What is the average Tractatus Quality?

The answer to the question should be based on how much would a PC be charged for access to a similar work. Of course that's based on how rare such texts are, hence the subject of the thread. What I'm saying is if you set the availability of high Q texts low then that raises the value of creating a character that is a good writer proportionally.

Also if your publishing for trade good writers might not even bother to use skilled craftsmen and resonant materials. Let the customers add their own after market modifications.

It may be troupe discretion but it should be tied to what you make the characters go through to get good books. Since the payoff should be proportional to how good a writer they are, if it's established that good books cost a lot of vis and/or adventure then creating a really good writer makes plenty of sense.

Selling down a few stats it's basically three minor virtues to start with Com +5 and Good Teacher. Or you could go with an Essential Virtue that applies to writing, and for one major and one minor you can get an effective Com +6 and Good Teacher and you don't have to sell down any stats. What would you expect PC's to do to get access to such a writers books. That's roughly what a player who makes such a writer should rightfully expect from NPC's who want his character's books.

Not exactly. You're prolly only saying that because you missed the first sentence of the section:

There isn't a single FRN (fraction round to nearest) spelled out in ArsMag, all those are FRU. So yes, "rounding up" always means "round all fractions up". Unless you want rounding to be an inconsistent mess.

Yes, Arthur, sorry. I did miss that assumption about rituals. I'm not sure it's a reasonable assumption based on what's in the core books and how I think the economics would play out. For instance, I did this (developing the rituals) myself with one character. I was able to keep the expense down and make an enormous profit with ease. The writers in the game didn't give it a second thought for Communication.

Yes, but this is an estimate. I expect it would be reasonable to consider Q10-Q12 all "sound." I'm saying a grouping like that could help merge the two of your ideas into something more cohesive, especially since this grouping was mentioned earlier. We'll see just how many different tractatus there are, and that it's a really large number without ridiculous assumptions built in. Then if you assume the writer sold off a few copies, we get an incredibly large number of sound tractatus per covenant on average.


Actually, there is one fraction rounded down (in Ablating). There might be another somewhere. But, yes, generally that's the case. Not only that, in most cases of division rounding up is specified, though there are a few cases with no rounding noted at all.

Yes, agreed. What else would it reasonably imply in this context?

One question of course is motivation- people who have high abilities In writing (high comm, good teacher) are going to get more out of trading books, similarly those who copy texts are going to get more out of copying high value texts. From that perspective the only reason there would be any widespread tracti under level 11 is if there is simply a shortage of traci over. On the other hand the fairly low published value for tracti would suggest they are less likely to be copied often...

OK, the basis of this is that the Order is large and there is trade in books. This makes the Ordcer a lot like some of the monastic systems, and in some ways like modern libraries. The production of books doesn't occur in an undifferentiated way across the Order: it often happens in special places, designed and staffed for that purpose. As such it doesn't matter what the average person, or lab, is like. What matters is what these production centres look like. Your individual PCs desire to write qa tractus does not actually matter all that much: unless he;s comewhat exceptional, then there have been a lot of magi with similar skill before, and their works have been collected, stored and distributed.

See: there's your problem. A magus with a Com of ), and no particular virtues should be spending their time doing something of value to the rest of the Order. Their tractuatus is of no particular value to anyone. You are saying a person with a Com of 0 and no virtues is adequate. No, they aren't. They should not write books.
Medieva libraries, and modern libraries, aren't museums for the random musings of anyone who can put their thoughts on paper: they are machines for research, and part of that process is a winnowing of the useless and a retention of the materials of the highest quality.

It's not by any historical standard reasonable to suggest a 60% loss. Even the wholesale burning of libraries during the Islamic incursions into the Middle East and North Africa did not destroy 60% of the books known to have been held in those libraries. I know these burnings are historically problematic in other ways too.

The Order's library structure is weird, and deliberately so, in that it has a single deposit library (Durenmar). This was deliberately not fixed, because the Order isn't perfect. Practically speaking even if Durenmar were burned down, 60% of the Order's useful books would not disappear unless its methods of curating its greater collection are, by historical standards, profoundly strange. Of course, in your assumptions, your libraries are collecting everything like magpies (which is the most expensive way to build a library, and makes it the most difficult to use, which is weird), so the loss of Durenmar might indeed lead to the loss of huge amounts of irrelevant rubbish no-one else wanted to collect.

The whole point of medieval libraries was to have scriptoria, and to distribute. Books are, and always have been, for use, not storage. When modern librarians say "This is not a museum" it fundamentally misunderstands how vibrant museums are, but it makes the point that libraries are not about collecting, and even in the monastic period, were not about universal acquisition.

Basically, the idea that anyone ever has the very last version of anything important is just weird. That's not how real libraries have ever worked.

Libraries are actively curated for use, and because of resource pressures, always have been. Why are your PCs acquiring these useless books by people with Com -3?

No, but the fervor with which House Guernicus expunged House Diedne from the Order suggests some loss.

I agree, but yet, we seem to treat the loss of Alexandria as a huge loss of knowledge that didn't exist anywhere else.

We see it as that because it's a symbolic loss, and the idea of it burning down is picturesque. We certainly didn't lose 60% of the books in it, even though the other largest nearby library (Pergamum) had been consolidated with it by Marc Antony (destroying a useful duplication). The acquisition policy we have heard about, which is that they copied every book from every ship that came into port, works precisely on the idea that the books are never the initial and only copy. The books from the Library of Alexandria had been copied by wealthy people for centuries: for example in 1220 the library of the Sultan of Egypt contains a lot of the texts from the Library of Alexandria, because he's just collected them from his predecessors and courtiers. It's actually larger than the LoE was, because he has better access to the Islamic centres of study, and to European works, than the Ptolemies did. He also has more ancient Egyptian stuff (odd, but apparently true) and basically Islamic science is cooler by 1220 than it was back in 642 so there's more to collect, and he has more money than his predecessors did, so he can afford to collect more widely

Sure, it's gradual loss (it was not burned down in a single event) was terrible because libraries are machines, and the pieces of the machine (the books) were strewn into smaller and less useful machines, so you get Church librarians rather than a new Erosthenes. That doesn't mean a heap of books were lost, though, and in the Islamic world you did get scholars rocking out in libraries.

Low quality tracti Q6-8 have some use. They are better than nothing in a pinch. People with Book Learner find them quite adequate. Niche abilities with little on the subject mean these are still better than simple practice. (Cult Lores for example). They can fill out encyclopedias. Florilegia can never have too many tracti to draw from. If you are using the large library rules in Transforming Mythic Europe they go great as flavouring for better books. (Especially since they can always claim that +1 commentary bonus if specially written.) They also are probably unique enough to count as Realia.

All that said, very few magi will want to use them as something they study from for a season. Think... article in Nature.

Yes, it's fair to say I'm hammering the point for emphasis.

I think that you are forgetting that the Order is tiny. So, there is not a huge pool of authors, so the available Hermetic authors might just not be very good.

You are comparing to medieval libraries, which is a good idea, and to a certain extent (although not exclusively) medieval libraries are clerical libraries. Roughly 2% of the medieval population is clergy, and so is a potential clerical author. This means approximately 80,000 potential clerical authors to select from in England alone. By comparison there are only around 1,000 magi in the entire Order of Hermes in Mythic Europe.

No way an article in Nature is Quality 8. Maybe 3.

While that is true, I think the situation is not comparable in that Hermetic magi are richer (yes, even than monasteries), and can more easily preserve, copy, and distribute books.

Also I often think that since this world is a magical setting, the use of magics in the production and preservation of books tends to make magical book less likely to be loss or destroyed.

That may be true, but that is about what happens to the books that are written. I'm talking about the quality of the potential pool of authors to write them.

In an Order of (say) 1000 living magi how many (naturally) have Com +3 and Virtues that are handy for authorship? Four or five magi, maybe less?

Although counter-balanced to an unknown extent by the potential use of magic to be much more thorough when attempting to destroy books or restrict access to them.

Not to mention the potential for books to be nearby when magic goes boom.

IMO, we're bothering needlessly. Everytime there's discussions for this, I see reasonnable arguments being sent back and forth.

What we should probably do is do the reverse: Select the average book quality we each want for our saga, and then, choose the reasons for it.

We want high book qualities? Yes, sure, good teacher is quite common, as are stat-boosting rituals, great books being heavily copied. There are bonisagus initiations for good teacher, too!
We want low qualities? There was few good teachers, which doesn't correlate with high com. Stat increasing rituals are a Mercere secret (as per HoH: tL) and were no used. That, and the few really good authors weren't that interested in writing.

With more people the potential of bad authors increases as well...

I think you are severely lowballing the amount of people capabable to write a sound tractatus. You can reach Q11 in three ways:

  1. Com +5
  2. Com +2 and Good teacher
  3. Essential Virtue (Major)

For characteristics a score of up to +3 is higher than average and beyond that is exceptional. IQ can easily represent what int and com does in Ars and 2% of the population has an IQ of 130+ which i'd count as exceptional. Since magi are more to the academic side i don't see them as representative of the general population but more representative of people who attend college/university, so the amount of exceptional people should be much, much higher than 2%. Accounting for the fact that there should be a lot more people with +4 compared to +5 and not everyone excels verbally it's reasonable to assume that the amount of people with a +5 com at any given time is at least in the low double digits.

Taking into account the other two combinations i'd say you're easily looking at 40-50 magi who can write a sound tractatus or 3-4% of the Order's population.

This discussion has presumed the rules in Covenants for writing texts, so to get to 11, you have more ways and combinations when you include +1 or +2 for resonant materials. +3 is still possible with clarification, but the expense is probably not worth it.
Also, it would be a house rule in your saga as to whether Essential Virtue would apply to book writing quality, as RoP:Magic states explicitly that the virtue applies to rolls, and not to totals. It becomes something of a problem when you have a combination of Com 5 Good Teacher and Essential Virtue (minor) Writing and you start cranking out Q11 texts, or worse, the major version and you're cranking out Q14 texts without any professionals supporting the effort.

We've also defined a range for sound tractatus as 10-12, I think. Or at least I have. So, to get to Q10, including skilled professionals the +3 constant addition you get to Q6. Leaving 4 points left over to come from any combination of Communication Characteristic, Good Teacher and resonant materials.

There is also the fact that with really advanced craftsmen in Scribe, Illumination and Bookbinding one could arguably boost the effective level by anywhere from+3 to +9, though there has been significant opposition to the idea of using these rules from City and Guild with book quality. If you do use them though it would seem to me that sound quality could easily go up to 17, or if left at 11 could be easier to reach... (this is assuming the a +2 bonus per skill (workshop total 15 skill 6), though there is a lot which could stand to be clarified in terms of those rules...)