unFamiliar lab assistants

Can a familiar serve as a lab assistant to any Magi, or just its own?
If they can help anyone this could be a good way for trusted allies to help each other out without suffering the social stigma of being a lab assistant.

I think only you : the familiar virtue is in your lab, and the bonuses are given from your cord.

Besides, since familiar are an exception to the gift requirement, it could be because they have that special bond... but only with you.

They couldnt help as a familiar, but wether they could help as a regular assistant... Good question...
My guess would be yes.

I believe only the Safety bonus comes from a cord.

I can see ruling this way or the other way. However, if you're going to rule this way this rule is insufficient. You also need to determine if they can work with you as a lab assistant, meaning if you're an assistant can they be, too?


I would say yes, with the understanding that it would be rare, for your familiar is not your minion, he is your friend. Second, it should give the same hit to "status" that you would get for working under another mage. Last, better Really trust the other mage........

Would you work for a season for another magus' familiar?

(And the Familiar... but that's a diff discussion.) 8)

A Familiar can help their wizard in the Lab because of the special bond between them, but an "assistant" must (usually*) be Gifted - is a Familiar "Gifted"? There's really no evidence to support such a claim...

(* There are endless exceptions besides a Familiar - humonculous, demons, etc. But in each of those cases, it's a personal, individually forged relationship, not an open-ended one.)

But it's hardly a gamebreaker if a SG wants to rule that it's legit - it's a very isolated ruling, and has no impact of fallout on any other rule (unlike so many other magic-system tweaks we could name...)

The Familiar would almost certainly have to be able to somehow communicate effectively w/ that other mage, and probably have to have some MuAn effect to have "hands" (or something close?) in order to be as useful as a human assistant. (Not mandatory normally because... um... just because. Leave me alone, I'm busy in the lab.)

As was pointed out above, this is incorrect.


Hm, it seems to me that the regular rule is that the assistant must be Gifted and have a Magic Theory score (p. 103, ArM 5 Main book) and that familiars and "familiar-like" assistants are the exception due to the forging of a bond that extends one's Gift for the purpose of assistantship. Otherwise why wouldn't magi just train up a bright mundane as a lab assistant? Forget that apprentice, he takes up valuable time, what with the Code requiring a season of training every year!

I pointed out the common error in the parallel thread. Page 103 does not say that. Page 103 says the converse, and conditional statements do not imply their converses. If you have Magic Theory and The Gift, then you can be an assistant. The converse, that if you are an assistant then you must be Gifted and have Magic Theory, is not implied. So Familiars are not an exception. Rather, there is a list of those who can assist, the most common two being those with the Gift plus Magic Theory (need not be trained in Hermetic Magic) and Familiars. But, as seen with Failed Apprentice, those two do not form an exhaustive list. HoH:MC adds another to the list.

Now, while there is no exclusionary case given, most of us probably wouldn't let just anyone be an assistant. Most of us would only accept someone from the allowed list. That is pretty standard in rules interpretations, that when you are given a list of allowed things you don't just start accepting anything not on the list, especially when nothing is specifically disallowed. So that an assistant need not be Gifted does not imply just anyone can be an assistant.

So, no, assistants need not be Gifted, and that does not cause some big problem with magi training mundanes.


The rules are fairly brief on this, and provide an override to the 'must have the Gift' requirement for lab assistance:

This sits in a paragraph talking about general 'benfits for being a familiar' rather than anything explicitly releating to the Bond. It's alongside things like being able to understand langauges and having an Intelligence score.

My personal interpretation of this, given the context, would be that the familiar can serve as a laboratory assistant much like any Gifted person could. This to me means any magus.

I would require the leading researcher to have sufficient leadership for all his lab helpers, though. The familiar 'freebie' only applies if you have one other assistant, so means you don't need leadership to manage both your apprentice and your familiar. I'd also argue that the freebie option only applies to your familiar, since that's what the rules say. :slight_smile:

So to lead a lab effort consisting of you, your familiar, your apprentice, your amici, their familiar and their apprentice you'd need a leadership score of 5. I'd interpret the rules on familiar 'freebie' to only apply for one additional assistant.

I think you're on very shaky ground saying the rules don't imply an assistant must have the Gift and a Magic Theory score of at least one.

I agree about the use of Leadership.

Not very shaky:

  1. Proper use of logic: conditional statements do not imply their converses. If (Gift+MT) then (lab assistant) is written. The converse is if (lab assistant) then (Gift+MT). The former sentence does not imply the latter.
  2. There is are two examples within ArM5 itself: Familiars and Failed Apprentices. Thus ArM5 considers The Gift not to be a requirement.

Sure, 99% or more of those who can be assistants are likely to be Gifted or be Familiars, and I'm not disagreeing with that.


The rules do not explicitly state you absolutely must have the Gift and a magic theory score of at least one. However, to say that lack of explicit statement also means it isn't implied is shaky. Especially given the context within which the sentence I quoted sits.

But two (within ArM5 itself, more later) explicit examples contradicting the need for The Gift do more than strongly imply what I'm saying is correct.


Err... If

  • MT+ The Gift = I can be an assistant

Then I assume that

  • No MT and/or No Gift = no lab assistant.

You can't be an assistant in the first place if you do not have those 2 characteristics. Calling yourself an "assistant" without having those 2 characteristics does not make you into one. If you do not need the gift to be an assistant, why the hell is it listed as a requisite to be an assistant? Makes no sense to me :open_mouth:

Where is the contrary to that? :confused: It says that it requires both a score in MT and the gift in order to help in the lab.... Positively surprised that you read it otherwise, and looking forward to see how you can read it differently.


I'm seeing two interpretations of 'rule'

  1. Rule as limiter.
    This is how laws work. The assumption is that the enactor can do anything, and rules are placed in to stop them from being an ass. Absence of rule means you may. Explicit rule means you may not. If we apply this to the lab assistant scenario then callen is right, as his logic is sound. (A -> B does not mean B -> A, so the second is allowed)

  2. Rule as enabler
    The base state is you can't do anything. The rule then describes what you can do. This is how methods on objects work (coder!). Absence of rule means you may not. Explicit rule explains how you may. If we apply this to the lab assistant scenario then callen is wrong. (A -> B does not mean B -> A, so the second is disallowed)

RPGs tend to sway between these two. If you go exclusively with option 2, creativity is eliminated. If you go exclusively with option 1, rules lawyers can have a field day and potentially bog down / break the game.

This is where the Limit of SG Patience comes into play. How that gets enabled is going to vary by saga, but typically attempting to break it has dire consequences!

My own interpretation of the lab assistant situation is it falls under option 2: rule as enabler. Each explicit example enables from a base of 'you may not help in the lab.' This isn't explicit, so...

In short: YSMV :smiley:

No, Familiars and Failed Apprentices can be lab assistants without one of those two characteristics. Thus the assumption must be incorrect.

It isn't listed as a requirement. Only a misreading, including my own original misreading, makes one think it is listed as a requirement. There should be no shock. Most of us just read it incorrectly the first time.

No, it doesn't say you need MT and The Gift. Reducing it to an if-then statement, it says if you have MT and The Gift, then you can be a lab assistant. The converse of that is if you can be a lab assistant then you must have MT and The Gift. You are reading the converse of the statement in the book, not the statement in the book itself. Here's an example:

Original: If it is a cat, then it is an animal.
Converse: If it is an animal, then it is a cat.

What you find surprising is the equivalent to being surprised I don't think all animals are cats. Go read it again if you doubt me.


First, note, you must have misread half of what I have written or you could not possibly conclude this makes me wrong. I have never said anyone qualifies regardless of The Gift. I have only said The Gift is not required. There is an immense difference there. Not only that, but I have very clearly shown how #2 supports what I have said even more strongly than does #1:

Rule as enabler:
Familiars can be lab assistants.

Rule as enabler:
Failed Apprentices can be lab assistants.

(And there are more.)

Ergo by 2 you do not need The Gift, either. So no, Rule as enabler agrees with me.


Failed Apprentices are "failed" because their Arts somehow failed to open, not because they lack the Gift in the first place.

On the list of what the characters are allowed to take/learn/do and what they are not allowed to take/learn/do: "You may not have The Gift..."

They are allowed to have a not fully destroyed Gift, manifesting as a Supernatural Ability or two.