This is an open question, but I'd like to particularly ask for comment from Ben (Leonis Bjornaer), Timothy Ferguson and any of the line authors that have designed books for ArM5 if I may.
Are there any rules of thumb for converting "real life" books dealing with Abilities into ArM5 books?
By this I mean:
How does one decide summae vs tractatus based on the title and ?
How do you determine how many tractati are in a collection of books/volumes / an encyclopediae by a given author? Guess?
What sets the quality (Good Teacher, Communciation Score etc)?
(I refer particularly to Timothy's reasoning in ArM5 Covenants that really only good writers (High Com, Good Teacher, exceptional score in Art or Ability really write anything that is worth copying or reading).
Is there a way of constructing some sort of rough ranking of historical figures ie. Hildegard of Bingen / Avicenna at the top, down to say Myopicus the Squiggler (Com -5, Incomprehensible etc) at the bottom?
I'd be interested in various opinions from the simple to the complex.
A tractatus is a book on a particular aspect of a subject. Whereas a summae is generally a kind of review of an entire field.
You might be able to find out what the real book is considered to be, but otherwise guess.
You might be able to find translations (or at least translations of sections) of most real, important medieval books somewhere. If your town has a university it probably has translations of most important medieval texts, and if the university has a large medieval department, it may have facsimile copies of the originals too. Just having a quick thumb through the book, should give you some idea of its depth.
There are also databases that contain electronic versions of practically every pre-modern book. Kind of like Project Gutenberg, but there are subscription based databases that are much, much more complete than it is. The libraries you have access to may have subscriptions to these databases.
I'm not sure that everyone necessarily follows that reasoning.
It's best just to set the quality at whatever works for your saga. It's probably a good bet though, that well-known authors are writing reasonably well.
On the other hand, remember that you are setting the quality for a particular copy of the book. So, it may be poorly copied (and have a lower quality than other versions) or it may be illuminated, and contain commentaries, etc (and so have a higher quality than usual).
I think I might compile an Index of the books so far (like the V&F index) and see what that looks like. Might give me an idea there and provide an interesting overview of the state of the canonical Mythic library as it were...
If the title refers to a specific subset of the Ability, then it's more likely a tractatus. If it has a more general or important-sounding title, then more likely a summa.
A book which comes in several volumes is almost certainly a single (high-level) summa. A book in only one volume is either a tractatus or a low-level summa.
Also, how many books has the author written on the subject? If only one big one, then a summa. If many, with no one book being outstanding, then they are likely tractatus.
Good Teacher should be relatively rare, perhaps only for those authors who were renowned as great teachers or communicators in their lifetime (e.g. Hildegard of Bingen). I would suggest that well-known or widely-read books would generally be written by authors with a relatively good Com. If in doubt, +2 or +3?
I think it could be a good idea to put such a list as an open download?
With or without scores, but name of book and basically what its about. Sorted after relevant Abilities it might be a very helpful tool.