It uses really nice fail forward mechanics, which are lovely to behold. I really enjoy the way that a failed bargain simply turns into an excellent chance to tell an adventure story. I also really like your table, I feel like it covers a lot of interesting wizard needs.
In my longest running game, we often lamented the lack of structured rules to help guide what kinds of resources are available and how difficult they are to gain.
I may use this the next time I start a solo game and give you any feedback I get.
... and still you want the system to generate more stories?
I have improved. We are now running steadily at 1-1½ sessions per season, which I agree is slow, but it is forward-going. It does mean, however, that we cannot tell all the stories that I think should happen. Hence, there is a need for mechanics which balances this.
In general yes. But sometimes you really need a rosemary of virtue (or whatever) to get on with the really interesting story and dont want to get sidetracked with a story of how to get one.
From my reading of the OP, the current system is designed for these situations where you cannot just give the thing for free and dont have time to tell a story about getting it. Which is where a system to determine by roll if you can acquire the thing is useful.
If it is really vital to the story, then I would just let money/vis plus a couple of redcap visits solve it. My players wanted to get obsidian candles on the down low, so the Verditius just ordered it from the head office in Sardinia and then did some ReTe on it. Because the corollary would be, you make the roll, and if you fail and now we are having a story anyway, since you need the seabuckthorn horseshoe anyway.
What I really wanted wasn't a system that totally avoided stories, but which randomised and abstracted it a bit and which could remove the binary "either do a story about it or just give it for free" that my group had been using.
We play very heavily in the troupe style, and when every decision is a group decision sometimes (we find) it's nice to have an abstract system that can make an unimportant decision for us. So really the intent is to make a mechanical way of establishing an answer to someone asking "Character X wants this item - should it be unavailable, need a story to get, or just be given to them?".
The OP is a bit vague because I was fishing for any broadly related house rules or systems and I figured there was a better chance of a reply if I cast a wide net. Also since then I actually tried to write some rules for it and that clarified the problem and solution in my own head.
You could tweak it to this for a faster/no-story system:
Botch - you can't get it
Fail - you can get it but you have to pay more (examples: double bp cost, it takes years to arrive, you have to trade one of your existing items or lab texts for it)
I'll be frank, the last thing I want is to need to play a story to buy an uncommon lab text. Being able to roll to see if you find someone to procure something is usually a good thing. There are usually more important stories to run than wondering who can craft you a magical lamp for your covenant's corridor as well. This is Ars Magica, not Home Renovation Contracting Simulator.
I often get into discussions with NPCs about trading for lab texts and finding people to do things. Maybe the storyguides I've played with love using these as a way to fill time or keep characters busy, but it does give you an incentive to interact with others and get involved in Hermetic gossip and politics.
yeah, that can be interesting. I do roleplay with other covenants, and of course, lab text purchases / trades can be discussed, but I don't necessarily a roleplaying scene as being a story. and very often, if I look for something specific, it's handled through the redcap network.