Magical Research in the Spirit 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 Spirit Origin consists of "training" an individual spirit to improve its ability to create a specific effect (and the adept's ability to act as a medium for that effect).
Research for the purpose of spell optimization is performed through the mechanism of one or more Spirit Lore Trials.  The base and rank for this trial are the base and rank for Spirit Lore.  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 Spiritism, the Configuration Might Modifiers will vary according to the specific type of spirit (and in some cases, may vary from spirit to spirit), because of differences in Configuration Might between spirit types.
Optimization difficulty can be modified by several methods, each of which has an associated cost in terms of time, effort, related trials, etc.  (Scholarly research does not apply to spell optimization in Spiritism, although it may apply to other types of magical research in Spiritism.)   Note that the results of spiritism research trials are more extensive than in other Origins, because the process is very different.  Because the nature of a "spell" is unique, an optimized spell is defined in a more restrictive manner than for most other origins.  An optimized spell is an effect with the same base parameters, channeled through the same individual spirit.  If the specific spirit for which the effect has been optimized is not available, the effect cannot be created in its optimized form.   For this reason, habitual relationships between spirit adepts and spirits are common.
1) Knowledge of one or more similar optimized spells.  If an adept already knows one or more optimized spells using the same configuration, that knowledge may help her to optimize a new spell.  The other spells must have the same sub-component optimized as the one she is currently researching, must use the same configuration (i.e. Creation / Matter), and must have been optimized for the same type of spirit (although not the same specific spirit).  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 times three is the reduction in difficulty.  If an optimized spell was optimized for the same specific spirit, then it counts triple (i.e. as if the adept knew three similar spells, rather than just one).  A quick summary is listed below:
Number of Similar Spells Known Research Difficulty Modifier
1-9 -3
10-99 -6
100+ -9
2) 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), with the same specific spirit.  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, and the result times three is the reduction in difficulty, as listed below:
Number of Successful Practices Research Difficulty Modifier
10-99 -3
100+ -6
3) 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 with a spirit of the same type.   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 with a similar spirit, 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 Spirit 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 1
Complete 2
Superior 4
Exceptional 6
Mythic 8
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 effect 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, practicing and instruction must begin again.   Similar optimized spells continue to apply a reduction to future optimization trials, however.


Note:  an adept can attempt to "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 spirit).   Such research allows spells that push the limits of the Origin, and generally requires much time and effort.  In the Spirit Origin, this process generally requires the creation and practice of "similar" effects, in order to refine communication and conceptual understanding between the adept and the spirit.