Magical Research in the Sorcery Origin

Magical research can be used for a variety of purposes, but the most common object of magical research is spell optimization - reducing the component costs of a defined spell effect.  Spell optimization in the Sorcery Origin consists of refining the "template" or "model" through which the adept focuses the Ethereal Essence to release the effect.
Research for the purpose of spell optimization is performed through the mechanism of one or more Sorcery Lore Trials, based on Intellect.  Base difficulty varies according to the component effects level being optimized:
Slight   0 (Roll for Degree of Success)
Moderate   5 (Routine)
Impressive 10 (Moderate)
Epic 15 (Challenging)
Mythic 20 (Difficult)
Additionally, the base difficulty is always modified by a Configuration Might Modifier.  Areas of weakness within an Origin are harder to research than areas of strength.  The Configuration Might Modifier is determined by subtracting the Configuration Might of the effect from 100, then dividing the result by ten (round down).  This will give a number (from zero to six) which must be added to the base difficulty of the component effects level, above.
For Sorcery, the Configuration Might Modifiers are listed below, for convenience:
Conjuration Energy 1 Divination Energy 1
Organic 2 Organic 2
Physical 2 Physical 2
Reality 0 Reality 1
Spirit 4 Spirit 4
Will 4 Will 4
Creation Energy 4 Manipulation Energy 1
Organic 5 Organic 2
Physical 5 Physical 2
Reality 4 Reality 1
Spirit 6 Spirit 4
Will 6 Will 4
Destruction Energy 4 Transformation Energy 1
Organic 5 Organic 2
Physical 5 Physical 2
Reality 4 Reality 1
Spirit 6 Spirit 4
Will 6 Will 4
Optimization difficulty can be modified by several methods, each of which has an associated cost in terms of time, effort, related trials, etc.
1) Scholarly research.  If an adept has access to a source of arcane knowledge such as a library for a length of time, she may be able to find help in the writings of others.  The adept should make a trial using the Research skill, and may apply the degree of success as a reduction to the difficulty of the Sorcery Lore Trial, as noted below.  A work specifically dedicated to explaining the optimized effect, or some aspect of optimization which is similar to that needed for the effect, can provide a beneficial modifier to the Research Trial ATC.
Degree of Success Difficulty Modifier
Marginal -1
Complete -3
Superior -5
Extraordinary -7
Mythic  -9
2) Knowledge of one or more similar optimized spells.  If an adept already knows one or more optimized spells with the same configuration, that knowledge may help her to optimize a new spell.  The only requirement is that the other spells must have the same sub-component optimized as the one she is currently researching, and must use the same configuration (i.e. Creation / Matter).  It does not matter that the other optimized spells have different effects levels (i.e. Moderate, Impressive, etc.), only that the same sub-component has been optimized.   Take the number of similar spells, count the digits in that number, and the result time three is the reduction in difficulty, as listed below:
Number of Similar Spells Known Research Difficulty Modifier
1-9 -3
10-99 -6
100+ -9
3) Practice of the spell effect.  If the adept practices the effect, over a period of time she will learn things about the spell that will help her optimize it.  The spell must be cast in the same basic form each time (i.e. the Temper Aspects can change, but all of the basic parameters must be the same).  To find the reduction in difficulty from practice, take the number of times the spell has been practiced, count the digits in that number, subtract one, multiply by three, and the result is the reduction in difficulty.  A quick summary is listed below:
Number of Successful Practices Research Difficulty Modifier
10-99 -3
100+ -6
4) Instruction.  The adept may be instructed by another adept who has already optimized the effect to some extent.  One adept can instruct another in optimizing any specific sub-component of an effect if he has fully optimized that sub-component of an identical effect.  The same effect can be optimized in different ways - one heal wound spell is not necessarily the same as another heal wound spell, even if both use the exact same configuration and both are fully optimized.  If the student adept is learning to optimize the same effect in the same way, then the student can be instructed by the teacher adept.  The amount of time involved can vary, but is generally several days to several weeks.  Less time spent in instruction may increase the difficulty of the instruction and learning trials, while more time may reduce the difficulty.  A general guideline for the amount of time necessary is that Slight or Moderate components usually require days of instruction, Impressive or Epic components usually require weeks of instruction, and Mythic components often require months of instruction.
To determine the reduction in difficulty from instruction, the instructor makes an instruction trial based on Charisma (Presence) and the student makes a learning trial based on Intellect.  Add the degrees of success or failure (Marginal Success = 1, Marginal Failure = -1) from each trial together, and the result times two is the reduction in difficulty.


After the adept has spent enough time researching and practicing the spell, she makes a Sorcery Lore Trial.  The degree of success obtained determines the number of points of reduction she may apply to optimize that sub-component of the spell, according to this table:
Marginal 0
Complete 1
Superior 2
Exceptional 3
Mythic 4
Any reduction to the point cost of the sub-component is limited by the range of cost for that effects level (i.e. the cost for a Moderate effects level cannot be reduced below 4, since the range of cost for a Moderate level of effect is 4-9).  For effects levels greater than Slight, more than one optimization trial will be required to reduce the cost to the minimum.  Once an optimization trial is performed, all research, practice, instruction, etc. must start over again.   Similar optimized spells continue to apply a reduction to future optimization trials, however.


Note:  an adept can attempt to research and "optimize" a spell that she has never actually cast (either from a reluctance to create a specific effect, or due to the limits of her skill or the origin).   Such research allows spells that push the limits of the origin, and generally requires extensive time and effort.