Folios Distributions, Costs and Examples

As per HOH:TL pg 22, 3 copies are made of folios with one copy used by Mercere to deliver to other covenants of the Order one at a time along a predetermined route. By canon (including older versions for some Tribunals), there are approximately 100 covenants in the Order, assuming each covenant can copy the Folio in only 1 season (using multiple Scribes) that means a Folio would travel for about 25 years before it reached everyone, longer if some covenants took longer than a season to copy the folio. The average covenant would likely take 2 seasons to copy a folio therefore the last covenants would be waiting 50 years to get their folio.

I cannot find a canon source as to when the first folio was created but there is a reference to "the Folio of 1123" (HOH:TL 22) so assuming a Folio was created in 1123 and every 7 years after then there would be at least 14 Folios and the next Folio would be created in 1221. Even with 50 years worth of Folios still in circulation, that would leave at least 6 folios that every covenant over 50 years old should have.

Given that Folios are meant to be circulated to every covenant, a new covenant should be able to request that the Redcaps deliver past Folios to the new covenant for copying. There would be a small delivery fee of course for the Redcaps. Thoughts on how much that would be? Standard Redcap visit is 3 shillings but presumably delivering folios would be extra. A pawn of vis (or 10 Mythic Pounds) seems high for delivery charges of a free folio. A Mythic Pound for delivery sound about right?

So by my logic there should be at least six 50+ year old folios that a new Covenant should be able to get for a few Pounds in delivery charges. and they should start receiving new folios roughly every 7 years that are about 50 years out of date. Does this make sense or am I missing something?

A bit of a pain creating 6-14 Folios. Anyone got some sample folios made up from their campaign they can share?

Not sure about costs but one of the 30 for November topics was on this:

I think you have too much faith in the ideal sharing of Bonisagus ...

The circulating book belongs to House Mercere, who are not required to share by Oath.
and «the Redcaps charge for this service» [HoH:TL, p 22]. If Cow and Calf applies in the historical sense, as discussed in the other thread on whether sound summæ are realistic, then any copy made from this circulating book belongs also to House Mercere.

I was a bit surprised to see that there was not copy made for Durenmar.

Even if Cow and Calf does not prevent copying, it is not obvious that most covenants want to copy it. The folio is likely to contain obscure texts of mainly academic interest. Spell specularity may outshine utility and original ideas may outshine source quality. Many magi would not even bother to read it.

As to the circulation time, I always assumed that the folio was a single volume which is hard to copy in parallel. I would not be surprised if covenants who pay to get it early also pay to copy it and keep for a year or two. Furthermore, transport is not instant between seasons, you need to count a season of transport in the early years, and quite likely two seasons when the book is old and the willingness to pay is declining.

To be honest, I would assume the folio of 1123 is still on the road, or even, with a little bit of corruption in House Mercere, returned to Harco for «repairs» pending «postage» payment from the next covenant on the route. Repairs is probably very necessary for a popular book which spends (half) a century on the road.

I'll admit though, that your interpretation is plausible enough to play. I just get a more Medieval feel of the game, if the Order runs less smoothly and systematically.

The folio has a much more interesting narrative role if the redcap tells you that the next eason, he can bring the folio of 1130, if you pay 1p vis postage, telling you briefly about the contents, and maybe the highlights and reputations of the authors. Fifty tomes which always were in the covenant library is just boring, as I am sure you experience when you try to compile the list.

having reread the section you are referring to, it does not actually say that the folio has to visit every covenant, just that it is carried "from covenant to covenant along a predetermined route". I would imagine that many remote or minor covenants either dont have the resources or the willingness to have their covenant added to the route. Perhaps instead the folio is made available at a central covenant with possibilities for members of covenants not on the route to come study the folio if they want. There is also no rule that states that the folio must spend exactly one season everywhere and I imagine that most covenants wont bother to make a copy. Personally I imagine that being early on the route that the traveling Folio follows is mostly an issue of prestige for the covenants in question, and so it is a game played mostly by covenants that are important enough to be able to afford playing such a game of of one-upmanship.

However I think it would be a hard sell for house Mercere to claim ownership of the copy that is circulated because the research should rightly be made available to the entire order as the folio is a symbolic gesture that demonstrates that fulfillment of house Bonisagus' duty to share their research and a symbolic gesture that demonstrates the fulfillment of house Mercere's duty to bring magi together by serving as the couriers of the order. In that context I think that it would be on legally thin ice to charge magi for making copies of what is rightfully theirs.
Along this line of thinking it should also be possible to go to Magvillius to study the copy deposited there as that copy is considered a part of the fulfillment of Bonisagus' oath to share his discoveries too perhaps even make a copy, although the waiting list may be long. The last copy gifted to the covenant that hosted the Colloquium Delectorum is presumably theirs to do with as they please including selling access to or copies of.

It says «throughout the order». I read that as every covenant in theory, although not necessarily in practice.

This very same argument applies to most books in the Great Library of Durenmar, who do charge for access to the books, and do not usually allow summæ and tractatus to be copied. They seem to sell copies of spells though.

Now, I do not think the Mercere can charge an arm and a leg for the right to copy. After all, there are three known copies, and each of these covenants can offer scribal hospitality with a license to copy. I suppose too, that Durenmar has a standing agreement to get the folio early, and to copy it. There are many ways to reciprocate such agreement. That makes four well-known copies available which can be found by those who want it.

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In that case we are in agreement. I am sorry that I misunderstood you. :slight_smile:

You are right that with Durenmar as a precedent it is quite possible for house Mercere to charge for copying of the folio under the guise of having to remain expense-neutral, and that this excuse coupled with the quite public existence of many copies of the folio puts a natural barrier on the actual price that can be charged for making copies.

There is also a 4th/5th option for copies: finding the members of the Coelentes Arcanorum as they selected the documents to go into the folio based on items that were sent to them during their tenure it is most likely that they each kept a copy of whatever was sent to them during their tenure and perhaps traded texts among each other. This approach may require a bit more detective work but is definitely an option too.

Or they study the copy that was made at that central covenant in their Tribunal or neighbourhood.

I reckon, that each Tribunal has its own established method to handle the Bonisagus Folios.

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Considering that inside my own company of 500 people a lot of documents are not read by their intended targets, and people are suprised to discover that something that they should have read 3-10 years ago was already made when they propose their "new revolutionary idea that will revolutionalize the company" I do not see folios being very widespread. the same happens in academia.

So, I think that the main covenants will get folios, but most covrenants in the Order will not. A few people in these covenants will even read them, but a lot of people will even be unaware of their very existence and will consider them "a bonisagus thing for people with too much wasted time in their hands".

However, I can see a bonisagus booth publicizing folios at tribunal, where you can order a copy at a discount.


"Once completed the folio is taken to Durenmar, where it is copied three times."

The original plus three copies makes four, the original seems to go to Durenmar?

Thank you, Jason. I missed that. And that makes sense. Then Bonisagus' obligations wrt the folio is handled in the same way as every other piece they make, by being available at Durenmar.

When House Mercere gets a copy, it is an extra, flashy display of the great wisdom of House Bonisagus. Mercere is not obliged by Oath or Peripheral code to share it, but they do, businessmen as they are, in order to fund their operation (vis for longevity potions not the least). In fact, I reckon a longevity potion is a fair price to get the folio first or second and keep it for a year. And there is nothing controversial in this. Most houses, and Bonisagus in particular, would agree that Mercere deserve this token of appreciation, and nobody should be offended by it.

Sorry, «expense-neutral» is a modern concept which spoils the medieval feel for me :slight_smile:

For the narrative, I prefer a harsher interpretation. When the copy is given as a gift, it belongs to the receiver, Harco in this case, who is free to do whatever they want with it, including letting it for profit. When the book is lent or let, any copies belong to the original used for the copy (not the first original), by analogy to the Cow and Calf, as the Historical Irish source proclaim. When a cow is sold, the offspring still belongs to the cow, and the cow's new owner. The four original owner covenants can do this. Bonisagus is somewhat restricted by the Oath, but the other three have equal rights and opportunities.

Yes, I know I contradict canon, but canon contradicts itself, I think.

Of course, the interpretation I suggest makes Mythic Europe more alien to modern minds than it need be, quite deliberately.

Thanks for the Bonisagus Folios link. That is perfect. Yanked for my campaign. :slight_smile:

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In my saga, I was the beta storyguide one time where I decided to have the folio show up. After reading the same bit of HoH: True Lineages that everyone's quoting, I decided to have a redcap show up, wave the folio in front of the magi, then put it back in their satchel and ask for hospitality. When the magi ask about copying it, they are told that if they hadn't paid for it to remain with them for a season, they weren't going to get the time. The apologetic redcap explained he was on his way north to another covenant who'd paid for some copying time.

We then had an episode of the players persuading the redcap to go to the tavern (a hangout in Covenants boon/hook terms) and while he drinks, the magus skilled in The Art of Memory decided to try memorising a chapter for later study.

In summary, my reading is that having the book displayed like a relic was the minimum required, and House Mercere were always trying to hustle people into paying for more time with the book.

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I don't see how Cow and Calf would apply as it doesn't make sense for House Bonisagus to agree to that given their motivation for distributing the folio in the first place.

The folio is created as separate texts that are later bound together as one. Continually unbinding the texts and rebinding them would like reduce the quality over time so I can see that being forbidden in which case the folio should take 3 seasons to copy. That would mean complete circulation would take about 75 years.

I can see the Mercere "requiring" a season to transport the books, not because they couldn't do it faster but because there is little incentive for them to do so (unless the next covenant on the list offered them an incentive to get it there faster). That brings us up to 1 covenant / year getting the folio or about 100 years for every covenant to get it.

I would say most covenants would take the effectively free book if they can get it. The cost would be 3 seasons of a mundane scribes time and a few mythic pounds. The covenants that would not want the book would be those who did not have mundane scribes to copy the folio since few mages would want to waste 3 seasons copying the books themselves. The bigger disincentive would be the long waiting list.

If we use the strict wording of "predetermined route" then covenants would have to sign up to be on the list beforehand and new covenants could not later ask to be added to the route. How long would covenants be willing to wait to get their "free" folio?

I would rank the covenants by tiers. First tier covenants (powerful, rich or status conscious Autumn covenants) would be one of the first 7 covenants (to get the folio before the next folio comes out rendering the previous one obsolete) otherwise they would just pay to get a copy from one of the earlier covenants.

Second tier Summer covenants would be those of medium wealth who are cost conscious enough to wait for delivery of a 1 version old "free" folio instead of paying to get it earlier that would mean waiting up to 14 years.

The third tier Spring covenants would be poor spring covenants just looking to add to their library as cheaply as possible and are willing to wait 15+ years to get the "free" folio.

The fourth tier would be poor covenants (Winter or Spring) who have no mundane scribes or little interest in adding to their library, who would not even bother signing up to be on the predetermined route.

Assuming a roughly equal distribution of covenants between the 4 seasons and tiers then we end up with a predetermined route of 7 Autumn covenants followed by 7 Summer Covenants followed by 13 Spring covenants with the last covenant getting delivery 27 years later. There would be about 63 copies of the folios available throughout the Order at that point.

I will add the Folio Predetermined Route negotiations to the 1221 Rhine Tribunal and see what option the players choose

  1. Wait 28 years for a "free" folio
  2. Spend effort to get moved up the queue for a quicker delivery
  3. Pay to scribe copies from other covenants
  4. Ignore the folio
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I suspect most covenants would just pay for a copy from one of the covenants that already has a copy rather than wait their turn for the redcap copy to show up. Once your covenant's magi have read it (perhaps even before), you can, in turn, make a copy for other covenants. These are meant to be circulated and presumably the fees are nominal. Probably these copies were arranged well before hand and may be in fact traditional arrangements.

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When HoH:TL says that a copy is sent to Harco, I read that to imply given to Harco. I agree that this is ambiguous.

If the copy is only lent by Bonisagus and with Harco only handling the logistics for payment, I concur. If the copy belongs to Harco, Bonisagus' intention is irrelevant. Then Harco decides whether Cow and Calf applies, or if it wants to give away the offspring for free.

Thinking through what the Folio Predetermined Route negotiations would look like, I cannot help but think that House Tremere would insist it be decided by certamen, which would make the route legally binding. Any covenant ahead of a covenant with a Tremere would be challenged to certamen for the spot as a matter of standard practice.

My second thought is that to maximize House Tremere's advantage that even if a Tremere covenant intended to copy of the folio from an earlier covenant that they would still stay on the Folio Predetermined Route so that the folio would take longer to reach other covenants. This would give Tremere a few more years of research advantage and would increase the resale value of their copies of the Folio. This would likely increase the number of covenants to 50 or more, making the last covenant's delivery over 50 years later.

Following up on that logic, the Folio Path Determination certamen challenge becomes a way for House Tremere, and others, to determine any changes in relative power of other covenants.

I would assume the process would be the predetermined path would start using the previous predetermined path with those wishing to move up in ranks challenging someone higher than themselves to certamen to move before them in the queue. Once there are no more challengers the route is finalized.

This is exactly the kind of thing that makes the Tremere hated...


Yup, I have played in sagas where the peripheral code bans Certamen as a way to solve disputes for things like this one.

my impression has always been thus:

  1. cow and calf do not apply- these books are written by Bonisagus who are required to share their knowledge freely and specifically intended to generate prestige for the authors over income.
  2. a covenant would have the folio for at most a season. It is being carried about like a sample board of materials, so people are aware of what is in it, and might purchase copies from the redcaps.
  3. the copy sent to Harco is copied by an army of mundane scribes for resale- possibly semi-retired redcaps who aren't up for travel anymore but are not ready to stop earning vis, and even more mundane scribes working under them for silver.

I am not convinced, simply because the Tremere covenant does not negotiate with competing covenant. They negotiate with Harco, like all the other covenants, and it is not obvious that a certamen between two covenants binds Harco. A certamen against Harco might work in principle, but alle the covenants could do that.

In spite of this, I can imagine the domus magnus coming high up the list in this way. Certamen is not so biased though, that any covenant with a junior Tremere can expect to beat any rival covenant, so a large scale certamen operations is unlikely.

And of course, there is the social cost and loss of goodwill which has been mentioned.

Maybe, and to some extent.