What Abilities don't benefit from Learn (ability) from Mistakes

The Virtue Learn (ability) from Mistakes gives XP when you botch, or mis a roll by exactly 1.

But what Abilities don't you roll on?
I can only think of Parma Magica and Penetration.



My personal feeling on a response to the title, though, is "By comparison, all of them." Consider how many botches or misses by 1 you need to match the benefit of Puissant or Affinity. Sure, you get 5 points, which is a big chunk. But you still have to fail by 1 or botch a whole bunch of times just to catch up with a likely 30 or so experience boost you've got a character creation for Puissant or Affinity. And you can intentionally make Puissant or Affinity grow from there, and probably will, by putting lots of experience in your favorite thing. Meanwhile, if it's your favorite thing, you might take Cautious with (Ability), and that makes botching even less likely, so it works against this Virtue. If it's a combat Ability, surviving a likely botch is worth a lot more than being dead and gaining 5 experience. Personally, I would only start to consider this after taking both Puissant and Affinity, and probably still not take it.

To some extend this is very saga dependent. I agree that mathematically it's suboptimal, but it can be a fun character idea. To really shine, it needs a saga where your Storyguide (1) doesn't let you just amass books easily, (2) likes to make people roll a bunch of things, (3) uses simple dice a lot more than stress dice, or (4) doesn't have destructive botches.
Imagine a game where simple dice are common, stress dice are rare, and the companion-level child of the Autocrat has Learn Etiquette from Mistakes, and during an adventure scouting out the local noble's party, they spend a number of hours socializing with the upper crust. The easy thing to do is to roll Etiquette once or twice, say you impressed 2 families and angered one, and then did a good showing for the duke. But I know some storyguide types who would roleplay out 10-12 different conversations with an etiquette or intrigue or guile roll for each, definitely Folk Ken for each. Imagine if this adventure was three sessions, with four-six characters sharing screen time. It's very reasonable to assume that those three sessions allowed a number of miss-by-one rolls, and that adventure just became +15 xp.
But Learn Ability from Mistakes really needs to be in the right group and storyguide to shine; Social skills and maybe Awareness, possibly Realm Lores are the only skills it seems good to me for.

I haven't tried using it; however, I would think the "miss by 1" would get tricky in cases where there were different degrees of success. If meeting EF 3 gets you the information basically everyone knows, and there's a gradient up to EF 18 for lost secrets, then presumably you only get the xp is you have a total of 2, which you're highly likely to top even before adding on the die.

So a given character would make in the ballpark of 33 rolls with a given Ability, expecting to botch less than once, even assuming no Cautious with (Ability). That's about 0.5 instance. With Cautious with (Ability) this drops to nearly 0. As for failing, we have to consider two things. First, is it possible to fail. Figuring this is going to be a primary Ability for the PC and that PC is probably a Companion or Magus to be featured so much, the character should be one of the better ones around, so their score is very likely higher than the average they're competing against. Let's say they're an Ease Factor magnitude (3) higher than the average, which is probably a serious underestimate. Failing by 1 will happen on approximately 7% of rolls. So you'll end up with about 2.8 instances. However, you also have Confidence, which can specifically be used when you know it's close and have failed, so on those 2.3 instances of missing by 1, you may well decide you're better off succeeding by 2. Let's say that happens once per two adventures. Now you're at about 2.3 instances, for a gain of about 11.5-2.5=9 experience compared to Puissant (commonly the better of the two for Abilities) or Affinity, figuring you'd put experience into it from the adventure. Figuring you can gain experience in the interim, Puissant or Affinity could certainly add another 3 between adventures, leaving the gain around 6.

That 8 may seem pretty good, but it gets worse. It will take you about 5 such adventures to match an estimated +30 you would have started with by taking Puissant or Affinity. So you're still behind for a while. Now, as you're catching up, you're gaining 20ish experience per adventure during and between adventures. That means you're improving the Ability's score at roughly 1 every other adventure on average from a high starting score to a very high score. Each time it goes up, let's say adventures get more difficult and the average opponent also improves in the competing Ability's score by 0.25 (this would keep them advancing on average pretty well with a group of PCs). That 7% will now drop by about 0.375% per adventure, so your experience gain drops about 0.5 per adventure. Things start looking worse now.

Let's see what that is. For the adventures, you catch up by roughly 6, 5.5, 5, 4.5, 4, 3.5, 3, ... You're caught up after about 7 adventures, you're ahead for a few more, and then you'll fall behind again. So even with this SG who is leaning so heavily toward rolls that benefit this Virtue, it's still not as good as Puissant and Affinity.


Totally agreed!

This is a terrible virtue. In order for it to be worthwhile, you need to roll the Ability lots and lots and lots. There is a point at which it can do better than Puissant or Affinity, though that point will not be reached in actual play.

But suppose it is reached. Then, as noted above, wouldn't it be much, much better to take Cautious?

As for fun, sure. It can sometimes be fun to do something pessimal.



Careless Sorcerer, Twilight Prone, Careless with (Enigmatic Wisdom) & Learn (Enigmatic Wisdom) from Mistakes?

I'm not sure that would get you any higher than either Puissant Enigmatic Wisdom or Affinity with Enigmatic Wisdom. The reason is that you'll end up out of play for extended periods pretty quickly because you'll pick up Warping Points so fast from Twilight. And then you'll hit Final Twilight.

Even worse is Learn from Mistakes for Spell Mastery. Taking Spell Mastery means you're far less likely to botch and also more likely to succeed, so the act of picking up Learn from Mistakes makes it worse.

I have seen this style thing work well, though. Turn to RoP:tI. Take Corrupted Arts or Corrupted Spells (or Corrupted Abilities, but Arts work better). Possibly take Self-Confident as well. Now, when you're casting a spell for evil, adjust your voice and gestures as necessary to just barely succeed. Then about a third of the time you would not have succeeded without the bonus. When you're casting it for non-evil, make sure you only fail on a botch. And then you have Confidence Points to adjust when needed, but only use so many for acts of evil that without the corruption bonus you would still fail. Now you can generate some really serious experience! And you don't have to pay anything more than your soul for it! What a bargain!

Agreed. Missing by 1, if it's important, players will confidence past it. It's a sad degree of meta, when a players knows they can put in the extra effort to succeed, they choose not to, because this failed roll probably won't kill them and they want 5 XP.

If the SG was mean, they could give them a bad reputation, for being a slacker and not trying their hardest.

To be worthwhile, it should affect a cluster of skills. All martial, All physical, All social, all academic, etc. Even then, it's marginal.

While unrolled abilities like Parma obviously don't benefit from Learn from Mistakes, I think there's really a continuum above that, based mostly on three aspects:

  1. How often you roll. You may occasionally roll Magic Theory or Speak Own Language, but not nearly enough to make the Virtue worthwhile. On the other hand, in a single scene you will roll a martial ability over and over.
  2. How big are the risks of rolling ... and either failing or botching. Failing or botching with Music is not nearly as bad as doing the same with Great Weapon. Almost riskless abilities ensure the character can go out of its way to roll them often in any given session, likely netting those 5xp. Note that for risky abilities such as combat ones taking Cautious reduces the value of Learn from Mistakes, but not by that much: missing by 1 is almost always more frequent than botching, often 10 times more frequent.
  3. What other opportunities for improvement are there. This is crucial. We tend to think about magi learning from books and perhaps teachers, but it's not always the case. Supernatural abilites can be great candidates for Learn from Mistakes.

Personally, I do not think that Learn from Mistakes is always that bad. It really, really depends on the frequency and length of adventures. Three sessions per adventure, in a saga that runs 2 adventures per game year, and Learn from Mistakes in an ability that you can exercise often rocks. And combine it with an Affinity...

I must admit I do have a soft spot for idea of a character with Learn Finesses From Mistakes, and Affinity with Finesse.

Oh, no, wait! It's worse than I thought. I just read through it again. Learn from Mistakes can only come up within a story and can only come up once per story, even if it's multiple sessions. So your maximum gain per story (including the seasons in between) is +5, period. Assuming you're using this in your favored Ability, where you'll also be putting experience directly from adventures and intermittently in between, this will almost never have a chance of matching Puissant or Affinity. You necessarily start behind them by a large margin and can pretty much only catch up if it's an Ability you don't care to put experience into yourself. But if you don't care enough about this Ability, why did you spend a Virtue on it?

It is extraordinarily bad, but “once per story” bad?

The first time in a given game session that you botch a roll or fail by exactly one point, you gain five experience points in the Ability. The roll must have come up naturally in the course of the story.

Sorry, you're right. Once per game session.That's not nearly as bad, but it still cuts down significantly on how well it works in my estimated very-good-case scenario above.

Fixing my analysis, we have to consider when those botches and misses show up in the same session v. entirely separate sessions, and there is no way to get more than 1 per session. That brings the average down to about 2 instances in that 3-session adventure. Adjusting as above for Puissant/Affinity, time between adventures, spending Confidence, and decreasing instances with increasing Ability, that gives about a gain of 2. But you won't advance quite so quickly, so it will probably decrease by about 0.3 per adventure instead. So you catch up to Puissant/Affinity 2, 1.7, 1.4, 1.1, .8, .5, .2, -.1, ... never. You never get close.

So, with an SG who makes you roll a specific Ability about 10-12 times per session for three sessions per adventure and one adventure per year, Learn from Mistakes way, way underperforms against the other two.

If you change to one such adventure per season, then we're looking at 5, 4.7, 4.4, 4.1, 3.8, 3.5, 3.2, 2.9, ... catching up after 8 seasons. One such adventure every other season, then we're looking at 4, 3.7, 3.4, 3.1, 2.8, 2.5, 2.2, 1.9, 1.6, 1.3, 1, .7, .4, .1... never catching up, but at least close briefly, but generally far behind.

So, to get this Virtue on par with Affinity/Puissant, you need the character to go on the equivalent to one adventure per season with each adventure taking three sessions and each session requiring rolls for this Ability 10-12 times. Even then, you start worse with this Virtue, eventually catch up and move just a little ahead, and then eventually become worse again. In the early game and in the overall character lifetime, you're probably still behind.


There does exist a degenerate case in which Learn from Mistakes is the best virtue that grants xps during play, in which the game begins with an adventure, runs for many sessions that represent a small amount of game time, and ends without that adventure ever completing.

LfM is the only way to get xps from real-world time rather than game time, so none of the other virtues ever trigger.




What about houseruling it so it isn’t linked to a single ability, but to all of them? So the first time you fail by 1 or botch, you get 5 XPs in whatever
Ability you were using?

Sort of, but only with a caveat about the minimum size on "many." But don't forget the person with Affinity or Puissant essentially starting with something in the ballpark of 30 extra points, perhaps even more. So even in this degenerate case LfM is behind for a while, probably at least 6 sessions, and that's assuming you have a botch or miss by 1 every session. So "many" must be significantly greater than 6 as you would only hope to catch up by then. If we're talking this 10-12 rolls on the one Ability per session, then you need significantly greater than 9.

Not the only way, and others are better.

If it were reduced to per adventure rather than per session, this would probably balance out well with Independent Study.

I should mention that my 30-point estimate is a fairly best-cast scenario for LfM since we were looking for when it might be worthwhile. Let's say you start with the maximum Ability for a young character of 5+2 (just Puissant) or 7 (just Affinity). Then Puissant starts off worth 140-75=65 points, or Affinity starts off worth 140-93=47 points. If you take both to start at 7+2, they're worth 225-93=132 together or 66 apiece. If you raise it higher for being older, they're worth even more.

So, even if we look at the degenerate case, if we're dealing with someone who takes 5+2 or 5+LfM, "many" would have to be significantly greater than 19, since 19 sessions would roughly be the break-even point for 10-12 rolls per session on that Ability. Up until then, Puissant has been better the whole time and has likely saved some Confidence Points.

What is sad is that we have to push LfM so extremely hard to get it in the neighborhood of Puissant/Affinity.