Covenant of Grianán Ailigh

I'm starting a new campaign per the request of my usual players, who all voted for Ars. Half of them are new, the other half are fairly practiced with the system. Full stats aren't complete yet, but the magi are roughly look like...

  • Tremere Imp Characteristics, Enduring Constitution, Long-winded, Strong-willed, Tough, Flawless Magic, Personal Vis Source (Rego), Skilled Parens; Motion Sickness, Twilight Prone, Warped Magic, Pessimistic, Temperate, Dependent (6 yr old survivor of bandits with Latent Magic Ability)
  • Merinita Gentle Magic, Book Learner, Puissant (Vim), Affinity (Vim); Diabolic Past (parents were cultists), Compassionate, Faerie Upbrining, Unimaginative Learner
  • Flambeau Elemental Magic, Inventive Genius, Affinity (Magic Theory), Book Learner, Common Sense, Faerie Blood (Sidhe), Privileged Upbringing; Susceptibility to Infernal Power, No Sense of Direction, Overconfident, Ambitious, Feud (TBD)
  • Jerbiton Affinity (Craft: Cooking), Gentle Gift, Affinity (Rego), Skilled Parens, Affinity (Finesse), Cautious (Craft: Cooking), Puissant (Craft: Cooking), Free Expression, Imp Characteristics; Twilight Prone, Infamous Master, Tormenting Master, Incomprehensible, Higher Purpose, Poor Memory (Names)
    The Jerbiton is from Italy, the Tremere is Transylvanian, both coming to help found the covenant. The other two are technically from Hibernia, but were Connacht tributes from the Treaty of Cnoc Maol Réidh, thus their apprenticeships happened elsewhere in the Order (Normandy & Stonehenge).

They're to be founders of a new Spring covenant, specifically at the hillfort of this thread's title. They are going to have an arrangement with Vigil to avoid their claim over the territory (Favors hook); part of the deal being that they will have to hold a special Imbolc ceremony each year (Festival hook). There's a tunnel/hall inside the wall, which will have several twists & turns that if taken right, will lead to the regio; which is the interior of the wall (Magic aura 4), but enlarged to be 100 paces across rather than 70 ft & impenetrable fog beyond the walls.
Boons Regio, Exceptional Book, Powerful Ally; Aura, Healthy Feature (excellent well-water), Loyal Covenfolk, Hidden Resources (TBD)
Hooks Castle, Ruined Covenant; Favors, Festival, Haunted, Regional Produce, Guardians, Alienable Land, Monster (surroundings)

Specialists Three teachers, all maxed (15BP ea) for Bargain, Magic Theory, & Intrigue; Chirurgy 6;
Vis Sources 1 Cr/yr, 1 Re/yr
Lab Texts Quench Raging Conflagration, Sense Nature of Vis, Scales of Magical Weight, Unseen Porter, Edge of the Razor, Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie, Wizard's Sidestep, Aura of Ennobled Presence, Discern Images of Truth & Falsehood, Gift of Bear's Fortitude, Bind Wound; Enchanted Item Text (+12 Recovery potions)
Library (TBD) Tractatus Q11, Aquam Summae (Q12/L12), Penetration Tractatus (Q10),
Enchanted Item Death of Vermin (lvl 8, attracts rats into box)
Remaining BP 100

We now get to the point at which I need to make decisions for this campaign. A big one is what the magi will do for a cathach. I'm tempted to have them not even quest for it, but instead the Powerful Ally bequeaths them it - either the Silver Arm of Nuada Airgetlám or Mesgedhra’s Brain; this will of course require me to answer what said cathach does, as well as determine the nature of the Powerful Ally.

The next question is the Imbolc festival the party needs to host. Maybe light a bonfire and people from all around draw water from the well (which I think has been blessed by St Patrick by this point) near their place?

Are there any comments or suggestions you lot can proffer?

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2 pawns of vis per year? That is really going to hurt, even more than the extremely limited library. How are they even going to cast AotH? Hopefully you have some things planned out to allow them to secure more vis and books. Without that they are going to be critically short on supplies.

Maybe they can spend some of their remaining points to get some stock, which was given as a gift/support for the founding of a new covenant?

I don't think the BP spent in the covenant creation process is a restriction on what vis sources they have; and they can always get more by just doing vis source hunting or story awards?

They were having trouble deciding where to spend everything, so the players all split up the BP amongst each other to spend as desired. I was also given a 'share' to spend as a way to cover any major holes in their starting situation; so slapping some vis stock is a likelihood.

I ran a Hibernia campaign and you might find the website useful. For example, I had to stat up Einri of Vigil when the PCs went on a cattle raid. Many other Irish magi have stats. You can find the whole campaign here:

I totally plan on it; I used your Black Cloaks as inspiration back in '15 for my last campaign, in fact. I'm already planning on getting inspiration for vis sources with your material; and I love your Book of Roaming design.

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My point was that you only have 2 pawns of vis a year listed. And yes the BP you spend on it is how much vis income you start with, though that can be expanded in play. Buying more vis sources is 5BP per annual pawn at start, while more vis stock is 5 pawns per 1BP.

Lack of vis and books is a crippling drawback for a covenant, especially a brand new one. While it is unlikely they will have an excellent collection of books, they are normally founded somewhere that has good vis available. They can trade that vis for things like books, lab text and enchanted items which are helpful in getting the Covenant stable. Vis is the currency of the Order of Hermes and magic itself. It is needed for nearly everything. Ritual spells, longevity rituals, enchanted items, trading, and studying. Heck, the weakest Aegis of the Hearth that can be cast is level 20 and requires 4 pawns of vis, every year. When they get around to casting Longevity Rituals they will need at least 1 pawn for every 5 years of age, EACH.

If they really do have 100 BP unspent, I would strongly suggest putting a good chunk into vis sources. Unless you plan on spending the vast majority of your early games being almost nothing but hunting for vis and vis sources. A minimum amount to start with is enough to cast their Aegis plus 1 per Magus (so at least the number of players +4). And with that level, within a few years of play time the characters will be fighting and scraping for every bit of vis they can find.

Vis management is also one of the least fun and most table trouble causing aspects of Ars Magica. Once your players realize that every game will involve hunting for vis or arguing with the other players over why they should be the one who gets this or that vis, it can easily destroy the enjoyment.

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You can thank CJ for the Book of Roaming! It’s named in his honor and came from a survey he held on these very forums, years ago!

So my comment is more about these two PCS. I find that they are a big mixed up. The Merenita has faerie upbringing AND infernalist background, while the Flambeau has faerie blood and susceptibility to the infernal. It feels like there should be some redistributing. On one hand it tethers the two PCs to each other with their aspects having relatable hooks, but on the other how was the Merenita both raised by Infernalists and by Faeries?

The Merinita ran away from home because his parents were diabolic cultists, and was picked up by fae to be raised by them until he was 15, when a magus found him and took him as an apprentice.

Another thing I need to figure out - what's the expected cattle population for this covenant? The book just says you need to have some, but scale isn't really listed.

More is better.

Do you know how much pasture/graze land they have? Cows need roughly 1.5~2 acres per head in a breeding herd. On the low end of that range would be herds with lots of calves, while herds that are all adults should target 2+ per head. A square mile is 640 acres, which could support a herd up to 320 adults or about 426 mixed cows and calves. Note that the land containing barns, holding pens, and birthing fields is not included since it will not have enough growth to support an animal.

So with those base maximums, just figure out roughly how much pasture they have and you know the most they can have. What percentage of that they actually own is up to you, though if they use the land for mixed purposes such as also raising fowl, goats or sheep, I would keep the total cattle at 50% or less of the maximum.

Field kept horses also require about the same amount of land, however mixed diet horses (mix of field, hay and grains) need about half as much and pure feed horses (pure hay and grains, normally only found on "war" and "sport" horses) need about a quarter as much.

Note that for cattle and field kept horses, you will still want hay and feed stocked, since they will not be able to graze during the winter.