[Homebrew] Learned Magicians and Studying

I had a wonderful conversation with my fiancée concerning Learned Magicians. Since they cannot study from Vis, this creates some interesting problems for them in terms of growing their magical knowledge as a community. As practicing arts is verboten, this leaves their primary sources of knowledge as being teaching, books and adventuring.

Since teaching and books require an existing body of knowledge and can only ever realistically bring one up to the level of one's community, this means that the Arts of the Learned Magicians will only ever be slightly higher than when they were first created. [1]

Because of this, I wanted to create (and introduce) a set of rules to make adventuring more fruitful for Learned Magicians, which can allow interesting sources for them to collect, hoard and trade, without having other traditions just happening to have books they are directly able to read.

Learned Magician Inspiration

The magic of the Learned Magicians is based upon magical texts from other times and cultures, which have been recombined into their new form. As such, Learned Magicians have a natural affinity for finding inspiration for their own magical knowledge in the magic of others.

Whenever a Learned Magician has access to a Tractatus or Summa of a Supernatural ability or Art which they do not know, they may pursue it in search of inspiration for their own eclectic style of magic. When they do this, they are not studying the true subject of the book, but using it as an aid to explore their own knowledge and add some small pieces of what they read to their corpus of wisdom. A Learned Magician studying Minoan pottery fragments is not concerned with how they conducted their magical rites, but she is memorizing their incantations to summon health and fertility- because those could be a useful addition to her own knowledge.

When a Learned Magician studies an unknown text for inspiration, they spend a season reading and reviewing the material. They select one of their Arts they feel resonates with the knowledge within the text, then make an Inspiration check (below).

Inspiration Check: Intelligence + Language + Stress Die

If this surpasses an Ease Factor of (10 + 1 for every three points of the chosen Art), then they receive full inspiration and gain experience points in that Art as if the chosen text were about that Art. Otherwise, they receive half of that experience, as they fail to receive the full benefits of the text.

They are bound by all the other rules concerning studying from books. If the level of a summa is lower than that of the chosen Art, they cannot learn from it. Likewise, they cannot review the same Tractatus more than once for inspiration (though they could read it normally, if they later gain the Ability or Art within it).

In addition to their ability to derive inspiration from books, Learned Magicians may also treat collections of magical text that are not intended to function as books as if they were a collection of Realia (Covenants 102) for one of their Arts. They may spend a season to review a new collection of such things to determine which of their Arts corresponds to the collection, as well as split it into multiple Realia collections if the components contain contradictory or multiple themes. For example, a Learned Magician who discovers a collection of the works of an ancient Greek magician could divide their relics into two collections- a Vulnero collection made of Curse Tablets and a Magicam collection concerning their written rites for calming ghosts.

Compared to a normal Realia, the level of quality needed is much lower. A significant portion of a Minoan pot depicting sacred rites could be enough to be included in such a collection, provided it’s sufficiently unique. However, all components of such a collection must be useful primarily because they contain magical writings, such as curse tablets, stone inscribed glyphs, magical laboratory texts from other traditions or hermetic casting tablets. Other magical relics are of no real use to the Learned Magician.

A Learned Magician may study directly from such a Realia collection, without having to seek inspiration. [2]

[1] Hermetic book economies are not something anyone else can expect to ever realistically have access to.
[2] This is because I like them having large libraries of eclectic magical writing that would be incredibly useful to hermetic Magi, which gives another reason to include them in Sagas.


I don't think this is necessarily correct due to tractatus - they don't have the same level limit as a Summa. That said, the Learned Magicans are going to be (particularly) limited in the number of Technique tractatus they're able to produce due to it being a Difficult Art (so an Ability xp scale but /5 for number of books you can write), and it does require a certain critical mass of practioners. However, the Learned Magicians are the sort of hedge tradition that does write books, which will help them.

They also have access to the Gift of Prometheus - a way to grant themselves or others the Good Teacher virtue, which should never be underestimated.

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Also when they are in the lab they can learn from exposure, which if you were to emulate them from the beginning can get a magus up to where they can begin writing tractatus. I would expect learned magicians to need to keep very old tractatus around to use for advancement and potentially have to put a lot of points into ancient languages in order to read them.