Covenant Discussion

That seems like a lot of fighting grogs, but that may be because I am used to playing with smaller covenants just starting out. Is there something about the Rhine Tribunal that suggests we need so many? (Not trying to argue, just curious.)

I am picturing a wooden palisade, possibly augmented with some magically enhanced thorny hedgerows, with a gate house in which some of the grogs might live. The manor house and temple are within the palisade, but the temple is not visible from the gate. The house is a "wattle and daub" wooden frame structure on a fieldstone foundation. It has a central great hall, which doubles as a "dormitory" for the rest of the grogs. Two-story wings extend from the sides of the great hall. One side contains the library and some number of labs, the other side contains only labs. (My first thought was a total of three labs in the house, two on one side, one on the other.) The "attics" of the wings would be servants quarters, with storage in the croft under the great hall. The kitchens are in a building behind and slightly apart from the great hall, to help prevent devastating fires.

My rationale is this. A covenant should always have 2 grogs on guard duty at the gate, as well as 2 more patrolling the palisade. That's 4 grogs on duty at any one time. If we go with 8 hours on duty for each shift, you need 12 grogs just for this. These grogs probably have 4 more hours on other duties, like maintaining equipment, training and such. You need that many grogs permanently at the covenant, so for magi to have escorts when to travel away from the covenant you need some more grogs. Usually 2 grogs are enough, but you need to take into account the fact that more than a single magus may be away at the same time, and that sometimes they may need more than 2 grogs. So I figured 6 for shield-grog duty. You also need some officers at the covenant to discipline those grogs, with 1 officer available at any one time, so 1 captain and 2 sergeants. That gives me a total of 21 fighting grogs at the main site.

Same rationale applies to the secondary site, although on a reduced scale. You should have 1 grogs on guard duty at all times, so you need at least 3 grogs stationed there.

So that's 24 grogs, plus the guards that may be needed for the wine-merchanting business. I've always assumed that a covenant should have a 24-hour security detail to prevent infiltration and theft, as well as prevent outside mundanes from catching sight of some magical manifestations from the magi. Of course, the professional fighting grogs may be supplemented by able-bodied laborers with some small weapons training, but then they have less time for the maintenance of the covenant itself (taking care of the animals, repairing the roof, chopping wood for the kitchen, washing clothes, etc.) We tend to assume a rather small workforce because we are used to modern tools and facilities. But just preparing food for 20 people is a full-time job when you have to do everything by hand (such as make bread) and cook using wood.

I agree that the palisade and the gate are probably made of wood, with the ground inside of the palisade raised so that it acts as a walkway around it.

I doubt that the magi would be satisfied with a wattle-and-daub house, because of the risks of fire (this is mentionned in Covenants). Remember that a lab has many sources of fire in it, either for light as for heating some esoteric mixture. So the labs, at least, would probably be walled with stone.

As for the "temple", I was seeing it as having been completely integrated within the main building. Take a look at the map below (from the site I quoted previously), along with a picture of what the original structure may have looked like. The main building would probably be somewhat larger than this. It should be sufficient to house the 30-40 people that I assume live here, along with the labs, the library and the main hall.

I've been trying to map out what a manor house would look like if the statues are not moved from their original site, but that's not been easy. I would assume this would be a 2-story building.

How about this?

The center square is an open courtyard. There are four labs on this level, and a library on the right (east?) side. The great hall (large rectangle) is two stories, and there might be servant/grog quarters above the wings.

As I look at examples of medieval manor houses, most seem to have some sort of great hall with wings.

Looking at the scale again on your diagram, I think the dimensions may be off on mine, but you get the idea...

Sorry things have been super crazy for me around here. I live in WV, and we had all the troubles with power outage and internet outages. Work has been super crazy, too. I'll catch up and post some commentary and my complete magus by Sunday.

Nice map. But you are right about scale and dimension. If we want to fit the building within the palisade (and thus the magical aura), without having it too close to the wall and without moving the statues, then we can't really have an open courtyard within the manor itself.

Having an open courtyard as well as a great hall makes the manor simply too big. Seems like an inefficient use of the space we have... unles we go really radical and got for a large hollow square of a villa, with no palisade at all since the outside wall of the building would be the protection. But that simply looks too much like a castle to me!

I would rather suggest something like this:

The grey area at the top and right sides of the manor is a pillared gallery similar to what used to surround the temple. That roof only rises to the level of the first floor (one could step out of the second floor windows and walk on the roof of the gallery). Also note that the gate into the palisade has been moved to the northeast (as opposed to the original northwest). Inside of the manor, both the main hall and the shared lab are open to the second floor.

There should probably be some additional buildings on the top map (additional housing for the grogs, stables, etc.) I'll add those tomorrow if people agree to the basic layout.

(Edit 2: Replaced the link by an actual image & added some notes about it.)

Ok, I did some more work on the main site mapping. Added some outbuildings for the barracks, stables, hen house and gardens. All of this fits within the palisade.

As noted previously, the front and one side of the manor house has a covered gallery that protects from the rain.

I've also added a basement level to the covenant, with additional storage space (notably for wine and ale barrels, as well as food) which could also be used as confinement space if we need a prisoner cell. The basement also has space for a sanctum, if one of the magi prefers underground laboratory space.

The size of the various sancta and laboratories are:

  • Ground floor sanctum: 750 sq.feet
  • Shared lab: 1080 sq.feet
  • 2nd floor sancta: about 750 sq.feet
  • Basement sanctum: 950 sq.feet

Looking at the guidelines for lab sizes in Covenant, that means that for the 750 sq.feet sancta, the magus has space for a +1 size lab (650 sq.feet) with minimal living space (100 sq.feet), or a size 0 lab (500 sq.feet) with more spacious living space (250 sq.feet).

The basement sanctum has enough space for a +2 size lab (800 sq.feet) and reasonable living space (150 sq.feet).

Finally, the shared lab with the statues is large enough for a +3 size (1000 sq.feet) or even +4 size (1250 sq.feet) if we count the space available on the second floor's gallery.

Wow! What mapping software are you using?

Parts of the manor feel more "fantasy" and less "mythic" to me, but I can live with that.

A couple of thoughts...

  1. To preserve the "Roman feel" could we move the paddock to the northeast of the stables, and continue the covered gallery around that side of the manor? Also, is it a problem that the temple sanctum is now completely enclosed? Would it feel more "Roman" to have an outside entrance to the temple as well? (Or at least a ground floor entrance near the library?)

  2. Could we add access to the gallery roof from either side of the Main Hall balcony (and from the north corridor if the gallery is extended)?

  3. I am feeling a little nervous about only the two exits from the main floor. If the library corridor was extended to the outside wall (making the library a hallway width smaller), we could add another entrance there (onto the extended gallery). We could change the door into the main hall to just an "archway" as well.

  4. Another stairway from the kitchens up to the second floor might be helpful to servants carrying food to busy magi. To accomodate the space, the southeast wall could be bumped out a few feet. The stairs to the storage areas of the cellar should be attached to these stairs instead, providing the underground sanctum with its own dedicated entrance.

  5. If we combine the library and sanctum on the first floor to a combined Library/Council Room, there would space for (I think) two additional labs on the second floor. This would give us an additional sanctum, so we could also change the south sanctum on the ground floor to an additional guest room, and more kitchen space (which I think we really need given the number of people in this covanent). This would also put all private sancta on the second floor or basement.

I know some of these suggestions fly in the face of defensibility, but I am not really keen to play stories about defending our covenant from outside attack. Besides, given the surrounding, ghost-infested forest, I don't think mundane attack is anything we really need to worry about.

I have a suggestion for another vis source for the area around the villa:

Once a year, during the first new moon after the summer solstice, the ghosts of the area are able to manifest themselves a little more strongly than at other times, as they remember their deaths during the Frankish invasion. At this time, they leave physical traces, like bits of cobweb, clinging to the branches of the trees. If these traces can be collected before the sun rises, they provide Mentem vis. (This might be only a pawn or two at first, but if the magi find a way to increase the ghosts' potency by honoring them, there may be more vis available, or more often during the year.)

Inkscape. It's not specifically a mapping software, but works well and is open source. Takes some time getting used to, and I'm still learning.

How so? I've simply blocked out spaces as I thought were needed for the covenant's needs. It's probably not how something would be built in period, but magi have specific needs so I based myself on that.

That was on purpose. I guessed that since the lab and it statues are probably one of the most valuable resources of the covenant, access to the mundanes should be as restricted as possible. Thus closing out the direct access to the outside, and having to go through the second floor where only to magi usually go. Furthermore, I felt that coming into the lab from behind the statues was disrespectful to the portayed gods.

Thinking about it now, I could have completely turned the manor around so that access from the first floor would be possible to the front of the statues. Then all the buildings inside of the palisade would be flipped vertically.

Easily. I didn't mark windows on that map, but any window on the second floor could give access to the roof of the gallery. Note, however, that this is not a flat surface but has a slope similar to that displayed in the picture of the original temple. There may be a narrow ledge that allows someone to stand there safely, or even small balconies on each side of the main hall.

There's actually three exits to the manor: main hall, mundane quarters and kitchen.

Again, the reason for no other doors was to limit access of the mundanes to the more valuable sectors of the covenant (from the magi's standpoint) -- library and laboratories. But if this doesn't seem like an important concenr to these magi, I can change that.

Hmmm... that's a possibility. But one more stair means more wasted space. I could probably replace the straight stairs to the more traditionnal circular ones to save space.

Good idea.

I'm not worried about defensibility either, but magi (particularly lab rats!) like privacy so I was going with limiting access to their sancta. Also, I was thinking that researchers would be a bit paranoid about spies.

I'll rework the map based on these comments and report once I'm done. This may be only next week, since I'll be away from my computers for the next 3 days.

Edit: Fixed the link for Inkscape.

Sorry, I was trying to express that it was probably not period. As I said, though, not a big deal.

I like the front door facing the gate house. Continuing the gallery around to the stable side would also provide a little more shelter coming in from the stables. I did not understand which direction the statue was facing. Since the gallery has a sloped roof, and does not serve as a second floor balcony, we could close off that "corridor" on the northwest side of the house, giving the shared sanctum a little more second floor space as well.

Missed the mundane quarters entrance. Should that room also be connected to the kitchens?

I think a (circular?) stairway from the kitchens to the storage in the cellar would be a good idea. Another way up to the second floor is not as important.


And nice work on the design. I'm looking forward to moving in. :smiley: (By the way, Aedituus would probably want the sanctum above the mundane quarters.)

I've worked on the updated maps of the main site. Here's a new version.

On the outside of the manor house:

  • First thing I've done is flip the orientation of the manor house as well as the layout of the buildings inside of the palisade. This made it easier to have the shared lab's entrance to face the statues.
  • I've also extended the covered gallery to cover both sides of the manor house.
  • Outside of the palisade, the path leading to the secondary site remains on the north side. But the main entrance into the palisade has moved to the south, so that it faces the main entrance of the manor house.
  • The barracks are now a bit larger.

The ground floor of the manor house:

  • I've replaced the straight stairs with circular ones, and added a second stairway from the kitchen.
  • The kitchen is now larger and has a direct access to the mundane quarters.
  • The library and the council room have been merged.
  • I've added a seperate scriptorium so that the mundane scribe(s) can still work when the magi are using the library for council meetings.
  • There no longer are any sancta on the ground floor, but additional guest quarters were added.
  • A door to the shared lab was added, providing a direct view to the statues of Mercury and Rosmerta.
  • A door to the outside was also added at the end of the corridor beside the library and shared lab.

The second floor of the manor house:

  • Now has 6 sancta.
  • Has doors on each side of the main hall leading to an outside covered balcony.

The basement of the manor house:

  • Has now space for 2 sancta. Note that I've arranged things so that no digging was required under the share lab and its precious statues.
  • The mundane storage section cannot access the sancta, as separate stairs are now used.
  • The storage area is a bit larger. The exact layout is not detailed, but the south wall is probably used for wine.

I've also numbered the sancta, and some of them are now a bit larger:

  • Sanctum #1: 800 sq.feet
  • Sancta #2 to #6: 725 sq.feet
  • Sanctum #7: 1300 sq.feet
  • Sanctum #8: 1400 sq.feet
  • Shared lab: 1200 sq.feet on the ground floor, plus 600 sq.feet for the second floor gallery (for a total of 1800 sq.feet)

So the magi who want larger labs can make the choice of setting up in the basement. And since there is space for 8 sancta, the covenant has space to host the occasianal peregrinator even if all the covenant's magi choose to have their sancta at the main site.

Additional comments are welcome. :slight_smile:

Nice work on the design! :smiley: I can't wait to move in. (Aedituus would like Sanctum #4, for its south-eastern exposure, if no one objects.)

JL, are you planning on having us use the Laboratory Personalization Rules (pg 109 in Covenants)?

Yay! Looks great. I still think I'll set up at the secondary site (if only to keep the concept of living slightly divided :wink: ) but this is great!

Definitely. Those are some great ways to further individualize a magus.

I think we need to eliminate the basement altogether, or at least the sancta in the basement, leave it all open for storage. We have 8 sancta at the main site, and two people aren't even going to be there. Having room for peregrinatores is important, but one or two extra sancta should be sufficient...

I think the basement is important to have, if only for the storage place for things that need to be kept cool, like meat and wine. (Now that I think about it, though, the storage area should probably have an outside access to move barrels in and out.)

The room currently described as sancta could also be kept and used for something else -- at this point they're just big rooms. A vault is a possibility (for vis, silver and other valuables). Yes, it's a lot of space. But its easier to have it there as the building is designed, than to add it afterwards.

One of the nice things about having sanctum space in the basement is that if one of the magi wants a larger space for his permanent lab, he can compromise comfort for more space. We could also decide to use one of the upstair labs as a council room after all, or move the library upstairs. Simply put, having the additional space gives us flexibility.

Just my thoughts here. If you'd rather I get rid of some of the rooms, I don't see it as a problem.

Well, they can stay as storage, certainly. And with magic, excavating a basement and putting in proper supports isn't really a huge hurdle.
We need a place for companions. Some of those sancta could be repurposed into personal quarters for important people. I think mundanes quarters would be the maids, scullery, etc.
The kitchen, for a household of this size would probably be a separate building, I would think.

Not a big hurdle, but not completely safe either, even with the use of magic. Or perhaps particularly with the use of magic. I wouldn't like to take the risk of parts of the manor hall collapsing because we decided to excavate under it after it has been built. But that's just me! :wink:

Actually, the guest quarters can be used for at least some of the companions, if they live at the covenant itself. My feeling is that both Amelie (the wine merchant) and Gregor (the magical cooper) will spend most of their time working in Koblenz rather than at the covenant. But yes, we can convert one of the upstair sancta to companion living space. Probably those with more affinity with magi than with mundanes. Some companions may also prefer living with the grogs in the barracks (or even the stables, depending on concept) than in the manor house. It's just a matter of some minor rearranging/renaming of space.

As for the size of the kitchen, if you look at the scale you realize that the kitchen is about 28 by 33 feet -- that's over 900 sq.feet. Plus food storage is in the basement. That's almost the size of my whole house. From my experience, it's easily large enough to cook for 50-100 people. (I've done it before in a much smaller kitchen!) I don't see any good reason to make the kitchen a seperate building, but I can do it if you want to go that way. Seems to have more drawbacks than advantages, though.

Kitchens for households of this size would be a separate building, in the period due to the risk of fire. We, as magi can mitigate that risk of fire through magics. Fires necessary to roast meats, boil cauldrons of soups and stews, fire for ovens to make bread are all a huge risk of fire for kitchens of the time. The larger the kitchen, the more people in it, the greater risk of having an accident. I don't object to integrating the kitchen over time, we could designate the room as a future kitchen, and then make/build devices that will allow us to integrate the kitchen into the building.

In the summertime having a separate building as a kitchen is useful for managing heat. Chamber of Spring Breezes can do only so much...

Ok, I'll see what I can do to modify the layout and have the kitchen in a seperate building.

Another update on the maps. Hopefully the last.

  • Kitchen is now a seperate building.
  • Added some living space for companions.
  • Eliminated 2 sancta (one for companion space, the other for a vault).
  • Modified the layout of the basement (added one set of stairs to the kitchen building and a ramp leading to the courtyard to move in large barrels and crates).
  • Added the entrances to each building on the overall map.