Covenants adds correspondences to the kinds of books that wizards may study. thinking on them more carefully due to my new PbP game, however, has me asking some questions and I want to get the communities input.
How long to create a bound correspondence?
On P. 90 of covenants, one learns that you must receive one letter per season to claim the XP. In order to create a tractatus of bound correspondences, you need 24 letters from each wizard. According to the same section this represents about two years of correspondence. However, even if each party sent a letter and received a letter in each season, you would only have 8 letters in two years. There are two possibilities:
The book is correct as written. Magi engaged in correspondence send and receive an average of 1 letter per month. One letter per season, while a bare minimum to claim the XP, is never really at issue because most correspondents are expecting one letter per month.
The book is in error. Magi generally exchange letters at some different rate. If you assume that they both send and receive one letter in each season to claim the XP, then 24 letters are exchanged in six years.
How many correspondences?
Another issue is how many correspondences can a person engage in at once. Are magi constantly writing about all the Arts, the Arcane Abilities with all and sundry so that they can always claim an XP bonus? Or do magi carefully select a few pen pals and write only on their favorite subjects or common areas of research? How long does dealing with each letter take? If it is on the subject of his current research, I would be inclined to assume that the letter is read as part of the season's activity. But what about the correspondences on other topics? If you are in the middle of researching PoF does writing back on your usual Aquam correspondence not take some time away? Especially since these are supposed to be scholarly letters, I'm inclined to limit the number of correspondences, or say that each one uses up a certain amount time and too many may cause lab penalties.
What about all these cheap, easy books?
A magus can be involved in more than one correspondence, see supra, even though only one can generate xp. However, there is nothing to say that the non-XP generating letters can't still be bound into a tractatus every few years. This means that magi who write letters are possibly generating an immense amount of tractatus. Since there is no downside to writing letters (under the RAW), there is no reason for every magus not to be a prolific letter writer (some may have a story reason not to write, but the vast majority of the Order does not have such a problem). A magus will rapidly generate many more tactatus though correspondence that he would normally write, or before long will write many more than he normally could given his art and ability scores. If you go with two years worth of letters to a tractatus a magus will write more tractatus in just 16 years than a any canonical Archmage (Art 40) could write in his specialty Art under the rules for writing tractatus. Moreover, he will write that many tractatus in every ability or art for which he can correspond. Assuming a magus has only two correspondents, and it takes 6 years to create a tractatus, he will still create probably 20-30 tractatus in his lifetime from letter writing alone. With more liberal numbers it could easily reach into the hundreds of tractatus. Although most writers will have communication scores such that the quality of the tractatus is 6 or less, this is a huge number of low level tractatus floating around the Order.
My poor, aching back. . .
Finally, this implicates how often redcaps (or other means of communication) are available. Do Redcaps need special enchanted mail pouches to carry the huge number of letters being sent around the Order?
Edit- for grammar.