Laboratory bonus limit?

Hi everyone, Is there a limit to how much bonus a laboratory can provide to a relevant project? I am especially interested in bonuses from enchantments, as they can get very high with enough time/effort.

I have a Verditius, and with around 10-15 years of solid work (no distractions or pesky adventures) he can end up with lab bonuses of nearly 80 for enchanting items. Of course, to do all this he needs to earn and spend a massive amount of vis.

So, do you think that this is reasonable? Is there a rule about capping the bonus from a lab? Or should there be one?

I don't remember there being a numeric limit but there was a rule about a maximum number of specialised activities.

If you mean a +80 lab total bonus from just additional magical devices then I think that is broken. You'd need to detail how the total gets to +80.
If you mean that it's 80 levels of effects in items which in turn buy lab increases (per rules in Covenants) then that's very reasonable, again as long as there is a reasonable effect in each device.

+19 General Quality

+59 Enchanting Items

I have lots of enchanted items with varied effects, that's why I said it will take 10-15 years, he has to make over 30 enchanted effects as well as opening the items.

Here are some of the simpler ones:

Floating Chair (+1 Health)
Move the chair
ReHe 20
R:Personal, D:Concentration, T:Individual; Maintains Concentration
The chair floats in the air directed by the magus' thoughts.
Base 4, +1 Conc; +5 levels concentration, +10 levels Unlimited uses

Bucket of Scraps (-1 Upkeep)
Reclaim the Metals
MuTe 20
Requisites: Rego
R:Touch, D:Momentary, T:Group
Any waste metal is placed into the bucket, at the end of the day it melts the metals, separates them into their base types, then forms them into small bars.
Base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Group, +1 Complexity

Bucket of Ice (+1 General Quality, +1 Enchanting Items)
Freeze the Water
PeIg 25
R:Touch, D:Momentary, T:Individual; Unlimited Uses
Freezes the contents of the bucket every 2 minutes
Base 10, +1 Touch; +10 levels Unlimited Uses

Furnace Bellows (+3 Enchanting Items)
Feed the Flames
CrAu 30
Requisites: Rego
R: Touch, D: Conc, T: Ind, Unlimited use, Concentration;
The bellows create a constant stream of air from the nozzle. The speed of the air is determined by how wide the bellows have been opened. At their fullest the blast is strong enough to blow a man over.
Base 3, +1 Conc, +1 Touch, +1 Complexity, +1 Requisite; +5 levels Item maintains concentration, +10 levels unlimited uses.

Vis dial (Items +2)
Quantify the vis
InVi 20
R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Ind, Frequency: 24/day, Penetration: 10
Causes lines to appear from the center of the dial to the numbers around the outside. The line points to the number of pawns of vis, the colour indicates the art it is associated with.
InVi base 4, +1 Touch; +1 Complexity; +5 levels 24 uses, +5 levels 10 Penetration

Box of Charcoal (Items +2)
Fill the box
CrHe 20
R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Group, Frequency: 1/day
Creates enough pure charcoal to fill the container. There is enough charcoal to keep the forge burning for a few days.
Base 2, +3 Moon, +2 Group, +1 Touch

Water Cleaning Pipe (+1 Health, +1 Items)
The red end of this pipe is placed in a water source, the blue end in an empty vessel. On command the pipe will move pure water from the source into the vessel. Any other liquids or solids are left behind.
Move the clean water
ReAq 30
R:Touch, D:Concentration, T:Individual; 24 uses, maintains concentration
Move pure water from the opening at the red end out of the opening at the blue end.
Base 4, +1 Touch, +1 Conc; +1 unnatural (moving upwards), +1 complexity (ignore everything else); +5 levels Maintain conc, +5 levels 24 uses.

+19 general quality would require a massive Magic Theory score to perform the refinement work needed over many seasons? Cov p110 says you need MT = Refinement score + 3. So you MT needs to be 22?

refinement is not the only way to get a general quality bonus.

I can't see anything in covenants about Refinement and General Quality. It talks about more space for virtues, and safety, but nothing about GQ.

Some of the GQ in my lab will come from virtues, the rest of it will come from items, like those I listed above.

My magus currently has a Magic Theory of 11 (Affinity + Puissant) so he can have a max refinement of 8.

As SG, I'd be bringing this into play long before the bonuses got that high.

Also, Magic Items are Lab Virtues, as per page 118, with some larger items being counted as Minor instead of Free.

Also, as SG I would let a player know based on the magic item's plans what bonus it would provide, though with player input. The player could choose not to make it. But I wouldn't just let a player gain any bonus for any enchantment. A big part of this is because, while Greater/Lesser Feature and a few others provide alternatives, the items in Covenants and many other Virtues provide specific bonuses. With that outlook, every lab with a Water Cleaning Pipe would get the same bonus from it, for example, and why wouldn't the Aquam specialist get an Aquam bonus from it? With items being so much more flexibly achieved, they need to be carefully considered that much more. With the above examples, here are some I question most:

Floating Chair: I personally have a problem separating some of my modern understanding here. For example, chairs that lift elderly encourage muscle atrophy, while chairs that only assist but still require significant effort keep the elderly using their muscles fight against muscle atrophy. So I see this as more of a negative to Health, but I know I'm improperly biased here. Still, I would think +1 Rego is much more fitting.

Bucket of Scraps: This seems appropriate.

Bucket of Ice: Why +1 General Quality and +1 Items? I just don't see it. No Perdo nor Ignem bonus?

Furnace Bellows: I get the Items bonus here, as it applies to help a forge. But I would think +1 Auram and +2 Items or something like that.

Vis Dial: This one probably bothers me the most. I just don't see the Items bonus as it seems so, so appropriate for a Vim bonus or maybe Intellego.

Box of Charcoal: I think this one is the most obviously contrary to what is listed in Covenants. This essentially does some of what is written for the various Heating Virtues. But none of them give an Items bonus. Ignem bonus, reduced Upkeep, ...

Water Cleaning Pipe: I see the Health bonus. I would think Aquam instead of Items, though.

And then on top of this, if a task is handled I don't see allowing duplication for more bonuses, so from my viewpoint it would be ridiculously hard to get as much bonus as you say. +20 is easy. +30 starts to get a lot harder. Going even higher I expect you might well pull of a +1 Items along with several other things you can't use because you already have six other bonuses. So now you're inventing really high magnitude stuff to get more +1s, and meanwhile you're running out of things that will benefit item-making at all. This is all, of course, YSMV, but I don't think I'm being at all unreasonable here.

And then there is jason72's quote to consider as well (noting that items could be made small intentionally to avoid the second issue).

Hi Callen,

This an example in the covenants book, though I will say that the lab in question is 2 floors high.

Ice is useful in many things, especially with the forge. I thought that it could be used for mundane rapid cooling of things from the forge.

The air goes straight into the furnace to maintain the temperature, if it was going around the room, I would have done auram as well.

I agree. I used to have this as +1 Safety, I can't remember when I changed it...

This is because of the furnace in the room. Charcoal gives a better flame than wood or coal. This bonus assumes that the forge will be used for items .

I can see it going to aquam instead. No real problem with that.

The other items are all different. I have the rack of tools that was discussed in an earlier thread, effects to make it easier to work on magic items, effects to check on the flow of magic, effects to check on the status of the materials at all points in the process. The only "duplication" I have is several versions of "Maintain the demanding spell" at different levels.

Most of the items are small, some of them are replacing normal items in the lab, the others will be enchanted into some gauntlets my magus will wear.
The warping issue, I am not sure on. A lot of these effects are either occasional use, or they don't directly affect anything. Like the bellows and charcoal - the flame they make is mundane.

Brutus, I think you missed the crux of what I wrote. Take this for example:

Now refer back to what I said earlier:

Take a look at the items that have been written up. I don't see a single one giving choices about bonuses. Most of the Virtues don't let you choose between bonuses, either. Many of the Virtues are written with "appropriate" or similar, but that usually seems to be things like getting the bonus for an Auram vis source in Auram without having to write the same Virtue 15 times. With that in mind, I would wonder why the Auram specialist using exactly the same magical item directed to blow around the room into the forge would get a bonus to Items.

Your argument against what I've written, based on this example, seems to be that most magical items should provide a choice in bonus based on how they're employed. That's not unreasonable, but it doesn't seem to follow the examples. For example, the Prodigious Plant Pot might well give a bonus to Creo, but that's not listed as an option. Similarly, could the Tireless Servant not do menial forge work for you instead of general laboratory stuff to provide a bonus to Items instead of General Quality? But that's not listed as an option. Why, if magical items provide such optional bonuses, do the listed items that could be used in different ways not provide any optional bonuses at all?

It's quite possible for a Verditius to have an amazingly specialized lab. Consider that a Verdi's lab total for items always includes Int + Magic Theory + Aura + Craft + (Verditius Runes + Shape & Material). This is going to be at least 20. Such a maga can easily crank out Lesser Enchanted Items that will improve the Specialization or Characteristics. Where this gets broken is at a tipping point. With a high Items specialization, the maga can create a powerful anything, because the generic bonuses to any item makes up for having a 0 in a particular Form. Such a character would be only limited by Flaws (Incompatible Arts and Deficiencies)

All of this requires a lot of vis. It would appear you are spending about 10 vis a year on magic items, and over 10 years, that is a lot. I'd be surprised if your sodales permitted you that much. Certainly, you're not in the Normandy Tribunal.

If I was story guide, I'd probably limit your lab's characteristics or specialization bonuses to your Magic Theory.

Theoretically, you can do this. Just like you can read a L20 Q15 summa and get very good at an Art really quickly - It's true if you have access to such a thing. Getting them takes stories.

If the bellows were positioned further away from the forge, or even just sending air around the room itself, I would agree with an auram bonus, as they are not used in making items. In this case though, the bellows are designed to be almost right against the hot coals. Given that, you could probably argue for an ignem bonus, since they are making the fire hotter.

In my opinion, (thinking materially, not mystically) An item will give a bonus based on what it is used for. Another magus may take the same item and use it in a different way or he could take the general idea and implement it differently. Both ways, he would get different bonuses.

The water pipe could be used for aquam bonuses, or safety, or health. I agree with this, but my magus isn't interested in those bonuses. His whole idea of something is "How do I make this better? Ah, I can make my forge hotter! Hmm, how do I do that....".

If he had been after an auram speciality he would do something different.

The tireless servant doesn't have any craft skills, so menial work is all it can do. Whether that is at the forge or in the lab, in my opinion, it can only give a bonus to quality. That is why Forge Companions are so valued.

Any of the items listed in the book, I would allow a magus to put into their lab with whatever specialties are appropriate. The plant pot, I would allow Creo, because it is all about growing things. I wouldn't allow 2 plant pots, one for herbam, one for creo. They are identical items that are being used the same way, they give the same bonus, so adding extra numbers doesn't add anything to the lab.

Right there is the issue that truly answers your own question from the beginning. You're saying you would house-rule away from canon rules (that item in canon does not provide a Creo bonus) to make generating bonuses to particular specialties easier to obtain. Then, of course, you can get very high bonuses, much higher than the already fairly high bonuses you can obtain. If you or others are concerned that these bonuses are getting far too high, consider not house-ruling in such a direction and being stricter with items like this.

I don't see it is a house rule. I see it as a reasonable interpretation of the rules.

The item in canon was made by someone to give a bonus to Herbam. You are saying that I can't make a similar item to give a bonus to Creo? I don't see anything there in the rules about that. When you make the item, you decide the specializations and characteristics (subject to SG approval). That is what it says in the rules.

Magic is a very personal thing, something I make, and how I use it may be different from what happens with you.

In canon the item gives these bonuses: Experimentation +1, Herbam +2. It doesn't say anything about +2 split between Herbam and Creo or anything like that. Meanwhile, for comparison, a Feature gets points on appropriate "specialization(s)" (greater) or to a single one of the listed ones (lesser), and multiple are listed.

I would agree it's a very small stretch from one to the other. But neither is there a significant distance between a box and lid to go from safe to opening Pandora's Box. That's my point here. That tiny step away from what's printed amounts to opening Pandora's Box. As soon as you allow that type of variation and so many items, yes, based on the way you're ruling things the bonuses can get obscene.

This isn't a right or wrong thing. I'm just pointing out it's a direct consequence of how you're playing things. So if you don't like bonuses getting so high, you might want to reconsider playing things that way. If you're fine with them getting so high, go ahead and keep going that way.


I think we have the opposite of GIGO.

The lab rules in Covenants break a fundamental design element of AM5:

The ability to do something is represented by a number which is the total of a very few small, static bonuses plus usually one scaling bonus (sometimes 2, and (gulp) 5 in the case of ritual hermetic magic plus penetration), which is approximately proportional to the square root of the effort invested in it, usually represented by xps.

These rules provide a linear benefit, especially as enchanted items are used that do not take up space in the lab.

At this point, it hardly seems worth arguing about whether my newly enchanted mushrooms should enhance He, Vi, Cr, Pe (poison mushrooms!), General Quality (because everything's better with shrooms) or any of the above, depending on which corner of the room I place them in. Except perhaps, of course, to note that enchanting an item for GQ is much more expensive (2x iirc) than other lab traits, so declaring a magic item that can do anything, depending on my mood that season, seems to add a bit of broken icing to a broken cake. Because once a group has bought into these rules, even if the GM does not think that item X ought to provide bonus Y, there's an endless list of items that can provide bonus Y. And if my magic mushrooms provide different bonuses than yours, that's fine too.

BTW, even without magic items, lab bonuses can get crazy high.



I seriously need to play in these sagas with crazy high lab bonuses...

With respect to items, it does take at least a season to make an item for lesser items, and if the Art scores are insufficient to do it in a season, then at least 3 seasons to make the item. Then, you have to have created an item that doesn't have an effect already duplicated in the lab.

Yes, in theory, high lab bonuses are possible (what is high though, is subjective and ill-defined in this context), but how often have high lab bonuses actually come into play?

Years ago I did a Becoming ritual with a lab total a little over 200. Of course, most of that was from assistance, long and hard bargained for. But when you can pull off a really high lab total in situations like that, it sticks around forever. In this case, the character had Faerie Might over 100. That doesn't mean it's overly often. But I can say I commonly see bonuses in the teens showing up, and that without enchanted items.

How many years PG?

On a long enough timeline a lot of things become more probable.

Don't remember exactly. Definitely less than 20.