Mundane uses for Magic Theory

In your saga, what can someone do who has Magic Theory, but is neither Gifted nor a Failed Apprentice?

Gifted i see, but a failed apprentice per se can't do much than a mundane. He has to have the gift to use it like a magus, and since he is failed apprentice, his gift is flawed somehow.

So, the question is: what can a not gifted person do with magic theory?

  • teach it to apprentice
  • combine it with philosophiae/dominion lore / magical lore and try to explain magic is coming from God not from hell or pagan gods

Of course, he can't go on the practice ways, since he only have theorical knowledge

He can also write down books on hermetic stuff without introducing mistakes that diminish the quality of the opus.

As a side note I have always thought failed apprentice to be one of the less well developed virtues in the game.


My Magister in Artibus has Magic Theory 3. His backstory is he found a book on the subject and learned a lot from it and about the order.

His big personal drives are through Experimental Philosophy. His knowedge of magic theory means he's actually quite good at understanding why spells may or may not work. He's been a good mentor to some of the newer (players) magi without actually stealing the limelight from them. He is also a good teacher and has been able to write outstanding tractatii on the subject (Qual 11).

It's not been overwhelmingly useful, but he's never copied a Hermetic arts book and still I don't think it's 30 wasted XP.


Copy books and teach others.

Also out in the field, a character who has Magic Theory has some idea of what they are seeing when they witness Hermetic magic being cast. So, they might be able to: recognise that it is Hermetic magic, guess the Technique and Form, possibly estimate the magnitude, and maybe infer some of the details of the effect. This is handy either for knowing when to duck, or for making intelligible reports back to magi about what they have seen.

Can they build laboratories for your magi? The rules specifically say that only Failed Apprentices can help in the lab.

On a related note, does a Failed Apprentice need to take Magical Air, or is that part of the flaw?

I agree, Xavi.

Yes, though many prefer not to play that way. Having The Gift or anything like it is not a requirement.

Not really. The rules make Failed Apprentices one of the few exceptions to the rule that you must have The Gift to help in the lab. There are other exceptions.

Failed Apprentice is a Virtue, not a Flaw. No, the Failed Apprentice no long has The Gift. It would not be unreasonable, however, to take Magical Air. It's certainly not required.



Such as? I can't think of any other exceptions to the rule stating that "Anyone who has The Gift and a score of at least one in Magic Theory may help you" The description for the Failed Apprentice Virtue specifically states that they may learn Magic Theory and help in the lab, but that's the only one that comes to mind.

Familiars and whatever Verditius call the mundane craftsmen that can aid them, are the other obvious exceptions.

Familiars can help in the lab (p. 105, Bound Familiar, end of second paragraph).

Forge companions (HoH-MC, p.113) can give a (small) bonus to a Verditius' Craft Skill which is then included in the magus' Lab Total.

IIRC, for mundane help in the lap, there's a boon (maybe even 2) in covenant laboratory virtues, such as "servants" or something like that.

Servants don't add their int+magic theory to the lab total. Being a servant doesn't count as assisting, even if the servant is being extremely helpful in providing fresh cups of tea.

Servants can add specialisation bonuses... but in this case they still aren't 'assisting' any more than your beakers and retorts are assisting.

As for mundanes with magic theory, they can:

  • Outfit a lab
  • Recognise Hermetic magic being cast, and possibly even recognise the aftereffects (knowing what a sigil is, etc)
  • Copy books on either magic theory or the arts
  • Write books on magic theory
  • Teach magic theory
  • Pretend to be a magus by engaging real magi in conversations or correspondence

Chances are good that a mundane with magic theory will recognise the Gift effect for what it is as well.

In My covenant, we have a ghost who has magic theory and so she can copy books of art without malus.
For scribes, it is a good thing to have a bit of magic theory, so that they understand a bit what they are copying and risk less mistakes...
I know what is it, copying a engineer text in dutch, not know what it was speaking about... so it was not easy to understand the hand writting...

Mundane scholars who know Magic Theory can be very helpful in setting up/upgrading a lab if you have the cash to spare to hire them and want to spare your own seasons being lazy. Assuming you can find one/train one, anyway.