Non-Magi Translating Laboratory Notes

Noting that non-magi may copy lab texts without issues if they understand Magic Theory, they ought to be able to translate them as well, especially if taught by the magus. I would be tempted to just treat them as having Te+Fo=0, so their lab totals would be really low but they could accumulate understanding over seasons. But it's a process of experimentation, so it shouldn't be possible. Therefore I wouldn't allow it. But translating later is not a lab process so they should be able to do it. Thoughts?

Mostly playing Devil's Advocate here, but how does this follow?

EDIT: Because to me, that looks a bit like a Ride/Perform Heart Surgery on Horse -thing.

My thoughts are no, mundanes, without some nexus to the Gift can't translate lab texts since it is a lab activity.
I think Failed Apprentices and familiars should be able to translate them, though it is a poor use of their time.

Again to play Devil's Advocate, why not?

the rules say "If you would like to copy a Laboratory Text of yours so others can easily use it..." which implies to me that only the magus who did the original lab can translate his notes, especially since they need translating because they "include all sorts of personal abbreviations and shortcuts that others cannot understand"

Look a bit further down the page. Seriously. Look. I'll wait.

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Why not? Why not mundanes translate it? Because it's a lab activity. If they can conduct Hermetic lab activities, then they can assist in the lab. I really dislike the idea of anyone with Magic Theory being able to assist in the lab...

It sounds like to me that if you know the secrets you don't need to translate and can skip straight to writing them out. Probably learnable by being taught magic theory or being trained by the magus.

You can, at Latin x 20 levels per season.

They do have rules for translating another mage's lab notes so as to learn their note-taking method, and it specifically requires a laboratory to generate a Lab Total.

I note those rules require a lab with a lab total which includes form and technique...

Translating them is not a lab activity. The presented method to learn to translate them is. Though it sounds picky, this changes a lot of implications.

It is. Explicitly so.

But, I think I see where you're going. The idea is that you have to decipher the shorthand and therefore never need recreate this process again for any spell of equal level or lower. If another deciphered the shorthand and left his notes for someone who wasn't gifted, he could then decipher any spells of equal level or lower? Is that where you're going?

Actually, explicitly not:

The question is how a mundane can learn to translate such texts. Magi can experiment to see just what the notes mean; mundanes cannot. But can a magus explain their own notes so that a mundane can copy them? That's implicitly and absolute "yes." A magus can explain their notes by rewriting them and then a mundane scribe can copy them. So it is possible for a magus to use non-laboratory methods to explain their own notes and then a mundane can copy them. So, could a magus explain their short-hand to a scribe, such as over a season of instruction in Magic Theory or similar? Once that short-hand is understood, no laboratory is necessary to translate the lab notes.

Good catch.

There seems to be an implicit level limit, so the shorthand taught would be limited to that of the highest spell known by the magus, right? I don't have a problem with a season of magus time being tied up in this way to tackle something that is this much drudgery... There aren't enough apprentices in the Order, nor do magi have so much time that they can spend countless seasons translating lab texts...

OTOH, having an art at 0 is quite different from having no art: Opening the Arts gives you a score of 0, theoretically allowing you to spont spells, which is something no mundane can do.

This would mean that having Arts is no requisite for generating a lab total. If you allow mundanes to generate a lab total for one thing, why not for other things?
For exemple, one could very much argue that brewing a potion does not require anything special, and that mundanes with MT should be able to create Charged Items. We even got a semi-precedent, in that Enriched Items do not require any magical ability, only knowledge.

=> Why not, but where do you draw the line, and why?

I'd argue that the situations are not at all similar. A charged item is still being imbued with magic by the magus, just not so permanently/self-regenerating as if it had been bound with vis.

On the other hand, translating lab texts is... Figuring out somebody's shorthand and turning it into something anybody can read.

There's really nothing magical happening there; the only reason the Lab Total is used, as far as I can tell, is to represent that knowing the Arts increases your understanding of the text, allowing you to translate more quickly. Plus, if either only magi can do it or mundanes can do it but it takes forever, it has the nice side effect of doing to the lab text market what most people wish would have happened for the magical book market. So that's a nice touch.

Figuring out the shorthand is a lab activity. Translating the text after knowing the shorthand is not a lab activity. Callen pointed me in the right direction here.

Well, the lab total is used to mark progress as to how far you've come to understanding the shorthand. Since the text states that this is a process of experimentation, and you need a lab, I think you need the Gift, or some nexus to the Gift. But after the shorthand has been translated, there's nothing to prevent the translating magus from sharing a legend of the symbols to be used to decode other texts written by the other magus. That can be offloaded to a scribe with Magic Theory, IMO and he can continue until he hits a spell above the level that the magus translated.

It's interesting to note, that this effectively unlocks all spells of equal or lower level for all TeFo combos, which is somewhat odd...

I would say that to offload the note he would have to translate his lab notes on decoding the text, but once that is done I would have no problem with a mundane using those lab notes to decode future lab notes from the first magus.

On the other hand, this seems like a long ways around for little benefit.

But after you have the shorthand down, you can write out all of his lab texts as if they were your own. So, it is a huge benefit.

The crux of that matter is how often one gets his hands on the untranslated lab texts of another magus, and what's the volume of lab texts one finds when it happens. For some sagas, that may be "almost never" and "not a lot". For others, this might be "once in a while" and "huge".

One instance where you might have the later is after a Wizard's War (or March) where you killed your opponent (or target).

Of course, how valuable that stash of lab texts is will bepend on how many non-standard spells and how many enchantments that magus invented over the years.