Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.
This is the second entry in this category where I share thoughts on various topics. Be aware, there will be rambling, asides, digressions, and wherever chasing the white rabbit takes me.
This particular topic comes up from time to time and like most things, I have opinions about it. Much of this is based on looking at how a body of knowledge develops in the world and how you gain access to it. Practicing a skill often only gets you so far as this doesn't necessarily force you to learn something new. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Adepts training themselves is an interesting topic, though never discussed in the text throughout the editions. It is a topic of interest because it bypasses roadblocks, and implies an inherent level of mysticism and connection to magic that can be distinctly appealing. From a purely practical standpoint, there’s the argument someone had to be the first to get there. Rank 10 skills and Fifteenth Circle didn’t come out of nowhere. Well, depending on where you think Disciplines came from, they could have been given fully formed.
The problem with how to address this within the setting is everyone is standing on the shoulders of those before them. The knowledge of a Rank 10 skill was built over generations of practitioners making discoveries, then sharing that knowledge with others. Slowly building the abstraction we use ranks to represent. If someone doesn’t show you what the more advanced techniques are and you don’t have access to training materials, this is a long, laborious and potentially impossible task. You are effectively reinventing the wheel without knowing anything about what a wheel is.
Disciplines present a similar difficulty. If they were developed rather than gifted, this means they were the product of many who came before. Those teachings spread and became true, shaping the Discipline and what it represents. A scholar in the text The Adept’s Journey: Mystic Paths posits Paths may be precursors to Disciplines. This is rightly refuted with the statement there is nothing to support the hypothesis and it falls into the realm of things impossible to test.
Where does this leave us in the context of self-training within the setting? It indicates it may not realistically be possible to advance in Circle or a skill rank without a trainer. Doing so would require a significant increase in the time required. It would be measured in years rather than weeks. However, this doesn’t have to reflect your group and your table. Perhaps the adepts are prodigies who are remarkably in tune with their Discipline. They immerse themselves in meditation, communing with the elements that reflect their perspective on their Discipline, they attempt to open their eyes to possibilities, seeing what they don’t already see. This is a journey of discovery, explicitly learning what they don’t already know. In such circumstances, the training period should be at least ten times the listed requirement. This is almost fancifully low. However, it should reflect what the group wants out of the game. Not what the game wants you to do.