Questions and Answers about Rules and Background

This thread is a forum for resolving issues about the background and rules.

Please notice from the topic's that I am not describing this as a discussion thread. I spend enough time on the main boards discussing rules; my objective here is for us to play!

In looking at mandatory seasons of stories, this is 3 seasons for each major Story, Status or Personality flaw, and 1 more for a each such minor flaw, correct?


Exactly. People with flaws of this kind are more likely to find themselves in stories, driven by their outstanding personality or circumstance.




To follow up, I designed things around the assumption that most magi will want 6 points of such flaws, and no more than 9. Typically 6, which has been borne out. :slight_smile:

That makes six stories to initiate. Most of these will probably be Easy, simple stories that can be resolved in a few posts back and forth. These will occur simultaneously with each other, and with probably no more than 2 Difficult stories and no Epic stories. I expect 6/0, 5/1 and 4/2 to be most common, but since everything occurs in parallel, 0/6 is something I can handle if necessary.

So, across 7 years, a baseline PC ought to have 6 interesting things to do that are worth talking about, and maybe one or two veeery interesting things.

Naturally, some magi will have more, because an Easy story provides diverse benefits, all in one season. And the coolness of a fat resume of power.



Cool. Just wanted to make sure I was on the same page.

Some rules questions:

At the outset, we have a standard hermetic lab with no need to "set it up" ourselves, right? So no -3 lab until we finish it etc... ?

Are we able to customize our labs with the rules in Covenants? If so, how large are the labs and do they have any virtues or flaws to start? And, again if we use Covenants lab rules, how much silver is available for lab upkeep?

Likewise, can we use lab routines from Covenants?

Also, am I correct that for each parallel story during a cycle we use the same character sheet, i.e. all the advancement and lab activities only take effect at the end of the 7 year cycle?

Is this the correct way to calculate our MR: (0 (Warping) + 2) * (Parma+Form)? So with a Parma 1 and Form 5 it would be 12?

Is it possible to use/benefit from a book with Q12+, or is all reading essentially abstracted to Library Scores? Are the limits to how high we can take Arts/Abilities through study in our Library/any Library?

Do we draw our vis on a yearly basis (and specify its form each year), or can we leave it as "pawns owed" and take out how much we need at one time, in whatever Form we need.

Is there a typical exchange rate of Form Vis to Technique Vis, if so what is it and how often/much can we trade for Technique vis?

So, at this point we are waiting on the Grand Tribunal thread for 1180; and then we'll work through that and start posting our individual stories?

EDIT: Added question.

Organisation lore books are sparse, Ovarwa writes.
So there are few books about Order of Hermes History or church history?

Are there primers (books to kick-start an art that are higher than Q12, often Q15 or even Q21 to raise an art to 5 or 6 in one season)? Not that Arnaut needs them, but they might help the others.

I assume we've got some means of magical transportation or a multi-exit regio covenant: I don't see how everyone can stay in touch with their families otherwise. Plus if there is a local language any gentle-gifted Jerbiton will try to learn it (after all, what's the point of the gentle gift if you can't interact with people?).

As a Verditius magus Archibaldus wish to sell items to other magi. How often will he be able to sell something and how many times may he sell the same sort of item? After all once he has a lab text he will be likely to craft two lesser items in one season.


Correct. This has been done for you.

Yes, Covenant rules for labs, but not sleeping/working routines. I was thinking to redo the lab rules because of some corner cases that I consider broken, and because certain kinds of cool labs aren't easily represented. But in most cases, the rules are usable so I will try to use them.

The labs are standard size.

They start with no virtues or flaws.

Upkeep is a bit tricky. It is represented as silver in the book, yet some applications will be more easily produced in practice than others. Your character can do Upkeep +1 in most cases, maybe better, but it depends. For example, rebuilding the house so that it is bigger isn't just a matter of Upkeep! Your magus might be less likely to notice the auspicious placement of the magi's quarters, but a magus with Hermetic Architecture probably would.

Rather than think of it in terms of Upkeep mechanics, I recommend that you think of things you want to do to your lab, and what it might require IC to accomplish them. The covenfolk will handle the accounting, unless your character wants to delve into the books, and will advise you whether a particular upgrade is feasible or what they might need from you to make the rest of it happen. For example, if you want Faerie Ingredients (and why would you, given the Warping; ugh), the Upkeep of +1 is no problem--but someone has to find the right faeries, negotiate with them to find out what they want, and only then can the covenfolk spend a few pounds of silver to buy the beer they crave, while you come up with an enchantment to keep the beer fresh while it is stored until delivery day. (Deliver it in a large vessel that the grogs call a superbowl...)

The really expensive stuff, however, is probably out of reach, until you do something to bring it within reach. As you enter, +1 isn't a matter of money, +2 is a maybe, and +3 is probably a no.



Your result is correct but you changed the precedence from what I had. If this magus' Warping Score becomes 1, his MR becomes 13, not 14.

Don't think of books possessing individual Quality for the purpose of study. A great book simply adds to the repository of knowledge. Even when a single book is the cornerstone of knowledge, it is often not very useful without a constellation of lesser works that illuminate, discuss, contradict and even have no direct bearing on the issue.

So all reading is abstracted to the covenant's Library Score, except for special topics or because of story events. For example, if you manage to lure some of the faculty of a university to vacation at the covenant for a season, the covenant's "library" will be better during that season, especially in AL, Philosophiae, etc, but even in Arts (though to a lesser extent).

No limit on Arts and Abilities. Bear in mind that high scores reflect ability in what is known, rather than the ability to transcend that knowledge and redefine the field. So a magus with Terram 50 is awesome at Terram, but is not necessarily going to change how Terram works. After all, that high score reflects a great emotional and intellectual investment in how things are. On the other hand, Terram 50 might come in handy for dealing with the elementals who guard Artziel's Secret Book of Terrestrial Knowledge....

Rather than think of the covenant's library as a room with books, think of it as a room with books, plus Redcaps that deliver mail about the topic throughout the Order and to mundanes too, plus access to other books through the Redcaps, plus conversation with other magi over dinner. This 'library' has limits, but it will be a long while before your character becomes aware of all of them. Some he already knows, though perhaps just intuitively, but these are the limits I previously described.

A different "library" would indeed have more obvious limits, but these limits are not easily represented by a fixed number. A person with normal intelligence but no Philosophiae score and only enough AL to read the texts, locked in a room with all the Aristotle books in existence, is going to learn virtually nothing. A Magister in Artibus, on the other hand....

Take it each year, but you are welcome to trade 1:1.

That is, the covenant will not store your vis for you, but you're welcome to change your mind about the Forms... but not during the middle of a story, since your vis resources is sort of on your character sheet.

There isn't. Technique vis is harder to find and there is no set exchange rate. Sometimes a Redcap will trade 1:1, sometimes he will want you to do something.

There is no general Grand Tribunal thread for 1180. You reach the covenant at the end of GT. However, there are probably things you want to do at GT, and one of your PIS's could be about pursuing your GT agenda! (Highly recommended.)




smile That's a good point, and reflects what happens when an Ability covers a wide territory.

There aren't many books that cover the entirety of what OL represents. History is something that there would be more books about, yet does not have its own Ability. For the purposes of abstraction, I would say that indeed, there aren't many books about these histories--that really provide knowledge rather than entertainment or bias. (Most of the books I read, RL, do not provide many xps....)

This is less accurate than it might be, but the notion that real history is murky and inaccurate has the right kind of feel.

A scholar might do well to reinvent history as a topic of study... but might not think to.

See comment in previous email about individual books. There are primers... and using one in this environment will provide 12xp.

This choice involved a few design decisions. There is already a pleasant kickstart in being able to raise a score by 4 points in one season. Also, all those magi who put 1xp or 2xp in an Art have not wasted their xps. And, to my surprise, this saga is looking to have quite a bit of this.

Yes. Note the Pylon in the placeholder covenant resources description. Anywhere you've been and that's not theoretically secure, you can go, with a free ticket back. And you can take your shield grogs too.

smile As for language, you'll be getting a free one.... I haven't gotten to that yet. Fingers, fingers.




You can use the OoH correspondence topic to solicit bids during any cycle, and responses will be prompt. As usual, all posts to that thread are IC. (And if you include a suitable Com+Bargain total therein, as usual, I have an idea about how much of a markup you might get. :slight_smile: )

You can initiate a story to find a steady patron, or land a particularly interesting contract. (Probably not something for the first cycle or so.)

There isn't going to be a set market for how much he can sell. This is something he will have to figure out and will change, depending on what is going on in the Order, the specific item, and other considerations. Also, at a meta-game level, if Archibaldus is avidly pursuing his interests outside the lab, the work he does to support these activities is more likely to prosper. Fortune favors... well, not necesarily the bold, but the... fervent?

I'll probably want an OOC conversation about what pricing policy you think is fair. I never quite have a good feel for it.



Ok, then I was misreading it. Let me take another crack at it: 0 + (2 *( Parma +Form))? I long ago got lazy about order of operations (I am a artes liberales kind of guy IRL, too) so I wanted to make sure I had it clear.

Cool library rules! I really like this, and may even prefer this to ArM5's canonical system. I am working on my own House Rule that tries to tweak ArM5 books, but I tackle the issue in a very different way. I'll post it to the main forum sometime.

So its time to start posting PIS's? Do you open a thread for us, or do we?


I think you mean Liberal Arts rather than AL. AL includes mathematics, after all.... Liberal Arts people nowadays seem to exclude it. :slight_smile:/3424

Why thank you. :slight_smile:

You might notice that I have deliberately avoided rules for generating a library, or explaining how writing a book adds to the sum of knowledge. I tried playing with rules and they just got messier and messier. After reading enough posts by Timothy and by The Restless Kaiser, I understood why: Library Science is far more than just filing books on shelves in some useful order! I have a good intuitive understanding of the final product, but not the art of putting one together. I lack the competence to create a set of realistic rules for this. There is also a social component that has nothing to do with libraries; creating rigid rules to represent this is difficult.

Representing the outcomes, however, I can deal with. It explains why Jews study b'chavruta, why universities work, why magi join covenants, why Redcaps are useful. And I get to say "12" rather than list and misrepresent hundreds of books.

Yes, though you may want to wait for the covenant writeup. You don't need to wait, though, since a PC is welcome to ignore the covenant except as a resource, in favor of his own far-flung agendas. Since you are initiating at least 6 stories, you can start writing them up and wait for me to post before posting your six or so messages.

You open the thread, as described in the Development post.



Read the covenant writeup...totally cool. I'm excited to get going. Just a few rules questions. Since we each have our own buildings, can we take the "dedicated building" virtue (p. 114)? I'm fine taking a season during the 7 year cycle to "set it up the way I like it" to get the benefit. Cool?

Are there companion level covenantfolk?


The Dedicated Building is definitely an appropriate freebie; the house was built specifically for a magus. No extra season needed. I will add it to the resources list.

There are a few companion-level covenfolk, but they are more structural than available. That is, they exist for the covenant to function smoothly, so magi can do more important things. The librarian and steward are more than just grogs, for example, but aren't likely to do anything other than perform their duties.

If you want a companion, find him! Or her. :slight_smile:



If I understand you correctly we are supposed to do things parallelly that happen one after the other.

This may work if they have nothing to do with each other, but what about one story influencing the next?

For example:
If Arnaut tries to find school for his kids in Kiev, he may or may not succeed.
If he doesn't succeed, he will look elsewhere.
If he goes looking for his kids, he may find 0-5 (25?) children of his. They could love him, hate him, be educated, crippled, lepers, gifted, ungifted, gently gifted or full of supernatural abilities, easy to find or traveling the sahara as slaves, apprentices to a mother-figure or Hannibalus Lectorus ex Tytalus.
All this will influence what he does and how long he does it (opening arts, developing spells, improving parma, etc). The mothers might be marriageable, infernalist, pissed off or all of it. So if he finds a suitable wife in season 2, he won't go looking for one later. If he doesn't he might invent a birth control spell. If she is sending a demon after him ,he might not feel like writing a book on Philosophy.

Don't worry about details in my examples. Just tell me how can we do these things at the same time?


This is what should usually happen, yes. Like most TV shows rather than a movie. Even the ones that have an overaching plot that evolves usually do not link each show, but traverse a season in blocs.

Sure! And he has an entire season to fail and try again. Surely, in this case, he'll manage it.

There are a few ways to do this, but let me provide an example that illustrates the tools at your disposal, keeping in mind that not only can you initiate stories in parallel, but can also decide that one or more of these takes longer than a season--and you are likely to have extra seasons to draw upon:

You start off two Easy and one Difficult story in which Arnaut goes looking for kids, and start each of them going in ways that give me big hints about how to populate these episodes. One Easy story might wrap up quickly, in real time. Maybe this is a story you start by making something up about an orphan at a monastery, and Arnaut discovers that the child is well-placed, and he faces an unexpected choice: The child might be better off never knowing his parentage! What to do, what to do. Another might take longer than we thought, remaining Easy but involving lots of interesting character development; this story might lead us to a child who would do well to go with Arnaut, except that when he discovers who Arnaut is he resents him bitterly and wants nothing to do with him; this story takes quite a bit more email to resolve than the last--and I have no idea what Arnaut does. Both stories are wrapped up in a season of game time, but perhaps Arnaut will want to check up on the children in a few years, or leaves a mechanism where their doings are reported to him--and may result in new stories next cycle. The Difficult story might involve the leper colony, as Arnaut gets drawn into some larger and more sinister doings that will not resolve well, and perhaps lead him on a series of adventures as he follows the trail of his son; this might take longer than a season, and lead to a second story, or Arnaut might leave things as they are.

A different version of this could have an Easy story last longer, and the Diffucult one wrap up quickly. For example, Arnaut might have decided to stay on at the monastery for an extra season, and we can turn that either into practice (I learn some Church or Area Lore) or exposure (I teach there for a season) or even a second story that you initiate (while teaching there for a season, watching over my child just to be sure leaving him there is the right thing to do, I think an Easy story about X would be good.....)

In a way, I'm collaborating with you. A season of game time allows a magus to get a lot done. You can either reserve seasons beforehand or add them if you want more time to bring a story to a resolution you want, or if you want to tack a second story onto an original. I have a responsibility here too! Like any good TV series, most stories should wrap up appropriately in a single episode. So if I want to have Vikings capture your son just as you find them, in a fashion that Arnaut cannot chase them down during this season, Arnaut and you have a choice about whether to turn this into a 2 or 3 part story, or whether this story ends in a defeat but with unresolved issues that might come up during the next cycle. It's fine if something like this happens every now and then, yet if I do this all the time, I'm not holding up my responsibility, my part of the play contract, if you will.

Your part: Initiate stories that Arnaut can probably accomplish in a season.

My part: Run things in a way that allows stories to usually resolve in a season.

So let's take the "find a wife" story. Suppose Arnaut is determined to find a wife this cycle. You and he recognize that this might take more than one season, but he doesn't expect (and more importantly, you don't want) stories that are more difficult than Easy. There are other ways to do this, of course: If Arnaut seeks his Brunhilde, he might insist on every season being Difficult until he finds her! But staying with Easy. You initiate a story about this, and I immediately ask you OOC what you're looking for in a wife... for Arnaut :slight_smile:: Do you want her to just be there so he has one? Someone who might be more active, or provide family entanglements? Some of this might be evident from Arnaut's Objective and Plan, but marriage is the kind of thing that I'd want to ask a few OOC questions about.

After a bit of back and forth, perhaps in which you post something in Arnaut's voice about his intentions (which might differ from your intentions for him :slight_smile: ) we're off. Perhaps his plan might be to spend one season in a city and then either move on to another city, or court someone. Or it might be to stay in a city and find someone. Another plan might be to win a Faerie bride, with the understanding that time can get weird. Or maybe Arnaut wants to do this right, so you reserve a full year to immerse him in the social swirl, to court and to marry. This ought to be more than enough time, since he is not expecting True Love but the kind of love that develops. Or maybe Arnaut spends a year making business and social contacts, which he will want anyway, and during this time he arranges a marriage with an eligible girl of suitable family. Or even that Arnaut realizes that he is far better off purchasing an expensive slave girl, young, intelligent and healthy, than wasting his time courting some overbred rich girl, and you initiate a Difficult story that involves going to Damascus to purchase a slave (who would be Christian; the slave trade generally involves Christians being sold to Muslims and the converse) to liberate and marry, which he hopes to accomplish in a single season. (Though he might stay longer, especially if one of the rewards of this story is a rare opportunity to study for two seasons with Sufi Masters, which neither you nor he expected, and an excuse to learn Arabic through Practice, consuming more time, all of which comes out of the second phase, not the story phase.)

However it goes, you have initiated one story, and we have either implicitly or explicitly reserved extra time for it.

If Arnaut wants to develop a birth control spell before seeking a wife, he must do it in the cycle before looking. If his choice of study depends upon the outcome of his stories, that's great! That's the normal flow: Make stuff happen with what you've got and deal with new issues that arise, plan to make more stuff happen (which probably builds on stuff that has already happened), update character sheet.

As for her sending a demon after him, there are two ways this might happen. 1) It happens during the same story and is resolved that season, or it happens immediately after and extends the story into a 2 parter. 2) She does this next cycle.

Either way, all initiated stories occur in parallel, perhaps leaving unresolved issues for the next cycle.

Either way, this leaves a bunch of seasons left over for Arnaut to develop however you and he like.

One thing that Arnaut may not do is serialize all his stories and intersperse them with magical study. These rules explicitly and deliberately do not allow that, and I consider that a desirable feature rather than a flaw.

The product of any given cycle is a set of story sketches involving Arnaut at a fixed stage of development, plus an updated version of Arnaut for the next cycle.

I used your examples to be relevant rather than force you to use one of my ideas (or discourage you from using them by mentioning them); I hope this makes sense.



I have a question on how you see the difference in between us setting the action in motion, vs. merely giving you an invitation to set the action in motion. For example, many of my stories begin with Astris having a clear objective: Do this, learn that, acquire this etc. Those begin with him preparing and setting out to accomplish that and usually I stop where the first major obstacle or challange may show up.

But I have an idea for a story in which Viraxis summons his filii to him. Viraxis is challaging for the title of Archmagus, and part of the challange includes testing his filii. I think it makes more since for you to design the testing, challanges etc, so I don't really know where to stop my description and turn over the narrative reins to the you. Or, I guess, if this is even an appropriate "player initiated" story, because while it is player initiated, it is not character initiated at all?

I know its a vauge question, but can you give a little guidance on how much we should structure the begining of the player initiated stories? I'll probably be ready to post my first seven stories by Friday, but I may need to tweak them based on your answers in this thread and developments to the Covenant thread.

PS, I am using a mix of third and first person voices in the stories. If you want us to stick to first person storytelling, please let me know- but I warn I am clumsier at descriptions in that voice then when using a third person narrator.


So far so good!

It is very appropriate, especially in conjunction with the other stories.

When to turn it over to me? Take it as far as you feel reasonable, and then turn it over.

Using your example, suppose you want Astris to be involved in the challenge, and even have an idea for what the challenge should be:

The very worst thing that might happen is that I say, "Sorry, this cannot happen, please come up with a different idea." This is not likely to happen, because I always want to follow your lead. But it could: For example, you might have waited until Viraxis is too old to successfully challenge, and has either lost his chance or already succeeded. Even here, I'd try to salvage what I could, perhaps by suggesting that maybe Viraxis needs Astris to accomplish this very same goal, but for a different reason. Then, we'd change some of the initial conditions, and off we'd go.

More likely, I might rewind a bit, and say something like, "I want to pick up just as Astris has surprised the enemy sorcerer, because while this is what he hopes happens, it turns out..."

And most likely, I will pick up exactly where you leave off, because my sense is that you are approaching this with a sense of balance and proportion.

Please notice that I've been calling these player-initiated stories. Most of these should also be character-initiated stories, but some are not, to leave room for exactly the kind of story you speak of.

It's a fair question. I'm doing things with this saga that TOTALLY BREAK from standard gaming conventions. (Which probably helps explain why there has been much less interest than I had hoped for.)

So, you're up to speed on the format I requested in development, yes?

Ok. So Amplesia is a newly minted Flambeau maga whose character sheet is irrelevant at the moment. She has a reputation for burning things to a crisp with lightning, thanks to her old-school Flambeau Gauntlet of Destruction. Her attitude is jaunty, even cocky. Her fingers crackle with electricity when she fidgets with or twitches them... which she does absently all the time; her hair moves constantly from winds that spontaneously generate in her presence. But all this is a front she has developed over the years to keep her gung-ho parens happy, and the rest she cannot help. She is fascinated by art, by culture and by faeries, and would much rather have been a Jerbiton or Merinita. Still, a lot of Flambeau teachings have taken hold.

Among the stories she and her player plan to initiate, are the following:

  • She wants to visit Constantinople to take in the sights, see the Hagia Sophia and try not to kill anyone.
  • She wants to make contact with a Merinita and perhaps learn something more about Faeries from a perspective other than "Burn, baby, burn!"
  • She has been invited to help chase down a renegade shapeshifter, and she accepts to maintain appearances.

Her player decides to be weird, and declares the Wizard's March to be Easy, but Constantinople to be Difficult! Let's track the first post for Constantinople:

The ellipsis is not part of the post, but represents more stuff.

Some of it is good, but I decide that it would be cool to have pirates attack before the ship reaches the city. It's a Difficult story, after all. This forces Amplesia to choose whether to defend the ship but reveal herself a maga or whether to be subtle. She'll probably have to defend the ship, and will earn the wary gratitude of the crew... but also arrive in Constantinople already having blown things up.

From there, the story will probably return to what was written after I stopped things (unless it takes a weird turn), and involve some Jerbiton dinner parties, some Carousing gone awry, maybe even some Gypsies, because, you know, Gypsies.

The challenge for me as GM will be to compress my urge to play the story out in full rather than sketch it. The challenge for Amplesia will be to deal with Jerbitons she despises, sailors who think she is unlucky, and maybe a gypsy chieftain who will stop at nothing to bed her, and his jealous but possessive hedgie wife.

Do what works well for you, keeping in mind the need to distinguish IC from OOC.



Note: I deliberately misposted this here - this being the first player initiated story, I hope you can tell me how this post can be optimized, so I can directly initiate new posts in the future.
I'll try to get around to the other stories asap - can't promise if it is this weekend though since I've got plenty of stuff to do.

Kiyv’s academics – first contact with the eggheads

Objectives: Arnaut wants to find out where he is, and get a general impression about the city he lives next to (e.g. languages used, basic power structures, a basic idea of the economy, religion, customs, but also magical aspects like lacunae, dominion strength, major church holidays).
He has a special interest in books (writers, production, trade, publishing) and schools. In fact, he’s trying to find either a good school or a good scholar to teach him/his children when he is away.
He’ll also keep his eyes open for a suitable wife (pretty, faithful, likes his collection of kids, can spend time by herself, is open to magic, can keep a secret or three, moral, caste no bar)

Expected complications: getting lost, pickpockets/criminals, an unexpected scholarly language (Greek), choosing between several less than perfect options, school caters for a limited group (Jews, guild,…), less than perfect guides


  1. Find a suitable person (or 2, but no more) at the covenant to act as a guide, to introduce him in the right circles
  2. go to Kyiev, tourist around (guided by covenant person), get to know people (guided by covenant person), find the book traders (guided again), tell scholars that you need a teacher for your children (guided if helpful)

When Arnaut left his lab, the cold wind immediately reminded him that he was elsewhere. He had followed the steward’s explanation about where they were, but it still felt unreal.
He reminded himself that his sense of displacement was only logical, and decided to ask a servant for help. Trying out his mysteriously acquired new tongue – full of devilish sibilants – he got one of those good-looking flaxen-haired servant women to take him to the steward. On the way he caught himself pondering on the high cheek-bones, slanted green eyes and inviting hips of the women here – so exotically different from Spain. For a moment he considered using his “Enchantment of Detachment” spell to rid himself of such carnal thoughts for a while, but decided to deny himself the easy escape.
They arrived at the room where the steward, a subservient fellow with a ready smile on his lips , was going over some lists.
“I plan to visit Kyiv, master steward,” Arnaut said in Latin, after the exchange of a polite greeting. “ may I ask your assistance in finding one or two members of this covenant who can guide me through this city I can see over there? I’m planning to get a first impression. I also hope to meet with the local book industry and wish to get introduced to academic circles. Have we got anyone here who has the time to join and guide me?
I also need help finding appropriate clothing: Can I wear my scholar’s robes without sticking out?

Mechanics: Gentle gifted, +4 Com, +3 virtue leading others , (+3 Venus curse – depends on the steward’s tastes), +1 Etiquette, no magic used to assist this dialogue = +8)

PS: tense and narrative perspective (is third person limited narrator, past tense possible – I find it easiest to use)?

Suggested rewards after competion: Area Lore, finding a school, finding a book maker, finding a wife (?????)