First, a bit of an explanation. My original draft of the original research rules was rejected whole cloth. As the Bonisagus chapter was being playtested, David Chart and I brainstormed other ideas and came up with the original research rules that were eventually published. These were sent out to playtesters and their comments were incorporated. At that point, supplements were only receiving one round of playtests. Had these rules undergone a second scrutiny, the current confusion would certainly have been ironed out.
I did not write the errata and had to interpret it as well. This didn't seem too daunting, honestly. It seems that I can only move my Extraordinary Results Chart die roll toward Discovery (which is good), and that I have to take the result that would happen if I couldn't wiggle the die result as well. In effect, a single roll give me a result (just like normal experimentation), and I can also move the roll toward Discovery.
Original research is a big part of our game. We have two problems with the rules as I wrote them. One, wiggling the die means that I can effect the outcome of every experiment. Why should I ever do regular experimentation if I can concoct a reason for my experiment to fit within some general original research I am doing? If I don't get a Discovery, I don't spend a second season stabilizing the discovery, but I still get to modify my roll on the ERC (Extraordinary Results Chart). Being able to only move the die result toward Discovery fixed that problem.
Our second problem was that by inventing low level spells, magi can avoid Warping Points. This has been noticed by several players as well.
In response, I came up with some house rules for original research. These are hardly "official", and are just the house rules I use for my saga. I offer them because I feel that I have failed with the original research rules.
Players can move the result of their roll on the ERC toward Discovery, using all or part of their risk modifier. The risk modifier is not calculated into their Lab Total, but they do add a simple die to their Lab Total. They use their risk modifier to alter the die roll result on the ERC. If they can move the die result to Discovery, grand. If they can't, they get the result of the unadulterated stress die roll. If they roll a 0, they must immediately check for a botch. I have them roll their (Warping Score + magnitude of effect) number of botch dice. Again, if they can't get Discovery by adding or subtracting all or some of their risk modifier, they don't apply any risk modifier to the ERC chart result and receive the result of straight stress die.
They can continue to do this for as long as the experiment takes and until the experiment is wrecked through some dire ERC roll. So, if it takes several seasons, a player can attempt to modify the ERC roll toward Discovery in any way he can. Once he succeeds, once he actually gets a Discovery, he can't apply the risk modifier to the ERC result in continuing seasons. During the stabilization seasons that follow, he has to alter every ERC die roll in the same way he manipulated the die that led to the Discovery.
So, let's say the experiment is a three season project. The first season fails to award a Discovery, but nothing bad happens. The second season nets a Discovery by subtracting 2 from the ERC roll. The third season's ERC roll can not be modified. During the three seasons necessary to stabilize the discovery, the player must subtract 2 from every ERC roll.
- A player is limited in the magnitude of the number of effects (spells or devices) that lead to a Discovery by his character's Intelligence score. Thus, a character with a +3 Intelligence can invent 3 effects of any magnitude that lead to a Discovery before having to invent an effect of a higher magnitude: 3 magnitude 1 effects, 3 magnitude 2 effects, etc. Most original research should be so grandiose that a magus can't invent a low magnitude effect that incorporates his idea with low-level effects.
Dan, one of my players, wants to break the Limit of aging. I've let him experiment using spells that increase a character's Characteristics. The lowest magnitude effect he can invent that incorporates this idea is 6, a Personal, Ritual Creo Corpus spell that increases a negative Characteristic one point up to a maximum of 0.
Again, this is only how we do it. I apologize for the confusion the original research rules have lead to.