Covenant Design!

Hey all.

There are sticky threads above for characters and items, but nothing for covenants!

I'd love to see a resource for starting covenant concepts - that a new troupe can browse for ideas, etc. and build from. Personally I'm not fussed about covenants that don't 'fit' into the canon tribunal books - after all, the idea here is to be creative!

To kick things off:

Deep in the Carpathians are a vast series of caverns, tunnels and chambers hewn out over the centuries to form the sprawling underground covenant of Castra Cercistum. Almost entirely self-sufficient, it is home to over 20 magi - spread around into enclaves in different sections of the tunnels. You are new magi, given command of the most recent tunnels and one of the few gateways to the surface world. Your task: ensure the covenant is supplied, and protect the senior magi deep within from interruptions.

Unfortunately, the powerful aura of the covenant has twisted the covenfolk who live there - making them small and wiry, with green skin and pointy noses and chins. Tales are told in the nearby villages of the goblins who live in the mountains, ruled by evil wizards. Can you forge links with the outside world? Or will you continue the covenant tradition of raiding and villainy for its continued survival? And can you do this despite the machinations of rival magi in other wings of the same vast covenant?

Suggested resource points: 800 ('medium covenant') for player-accessible resources.

Its hard to post links to other threads using my android device (my only internet connection), but if you search for my post "Covenant of the Wandering Path," you might enjoy it.

I started with the "Semita Errabunda" from the ArM5 website, and then modified it heavily with rules from Covenants and fluff from my own imagination. The library is as yet unchanged from the standard. I've yet to post links to the google docs describing the covenant's roster and finances, which I'll get around to in the next few days.

I designed the covenant as SG, as my rpg veteran players are all new to ArM and just learning the core rules was enough for them at first. Later, they may, if they desire, get the opportunity to found their own covenant, either independently or, more likely, as a chapterhouse of this one.


This covenant is one of the most ancient in the Order, founded or more accurately found by a follower of Criamon shortly after the Order's foundation. It consists of numerous connected level 8 Magical regios, each in the form of a highly ornate room. Geography means nothing in this place - one navigates from one regio to the other based on enigmatic wisdom and familiarity (Enigmatic Wisdom + Covenant Lore); the roll is Simple and EF 6 for any familiar place. It is possible to peer through regio boundaries using magic or Second Sight, however.

A distinctive feature of the covenant is its Infinite Library. It consists of identical hexagonal rooms, whose walls are covered with books from floor to ceiling. All the books contain jibberish, a random series of letters. In each room, however, or at least in some, a single book also makes sense. Some Criamon magi conjecture that any possible book may be found somewhere in the depths of the library - even books not yet written. The covenant's Librarians (an hereditary covenfolk position) can deposit books in the library and take magi to the rooms they would be found at. Magi may also search for books on their own, but this requires an (Enigmatic Wisdom + Library Lore) roll with EF 6 for a very familiar book (such as one the magus has read before, or written); higher EFs may allow finding unknown books, and an extraordinary success may even allow to find a book that "shouldn't" be in the library at all. A botch indicates finding a corrupted book - a book containing subtle errors, that may result in anything from a loss of Quality to Infernal Corruption. The librarians always roll simple dice (due to their eidetic memory and memorization of all of the library's official content), so they do not risk botches.

It isn't clear where the covenant resides, precisely. Several rooms open to the outside world, but they do so at different geographic locales (perhaps even tribunals). Nor is it clear how many rooms there are - there always appears to be yet-another-room suitable for a laboratory when a magus arrives, and some suspect there may be infinitely many rooms.

One of the regios connecting it to the covenant to the outside is a cave at the side of a mountain, near the Cave of Twisting Shadows. Anyone that sleeps in the cave appears in what is, perhaps, the largest hall of the covenant, used as its Main Hall. One can exit the hall and reach the cave by inflicting some pain (often one pinches himself) at the elaborate stone-facade of an entrance adorning one end of the Main Hall. The person then finds himself awakening on the floor in the cave, as if from a dream. This method of entry has given the covenant the name The City that Is A Dream.

The covenant is in deep Winter, and has few active members. The current Pontifex is suspected to be in deep Twilight, but whenever he is announced to have passed and a new one about to be selected he invariably turns up again - only to never be seen again for decades. Without an official head, the few active members have little authority over the covenant's vast resources. Lately, an ancient Criamon member, that the Criamon maintain is already Tangential [i.e. beyond Twilight], that has more authority under the covenant's elaborate Charter, invited a few young magi from all over the Order to bolster the dwindling ranks of the covenant.

[This covenant can be used to support any power level, from a Weak covenant of young magi that have little access to the covenant's vast resources to a Legendary power level with access to a literally-unlimited library, hundreds of dead-magi labs and magical places with their associated treasures and raw vis sources, and a vast regio network with exists all over Mythic Europe and beyond.]


This ancient golden tower sits atop the tallest hill in the forest, its makers unknown and its design ornate. Within is a regio, though one would be hard-pressed to recognise it as every door and every window leads into it. From the top of the tower one can see across the trees into the nearby forest, within which stands an ancient tower almost identical to this only in purest white - nestled deep in a secluded valley where the sun only touches the top of the other tower peeking from the trees.

The forest between the towers is fae-enchanted, and very easy to get lost in. Reaching one tower from the other is tricky, though not impossible - though comes with its own perils as the other tower is home to the Faerie Court that controls the forest.

However, this is only true in the winter. At the turning of spring, the inhabitants of the tower awake to find that while the interior of the tower is still their own, they now reside in the white tower - and can see the distant golden tower upon the hill, now inhabited by a different fae court. With the turning of autumn, the towers swap back. Worse, the Fae have come to mimic the inhabitants of the covenant - and are both mecurial and cruel to those who visit their doors.

The covenant itself has fallen into decline, and new blood are being sent by allies of the old magi to help revitalise it. The senior magus has a tendancy to take a personality not unlike that of the current ruling Fae Queen (in the white tower) or King (in the golden tower). If the group can make a home amidst this fae magic and manage to keep their strange landlords appeased they will enjoy a long, albeit strange, life.

Resource points suggestions: 400-800. Suitable for a game with heavy fae involvement.

Covenant of the Immaculate Tower.

This is an urban covenant spread across several regios. I have always pictured this in Southern Italy along the crusader routes, or in Spain or Provencal near a pilgrimage site but any moderately prosperous town were prosperous strangers would not look out of place.

In a fairly ordinary town there is a fairly ordinary square. Surrounded on all four sides by multistorey buildings, various shopfronts occupy the ground floor. Standing in the middle of the square is an unremarkable belltower about fifty feet high. Local legend has one of the base stones as having come from the legendary Tower of Babel. The bells ring out every half hour from dawn to dusk.

The square has long since had a reputation for strange events. On holy days miracles have been known to happen and locals know better than to cross the square during evil nights.

These oddities do not stop a flourish market taking place, with local merchants, craftsmen and famers setting up stalls to cater to the town’s population, visiting nobles and a variety of pilgrims. It is a cheerful and prosperous market. The Magical Aura of 1 makes the colours are brighter, the weather always seems just a little better, the food tastes fresher.

The Covenant runs a tavern in one of the buildings facing the square. Other coven folk and craftsmen are scattered across the town in shops owned by the magi.

Visitors to the covenant know to enter the square by the northern entrance in summer/spring, and by the southern entrance in autumn/winter. They then must circle the edge of the square, just inside the row of surrounding buildings. If they reach the place they started as the bells in the tower are tolling they will find themselves in the next level of the regio.

Perhaps local know to mind their own business, perhaps they are distracted by the bells and the busy market, or perhaps it is a subtle effect of the magical aura, but people vanishing or reappearing in the square do not attract attention. On holy days when the divine aura rises to engulf the magic aura the regio is impassable.

The next Level has a magical aura of 3. The sudden quiet of the next level is a stark contrast to the bustle of the busy marketplace. The stalls and people are gone leaving only the bare flagstones of the square as well as the surrounding buildings. The bell tower is replaced by a white marble tower of seamless stone although the ringing of the bell can still be heard. Visiting magi will have no trouble recognising the Conjuring the Mystic Tower.

Basically it is a tower surrounded by a ring of buildings. Coven folk with supernatural virtues/flaws who do not feel comfortable in the mortal world live in the buildings as well as warriors and specialised craftsmen (glassblowers or illuminators). The Marble Tower contains the Covenant’s Council Chamber, Library and Laboratories of the junior magi.

The magical regio once extended only a few feet beyond the outer edge of the buildings however a number of decades ago a member of the covenant who was an expert in hermetic architecture extended the regio several miles in one direction. Now a grassy field provides grazing for horses and various animals.

Gaining the next higher regio again requires circling the courtyard, this time on the outside of the buildings. Travellers are warned that they must only travel in one direction without stopping, pausing or backtracking. Except for the section facing the field the walls of the buildings are only a few feet from the edge of the regio forcing people to travel in single file.

If the rules are followed, on completion of the circuit the white marble walls of the buildings now tower overhead. Following the edge of the building you come to a set of steps carved out of the marble. It Leads up around the edge of the tower, for that is what you now realise it is, a single massive tower, over two hundred feet wide and hundreds high.

Magical aura of 7. This level is the remains of a incredible conjuration spell. A single massive tower, partially ruined, long since abandoned. Several of the Covenant’s senior magi have their Laboratories here, either inside or on top of the Tower. They use the isolation to investigate the mystery of the Tower or perform their own arcane research.

The magi claim that there is a yet higher regio, one that contains a completed Tower, one so tall that it breaches the Lunar Sphere itself. Anyone with Second Sight or Visions or any other appropriate Virtue will occasionally gain a glimpse of a massive structure stretching up impossibly high.
It is unknown if anyone has ever discovered how to cross over. Certainly no one has returned to speak of what they have seen.
Once a magi claimed that the way to the highest level of the regio was via the top of the bell tower. He later vanished and was never seen again. No one has managed to repeat his feat. As it involves throwing yourself off the bell tower no one seems particularly keen to experiment.

The highest regio.
Magical aura of 9. This is a single wizards attempt to complete one of the Great Hermetic Projects. Stretching many thousands of feet high it is a marvel of engineering, artistic ability and magical skill. As construction progressed it became a battle ground for angels and demons. It is the echoes of these battles that cause the miracles and unholiness in the market place.
Except for a few being imprisoned by magical traps the Angel and demons have long since left leaving the pristine building to be infested by a variety of magical beasts.

OMG!!! AWESOME!!! Love this. :smiley: Very inspirational and readily drop-able anywhere.

In fact it reminded me of Bruges more than southern europe, but it can be located anywhere.



I wanted a covenant that was low fantasy (ish) with lots of close toes to the mortal world.

But if the players wanted to go more high fantasy there higher regios to investigate.

Perfectly designed. This is how a covenant should be described. It is inspiring and includes lots of story seeds in the description itself. Well done. I am stealing this straight away and placing it in Bruges for our new saga starting in October. 8)

Thanks for posting these ideas.

I and my co-conspirators have been quietly working on Project Redcap 3.0 for a few months now. This is exactly the sort of fan-created material we would like to see people eventually contribute to Project: Redcap.

I have taken the liberty of copying these concepts to a new page on the Wiki, attributing credit to the original creators. If you do not want your idea on the Wiki, simply let me know and I will take it down. The page is at .

It would be great if other people would cross-post their ideas to the Wiki.

Some great ideas here! :slight_smile:


This covenant is defined not so much by the buildings/regiones/etc -- though it works best in/near an midsize or larger urban center -- as by their (unwritten) charter:

Rather than interfering with the Nobles, the Church, or other "high profile" mortal neighbors, they have set out to completely dominate the regional crime scene; yes, they are a de facto "Thieves' Guild". :smiling_imp:

  • Tytalus magi work through Persona's and Agencies
  • Mentem specialists insure that outlaw-leaders and other influential lowlife-types have the loyalties and/or attitudes they want
  • Lone criminals are suppressed (too much effort to manage) either by feeding them to the authorities or forcing them to join an existing band of outlaws
  • Local brothels, and the courtesan's / mistresses of the wealthy, are surreptitiously given items that eavesdrop on "pillow-talk," and the information is slipped to whichever criminal enterprise it will most benefit (and the ladies' patrons are "Lapse of But a Moment's Memory"'d to forget that they mentioned it).
  • Unscrupulous and/or dishonest merchants, both locally established and travelling traders who regularly visit, are treated as per "lone criminals" above.
  • Eventually, all criminals are brought into the fold, if needs-be in a "Join or Die" maneuver (ironically similar from the Order's early stance toward Hedgies).
  • Corrupt nobles/churchmen/etc are dealt with wearing kid gloves, and generally 2-3 removes of mundane agents; some are neutralized (betrayed to those they would betray, and/or to their overlord or the Church, who bring them to heel), or some of their schemes are neutralized, or backfire upon them; some find their schemes go forward, but "other parties" reap much of the benefit; etc. If they cannot be handled safely, they aren't handled at all.
  • All of the items are zero-penetration, and their cutpurses/muggers/etc are given minor items that do InVi Parma-detection and/or InMe Hermetic-Magus-detection, and steer the criminals away from Hermetic targets. NOTE that the magi themselves NEVER "scry upon their sodales" with these items: they never know who DOESN'T get victimized by the criminals, as they operate at such a far remove from the street.

Unlike Waddenzee (a single ship of pirates, who pursue their crime "directly"), this covenant aims to conduct no crimes personally, but control ALL the criminals almost as an extended turb of Grogs... You see, the criminals don't have enough status, or influence over mundane forces, that interfering with THEM would ever run the risk of violating the "bring ruin upon my sodales" clauses! :mrgreen: The magi make sure their servitors never go to such extremes, nor become so high-profile, as to initiate any "Sheriff of Nottingham -vs- Robin Hood" style vendetta; they make sure an occasional "extra bad" criminal is caught and executed (or otherwise punished accordingly). The nobles are happy, the church is happy, and the magi have a nice income and a HUGE (but very covert) network of contacts and spies. Furthermore, alongside their covert activities, they endear themselves to the local nobles &c by providing low-level but valuable services (mostly via covenfolk with the appropriate skills, with a bit of subtle magical boosting); for example, perhaps as "sages and scribes," or as "healers," etc... The idea is not only to have the Rich&Powerful well-disposed toward them, but to be so clearly and obviously (a) benign in nature & (b) operating at such a low power-level that any accusations that ARE brought forth are seen by virtually everyone as obviously foolish.

OK, yeah... I know... they aren't as immune to prosecution under the Code as I have presented; but neither (iirc) is there ANY ruling from ANY of the Tribunals that would set the precedent of this being "against" the Code.

  • Steve S.

Some cool ideas there. There problem is that it requires wizards who are interested in dominating the crime scene.

You might want to give some thought as to why a Mage might want to control a bunch of thieves long term. How will this gain a wizard magical power, or the respect and admiration of fellow wizards.

Networks are great fun as a part of the game but real power comes from uncovering the secrets of ancient magics, from twisting the very structure of the regio to better serve your desires.

Of course if you are the brink of uncovering these things then you can be sure others will be trying to take them away from you. Other covenants will be inserting their own spies, seek to turn the local townsfolk away from you, manipulate the Tribunal against you.

Actually all of your ideas would work really well. But as a GM you might have To set up the campaign that way. A bit of manipulation may be in order.

Sure, wizards as a rule are after magical power, but that doesn't have to be their only goal in life. Locally, several prominent and well-respected local fisheries biologists, including a high ranking member of a local tribe, have been caught perpetuating a complex scam involving using fake companies to bill the tribe and Federal government of millions of dollars for non-existent scientific studies and restoration work.

Just sounds to me like a convenant with some (unwitting?) Infernal influence.

Thieves may acquire interesting items to magi. Items of power of which the thieves are blissfully unaware. They just know that the magi pay well. Concern about violating the code is subjective. So long as you can prove the magi's actions haven't brought ruin upon their sodales. It's only against the Code if you're caught, and then only if the Quaesitor isn't corruptible.

Certainly this isn't a scheme for every covenant! But all it really requires -- IMHO, YMMV --- is wizards who are willing to consider it, and then see it as sufficiently advantageous to be worth covenant/personal support of the plan. 8)

Other covenants operate mines, have profitable crops, run a ship (even a small fleet!) of trading vessels, etc -- surely the magi are not all that interested in mining, agriculture, trade, etc? No more so than becoming criminal kingpins. The point is, they need things with regard to the local community. For one: income to pay their grogs/covenfolk/etc, and to buy/barter supplies (from glassware for the lab, to food for the table) they can't (or don't care to) have made at the covenant. For another: many covenants cultivate local gossips, troubadors, & other sources of info, and/or have social Grogs/Consors who are (explicitly or implicitly) tasked with "keeping an ear to the ground" and staying on top of what's happening in the mundane world around them. No magi want to be caught napping when the local abbot gets pissed at them, passes word up to the not-so-local bishop, and suddenly a few score knights and men-at-arms are "helping" the Church ask pointed questions about just WHAT goes on in that covenant (or someone just decides that the covenant would be a convenient staging-point for their soldiers answering a feudal call to service, or... well, dozens of valid reasons for local Powers-That-Be to want to take an uncomfortably-close look :open_mouth: at the covenant).

The "crime lords" scheme offers both income AND rumor-gathering in one neat package.

Errrr... OK, a somewhat messy package... :laughing:

Of course; but until you're so powerful that you don't have to finesse your way around the "interfere with ... ruin upon my Sodales" clauses of the Code -- or the covenant is VERY isolated (and note I pointed out this was in/near an urban center), you probably WANT some sorts of interface-with-mundanes activities at the covenant ...

I was seeing this a being something that the Troupe might explicitly buy into, "that sounds like fun!" ...
or something that a nearby rival-covenant might pursue... :smiling_imp:

  • Steve S.

I fully agree. Every wizard is different, every covenant is different and every campaign is different.

Furthermore situations can change over time. Just because a campaign starts off with high minded theoretical magic research does not mean you cannot branch out later into the mortal world, and the reverse in also true.

I just think that characters should be clear as to why they are setting up crime networks as there is easier ways of making an income. I am perfectly happy with the idea that a wizard just gets a kick out of manipulating people. Or is paranoid. or grew up in a criminal gang. Or sees it as a personal challenge. If you are going to have a game based around a crime/spy/political network then you need character concepts that feed into it.

I dislike the idea of having a network/criminal gang to provide an income to the covenant and then making all the characters lab rats with a health respect for the Code. (Not that I think that is what is happening here. I fully accept we are all talking theoretically. Brainstorming ideas amongst mutally supporting friends).

IMHO charactor backgrounds, personalities and goals should be stuck in continual feed back loop with campaign stories. Each continually feeding the other in an ongoing cycle. Or is that is just me?

Obviously it comes down to what players and GM want to see in their game.

As I type this I find myself wanting to make up a wizard who would work in such a game. How about a son of a Great Genovese Merchant who wants to write the greatest book on Politics and Intrigue. All he needs now is to raise his skill by practicing his theories.