Latin Score and Lab Texts

As I understand the rules a Latin score 4 plus Artes Liberales 1 allows a character to read ("This is the minimum level required to study from a book"). while a Latin Score 5 plus Artes Liberales 1 allows a character to write ("This is the minimum level required to write a book.").

If a mage only has a Latin score of 4 then does that not mean they cannot create lab texts?

Or would lab texts need to be written in their native language?

I think that it means they can;t write up texts for others to read, but could definetly write their own personal notes, and someone else could write them up, but I am away from my books at the moment.


You need the Language at 5 to write a book (ArM5 p.66 and p.165). An idiosyncratic lab text is - AFAICS - not a book.

Somebody else can read lab texts scrawled with Latin 4 by another, using ArM5 p.102 Translating Laboratory Texts. This might require, that the SG has standard lab equipment and procedures make up for an eventual lack of system in the texts' bad Latin.

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So what would the Latin and Artes Liberales scores be to create a character that could read Latin but not write or is this an impossible concept? It should apply to many young apprentices for instance who learn to read before they learn to write.

Can read but not write Latin:
Latin 4, Artes Liberales 1+
Fairly common among starting characters.
It's not that you can't write, you just tend to get lost in the grammar and the like.

There's also specializations, though I don't know if other people's storyguides allow it. I've definitely seen people with Latin 4 + a specialization in 'hermetic usage' writing books.

We discourage this

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I generally agree with you. However, it is a playgroup call, and when we had a bunch of people decide they wanted to write books, and we realized that nobody had the language of 5, and getting languages up to 5 would require us to buy 3-4 tractati of Latin, and people just voted to allow the specialization for limited topics of books.

It makes some sense if you look at it from another perspective. "Hermetic usage" is essentially a "dialect" of Latin. Consider others. Would it be reasonable for a person with French 4 (Norman) to be able to write in Norman while not being able to read or write in Walloon? But you can flip that, looking at relative penalties, and ask if it is reasonable for a person able to write in Norman to not even be able to read Walloon.

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Within the same language group some letters might be pronounced differently or diacritical marks might differ. I can read standard German but I find Alsacian strange to read because of its transcription conventions.

The real problem to address is another: if you write a book, it must be easily readable by others acquainted with Latin. A reader will not spend time to figure out your mistakes, quirks and idiosyncrasies: if he needs to, the book does not serve him.
Can you avoid such problems, if you just know one way of speaking Latin - say, Hermetic usage - well enough? Can you find another specialization in your saga, which your troupe accepts to cover this issue?

I definitely think it's not RAW to use specialties for book writing.
Next fun question, if you're in Thebes and use the language association rule, can you increase your Romaic Greek of 7 to write books in Classical Greek of 5?

I think we have never NOT used specialties for teaching and writing. This is why they are there for us... A Latin 4 (hermetic) is Latin 5 when talking to hermetic magi or using it for hermetic usage. Not if you talk to a priest or you write about the wonders of falconry, but for magic theory and Creo it is a 5. At least how we read it.

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No - that's covered in The Sundered Eagle (pg 29):

To write books in Classical Greek requires fluency in that language (a score of 5, ArM5, page 165) rather than Romaic Greek

Personally, I always choose "dialects" as specialties. I find it much more realistic. Otherwise there is no real downside to choosing something else as a specialty to get a big boost over the dialect specialties as well as other boost.

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In my opinion I see a significant difference between writing a lab text and writing a book. I would equate it with the difference between writing a recipe and writing a novel. They both use the same language, but the language skill needs to be considerably higher for the novel than the recipe.
The recipe also uses more technical language, specific to cooking, so a specialty in hermetic usage would be much more valuable for writing lab texts than for writing a book. Another analogy is that I can write a book report with a lower language skill than necessary to write the original book.
My grandmother's original language was not english, and I would never ask her to write a book, but she knew cooking. She could write a recipe that a 7 year old, or a 70 year old, could follow and replicate exactly.


In my troupe we house ruled for the current saga, that the minimum Latin scores needed to read or write is without the speciality. We used to include it, but no more.
With the common speciality of Hermetic a Latin score of 4 was enough. However what if you wrote about non-magic, then it wouldn’t work. Even Arcane Abilities aren’t solely Hermetic (well, Parma Magica is) because other traditions or even supernatural creatures use Penetration.
We avoid that by enforcing the base score needed to be 5.