Writing Books by Covenants

Hi gang,

Okay, I am still going over the new Covenants books -- some interesting material in here. I have a question regarding writing books by the new rules, however.

Specifically I am looking at the chart on p 88 of the book.

Under the core rules a summa may have a maximum quality of Communications + 6 + potential bonus for writing a lower level book. Under the Extended Rules, however, the formula is Communications +3 + several modifiers based on various other skilled individuals.

Is the assumption here here on this chart that these various individuals (scribe, illuminator, bookbinder, etc.) are working on the book at the same time as the magus? Or is this a case of the magus writes the book (his season(s) of work), then passes the book along to them to complete when they have time? If the latter, doesn't this really slow down the process of writing books? If the former, doesn't this require having a LOT of specialists on hand to be able to achieve what the core rules allowed before, not to mention specifically allocating their time?

I'll probably come up with more questions on this topic, but this is a good place to start. :wink:

Excellent question! The answer is... in the mail.

grumbles about books, ships, and a world too large for comfort as he backs off into the night


Timothy Fergusson has discussed this a bit on the Berk List.

The new book rules require far more effort to produce a book than the old rules. This was the author's intention for the rules as he believe that the present rules did not adequately model medieval Europe and therefore made mythic European little less believable(at least that 's what I got from his posts). I like the additional effort I think it adds to the game, and f you don't want to do the extra bookkeeping then you can use the rules in the main book.

I looked through the book and did not find any answer to your timing question. I would assume that the scribe would work from a draft that you gave him and there fore take another season. I believe that the illuminator could work at nearly the same time as the scribe and that the bookbinder's work would not take more than a few days to complete.

Where I don't intend to follow the new book rules is in the matter of book quality. In my game, magical books will naturally have a quality one lower than non magical books (rather than three points lower)

In other words, for a magical book to be as high of a quality as a normal book it need only incorporate some resonance rather than resonant materials, story based resonance and clarification.

I will make story based resonance somewhat difficult to qualify for so as to prevent quality inflation.

This also means that creating a tractatus of quality communication +6 the magus need only spend a single season of their own time rather than two seasons, eight pawns of vis and an adventure.

I will not use the clarification rules (I believe that as presented no magus would ever choose to clarify a book). Instead, if a character wants to enchant a book as a device I'll have them use the lab rules as normal and decide how their enchantment affects the quality of the book on a case by case basis.

As regards the Extended Book Rules formulae, I believe an errata may possibly be forthcoming...

To get a book of the same Quality as under the core rules, you should need a scribe, binder, and illuminator, and nothing else.

As the previous poster said, David's preparing an erratum now. Basically my non-inflationary rules are being replaced with mildly inflationary rules, which are closer to the core rules for a saga that takes no real effort over scribing books, and the bonus of +3 will be shifted upward.

That being said, I so still like them the current way...

Well you might not be happy but I am pleased. As I said above, I do not mind the exttra effort that it now takes to make a book. A bit more historical influence adds flavor and believeability.

I do mind the lowering of book quality that is inherent to what's published in covenants. Quality is a game mechanic that does not have an unabiguious real world analoge so I don't see any reason to lower it.

You've said that a magical book can reach the same quality in your rules as in the core rules. However to do so requires far more effort than in the core rules. Specifically clarification is sufficiently impractical that I can't imagine a magus ever doing it. Story based resonance is also a significant hurdle to making an equivelent book with the covenants rules when comapared to the core book rules.

A charcter using the main rules can create an art tractatus with a quality of communicaiton +6 in a single season by himself.

A character using the published covenants rules can create an art tractatus of quality communication +0 in a single season by himself. Alternately, this character could create a tractatus with a quality of communication +4 in a bit over a season with the help of a skilled scribe, a skilled illuminator, a skilled bookbinder, and resonant materials incorporated into the book.

What I'd like to see is a return to communication +6 tractatus so the covenants rules match the core rules. I'd like to see communication +6 books produced in a bit over a season with the help of a skilled scribe, a skilled illuminator, a skilled bookbinder, and resonant materials incorporated into the book.

So, I'd make magical books the same as non magical books but give them a -1 quality penalty if they do not incorporate resonant materials.

Well, the erratum that's in the works comes out to a similar sort of level, so, it works out well for you.

Hey Timothy, as long as you're reading how long do you think that a scribe + illuminator + bookbinder will take to finish a work after a magus has completed his draft.

Naturally it could take an infinate amount of time if they never do it. But having presiumably looked at medieval book manufacture in more depth than I have, could you hazard a guess at what would be a typical length production cycle if everything goes well?

[color=darkred]Hey Timothy, as long as you're reading how long do you think that a scribe + illuminator + bookbinder will take to finish a work after a magus has completed his draft.

Your magus is writing a draft? OK, that's what's called a "holograph" in the new book rules. That's odd, historically. Most people don't write this way. They declaim to a scribe, who takes notes on wax tablets, then turns those into a finished book. The scribe takes the draft, not the magus. Indeed, this process is so common that scribes wiritng books read their notes aloud to themselves, making scriptoria so loud that monks develop hand-siugnal languages ot communicate in the din.

So, composition and drafting are two separate processes, IMO.

How long to scribe a book: as long as it takes, depending on the size of the book. Round it to a season to make it easy. I'd also make the point that some stationers divide books into sections and farm them out to scribes, each of whom writes one section. This is more costly, of course, but it means you can get a book copied in a week or so. Less if you work the scribes hard.

Binding: a day or so.

Illumination: The illumination available to the characters in setting isn't the sort of illumination most people think of for medieval books. The really funky illumination is about 20 years away. This is foreshadowed in the text. Also, the illuminator works faster than the scribe, and can work on pages the scribe has finished, so there's little effective loss of time, here.

Basically, a book a season is letting the scribe slouch along slowly, but it works as a game idea. Historically, I'd need to consult my books.

Is it save to assume that once the composer of the book completes the text, the scriber that has the appropriate binding & illumination skills can complete the book in the following season?

The Skilled scribe virtue would only add quality if he is the original composer I guess.



A couple of things here. The compositional process is basically verbal in Mythic Europe. You dictate your book to your scribe, as in "Miss Farvinshaw! Take down a letter!" but longer. Your notary takes notes on wax or paper, then goes out and buys the stuff they need to write your sections on parchment. If they have sufficent paper copy, you might hire several different scribes to do the good copy on parchment, beacuse it takes less time, although it costs more money.

As to the binding and illuminating: you might have a person with all three sets of skills, but they are usually different people in big libraries.

You can be your own scribe if you are really good at scribing, if you like, and this creates a good "holograph", which is a category of book given in the chapter.

So, yes, you can assume one guy doing the work does a book a season, but if you have, say, a really short book, then it takes less time. For example a casting tablet might take a day, since it is one page.

A book a season's a really rough approximation, a skilled scribe can do X pages per day, but we don't knowe hhow many pages equals one level of book, if you see what I mean, and as such we can slide the size of the books out until they meet the time constraints we find useful for storytelling purposes. The dodge for players is that if they are phenomenally rich, they can actually cut a book into 300 pieces, and hire 300 guys to copy a piece each, every day. There are already uni students who do something similar for beer money in 1220: they make copies of popular fictions that are sold by stationers, and each does a gather (8 pages, for example) a week. Now, these are not fancy books...but that's how a rush job could be done. It just takes lots and lots of money.

Hmmm This verbal writting process brings questions.

All lab activities on ars 5th ed create a Lab text. Do we have a scribe picking up the info as we talk away our season of work?


IMO, they are odd things, more like a modern scientist's notebook, and as such they are holographs which are given to a scirbe to put in order. For example, a mnagus may keep notes on a wax slate, and have a scribe make good ocpies of each day's work. Actually, this might bes a job for appren tices: acting as notaries.