Research Argument

I'm having an argument with one of the other troupe members who insists that he can achieve many more breakthrough points by not inventing an effect. (He also claims he can choose not to 'finish' an invention.)

To clarify, he thinks that every season he spends Stabilizing an effect that doesn't result in failure gives him breakthrough points, so he designed an effect 1 level below his maximum lab total to gain a fairly large number of magnitudes.

As I recall, you must actually invent the effect and spend an equal number of seasons Stabilizing, which only gives ONE discovery at the end of it.

(It's been suggested moments ago he could do roughly the same thing with a charged item, though he'd obviously still have to finish it, and it'd have to fit in a charged item's effect range.)

Also, I'm wary about letting someone jump past required virtues. Is that even legal by the official ruleset? If it is, then why do the lesser virtues exist in the first place?

That doesn't sound right. I will look it up at home tonight. But in any case, he still suffers warping from the proccess.

Will read up and respond tomorrow

You are partially right, he is completely wrong.

Basically in the first 1 or more seasons of the original research process, the desired Breakthrough (minor, Major, Hermetic) must be declared and then worked into some form of Hermetic laboratory invention (spell, enchantment, or process (i.e Vis Extraction) which incorporates standard hermetic formulas)).

The time it takes to actually achieve the invention (discovery) may be one season or more, but if more than one, the Risk modifier chosen for the first season remain constant for all additional seasons. Since this is Original Research (as per Bonisagus Chapter- HOH:TL, pp 26-30) and not routine experimentation, the Risk Modifier chosen:

  1. Is limited by the magus' MT score. For every 5 levels or fraction thereof of MT, the magus may add +1 to his Risk modifier for the Extraordinary Results rolls. Thus (as per the example in the book) for a Risk modifier of +/-2 the minimum MT score is 6. for +/-3 a minimum score of 11 is required.

  2. Is NOT added to the Lab Total for the season but used more flexibly in Original Research than it is with normal experimentation as regards the Extraordinary Results table. In this case, all or part of the chosen modifier may be added to or subtracted from the ER roll to help arrive at a "discovery" result. So a magus who chooses +2 Risk modifier at the start of the research process may apply a +/-2 or +/-1 when he/she rolls on the ER Table during each season of the initial invention period (lasting 1 or more seasons).

Now, this done (hopefully with a "discovery" result) the invention itself (spell, enchantment, etc) is successfully invented (or not depending on the first result from the ER table).

Provided he/she does get a "discovery" result during the invention phase, from there on it is the "discovery" itself that the magus will be devoting time to stabilising by hopefully repeating the "discovery" result.

The discovery subsection of the ER chart is ignored when doing Original Research for Breakthrough purposes.

The Stabilisation period must last for as many seasons as did the invention period. All aspects must be copied exactly including amounts of vis used and Risk modifiers applied. If the Risk modifier was added to the ER roll before it must be added in the stabilisation phase, if subtracted then it must be subtracted this time round as well.

You dont need to roll a discovery to succeed in stabilising the previous discovery, only avoid any harmful results. If the result is harmful one (Disaster, No Benefit, Complete Failure) then the stabilisation process fails . The original invention is not affected, having already been completed successfully but the esoteric insights sought are lost through this particular invention. The magus is free to create a new process by which to achieve his desired insights but he must start again, devoting 1 or more seasons to the invention phase and hope for another discovery result before proceeding to the stabilisation period.

If the stabilisation is successful, then he/she accumulates 1 Breakthrough point per magnitude of the invented spell/enchantment/process, etc.

When he/she reaches a certain point threshold determined by the SG, the breakthrough is achieved.

Generally it takes several invention/discovery/stabilisation cycles for a single major or hermetic breakthrough, each one fraught with likely failure and repetition at any stage.

So if your player thinks it is just some number crunching exercise he is in for a rude awakening and many, many, many, many sleepless seasons in the Lab. :smiling_imp:


Yes yes, we know all about Risk Modifiers and how they're supposed to apply. Ignoring Discovery section, yes.

However, could you clarify these particular questions with specific examples:
First one: If you're inventing a large effect (say, a level 80 spell with a lab total of 81) and you get a Discovery on the first try (risk modifier aid or whatever), must you continue to invent the spell for the next 79 seasons before you can Stabilize your Discovery, or can you start trying immediately?

Next question: You're inventing a level 60 effect with a lab total of 80 (so it ends up taking four seasons) and get your discovery on the fourth (so as not to interfere with the previous question); you would spend 4 seasons stabilizing it, as stated on page 28. Do you gain 12 Breakthrough points each season you do not fail, or just 12 Breakthrough points at the end of 4 seasons of not failing?
If the answer to this is the former, does going into Wizard's Twilight from the Warping of a successful Stabilization interrupt the remaining seasons?

Lastly: Can Breathroughs be used to bypass required Virtues? If someone who had no Hermetic Alchemy and no Lesser Elixer wanted the Greater Elixer Virtue, for example, and wanted to invent it by original research. (He already acquiesced to this one - I put my foot down on it - but I wish to know if it's official or not.)

The rules on Original Research suggest quite clearly that the invention phase is a process in itself. That is to say that one must first observe the RAW regarding standard laboratory activities (spell/effect creation). In this process, the chance of success is increased only by the unique function of the Risk Modifier as you already understand it to be used.

IF one absurdly attempts to bite off more than one's Lab Total will allow him/her to digest in a short period (1 or 2 seasons) in a bid to max out on potential Breakthrough points, then the process is practically doomed to failure from the outset, simply because the invention process demands a roll on the ER Table [b][u]every[/b][/u] season devoted to it.

This means that whilst one might get away with one season of non-negative result (as defined in my previous post's Bonisagus chapter citation) and hopefully get the "discovery" result by the end of the alloted invention timeframe, deliberately protracting that timeframe to some absurd level will only invite disaster and bring it to a wasted end long before the actual invention is completed. The "discovery" sought is not the invention itself but insight that one achieves in the course of completing the invention. The invention itself requires whatever number of seasons is dictated by the lab total and the level of the invention itself. That's standard Laboratory RAW and inescapable.

So whilst he may not like it, the path of least resistance is Keep it simple, stupid!

No, that would take 3 seasons since the difference between the Lab total and project level is 20, thus 20 points/season toward the target level of 60.

This really is an odd question since the Original Research section states quite clearly that the actual Breakthrough points are not awarded until one succeeds in stabilising the "discovery" made during the invention phase of the process. Thus the magus first spends THREE seasons to attempt to discover some new aspect of hermetic or magic theory by putting his/her idea into some creation (spell or enchantment) AND THEN spends an equal amount of time hoping to replicate the process by avoiding any negative result on the ER Table in the stabilsation phase. Only at the very end of it all (6 seasons later in this example) would he/she emerge with 12 breakthrough points.

Since the answer is the latter this question is moot. However, as it points out clearly on page 28, if one season of a multiple season stabilisation phase results in a failure(no benefit for example), you may continue to devote successive seasons to the attempt to stabilise the discovery until you succeed (that is dont fail spectacularly) or get a Disaster (and possibly die or destroy your lab/covenant as a result).

This is why the same section also clearly advises that the best way to reduce the risk of Twilight is to keep invention levels to minimum, and resign your magus to a lengthy series of invention/stabilisation projects toward the final objective. Trying to mess with too much magic too quickly is (as said before) inviting disaster with open arms.

Well this seems a bit beyond the pale. I cannot speak to this question authoritatively because the breakthrough section doesnt specifically rule it out (although it may be discussed elsewhere). If you wish to treat a given Virtue as some form of mystery to be learned then sure, Original Research is one way, albeit a rather overly risky way, of obtaining it. I would suggest that simply going the Initiations route would be far more flavourful for a character and provide many more story opportunities than season upon season in the lab. YMMV.

Hope that answers your questions :slight_smile:

Yes, thank you, exactly what I needed.
And yeah, I miscalculated that, sorry.
60/3 is 20, durr.

(He basically wants to become an immortal dragon. I figure it'll require a path of Virtues, so I used Greater Elixer as an example, which was one of his earlier ideas.)

I'm with Boxer. However, I agree the RAW is not as clear as it could be on the matter. I consider the OR rules to be poorly written and to suffer from some undesirable artifacts. Oh well.

I would suggest artificially increasing the number of breakthrough points needed. This is fully supported by the RAW, which gives the SG leeway in deciding how many points are needed. Otherwise, OR is just too easy.

I would actually further suggest carefully thinking about the rules and modifying them. I've previously made my own suggestion, based on the Ancient Magic rules, but at any rate - the current rules are just confused, poorly written, and create all sorts of strange artifacts (like desiring to work in low auras, forbidding OR for old magi, and so on). [You are aware of the errata, BTW, right? It doesn't relate to your questions, but does improve the rules somewhat.]

Regarding the ability to transcend the pre-required Virtues - I think the RAW does seem to allow it, but personally as an SG I would probably not. Instead, I would have the player discover - to his surprise - the first virtue instead of the major one - leading him down the path to acquiring all the virtues, in order.