House Rule for (writing) Books - Thoughts?

So I updated to 5th edition (from 4th) fairly recently, and 95% of it thills me, chills me and fulfills me. The one thing (well, one of the small handful, really) that leaves me a little dissatisfied is the new version of the book-writing rules.

My main gripe is that, by the rules as written, there is no way to become a better author with experience, since Quality isn’t tied to any readily improvable trait. (Communication could be bolstered by some form of magical effect, and I guess maybe you could be hypothetically initiated into the Mystery Cult of Good Teachers, but that’s not the kind of improvement I’m interested in). What are people’s thoughts on this pair of house-rules, designed to tweak things to be closer to my liking?

Summa and Tractatus Quality = Communication + b[/b] + bonuses due to Virtues
Summa quality can be increased as usual, to a maximum Quality of (Communciation + [Language] + Bonuses due to Virtues) x2

Since most Hermetic Authors are going to have a Language score of 5-6 unless they sink heavy amounts of time into their Latin, I figure the 'average' book Quality will not be too far from the default Communication + 6 - but truly dedicated authors can push their quality higher - a highly dedicated Latinist perhaps even 3-4 points higher.

A Translator must have a skill of at least 4 in the source Language, and 5 in the new language.

The Quality of his translation is equal to his Communication + (Target Language). It may not exceed (Quality of the Original) – 1, unless the translator has a level in both the Source Language and the Target Language equal to or greater than the original author’s level in the Source Language – in which case he can write a translation with Quality equal to that of the original.

EDIT: Removed the bit about resonances, which I don't personally care for. Could still go either way on 'craftsmanship' Quality bonuses, but leaning towards making the text the only determinant of quality.

Experienced magi can drop more book levels and turn them into quality by the rules.

This only works in the case of summa.

What is very clear in covenants is arts summa (roots & branches) Q 15+ lvl 15+ are very common and there is very little need or reason to recreate summa on arts at least.

Frankly if you have an art score of less than 40 you are probably wasting your time.

Tractati are the mainstay of most magical reading & learning and they receive no benefit whatsoever from abilities; as described by OP this cannot be easily be improved.

I've had this gripe before on the forums...more than once even i think....

For an upcoming game, I intend to run with the following house rules...

[size=150]Expanded Qualities[/size]
Maximum Summa Quality: Author's Communication + Author's Teaching + 1 for skilled scribe + 1 for skilled binder + 1 skilled illuminator + bonuses due to Virtues + bonus for writing to level less that half of Art score.

Maximum Tractatus Quality: Author's Communication + Author's Teaching + 1 for skilled scribe + 1 for skilled binder + 1 skilled illuminator + bonuses due to Virtues

Obviously, I am not using the rules for resonant materials, as I do not like them.

[size=150]Laboratory Specialisations[/size]
Teaching: The value of this specialisation adds to all training and teaching source qualities, whenever training or teaching is performed in the lab. However, this can provide a bonus of at most three points. Also, this specialisation is not added to the quality of any books wrote (see Texts)

Texts: The value of this specialisation adds to all Lab Totals when inventing a spell with the benefit of a Lab Text, as well as Lab Totals for translating Lab Texts. For every full three points of this specialisation, the lab's user may also add one to their Profession: Scribe score whenever copying Lab Texts and books, and one to her relevant Language Ability and Teaching ability when writing Lab Texts and books.


I think Teaching is more appropriate than Language - writing a good textbook really isn't about having the best language skill. It makes the formulas in the OP not come out right, though. Perhaps a lower typical quality is reasonable, or some weird maths can be used (e.g. adding (Teaching - 3) if Teaching>3). Otherwise, I think the OP formulas seem to work well-enough.

I actually do like resonances - not the mechanics so much as the idea. Leafing through a book on Ignem written in solidified-lava on the hide of a dragon is just too cool to leave out. I'd replace the mechanics with something like

  • "Normal" resonanat materials provide a +1 to quality. In practice, this is just color - one can assume such materials are available on the market, and woven magically into the work [on any subject; a tractatus on Area Lore might have local herbs woven in, and so on].
  • Extraordinarily fitting materials, who can never be bought on the market but must be hunted-down or so on, provide an extra +1 to quality and lots of acclaim. They can also be enchanted, for further perks.
  • No clarification is possible. Just dumping raw vis into the work won't make it better, nor will it limit it to a Magical aura.

For my own sagas, I'm comfortable with language skills rather than teaching improving the qualities of books - both because it diversifies the skills a bit (so the same skill doesn't make one person both a stronger book-writer AND a stronger teacher), and because I'm an over-educated philologist and like to fantasize about all my Latin composition classes making me more valuable somehow. :smiley:

I can certainly see it being argued either way, though. My main thing is just wanting the possibility for improvement in writing ability.

As regards resonances - I would allow special, story-acquired materials of great magical significance to be added to the composition of 'special' books to grant a small Quality bonus. I just don't like the notion of being able to slap a +1 resonance on to any old book by spending a few pounds, the way that Covenants presents it. And the whole bit about Clarification just struck me very oddly.

I like resonances for the coolness factor.

Given the rules apply entirely to how easy texts are to read, Com+teaching+bueaty factor for craftsmen producing it. I see no reason making the item a thing of magic would not improve its quality. IF we accept the actual modifier already in place then this is perfectly suitable. Of course, the existing factors have almost nothing to do with knowledge...

I agree the good teacher virtue is far too good and far too common.
I would like to see teaching, writing and the actual skill of the writer all have a bearing on the text although I would be inclined to use those skills as a limiting factor on the final output.

For example: tractatus = skill+binding etc... final level not exceeding com+language+teaching

I am not necessariyl suggesting that is the ultimate forumla, it is something off the top of my head. But some formula including all those elements would be better. The problem is you cannot just add them all up without getting massive scores.

I have always hated the fact that a newb magus can produce an awesome tractatus if he was born as a gifted writer. It is poppycock.

For summae, we use the basic mod that Artes Liberales (for being able to better structure the book and give it a better written language)+ Philosophiae (being better able to relate the text to reality making it easier to comprehend) + Teaching, divide by 4 round down added to quality.

And then:
Greater Summae, Write Quality= Basic Summae +3+(Ability/2 rounded down)or+(Art/5 rounded down), Write Cost +100% from base cost

Greater Tractatus, Write Quality= Com +8 +(Ability/2 rounded down)or+(Art/5 rounded down)
Quality X, double write time

Thorough Tractatus= Quality +3, double write time(triple for greater)
Meticulous Tractatus= Quality +6, triple write time(quadruple for greater)

Thorough Summae= Quality +4, Write Cost +50% from base cost
Meticulous Summae= Quality +8, Write Cost +100% from base cost

You could for example use the Greater summae/tractatus from above to replace standard but with slightly lower base bonus if you want to keep quality closer to "normal".