Creating a covenant

If you get the full metacreator (with the Ars Magica package) and Covenants, it will have all the hooks and boons from the core book and Covenants.

Oh, and if you do get the Covenant's add on, however you acquire it, remember that when you create a New Covenant that you have to pick the Covenants.cst template. Covenant.cst is from the original text, which is why you have a very limited list of boons and hooks.

I got covenant addon and I have started to create a covenant. How many points there are available in early summer covenat? I think that 1250 points is more likely late summer covenant?

As much as anything, that depends on the powerlevel you want for your saga.
In general, I've found that the values for how many points to spend are perhaps a bit low, but then I/we like a well stocked library.

Also note that some books seem to be a bit overpriced IMO, based on their availability. The Roots, for example, are the "For Dummies" books on each Art - general forum consensus has them at L5/Q15 or L6/Q21 (implicitly supported now in Thrice-Told Tales!). They're are the closest thing the Order has to a mass-produced trade paperback series. According to Covenants (Pg. 94, under "Standard Texts"), they are "...widely and cheaply available. A Redcap can arrange the delivery of any of these texts, for a very small consideration".

Unfortunately, "very small consideration" is not defined. So you'll have to define that in-game. Personally, I take the route of "they're so cheap you only have to spend money on them, as opposed to vis". Other forum goers prefer that they be a pawn of vis or two. Regardless, they should be easily available.

However, a Q6/L21 book, in build points, is just as expensive as a Branch (the standard summae texts) of say, L10/Q 17. And that's ignoring Nice drawings, good bindings, etc. Anyway...

Personally, I'd recommend taking a full set of Roots at a sharp discount, and using the Library Build Points to purchase the Branches instead. (Note that officially there are only 9 Roots, and they are technically undefined; however, other books unofficially fill in the role of Root for the other arts - or at the least, there's still competition for the title in those areas.) Or alternately, establish how much a full set would cost in vis, and then use the Build Points to have that amount in Vis Stores, and "buy" the books from the Redcaps before the game starts.

And if you're wondering what a solid beginner's grimoire looks like, here's the Book of Roaming - basically a solid list of spells that every Covenent should have access to:

A Branch is supposed to be the finest (combination of highest level and quality) summa on an Art, not the standard available text. The Covenants build point system has a, in my view, something of a tendency to make it easy to churn out a lot of L15Q15 books, because they are cheap when comparing the amount of experience points that they can create (assume a starting score of 0, L15Q15 book is 225 xp, and costs as much as a Q15 Tractatus, which you cannot even buy). It so happens that a lot of Branches hover around that L15Q15 mark. Later books, such as the Lion and the Lily define a branch (for Terram, De Lapii) as a L17, Q14 summa. Players will invariably min-max, and so I would caution that any library have few (if any books) that get to that L15Q15 +/- a couple of points in quality or level. I think Q10 summae are rather common, even up to 20th level. The key here, when building a covenant library is to think about who authored that particular book, go through a bit of rough design to see what it would take to create such a text. There are a lot of character resources tied into being able to write books: characteristic points, virtue points, and experience points getting to the necessary level to write such a book.

With regards to the Roots of the Arts, consider these carefully. I'm not sure that any of them are designed in canon. These are generally books that are used as primers, for magi to get to the point to teach an apprentice, or for an apprentice as a beginning lesson in an Art. The are useful for only one season, at L5Q15 or L6Q21. If it looks like a lot of magi have a certain Art covered, I definitely wouldn't pay build points for having the tome in the library, since it will be of little benefit to them for some time. And as KevinSchultz mentioned, the cost in play is considerably less than the cost in build points.

And now we are at the subject of build points. As they are presented in Covenants, they are simply flawed. The costs for things are outrageously different. It is quite possible to devote all of the build points to vis (not vis sources) and have a huge stockpile to begin play and start buying things. Also, the prices of lab texts are ridiculously expensive. My best advice here, is to use the build points as a guide, but really build out a few things for each player and what you think is reasonable.

Not by name, but they're implicitly mentioned in Thrice-Told Tales, on pg. 74, in the description of the Resources of the Servants of God.

Does that mean, then that there now Roots for all of the Arts?

Fair 'nuff - I was thinking there was a description for books at that level above Branch, but it's not in that section. That being said, Covenents suggests that a set of Branches "costs" as much as the resolution of a major plot point (ie a major Hook) - ie, as a reward to a Spring covenant for doing a good job at X, where X is the reason for their existence.

In my last saga, for example, we got a set as a sort of "good job, don't tell anyone please" after we discovered what happened to the previous generation of covenant magi (Eaten by a tree, kidnapped by faries, trapped under the demon in the basement. Y'know, standard stuff.)

I've always taken that to mean that there are 9 "official" Roots, but that other primers are just as (or almost as good as) for the remaining slots - they just don't have official sanction to be called Roots. This allows the Storyguide to decide which one the official ones are, and which ones the unofficial ones are, in order to tailor the booklist to the playerbase. If a PC wants to be an author in Herbam, for example, the troupe can decide that Herbam doesn't have an official root, and the ones that are being used currently fall into the 5/15 or 6/17 or something like that.

Which seems to fit into what is described in that callout - it's not defining WHICH books are at that level, merely that summae at that level exist.

EDIT - my default assumption is that Roots exist for the 5 Techniques, As well as Corpus, Ignem, Mentem, and Vim. These are the 6/21 books - the rest have the 5/15's. (Or perhaps Q6, lvl 14+1d4, if you're feeling Gygax-esque.)

There is the Major External Relations Hook, Exceptional book. With L+Q <=35, with L not to exceed 25 or Quality not to exceed 20. That is greater, but it also fits the definition of Branch (the finest book on an Art). So...

This is the epitome of a distinction without a difference. If there are now books for every Art that will get someone to an Art score of at least 5 in a season, then it doesn't really matter, does it? Just say that there are Roots for all of the Arts, which is what it seems to me that you are saying that Thrice Told Tales does say. Going a bit further, if these books are cheap, and cost money, in your view, then why does someone want to create such a tome?

In game mechanics: yes. You are correct. In-game - a Root is defined by consensus and adoption via the Hermetic Order at large. As such, authoring something that will be known a Root is a goal for the aspiring PC author. Hence the level differences between 'official' Roots and unofficial ones (at least in my mind). For the unofficial ones, none of them have definitively risen above the rest to become a standard text yet.

Reputation, mainly: being known as the author of a Root is serious coin. And I consider them cheap because they consist soley of the quality of the words (as opposed to additional drawings and whatnot), and due to their level they can be copied by beginning scribes. And money is certainly useful - not as useful as vis, but something that still useable.

EDIT - huh. Just looked up the rules for copying. Assuming a standard Primer (L6/Q21) with a gloss (+1 to the level), a complete amateur (Profession: Scribe 0 - maybe a single XP point to grant a specialization, if needs be) can make three L6/Q21 versions of that book in a single season. (Fast copying reduces the quality by 1...which doesn't affect the end result at all, as that extra point is apparently there just to make copying easier.) Even if we assume that these are sold for 1 MP apiece, that's still 3 MP a season. Now, that does assume that there are exemplar versions of the Roots, and that "regular" versions are of slightly lesser quality. Still - it does suggest that it's pretty easy to find someone to make a copy for you. (And yes, of course. "Intrinsic value of the book, medieval paradigm of quality over quantity, etc." It's a rough copy made by an apprentice on his first day. It's probably not expensive.)

I would say no. Without specifically stating that something written in Covenants is now superseded this shouldn't be the case. this was not the intention.
These books are called 'Primers' and fill the function of quickly 'grounding' an apprentice or magus, taking him from 0 to 5 (or more), ideally in a single season. As a previous poster wrote the last 6 Arts for which there are no official Roots there is plausibly good enough books to fill that role. But none of them have been adopted by the Order at large as 'The Root for X'. I never figured out why, but I have no problem with this.

it would be cool though to have all the Roots and Branches officially named and statted and to have them in Metacreator. That would make library building a lot easier. If you don't feel like inventing lots of author names and book titles along with book stats you can always take a look at Through the Aegis. The covenant libraries in here are intended for inspirational use as well. And now that I think about it I remember having an idea a handful of years ago for a series of SubRosa articles with sample libraries for various themes covenants, where the focus is on some specific aspect relevant to the respective covenants. A covenant on a coastline and with shipping as a source of income would have a focus on Auram and Aquam. A covenant in the mountains with a mine on Terram. A Mercer house with focus on magic for travel, comfort, and safety on the road. etc.

Remembering the bonus to Quality for writing below your maximum Level, a magus with an Art of 12, Com +3 and Strong Writer could write a Level 5 Summa with Quality (6+3+3+3=) 15. I don't find this unrealistic for young - or even just-Gauntleted - magi. Sure, an Art score of 12 costs 78 exp (52 with affinity) so it's a specialized magus. And it requires a minor virtue for Good Teacher plus perhaps another 1-2 for Increased Characteristics - unless you min-max and invest heavily in Com.

Probably for exactly the reason you lay out: it's too "easy" to create a 5/15 Primer for any one of them to stand out as the go-to standard. As such, there are simply too many decent books at that level for any definitive text to really rise above the others. There are probably some which are slightly better (a few 6/18's, for example) - but readers probably can't tell the difference, in-game, enough for consensus to be achieved. And while you can probably find some cheap copies of those books (damaged or quick-copied, as the difference between a 5/15 or a 6/16(-1) really isn't all that much), they aren't officially "Roots".

In contrast? The 6/21 skill level actually requires a lot of innate talent (like your example), Archmage level skill (23+), or some combination of both. Now THAT is a long-term goal your character can shoot for - likely on their way towards writing a Branch of similar quality. And that quality of book would, in all likelihood, stand out against the pack, and in time be considered a Root - not the least of which is that it gets your Form resistance up to +2 in a season.

That being said, your math might be a bit off there - it looks like you're dropping the level from (12/2 = 6) to (12/2 - 1 = 5) so an author with Com +3, Skill 12, and Strong Author would be getting (base 6 + Com 3 + Strong Author +3 + reduction +1) From what I understand of the rules, (AM5th, pg. 165) The +3 per level drop is for Abilities, not Arts.

Consider the greatest author possible by ArM rules: Com +5 and Good Teacher. This requires (at least) 3 Virtue points and gives Quality (6+5+3=) 14. Deliberately lowering Level is good for +3 per point. If you aim for Quality 21 this adds up poorly, you either end up at 20 or 23.
Lowering level by 3 for +9 only needs Com +3 and Good Teacher to achieve. But to do this for a level 6 Summa you need an Art score of 18, costing 171 exp, or 114 with Affinity. That's quite concentrated, and you'd want some exp booster virtues to pull this off just after Gauntlet, like Strong Parens. For post-Gauntlet Book Learner is perhaps the most cost effective way to do it. Plus of course Affinity, Good Teacher (cheaper than Great Com) and perhaps Increased Characteristics.

But what if the specialist magus has no special skills as author (Com 0 and no Good Teacher)? Then the Quality 21 needs (21-6=)15 points from lowering the level, for a 5 level lower book. For a final level of 6 the magus needs an Art score of 22 to pull this off. That's 253 exp or 169 with Affinity. Again, for a recently Gauntleted magus that's hard to pull off even with Strong Parens. In a Rhine saga Gild Trained could help here. To save the normal allotment of character creation exp for the single specialist Art one could look for Arcane Lore, Educated, Well Traveled and Privileged Upbringing to cover the other abilities you'd need as a magus. Although I don't see any requirements for age etc. it seems to be stacking too much would demand some explanation of an unusual childhood, perhaps even a later start to apprenticeship.
But I guess you could have had well-off parents who sent you to the best cathedral school and hired the best wandering mystic money could buy, while bringing you along on travels.

... for ability summae. Only +1 for Art summae.

I think it's fairly clear that the library build rules are a bit...under-designed? Low level high quality summae (easy to create, cheap to buy) don't cost much less in build points than high level average quality books, and laboratory texts of spells are generally vastly over-priced considering the amount of labor required to copy them (as opposed to copying a summae). For example, a L12 Q12 summae takes a Profession:Scribe 6 (professional) 1 season to copy and costs 24BP, while that same scribe could copy 360 levels of spells, valued at 72BP. There's no accounting for relative scarcity - L18 Q14 summae will be pretty uncommon, and 12th magnitude spells are equally uncommon. And Tractatus are ruinously expensive (Quality = BP) that you might as well just buy L20 Q10+ Summae and ignore Tractatus entirely.

I pretty much ignore these rules when designing a covenant. If it's an established one, the previous occupants will color its contents (unique spells!). If it's a newly founded one, they'll take the Roots and a few high level books in the arts they intend to focus on, and the spells they plan on learning in the next 10 years or so.

Trade rules also grossly undervalue tractri- once your art reaches a certain level they are effectively the only way to advance (aside from experimentation), and they take a season to copy regardless of the scribe's level, yet they are only worth 1-2 pawns.

With respect to build points, they are undervalued, sure. But with respect to experience points, and as you point out, is the only reasonable way to advance, measured against the vis costs of experimentation, let alone the risks, it isn't all that unreasonable. Let's take a magus who has pushed his Art score to 20, 210 xp, he doesn't have an affinity. To get to a score of 30 (465 xp) is going to cost 255 xp. Assuming a sound tractatus is ~Q10 +/- 1, that's 52 pawns of vis, and a total cost in seasons of 26. Those aren't unreasonable costs to me. Even assuming someone can pursue their advancement from 20 to 30 with single minded purpose, that's 7 years, and a relatively large amount of vis...

[sup]1[/sup]The plural of tractatus is tractatus.