I've been trying to think of a better way to express covenant wealth in a medieval world. I'm playing around with an idea and would like some feedback. Can somebody suggest some references on agricultural practices, and the availability of grain and other foods in the open market, during this period?
Basically, I'm thinking the logistics of moving a large bulk of food might put a better check on covenant wealth than restrictions of magically created silver.
Food and Fuel: Only so much food and fuel is available for purchase. This takes the form of a free, mandatory, boon. The availability of food and fuel directly limits the percentage of build points available for vis sources (and perhaps the strength of the aura). For example, living in a major city where food is -- in most instances -- available for purchase for an unlimited number of people means that you can only put 10% of build points into vis sources (or vis stores).
Surplus: Farms and settlements have an amount of both gross and net surplus (which can be negative). Surplus is ranked in man/years. Net surplus is what is available for sale after taxes, tithes and rents. For example, a small Scottish hamlet might have a net surplus of +2. Over the course of a year, you can buy enough food to allow two people to live at a +0 health modifier. Once you've bought up all of the surplus, that's it. Food, normally, does not travel great distances in Mythic Europe. You, cannot simply resort to the international market to bring in shiploads of grain (except possibly if you live in a major city). Net surplus means that, if magi wish to purchase more than a minimal amount of food, they will need to make a deal with the local nobility to keep themselves supplied. Of course, this means that the noble has less surplus to be used as -- for example -- tax breaks for farmers that are having a bad year. Buying up all the extra food in the local area can make a covenant very unpopular.
For many covenants wealth isn't a matter of using magic to generate a huge pile of silver, that's relatively easy. The problem is being able to feed the covenant. In most cases, this will mean a "rich" covenant is one with sufficient fields and labor to meet its needs. In most cases, silver simply can't buy enough food to keep a covenant running in a vis rich region.