I envision a magus/a who needs to experiment in order to understand a topic; the quintessential DIYer or tinkerer. I've considered the Weak Scholar Flaw, but it doesn't quite capture for what I'm looking.
I've been thinking about a Hermetic Flaw that requires all lab work to be experimental instead. I'm inclined to call that a Major Flaw, but have no indication how horrible that might actually be in play. Thoughts?
Sounds Major (at the least) to me, as well - with the understanding that, depending on how you interpret certain virtues, it can be mitigated - Luck may (or may not, depending on your troupe) affect the Experimentation roll; the same is true for Cautious with Magic Theory.
Personally? I'd consider it to be a pretty hard core Major disadvantage - having those two virtues (and assuming they do affect the roll) would take it down to merely a "regular" major disadvantage.
The Verditius Ordeal Flaw "Prone to Chance" (HoH:MC, page 120) is categorized as a minor Ordeal.
(Reads the ordeal)...yeah that makes no sense. I would agree that Averse to Risk is a Minor ordeal, as occasionally you might want to experiment. But an Ordeal that causes 1 out of 10 of your lab activities to simply fail? And another...call it 10% of activities to not actually do what you want them to?
The only way I can see this as being a minor Ordeal is if it's taken by a character who was going to do a lot of experimentation anyway - and as such, it's only restricting the character when they DON'T want to experiment. it's kind of like taking a Personality Flaw for a trait you were roleplaying anyway: now it's just official, and (arguably) there may be a few times in which it may restrict your behavior.
Thus, I suppose they're both like that: minor if you weren't planning on doing the thing that's being restricted, but Major if you were.
I think that the experimentation requirement could lead to all kinds of story opportunities to find mitigating circumstances (ReVi/PeVi Items/spells, or a rare collaboration with a safety maga/us, etc.), to find most bang for your buck circumstances (high auras, foci, vis, etc.), or heavier reliance on spontaneous magic.
Another option is to encourage experimentation with a Virtue which rewards experimentation more. Something like rolling two stress [EDIT] dice and choosing one of the results. I'd expect that to be a Major Virtue, which could be nicely paired with the Weak Scholar Flaw.
That would be Luck and Cautious with Magic Theory - at least, the generous interpretation of those two virtues. Ie, luck may allow you to add up to +3 to your roll, depending on how much your troupe considers the Results chart to be based on Fate or Fortune. And Cautious removes the first two botch dice, allowing you to push the Experiment more (if you have the Magic Theory to do so.)
I don't recall if a Safe lab would affect the Experimental roll - if it did, that's another justification for having it be lower.
So, I think it depends on how many ways you can mitigate it - if it's only the aforementioned Luck and Cautious, I'd still argue that it's a Major flaw. If you can find ways beyond that, then sure - bump it down to Minor. The number of ways to actually do this would probably be a Troupe decision, as I don't recall any rulings on it one way or the other.
Check out Conscientia in Magi of Hermes,p 25, an extreme lab rat. She has a flaw, Exciting Experimentation, Minor, Hermetic: … dramatic. "When rolling on the experiment table, roll two dice instead of the normal one. The Storyguide then chooses and applies the more amusing of your two results." She's also a Weak Scholar. Combine that with the Verditius ordeal/flaw "Must Experiment".