Lab Specializations and Requisites

Let's suppose that I have a lab with specializations (among others) of +2 Mu and +2 Im.

I'm enchanting an item effect that's fairly complex, such that it's an InMe effect with MuIm requisites. How would the specializations apply? For reference purposes, the relevant rule in Covenants (pg. 112) is that "[t]he value of an Art Specialization adds to any Lab Total...involving that Art." (emphasis added) I see three possibilities:

  1. Taking the word "involving" literally, the Mu and Im specializations apply to the Lab Total, since its involves Mu and Im, albeit as requisites.

  2. The specializations apply only when the Arts in question are the primary Arts in the Lab Total.

  3. The specializations apply only when the Arts in question are the Arts actually used in the Lab Total--that is, a specialization applies if, after adding it to the Art, that Art is the lowest among the primary and requisite Techniques or Forms involved in the effect. In this case, it means that if the maga Mu +2 is less than or equal to her In, she gets to apply the Mu specialization. (In effect, this means that the specialization applies as a direct bonus to the Art.)

If the answer is #1, then, given that "[b]onuses to Lab Totals from all applicable Specializations are cumulative," could a maga apply 3 or 4 Art Specializations to a single Lab Total? This might look abusive at first glance, but remember that a lab can only have at most 4 Art Specializations.

By the way, whatever the answer is here, would the same answer apply to Shape and Material Bonuses?

Scott Orr

  1. I'd say add specializations before selecting the worst Te/Fo. If that Art is not the lowest and is put aside when calculating the lab total, the specialization bonus should not count IMHO.

By this you are asking if a single Material can give 2 bonuses when instilling an effect. For instance an emerald ring used to incite love of snakes would have {+4 + +7 = +11} if your Magic Theory is high enough. Personally, I limit this to 1 bonus per Material because some bonuses are subsets of another (silver has +5 for lycanthrope and +10 to harm them) and doubling up is abusive.

Yes, that's my option #3. But what's your reasoning?

With regards to the Shape and Material Bonuses, I was actually asking now they'd be treated with requisites.


If I understand what you are asking, it shouldn't affect the lab total at all. Different part of the equation and all that. The equation should look something like : Aura + Int + Technique + Form + Magic Theory + Shape and Materials Bonus + Lab Bonus + Whatever. Really quite simple. Requisites or Difficult Art, etc, only affect the part of the equation "Technique" or "Form".

Oh, sorry.
None, it just seems natural to calculate each lab total separately.

Ok, more like a mercury magnet for a Crystal Dart-like enchantment then. Same as #3, but very few S&M bonuses directly apply to Arts. For instance walnut affect mind and would count even if Mentem is not used to calculate the lab total.

Still, I don't think parallel bonuses should add up against Magic Theory, only the actual bonus should.

  • Mu5 + Re10 + Te10 : (MuTe 5+5 + 10) vs (ReTe 10 + 10) = 20 (requires MT5 for mercury bonus),
  • Mu8 + Re10 + Te10 : (MuTe 8+5 + 10) vs (ReTe 10+3 + 10) = 23 (requires MT5 for mercury/magnet bonus, not MT8),
  • Mu12 + Re10 + Te10 : (MuTe 12 + 10+4) vs (ReTe 10+2 + 10+4) = 26 (requires MT6 for mercury/magnet bonus),

I consider this one double-dipping and not valid

  • Mu8 + Re10 + Te10 : (MuTe 8+5 + 10+4) vs (ReTe 10+3 + 10+4) = invalid because mercury appears twice in MuTe

But there's no RAW reason for any of that, it's just feelings.

OK, but the question is, in what cases do the lab's Art Specialization bonuses apply? I think you're saying they don't add directly to the Art scores, which would rule out #3, but that stills leaves a choice between #1 and #2, based on whether or not an Art Specialization applies to a lab project that uses that Art as a requisite rather than the primary Art.


I would go for #1,

It feels right, and (if it's relevant at all) grammatically it makes sense,

Just because Mu isn't the primary art doesn't mean that it isn't a feature in a spell (and often that requisite can push the spell level up a magnitude as well - so getting levels back for it in that case seems correct) - I'd just watch out for edge-case abuses,

Let's say you attuned your talisman to get its jade material bonus of +4 Aquam. In some way you are saying when casting Lungs of the Fish, you still get that +4 bonus even if your Auram Art is the lowest.

Yes, you are talking about lab work and I use a spell casting example. But it's the same problem in both cases and they deserve the same answer.

Perhaps they deserve the same answer, but there's no explicit wording on the Shape and Material section like there is for lab Specializations.


If I can rephrase that example as a lab activity,

If you where inventing a lungs of the fish spell in a lab optimised for Auram work then I would grant you the auram lab specialisation bonus because the activity includes auram (and the rules state that "activities involving..."), even if you where using aquam to figure your lab total (I take "involving" to include such tasks as "compare aquam to auram, use the lowest"),

That said, I think the talisman example for spellcasting works too - after all the spell does affect aquam (hence the requisite). However, this might be a minor area of distinction between "Aquam" and "Water" - if Jade had a +4 bonus for "Water" would you have suggested it as an examplefor your argument?

I don't think this is a hard question. The answer is the first one, take it "literally". And, yes, you can add multiple specializations to that total. The mage has put seasons of work into that lab. That means something. If that's too much for you, take a page from the form and material bonus section and limit it to your Magic Theory. But that is a House Rule, not Canon in any way.

Another thought,

Would it be right for one mage working on that Lungs of the Fish spell to get that +4 aquam lab bonus because his aquam was higher than his auram, when another doesn't because his arts are reversed?

That seems a bit counter-intuitive,

Well, how about the following example: Twinkus the Illusionist is a specialist in Creo and Imaginem, and naturally his lab is specialized to have a +3 bonus in Creo and +2 in Imaginem (hall of mirrors, I dunno). If Twinkus wants to invent Lungs of the Fish, he uses his MuAq(Au) Lab Total. But suppose he decides in a moment of cunning to invent a variant of Lungs of the Fish that also adds a pink dot to the target. The Creo and Imaginem requisites don't lower his Lab Total at all, since his scores in those Arts are so high; but does it seem intuitive that he should get the +5 bonus to his Lab Total because he's inventing a pink-dot Lungs spell instead of a standard Lungs spell?

The OP's question (a good one) seems to hinge on our interpretation of what Mythic phenomenon the bonuses from lab specialization (from Corpus, say) are supposed to reflect. Is it that the Lab enhances all Corpus magic that takes place within it, just because it's Corpus-tastic; or is it that the Lab makes the maga working therein more effective, as effective as someone with a higher Creo score? Honestly, thinking about the various specific lab specializations described in Covenants, both types seem well represented (for example, a lab built on a mystical graveyard, versus a lab with numerous specimens for reference). They have different consequences for the OP's question. Pick your poison....

If it's "Water", then the bonus always applies. Yes it is a little weird that "Aquam" and "Water" don't work the same way, so it might be the wrong interpretation.

If you calculate each lab total separately and then use the lesser one, it becomes natural. And in a way it makes sense : if you have 0 in Auram, no matter strong you are in Aquam, how many water specimen you have, that your lab is underwater, you still are limited by your lack of understanding of air. To go against this would mean that Puissant Aquam should apply, because an intuitive understanding should be just as good as an applied understanding through specimens.

Still, every other effect is applied after picking the lowest TeFo : Focus doubles the lesser of Te/Fo, Deficient flaws halve the total even if the deficient requisite Art is not added to the total. Doing the same for S&M and lab specialization is also coherent.

I can think of a fairly easy way to rule out such cases. Following the "Requisites" guidelines (ArM5 pg. 114), you could rule that the bonus would apply only if a req is either 1) necessary to the main effect (e.g., the An req in a shapechanging spell) or 2) adds a secondary effect substantial enough to require an additional magnitude; the one type of req that would be excluded is one that adds a secondary effect that's too trivial to merit the additional magnitude (e.g., the pink dot). Particularly in the case of adding a secondary effect, there are very few labs with a bonus in a particular Art big enough to compensate for the extra magnitude required.

Mind you, this approach does add a small bit of complexity.


I think it's all been covered, but specialisations apply regardless of whether the arts are primary or requisite. And I'd certainly allow all lab specialisations that relate to the project at hand. After all, as a player you've pored over the books, spent your character's time, and come up with something that adds flavour to your game. You want to benefit from it, right so why not allow it?

And Ars Magica is generally a collaborative game, and with so many (many, many) options, any concerns about game balance and equality between characters soon go out the window. As a player looking on, I'd be rooting for the player (if not always the magus) and keen for her to get to where she wants to be.

I agree; I would go with the most generous interpretation (number 1).

I have been trying to recall what the intent of the rules was here... In all honesty, I can't remember if the case of requisites was considered or not! It seems like it certainly ought to have been (and may well have been), but if not, was an oversight...

Let us be charitable and assume that the author had sagely considered this scenario and that the choice of wording ("... all Lab Totals involving ...") was deliberate and not merely serendipitous. :slight_smile: