Quality of Apprentice Training Across the Order

Split from the thread here to cover a more specific point.

The default rules for apprentices assume a teacher who is good (not great), and while he may not neglect his students education, isn't killing himself on it either. With PC's and their apprentices, however, this is not a good assumption. In my current group, for instance, we have one Tremere magi who's son has turned out to be gifted. As this child is his only son (and thanks to a longevity potion, the only one he'll ever have) ensuring the kid's success is a major point of pride for him. Vis, silver, and adventure time have been lavished upon the aquisition of teaching-spec'ed labs, good summae, and skilled tutors. Those members of the group who have aquired virtues through adventure or research has also been persuaded to (eventually) give them up.

While it may be completely IC (and it's noteable this apprentice is an NPC, and the Tremere intends to keep playing what he has no, so there's no munchkin issues), it only takes a glance at this to realize that this apprentice will pass his gauntlet with well over twice the XP of many well established mages. Given that adventure time was put towards this end and it's not a PC, I don't object per'se, but it seems to raise concerns for me.

Namely, that the quality of education in the order is very uniform by the rules, but logicaly, you'd think it would vary widely. Apprentices taught to the bare minimum could get out of apprenticeship with as little as 100 XP plus their 120 levels of spells, while someone taught in a rigid, roman-academy esq format could graduate with more spells and upwards of 300XP to their names. This issue only becomes worse in the case of organized covenants or house's, when the apprentices three-free-seasons can be spent as a class, being instructed by specialized teachers or reading high-quality books.

How do you think troupe's should handle the quality of teaching across the order, and what's the order's likely reaction to the formation of a teaching academy of sorts in the vein I've described?

There is a viture called "skilled Parens" and a corresponding flaw, I think
I just use those. Anyway, the skills aquired during apprenticeship tend to be boringly uniform

MT 3
Lat 4
AL 1
PM 1
is the standard package
If you add just bits of
Order of Hermes Lore 1
Penetration 1
Profession: Scribe 1
Finesse 1
Concentration 1
Codex of Hermes 1
Magic Lore 1
then you can kiss skill customization good-bye - unless you join a gild

That's kind of my point. Using the book rules as written, that should be more-or-less the result for all apprentices. Those with Skilled Parens a little more, those with crappy Parens a little less, but it's not hard to see how depending on the training, it could be a lot more or a lot less. Lets look at the two extremes:

Tytali McEvil's School of Apprentice Abuse:
Each year Tytali McEvil teaches his apprentice one on one. He has a com of -2 and no teaching ranks, and so this nets the apprentice 4 XP a season. Every other season the apprentice is a lab slave, and so only gets exposure XP, netting 2 more a season. Thus, the poor apprentice gets a total of 10 XP a year. Assuming a 15 year apprenticeship, that's a theoretical maximum of 150 XP, almost certainly less since the apprentice needs to learn some spells. This is a seriously underpowered character.

Litis "Children are our future!" Ex Criamons School of Good Teaching:
Each year, Litis teaches his apprentice for one season a year. He has a Com of +2 and 3 teaching ranks with a "Single Student" specialization, as well as a lab speced for teaching. With this, his apprentice gains 14 XP every season he's taught this way. Every other season, his apprentice is either reading a summae or more likely with a tutor, netting about 15XP a season since the tutor is likely to be slightly better then Litis at teaching. Knowing that higher arts mean he'll learn spells faster, Litis puts the last two years of apprenticeship off to learning Fomulaic spells. This means that Litis's apprentice gains 572 XP in his apprentice, plus between 120 and 300 spell levels depending on how much of that XP went into arts. This is an apprentice who can beat up some senior Magi and is certainly bound for great things.

Now obviously, most of the order will fall between these two extremes, but I do think teaching across the order should be more varied then the rules present.

I think the answers to both questions will mainly depend on the powerlevel your troupe wants for your saga.

Following the (different) rules can get you anything from 240XP to about 1100XP for the 60 seasons of apprenticeship...


PS: Actually you can get over 2000XP by using the extremely complex generation rules and using very powerful/skilled teachers/books. 1100XP can be fairly "normal" under the extremely complex rules - mainly due to books with 31-35 art+quality being considered fairly common + virtues that help with learning.

The numbers in ArM5 are meant to be the average level of competency for a newly Gauntleted magus. The numbers do not take into account Book Learner or Free Study, which can boost an apprentice's advancement significantly.

The reason PCs all tend to start out more or less the same is that taking Skilled Parens is expensive. You get a few extra exps and some spells at the cost of a minor Virtue. Over the course of a 100+ year saga, that's a pretty insignificant bump. Book Learner gives you +3 to Study Totals for the rest of the character's life. In a long saga, it's clearly the better way to go. In a long saga, an Affinity nets a better return too if the character really specializes.

If you want to allow for a greater variation of starting levels, I would suggest boosting the starting points a bit and allowing characters to take Skilled Parens or Poor Parens, but not making it count against the 10 Virtue/Flaw limit. The player would still need to balance the Virtues or Flaws, but could take either up to 3 times, or whatever limit you want to set. This might give some serious variation in starting levels. I know lots of players would love to start with an extra Major Virtue. If you allowed them to have two Hermetic Major Virtues, I would imagine lots of PCs would take the Poor Parens Flaw three times. Players who want really good Art scores could take an extra Major Flaw in exchange for all those spells and good scores.

Of course, if you really want to be psycho, create the Parens and covenant of the character and work through all 15 years. Make sure that all those coddling masters have crappy scores, are deranged, have bad reputations to pass on, or something bad about them, so PCs don't get a totally free lunch. This should turn character generation in to about a two week process.

Thats exactly what a group of players did. The reaction by the otherwise very conservative NPC covenant was hostile to say the least.

Hardly, FAR FAR more than that. Closer to 600XP is easily possible. Much more isnt a big problem.

7 you mean. 3(base bonus)+6(single student)+(-2).

To correct with above fix, 13*15 means 195XP. Still lousy yes.

Try this instead:
Com+5, Teaching +9(+2 for Puissant), +5(Good Teacher) ,+3(base bonus),+6(single student),+5(Apt Student)... ooops 35XP per season with teaching... :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh both a tutor and books(like say intentional lvl 7-12 "primers" written by someone with 30+ preferably 40+ Art scores) can give alot more than that without bending any rules at all.
Say 20 on average to keep it low.

Lets say the magi spends 2 seasons teaching in person per year, then we get 110XP per year for 14 years, 1540XP and probably quite a bunch of spells as well from the last year.

@John, make that more like 10 hours since this is what I just did :wink:

I came even pretty close to the number for XP I mentioned earlier - 1052XP actually with nothing too much out of the line (22 seasons of pure lab work, 1 special teacher, 2 common book about arts/abilites, rest were level+quality=30, 15 seasons being taught by the parens).


Well, it is possible to represent what is going on somewhat. Educated and privileged upbringing woudl give him an extra 100 xp as well as skilled parens for 60 more so that is 160 xp more than most. Going with more than that could mean apprentice is gauntleted early and eventually (since it is npc) might turn against covenant of training to seek his own future. he might even become a rival to his pater.

I agree with many of the above posters who have noted that a fair approach to this problem is to make the new apprentice take virtues that represent how impressively trained the apprentice is and thus, have the student not be able to fit in as many of those other cool virtues... he was too busy reading Plato to be in the lab enough to exposed to all those cool hermetic-virtue-causing vapors. :wink:

But I'd also note that, many of the things you seem to take for granted are not taken for granted in my saga. The most prominant example I see is skilled tutors. Let's assume, for the moment, that 10% of the population have a +1 Com, 1% +2, 0.1% +3, and so forth. Let's next assume you're trying to teach one of those nice Academic skills. I just did a quick internet search which suggested that by the late Middle Ages, after a surge in literacy, the male literacy rate was around 20%. Let's assume for now that it was 10% before 1300. So, 1/10,000 people are literate (Ars Liberales 1). The largest population centers of 1200, like Paris, had around 80,000 people, I believe. Let's assume towns have double or even triple the literacy rates of the average... that means 16-24 people in Paris are literate and have Com +3. How many of them will have skill in teaching, much less be skilled tutors? Of those, how many will drop whatever they're currently doing to teach your child? Will the (likely noble) child you just bought them out from under have a parent who is somewhat annoyed at this betrayal?

And how close is your covenant to a city center? If he needs to travel to another city, does the magus in question have a nice teleport spell? If so, has he already gathered and fixed arcane connections to all the places these tutors reside? If the tutors are traveling to the covenant, who's making sure they never get waylaid by bandits?

You mentioned that the magus in question is a Tremere... is he/she getting called away on his/her annual one season of Tremere work?

I suppose my (long-winded) point is: in my experience, the overpowered apprentice problem tends to be the result of a saga in which the world is overpowered. When your magus can go find a tutor with Com +3, Teach 5, and skill 5 in whatever skill they decide they want to bump that season, and they can do it on short notice, then it stands to reason that any covenant could have done so, and why didn't they, and why did the PCs start to weak, and cognitive dissonance sets in, and the medieval paradigm falls apart. Whereas, if your magus has to spend a season for each teaching savant they want to enlist, or accepts lesser teacher, and the magus occasionally gets called away on adventures, etc, etc, it tends to either lower the power of the apprentice to a much more reasonable level, or it leads to a magus who put a lot of planning into having the best apprentice ever. I don't mind the latter case, as long as the work makes for interesting story; if it happens in the background, it starts to feel much more game-y.

I have found it also helps to have the apprentice never be an NPC, and never, EVER be run by the paren player. This is especially true in the "apprentice-on-ice" case, where a magus takes a pre-apprentice and locks them in a room to learn Latin for a year. "Okay, you're 13, people have treated you poorly you're whole life, and now some really sketchy, untrustworthy guy has kidnapped you and told you that you have to spend the next year repeating Virgil until you get it right." Hand that scenario to a PC and see if the parens gets the result he was expecting. :wink: (In my saga, the first potential apprentice the group saw was actively trying to kill one of the maga, and spent several seasons attempting to subvert part of the covenant before anyone noticed that she wasn't sitting in the library like a good little girl.)

This is probably the right place for me to note that the RAW encourage munchkinism specifically in the covenant point cost of specialists. Since you only pay for their highest skill, it only makes sense that each one of them should have Teaching at the same level as their main skill. (and, hey, why not Latin and Artes Liberales while you're at it? The literate, teaching brewer!) Although I didn't enforce it when I started my current saga (thankfully, we didn't abuse it), I think it's definitely something I'd house rule if someone tried to take advantage of it.

On top of that, the vast majority of those educated, literate folks were clergy of some degree. So its even less likely that they'll be overly thrilled with hanging out in a covenant of avowed wizards to help produce more wizards. Or that Creepius Maximus, the Bonisagus necromancer really wants them around....

One on one teaching works as follows

Com + Teaching + 3 + Bonus (6/3/0) for one on one that would be 6

so a char with -2 Com and no teaching would give the apprentice 7XP in the 1st trhough Third Seasons. However by then they should have gained 3 seasons of exposure in Teaching so would have a 1 with possibillity of one on one specialisation. So then 4th to 8th would be 8/9 XP and in seasons 10-15 when there would be enough exposure to put the teaching to 2 it would be 9/10.

3 Seasons 7xp
5 Seasons 9xp
2 Season 10 Xp

(assuming 5 seasons of spells)

86 XP

Plus 45 Seasons of Exposure 90Xp

176 XP.

Now the 2nd apprentice would be much better off

5 Season 10 Exp
5 Season 11 Exp

105 Xp plus 90Xp


Not quite the 240 in the book, but better then some.

That would mean almost 78% of all people would have +-0.
Totally unrealistic i think.
And with all characters starting with 7pts to raise the 8 characteristics with, this means the average stat is potentially 0.875. Lets say the pts are spent on one +2 and four +1, leaving three 0s. That still makes the average 0.75, meaning in theory 3 out of 4 people could have Com+1 and 1 in 8 would have +2.

Thats of course unrealistic as well since the norm is to have a wider spread. But Com+1 for 25% and +2 for perhaps 8% lets say 2% for +3 of the population is probably much more realistic. Even assuming a 0.0 average(ie equal spread above and below zero), since that would still leave a value of 0 as single most common it would be perfectly plausible.

Ehm, please change that to -So, 1/10,000 people are literate (Ars Liberales 1) AND HAVE COM+3-.
If we use my rather pessimistic basis instead for your calculation we instead end up with 320-480 literate people with Com+3, which for a major city probably isnt too bad.
This calculation still relies on a basis of highly simplified statistics, or rather pure mathematics and the absence of any actual statistics as well as the base norm average value not being considerably above 0.0 as it should be.

In a major city, or better yet one such with a major teaching institution, surprisingly many. Which is still of course not a huge number, BUT, they will probably work for the highest bidder. And how many can outbid a covenant of magi?
Even in pure money a covenant can easily afford to spend outrageously to keep such treasured people as good teachers happy.
And few mundanes would not be tempted by the chance to get access to a longevity "potion" as an added bonus to their salary.

As the tutors within any major nobles court, they would of course live at the covenant. Anything else would be horribly wasteful.

Of course not, they hire them fulltime on the premise that they are always available for teaching but will get at least 1 or 2 seasons per year on AVERAGE that they can spend as they wish, like in the mundande library of the covenant, or perhaps making use of the covenants scribe or any other potential benefits of such a place...

Oh definitely.

Oh yes, teachers are superduper cheap using RAW. Even using spiced up house rules they´re still cheapish.

And of course they should have latin and artes liberales etc., IF they´re that type of teacher(scholarly or similar that is), so thats not just an advantage, but realistic.
And for players who really wants to take advantage of the system, there´s another easy exploit, even encouraged by RAW, and thats to make some of the companions useful for doubling as teachers. They may be political bigshots or something when outside the covenant, but inside they might be "paying" for their stay by teaching at a superb level.
Good teacher, Puissant Teaching, Affinity Teaching, even one of those is good use of a Virtue, and even without trying for exploits or munchkinism, it comes very easily sometimes to create companions using Virtues like that. Its just such a nice archetype style of character. :wink:

That assumes a monolithic clergy, which certainly wasnt the case.

I wrestled with this issue myself recently, when thinking about stat distribution, and the fact that it's mirrored around 0, but characters start with a total of +7. I finally decided that I needed to make the +1 a bit more common, while still making the tails just as uncommon. I ended up fitting a bell curve, pretty much, that made each stat level a standard deviation. That puts the +3 at 0.3% instead of 0.1%, which I was okay with, although I might fiddle with it some more later.

I tied that to a Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium of alleles that worked with that model, and found, when I was done, that the numbers worked out pretty well... you actually don't need the negative stats to be much less common than the positive stats to have the world still trend to characters of +7. (I was working fast, so I didn't try to attach frequencies to the +/- stat point virtue/flaw.)

There are 8 stats. May I assume you'd distribute the other stats about the same way?

If the occurrence of a +3 is 2%, then a full 15% of the population will have at least one stat at +3. In my world, where any given stat has a 0.3% chance of being +3, about 2.5% of the population have a +3. Given that a +3 individual is just as proficient as an average person at skill 6 (i.e. a half-trained apprentice blacksmith vs. a master blacksmith), having 1/50 people in a field being that nifty strikes me as a world of savants; 3/1000 seems much more reasonable to me.

Obviously, the way you view the stats differs from mine; I consider +3 to be "normal human peak", with +5 being for those with qualities that seem almost superhuman to us. This is precisely what I meant when I referred to how I found most of the issues people had with overpowering apprentices stemmed from making assumptions about the world being more powerful than I did. Your progression is approximately 1/3 from 25 to 8 to 2. Does that mean +4 is about 0.5% of the population; a full 1/25 people have at least one +4? From that, you might think +5, the absolute peak that humans are capable of is 0.1%, leading to 1/100 people being the platonic ideal in at least one stat?

If you make high Com, the occurrence of Good Teacher, and high academic skills all frequent, you end up with a world where it simply doesn't make sense that everyone doesn't know how to read; they just need a couple of free seasons to learn Latin and AL from the local teaching savant! :wink:

The point is that having a +3 is somewhat rare and odd. Having a couple +1/+2 is normal if you assume everyone in the world gets the 7 characteristic points.

Most of the world are farmers, millers, wives, soldiers. Then you have the merchants and craftmen.

So you only have a small number of the population with access to the teaching to become tutors (the order, the church and a few noblemen, some clerks and universities). This gives you a very small population. Most of that population is grog level so isn't going get many good virtues or get very skilled. This leaves you a very small population. The skilled ones are leaders of university, monesteries, church or direct service to noblemen that would not necessarily want to release some to go teach at some covenant in the wilderness if they could even tolerate the ones with the gift. You then have to consider how many of this small population have the communication of +2 or +3. More likely they are +2 or +3 in intelligence as scholars if they have a high score.

This should make finding teachers very hard to do. Perhaps you can find a few (A jewish doctor is likely to make excellent tutor (240 xp to spend on academic skills for the training) and there might be some others) but even they would only have one or two areas of strength. Don't forget all the seasons spent locating these teachers in the first place.

Now, book learner with a very good library can do wonders, I admit. even quality 9 turns into 12 xp per season for any book and your skills can really go up fast that way. A lot of good teachers though is not exactly practical. This is especially so since hte most important skill to teach is magic theory and only a mage will have that.

I fail to see how it assumes a monolithic clergy. There certainly are clerics willing to work with magi, but its unlikely that the majority of them are. So its a further limit on options. You need someone with suitable skills, a talent for teaching, and a willingness to work for practitioners of the occult.

Its not that such fellows don't exist... its just that they are far too uncommon to simply be assumed.

As far as the exposure xp and other game mechanics, the rules are extremely generous. You can pretty much supercharge any character type if you give them the monomaniacal mindset of most PCs. Sure, a tutor /could/ spend all his xp on teaching exposure. But I doubt that's very likely. Its not what happens in the real world. They get area lore, carousing, various personal hobbies, etc.

Except that makes the assumption that people with an above average stat usually has the one most beneficial to them. Extremely unlikely.

Thats fairly realistic yes. Dont forget that the way you create characters, you can give each and everyone one +3 AND STILL another +1 without having to give even a single negative value.

With every single character made being fully possible to create with one +5 stat, no way!!! And "normal human peak" is still not "human peak". And since any old grog can be given a +5 without the least problem, +5 is definitely not superhuman.

I didnt do any specific scaling or progression, just a basic estimate. +3 might have been slightly high, 1.75-1.5% might be better.
+4 more likely 0.25-0.15% and +5 maybe 0.02-0.01%...

Anyway,thats just arbitrary numbers vaugely based on perception of the real world. The important thing here is both that if you can pay enough, you can get it and that the game mechanics means that potentially every single character could have one +5 stat and still have a minor virtue left over for something else.

If you make high Com, the occurrence of Good Teacher, and high academic skills all frequent, you end up with a world where it simply doesn't make sense that everyone doesn't know how to read; they just need a couple of free seasons to learn Latin and AL from the local teaching savant!

No, you said that you consider the probability of someone having a +3 Com to be 2%, not having at least one stat of at least +3 was 2%. Thus, I assumed that you'd also assume the likelihood of someone having a Dex/Int/whatever of +3 to be 2%, as well. If I'd used the 15% number, instead of the 2% number, I'd've been committing the math error to which you refer.

I think, if we do math based on your assumptions, we'll find that not all legal distributions of the starting +7 are the same in your world. So I do not find a "the rules allow it" to have much relevance to assumptions about what sort of distributions are likely, unless you want to argue that all distributions the rules allow are equally likely.

The RAW states +5 is the absolute peak stat a human can have, period. I'd refer to Einstein and Usain Bolt both as superhuman, but I don't want to quibble over the semantics. You're again arguing that there's some relationship between "the rules allow it" and frequency. Taken to the extreme, what should we conclude about the fact that the rules allow any person to be +5/+3/+3/+3/+1/-3/-3/-5?

It matters because in your world, +5 Com teachers with all the skills you want are a dime a dozen; in mine, they are exceedingly rare, meaning that you can't just go to the closest city and assume that a teacher who knows everything to 5 and is the epitome of clarity is waiting at the gates and is greedy enough to drop his life and come live with you. Doesn't it seem like the difference between a world where +5 Com teachers are available in every city and one in which they are not have in-game implications, both for the covenant and world at large?

So all the people with high Com naturally migrate to monasteries where they can be trained to become great academic tutors, regardless of their Int score? Because, otherwise, given that frequency, it stands to reason that plenty of them will stay in the village they were born, leading to a village with farmers who are scary-good at farming.

At which point, the chances of finding the wonderful tutor with +5 Com is harder than the 1-2 per 10,000 you assume.

Indeed, that was one of my original points: assuming a high frequency of high stats/good teacher leads to a world where it's hard to explain why the nobility, not to mention the Order, have relatively mundane skill levels.

On a side note, there are CrMe spells that enhance mental abilities. I think for a covenant with vis to spare, it would be worth their while to create super tutors with ritual group CrMe spells. It would pay off in the long run to create better tutors/teachers and well trained grogs.

Don't forget those Rituals will give all your super tutors Warping Scores and plenty of weird effects....

A couple of minor quibbles:

  1. When the magus designs the spell, he can design it for a specific target, as described in the core book warping section, p.168. According to those rules, the spell will still work on anyone, but will not warp the primary target.
  2. As ritual momentary spells do not count as a continuous effect by those rules, they are only a single point. For teachers, since you're only boosting Com (I'd assume), as long as they started with a Com +1, they won't get their first warping score until something else warping happens to them/has happened to them. (Of course, in a covenant, that's not out of the question!)

To me, compared to the heavy vis cost (12 pawns for the +5 version, since you'll need touch range, meaning level 60), the importance of the warping is near-zero.