[POSSIBLE SPOILER] Dies Irae - high lab totals

I will keep this as vague as humanly possible to minimize spoilers.

In one of the Dies Irae scenarios, there is a a spell with a level over 130.

HOW do you get a lab total high enough to invent that spell. In order to do it in reasonable time you would need a total of 160-180 at least.

Int: +3
Technique: 15
Form: 13 (x2 for focus)
Magic Theory: 13
Aura: Let's assume 10 to be extremely generous
Helpers: Let's say 5 helpers with average Int+Magic theory of 8 each
Customized lab for this project: +10
Working Triple overtime and misc. virtues: +15

That still only gets me to 119. Not even enough to START working on the spell. Where do I get the extra 40 points of lab total?

I get you can just hand-wave it. I just am trying to figure out how to get to these kinds of numbers. With arts as "low" as the NPC listed, I don't see how you can get there.

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Well, you're good to avoid spoilers, but it requires me to speak from a place of ignorance here... So, a character with such an arrangement of abilities couldn't even cast that spell without a rather extensive cabal of MuVi masters assisting them every time. A spell of that caliber is much more likely to be learned by a hyper specialist at the backswing of a long life, where even just their TeFo with Focus adds up to nearly 120. Not some almost random shmuck with a TeFo grazing the low 40s even with a Focus. You can almost come out of Gauntlet with scores like that even under the limitations described in the core rule book.

A good first step to a massive Lab Total boost if you have access to effectively whatever resources you want is to do your lab-building in the Magic Realm. Line things up just right and you can have an effective Aura of 30, which is godly.

They clearly didn't invent that spell. They arranged a situation where all the stars were right and all the ducks were in a row to allow them to study a Level 130 Lab Text. (The guy who invented the spell was probably well above 20 in both TeFo and had a relevant Focus, as LuckyMage explained.) They also have several allied magi who can cast Wizard's Communion at a 40-50 level. (Where does a Summer magus get that many communion vassals? Are they a Mercurian in a Mercurian covenant?)

I disagree that you need MuVi masters to Communion something like this; remember that Wizard's Communion doesn't require a roll to cast, it just requires you to know the spell (a Mercurian who doesn't know Wizard's Communion at 40-50 is clearly in Spring, and a non-Mercurian can easily learn it from a lab text).

So it's just barely possible to have the magus know the spell, and he can probably cast it with a five-or-six-way Communion, but how they learned it is going to be a story in itself. On the other hand, this is Dies Irae, so "vaguely possible" is good enough.

The example I gave is based on the character who invents the spell in question. The NPC has their full stats published in the book. I know you can get to some extreme lab totals if you put your mind to it, specialize and spend a few decades on it. It's just that the PC given does not seem to be in a position to do that. I could just hand-waive it, but I know my players and they would ask.

The Magic Realm trick would not work in this case, for reasons I won't go into. Aura of 10 is really the limit.

However, I am in the mood to tell a story about an NPC I ran who did just that. This is the story of Necrotus the Putrid of House Flambeau:

Necrotus was an NPC necromancer (major magical focus: Death) and follower of the school of Apromor (perdo). He was born and raised in Bavaria, but moved to Provancal after his gauntlet, joining the PCs covenant but generally keeping to himself. 15 or so years into the game he became annoyed at how Dominion auras kept cropping up whenever a few peasants set up a chapel, and decided that something had to be done! He disappeared into his lab, and did not emerge... for almost 20 years. The players literally forgot about him. Perhaps a full calendar year of real time later, and perhaps 30 or more sessions, when the covenant had it's annual meeting, Necrotus shows up, warped all to hell. Twilight scars positively dripping off him. I had been quietly updating his sheet each season, and he had been busy.

Necrotus announced he had developed a "Final Solution to the Church Problem". First, he had invented a new Hermetic Target, based on the "bloodline" target of fairy magic, called "Hierarchy". A spell with this target affects a individual, and all those who have sworn a binding oath of obedience or loyalty to them. It operates recursively, so for example if you cast it on a general you could potentially wipe out the whole army, since it would effect the captains sworn to him, and from them the men sworn to the captains. The effect does not hit those below someone who has sufficient magic resistance to resist the effect. He then developed an experimental spell of about level 75, which would slay (like clenched grip of the heart) at Arcane connection range, hierarchy target.

He had three requests:

  1. Provide enough perdo and corpus vis to cast the spell. (He was due this from the covenant stocks anyway, based on their charter)
  2. Assist him in casting the spell via Wizards Communion to ensure sufficient penetration.
  3. Help him acquire an arcane connection to the pope.

The PCs were speechless for about 30 seconds. They knew he could have killed them both with a thought (he was a master of "Clentched Grip", with a massive penetration score), so They played along for a couple of seasons, pretending to help... Then they straight up murdered him with an enchanted trap and told the rest of the tribunal that he died in a lab accident. They decided he represented an existential threat to the Order and themselves, and his mere existence in the covenant tempted the wrath of the Divine.

They did invent the spell. Or should I say, for the story to play out the way it is written, they have to. I won't get into why for spoiler reasons, but using a lab text is impossible. NOBODY but this particular wizard could create this spell. They have access to something unique that allows for it to be even theoretically possible, but does not aid in their lab totals. The book says clearly that this named wizard, with the stats I gave, invents this spell from scratch. As for the ritual and lab helpers, that is no problem for reasons I won't go into.

Casting it is not the problem. Wizard's communion and expending several rooks worth of vis can get the casting total high enough no problem. The obstacle is inventing the spell in the first place. Everything else (there are a number of other steps I won't go into to even put them in a position to START this work) I know how this wizard could pull off, what I don't know, is how to get the lab totals high enough. They have an applicable focus, which is a huge help, but it's nowhere near enough.

I am not going to spoil what is literally the best campaign outline I have ever read for you. I mostly am asking the question because I know my players would if I ran this. I wanted to make sure there is not some obvious way to accumulate another 30-40 points of lab total I am just forgetting. As I said, I can hand-waive it as some extremely lucky open-ended experimental stress roll, but that feels... unsatisfactory, since nothing else in this plan was left open to chance.

3 + 15 + (13x2=26) + 13 + 10 + (5x8=40) + 10 + 15 = 132 doesn't it?

I have Dies Irae (say DI from now?), but not have worked through it yet.

AFAICS about your question:
(1) The five lab helpers will be a lot better. Just look at their organization and the importance it assigns to the project.
(2) A specific Virtue of the main inventor - not the Focus - both provides a relevant boost, and shows you a direction to get further ones.

I arrived at a lab total of some 157, without the further boosts I hinted at. Also, both the main inventor and the helpers can still improve relevant abilities over the saga.


I'm not at all certain about how this character does it but you can look at the 5 characters from Anulus Connectens, that we've been developing at 30 xp per year in the same manner as official NPCs. They're going to get higher lab totals for their longevity without an applicable specialization virtue.

Int +3
MT 9
Creo 27
Corpus 24
Aura 3
Lab bonus 8
applicable virtues 6
assistant 1 MT +int 14
assistant 2 MT +int 17
assistant 3 MT +int 11
assistant 14 MT +int 10

total 134

two of those assistants are familiars (the +14 and the +10)

If you add some real organizational power behind a project there would be specialized labs and perhaps a better collection of virtues a laboratory schedule bonus not to mention more assistants.

Is there a requirement that a lab project be conducted by a single mage for its entire development? Can an effect be developed by Mage A for a period of years (who then dies), then by Mage B for another few decades? Perhaps this effect was a long term project, for decades or even centuries, by a series of magi, each contributing a few points?

If each lab team contributed only one point to the lab total each season, development time on an effect of 130 would be a mere 33 or so years.

Although, yes, getting to an LT of 131 is something of a challenge.

I guess if you assume the helpers are all magic theory experts with high IQs then you can get there. It's just a crazy high number. Can you PM me the other Virtue you are talking about. It's been a while since I played Ars, so my memory of what they all do (especially the less common ones) is fuzzy.

I do not have DI, but off the top of my head I can think of a few possible bonuses you overlooked...

  • An Aligned Aura, can double the potential bonus from the aura for an activity that falls within the scope of the alignment
  • Lab Bonuses: can go much-much higher than +10. Any chump can build a +10 lab if they put effort into it. A lot of work and dedicated specialization can bring you up to well over +20 or more (Major Feature/Focus for each Art and the Activity plus a ton of other little bonuses)
  • A Similar Spell adds the full Magnitude and Mastery (Lab) adds a bit more
  • Other Virtues such as Inventive Genius and more
  • Don't underestimate Experimentation. In fact, the Lab can be specialized for such, ramping the potential Lab Bonus up to +30 or more.
  • Countless other ideas I am not remembering.

Also, you do not owe the players a full explaination. In fact, an old D&D trick, you can just make stuff up and gamer-munchkins will deduce how it must have worked for you.

"Reasonable time" is open to reasonable discussion; although not sure how that fits into the scenario.

An NPC (or group of NPCs) might easily be willing to spend a decade (or even more) doing this. So, you don't necessarily need to have a Lab Total significantly over the spell level. If the spell level is 130, a Lab Total of 135 can get the job done in about seven years.

And if that 135 Lab Total doesn't include experimentation, you can probably half the time by experimenting (even without doing anything tricky with Lab customisation).

A +8 bonus per helper is reasonable. However, considering the magnitude of the project, it is also reasonable to assume that the mage optimised his research. With Failed apprentice as a minor virtue, it is explicitly said that the failed apprentice can still work and assist in labwork.
So if said magus was able to recruit a few of those, let them soak in a library with enough good MT summae and tractatus when he was training his leadership skill, asked them to specialised in Spell invention, with paiment of longevity potion, minor magical items and gold (I am assuming that this mage is moderately concerned about breaking the Code - I do not have Dies Irae, so my assumption might be wrong), then he could have several assistants providing bonus higher than the +8. If it is only just 3 points more than your assumption (Int of +2, 8 MT + specialisation) , the labtot goes from 132, to 147. That's 8 seasons of work, only two years for such a powerful spell.

MT of 8 requires 180 XP, with tractatus of quality of 10, that's 18 seasons, 4 years and a half (starting from 0, which is not the case of failed apprentices).

I still don't know how he is going to cast it, but the spell is discovered.

Of course, that means five people who can spill the beans regarding the amazing spell he worked on. And they will know what the spell does even if they cannot cast it.

Lab specialization and experimentation- you can get +13 from experimentation and risk, and if you get lucky rolls they may have been trying to invent a weaker spell but rolled a 4-6 on modified effect...

If you have 13 in MT, and only 13 in form and 15 in technique, you are not really balanced.
A character with 13 in MT should probably be a magus who has spent more XPs in arts, unless he is a labrat. Considering XPs allocation, such magus should have scores of at least 20 and normally more like 25-30 in his main arts, which I assume would be those of that "big invention". No sane magus would invent such a big project out of his main area of expertise.

If you have 13 in MT, you should have a lab with more than +10. In a RL saga, my magus has 16+2 in MT, and his lab contains enough laboratory magical items to provide (in addition to his familiar) a full bonus of +31 in GQ, without even counting additional +6 in spells and another +12 in experimentation.

Expermentation bonus should have been taken into account, which could be averaged to a +7 to lab bonus (+3 risk, +5.5 average die, -20%failure of season - i'm not doing exact math here, just having a rough idea), even if at the end he fails the first spel invention after X seasonsl. That first failure gives a neat additional +MT to the reinvention of such spell, which in your case translate to a basic +13 to labtotal, even if not re-experimenting.
In addition, inventive genius means +3 or +6 if experimenting.

Experimentation always seems to backfire (perhaps I'm just bitter as it has not yet worked to my advantage and I've been playing since 1988, albeit I tend to now avoid it). It seems to me that it steals seasons and wrecks projects more often than it gets you an advantage. A 4-16 bonus to one's lab total at these levels is rarely worth the chance of disaster, failure, unwanted side effects, and effects modified to the extent of no longer being appropriate for your needs.

On the other hand Marko is spot on with his description of the power of bonuses from the laboratory. It only takes a season or three to get a +5 in a relevant laboratory number. With +5 or +6 each in general quality, in inventing spells, in the relevant technique, and in the relevant form one could get a +22 pretty easily.

With the 119 lab score from the first post the character could spend two seasons and develop a level 81 spell that is closely related to the final spell. This would give a +17 to his or her lab total in just two seasons.

If a higher lab total is still desired they could take their 136 lab total and develop a level 101 version in 3 seasons and get a five more points by raising the similar spells bonus to +21

(Yes, Marko also said this in his earlier post but I thought to be more explicit)

In fact that's 132, there is +13 due to the focus missing in the lab tot.

And your suggestions are still valid, it only makes it more plausible to proceed that way. A first iteration for a similar spell level 65 (one season), to gain a +13, or 85 in two seasons for a +17 bonus, which will bring the final labtot to either 145 (9 seasons for 130) or 149 (7 seasons). All in all, a bit more than two years of dedicated work.


I noticed this too, from the very beginning. The bonus from experimentation is random, so it is often either insufficient to make a difference or more than enough, with some of it going to waste. Even if a season is gained, it is almost certain that you will lose it again, either through mishap or through needing to start all over again to get the effect you really wanted (you know, the spell that makes you invisible to dragons rather than the one that makes dragons invisible to you or the one that makes you invisible to dragoons or the one that makes you irritable around dragons or the one that makes you attractive to goats, or the one that makes all you invisible to dragons at range touch or the one that turned your lab equipment into a dragon (but it was only for duration Fire!))

Oh yes. I did a character whose lab pretty quickly gave her bonuses in the 20s, for what she wanted to do, at surprisingly moderate cost too. You can even get someone else to put in the seasons on your behalf.



If you have a lab total of 132, you can easily create a level 60 enchantment in a single season that will give your future lab totals a +6. Do this twice and being at 140 you can create a level 70 enchantment for an extra +7, which then puts your lab total at 150.