Studying arts from books and laboratory

It appears that it is not necessary for a mage studying an art from a book to practice what they learn while reading. I am tempted to reduce the source quality of a book on arts when a mage does not have access to a laboratory. However, players are understandably unamused by the suggestion. I am now thinking instead of giving a bonus. Does anyone worry about this issue and if so, have you any ideas. It is within paradigm to learn a practical subject from a book without practice?

You're right. Magi do not need to be in a lab to study from books. This is one of the few things they can do outside of the lab, however. This has many implications. For example, magi who are guests in another covenant for a season won't necessarily have a lab, but if they can get a book (or brought one with them) they can still study.

If you penalize one of the few things magi can do outside of the lab, you are creating yet one more reason why a magus should never leave the lab. Do you want this? Do you want your magi to spend more time in the lab, and less time traveling or adventuring? If your answer is yes, then go ahead, penalize their study from books outside of a lab.

Personally, I'm glad to have the rule the way it is.

When a character reads a book on Chirurgy, do you make them cut up bodies in order to learn from it?

Do you give them a bonus if they do cut up bodies?

If the answer to both of those is no, then you're being inconsistent by assuming arts require practise as you read but nothing else does.

I would. Now I would require a story, but going out and doing real world investigations and field work should have some benefit. If I was really nice I might even give them breakthrough points or a free bonus tracti they can write!

Wouldn't that be a modern approach to sciences totally at odds with the medieval paradigm on the research method?

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I really wouldn't require this for learning any Art or Ability. It's already stipulated that one needs the lab when inventing a spell from a lab text.
If the idea is to reduce the source quality of books, then do that. Books get damaged if they aren't well taken care of. Pages will begin to mold, bindings crack, pages tear out. Etc. So, a powerful magus from a covenant in Winter offers the magi to learn from books in their library... The magi know that they have some excellent books, rumors abound about the outstanding quality some of these books. When they get to the Winter covenant and find the library in disrepair, and books falling apart... They can still get information from the books, but not quite as much as hoped. The Q16 Tractatus have long since degraded to Q12, or something. A book that has been clarified probably won't have degraded, but alas, it was stolen years ago. Recovering the book will allow the PCs full access to the library, and give them an opportunity to begin repairing it, recovering some powerful books. Or something. :smiley:

I agree with the previous posters on the likelihood of the idea making magi more prone to spend time in thier labs. If you are doing this to add flavor, then a 1 point bonus seems appropirate but I would add the twist that there be something specific in the lab that facilitates the learning (a person named Pinnochio for Corpus or Mentem, seven ghosts for Mentem, a particularly smelly draft horse for Animal. etc.). If you want more focus increase the bonus but you might weaken the appeal of the Study Bonus virtue. Ah, and I would allow this to stack with the "Study Bonus" virtue, BTW.

It could encourage Refinement of the lab (and possibly more frequent installation changes) and possibly some lab-based (!) adventures. An Aurum magus with a study bonus or requirment having several contained whirlwinds roaring away in her lab just so she can learn slightly more does have an aesthetic appeal.

As a flavor point I like the idea a lot, but beware inflation.

This doesn't bug me. I mean, you can read a book in chirurgy and gain from that without having a patient to operate.

But I think you should have to use a Lab when studying from Vis.

And how would they practice their Arts ? Cast spontaneous spells perhaps ? Or any spell ? That does not require a laboratory.

This is certainly contrary to RAW (page 165, 3rd paragraph under the Vis heading). If i'm a master of an Art, with a score of more than 30 or so, and I've exhausted all of the available lab texts, I need 7+ pawns of Vis. As a magus, and a player, I can envision not risking the lab, in the event of a botch. Risking myself/character is different, but risking the lab is a bit more complex.

I know that my opinion goes against RAW. I meant that I would have made the rule differently if I hade made Ars Magica. I imagine that when a magus is studying from VIS he/she have to make experiments on the VIS. But that's just my humble opinion.

I am not proficient in the covenants rules for labs since my troupe does not use them, but IIRC you could increase your vis study total using these? So studying in the lab can be productive for vis if you have a lab with bonuses to help you there :slight_smile:

The lab specializations don't cover studying from Vis. The Source Quality =Stress Die + Aura, nothing in Covenants modifies this, that I can see.

Although the lab does not give a bonus to the Study Total when studying from vis, the lab can reduce risks because of its Safety characteristic, IMHO.

That is definitely true...

I don't have a big problem with studying from vis without a lab. Magi can sense and manipulate magic anywhere and I think part of the point of adding the local aura is to encourage magi to travel to exotic and dangerous locations to get the big bonus.


EDIT: My response took longer to type then I wanted.
I agree by RAW the lab can't add a study bonus but I think the safety modifier should apply to potential botches when you study in the Lab. Certainly the potential for botch should be higher in an unsafe lab. So I think it fair to allow the reverse to be true.

Covenants says explicitly that the safety rating is applicable to the botch dice when studying from Vis on Page 111, the first paragraph under the Safety section. Positive subtracts, and negative adds to botch dice totals.

So, in unsafe labs, it's more advantageous to leave the lab, and I'm fine with that. In safe labs, characters would need to weigh the cost/benefit of studying vis in the lab. If the safety rating can eliminate the risk from studying vis entirely, I'd be inclined, of course. If the safety rating doesn't eliminate the risk, then I would weigh it long and hard, I'd hate to have a well developed lab destroyed due to studying from vis and botching.

Thanks for the help. I think I will probably stick with things as they are. I am already more generous with exposure experience (1 EP per month) and use a monthly experience cycle (1/3 of a book's quality per month) otherwise I might add +1 say for reading a book in a lab.

Requiring study to be in a lab, be it from vis or books would seem to penalize the Virtue Study Bonus and aggravate the flaw Study Requirement.