"Reasonable" Level of Summae

Be careful wall of text and theorycrafting ahead...

As I was looking for information regarding the vis cost of Summae, I found a lengthy debate on what was an acceptable level of Summae. Let's just say that opinions were covering a large range value regarding highest possible Summae level and quality as well as the existence of Roots and Branches, but definitely no agreement :smiley:

So I decided to find out by myself if I could get a good estimate. I run some simple simulations to measure the impact of various parameters to find out what will be highest level a specialist could achieve, as well as the Summae Level and number of Tractatus available.

Initial hypothesys:

  • Each generation start from 0 xp, out of apprenticeship in the Art they want to specialised (no virtue, no flaw).
  • Each generation will start at 0, and will study from the highest Summae available (no optimising for the best quality) and will read every Tractatus available on the topics (again, no bonus for any virtues).
  • Each generation of specialist will spent the same amount of time studying from raw vis. Each raw vis season will bring an average of 6 XP (no bonus for virtues nor from Aura).
  • Once this is done, it is considered that the magus will no more progress on this Art and will spend two years writing a Summae at the highest level possible and every Tractatus he can.
  • Then the next generation will take over and will resume where the previous magus left. The next generation will also start from 0 xp.

I used 4 different variable to assess their impact on the maximum level achieveable, number of years to reach it and so on. Those variable are: quality of tractatus, quality of Summae, number of season studying from raw vis and number of new tractatus written by each generation.

To illustrate that, I started with an average Quality of Summae and Tractatus of 8 - conservatively low -, 16 seasons of study from virtus and a ratio of 100% original tractatus.

The first generation start at 0 xp, no books and no tractatus - they had it rough. After 16 seasons of virtus study, the magus accumulates 90 xp, so a level 12. Then he writes one L6Q8 Summae and 3 Q8 tractatus during 2 years. Between his studies and writting, he spent 6 years.

The second generation starts by reading the Summae and all 3 Tractatus (for a total of 7 seasons) before studying 16 seasons of virtus, accumulating 141 xp, so a level 16. Then writes one L8Q8 Summae and 4 Tractatus. Between his studies and writting, he spent 7 years and 3 seasons.

And so on, I spare you the table.

Here is what I found:

How many "generations" for a magus to reach 40 in an Art.

  • The initial generation are quite short, allowing a quick increase of competencies in a short time span. The 10 first generations took less than 130 years to complete. The word generation is in fact misleading and should not be seen as "magus generation" but more as how long a magus interested in the topic at to spend to bring this knowledge to speed and then build on it to leave a legacy.
    So after 10 iterations of research improvement and about 130 years, the highest level reach by a magus was 33 (568 xp).
    And the 14th generation reach level 41 (878 xp) in 238 yrs. That is of course if every magus was able to start immediately after the previous magus dropped his quill to hand him over the precious books and tractatus. To achieve this level, he had to collect each and every of the 74 tractatus written by his predecessors. However, he would have spent "only" 25 years studying.
    Increasing this duration by 50% to 100% gives a more organic growth, so we can assume than 400 yrs after the foundation of the order, there are a few specialists with an Art above 40, with all the implication in terms of higher quality Summae, lower level and so on.

How does Summae quality impact the growth ?
As expected, it has no impact on which generation reaches first the level 40 (it is always generation 14th), but it happens faster. It is the accumulated time saved by each generation allowing the next one to start faster. if instead of Q8, the Summae is Q10, the 14th generation happens 10 years earlier.

How does Tractatus quality impact the growth ?
This has the single biggest impact of all the other parameters. Not only does it shortens the number of generation required to reach level 40, but it shortens every generation length. Going from Tractatus Q8 to Q9 allows generation 12th to reach level 40 after only 187 years of combined research and study, and it only took her 22 years of study and required to go through only 62 tractatus. Generation 14 can reach level 45 after 251 years.

How does ratio of original Tractatus impact the growth ?
Tremendously as well.
If only 80% of the tractatus written by a generation are original (or 20% are lost), everything slowdown. Level 40 is reached by generation 17, after 280 yrs of combined research. Generation 14 will be stuck at level 35.
At 70%, it drops to generation 21 and 349 yrs...
On the other hand, if the ratio of original tractatus is above 100%, it speeds up the process. At 120% ratio production per iteration, generation 12 reach level 40 in 200 yrs.

But how it is possible to have a ratio above 100% ? Well, the assumption is that there is only one specialist writting a Summae and as many tractatus as possible. However, nothing prevent other less skilled magus to write other tractatus. Combined to the specialist output, it will bring the production per iteration above 100%.

Other points to consider:
It is very likely that the initial "specialist" - generation 1 - has a score well above what 16 seasons of virtus study will provide. Sure, but the impact is not that significant, it only slightly shorten the study time by a year: if instead of being level 13 (what 16x6 xp will provide), the initial magus is level 20, the next generation will have a Summae level 10 instead of 6, and 4 tractatus instead of 3. Not a big of a head start and in fact, gen 2 will reach a level lower than gen 1 because the xp coming from the Summae, the 4 tractatus and 16 seasons of virtus study brings only 183 xp vs 210 for the gen 1 specialist.

What if they spend more seasons studying from virtus ?
The level 40 will be reach by an earlier generation, but not that much faster. By doubling the number of season spent of virtus study (32 seasons), generation 11 will reach level 40, but it will still take 226 yrs: less generation, but each generation works longer.
Also, by keeping a smaller number of season, I avoid the consideration of virtus spent per magus: 16 seasons at 3 points/season is manageable for the last generations prior reaching level 40, [strike]48 pawns is reasonable for a specialiste to have it saved/collected over time[/strike] 7x16=112 pawns of virtus is already quite high. However 32 seasons x 7-8 pawns, more than two rooks, it will definitely trigger the discussion on how rich is one saga vs another saga.
Also, keeping this number manageable, I avoid the issue of botch, Twilight and so on. With 16 seasons, statistically, the magus will roll one, two or if really unlucky three times a 0. Hopefully not enough to throw him in final Twilight.

Weakness of this simulation:

  • Assumption that a generation takes immediately after the previous one has finished writing books: Yes, it is definitely a dodgy hypothesis. To make things "worth", it is possible to add a 5 years lag increment between each generation to simulate the coming of a new researcher, the time to gather all the documents required for the study (at the end, it will only account for an extra 70 yrs)... On the other hand, it is also possible to say that gen n+2 can start getting the basics before gen +1 has produced his material by using gen n documents, which will shorten the cycle.

  • Assumption about Summae Quality: it is really a worse case scenario with a Q8 Summae. It is likely that now and then, somebody will refine an older Summae bringing it to Q9, 10, possibly 11. It will slightly shorten the initial learning period, but the Summae study time is not the one having the biggest impact on the generation length and it has no impact at all on the final level reach by a generation.

  • Quality and abundance of Tractatus: since it is the most critical element which drive the speed to level 40, it is worth looking at it. An average Q8 tractatus is a conservative assumption. Considering a magus does not need to be the best specialist on the Art to write a good quality tractatus, it is safe to assume that over time, the quality of tractatus will improve as collections (Florilegea) starts to be compiled. It should normally goes hand in hand with the decrease of tractatus, however since every bits of knowledge is valuable for a specialist, only the worst of the worst will be cut. All in all, contribution of good quality non-specialist with replace the chaff and a ratio of 100% output per researcher generation is reasonable. And as specialists will know who is their predecessors, they will try to get access to their archive: instead of having to look for one tractatus at a time, by looking for older specialists, they will find whole collections. So I don't find unreasonable for a magus asking nicely a few Redcaps succeeding in getting those collections.

What about Schism war and so on ?
Possibly a delay of a few generations considering the possible loss of tractatus and experts, which means starting from a lower initial knowledge base.

What about virtues ?
I wanted to look at worst case scenario. It is sensible to assume that a true specialist will have an Affinity in the relevant Art. To simplify that, it means that each tractatus will be the equivalent of Q12 instead of Q8. It is a huge boost in learning process and speed up significantly the research curve, allowing Gen12 to break the level 40 limit in just about 176 yrs (the increase of perceived Summae quality is comparatively negligible, shortening the research time by about 10 yrs).

Same can be said for Book Learner (the boost in quality is +3 instead of +4).

That's purely a mathematical construction, it does not reflect the organic growth of the Order ?
I know that ! But it is a close as I could get from reconstructing the knowledge development of the Order.
Keep in mind that it is definitely not skew towards an optimal growth to stay more on the lower curve.
I explained every hypothesis and how each parameters affect the whole development. I will welcome your comments and can run various simulation with other hypothesis if you want to see where it goes.

Conclusion ?
After this long wall of text, what's in for me ? Some useful information - I hope.

  • 500 yrs after the Order birth, it is safe to assume there is a least one mage- specialist in each Arts with a level 40 or even higher, and it might not be unheard of somebody reaching level 50.
  • Based on that, you can infer the type of book you can find in the Order (Level 40 magus means L6Q20 are available with just a Com of +0 and some refinement/resonant material bring it to Q21, L15Q11 exists, and it is reasonable to consider higher quality and/or level).
  • It takes about 25yrs (100 seasons) to go from 0 to level 40 working only with quality 8 documents and no virtues, with an Affinity, it drops to about 66 seasons (16 yrs and half). Obviously, it will not be reached 16 yrs after gauntlet, but it gives a good idea of the shortest time needed. Multiply by 3-4 to take in consideration other projects, apprentice and side activities and you round that to 50-64 years after gauntlet (and it is starting from 0 which is obviously wrong).
  • Even by trippling the study time and recalculating the overall research time spent by each generation, level 40+ specialists exists in 1200.
  • If high quality Summae gives a good lift up at the early stage of education, tractatus are key to reach the highest level.
  • It will requires collecting 74 tractatus - which is a tall order, but again, between collections, good connections, and (I admit) a fairly substantial amount of virtus, doable. Again, an affinity will cut the need to "only" 50 tractatus. This is definitely YSMV as it depends on how magus are willing to trade, how efficient Redcap services are and so on an so forth. But considering that there is about 1200 magus in the order, if areas of specialty are evenly distributed, that 80 specialists (or a least magus with some solid interest) per Art. If each one write one tractatus, that's enough to supply the required 74 tractatus.
  • Book learner is a must have for a true specialist, as it will turn even vain Tractatus of Q5 into decent source of xp.

Should your saga have those high level magus & books ? Hey, that's up to you!
If it is not the case, it says something about how the Order works: less trust, less sharing of knowledge - even from the Bonisagus house, less efficient Mercerre, possibly regular knowledge loss due to some covenants getting destroyed (by whom ?).
Can it have higher level books & better specialist ? Sure. It requires also some assumptions like a more efficient collections of knowledge and easier access to it - the Order is more and more looking like a scholar institution and less like a group of paranoid magic wielding lonely nutcases. Are they ready to become an Academic power like suggested in Transforming Mythic Europe ?

Well done.

According to the corebook, the Order's top summae are L20Q11 (which assumes that the specialist has Comm+5 or [more likely] Comm+2 and Good Teacher), but the Order has plenty of abridged versions of such down to L9Q22. Of course, these authoritative summae don't grow on trees (calves have to be killed for them instead), so very few covenants will have a full library, and that library is not going to be available to every apprentice (not necessarily because the Order doesn't share information, but there's a waiting list for the good books, travel to Durenmar and back is a pain, Durenmar doesn't provide books for free, and politics means that the best-connected magi hog the good books for themselves and maybe their apprentices).

Well done indeed. However, I don't really understand where you stop the vis study of each "generation". I reckon that will depend on raw vis supplies, not on the previous generation's levels or seasons spent.

Given enough raw vis, even the first generation could attain exceedingly high scores, especially if one makes the reasonable assumption of the specialist having one relevant virtue such as an Affinity. This makes the entire enterprise of estimating levels of power very unstable, depending heavily on the amount of raw vis in the saga's history. You analysis seems suitable to a relatively vis-poor saga, with a history of low vis too. If one assumes that in the far past there were at least a few specialists with access to lots of raw vis (one for each Art would suffice), then all bets are off. Notice that even in a vis-poor saga, organizations such as Houses could arrange for such massive collections of raw vis (a long-term House Bonisagus research project? A House Tremere strategy? A secret project of House Mercere? ...)

From all the criteria, I found it the most open to discussion hence decided to take the most restrictive approach for the following reason:

  • risk of botches and Twilight increase statistically with the number of season. By keeping it below 20 seasons, there is only 2 seasons ("statistically") which will end up with a botch. It is possible that Twilight will be beneficial, but at this point, it becomes too complex to plot for only a tiny increment. By the same token there is the same probability to have very high roll;
  • availability of vis: following this forum since a few years, it is definitely a YSMV point, as everybody as a different understanding of "abundant" or "poor". As I explained, 16 sesons initially will only consume 16-32 paws of virtus (as long as the level is below 20), but as the level increase, the usage will drastically increase. When magus reach level 30, it is 6x16=96 pawns of virtus required. Not something to easily handwave (and I need to edit my initial post regarding virtus consumption).
  • the first generation should contribute to higher level: I completely agrees. It is safe to assume that the initial Summae, especially those written by Bonisagus himself will be of high level and quality (I believe this is one point where the forum agrees is that Bonisagus was gifted with Good Teacher). However after running a few simulations, the impact is not as big as what you might think: it allows the first generations to have a better starting base. If the initial researcher reaches level 30 (thus providing a Q8L15 Summae and 6 tractatus), it shortens the knowledge scale by 2 iterations allowing gen 12 to reach level 40 after 214 yrs (instead of gen 14, 238 yrs).

My intent was to provide a kind of worst "reasonable" case scenario.

All your arguments support a faster knowledge growth. And I also agrees with you that this growth was faster than my worst case scenario since I do not take into consideration: aura for virtus study and Free study virtue, Book learner for tractatus and Summae research. On the other hand, I am also not taking into consideration that a certain number of years can pass before a specialist is taking over where the last generation left the work and that the researcher studies non stop his Arts before writing his final Summae. I think it will be unfair/unreasonable to take into consideration all the possible bonus coming from virtues and at the same time forget the challenge of gathering all works done by the previous generation, the fact that a magus cannot work 100% of his time on his dedicate pet Arts.

But this is going too much into personal understanding of the Order growth and optimisation.

Well, the ultimate level and quality of the Order's best summae will be determined by very old, erudite, well-spoken and extremely quirky individuals: the magi who have decided to make a career out of plumbing the deepest secrets of a single Art.

That's working both for and against higher numbers. For, because these people usually want to become the authority on a subject (though Communication +5 plus Good Teacher is a rare combination in Hermetic magi). Against, because high Communication and Good Teacher do not necessarily go hand-in-hand with a desire to plumb the deepest limits of the Arts, and because even Durenmar isn't free of situations where magi will have to stir themselves from the library.

Another thing that'll work against this is the fact that out of those thousand Hermetic magi, less than a tenth are Bonisagi and only half of the Bonisagi are Followers of Bonisagus. House Bonisagus is a True Lineage, and also the only House that can, generally speaking, support a magus focusing their life on plumbing the deepest depths of an Art, then writing a summa about it, and even they don't try to force a magus into becoming such an Art specialist. Just how many of these paramount specialists will exist in a generation?

One thing that I found strange in your simulation is that each generation of magi spends more and more time studying. Personally, I would have started off with how much time a magus is willing to invest into learning that Art. It has a major impact on the score they can reach.

Another thing that can have a big impact when studying from raw vis is the strength of the aura. Since you don't need a lab to study vis, you can travel to a place with a higher aura to do so. And the early generations of magi would have access to more auras and more powerful ones, presumably, because mundanes and the Divine would not have been so prevalent.

As noted by another poster, scribing starter summae by lowering their level to increase their Quality can be a great time saver.

One thing that I found strange in your simulation is that each generation of magi spends more and more time studying. Personally, I would have started off with how much time a magus is willing to invest into learning that Art. It has a major impact on the score they can reach.

That's easy to explain: before they start their original research, they leverage as much as possible the work done by the previous generations and reading tractatus takes one season per tractatus. The number of tractatus increase significantly after each generation, adding about a year (4 tractatus) on average to each generation.

It has a big impact. I run scenario with an average aura (4) and it speeds up significantly the process: generation 11, after 186 yrs of studied break level 40.

As I said, I wanted to run the worst case scenarion, otherwise I felt I would have been more challenged on selecting "too good conditions to be true".
All you arguments supports the fact that very high level specialist (40 and above) exists, hence high level Summae as well, and it is quite conceivable to meet a magus with one Technique+Form of 70 or above (albeit 100+ years after gauntlet).
Combined with the appropriate focus, it can allow legendary spells and enchantments to be crafted.

I have now refined my model by taking in consideration aura (and high auras for the first generations), downtime between two seasons dedicated to the study as well as virtus expense for vis study, but also purchase of tractatus. I also consider that specialist had an affinity in the relevant Art (which is logical after all and it is only a +1 virtue). It takes less generation to reach level 40, but each generation is longer (because of downtime included), and overall it takes about 200yrs. I also set a limit of 100 pawns used per generation to remain within an acceptable limit.

And if a House, let's say Tremere, would support such research, looking to train apprentice with both Book Learner and Affinity in the relevant Art, requiring to work 50% of their time on this Art study, it would take less than a century to reach level 40 and about 300 pawns of virtus... That's not a big investment to have the best Summae of the Order. If they manage to train them as Good Teacher, the Order knowledge will speed up at an incredible pace.

In fact, that could be a theme for a Saga where a House is planning to carve a magical kingdom away of Mythical Europe (Cathay ? Mongolia ?) and is planning a global migration over a century period.

You missed my point, I think.

I mean that, over his lifetime, a magus may only be able to invest a set amount of time to improve their specialty (Art). It doesn't really matter to what the source of experience is vis or books; they only have that much time.

You described your first generation as spending only 16 seasons improving their specialty Art. Even considering a lower lifespan (say 50 years past Gauntlet) in the early days of the Order, that is a mere 8% of their time. I think a more reasonable number (for a specialist) would be higher, starting from 20% to almost 50%. That would be 40 to 100 seasons spent improving that Art. And that does not even take into account the time spend writing those books.

The flip side of this is your later generations. They might spend a greater portion of their time studying from books rather than from raw vis and benefit from a longer lifespan (say 75 years past Gauntlet), but the time they might be able to invest would stay proportionally the same (say 20%). That is where the quality of the source matters, as it allows for a more efficient use of the magus' time.

Because, in the end, time is the most valuable commodity a magus has. That is the determining factor of how good they can become in an Art, IMHO.

Well, arguing practical vs possible in a theorycrafting thread kind of misses the point of theorycrafting. Most magi will study an art to the point where they can do what they want with the art. There's really very little point to ever pushing an art past 30, as the return on investment (time, scrounging books, scrounging vis) is minimal at best. That to me says that L15 Summae won't be too hard to find, though high quality ones will be harder, and high quality L10 Summae will be pretty common, as any 'old' magus could crank one out for his specialty on demand. L20 Summae would be extremely rare - yes, magi could push to 40 in an art, but few will - and the quality of these summae will generally be low (because high Communication + Good Teacher + High Art is a rare combo).

But that doesn't matter, because medium-high quality tractatus (Q11-15) should be reasonably common, as any Good Teacher capable of opening an apprentice properly can crank out a minimum of 15 Tractatus and probably somewhere in the order of 30 over his lifespan. How long is an actual hermetic generation? The one magus I played that took an apprentice did so after 30 years as a magus - and had to push close to the end to do a proper opening. Unless you're trying to immediately train the next generation (say, if you know your own child is Gifted), taking an apprentice is probably done once your Arts progression slows (and thus the lab help is worth the effort). A hermetic generation (gauntlet to gauntlet) is probably averaging 50 years (this doesn't account for subsequent apprentices, just to the first). Generations were probably quicker at the Order's founding (lots of Deficient apprentices early on I'm sure), but the Order's probably had only 10-15 Generations since the founding. That will affect the number of good tractatus that are generated over the Order's lifespan more than anything, as you need new magi to generate more Tractatus.

The probable course for any magus studying an art is Study a high quality L10 Summae, then a medium quality L15 summae, then move on to medium-high quality tractatus, which won't run out before the magus generally loses interest in spending 3 seasons to raise an art by 1 point. A L20 Summae is pretty pointless unless the Quality is 11+, as higher quality tractatus are readily available and save the magus way more time.

Another factor is paying other magi to teach you, which can be very beneficial. A Com+1 Teaching 3 magus can provide 13xp/season (20 if you have an affinity) and the only limit is the teacher's Art score. At the upper reaches (25+) it's more economical to spend vis buying a magus' teaching than to study directly from vis. An older magus could make a lot of vis/items/books teaching younger magi at functionally zero risk for either of them.

One assumption, though, is that magi will choose the learning path that yields them the highest potential final Art score. This is probably a bad assumption. Someone presented with a L20 Q10 Summae and a stack of 14 Q15 Tractatus 'should' study the Summae first (420 potential XP if they do), but studying the Tractatus first takes 2/3 the time getting to Art20. Many magi will see the potential shortcut to L20 as better than the potential for L28, and it's the sort of thing that makes low Quality Summae worthless, even at high Level. As someone else mentioned, time is a very valuable commodity to magi.

That sounds like a Jerbiton!
But, specialists always want to do a little more, and so are always pursuing the latest on an Art. However, a summa of L20 is not what people are looking for, to progress one's Arts very far.

Scrounging books is really not a problem. Books as in tractatus. I had started a thread about the average tractatus quality which segued into a discussion of how many tractatus might reasonably exist (or to be more precise, have been authored) in the Order. The number of Q9-Q11 tractatus is quite high, based on some estimates that Arthur did in that thread (seen here). There are literally hundreds of summae, and when divided evenly among the Arts (it is debatable as to whether even distribution of tractatus across all the Arts is reasonable) that's something like 55 summae, with a weighted average of 10.4 (or so) xp per tractatus.

So, even if we presume that all tractatus are available, and we presume that someone starts from a L20Q10 Summa, having just finished it and goes on to consume tractatus in a completely optimum fashion, without an affinity, you're going to have Art score of about 39. But it has taken 21 seasons of study from the summa and 55 seasons of study from all the available, reasonably priced tractatus. That's just getting one Art up to that score, and it took 19 years of study. Granted, that's not a huge amount of time in the life of a magus, but it is certainly significant. Interestingly, the same number and quality of tractatus can raise an Art to a score of 33. This is what makes summae so valuable, is that they allow one to delay the consumption of tractatus and for a specialist pursing a stellar Art score, that is a difference of 6 points.

I think you are discounting Affinities here, and affinities coupled with avid acquirers and readers of tractatus will be able to blow past L40 relatively easily. Starting from 0, the same person gets a score of 40 with all of the above tractatus I'd mentioned. And from a L20 summa start they go to L46 with all of the tractatus. Writing a L20Q10 summa, is absolutely not hard with Covenants. Take a magus who has a score of 42 in an Art and a slightly positive Com score of 2, and he can do it with all three skilled professionals, purchased resonant materials and reducing the level at which he writes by 1 to gain a point of quality. Or say he has com 3 or Good Teacher, and mix and match it all. Say someone with a better Com score and a score of 20 glosses the text...etc, etc, etc. Not hard, and not even all that time consuming.

As Arthur said, and you highlight. Time is the biggest factor here. There is never enough time to do everything that is desired. You wanted an apprentice and at 30 years PG, had to make several adjustments to your development to accommodate that desire. But the rules for sound tractatus don't differ that much as they do for summae. Getting Q9-Q11 tractatus shouldn't be too hard. It's finding the time to read them, and also having the vis on hand to purchase them, and setting up the proper distribution network to acquire them. Yes, the Redcaps are there to take your request, but they have to go hunting far and wide, and I'd say after the first 10 or so, they are going to want to get paid a little extra, and this will cycle through for a while until they want a little more...

Well, no, because a high level summa at level 10 is pretty much the equal to any tractatus, and allows you to delay consuming said tractatus. Summae stop functioning once the person has reached the level limit, but tractatus never do...

At best, you need to take the SQ and divide by at least 2 to factor in the time of the magus teaching, who will likely wish to be paid in time, and probably not a 1 for 1 arrangement. I'd probably start with negotiations of 3 seasons of teaching for 4 or 5 seasons of service. Which means that SQ 21 teacher has an effective SQ of 7.875 per season ([3 seasons*21 SQ per season ]/8). I seriously doubt that you can convince any teacher to teach for mere vis.

A stack of 14 Q15 tractatus is probably the total number of tractatus that exist at that quality level for that particular Art. Oh, wait, no. Referring to Arthur's table and simulation, that's virtually all of the tractatus written on all Arts. :open_mouth:

Well I'm assuming that the Jerbitons often stop hacking away at an art before they hit 20 ("Every spell you'd want to learn is level 30 or lower!"), as that's where it gets really grindy raising the art (even with affinities, you get to the point where it's more than 1 season to get +1 in an Art).

Other specialists will probably tough it out until around 30 and then evaluate their position - after all, arts aren't any good if you don't do something with them other than study them (except for MR and spontaneous magic, woo-hoo). Obviously each magus will have a different evaluation of when 'enough is enough'. For Jerbitons, it's about sufficiency (need), for specialists, it's about desire (want), for the obsessive, it's about obsession. There are very few projects that will require a 40+ art score, except for a L20 Summae.

Eventually you'll have dried up the local sources and there will be time spent either traveling or negotiating access to new tomes. The analysis of Tractatus generation is accurate - lots will have been made, but this doesn't account for loss over time. Cow and Calf rules make copying less attractive than just trading books, so books will get lost/destroyed/forgotten. At some point acquiring novel tractatus will become an issue. The magus will ask himself if spending a year of effort (study + scrounging/favors + vis) is worth a lousy +1 in an Art.

I don't have an issue with what's possible, but magi are people not learning machines. 19 years of study might seem trivial to a magus on paper, but remember that death and twilight can still come pretty easy, and magi, being people, aren't good at taking the long view on things. Obviously there will be driven folk who push to 40+ in arts scores, but I don't think these people will be in the majority.

Again, yes, possible, but Good Teacher and/or positive Communication aren't a given. In fact, I'd argue that someone with Good Teacher or +Com is less likely to reach the upper end of the arts because they'll spend time teaching, writing books or socializing. I think L20 Q15 Summae certainly can exist, but I also think they'll be rare and used according to their value (i.e. access isn't free).

It depends. Sometimes you already have what a magus might want, sometimes you just make friends. Sometimes you completely save their life/reputation/life's work and their gratitude knows no end. I can see older magi wishing to pass on their lofty art scores to their filius to continue a legacy of 'mastery of Art X'. Again, magi are human beings and their motivations go beyond 'power and more power' or 'this for that'. For some of the older, lonelier magi, just spending time listening to them might be payment enough (IRL specialists LOVE yakking about their specialty and/or hobbies). This sort of activity could be considered a very noble thing for an older magus to do - raise the next generation to his level in less time than it took him, so that they can push the arts even further. And it would be great for that magus' reputation, something the older magi take very seriously.

In general, we're in agreement that anyone who really wants to hit 40+ in an art can do so without extraordinary effort aside from time. What I question is how many magi really want to spend that time to hit 40+ when 25 will do for most of their wants and they can spend the time on other things.

Personally, though, I think that Summae/Tractatus need to be re-evaluated, because they don't make a lot of sense as they stand. Some books should be written for beginners, while others should be nearly incomprehensible to any but the most learned. It seems very odd that someone with 40+ in an art can learn anything from a tractatus written by someone with a 5 in an Art. I'd much rather see all books be tractatus with a target level (Art score magnitude, so a target 3 is for 11-15, target 5 is for 21-25) and useless to someone outside the target range (know too much, know too little). Summae would just be collections of tractatus designed for seamless progression. The number of tractatus someone would be able to write would need to be adjusted, as this system is self-limiting anyways (only so many books are useful per bracket).

They tried that back in 4e with a subset of books (Questiones, I think?). It was discarded for being too fiddly.

Arts and Abilities are both wide and deep, and writing a tractatus is different from teaching a course. The way I see it, a tractatus is an in-depth composition of new material, or at least novel analysis and synthesis; writing a tractatus is a season's work, or roughly the equivalent of a thesis project in a modern university, and anyone can learn something new from something like that.

I don't disagree with you. I believe an expert should be able to write a tractatus (or equivalent), with a minimum level requirement to be able to learn from it, and as a counterpart, the tractatus should grant more XP (to represent the fact that it is covering new grounds for specialists, tackling issues that only mage of this level can relate to).

However, the amount of book keeping will be too much to my taste. It might be an nice house rule for a Saga involving several experts, but I know that none of my players will volunteer for managing the library: their virtus store is a post-it floating on the covenant sheet...

Well, when the Jerbiton wants to move to the city with a dominion aura and cast spells with a reasonable degree of certainty and avoid being fatigued, and perhaps avoid making himself be noticed, then higher Art scores become necessary. So, there is a good reason for Jerbiton to have Art scores above 20.

I can tough it out until 25, grinding on the available texts, after that it's exposure until the Art is within striking distance of a new level, and then I throw a tractatus at it to get to the next level. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I did argue in that thread that the Schism war would have dropped that total by 1/3 and was roundly criticized for it. On the other hand, but beyond that, what is a reasonable rate of attrition? Probably 10%? That removes about 50 xp, or less than a 10th of total xp available fromtractatus.

No, I don't think they are necessarily the majority, either, but they are not as rare as the Com 5 Good Teachers in the Order. There is another age/population simulation of the Order out there. If you survive more than a few years past your gauntlet, you're probably going to live to a ripe old age or final Twilight. But even then, 150 is probably a very conservative maximum age for a magus, which is about 120 years of Hermetic Life, let's cut that in half and say a magus reaches a score of 40 in his prime, or has this as his goal, that's 60 years. 19 years out of 60 is pretty close to 1/3.

If Good Teacher or Com aren't a given, then they are at least reasonably likely among the writers of books. Even discounting the positive Com, a Com of 0 can be overcome by dropping the level of the book, which means this is can become a driver for why a magus pushes his Art score well above 40. To be fair, I wasn't even talking about L20Q15 books. That kind of book is limited by a Covenant hook: Exceptional Book. Can they exist? Certainly, but they are even more rare, and are also another worthy goal of a magus who can't quite manage to generate Q15 and increases his Arts sufficiently to write the L20Q15 book.

It depends. Sometimes you already have what a magus might want, sometimes you just make friends. Sometimes you completely save their life/reputation/life's work and their gratitude knows no end. I can see older magi wishing to pass on their lofty art scores to their filius to continue a legacy of 'mastery of Art X'. Again, magi are human beings and their motivations go beyond 'power and more power' or 'this for that'. For some of the older, lonelier magi, just spending time listening to them might be payment enough (IRL specialists LOVE yakking about their specialty and/or hobbies). This sort of activity could be considered a very noble thing for an older magus to do - raise the next generation to his level in less time than it took him, so that they can push the arts even further. And it would be great for that magus' reputation, something the older magi take very seriously.
Sure, you might be able to bargain for 1 season of teaching for 1 season of service and something else that the magus wants. Did that other thing require time to acquire or make? That needs to be considered. If you can see older magi wishing to pass on their Lofty Art for teaching, why can't you see that they would also aspire to write the greatest book ever written on their Art? You make a presumption that older magi are noble in teaching, but why can't they also be noble on pushing themselves to learn more on an Art than anyone else to write that most excellent of tomes on their Art?

Sure, but out of ~1200 magi in the Order, alive today, is it unreasonable to think that there isn't at least 1 who has broken 40 in their favored Art? You question their willingness to do what it takes to get to 40+, which is fair, but that is a character motivation, and you are justifying the reasons they don't based on game mechanics, where most spells can be learned with a much easier mix. Heck MT5, Aura 3 and Int 3 and All Arts at 10 put all 30th level spells within reach. 30th level spells aught to be good enough for everyone right?

Yeah, I don't disagree that they need to be re-evaluated. I dislike the idea of a lot of fiddly bits to keep track of with regards to books. There is a big enough issue of, did I read this Tractatus already, and then adding levels on top of that.
I had started another thread, Breaking Summae that discussed a fundamental transformation of Summae. Their point cost in Covenants is completely at odds with tractatus, since that L20Q10 summa costs as much as 3 Q10 tractatus, it is a bit of a no-brainer to go for the summa, and unless a magus is starting the saga with an Art score close to 20 (I think I calculated that you have to have an art score of 19 to make the book less of a deal than the tractatus), it's always better to go for the highest level you can, especially if the average tractatus quality hovers around that Q10 range.

I can totally see a lot of magi doing just this. Push to the mid 20's and then study opportunistically rather than obsessively.

It's really hard to say. The aces tractatus will be well cared for, but the Q10 stuff will probably attract the notion of "eh, always more where those came from" and end up forgotten and moldering to destruction in a dark corner of a winter covenant or some eremite magus ex miscellanea.

The 'great texts' are certainly impressive, but they don't take anyone past 20-ish, which isn't really an impressive score in an art. The kind of 'handing down' I'm talking about is the 40+ range, and the two aren't mutually exclusive - write that great book, then what? Train your successor up to your level before you pass, which gives him the free time to surpass you. It's the same as any other vanity project, really, only with fewer required resources.

I'd guarantee that there's at least one 40+ guy for any art at any one time. Probably more than one. The number of those inclined to write books and can do it well is significantly lower. Again, I'm not arguing that L20 high quality summae won't exist, but they won't be thick on the ground either. High quality L15 summae, OTOH, are going to be pretty common.

One solution would just allow magi to study tracts repeatedly while inside their range - or rather, treat them as summae inside their range. That minimizes the data tracking to "Is your art between 6 and 10?" rather than "have I read this before?"

Possibly allowing magi to write these texts to 2/3 their score (so someone with a 30 could write a target 16-20 book), and just cap out book study eventually rather than relying on the endless pile of tractatus that the current edition pretty much allows for.

Rather than doing this, I'd be better with just embracing the idea that the Order is awash in tractatus, and these move about the Order relatively easily and can be acquired for a pawn or two of vis. This requires at least some stories for a magus who is pursuing that score of 40 to setup his distribution pipeline(s) and resources. He'll spend a couple of seasons writing the best tractatus that he possibly can, too. And maybe he has to trade two of his for one of theirs, but it still something.

Once you accept that tractatus are largely ubiquitous and there is a consistent cost structure, consider eliminating or adjusting summae as I suggested in Breaking Summae. I really like their use as a teaching aid (adding to the SQ) and as an aid in understanding the experience of using vis to learn more about an Art. There are no real fiddly bits involved, and with respect to teachers, it makes some sense because summae were used as reference materials.

In the way back when, I suggested that the whole library issue can be abstracted, as a combination of library plus communication with the rest of the Order. Books and ideas circulate through the Order like its bloodstream. Then, a covenant's SQ for books simplifies; a well-connected or well-endowed covenant has higher SQ, but poor and/or isolated covenants have pathetic SQ.

This can even be abstracted to a single Quality for all Abilities and Arts, but can also be represented Art/Ability by Art/Ability, each given a median, minimum and maximum SQ (or maybe Poor/Typical/Greater/Legendary), and each level given a maximum value, representing the highest score possible given ME SOTA (going higher requires a breakthrough, whether for an Art or mundane Ability; this might not be needed with the quadratic increase in xp, but I like the flavor of it.)

I'm fine with this idea, though I think in this case either the cost of studying from vis needs to be adjusted or the SQ of studying vis needs to be adjusted. It's really a crappy alternative at the moment.

Maybe summae need to become study aids; the quality of a summae might give you a Source Quality bonus on studies for that art. That makes a summae of any kind always good to have during study, even if it's only a +1 SQ for the poorest grade of Summae.

What I've done for Stealing the Future is that SQ of a summa are added to a teacher's SQ to generate their total SQ. The problem, when reading Art & Academe is that the average teacher had to generate a SQ of 15 for a classoom full of students, which, when you account for the +3 standard bonus means that Com+Teaching+Good Teacher need to be 12! I found that a bit of a stretch to think that basically every teacher at University was a Good Teacher. When a summa is used indpendent of a teacher, the SQ is divided by 5 and it is rounded per my house rule of rounding to the nearest number with .5 going to the even number, in Ars generally rounding is most favorable to the player. So a Q10 summa becomes a SQ of 2 when studying alone. Hardly worth it, go get a tractatus; summae are meant to be aids to teachers. I can also ratchet down overall summae quality in the world without it being a huge deal, since the teacher adds a lot back.

And then with respect to studying vis, summae add their independent SQ to the SQ for studying from vis. It's not a lot, but it is something. I have thought about adjusting the SQ here and dividing by 3 rather than 5...

Well, maybe. Good Teacher is pretty much required to function as an academic (without it your books are generally poor), and one would think that those with Good Teacher would gravitate towards university teaching positions. To put it another way, only the folks who can generate a SQ15 get to become university teachers. Other things to consider include Puissant Teaching, and if laboratories can grant bonuses to teaching SQ it's a safe bet that honest-to-goodness classrooms would too. But I agree that SQ15 is non-trivial for an entire classroom.