Covenant Planning and Construction

I see you also noticed the "here is your arch-enemy" neon warning that Arthur placed over that covenant.

I would suggest passing over the wadenzee connection in this case. Not everybody needs to be linked to hermetics. Otherwise it starts being too convenient for us. A plain merchant that is not very influential/rich/has enough resources, and that is Ambitious (minor or major) would jump at the opportunity as well, and he is bound to be way more common than a merchant that has previous contact with the OoH.

Merchant, Ambitious, puissant bargaining, social contacts, gossip, educated, self-confident, intuition, luck, all go well for such a character :slight_smile:

I never suggested any contact with hermetics as I guess they make raids without magi involved as well. But I see your point so let's go with someone with simpler ambitions like you suggest. I can get him some stats later tonight and post him in a separate thread. That is if everyone is ok with this idea.

You may be reading more into my comments on Waddenzee than I intended. I did write about them because it is certainly a covenant you may butt head with, and it is part of Japik's background, but calling it your "arch-enemy" is perhaps too strong.

But I'm not denying, nor confirming, that covenant's involvement in the saga. :wink:

Ah, I thought you were referring to an hermetic link for the merchant. Maybe it can be combined. What about him being in a delicate situation because he lost his last cargo shipment to pirates? Again. So he is having trouble raising credit from the local moneylender(s). There are more pirates than Waddenzzee around, so it might be them, or not, or the contrary :slight_smile:

I am thinking that a meddling herbwife (older woman) might work well for the house of convalescence project (calling it a hospital might be too much). I will not stat her up yet, but sounds like the suspicious middle aged woman that will accept it for the good of his patients, nit because he thinks we are not trouble. She might get along well with the Dietlinde. Or they might hate each other.

I concur with this assessment of our short-term plans. No need to RP beyond the beginnings & complications.

Although the villagers begin gathering stone for construction as soon as an agreement is struck between the village and the "scholars", the process may seem slow to the magi. Not all of the villagers will participate in this, and even those who do will not devote all of their time to it, since they have to take care of their livelihood as well.

A few things become clearer as work begins.

First, there is the matter of time. It quickly becomes obvious that work will proceed slowly if using only villagers. When asked, those involved think they can complete the two small houses by the end of summer, or perhaps mid-fall at the worst. This will obviously not be fast enough for the magi, as they will probably want to have at least one (if not both) of the large houses up and habitable by that time. But the villagers do not have the tools nor the skill to dig up cellars in the stone of the plateau. The villagers also seem a bit uncertain about building two-story houses. So it seems that outside help will need to be hired.

A second thing that needs to be decided is the layout of the buildings. Take a look at the sketch of the area around the oak and let me know where you'd like to put the houses and garden. Remember that the elders need to agree to the location, but this does not seem like something that will cause problem. Once the location has been agreed to, I will add the houses to the sketch.

A third problem may quickly crop up, that of money. From what I can see in the Pooled Resources thread, the magi have about 36 pounds of silver. Of that, a bit over 1 pound has already been spent in temporary accomodations and food since arriving on the island (there are 4 magi and 12 mundanes to feed). If the accomodations remain the same, 5 more pounds will have been spent by the end of summer for that, leaving 30 pounds.

As building materials are purchased and workers hired (including villagers), it looks like the cost of construction will look like this. Each of the small house will cost about 4 pounds to build. The villagers don't need much outside assistance for these, so most of the expense is from wood brought from outside of the plateau (or even the island).

The large house may prove much more expensive, for the structure cannot be that of the simple village houses, which does not work well for a second floor. So more outside workers are needed, much more lumber as well, and specialized workers/tools to dig up the cellars (it is preferable to do this before putting up the structure of the house). So each large house may end up costing 20 pounds or more.

Compounding the money problem in the short term, Trond and his crew needed some the magi's silver to purchase their first cargo. This immobilized about 15 pounds, leaving only 15 pounds for the construction itself. Of course, the merchanting business will bring back money over the course of the summer, in the order of about 5 pounds per month of profits. But that still leaves only 30 pounds available, by the end of summer, for the construction. Money will keep flowing in over time, but there is initially not enough to construct and outfit all of the buildings.

In short, the magi must make some decisions about what to prioritize, or how to make work less expensive, or how to raise more money. Note that Bernhard will stop by a few times over the summer, so he may be consulted about this if needed (e.g. if you decide sell raw vis for silver).

The goal here is not to get bogged in details. I gave you some numbers to work with just so that you would get a sense of scale regarding the construction and living costs at this time.

I take it that the villagers want to have their animals graze the area northwest of the oak and the hill in that direction so we can't block the path between the two southernmost hills by building a house there for example?
How far east to the edge of the cliff can we/do we want to build?

How much magic can we use in the building process? Perdo Terram to excavate for the cellars for example. What are we capable of?

Indeed, the villagers would like to be able to move their flocks between the hills towards the tip of the plateau. But there is enough space between the two hills bracketing the oak and the one to the south for a path around the covenant's building. In short, you can set up your buildings on either side of the oak without any problem. The buildings should probably be clustered together, so that a single enclosure around them can serve as the boundary when casting the Aegis of the Hearth. Whether you want to also enclose the oak within the same enclosure is up to you.

You can probably build safely (over the long term) up to 5 paces to the edge of the cliff. ANything closer and you risk damage (in a few years or decades) from the cliff being weathered down. Also, the closer you are to the cliff, the riskier digging below the covenant becomes.

Note that the eastern side is sheltered from the winds by the hills, and has more shrub and small trees growing there. On the other hand, the soil on the western side seems a bit more fertile, with the grass growing thicker.

You can use as much magic as you like, but anything too obvious will certainly be noticed by the villagers working on construction. Even having the cellars excavated overnight, for example, will raise questions. So it is a matter of the magi being willing to deal with such questions. :laughing:

The small houses need to be wooden? IIRC the construction sysrtem in this area and place is basically low long halls half sunken to the ground, and mostly built from the local terrain and wood. Quercus can speed things up sensibly making the wood easier to work here (easy Moon duration Rego ro Muto spells cast during the night), and the costs should go down if we do not build base don stone but on wood and local materials. Wood is necessary for the base of the pillars and other similar stuff, but think viking long house here, not city dwelling. I think this kind of construction might also help us to resist the weather, so it is not a stupid thing here.

House models

Large houses (dry stone foundations this time):

Something like this for the larger houses might work: stone foundation, but the upper part can be wooden, not pure stone.

The smaller houses can be pure wood (minus a layer of stone at the bottom of the walls to prevent moist to ruin the wood beams too fast.

So not that much stone needed. They will not be constructions lasting for centuries, but we do not pretend them to be. Not for now at least. We want dwellings and this design should be enough, don't you think? Shouldn't that decrease the costs? Dry stone and wood should be good enough. Quercus can go with a few of the grogs of the covenant (Fresse, Morlaer and Hjalmar can go to the forest and fall quite a few trees in a couple of hours if we have permission to do it. I assume we can do it without being seen paying some attention. That should decrease our costs as well.

The more I think of it, the more I think that some accommodation would be good: maybe larger floor plans but allowing the sheep to graze ON THE HOUSES since otherwise the construction might progress more slowly than we pretended. Grazing on a house should not be problematic if the roof is covered in a wide strip of earth and grass, making it effectively into an artificial hill. I am sure we can make the interior wood roof waterproof between Pytheas and Quercus.

So, the idea is more or less to build hobbit holes :mrgreen:

Having the large houses near the cliff would be a good idea. this will allow us to have windows in the cellars when we expand them eventually.

The houses in the village are mostly stone, because of the scarcity of wood on the plateau (and on the island in general).

The typical house in Ober village is more along those lines, although many of them use stone tiles instead of tatch and their roof is not as steeply sloped:

The walls are made of uneven stones piled together and held together by crude mortar. Wood is used mostly for the structure of the roof (a lattice of small branches for the most part), which is completed either by tatch (grass bundles layered) or stone tiles. This allows the villagers to collect more of the rainwater, since there are no wells on the plateau.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the soil layer of the plateau is fairly thin -- about a foot or two in most places. That makes digging much more difficult because you hit stone very quickly. And since few of the villagers have the iron tools required to dig into stone, they mostly make do with lose rock provided by nature.

How large is the house you put there, Arthur? Like one of the small houses we can build?

What about importing wood from the mainland? Would that decrease our costs? A structure for the beams, + stone slate to respect construction methods. It would be the first design I put in my previous post.

I think we can aim for 1 large house + 1 small house. That would be enough. then we can dig and get the stone for the second house easily and get a second large house that is better built (larger, more regular stones). What about that? We need more beams than what can easily gotten in the island, I guess.

Which forest? There are not that many forests on the island itself, and it is a tightly controlled resource because there is so little of it.

In the period, forests belonged to the lord of the land, and the right to cut down trees was something that was paid for by those who made a living of it. To just go and illegally cut down some trees in the forest can be done, but if you get caught that usually means you got punished -- anywhere from a steep fine to being hanged, depending on the period and place. It was treated very much like poaching. Just for your info. :smiling_imp:

Some farmers had their own private wood lot attached to their lands, but most made do with access to "common land". There, they would be allowed to bring their swine so that they could feed on acorns and roots, collect fallen branches for fuel and wild fruits to eat, but not cut down trees or even branches.

The cost I gave previously is based on importing wood (purchasing it), as well as hiring some stone workers to dig up the cellars and building the walls for the 2-story large houses. As the constructions methods of the villagers are fairly crude, they would not be able to build a 2-story house.

What about the stricture about not collecting stone yourself from the plateau? The villagers might notice if you start taking out large, regular stone from the cellars of the existing house...

Would the first large house be a single-story affair? The design you propose would not work on a 2-story house, as the roof would be much too high for animals to graze. In any case, the roof would probably be too steep for the small sheep and goats that the villagers raise. Not to say that you couldn't use those roof as additional surface to grow stuff on. But do you want the villagers' livestock moving freely within the covenant's enclosure?

Just thinking out loud and providing information as much as possible. Your grogs would provide such feedback, as might some of the villagers. I'm not objecting to anything. 8)

Basically Quercus is putting the proposal of a 3 stage construction plan fr the large houses to the council:

  1. Large house (1 story). Enough space for a lab so we can start doing stuff. It would be especially intersting if Quercus can teach everybody wizard's communion, for example.
  2. Build a proper 2 story house.
  3. Tear down the first large house and expand it.

Not as efficient as building the large houses straight (the end result will be more expensive overall) but we do not seem to have the proper resources right now for that plan without ringing a MASSIVE "we are magicians" bell. Spreading expenses through time might asllow us to end up with the end result and an usable pair of buildings in the meantime

Japik agrees to Quercus proposed construction plan.

Here are Pytheas's thoughts:

  • We're really short on funds, and don't have any immediate sources of income visible on the horizon beyond a trickle from sea trading. That means we have to be careful with how we spend the very little amount of cash we have.
  • A two-story house is much, much more expensive than a one-story house (more than twice, I would imagine).
  • It seems ludicrous to plan to tear down one house before we've even started on the third house.
  • Therefore, he suggests that we build the two smaller houses first - one for the grogs and one for the magi. Then, if we have any money, we should look to the two-story houses.
  • Speaking of money, although it pains me to say this, we should seriously consider selling some vis. Frankly, right now we need money more than we need vis. We need to get our labs set up and we need to get the start of a library going. We can't do that without money. And the only significant asset we really have right now is a source of vis.

Yes especially since the oak seems to produce Perdo vis which we really don't have any major use of at the moment.
Well Perdo Terram of course, forgot about that. Nevertheless I agree that we need money more than vis at the moment. Perhaps Bertrand can help us sell the vis on his travels?

Have we examined the shore at the bottom of the cliff from where we are building? I don't seem to remember. Japik went there and started examining the sea floor. Is the beach big enough to land our ship or the small boat Pytheas brought?
I still want to find a way to connect us to the sea as you know. If not completely by excavating the rock all the way down then maybe Japik excavates a cave at the bottom and keeps it as his sanctum and laboratory. Then he could learn some flight magic to transport himself up and down.

Quercus agrees that they need a lab and money. He was suggesting a 1 story large house in order to put a lab in it (half of the space dedicated to a lab). We have 2 labs in storage, and getting some active would be great. He agrees that we need money more than vis, but warns that we should be careful in the selling not to overflow the market and raise suspicions. Bernhard can surely help here. The idea of tearing down the house is not immediate; it is just that we need at least one lab ASAP, and the easiest way to get that is with a single story house. Eventually we will need more space, biut for now this is the fast and dirty method to get us going.

For the first project he would like to teach the other magi Wizard's Communion. The tree seemed eager to talk, and it would be a good idea to have a conversation with it, but alas, he alone cannot do that yet given his Arts. It will be also be important if they plan on casting an Aegis in the future.

Since it seems they will need to get accommodation for the grogs in the town down below it might be a good idea to check housing prices there for a house with a barn (for the ship trade). They can use it in the meantime while the obberland houses are being built and place the library there since they do not need an aura to read. Teaching can also be done there easily without major problems. How do you see this?

So for the time being he suggests this:

A) 1 large house and 1 small house constructed in the Obberland. Large house finished by autumn so a lab can be installed there. Might require contracting extra hands.
B) Buy 1 house in the town with a barn for use in ship trade. They need to know prices for several sizes of houses for this
C) Teach WC to the other magi so they can fully investigate the tree (InVI and InHe) and exploit the vis source without damaging it.

As a side note I (as a player) suspect the tree is a Herbam or Creo vis source (or maybe Rego or Vim, but less likely), and the moss is a parasite feeding on it and turning the tree vis into Perdo vis. The eagerness of the tree to talk and the fact that the grass around the tree is superior to that of the rest of the obberland suggest this. I also suspect that the spinning woman has (at least) supernatural abilities if she is not directly a failed apprentice or has other kinds of hermetic experience.

You don't get an answer right away, as Bernhard only comes back a bit over two weeks later. When he does, he says (nervously, of course) that he will only be able to sell one or two pawns before drawing undue attention. Raw vis is almost never sold for mere silver, because of its scarcity. He is not sure how much silver he will be able to get -- the more silver he tries to bargain for, the more conspicuous it will be -- but he thinks that about 20 pounds of silver per pound might be reasonable with a discrete (though somewhat shady) Verditius that he knows. How much silver are you hoping to obtain this way?

The southwestern shore right at the base of the cliff is quite rocky and beaten by waves, so although one can land there if careful, it is not a good place to do so regularly. A better place might be a bit farther north, a little distance from the plateau, where the shores is more sand than rock. It might be concievable to build a second set of stairs, close to the covenant, that would bring you down to the lower inland plateau (of white rock) and then to the a spot close to the shore. There doesn't seem to be anyone living there, so that would give you a private access to the sea. One disadvantage to this plan is that the authorities might see this as an attempt to smuggle stuff in and avoid paying taxes...

After checking around, there are very few unoccupied houses in Meden -- and those that are unoccupied have a good reason to be. Warehouses tend to be rented out (such as the one Bernhard arranged for you), or belong to merchants. There are no "barns" as such, as there are very few large animals on the island. It might be possible to buy a house or two in the poorer section of town. That will take some time (weeks) to inquire about who would be willing to sell, or who an unoccupied house might belong to. There are no such thing as a real estate agent on the island...

You mean 20 pounds of silver per pawn of vis? Then 2 pawns would be 40 pounds of silver which should make it possible to bring in some extra hands and expert craftsmen to maybe get at least one of the large houses up with 2 floors and cellars before winter. Maybe the two smaller 1-storey houses could be done as well which only leaves us with the second large house remaining for later.

Japik would prefer something inconspicuous. Smuggling could be one thing he would support the sailors getting involved in and he is not above using Imaginem magic to cover it. Are there any caves, grottos and such on the sea level along the rocky part of the shore? If so, Japik would examine them to see if they could be developed into something habitable for a dolphin Bjornaer.

Yes, per pawn. Sorry about that. But Bernhard isn't certain of the exact amount he will get for the vis, nor how long it will take to find the right buyer and have him gather the silver. This is a tidy sum, and even magi don't necessarily have that much silver just lying around.

When he explored the shore, he didn't see any significant cave cutting into the rock of the plateau. There is a band of rocks at its base for most of its length. In a few spots, the rock has been eroded some, creating a slight overhang, but these don't seem safe -- lots of cracks and broken rocks. And even those are not very deep, perhaps ten feet at most.