the Redcap mafia charge lol.

Ah...ok :slight_smile:

Not always true.


The Tractatus is a special book that gives experience for either MT, or Enigmatic Wisdom..IIRC we got it from a Fairy Queen for sevices rendered.
The 20/20 book was written by a Magus that has since joined the Covenant...Amazing what Twighlight can do...
Supplier? Sure, Roll a '0' and roll ten botch dice...that should do it. :laughing:
We also have a Magical book made by House Verditius..Unfortunately it causes warping and nobody has used it yet...nobody needs a 30+ Vim book yet :blush:

From what I have seen, we are mid to lower end (By the RAW). We started out with 30 a year (plus personal), but now we are around 60. Of course we are not in Italy...

Ah but it is. When you reach 15, and all your Summa are used up, you don't have a choice. You start begging and trading everyone for a tractatus. You write your own (use a season) so that you can have
something trade...Its the only way to advance...other than heaps of Vis

Already do. Im the librarian. Have a database file that I keep it in. Works pretty good.

I wouldn't. If you don't give them some study time they get grumpy. At this point though, we have two members that have been initiated into a Mystery (different), and another looking to get into one.

You may be correct, we don't use the Covenants book. We have a system for improving our labs, and we get a bonus for that...

Well, that's basically how Covenants has it.

Why is it better to have Tractatus building on prior works, rather than summa?

Well, it isn't a hassle in those areas that HAVE authorities. It's meant to emphasize the importance of authorities, at least that's how I see it. If you're doing Magic Theory, you must have read Bonisagus' work.

Well, it's going to be a virtual-tabletop game, so you're more than welcome. :slight_smile: Starting at November.

quote="Urien"]Remember, you can add enchantments(items), enhancements and other things to the lab to increase the Q of study...Once you add in Book learner (+3) then you are talking about maybe.. +2 (items), +2 from lab improvements, +3 thats +7.
Well, no... lab improvements don't improve the source quality, and neither do items, to my knowledge. You can get a +3 from Book Learner, but that's a Virtue you pay for in character creation.

You can gain bonuses to quality by using resonant materials and clarification (per Covenants), however, which go up to +3. (Alternatively, you can bound tractatus into a florilegia for a +2 bonus.) That's a total of +4 including assuming it's a commentary (per Covenants), a significant boost in power.

You really harass each character each season? What an astonishing rate of problems. I wouldn't say it increases control over character development - on the contrary, you're hindering the players' ability to control their advancement.

I find sagas typically begin pretty slow, with perhaps two or three sessions for the first season. But after the initial getting-settled period, I expect to settle into more less ArM's assumptions - one to four seasons per game session. Indeed, the book suggests changing virtue/flaw costs if you're much slower or faster (p. 218).

Given that a magus won't participate in every adventure, the actual rate between sessions is even lower. Taking 2.5 seasions per session as average, and assuming a magus participates in one third of the adventures, he'll be interrupted once every 7.5 seasons (on average). This seems to me to be the scale ArM is intended to serve.

I certainly like Boxer's idea of a staggered saga (or, as the core book states it - pulsed). I think it's very sensible and appropriate.

Well, you don't really get to play more stories. You just get to do less book-keeping between sessions, and advance the characters less. The amount of sessions stays the same, and that's where the stories are told. The book-keeping and study activities should take a small part of the sessions at most.

ArM is about the stories, sure. But it's also about long stories. It's kinda like the difference between Gone with the Wind and some action flick. If the characters don't get a chance to change, if the environment doesn't change with the times, perhaps even seeing the death of the old generation and the rise of the new - you're just missing out on some of the stories ArM has to offer. IMO.

Yess... taken to the extreme, this would mean NO books. Only mystical experiences (Initiation or Teaching) can improve your magical capabilities You want to improve your magical power? Go fetch some raw vis to study, convince some powerful magus to share his secrets or try to pry them from the ashen remains of his lab (Insight from his lab notes...), enter a mystery cult...

Interesting. It will completely change the Order, but perhaps not in an ultimately bad way.

More or less. Everyone takes turns running stories, so we all think about what to run for character 'X' (Y, Z and T). Some sessions, character 'X' gets (say) four seasons of abuse, some sessions, he might get one. Not all of the abuse requires a season, but we like to make sure everyone is busy, and that nobody is getting left kind of goes like this..
"Anyone have anything for spring?"
'Ah yes, the Tytalus has a visitor a couple of days into spring....'
"Anyone else have anything?"
Okay, back to the Tytalus..."
I have something for the Tytalus...
Oh, I have something for the Verdi...
Well, I have something for ...
It can get a little tough to work out sometimes..
:wink: but its interesting, and realistic when you have multiple things going on in one season...but things that don't always take a season...its fun to watch as someone tries to get it all done so that they can study...