Magical Schools

I have always thought that you would have much more powerful magi coming out of apprenticeship if they spent their time reading books and improving their arts rather than the traditional magic system. I have read Aprentices and their explanation of why such a system wouldn’t work. Here are three ways that I could see a school system being implemented anyway.

  1. The Gentle Gift. By the rules in Aprentices, The Gentle Gift can be taught to an apprentice. Suppose you had a magi with the Gentle Gift, Good Teacher. Raise his Communication to 5 with spells if needed, and raise get his teaching score to 7, with a specialty in teaching magic virtues. Build his lab so that it provides a +3 bonus to teaching. Get his Parma Magica Score to 9 or so. So, his teaching score quality would be 5+8+3+3+5=24. Thus, even if an apprentice has already expressed one minor magical virtue, he can be taught the Gentle Gift. Nothing in the description of teaching magical virtues says it has to be done one on one. Assuming that the teacher has a class of five or fewer students in a season which are covered by the teachers Parma Magica, you could have a school of Gentle Gifted magi. They are taught Latin and Arts Liberales as normal students would be and are given directed reading to teach them the Arts and
    This assumes that Inherited Virtues don’t count against the teaching total until they manifest. It also assumes that Hermetic Virtues don’t have to be taught one-on-one, nothing in the rules says that they do, but it still seems like a reasonable position to take.

The long term impact to the order seems divisive, with those who have gone to the school and had superior study opportunities in contrast with those whose gift is incompatable with such training. I am unsure what happens when someone is taught a Major Hermetic Virtue when they already have a Inherited Major Hermetic Virtue. Under the model I have proposed, I don’t know what happens when someone with the Inherited Flaw Blatant Gift is taught the Gentle Gift. Would they just cancel when the Blatant Gift manifests? If so, could the instructor spend another season teaching the Gentle Gift? Would the previous version of the Gentle Gift count against the teaching total to learn the Gentle Gift.
2. Magical Human Tutors. Another solution, which probably leaves the current structure of the Order less disturbed is to find some low might score magical humans ideally whose might score is 2 and who have the Virtue “Unaffected by Gift” willing to follow direction. Then you craft a number of magic rings with a “Disguise of the Transformed Visage” effect on them to make them look human. If you were successful in finding Might 2 magical humans, your lab total is only L20 (Base effect 4 , +1 touch, +2 sun, +3 environmental trigger, +1 for twice a day and +1 for +2 Penetration) so these rings only need 2 pawns of vis to create. Once you have created such items, send the magical humans to Paris to study at the university, Latin and Arts Liberales and Teaching. Sure, their advancement totals are penalized by their Might, but that just slows you down a little. Being under a constant enchantment will allow them to avoid acclimatization outside of the magical aura.

Once you have done that, you have tutors who are unaffected by the Gift and don’t suffer warping for being disguised as a human and avoiding the interaction penalty for being Magical Humans. Assuming that your magical humans have a Com+Teaching score of at least 6, your tutors can provide 15 XP in Latin or Arts Liberales in a season. If you can provide a L6, Q15 Magic Theory Summae and gain a copy of all the roots, you can do the following

First season, the magi opens his apprentices roots. On the second season, he drops the student off at the school and picks him up after five years. Over those 19 seasons, the student does the following

Season 2-6: Is taught Latin, apprentice now has Latin of 5
Season 7: Is taught Arts Liberales, Has Arts Liberales of 2, can now study from books
Season8-14, reads Magic Theory Summae: has Magic Theory 6
Seasons: 15-20, reads 6 of the 9 roots.
Season 21, is returned to magi, who is now responsible for training the apprentice in his house, one season a year as normal. Since the apprentice is still trained for ten years by his house, he still gains the house virtue.

This seems like a good deal for all involved. The apprentice seems like he would be stronger than if he underwent the current system, and the magi almost certainly has a more capable lab assistant than he would have otherwise.

The tricky thing with this one would be the Bonisangus who decided to snatch apprentices as soon as they graduate. How this would work out would be interesting to see.

  1. Post Apprenticeship. When a magi ends his apprenticeship, he is still not very powerful compared to where he will be latter on in life. It is a lot easier to devise a solution to a problem when your relevant lab total is 50 than when it is 40 or if it is 40 instead of 30. Some newly gauntleted magi are going to want to strike out on their own immediately. However for some, the ability to study from books for five years and improve their arts or Magic Theory or learn spells from texts

I think this option does has the least impact to the setting. In a lot of ways, it would make a great framing story for why a group of different magi got together to start a covenant, they all met at Ninkas’s Isle and ended their studies at the same time. In fact I am going to start up a one shot using this as a framing device, but that is a topic for a different thread.

This is actually my main complaint against the rules for teaching Virtues, as given by Apprentices.
as you indicate, it makes the Gentle Gift very available, which rather significantly changes the Order.

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Another option is to simply use the rules for mystery initiations for mundanes to ensure your teaching staff have unaffected by the gift. They will have to take a minor flaw to go with that, but things like non-combatant or a prohibition on disobedience would not be overly onerous and could serve the covenant well...

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The only thing a magi needs an apprentice to have to be useful is Intelligence + Magic Theory. An apprentice doesn't even need to read for that. Have a mundane teacher read some Magic Theory books. Even if the apprentice is Gifted, he'll still learn 10+ xp a season from that teacher and in less than a year he will have Magic Theory 3.

There are a number of good reasons that magi schools don't happen. First is that magi don't want their apprentices to become powerful! Young magi are hot headed and do dumb things that upset older magi. The more powerful they are, the more likely this will happen. It's the same reason you don't teach them formulaic spells until the last few years of their apprenticeship. Would YOU trust a teenager with the power to control minds or move heavy objects with magic? Of course not! This same reasoning limits the teaching of Gentle Gift. A GG magi can amass mundane power easily and doesn't need the Order for much. Normal magi need the covenant structure of the Order because the Gift causes mundane society to reject them. Teaching all new apprentices the Gentle Gift would radically change the Order's new generation and cause a serious schism between old and new magi, and the old magi like the status quo. Powerful young magi are just going to get uppity.

Second, if a master wants to control his apprentice, he will want to start young. Handing him over to a school for 5 years just gives someone else control over his apprentice, which is unacceptable. You might as well hand over your secrets to the training school. If the apprentice turns out badly, you as a master can kill him and that's the end. But if he went to a school that apprentice now has friends who will become magi eventually and might seek revenge. An isolated apprentice is an apprentice you can control. OTOH, an apprentice with Gentle Gift isn't isolated with only his master to turn to. That would make him harder to control.

Third, magi can see what happens at universities in Europe, and they're sure to not like it. Most towns with universities have endless troubles with concentrations of young men free of parental influence. Now imagine those same circumstances, only they can do MAGIC. Gangs of youths are trouble no matter what the century.

I could see a school for younger apprentices, to basically include magic theory, Latin, and Artes Liberales. You want them to be taught enough magic theory that their magic theory+int is a net positive before you start using them as an apprentice and starting the 15 year clock- indeed it is already mentioned that some magi do send their apprentices to school to learn artes Liberales and Latin...

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I would think smart covenants would have a mundane academic teacher on the payroll for this very reason (also, many magi can improve their Artes Liberales and Philosophae this way). That said, most young apprentices don't yet have their Intelligence to their 'adult' level anyways and won't be truly useful until their early teens because of it. There's little call to rush apprentices into laboratory assistance.

Anyways, I can see a lot of magi not sending them to school for one big reason - the apprentice earns his 1 season a year of training by giving the master 3 seasons of work. That work doesn't even have to be laboratory assistance; in the early years it will be simple servant duties (fetch my dinner, deliver this message, clean up after the familiar). Sending them to school is giving them more instruction than they've earned!

But I've always considered lab assistance to be fairly low on the list of reasons for taking an apprentice. Most magi could easily spend the seasons improving the lab or boosting arts and/or Magic Theory for a permanent gain rather than the temporary one apprentices offer. Some might even view laboratory assistance as more of a nuisance despite the mechanical benefit (often one they won't necessarily need), but do it as sort of an extended instruction. That' might even be considered generous by the magus in question - letting them 'help' in the lab so they can pick up a bit of knowledge - rather than an actual help to the magus in question. Your average starting magus probably adds 4-6 to a lab total, and that's at the end of his apprenticeship. It's not that much for 15 seasons of the master's time.

I think the two main issues with the current mechanics for apprenticeship are that:

  1. often, an apprentice could learn much more quickly on his own (studying good books) than with his parens' one-on-one teaching.
  2. for the parens, the assistance provided by a an apprentice is rarely worth the investment of time and effort to find him and train him; and in any case, the training the makes the apprentice most useful (a 100% diet of Magic Theory) is not what the apprentice gets.

Virtually every real-world system of apprenticeship (including academic ones) differs from Hermetic apprenticeship in these respects: you apprentice to learn a trade because that's the best way to learn it, and taking you as an apprentice (and teaching you what you get taught) is almost always worth it for your master.

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Honestly, I'd just rule that it doesn't apply to virtues that are only 'hermetic' in that they require The Gift. If Hedge Wizards can the same virtue with no modifications and the virtue in question is not indicative of some kind of conscious behaviour (like say, Cautious Sorcerer) then I would be inclined to rule against teaching it. Especially if it is meant to be something innate, like The Gentle Gift.

That said, interesting premise.

I believe that the value of the non-lab assistance work an apprentice does is why the assistance provided by an apprentice is more valuable than ezzelino apparently thinks it is.

The most valuable service that an apprentice provides over the course of their apprenticeship is the copying of lab texts and casting tablets. After a season of tutoring in profession scribe your apprentice turns into a valuable source of texts and tablets that can justify their one season of teaching for three seasons of copying.

The apprentice can fix permanent arcane connections, This can be done immediately after opening the arts it is something that every nearly magus has a use for and it is something that almost no magus wants to spend a season doing. Thus there is a market for it with lots of buyers, it seems that three seasons of this might justify one season of your magus' time.

The apprentice can extract vis it isn't much but it on;y needs to be worth a third of the value of a magus season to be worthwhile.

The apprentice gives you the opportunity to get vis and and texts it makes sense that they can use lab texts to craft low level lesser devices and charged items especially near the end of apprenticeship.

The laboratory assistance provided by the apprentice is only valuable when it makes the difference between saving a season or being able to do something that you otherwise couldn't do. this isn't particularly common for any individual magus but it seems sensible to "rent" your apprentice to other magi who do need his or her assistance saving someone a whole season or allow them to achieve something that they otherwise couldn't is probably the most valuable service that the apprentice can provide on a per-season basis.

The first two pages of this old thread really look in to how apprenticeship time would be spent Napkin scrawl apprenticeship time distribution

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Humans get old and die. Magic creatures don't.

The other question is how comfortable you are with having the development of mystery traditions to spec. For game reasons, the system leaves open what virtues and flaws are involved in a magic tradition, the storyteller has control over what Mystery Traditions can do. That does not mean that a player can design effects quite so easily.

Actually they can, just not easily. First you have to create your own mystery tradition, then develop a mystagogue, then design the ritual, as described in the rules. If you set it up to be self perpetuating (especially with mundanes initiating future mundanes) then it might be worth it, but it certainly is not a casual undertaking.

Why not employ a faster, cheaper mundane for the job?

Possibly; although this is stuff that minor ungifted hedge wizards can also do, some of which will work for just a little silver. In any case, in my experience fixing permanent arcane connections is something that PCs very, very rarely need to do.

Unless you are in an extremely vis-poor saga, this is not worthwhile at all from my experience (and remember that you are taking into account neither the time/resources to procure the apprentice, nor the time/resources to set up a dedicated lab).

Yes, this is one of the very few things for which apprentices may be somewhat worthwhile. But only very barely so. Low level lesser devices are typically worth less per level than higher level ones (because more people can craft them), and the lab totals of apprentices are often considerably lower than those of their masters. From my experience, a master can typically create in 15 seasons "device value" that is about the same as that created by his apprentice over 45 seasons.

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Security reasosn? Because some members of your troupe dislikes mundanes copying magical texts?

Not only can not all hedgies fix ACs, but some troupes would burn hedgies, not hire them.
And yes, I agree that PCs very rarely fix AC, because it's so expensive in time.

In many sagas I have played it, this has been a valid use of apprentices.
Call it "extremely vis poor" if you like, but it's how some of us expect the world to work.

I don't disagree per se, but I'm a bit unsure how (and why) you calculate device values?
It's also one of the few ways to make charged devices useful for non-combat uses.

Keep in mind that modern apprenticeships do not start from 'completely unskilled infant', but often from 'trained at a college level, or at least with a high school education with some technical training'. Modern apprenticeship therefore derives a substantial benefit for the 'master', in that they have a skilled or semi-skilled laborer for a fraction of the cost of a fully qualified laborer. The lower wages are compensated for by some on the job instruction.

Hermetic apprentices have The Gift, and that's all they have to justify their apprenticeship. They require a great deal of training just to get them to the point where they can study books on their own, so the only way they can 'repay' their training costs is with basic labor; that's why they are NOT given free time to study good books 3 seasons of the year, they are already 'in the hole' in terms of debt owed to their master. A master doesn't take an apprentice out of the goodness of his heart, but will want to derive value from him.

By some estimates it would be enlightened self interest on the part of the master to make the apprentice as useful as possible in the first 8-odd years so that maximum value can be extracted in the last 7-odd years. That said, look at this arrangement from the perspective of the apprentice. For 8 years he is trained, given free study time and generally spoiled. Then you're going to make him do valuable labor, but it's the stuff no magi really wants to do (fixing connections, extracting vis, low end enchantments). For 3/4 of his time for 7 years, when he's a spoiled teenager. If there ever were a recipe for rebellion, this would be it. Congratulations, you've made a monster. Helping in the lab is slowing his advancement and he knows it. Doing work for the master is slowing down his advancement and he knows it. He will not be grateful, he will resent it, and he will lash out, because he's a stupid teenager.

That's why it's smart to keep your apprentice magically hungry. Make him work when he's young so he feels he's earned his season of instruction. Make him WANT to help in the lab so he can learn more, if even a little. Make him GRATEFUL if the master allows him a season to read a book and improve his arts. By the time he's gauntleted, he will feel he's EARNED his place in hermetic society, rather than feeling he's Awesomesauce McBob just for being born with the Gift.

Re: the cost and time of setting up a dedicated vis extraction lab - using the flaw "elementary" from Covenants, it only takes 1 season and makes an incredibly cheap upkeep lab if you only use it for one activity. Dedicated vis extraction is traditional, but you could create a texts-only lab for a covenant with a huge library of spell texts that people come to copy, or a cheap items-only one for a Verditius who plans on taking apprentices.

because they don't understand what they're copying I realize that there are no rules enforcing this, but to assume that a mundane copyist who doesn't know magic theory and doesn't cast spells will do as well as someone who does is a bit difficult to swallow. Also it is best to keep things in house. You have 45 seasons of work for your apprentice to do why not use them in this way there's no more guarantee a mundane will be able to stick it out as long.

My games don't often have ungifted hedge wizards that are both able to fix ACs and willing to do the work for silver. Also in my experience the magus who doesn't have use for a permanent AC to someone, someplace or some thing just isn't thinking hard enough. Everyone wants to be able to see/ travel to/ control/summon at least one place/object/creature/person.

Vim vis is usable for opening all items, casting aegis of the hearth and all longevity potions in addition to its use with vim spells and effects. It is the most useful of all forms perhaps all arts. To say only "extremely vis poor sagas" is as silly as me flipping the conversation and characterizing sagas where vim vis isn't in demand as "Monty Haul power fantasies bereft of many of the challenges that typically present an opportunity for drama". It isn't a fair or helpful description. The apprentice doesn't use a different lab he uses his or her master's lab.

There are in my experience all sorts of devices that are useful but not worth the time of the magus. Laboratory texts put all sorts of minor useful devices within reach of creation. The idea that so many more people can create them doesn't hold much water with me. Older magi do not typically spend their time with lesser devices (unless they are creating other lesser enchanted devices with the same Tech form combo in the same season and can split their total to create two devices, about as common as a three eyed goat) yet someone needs to make them if they are to exist. If you accept those premises, (you might not) it means that there are a collection of useful devices that are rarely manufactured by anyone but apprentices.

Edit: this came out more adversarial than I had hoped. your arguments aren't crazy, I'm just presenting counterarguments. I don't think that you run a Monty Hall-esque game bereft of challenge and drama. I just used hyperbole to emphasize my statement.

Laboratory set-up is actually excellent training for an apprentice, provided they have Magic Theory 3 already.


Why bother with an apprentice?

Like most people, especially pre-modern, a magus probably feels a need to have an heir. Leaving aside the issue of whether it is realistic, canonically, magi tend to see their "bloodlines" in Hermetic terms rather than biological: Heirs of magic rather than heirs of body. If you don't have an apprentice, you don't have an heir. People in the real world have been known to go to great lengths to produce heirs. Why should magi be different? Heirs can be useful, but that is not why they are necessary.

Getting 3 seasons of work is worthwhile, for all the reasons previously mentioned.

I don't think it is reasonable to compare seasons spent improving the lab to those gotten from an apprentice. The basic rules for apprentices have been with us for many editions: 15 years, 1 season/year training, 3 seasons/year assistance. The rules for lab improvement are late game feature creep (and not using these rules at all is a great first step for players who worry about magi being too powerful.)

The question can still be asked: Are 45 apprentice-seasons worth 15 seasons wasted on training, plus one or more seasons to find the apprentice? It depends on circumstance. If you need to fix 45 Arcane Connections, it is a huge win. If your plans require you to read books that you already have for a few decades, not a win.

But something is awry if most of your magi see the benefits of an apprentice limited to 45 seasons of work. To the extent that magi are people rather than character sheets, a relationship should exist between parens and filius long after the end of apprenticeship. We don't need virtues or flaws for this, or membership in House Tremere, the same way we don't need virtues or flaws to suggest that magi need food and sex and prestige! Unless take to an extreme, it's just normal.

Ok, maybe we do need virtues and flaws for all this stuff. :confused: If magi were real people, though, wouldn't a relationship continue? Wouldn't a magus with a big problem consider getting advice or assistance from his parens? Wouldn't that parens be following the careers of his filii with great interest, and probably want to be helpful, within limits based on personality and circumstance? Wouldn't a parens with an inconvenient matter to settle consider sending his filius?

Speaking of flaws, a character can choose Story Flaws without having a player and therefore without getting points for them. If you decide to have children, you are probably imagining life with those children, expecting certain scenarios to unfold, hoping for some and dreading others: Stories! Maybe you are hoping for a wedding story, a grandchildren story, a teaching Junior how to play ball story, and are willing to take on some poo stories and being called by the principal stories, and dreading those police and doctor stories. Magi choose stories too.

I have wandered even further from the original topic, of magical schools, so I will return:

Sending apprentices to magical school may be a good way to get a powerful apprentice. But sending an apprentice off to boarding school is a terrible way to create familial bonds likely to last for a century.

Hermetic law allows a master to abuse and kill his apprentice, so it is easy to think of this as normal. But family law in the ancient world can get pretty extreme. Consider the rights of a paterfamilias under Roman law, or even the Biblical right (obligation?) of parents to execute a bad son. How often were these rights invoked to the fullest, compared to normal family life? Not very, I should think.

  • Your apprentice provides you with a legacy.

  • Your apprentice is useful today and useful tomorrow.

  • Your apprentice is a source of things to do.

  • Your apprentice is proof of your capabilities and worth as a person and a magus.

Enjoy them while you can, send them off when it is time.



There is a certain social expectation to produce an apprentice - possibly even a duty by the Oath of Hermes, depending on how you read it. In part, this can be viewed as an obligation to the magus who trained you, that you pass on the knowledge that he passed to you. Magi will train apprentices for any number of reasons beyond "I need a lab boost in 10 years".

Going back to magical schools, who then is at fault (or responsible) if an student goes awry? Consider the terrible implications if an infernalist is part of the teaching staff.

Actually, (noble's parma) I believe there are rules for mundanes copying magical texts. They need to have a score in Magic Theory to avoid errors creeping in, but that's about it (again, if I recall correctly). And to me, it makes a lot of sense that that should be the case. I've never played ... cricket in my life, and I'd probably be very bad at it. If I spent some time familiarising myself with the basic notions of the game (e.g. from a book) I'd probably be just as abysmally bad at playing the game, but I could do a decent job at copying or translating a text on the game - whether a manual or a game report.

I don't know. In my games, Acs are generally to a) places you want to travel to or scry upon b) objects you want to summon (or sometime scry upon) c) friends or minions you want to be able to reach and d) enemies you want to have power on. Pretty much the only types of ACs that get fixed are those of the last type, and most covenants I've seen don't really make more than one or two such enemies/magus/century. Even if you could fix 3 ACs/season (which is what delegating the job to an apprentice effectively yields) I seriously doubt that any magus would spend more than one season, if one at all, fixing ACs in any given 15-year period.

Well, if we look at published covenants, or the "cost" of vis sources at character creation, or the cost of books in terms of vis etc. etc., and certainly if I look at virtually all sagas I've seen in play, few established magi would find it worthwhile to spend a season to get 3 apprentice-seasons of Vim vis -- particularly if that means not having access to their own lab for those 3 seasons! That's what I meant with vis poor. I think the reason is simple: when the vis is so scarce, troupes generally create stories to obtain vis, so the equilibrium is reinstated. Incidentally, if one uses the RoP:M rules, vis extraction is something that you really, really do not want to do season after season!

Well, if you assume that these minor devices last for at least a Hermetic lifetime (and it makes sense that they should be created to last longer!) ask yourself: how many does the average covenant own/magus? In my sagas, it's rarely more than 2/3 per magus (i.e. maybe a dozen/covenant). If each apprentice spent just 1/4 of his seasons creating 1/season, there would be something like a dozen/magus.

Don't worry. I'm just saying, that, from the experience of my troupe, apprentices aren't nearly as useful to a magus as, historically, apprentices were to craftsmen and, say, PhD students are to their advisors :slight_smile: This may depend only on our play style of course. And it's not necessarily a bad thing either: it explains why the Hermetic population isn't exploding -- if apprentices were so useful that most magi would want to have one at any given time, we'd see the number of magi easily increase by a factor 6+ every century, which a number of small things in the books suggest is not the case.