Common agreements with Chapter Houses?

Hi all,

I'm about to run an AM5 game with four players. All are experienced gamers but none have played Ars Magica before. I am going to set it in the Rhine Tribunal. The idea is that they will become a chapter house of Fengheld. They'll go to the Black Forest and attempt to settle in at a covenant that was abandoned a hundred years ago. The characters are all new magi; the saga will start with them two years out of apprenticeship. The first few sessions will involve adventuring in the Black Forest before they reach the covenant and strive to make it safe, inhabitable, protected, and productive (in roughly that order).

What arrangements do parent covenants likely make with a chapter house of younger magi? I've never run a game of this style before. Here are a few ideas I have:
-As Fengheld is nowhere near the Black Forest, communication will be irregular and infrequent. I will have a character of similar power level to the players in the troupe, but there will not be a powerful NPC/mentor present.

-Fengheld will provide the characters with some lesser invested devices and charged items.
Lesser devices: A box that preserves all foodstuffs put into it directly, a means of shrinking food, a blanket of bonus to recovery rolls, a device to make it drizzle and correct the rain
Charged Items: Extinguish fires, destroy storms.

-Enough Vim vis to maintain a low-power Aegis of the Hearth for 2 years.
-A few seasons of training on what the senior magi think will help the troupe survive in the forest. They'll be making educated guesses, but will let the party read Summae on Herbam, teach some spells like Intuition of the Forest, etc. The sub-reason is to teach the players how the rules for advancement work. (I poked, prodded, and bullied, but none of them would read the book to any length).
-Grogs and covenfolk, particularly a forester and an autocrat.

What Fengheld will expect from the chapter house:
-There will be a public vis source (as the covenant hook). Fengheld expects the full income of that source, payable at each Tribunal.
-Fengheld can occasionally give missions or quests to the magi in the chapter house and expect that they will perform them in reasonable time.
-Fengheld can occasionally exert pressure for the chapter house to vote a certain way on a particular issue at Tribunal. (Not often though; independence is important).
-The Chapter House is required to establish diplomatic relations with a specific faerie court that Fengheld has had its eye on.
-Any magus from Fengheld may use the library at the Chapter House without restriction, but they can't automatically requisition books to be sent to the Fengheld site.

Other notes:
-The Chapter will need to abide by the charter. However, seasons of service performed at the chapter house count as seasons of service to Fengheld. Thus, writing a book or extracting vis at the site counts as their duty. No 'tribute' is levied.
-The Chapter house can make slight alterations to the charter such as how vis is distributed.
-Additional vis sources belong to the Chapter House beyond the required, known source.

I'm thinking that I want to emphasize that the troupe will be on their own, or at least heavily feel that way. There will be an experienced maga who accompanies the troupe into the black forest, but she will conveniently botch and disappear into Twilight.

Does the above sound reasonable for an agreement between a chapter house and a parent covenant? I'm concerned that Fengheld is being either too generous or too kindly. My intention is to give the party enough to survive and avoid some of the more mundane concerns like food or carpentry, but leave myself numerous plot hooks. I am curious to see people's opinions.

I do not see anything that says that ffengheld is being especially generlous. He is putting a full complement of magi and resources in a certain place in order to claim more far away resources for the Fengheld community. My opinion would need to know what available resources are being sent (number of fighters, specialists and staff in general, library, vis, ...). The build points to be spent, basically.

I see them as junior members of a covenant-style Tremere house. Fengheld works like the Tremere, just at a covenant level. Mother house plus chapter houses in a pyramidal organization and where the central ones have the power while the others acts as their agents. As saids, like the tremere. HOH:TL is a nice place to start to see what should be expected from the characters, and what they can expect to get from the mother house and other chapter houses of the home covenant :slight_smile:

Black forest means at least 2 or 3 powerful covenants to deal with apart from other supernatural beings. Mundane conflict is likely to be more limited, but still it is quite a bold group of magi!


Thanks! I also made a typo: I meant to say that I wanted to see if Fengheld was being too generous or too stingy (not too kindly). Gotta love that.

It seems as though Fengheld should probably offer a few more resources: More covenfolk staff, and enough grogs to keep the place defended (rather than just shield grogs for each magus).

Prolly an extra lesser device or two would be appropriate: Say a second healing blankey, a few items to avoid predators, some easy vis-gathering items, and so forth.

I tend to make the numbers like this:

Team of 6-10 specialists.That includes

  • autocrat
  • smiths
  • cook
  • librarian
  • turb leader
  • carpenter
  • Maid leader. Works closely with the cook to organize the non specialist staff
  • mason for your covenant if they have building to do
  • forester/master of the hunt

All have 1-3 helpers assigned to them. Another junior smith, a pair of good carpenters
General staff of the covenant. A dozen or up to 20 or so. Can be the ones assigned to the previous ones.

3 fighters per magus. One shield grog plus 2 others. For 5 players that is 15 grogs, so not much. Armed with average weapons. Crossbowmen tend to be appreciated IMS because they can double in missile/fighter roles.

General workers et al.
Now, add everybody and add half again that number of children.

So around 100 people all in all. I might be going on the large side of things, but our covenants end up with numbers of that magnitude when we add everything together. Around 50 of those are on site, and the others working on the environments.

For a chapter house 300-350 build points can work. I would make a pack of the primers of the Arts cost 50 build points. That would be a good core for a starting library. And maybe a few tractatus and lab texts to boot.


My current saga is the same. Chapter House of Fengheld populated by player character magi who (at time of founding) were a few years post Gauntlet.

Our conditions were:

  • There was nearby large vis source. We had to harvest that vis and send most of it back (each year) to Fengheld.
  • Fengheld provided an autocrat (i.e. non-magus to organise the grogs/covenant). He reports back to Fengheld on what we are doing.
  • Most of the initial grogs came from Fengheld. Now (20 something years later) the Fengheld grogs are in the minority.
  • Potentially there are other Fengheld agents we don't know about amongst the grogs.
  • Fengheld provides us with a cash allowance --- although this has now ceased as we have our own sources of income.
  • Fengheld magi cast the CrTe ritual to construct the main tower.
  • We are expected to act as other members of Fengheld when it comes to voting at Tribunal (i.e. vote as a block, on issues that the senior magi of Fengheld deem we should; which only happens rarely).

This one seems familiar - we're doing this too.