Non-magical academic research

Hello,
My question may have been treated in the past but i'm somewhat new to Ars Magica and this forum.

I puzzled as how, rulewise, academic research should be treated. By academic research i mean original thinking in academic abilities and improving one without relying on book reading. Some sort of practice ? If so what sort of quality should be applyied

There are no good real rules for advancing knowledge. You could use practice experience to learn without books. It would probably be Q4. But that doesn't really provide any "original thinking". Reading tracti or summae would allow you get everything practice does.

Writing Tracti sort of works since that allows for better books for people to learn from. If there are a nigh limitless supply of Q11 tracti people can learn faster.

I think the real thing would be some modification of the Original Research rules from HoH: TL. Combine that with experimental philosophy and you can make breakthroughs in the academic fields. You could also allow other fields to do similar research. Perform a "lab" project in artes liberales with experimentation and see what developments you make! (Again use HoH: True Lineage original research rules.)

The final option would be to go the route of Enigmatic Wisdom and say body of knowledge is slowly improving. But there are no real mechanics and its just sort of in the background.

Well, ultimately the answer would depend upon what exactly the objective of the character's research is, but the game does offer some suggestions in both "Ancient Magic" and "Art & Acadame".

In the former, the "Adamic" chapter features a section on mundane linguistic research to unlock the secret of Adamic. The method suggested is a variation on the Original Research rules in HoH: TL and revolves upon rolling on the experimentation chart (though obviously some of the results are inapplicable) until a "Discovery" is achieved.

Alternately, while it's probably not what you're looking for, exactly, A&A features rules for the researching of alchemical reagents, astrological inceptions, and medicinal theriacs using a method not unlike that utilized in the invention of an Hermetic spell or enchantment...

You could still adapt the lab rules like they did in A&A. But instead of researching a formulae they research something more mundane. Say a lab project to calculate the next seven astrological convergences. Or calculating profits of a merchant company. Use experimentation rules. They can grant breakthrough points. Teachable virtues still work as a major. New fields (abilities) would be a hermetic level breakthrough. Minor would be... a new application of the skill.

In retrospect, I think I may have misunderstood your initial question :blush:

In any case, if your goal is to simply improve an Academic skill by the method you've described would probably constitute "Practice".

Two ideas I had with the precious answers you offered :

  • Experimenting with tractactus/summae/disputatio/correspondence : botch would give flawed text with xp in a bad academic reputation consistant with the source quality. Basicaly, you look either as a fool or worst as an heretic.
  • Natural experimentation (but I have hard time seeing it working well with theology) with a botch resulting in a physical problem showing up and lot of money needed instead of vis (e.g. designing experimental building, studying animals comparativly (huge and from far of land).

Reward would be either breakthrough point to accrue for a sort of "new theory" (minor or major vertue (similar to the ones in A&A) or simply xp in the pertinent field (as per the discovery rule).

My original problem was how to describe tha activity of "point" scholars because to study a lvl 8 summae you need someone else to write it and thus to achieve the lvl. I suppose that 2-3 scholars could use each other tractatus to mutually improve their own skill but it should reach a plateau.

But yes practice could do (with the quality 4) but adding the risk of "experiment" is tempting.

Historically, many early 13th century academic scholars in the Arts, Philosophy, Theology and the Laws progressed typically by either

  • finding new sources and translating, editing, publishing or commenting them
    or
  • discussing the relevance and meaning of these sources, be they well known for a long time, or recently made available.
    Both activities can be simulated with ArM5 rules. The first one starts with learning languages (typically Classical Greek, Romaic Greek, Hebrew and Arabic), then searching and trading manuscripts, translating them to Latin and commenting them. The second is writing Tractatus and commenting Tractatus of others, and perhaps writing Summae once you have enough to say.
    Also academical Medicine is typically studied in this way, but there is another kind of literature within individual medical schools, which might still be written in Classical Greek, Hebrew or Arabic and is not easily shared, or even sharable outside a school. Some of these schools also perform clinical research.

A third, important way of of improving academic scholarship is refining the ways arguments can be made and questions decided: basically, setting up and improving the scholastic method proper. This is not that easily modeled with ArM5 and A&A, and might require some troupe rulings: it would be based off excellent scores in Artes Liberales (Dialectics) and Philosophy (Metaphysics), and lead to refinements of theories like Realism and Nominalism, to be written up as Tractatus. Based on such refinements, in the second half of the 13th century scholars like Duns Scotus, Thomas Aquinas and others will build their models and the fully articulate scholastic method.

Cheers

EDIT: A&A p.12 box has a Virtue Aristotelian Training, which represents the effects of improved scholastic method. Researching this Virtue by means of an adapted AM-p.7ff-style Integration progressing via Insights offered by the books of the New Aristotle (A&A p.9f) looks promising, and should convince many troupes.
The Effect of each Insight obtained from a work of the New Aristotle might be a scholarly Tractatus applying the Insight to a suitable academic problem, whose Quality / 5 would be that Effect's Breakthrough points towards the Virtue.
Perhaps the troupe wants to come up with further Virtues that can be researched in a similar way. In that case a good way to start is reading up on the 'problem of universals' (e. g. here: plato.stanford.edu/entries/universals-medieval/ ).