No Labtexts - how would the game change?

Hi all,

One part of covenant creation that always seems to be underdeveloped are Lab Texts, doubly so for enchantment lab texts.

So, what would be the impact on the game, both mechanically and thematically, if Lab Texts weren't possible. Spells could only be invented from scratch or taught directly one-on-one?

Just thinking out loud and would be interested in peoples opinions


Over all the Spells of all magus will be lower level and the time needed to learn a powerful spell is drastic increased (from 1 season with lab text to many seasons or not possible at all to research the spell).

Right now it only need one powerful magus to invent a spell and then write it down so that all other "friendly" magus that have a high enough lab total learn the spell in 1 season.

It would lower the importance of "important" magi and societies such as mystery cults. Right now a big advantage of being in the Order is that you have this society of mages that you can draw from, to quickly learn new spells instead of inventing them from scratch. If they can't offer you that, their importance diminishes.

This is especially so for historical-magi - you won't care that it was Notatus that invented the Aegis of the Hearth if you didn't have to learn his spell, if anyone could do it just as-easily as Notatus once did.

It's also a big mark against cults. A large part of the appeal of many Mystery Cults and other organizations within the Order is the access they provide to their library. After you've learned your Potent Magic, for example, you'd be looking for spells that utilize it, and having a library on-hand of such already-researched spells can literally cut the time needed to acquire them by half. It also makes available to you spells you can hardly invent at all at the present, often the powerful rituals that you want to exploit such as Characteristic-boosting spells.

I agree with the other posters. I'll add that, like potent magic, hermetic theurgy is also greatly hindered.

One of the largest changes would be to the utility of apprentices. Apprentice help in the lab is not often significant or necessary, at least its not the largest proportion of the apprentices time. One of the other things that I've seen apprentices do is copy lab texts.

I... disagree. If lab texts do not exist, powerful mages might well become more important, rather than less important -- since you must learn powerful spells directly from them (if you want to save seasons) and they do not face the competition from folks who have acquired lab texts (through inheritance, trade etc.) without being powerful magi themselves.

Also, magic becomes quirkier and more personalized/less standardized. In other words, if you must do it yourself, you might as well do it your own way! One underestimated limit to the power of a magical focus, particularly a very narrow focus that allows for lots of creative solutions, is that those solutions are probably slightly inefficient for the vast majority of magi (who do not have the focus); and so lab texts based on those solutions are comparatively rarer, and people learning them are also rarer.

Interestingly, this does not affect just spells, but magic items too, in a slightly different way: magic items are more likely to be one-of-a-kind, since there's less advantage in repeating a design. Single-use items become much less useful (as the usual strategy is two spend two seasons on them: one to create a "prototype", one to stockpile them).

No lab texts would make players actually have to pick and choose between investing in the future or doing something now.

As it stands players easily advance a decade never inventing a spell, then invent the maximum they can cast from a lab text in one season. Same with setting up a lab with 10 modifications in one season.

Personally I would much prefer if labtexts helped a little less than they do right now.

I think no lab texts would create more silos of knowledge, increasing mystery cult political power. Relationships between master and student becomes more important.

If no lab texts existed, Charged and Lesser Enchanted Items become a lot less powerful; You don't get to mass produce basic low level enchantments anymore. While for many items won't really change (How many magical no-horse wagons do you really need? (aside, I need five, obviously)) However, when you have a turb of 20 soldiers, you may want to make 15 magic swords, 10 magic quivers, and 20 magic armors as fast as possible. That charged wand of Demon's VERY Eternal Oblivion that you made 1 charge of with massive penetration... suddenly you can't make a second copy with 12 charges.
While the lesser enchanted objects are a minor inconvenience or an interesting story point, the charged item changes are kind of crippling for that style. If you wanted to have some of the feel while still making Charged Items viable, you could try the house-rule where charged items still can be lab texted- or only by the original user. You could toy with ideas of lab texts being a mystery-cult specific thing, requiring mystery cult lore to utilize properly. There are lots of options.