Zero-level apprentices have a chance of becoming level 1 a few times a year.
The maximum number of leveled apprentices is 6, so assuming a mage ends up with six level-1 apprentices at some point …
How do those apprentices gain XP to get higher levels?
One of them (or 2, 3, or 4 if the mage has a CHA bonus) can act as an assistant in magical research, and gain XP from that. The other five … should the wizard send them out on adventures? Give them gold in the GP=XP sense? Are there other ways to earn XP?
the assistant section on page 119 seems to suggest the number of assistants scales off of INT bonus, not CHA. regardless, the result is likely that he must rotate who he includes on his item creation studies. presumably if he’s working on something big, his apprentices will finish their work (succeed or fail) before he’s done, and perhaps he could sub someone new in?
This is reminding me that I had some questions about magical research myself. Maybe I should post a different thread.
The apprentices have two way to gain XP. The first is to work as assistants and do magical research. The second is to go on adventures.
Since the average mage will usually only be able to handle 1-2 assistants (rarely 3-4), he usually has a surplus that he will dispatch on adventures. That this leads to young mages getting sent out into the world by their masters is not coincidental.
A kind wizard will probably use each of his apprentices as an assistant in turn, ensuring that each gets some XP from research. Many wizards are not, however, very kind. These wizards are likely to keep the *best* apprentice (highest INT, with Magical Engineering proficiency) as their assistant continuosly.
Note that simply being paid a wage or given gold does not give the apprentice any XP. An apprentice who took it upon himself to become an arbitrage trader might gain XP, though, but someone interested in being a merchant isn't likely to be a mage apprentice.
Alex, can you offer some insight into at what levels and in what ways mages can take on apprentices? on page 147 there is an example where Quintus, a 5th level mage, gives his apprentice a sample that allows him to make a scroll of sleep. This seems to be somewhat corroborated by the beginning of magic research “Up until 4th level, spellcasters cannot engage in magic research
except by serving as assistants for more powerful casters (as
described later).” Meanwhile, the section about assistants on page 119 says “An assistant is a mage or other arcane spellcaster of at least 1st level that is under the employ of a 9th level or higher arcane caster”
Is there some distinction that I’ve missed? what are the level requirements for receiving and providing assistance?
The sentence on page 119 is incorrect in that it's overly specific to 9th level. A more correct reading would be: "An assistant is a mage or other arcane spellcaster of at least 1st level that is under the employ of an arcane caster capable of magical research."