Laboratory

Lab systems allow mages to create enchanted items and learn/invent new spells. Because lab assistants frequently include apprentices and familiars, they are also considered lab systems.

The Lab Total

In most cases, the mage’s lab total for an activity is used as a fixed number, rather than rolled. It is equal to the sum of the applicable Technique and Form, and also adds Intelligence, Magic Theory, and the local Aura Modifier.

Lab totals are often expressed by the arts involved, such that the Creo Vim Lab Total means Creo + Vim + Intelligence + Magic Theory + Aura Mod.

Creation, Study, and Minor Tasks

A lab must be a permanent, weather-protected space with at least 500 square feet of floor area and a ten-foot-high ceiling. You cannot set up a lab if your Magic Theory is less than 3. It takes two seasons to create a lab, and in the first of those two seasons any other lab totals are at -3.

You need a lab to gain experience from arcane studies, as described in the advancement sections, below.

You can make an Arcane Connection permanent if it is active at the beginning of a season, and you spend a season of lab work and one pawn of Vim vis on fixing it.

You can extract raw vis from an area with a magical aura at the rate of 1/10 Creo Vim Lab Total per season of work (e.g., if Creo Vim Lab Total is 22, you can generate 3 pawns of vis per season).

You can store raw vis in a more convenient receptacle with a day of work. The amount of stored vis is based on the item, not your lab total. See page 97 for material capacities.

At most, you can use double your Magic Theory in pawns of vis for projects in a single season.

Spells

You can learn a spell from a teacher, or invent it on your own (even learning an existing spell is “inventing” because you have to make it fit your own style).

Learn from a Teacher

If a teacher spends a season teaching you spells that she knows, you can learn total spell levels equal to the highest lab total including at least one spell she’s teaching you (e.g., if her highest lab total is Creo Ignem 40, you can learn 40 levels of spells from her as long as at least one of them is a Creo Ignem spell). You cannot use this as a loophole to gain a bunch of spells in a combination she’s bad at (e.g., if she had a lab total of Rego Terram 10, you could only learn 10 levels of Rego Terram spells out of your 40 total levels of spells).

The highest level of an individual spell you can learn is equal to your lab total in that technique and form (e.g., if you had a lab total of Creo Ignem 20, you can’t learn any Creo Ignem spells of level higher than 20, even though you have 40 levels to spend).

Invent Spells

Either pick a spell from chapter 9 or work with the GM to develop the stats for one that’s not listed but is based on the guidelines in that chapter.

Once you have determined the spell’s technique, form, and level, you can only invent it if your lab total exceeds that number (e.g., if you wanted to make a Rego Aquam level 20 spell, your Rego Aquam Lab Total must be at least 21). You can use the Similar Spell bonus (see below).

The amount by which your lab total exceeds the spell level is the progress you make each season. When your progress equals or exceeds the spell’s level, you’ve learned it (e.g., if you have a lab total of 30, you can learn a level 20 spell in two seasons).

You can also invent a spell from lab texts, as described in a later section.

Enchanting Items

Items can be Invested Items, Lesser Enchantments, or Charged Items (in decreasing order of power and difficulty to make). Some Invested Items are Talismans. All item types can gain bonuses to the lab total for using an appropriate shape and material (chart on page 110). You typically do not need to know a spell to create an effect in an enchanted item, but knowing a similar spell gives a bonus. Enchanted devices cannot replicate the effects of rituals (except for spells that must only be rituals because they are very high level).

Charged Items

Charged items always take a season. Choose an effect and determine its level based on the spell guidelines. You can make one charge for the item for every 5 points your relevant lab total exceeds the level (minimum of 1 charge if you exactly meet the level). Charges can be in one item or split amongst identical items (e.g., arrows, potions). Charged items do not require vis. Subsequent creations of the same effect as a charged item benefit from the lab text (see below).

Lesser Enchantments

Lesser enchanted items are permanent but only contain a single effect, and they also always take a season. Your relevant lab total must be at least double the level of the effect you’re trying to create. It also requires one pawn of appropriate vis per 10 levels of the effect (e.g., two pawns for a level 15 effect, for which you must have at least lab total 30). If you can use the effect more than once per day, its effective level is increased based on the chart on page 98. The item must have a trigger phrase or action (it cannot read your mind/intention because doing so would require a second spell). You can also give the effect Penetration, Concentration, limited users, or an environmental trigger as described on page 99.

Invested Items

Invested items take multiple seasons to create, as they are first opened to enchantment and then invested with one or more spells based on their capacity.

The initial preparation (“opening” the item) requires a season. You can invest an item with a number of pawns of raw Vim vis based on the material and size (see the chart on page 97). If you want to enchant part of an item or an item made of a combination of materials, see the full rules (also on page 97). The number of pawns invested is the item’s capacity for further enchantment, and you typically must use the full value for the size and material (e.g., you cannot put only seven points of capacity into an object that would support eight).

As with lesser enchantments, see the chart on page 98 if an effect you want to create is usable more than once per day, and the list on page 99 for Penetration, Concentration, limited users, or environmental triggers.  Because you can put multiple effects in the item, it can have a Linked Trigger (e.g., it uses Intelligo Mentem to read your intention to activate; see page 99). You can also gain a bonus to the speed at which you make the item by having the effect expire after 1, 7, or 70 years, rather than being truly permanent.

If you’re adding additional effects to an item that share one or both arts with a prior enchantment, you gain +1 to lab total per pre-existing effect (e.g., if your third effect is Muto Animal, and you already have a Muto Corpus and a Rego Animal effect in the item, you gain +2).

Compare the modified lab total to the effect’s level. The excess is the progress you make in one season, and the enchantment is complete once progress equals the effect’s level (e.g., if you have lab total 30 and are instilling a level 20 effect, it takes two seasons). The first season you begin an enchantment, you must spend vis (matching the arts of the effect) equal to 1/10 the level of the effect (e.g., three vis to make a level 25 effect). The vis expended to create the various effects in your invested item cannot exceed the capacity (e.g., if your item’s capacity is 8 after you prepare it, you could put in two level 30 effects—for three vis each—and then you would only have two capacity remaining for one level 20 or less effect, or two level 10 or less effects).

You do not have to fully invest an item before using it (you can use whatever effects are initially invested, and add more later up to the capacity).

Talismans

You can only create a talisman out of an item you prepared yourself. You can only have one talisman at a time (and must destroy the older one if you make a new one). You cannot make a talisman for someone else. You can retroactively attune an invested item that you fully made yourself (you can have assistants, as long as you were the primary creator) as your talisman, if desired.

Your talisman:

  • Is part of you as long as you are touching it (e.g., protected by magic resistance, included in personal effects, can extend your reach for touch-range spells)
  • Always has an Arcane Connection to you (making it easy to find but also allowing it to be used against you if captured)
  • Always receives magic resistance based on your relevant Form, even when you aren’t touching it
  • Is prepared based on your arts rather than material and size (see below)
  • May hold one attunement for each time you opened it for enchantment or instilled an effect (e.g., four attunements for an item with three effects; see below)

The capacity for a talisman is independent of material and size, and is instead based on your highest technique plus form. Unlike normal invested items, you can slowly increase the capacity to this limit over multiple seasons (though increasing capacity is still your whole work for a season, so this is only advisable if your resources/limit were smaller when you started). You also get a +5 bonus to all lab totals for enchanting the item.

Each attunement allows you to choose a shape and material bonus from the chart on page 110 to apply to any spells you cast while touching the talisman (e.g., if your talisman is an iron dagger with three attunements, you could choose to gain +2 to spells that destroy precisely, +3 to spells that poison, and +7 to spells that harm or repel faeries). Only the highest relevant attunement bonus applies (e.g., you only get +7 to harm or repel faeries in the previous example, even precisely or with poison).

Using Enchanted Devices

  • Effects have Penetration 0 (unless you bought Penetration as a modifier)
  • Range is range from the device, not the caster
  • If the spell requires Concentration, you must Concentrate while using the effect from the item (unless you bought Concentration as a modifier)
  • All effects that must be targeted use the wielder’s Finesse ability
  • Anyone that can figure out the trigger can use the device’s effects (unless you bought the limited users modifier)
  • You can use one effect each round from the device (you must target the effect, but it happens automatically without costing Fatigue), and initiative is based on Quickness with no weapon bonus
  • If broken, all the item’s powers are lost

Investigating Enchantments

If you recover an unknown enchanted item, you may do lab work to determine its powers and triggers. See the system on page 100.

Similar Spells

Knowing a “Similar Spell” is important to inventing spells and enchanting items. A spell is similar if it either has the exact same effect (but a different Range, Duration, and/or Target), or a related effect, but the exact same Range, Duration, and Target. If you know a similar spell, you add the magnitude of the spell as a bonus to the relevant lab total (only the highest level similar spell applies).

Longevity Ritual

A longevity ritual gives you a bonus to avoid drawbacks from aging rolls. You can create one for yourself or have it created for you, but everyone involved must be present for a full season of work creating the ritual (if someone else is creating it for you, you can be a lab assistant). Anyone benefiting from a longevity ritual become sterile.

Creating a longevity ritual consumes one pawn of vis for every five years of age of the recipient (generally Creo, Corpus, or Vim vis, unless you are strongly associated with another type). It provides an aging bonus equal to +1 for every five points of the Creo Corpus lab total.

The bonus lasts until you suffer an aging roll that results in an aging crisis (which is less likely but possible with the bonus). After this, you may:

  • Create a new version of the ritual (likely because you have access to a better Creo Corpus lab total)
  • Repeat the old version (but you must expend vis again based on your current age) using the original lab text

You can spend additional vis for a bonus to Creo Corpus lab total when inventing the ritual at a one-for-one rate.

You must have a Creo Corpus lab total of at least 30 to invent the ritual for someone else. It is equally effective for other magi or anyone with a Supernatural ability, but for non-magical individuals it’s only half as effective (+1 bonus per 10 points of lab total).

Laboratory Texts

You automatically create a shorthand version of your notes whenever you create anything in the lab, as part of the creation process. In order to convert this into a long-form document useful to others:

  • You can spend a season to create your Latin ability x 20 levels of laboratory texts
  • Someone else can translate your shorthand into long form using the system on page 102
  • Anyone can copy existing long-form texts at Scribe ability x 60 levels per season

If you have a laboratory text that’s useful to you (either in your own shorthand, or someone else’s lab text in long form), you can replicate the effect detailed in one season if your lab total is at least equal to the level of the text. The effect created cannot be substantially different (same effect, range, duration, target, etc.). However, if you have a lab text for an invested item, you can replicate only one of the effects in the item. For charged items, you automatically create items equal to one fifth of your relevant lab total (i.e., you do not have to subtract the effect level).

Miscellaneous Lab Effects

See pages 102-103 for systems for multiple activities in a single season, having an assistant, and having the work interrupted.

Familiars

Any mage (other than Bjornaer) may find an inherently magical creature and bond it as a familiar through a long ritual that takes place in the lab. You must first befriend it with no magical or mundane coercion. Follow the steps on page 104 to bind the familiar.

Depending on how you invested your familiar, it has a rating from +0 to +5 in three cords:

  • Golden Cord: Subtract the bonus from botch dice on magic rolls (to a minimum of 1).
  • Silver Cord: Add the bonus to all rolls that involve Personality traits, rolls to resist mental magic, and to resist mundane influence like intimidation or trickery. Additionally, if you’re ever mentally dominated, the familiar rolls the bonus plus a stress die each day, and frees you on a 9+ (but becomes bound along with you with a botch).
  • Bronze Cord: Add the bonus to your Soak, to rolls to heal, to rolls to withstand deprivation, and to rolls to avoid aging.

You may use a lab activity to invest unlimited effects into the familiar, similar to creating an invested item. Common effects include giving it speech or mental communication with you, sharing senses or allowing one or both of you to divine the other’s location, or giving the familiar new offensive capabilities. See the rules on page 105.

Apprentices

If a viable individual with the Gift doesn’t show up in the natural course of play, you can seek out an apprentice by spending a season and rolling at least 12 on a Perception roll (with a stress die). Most apprentices are between ages 7 and 20.

You must spend at least one season a year training your apprentice (and may spend more). You use the Teaching advancement rules for each season you spend, and your apprentice advances accordingly.

You are expected to extend your Parma Magica to your apprentice, particularly when teaching.

One season of teaching must be spent “opening the Arts” for the apprentice (giving the apprentice a score of 0 in all arts). If you have a score of less than five in any art, the apprentice automatically has the Deficiency flaw in that art (and doing so is a Low Crime for you if discovered). You cannot teach any arts to the apprentice until you have opened them, but may teach academic skills and Magic Theory.

If the apprentice has a non-Hermetic Supernatural ability, you must have a sizable Intellego Vim lab total when opening the arts or you will either destroy the abilities or not be able to open the arts for the apprentice at all. Multiple abilities make this harder. See page 107.

Arcane Experiments

If you choose to experiment when working in the lab:

  • Add a simple die to your lab total for the season
  • Roll a stress die on the Extraordinary Results chart on page 109
  • After rolling, you can add up to an additional +3 to the lab total if you also add it to the Extraordinary Results roll (and as additional botch dice)

See page 108 for various permutations of experimenting with spells, items, familiars, longevity, or investigation.

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