Study and Books

I have a player harping on me about something she sees as an inadequacy in the advancement system in the 5th Edition, And I can't really say I blame her.

Noticeable in the 5th Edition that was lacking as a cross-over game mechanic from 4th Edition, is the adding of both Intelligence and Concentraiton to the total experience one receives from the various forms of study.

In 4th edition I as a player took this to the extreme, usually quite happy to start the game with Intelligence[Book lEarner] :3 + Concetration[Studying] :5 (Yes having the specialty in Int was different form the Virtue), and regualrly adding 10 exp to my study totals on top of what I was getgin from my source. I discovered this rather "late" in the game, so to speak, fortunately for all concerned.

Now my issue is this. While I think the lack of Concentration(Which I actually never quite understood honestly in the first place) adding to the Study totals in the 5th Edition was a good choice, I do wonder at the lack of adding Intelligence.

My player; rightly so I believe, feels that since the learning totals are limited by the level of the source, that someone of higher intellect SHOULD be able to garner more out of a source in a given study period than a person of lower Intellect. She's not saying she shold have the right to learn more Levels from a source than the source offers in Level, just that her character's higher intellect should be able to reach the conclusion faster.

I am inclined to House-rule that one should add their Intelligence score to the various totals gained from Study, but I am curious to know why it is conspicuously absent form the newer rules?

Was that intentional and why iof so? Or was it left out and should have been there?

Is there some game balance reason you believe I should NOT make this house-rule?

I have checked the Errerata for any mention of this, and not come across an answer. Did I miss it?

And that's represented by having the appropriate virtue or flaw, making it somewhat more exceptional than an additional point of Int.

I am pretty certain desemphasizing Int was deliberate. Prior to that, it was the characteristing you just had to pump regardless of the type of character you were creating. There really is no reason why Int alone should provide that bonus. After all, a greater Sta lets you practice and study longer, doesn't it?

Notice also that Intelligence is gone from spontaneous casting (it uses Stamina). It only remains in Lab Totals.

Now you can play a character with a negative Int who is not any more handicapped than one with negative Dex. Before that, I know I had characters who had a positive Int no because I wanted them to be geniuses, but just because of the extra experience. :unamused:

When you look at the average source qualities, you notice that even one point is a rather significant bonus or penalty: characters are supposed to get 15 points per year on average, 10 if Poor (major flaw), 20 if Wealthy (major virtue). A one point difference in Int modifies that total by 20% to 40%, between one and two extra/fewer seasons. This also makes a character with -3 Int a complete vegetable, and severely restricts the range of "usable" Int.

It was, I believe, a deliberate choice. There were several reasons why it might have been made. Here are my thoughts

It may have been done in the effort to make the advancement rules more simple and coherent. The fourth edition rules were complex enough that some found them to be unwieldy. The fifth edition rules are more simple and consistent but they lost a little bit of nuance.

I believe that there was some desire to see the advancement system slowed down. Removing intelligence and concentration did this (although the quality of books was adjusted upwards a bit, so there isn't as big of a gap as all of that).

Intelligence was in, many ways, significantly more important than other stats in the game. Removing the use of intelligence for studying books (and casting spontaneous magic) made for a wider variety of reasonable magus characters. People now had the option of playing characters without high intelligences without hobbling power.

If I were going to add intelligence back into study totals I might drop al book qualities by one or two across the board.

Incidentally, I think you should look at Skill + Stat totals rather than Skill alone. When a master craftsman makes something, it matters little what part of his score comes from where: the test doesn't discriminate between the two. It could be a skill of 9 (225 xp) and a stat of 0, or a skill of 6 (105 xp) and a stat of +3. Each point increase in stat represents a 5 point reduction in the experience cost of each skill rank.

Yes, the character with a +3 stat could reach even higher a level, should he care to, but he could also branch out and learn something else. I think it reflects how people learn. Look at students: the "smart" ones coast lazily, doing just enough to make the grade, leaving teachers crying at how much better they could be if they only bothered to work some more. Does that sound familiar to any of you?

Only in Mythic Europe do people schedule their studies to optimally extract the very last drop of meaning out of the books they come by... :unamused:

Amusingly, when you take that point of view, if a skill has both a theoretical (Int) and practical (Dex) component, you can explain that your character skipped part of the curriculum, which explains why he's good at theory (Int+Skill=9), but only OK at practice (Dex+Skill=6).

"After all, a greater Sta lets you practice and study longer, doesn't it?"

I'm guesing this might be why concentration was in the 4th edition, since they couldn;t break the 1 stat + 1 skill rule it was easier to do Int+Con as the total. Npw that you mention it that way, I suppose I can see why it was there that way in 4th Edi. I still don't like it though(4th Ed-wise)

"This also makes a character with -3 Int a complete vegetable, and severely restricts the range of "usable" Int."
"People now had the option of playing characters without high intelligences without hobbling power."

These two statements, I think more than anything else bother me a great deal.I have always assumed Mages wee learned and highly intellectual people, and as it stated in a previous book in the past. Mages in Ars Magica are the only characters in just about any game where knowledge itself translates directly into power, and the more knowledgebale a person is, the more powerful they are.

I would think it would perfectly obvioous a smarter Mage would be more powerful than a stupid one. You might point to smart people being lazier, but they also come to their knowledge easier, and are quicker to gain insight into what they are doing that someone who is less intelligent than they are.

This would be why I wonder so heavily t the totallack of distinction between a [Int :+1-+2]smart person and what amount to a damn near [Int :-3]Retard(so to speak) Even in our time the two just don't have ther same ability to learn. or reasoning faculties. Baring some unadulterated natural talent{which Virtues represent] don't you honestly think their "should" be some form of mehcnical distinction between the two levels of intellect?

I realize I am semming to argue with you opinion on this. It's not the case really, it;s more a projection of my thoughts on the reasons you have given, they seem incongrous to me, and I am looking for a good reason for me to stop thinking the way I am about this.

If it's about game mechnics purely and no other reason, that's one thing. TO me hoever if it's about People of differing INt having the same capacities, I don't buy it. Yet.

"Incidentally, I think you should look at Skill + Stat totals rather than Skill alone. When a master craftsman makes something, it matters little what part of his score comes from where: the test doesn't discriminate between the two. It could be a skill of 9 (225 xp) and a stat of 0, or a skill of 6 (105 xp) and a stat of +3. Each point increase in stat represents a 5 point reduction in the experience cost of each skill rank. "

See this makes me wondfer. If two people are skileld at something. Would it not make sense to you that a far more intelligent person would be able to do thingsd far easier than a person with less INtelligence(No, I don't mean physical ability) Unless each level of a skill represents a certain degree of proficency... which they apparently don't {I.E. 5 is a professional at this skill, or 2 or 3 is a journeyman] Then total skill is the only concern. I personally see a smarter person being perfectly legitimate at having the same total skill ability as a lesser int person who has the same amount of skill total skill ability, and both being of the same proficieny.

That statement might however fall apart in the face of a pshycial challenge of extreme differing stats... A person with say Sta :3 and Carouse :3, is probably always going to be able to drink a person under the table who has a Sta-2: Carouse :3, Someone hobbled with a bad foot isn't going to outrun a marathon runner by chance just because both can someonhow mechanically add up thier scores t the same level of proficiency... Then again I suspect my job as the person running the game would be to tell the person with the Sta :_2, "You can't take that combination."

Does any of what i am saying make any sense?

There is. Every single lab total that the character generates is based on intellegence. The smarter characrer can invent more powerful spells, invent spells of the same power more quickly, , understand more difficult laboratory texts, discern greater secrets when investigating magic items, enchant more powerful devices, enchant devices more quickly,, and enchant a more powerful familiar.

Intellegence probably the most important stat for magi inthe game. To say that the game does not provide any mechanical distinction for it is...incorrect.

I think that this is what Fruny was getting at when he advised you to consider stat + skill rather than just skill. The diferences that you want to ascribe to high intellegence come out in play, you just don't see them in the study totals.

But really; you should adjust the source qualities down and add intellegence to the advancement totals. Your previous post gives the impression or miss-impression that this is something that bothers you greatly. (Which doesn't seem to bein line with the required effort to resolve the issue).

Intellegence is itself an abstraction and as a game mechanic it is inevitably an absraction of an abstraction. I haven't worried about it in my game but I can see where you're comming from.

I don't think that you'll see a big influx of stupid magi characters in the published material, so adding this house rule to your game won't reduce the utility of any of the rest of the Ars resources out there.

Yes, they are learned (skilled), but do they really all have superior intelligence? I doubt it.

Mages in Ars Magica are the only characters in just about any game where knowledge itself translates directly into power, and the more knowledgebale a person is, the more powerful they are.

Yes, and the smarter mage will get a bonus to rolls involving intelligence. And to lab totals. The difference simply isn't as outrageous as it was before.

Well, then you have a choice, either be lazy and buy a lower skill level, relying on your Int to tide you through, or buy the higher skill level and shine by adding your Int on top. The fact that you can get by with a lower skill dus to the bonus does represent the fact that you can pick things up much faster. Remember that skill costs aren't linear. With the same effort as someone with a 0 Int would need to reach a stat+skill of 9, someone with a +3 Int can get a 12. Or he can reach 9 for less than 60% of the effort.

There already is: the character with +3 Int gets a +3 bonus to rolls involving Int, while the character with a -3 Int gets a -3 penalty. But I don't see why a low Int should make it harder to learn, say, Underwater Basket Weaving. It will make coming up with new designs more difficult, yes (Int + Craft), but not actually making baskets (Dex + Craft).

Modifiers to the ability to learn are controlled by virtues and flaws. That's all. What a high Int buys you is the ability to be proficient in a wider variety of academic fields. The XP bonus is built into the non-linear scale. At the low end, an Int of +1 allows you to get a (total) skill of +2 in three skills, while someone with Int 0 could only afford one. Or you can buy just one skill and have a +3. Less intelligent people can be just as proficient, but in a more limited area, and will still be outmatched by the smart specialist.

But a higher Int will not help you with your sword drills, except in that it gives a scholar the option to ease up a bit on his studies to free more time for other activities.

No offense taken. I could just as well argue the opposite position were the mechanics different. :smiley:

It is indeed in great part a mechanics issue. In past editions, a character with a negative Int was crippled, regardless of his occupation, while a character with a positive Int got a free pass at just about anything. It was out of proportion with the other stats. I'm just trying to rationalize the mechanics, and I kinda like my interpretation. :stuck_out_tongue:

And they don't. Bonus. Penalty. Remember?

If by equally skilled, you mean "have spent the same amount of effort" (xp), then yes, if Int is relevant to the task at hand.

To become a master, a journeyman had to realize a masterpiece (Dex+Craft). An academic could undergo an examination (Int+Lore), or write a treatise (Com+Lore). Different stats are emphasized depending on the field, but the measure is that of skill+stat, not of skill alone. Unless, of course, you devise an examination where the candidate has to answer questions (Int), write a thesis (Com) and present a project (Dex). Then you may have a better grasp of their actual "skill". In my eyes, a professional is the one who has stat+skill of 5, not necessarily a skill of 5.

Yup, the Sta -2 guy is working to make up for his handicap while the Sta +3 guy is playing to his strengths. Not a big surprise here. It would take him 12 years of constant conditioning (skill 8 for 8-2=6, 180xp at 15xp/year) to become as resilient in this limited domain as what the other could do (3+3=6) after two years of practice. This is as it should be. There is no need to stack on an additional XP modifier, much less one based on Int.

Then you should look for a different game system, because that's exactly what is allowed: we're squarely in the "Turtle and Hare" domain here. :slight_smile: What you need to have a serious look at is the cost of becoming reasonably proficient when you have a stat penalty. And we're not even talking about becoming competitive with people who do have a bonus...

Now of course, being hobbled would be a flaw that would make you literally incapable of running. Having a low Qik doesn't immediately disqualify you, just like Int doesn't affect the process of of learning.

If you deem your character is able to learn more efficiently due to his intelligence, buy the Virtue. A better stat isn't in and of itself sufficient.

As for the chance for the underdog to beat the marathonist, well... it's a game. You could always roll a bunch of 1s. :smiley:

You can, but you just spent 30xp to get a (total) skill of 1. If that's what you want, so be it. But your character will probably be somewhat bitter at how much work he had to put in when others just breeze through. Or proud of his achievements. Or completely oblivious. :unamused:

Well, I would differ with this as RL has proven...

A good friend of mine has "Rocket scientist" intelligence...
I used to beat him all the time at chess....
Other strategy games were similar with a 70/30 (my favor) win ratio.
Another mutal friend of our (Eye surgeon), said that Friend 1 was much smarter than HE was, but his ability to remember stuff was better...

It really depends on how your Int manifests itself..

Mechanically, it's also worth remembering that +4 and +5 Int are now only one and two minor virtues, respectively. In Ars4 (as I recall), they were +2 and +4 virtues. High Int may be slightly less useful, but it's also less expensive.

Actually that was only fourth edition. No previous editions took ntellegence into account when awarding experience points either.

My memories of the 3rd edition saga I played in are warm and fuzzy... very fuzzy. Though I do remember that I was very guilty of the Sin of Min-maxing.

It was a deliberate choice.

First, Concentration had to go; Int + Concentration got too high, and broke the advancement. (There was general consensus that advancement in Fourth Edition was too fast; I know because I asked.)

We did playtest formulae that included Int, or other Characteristics depending on the Ability in question, but, essentially, a potential 6-point difference per season was just too big. Numbers that were reasonable for people with +3 Int implied that characters with -3 Int (not just magi; grogs) would never be able to speak their native language fluently.

In the end, the only practical way to keep the system balanced was to move the bonuses and penalties purely to Virtues and Flaws; the other possibilities became over-complicated.

I like the AM5 way. I like especially the divergent options opening up for new characters. My first AM5 magus was a simpelton, just for the fun of it :slight_smile:

I always find these kind of arguments amusing, as I think it is only a matter of interpreting the mechanics and interpretation can take you anywhere you want. That said, here are my views on the "realism" involved.

I think the AM4 adding of Concentration was very realistic. I know from personal experience that the one thing that slow me down most is my lack of concentration and determination - like right now, when I'm writing down posts on Ars Magica instead of working on my next paper/presentation.

I think adding Int also makes sense, as people who can remember and analyze better do learn (academic) skills faster.

I don't bother justifying the AM5 method, but if I think that as Fruny keeps hammering in the Stat+Skill total is different. In a given period the character with the higher Int did get to be much better (at those areas where the stat is relevant).

Also, I don't really see why Int should be the ability determining whether you advance in mystical know-how. I disagree that knowing the Forms is "knowledge". Certainly, no knowledge or intellectual skill I've ever picked up allowed me to resist fire. The mental skills that allow walking on coals, for example, seem to me to be better acquired through introspection (Perception?), force of will (Stamina?), or so on. I can certainly see these charactaristics as being far more critical in learning mystical insights than the bland and mundane Int. This isn't quantum physics you're picking up, it's a process of internal change as much as (if not more than) a process of learning.

I actually find Concentration far more hard to set aside. Regardless of how you come to learn or acquire your skill (i.e. whatever stat is relevant), your determination and amount of investment is critical. Concentration, or perhaps personality traits, seem best to represent this.


Talking of previous editions, and their treatment of the intelligence characteristic, there was, in ArM's 3rd edition, an explicit connection made in the flavour text between the gift and higher intelligence. I don't have the rulebook to hand for reference, but, in a book overflowing with dreadful purple prose, the paragraphs on the nature of the gift contain some of the most hilariously overwrought writing I've ever seen in a roleplaying game. It's interesting, though by no means inexplicable, that this connection has disappeared from the game's background in its 4th and 5th editions.

you obviously never met a Concentration-minmax-student...

Consider what would happen in 5e if we added Conc to Study Totals, and then have a character with Puissant Concentration (+2 to Conc) and Affinity With Concentration (+50% XP).
Start with a decent whack of XP in Conc.
Take a few seasons to study Books on Concentration, adding the ever increasing Conc as we go... (don't forget 5e unifies all study - and that the real ME had books on Crafts and "how to study" - so 5e is more accurate with book areas than 4e's "only academic abilities")

Now go study books etc on Arts etc.

5e often breaks apart the abstraction of mechanics into multiple areas - to get the fullest extent of a broad-ranging area of real life, you need to take a package of virtues - if you don't want the full package, remember you have done so and note in your characetr description the areas of strength and deficit.

Here, what we describe as "concentrated study" becomes Apt Student or Free Study or other study Virtues.

Since David has broken cover on what and why the change was, I can say that I helped with the analysis of the numbers and strongly support David's decision.
If you track theoretical students through multiple study runs, with and without bonuses from Int or Conc, you get alarming results. Even worse if the best and keenest students write books targetted at raising the next generation of students - the whole thing goes into runaway escalation.

Trust me - it does! (And it might not seem to matter when you consider the junior magi you have in your home covenant, but don't forget those crusty 100-150yr old magi who have been building up Conc since their Gauntlet.

[And the same calculations applied to the rules that ended up in 5e for Writing books, too, as to what did and didn't add...]

In ArM the total ability of the character does progress higher, with the benefit from Base Characteristic rather than (Academic) Int. (And as David says, we experimented with Study adding the Base characteristic of an Ability when studying rather than always and only the Uber-stat of Int).

A charcater who has a (charac+ability) of 6 progresses much faster from 6 to 7 if they have stat of 3,4, or 5 rather than 0, -1, or lower - because their (ability level) part fo the total is so much lower, and because of the pyramid scale.

(Note that the Ease factor table discusses the combined Characteristic & Ability: as "talented OR skilled" and "talented AND skilled")

As for real life - I know real people whose Academic talents are distinctly limited, with poor verbal communication and reasoning, but whose physical craft talents are good, and who learn quickly and easily from physical demonstrations.

ArM 5 "Int" is not really all-round general-Int, but focuses most on Academic and Magical sides, with all the V/F to tune it.

I also know real life academics whose general life-wide Conc is terrible - very easily distracted - btu whose reasoning and learning talents are high; and vice versa, those who have drive and force of personality and can stick to an assigned task, but dislike books and "rote learning" and prefer other methods that suit them.

In a parallel line - Stamina covers general toughness, willpwoer and concentration - but there are specific V/F to stress that different aspects of that - Tough, Strong Will, etc.


I agree with all your points. Certainly AM5's method makes more sense, and certainly adding Conc in AM4 was disastrous mechanically.

Yes, that's a good model for it. Better mechanically that the Concentration skill for sure.

I'm in the middle of an experiment running AM5 characters quickly through the seasons, but in a real (though lab-focused) game. I do wonder what the magi would look like in their late years. Right now we're only at Season 046, though, after 8 months of gaming, so it will take a while... :frowning:

Edit: Just calculated, we finished 46 seasons in 8 months, which is 5.75 seasons per month or 0.174 real-months per game-season. At this rate, it will take us 82 more months to reach 130 years past gauntlet. that's 6.8 years! Yikes.

Okay, after all this. Reading all of this, and sharing with my players, the player that brought it all up finally looks at me somewhat amused and says

"Soooo... all Mages are absolutely hardy and healthy are they? Constitutions like a rock maybe?"

Refering to the now obvious switch in dependence from Intelligence to Stamina for casting...

By the logic I see here. It's okay for a Mage to be a stupid as a box of hammers, but if he's frail and unhealthy; he's boned?

Poor Stamina is as bad a choice for a magus as Poor Intelligence, true, but the penalty doesn't apply to any lab work or study.

Magi who want to work in the Lab and learn spells should take high Int.

Magi who want to go out on adventures and cast spells at monsters should take high Sta.

Magi who want to write texts that will draw the admiration of all should take high Com.

That doesn't actually strike me as an unreasonable set of images.

A Verditius can create magic items faster than he can learn spells. Using those items doesn't rely on Sta.

iMages :smiley: ( sorry :blush: )

Obviously the latest initiative of the Rhine's Apple Guild.