# Problem Solving

Magi are scholars, and they associate with scholars. It should, therefore, be possible to use scholarly problems as obstacles in an adventure. This is not easy, however, largely, I think, because there are no rules to cover it and it is all but impossible to role-play. After all, we know nothing about Magic Theory, and a game session should not involve the players going off and researching medieval herbiaries. These rules are supposed to allow the inclusion of problems as obstacles in the same spirit as monsters to fight.

## Basic Rules

Every problem should be given a subject and a difficulty. The subject is the Knowledge that must be used to solve the problem: characters without that Knowledge cannot help. The difficulty measures how hard the problem is. A difficulty of 9 represents an average sort of problem, while a difficulty of 21 represents one that is all but insoluble.

The character researching the problem rolls a stress die + Intelligence + Knowledge + Library Bonus, and announces the total. If his roll exceeds the difficulty, he accumulates a number of points equal to or greater than the amount by which his roll exceeds the difficulty. On a botch, he subtracts three points from his current total. Once the total equals the difficulty of the problem, it is solved.

Each roll normally takes half a day, four hours, spent in a library. The time spent may be halved, for a -3 penalty on all rolls. This may be repeated as desired, so that, with a -9 penalty, you may roll every half hour.

Example: Marcus, with Int +3 and Faerie Lore 4 has a library with a Library Bonus of +3. He is researching a problem with a difficulty of 12. His first roll is 13, so he now has a running total of 1 point. His second roll is 18, and his total climbs to 7. The third roll of 15 increases his total to 10, and with his fourth roll of 15 he solves the problem, gaining a total of 13. This has taken two days.

## Libraries

Libraries are central to solving problems of this sort. A library that contains texts on a certain Knowledge has a Library Score for that Knowledge. This is calculated by adding up the point cost of each book on the Knowledge (as given in ArM4, p210), and dividing by ten.

The Library Score determines the maximum number of rolls that may be made in that library. The limit is Library Score + 1, so that a person without a library may make a single roll, to see if she happens to know the answer. Once these rolls have been made, the character needs a new library to continue research, although their current point total does carry over.

The Library Score is also used to calculate the Library Bonus. This is determined by treating the Library Score as experience points. The score starts at -3, and it takes three points to buy it up to -2, two more to -1, and one more, for a total of 6, to reach 0. It then costs the same as an Ability.

Example: Marcus's library contains a summa with a target of 5 and a quality of 12, which is worth 54 points, libri quaestionum with targets of 0, 1, and 2 and qualities of 10, 9, and 11 respectively, which are worth 10, 12, and 17 points, and tractatus with Qualities of 6 and 3, worth 18 and 9 points, for a total of 120 points. The Library Score is 12, so Marcus could make up to 13 rolls, and the Library Bonus is +3. This is a good library on Faerie Lore.

## Teamwork

It is possible for more than one scholar to work on the same problem. They must all have access to a library, but not necessarily the same one, and they must be able to communicate their results to each other between each roll.

The limit on the number of rolls imposed by the library is per scholar for each problem. Thus, if five scholars are working in a library with a Library Score of 6, each of the five may make up to seven rolls.

One of the scholars must be designated the leader of the research. The maximum number of scholars, apart from the leader, permissible in a group is the leader's Leadership score. The group may then be used in one of two ways.

If the aim is to solve the problem faster, then each researcher rolls in every time period. The leader may add the full number of points to the group's total. Each of the others may not add more than their Communication + Knowledge total after a roll, even if their roll exceeds the difficulty by more than this. Of course, if their roll exceeds the difficulty by less than their Communication + Knowledge total, they only add the amount by which the roll exceeded the difficulty.

If the aim is to solve a more difficult problem, then only the leader may roll. For each of his assistants, calculate the lower total of Intelligence + Knowledge and Communication + Knowledge. The magnitude of this total is added to the leader's total. Since only one researcher is rolling, the total number of allowable rolls is Library Score + 1.

For example, if the leader has an Intelligence of +4 and a Knowledge of 5, then he has a basic total of 9 + Library Bonus. Suppose he has two assistants. The first has an Intelligence of +3, a Communication of 0, and a Knowledge of 4. The lower total is 4, so he adds 1 to the total. The second assistant has an Intelligence of +2, a Communication of +3, and a Knowledge of 4. The lower total is 6, so he adds 2 to the total. The final total is 12 + Library Bonus. The leader may make Library Score + 1 rolls at this score.

## Complications

You may wish to make some problems more involved. To do this, define the main problem in terms of a set of sub-problems. Most of these should concern the same subject as the main problem, but not all of them. Solving the main problem then falls into three stages.
Initial Investigation
Set the difficulty and subject as normal, but when the problem is successfully 'solved', the scholar simply learns the sub-problems, and their subjects.
Solve Sub-problems
Each of the sub-problems must be solved individually. If desired, some or all of the sub-problems could also be given sub-problems of their own.
Integrate Solution
Once all of the sub-problems have been solved, the scholar must solve the initial problem again, to put the pieces together. (Note that this counts as a separate problem for the purposes of number of rolls allowed.) If various sub-problems were solved by different scholars, they must explain all the pieces to all the scholars who will be helping. This requires a stress roll on the Intelligence + Disputatio or Communication + Lectio of the scholar who solved the problem plus the other scholar's Intelligence + Knowledge, with a total equal to or greater than the difficulty of the sub-problem. All scholars who know all the sub-problem solutions may assist, subject to the normal limits on teamwork. The subject for integration is always the subject of the main problem.

## Virtues and Flaws

References to research totals only refer to the totals used in these rules, not to normal Lab Totals.

Mythic Intelligence: A character may, as the feat of Mythic Intelligence, solve any one problem in half an hour, as long as she has some knowledge of the subject (a score of one would be sufficient).

Book Learner: The character may make two additional rolls in any library (i.e. a total number equal to Library Score + 3), and may add one to the total for each roll.

Good Researcher (+1): The character may add 3 to research totals, and make three additional rolls in a given library.

Fast Researcher (+1): The character may make research rolls every hour at no penalty. There is no bonus for taking longer, however.

Poor Reader: The character may make two fewer rolls in any library (i.e. a total number equal to Library Score - 1), and must subtract one from the total for each roll.

Poor Researcher (-1): The character may make three fewer rolls in a given library, and must subtract three from all research totals.

Slow Researcher (-1): The character must spend two days on each research roll. He may work faster, at the normal penalties.

## Storyguiding

While the above rules allow the incorporation of research as an obstacle in the game, they do not make it exciting. This section will provide a few ideas about incorporating it into stories.

### Problems as Obstacles

The first thing to note is that there is no direct threat to characters engaged in research. No-one will die as a direct result of failing to learn something. However, there are two limits: the first is the limit on the number of rolls that may be made in a library, and the second is the time taken.

The first limit may be used to force the characters to go to another covenant or perhaps a monastery if their initial research fails, and thus leave them owing favours. If they cannot do so (perhaps because they are researching the weaknesses of another covenant), then the lack of the information should be harmful rather than instantly destructive.

The second limit is effective when the characters have to solve a problem before something bad happens. In such a case it is probably best to make the problem a multi-part one, as described in Complications, so that the characters may be able to solve some bits, and thus have some advantage, even if they don't solve everything.

The time factor could also be used if the characters are racing with someone else to find the solution.

### Teamwork

It is good to involve multiple characters in problem solving, as this will occupy more players. Again, this may be best done with multi-part problems, where the characters can choose which sub-problems to attach, depending on their abilities. If there are too many scholars to work in a single group, there is no reason why they can't work in two or more independent groups.

### Description

Describing the problem, and the solutions, is a bit difficult, since most Storyguides will not have the necessary knowledge. The best option is to decide on simple, one sentence, descriptions of the problem and its solution, so that the players know what the characters have learned. For example, the problem could be "the weakness of the Faerie Lord", and the solution "Iron bathed in spring water".

While the characters are working, the players should not be told the difficulty of the problem. Instead, after each roll, tell them how much progress they are making, depending on how many points they accumulated: none, a little, or a lot. In a group, this will allow characters to abandon problems that are too hard for them, and concentrate on others.

### Stories

Stories are best worked around multi-part problems. A sub-problem could be insoluble without a particular item or observation, requiring the scholars to go out and find it. Or it could be too difficult for the covenant's resources, requiring them to convince someone to give them the answer. It would be possible to structure an entire Saga around one very complex problem.

Stories could also be built around guaranteed solutions to problems. If you want to know the procedure at a certain faerie feast, for example, you could always attend it. This should only be done for multi-part problems, and you should ensure that the sub-problem in question cannot be solved by normal means. If you wish, you could treat fieldwork as a "Library", and assign it a bonus and maximum number of rolls depending on how convincing the players' plans are.