Learning spells with the help of an apprentice

My question is a little bit complicated. I have a magus ex Bonisagus, his Ability in Leadership is 2 with Lab work Specialization, so effectively 3.
He has 2 apprentices simultaniously.
He wants to learn som spells from lab texts.

Based on my understanding the process of learning form lab text is essencially a guided experimentation process in the laboratory.
So - IF you have your 2 apprentices are you ABLE to use them as assistants providing the normal Int+Magic Theory bonus to your Lab Total WHEN you try to learn spells from lab texts?

The Core rulebook on p. 102. has the following:

Yes, he can actually have up to 3 people assist him in the lab, not including his Familiar, to boost his Lab Total, and so learn several spells, or a very powerful spell.

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You may be able to, depending not only on your effective Leadership score, but also on how organized and cooperative the team is.

Keep in mind that the text about help in the lab says (emphasis mine): "You may not normally have more than one helper in the lab, as it is difficult to coordinate several helpers with you and with each other. However, if people are exceptionally well-organized and cooperative, more can work together... limited to [the primary researcher's] Leadership score"

I've found that people tend to assume that the only requirement to meet for large research teams is a sufficient Leadership score by the primary researcher. But that's not what the textbook says. Exceptional organization and cooperation is, by definition, not the norm. So, I'd leave it to the troupe to decide whether multiple apprentices can help at the same time.

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Good point @ezzelino , I should definitely ask the Alpha SG about the Personality Traits of the apprentices. Thanks

This reeks of trained and untrained groups to me.

Like, a bunch of magi who don't know each other and never worked together can't just coordinate themselves from the start. But maybe after the first season or "practice" they can be counted as a "trained research group" and all cooperate together... that is, as long as they are trully willing to let one magi direct them.

Also, as the research group increases in size, it might be reasonable to require a minimum lab size for them to work effectively. At only 2 apprentices it shouldn't be a problem, however.


It depends on how you read it. I would say that a magi with a leadership score of 2 or more plus a specialization in labwork is already exceptionally gifted for organizational skills, in what is typical of magi (leaving leadership to companion so as not to deal with the gift's side effect). I would also say that by the textbook, magi post-gauntlet typically refuse to help anyone in the lab unless they're clearly more skilled than them (e.g. their parens, an archmagi, as part of an initiation, etc.). And that having 2 apprentices or more is also not the norm, given that you owe each of them a season of teaching, and that having 2 per year will really slow down your advancement. So yes, having several helpers in the lab should be exceptional at best. Beyond that, it's about attitude and organization. Attitude often dictates you'll refuse to help in the first place if you're a non-apprentice, the second is literally what the leadership skill score is for. In other words, I read that as fluff. You have mechanics to govern a military trained group, and arguably the laboratory work has a more important role in ars magicka and there is no mechanics for it.

If your storyteller wants to use fiat and say that two magi in the lab are being uncooperative, he certainly can as a result of that line, but I don't think you need to seek out his express permission before doing your lab season, Toronus. If they are apprentices, unless they're rivals of each other, they should follow your orders already. If you've allowed them to grow into rivals under your care, well, congratulations Tytalus! You may be in a situation where the two will outwardly agree to cooperate but actually you can't benefit from both due to the way they're undercutting each other. But again, I don't think this situation is the norm, it's more of a storyteller's fiat kind of thing, which could be handled with some clever roleplay.


YSMV but it seems like the obvious threshold (or an obvious threshold) borrowed from trained groups is that you spend a season teaching both apprentices magic theory in the lab (hands on aspect) together.
Another option is that you can have them "helping" in the lab together but for x seasons you have to chose which one is actually assisting where the other one just gets training experience.
Of course one apprentice can add to the lab total of the teacher who is teaching spells to teh other apprentice for a season as well, which might contribute to being well organized in this fashion.

Note that for magi Bonisagi it is not all that unusual to be in charge of two apprentices at once - their own and a fostered apprentice.
If everyone involved (magi and apprentices) are magi Bonisagi, you can also have one more assistant than your Leadership score would normally allow.
(HoH:TL p18-20)


Actually, it's more than that! By HoH:TL Bonisagus magi can exceed not just the Leadership limit, but any "rule limit", including the "max one assistant except in exceptional circumstances". Emphasis mine (but the typo is in the book :slight_smile: ):

magi Bonisagi can always have one more lab assistant then the normal ArM5 rules would allow a magus character to have. This only applies to magi Bonisagi, their apprentices, and their familiars. For example, without a score in Leadership a maga Bonisagi can have two laboratory assistants besides her familiar.

So, it seems to me that yes, in this specific case it's fairly straightforward that two apprentices are fine.
I had completely missed that rule (or maybe I had noticed it, and long forgotten it)!


I agree the RAW tends to go with that vibe. I've never been a huge fan of the lonely lab rat mage. Humans are social animals. The Gift doesn't remove Magi's basic human need to be social, it just means that interactions outside a very tiny group will be bad. Logically that will push Magi to interact with the narrow group with Parma who they get along with.

Helping a Magi make an iconic high level ritual spell would be a great achievement. Also, on a meta numbers level, if the created spell is really powerful, the spell creator may more than halve the time taken to create the spell with an assistant. i.e Lab total of 77 making a level 70 spell. 10 seasons. MT 8, Int +3 assistant takes it down to 4 seasons.

Magi who have focused on teaching could teach each other over alternating seasons, and get an XP output over the two seasons similar to decent tractatii.

To move away from the numbers. Working side by side for 3 months, that means something. And remember this won't be some dead end retail or fast-food job ( I accept it may feel like that for apprentices, but I am talking about senior magi working together).

This kind of assistance creates bonds. The magi who helped in the lab, the other magi is voting for his proposal at the next tribunal, unless it goes against fundamental core values.
Anyone thinking about Wizards War, unless they are a psychopath, they should think of potential reprisals. Helping that guy out is one more friend, one more piece of insurance against a Wizard's war.


While I agree with that in principal, and it is the probable reason for most Covenants, I feel there should be limits.
Magi spend 15 years apprenticeship to become masters of the arcane, able to bend reality with a few gestures an words. Just look at today's sudden celebrities, and you suspect magi may acquire some ego issues.

To aid another magus in their lab, means putting yourself at their mercy and whim. Friendship versus personality friction. Maybe 1 Season at a time, with a cool down period in between. But multiple Seasons in a row? I don't see most Magi having enough social experience to avoid going stir crazy over the other's annoying habits.

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It would be interesting to think of it on a games mechanic level, and factor in communication and presence.

When assisting, add the combined presence and communication. This is the maximum consecutive seasons the two parties can work together before they must take a 1 season break from each other.
If the figure is negative, after 1 season they can not work together again until 3 seasons have passed, and the negative figure applies as a penalty to the lab total.

Would Personality Traits come into play?

Also working for your parens should get a bonus, while working under the supervision of an "equal" won't.