Covenant design discussion

We will use the Covenants 5th Edition source book to develop the covenant.

The covenant will for all intents and purposes will be a summer covenant and I’m planning to allow 250 build points per player and the troupe designs it. Game reason for doing it, it's a lot of work to come up with everything. Splitting up the job makes it a lot easier and ensures everyone has something they can derive some benefit from. The story reason is that these would be inducements on Apollodorus' part to get you to come to the covenant. You've learned of these resources over the years while you've been corresponding.

Vis sources can be designed by the troupe but should comply with the following guideline : a day or more away, and/or take several days to collect and are spread throughout the various seasons (not just solstice or equinox). Of the build points designed by the troupe, (not just vis sources) be aware that some of these may not be available at the beginning of play or may at SG’s discretion require some story before they become available. An additional 75 bps is available to be brought by the magus and considered his property to be shared under conditions he considers fair. If you design a vis source and think it would make a good story for another player, PM me and we’ll discuss it. If you submit a vis source and it duplicates one I might have a story about, I'll PM you and you can quietly change your build point allocation to represent the change.

The winemaking is a fledgling industry and faces severe competition from the Cistercians. The sheep farm is well managed and the parchment manufacture is quite lucrative, but aids of a magical variety could boost production significantly.
Specialists may be designed from ground up as grogs to be run, above and beyond the 4 that can come with the magus, or build points may be used. If these characters don’t get played much by the troupe, their build point cost may impact other resources over the life of the saga. Of course, as is the nature with most things, the more work spent up front yields greater rewards later on so it is in your interest to develop a grog as a specialist rather than spend build points and do some occasional maintenance via stories (light, nothing major) periodically.

Boons and Hooks are a free-for-all and up for discussion. I relish the idea of incorporating the story ideas I have with the kinds of stories you want to play.

Temple of Janus-on the other side of the Arroux river from Autun
The first frost of fall around the temple grounds will yield 1d10 (stress die) shards of ice that constantly melt and refreeze which are pawns of Muto vis. Care must be taken, if a shard is stepped on it is destroyed.

Pierre de Couhard -a ruined pyramid on a hill outside Autun
An empty barrel (half sized) left at the foot of the ruined pyramid on the morning of the spring equinox will fill with water by the end of the week. The barrel is worth a rook of Intellego vis and can be easily divided by two days of lab activity. Note traditional Hermetic methods for separating vis don't seem to work with this vis, which leads Apollodorus to believe that the water itself might have some other properties but he hasn't been able to determine what those are to date.

1st Monday of May Festival - covenant grounds and is a traditional community event, part of Apollodorus' deal is that this festival continues.
The merriment and festivities of the festival which runs late into the evening imbues the tents erected with Mentem vis, 1 rook. New tents must be made or purchased and put up every year. Attempts to remove the vis from the tents has resulted in the destruction of the tents, much as if were expected if the vis were used. The vis can be moved to other more discreet or portable items without any difficulty, but the tent is always destroyed. There is a fair amount of silver cost associated with this vis source due the cost of acquring new tents every year.

Want to throw this out there as a bit of experience that I had creating a covenant online. I was running the game (it's still posted in the deleted PbP section; Vengeance Rides a Slow Horse) and by having it split up it took a much longer time than I anticipated. It can possibly be avoided, but it was still very long. When playing around the table top it usualy takes a few sessions, but online seemed to drag it out.

I thought about the possibility that this could increase the time to create things before play gets started. Philosopically, I'm more of a "it's about the journey" SG. The characters came from some place, they decided to leave. Why would they leave? There has to be some good reason to leave, and in my mind, a lot of that inducement to leave their former covenant behind is the promises being made by Apollodorus.

The mechanics of Apollodorus' promises is implemented by allowing the players some build points of things that they expect to be available for their character. They aren't promised solely to the character, but they are there for everyone. I'm not necessarily suggesting that this be cooperative, although I have no objection to players cooperating in using their allocated 250 build points. I could certainly take a look at characters once completed and then build a covenant suitable to those characters, but that removes the possibility of certain stories or character interactions. This process does not need to be cooperative, either. It could be that someone starts their process late takes a look at what everyone else has and fills in the gaps. Or even produces some better items/books/etc. Or they taylor everything to their character, which is fine. Because someone will likely see a resource that they can use, and what happens if they get it first? Those are opportunities for creating conflict between the characters which are opportunities for stories. Even better, they save their best item for the 75 bps reserved to the character as part of their property. Really make it exciting!

If there is a consensus for me to design everything, then I can certainly do it, but I do believe that the players will find they have more of a sense of ownership of the saga if they're involved in key decisions early. If there's a consensus tha the players want to do something in between what I initially proposed and me doing everything, I'm good with that, too. Granting the players this kind of power also makes it easier to swallow adversity to character when these situations occur, because the players generally created the situations for something to fail. I just kicked out the last support.

I just thought I might add my two cents.

Very happy to share the task of covenant creation, as suggested.

Just to get the ball rolling, a few really obvious boons and hooks based on Appolodorus' introductory letter:

Minor Resources Boon: Wealth
The covenant has a fairly lucrative winemaking enterprise, as well as a sheep farm that produces both wool and parchment.

Minor Resources Hook: Contested Resources
The covenant is in competition with local Cistercians, who also run sheep and produce for both the wool and parchment markets.

Minor Surroundings Hook: either Legendary Site or Roman Ruins
The covenant is build on or near [Which is it, I wonder?] the ruins of Bibracte, which was first a Celtic then a Roman city.

Possible minor External Relations Hook: Appolodorus mentions that the covenant finds it necessary to maintain good relations with Duke of Burgundy and Bishop of Autun. I Is this going to be problematic enough for us to take a hook like "Centralised Kingdom" or "Church Territories" (Covenants p22)?

As I said, just some obvious preliminary thoughts, to get the ball rolling.

I had some ideas for a few spell books of excellent design, not only do they have a popular and/or useful spell, but also offer techniques on Mastery. What might be some spells you'd want? Also Spell Tablets are also very useful, like a tablet for a good Aegis.

By the way, the vis sources I suggested where simply suggestions. Rereading the post, I never said that, so these shouldn't be considered freebies. You may certainly take them, but they do take build points, and the types of vis might be changed, but that should be discussed, as these are sources Apollodorus would be most interested in. Any vis sources that are developed I'd hope to see a similar level of description behind it.
If you want to create an unknown resource, that should be pm'd to me, and I can accumulate them, and add to them if necessary to get to 250 bps, and I'll notify whether there's another boon eligible to be selected for Hidden resources.
If no one wants to claim those sources I'd posted earlier, we can throw them under an illusory hook and add some additional resources to account for it , or exclude them entirely. Keep in mind it's quite possible that Apollodorus has conned you all and things aren't as rosy as they appear although this wasn't my original intention, but I'll go where the story is.

The winemaking is ramping up. It takes time to setup a vineyard, then time to make wine, then time to cellar it. That industry can be taken as a suggestion, it's at a point where the first vintage is being produced. Perhaps the vintage fails, or perhaps someone augments the characteristics to assure a good vintage via magic. The degree of that enterprise would be a function of stories by one ore more interested players. The sheep, wool and parchment production have been sufficient to keep Apollodorus living well. Those resources may or may not be sufficient for 4-6 magi and their associated retinues, and all options are opne here.

I'll reiterate my comment, I can design everything or a greater portion, but there is a sense of ownership I want players to have in the saga. In my mind the best way to achieve that is to allow the players to create the best home they can for their magi.

That sounds good to me!

I don't know what you folks think (particularly Jonathan as originator and SG), but I always find that the first thing to agree upon is the look and feel of the covenant - the atmosphere; the vibe of the thing. Then the rest follows from that.
Are we going to have a big castle from which we can haughtily look down upon the toiling peasants below? (probably not).
A crumbling old manor-house, partly restored?
A small campus of brand-new buildings (magically constructed by the Terram expert), with each Magus in their own stone house?
A cavern complex?
An idyllic valley in a regio accessible via a tunnel behind a waterfall?
A tower on an island in a lake?
A tower on an island beneath a lake?
Two towers, linked by an aerial bridge, on two islands in, or beneath, a lake?
A few funny-looking new stone structures partly built into the half-excavated ruins of Bibracte?

Maybe we can start by mooting a few of those sorts of "feeling of the thing" ideas, and go from there.

Well, the waterfall is out.
It's on the ruins of the abandoned oppidum. By the way, this differs from Lion and the Lily, and there was no Diedne covenant here. This place is hermetically virgin territory. Any vis sources created as part of creation process are new and, unless you specifically choose it, uncontested. It's bound to create ripples in the Tribunal...

Ahah - now I get you. That puts us on the top of Mont Beuvray, if my hasty research is correct. I wonder how much of the ruins would have been evident in 1220?

Just in case anyone wants some inspiration, there are five nice photos of the site here:
See just the first section, "A Remarkable Natural Site".

Is that what you had in mind, Jonathan?

I think a manor house works well, add to that hidden places that are accessible from inside it. A Regio entrance maybe, or extensive underground chambers, but to all the rest of the world it looks like a magnificent manor. A valley works also, and lines up easily with the two sources of income that it looks like we're going with.

Vis Source: At a lonely grave nestled deep in the valley, a rose blooms in late Autumn, well past when any new blooms should grow. It is black as night and for the week that it blooms it drops a petal each night until on the seventh it drops its last and withers back into the ground. Each petal is worth Corpus Vis, and during the week the ghost of the mournful Widow of the man buried in the grave comes to gather the petals to fuel her sorrow for another year. Each night she returns to gather a petal and will be quite angry with any that try to deny her. Destroying the ghost though could also stop the rose from growing, and gathering the petals too soon yields no vis.

Vis Source: The great game. Beneath the earth in a large chamber, the fae play a game of chess with moving statues of rock. Each statue is worth Terram vis and the craggy goblins that play are masters at beating each other as they have played the same game move-for-move for decades. If one were to challenge one in a game, they could keep the vis of any piece that they took, while the grand prize, the King, would provide the benefit of being Extraordinary Vis (Realms of Power: Magic) as a ReTe effect.

A couple of cisterns that are broken. Some foundation or part of the wall may outcrop in some places. Although over 1200+ years a lot of small stones the size used in the oppidium would've been incredibly useful in building peasant houses around the abandoned city. Most of the homes, if memory serves were wooden structures.

This one might be discovered shortly after construction. Apollodorus, as befits a Jerbiton, HATES the fae...

A secondary source of income can be just as good as having an enhanced income. So we could have both Winemaking and Shepherding at Typical, which could provide decent money, and then from there work to improve both. The good thing is that if one has problems, the other can be relied upon (hopefully). We'd have to take the Boon Secondary income, though it seems that's implied in the first place.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if the fae started making their own covenant based on his ideas, just to annoy him.

Well it was suggested, but production is just starting...
There's a lot of forrest, forresting activities are a possibility. Morvan hams are famous, so another agricultural product is a possibility, although this one would be food based, by and large. Plenty of other mundane economic considerations.
By the way, other vis source possibilities, or sites rather are the numerous springs, particularly the one that is oriented to the sunrise of the spring solstice, and there's the La Pierre de la Wivre.

We totally have to do something with La Pierre de la Wivre - that's just cool. Particularly if it's true, for our purposes, that Vercingetorix was hailed chieftain there. Plus the "Wivre" - as friend or foe - seems full of potential.

So, I was doing a bit of research of my own into the site, and here are a few choice facts. No doubt Jonathan, the Bibracte enthusiast, knows this already, but for the rest of us:

  • There are no less than 16 natural springs atop Mont Beuvray. That's a lot of springs for a relatively small hilltop.

  • In real history, there was actually a 10thC chapel of Saint Martin atop the hill, still in use in 1220. For obvious reasons, we might want to scrub that from Mythic Europe's historical record. Alternatively, we could say that it's actually a cover for the covenant - the chapel could be illusory, or ruined and desecrated (and thus not part of the dominion) or similar. Saint Martin is the patron saint of Soldiers and Horses, if that makes anyone think of anything fun.

  • In real history, there was also an annual fair held atop the hill on the first Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of May throughout the 13th C, dating back, supposedly, to late Roman times. The fair is somehow thought to have been a commemoration of the ancient city. Again, whether we want this to happen in our history or not is an open question.

Anyway - quite interesting,.

It's not small. .75 square miles is not an insignificant size, 200 hectares is ~500 acres, a section of land (1 square mile) is 640 acres, so it's about .75 square miles.

This is not here, it's too problematic. Presume that Apollodorus was able to convince the bishop that he could better handle things here.

This is here. There's contradicting evidence of whether it was the first Wednesday or First Monday in May. Regardless, I mentioned this as a suggested Vis source. Whether or not it's kept as a vis source, this will be ocurring on the effective covenant grounds and is a detail that must be worked through.

A suggestion, based on my own pitfalls of online covenant design, might be to open a few threads each devoted to one aspect perhaps. One on Vis, one on the library and perhaps magic items, another on buildings, another on income?

By doing that we can better organize our ideas and focus where we need it most, if we have several good vis sources, we can now focus on the library for example.

We could do that, I'm not against it, per se. It makes great sense if the 250 bps will be spent without consultation of the troupe.

So far, from what I can see the comments in the thread, it appears that this will be a more collaborative process rather. With this kind of discussion that this could end up involving a lot of trade-offs, less vis or more books or more magic items and if there's thread for every one it could begin to get maddening to track, over in the Vis thread we decided to cut a source because we wanted another book in the library thread, so there needs to be some duplcation of effort. If I'm wrong about my sense of things, and everyone's going to do their own thing, yes, let's setup separate threads.

If it's cooperative, I can summarize results/decisions in a locked covenant thread, too, once there's troupe agreement. If something later gets revised, I can easily do it, and it becomes the reference for all players of what's been completed. I think I prefer this option over multiple threads.