I'm thinking about starting up a new saga, and I want to include the idea of Realia (from Covenants) as alternatives to text. However, while I can find guidelines for using realia and rules for purchasing them using build points, I'm not seeing rules for magi creating realia in play. Am I missing something? Does anyone have any suggestions for rules/guildlines for magi collecting realia. Could someone just spend a season wandering around the countryside looking for special objects? If they can, how would we determine how much as found and thus the resulting quality of the realia?
Realia are a story reward, primarily. A magus who just wanders looking for stuff basically only finds low level stuff, although over time I suppose his enormous collection of butterflies could be worth something as a study tool.
My suggestions are:
If you really want to encourage realia, then a realius is just as good as a book: use craft skills to make and interpret it, in place of scribe.
If you like them, but think that libraries basically rock in Ars, then make them like the above, but cut their value back by a percentage that suits you.
If you want them to be a treasure, then when a magus dies, the geegaws he has collected make a realia in his prefered art equal to a fraction of his score. Chose your own fraction. If the PCs have a good story, then one item they take as treasure in that story is a realius.
Ok-ish... Might help if I explain what it is I'm trying to accomplish...
I've got this image in my head of a "hedge magic" saga but using the core magic rules. I'm imagining folk wizards who don't rely on books (because they're basically illiterate) but instead advance their magic by studying plants, rocks, animals, etc. I'm seeing the crazy old hermit in the cave who wanders around looking for the "perfect" plant or rock or creature, then bringing it back and studying it to gain greater magical understanding.
For my two cents, Realia are odd and unusual, much in the same way that Vis items are. Have them contain Vis, and make the players choose between knowledge and power. It would also make the players very careful about "sharing" this "book".
The way I understand it, an enormous collection of unremarkable butterflies is probably only good enough to identify butterflies. However, add a few unique and informative butterflies, and it might be studied as a tractatus for an appropriate Art/Ability (Auram, Imaginem, and Philosophiae are all good candidate). For a saga based on realia, given how difficult a high quality realia is to assemble and the fact that it is still not as good as a good summa, you might allow that collection to count for all three separately.
The question is therefore: just how difficult is it to collect a "unique and highly informative" (as per Covenants p.102) butterfly. There are no rules, but it seems to me that a dedicated collector could spend weeks or even months of searching to find just one, even allowing for magic use in tracking and capturing the butterfly. That makes creating anything but the most basic realia a matter of years or decades...
Although the fact that it is an enormous collection is remarkable.
Personally, I'm pretty happy with characters being able to create low level realia by spending a season fooling about in the forest collecting acorns or whatever --- particularly if they have invented some clever spells to assist. But there comes a point where just adding more acorns isn't going to cut it, and to grow the realia further will require some unique (probably) magical specimens.
As Timothy suggested, I think of realia samples as more of a "treasure". For example, while the characters are busy out and about hunting dragons some of the dragon "artifacts" they discover (skulls, footprints, scorch marks, whatever) can be collected and filed back at the covenant as a realia collection on Ignem (or whatever is appropriate). If the magi are interested in collecting realia, it tends, I think to be something that happens incidentally while they are doing other stuff.
LuciusT, thinking about your idea of hedge wizards literally mucking through hedges etc to discover specimens. I would just abstract this as a Seasonal Activity, Collecting Stuff. Make it worth 2 XP exposure to the wizard, and allow them to grow the realia Source Quality by some amount. Perhaps add 5 XP to the Source Quality of the collection, and grow the realia Source Quality like it was an Ability (or Art?) or do something similar.