Study raw vis & book covenants


Today i opened my covenant book randomly and stumbled on page 107... then it describes 7 principles of labwork and I read "experimentation"... which made me realize that :
"While there is an element of experimentation in all lab work, this principle is applied especially when using the Expermentation rules (see ArM5 p109) or when studying Arts from raw vis.

In all those years I have read covenants, never did I read this once.

It doesn't shock me that page 112 doesn't contradict it because it speaks about labwork... except for teaching which is clearly strange in this context.

What do you think?

What are you asking, exactly? Whether you can add your lab's experimentation bonus to your source quality if you study raw vis inside it?

If so...I'd be happier to have it more clearly stated before I said that that was definitely what the Rules meant (and I also note that in addition to your comment about it not being mentioned on page 112, it also isn't mentioned at the point on page 110 where it's talking about the General Quality modifier not affecting Teaching or Scribing totals, which is another place it would make sense for it to do so).

Supposing it did, though, I can have a think about what the implications would be...

  • Currently, using vis to study is rare, because books are usually considered to be better and/or cheaper - if you assume an average die roll of 6, then studying from vis will get you about the same number of xp as a solid (but not great) tractatus, but unless you're below level 10 in the Art (in which case you're better off using summae), the tractatus is cheaper than the vis, and also reusable.
  • There are a few NPCs who are noted as studying from vis, but other than that I'd largely tended to think of it as a legacy from the early days of the Order - this is how magi used to study, before all of the books were written.
  • If you change to give an experimentation bonus, it will get more worthwhile, but it won't change the cost in vis. Magi are unlikely to be able to afford to do it more than once or twice a year except for Arts they have very low scores in (and there's only so many times you can do that).
  • Study from vis doesn't actually normally need to be done in a lab, so you're potentially swapping studying in a higher aura somewhere else to studying in your lab with its Experimentation bonus. A possible alternative is that the covenant builds a lab with high safety and Experimentation characteristics that is useless for anything else, similar to a vis extraction lab. Unfortunately, a lot of the lab qualities which give bonuses to Experimentation also give penalties to Safety, or are hard to give to your lab, especially simulataneously (so, you have a sentient lab that's both constantly afire and underwater, whilst flying, do you? And troubled by gremlins, you say?). That means you're probably going to end up trying to stack up Feature and Magic item bonuses.

Overall, it feels like if you put a fair amount of effort into building up the lab, and had the right virtues, you could get something that consistently gave you study totals in the 20-30 range when you're able to study from vis. Which is nice - but it's still going to be a lot of effort to get to that stage and only practical in sagas with a moderate or greater vis supply.

I think it means Vis Study is experimental of sorts, without it using the Experiment mechanics of ArM. It has an element of chance because you roll a stress due.

I may not have been clear in what i'm considering.
From the quote I made, I take that, as for teaching specialization which adds to the teaching total, the expermentation bonus of a lab could count in a season you study in vis.

The most clear counter argument is that neither in the raw vis study formula (core book) neither in the "experimentation" specialization of a laboratory's description that is not said although for teaching it is clearly explained (and for teaching, it explicitly says you cannot have a teaching specialization higher than +3 in your lab).

But then, I consider the fact that I find mostly odd that teaching specialization of lab is even described ... in a chapter which concerns mostly ... lab works, which teaching and raw vis study are not.

So for this argument, I could see the "teaching mention" as the wrong thing (which could have been said elsewhere), not the lack of the raw vis study option in the experimentation bonus.

As for the vis raw study formula, because it's in the corebook, i don't consider it blocking since all the laboratory bonuses weren't either worth of being mentionned in the corebook or didn't even exist in the 5th edition authors mind at the time the core book was written.

On the other side, I consider that if they didn't want to say that "experimentation" is what the lab is used for when you study raw vis or do an experimental lab work, they could have not said it.

So in my opinion it would mean that for raw vis study, your experimentation value is used.

That is in fact the sole thing I see which makes that raw vis process worth the vis, because you are not using that option before your 20's (better use summae or tractatus) but considering tractatus may or may not (depending on your saga: in mine IRL one, tractatus are considered as useless for reputation, and best authors write summae, because that's what's is considered as a possible authority (or autority to be) in the art field) be accessible, you are mostly spending 5+ pawns of vis for a result of stress die +10 max.

If you use experimentation bonus, then some lab are better than other.

Just in covenant , Lutisse lab has a +1, Ricardus has +2, Ierimyra +1.

The lab is a great place to cast spells (HoH:S p.60), though they can be cast elsewhere, just as studying vis is commonly done in the lab but could be done elsewhere. Do we add the Spells specialty bonus when casting spells in the lab?

I don't see that this fits at all in what is written.

It explicitly adds to Lab Totals. It also specifically references the core rules on experimentation in the lab. No mention of studying from vis at all.

However, I do like it as a house rule and might adopt it myself. It starts making study by vis something reasonable. Otherwise it's just prohibitively expensive and risky, as pointed out above.

Teaching can be a lab activity if you’re teaching spells. Other kinds of teaching don’t need a lab, but it may be done in one.
A lab specialized in Experimentation should IMHO only add to lab totals using actual experiments to invent (or investigate enchantments).

Vis study does not require a lab, nor is it prohibited to do in a lab. I’d accept Vis Study as a valid lab specialisation since it is an activity. Maybe limit it to +3 like teaching


Yeah, it's prohibitively expensive and risky.

I think that studying from vis should provide xp = Aura*pawns + stress die, roll Aura + pawns botch dice on a 0, cannot increase score by more than 5, cannot spend more than 3 pawns. Want to leverage your lab to also gain its Experimentation bonus in xp? Add a botch die. Or reduce botch dice from Safety? Ok, but you cannot remove the botch dice from Aura. Botches should harm or destroy the lab before harming or killing the magus, though the magus gains Warping Points as usual. Giving the lab some Warping of its own is always fun, at least for the GM: The lab is half-destroyed, and only when it is restored do you discover that it now has +1 Warping!

If you like the Covenants lab rules, pretty workable.

I like the idea of experimenting with vis study in the lab, even though it is not normally a lab activity. But using the normal rules has some issues. I know how I'd start: Roll an experimental die as usual, in addition to and separate from the die rolled for vis study. Risk factor cannot exceed pawns spent. A normal result provides an extra die+risk factor xp. Lab experimentation bonus adds to this. Ok. But what about modified, improved and flawed effects? And more xp from a discovery? Meh.