So, a wandering mage (not necessarily a RedCap) negotiates to use a standard +0 lab, a spare. Is there any "standard" scale of fees for such rental? What would a low/high "fair use" figure be, in vis and/or silver?
(I want to say that I remember "3 pawns/season" as a number, but I can't find it now.)
And while we're on it, what's the standard exchange rate for vis:silver? (Again, I know it's suggested "somewhere"...)
As a final/afterthought tangent, what is an average mage's time worth? Many variables, I know - but if a mage wanted to make a blind offer of something "fair" for a season of (no-risk) time for another mage, a simple quid-pro-quo, what would that offer be? (in vis and/or silver) (For instance, a mage wanted to complete two seasons of lab activity on short notice, and so was willing to pay another mage to complete one of the (straightforward) activities while they tackled the other.)
Very saga dependent, I think. And also context dependent.
Is the renting magus from the same House, Mystery Cult, Gild, etc as the owning magus, for example. Is he the parens of the owning magus? How many seasons does he want to use the lab for? Are there other labs available in the area? Does the owning magus want the renter to vote in a particular way in Tribunal? Is the renter a Master, or Archmagus? How "wealthy" are the renting and owning magi? What can the renting magus actually do? What can the owning magus not do? Plus heaps of other considerations. The use of Abilities such as Bargain might be important too.
As a rough rule, I would say that a "fair" maximum would be that a season of rent should be whatever a season of magus work is worth in your saga. But if the rent is "high" it could much more, or it could be much less, especially, if renting for a number of seasons. Very context dependent.
A copy of a book, or a Lab Text, casting a ritual for the covenant, or a season of teaching, could be fair prices too.
I would say that in terms of vis a blind "fair price" for a magi's time (per season) would be the number of pawns of vis they can extract from the aura in a season. So, CrVi Lab Total / 10 (round up). I think that this calculation is where your number of 3 pawns/per season comes from.
If the magus is a specialist in something, and you want them to do something with that specialisation, then perhaps the relevant Lab Total / 10 (round up) could be a good starting point for a "fair price".
Of course, it also strongly depends on the value of vis in your saga.
Covenants, p. 69 discusses the silver price of vis. Varies (a lot) by Saga, Form/Technique, Tribunal, and Covenant, but the rule of thumb is 10 pounds/pawn.
Fair wages is what the hirer is willing to pay and the worker accept. I think that across the Order it would be more of a barter, goods, service, vis, and silver in various amounts to make the trade worthwhile to both parties. But to toss a guess out there, how about "a few pawns more than I could distill, or as may pawns of a form/technique as I could distill in Vim." In terms of silver, it would have to be a WHOLE lot. Time is precious. Making silver is easy. Plus I imagine many magi would feel debased to work for "wages" like a crafter.
Lab rent? A typical lab takes a pound of silver for upkeep. So a bare minimum rent will be one pound of silver. If there are many wandering magi looking for temporary labs, the price will be higher, possibly even getting kick up to pawns of vis. If renting a lab is a rare thing, it may be done for the one pound and the goodwill engendered between the parties.
Lab rent can be very different. A covenant that intentionally keeps several spare standard labs just for renting out might charge 1 vis/season(or a few pounds of silver, maybe 3-5 or so), while a highly specialised lab that is in high demand could probably require 10 times as much.
Thats TOO LOW. It would mean that the hired magi could be just as well off by himself! The absolute minimum should be vis they can extract PLUS 1.
I would recommend a standard of vis extraction doubled. That means the "hireling" gets 2 seasons worth of vis from the deal, which is enough to make it a decent deal. A superior specialist could easily request much more.
In our saga, the issue came up when the PCs had to decide how much to charge a visiting magus for the use of their newly equipped "guest laboratory" for a season (they were very proud of finally having the resources to maintain a spare lab, and they considered it the mark of their passage into Summer). I would note that they had had no previous relationships with the magus, a relatively young Jerbiton (some 15 years out of apprenticeship) with no particular reputation (good or bad): just the "average" passerby.
They decided that 1 pawn of vis seemed a fair price, or perhaps slightly on the high side of a fair price - they agreed that charging more would be seen as cutthroatish. On the other hand they also agreed that charging a single pawn or even less (say, silver) seemed rather petty, so in the end they chose to extend their hospitality for free to their "brother in the Order". I guess that for extended stays - say, more than one year - they might have negotiated something like 2 pawns/year (a 1 magus share of the vis cost of the Aegis, rounded up to the nearest pawn).
[EDIT: A few seasons later the magus sent them a copy of a common, but good tractatus on Herbam (with a +1 bonus from resonant materials) as a token of his gratitude, which the PCs decided was a fairly generous reciprocation gift (and perhaps a way to stop them from calling in any favors ).
I think in the modern world, where it is easy to buy anything and compare prices, we tend to underestimate the social pressure for largesse that less "market-oriented" societies - including large sections of medieval Europe - experienced. Asking for payment for something relatively minor (at least minor to the giver), and "once only", is shunned - it negatively affects the prestige of the giver, since it in some sense states that he is in sufficiently dire straits that such a small thing can make a difference to him and that he cannot afford to make a gift of it (of course something small but REPEATED, like a toll, counts as something much bigger).
Of course, there is a similar social pressure to reciprocate with some other gift, but the key is that there no pre-haggling and only social pressure determines the size of each gift. Make it too small, and it's an insult. Make it just fair, and it's ok. Make it generous, and the extra value buys you prestige. Make it too generous, and it's again an insult and a display of arrogance and/or stupidity.]
Thanks for the references. One problem with starting to collect all the books is that details start to hide in the crowd.
And exactly where my hesitancy came from - the two started to muddle in my memory, and I couldn't be sure I wasn't projecting one onto the other.
As mentioned, charging a pound would be "token", almost a mere formality, as when a lawyer asks for a $1 retainer to formalize the "lawyer-client" relationship.
DW's point about "breaking even" for a season has merit - to charge 3 vis/season for a lab means that the average mage could at best break even if they were to use it to distill vis, so that would be unattractive to most. (And 30 pounds of silver seems a bit high as well, even if it is only silver.)
Likewise, payment for a season of service would have to be (considerably?) more attractive than what they could do on their own. (And that can of course get very personal, depending on the mage in question, but we were talking "average", even if such rarely exists in a saga.)
I think the 1-2 vis (~15 pds of silver) range sounds like a reasonable "fair price" for rental of a +0 lab, and 4+ vis (30-40+ pds of silver) a starting point for hiring a mage's time. Both provide an attractive alternative to whatever the "average" mage might achieve on their own.
May not be the only standard, but I'd think it's a good part of the yardstick.