Which summa would you like best?

This is a question about the "Exceptional Book" major boon: the finest summa ever written on an Art, with maximum Quality 25, maximum Level 20, and Quality+Level 35.

Suppose your covenant were to be granted a copy of such a book by the owners, for covenant use only (no lending, selling etc.). What would be the book (under these Level+Quality constraints) that you'd like best? What Art? What Quality and Level?
EDIT: Disregard for the time being the various Quality modifications (resonant materials, poor scribing etc. etc.) available in Covenants -- it's just a "plain" book.

Our choice would probably be a Level 15, Quality 20 summa on Creo -- though Level 20, Quality 15 would also be very, very nice.

Parma :slight_smile:
leading to good stories I think ...


Fairly high level. raising an art to 10-13 is relatively ueasy with normal study rules. THEN you need to start looking at that ligh level, low quality summa*. I would aim for level 19-22. Only people with a high grounding (level 14 in the art) can get priority access to it. Othwerwise you end up with apprentice level characters wanting to read the lasterpiece of the covenant. OK if nobody wants to read it, but fairly bad if their elders have an interest in it.

*Low quality for a suma is anything below level 18.

IMS the chosen art would be Muto, Rego, Terram or Herbam since it has uses from a military, utility and production points of view, and they do not require vis for permanent changes since the raw materials are all around to be worked on.


I'd go for a Rego summa, but then I like Rego a lot.
When your arts are getting to those levels I guess finding summa with high enough levels are the main problem so 20/15 would be my choice.

As magi gets older they will want a high Creo unless they have some go-to-guy for their longevity rituals. So Creo 20/15 is also a safe bet.

Magic Theory 15/20 would be a popular choice for many of my characters :wink:

Magic theory wold be nice, but he did ask for books on Art, not abilities.

I would choose level 20, quality 15 if tractatus are limited.
But if tractatus are cheap and numerous the quality 19, level 16 is the best choice for me.
Creo is fine it needs for martial spells, longevity and creating things, so it is a popular art.

I'm afraid I was being facetious :wink:

A pretty solid choice. Not sure which i would prefer.

Xavi, the limit for level is 20.

And healing.

It's difficult to say. It really depends on what the characters already have, (both in terms of books and Art Scores) and what they want to do.

I think I would go for the highest level possible, in whatever Art is most important to what the characters want to do --- unless they already have a high Art Score in that Art. And, of course, the different magi in a covenant probably have different ideas about what they should be doing and what the most important Art to achieve it is. Time for Certamen!

Ah. 20 then :slight_smile: We use HR for books, so no wonder I failed my Ars Library roll :mrgreen:

Ah that roll was it... hmm maybe its because i actually worked as a librarian for a while then? Hmm, naaah not a chance! :smiley:

But really though, you can get L20/Q11 books just from build points, taking a Major boon just to get +4 to the total, totally not worth it. So i expect you can guess that my version of "Exceptional book" is a good bit better. Even my Minor version is clearly better. IIRC i think i used something like max 40 total for Minor...

Choice of Art is purely character dependent. Techs > Forms probably, but it's completely variable. (All things equal I'd pro'ly go with Rego too, but it all depends on the character. I have one character that would kill for Aurum, another Herbam, and another Vim. Dealer's choice there.)

As for Q/L, you want whatever is hardest to get.

In most sagas, that's Level - easy to find a high-Quality primer that will get a mage up to Level 10 or so, and some average-Quality summa for Lvl 15, but past that... gettin' rare and/or expensive, or just painfully low-Quality.

If, however, high-level summa are falling off trees, then nail Quality, grab the xp asap, and move on from that foundation.

As for exact values, 15 works very well for Quality, and it's not that much slower than Q20. 6 seasons to Lvl 15 (w/ Q20) vs. 8 seasons (w/ Q15) is not that big a diff when you can then keep on going to Lvl 20 in another 6.)

But you are not just getting a +4 to a book you can study.
You are getting the finest book in the Order on a particular Art, "a powerful diplomatic tool and source of prestige".
(after all, it's an ExternalRelationships* boon).

More prosaically, I'd simply assume that a covenant in possession of such a book has free access, every season, to a high quality book of their choice (or some equivalent boon) -- since it's virtually assured that there's constantly a (figurative) queue of magi at the covenant's doorstep who want to study from the tome, and will offer access to something comparable in return.

EDIT: DIREWOLF75 from some of your other posts, I realize that in your saga there are characters capable of writing much better books. But the compared to the maximum level/quality of books stated in the Ars Magica canon, the stats of "Exceptional book" are really ... exceptional, and the text is explicit about the fact that it's the finest. Of course, if in your saga several magi in the Order have Art scores in the 50s or 60s, it makes perfect sense to bring the level of "exceptional" higher.

Cr Q: 15, L: 20 would likely be the preference of both of my sagas... Longevity and Creation Rituals are just too common. Rego would be a close second for teleports and craft magic.

Well the thing is that in our first serious game, we had two(that i can recall right now at least) characters writing better books than L+Q max 35, and that was concept characters made by amateurs, not munchkin, not powergaming. Just players new to the system and choosing to focus on getting a few high arts and then contributing to the covenant by writing something neat. This is why i cant accept that as "Finest book in the order on an Art", unless you play a slow saga, it´s just not really hard at all to outdo ALL of the order up until then. It should at least have been "just" a Minor, as taking it as a Major simply makes no sense unless you´re willing to have a covenant that is much less than it could be.

(and add to that, there comes a potential problem in how some SG play, especially those who enforce "balance" beyond covenant creation, if the covenant characters are of the serious studying kind and then after 3-6 decades suddenly provides the covenant with one book each that are better than this Boon...)

That is certainly a good idea to get a little bit of balance into it.

So what happens if the characters go nuts on writing the "best ever" for 5 or maybe even 10 arts? Books clearly better than that Boon gives, and they end up with 10 of them?

They get fame, prestige, envy ... Just as if they had managed a serious breakthrough in Hermetic theory -- which takes about the same effort.

Remember, the Ars Magica canon assumes that virtually no (NPC) magus will push any Art much beyond 40. This is stated in some form or other in the corebook if I remember correctly, and is consistent with the quality and level limits: with an Art at 40, Communication +5 and Good Teacher your maximum summa level is 20, with level + quality total of 34 (disregarding resonances and such -- just plain books). Any character who reaches a score of 50 in an Art is probably the greatest master of that Art to have ever lived in the Order. Yes, a PCs can pull it off with something like 50 to 100 seasons dedicated to obsessive study -- that does not make him any less exceptional!

Another way of looking at it is this: how many cool spells, mystery initiations, great adventures could the character have gained instead of getting a score of 50 in Herbam so he can write the greatest summa ever on that Art? A lot.

Direwolf would answer something like that "games where PCs who can achieve level that NPCs cannot are not coherent or logical".

Myself, I'd say that PCs, as a group, tend to be much more powerful than any other group. But individually, they should/are not be able to be more powerful. They may, but NPCs should have chances to be too.


Pretty much yeah. And that´s exactly why outdoing hundreds of years of NPCs just by being heavily focused for a few decades.

Assumes that the vast majority will normally not yes. But using that as a hard limit, bad idea.

Add in all the bonuses you can come up with(the ones disregarded), and suddenly you have books better than you can get with even a Major Boon.

Anyone pushing that far is certainly not average indeed. But reaching level 50 with Affinity in an Art, still takes "just" 850 XP. Anyone that is reasonably focused and not lacking in resources (achieving about 20-40XP per year, with 1 season doing lower XP stuff) can reach level 40 (547XP, about ~20 years of devoted study) and level 50 isnt that far away at that point.