Original Research Rules in 5th Edition?

Hey everyone! It's my first post here. So before I get on with my subject I'd like to introduce myself.

Some of you may remember a teenager from the old web rpg forum... (I'm pretty sure I was the only one) Tuura and Kryslin certainly remember a certain teenager who played in Kryslin's PbP Game. Yes, it is I, coming out of my ars magica retirement to talk about it once again!

I haven't played the game in about 2 years... Having spent the last 2 years running a 1st edition Exalted (published by White wolf) and played in some d20 games in various settings. (X-Crawl being my favourite.)

However, lately I've been thinking back to Ars Magica. I spent 7 years playing the game and really enjoyed it. So I've been thinking about 5th edition. I'm under the impression that combat, lab rules, covenant building and character creation have been cleaned up and streamlined. (Though I didn't mind 4th edition at all.)

One thing that's got me thinking, is how have the original research rules changed? I realize many people disliked the approach in the 4th Ed. Wizard's Grimoire... I recall many complaints (I don't know if there still are complaints that way) at the time that it took too long.

However, now that I think about it... I've spent the last 16 months doing research for to produce a paper that will be published in may I think. 12 months of that was part time research, and the other 4 was full time research last summer. Just as an undergraduate student I've come to realize that even to produce a fairly minor result can be incredibly time consuming. I think that the concept that it can take decades and more to make major discoveries is quite reasonable. Is this still the case in 5th edition?

The original research rules have been cleaned up, the new rules are in HoH: True Lineages in the Bonisagus chapter

Reseaerch is now done by using the experimentation rules to create spells and effects related to the discovery that you hope to make. this means that research time is no longer just thrown away, instead, it produces spells and effects. You can stil do something equivelent to gaining insight from other researchers in a field or examining exotic magic.

Therre are some concerns regarding how it is now most fruitful for the researcher to develop low level spells in order to avioid warping from his studies (research can now warp the maguus) and if level spells are used that aura and intellegence don't really play so large a part in research as you would hope.

So while there are some of what I would call improvements in the system when compared to the fourth edition system, I still believe that it benefits from some house ruleing.

Erik Tyrrell gave you a pretty good precis of the discussion here on Original Research. Unfortunately, the consensus on these rules has been that they're rather confusing (especially following the errata), and - in the absence of clarification from Messrs. Ryan or Chart - they require a fair bit of interpretation/house ruling to use. If you're looking for all the gory details, they can be found here:



Waves at hammer (reluctantly???)

I agree with the above. The old rules were a series of lucky breaks on die rolls. The new rules have some room for breakage, but they are in line with Ars 5 and make more sense. In the same manner that development occurs in a pyramid like matter. 1 ex to get 1, 3 to get 2, ect. Original research occurs over time with smaller projects allowing one to get closer to larger projects. This makes sense over Super Project on the 1st try- do or die.

I can only second (third? fourth?) the above.

I don't like the encouragment of poor-quality work and conditions the rules espouse, but they are certainly servicable (with a bit of interpretation) and produce interesting and good results.

One of my players has been experimenting as part of original research. It has certainly been entertaining, as almost all of his endeavors have had minor to disasterous flaws and side-effects. I'm not sure if that's a quirk of the system or just of his dice, though.

Heh. I suspect its a karma thing. :slight_smile:

How have you found the Twilight to go? If he is progressed to considerable warping, Twilight should become a problem... but I never played there (yet...).

He's been sticking to first magnitude spells so hasn't even had to roll yet. All in all, I'm fine with that. It will take him a while to get to his breakthrough, plus he has to spend about a year writing out lab texts to get the prestige for the stabilized discoveries he's made so far. And he has a grimoire full of useless spells. (Although we did decide that the one that grows bark on dead wood at voice range would have a useful affect if fastcast on an arrow.)

Thanks for the info guys!

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  1. 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.

Matt Ryan


Thank you for posting here. Here's-what-I-was-thinking posts from authors are very helpful in clearing up confusion, and I do appreciate that you've done so.