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  • Dataweaver
    started a topic Spellbooks

    Spellbooks

    This hack produces something that's a bit like a Grimoire in some ways, and a bit like an Artifact in others. It's like an Artifact in that it lets you perform a particular rote even if you lack adequate knowledge to perform it yourself (that is, it supplies the appropriate Sphere dots for you, but only for the purpose of performing that rote); and it's a bit like a Grimoire in that you can study it to eventually internalize the rote. Technomancers have Manuals, which similarly act in some ways like Principiae and in other ways like Inventions.

    To perform a rote using a spellbook, you must have sufficient Arete, an appropriate Focus, and the instruments that the spellbook calls for. The Wonder instructs you in how to use the instruments; follow the instructions, and you perform the rote as if the spellbook was an Artifact.

    Crafting a Spellbook works just like crafting any other Wonder: you set up the Foundation, incorporate the requisite Energy, and then Invest the magic into the spellbook. The last step requires Prime 4 + Mind 3 (the same as Grimoire) + the appropriate Spheres for the rote's Effect (just like an Artifact). And like a Grimoire, the mage must invest a dot of permanent Willpower into the spellbook and must expend a point of personal Quintessence for each Arete roll he makes. And, like a Principia, the creation of a Manual can waive the Willpower and personal Quintessence costs if Union facilities are used.

    The advantage of a Spellbook over an Artifact is that the user can internalize the rote. In effect, he gets to spend XP to pick up something like the Enhancement Background, letting him perform the rote without using the spellbook to guide him through the process. He still needs to use the rote’s instruments in the prescribed way; that requirement only goes away when the mage’s Arete is sufficient to surpass the instruments. Unlike Enhancements or their mystical counterparts (such as magical tattoos), a rote learned in this way doesn't have any extra drawbacks beyond the XP spent on internalizing it. In particular, there's no Permanent Paradox associated with internalizing a rote, and no Flaws (Genetic or otherwise).

    The cost of internalizing a rote is one XP for every dot in a Sphere that the rote needs and you don't have; but you get that XP back, in the form of a discount to the cost of raising the Spheres to the requisite levels. Note that the cost of raising a Sphere level can never be reduced below 1 XP; so a student of magic that puts too much effort into learning rotes won't be able to recover all of that effort later.

    There might also be a way to remove the Arete requirement, producing a more potent “spellbook” that's more like a hybrid of a Grimoire and a Talisman; but the creation of such a Wonder would also require a point of personal Quintessence per roll (more like a Talisman than a Grimoire). The result is a spellbook that can be used by anyone with an appropriate Focus and the right instruments: the Arete requirement is satisfied by the spellbook itself in the same way that a Talisman provides its own Arete. Such “empowered rotes” can also be internalized; but doing so is not as easy as internalizing a normal rote and tends to adversely affect the mind of the student: this works similar to the Genetic Flaws of Enhancements, but are always Mental or Social in nature. As well, the XP cost for learning an empowered rote is increased by 1 XP per point of Arete that the rote has over and above the student. This cost can also be recovered in the form of a reduction to the cost of raising Arete, with the same caveat that the cost of raising Arete is always at least 1 XP. Once the student’s Arete is as high as the empowered rote’s Arete, it becomes possible to remove the associated Flaw; but it’s not automatic.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 04-07-2019, 04:49 PM.

  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Yeah. A Spellbook has specific Rotes in it; but a Mentor can teach any Rote that he knows — whether it's because he learned it specifically or because he has the requisite Spheres for it. A Grimoire or Spellbook that's also a Mentor (with the requisite traits), such as the suggested “Porthos in the pages” book, could teach any Rote that the book has the right Spheres for; but if it's “just” a book, each Rote that it can teach would have to be explicitly inscribed in it.

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  • Aleph
    replied
    AH, yeah I confused it with another thread. In that case the "Mentor" would need to have the traits that allow to teach Rotes in that special fashion, as per post #7 (I do think those specifications are a good idea), unless the Grimoire was also built as a Spellbook.
    Last edited by Aleph; 04-10-2019, 01:51 PM.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Originally posted by Aleph View Post
    Since Rote learning rules are very soft (well, basically nonexistent) I think regular Grimoires could tech them w/o added cost.
    Take another look at the first post of this thread: it's a rules hack, based in part on Artifacts and Talismans, that lets a Spellbook teach Rotes before you have the necessary Spheres to cast them yourself.

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  • Aleph
    replied
    Since Rote learning rules are very soft (well, basically nonexistent) I think regular Grimoires could tech them w/o added cost.

    But a Grimoire that has a bound angel with some of the Master's powers would be pretty awesome. No reason why a Grimoire can't also be a Fetish and Mentor

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  • 11twiggins
    replied
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    Thing is, you don't need a Spellbook for that; the existing Grimoire rules will do nicely — especially since Porthos is more likely to be interested in teaching Arete and Spheres than individual spells.

    Which is not to say that you couldn't include some spell knowledge in there as well; if using these rules, it does ultimately pave the way to acquiring Spheres and possibly Arete as well. But it just doesn't seem to be Porthos' style.
    Yeah it probably does work better as a Grimoire, although I could see it also teaching Rotes since it's literally a Mentor as well.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Thing is, you don't need a Spellbook for that; the existing Grimoire rules will do nicely — especially since Porthos is more likely to be interested in teaching Arete and Spheres than individual spells.

    Which is not to say that you couldn't include some spell knowledge in there as well; if using these rules, it does ultimately pave the way to acquiring Spheres and possibly Arete as well. But it just doesn't seem to be Porthos' style.

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  • 11twiggins
    replied
    Tempted to add a book like this that essentially *is* Porthos. The idea would be that it's a particularly excellent book he wrote that he invested a copy of his own mind pattern into, along with a fragment of his soul and primal energy (Mind 5 Spirit 6 Prime 4). Now that fragment of his soul was tiny, so he "filled in" the rest with a minor angel that he repurposed with Spirit, and shaped to match his own Resonance/Synergy. Yes, as good as Porthos was, he did have a tendency to mistreat angels of all things. Very fitting for an Archmage, and fits the wider lore since some argue that Avatars *ARE* just fragments of angels.

    However, as far as mentors go, he's not going to be granting the reader insights and power unless they EARN them. Quite often the book is reading you far more than you're reading it.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Heh. The idea of a Wonder that actively teaches and doesn't just serve as a channel for learning is an interesting one. An extreme example of this (albeit from a technological standpoint) would be the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer featured in The Diamond Age.

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  • 11twiggins
    replied
    This is a really cool idea! I'm now inspired to add a Talking Grimoire that was written by some significant Mage.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    OK; coming back to this:

    My thought on Mentors (and, more generally, magickal teachers) is that they’re a variant on Virtual Spellbooks (see Book of Secrets, p.154). The system for the teacher is the same as for creating a Virtual Spellbook, except that there’s no Quintessence requirement and the resulting Spell comes with no Flaws; use the teacher’s Expression as the crafting skill, with the thing that he’s crafting being the student’s mind. The reason there’s no Quintessence requirement is that it’s replaced by an XP expenditure paid by the student. On the student’s side, the process is the same as for studying a Grimoire, save that the book is replaced by the teacher. As with all Grimoires, the student’s Focus must be compatible with the teacher’s; and as with physical Spellbooks, the resulting Spell must be performed using the appropriate Instruments according to the Practice that the Spell belongs to.

    How’s that?

    EDIT: I’m also thinking that teaching may be a bit more like creating a Charm than an Artifact, with the attendant reduction in the Prime requirement (to two dots), the removal of the need to expend a point of Willpower or personal Quintessence on the process, and the ability to instruct up to ten pupils at a time; the teacher walks the students through the performance of the Spell, enabling them to cast it once (presumably as part of the instruction), and to invest one XP toward the eventual acquisition of the Spell in their own right. There’s still a Mind 3 requirement, though, both because of the Spellbook-like roots of the Lesson and because of its Virtual Foundation.

    I think the ten-student limit is still justified because the teacher must be interacting with the students and making adjustments to the Lesson to account for the peculiarities of each of their minds; someone listening in on the lesson and not directly participating in it wouldn't gain the benefit, and there's only so many people that one teacher can teach. That said (and this applies to the creation of Charms as well, in its own way), the real limit on this is the requirement that the students expend experience points toward performing the Spell: I could see a teacher using a supplementary self-boosting Effect to be able to teach more than ten students at a time; but they're still need to be willing and able to expend their own XP on this in order to benefit from his tutelage. Likewise, creating a batch of more than ten Charms at a time ought to be doable in a vaguely similar manner; but the amount of Tass you'd need to create them would still increase.
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 04-07-2019, 12:24 PM.

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  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    In a similar vein, though, I've been thinking about the Mentor Background with the premise that anything a book can do a teacher can do better. If you can get price breaks on learning Abilities or Spheres from a Grimoire, you ought to be able to get similar benefits from a Mentor. Likewise, he ought to be able to guide you through performing a rote and eventually teach you how to perform it on your own. It's a nice theory; but there are practical considerations to address, such as what traits the mentor needs and how he uses them.
    If you want to make rules or guidelines in regard to Mentors, I'd also include cooperative efforts in regard to Magick ( and other matters ) with Mages other than mentors. With different benefits, depending on whether the Mages cooperating are : from the same Cabal, using the same practice(s) , using the same Foci, have the same Paradigm, have the same Affinity Sphere, or are in the same Mage faction or group.
    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 11-07-2018, 02:15 PM.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    A Library Background that gives access to Grimoires (which include Primers and, with this hack, Spellbooks) might have to pay an increased price for the added functionality, especially since a Spellbook lets you perform the rote even before you've expended XP on it. In a way, a Library with Spellbooks in it has value and functionality comparable to Requisitions. It's not quite that good because you still need to acquire and use suitable instruments to perform the rote; but it's even better in that it has potentially massive benefits to the character advancement system: Grimoires lower XP costs for Abilities or Spheres, while Primers and Spellbooks justify spending XP in ways that otherwise wouldn't be permitted. All of that goes well beyond what Libraries can normally do.

    In a similar vein, though, I've been thinking about the Mentor Background with the premise that anything a book can do a teacher can do better. If you can get price breaks on learning Abilities or Spheres from a Grimoire, you ought to be able to get similar benefits from a Mentor. Likewise, he ought to be able to guide you through performing a rote and eventually teach you how to perform it on your own. It's a nice theory; but there are practical considerations to address, such as what traits the mentor needs and how he uses them.

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  • PhillyCuriosity
    replied
    Do you feel you could get to the same place with the Library background as it was previously implemented reducing cost to things and such?

    The idea is neat and provides a mechanic to underlie something that's in the background and also gives like....NPC technocrats kind of something to do. "what's this man in gray do?"
    "he writes Technical Manuals."

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life. That's the essential difference between a Talisman and an “empowered Spellbook” (I need a better name for the latter): a Talisman only works for one person at a time; take it away from him to give to someone else, and he loses the benefit. The same is true of the Spellbook until adequate studying has been done; but once the student has learned the rote, he can hand it over to another student and continue using the rote in perpetuity.

    In terms of game systems, this essentially lets you “mass produce” an Enhancement without needing to invest Tass into each and every recipient. Instead, the onus falls upon the student to spend the appropriate XP to acquire the rote. The ability to use the rote before you have learned it is merely icing on the cake.

    As for the drive that led me to this: imagine the Technocracy making a library of these “empowered Manuals” available to its Extraordinary Citizens. What happens? You get something not unlike “techno-sorcerers”, but without the whole “Paths of Hedge Magic” game system overhead that's currently needed to give “linear magic” to Sleepers. Instead, the rules for Wonders are leveraged to achieve a similar result.

    And it's done in such a way that it's not just useful for acolytes. For instance, because it's built from the ground up on Mage game systems, there's no need for “change of life” systems when a magician built using these rules Awakens: the former acolyte doesn't have to abandon everything she's learned and relearn it in a new context. She can continue using the rotes that she learned as an acolyte even as she improves her Arete and increases her understanding of the Spheres. Even a Master might pick up a Spellbook containing a rote in an unfamiliar Sphere and get some benefit out of it.

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