A weird situation has arisen when my friends and I started a new saga. Only one of the three players actually wanted to play a Hermetic Magus. The other two wanted to do Mythic Companions. The Magus isn't even very remarkable in the magic department.
The three Mage Level Characters are
A gently gifted Tytalus Magi slightly focused on Mentem but mostly built as a debate and disputio machine. He wants to integrate Aristotelian Magic, his rivals are the Platonic Hermetic Philosophers from A&A
His brother is a Wealthy Trader and is a likable confidence machine. Women love him men want to be him.
A Maestro author who is Associated with Mentem.
I see stories galore but it is a little weird building a covenant around a single magi. Some times easy sometimes harder. One of the companions may end up as a Redcap though. Still building a covenant on this scale is very different.
Exactly what a covenant means depends on the rules of the tribunal. So, it could be entirely possible to have a singleton covenant.
Even tribunals which technically require multiple magi members for covenants will have to deal with the occasional singleton covenant --- for example, what happens if all but one of the magi inhabitants are killed or leave.
If you are in Rhine or Normandy, it could be a chapter house type covenant. Part of the larger covenant but on your own in your own location. This gives NPCs and part of bigger covenant benefits while still being just the three of them at that location.
Well, it started as a covenant, an agreement amongst magi, then. It may still be a covenant in good standing, of one member. And I agree that some Tribunals, a single magus might be able to declare a covenant, file the a covenant with the Tribunal, and be accepted. I just don't see it very likely that a bunch of crochety old wizards are going to give equal standing to some upstart who comes into the tribunal. They don't do it with spring covenants of multiple members, I'd say single member covenants would be treated more roughly. But, it's a political process, no matter how you slice it.
Normandy doesn't recognize Chapter Houses, if going by The Lion and the Lily. Fengheld believes they have a Chapterhouse in Cherbourg, but the Normandy Tribunal doesn't recognize it as such, and the lone resident is treated as an eremite.
Not a covenant. I can easily see several options, most of the relevant ones already mentioned
In any case, from a legal hermetic POV only the magus lives there. The other characters are just custos.
CHAPTER HOUSE. If your tribunal recognises it, you can be a chapter house. I would define in points the ammount of resources available to your troupe, not the full resources of the parent covenant. The 250 points of resources "to be used up" are a gopod way to similare that. Take it 2 or 3 times and there you go with the "far away, at the mother covenant" resources. Superiors might also pay off, or favors.
EREMITE. You live on your own in a 1-magus covenant. Your resources is what you got. Quite common in a lot of tribunals.
VISITOR. The magus does NOT live in the city, but has a nice villa there for when he wants to go and relax in the urbane environment. Maybe it is his experimentation ground for new mentem spells, or he has a nice mistress living there. he belongs to another covenant that is out of the spotlight 99% of the time. You will have to build up the resource sof the covenant of the magus AND those available in the city for the magus and his friends.
VANGUARD. The magus is setting up the foundations for a covenant. he lives out right now, but his friends might be coming along in brief time. Or he was doing that, decided not to settle there but he still liked the place to set up a summer villa for himself at the place.
LAST SURVIVOR. There used to be a covenant here, but the magi are mostly dead/twilight-ed. The magus i9s the sole survivor/heir of the old covenant members.
EXILE. The magus belongs to another covenant, but has been exiled here dor a while for a crime committed against the covenant charter /that also puts up the terms of the exile for the crime). Maybe he entered a wizard war with another covenant member and slew him, for example. He got some resources, but not much. He formally belongs to the other covnant, but he cannot return for a while. Once he can return he will have to decide what he wants to do.
DESIRED RESOURCE. The city might have something that the magus wants to supervise directly. Maybe there is a maestro in the local college that he wanrts to observe. As such he has taken residence here with or without breaking his status as a member of another covenant.
Why they have done that would be story fodder then?
Anyway a singleton magus still only has one vote at Tribunal, so he won't have any particular power at Tribunal. Magi have votes not covenants. A covenant is only powerful in Tribunal because a group of magi living together have some similar interests and therefore vote to support each other in those interests. So, because he has no sodales, a singleton magus is probably weaker at Tribunal.
Singleton covenants seem to be more likely the sort of thing that old wizards (rather than young ones) would be interested in. Old wizards are probably less reliant on their sodales for political and magical aid, have more secrets to keep, and due to the impact of Warping, esoteric mysteries, etc many older wizards seem to become eccentric in ways that make living with others difficult.
On the other hand, singleton mages (in the rhine there are lots of journeymen that have no specific convenant) can be the tie breakers and vote swayers in tribunals where the votes are close and there are factions. Take stonehenge with the Voluntas vs Stonehenge factions. A couple of single mages could sway a vote.
As an update there will be an additional Magus in the Covenant. A companion level character will be a Redcap. So officially it is a two magi covenant now.
The covenant is going to be in a city with a university, (Bologna for right now). A good sized town house built around a magic aura. Some of the initial hooks are going to come from the covenant having a tenuous legal status. Hermetic Politics, Contested Resources, Hidden resources, Ruined Covenant, Missing Founder.
The covenant was set up in Bologna a generation ago after the Jerbiton Covonant who had a claim over the city were torn apart by infernalism. The Magus who founded it was one of the Magi who helped clean up the mess and was given the right to claim some of the resources left behind. He claimed a vis source surrounded by a small but powerful aura as his own. Some of the other resources of the previous covenant where claimed but most weren't because of concerns over infernal corruption (both real and imagined).
The site aura is small, only large enough to house two or three labs, so there where never very many Magi in residence. The one Gifted PC remaining served out the end of his apprenticeship there. His Parens moved on soon after the PC was gauntleted. The Magus who founded the covenant has recently slipped into twilight and may or may not be coming back. The covenant does have a charter and the Gifted PC and Redcap are signatories. They can claim rights to the Vis that comes from the resident aura but some of the vis sources in the surrounding area where never officially claimed.
Incidentally, if you are using any of the 3rd ed. material as the basis for your original Bologna covenant, which involved Pope Sylvester II and his magical brazen head, you might find some cool background material in the novel "Ars Magica" by Judith Tarr. It's a well-done retelling of the Gerbert / Sylvester myth. Very entertaining read.
I turned this novel into a short 4-part story for a magus' gauntlet at the Bologna covenant. It involved traveling to the 4 major locations of Gerbert's life, facing a challenge, and gathering vis from each. I'd be happy to send the adventure outline if interested. PM me....