Multiple Summae - thoughts?

I'm considering this as a house rule, but I'd like some thoughts on if there will be any serious problems caused by it?

Study from Library

It is a simple fact that a collection of books on a single topic is a more useful study source than a single book on a topic. With tractatus, this is represented by the ability to study multiple tractatus a rate of one per season. With summae ofvarying levels, this is represented by the utility of studying summa of level only slightly higher than the student's, to maximizie experience gain. The rules do not, however, provide any benefits for multiple summae on the same art or ability at the same level. This optional rule attempts to correct that.

A pair of summae can be studied as if they were a single summa of higher level and lower quality. For the composite summa, the level is the lowest level of the two plus one, or plus three if it's an art summa, and the quality is the lowest quality of the two minus three. The resulting composite summa can then be combined with other summae as well. The total number of real summae combined in this manner is limited to the lower of the reader's Artes Liberales and Concentration.

Rules Thoughts

The composite summae that result from this will (for art summae) have the lowest quality+level of all the summae being combined, so it won't make characters massively more powerful, I think. It's meant mostly as an option for covenants with an excess of books of a particular level and no easy means to acquire more, and I don't expect it to see much play... but...
What do you think?

There is a big problem here insofar as you assume two summae are the similar enough to becombined, but different enough to contain seperate information. I do not believe there are many true examples of the kind of summa ArM is uses. I presume they are based to an extent on the Summa Theologica... a 101 of just about every theological matter the old fella could manage. It is a deeply personal account and it is truly massive. I do not believe this particular collection, and it is enormous, would in any way 'combine' with other texts, saving perhaps a concordance and a decent index. Those are covered already (Inspexus I think, not sure).

Similarly, the level of a summa accounts for the depth of the discourse as much as the bredth. Again, they are not going to comine very effectively.

There has been a discussion elsewhere recently, however, of changing libraries back to the older editions in which you simply have a combined score from which to study. This would perhaps address the particular issue you are referring to - namely useless summa.

My view is different, summa are extremely rare in their creation, being the life work of great masters. They are not the purview of the young, and any such works would be nomore than vain. You should not ever have a need of reading a second one.

The actual time to combine two summa in this way would be enormous. Rather than skimming through the chapters and glossing the stuff you know, you would need a detailed kowledge of the entire text - such as one would have by taking it from a skill level of zero to its maximum for that particular text. Then there is the actual process of editing. All that before you even started writing it out... which again would take forever.

Finally though, as an SG I would always be willing to award the equivalent of 'practice' XP for reading through a book you have never read before providing it has a base quality in excess of that. There is no particular logic to choosing practice, I just don' see any other advancement methid that reflects learning slightly new insights into something you already know.

Of course that is my view, others may have quite different opinions - anyone here an editor?

Which edition are you refering to?


The 'composite summae' this refers to is an abstraction. You don't actually write a new, higher-level summa... you just study from multiple summae during the season, cross-referencing to sort out where there might be errors in either one, synthesizing partial information from both, etc. It seemed simplest to model this as a sort of meta-book that could be studied.


Also, note that this rule doesn't notably boost the utility of inferior books. To get the equivalent of an excellent summa, you need to combine excellent summae and try to glean any further information from the combination of sources. If you include a vain summa in the mix, you've effectively reduced the quality of the composite summa to 'vain' as well.

As for why I'm modeling it this way:
Studying from multiple summae is higher level because the knowledge contained is slightly greater -- two level 8 quality 10 summae on a topic are not going to be exact replicas of each other -- but lower quality because you're often reading redundant information. So you end up with a level 9 summa, effectively, but with a mere quality 7, and you tie up two of the library's books for the season rather than one.


Oh, about the Summa Theologica. It's true that you'd have a hard time finding a summa on Theology that could easily supplement that one, from the same time period or earlier... but then, it's probably the highest level summa on Theology from then, too. These rules require you to combine summae of equal level, so there wouldn't be any books you could easily combine with the Summa Theologica. You could increase the level slightly at a significant drop in quality by combining it with four or so summae a couple levels lower (which would still be very high level), but... well. If you're studying from five major books on theology over the course of a season, I expect the eventual depth of your knowledge to be slightly greater, though you'll of course learn it a bit slower. So that's hardly problematic.

I think it was 2nd, cant rmember if that was still the way with 3rd.

IN 3rd you had a single book for each ability, most of the time. At least for starting libraries.

We use a library that allows you to reach a certain level, getting 15 SPP per season, with the level achievable depending on your covenant's season and might. It is assumed that you read through several books in the process.

Easier and you do not need to go for the (for us, really boring) details of listing dozens of books for the library. Not suitable for everybody's saga, though. :slight_smile: Getting more books counts towards SPP for the library.


There definitely is somehting in this I have to agree. Perhaps the reason 'getting more out of your books' has come up twice recently. I personally don't like the idea you have put forward but I do agree completely with the thinkig behind it.

There is definitely knowledge to be gained from reading something again you already know, better still, reading a different account or perspective on the same piece of information.

We all use our books and libraries more than once in our lives. I have never read a book once, in my particular field, and put it away never to be seen again. You go back to them over and over cheking things up etc. I would suggest this is not so much about remembering, as it is reapplying what you already know. Consolidation of knowledge.

So how would that work in game...
Perhaps libraries can have a new value attached to them and a new study method. One more suited to the aged and learned wizards who are beyond many new writings. One that suits people who like to potter about in libraries looking things up rather than studiously scrawling in notes like an undergraduate with a new economics textbook.
Libraries could build a 2nd score in the particular art or ability based around the buildpoints of the texts themselves. This could be studied in the same way as a realia. THis would not make a massive change to core rules, and fits reasonably well into existing mechanisms. Perhaps it is an ability of the library and it gets BP/5 ability points. (I have not given that part much thought so thoes numbers might get silly for some places).

I hope I am not way off message with what you are talking about. I know it is not responding well to the method you describe, but perhaps it is reacting to what you want to achieve. Namely, making old summa still useful, as indeed any scholar would agree they are.


I can use a library to learn what is known. I should not be able to learn things that are not known. So if the state of the Art is level 32, I ought to have difficulty using a library to learn higher than 32. Indeed, to go beyond 32, exposure ought not be sufficient either, because I am being exposed to known practice. It takes a breakthrough of some kind (and different rules for breakthroughs.)

I can also use a library as a reference so that I can do something that I need to do. For example, a library can be very helpful if I want to kill lots of mice in the name of science, but want to be sure that I'm not killing them exactly the same way someone else did, unless I have reason to suspect his purported methodology. Or maybe I want to recreate a flag from 1781, and a good reference would help; I'll be spending most of my time working on the flag, but having an good reference sure helps.

Ars Magica libraries in all editions serve only as a source of knowledge, and not as a reference. Thus, a covenant with awesome collections about Terram and about Faeries allows a magus to learn about Terram and about Faeries, but does nothing for him as a reference when he wants to spend a season working on a ward against Faeries of the Earth.

Ars Magica has never explicitly supported the idea that knowledge of a particular subject might be capped. The closest thing to this is that the rules of different editions caused different reasonable maxima for Arts and Abilities, but all Abilities had the same practical maximum, and all Arts their own shared practical maximum. That is, there is no concept of "No one in Mythic Europe understands Theology better than an 11; that knowledge does not exist. Magic Lore tops out at 7, Terram at 28, Intellego at 19 and Ignem at 30."



Having the library be just about final scores and is much simpler, but with each detail lowered you lower the flexibility to mold your library too. Right now you can have a good Primer on Ignem, but only a few tractatus beyond that, or a very low-quality high-level summa on Herbam, and so on. I'm not sure the simplicity is worth losing this flexibility, but maybe I'm wrong. The complexity of the library is certainly annoying.

David Chart once suggested attaching a "comprehension level" to summas, which is the level the reader is supposed to be at. Reading below this level lowers the Quality. In this way, you can have a high-level & high-quality book to read when you're wise enough sitting in your library, but that you can't understand because you haven't learned enough to comprehend it yet. I think that's a nice idea.

There was a style of book like this in an older edition (maybe 4th) thet were liek the socratic dialogues I think. Sadly they were ditched at some point, but IIRC they were designed to be read at a particular level and you got a penalty for reading them at a different level. They got subsumed into Tractati I think.


It depends on what you want your stories to be about.

If you want library use to occur during downtime, with stories about what magi do outside the library, simple library rules make sense.

If you want grand tales of cataloging books, of sorting through tomes to find the one that is just right, then very complex library rules (perhaps with a table for getting lost in the library at Cordoba, or the Faerie library of Alexandria) are the order of the day.

To the extent that you want stories about books, rules that support them make sense.




Libri Questionum. (sp, shudder)



In our saga we are working on some alternative rules for books that feature a "target" learning band; that is an ability range within which a book is most useful. For Arts, we are considering perhaps a 5 level band where experience per season is equal to Quality and, either side, a range of perhaps 3 levels (to be agreed) where Quality is halved. This means that a book is of some use even if the reader's current level in the Art exceeds the upper band of the book. As I say, this is a work in progress rather than an established house rule.

I like this concept a lot. It's never made sense to me that archmagi can raise the limits of their arts by reading a tractatus written by a beginner. If you don't want to make a radical change to libraries, I really feel the game improves a lot (IMO of course) just by assigning tractatus levels. That makes summae much more useful too.

Never read a paper, or been to a conference presentation written by someone doing a master or PhD? I have... if tractati are highly specific insighjts into very specialised areas the limit is boundless. Every student on a masters course everywhere in the world is supposed to be writing something new and unique... that is over 1,000 people at any one time.

The analagy is far from perfect I readily accept, but that does seem to be the concept behind tractati. What hacks me off no end is that there is no level associated with it. This game really does like the 'everyone has a book in them concept' even about stuff they know very little about!

Sure I've read papers presented by students and learned something from them too. I bet even leading experts in the relevant field do sometimes too. But I don't think they do all of the time, and maybe not even most of the time. Very seldom will a true expert learn as much from such a paper as a qualified non-specialist will.

AM is a game and we need to abstract situations like this or the rules will never work. I think it leans too far in the direction of getting full value from all tractatus. How about just giving practice experience if you read a tractatus below your level?

I approach it from a completly different angle. No changes to the study rules or anything. Instead, my HR applies to library Resource points for Covenant creation. In the case of multiple summae on the same subject; I count the cost for the highest Level plus the highest Quality, plus one point for the total number of books beyond the first. An obsolete summa still has value in that you can write a Commentary on it or use it for trade.

Re Student Papers - these are not really analogous to Tractatus: a Tractatus surely is something more weighty than a student paper, which at most cannot take more than a few hours to read and assimilate. A Tractatus takes 3 months to read and digest: these are books but on a specialised area of a subject rather than a complete art or ability. A Tractatus needs to have real NEW content to be of significance - the more so when the reader is already an expert. I therefore think that Tractatus need a target level.

I am tempted to only have ONE type of book in game terms - this would have a quality and a range of levels - upper and lower. The time taken to write it would be related to the "quantity" of experience that are required to move from the lower level to the higher. So, a book on art that has a range of 5-10 would "contain" 45 XPs, whereas one from 0-5 would contain 10. It would take longer to write the former than the latter.


I dislike the idea of requiring a minimum amount of knowledge to benefit from a particular study, not only because a) I think it overcomplicates things unnecessarily, but b) because I find it utterly unrealistic.

A literate person can, and I have, with minimum grounding in a field, wade into literature that ought to be beyond me and learn quite a bit from it. I might not get the same knowledge as the intended audience, but I also might not get less knowledge; where he understands the intricacies better, I am forced to get a grasp of ideas he considers fundamental.

This has been my experience in fields as diverse as history, literary theory, Talmud, biology, and (to a limited extent) chemistry, though I acknowledge isn't always true! Advanced mathematics tends to be incomprehensible without lots of prior knowledge; other example easily come to mind. Largely, though, it is, especially regarding the kinds of books common in-period.

Primarily, though, I think nothing is gained by this complication.

Were I to model the value of a covenant's library, I would need to include not only the books but also the community of magi with whom I can interact while I am there, say, over dinner. Thus, borrowing a book from a library or even getting your own copy would not provide the same experience as actually spending a few seasons as a guest.

considers I like this a lot. Whether you're running 13th Century high medieval, in which students go to university because that's where the masters are, or 7C Dark Ages where covenants and perhaps monasteries are fortified islands of knowledge in a rising sea of barbarism, scholars travel to places of knowledge.

I started to write a set of variant rules to go with this, but they too were more complicated than I prefer. Something to consider, though.



A suggestion for a house rule, on using multiple Summa on the same subject with about the same levels:

Once you reach, or pass, the Level of the Summa, the rest are can be treated like Tractati with a Quality equal to (Quality+Level)-(Reader's Level+2).
So, like a Tractatus, it can only be read once - even though it could have been studied multiple seasons as a Summa - and adds less and less insight the more your own expertise exceeds the book. The number 2 is arbitrary, it could be shifted up or down as you see fit. I just thought a penalty of 2 exp was about right. I mean, if you read a second summa just as you've reached the cap, it is still read at a lower effective Quality.

Exempli Gratia:
The Library has 3 Summa on Mentem, all Level 6 Quality 9. The Magus Mentatus reads one of them, until his score reached 6 (0). He then reads the second one, for just the one season allowed, gaining (6+9)-(6+2)=7. His score now just reached 7. He then reads the third Summa, and gains (6+9)-(7+2)=6. His score is now 7 (6).