Covenant Budget and Population

So, on to finances. In order to figure these out, we need to figure out what we need in the way of covenfolk. What I see so far is five separate residences for five magi, a school, and a regio. The regio should have little in the way of permanent covenfolk. We might have a few that possess magical abilities and won't warp. But most covenfolk will live in one of the separate residences or at the school. (I don't know if the school will be contiguous with one of the magi residences or separate. We'll need to figure that out.)

Now, each magus will probably have his official sanctum inside the regio, since that's where they'll have their labs. But to the extent that they want to interact with the outside world, they'll maintain a presence in their residences. So how many people will each magus need for support?

Well, we can start with the bare minimum: a magus, a companion, and a shield grog. Not all companions have to live with the same magus as their player is associated with. But it will simplify the numbers if I assume that at the start. That requires two servants and two teamsters for a minimum total household size of seven. Now, I understand that the magi might be spending a lot of time in their labs. But they'll want to maintain a functional household in the city, so even if they're not there all the time, they'll need to maintain a staff of servants.

Of course it's more complicated than that. To start, there's the question of specialists and craftsmen. Let's be minimalist and assume one of each for a given residence. That ups the number of servants to three and leaves the teamsters at two for a total household size of ten. But that's not counting dependents. There are bound to be some children too young to work or an elderly covenfolk who can't work anymore. Let's asume an average of two dependents per residence. That doesn't change the servant or teamster requirement, leaving us with a minimum reasonable household size of twelve. (We'll look at larger households in a moment.)

Now there's the school. For the sake of argument we'll assume it's separate from the residences. If it's attached to one, then we can fold those numbers into the residence numbers. The required number of servants or teamsters might change by one, but it should be close in numbers. Let's assume five teachers, three craftsmen, and five grogs for the school. That requires four servants and three teamsters, for a total size of twenty. Given twenty covenfolk, it doesn't seem unreasonable to say that there would be four dependents, raising the total to twenty-five (we needed one more servant).

Then there's the center of the covenant in the regio. I know I said that few people would be there permanently, but we'll need to account for the fact that the magi will be there a lot and will need some servants to take care of them. The servants needed for the regio would not be full time in the regio (for the most part) and would probably overlap with servants from the residences. For example, a residence might have five servants, three of which serve the residence and two of which serve the regio. The servants would rotate who served where so that no servant spent too much time in the regio.

So, while this might overestimate the staff we need, lets' assume all five magi as residents of the regio, though we'll skip the companions. They require five servants and three teamsters. Let's assume they'll each want a lab assistant and bump that up to eight servants and three teamsters for eleven total people. Let's assume two dependents (who will no doubt live in a residence outside the regio, but who should be counted), which ups the number of servants to nine and the number of teamsters to four. We have a total of fifteen people associated with the regio.

So, what we have so far is:

SCHOOL: 25 people
REGIO: 15 people
TOTAL: 100 people in the covenant

Of course that only has us having five specialists and five craftsmen beyond what we have for the school. I'm guessing we'll want more than that. So, as promised, we get back to residences. What if we assumed two specialists and two craftsmen per residence? And while we're at it, let's up the number of grogs from just one to three. That requires four servants and three teamsters for a total of sixteen people. With that number, I'd up the number of dependents to three, which brings us to nineteen per household. We can round up to twenty for ease of counting, if we like.

So, that changes things to:

SCHOOL: 25 people
REGIO: 15 people
TOTAL: 140 people in the covenant

Let's up that to 150 to account for some laborers and a few horses.

Now, that's a lot of people, I hear you say. Remember that these people are spread out across five separate residences, one school, and a regio. This is also an era where the rich had a lot of servants, and the magi count as rich. So really, having about 25-30 people in a residence isn't that much, especially considering that the bare bones magus residence requires 7 people, and the smallest reasonable size is 12.

Given these numbers, we have a little under 200 population points of people, with an unmodified cost of 260 MP/year (assuming 3 MP/year for each lab and 10% of our income as tithes). That number doesn't account for the benefit of specialists, craftsmen, or laborers, so it will definitely go down. The point is, if these are our numbers, we're well within our budget of 350 MP/year.

In any case, that's my attempt to estimate the general population and finances for the covenant. I made some huge assumptions, and guestimated a lot. No doubt the real numbers will change, possibly by a lot in some areas. But these numbers form a good baseline to start from. And they prove that we're on track to have a manageable budget.

I welcome any thoughts on population and budget.

Trogdor, thank you for the detailed discussion. I think your numbers are worthwhile, and I have only minor modifications.

I count 5 Magi, I assume 5 Companions, and lets go with 10 Craftsmen - one per residence and five for the school. The next 130 are "standard covenfolk"
25 + 15 + 20 + 130 = 190 Points of inhabitants.

This comes to 19 pounds in Buildings, 38 MP in consumables. and 50 MP in labs ( 5 labs at +4 upkeep), 95 in provisions, and 57 in wages ( paying +50% wages for loyalty). We add 2 points for armor and weapons, and 7 points for Writing materials (assume 1 scribe and 1 bookbinder, +5 Magi) I get 268 MP/year. Adding a tithe gets up to 303. We're still in very good shape, even if we have more expenses.

Hmm could it be that Lab Size have no effect on upkeep?! Just reading trough Cov. 64 again where I thought size also matters I just realize that no there is no effect from size.

I agree with Trogdor that we should have at last 1 spar lab for visiting magus or if someone else decided to join us. (If I didn't read it wrong Thebes have a similar hospitality rule as the Rhine tribunal)
Also in our upkeep I missing the weapon, armor and higher pay (a penny/day) for our Veteran Fighter. I think we need at last 10 Veteran Fighter +1 officer, probably we need even more.
(Sure my Companion could fill the officer / turb captain roll but with the wealthy virtue he might to expensive for this position and we might prefer to use him as teacher)

So, I realize that I messed up in two ways First, I goofed on teamsters. Our laborers almost eliminate the need for teamsters, and we only need them because of the split nature of our covenant. Here are the final numbers I came up with, assuming 1 specialist and 1 craftsman per residence, and 5 specialists and 5 craftsmen for the school (or 10 each split up how we want).

The bigger goof was on population points. I was not thinking that we're a summer covenant. That ups the population points significantly, as shown below:

[tableborder][tr][th][left]Resident[/left][/th] [th]Number[/th] [th]Points Per[/th] [th]Total Points[/th][/tr]
[tr][td]Magi[/td] [td][center]5[/center][/td] [td][center]10[/center][/td] [td][center]50[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Companions[/td] [td][center]6[/center][/td] [td][center]5[/center][/td] [td][center]30[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Specialists[/td] [td][center]10[/center][/td] [td][center]3[/center][/td] [td][center]30[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Craftsmen[/td] [td][center]10[/center][/td] [td][center]3[/center][/td] [td][center]30[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Dependents[/td] [td][center]21[/center][/td] [td][center]2[/center][/td] [td][center]42[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Fighting Grogs[/td] [td][center]20[/center][/td] [td][center]2[/center][/td] [td][center]40[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Laborers[/td] [td][center]20[/center][/td] [td][center]2[/center][/td] [td][center]40[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Servants[/td] [td][center]32[/center][/td] [td][center]2[/center][/td] [td][center]64[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Teamsters[/td] [td][center]5[/center][/td] [td][center]2[/center][/td] [td][center]10[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Horses[/td] [td][center]6[/center][/td] [td][center]1[/center][/td] [td][center]6[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][th][left]TOTAL[/left][/th] [th]135[/th] [th][/th] [th]342[/th][/tr][/tableborder]
That gives us vastly increased costs, even with savings from craftsmen, etc. For the sake of argument, I assumed the following specialists and craftsmen, each at skill level 7. I feel certain that people will want to make grogs up with higher skill levels, but let's start with 7 as a good base for a summer covenant. (Specificls of what we pick may change, but the numbers should work out about the same.)

Craftsmen: Baker (provisions), Blacksmith (consumables), Brewer (provisions), Carpenter (2) (buildings and consumables), Cheesemaker (provisions), Furniture Maker (buildings), Stonemason (buildings), Tool maker (labs), Weaver (consumables)
Specialists: Book binder (special), Glass blower (labs), Healer (special), Parchment Maker (writing), Scribe (2) (special), Teacher (4) (special)
Laborers: (provisions)

[tableborder][tr][th][left]Item[/left][/th] [th]Base Cost[/th] [th]Max Savings[/th] [th]Savings[/th] [th]Total Cost[/th][/tr]
[tr][td]Buildings[/td] [td][center]34.2[/center][/td] [td][center]17.1[/center][/td] [td][center]-12[/center][/td] [td][center]22.2[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Consumables[/td] [td][center]68.4[/center][/td] [td][center]13.68[/center][/td] [td][center]-12[/center][/td] [td][center]56.4[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Inflation[/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Laboratories[/td] [td][center]50[/center][/td] [td][center]10[/center][/td] [td][center]-14[/center][/td] [td][center]36[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Provisions[/td] [td][center]171[/center][/td] [td][center]34.2[/center][/td] [td][center]-32[/center][/td] [td][center]139[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Soldiers[/td] [td][center]30[/center][/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td] [td][center]30[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Tithes[/td] [td][center]35[/center][/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td] [td][center]35[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Wages[/td] [td][center]102.6[/center][/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td] [td][center]102.6[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Weapons & Armor[/td] [td][center]5[/center][/td] [td][center]2.5[/center][/td] [td][center]0[/center][/td] [td][center]5[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Writing Materials[/td] [td][center]10[/center][/td] [td][center]5[/center][/td] [td][center]-5[/center][/td] [td][center]5[/center][/td][/tr]
[tr][th][left]TOTAL[/left][/th] [th]506.2[/th] [th][/th] [th]-75[/th] [th]431.2[/th][/tr][/tableborder]
So we're 80 MP/year over budget. That tells me that we either need a third income source, or our second income source has to be greater. In the alternative, we could stop paying the grogs half again wages and significantly drop what the covenant will pay for lab upkeep. Regardless, we have to do something or we're seriously in the red.

On the plus side, as a summer covenant we all get another +1 to our living conditions. That even counts for the grogs, which should give +10 to loyalty.

I don't know how this would count in for the upkeep but if it is just repairing objects smaller then 10 yards across then there is almost nothing better then the "The Avenue of Healing and the Station of Rice and Honey" HoH:MC 71
If my calculation is not wrong the needed labyrinth meditation take my magus 30 minutes but naturally he couldn't do this each day or it would start to become a distraction to the season activity.
Because it also can heal wounded creatures without vis cost as long the wound didn't come from human tools and such wounded creatures show up from time to time at his doors its actual even more restricted how common he can use it for the covenant.

Edit: I thought the school is one of our income sources and so only very few people from it would have to be paid direct by the covenant or I'm wrong there?

Sources of income and trying to keep the covenant hale and hearty are the genesis of many stories. How about we upgrade an income source to Greater, so that we have an income of 500? If necessary, use one of my allotment to get another Wealthy Boon. Perhaps one of the StoryGuides will decide that one of the unknown hooks is Dwindling Resources. At the outset, I don't want to be concerned about money - I'd prefer that to come up later in the game, after we've done a story.

As for loyalty, note that page 40 of Covenants has an entry for loyalty - that a high reputation grants five points of loyalty per point of the Reputation. By taking the Prestige Major Boon (p. 21), we have a Reputation of 9!

I agree. May I propose we drop one of the Hidden Resources boons to get a second Wealthy boon. We have a lot of resources already. We hardly need another 250.

Plus we're primarily Gentle Gifted and have a +3 total living conditions modifiers. Covenant loyalty should not be a problem.

A summer covenant should not invest in laborers, they are a financial bleed, and being in the city we can probably hire people for the day as needed. Honestly we are a long way from getting to our final costs on the covenant, and characters may not be as standard as you assume...

Now that you point that out, I can see it. They cost 1 MP to support and only save a little over 1 MP each.

I never said we were anywhere near the final costs. But we have to start somewhere.

No worries, I know that you're extremely fond of non-standard characters. Before we get to the end I fully expect to see a magic carpenter with Skill 14 in Carpentry and a Faerie sympathy in woodworking who can save us 50 MP a year and add 1 to our living condition modifier.

actually the first question is why covenant craftsmen are covenant craftsmen, instead of working for themselves in the city. Some obvious possibilities are they feel indebted because the covenant saved the life of a loved one, a conflict with the guild, or of course anything that would make them dependent on a magical aura... have we decided for or against allowing magic characters?

On that note my companion, for example, is self supporting and should not be on the list of costs for the covenant- downside is we don't get the savings either...

also if the school is a source of income we should not be listing its costs as part of our expenses, those presumably are covered before we take income from it, and any grogs or companions associated with that should also not need to be covered.

Very good questions. We'll probably need to handle those on an individual basis. Each craftsperson will have to have his or her own reason to work directly for the covenant. That was a bit beyond getting the basic numbers down, but I can see that this is an intricate tapestry and every thread you tug leads to more and more threads that have to be dealt with. I've also never done finances for a summer covenant before, so some of this is new to me.

As for magic characters, a little of that goes a long way, in my opinion. It's very easy for a magical grog to become overwhelming in his or her comparative power. I would be perfectly happy saying no magical characters. But I can see how that might be something that people want, especially given that we're in Thebes. To that end, if the rest of the troupe wants to have magical characters, I propose that each player can make one magical grog, so that (a) we each get to have the fun of making a magical character, and (b) the magical characters don't overwhelm the story. I would strongly oppose having magical companions because at that level they tend to be really powerful compared to other companions.

In fact, that leads to another question about making grogs. Are we all free to make as many grogs as we like, or do we want there to be some limit to the number we can make? Obviously there's a hard limit on craftsmen and specialists, i.e.m the number we pay for. We should probably give everyone a chance to make a few of them if they want. Once you get to simple servants and the like, we have a lot more of those floating around, so it's easy to let people make a lot of them if they want.

Which leads me to another question. How common do we want magical, faerie, or other supernatural virtues and flaws to be? I've seen sagas where it seems like every grog has some sort of supernatural virtue or flaw. Is that too much or is that to be expected in a covenant? Basically, so we want to limit the use of supernatural or Realm abilities?

I suspect that your companion will not be the only wealthy companion supporting himself. Already we can see that Salvatore is wealthy, and I'm looking at a wealthy companion too. Frankly, Wealthy is just too good as a virtue.

As for the school, I realize that if any specialists, etc. supporting the school don't need to be supported by the covenant, and that they're part and parcel of the income source. But on the flip side, they're probably spending all their work time teaching students, making parchment for the school, etc. and we won't be able to get any of their efforts. Whether attached to the school or not, we'll probably want some teachers to help teach the magi.

That does lead to another question. Once the saga starts will companions or grogs be able to advance through teaching or studying books, or will they still get a flat 15 xp/year. Given that we'll have some decent teachers, I suspect that will make a huge difference in how quickly grogs and companions advance.

For my part, and for simplicity, I propose that companions can learn/study, etc. while grogs simply get a flat 15 xp/year.

As for alternate numbers for finances (or anything, really) I welcome alternate builds and sets of numbers to compare things to. I just felt that we needed somewhere to start. I'm glad my numbers provoked a conversation about finances. I feel no propriety toward those numbers and won't mind if they get altered. I'm just happy we're talking about what the covenant finances will be.

[size=150]TL;DR: [/size]
1.) Do we want to allow magical characters (as grogs and companions)?
2.) Should there be a limit to the number of grogs one player can make?
3.) How common will supernatural/Realm abilities be among the grogs?
4.) How will grogs and companions advance once the saga starts?

my impression has always been that you do not have to pay for the craftsmen and specialists you create. Otherwise it becomes a penalty to certain types of grogs rather than buying a benefit for the covenant.
Also will mention my companion is not wealthy, he simply has the (or should have) the social status of craftsman as opposed to covenfolk, meaning according to city and guild he has an income of 10 mythic pounds per year, and the possibility of increasing that.
Which brings me to the question of whether we should track labor points for in covenant craftsmen, whether there can be a hybrid status, etc. I assume that generally craftsmen who work for the covenant go on the expense sheet and provide savings at the same time...
notably as a covenant craftsman he would only save the covenant 3.5 MP... and gets nearly 3 times that as income as a free craftsman...

So in keeping with silveroak's comments, we probably ought to step back and decide what we want in the way of specialists and craftspeople. We probably don't want any common crafters unless they're really special. A basic crafter with a skill of 7 costs us 3.9 MP/year and saves us 4 MP/year. We can easily drop such craftsmen without any trouble to simplify things. Rare craftsmen are another thing. Assuming a skill of 7, they cost us the same 3.9 MP/year, but save us 7 MP/year. Obviously the savings will go up as skill does. Of course, this doesn't count any special abilities any crafter brings to the table.

Specialists, in my mind, give us something other than money. The chamberlain and steward help with loyalty (I know we could have just one autocrat, but it seems like a covenant of a given size ought to have both); likewise the turb captain helps with loyalty; teachers can teach us abilities; a doctor can help us with injuries and other things; etc.

So what do we think our minimum number of craftsmen and specialists would be? And here I'm talking about just the ones that support the covenant itself, not its income sources. These are the people that can serve the magi as needed.

Some crafters/specialists that I can see as useful are:

  • glassblower (to support our labs)
  • toolmaker (also to support our labs)
  • 2-3 teachers (one for physical abilities, one for academic abilities, and maybe another for social abilities)
  • a doctor (yes we have a lot of healing spells, but a doctor can help with living conditions and other things)
  • a chamberlain, steward, and turb captain (to help with loyalty)

That's all that comes to mind now. I'm sure others will have great ideas of people to add to the list. Once we get a good list, we can figure out what, if any, people from the list we want.

I'm not sure I follow. My impression was that any people who make up the covenant, whether made up "free" as grogs or bought with BPs count on the covenant expenses. Otherwise you could just make up all of your grogs and have a balance sheet where you had no one you were paying any wages to. As I understand things, if they work for the covenant, they get a wage and have to be supported by the covenant, regardless of whether they are defined as BPs or are fleshed out as a full grog.

I must confess, my knowledge of C&G is not that great. I'm guessing that I'd better review it before I go much farther if that's going to be an important part of this saga.

That might be a lot of work. Are people willing to put that much effort into the grogs or do we want to use the relatively straightforward abstraction from Covenants? Obviously tracking things provides a good payoff. But is that the sort of effort people want to put into the saga?

Of course, if he's a free craftsman isn't he by definition not hired by the covenant? Or do I misunderstand that?

  1. Yes, having magical characters keeps us in Mythic Europe.
  2. I don't think there's a limit to how many we can create, but I do think an awful lot should just be taken from the books. Grogs are background, and by definition, are not important to the story.
  3. Supernatural abilities are rare - we probably only have a few because we're a group of Magi.
  4. Give Grogs the standard advancement rules - 10/15/20 points/year. Companions can get detailed treatment.

I think we should have a professional scribe, to copy books.

I'm not sure how your answer to (1) matches with your answers to (2) and (3). A grog who's a magical being seems almost by definition important to the story, even in an Ars Magica setting. I'm not sure how supernatural abilities can be rare but having magical beings as grogs not.

And I'm not sure what you mean when you say "we probably only have a few" when referring to supernatural abilities. I'm thinking that you mean that supernatural abilities should still be uncommon among the grogs. Or do I misinterpret what you said?

Well, since grogs can't be poor or wealthy, their only option is 15 xp/year.

I had a feeling I was forgetting something. A scribe was on a list I'd made previously, but I couldn't bring that list to hand easily. Thanks for the reminder.

I'm sorry I wasn't more clear. I think a few, and only a few of the covenfolk should have supernatural abilities. The abilities should be minor, maybe Dowsing or something. Yes, supernatural abilities should be uncommon among the grogs.

Page 28 of ArM5 notes that Grogs may only have up to 3 points of Virtues/Flaws, and no story Flaws. I don't see a restriction on Wealthy/Poor.

Grog can only take minor flaw and virtue according to ArM 28 but wealthy is a major virtue and poor a major flaw! Its actual only Companion and Mythic Companion who can take this virtue and flaw as Magus also can't take them.

Again, I haven't been reading the rules closely. Thanks for your correction.

Based on that answer, I'm not entirely sure that I phrased my first question properly. Let me try and clarify.

1A) Should we allow grogs and companions to be magical beings made up using the rules in RoP:M (or faeries made up using RoP:F, or anything similar)?

It seems like you agree with me that "normal" covenfolk are most appropriate and magical beings and faeries don't necessarily fit into that mold.