New Breakthrough process - Distributed Research

Hi guys,
I dug out my old notes to look into some things, and I found a lot of unfinished/untested minor mysteries that I was playing with. Here is one of them, it was actually planned for Bonisagi, but anyone could theoretically do it.

Researching Virtues

Brutus wishes to use original research to turn a hermetic/supernatural virtue into a normal part of hermetic magic. This is a two stage process - first research the virtue so it can be taught, then integrate it. This is two major breakthrough projects (45 points each) per virtue. He is planning to hire multiple magi to research a single spell on a topic, then have a 'lead' magus read all the texts, then have that magus teach him and others. The lead magus needs to have a high teaching/writing total and a good enough lab-total to use the research of the team. As each research lab-text comes to the lead researcher it is copied by a team of skilled experts. After the project is completed the original lab-texts are sent to Brutus and the copies are sent to Durenmar.

Due to the distributed nature of the plan, there can be many different teams at the same time. Each team will have different lead magi – this magus then passes out a request throughout the order asking if people are willing to donate a few seasons of their time for a worthwhile endeavor.

Brutus is also willing to pass the whole mechanism on to Houses Bonisagus and Tremere, as long as he gets a cut of the vis or virtues.

Each magus in the first research group will be paid a sum of vis for their part in the research, they will also be given the opportunity to study a tractatus of the virtue at the end of the project. The lead researcher will get to co-author the discovery, receive funding for their part in it and keep a tractatus of the virtue.

After the initial project has been completed and sent to Brutus, the lead researcher puts out another advertisement for researchers. This time the payment is a larger amount of vis (1.5 times previous amount rounded up) and a tractatus on Magic Theory which incorporates the new materials into hermetic theory.

Magi can pay 10 pawns of vis upfront and within 8-10 years they will be taught the virtue of their choice, if they pay 20 pawns they will receive a tractatus of their own with the virtue which others can study (though it cannot be copied). Brutus plans to use this bis to pay for the actual research of both breakthroughs. When the project is completed Brutus keeps the original and copies are sent to the Lead Researcher and those who paid extra.

Magi who take part would be rewarded for their stabilised discovery with vis according to the following table and being taught the virtue when it is completed .

Magnitudes of effect (research points) Reward (vis)
3 5
4 7
5 9
6 11
7 13
8 15
9 17

Unaging example

E.g. 30 people within the order wish to learn unaging, 5 of them wish to own a tractatus, Brutus gathers the first few payments and appoints a lead researcher, Frederik who advertises for recruits. Frederik selects 7 magi who will do the project and over 2 years they invent and stabilise the following spells:

Spell Magnitude Payment
Restoration of the Defiled Body 5 9
Purification of the festering wound +12 bonus 5 9
Cheating the Reaper 6 11
Purification of the festering wound +15 bonus 6 11
Purification of the festering wound +18 bonus 7 13
Incantation of the Body Made Whole 8 15
Purification of the festering wound +21 Bonus 8 15

As it comes in, each lab-text is copied by a skilled scribe and illuminator before being passed to Frederik to read. As there are 7 lab-texts, Frederik spends 7 seasons reading them.

5 years have now passed since Brutus first advertised the virtue, 350 pawns of vis were collected, 88 pawns were paid out to the researchers, 40 pawns to Frederik with 40 going to Brutus and the remainder being kept back for the integration project.

Frederik writes a tractatus on the new virtue. this is then copied by scribes and illuminators so there are a total of (number to be sent out (5) +1 = 6 extra copies). The copies are sent around the backers, each having it for a season but not having permission to copy it, last to receive them are the researchers. Within a few years everyone should have had a copy for a season and know the virtue. The copies are gathered up, with 1 going to each backer who paid for one, 1 going to the team leader and the original being kept by Brutus. Each copy is covered by cow-and-calf, the owners can allow people to study from them, but no copies are allowed to be made. Each lab-text used in the research has copied, with one copy going to Brutus and the other to Durenmar in both Brutus and the Frederiks names.


I think the number of magi required for this approach would be prohibitive given the size and culture of the order by RAW. Remember these are not millennials embracing crowd sourcing, these are mostly ego-maniacal wizards whom you are asking to work under someone else and concede their own greatness and authority in service to a breakthrough they are being asked to share.


Oh look, a use for Apprentices and junior Magi.
House Tremere can (and should) do stuff like this. I can also see the Covenants in the Greater Alpine Tribunal do this with their Chapter Houses and the threat of revoking residency. Maybe also in the Rhine to curry favour with the Guilds.

Though I could see certain lineages (master-apprentice chains) trying and failing to pull this off.

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The primary reason Tremere won't do this is that they are focused on defense and logistics over research.

I dont see how this is any different from inventing spells for order(and participants should be paid for that instead of discoveries), which is definitly a thing in the OoH. Any magi who is too proud to 'sell' a season or two of his/her time has it too good or is on top of the order's hierarchy, possibly both.

On the other hand getting that amount of vis together is gonna prove problematic imo. Would your covenant spend 10-20 pawns on someone's outlandish promises?

Those that would hire help in a project like this tend to not get the resources to do so.
Those that have the resources to hire help in a project like this tend to have their egos not allow it.
And those that have the resources to pay for this tend to be few and far between with huge devides of space and time.


The ego aspect is more about playing lab assistant. Part of the issue with trying to buy assistance is in trying to set the parameters since you can't guarantee a breakthrough, except with ancient magic, in which case this kind of distributed research can already happen on the orders of the prima of Bonisagus who can simply hand out assignments...

In my mind the ego aspect is all about geting the glory for your work. Which you consciously disclaim to the benefit of others if you agree to work as an assistant and that is a fact. But it would also be lessened by the fact that not all of this hard work was yours.

You want to give your name for the project, doing just 10% of a breakthrough while a bunch of interns are doing 5-5% each doesnt exactly cement your status as a wizard of legends.

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The big thing is that a well organized primus of bonisagus can dictate to any number of magi of the the house what research they should be working on, allowing the house to pull off something like this fairly easily. If the primus wants fertility magic they simply direct 20 different magi to work on fertility magic and send their translated lab texts.


That only works on the lower ranked and less skilled Bonisagus. Once they get some House Prestige, they are allowed to research what they want to rather than what the Primus wants.

Of course if what one of those higher ranked members wanted to research was something the Primus wanted as well, he could just form a committee and appoint that higher ranked Magus as head of it. It would need to be what the Magus wanted to research however, since being head of a committee researching something other than what you are results in piss poor performance.

At the same time someone on the Colentes Arcanorum could simply let it slip that they are partial to works on a given topic...

Very true, if word got out that the Folio was going to be focused on some subject it would get many experimental spells on that subject. Of course you would also have to let slip that "stabilized experiment" spells on that subject are what you want, otherwise you would just get mostly worthless ones.

And for clarity, Rank 3 specifically is the rank in which the Primus can direct a specific path of research to. Rank 4 is immune to this. Rank 1 and 2 are below this, with Rank 1 not having shared anything at all yet and Rank 2 just giving basic things like a few spells and maybe a book or two, as well as possibly some work with their Parens. The books are unclear if Rank 1 and 2 can be tasked specifically by the Primus. It does not make much difference ether way, since they would have insufficient skill at that level (outside of point optimized PCs) to do things like produce a stable experimental spell for original research with any consistency.

EDIT: Heck, if what you are asking for is something that can be done by minor research, you might even get a few breakthroughs. With the time it would take the desired research to "slip out" and the cut off before you stop taking new things so that the final Folio can be compiled, that still leaves about 5 years. That is more than enough time for a dedicated Magus who is a skilled researcher to crank out a minor breakthrough.

Since the house as a whole tends to shoot more for Major or Hermetic breakthroughs, doing this (cause a focus on minor breakthroughs) would actually advance Hermetic Theory forward quiet a bit. Minor Breakthroughs after all are much more likely to succeed, generally have much less of a chance of being fruitless/impossible, and are easy to distribute in Folio form simply by including a spell.

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(On Tremere) They are also the smallest House. They haven't recovered as well as Tytlas or Flambeau from the Schism War.
With around only 80 members throughout Europe, I don't think they have a lot of people free for new research.

As for ego; I would argue the fact that someone claims most (if not all) the credit for the breakthrough is definitely an issue for a number of magi.
Would it be like a researcher leaving names off an academic paper? And how would that be seen by the Order in the 13th century?
I always saw the Order as operating as the early days of academia. More advanced than the mundane universities of their time, given the head start they have.

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Very interesting! Please, share more of your Minor Mysteries?

Sure, I don't have many left. Some are just ideas. I'll have a look