Covenant Creation Help Needed!


After fairly extensive research into setting, my troupe finally sat down to work on creating their covenant according to the rules in the 5th ed Covenants book. Unfortunately this is the first time any of us have actually attempted to use these rules, and we're finding them somewhat impenetrable.

What we're looking to model is a just-founded Spring covenant consisting of a half-dozen magi, no specialists to speak of besides PC companions, about 20 or so grogs, and possibly a craftsman or two (such as a blacksmith). But then I look at the "Baseline" section on page 5, which reads:

Okay, so my "baseline" covenant of six magi has six grogs and 12 more random peons. I can find no boons that amount to "your covenant has N additional grogs under arms", and there does not appear to be an applicable category with which to buy additional grogs with Build Points. Can somebody please walk me through this?


Why not make the first story about finding grogs and peasants?
This has three benefits:
First, the magi learn something about their new sourroundings granting them at least 2 XP in the specific Area Lore due to exposition.
Second, this is an easy starter, so your players do not have to use all the rules at once.
Third, all players are reminded about that problem concerning the gift and interaction with mundanes.

Good luck for you convent, may it live long and prosper... (Strange interdimensional thought appear to me... :laughing: )

As I could understand it, you don't really need to pay anything (in terms of buildpoints/boons) for additional grogs. You just need to be able to support them (salaries, food, room).

Considering how expensive it can be to maintain a large force of grogs, most spring covenants (who are usually pretty poor), will make do with a small number. (You could offcourse take the criminals boon, which reduces maintainance abit...)

There's also the minor boons Cavalry, Crossbowmen, Missile Weapons and Veteran Fighters which boost up your military side a bit. Don't seem to have any limit (other than common sense and what you can afford) on the number you can raise, either.

Two reasons:

(1) It puts the cart before the horse. Magi attempting to found a covenant are almost certainly going to arrange for at least a small contingent of grogs and covenfolk before they arrive on-site, not after.

(2) It's handwaving. It doesn't help us understand how to use the covenant creation rules.

Hmm. If that's the case, it begs a different question:

Aside from the obvious (e.g., the special categories of men-at-arms for which there are boons), what sort of covenfolk do we have to pay (either buld points or boons) for?

For example, does a blacksmith qualify as a "Specialist", somebody you need to buy with Build Points?

It would be really nice if there were some kind of sample or step-by-step guide for covenant creation. The rules look simple enough when you read them, but in terms of the covenant's mundane resources and inhabitants it's rather unclear how you're supposed to vary from the "baseline".

Specialists: Background people with particular skills. (build points)

Grogs: characters that get a proper character sheet and will see play. (requires players)

Other Covenfolk: unimportant ekstras. Includes laborers, servants and whomever doesn't reduce costs as a specialist and doesn't expect to see much play.

So, let me try and restate/summarize, to be sure I understand:

(1) Unskilled covenfolk do not need to be paid for, either with Boons or with Build Points.

(2) Skilled covenfolk, be they blacksmiths or bookbinders or stewards, need to be paid for with Build Points.

(3) "Standard" grogs (i.e., semi-professional guards and the like), who will potentially be roleplayed characters, do not need to be paid for with boons or Build Points.

(4) Higher-end troops (cavalry, crossbowmen, etc.) attached to a covenant need to be paid for with the relevant Boon.

(5) Everybody needs to be accounted for in covenant income calculations.

Is that a fair understanding?

That's my understanding.

"Characters created as grogs or companions need not be paid for with Build Points." (ArM5, 72)
This is a really fine line, and it's unfortunate Covenants didn't clarify it, but the way that I read it is this:
If your blacksmith is providing you X number of weapons a year, you need to pay with Build Points.
If your blacksmith is a cheerful fellow named Tom who once was tricked into joining a devil-worshipping cult as a young man and lives in fear that some day his past will come back to haunt him, and strives to do good to make up for it, and one of you will be speaking in Tom's voice from time to time, you don't need to pay.

As above, if they're going to be roleplayed, they don't need to be paid for.
Incidentally, I assume that the "one grog per magus" you get for free is a soldier-type grog. The lack of distinction between "grog (n): professional covenant soldier" and "grog (n): character with more restrictions on starting options" was created, I'm convinced, entirely to inconvenience me.

This is my understanding, yes.


A big problem here is the in-game definition of a grog (soldier), and the out-of-game definition of a grog (lesser PC).

OOG grogs costs nothing in terms of build points and boons. It doesn't matter what they do for the covenant, they are PCs are free.

IG grogs (soldiers) that are not OOG grogs typically require a boon...

Yes, that distinction is quite irksome.

Also irksome is the implication that Man-At-Arms #N, where N > the number of magi, needs to be bought with a Boon, to the extent that (a) he has more combat skill than the run-of-the-mill woodsman or peasant and (b) he may or may not ever be roleplayed.

Every covenant with more than a half-dozen or so full-time armed guards has to take the Veteran Fighters Boon? Deeply silly.

Centerfire: I have never encountered that problem, as most players will usually create at least 3 grogs... Othervise they wouldn't have too much to play when their maga managed to stay at home (to study).

Our troupe decided how many grogs we would like to have, as this decision influences the kind of stories that are run.
So if you have many grogs, stories involving your neighbouring lords will most likely arise as they feel threatened. -Just like taking curtain walls.
If you take only a few grogs you may pass unnoticed for quite a while...
So we ruled that the number of grogs is a question of style and thus neither a boon nor did we spent build-points on them.

Got to agree with this. If you want your covenant to have 20 men-at-arms, then by all means do so. If you want then to have 10, or 6 or none, feel free. It all depends on the game you want.

Myself, I ran a saga that had 4 magi and between 25-30 grogs plus covenfolk, all with detailed character sheets. It was a pain having to update and maintain everyone, but it also made the covenant a neat community. We were sometimes more interested in the scullery maid's story than the magi.

Still, I became rather distrubed when the covenant proved to have enough trained fighting men to pose a serious challenge to the local nobles. For that reason, I like the new 1 mage = 1 grog guideline... it makes covenants less like armed fortresses.