Hello all,

I have a question about experimentation, or perhaps just an observation. In the Raw you can experiment on a spell, and if your lucky make a more powerful version of that spell, but you cannot build on it. At least that seems to be the principle. To me, this is problematic. If you have your research notes and you know the spell in question, why can you not then enchant it into an item? Or experiment on that new version of the spell in the hopes of getting an even better version of said spell. A magus could spend his life turning a spell into something more powerful and disseminating that knowledge of that particular more powerful version of the spell. You aren't making a new range, or breakthrough, you are just making one spell more powerful or placing that one spell you have improved on a new medium. Any thoughts?

I'm not sure why you can't enchant it into an item. There is the similar spell bonus, after all. My understanding of Experimentation, as opposed to Original Research, is that you push yourself and your limits, not the limits of Hermetic Magic Theory. If you know something as a spell you should be able to reproduce the effect in an item.
I'd suggest some spells, especially any of the spells that deal damage that aren't Ignem, like The Crystal Dart and Wielding the Invisible Sling are probably the results of experimentation and have been shared with the Order.

As far as building on it, this is what, IMO, Original Research is for.

I take the liberty of interpreting your question to be about rolling a 'Modified Effect' on the Extraordinary Results Table, and getting a result of '4-6 The spell or effect's range, duration, target, or potency is increased'.
Back in 4th ed, when the Experimentation table was slightly different, I got this result once. I can't recall whether it was defined otherwise back then, but we interpreted it as the spell ended up at the same level but with a Range one agnitude higher ('Near', as it was back then, increased to Sight).

Assuming this is the same in 5th ed, my take on your question is that your magus invented such a spell with an actual effect one magnitude lower than it should be, by basic design.

IMHO is that this is a unique thing, which can't be deliberately reproduced. So I don't feel you could put such an 'optimized' effect into a device, since it is in conflict with design guidelines.

However, I don't know how I should feel about writing a lab text about this? Could it really be so easy to reproduce? My gut feeling is that a lab text written about this particular spell results in the standard, unaltered version of it. The special 'Modified Effect' is a fluke, only caused by chance during experimentation, and a magus can only reproduce this effect by similar Experimentation and rolling the exact same result. And even then the text in the table says either parameter may be changed and does not specify how much.

I personaly would go with the other road: the labtext includes the result of the lab experiment.
If you fail an experiment, you have a bonus to the next one (+MT a second time) because you have the notes... until it backfires totally and would rework from scratch only from that point, not from the beginning.

So if you invent a spell with a "discovery" (which I have done many times) , and with a special effect (such as something which could be part of a future breakthrough if only you would take time to investigate), selling your super labtext for high price would be a thing to consider.

That doesn't mean you can invest your modified spell in a device. To reuse your effect you have 2 choices:

  • do an experimentation again, and hope to have the same result on the chart, with a SG giving you the same change. IMO would never happen : what are the odds?
  • create a breakthrough on that previous result. When you have the breakthrough done, you can use the change on whatever you want. That's the purpose of breakthroughs: "oooh that's cool. i want to do more of that."
  1. Because if what you describe would work, it would completely break the game. IYS? If everyone starts out at 0, with none of these kinds of spells already existing, then it's not a big deal. But if the entire order is capable of doing this for the past 400 years, then Pillum of Flame should be a lvl 5 spell that instantly destroys the target, heals the caster, and summons Gabriel to do your bidding.

  2. That being said, I agree with the idea that if you want to integrate your insight into Hermetic Theory, you can use the Breakthrough/Integration rules. An interesting, one-off spell like that WOULD, IMO, be a source of Insight. Of course, it's not targeted research, so the effect you come up with may very well just be "3 points of Integration into Target: Cheese", rather than, say, reducing Duration costs, or something like that.

  3. But In-game, Hermetic Magic is also an Art. Therefore, how do you improve the Mona Lisa? What was that extra something that made her smile the way she did? If you want to figure out exactly what it was that you figured out in the frenzied moment of creation, sure - go ahead and reproduce it. But that's Integration research.

  4. But I do assume that the most common spells (such as pillum, or DEO, or whatever - the list of "top 20 spells a covenant should know" is a good place to start) have been experimented on. A LOT. To the point where if it's a particularly well-known spell, players can assume that it's really easy to find and learn an Experimental one, even during character creation - usually one that has an automatic Mastery effect built in. (multishot, or Flexible Formulaic Magic, or something.)

You seem to assume that Pillum of Fire isn't the result of 400 years of (integrated) research.

Was Pillum of Fire a spell that Bonisagus himself could cast? I doubt it.

Flambeau might have been able to produce such an effect, but likely not as easily as a modern magus can.

I'd be very tempted to say, however, that learning a spell from an experimental labtext would necessarily come with risks. After all, the labtext details what was done, but when some of what was done doesn't fit hermetic theory at all you're bound to have misunderstandings.

You seem to assume it isn't. Flambeau could probably do it easier, especially in the medieval world where the past is when there was more power and more magic. The version of Pilum of Fire is the spell he could demonstrate that could be incorporated into Hermetic Magic.

We don't detail what virtues are installed in the lab on a lab text, or if we do, then they are such that the results can be reproduced in any lab that doesn't have those virtues. The lab text details the effect, RDT parameters and the magus's specific method, but there has to be some amount of variability otherwise they are useless to magi without a similarly configured lab. Similarly, a magus with a better command of the Arts for the spell might not need to experiment to replicate the effect described in the lab text. He can cut to the chase and shortcut the process quite a bit.

I know one good candidate for this premise of lab text of experimentation being possible is the InAu spell Whispering Winds. The flavor text of the spell acknowledges that it doesn't fit well with Magic Theory, nevertheless, it's considered a valid spell. The Base isn't listed nor are the RDT parameters of the spell.

No, I deduce that it isn't. You made an assumption, found that it's contradicted (if Hermetic magic never advances how can these methods for advancing it exist) and stuck to it anyway.

I deduced from the fact your assumption is contradicted that it must be false.

All the evidence says that hermetic magic has been getting more potent over time, through breakthroughs and integrations... albeit at a slow rate.

As such, it makes no sense to assume that all modern spells were available to the founders.

They might have had other advantages, but the state of hermetic understanding was clearly less than it is in 1220.

Flambeau may have been able to produce something as potent as a Pilium of Fire using his "Firestarter" major virtue, but that's not the same thing as being able to hermetically cast Pilium of Fire.

None of which is relevant to the point at hand.

There are a number of non-hermetic spells that the Order has individually integrated without integrating their guidelines. The two most famous are Wizards Communion and Aegis of the Hearth.

Integrating an experimental result into magic theory is obviously going to be possible. The question is: Is it automatic?

Yes, you're right, I made an assumption, but I'm not sticking to it. :wink: I mean, I may not have thought through the implications of my statement through, and that's not the same thing of stating an assumption and sticking to it evidence to the contrary, is it?
You're making several assumptions, that the Order has advanced equally over 450 years of development. It is certainly possible that Flambeau provided the guidelines of scaling damage which were incorporated into magic theory. We have little evidence to judge Ignem, but we do have evidence (canonical sources) for measuring the changes to Vim. Is it reasonable that advancements in Ignem have been rare, because it was already good enough? How much damage is necessary at a given power level? And who is doing the research? Older Flambeau? Bonisagus researchers who might be interested in other things? The pyromaniac Bonisagus? How many of them have there been? Certain fields will see more attention from researchers than others. I'm not convinced that Ignem damage is one of those areas. Advancement in Ignem is possible, though.

The relevance is that the lab text describes an effect, range, duration and target. It probably describes some of the work done to arrive at the final effect in the formulaic spell/item, but the magus using the lab text must complete the work using the peculiarities of his own magic. We only know the game effect of a lab text, we don't have anything describing how a lab text works for a magus in terms of their understanding.

So, does this mean that one cannot invent these spells from first principles, and must rely upon a lab text to learn them? That only after learning a 20th level Aegis and a 10th level Wizard's communion that you can then begin inventing higher level versions of the spell, since their guidelines aren't part of Hermetic Theory, it should be relatively impossible to invent these from first principles, that is, without the assistance of a lab text.

Is it true integration? As you say, you have two examples, famous examples no less, that almost every magus knows about, and if you have a saga where Penetration of the Aegis is important, then Wizard's Communion is an almost universally learned spell. Must someone learn a lower level version of Wizard's Communion and then use that spell as a template for designing higher level spells of the same type?
I don't believe learning a spell from a lab text is equal to integration. Integration suggests that effect can be invented by anyone from first principles.

It's possible. But at that point your "summoning gabriel" spell is nixed because no-one's been trying to advance the spell.

Sure, but a spell that fits hermetic parameters will involve a lab-text that makes sense to everyone who understands hermetic magic.

A lab text that produces a non-hermetic spell has no such guarantees. After all, spells that require mystery virtues can't just be copied because they have a lab text...

IIRC It is specifically stated that as part of becoming a hermetic magus you are granted access to those two imperfectly integrated spells. How? Not clear, it's probably something to do with how the arts are opened... but it could instead be that a basic magic theory summa includes them, and all teachers make sure to pass on that little tidbit.

Remember, these are individually integrated spells. They're spells that don't fit the hermetic theories, but have been rendered part of hermetic magic regardless.

No. Wizard's Communion is (imperfectly) integrated.

Nor do I. But I'm willing to suggest that learning a non-integrated spell from a lab text might be problematic.

Not necessarily. Aegis of the Hearth can't be invented from the standard first principles: It doesn't fit the principles of Hermetic Magic.

It is its own principle, like the Parma Magica (but slightly more integrated).

If Aegis fit with the principles of hermetic magic you'd be able to make one with structure target... but you can't.

That doesn't hold for every Mystery virtue, and certainly is opposite of how Potent Magic operates as anyone may learn potent spells without the virtue.

A quick search of the Ars Magica core text for the word communion and scanning the text around the word doesn't seem to bear that out. It is explicit for the Aegis, you are correct, it's stated within the text of the spell. But that process isn't described and we still have an example of someone inventing a spell that they can't actually explain how it works according to an existing guideline. Magi who invent this spell have to be relying upon some principle that they don't understand, which isn't explained well which is exactly what a magus would be doing when creating a spell with enhanced characteristics with the benefit of a lab text.

Agreed. So these individual examples are described well enough in Hermetic theory such that we know they work, but we don't know why they work, and here is how you get it to work...

It might be problematic. Maybe requiring another roll on the Extraordinary results table.

True, but it can be done, nonetheless, despite not everyone knowing why or how it works. They simply know that performing the necessary steps result in a desired effect. Not all that different than inventing a spell from an experimental lab text, IMO.