Complaint: no libraries in 5th ed Tribunal supplements!

Make a Libraries of the Order book? Basically expand that one chapter in Covenants with sample libraries in various tribunals, include creatures of all four Realms that would be found in libraries, stat up a typical Bonisagus author and their contribution to the Order's libraries, etc

The Lion and the Lily has a real library, the others each have a multi-use tractatus.

AtD 63 Code of Hermes
AtD 63 Order of Hermes Lore
LaL 23 Ignem
LaL 23 Mastery in Aegis of the Hearth
LaL 53 Infernal Lore
LaL 55 Area Lore: England
LaL 55 Area Lore: Normandy
LaL 55 Area Lore: Normandy
LaL 55 Area Lore: Normandy
LaL 55 Civil and Canon Law
LaL 57 Divine Lore
LaL 64 Artes Liberales
LaL 64 Church Lore
LaL 64 Church Lore
LaL 64 Divine Lore
LaL 106 Theology (Jewish)
LaL 106 Theology (Jewish)
LaL 108 Area Lore: Britain
LaL 108 Area Lore: Britain
LaL 108 Area Lore: Brittany
LaL 108 Charm
LaL 108 Divine Lore
LaL 108 Divine Lore
LaL 108 Divine Lore
LaL 108 Etiquette
LaL 108 Magic Lore
SE 39 Divine Lore
SE 39 Intrigue
SE 39 Leadership
SE 39 Magic Lore

Well, HEIRS OF MERLIN had no game stats at all, let alone library catalogues.

Myself, I'd rather see a consistent and usable library filling system or even just guidelines.

I keep saying this: not being able to figure out who has what is a major obstacle to GMing AM.

I don't think that we need 20 full libraries, but one or two would sure be nice.
In addition to that, mentioning a single, special book here and there would be nice.

The library's most infamous book is the illustrated folio "Knochenschande" (Co L20, Q15), which details sexual practices performed by a cult of witches using the bodies of the dead. It is reputed to be of infernal origin, but the quaesitores were unable to prove its demonic origin, and found no way of legally forbidding the lecture of the book. Despite the book's sinister reputation, there are plenty of magi interested inreading it, so the magi of X can charge 2p of vis per season of access to the book.
For each season of reading roll a stress die. If the result is lower than 6, gain the personality trait "morbid" at +1, or increase it by 1 if your character already possesses it.

Everybody seems to agree on the fact that statistics for covenants:
a) would make life easier
b) would consume space that could be used for other stuff :slight_smile:

The issue is that giving statistics is not a binary thing, with the description either there in full or completely absent. You can certainly lovingly detail for every book its author, title, appearance, history, copies elsewhere in the Order, legal controversies (if any) etc. Similarly, you can spend a lot of effort (and space) for other "resources" of the covenant: vis sources, lab texts, enchanted devices, sources of income, grogs etc. This would take many, many pages. Incidentallly, I think in this regard Timothy Ferguson is totally wrong when he says that things unavoidably get very repetitive from one covenant to the next, and this sort of stuff yields no story ideas -- besides, Ars Magica has several resource minigames, so story ideas are not the be-all and end-all of what you should get from a book. But alternatively, you can give much shorter descriptions, that are still quite useful to gauge the "oomph" of the covenant. Consider the following, which is rather clunky but still informative and yet compact (probably less than a single column, i.e. a third of page, in a sourcebook).

Exemplum is a Covenant in its early summer, founded about a century ago. An old stone keep flanked by two lower edifices - which would be enough to hold about 200 men - hosts its 5 junior magi (1 Guernicus, 2 Flambeau, 2 Jerbiton) with their above average (+1 to +2 general quality) laboratories, their 10 veteran men-at-arms, and some 30 loyal servants and specialists including a blacksmith, a carpenter, a swordmaker and a glassblower. Exemplum derives its income, about 100 mythic pounds/year, from the honey produced by an apiary; the expenses generally exceed the income, however, and Exemplum has run up a large debt with a local usurer (almost 300 pounds, requiring interest payments of about 25 pounds/year). Some of the honey is magical, yielding 3 pawns of Animal, 3 pawns of Creo and 3 pawn of Rego vim every year, which Exemplum supplements with about another dozen pawns of various Arts from numerous contested sources; among them 2 pawns of Intellego Vis that the magi obtain in a contest of riddles with a nearby faerie. Exemplum's library has over a dozen good to excellent Tractatus (Q10-13) on Animal, as well as a fabled Summa (L18 Q14), and lab texts for all Animal spells in Arm5 (plus several more). Some of the previous occupants had some interest in the Arts of Muto, Intellego and Terram, too, so Exemplum has fair Summae (L14, Q13), as well as half a dozen fair (Q9-11) Tractatus and lab texts for about 150 spell levels for each of these Arts. Exemplum has at least a primer (L5, Q15) and one to three fair tractatus in every other Art too, as well as a lab text for the covenant's 5th magnitude Aegis of the Hearth. Sadly, Exemplum's non-Hermetic library is not at the same level, and only holds three mediocre Summas (L3, Q9) on the local region (Area Lore), Medicine, and Philosophiae.

One problem is that it sets a power level to the game. What you consider powerful might be weak in Tugdual's game might be very much average in my game. By leaving it at a simple descriptor, you can adjust the numbers as needed.

In Sub Rosa #9, there is a full accounting of the books listed in all the supplements at that time, as well as a dozen mundane-topic books and twenty hermetic books, all with descriptions, multiple topics, some lab texts, and qualities. It would be really easy to put together sample libraries with it. I used it for the Tribunal session we just had, and I'll use it again for the "Tribunal Library" they may visit later.

The format for these entries is:
Book Title [Number of Books, Language written]
Type of book: Topic (Specialty); Level: X, Quality: X
Covenant Build Points: The number of build points that the book costs to buy during covenant creation.
Possible Locations: A short list of places this book might be found. (mundane books only)
Description: Details on the book and its subject matter.

Here's one of the Hermetic books:

Necronomicon Keltoi
Tractatus: Mentem; Quality: 7
Lab Text: Ring of Warding Against Spirits (Level 20)
Covenant Build Points: 7 (library)
Covenant Build Points: 4 (laboratory texts)
Description: A study of Celtic spiritual beliefs and legends regarding death and the afterlife scribed in a scratched and weathered leatherbound codex, this manuscript is written with a faint black and silver ink in a very petite handwriting. A silver button embossed with knotwork and affixed to the cover allows a leather lace to tie the tome shut. The book is an octavo format, measuring five inches by eight inches. A warning has been hastily scribed on the inside back cover, indicating "she won’t stop until she has it back!"

That's 116 words, or slightly less than a story seed. In that way, you can consider each book described in a format like this to be one less story seed or interesting location in the tribunal book, which can provide a lot more play than a book.

With that said, I could easily see a small book (64-pages) of magic items, texts, possibly low-Might potential familiars, and some story seeds. The article in SR#9 would equate to about 1/8 of the material in such a book.


I +1 the original complaint.

And I add the complaint that I could not simply +1 it somewhere.


...and for that book, you would need then to create a ruleset which allowed player characters to write books which force personality traits on their readers. Remember, PCs can do and be everything, with the exception of certain emanations of the Divine. No fair picking an author that could not conceivably be a PC. 8)

That's doable, but you've made the following things canon:

There is a method of writing books which force personality change.
The quaesitores don't err on the side of caution with potentially demonic books or other artefacts.
None of the militant magi have decided to declare War to destroy a book which is obviously a morally corrupting influence. Ergo they either are not good at noticing things, or are too weak to act when something flagrantly Cthonic is being waved in their faces.
There is or was an active necrophilic cult which knows a lot about Corpus.
It was run by "witches" ergo, women, because when there is weird sex to be done, in Ars it's always the women.
Reading about them gives you Corpus. This is odd: reading about trees doesn't currently give you Herbam. I personally believe it should and that you should be able to, for example, use Animal for horseriding and Terram for blacksmithing, but that's not how the game works.
There are a heap of depraved magi. Like, heaps and heaps.
About half of these depraved magi have the Morbid personality trait, more if most read for more than one season. Some are epically morbid, because studting the book for just two years gives you a score of around 4.
2 pawns of vis gets you access to a 20/15 book.

I feel pity for you, Timothy Ferguson. If you are so trapped in a web of canon, maybe you shouldn't write books about Ars Magica. Writing books is not just about accurate research, but about the will to create something new.

If the book was indeed written by a demon (which can be left open), there's no need for players to be able to be able to do the same.

It's not like it says on the cover. "This book may change your personality. Parental guidance advised." I'm currently reading a book on the Pankhursts. Maybe, I'll become more feminist from reading it. I think players should be told about the book's effects, becaus it's clearly unfair to not tell them, but characters have no storyguide to help them.

That's a story seed or two.

Good point. When writing this (in a hurry), I fell prey to the patriarchy that controls our imaginations. But easily rectified. Not using the stereotypical gender asttribution here enriches the idea.

You feel pity for me? Good grief, you have an operatic life. 8P

The idea of a corrupting book is not new, btw. I've sold versions of it to Atlas twice, and I was just copying the idea from Jeff Tidball (?) who flogged it to Lion Rampant back in the day.

We were, I thought, talking about writing Tribunal books. As many times as I've tried suggesting that canon is for authors and the rest of you should ignore it, the community and the owners of Ars Magica insist that, no, actually, canonicity matters. That means that if you establish things, you've established them. There are various dodges, like the unreliable narrator in Covenants, like saying the word "covenant" means different things to what's expected in AtD, but basically all of your colour text is how the world really is. People who buy your book don't want to later by a book by someone else and find a bit which says "Yeah, ignore that bit from Pralix." That's only ever done in the case of mechanical errors (some of which were mine, like the crossbows.). That's just one of the ground rules of playing the game of being an Ars author. It's not negotiable. It doesn't matter how "daring" or "creative" you are if you refuse to produce product to spec, and part of that spec is that colour text is canon.

For authors, canon matters. It's not about lacking "the will to create something new" - it's about having the professionalism to deliver something within the actual constraints of a real project.

It would be great for an SR article, though. You should write it up.

If the book was written by a demon, then you have a demon who breaks one of the fundamental rules of being a demon. Demons are incapable of persistence, because it requires patience, which is a virtue. They can have mortals do things which require patience for them, but can't have patience themselves. So, writing a book is probably beyond them, unless they can mystically birth it in an instant. Also, it means you have a demon who understand Hermetic Theory. This was possible in 3rd edition, where infernally tainted people could become demons. I'm not clear on how possible it is in the current edition. Certain odd demons (the Watchers) supposedly can teach chthonic magic, so...maybe?

You misunderstand my core point, though. This idea was first sold to LR back in 2nd edition "Order of Hermes". Tsagilla spread books that forced personality change through the rest of the Order. Since then, that's been mentioned several times in later works. I've not yet read Faith and Flame (my copy was delayed), but it's in AtD, for example, in that there's a library of them at Ceoris. When I say "If you want to stat them up this way you need to..." I'm not randomly spouting ideas. I'm saying "The reason you do not have stats for the Red Library in Ceoris is because we are not saying how Druidcal magic works. The reason you don't have stats for the Black Library which includes the books circulated during the Tsagillan Corruption is because it takes up huge amounts of space we'd like to use somewhere else."

If the book were indeed written by a demon, why hasn't it been destroyed? This plot hook's not new: it's so old that the layers of response the Order has to just this situation have already been detailed in other books.

I think this proves my larger point. You've just crafted a book, and the obvious stories it provokes are ones which are already in the line.

Issues of chamberpots and nails aside, I abolutly agree with Timothy on this matter.
Even now, I at times feel constrained by canonical declarations about eg. the structure of the Order or the price of books - we playtest a great deal, so try to limit our use of houserules and odd local assumptions.

That said:

There's the Corruption supernatural ability in RoP: Infernal, is there another one?

Sorry if I was unclear. My point is that you'd need to encapsulate the rules for Corruption into the Tribunal book at that point, much as we now have demon primers and faerie primers in the start of many of the scenario books.

As to there being multiple ways of doing it: sure. The main one I can think of is that if reading the book is a mystery initiation, then personality changes can appear as Flaws derived from the script. A faerie in the form of a book can force personality changes on a reader. Basically by reading the book you are inviting possession by the information contained. So, there are two more...

I'm on totally the other side compared to the opinion in the OP. I'm fine with a line or two about a wonderful library or a poor library or whatever. It has really bugged me in the past when libraries were listed and they really didn't fit the setting so well. For example, when trying to make a reasonable library now do you use the points in covenant creation? While that's a useful play balance thing for a PC covenant, it is in drastic disagreement to what should be seen throughout the Order (excepting perhaps the statement about being the part of a library PC's have access to). It's been shown a few times that even with a lot of books being destroyed there should be way more available than could be accounted for by spending points on them. That's true on a few ends. First, there should be more copies of good books than can be afforded, especially summas that are supposed to be relatively readily available. Second, mundane books could be acquired with silver for far, far fewer points than they would cost when using points for a library. Third, the points in a library get used up in a way that really can't handle vain books and all the other not-as-useful stuff. So give me a sentence or two and let me make things fit as best I can instead of giving me lots of stats on books in a library that when combined with other libraries ends up giving a set of books that doesn't fit the actual mechanics of the setting well.

Right. A line or two.

"Academiata has a fine library with extensive tractatuses."

"Denarii has a meager library, lacking Creo, Herbam, and Terram summae entirely."

Description vs Data is a perennial problem for most RPGs.

On the second point - a note. When spending my allotted points for our new covenant, I looked at the cost of books, said "That's very expensive" and spent my points on silver and vis. Books are much cheaper in vis than in points, which probably reflects the opinion of the master granting the book more than a market value.

It sounds then that Library build points should represent the PC's unique contribution to a core library - such as the following:

Library Hooks and Boons:

No Library (-3) : the PC's have no books. Part of the saga's story arc is how to gain access to the core texts. Mundane texts and the Roots are relatively easy to get ahold of, but the more advanced texts will take time and effort. (Ie you'll have to complete a major story arc for a senior covenant, and get the Branches as a reward.)

Standard Library (0) - Full access to the Roots and Branches, as well as the "core" texts for relevant mystic abilities (Hermetic Lore, Magic Theory, etc.) Full supply of the canon of mundane texts.

Restricted Library (-1) - For some reason, be it damage, theft, overdue borrowing, or an eccentric librarian, one part of your core library is missing. (Note: probably need to define general library categories: Arts, Arcane Abilities, Mundane Texts, Tractatus, etc.) This Hook may be taken twice.

Vain Library (-1) - your librarian, for whatever reason, prefers certain authors over others, and resists any attempt to improve the library's resources in that regard.

Specialized Library (1) - your library has a number of tractatus and high-level summae surrounding a specific concept: usually an Art of the senior magi, but may also represent a more esoteric concept, such as Warding or Healing.

Summer Library (3) - TBD

Fall Library (3) - TBD

Winter Library (-1) - TBD

(whoop - and I'm being kicked off my computer. Be back later.

The Branches are not common books you have "access" to in a default covenant, they're treasures of the Order and given only as special gifts.

Not so special. The act of giving the Branches seems to be, if not common (as covenants really aren't founded very often), then at least not unusual. From Covenents, pg. 93.

So, the Branches are things young covenants don't have. In fact, the text suggests that they are the things which DEFINE whether or not a covenant is grown up or not. And I couldn't find it, but I thought there was another line about established covenants granting the Branches after a service, to either suggest that the covenant has grown, or to remind them that they are still a junior partner.

So, I do agree that it is a special the sense that one's 21s birthday is a special day. Yeah, it is - but it's probably going to happen to most folks once. Similarly, most covenents will likely get them, as part of the process of transitioning from Spring to Summer.

So - consider that in that above post, gaining the Branches is the resolution of a major plot hook (from -3 to 0). AS such, that pretty much defines "special gift" - either in the political bribing/borrowing/bribing sense, or some sort of clever theft, or some great service - or at least something along those lines. The reason I chose that as the default was so that you could have 3 levels: bad (-3), average (0), and good (3). In this context, "average" means "established covenant" - which do seem to have the Branches as part of their core library.

I've always been a bit fuzzy on what the link is between the Branches and the "Exceptional Book" boon. On the one hand, the Branches are accepted as being the finest works yet produced, which is consistent with the description of an "Exceptional Book". The Exceptional Book write-up implies the book is rarer than the Branches are implied to be, though, and the (post-errata) stats for the Terram Branch in The Lion and the Lily give it a total build cost of 31 (the maximum under the standard rules) rather than the 35 allowed by the boon.

I suppose it's possible that the Exceptional Book falls into an Art for which there isn't a widely recognised Branch, because not enough people have read it, or something, but that also feels slightly odd to me.

The way I read it is that an Exceptional Book is not a branch, because the text seems to imply it's not widely distributed. It is at least as good, or better, than the existing branch for that Art (even if that branch exists). This creates stories, as the new book has the potential to become a new branch, creating ripples in the status quo.

Release covenant statistics as web enhancements. That way they're available, don't waste precious book space, and are easier to ignore if they don't fit your saga.