Studying in the Magic Realm

So. I go to a boundary with a Q25 Summa on an Art I don't know much about. Each season I study it, I get 25 vis which I may use for Transformation or just harvest, but I gain no XP, and I can continue studying until the end of time if I want for a queen a year (because my knowledge of that Art never improves).

Am I the only one who finds this to be a bit screwy?


I think it depends largely on how easy it is to get into the magic realm. Considering that if you are able to get there, there are a lot of other ways to easily get vis as well, and quality 25 books are hard to come by- generally speaking by sound rules it would be around level 3 to 6, and considering 25 would boost a score of 0 to 6 plus 4 experience there would be no point in writing said book.

grin This one is worthy of the Extreme Munchkinism thread.

I (and many others, I'm sure) have thought about the awesome benefits of studying in the MR, but I didn't notice that the same summa can be used over and over again, forever.

Even a mere Q21 summa is kind of good.

I don't find it screwy, too much.

There's a significant sacrifice of time that could have been used to advance that is essentially stepped up farming. Granted, most people can't farm 25 pawns of vis in a season, specialists might get 5 or 6, and standard advancement texts that are relevant and useful for this situation are probably granting 15 pawns, not 25. Sticking with 25, though, the person hasn't advanced any Arts, learned any, spells made any items. He might need to grant a portion of that to the covenant, to pay scutage for missed covenant work, perhaps.

There is also the issue of how vis accumulates, and he might return to the covenant as a rather gnarly looking man due to where and how vis accumulated. If you have an easy access to the Magic Realm within the covenant, then it's less of a concern, but if he had to travel for a bit, and must travel back, he's going to have some issues related to his travel. And this presumes that he can walk off and take one of the covenant's better books to the Magic Realm, and ignores all of the risks associated with being in the Magic realm.

So, no, it's not too screwy to accumulate experience points as vis and come back to the mundane world with a lot of vis after an extended stay in the Magic Realm. It is a bit screwy to allow something like this to happen as purely a background exercise, though.

The awesome part isn't 25p vis.

The awesome part is returning with a new Major Virtue five seasons out of six, instead of vis. (Or 1 minor + 3 major every year.)

Book Learner is a great first minor virtue. Even Secondary Insight is ok, for 2 or 4 extra p/s.

Independent vis source...

Sure, but it should be thematic to the experience in the magic realm... There are only so many virtues that might apply, let alone only so many virtues.

Some of those however might be taken more than once...

"should be"

Once we start doing what we should rather than what we can, this kind of conversation just ends with Things from the Magic Realm descending on the magus, attracted to all the vis he is generating.


If a player approached me with this, and I had previously established a way into the Magic Realm I wouldn't say no to this. But there is a cost. Mechanically, you can do it, and it's totally legal. So the guy goes with a L6Q21 Summa in an Art he doesn't know, he gets 21 xp (I wouldn't allow Book Learner here if he had it, since he's capped to the level limit in the mundane world, so to should it be in the magic realm). After a year he earns 84 pawns of vis. To me, it would be in the Art he studied (that's thematic) he could decided to transform it into virtues, should he desire. Something thematic to the Art or experience in some manner.

But, all we are doing here is dotting the i's and crossing the t's for the mechanics, but how does it make sense as far as a story?

(Note that simply going to MR with a book thematically appropriate for the virtue you want will work, though less efficiently.)

As for stories.... what about the covenant in the MR that is accumulating all kinds of goodies? (Maybe the ubiquitous Secret Diedne Covenant :slight_smile:/2.) Or magi who choose to tour the MR in lieu of initiation? And their guides? Thematically, one can even justify getting a doctorate from the University of Azabasubalizzzza (major virtue :slight_smile:), deep in the MR, far more efficient than going to a real university.... but first you have to survive freshman hazing. If you find the right cosm, you can learn uncorrupted Diedne Magic in a place where the Diedne never fell and real infernal power unlikely, since it is in the MR. But what will House Tremere think when you come back? Spend a few seasons in a place inexplicably called "The Spanish Main," and you can return with Ways of the Water, Puissant Aquam, Immunity to Drowning, Focus Power in Aquam, a few greater powers, etc, etc.... but it isn't going to be easy, especially when you discover that the real Daimon Pirate Roberts, of whom all those faeries are mere copies, wants to test your mettle and take your vis as booty.

You don't even have to be a magus to do this kind of thing. Any magic-aligned character can benefit.

Sahirs are actually better at it (Solomonic Travel ftw). Which, for a bayt al-hikma with strong jinn and followers of the River, may make standard initiations obsolete; just take 'em into the Magic Realm and instruct for a few seasons. No more need to piss away fountains of taqa on getting a jinn to spend its Might Score (which could be better used on immortality, anyway).

That said, one real game-changer would be for magi to set up a covenant on a Magic Realm gateway, clear out any guardians and build another fortification on the boundary on the other side. This creates a moderate advantage in vis production over extracting from an aura (apprentice! Come here and study for a season, then report to the barber!), and of course provides an alternative to building a Mystery Cult for initiating all the powers you want.

And, of course, once other magi twig on to just what a potent magical resource your covenant is squatting on, they're going to want a piece of it.

Sahirs are better at a few things. So are Learned Magicians.

Fundamentally yes, having access to the magic realm grants you significant advantages for developing magical power over not having access. And being next to a mountain stream makes it easier to stay hydrated than living in the desert. It's just the nature of the location.

It just occurred to me that technically you can study vis in the magic realm and wind up with more vis...

I agree with the original poster. Studying a book forever for fast, infinite vis in the Magic Realm is strange.

First of all, I don't think it should work as everyone seems to saying it does. If we accept that you can read a book in the Magic Realm to produce vis, it should not be an infinitely repeatable process. It may be that's what the rules as written suggest, but that interpretation is obtuse, because neither set of rules - those for learning from books, and those for gaining vis in the Magic Realm - were designed with the other set in mind, and the conjunction of the two produces a result that is nonsensical.

"Knowledge is Power in the Magic realm..." it says in Rules of the Realm of RoP:M (page 20), so it does seem like you should be able to use studying from a book as a source of vis according to those rules. And the core book (p. 165) sets the limit to how much you can learn from a book by setting a Gain Limit, and since you never approach that limit, by the rules, it seems to suggest that a book is a source of infinite knowledge if you can somehow avoid ever reaching the Gain Limit. But the core rules have an obvious intent, of which the Gain Limit is simply trying to model: there is only a certain amount of information in a book, and it stops being useful after a certain point. So if you and I both read copies of the same book, starting from an Art score of 0, and you have Book Learner, and I have Poor Student, I will read the book for longer than you, but when we both have nothing left to learn from the book, we have gained exactly the same amount of XP, and that is because the amount of information in the book is a separate value that has nothing to do with our individual learning abilities.

In other words, there is a clear, finite amount of knowledge in any one book (I mean, obviously, right?), and because 'knowledge is power', you should only be able to extract the amount of vis from any one book that you could have gained as XP from it. I think it only makes sense by looking at the literal rules, and not the intent of the rules, that would allow someone to gain infinite vis from one book simply because the original study rules didn't account for someone learning from a book but not advancing.

Personally, if I felt compelled to allow studying from books to work in the Magic Realm, I would also discount any bonus to quality a book takes from the writer intentionally lowering the Level of a book as per the rules on page 165, because I think those are meant to help model the diminishing-returns aspects of learning from a book, and isn't meant to actually represent a better quality book in the objective sense. Reading a high level book should actually produce more vis than a low level one, but since that is difficult to adjudicate, they should at least be the same. But that's just my opinion, and I doubt a lot of Storyguides would agree with me.

I have to admit I've never actually used the Magic Realm rules but when I read the section I made the assumption that the experience rules were for adventure source experience from the MR itself. A character would have a mystical, meaningful, and transformative experience there and would have strange and important things happen as a result, like gaining virtues or crystalizing vis.

Allowing someone to sneak off to the MR with a book and create vis just because "XP are XP" strikes me as quite silly.

Why silly? It's magic. No sillier than having an adventure in which I spend 3 seasons learning my way around a few regions in the MR yet gain absolutely no xps in Area Lore. Or if I learn the language of the dust bunnies (animals aligned to Terram), I completely forget it when I leave. What, did I forget what I did?

Ok, that's pretty silly too. Maybe the rules for experience in the MR as a whole are broken. But at least it feels thematic to get some nifty experience after crossing the Void and doing other stuff that occultists like to dream about. The book idea isn't just munchkin, it's downright goofy.