The perfect Lab...

... Does not exist.

Although, there is some improvements that you probably always try to take when you can.

The basic one would be those with a general lab bonus but is there some virtues/magic items, that you like to get when thinking about improving your lab ?

Those would seriously depend on the Magi in question, since your choice of Arts would have great effect on what Virtues you want for your Lab.
That said, Highly Organized and Spotless, as well as any other Free Virtues can be desirable, if only for the fact that they are Free. But some do increase Upkeep, so you always want to make sure that you coordinate with other players, so your Lab doesn't take the majority of the covenant funds, or that your Upkeep is so high that the covenant can't afford to pay it.

I personally believe that a perfect lab needs flaws. They give it personality.


I find that greater focus/feature boosting either spells or items is an offer I cannot refuse. It is a net +5 on almost all the magus' activities for a two season investment.

There are some free virtues with general quality and significant upkeep that should always be taken when available, but which I do not think should always be on offer. It should take a story to find the necessary suppliers for extra-ordinary supplies, and even more so for supernatural helpers.

The tireless servant is great, but I find that procuring the skeleton would be out of character for most magi. Still, I think one can always find one or two +1 GQ items that can and should be enchanted.

Still, in general, I think lab improvements are over-rated. More often than not, it is better to read a book ...

My current magus, twenty years out of apprenticeship, has only a few

  1. Dedicated building. This is a personality thing, he wants to live in the village with the cattle herders rather than in the wizards' towers.
  2. Servant. This was a story outcome. We suddenly recruited a number of delinquents, and I thought, why not?
  3. Safe Cauldron. This is an enchanted item giving +1 GQ and +1 Experimentation. He actually spent time on this.
  4. Precious Ingredients. This is a story outcome, from an Hermetic Fair.
  5. Major Feature+Major Focus (antechamber for spells). Well, yes, I cannot refuse that one.
  6. Hermetic Chamber Pot. He got the apprentice to enchant this.
  7. Bookstand of Hespera. This is shared in the covenant, but he has used it a lot.
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A fluffier tail.
Doesn't drool when presented food.
Is aware of where his tail is and doesn't knock items of tables.

Wonder if that would be muto or rego animal?

Admittedly Labs are close to the perfect dog after Golden Retrievers.

Wait, are we talking about the same Lab? ............


Is that reply really in English?
In Norwegian, lab(b) means paw ... I was not aware it had the same meaning in English.

It's short for Labrador, which is a breed of dog.

Oh ... thanks ... that was not in my dictionary either.

I would like to add that the ReHe Base 10 can be used to produce the same type of effect. So a ReHe version of Tireless Servant is possible and might fit into the character of more Magi than a skeleton.

I agree that could be done, but then you need skillfully to craft the figure with joints and all to be animated.

True it would require some skillful work. You could also do it with an Animal skeleton since the core book says "You may further refer to Corpus for ideas and guidelines on controlling an animal’s body".

I was just trying to point out that there are other options for a Magus who would not consider a human skeleton as a lab feature.

Some basic Items I often see are based on Ignem to create light and heat (thus reducing the lab upkeep).
I also saw the use of "missing ingredients" or "missing equipment" to also reduce the upkeep and then pay for the more expensive virtues

You would need a monkey's skeleton to have the fingers to manipulate lab gadgets though.

In my current Saga, nearly everyone has "Missing Equipment" due to a restriction against Vis extraction within our Aura. I do not believe our group is unique in having such a restriction.

Superior Equipment and Superior Tools are something that can be gained without upkeep, if the group sets about collecting the proper skilled craftsmen. Something to think about for a long running game.

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There are alternatives to skeletons. I don't see why wood or rock couldn't be animated to help instead.

You can, but the skeleton already has the shape to mimic human mechanical functions. That makes it flexible and easy to use; the magus directs it work as any other assistant.

Levitating jars, pouring liquid precisely on command would be very useful and easy to make, but much less flexible.

A clay or wood figure could be more like the skeleton, but you need a master craftsman to get all the joints right.

There are plenty of possibilities, but only the skeleton is as perfectly ready-made for the task.

Rego Herbam with Finesse to get it right to animate

True. You could probably make a business out of that, if you can both craft it and enchant it.

The perfect lab is like perfect interior design - it should be a reflection of the personality of whoever inhabits the space. I think major features are a great way to boost your magic and the visual impact of the lab.

I still haven't persuaded my sodales to let me have my own guard regiment of grogs outside a dedicated building, which is a shame as I would like an aesthetics score so big everyone in the Tribunal knows me by reputation.


Hardly true. Yes, you need a master craftsmen to make a gorgeous statue. You don't need a master craftsmen to make the rough outline of a human shape. Further, when considering the potential of hermetic magic, making the rough outline of a human shape may be more than magic actually requires. Let's look at comparative guidelines and magnitudes - because that's the only thing really relevant when comparing lab totals. To make a Tireless Servant, you're looking at Rego Corpus Base 10 - Animate a corpse. The end product can make movements but has limited autonomy: It "may be controlled quite precisely with a limited set of verbal commands. It can be instructed to hold or fetch objects, and perform simple operations, such
as lifting and stirring, independently."

Now let's compare Rego Corpus Base 10 - Animate a Corpse to the other arts:
*Rego Herbam Base 10 has "Make a plant or thing made of plant products move with purpose and intelligence, without requiring your constant control.". You would think a statue given motion, intelligence and purpose would make a more useful lab assistant than an unthinking human corpse, no? Now let's look at another lesser guideline in Rego Herbam Base 4: "Control an entire plant, moving it around as you direct, although it remains rooted if it is a rooted plant." This guideline is used to produce "Twist the living tree" which can be ordered to become, amongst other things, a cage, a wall, a shelter, etc. For Base 5, the tree is mobile. When you have this amount of control on a tree, you can probably use it as a lab assistant. If you can bend a trunk to produce a cage, you can probably bend a branch to be as flexible as a limb. But if you have a huge tree (say, your lab is in an outdoor idyllic environment), I'm betting if you place it at the center of the lab area, you actually don't need it to move because its branches might be able to reach far enough to cover the entire lab, which would make Herbam in that scenario 2 magnitude simpler than under Corpus, 1 magnitude if the tree needs to move, and equal if you care to enchant a wooden statue instead.
*Under Terram, you have effects such as Hands of the Grasping Earth for base 3 +1 stone: "Control or move dirt in a very unnatural fashion.". If you can form a hand from the literal floor, why couldn't you just take a 6 foot high x 2 foot x 2 foot large block of stone and animate it to become a nimble human-like golem, without bothering to pay a craftsmen to even carve the block into a statue? Incidentally, that's a 24 cubic foot bloc of stone, and the base individual under terram is 27 cubic foot (1 cubic pace), making animating a stone statue an entire magnitude easier than animating the skeleton under Corpus.

Assuming a skeleton is the only smart way to have a lab assistant is missing the point I think. I've just shown two arts that can make this as easily if not more easily than the Tireless Servant. Not that you'd want to actually make the enchantment easier at the end of the day, since per the rules in Covenant, it's the end lab total that determines the final bonus, not whether the enchantment is efficient, unless the enchantment somehow replicates an existing virtue instead of giving a bonus. In other words, go ahead and abstract it, and feel no shame in using the art you think makes more sense to you given your magi build.