Studying from Vis

I was curious to hear of any house rules out there on studying arts from vis.


well, we have a curious rule to study directly from aura's, that can be powered by vis to get a better quality (but not a better level)

Our covenant is in a level 6 aura, we've got enough Vis and two magi have free study. Even they don't often study from Vis!

I'm not convinced of the power of Vis study. Perhaps it will become interesting when we've read all those books (and are at levels 25+ for most arts).

We haven't got any house rules in place, but I can imagine people wanting to upgrade Vis study.

My primary experiences are from 4th ed.

We were never in shortage of vis - only certain types at certain times (Cr Co when people got hurt a lot etc.) - but used it sparingly. Only one player/magus ever used it for boosting spell casting totals. The rest hoardedit for study or devices.
We always had plenty of books for the lower levels, and once even the poor tractati were exhausted, the specialists with ambition for further progress, started to study from vis.
We expanded the use from 1-3 pawns, to allowing a 4th (efefctive) pawn at the cost of 2, and ultimately a 5th 8effective) pawn at the cost of 3. So you could, in a single season study from 5 (effective) pawns, at the cost of 1+1+1+2+3=8. Thus generating a stress die x5 + Aura + Lab Quality. Progress in the high levels still wasn't very fast, since this was expensive, and Botches punishing!

It seems to me, that Vis Study in 5th ed is very slow and of little effect. The mechanic of it costing more and more vis, the higher leve you're at, makes sense. But I'd like some possibility of boosting this meagre Study Total. It could (and should!) easily be expensive and risky.
But letting the magus add ekstra pawns of vis for some bonus, with the bonus costing vis per pyramid scale. so +1 is 1 pawn, +2 is 3 pawns, +3 6 pawns etc.
Also, I think you should add General Lab Quality, plus allow "Vis Study" as specialization. IIRC your Lab has a maximum number of specialities you can use. Vis Study would simply take up one of the otherwise open "Activity" slots. So everybody wouldn't necessary automatically fix up their labs to include this bonus, just to make sure they'd max. out on vis study. Back in the old days (4th ed WGRE) where specialization in one activity subtracted from did you choose carefully!

I would use the 3 pawn limit from the 4th ediditon and you would double the roll.
I think it is a good compromise between the editions.

If we use the increased vis cost the roll should be multiplied by 3.

The first provides 7,5 xp/pawn at 9th level (aura: 3, average roll: 6) and 5 xp at level 24.
The second would provide 10,5 vis/pawn on level 9 and 4,2 xp on level 24.

Cheers guys! Keeping them rolling!

The thing is that my players are less than settled with the 5th edition vis study rules - as of now we have no HR on the matter, but before make my call I'd like to have some HR options at hand to see if I can make some sort of compromise (having said that hinting that I find 4th edition too much). Having said that, arguments for the current rules are welcome also (given that I've already heard plenty against) to give me more with what to gauge the matter.

Works fine for eating up Vis stores. With the bonus counted in XP its very small, but still useful. Could allow +1 Vis per +XP as well to speed up the increase for those that wish.

Allow experimentation with Vis study.

Add double Aura bonus.

Add Magic Theory.

Add Ability Vis Manipulation whose score adds to Extraction score, Use limit and bonus to Vis Study XP.

But really, our troupe never studyied from vis...we don't really have the time, and we prefet to search for books (the covenant pay for them usually)

Thinking about it, I wanted to go for the 5th system. But I've found I really can't.

A covenant can install a laboratory in a place where the aura is very high. Near (months of walk, up in the mointain...) our own covenant, there is a regio with an aura of 7. Add one dice, you get about 12 experience points for a season, for 4 vis if you have 16-20 in your art. This is a good tractatus, don't you think ?
Now, how much does a tractatus cost in your saga ? Because it all depends on that. In Covenant, a sound tractatus cost two or three vis. (p. 95) Let say three because it is quality 12. This mean you would probably expect to get more from vis study.
Tractatus are so more cheaper, they are effective, no risk to botch !
As your arts get higher, vis study gets more costly.

At 21 Rego, I would rather give 2 pawn to a red cap so that he buy me a tractatus, than use it to vis study, as the rules stand. Total it costed me 5 vis (3 for the book, 2 for the red cap), same as with vis study (21 Rego). That is, without the risk to botch, and being able to share that tractatus in the covenant's library for other to use. Eventualy, trading the book for another one.

I usually do not like to see a way for character to augment an ability (or similar) that will give them more experience point, like adding Magic Theory, General Quality of Lab, etc. It more often than not unbalance the game. Think about concentration ability adding to Study totals in 4th edition.

Iudicium, I see your point in terms of vis-economy, but more is at stake than economy alone - and the economy approach hinges on the relation between the benefits of studying books versus studying vis.

Two of my players feel that book-studying is over-emphasised leaving to little room for other approaches to improving ones understanding of magic. One of them was a pprenticed by a master that always told him that books were dead knowledge (this is somewhat linked to a meta-plot on a diedne legacy) and several of the players chose the poor student flaw to emphasise characters that had another focus in terms of development.

Also, our covenant actually has a large library as one of its assets so book learning is definately an option.

But the question really is how the connection should be between the ease of advancement from vis versus books. I'm not settled yet, though leaning toward the RAW, but would like many arguments both in farvour of the current RAW as well as against them as well as possible HR mediations.

I agree - xp-excelarating scores are not something I'd like reintroduced to the way of handling things.

Well, as the rules stand officially its very clearly far more advantageous studying from books. By far too much so i would say.(as noted by Iudicium:s comparison)

The exception is at low Art levels where it only costs 1-2 Vis to study, but its still often easier to pay for a book on a matter than to get that specific sort of Vis, negating some of the upside.

And any well cooperating covenant can easily boost Art scores much faster by my previously mentioned method.
Ie. everyone teaches each other, then all write tractatus on the Art, which is then only read by ONE person, which then teaches all the others up to the new limit, usually with ease allowing another round of tractatus to be made by everyone, followed by person number TWO being the only one reading all the tractatus and then teaching the new level to the others...
Etc etc etc..

In the end, our most munchkin covenant ever had most magi with several Art scores above 50, and many had multiple at 60+ even a few at 70+. With almost zero study from Vis, as the thing they lacked most was Vis supplies, and wouldnt have been really faster either, while terribly expensive for the higher levels.

Basically, my opinion is that since study from Vis is so overall much more expensive, the results should show it.

I would suggest using the "double magic aura bonus" OR +MT(or maybe +MT/2)(either of those would reduce the risk of spending lots of Vis to gain, oh lets say 4XP as a near minimum and both are also very contextlogical), some kind of rules for allowing experimentation while studying from Vis(this i think should have been included from start) and maybe the +Vis=+XP in one form or another.

Being alpha SG in our group I would not allow the method mentioned by DIREWOLF75. Because this way knowledge is generated out of nothing, there is no new input/new thoughts but all magi increase their art score. Though following the rules this contradicts my common sense.

When comparing books to learning from vis it is often mentioned that books can be read by several magi while vis cannot. This is true but as there are 15 arts to be learnt most magi (at least in our troupe) aim at high scores for only two or three arts. This way most tractatus will be read only by a single magus. Ok, you are able to sell them again but sometimes vis is just as handy as to obtain a book. Espescially as it will take several seasons to get a hand on the ordered book. First the redcap has to find someone willing to sell a good tractatus on the subject, than a copy has to be made (hopefully taking a whole season), than the redcap has to revisit that convenant and bring the book back to you.
And mind: the redcap will not move all across the tribunal just for your book. She will arrive at your convenant when she passes by anyway.

Additionally there is the thrill of the stress die when using vis: You can end up with much more XP than any book could ever provide you (maximum was 56 in our saga!) or a failiure you will remember for seasons... (Remember that Vis study does not require a lab as no lab total is calculated. So you could move on to a high aura near to your convenant und thus avoid risking your lab)

Books/shareable knowledge is one of the great strengths of the Order, so maybe it is fitting that they are an easier path to learning than go at it yourself?

When I was thinking about the learning methods I set up my aims.

  1. Both vis and book learning must be effective. This would justify how the first generations studied when there were only a few books.
  2. Magi should want to learn from vis otherwise vis has no real value (only Vi). I think in 5th edition vis is not so valuable.
  3. Vis learning in the 4th edition was exaggarated.
  4. Number of tractatus should be about 10-30 per Art in Autumn covenants. It is silly when newly gauntleted magi write tractatus for archmagi.

I think the rules I explained above solved nr 1-3.

Maybe the authors thought the language limit to writing books is a good solution against tractatus. IMO this is why they overestimated the value of tractatus in the building point system. But players may choose appropriate specialties to reach level 5 in Latin for this process or may hire Latin teachers to reach the sufficent Latin knowledge. Earlier I made an example early covenant specializing to writing books. Such a single cooperating covenant with little effort (!) is enough to increase the number of tractatus dramatically. Also remember the importance of the communication boosting spells.

To reduce the number of tractatus there are some possibilities:

-Set a level to every tractatus. This level is the Art score of the writer at the beginning of the writing process. Readers are able to profit from tractatus if their relevant Art level differs no more than by 5 levels from the tractatus level.

-A person may write tractatus having level 20 in an Art and level 4 in the ability. Further tractatus may be written at level 30, 40 etc and level 6, 8 etc.

The first solution still admits a huge number of tractatus but with limited usability, the second is simpler.

Wouldnt say the 2nd is simpler really? 1st is just a matter of adding a single number to each written Tractatus.

And frankly i really like this one, it doesnt in any way cap the number of Tractus any more(the limit is already too artificial as it is) but still mostly takes care of your problem #4. And the fixes up the almost ridiculously munchkin situation of "covenant-boosting".

Except i would change it to no more than 5 levels HIGHER than the tractatus level.

Actually no, it doesnt contradict common sense and it doesnt create knowledge out of nothing, it generates knowledge out of interaction between people. Minds being presented with someone elses view on something.
Which i might add is one of the most common ways of doing the same in the real world.

That doesnt mean its a great idea for a game though.

But dont forget it still takes ALOT of time, its not power for free, because it takes quite some time. And the complete cooperation of at least 5+ magi(preferably twice that many) to reach any serious levels and thats certainly not a given in everyones stories.
Of course, the NEXT generation of apprentices has the chance to gain power extremely fast.

Specifically disallowing it i think would really be the worst possible choice, because first of all, where do you draw the line? When do you say, -this is just boosting, and when is it "normal" studying and writing?
Much better idea is to give the magi reasons for not wanting to cooperate too well or make sure at least some are always busy with something that means the covenant as a whole cant dedicate itself to it.
Or use the idea of Birbin again i quoted and modded above.

The second is simpler because it gives only a reason which reduces the number of tractatus a magus can write. The first one adds a new number to the system and it doesn't change their number.
I find it cool but it doesn't match the medieval situation when there were only a few books.

Do you mean covenant boosting is accumulating books?

The lower limit would prohibit the situation when archmagi learn from their apprentices.
The higher level tractatus would contain information which are too difficult for a begginner. As IRL.

Another idea: subtract 2 points (or maybe even 3) from the basic book quality. Suppose the current books were written by talents. This way only magi with the writer virtue would be able to produce worthful books. I think even with this rule we should limit the number of tractatus as I suggested in nr 2.
This rule would give a good reason for lesser number of tractatus.

  1. Abilities that add to the exp gained (as Concentration in 4th ed) should not reappear.

  2. There should be good alternatives to Book Study, to keep some variation in the order, and have some options for the more practical people.

  3. Decide whether Vis Study requires work in the Lab, must be done outside or may use both methods. I like having both options.
    *Vis Study in the Lab could then benefit from General Quality and perhaps an activity specialization. Experimentation should only be possible here, but should not use the regular table, since "flawed creation" is irelevant. You're not creating anything, you're burning vis to see what happens. And what is the benefit? A simple die + Risk factor, as with regular Lab Work?
    *Vis study in the field can benefit from a better aura than the covenant, since it need not be palced in the best place, for purpuses of Wrping among others. You don't risk busting up your Lab if you botch. You can benefit from Study Bonus, by being exposed to relevant environment(e.g study Ignem vis at the edge of a volcano!).

  4. Decide whether to expand the potential efficiency of vis study. I think adding more should be expensive. The method used before IMS is charging pyramid cost for added pawns for bonus, with a fixed maximum. I think I'm ok with 5th ed method of charging an amount of vis based on your current level. And I think it could be compatible with adding an optional (and expensive) bonus.
    If the Aura counts x2 or even x3, you'd have some serious thoughts about whether you can find a good enough site for study, or should take great risks in the Lab.

  5. Further practical study methods. If you - like me - like the options for other than bookish study, consider this. IMS (4the d) we allowed practice in the Arts. Like you can cast the same spell again and again, to practive for exp towards Mastery. In essence you'd cast all sorts of spells of this certain Art to gain (albeit a meagre amount) exp in it. We also invented a new Virtue "Field Tester" giving some further efficiency for practice in the arts, towards mastery. Much like "Free Study" or "Book Learner". I think I'll integrate this in the new 5th ed saga, although less random than my old 4th ed house rules, and more like the concept of 5th ed Practice.

"flawed creation" might risk giving you Deficient Form/Technique with a risk level as if you had botched.
Or, simply causing you to get merely Exposure XP instead.
Or even zero, wasting the Vis and the time completely, although that would go under "Complete failure" i expect.

Makes for a fairly decent reward and makes it much more worthwhile as it almost certainly eliminates the risk of getting minimal possible XP which is rather useless.

Definetly. No reason not to allow both. Experimentation outside of the lab is a bit trickier to say for certain though, but i would say no.

Already allowing that. :wink:
It started out giving 4XP but we raised it to 5 next campaign and it seems decent there sofar.
Of course it depends on how easy you want advancement to be, we prefer it to be fairly good so 3-4 might suit better for those who wants slower progression.

Doesnt the "Independent study" already cover that? Well i know it does for us though i dont recall for sure if it does RAW.

NOT as concentration worked in 4th ed hell NO. That was an outrageous monstrosity of a rule.
I didnt suggest that though. What i mentioned was much more limited and really rather realistic as Magic Theory knowledge really is(/should be) vital to being able to learn Arts, especially from Vis study.
Anyway, if adding MT/2 to Vis study results... The impact isnt big unless you ALSO add all the other extra bonuses i and others mentioned.
And for the record i did NOT mean that anyone should add them all(except experimentation which as i said should have been there from the start), but 1-2 might be a fair idea.

No, i described it partially before, and in another thread as well i think.
But once more:
Magi A(which is highest in one Art) teaches B who teaches C who teaches D etc etc to the limit or close depending on if it wastes seasons/XP, everyone writes tractatus on the Art, A reads them, then teaches B who teaches C etc etc, new round of writing tractatus, A reads all new ones then teaches B etc etc again, eventually A wont be able to get much higher by doing this, THEN you start all over letting B be the one reading all those tractatus and then teaching based on his new score etc etc etc.

Basically its brainstorming taken to its most ridiculous extreme. Its reasonably realistic and it takes plenty of time, but as long as you have enough magi in a covenant cooperating, you can end up with one or more Art(or ability, although not as easy) scores VERY high(50+ isnt a big deal, as i mentioned earlier we once had several magi with multiple Art scores 70+, and mostly through this method).
Its basically trading time and cooperation for knowledge.

Your story about covenant boosting is really funny.
I'm even more convinced writing books should be linked to a virtue.

I don't like practicing arts. I would rather boost the vis availability. Vis learning is like gambling. So it is exciting while practice is flat and boring.

After browsing my core book last night:

Study Bonus is noted to also allow this bonus to vis study.

Vis study is noted to not require a Lab, but that most Magi do it there.

IIRC "Free Study" virtue gives some additional bonus on top of the Vis Study thing. But can't remember excately what. It should be bonus exp when practicing Arts or Mastery.

Studying from vis should have two options IMHO:

  1. Study in the Lab, you may add General Quality and take "Vis Study" as one of your Acticity Specializations. You may Experiment, and take risk factor, adding a simple die plus alternatively +1 to +3. Certain results on the table need rethinking. Disaster and total failure are easy enough, any Botch rolls use total # pawns + risk factor for # of dice. Since you're not creating anything, you can't destroy it, end up with a flawed or limitéd creation or any side effect - annoying or beneficial. But you can make a discovery for added bonus. Experimentation costs 1+ risk factor extra pawns of vis.
  2. Study in the wild may utilize sympathetic connections of the place used for study. You automatically get the "Study Bonus" as from the Virtue of the same name, stacking with bonus from actually possessing this Virtue. You can't experiment.

Comparing these methods, the Lab has the benefit of Lab Quality/Specialization, plus Experimentation, although at a price. The Wild has the benefit of a potential Study Bonus from Sympathy, plus you can seek out Auras or Regios too powerful to risk permanent residence. Or places you only have short access to. Sympathetic connections need not be wholly natural (a mountain) some can be arranged (herds of animals).

May need a limiter on that unfortunately.

After reading up on the labs section on Covenants, one of the players here went about and over the course of a "few" years added a few extra labs, each with +25(or better) specialisation bonus.
And thats after the -10 to general quality is accounted for.
Its basically 5 Greater Features offset by 5 Greater Focus.

Apart from that, agree with you.

It gives a measly +3 to Vis study XP.