Given that we're one season into the saga and issues of finance and vis-mangement have already arisen, I think it's probably worth detailing Alerock's charter (or lack thereof). The standard charter presented in Covenants isn't a bad place to start:
Nothing to say. (Corrected a repetition)
Rather than an unanimous approval, i prefer a special majority. That means 2 third of the members +1. Example: if the covenant has 6 members, that needs 2/36+1 = 5 members, if the covenant has 7 members, 2/37, 6, etc. That is useful because if there is a debate, unanimity could never be reached.
Besides, i would consider that a covenant has a value. Enter a covenant means to share this value. IRL it's the same has enter a company by buying emitted actions.
If a covenant has a value of 500, and 4 members, each member can say "i have a right to 125". If, then, a 5th member arrives, the value remains, but each member can only say "i have a right to 100". Thus, if members are smart, they wouldn't accept new members unless some contribution is given by the future candidate. (As it is, IRL, when a public company emits news actions)
To avoid arbitrary decision and endless debates about that contribution, i'd say: a new probationary member would have to bring a contribution equal to the share of any member. In my example, the new probationary member would have to provide the equivalent of a 125 value, raising the covenant value to 625, divided by 5 members = the same as 500 /4.
To avoid the "you are a probationary member of the covenant, so pay" then the "you have paid? cool. Now you are expulsed", i'd say:
- the payement is calculated before the status of probationary member is given but paid after the status of full member is given (and that leaves almost 2 years to the magus to make things right)
- if a member is expulsed for another reason than breaching the code, he receives his share. That avoids the "we are 5 members with a covenant value of 500; let's us 4 expulse the 5th, to have more for each".
(Yes, i did Law studies :p)
okay, nothing to say
Again, rather than unanimous for changes to the charter, special majority. If a magus is against it, and that is the main reason for the change of the charter, the only solution would have to expulse him, then vote... Using the special majority, that allows to change the charter without the need to use this trick.
A thing i'm really unsure: can we use certamen to obtain votes in our direction?
Having thought a bit more about this overnight, I'd like to do something a bit more interesting with the covenant membership. Firstly, because it adds a bit of flavour to the covenant, and secondly because it stops people adding in extra PCs in order to stack the Council.
What I propose is this: do away with the idea of probabionary members - everyone's either a protected guest or a member of the council. In order to keep the focus on the three 'primary' magi, each one becomes the holder of a statutory office - one third of a triumvirate. Triumvirs are appointed until death, disappearance for over a year or dismissal. A triumvir can be dismissed by a majority vote of the council, which must include the other two triumvirs. The same process is used for varying the charter.
Morphiste becomes the Disceptator (which seems a good fit, given JeanMichelle's stated goals for his character, and the fact that Morphiste is really the only magus with anything approaching social skills). She has official responsibility for external relations, which effectively gives her control over the covenant's finances and access to useful things like pirate ships.
Keythleen is the Vigile, and has official responsibility for casting the Aegis of the Hearth. To that end, she's allowed to draw vis from the covenant's sources (giving her effective responsibility for all of Alerock's vis sources and stores). She is in charge of distributing surplus vis at the end of the year, and approving extraordinary expenditures while the year is in progress. This basically allows her to dispose of the covenant's vis as she sees fit until the council meeting following the external solstice.
Annaeus is the Curator, and has official responsibility for both the covenant's library and any magical items held in common. Book trading continues to be Morphiste's domain, but Annaeus determines any new acquisitions. If you don't mind, I'd quite enjoy this - I love inventing and detailing books!
The charter should still stipulate that all resources are to be shared as equitably as possible, but in the event of a dispute (or in exceptional circumstances) the triumvir's call can be prejudiced, arbitrary and final. Similarly, the triumvirs determine the appropriate level of remuneration for services provided to the covenant (probably by negotiation, unless they're feeling really lucky).
Obviously, each triumvir has great potential to abuse their office, but all three should be kept honest by their mutual dependence. Everyone needs vis, everyone needs the library (from time to time) and everyone needs the lab supplies and equipment that mundane wealth buys. All triumvirs are able to delegate most of their functions, so in practice the day-to-day running of the place will fall to Philippa the Autocrat, so it probably doesn't matter much unless there's something extraordinary (i.e. an adventure) going on.
As for your idea of 'pay to join', I see where you're coming from, but I'm not sure what sort of criteria you'd use to assess a) the existing 'value' of the covenant, or b) the value that a prospective member brings. I'd put a clause in that says something along the lines of 'new members shall be accepted upon majority vote of the council, except when a Triumvir determines that the covenant's resources are insufficient to support them'.
The council debates and votes on:
- issues of broad policy (i.e. 'wind up our feud with Crun Clach by the best available means', or 'acquire some means of quickly transporing the Turb over long distances')
- membership applications
- election and dismissal of triumvirs
- other extraordinary matters as required.
I'm against using certamen to force votes your way, both because it penalises magi with low Art scores (i.e. Annaeus, at this point), and because a certamen contest could take quite a while in a PbP game.
What i didn't quote is ideas i like.
I like the repartition. It seems the jobs are made for our magi!
Yes, the "value" part was the hard one . I only threw the idea, without any concrete idea about it
I'm not a Tremere so no "certamen fan" here, but i think for important purposes, certamen is good
A note, to play the certamen online: a faster way to resolve it (i used it before and was quite satisfied) is to house rule that you use the same art in attack or defense, so when the player has chozen, the SG can resolve it all by himself. (And if we agree confidence can't be used in petty certamen.)
Excellent. In view of that, I say we go ahead and consider it to be so.
Fair enough. I suspect that this would just be considered to be part of Hermetic life. That's why new members have to be approved by the covenant's Council, after all.
Okay. Maybe this could be an issue where the charter is silent, allowing certamen settling of particular issues if both parties are up for it?
Good idea. We'll make this a house rule, I think.