Expedited Lab Construction

Because it takes multiple seasons to construct a lab, especially when adding virtues, can you have multiple people work on the lab at the same time to get it done in a single season?

I would say it depends on the virtue. Is it something you can actually do by yourself, without tripping over the other people in the Lab? For example, I would have no problem with two people, one adding a water wheel (Major focus), and another one adding a forge (Major focus). A third one adding light and heat to the lab, using Runic Magic, putting runes on the wall? Now we are getting into trouble. It could still be done, but the Lead Mage would need Leadership at that point. Probably one rank for each "helper"? That's my WAG.

Sounds like you plan to focus on the Lab. I would point out that the "Empty" flaw doesn't make your lab any more dangerous. If you plan on having anyone else using the lab, Refinement seems counterproductive. Just make the lab as big as you will need, and fill as you can. So you upkeep goes up. Meh, you're a mage, and it's going to do that anyway when you improve the lab. Figure out how to deal with it now......

If you have extra vis, you could also order any appropriate items from a Verditius. The Magic Item virtue, emulating a feature, focus, or other virtue, does not take time to install. The assumption is that you paid for it in some other way (either your own time, or in vis).

I would fully expect a Verditius' lab to be lacking many of the basic virtues others install, but be positively littered with small lesser enchanted items made from "leftovers" from lab totals (and a few REALLY powerful ones).

This is really beyond RAW. The idea of multiple working in a lab was originally based on the idea that a single magus has a team of assistants and they all work under his direction. For Apprentices, it was expanded a bit so that two people could work on two different projects within the same lab.

Working from Apprentices, one might think that you can work on multiple projects that improve the lab, but I take the fluff seriously here, that there is significant time and effort involved in installing a virtue and aligning the mystical energies it provides with a lab that allows two different projects at the same time to proceed. Even installing a single Major Virtue by multiple assistants in a season is problematic, and would suffer from a too many cooks spoiling the broth thing unless they are working under the direction of a single magus.

I have seen a common house rule in play that allows one to Refine their lab and install a virtue in the same season, since you can Refine your lab and remove a flaw in the same season. So, assuming a Refinement of 0 and no space, you could do Refine+Major Virtue + 2 minor flaws and do it in a single season. Take two seasons and it's Refinement season 1, Refinement+Major Virtue+ Minor Flaw in season 2.

A question occurs which is "who" actually has to do the setting up.

For instance, in both my previous sagas we hired a non-Gifted scholar of Magic Theory to set up our labs so we wouldn't lose study seasons. (If you're wondering what a mundane scholar is doing studying Magic Theory I'm sure that's quite a tale itself.)

You might consider that instead. Labs take up enormous amounts of time to get ready after all.
A caveat there is that you might need to make sure he didn't slip in anything unexpected. Willingly or otherwise.

Err, if you have to be Gifted, or a Failed Apprentice or a Familiar to assist in the lab, then having a nonGifted so-and-so setting up a lab seems to be questionable.

Time is the primary currency of magi, things that reduce the time cost to magi are a BFD.

I don't see inititial setup as so much of an issue- someone who knows the theory and where all the equipment goes should be able to set it up, but refining requires actually having worked in that lab, so obviously the ungifted etc. consultant would not be of much help with that.
Non-gifted with magic theory can copy magical texts, why not a basic lab setup?

That's the only thing they can do, and it's stated clearly in the rules.

Like I said, things that save magi time are a big deal. As a player, I'm always looking for ways for my magi to get more time, there is never enough of it.

Jonathan, as I can't access my books right now, could you post the relevant section on that?

I'm fairly sure it indicates in covenants that it doesn't need to be a mage.

Which part?
Assisting in the lab, see the Assistant Free Outfitting Virtue on page 116. Failed Apprentice and Familiars are given their ability to assist in the lab in the core rule book.

And,it does suggest that it needs to be a mage under Refinement.

It certainly doesn't say that anyone with Magic theory may improve or setup a lab. The core book is a bit more relaxed in the language that's used, in that, it only lists a minimum magic theory score of 3 as being necessary to setup a lab.

I look at it like so: If someone can't assist in the lab (as per the assistant virtue listed above) then I don't see how they could setup a proper lab that a magus could use effectively. Note that non-Gifted assistants in the lab are considered servants, and they only add 1/2 their intelligence (rounded up) to the Safety total.

I know about those free virtues and assistant bits.
I want a specific citation for two things:

  1. Why can't a mundane person learn magic theory? They can't USE it, sure, but scholars learn all sorts of things they can't use.
  2. Where does it say it has to be a mage who sets the lab up?

You're drawing a conclusion from "can't provide a large bonus in the lab" to "can't set up a lab in the first place", but I do not recall any such inhibition.
The bit about Refining, sure - but Refinement and initial setup are different.

No, the rules don't say copying texts is the only thing they can do. Look at the rules in Covenants. Only a high enough score in Magic Theory is needed most of those improvements. That is specifically stated as the only requirement (other than time). And since lab set-up is established as lab Virtues/Flaws, that is covered as well. Refinement specifies a magus (which seems to make sense as you're fine-tuning it for yourself), and there are a few other things like no one else can bind a familiar for you. But nearly all these improvements are permitted in the rules.

I never said that they can't learn magic theory. I am saying that they can't use it. You are saying that they can use it, to setup a lab, and do refinement.

Didn't I already answer that?

Actually refining and initial setup are closely linked in Covenants. If a character (our differences aside) with a Magic Theory score less than 3 sets up a Hermetic lab, they create a lab with a negative Refinement when they are finished. Since Refinement can't be negative, they have to add flaws, to make it 0. So, if you have to be Gifted to refine a lab, as you seem to agree, then it seems only logical that you have to be Gifted to set a lab up. Or at least have some nexus with the Gift, such as a Familiar or a Failed Assistant, or you know, an apprentice.

I am drawing a conclusion, I even explained my reasoning, you're asking me to provide something that isn't there. I can ask the same of you. Show me where it says a non-Gifted character with a score in Magic Theory can set up a lab. I don't think statements of the kind exist. It's definitely a YSMV rule, and what I'm saying is when you mess with the things that take up a magus's valuable time is a BFD. Pretty soon you have non-Gifted assistants distilling lab from an aura, because they'd always get at least 1 pawn, with their own labs...

Yet it is never explicitly stated except in refinement and then only vaguely. We don't need to know why, only that it is not explicitly forbidden. Refinement could be a lot of things, and maybe THAT needs the Gift because it's qualitatively a different process. For instance, anyone can follow a plan if they're knowledgeable enough about the theory, but only a magical genius can access the secret spark in improving one.
If a mundane scholar learned Magic Theory 3, what is preventing them from doing the initial setup in RAW?

Can't make it any plainer.

Jonathan, your line of reasoning includes conflating increasing with change or setting things initially. Decreases are also change, but only increase is listed as requiring a mage. Also, setting something undefined to a value is not a change, let alone an increase. For example, initially naming a child is not changing the child's name.

At best I'm conflating The Gift and being able to use a lab with the ability to setup a lab. Don't expect a a non chemist to setup a lab workstation for a chemist.

Magic Theory is a special case.
That's a bit like saying there's two kinds of chemists, Chemists and Super Chemists. Can a regular chemist set up a lab for a super chemist? Well, possibly, if they share the same basic theory - which they do in this case.

The Gift or nexus to it should be the special case. Without the Gift you can't work Hermetic magic.
A different example would be the practical experience of someone wth an IT certification and no practical experience coming into a working environment and explaining all the stuff is done wrong. The non Gifted person will never have practical experience. They know enough to be dangerous.

Are they necessarily dangerous if they can't use it for anything?