How can several people collaborate to write a book.

Well, I think this point was not discussed in a previous post.

Usually, books about various subjects, encyclopedies and scientific books are not written by a single person. Several people work together to write a book, and it was already the case in the middle ages, with generations of monks working on a single grimoire.

But if ars magica has rules for collaboration between magi when they're working in a laboratory, rules for collaboration in the writing process of a book are completely absent.

A book can be written by only a single person. But it's not conform to reality.

I think we should have a complete set of rules for this. And it could explain why there are so much high level books in the order, when it's so difficult to write one. I don't think that all magi have 5 com and good teacher... :confused:

  1. I think a summa about Ignem could be written by several experts, but all these experts should cover only one part of this art. For exemple, three specialists of ignem can write this book, one of them is an adept of fire, one of them is an expert of light and shadows, and the last is an expert of cold.

So if several magi can participate in the writing process of a summa, they should be complementary.

  1. The level of these magi should be more or less the same in the art or ability concerned.

  2. Such a collaboration can be of two kind:
    The book level is the same level as if only one magus was working alone on it but its writing is less time-consuming.
    The book is of higher level, but longer to write.

But the problem is how to emulate this collaboration in the game.

Ideas, sodales ?


You could use florigia or glossed texts and use just add a bit more abstraction to call them a joint work.

I have several issues with this, some from a game play (mechanics) perspective, and some from how I understand or perceive the order to be, without PCs. I don't think the Order is quite as collaborative as you suggest. Books are written, primarily because they can secure the character some kind of reward. That reward might be fame and recognition, or it might be revenue from allowing it to be read at the covenant, or copies made and sold. The rewards of a collaborative process become much more diffuse. We, today, are used to being collaborative, monks, by their nature were used to being collaborative. Outside of that framework, give people vast amounts of power, and I don't see them being collaborative, I see them being combative. Being edited is hard, especially the very first time. I can definitely see that the first time a magus is edited, it's going to be an exciting experience. :smiley: Then questions of how credit is shared, and how glory/profits are shared are also important.

I'm not so sure that summae need to be improved[1] the way you suggest. Summae, as far as Covenants and buying with build points go, are far too cheap. When considering that one can spend 30 build points on 3 tractatus of Q10, or 1 summa of L20Q10, it's always better to go with the one summa, unless your Art score is 19+. For characters with an Art score of 0, that summa is worth 210 experience points, and for characters with an Art score of 18, it is worth 39.

As it is, the math on summae works, when you consider that L20Q10 summae are not too hard to write. We discussed quality scores extensively in another thread. To get to Q10, assume you have skilled scribe, illuminator and bookbinders, and assume +2 resonant materials, which gets one to Q8, when you include the standard +3 for quality. So two points needs to come from a combination of Com, Good Teacher, and possibly removing some points from above, and the individual has an Art score of 40. And 40 is the canonical upper end of an Art score, IIRC. Q15L15 summae are the same situation, as far as determining quality, but the individual lowers the level from 20 to 15, and increases the quality by +5.

Introducing even higher level summae into the saga is going to vastly increase the power level of the magi over the long term. This is one thing I've thought a lot about for my Bibracte saga here on the Atlas forum, as I introduced an extremely high level and high quality Rego text.

[1] You'll find some people on the forum who don't think summa should be used at all, and just use tractatus.

I see your point.

But I think it depends on the tribunal you have your saga.

In a vis-rich tribunal, summae are not so important, but in the Normandy or the Roman tribunal, a good library is a must have.

And yes, magi are not collaborative. But sometimes, a work can be asked (and paid) by the covenant: authors should create for the future readers (apprentices or visitors) the best summae they can, and for this, they can cooperate.

At the end, to ameliorate the covenant library, and the reputation of the whole covenant can be a good motivation for several magi to cooperate.

But for this, specific rules are necessary.

It's an idea.

Florilegia rules can be used, but in this case, the binding of several summae (instead of tractatii) together is not real collaboration. Just a cheap assemblage.

I was thinking about some specific rules, like how a magus can help another one in his laboratory.

I'm not sure where you're going with the idea than in a vis-rich tribunal summae are not so important. Because magi can study from vis? Studying from vis is an incredibly risky endeavor, and almost certainly most players will chose to have their characters study from books until they've exhausted all reasonable sources of books.

Assume a magus has reached an Art score of 20, and wants to study from vis. Assume a standard +3 aura, and assume an average die roll is 6, due to chances of exploding on the stress die. He spends 4 pawns of vis to acquire 9 XP on average. The risk he's dealing with is 5 botch dice, minus[1] whatever botch dice his familiar's golden cord score is. So, he's still running quite a risk of a Twilight episode, which may or may not be favorable. And he's adding a lot of warping points which is pushing him ever closer to Final Twilight.

[1]The language on Cautious Sorcerer is not definitive as to whether it actually applies when studying from Vis, I could see it going either way and would leave it up to the troupe decide (studying from Vis is not a lab activity). To make it safe, he would need to get the

Perhaps. Perhaps not. It depends on how you see ars magica.

For me, far away from the center of the order, you'll have access to more vis, but less books and of lesser quality. So you need to rely more on vis to study, because books will be harder to get. In the center of the order (Normandy, Rhine, Alps and Roman tribunals), you have less vis (dominion), but the covenants are very old, and have usually very good libraries.

But anyway, it's not the subject here. The point is: how to create rules for when magi want to collaborate for writing a book. :wink:

My suggestion, is that you propose something, some actual mechanics on how you think it should work, and then invite the members of the forum to critique the work. You could say that I'm critiquing your work in advance of that. If you change the rules for summae, as far as increasing their level, while not decreasing their quality level appreciably, you'll have supercharged your saga, and Art scores, as a rule should be far higher than 40 as the canonical max.
You need to assess the full impact of this to the saga, asking questions like, has it been done before? If it hasn't, why is it being done now? Does it require a breakthrough? If books at the edges of the Order (your position) are harder to get, and these books are better, who is benefiting from them?
What I'm trying to say, is that you're altering certain underlying assumptions built into the rules when you change them to allow increasing levels of summae.

I think it is probably easiest to just use the rules for single author books, and then call two or three books distributed together a "collaboration". So, in-character it is a collaborative book, but in game mechanics it is just treated as three tractatus (or however many authors there are).

Also, a "book" that consists of lots of spell-texts can easily be a collaborative project.

Writing about "one part of an Art" sounds very much like the definition of a tractatus to me. This makes the rules for florilegia a conceptually-natural fit.

Other rules working well with Jionra's approach above are those about assembling an encyclopedia (A&A p.26 lower box) and collecting and binding correspondences (Covenants p.90). In particular the latter makes collaborative efforts worthwhile from the very start of a campaign, when scores in Arts and Abilities severely limit the number of tractatus the correspondents could write alone.


Here's a simple thought, which wouldn't boost the maximum achievable level:

Any number of people may work together on a summae they're all capable of writing (so they must all have an art/ability of at least twice its level). Designate one person as the primary author. The quality is calculated as usual for them, but for each additional participant (who must spend at least 1 season working with them) they receive +1 to their communication+good teacher total, to a maximum of 8/9 (depending whether you allow communication specialised in teaching/writing using heroic or essential characteristics).

The very best authors benefit not a jot from having assistants (they just get in the way) while a poor communicator (-3 communication) could really do with the help on phrasing etc.

Ok, thanks for the ideas !

Now, I'm working on it. :wink:

I suggest you follow the example of how Ars Magica books are created, and that without someone who possesses colossal levels of Profession:Line Editor it will never get finished on time. :smiley:

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For chronicles, yes, in the sense that one monk took over when the previous one died. But not really for any other form of work that I can recall. Academic collaboration seems to be a modern phenomena. As such, it is anachronistic to introduce it into a medieval setting.

Hm... OK, here's my late-night stab at this:

  1. Editor - Adds one to the quality of the work, regardless. If the Editor's Communication+Good Teacher is higher than the original author, may add (the difference)/2 to the Quality. Getting someone to edit your work is almost always helpful - but it works better if they're a better writer than you are.

Edit passes take an extra season for each level of quality they add (for both author and editor). Minor edits can be incorporated fairly quickly, but major overhauls will take time. Is also the most painful thing in this list to do - as mentioned earlier, it's unlikely most magi will appreciate being told that their prose is incomprehensible, their explanations actually inhibit understanding, and that a five-year-old Moor has a better grasp of Latin.

  1. Peer review - Treat as a series of correspondences that are read along with the book. (+1 xp per review.) Takes as long as it would normally to write a correspondence, but takes the author an additional season to incorporate the feedback. For simplicity, treat the review xp as a bonus chunk the character gets at the end, after they have finished reading the text.

  2. Ghost-writing (Get a writer, and tell THEM what to write). Can use the writer's Communication score, but the Level of the work is restricted to the new writer's skill or the skill/2 of the original author (whichever is lower). The new author has to be able to understand what he's writing about enough to communicate it. Takes equal time to write the book for both authors.

This one probably isn't too bad. It's very similar to glossing, but it's a before the fact occurrence before the final copy is scribed, illuminated and bound. It probably isn't going to add more than 1 point anyway, 2 points on a remote possibility. Someone who is writing is going to have a decent Com score, so to improve it 2 points the Com+Good Teacher needs to be 4 greater than the writer. That's not going to happen often. I wouldn't add any extra seasons of writing on it for the original writer though. And it should only take 1 season for the editor.

Not a big fan of this one, Peer Review is probably a modern concept.

This seems like a huge waste of time, it involves two people for as long as it takes to write the work. Ugh. :smiley:

Here is a simple work around...
Set the Level according to the collaborator with the highest Art score in question, set the Quality by the Communication of the second author :slight_smile:

One of my chars ( a very rich nobleman) want to write a summae of single weapon as family legacy (single weapon 13) but he knows he is not preciselly a great comunicator.

He is trying to find an scribe with high com/good teacher (or both), and maybe an illuminator to help, to tell him what to write and so use his comunication.

Its spected to spend a season or two teaching the scribe in single weapon, to make him understand was he is writting.

Witch kind of product could we spect of this process? ( lvl / Q)


Well, assuming a com 3 good teacher (so effective com 6), we've got +9 bonuses for being a properly illustrated and bound book on a mundane subject, that's +15 to quality.

I think you round up, so you'd get at most a level 7 summae, but that's only if the scribe can reach L7 in Single Weapon. The summae could be: L3Q27, L4Q24, L5Q21 or L6Q18, or L7Q15 depending on A) preference, and B) the skill of the scribe.

If the scribe is starting from scratch, he'll reach level 3, meaning a L3Q27 summae. Which is pretty damn good.

If you have a com 6 good teacher (it's possible, but ridiculously implausible, relying on either essential traits or heroic abilities) you'd get a L3Q30 summae, aka "instant level 3 in the skill".

That's not correct.
The formula has been corrected in errata.
The total is Com 3 + Standard 3 + Good Teacher 3 +3 for all skilled professioanls for a starting quality of 12 before lowering the level.