Covenants and Economics

Can someone point me to a discussion of how Covenants and money interact in 4th ed? Or a reasonable alternative. (I'm in an on-line game, and 4th ed was chosen for its accessability.)

In 4th (as many of you may well remember), money is spoken of in general terms, or under Virtues in terms of 100's of silver pennies/year, and under Covenants in terms of 10's to 100's of pounds of silver, in income, reserves, debt or expenditure. (The ratio of these differs in different parts of the book.)

But, aside from phrases like "This (maintanance) will be roughly 25 pounds of silver per point of building size, or 50 per point of inhabitants", nowhere does it actually address how to make money, or how much things cost, or any sort of Merchanting skill. One can Bargain for a single item (again, with aggravatingly vague of results), but establishing a regular income from an investment, or funding a new tower, or maintaining a household is not even touched upon.

Our covenant, as designed, has a huge debt, and we have no idea how to make money to pay it off, other than CreoTerrem or faking it or creating one wholecloth (which latter two we could do, but...)

I'm sure this has been tossed around somewhere previously- can anyone point me in the right direction?

While I know of no actual discussion, I might be able to provide some insights... But first, let me invoke Serf's Parma....

Ars has never really been about the pennies and pounds of managing a covenant - covenants and money interact in extremely vague fashions in 4th Edition for this very reason. There is (somewhere) a list of generalized costs in one of the 4th Ed. Books.

There are various ways to make money... Does the covenant have a road running nearby? Make arrangements with the Noble whose lands the covenant are in and make it a toll road. The same goes for a bridge in the covenant's demense. In the mountains? Use InTe to look for Iron, Copper, Silver, Tin or fine stone... Basically, establish a mine or quarry. Covenants on roads can also establish inns, and take a cut of the profits.

If your covenant has specialists, allow them to hire out for the seasons they aren't working for the covenant. Sell some of the wares in a local faire. Hold a local merchant's faire, if you can, and take a cut in taxes. Hire some of the Grogs out as mercenaries. Ales, wines and ciders are all in demand.

Use Creo spells to enhance mundane resources - improve crops, the quality of hides and leather, improve the harvest, et alia. A little ReMe in the inn, or on the toll boxes, will improve cash flow.

The Quasitores generally frown upon making coinage with CrTe. It falls under "Interfering with mundanes". Most nobles have problems with people minting thier own coinage.

If the covenant has established itself as a feudal enterprise, taxation is a steady income, though most taxes were not paid in coin, but in kind - Taxes included produce, products, labor, military service, and the like.

Of course, you could go into the darker side of things - there's always brigandage - rob from the rich, and give to your self. Smuggling, assassination, spying, etc. All are lucrative, if dangerous. Loot battlefields for armor and weapons, and sell them again. Hold hostages for ransom, or blackmail people for money.

Then, there is the fantastic option - find monsters with treasures, and sack thier lairs (this was old ages ago, and pissing off too many powerful monsters by stealing thier treasures tends to be frowned upon by the Quasitores, under "Endangering your Sodales." Loot ruins, find ancient treasures. Dedicate your covenant to a specifc task, and have the tribunal support you!

Hope this helps,


Covenants and money... there's an intriguing topic. If you've read covenants, it goes over a great number of economic rules for the running of a covenant. Of course, given that most of the Medieval world didn't work on a cash economy, much of it's rather silly, especially when one considers that a talented Terram magus can cast a spell that creates a huge lump of gold with fairly minimal effort.

To my mind, money is there to be ignored. Much like the nobles and scholars of the time, money is something that happens to other people. If you want to run a merchant-oriented Saga, then coin becomes a bit of an issue, but we're already dealing with a game in which people deal with unrealistic things like Pilums of Fire, so I feel most comfortable just ignoring the money issue entirely.

Now having companions set up trade deals for things the covenant needs can work, but with a little effort, much can be created if you have the raw Vis sitting around.

We're not looking for an economic ruleset to abuse, nor is any character particularly interested in commerce or etc. We were handed a Covenant that has a huge debt of both vis and silver, and were wondering if there are any guidelines besides "common sense" regarding the latter.

I had thought/hoped that, since the rules are painfully lacking (if for understandable reasons- I agree that magi and pennies don't need to mix), there had been a discussion at some point "back in the day" that someone might be able to dredge up, and/or an outside resource that addressed this topic in more depth than the 4th ed pdf.

I apologize, I misunderstood your question.

Your best bet is to find a copy of Ordo Nobilis, which has much of the information you seek. Credit, Indebtedness, and some basic costs.

However to ignore the possibilities of stories that deal in reducing those debts.....

There is one mistake you can avoid, and it will save you much grief - NEVER take the "Outlaw" flaw, in a money hungry covenant - The character or characters will be delivered promptly, alive or dead, to the rewarding authority, and cause much strife between players.


I believe the best overall discussion is in ArM5's Covenants, and should work well for 4e too. (I ain't talking about the economic system, I'm talking about the discussions accopnaying it and the consideration of the various issues.)

The 4e Ordo Nobilis has an economic system, I don't remember being particularly pleased with it.

You might consider taking a look at the Simple Economic System (or any other thing in durenmar if you're not familiar with it), and also at the Giant Price List.

There have been several economic discussions over the years on the Berklist. Here are some recent posts I found particularly enlightening:

Ah- that's more what I had in mind. My thanks, Y7R, much to think about.