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While engaging in Overly Complex and Extremely Detailed* character generation with one of my players recently, he raised the point that I was being too stingy with XP in seasons when he was performing labwork or otherwise not studying.

He was of the belief that practice is generally applicable to most activities where immediate feedback can be achieved. What is possible during a season where a character sets out to earn practice XP? Can it ever be combined with labwork?

More generally: Is there a good rule to differentiate how much XP should be awarded for a season beyond "default to exposure?"


* It does what it says on the tin. Be prepared to drop 20+ hours on a character.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The experience rules are intended to be an abstraction over a longer period of time than exactly one season per XP bundle. For the most part, the seasons are just a way to bucket your learning into manageable chunks rather than doing XP by the day or week.

A season spent practicing laboratory work would be spent making sure you can accurately measure liquids, make sure you've got the knack for distilling stuff without causing a fire, and so on. You aren't really producing anything except better technique, so you get more XP.

A season spent working at lab work is actually producing a useful Lab Total and that's the real benefit of that season. Exposure XP is just throwing you a bone.

The character's life for these two seasons would be blended together in the game world, with the pointers and feedback and practicing eating into the character's real productive work during the combined half year.

Your rule of thumb is that you get to produce one useful thing per (abstracted) season. If that thing is a Lab Total, then you only get exposure XP.

Caveat: I haven't looked at the Ars Magica rules in a long time.

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Welcome to the site. Interesting answer. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 13 '12 at 0:42
    
Thanks! I'll also note that the "one thing per season" idea doesn't really apply to going on adventures. You get good XP for those AND whatever material benefit you manage to win for your troubles out in the world. And it's more fun, too! –  Argyle Jan 13 '12 at 0:47
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By the rules as written - Use either Lab activity or practice; not both. I've found that exposure is enough in terms of bonus to lab activity. Allowing practice at the same time is too much, and raises the question on how the mage is able to do that. You could always add XP incentives to stories so that they are sought out more.

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