Lab Activities & Experimentation

While making a summary of all the possible lab activities, I realized that for some of them is experimentation not allowed (or at least not mentioned in the core rules).

The activities I'm thinking about are:

a) Extracting Vis
b) Learning from a Laboratory Text
c) Studying Vis
d) Opening the Arts to an Apprentice
e) Translating Laboratory Texts

With the exception of c) which can be done outside the lab, all the others involve a Lab Total and therefore are laboratory activities.

The question is: can you experiment while doing such an activity ? And if not, what's the (logical) reason ?


Doesn't exist anymore. You invent the spell based on the lab text true, but you still invent it.

I wont say for sure but i think RAW says no to all those.

Personal reactions:
a) i might allow it, but things could get really messed up (oops, how DID that vis get an infernal/divine taint? ).
b) depends on how you handle it.
c) i´d allow it, special results might give interesting virtues and flaws.
d) sure you want to risk an apprentice going BOOOOM? :mrgreen:
e) not a chance.

So I would rule (c) out.

And, as Tellus mentioned, (b) doesn't exist. You're still inventing the spell, just with help.


a) and d) sound like they could fail and succeed in spectacular ways. I'd allow them for a suitably deranged magus. (Though d isn't a lab activity if the apprentice has no supernatural virtues to be experimented upon)

I permitted laboratory experimentation when studying vis (c) to my players:

  • it permitted interesting random effects :smiling_imp:
  • and made this activity a bit more hazardous for young magi. :slight_smile:

Agreed, but I don't get why you couldn't experiment, while you're allowed to use a non-standard lab routine to boost a bit your lab total. To me, the lab text helps you reinvent the spell, but you could still push your limits further by experimenting.

Yep, that's the thing I dislike about rules for studying vis, there's no randomness or funny side effects apart from the stress die.

Well... isn't that what apprentices are there for ? :smiling_imp:

But that's the whole point: you are inventing the the spell and thus can experiment...

In the CORE it´s siad two things: you must perform a Lab Activity to can Expoeriment, by that you couldn't do it with Extraction and when you are learning/inventing a spell form another magi's lab text you are using the text in the exactly way withot vary any point and by that you can't experiment.
A question, do a dissaster/botch nullify the season ever with any result?

When using a lab-text, you need to replicate the original work exactly. This means, if the orginal work included an experiment, you copy it (which will give you the same side-effects, but not any discoveries, since you're not really discovering anything new.) You do not get any experimentation bonus (the lab-text bonus replaces it). If you're a really silly magus, you use the lab text for an experiment that ended up in a disaster, and well...
If no experiment was part of the original work, then no experimentation will be part of your copying it...

Well, such a lab text of a disasterous experiment couldn't have been too bad. After all, the magus lived to write the text...


oily smear, text stops abruptly

I actually wrote up some house rules for doing this a long while back.

Experimentation gives +(simple die + risk modifier) to the experience gain from studying vis, requires one additional pawn, and necessitates a roll on a modified Experimentation results table. The actual entries are the same, but the effects and sub-tables were modded to fit vis rather than spells.

Disaster: roll (simple die + risk modifier - perception)
0 or less: Complete Failure instead of Disaster
1-2: Experience you would gain is lost instead
3-4: Experience you would gain is lost instead, and you gain a warping point.
5-6: Explosion. Valuable possessions have a 10% chance of being destroyed, and the explosion deals +(pawns x 5) damage.
7-8: A major disaster that threatens the covenant
9-10: Gain extra warping, one point per zero on the botch dice
11+: Roll twice more on this chart

No Extraordinary Effects: self-explanatory and unchanged

Side Effect: The vis casts an interesting non-ritual spell with a level of (10 x pawns). The spell is of the same type as the vis, with the other art determined randomly. This spell bypasses any magic resistance you might have but is never immediately lethal -- if it would kill you, it deals an incapacitating wound and a single aging point in a physical characteristic of your choice instead.

No Benefit: self-explanatory and unchanged

Complete Failure: self-explanatory and unchanged. Note that the vis is still expended despite the failure.

Special or Story Event: unchanged

Discovery: roll (simple die + risk modifier)
1-4: 15 XP in Magic Theory
5-6: 15 XP in a mundane ability thematically appropriate to the Art (Medicine for Corpus, for instance)
7-9: 15 additional XP in the art
10+: Roll twice on the table, treating further 10+ as 7-9.

Modified Effect: roll (simple die + risk modifier)
1-3: Gain experience in a random Form instead, which may not be the same as the vis you studied.
4-6: Gain experience in a random Technique instead, which may not be the same as the vis you studied.
7-8: Gain a negative twilight scar without experiencing twilight
9-10: Gain a positive twilight scar without experiencing twilight
11+: Instead of expending the vis, it is transmuted to a random Form. If this would cause it to remain the same Form, it becomes a random Technique instead.

Hey I like that. Back in 4th ed I made something a little like this for some special type of vis the magi found, which had the potential for great insight as well as odd effects oreven disaster.
It gives vis study just a little edge.

...which it could use...

Studying from vis allready involves experimentation... Othervise, how would you learn anything...
The normal experimentation rules only work for activities that have a lab total - and you'd probably be appliable for a low crime if you're experimenting on your apprentice...

How is so? You are experimenting in your hermetic property.

HOWEVER it can be a MUNDANE crime. The fact that hermetics do not give crap about it does not mean that the local sheriff will let you pass about torturing a subject of the King :slight_smile:


Based on the fact that it is considered a low crime to open the arts of an apprentice if you do not have the arts to avoid giving her a deficency...

The same could be said for inventing spells, however. How could you come up with any new spells without some experimentation? But the experimentation rules signify taking more risks and generally being more ambitious than is standard. It seemed reasonable to allow the same for vis.

Which isn't to say the lack of experimentation-on-vis is a problem in the rules as written. My players find the Experimentation rules fun and the Vis Study rules too unattractive, though, so I took the hint and combined them for something that my players would have more fun with. I don't think it's unbalancing, but even if it is my players are happier this way. :wink: