Accessing Durenmar's library?

Durenmar is notoriously stingy about providing access to their great library. Either you bribe your way into it (through vis "donations"), or you have to exchange knowledge for knowledge at a rate that is harsher than what most other covenants will provide: in exchange for a book Durenmar does not have (and they are even picky about what they accept), a magus receives a bare two seasons of study (not of scribing - one cannot copy Durenmar's texts for one's own covenant!), perhaps more in the case of a weighty summa (GotF). I have two questions in this regard:

  1. What would a suitable bribe be? I'd say 1 pawn for 1 season of study, considering that a sound tractatus costs 2 pawns (and the entire covenant can benefit from it).

  2. In theory, magi of Bonisagus must share their discoveries with other magi, but if they send a copy of their research to Durenmar, they are considered to have fulfilled their obligation. I was wondering if a magus could make a case at the Tribunal that the Bonisagus magi of Durenmar are violating the oath, in that they are not sharing freely, so that a member with little experience in the arts and/or little talent in writing is precluded access to the knowledge of the house. Considering that Durenmar has many enemies even in the Rhine (Dankmar hates them, and Fengheld would like to see their influence diminished further), I think such a magus would stand a good chance.

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  1. Guardians of the Forest says what a sutible amount might be. I thought it was something like 5 pawns for a year, but Serf’s Parma.
  2. If staying at Durenmar and studying is free, you could have 600 magi wanting to do that. There is only so much space. Setting a price is a way of separating those who really want to study at Durenmar from those who don’t care as much. Waiting lists and certamen could be used instead, but both tend to favor older magi, either because they got on the list long ago or they are more powerful. In that sense, paying is more fair.

You might consider increasing the cost of the sound tractatus. As per the RAW tractatus are dirt cheap given the amount of profit you can get out of them, even under cow and calf.

Regarding Durenmar, well they will argue that the access is there for you to use. The fact that the sharing needs to be free is nowhere to be seen under the Code. Bonisagus himself forced the founders to swear the Oath and contribute to swell the ranks of the Order in exchange for the initiation into his knowledge, so the knowledge was far from a freebie to them.

Still, if makes for a nice plot hook, so you can invest ijn it and have a great central feature for your tribunal :slight_smile: I can see Durenmar running around madly to prevent the proposal that they MUST send a ciopy of every single book in their library to each covenant in the entire order :laughing: A tytalus would certainly laugh a lot about that.

Combine this with a few hundred (or thousand) Larta tytalians appearing from nowhere and you have a nice tribunal out there :smiling_imp:


I find that the Covenants library and book quality/price rules are way out of whack and unbalancing, even after the errata.

In my saga, a good tractatus (Q 7-8) costs at least 2-4 Vis, Q 8-9 cost up to 5. Anything higher than Q10 is bargained for case-by-case. This puts the Durenmar rules very much into the reasonable sphere. Also, remember Durenmar has books on everything. You not only pay for the access of that single book, you pay for the access of all books.

That does increase other problems, in that it provides even more motivation for people to research super author enhancing rituals so they can plug out marketable tractatus.

I really can't find any specific quantity. All I can find is fees to use a guest laboratory, but that does not include access to the library. 5 pawns per season is the cost to use one of the excellent guest laboratories, and 2 pawns per season is the cost to use one of the basic ones. Incidentally, I find both these fees rather high.

Nobody said that Durenmar should host guests for free. However, it's not clear why it should not allow people who are allowed in the library anyways to copy (and redistribute) its books for free, perhaps with the stipulation that they must make two copies available to the first two covenants who ask them (for the sole price of two more copies being made available etc.). That would ensure at the same time wider circulation, and reduce pressure on Durenmar itself (since magi now have a choice to go elsewhere to consult its books).

I think that they are already rather expensive considering the cost of writing one. There's over a hundred covenants in the Order. If even just a dozen are interested in buying a sound tractatus for 2 pawns each, it's 24 pawns for a season of work.
And remember, once you have written a book, the marginal cost for you to sell it is almost 0 - it's the cost of copying it. Suppose your covenant had such a tractatus, and a visiting magus came by and said "Your neighbor would sell me a tractatus on Aquam like yours for 2 pawns, a well scribed and illuminated copy bound with eel skin inlaid with pearls. But I would much rather pay a single pawn for such a book. Would you instead allow my scribe to copy your tractatus in a season it is not in use, in exchange for a single pawn and five pounds of silver?". What would you say?

Actually, the deal is that Bonisagus shares the knowledge, and other members in exchange surrender their apprentices. If house Bonisagus tried to say "ah, we share, but for a price", the rest of the Order could say "Then you can certainly have our apprentices, but in exchange for a hundred seasons of service for each".

Not really. You pay for access to anysingle* book of your choice, since you only get a season of study. If you end up studying a Summa on Aquam, whether you do it at a Covenant whose library consists of that single tome, or at Durenmar, surrounded by the collected knowledge of the Order, is irrelevant to you.

Lets see...

You get a library,
A book of your choice (more or less),
(Ward against heat and flame :open_mouth: ...)
As a guest...
You also get meals, and other facilities,
A Librarian who can get you what you want (Sure for a TIP)

For two-five pawns....

So you are using a lab. Durenmar has to replace all the stuff you break while using it. Anyone know what (no book handy) the cost for lab upkeep is?
The lab uses Wood and other materials that need to be replaced... Cost?
How much does that meal cost?
What is the yearly cost for a Specialist (librarian)?
IIRC, there is also a stipulation that you can trade a season of work for a season of study...
Doesn't seem too unreasonable to me..

While I don't think you meant it that way, this would make a GREAT story hook, IMO. Thanks!

Before you start saying that Durenmar should allow unlimited copying, remember, not all books they have are written by Bonisangus. If someone takes a copy of the Creo Tractatus that my Verditius magus wrote and trades it for some time staying at Durenmar, I don't see why they get to make copies of it.

Good point. However, I still insist that the works of House Bonisagus should be freely reproducible!

Sharing knowledge means providing the knowledge, not letting everyone copy it... Still, some nice Tribunal story hooks in this thread! :slight_smile:

How do you an others interpret the knowledge sharing requirement then? Also, where is the requirement best written up in AM5 material? I've had a surprisingly hard time finding an actual reference today.

GotF basically says that it is accepted by the Order that giving a copy of one's work to the Great Library counts are fulfilling the Bonisagus part of the Oath. By books are on the other side of the globe, but it's in the Great Library section of GotF.

Now, the idea that some houses/covenants might object to the "secret-hording" of Durenmar is a different story. It's accepted that putting your research in the GL counts as sharing, but what if no-one can use the GL other than Bonisagi? I see Fengheld in particular trying to get easier access to the GL. I also think that Durenmar is too powerful to let that happen easily. You know, as long as you have the GL with restricted access, you can always buy Tribunal votes at the cost of a few seasons study credit in the GL (read: practically nothing). Once the GL has free-for-all access, that's basically it. Durenmar (and by analogy House Bonisagus) is a powerless pawn in the hands of Tribunal politics.

And the Trianoma side of the Bonisagi would probably try to thwart that. Not that I see the Trianomae as particularly effective politicians (they have zero "backup-power"), but that's the canon explanation.

The rest of the house, their prestige, the invisible influence of scheeming, quaesitores, hoplites...
I doubt that can be called zero.

Nothing any other (political) magus couldn't also have. And House is only the political part -- the magic theory lab rats won't help a lot in Tribunal.

Compare that to a Tremere, who has a fully organised entire House backing if needed and deemed necessary.

And even if a magus is in a little bit of awe of the knowledge some of the lab rats have, the Trianomae don't qualify. Everyone knows they're not the ones with the breakthroughs. I don't seem them as being effective outside the protection of the Rhine Tribunal, where House Bonisagus as a whole has an overall advantageous position.

A lot of the power comes from tradition: these people rely in convincing you, not on stamping you to the ground with the heel of their boot and order you to vote on a certain direction. If they are reasonable 99% of the time people will tend to listen to them thinking they will be reasonable this time as well.

There is space for more than pure brute force on the political arena.

And they also have allies outside their house. The Tremeres that everybody is so keen to point out might be siding with them (traditions of the Order over unneeded change... or getting priority access for themselves) for example. I bet Philippus Niger will listen to the leader of the trianomae much more than he will listen to you.


  1. The size of a vis bribe is something that is going to be saga-dependent, but I would say that 1 pawn for a season sounds a bit light. It might also depend on whether the magus in question gets on well with the librarian / Durenmar! As a rule of thumb, I'd suggest 2-3 pawns per season.

  2. The relevant part of the Hermetic Oath sworn by Bonisagi reads: "I shall further the knowledge of the Order and share with its members all that I find in my search for wisdom and power." It is not explicit how this is to be done in practice (which is a good thing; the story potential here has been pointed out).

It might be worth considering the distinction between "discoveries" and "knowledge", and between Lab Texts (which may be studied in or copied from the Great Library at zero cost) and Art books (which may be studied for a price). A Lab Text is clearly a form of knowledge and also represents a kind of discovery (which may or may not be especially groundbreaking). Art books are also clearly knowledge, but arguably do not really represent discovery. After all, if you are denied access to one particular Art book, you can always gain the same knowledge from other books (e.g. tractatus).

So, the idea is that discoveries (i.e. Lab Texts) are shared (freely), whereas knowledge is merely "furthered" (i.e. made available for a price). At least, that is how I imagine House Bonisagus or Durenmar would justify it...

Considering that 2 pawns of vis is the cost on the Hermetic book market of a sound tractatus (something that, once bought, you and all your sodales can benefit from, in the peace of your own covenant, perhaps charging a little to the occasional peregrinator to study from it), doesn't 2-3 pawns for a single mage season of study seem exceedingly high?

I think that the sharing should be free. If anything, because if someone refuses (or is unable) to pay a Bonisagus, the Bonisagus is still bound to share. Otherwise, the same argument applies to the other sie of the bargain. Magi from the other houses concede to Bonisagus the right to take their apprentices - but similarly, nothing's said about how it is to be done. If you claim that this ambiguity allow magi of Bonisagus to claim a price for their knowledge, it should equally allow other magi to claim a price for any such apprentice taken ("Want my apprentice? Great! Take it... in exchange for a copy of every book penned by Bonisagus and his whole lineage.").

Well, the Oath is considerably more comprehensive: "all that I find in my search for wisdom and power" certainly comprises all knowledge, and one could also argue all vis sources, all magic items etc.

You must be kidding...

Anyone who wants to actively mess with the political specialists of the order are not the sanest people around.
"the rest of the house" also means getting the votes of the single most prestigious house. That means potential doom´n´gloom for an opponent.

And if a quaesitor is asked to judge, do you really think they will judge against the "house" whose primary goal is the "good of the order"?
And if a Trianoma asks a local hoplite for a bit of backup, unless there´s a quaesitor saying differently, the Trianoma will very likely get it. A Tremere will have to rely on his own house first and foremost, and if doing something questionable, ONLY their own house.

Political power may not instantly flame your enemies to death, but its still a LOT of power.

Eh? Who cares. They´re known for working for the order as a whole, and if they tell the rest of their house that magi X is a dangerous cretin that should be marched due to breaking the code, they can probably get those votes, and those of the quaesitores, and that will be probably be enough to sway most tribunals their way.
And if there´s any doubt, their skill at intrigue is very likely to sway the votes their way.