Covenant Libraries

The Ars Magica covenant creation system is broken. The most glaring problem is the covenant library creation process. A level 20 book should not cost the same as four level 5 books. The following system is designed to give a more sensible, albeit more math-intensive, system for creating covenant libraries. The first and most important rule is, use common sense. For Summae, Qualities above 15 are extremely unlikely (Com+Scribe of 12) and above 18, near-impossible. Likewise, once the Level rises above 20, the books are created by experts in the Art, who in many cases may be terrible writers. (Com -2, Scribe 3, creating a Summa with quality 4, for instance, is perfectly possible. ) Given these bounds, your library can still vary drastically.

Cost of Books:

The requirements were that a system make high-level summae dramatically more expensive, and higher quality summae more expensive than lower quality ones, while making quality subordinate to level. Obviously some sort of pyramid scheme was needed. But a pyramid based on just (quality+level) would not work; a L4, Q10 book is not as valuable as a L10, Q4 book.

My solution was to try a "double pyramid" - the score is the sum of two pyramids, one based on Level alone, the other based on Level plus Quality. I figured that an average summa would have a Quality of 7 (implying the author had communication+scribe of 4, which seemed reasonable.) Therefore the value used for the second pyramid was (Level+Quality - 7).

So, a "typical" book for a starting library, level 8, quality 7, would have a cost of 72:
L8 = 8 -> 36 points.
(L8 + Q7 -7) = 8 -> 36 points
36 + 36 = 72.

Other sample costs:

Libri Quaestiones: I figure these to use two pyramids, one (Level+1) and the other (Level+Quality-10). These numbers were arrived at somewhat arbitrarily, to make LQ's cheaper than Summae but not so much cheaper that an entire series (L3,L6,L8 for instance) would be cheaper than a summa of the same level. Libri Quaestiones are relatively rarer, and more of a novelty, than summae, because you need one for each season of study.

Tractatus: These are cheap, because of the low quality associated with them. It is common to have a copy of the spell in the book with the tractatus, unless it is something like "Pilum of Fire" which is fairly standard. I rate them at (Quality+3) with a single pyramid cost, so a Pilum of Fire tractatus would cost 28 points, or about the same as a L6,Q4 primer.

Other notes: I personally like volumes with multiple "book" scores- a work on Perdo and Corporem, which has a score in each, and possibly is also a Summa on Medicine- "On the Death of the Body." A Flambeau workbook, with four Tractatus on Ball of Abysmal Flame, would be another possibility. Books should be named and described - more magi have killed over books than over lovers, they say.

Cost of Libraries:

The "average" library in the 4th ed. system could buy 15 books, L11, Q8 (450 points). Or it could buy 10 summae of L10, Q7, four at L15,Q10, and one at L8, Q6. The first library would cost 144 * 15 or 2160 points, the second would cost 2328 points. I feel these numbers are a little high; I also feel that the libraries are a little high-powered. It's a fair Summer covenant library. I would put an average Spring library at 1200 points, an Autumn one at perhaps 4000.

Going by the first edition "Covenants" book, an average library would be 1400 points or so. This is very low for fourth edition, especially with the ability to gain Art levels unheard of in first through third * editions. I realize that magi may be more or less protective of their knowledge, and vis may be more or less common, so I will not set up a hard and fast level system. Go with what seems reasonable for your campaign, and keep everyone to the same scale.

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*the old system meant that a single level of Art above 35 cost something like 20 seasons of study and 60 pawns of vis, on average; now, level 40 is exactly twice as hard as level 20. Something should be done about this.

My recommendation is that, above a certain level (25, say) subtract 1 per level from the study total for the season. This means that [if 25 is your set point] around level 35, books become near-useless, and around level 40 half of all vis-study seasons are wasted, and it takes 4+ seasons to gain a level of an Art. Around level 45, only the truly obsessed will continue to burn vis. This seems reasonable, considering the higher levels of spell required to do the same work in 4th edition. However, putting a limit here should have an effect on the common-sense limits on maximum book level.

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