The characters will be stepping into a dying covenant; however, as players you get some say in what kind of mess you'll be inheriting!
What's set in stone: four magi have disappeared in the last five years. The covenant's vis sources have all been claimed by others in the Tribunal, as your covenant charter is invalid if you can't meet quorum.
You'll have a fabulous library, no vis sources (sorta) and empty vis stocks.
What's up for you to decide:
-where (specifically) the covenant is located (this will have a big impact on your mundane interactions)
-what kind of boons and hooks you want, to a degree.
Welsh coast. It's beautiful, and you'd be further from the fighting with the English. But you may have some trouble with the things that live in the Irish Sea.
English coast. It's also beautiful, and you'd be far from fighting with the Welsh, but you may have some trouble with Scots, who have somehow figured out how to use ships, or maybe even some Norse pirates.
Welsh Marchlands. You'd be right in the thick of the fighting! Woo!
Central England. You can choose this if it appeals to you, but it might take me a while to think up how to make it interesting.
Here's a few of your options for covenfolk:
Generic Englishmen. They speak English. They ARE English. What?
Welshmen. Expect a lot of battles with the English if you go with this one, but you'd get some damn fine archers.
Jewish refugees from across England. This gives you the option of having educated covenfolk, but has the downside of Crusaders wanting to come by and kill them all.
Faerie-touched inhabitants. Would never be a dull moment with this one, but this would probably end up being higher fantasy than a lot of Ars Magica players would like.
Keep in mind that the covenant is the site of a Mercer House, so whatever options you choose should be compatible with that.
I put my vote on the English coast and with English covenfolk, but I wouldn't argue about it if the rest of you prefers something else.
What I do want is that it is located somewhat close to mundane civilisation. My character concept works best with that, but of course if someone else prefers seclusion for his/her character concept then we need to find a compromise.
Hmm. How about Neston? It's technically England, but is on the border, so you could have some Welsh covenfolk, but is a leisurely 90-minute ride to Chester and about the same distance to Liverpool (though you'd need a boat), which would provide a lot of opportunities for our Gently-Gifted friends to party with the mundies. Plus it's a coastal town so we wouldn't have to change the forum name and I get to have pirates. Would this locale make everyone reasonably happy?
I read something about mining around Neston but that might have been much later than the 13th century though. Could it be a possible income for us? Coal mining I think it was.
Fishing and logging seems like natural incomes though.
Do we know anything about the magi that live (or used to live) at the covenant? In your description there is four names attached with laboratories or sanctums, plus the Baroness, but only two is alive or present now?
Is the Mercer House actually part of the Covenant or is it part of some network run be the House Mercere more centrally? I'm not very familiar with how that works.
What year is it when the saga starts by the way? 1220?
I haven't got any good tools for drawing maps, so I think I will have to pass on that one for now. I would be happy to help with ideas for anyone wanting to make the actual drawing though.
How does the effect of the Aura work? If fish is caught within the aura and then sold to someone outside the aura, will it still taste better than normal fish of the same type or is the effect gone? If it's kept I guess we have very good market advantages for our produce.
Maribus Mellitus Merceris. Elderly Jewish magus; shipbuilder noted for his skill with Aquam.
Quaesitor Justinius Tremeris Mujis discipulus Andreu. Of Roman birth, Justinius served his apprenticeship at Cursus Alcis in Hibernia. Even those who do not recognize Justinius' reputation as a formidable Intellego specialist and investigator, have heard of him: he is the Tremere who married a Tytalus. Speculation abounds as to whether their marriage was politically influenced by one House seeking influence in the other. Most speculation lies towards Domus Tremeris having the upper hand, as the only copy of Aislinn's magnum opus lies at Coeris.
Archmaga Aislinn Tytalii. Elementalist weather witch and former Ex Misc; unreasonably outraged by the reputation of Ex Misc as "hedge wizards." She petitioned for entrance into House Flambeau and killed all five Flambeaux opponents in her Trial, then snubbed the House by remaining in Ex Misc. Her actions were applauded by House Tytalus, who extended an offer of membership which she then accepted. Later met and married Justinius of Tremere, who joined Castellum Solitas to live with her.
Leona Bjornaeris. Secretive Rhine maga whose heartbeast is an enormous winged lion. Known for her healing skills and nature focus, she is rumoured to have some Diedne corruption in her lineage (her "heartbeast" is unnatural, and she had a familiar, both of which are highly unorthodox, if not impossible, for Bjornaer). However, her usefulness as a healer (major Hermetic breakthrough in inventing longevity rituals that do not inflict warping and do not impair fertility) is sufficient to keep those rumours from being followed up by Quaesitores.
Also, either one or two other magi who are still around: Ailis Ex Miscellanea (still somewhat tentative on this one, I have to make sure that'll work out with all the plot bits) and one other that I haven't even started thinking about yet.
The fates of each of the first four magi will be discussed once gameplay begins.
Yes and no. The covenant and the Mercer House enjoy a mutually beneficial existence. The locations of Mercere Portals are based on places of old significance; whatever importance this site had before, it is no longer. However, it is in House Mercere's best interest to have a whole covenant at the site of the Mercere Portals, for safety and security purposes, but on the other hand, they don't want full responsibility for each covenant that houses a Portal.
Basically there is give-and-take on both ends of this agreement.
Yep. A fine year!
Basically anything living within the Aura benefits from exceptional health. Your produce is pretty darn good, though you don't have much room to grow things (the terrain is marsh on one side, forest on another). You do have fresh springs, magically created with Creo Aquam rituals and perpetuated by some Rego Terram effects. handwaves It's Magic.
I'm thinking you would have some small barley and oat fields, and a large apple orchard; you will have to trade for wheat and meat. There's not much land for grazing, though there are some chicken coops and a handful of dairy cows. Your cheese is fantastic, and the apples are incredible. (It's like a medieval Wisconsin. Only without the miserable weather and the funny accent.)
I was reading in the Covenants book and started looking at suitable Boons and Hooks for our covenant based on what Arya has written here.
Here is what I have found so far. Feel free to add your comments and views.
I haven't thought about balancing Boons and Hooks point-wise yet. This is more to start a discussion.
Boons Manor House (free) Important Building: Lighthouse (minor) Aura x 2 (minor) Minority: Jews (minor) Literate covenfolk (minor) maybe not necessary if it's only the minority that is literate, then it could be built into that boon.
These two boons I found could be used to simulate the effect from the Creo influence on the aura, unless we just invent a new one, perhaps a major one then? Healthy Feature (minor) this might be taken up to three times to simulate a stronger effect. Vivid Environment (minor)
The Mercere portal can be both a boon or a hook depending on how much control the actual covenant has over it. Mystical Portal (minor boon) or Uncontrolled Portal (minor hook). Alternatively this can be built into the Mercer House major hook, I guess.
Superiors either as major or minor hook depending on how free our PCs are when we arrive at the covenant.
Urban as minor hook, depending on how much control over the actual town the covenant has. Since there are two churches in the town I guess there is a Dominion aura as well?
Secondary Income as minor boon. I was thinking Fishing would be the primary typical income. A secondary income might be Hospitality if the covenant has control over the Grand Inn.
I was also looking briefly at income and expenditure if we want to go that deep into it. How big is the covenant in numbers of grogs and covenfolk etc?
She can be. I'm not set on keeping this NPC though, if I get a better idea. Essentially what I'm looking for in the one or two magi who remain behind, are plot devices with which I can poke or prod you guys when you need inspiration.
The aura probably stretches into the estuary a good bit, and inland into the forest a ways.
As for covenfolk numbers... I'm thinking you've got 20-30 Jewish covenfolk, all educated (number includes men, women, and children); 25 archers; 5 Tremere soldates; plus a handful of former shield grogs or otherwise.
The Christian church has a small, localised Dominion aura that's a "pocket" inside your Magic aura. No one here is particularly zealous (they tolerate Jews, after all), and since the priest gives service in Latin, which none of the churchgoers (besides the magi) understand, there's not a lot of real piety going on here. (Interestingly, the Creo effect covers the Dominion aura as well.) The Eastern Orthodox church is too small for an aura: just one grizzled old priest, and the entire congregation consists of the one Tremere magus (who is now missing) and his five Coeris-trained soldiers.
Crusaders? Not unless you want to give up your educated covenfolk. I can see Jews and Christian Englishmen and Welshman living together in harmony. I can't see ex-Crusaders not killing all our Jewish covenfolk (which is all of them).