Hey, familiar, build my lab.

Next in my continuing series of munchkin questions....

How kosher is it to get my familiar to build my lab for me? Or improve it? Or, say, have a well-trained mundane with Magic Theory do it? If it's double, once it's done, would I have to spend a month familiarizing myself with the me lab? What if it was my lab all along, and the familiar just improved it?

In theory, the time it takes to improve a lab is a trade-off for the resulting bonuses, but if I can have it done by a character who otherwise has nothing to do (given that most familiars have difficulty spending downtime to gain XP's, due to their Might), that's not much of a trade-off. Heck, with theRoP: Magic rules, familiars are already overwhelmingly useful in labs, esp. If they have positive Int, and/or you start feeding them vis for Transformation (a type of learning that doesn't appear to suffer from the normal Might penalty to learning).

Mind you, even the one-season familiarization cost doesn't seem to apply if you declare the own is for "transient use"--that ought to require some cost, to (like a Flaw that gives a penalty to Feral Quality, Upkeep, and maybe Safety)


The lab is made or by Hermetic and human use or in a really personal and unic way. Your familiar can help you, but a Lab thats is not made by you will have problems (see Covenants) and should need adaption. By that a familiar can't grant any bonus that is of his own lab to other.

It is entirely possible to have someone else with Magic Theory prepare a lab for your use - provided you don't want any bonuses. The additional lab penalty for using a lab you didn't make can be offset by having the lab specialized in being a general-use lab - which is exactly what the guest labs at Durenmar and many other large covenants do.

Building a lab from scratch takes two seasons. I found the most efficient non-magical method for the well-resource'd magus is have someone else, such as an apprentice or well trained mundane, handle the first season; ensuring the tables are in the right place and there is enough beakers and retorts. Then handle the second season yourself, so the lab is actually yours and not one you just happen to be in.

As for your familiar specifically... do they have sufficient hands and strength? A cat might have trouble repositioning the tables.

What both you guys are saying is perfectly reasonable, but the problem is that that reasonable logic might not be reflected in the rules as written. Take a look in detail at the "Taking Over [sic] a Laboratory" sidebar on pg. 118 of Covenants. It says that if you take over a lab someone else "previously owned or used", you have to spend a season familiarizing yourself with it. That statement is less clear than you might thing. If someone else makes a lab for you and never uses it himself, does that count as "previously owned or used"? What about if your familiar takes your lab, which you built, and spends a season to add a new Virtue to it? In the latter case in particular, the lab obviously is yours, and has been yours all along, so does it become not yours when the familiar modifies it? For that matter, does the familiar have to take a season to familiarize himself (pardon the pun) with the lab before modifying it for you, despite the fact that he's worked beside you in that very lab for years? The same could apply to a human assistant with Magic Theory, even an un-Gifted one.

As for designing labs "for transient use", yes, that point is made in the text. However, there's no detail whatsoever, on how you would go about doing it or what penalties it might entail: the implied rule, indeed, is that as long as a lab is designed from the beginning "for transient use", there are no penalties for passing it back and forth--and there's no real reason, in the rules at least, not to design every lab "for transient use".


The familiar whose case raised the point is a spirit with Ghost Touch, allowing it to move stuff around, but giving a familiar hands and/or making him bigger or is not a very difficult enchantment, and something similar could be done by feeding him vis in order to create a new Quality (probably a Personal Power), the only hitches with a Power vs. an enchantment being that it's more difficult to end the effect at an arbitrary time (presumably shape-change spells can be ended at will, but they're the sole exception), and it costs Might.


And that same sidebar does say that you can just start working right away in a lab with no Refinement, with all its current statistics; which, after all, is the case of a lab that has just been set up with two seasons of work: it takes additional seasons to get it refined. It is the case of the generic +0 lab that is usually what covenants set up for guests. So yes, if you have someone with Magic Theory 3 that can set up a lab, you can have him do the work and move right in. Of course, if you have someone with Magic Theory 3 who you can just order around, you are probably ready for a better lab than that, and at that point you will have to do the work yourself or familiarize yourself with the lab later, after someone else does it.

Yes, you can move into an unrefined lab right away--that's not at issue. The question is what happens with more refined labs. Having someone at your bidding with a Magic Theory over 3 is not difficult at all: if you have a familiar, you can use Training to give it a rather high MT score in just a few years, even if the thing can't read. For example, if you have Magic Theory 7 and a lab with a +3 Teaching specialization, you can give even a familiar with a Might of 10 3 XP's a season while you work in the lab, and at Might 3, it goes up to 10 XP's a season.

And yes, the sidebar would seem to imply that Durenmar has improved labs available for guests--for me, this isn't a trivial point, since in the saga I'm running the covenant has been charged with providing accommodations, including labs, for guest magi.


The initial 2 seasons are good practice for your apprentice. She should allready know how you want things to look, and be able to set it up in the appropriate manner.

True, but that doesn't answer the questions I had, since such a lab wouldn't have a positive Refinement score, and thus could be taken over immediately under any circumstances....