Studying from vis

In AM4 I had the impression that studying the magic arts from vis was the way for magi to increase their knowledge beyond the limits of books. If I recall you would spend one, two or three pawns of appropriate vis, then roll a stressdie and multiply by the number of vis spent. XP gained in the art would be this total + aura.

This seems strangely downgraded in AM5. Now you spend a pawn of vis for every five levels you posses in the art, and gain is only a stressdie + aura.

Thus more vis is needed to gain fewer xp, making it hardly a feasible method of study. Is there any special reason for this downgrade? The old rules seemed fairly balanced for me - vis being a scarse commodity.

Three examples:

Increasing an art score from 14 to 15 (with moderate aura (3) and average dieroll(6)):

  • AM4: 2 pawns of vis and one season of experimentation
  • AM5: 6 pawns of vis and two seasons of experimentation

Increasing an art score from 20 to 21 (with moderate aura (3) and average dieroll(6)):

  • AM4: 3 pawns of vis and one season of experimentation
  • AM5: 12 pawns of vis and three seasons of experimentation

Increasing an art score from 29 to 30 (with moderate aura (3) and average dieroll(6)):

  • AM4: 4 pawns of vis and two seasons of experimentation
  • AM5: 20 pawns of vis and four seasons of experimentation

And the difference in vis consumption just keeps growing...

We can't really know what the entire thought process is for the downgrade but my impression is that the fourth edition and previous rules weren't balanced.

Vis use was, as you pointed out, the way to study. Useing 3 pawns of vis in an aura of four would give you, on average, significantly more xp than any book or any instructor.

Fifth edition makes all of those tractatus and comentaries worth something. What's the point of having the colected floregiums from the oracles of the lost covenant of Corsica if they're significantly less informative than burning up the intellego vis that you collect from the mirror of the sky every summer?

Vis study with a quality of die roll + aura will get you, on average, in a good aura, a study total that is comparable with a soild book.

Vis study also opens up the possibility of rolling 1,1,1,8 to collect 64 + aura experience points or quadruple botching to send yourself into twilight, destroy your covenant and kill your familiar.

Now vis study is a choice not the only choice. More interesting choices are as a rule condusive to more interesting games.

(All merely my opinion)

Thanks for a fast answer :slight_smile:

Because you do ´burn up´ the vis. Books can be studied by several magi afterall. Studying from vis is as I see it the research done by the magi - one of the ways they try to push the limit of the knowledge of the order. Actually spending something as valuable as vis ought to be rewarded to a greater extent than AM5 rules. In my opinion of course...

I would think it more reasonable that vis study on average gave substantially more than a solid book. Vis has other uses as well, and at least in our saga we arent bathing in aquam vis or using ignem vis as illumination :wink:

I agree with you that more interesting choices make for more interesting games, but compared with the risks involved in vis study that you mention and the scarsity of the ressource, I think few would be interested in studying from vis anymore... Its simply not worth it.


(edited for clarity :wink:)

What what I have seen, ArM5 vis is way more plentiful than in previous editions. But yes, you got it right: it is better to stufdy tractatus than anything else.

In fact, ifg you are building a covenant, it is enough to start with 40 points of vis stocks (200 pawns or so in stock) to build your covenant to legendary status in 2-3 seasons buying books.

But the later is powergamer numbercrunching, so it is not recommended :wink: it is simply a blatant flaw in the vis stocks entry of covenant building.



I've taken part in two tabletop games and one play by post game since fifth edition came out.

In all three games magi studied from vis.

I agree that studying from vis isn't something that magi are lineing up to do anymore.

Studying from vis is now a second choice for when the books are exauseted, not something that the character would choose to do if the world conformed itself to their wishes.

But in every game it came to pass that someone needed to increase their understanding and time did not permit them to get the books that they wanted. The vis was spent, the die was grabbed and the dramtic tension of the story rose.

In my experience with fifth edition, vis study has become the tool of magi who face tough odds and are willing to face risk to achieve their goals.

I like it better this way but I'd sound pretty silly telling you that your opinion was wrong.

Books = steady, predictable advancement,
Vis = spinning the wheel of fortune... (how else are you going to get 300+ xp in a season...)

The quality seems about the same on the average... (around 8ish...)

You're not? :laughing:

Great seeing you around these parts, Frakel :slight_smile: !

At least I've kept the +5 vis bonus to the casting total...

[EDIT: P.S.: the rumors of my twilight are vastly exagerated... :smiling_imp: ]

Im not sure if advancement is still capped at max 3 levels in a season. If that is the case then most of those 300+ xp are wasted :wink:

Anyways, the comparison here ought not be between books and vis, but different uses for vis. 5 pawns of vis could pull off a decent ritual spell, make a fine enchanted item, give an essential boost to a spontaneous spell in a critical situation, buy you a vote at tribunal... Why would anyone want to use those 5 pawns on gaining a meager 8 XP (on average) in their advancement toward level 25 in an art score?

Obviously most people would study all the tractati they could get their hands on first. When there are no more tractati their level in the art would make studying from vis even more expensive.

[EDIT: And if I did use ignem vis as a source of illumination at a certain point that was only a temporary messure and did not expend said vis... :wink:]

[EDIT2: looks a Furions post count in amazement - I wonder how you find time to actually set up stories for us... he he.]

And yet yesterday you wrote that tearing down parma should be dificult.

I think that toneing down vis boosting for spell penetration was one of the wiser choices in fifth edition. Even in fifth edition, I've often found parma to be less strong than I would like it to be. A +5 per pawn bonus exacerbates this situation.

Seems to me that you do that just fine yourselves.....

The vis balance do seem to require a consideration, and I'll try to do that, and I guess this question is somewhat related to your recent inflow of vis :smiley:

It is gone

Because the books in the library have all been read and there is no other way to get those last 8 xp for level 25 before you create the charged item you'll need this winter?
Because they have been collecting 2 pawns a year for the last 25 years and they have a surplus?

As they gain in power and age a magus has more social standing, wealth and access to books. A "young" character could read a summa, grab two to four tractatus and then be stuck without resources. At two and three pawns per season vis study looks more safe and less expensive then it does down the line.

Some of the perception stems from the fact that any problem in an RPG is usually handled one way or another by the SG, rather than shrugging and letting the lack of rules spoil the game.

Our troupe has never had so much vis that our study from it got out of control, so the change ~seems~ like fixing something that was never a problem. But that doesn't mean it wasn't, or couldn't have been for others, or that the artificial SG limits on available vis weren't a less-noticed problem in-and-of themselves.

It does seem to strongly suggest that elder magi do not have the same potential for high Arts levels, since books do reach limits at more or less the same point, and vis is simply no longer the solution to that limit that it once was.

tractatus and comentaries allow continued advancement regardless of art score.

I imagine that mature magi who are interested in a particular subject often correspond with one another schemeing and plotting to acquire more sources to study from whether it means a group of them writing comentaries on a single summa or commisioning others to write more tractatus.

I think most covenants lie in a slightly higher aura, so the average result will move to 10 or 11, which is reasonable comparing to most books.

If I compare ArM4 and ArM5:

Vis was valuable, very useful in every aspect of a magus life and rare in Arm4.

In ArM5 Vis is absolutely useless for anything but the construction of magic items, or the use in ritual magic.

This change in the rules was probably meant to be balancing the game.
I don't think it does any good in that respect.

Unless there has been a VERY considerable vis/gold-rush in your saga, I think you better stick with 4th ed vis rules.

  1. I see the same.
  2. Vis study in ArM4 was too powerful. In ArM5 it is very weak.
    I think some average of these rules would be the best instead of tactati.

How wrote magi their books in the 8-9. century? Supposingly they were quite weak with these vis learning rules.

I hold opinions nearly diametrically opposed to Fury on this issue.

Vis in fourth edition made magic resistance a joke and made book study a joke. Unless you do not want book learning or magic resistance to provide anything to the story, I suggest that you use the fifth edition rules as is.

In fifth deciding whether or not to use five pawns of vis to get the spell you want off against the antagonist is a dramatic decision, in fourth using two pawns was a no brainer.

In fifth deciding to use the three pawns of vis you have to increase you art score to a fourteen rather than waiting a year or more until you can get your hands on a tractatus is a decision of weight. In fourth using three pawns to raise you score 2 levels in one season instead of waiting for tractatus that would take you three or four seasons was a no-brainier.

Edit: Upon review I see that this post really didn't add much new to the discussion. I'll stop "defending" the new rule set before this thread veers from discussion to flames.


I agree with everything you are saying...

But isn't the use of Vis finally rests with the SG. If you want your troup to use Vis for study, you don't provide books, and provide lots of Vis. If you don't want them learning, say Ignem, you don't provide them with Ignem Vis. If you want them studying books, don't give them any Vis. If you don't want either to happen, don't give them either source...and listen to your troup whine...

Or you could just run it as is.. and have them learning from books and using vis to make magic items?.. or to pay the Verditius to make magic items.. hehe.. I love my covenant

Oh.. and vis can also be used to -buy- more of those tractaci and summae for us to learn from.. .. so far, I haven't seen any problems with the 5th vis rules

I dont see any flames in your posts :wink: So no worries there...

Anyways I still think you miss the main point: the main comparison is not between vis and books for study, but between the different uses for vis. These different uses (magic items, ritual magic, spell boosting, longevity ritual, study, etc.) ought to be better balanced than what 5th edition rules suggest - and then your SG can allways balance things by controlling the general availability of vis.

When vis is scarce, valuable and generally usefull it is not a no-brainer how you use your precious pawns. And in any case there are still plenty of incentive for book study. In fact no one could afford to study solely from vis so I dont really understand that point of your argument.


(once again edited for clarity and grammatical errors :slight_smile:)