What would be the problems with the following idea:
Instead of single-subject-per-season writing, I'm wondering if a more interesting approach would be for a magus or other scholor to simply come up with a "writing total" and then allocate xp in that total to various topics. For example, Busybody Guernici has a COM of +2 and writes a tractatus entitled "A Critique of the Rhine Tribunal Proceedings in 1222". In the old rules, he would have to allocate all the points to, say, Intrigue whereas under the modification I am proposing the player or storyguide responsible for teh character could declare that the text awards 5 points in Intrigue and 3 in Order of Hermes Lore arguing that the book names names and thier presumed political motivations.
Setting aside resonance issues for magical texts or other Quality bumps, what do you think?
It sounds similar to the guidelines for multiple lab activities.
Is the benefit of the suggestion to allow multiple topics to be written about simultaneously, which grants a potential saving of seasons for writing books where the creator has high literacy in the topics and high communication?
Perhaps the real trick is working out if a book can be written in this manner and still have a reasonable end effective level. The Guernici mentioned is accumulating 7 pts per season to his book (Com 2 + Lang 5), and has a final target level of Intrigue Level 3, Quality 8 (6 + Com). That would be he needs 15 points to create the book, which is three seasons of work.
Using the new suggestion the author could also add Order of Hermes Lore level:1 quality:8, into the same book which requires 5 points to create in the same 3 seasons.
Looks fine to me, as I can't see a major wrought.
There might be an issue where the text is unclear because it has too many target skills. ie. The text is trying to educate about too many topics at the same time, therefore may be unclear? An work around would be to set the author's communication as the maximum number of topics which can be written about at once, with a minimum of one.
Perhaps the rules for increasing quality by writing at less than half your Level need to apply to both? ie. The author can only gain a quality bonus if they can write on both topics at the same level on increased quality.
I actually like it. It's a simple system that makes sense. I do see a couple of issues that might have to be sorted out at some point.
For instance how such a book interacts with virtues like Elemental Magic an Secondary Insight. Can a character reading such books double dip with a book that teaches multiple arts in a season. So for instance if a Tractati provided 1 point in each of the 5 techniques, would a character with Secondary Insight gain 25 total experience points from reading it or 9. Or the Book Learner virtue. Does that bonus double dip or get divided up.
Also what about bonuses from things that effect individual copies like quality Scribing, good Illumination, or inversely bad copying and wear and tear? Where and how would those modifiers be distributed.
From a practical standpoint readers will be less interested in a book unless they want to invest in all the skills it provides. Or to look at it from an incharacter standpoint "This really could have been a great Summa on Magic Theory if the author didn't keep digressing into Theology"
IMOS we've approached distributed books a little differently. Books can have multiple scores but they take longer to write. So a character could write a book that is both a Tractitus on Intrigue and a Summa on Order of Hermes Lore. But it will take as long to write as each individual book alone would have taken combined +1 season. For the extra trouble each score gets a bonus to it's quality of +1. (Three or more subjects take an extra 3 seasons and get a +2 bonus) That bonus isn't compatible with resonances. We sort of explain it as a non-magical resonance.
In our system you can still only study one subject per season. (We used to say it had to be done in a set order decided on by the author but we dropped that rule)
The XP bonuses from virtues for study would only apply to the skill studied for the season. A book can have two Abilities within it, but a reader still only studies one at a time, so the XP bonus would only apply to one Ability or Art.
I'm not familiar enough with the advanced book rules to take a guess at how they would be affected.
I think writing an unfocused book (i.e. three or more abilities/arts) will be it's own punishment for reasons of reputation and trading potential, perhaps. If someone wanted to write a book called "C is for Creo" and dumped only 2 points from thier, say, 10 point total into each Technique, that would be fine rules-wise and he would have to deal with the mature magi at Tribunal as a result ("Oh, you were the one that wrote that apprentice's book!"). Note, that actually may not be a bad thing, necessarily. Consider the case where you are playing an apprentice and every point makes a difference... But I agree that a mature magus would likely be very frustrated at spending even 1 pawn on such a text.
Good point about Book Learner, by the way. Try this on for size: "For multiple-topic books, the player may select to split the three extra points in the manner of thier own choosing among the available topics."
Right now, my thinking regarding mundane bumps (good illumination, glossing, etc.) would only boost the dominant topic. As for magical bumps, I'm leaning towards to being flexible insofar as to allowing any appropriate ones, but maintianing other limits in place.
Where I run into problems is with the "Study Requirement" flaw. If some Bonisagus wrote a book that dwelt on the interaction between Mentem and Imaginem showing examples of how one accomplishes the same effect with each art, the student magus would have to makes sure thier environment included the right level of "props" in both Arts so as to realize the full benefit of the text (or would maybe need to study it twice, which opens another can of worms).
I think a book which grants max level 3-5 in a set of Arts would be very useful for Magi when training apprentices. It might be story fluff, but that type of book is certainly what I would expect an Apprentice to use when learning arts. I agree it would be very cheap to purchase, and probably hard to justify in terms of the time spent in writing in-play. Story wise though, it feels useful.