Mundane Books - Lvls and Qu's ?

Hi all,

My first ArM5 game as ST is off the ground and running (well...i think). However, one of my players is a Tremere and during the year, he did perform a season of service which was required of him. In return, he has asked for a minor book on Parma magica....he wants to get a copy so he can donate it to the covenant library for his contribution for the year..., now I'm a bit lost. Within Hermetic Arts, I have a good scale of books and relative value, but when it comes to Ability books,I cant find any guidelines :frowning: (I'm really talking about summae here). What about Lvl 3 for minor books, Lvl 6 for 'standard' texts and Lvl 9 for the best (equivilent of Lvl 20 Art summae i guess). And again, I'm really lost on how to gauge what the quality should be for those lvls of books?

Any help would be great



Actually, I would scale a little differently.

According to core rules (IIRC), lvl 8 is the maximum for an ability summa. It is your game, of course, but any level 9 Ability summa would have to be a truly extraordinary text, particularly at good Quality.

THink about it this way: what would it take for someone to get a 9 in an Ability in your saga. This would allow a level 4 summa (pretty good foundation, really) and allow them to add 3 bonus points to the Quality. TO get a level 9, the author has to accumulate 225 xp. If the work hard and get 15 per year (which, for a non-magus, is pretty darned focused), that would mean that it would take them 15 years to accumulate the requisite knowledge. If they were to need to write a level 8 summa, they need a 16 in the Ability (680 xp). That would take them 46 years (with some extra). If you assume 20 xp a year (Wealthy Virtue), then the times required scale back to 12 and 34, respectively. If you were to have a level 10 summa in Parma, then the author would have to aquire a level 20 in the ability -- 1050 xp (53 years of effort and study at 20 xp per year)

On that basis, a level 4 summa is pretty significant representing quite a lot of training. A level 8 represents a very strong focus over a very long time and vanishingly rare, I would imagine.

For supernatural Abilities (like Parma), it is reasonable to suppose that a magus does have a real chance of accumulating those kind of levels over thier career -- especially if they are willing to seriously impair thier other magical studies.

Put another way, a very senior - and wealthy - Hoplite might have been able to collect quite a few decent quality tractatus over the course of his career leading to a peerless collection on the topic of Parma. Let us suppose that he is able to acquire, say, 40 tractatus with an average Quality of 10. Throw in 150 xp in parma from adventures (30 adventures at 5 xp a piece). That would lead to a level 12 Parma (16 if he had an Affinity). This one very dedicated magus would then have to be interested in sharing his or her knowledge with the Hermetic world. And THEN you would have to have them sit down for the time to write it, and let us hope that they are a decent writer.

A level 6 summa would be quite rare and level 8 would be a really dramatic acheivement.

Just my 2p.


Thanks for the reply, very useful :smiley:

So then, with Lvl 8 seeming to be a the upper limit for Ability Summae, what about these guidelines (for myself) then... Minor Summae Lvl 3, General Summae Lvl 5, Great Works Summae Lvl 8? Still not too sure on Quality's for these sort of texts....Assuming that an author was an Expert in their and they were good writers, what Quality do you think they could achieve for a Minor Summae (almost like a Primer for an Art)?

Also, in my Saga, I've given the players 2 hefty summae (it seems) - one is a Lvl 9, Qu14 Summa on Magic Theory (by Bonisagus himself), and the other is a Lvl 8 summa on Theology (aka the Bible)....are those a little to high for a saga?



IIRC : The bible is level 10 with 2 quality.

For the Bonisagus' book, in my saga, i made it a level 7 qualité 12.

That is, the limit for new books as part of covenants on starting.

Art summae limit is 20 and while i cant say the Ability 8 limit always gets broken in play, the Art 20 does tend to get smacked around quite a lot. Ie, the limits are not absolute.
IIRC, the highest ever Ability summae a player character in any of our games wrote(without the help of additional HR virtues) was 13. Think it was Penetration, strongly specialised character of the kind you wont be likely to see often(i think that was the ONLY character we ever had who could write so high level, i think the next highest was 10 ).

I would change the last one to "highend" or something similar and anything above 8 as Superior or Great works.

As high as they can get in theory, ie base quality for writer *2.

On the edge if they start out with them. Not TOO high, but close. Let them chase after the books instead perhaps and let them start with something "smaller"?

Direwolf and I might quibble on a few points, but I think we agree on principle. Books are a great source of adventure hooks. Not only are they valuable for your characters to advance, but you can hide some specific hints or "facts" in them that are only available if the character studies them.

As for the tarting books, I agree that they are high but they won't break your game. So make the charcters appreciate what a valuable test it is. Let word get out that they own them and then have folks come by to borrow, learn from, or try to steal them. For example:

Bob the Bonsagus: "YOU have a copy of Bonsagus' original work?! In good condition?!!?!?!" Heads whip around at Tribunal and suddenly everyone tries to talk with the character. And you notice that two particularly nasty magi are no longer sitting on thier benches at Tribunal. One has a magical horse that flies as fast as the wind...

I would recommend getting a copy of Covenants. Opens up a lot on what is appropriate and how to scale for your saga's power level.

Direwolf: You had a player who got a 26 Penetration?! Holy cats! Talk about a hired gun. What were his Art scores like?


And I am going to really throw a wrench in the works.

I would say there are no parma magica books. There is too much cnace someone could steal it, it could be lost in transit, it could be copied and taught to someone. Parma is the order's special defense. It is something apprentices are not taught until they are about to take the oath or have taken the oath generally. Maybe Durenmar (that is where it was invented) has a book or two but it would never leave Durnemar.

A trainer for Parma might make sense but not likely a book. THat perhaps is the one ability I would never create a book for and someone that did create one and was caught might find themselves brought up before tribunal.

Thats a very interesting opinion, one I hadnt considered. The only worry I would have with that is that Parma Magica levels without books would be lower than having books to study, as not many magi are willing to give up a season of their time to teach another magi, and only getting 5xp a season from practice (or adventure) would take forever to increase its ranks...but none the less, a very interesting point.

It also raises the idea of some great story ideas - what, a book was stolen, go find it - what a parma magica was stolen by a hedge wizard, go find it before the Quaestitors find out about this!


Relatively low for the environment(characters in play for a good bit over a century, maybe over 2, i dont remember exactly). As i said she was severely specialised to be able to break through ANY resistance, preferably regardless of casting score. Its a long time ago but IIRC she had no art above 20 and most between 10-15(in a saga where at that time most magi had built up at least some arts in the 30s or more)...

With the right preparation, there simply wasnt anything that could block her spells, ever.
I think that was the game where we started testing different ways of getting Might scores to be more "impressive" and the player wanted to be able to smack through any defense no matter what.
She did. Since the player was also careful enough to never enter a situation unprepared i cant recall even a single time where it was possible at all for the maga to fail to penetrate. :mrgreen:

Of course, this led to getting assasination attempts occasionally because noone wants someone around that they KNOW they cant defend against. :smiling_imp:

That must have been a fun saga! If she had a decent Parma and a strong Aegis ... (shudder) ...

Anyhow, to ladyphoenix's point about Parma books being non-existant (or very rare since they were secret within the Order), I can see the point and one that needs to be addressed within most sagas I would think. However, I would offer a few things to factor in:

  1. Mechanically, I think as a supernatural ability that is compatible with Hermetic magic, any non-Hermetic practitioner would either have to have low Ability scores or be a Book Learner to be able to acquire the requisite study total to get a level 1 in the Ability. In story language, they would have to find/get a very excellent text, and have it for a whole season. Any other condition, the text simply would not provide enough information in a short enough period of time. Possible, but at least in the kinds of sagas I like to be in, not likely. If Parma is a general academic Ability in your saga, then it would be MUCH more dangerous to the Order to have the books lying around.

  2. If there are 60-something Queasitors in the order, then it would be fairly easy to keep a book secret for a while, especially if the magus is motivated. As long as thier apprentices never see the book (or don't remember due to PeMe effects), then a non-Hoplite magus with no other rep for being a "tough nut to crack" would pretty easily be able to keep a ook like that secret for a time. Knowledge of the existence of such a text might get out over time but then it would be easier for House Guernicus or the Trianomae to vigororously seek all copies and (a) keep a copy at Magvillus for thier Hoplites/Investigators to use, and (b) destroy all others. That would make a good story.

  3. I think that Queasitors in a particular Tribunal could easily find out if someone is learning Parma by keeping track of local hedge practitioners that can read. They follow up on rumors of "powerful sorcerers" and "dangerous witches" anyway to see if the Code is being violated so if thier investigations show that the knowledge leaked THEN they can bring on the Brimstone.

  4. What would be really dangerous, I feel, is if some Hedge wizard (such as an Learned Magician or a Witch) was another Bonisagus but flew below the radar so to speak. It has been centuries since someone so brilliant has come about. We are about due and there if they are quiet there is nothing else to say that they have to be Hermetic. If they develop Parma (or similar) on thier own as Original Research or experimentally Initiate a similar Virtue ... well, that would be interesting indeed. I can see the Witches of Thessaly being particularly motivated to support such a long-term effort and savvy enough to keep it REAL quiet.

That all being said, I believe Parma books should be rare (certainly summae) just from the standpoint of balancing your saga let alone my personal view that Parma experts aren't likely to be prolific writers. Secret Parma books (riffing on Ladypheonix's assumptions) would make a great set of story hooks, though.


26 Penetration ... (shaking head) ... Some lab texts, Art scores at 10, now that is scary!


I agree with Lady Phoenix... damn boards ate my post.

The reason the Order has hunted any other groups and worked to keep the Ordo Pralix reintegrated, is to maintain their Magical Resistance superiority over the hedgies and pagans. Books can be stolen, or even worse-- copied and distributed without their owner's knowledge.

I'm sure that it's part of the education of the Parma, "Listen my filius, what I teach you now you may never write down. You must memorize it, because it is what will protect you from the magic of your enemies."


I think you give Quasitors far too much credit. Consider that they are also magi, with their own goals, their own objectives, their own plans... why would they bother doing anything of the sort until it becomes a problem? Time spent nosing around for problems that don't exist is time not spent in a lab doing the work they'd rather be doing.

Think of quasitor as "volunteer detective," or "freelance detective." Unless someone's put him on the case and he's got reason to go hunting, I don't think any checking up is going to happen.

Ahhh, and therein lies the real trouble. That's exactly what's happened in our saga (although it's not the Witches of Thessaly), and it's been building up over the last seven years of play. We've started encountering this other Order and their magi who know the Parma, and it's not a comforting thing.


Penetration 26.. coff coff munchikin... c*off...
Is my first post and my english is very bad... but i don't resist for this...

Penetration 26... without puissant 24...
Total = (1+24)245/2 = 1500 xp (1000 xp with affinity)

Virtues: Affinity Puissant, Book Learner, Independent Studant, Puissant Penetration

And with 20 years old...
The Magus starts with Penetration 7 (100 xp for easy calculation)

The Next 10 Years old, the quest for this magus is pick up the all 20 tractatus sounds (quality 11) for penetration and read them (if exist).

And with 30 years old..
The Magus have 28 + 10 xp in Penetration for year (two season read the books, two season from adventure) (i don't count the affinity)
And the penetration have 480 xp. The munchikin have Penetration 13.

After this, he need 520 xp for penetration 26.
The Pratice give 6xp for season (4 normal + 2 independent studant)
520/6 = 87 season.
Two season for year and the Mage have Penetration 24, 26 with puissant and the mage have 75 years old...

The question is?
This Mage have positive comunication?
This Mage have Latin 5 for write a book?
This MAge have Arts?
This Mage have Aprendices?

For this question, i don't no know the result (i forgive the word)
But for two question i know.

This Mage is possible? Yes, and real. This mage is a Harvard, MIT or Stamford teacher ultra-specialization... but real
This Mage is funny? Problaby not. I don't like play with a character with two option for interpretation... 0 or 1.. study penetration or not... what do you do? I study Penetration!!!

In terms of a crazy high Penetration skill-- what good is all that skill if your arts are low? I'd rather develop a magus' arts and gain penetration that way. Sure, the skill is good for modifiers, but if my magus is cranking out the spell with an equally high set of arts, well, that's much more functional.


Well... take 2 minutes, Rego magic a statuet, +2 to multiplier...
SO, you said, 26? no, it's 78.

And... even a 10 PeCo spell can kill you if it hurt you 10 times.
And what use is your parma if you are sleeping and stabbed?

So yes, good penetration is an excellent "way to bypass parma (and kill.. be honest)".

Good arts are not so good way to kill but better at magical things...

Each magus his madness!

That sums it up pretty well.

Nothing munchkin about it at all.
We run at an overall higher level because we have overall more difficult opposition/resistance.
But as i said, the character in question reached that point without using any houserules.

And a large part of the reason for higher overall level is because we use a modified set of Range/Duration and to a lesser extent Target...
So once you go higher than Voice or Diameter you better have some more skills...
Moon +5, Stadium(~185m) +4... Or why not Target "Selective Radial"(basically effects everything within range in all directions the caster chooses, straight out from the caster)... Its at +10 magnitudes.

And as i said, we were in part using that game to test out Magic Might variations.
Some we found were "a bit" too dreadfully strong...
What we settled on might be said to be about 3-5 times as strong as original rules. Might stripping damage reduced by Might score, must still penetrate, spells that before reduction would cause less than might score damage but at least do half damage have the final damage caused reduced to 1, damage applied to a "damage pool" that starts equal to Might score, once its zero, Might score is damaged.
Might Pool regenerates 1/5 of max per day.
Might Score and Damage Pool regenerates 1 point per week each, Damage Pool gets +3 points if Might Score is at max.

Clowns parma that i didnt mess any of that up (too badly) now... :mrgreen:

Dont forget about Good Teacher virtue...

Ah, but this is where Covenant boosting comes in... She spent time teaching all the other magi enough that they ended up with Penetration values of 10-14(IIRC), and in payment, they wrote Tractatus for her. Most at 9-13 in quality.
IIRC she didnt get any XP for this from practise at all.
And she had been in play for well over 100 years. Maybe 150 years old or something, i dont recall...

Yes, quite good IIRC.
Not so high arts compared to the others no. As i said, no Art above 20(well maybe Perdo or Imaginem slightly higher, i know she could use invisibility spells very well) and most between 10-15. In a game that had gone far enough that some characters in some TeFo combinations could reach casting totals well above 100. Without a Focus that is.
I think she did have a couple of apprentices but i could be wrong on that.

Oh she was funny alright, just for all the assasination attempts from potential enemies and paranoid magi everywhere. :mrgreen:
Magi did NOT enter her sanctum uninvited... :smiling_imp: