Lab notes and a mages 'secret' scribing methods

Now in the RAW you need to spend time decrypting another mages lab notes unless they are written up en clair deliberately.

What I wonder though is how long it tkes to 'train' someone in your particular technique. I would assume mages routinely instruct their apprentices in their shorthand for example or they would spend a lot of time writing out fresh versions of lab texts for their lab assistants to use. Verditius might actually involve a large number of people in this with the masses of folk they draw into their forges.

Alternatively this could be read in a very different way, that mages keep this secret closely guarded, write out meticulous instructions for lab assistants, never give them any autonomy and cross their legs if they need to pee during the lab's working hours.

My main reasons for asking this is this...

a: How do people feel about a magus being able to instruct a scribe in his particular method thus sparing him the effort of writing things up himself for circulation. He can let some partially trained mundane do it for him.

b: Do people tend to view this cryptograohy as a closely guarded secret that no mage of sound mind would ever willingly share. Of course there are always plenty of mages who mind is far from 'sound'...

I think it woud be prefectably reasonable to allow a magus to spend a session training a mundane scirbe to decipher his shorthand for future use as a lab text translator.

A magus actually doing that is another thing entirely and I think depends highly on the individual magus.


As a labworker, I do frequently have to work from the notes of people who have gone before it. It's hell. Most people, even excellent scientists, keep spotty notes and have their own shorthands for frequently repeated experiments and stages. A lot of writing up an experimental involves translating what you've written, reordering it (because you'll often have sub-experiments going in parallel), occasionally repeating a few bits to recover a number which got smeared by a coffee stain and adding in the bits you left out because any damned fool knows you use PetEther 40-60, not 80-100, for that sort of thing.

I tend to regard the writing up of a magus' lab notes as much the same. Some will have additional ciphers for security, but most just rely on the fact that having a page which says, "As for ERC257, less ether this time. Went red, isolated yield improved." is useless to anyone without all the labbooks, the experimentalists memory and the like. As such, your apprentice could certainly use your labtexts after a year or two working with you, but for anyone else, they're use is vastly reduced. I don't think an untrained scribe would stand a chance.

I think real lab-notes would be undecipherable, for the reasons Fhtagn gave. But ArM lab texts can be deciphered, so apparently they're different :slight_smile:

I can't think of a reason why a person with knowledge of Magic Theory cannot learn another's cipher, just like a magus, or why a magus cannot teach it to such a person. So I'd say that you can, but I'd demand a season spent teaching it; I'll assume an apprentice picks it up during his long apprenticeship.

Come to think of it, isnt the 'secret' cipher of Trianoma magi actually just Trianoma's own lab text cipher style?


Oh, they're not undecipherable, but they're not trivial to use or transcribe either. Working from someone else's notes is a hell of a lot faster than doing it from scratch, but you do have to repeat experiments and try little bits here and there to work out what's going on. You might be able to write out small sections more clearly, but the whole of a series of work (ie. A season's worth) would be impossible without at least a few weeks labtime. Well, for my discipline anyway. Regardless, it's something an apprentice or magus could work out, but a mundane scribe never.