About the Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Heir of Laimunt Valley category

An old magus leaves behind a large inheritance. A covenant located between the Rhine, Normandy and the Greater Alps. A group of magi recruited to help defend and manage the covenant.

In 1196, Leonardus of House Jerbiton passed into Twilight, leaving behind a substantial inheritance to his three filii, Flavia, Wilhelm Weis and Eduardus. In his Hermetic will, duly registered and authenticated with House Guernicus, Leonardus details his many possessions – a great wealth in gold, raw vis, magical enchantments, books and notes, artifacts and mementos from past adventures. These were easily separated among the heirs of Leonardus.

More difficult to handle were a secondary sanctum that Leonardus had apparently established over the last few decades of his life. The sanctum was to form the kernel of a covenant he wanted to build there, including several vis sources. The condition to gain access to these resources was that a covenant be established there, headed by a magus of his line.

This paused a few problems to the heirs. First, this sanctum was located in a valley near Basel, at the crossroads between the Tribunals of the Rhine, Normandy and Greater Alps. The potential for conflict is great, as each of these Tribunals could claim jurisdiction over to this territory, under sharply different rules governing covenants and vis sources. Second, each of the filii were already well-established at their own covenant and none wished to leave position, comfort or influence behind.

After much debate, they found an innovative solution. Flavia, the oldest heir, had a recently-Gauntleted filius named Quintus Clusius. He would be the head of the new covenant and pay each of them a vis rent for the use of their inheritance. That left plenty of vis available for the new covenant.

Clusius was too young to defend and manage this inheritance all by himself, so a number of magi were approached to join the covenant.

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Post-Gauntlet / Pre-Saga Advancement Rules

Because of the nature of the saga, it makes sense that most of the magi joining the covenant are a few years after having passed their Gauntlet. Which rules should the players use for advancing their magus?

I tend to favour a narrative approach, which I also personally use when developping a character.

Basically, in that approach you tell a story of what you character is doing, whom he meets and study, what he finds, etc. It takes some writing skill and thought. The exact rewards (xp, vis and other stuff) are then discussed with the troupe depending on what makes sense. The amounts stated in the post-Gauntlet advancement rules in the ArM5 book is only used as a guideline.

Some guidelines :

  • The baseline is about 45 xp, 3 pawns of vis and 1 Warping Point per year.
    • Of course, if you study a lot in your lowest Arts, you’ll use beginner’s summae so you’ll end up with more xp.
    • Lots of studying or lab work should mean less vis and Warping. Conversely, lots of stories should mean more vis and Warping.
  • The quality of books should look like :
    • Beginners’ summae in the Arts range from L5Q15 (an old one but easy to get) to L6Q21 (cutting edge but quite hard to find). Only recently established covenants don’t have them for all the Arts.
    • Mid-level summae range from L9Q15 (lesser ones) to L15Q16 (best of the best). Recently established covenants have a few of those, while older covenants may have them for most Arts (if they weren’t damaged or sold off).
    • High-level summae range from L16Q15 to L20Q11. These are the best books. New covenants only have a few of those. Established covenants reserve those books to their senior magi, trading access for seasons of services (junior magi of the covenant) or vis (visitors).
    • The basic price of a summa is a number of pawns equal to its level. Excellent ones can cost twice that. It may take up to a few years to receive your copy (particularly for the best ones) and it is covered by the Cow and Calf clause.
    • Tractatus range from Q6-8 (worth 1 pawn), Q9-11 (2 pawns), Q12-13 (3 pawns) and Q14 (4 pawns). Young covenants have few tractatus, most of them the less expensive ones. Extra copies available are seldom available for immediate sale, so expect a few seasons of delay if you wish to buy one. Access to the best ones (Q12+) often have strings attached.
  • Trainers have a Training Source Quality of 8 to 10. Teachers have a Teaching Source Quality of 6 to 12, plus the bonus for single-student teaching. Magi charge a very high price for teaching another magus for a season (the equivalent of 4 to 10 pawns of vis). And they might combine that teaching with the season when they teach their own apprentice.
  • Use only standard labs and a +3 aura when doing lab work, no matter where you are.

Here's a few basic principles that should be followed when advancing your magus through the narrative approach:

  • Explain your thinking! If you make assumptions, or if you are following a plan, let us know. If something doesn’t happen as your character wanted, tell us.
  • Follow the published material. If a sourcebook establishes what tradition are followed by the Tribunal where your character is, don’t go against it.
    • For example, in the Rhine you cannot take an apprentice before you reach the status of Master, and access to Durenmar’s library is tightly controlled. The Greater Alps exports its newly-Gauntleted magi to other Tribunals, nor does it allow new covenants to be formed.
    • If you decide to go against it, do so for a narrative reason BUT also take into account the consequences of going against it. This will usually result in a diminished acces to ressources, but could also be a negative reputation, fines by the Tribunal, etc.
  • Be conservative. Don’t select the best possible outcome for your character. That applies to your access to resources, but also to how seasonal activities happen.
    • If your character’s Ignem score is 8, don’t assume a L10Q21 summa is available at this covenant. Most covenant have a beginner’s book in most Arts, then a few of middle-level books and a handful high-level book. When in doubt, randomize the quality of the resource available.
    • If you want to purchase something with vis (or services), don’t assume it is available right away. It might need to be crafted. If you get it right away, the price is probably higher or the quality lower.
    • In an established covenant, young magi get to do errands for older magi. In a young covenant, they have to deal with all kind of troubles. So whatever plans your character had, have them disturbed by unexpected events which force him/her to do something outside his/her interests.
  • Go slow. Write a season and get comments from the troupe. Then complete the year and get comments. Then proceed one year at a time.

As an example of the narrative approach, here is what I once wrote a few years ago while developping a magus (a Gentle-Gifted blacksmith of a slightly modified Rustic tradition from HoH:S p.130). This is a bit long-winded and could be shorter for your character:

  • Year 1, Spring Season: “After gathering my tools, clothing and few personal items into the cart that was provided by my pater’s covenant, I have taken to the roads of the Kingdom (of Poland). Travelling proves a little more difficult than I remember, as my mule is headstrong and the roads themselves badly maintained. But I am learning to take care of the mule, at least.”
    “ The first three villages that I visited did not require much of my services. They already had access to a blacksmith from neighbouring villages, so had on small work for me. Nonetheless, they were warm enough in their welcome.”
    “ The fourth village was a different matter. Going farther upcountry brought me to a place sadly in need of my skills. I spent the rest of spring there, fixing a host of farming tools, hinges, and such. The villagers were quite happy about this, since it made planting season easier. I did not make much coin, for they did not have much, but was paid in what little food they had, as well as shelter for me and my mule.”
    “ One woman had a lingering sickness. I told her I would pray with her for her recovery, and did what I could to strengthen her health with magic. By the time I left the village, she seemed to be doing better.”

    Exposure: 2 xp (Craft: Blacksmith 1 xp, Animal Handling 1 xp)

  • Year 1, Summer Season: “ Travelling ever further upcountry provided me with another village where I could practice my craft. This one had a nearby mine and already had a blacksmith, but he could not keep up with all the work. He agreed to take me on as a helper for the season. This proved quite fruitful to my skills as a smith.”
    “ There was an orphan girl there named Maria. Her mother had died the year previous and now her father in a recent mine accident. She has no relatives in the area, so she was begging for food and almost starving, the poor thing. So I took her in. At 7, she doesn’t eat much.”
    “ The villagers are decent folk, though. When they learned I was taking care of Maria, they got much friendlier and open with me. I spent a few nights drinking dark beer with the men, listening to stories. The women have been good to me too, letting me purchase food for me and Maria, or cooking for us.”
    “ One of the stories I heard is about a mineshaft that was abandoned some years ago because miners kept getting disoriented in it. I went to investigate, but the shaft looked to dangerous for me to go into, it was very unstable. However, some unusual flowers growing near the entrance caught my attention. Their roots proved to have some bulbs growing on them that contain a little Herbam vis, so I gathered as much as I could, but also left enough that they could multiply. This proved to be worth 2 pawns. When I came back in the area later during the summer, another patch of the flowers did not contain any vis. I went back to the original site but they showed no raw vis there either, so this may be a seasonal source. The dried roots have retained their potency.”

    Training: 6 xp (Craft: Blacksmith, Training Source Quality of 8, not full-time training)
    Items obtained: 2 pawns of Herbam (root nodules of mountain flowers)