I was thinking on the question of writing a tractus which is level Com + 6.
Now that value could be increased if you had a virtue like Good Teacher.
Now you may have a magi that is very knowledgable on a subject but the odds that they have a good communication skill much less a virtue like Good Teacher might be pretty poor.
I was wondering if their might be a spell that would allow you to transfer the basics of the knowledge to a "Scribe/Teacher" Grog and direct them to do the actual writing. You might then benefit from their virtue and communication ability to formulate words like a present day ghost writer.
The other side of this would be that it would be attempting to get around what is the normal limit or be an effect so high in level ( though I do not think it should be as high as switching minds ) that it unpractical except for certain magi.
creo mentem, "create the caster's understanding of x in the mind of the target".
I'd have the magus create the spell specific to the particular bit of knowlege that they want to replicate in the target (ie. the spell confers the understanding of the applicable art/ability that was possessed by the magiwhen they inventred the spell). I think that this would work fine, and by work fine I mean that it would be hard to do, possibly warp the target (although ideally the spell would be designed for them there is still that matter of long term exposure) but might just have a worth while pay-off in the long run.
It raises the question: why aren't Arts and MT taught that way in the first place? I'd expect there would be casting tablets floating around that cover permanent CrMe "Instant Knowledge of the Masterful Apprentice" rituals. Poof! Skilled lab assistant.
Um, apart from the obvious risk of abuse, I think it would not be possible to separate knowledge from something and the ability to express it.
I mean, even if your grog/teacher companion is superb at explaining things, he still needs to be knowledgeable. And how he acquires that knowledge?
Here is where you can either:
a) Teach the teacher until he has got an appropiate level of knowledge to write that book (but that's not what you're looking for), or
b) invent a spell for fast and reliable transmission of knowledge. Probably a CrMe or a Cr(In)Me, but you should think it carefully before allowing such a spell in your saga, as it would be ripe for abuse...
Of course, your character always can learn/invent a CrMe to improve his Com...
I think that the result would be unnatural (understanding being a personal thing, you've got your understanding not somebody else's) and thus not a valid target for a permanent momentary ritual. (yeah I pulled that one out of thin air. Good question)
We are talking a companion teacher or a skilled grog in scribing. A little warping they will hardly notice in their short lives
Rule abuse is the big thing but trying to find where those limits might be is what these types of questions ponder ( before a player tries to bring up the idea in a saga in the middle of a game session ).
When it comes to the question of using such spells on yourself? Why should we magi risk warping ourselves if we can find a way for someone else to share this burden for us?
I think I'd be likely simply to veto any suggestion of magically implanting information in companions' heads just so as to take advantage of their academic virtues. To me, that's just munchkinism, and should swiftly be stamped upon.
I'd also be pretty sure that, even using Creo or Muto Mentem magics, it should be impossible to simply "download" detailed knowledge into another's character's brain. Past of Another, for instance, might cause its target to believe he'd read a particular book, but it would be pushing things too far to allow him to recall its contents. Taken to its logical extreme, one magus could cast this upon another, who'd then be able to scribe four seasons' worth of texts the former had read before the spell expired. I've had players in my sagas of the sort who would argue in favour of being capable of this, but never for very long.
I'd agree with Eric's suggestion that understanding is a personal thing, and not one that can simply be created, even with magic. Further, recollection is obviously not perfect. Consider the Memory Palace and Consume Logos spells from the Mysteries.
A more basic point would be that, if the Order were capable of such things, then one would expect all apprentices to be trained in that way, saving all that tedious mucking about with teaching and writing books that is such an important part of the game and its background. Taken, again, to its logical extreme, every magus in the Order would possess all the magical and mundane wisdom of every magus before them, like sme kind of weird gestalt, and very different from the that portrayed in the game's background.
I seem to be spending a lot of time insisting things can't be done. I shall go and think of something more positive to contribute.
I don't think this is a bad thing. I like to think of myself as a big spoilsport at this board sometimes. I'm always bashing liberal interpretations of the rules.
As I see it, players often have big dreams and want those dreams now. But they rarely think about the consequences of a rule change. Or more accurately, perhaps the storyguide doesn't think about the consequences of a rules change. Having ok'd it, the storyguide finds himself in trouble as abuses start to occur. Abuses are not only a pain for a storyguide in terms of salvageing the game, but they are a pain in terms of negotiating the feelings of all the players.
The storyguide has to listen to the other players who may feel slighted because special rules or privledge have been given to one player. In turn, the storyguide might have to confront a single player who is abusing the rules (possibly with permission) and tell them to stop.
I'm all for house rules, my game has all sorts of weird little rules. But gaming is more than a tweak to mechanics or the addition of a particular bonus. It's a social setting and social gathering for friends. And what in the short term can appear to be a minor mechanical adjustment to satisfy an individuals happyness while gaming can turn into a severe group crisis, sometimes bringing a game or group of friends to an end.
I am in no way suggesting this happens all the time, but in my experience I prefer to stay very close to the rules so that few if any in my group of friends can argue over the rules.
I think that there is an indistinct yet important line to be seen between a ridiculus idea exploited to gain a game mechanics benefit with no regard to story, and a reasonable in-game activity for a character to pursue that can lead to good stories and game mechanical beenfits for the character.
I don't think that this idea necessarily has to fall on the munchkin side of that line. Imagine what cool stories you could tell as a result of some charcaters walking around with parts of the other character's minds in their heads. The idea screams to be exploited !!!
If you veto a thought because of a munchkin application then you loose the ability to use the thought in other ways.
Here is an artefact from the schism war that I'm hopeing to place into my game at some point. It uses the same process.
Heliosâ€™s ring of the mind splinter
A simple steel ring enchanted with a single muto mentem effect.
Splitner of the Aggressive Mind
Muto Mentem 35
R Touch D Sun T Part
The Target of this spell has the part of their mind that understands how spells penetrate changed into part of a mind very much like the one possesed Helios, the ring's creator. During the duration of the effect, the target is treated as if they had a penetration score of seven with a specialization in ignem. The effects of the spell masteries that Helios had are also reflected in the mind of the target. If the target chooses to cast panic of the trembling heart they receive an additional level of penetration skill, if they choose to cast Pillum of fire, they receive four additional levels of penetration skill. In addition to these beneficial effects the target also receives a small fraction of the personality of the long dead magus. The target will have the personality traits of hurried +2 and hatred of secrets+4 for the duration of the spell. The target gains a point of warping each time the effect is used due to the powerful magical effect. Most magi feel somewhat disturbed by their experience after the effect fades but do not recall being bothered during the duration of the effect itself. Base 15 +2 magnitudes duration sun, +1 magnitude range touch, +1 magnitude target part 1 use per day
Fair enough, both the idea of exploring another character's microcosm, and the magic ring retaining elements of its maker's personality are great examples of the story potential of Mentem magic.
The original proposition, on the other hand, that of "how can my character download his knowledge into another character's head so that they can write it down, thus getting me the benefit of a virtue without paying for it" is nought but munchkinism in my book.
We had a story where one of our magi died in the game. In fact he had been captured by his enemy, his mind was 'replaced' with the memories of a servant. So basically this G+7 year Magus was walking around thinking he was a lowly servant of his enemy.
During the course of the adventure, the Magus's apprentice, who had been turned over to the his Pater's Pater (GrandPater?) had to discover that his Master was still alive and in the hands of his enemy.
The whole process of wipeing the memory and replacing it with a new one. We never detailed this at all. It was just a platform for the apprentice to realize he had to take on a full magus and save his Pater.
Maybe we have a reoccuring theme, but we have had fair share of young magi taking on old magi. It was a fanastic adventure. Basically in the final fight, the apprentice beat the evil wizard by causing him to trip and fall off a ledge. Never had to beat his Parma or anything (he couldn't).
The apprentice saved his Pater, the memories were restored, and soon afterward the apprentice was gauntleted. It was a great adventure. Everyone loved it.