Writing Tractati Limit

As best I can tell RAW for the number of Tractati someone can write is round_up(ability/2) or round_up(art/5). This would mean that with 1 xp in an art I can easily write a tractatus that gives... say 12xp. Is this Rules as Intended? I don't see any errata but I'd always remembered it as round down. When I was double checking the art calculation (I was pretty sure it was /5 but I wasn't positive) I was quite surprised to see it say round up. Am I missing something here?

I'm pretty sure that in the writin gbooks section or ARM5 it states that the minimum score to write a book on an ability is 2, and for and art it is 5, but ~I'm away from my books atm.


AFAIK: The maximum level a tractatus OR summa can get is the same as your teaching limit. Therefore, a score of 1 means you can't have a higher quality than 1 for arts, or 5 for abilities.

I could be wrong though.

rgd20 is correct. You must have a score of at least 5 in an Art or at least 2 in an Ability. Yes, the formula is rounding up, as is the case nearly every time for any reason how to round is specifically stated. (The only exception I know of is with Ablating.) So with an Art of 6 you can write two tractatus, and with an Ability of 3 you can write two tractatus.

No, BlackLiger, that is now how the level limits work. First, level limits do not affect Quality. You just may not get all the experience the Quality might indicate because you hit the limit. Second, your teaching limit is the level to which you know it, but your writing limit is half that. Third, tractatus do not have level limits.


Fair enough. I misremembered then. I was nowhere near my books.

The problem persists though, albeit not at Art Score 1.

A character with an Art Score of 6 can write 2 tractatūs on that art.
With sufficiently positive Communication and Good Teacher, these can be worth more than the 21 XPs (mnimum) said character has in this Art.
Indeed it could potentially be the 28 XPs (14x2) needed for having an Art sore of 7.
All this before virtues on behalf of the reader.

This has always been something of a problem, since Tractatus appeared in 4th edition. I don't think it's so much a problem that A can teach to B more than A knows. After all, history is full of students who eventually surpass their masters. The problem is that this can only happen through the written word, and not through "verbal" teaching.

I call this the stranded apprentices scenario. Half a dozen apprentices are stranded alone in a high level divine regio without vis, without labs, without books. One apprentice has 15xp in Vim (a score of 5), and a score of 0 in every other Art. Every other apprentice has a score of 0 in every Art, including Vim. Fortunately, the regio's magic keeps them from aging. Can they eventually learn enough Vim to escape on their own through spontaneous magic?

Assume all apprentices have Communication 0 and no applicable Virtues and Flaws. Let them discuss Vim as much as they want. Eventually, each will have a score of 5 in Vim at best. There's no way any of them can go beyond 15xp in Vim. They'll probably stay trapped forever.

But! Somehow the apprentices have been stranded with a whole wagonload of parchment, ink and quills. Each writes a tractatus; then the other five study it. Assuming no special virtues, 0 Communication etc. each tractatus has quality 6. Within six seasons each apprentice has 15+(56)=45xp, for a score of 9. They can then write each a new tractatus, and within six more seasons each apprentice has 45+(56)=75xp, for a score of 11(9). One more round of writing and study, and each apprentice has a score of 75+(5*6)=105xp, for a score of 14. Still not good enough to cast the divine version of "Pierce the Faerie Veil" (InVi 20) spontaneously in a high level divine regio.

But there's a better strategy! Assume that after the first apprentice has taught the other all he knows about Vim -- bringing the whole group to 15xp -- everyone writes his tractatus, but only the first apprentice then studies from tractatus. The five tractatus of the other apprentices bring him to 15+(5*6) = 45xp and a Vim score of 9. He can then teach the other five what he knows. With a score of 9, they can all write a second tractatus.

The second apprentice now studies all he can: the 10 tractatus of the other apprentices, for a total of 60xp. This brings him to a 45+60=105xp, and a score of 14. He now teaches all he's learnt to the others. They each write one more tractatus. On the third apprentice's turn, he can study 15 tractatus, and reach 105+(156)=195xp, for a score of 19(5). One more round of teaching (that brings everyone else to a score of 19, i.e. 190xp) and writing, and the fourth apprentice reaches a score of 190+(206)=310xp, for a score of 24(10). The fifth apprentice reaches 450xp, for a score of 29(15). The sixth apprentice reaches reaches 615xp and a score of 34(20). Then it's the first apprentice's turn again! Remember he's studied only the first tractatus of the other apprentices; but with a score of 34 everyone has written 7 tractatus. So the first apprentice can now study a total of (6*5)=30 tractatus, and reach a score of 39(34). By the time we're back to the sixth apprentice, they all have Vim scores in their mid 50s and still growing! Eventually, they'll be able to escape the divine regio.

To me this is counterintuitive. Not because the apprentices are creating knowledge "ex nihilo" -- this is very much in accordance to the medieval mindset. But because if they cannot write, they'll be stuck with a Vim score of 5. If they can write, they'll be able grow into the most powerful Vim specialists in the Order.

Yup. The pen is mightier and all. That's what Tickle Demons are for, to make these magi regret trying to do this. Divine Aura, did you say? Storyguide fiat ftw.

I agree with ezzelino that the tractatus mechanics are abstract enough that they can lead to strange results when pushed to unrealistic limits. Oh well, simple mechanics have other benefits.
Nitpick about this specific situation: you'd think they could get exposure in Vim if nothing else; so even without the paper, they could eventually escape.

If one views writing a tractatus as writing all you know on a subject, then things will fall apart.

Tractati are a little odd but I can live with them heck I even like the flavor they add to the game. Yes with RAW you can get weird results with good communicators providing more xp then they've invested themselves. Or bootstrapping situations where you seem to be recycling the same information over and over. The latter are technically possible but can be ruled out by fiat. The former is fine within my understanding of Tractati.

A Tractatus is a specific discussion of one aspect of a subject. More like a research paper or thesis. It's quality isn't determined by a broad knowledge of the subject but by the natural ability of the author to communicate a their unique POV. Their is no level limit because as the book says no one knows everything. The way I look at it a character needs to understand the basics of a subject to discuss it effectively. So an ability of 2 or art of 5. Every character also has a certain number of unique insights they can discuss at length. This is represented abstractly by the dividing the level and rounding up.

I've considered creating a system where insights are acquired through play rather then by raising your score. Things like discovery results, twilight episodes, serious botches, completing adventures, and "critical successes" would give you things to write about. If you haven't acquired an insight in a subject you can't write another tractatus. Ultimately I decided it's just one more thing to keep track of for very little benefit.