Playing an university teacher

Greetings !

In a saga where I am storyguide, a player is creating a player character who is both a doctor in medicine, and a magi. He wants his character to spend one season a year teaching in Montpellier's university, south of France.

As the Covenant is very poor, he will likely help the finances with his salary. But the question is... What is the yearly revenue of a gifted but skilled (Com +3, Teaching 5, Good Teacher) mundane teacher with a good reputation (obtained with Doctor in medicine) ?

I told myself that a wealthy scholar with a high standard of living would likely earn between 5 and 10 pound a year, as it is the cost of a magus character in a Covenant. What do you think about it ?

Second question : if this character writes a book in Arabic, with his score of five, and wants to translates it in Latin, with five too, does he loses one quality point on account of not having 6, or does being the original author prevent this ?

Thanks for your answers !

There are two things to consider, when creating a magus who is a professional university teacher:

(1) Does he have the Gentle Gift? If not, his teaching at university is seriously hampered, and he will be treated as a person of bad reputation.[sup]*[/sup]
(2) Maintaining a good academic reputation (ArM5 p.45 Magister in Artibus, A&A p.103 Academic Reputations) requires seasons every year, which cannot be spent in the lab, or studying Hermetic books. Is the character Wealthy, employs enough helpers, and thus gets by with a single season of teaching per year? How does he manage the tricky requirements on his publications from A&A p.103?

It is best to discuss and resolve these issues at character creation. You can handwave them away with approval of your troupe, but in that case might have to prepare some quid-pro-quos for the other magus characters and get a rather uncommon saga.
It is easier to have a Gentle Gifted player character magus in your saga, who taught at a university before its start, still maintains his contacts there, but gradually lets his academic reputation slip as he concentrates on studying magic now.


[sup]*[/sup]:Look at the Pallium Magicum in subrosa #16 p.111f for an example rule, if you wish to have magi without the Gentle Gift regularly frequent mundanes in your saga.

He is not gentle gifted, but he has a number of mentem spells to make sure people goes his way, as well as the persona ability to help with the gift penalties.

I have spoken with the player about the loses of study seasons, and he is fine with that : he WANTS to play a magus who is also a mundane scholar, even knowing it will limit his XP progression. We both know it will not lead to a very optimized magus, but we are ok with that.

In case you haven't done yet, best read ArM5 p.75ff The Gift with your player.

Show him in particular:

If you thus roleplay a student coming to his lecture, he would not return once exposed to the Gift. I do not see what kind of lasting remedy the Persona Virtue (HoH:S p.90 Personae, p.94 Persona) or Mentem spells could bring to this.
Unless you introduce rules like the Pallium Magicum, both the characters income as lecturer and his Good Academic Reputation (see A&A p.103) would vanish already with his first lecture.

There may be a Gifted, but not Gentle Gifted scholar communicating mainly through his writing, and slowly building a Good Academic Reputation through letters and books without ever holding a position at a university or giving lectures. Such a scholar could work at his covenant, just as monk scholars worked at their monasteries.


You need a good pinch of handwavium to accomodate the character playability, but it obvioulsy won't lead to broken things (which is not inherently bad if you are ready to handle it), more important, it won't result in one mage being clearly favored compare to the other. So disregarding rules & co, it is a nice concept for a PC magus.

Talking about handwavium...
As it was already mentionned, the fact that he is not Gentle gifted is the first, big, main hurdle. From a purely mechanistic view, it is possible to design spell that can grant a +3 bonus to social, thus nullifying the malus imparted by the gift. It does cancel the malus, it does not remove the unsettling effect the Gift give. People will still be uneasy in the presence of the character, won't trust him and might even secretly hate him. They might also find strange that when they are in his presence (and because of the spells he is using), they are "kind of fine" talking to him, but as soon as they leave him, they cannot help themselves but think "why did I talk to this guy ? my guts tell me I can trust him, yet I still talk to him".
Also keep in mind that casting frequently spell on people impart Twilight (either for high magnitude or long duration). You can argue that if he is teaching only 2 seasons a year, it is not long enough to count as yearly duration. YMMV, people will be under his spells a good chunk of the time.

But because of that, he might not be able to be paid what he is worth - despite being a good teacher, his gift prevent him from being acknowledge by his peers as the master he is, so he should have to fight for his reputation and salary. That's already nice story plot for him. Because of his Gift, smear campaign and disputatio against him will work well as people would initially distrust him. Strangely enough, people who never met him and only read his work will acknowledge him for his true skills... until they meet him :slight_smile: and then they will possibly start give credit to all these unpleasant rumours (stealing somebody else work, having dubious habits, etc.).

On the other hand, he should be receiving support from House Jerbiton, even if he is not member of the House. Just because he is a talented scholar. Maybe he even owns them a few favors (if he needs to balance his virtues with some flaws) or a Jerbiton is his mentor.
Another way he can bring money to the Covenant is by giving class to several magi at a time: he is a skilled teacher, competent in some interesting skills. If he can gather up to six mages or Redcaps who needs classes in Arabic or needs to polish their Latin to be able to write their first Summae, he can ask to be paid in silver. It is usually frown upon to deal in silver between mage as the true currency is vis or knowledge (books, tractatus), but in times of dire needs, who cares. If a season of teaching allows to have a well equipped lab, mage can swallow their pride.

Finally, when he will have some solid Arts, his tracatus and Summae will be of the highest quality and fetch a good prize.

Going by City & Guilds, a teacher of Com + Teaching 6 would earn a normal living for a skilled trade - maybe 10 pounds per year. Com + Teaching 8 suggest they can earn up to one-third more. As income from teaching probably comes from the number of students you can teach or supervise, Good Teacher won't earn you more - it gives you a better reputation and increases your chances of being hired as a private tutor, but won't let you teach more people and get more fees. Puissant Teacher helps you teach more people and earn more money.

As for the second question:
I would let the original author write at equal quality to the original, as they're not really translating but re-writing it in a different language they are fluent in.

There is a tricky issue hidden in that question: just re-writing a summa on an Ability (ArM5 p.165 Writing Books) in a different language would take 5 times the time of translating it (A&A p.87 box Translations).
I would still allow your approach, though: the situation is very special and rules-thumping doesn't look warranted here.


There is a clever (all too clever?) way to make the Gentle Gift more affordable for character concepts like your scholar-magus, who only need it at specific times:
the TMRE p.37f i Mutable Gentle Gift[/i], which is a Minor Virtue and bestows Gentle Gift only during the Mutable star signs Sagittarius, Pisces, Gemini and Virgo (very roughly March, June, September and December - one month in every season).

This obliges the scholar-magus to pompously check his calendar every time lectures are organized, and then find more important things to do unless the stars are right. It also leads to very concentrated lectures - and payed helpers most busy in the time between them.


It's possible to be a non-Gently Gifted teacher, but only just. As the above have said, the PC has to be good enough - established during a ten-year uphill battle while gaining their doctorate - to overcome a -3 penalty to social skills (which I would rule includes their Com+Teaching Labor total. YSMV).

However, you bring that Academic Reputation of 3 when you go into Montpelier. You have a letter of recommendation from your mentor (who's grown accustomed to your Gift) and your old university is vaguely okay with you - they know that you're a creepy old guy but that you know your stuff and are of decent character. Once you convince the masters to give you a run, you have to prove your skill to the younglings, who don't like coming to class (even though it's mandatory) and whisper about the creepy old teacher, probably asking who he's screwing to get the job. But your reputation doesn't magically disappear, and while Montpelier is student-run, if the students try to kick you out for no reason, the master's guild will defend you - not because they like you any better, but because they have to protect their own rights on an organizational level.

Regarding preserving his reputation, being a Hermetic Magus, I'd rule that he can teach for a season as a guest lecturer and do Hermetic things the rest of the year - being part of a Hermetic covenant is certainly "working at a court." However, this depends on how the Order is seen in your game - if being part of a covenant is seen as creepy in itself, you might want to rethink this.

You tailor the university to the magus-scholar here with quite some handwavium and fantasy. This may work in a specific saga.
But very few lectures are mandatory at a 13th century university, student-run or not. None of these would be held by impopular figures imposed by the masters guild. There is stiff competition among masters, and no need to alienate students and eschew their money.


That, and the established fact that there are canonically academics (HMRE and RoP:D) who have the Gift and have to work around it. Per HMRE, Gifted members of the Bologna faculty rarely (but not never) teach students directly.

Furthermore, you're handwaving in the opposite direction; you are taking Gift-distrust to mean "this guy is immediately, regardless of other factors, rejected." Per the examples in the book, that is not how Gifted people are treated unless they have the Blatant Gift, so clearly that's a saga call from you.

I could equally say that a bunch of students file in to the room, and then the master arrives. Everyone's heard his reputation and knows he's a doctor, and some of them have read his summa, but now that they see this creepy guy, they wonder how he could possibly be a real doctor. Maybe half of the students come back to the second lecture (assuming he used Aura of Rightful Authority to get through the first), likely poor students staying in hostels and others who have been bounced from other masters' classes for inappropriate behavior and loose morals (yes, that does happen even at student-run universities - a master doesn't want to be associated with bad students) - likely including the sole Gifted student at the university. The class kind of gets a cloud over it, but as they settle in, he does prove to be an excellent teacher, and at disputationes, his students start to prove that his good reputation and doctorate are deserved. Not that the proof helps for a good long while, of course - by the time his students are accustomed to his Gift, they're taking their own doctoral exams.

HMRE p.79ff Learned Magicians with the Gift can also have the Gentle Gift, for sure.

I gave the quote before, but here it is once more:

A student does not need to take instruction from a dishonest and unreliable person who undeservedly got an academic position: especially not as he pays for that instruction with the money of his family or his lord.

Roughly so. But likely no student has read his summa yet: such books are very expensive, and hard to find.

Let's say, that a few students remain and accept instruction by a person they suspect to be dishonest and unreliable - most of whom the other masters for one reason or another do not consider worthy of their attention.
Certainly the exit of most of his students puts a dent into the lecturer's reputation and purse and raises further doubt in his remaining students, many of whom leave at their second chance.

Let's grant him that with the remaining few students.

As he got the dregs of the kettle to begin with, this is very unlikely even if his teaching is good.[sup]*[/sup]

And certainly his teaching talent would be applied better to that single Gifted student he can take under his Parma instead.


[sup]*[/sup]: Unless we are at the end of a Hollywood industry movie, of course, with stars cast as the student underdogs.

Given that he's a PC, I think we can take that as written. :laughing:

Jokes aside, you've accurately described the struggles that a Gifted teacher is going to have to face. He has to work with the dregs of the kettle, and probably has to use magic to get people into his class at all. And when working with those dregs, he has to be better than the other teachers if he's to have any hope of turning said dregs into worthy men of letters. (His only consolation will be if his class size is small enough to cover with his Parma...) Barring handwavium, he's not making enough money to help support the covenant in any meaningful way - he's teaching because he wants to teach.

And you're definitely right that the student he should focus on is the Gifted one, because that is a student who could clearly use a different sort of educational environment. (You know, fifteen years of near-slavery in exchange for PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER.)

Thanks for yours answers !

I definitely will consider the social penalties of the gift beyond the -3 (as a Tytalus with a persona ability of 3, he as a supernatural reputation of 3 as a teacher, and so no mechanical maluses in this environment, even if I agree and the -3 would otherwise applies to teaching totals).

I will have my player read this thread in order to help him visualize the challenges he will face, and then I will let him know that the saga will be a little nicer to him than the descriptions of One Shot because well, here are the stories he wants to play, he used 4 of his 10 virtues points to be a good doctor, and I don't want my players to think the Doctor in Medicine virtue is just an Xp source.

Near-slavery ? I think the gifted student will regret his former life once he became a Tytalus's apprentice :smiley:

Mmhm. It's nearly as nice as being a slave :smiling_imp: