Hedge/Rival Magic Lab Assistants

In searching I found this quote from 5 years ago here: https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/herbalism/105/1

I'm trying to figure out what happens when you have non-Hermetic apprentices and want them to work as lab assistants. I can only find the specific instances Alexios mentioned. Is there anything general? I was looking more generally for Learned Magician, so not even fully general. But I haven't found it at all. Maybe it's just something a few specific groups can do, which would make up some for their severe limitations?


My own opinions:

In general, a Hedge Tradition does not have a benefit unless a rule specifically says it has that benefit, either covering that specific tradition or covering all hedge traditions. So most traditions cannot benefit from assistance, since the rules governing how that assistance works is not described.

Since each hedge tradition only has a single chapter, and since some hedge traditions are rather complex, and since no Hedge Tradition has received very much playtest compared to Hermetic Magic, using one of these traditions for a PC requires a real investment of work. Learned Magicians are perhaps the examplar; they are very cool but their rules really needed a second pass and maybe a third.

I consider LMs to be broken. As usual, I don't mean that they are bad or overpowered or that I don't like them, but that the flavor text and the rules text do not correspond. In one case--also something I consider broken--applying the LM rules produce silly results (it is easier to find a charm for "spontaneous" casting from text if you only have one Formulary than if you have a library, and for some unstated but probably very silly reason, it is impossible for a LM to take a bunch of formularies and organize the charms so they can be easily found, or even to take five formularies and combine them into a single book to lower the ease factor.)

Again, my own opinions for fixing LMs:

  1. As an organizing principle, I prefer to let LMs be better. They can almost serve as a rival magic. Because AL and Philosophiae are universal truths, LM traditions might be found anywhere there is high civilization. Educated people in Persia or China or the antipodes might not speak Latin, but there's a Charm for that...

  2. Yes, SuMa can provide any Major Magic Supernatural Virtue, including those that grant powers. A LM who wants to protect against fire can simply grant himself Immunity to Fire; a LM who wants to set someone on fire can grant himself a greater power to do this (he cannot cast a charm to do this directly, but can cast a charm to give himself the ability to do this.) Note that LMs can easily deal with the social problems of their Gift in many circumstances: Yeah, they lack Parma, but they can grant targets a virtue to be unaffected by the Gift! Cast it on your classroom.... Note that this is completely legal using RAW.

  3. Only Gifted LMs with their Arts fully opened can use SuMa or SuFo. Other LMs have to make due with the more pathetic charms such as those in TeSa and TeMa. This is because SuMa and SuFo is where much of the power of the tradition lies; initiating SuMa alone is a lot more than 1/9th the utility of the tradition. It's probably also ok to rule that only full LMs can grant virtues and flaws.

  4. The formulary rules need work. I would abstract this: If you have access to an LM library, you can quickly come up with something whose level is limited as usual. This takes 1min/mag if you have your full library; 5min/mag if you are using another LM's library; 10min/mag if you are using a single book that you carry around. One roll, for casting, as usual for casting from formularies; no roll to find what you need.

  5. If you want to awesome LMs further, let them use lab assistants. But beware: Chartae become a lot better if you can add the AL scores of all your students, up to your leadership. I recommend allowing this only if you want LMs a force to be reckoned with. If you want to split the difference, maybe the leader requires the Ceremony virtue? (I'd lean to simply not allow it. Chartae and hermetic lab rules interact weirdly.) However, I definitely recommend allowing LMs to improve their labs, such as they are, similar to what magi can do; rules would be needed for this, however.

  6. Many Hermetic and Initiatory Virtues seem appropriate for LMs. Flawless Charms is very good, but isn't more powerful than Flawless Magic. Flexible Charms is also very good, and is a little better than FFM (mostly because LM Ind->Group is only +1), but still not crazy. Remember the university offering degrees in music? Their LMs ought reasonably have access to Performance Magic. Some of the basic perks of Hermetic Magic might be appropriate... if the LM has the right virtue or initiation. A minor mystery virtue to obtain a familiar (AL + Magicam) or spirit familiar (using Realm Lore + Magicam) seems in character, but a Talisman is probably not.

  7. The rules were written to interact with Hermetic Magic but without regard for Hedge Traditions. This is right and appropriate. But in introducting a Hedge Tradition, it is worth considering on a case by case basis, whether it makes sense to introduce such an interaction. For example, Goetic Summoning allows the use of ReVi in place of Infernal Lore and a Goetic Art; a LM with Summoning ought reasonably be able to use TuMa, though most of the benefit will derive from Ma and little from Tu (Difficult Art), which makes this far less problematic than allowing ReVi.

  8. Imprecating the Powers probably needs a revision, since it is likely to cause as many problems as it solves. Either way, LMs should be allowed to take a different Major Virtue instead. (FWIW, I think Natural Magic should be an LM-specific benefit that allows the effective Aura to be reduced by Phil for the purpose of eliminating penalties and botch dice (so a Faerie Aura would provide its usual bonus but potentially no botch dice) for any application, and that this should be the primary LM Major virtue.) The rules already allow for different flavors of LM, and a proliferation of traditions should be encouraged! Intramural rivalry ftw.

I think I have more... but my very long kernel build just finished.



Yes, I would totally agree. Most likely they were written as they were for reasons we may not know. That's why I was wondering if there is a general statement. I don't think there is.

No surprise there, right, that Hermetic magic gets much more attention? Yes, multiple passes. :open_mouth:

The same things bothered me. It seems like confusion between having, finding, and organizing. I'm not going to try to fix it, though.

Thanks for the reply.



I do like LMs very much.

And I like optimizing.

And I like cool stuff. Or at least stuff that I think is cool.



1: Psht, there was almost certainly an LM tradition in Arabic before there ever was one in Latin.

2: One thing that I'd be hesitant to allow as an SG, however, is SuMa to grant Virtues that strengthen one's Learned Magician abilities, such as "A Charta To Grant Strong Amulet Magic" - that creates a lot of potential for bootstrapping one's own abilities through clever layering of Virtues.

Also, personally I wouldn't allow "unaffected by the Gift" to be granted, but that's strictly a personal preference - instead, I would use SuFo on oneself to increase one's Teaching skill.

3: Eh, nah. It's no different than an unGifted Sahir having Sihr and a Solomonic Ability (and the associated abilities of Solomonic arts and naranjs) - unGifted wizards can still be frighteningly powerful. I might agree to "no granting new Supernatural Abilities" for the unGifted, though - mainly because that allows them to bypass the price of a lot of Initiations.

  1. No, because Learned Magicians don't have labs - which is a boon in that they don't need labs and can set up shop anywhere (doubly so if they have Magical Memory), but a curse in that they can't use them. I'd allow this for Alchemists, but not LMs.

  2. With a caveat - the Order of Hermes has a lot more knowledge available, put simply, because they've been around for centuries and have a thousand magi sharing magic all across Europe. I would look very carefully at anyone who wanted to adapt Mystery Virtues for an LM tradition - a particular Learned Magician mystery cult will not have more than a handful of these - unless you need that group of Learned magicians to be able to operate on a magus-level. (NB: My own tradition of Islamic Learned Magicians has Mechanica of Heron as its core ability set.

  3. Personally: Ewww. ReVi Ars Goetia is broken as it is, and I especially wouldn't want it to be too easy for Learned Magicians to get Magic Resistance. The Ars Goetia should be left to dedicated Infernal summoners and sahirs - allowing Magicam to count for four Arts plus what it does on its own really makes no sense to me.

  4. Natural Magician only works for amulets and similar seasonal effects, and is a Minor Virtue. Entreat the Powers, meanwhile, is a powerful Virtue but is intended to still have an element (a 1% element, but...) of risk to it. Neither ability is exactly designed for "cast a stressful spell in a hostile aura without repercussions." With that said, Cautious with Divine Lore goes a long way if you want to Entreat the Divine Powers to get around the fact that your workshop's in a city.

That said, I do enjoy the modularity of Learned Magicians' tradition and definitely encourage variant LMs - https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/hedge-tradition-the-banu-musa/9515/1 has my rules for the Banu Musa as an Islamic variant based on combining LM skills with Mechanica of Heron.

In general: Learned Magicians don't actually qualify as a "rival magic." They're very good for what they do (in particular, the ability to pull Virtues ex nihilo should not be underestimated), but they aren't at the level where a Learned Magician is able to provide a serious physical or magical threat to a magus. They work much better as part of the support infrastructure for a covenant, or for a covenant's enemies. YSMV, and of course feel free to increase the power of one such tradition if you need them to fill the role of "antagonists to the Order."


Or not, if the first LM traditions arose before the fall of Rome.

But why stop there? The LMs of Atlantis were earlier and far more powerful, their schools second to none. Their secrets are forgotten, but at the very least, none of their Arts were Difficult and they could get the spirits to do far more than merely reduce Aura penalties.

I wouldn't worry about that, since the problem is self-correcting! Using that Charta grants 1 Warping Point per season.

Personal preference indeed.

If I wanted uncrippled LMs, I'd allow it. Alas, they cannot grant themselves the Gentle Gift, which would be more effective.

It really is very different. But... preference.

That is certainly a reasonable approach. On the other hand, it is also reasonable to read the LM chapter and note that LM "labs" are said to be simpler than Hermetic Magi's, enough to cast a horoscope, but not non-existent. Reasonably, creating a place that abets such activities (or whatever else a LM does with a season) ought to provide bonuses.

RAW, LMs don't get lab bonuses, which is why my recommendation is just that.

Certainly, magi of the Order like to think so! But LMs might have been around for as long as the liberal arts themselves, with those parochial mathematicians of Bologna not realizing that they are just a small chapter of an eternal institution...

The only part of the goetia that is broken is what happens when magi can use an easy Art instead of a difficult Ability.

I'm not saying that Magicam should count as 4 Arts any more than Vim should count as 4 Arts... you need the Virtues first.

Of course, banning Goetia entirely is fine too.

Sure. That's RAW.

Note that the gist of my post was about using LM's a rival magic.

Even RAW, LMs can pose a serious threat. When Greater Powers are taken as Major Virtues, some of the points can be used for Penetration, and therefore affect most junior magi. A good Finesse score (Fo cannot be used for this) can let powers not need penetration. As an indirect threat, LMs are even better. A magus will typically be able to wipe the floor with an LM in a direct confrontation, but give the LM a few days to come up with just the right chartae for the situation at hand and things might look different, especially if the magus doesn't realize the possibilities. Greater immunity to fire? An Essential Quality that prevents being suborned? Second Sight, to see through illusions (or simply an InIm power)? Shapeshift into exactly the form needed? If all else fails, the LM can teleport away: It's just another Major Virtue. Or hide out in a church and do magic from there.

An LM with Parma is even better... and a powerful LM might well be asked to Join or Die.

Yeah, preference. It's also about aesthetics. I think that most hedge traditions would benefit from a bit of fleshing out for actual use, and this one most of all. I certainly think that most hedge traditions of any size are likely to have mystery cults, and that some of these cults might even cross magical traditions; Augustinians, LMs, Elementalists kind of beg for it, even sahirs.

I really like LMs, though. With just a few bits tacked on, for example, I think they represent some Kabbalah traditions better than the RoP:D stuff. (Not summoning angels, but that's what reflavored Goetia are for :smiley:.)



Huh? Where are you getting that? Remember, the charta is made for you specifically - and in any case, you made it yourself, so it's 1/year, or nothing if you don't keep it on for more than half a year.

I think I've ranted before on my dislike of the term "Hermetic Virtue" being used generically.

The thing is, "casting a horoscope" doesn't require any kind of lab - it requires you to be able to make an entirely mathematical calculation. (An enchanted armillary sphere helps, but there's no way for a Learned Magician to create one.)

But Magicam does still count as 4 Arts, in terms of spending XP on learning the stuff (and "you need the virtues first" is disingenuous - the Virtues are available for free if you decide to study the Ars Goetia and maybe touch a demon).

What you're doing is setting it up so that a TuMa user can use Ars Goetia better than a specialized Goeticist, because getting a score in Magicam is strictly better than the actual Goetic abilities themselves. That (and the equivalent for Hermetic Magi is this and worse) is what I find bad and wrong - it isn't just that you can summon stuff better than a Goeticist, but you can use the Ars Goetia better than a dedicated Goeticist. I realize that Hell is fuelled by injustice, but this is taking it a little far. :smiley:


Oops, yes, 1/year. If a character keeps lot of charms and chartae active on himself, RAW suggests warping should be inflicted. LMs deal terribly with Warping. Self-correcting, and not even the most powerful thing going.

I don't remember this, but ok. Translating (again, I note that using hedge traditions, any of them, involves a bit of work to flesh them out and better interact with the (large and) larger body of rules), "Hermetic Virtues" are just specially tagged. For LMs and Gruagachan, this category is especially useful.

My problem isn't that they are called Hermetic, but that the same virtue is called Hermetic in some traditions and Supernatural in others. Hmm. Some consistency would be nice. Puissant Hedge Art is sometimes Hermetic and sometimes Supernatural, for example. I think this is simply a matter of different authors making different choices and the editor having bigger fish to fry for so complex a book (1 tradition per chapter! ouch)... but the authors and editor can speak for themselves.

The thing is, "casting a horoscope" doesn't require any kind of lab - it requires you to be able to make an entirely mathematical calculation. (An enchanted armillary sphere helps, but there's no way for a Learned Magician to create one.)
Well, no. Having any armillary sphere ought to be better than not having one. Having a library with all the best reference works also ought to help out. Having an excellent desk and pen (items of quality by a verditius for example) and parchment is also better than a crude palimpset. Being able to look up at the clear night sky while doing all this can't hurt either. An assistant is useful, and maybe a servant to dust the books and keep the sharpened quills coming. And I don't see how having a beautiful building all his own adds to a magus' reputation, but not to anyone else. Or how being in a cramped, freezing wagon bumping along the road is only unhealthy for a magus...

A singer doesn't exactly need a building with superb acoustics to sing, but it certainly helps.

BTW, since you ranted first, my turn! I really don't like the lab improvement rules at all, or the way they pigeonhole all magi into the same kind of labs. Sort of the way one lab might be stocked with vintage video arcade games (for the tech guys) and another stocked with really good drugs (for the guys who came up with the product name for the thing I worked on at my previous company; this also works well for Criamon on the Path of Dude, Check this out).

But if there are rules for workspaces, for magi, for artists, for artisans, also for academic endeavors.

But Magicam does still count as 4 Arts, in terms of spending XP on learning the stuff (and "you need the virtues first" is disingenuous - the Virtues are available for free if you decide to study the Ars Goetia and maybe touch a demon).

What you're doing is setting it up so that a TuMa user can use Ars Goetia better than a specialized Goeticist, because getting a score in Magicam is strictly better than the actual Goetic abilities themselves. That (and the equivalent for Hermetic Magi is this and worse) is what I find bad and wrong - it isn't just that you can summon stuff better than a Goeticist, but you can use the Ars Goetia better than a dedicated Goeticist. I realize that Hell is fuelled by injustice, but this is taking it a little far. :smiley:
Are we even arguing? Well, ok, a little. The virtues aren't free; they have a cost, like any other. (And using a SuMa charm to grant Summoning 4 is dubious, since Summoning is always Infernally Tainted.) I'm saying that if it is considered desirable to extend other rules to perhaps include LMs, then treating Magicam as Vim for Goetia isn't much of a stretch. I'm also saying (long past my first rodeo on this one) that Goetia become problematic when two easy Arts are included in the total. ReVi is the problem, not Vi; by extension, not Magicam. Yes, substituting Vim for any Goetic Art is extremely good. But magi can summon stuff anyway; so can LMs. The other 3 Goetia are purely Infernal; a PC who overindulges is a very self-correcting problem. I don't have a problem with anything other than what happens when Re20 and Vi20 get stuffed into a total.



As long as they don't read RoP: Magic and see the Transformed Human Virtue. Barring that they can feed themselves ritual powers and convert confidence into virtues. Luckily confidence is strictly limited unless they somehow get infernal lore.
They can also make silly high level charms with there*5 lab total. Which would be pretty pointless except for those similar spell bonus things. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not.

Yes, I had found that one myself. But Transformed Being doesn't work as well as you might think for them. There are two huge issues:

  1. Eventually your Transformed Being ends. You lose whatever transformations you might have had.
  2. All the lab stuff you can do cannot work on you because it cannot penetrate.


Getting any Realm Lore is par for the course for LMs, since it feeds one of their signature abilities.

Transformed Being works very nicely for them. True, they lose the qualities they gained when it ends. But that's not what makes it awesome (although if they could keep qualities, that would be even better, yeah):

  • No Warping while TB lasts. Need to stack 20 charms at once and don't want Warping? Go TB. Also, botching charms don't cause Warping either. So, while you are a TB, you don't Warp and don't have to test for nastiness when your charms double botch, because no Warping.
  • You can learn variant charms, each making you a different kind of TB, since when you become a TB, you can choose extra positive and negative qualities balanced to 0. Want a few more levels of Fatigue? There's a TB for that. A fair reading of the rules would allow you to just use one charm, since choosing the qualities happens during the transition, but that's too generous even for me. BTW, you can gain confidence every time you TB yourself if you like; there's a quality for that. Use, recycle, repeat. (I'm still not worried about the Infernal PC taking advantage of it, because with all that power comes "the GM can arbitrarily send my character to damnation and it's my fault.")
  • You can also use TB on other people. Your friendly LLSM hermetic magus would love those extra fatigue levels. And to be a TB during that Scary Hermetic Ritual Cast in a Hostile Aura.

As for Penetration, the errata changes this. (And weakens chartae.)



Actually, it doesn't. It just makes the errata look a bit silly. Look at the prior sentence, not changed all by the errata:

This sentence has been left as valid. I'm not sure why the next sentence needs errata to make it more confusing; it was written better in the book. Sure, Penetration might be appropriate, but it's disallowed. So who cares if it would be otherwise appropriate? Maybe the intention was to alter the first sentence, too? But it hasn't been done. Right now HMRE continues to explicitly say amulets and charta cannot have penetration.


Except it also explicitly allows chartae and amulets to have Penetration, in the new sentence. :smiley:/98249273

FWIW, a low-powered LM using the following rules would also be viable:

  • Fortunam effects do not need to Penetrate. This is because these affect really do affect Fortune, and do not affect any specified target directly. This is a boost.

  • SuMa charms cannot provide Supernatural Virtues; however, do not worry about whether any effect is natural or magical since any effects persist. This is a heavy nerf.

  • Chartae and Amulets can Penetrate, if necessary.

  • A new Duration for Chartae and Amulets: Until Triggered +0. This is the new default duration. The charta or amulet provides its benefit until that benefit makes a difference. Thus, a charta that affects aging rolls Until Expended works until its bonus is the difference between having an aging effect or not; a charta that turns a stress 0 into a 10 works until it does this, etc. Amulets can have charges, as usual, and can be combined with Until Triggered.

  • Long term use of an amulet does not cause Warping, because amulets are so closely attuned to the wearer for whom it is designed. Chartae and charms do, as usual.

The result is a LM that is definitely weaker and less flexible than a magus and whose powers are subtle and 'natural'. (Still, such an LM cannot be totally dismissed. SuFo and TuFo make an LM extremely good at whatever he sets his hand to, and VuFo utterly bypasses MR.)



No, unfortunately it does not:

It says all the other stuff is inappropriate. It doesn't say Penetration is inappropriate, but it also doesn't explicitly say it's appropriate or allowed. It suggests it is allowed because otherwise why bother making the exception, but the sentence is still 100% valid if penetration is not allowed. Meanwhile the unchanged sentence explicitly forbids penetration. So we have two sentences, one of which explicitly forbids penetration, and the other that hints it may be allowed but makes no statement one way or the other. Both sentences can only be true of penetration is forbidden. It surely leaves us thinking there was intent behind the erratum, but the only sound logic with the two sentences as they are now is that penetration is forbidden because that is stated explicitly by one and not denied by the other.


"All of the fruit in this basket, other than this one, are not oranges," tells me that there is one fruit that is definitely an orange.

I do agree that the errata could use errata.



That is likely the intent of such a sentence, but that is not logically correct. I'll lay it out a little more clearly:

There are ten fruit in the basket. Nine of them are visible and are not oranges. One of them (the tenth) is covered. Clearly all of the fruit in the basket other than the covered one are not oranges. What can you conclude about the covered one? Does simply knowing that the other nine are not oranges actually tell you the tenth is an orange? When I uncover the tenth and reveal it to be an apple, does that then mean the statement about the other nine not being oranges is false?

Sorry, your example in no way corresponds to the sentence. In English, if I say "everything other than X has property Y," it means that X does not have property Y.

It would be a lie to describe the example you give as "None of the fruit are oranges other than one."

If I have a lineup of ten people, nine of whom are known not to be criminals and have just been put there to have a lineup with the tenth guy, who is under suspicion, it is completely false to say "None of the people in this lineup other than one guy has committed the crime."

Plain and simple.

If we have a sentence in a game that says, "Someone from the Magic Realm cannot have any supernatural virtues other than those aligned with the magic realm," it means very plainly that he can have supernatural virtues aligned with the magic realm.

I can go on. I know that you want to make the sentence correspond to a certain mathematical logic, but it can also correspond differently. Worse, 10 out of 10 native speakers of English who have not gone past high school math (and most of those who have) will disagree with your version, and they are right, because that's how language works.

I totally agree that the errata is unfortunate in not modifying the preceding sentence, and that applying the two sentences together creates a big wtf.



Really? I couldn't have made it correspond much better. I wrote "clearly" at the beginning. I changed "this" to "the," but I could have left it. The only difference is that I specified "this one" is "the covered one." I had it covered to aid in the reasoning, helping to show we don't need to know anything about it to make the statement and thus the statement says nothing about it.

No, really, it does not. Let's put it in an if-then statement for more clarity. "Other than X" would be "not X." If not X, then Y. That is your statement. You are saying this implies if Y then not X, because you have said X cannot have property Y. That is the converse of the logical statement. Look up if-then statements and converses in any geometry book in the world to see if the logic is valid if you don't believe me. Here's an example to save time. If something is a cat, then it's an animal. Does that imply that if something is an animal then it's a cat?

Read what I wrote again. I said "That is likely the intent of such a sentence, but that is not logically correct." I understand what was probably (no guarantee, though) attempted with the sentence. I have allowed for non-strict-logical interpretation as well. But going with that gives you no answer while following the logic does give an answer.

Let's look at the two in the book post errata. One statement explicitly forbids penetration. There is no argument there; it is explicit. And then there is the second sentence which says nothing explicit about penetration. Implicitly it says nothing logically. However, why bother saying it if you don't mean anything by it? So the likely intent is that it's supposed to allow penetration. So here are the two options:

Penetration permitted: Violates both the words and intent of the first sentence. Does not violate the words of the second sentence, but probably follows its intent.
Penetration forbidden: Follows the words of both sentences and the intent of the first sentence. Probably doesn't follow the second sentence's intent.

As the intents are likely opposite, there is no way to follow both intents. So going by likely intent means you cannot make a determination between the two sentences. Going by the logic, then, leaves only one valid interpretation.

I certainly understand that many people interpret it differently. However, I would not say that makes them right. In the case of converses, I frequently see the common interpretation (that a logical statement implies its converse) leading to either the person is correct or reality is correct but not both. What would be better to say about all those in disagreement would be that frequently their logical error doesn't end up mattering, but sometimes it does and in those cases they are just wrong. Most people also interpret the odds in the Monty Haul problem incorrectly. Does that make them correct about the odds because they understand the English and feel it means something different?

Yes. I already sent something to David.


I think our conversation about natural logic, formal logic and linguistics has become tangential enough to either be dropped or taken private. I'm fine either way.