Durenmar library - copying allowed? Quality?

I've just read the text about Durenmar's library again. It is quite easy to hand in some tractatus and get two seasons of studying there.

What I didn't find out is if they allow copying the book you find, so you have a copy to take home. Nor do they say if any such copy (provided copying is allowed) is under the Cow and Calf or not.

All this seems rather generous: If I write 3 tractatus for an Art I know at 6, I'll get 6 seasons to further raise this Art by studying a summa at the library. A magus can easily study there with an average source quality of 9. Unfortunately, the rules only regulate the level of the summa available, but there are no rules for finding quality books.

The quality rules also seem to contradict Covenants (pp. 93-95; and Semita Errabunda's libraray), which seem to indicate that the Order has standard texts - roots - of high quality that are easily available.
I assume the branches are freely available at Durenmar as well - not for copying though, or am I wrong? It seems so unbonisagic too hide those books away.

For an Art at score 6 you can only write one tractatus?


That settles that aspect. Stupid me!

But what about the question of copying?

Guardians of the Forest, page 55 (bottom of third column) sheds some light on this. Essentially, you need special permission from the Librarian (who, it seems, is not likely to give you special permission).

Bonisagi Magi have a problem: On the one hand they have to make public all research results, on the other hand they cannot give high quality text out for free unless they want to disrupt the book trade. -A buisiness many convents and some houses need for theit profits.
So I think it will go like this: All tractati handed in are screened for their quality. If it is too low or the subject uninteresting to most magi, it is rejected. (Noone wants a tractatus on herbam with a quality of 3 [writer's communication -3]).
Al those contributing to the library are entiteld to use it. However, the really good books are used most of the time by someone else. Remember, that ther Rhine Tribunal uses the system of Tyro, Magister and Archimagus. If someone with a higher rank wants the same book to read, he goes first. So player characters might have a tough time to get the book they really want.
As for copying, I think any copied book does not fall under Cow and calf rule, as Bonisagi are obliged to distibute knowledge. However, olny Archimagi can hope to have a branch long enough to copy it completely.

I am quite surprised that magi are supposed to be copying books. It is like asking the president of the federal reserve to use a calculator to add up the American GDP, in a sense. Other, lesser beings, should do that. Training someone in magic theory so they can copy books is a much sounder investment here, so if you want a copy of a book, you look at it, and if you think it is worth it you order it to be copied for you. Archmagi copying books that are not relics about to fall down and that they are holding by magic to prevent the loss of knowledge just feels wrong to me.


That was what I wanted to hint at: This way noone will be able to copy durenmars most precious books. And at the same time House Bonisagus is free of any charge not to fulfill their oath.

I would think that Durenmar would make the books available to study and thus keeping to their obligation under the code, however nothing requires them to let the books be copied. Take what you learned and write your own book.

While I am aware it works in the rules, I'm not really inclined to think that most wizards actually believe some mundane can learn magical theory well enough to copy priceless books of lore. You are throwing pearls before swine with that...

IMC, most copying is either done by apprentices, 'natural magicians', the magi themselves, or by a trusted scribe whose work is carefully proof read before its used. A few covenants have magic theory trained mundane scribes, but that's usually a self perpetuating institution where a mundane scribe learned MT at some point and has taught his successors.... no magus actually spends time teaching a mundane about the Hermetic Arts.

Well, I'd tell my scribe to grab a book and read it for a season. The time is well-invested. If you have an MT-scribe at an average covenant it's like getting a free magus: Write a few tractatus, copy them a dozen times and trade them with everyone interested. A clear win-win situation for may parties involved.

Right... because you as a player know that declaring the scribe spends a season reading the book gives them enough magic theory to be good at writing texts.

IMHO, the magus does not have that knowledge. He doesn't know that the scribe actually studied or that he properly understood what he read. Not without spending valuable time testing the fellow. I'm not sure he'd believe that some mundane who spent a few months reading a beginner's guide to Hermetic magic would therefore be qualified to copy the magus' super important "Advanced Secrets of My Favorite Art" text anyway.

I think the advanced rules in Covenants are useful for situations like this, because it makes the process of copying a book no longer "magus goes and spends a season and gets just as good of a book". Instead, a magus is likely to be woefully unskilled at making good books, and will therefore be rubbish at copying them. If he wanted to make a copy, he needs a small retinue of servants helping (scribe, illuminator, binder)... and, even then, for high level books, chances are good it gets another 1-3 points from being made of cool stuff (Resonances/clarification), which the magus is unlikely to be able to easily replicate.

It just occured to me: Many books in Durenmar might be written by Magi not belonging to House Bonisagus. All these (most likely excellent) books have been acquired by Durenmar under the cow and calf rule. So any book you do not want to be copied by your magi are therefore ruled to be written by an expert not belonging to House Bonisagus.

By the way: Do some tomes written by followers of Diedne still exist? What will happen if someone discoveres a tome written by a Diedne? Will it be banned/destroyed by a vengeful Tremere?

Isn't destroying books depriving the owner of his magical power?

Not when its power the magus isn't allowed to have. If it were an infernal book, the situation would be cut and dry. With a book written on the Hermetic arts by a Diedne, I'm not sure there's canon data that'd say whether possession is against the code or not. If it was a book that contained an initiation script for Diedne magic, I could definitely see that being ban-worthy. If it were simply a book written by a Diedne on an otherwise acceptable subject... the Diedne was renounced, but that doesn't mean you can't have their stuff. But, since they were renounced, studying the works of a Diedne probably contains a prestige hit similar to studying the works of a Hedge Mage.

In our saga, I don't let players do this for two reasons. First, I don't think it is part of the medieval perception. The ideas of "labor saving", "efficiency", and "division of labor" are not present in the medieval mind, at least not in the way we moderns understand them. While researching City & Guild, I found many examples of famous, experienced craftsmen taking much longer than lesser experienced craftsmen to produce their product. Faster isn't better, in fact I'd argue that it's worse to a medieval. So in our Mythic Europe, a magus would never consider letting someone else copy a work that he personally is going to study. What if the copyist errs?

The second reason is one of power and advancement. I don't mind players growing in power, I mean to some that is the point, but I dislike free lunches. If a magus wants a book or some other resource, he has to spend time and/or energy getting it. There are no "8 build point covenant specialists copy machines" in our saga. Surprisingly, the bitching over this house rule only lasted a couple of sessions before the players accepted it and moved on. It really only delays the power growth curve.

My two cents, anyway,
Matt Ryan

The concept of "Division of Labor" did not exist, but the concept of "Slave Labor" certainly did. My covenant takes a very different approach, with many of the Magi having a few of 'Anything a mundane can do is beneath me -- and so they can do it for me.' Generaly, any in-covenant or in-lab task that doesn't require the Gift is handled by groups of lackies, motivated by money, mentem or threats.

Right. If you accept that a magus would trust a mundane with magical theory and that they trust such trained mundanes with hermetic books, then the magi definitely would not be copying stuff themselves.

I just happen to think that neither of the above is a given 'in character', though clearly legal in the game mechanics.

Trust generally doesn't enter into it. We do have one magi who has happy unconditional love for all the inherently-good creatures in gods kingdom (personality flaw much?), but the other Magi trained their assistants personally and keep them in line with Mentem items. Two seasons training them and one season building a headband for them is a good deal for never having to do your own scrying/copying again.

Well, you do realize that you will permanently damage their minds with that kind of mind control, right? The rest is a YMMV issue. I don't think that most wizards would put any faith in a book copied by a mundane or believe they could truly understand Magic Theory, regardless of the "evidence". I just see too much of that attitude in technical and academic folk in real life to think magi, who even more than real world people have reason to believe they are "special", would say "yeah, this fellow can flawlessly copy my lvl 18 Summa after a few months of training.. "