House rule question- which do you like better?

I have frequently felt that the RAW for book quality of either com+6 or com+3 with an additional +1 for scribe, illumination, and bookbinding needs to be replaced with something more abilities based- given this premise do you feel it would be better to have a craft: textbook ability replace the +6 bonus or an average of teaching and craft:poetry?

Craft: Textbook takes 105xp to catch up with RAW, it really makes it hard to be a brilliant author. However, the player who really wants it, can take good teacher, puissant craft, and affinity with craft for three virtue points to make the best out of it; there is a faerie blood for an extra +1 to squeeze out the last bit.

Craft: Poetry + Teacher means 210xp to catch up. The skills have additional uses, but not that much. It is even more expensive, but then the virtues only get half value which is probably good. This will, quite clearly, give less variation in textbook quality, which I consider a good thing. It will probably mean that fewer PCs are designed to write books, which is probably a good thing too.

Are you going to add production quality skills (scribe/illumination/binding) as well? Or only author qualitities?

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Personally, I think both are bad options. ArM5 tries very hard to keep a cap on book Quality and more in general on Source Quality, and for good reason (see ArM4...). Either of these options has the potential to significantly break that cap. Precisely for this reason, of the two options the one involving two abilities rather than one seems (marginally) the lesser evil: it requires slightly more effort to break the cap.

A solution I'd like much better, that preserves the cap while still pushing the idea that "author communication skills matter", is to say that each of the author's Teaching, Artes Liberales, and Language skills below 6 reduces Quality by 1 point compared to the RAW (just like the Covenants rules reduce it by 1 for each of Scribe, Illumination and Bookbinding below 6 for the specialists involved in making a physical copy of the book).


I'd make something like
+1 if Latin at 5+
+1 if teaching at 3+
+2 if teaching at 5+
and the +3 for Scribe etc.

That limit the max bonus to +6 and don't change the cap.
If you want to add a textbook/poetry skill, then make it a +1 and limit the teaching skill above.

ultimately I dislike the cap, hence houserule. After all a teacher can potentially have a SQ in the 20's, though not easilly, and books feel artificially constrained by comparison. I cannot think of anything else in the AM system which is so explicitly capped as opposed to simply having prohibitively increasing costs.

You could also use the language ability of the writer.

Language 4 = 4 + virtues + stuff
Language 5 = 5 + virtues + stuff

It does beg the question of how puissant and affinity in the language ability of the text interact with the rest of the rules.

I considered language but wanted something that involves actual instructional ability or skill with writing. Especially since language ability is a requirement already for both writing and teaching (teacher and student must have a language in common)

The fundamental issue here is that learning from a teacher requires the teacher's time. Which generally is at least as valuable, if not more, than the student's (a notable exceptoin is a magus learning from a mundane). Whereas a book, once written, can teach "for free" season after season.

So, in practice a single student learning from a teacher typically has to "spend" 2+ seasons for every season being taught -- 1 to learn, and 1+ to "pay back" the teacher, effectively halving the SQ. Multiple students learning from a teacher effectively split his cost -- but also significantly lower the SQ. Plus, everyone needs to synchronize - and synchronizing 2+ people is significantly harder than synchronizing a person and a book.

Very early in the ArM5 line my troupe and I munchkinistically tried abusing the teaching rules to make learning from others more efficient than from books, By and large, we failed (mundanes teaching magi being the exception - but it did not really affect the game balance). Books rule in ArM5.

Nah. What the fundamental issue is, depends on your view of what a roleplaying game is. If you view the game primarily as a realistic simulation, it is important that SQs, advancement pace, and relative magnitude of different SQs are realistic. If OTOH the game is primarily a good story, the critical issue is that the rules encourage player choices which make stories worth telling. Those two are not always the same.

This analysis also has to be made separately for arts and mundane abilities. Arts can only be taught by magi whose time is, as you say, more valuable than the student's. In contrast, mundane teachers are virtually free in many game settings, for instance by having no cap on the grogs a player can introduce.

But I probably agree with you, @ezzelino , by any standard. From the simulation viewpoint, I find it totally plausible that a good teacher has twice the SQ of a good book. Player authored books frequently have Q14, and teacher SQ28 takes both munchkin design and long-term advancement to achieve. And narratively, it does not come into play that often anyway.

I think @silveroak 's initial premise is valid though. The difference between genetically good and bad authors is 10 points for Com, plus virtues. Realistically, trainable skills should matter at least as much, but they do not matter at all. The heavy impact of characteristics is a general flaw in the system, I think.

Personally, I think the flaws we are looking at are way beyond quick fixes, and any quick fix is likely to create as much trouble as they solve. A completely new library/book system has been called for before. If we insist on a fix, we may want to consider halving the impact of Com, or something more drastic.

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I generally like the idea of having language, artes liberales, and teaching contribute to the source quality. A threshold of 6 as ezzelino suggests feels a bit harsh; a compromise might be requiring artes liberales and teaching to both be 3+ and giving an extra +1 quality if they're all 6+.

Okay, new proposal: Sq of books is com+teaching+arts liberales for mundane books and divide by 2 for arts. Or should we add craft:texts, craft:poetry, or language, or multiples of those potentially with a larger divisor?

My preference is anything that avoids skill bloat on the author side (aka the magi) and requires sinking seasons into things that would otherwise go unused as a requirement to write your first summae. Artes Liberales and Teaching all have other uses and makes sense. Writing already requires a language score of 5... I'm not sure how much higher would be needed to have any impact.

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This is likely to increase SQ on all books, both mundane and on arts. Not for the young Magi, but for the elder Magi, they could get higher SQ than the current rules allow, without reducing max level they can write.

The max will go up, which I am not averse to, but it will not be easy- having a 6 in teaching and arts liberales with good teacher and a com of 3 would be (6+6+3+3)/2=9 which is a fairly accomplished writer. To get above 14 you need a basic total above 28, which assuming a com:3 and good teacher would be an 11 in both artes liberales and teaching. If you use a com of 5 this comes down to a 10 in each.
Books other than arts will become much higher quality on the other hand, but raising the level of mundane abilities is also much more expensive anyways, and mundane teachers are easy to come by.

If a skill is involved, it becomes even more that munchkins, and only munchkins, write books. At the moment, someone who doesn't have a horrible communication may write a tractatus every now and then.

If a skill can increases book quality, for magi wanting to be authors, we will have a min-maxed teaching companion with the relevant skill, and in less than 2 years, drives the magi's skill from 0 to 8, so the magi can make the super book. If it's 2 skills, the mundane super teacher drives the 2 skills to 5 and 6 in less than 2 years.

It will kick up quality of books the PCs make. On the usual premise in if the PCs can use certain rules then it should be consistent amongst the order, book quality should be higher across the board. For example, the OP refers to scribe, illumination, and bookbinding. That's not in the core rule book. The moment that is possible, the general quality of books in the order should go up.

I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad thing, just commenting that it would be challenging not to justify a leap in book quality.


It's not in the base book, sure, but it's in Covenants, which is about as core as it gets if you step out of the base book.

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Silly thing, but I'd rather have writing books work like lab refinement. Your first draft has a certain SQ, you can spend more seasons increasing it up to a certain limit.


That might work better for libraries than individual books.


I think adding straight a skill would be too powerful but I agree having a hard cap is not cool.

So here is my proposition V2 :
+1 if Latin at 5+

  • teaching /2
  • Artes Libérales /3
    and the +3 for Scribe etc

I'd personally like (teaching-1)/2 more but I prefer to propose a (almost) simpler rule.

I'd look at what is reasonable to expect from a magus first. I mean, take Apprentices. It assumes the average master (let's call him Averagius) can generate a teaching total of 13 (meaning Com+Teaching =4). If we assume that Averagius has Com 0 or 1 this means Teaching 3 or 4, or more likely Teaching 3 (single student). And indeed, a magus gains 30xp from exposure in teaching while training an apprentice, bringing him to Teaching 3 if he started at 0 (28 if you don't consider the opening of the Arts as teaching).

Assuming the +3 in the Com +3 + 1 +1 +1 formula is the bonus from his abilities, this could come from his Teaching, but as others have stated I dislike that this leads to very high quality totals for excellent teachers (but you surely can be a good teacher and a lousy writer IRL).

Other things that are reasonable to expect from Averagius that could be useful in writting are his Artes Liberales 1 and his Language 5.

If you assume the average magus teaches at least one apprentice before writing a book you could argue that the formula actually stands for: Com + (Artes Liberales + Teaching + Language)/3 + 1+1+1 (or simply +3 if you don't use rules for scribe, illumination and binding). This brings the quality of the book to Com +6, and you can raise this by improving either of the three abilities. Most of the time you'd still want to study directly from a teacher if possible, but if not you'd search for the books of someone really good at teaching for basic stuff and tratactus.

While you can become a very good writer this is unlikely to be abused since it requires you to improve 3 different abilities (well, only playtest would tell). For high level summae you'd still want the book from the best specialist in the subject, since he can reduce the level of the summa and get the same benefit you'd have from increasing the Teaching score by 3 (for an Art).

Now, I saw that the OP wanted to avoid Language, but your skill with writing and speaking is also reflected by your score in Language. The advantage of including it in the formula in this way is that now you can write with Language 4 (I mean, if you can read you should be able to write, right?), but unless you compensate this with Teaching and AL you are going to have a book worse than what the average magus would write (shame on you!).

If you wanted to write a book for entertainment, then I think (Artes Liberales + Language + Craft:Poetry)/3 would be appropriate.

Anyway, that's just my suggestion, YMMV. Maybe another set of abilities would be better.