How many brewers does it take...

My group is making up a covenant located on an Ionian Island, summer covenant that has a grant from Venetian family to several villages in exchange for an annual tithe and protection of the island and nearby Venetian shipping from pirates, Franks, the Despot and other sundry threats. Covenant is in summer, has good magical resources, good library and is fairly wealthy (ink production, trading alliances, some banking, notable regional produce).

I'm trying to get a sense of how many craftsmen a covenant would have around and then, what types? Understandably, spring/winter likely have fewer, but a summer or autum covenant would probably have a fairly large supporting staff. I know it depends on the story one wants to tell, but to support a house full of the monetary/resource equivalent of nobles (high demand for services, high demand for quality, high demand for goods) how many brewers (masons, coopers, cabinet makers...) would it take to support 6 magi, a turb of 50,....

Any example covenants with this type of data developed from 5th Edition Covenants book?

Also, where could I find a concept of medieval family size? Any input on the demography of the 1220 Europe. Coming up with the Mythic is fairly easy, its the mundane that is troubling.

Hi Kallie,

I roamed the forum and saw that no one had answered you yet. I'm not sure how much I can help you out - mostly because I'm away from home and my Ars and other books.

Do you have the Covenants book yourself? Maybe the mechanics/material in it could help you (haven't got my own with me).

Concerning demographics the first half of the 13th century was characterized by a general increase in the number of Europeans. I know that for medieval England it's said that an average noble family had 4 surviving children, and for average people it was 2 children. These numbers might be different in the Medittereanen than in England. Emphasising surviving because child mortality was far bigger than in present developed societies and there often would be still-borns or early death - learned medicine regarding it as difficult to treat anyone succesful that were less then 7 years.
Lacking my own sources here's a couple of links. I'm not sure on their exactness - but at least it'll give you some inspiration to work from.


Thanks, those were excellent to get a picture of demographics for the period.

As far as covenants book goes, great source of inspiration but nothing indicating a summer covenant will have a baker, a butcher and candlestick maker.

It would seem that the supporting staff of typical craftsmen (no bookbinders or glassblowers) for a covenant possessing a castle or manor house or villa would approximate the households of the more powerful lords, clergy or merchants of the time. Possibly a Roman villa or plantation operation would also give some impression on numbers of typical craftspeople. The concentration of wealth in those types of areas may approximate the "typical" covenant.

Of course this does nothing to stop our magi from being drawn into the power politics of the Latin Kingdo, Villerhoun, Despotate, Genoa, Orsini's and Venice or the machinations of the Covenant of Olympus, but its a fairly interesting side note in fleshing out the sandbox to play in.

Once again, thanks for your help.


You're welcome - I'm glad to have been of assistance.

Due to work and/or being away from home and only getting Covenants recently I haven't read much of it yet, so that's why I wasen't sure what was in it - I just recalled from the Lab part that there was something about the craftsmen at hand.

Our saga takes place in a covenant, a modified version of Triamore, that exists in the guise of mundane lords of a fief including a village - and this has influenced the crafts available as well. I would reckon that most agrarian settlements are dependent on having a blacksmith and a miller (or magic aide in some form or other...), then comes the carpenter, stonecutter/mason, tanner, baker, cooper and perhaps the cartwright etc.. And finally dependent on the needs and ressources of e.g. a covenant comes all the more exotic crafts. One note to remember is that many members of the household could probably work quite all round. For example you might not need a candlemaker to make candles.

Also the different crafts in a village or on a manor isn't only a question of the needs of the lords household itself, but the fact that a monopoly existed on many crafts - in a time where taxes and IRS might be rather difficult, this made it possible for the lord to earn easily controlled and welcome revenues. Many places the miller, blacksmith and baker were all under monopoly - which meant that the lord got his share of their business and that he had the privilige of selecting those to do the craft (sometimes resulting in less than best craftsmen...). Owning an owen or a handmill might be illegal, which forced the peasants to go to the baker or mill and thus enriching the lord. This surely influenced the lords interest in the various crafts (and played a part in the development of gilds).

Sounds interesting - I guess you're also one of the people who would like to see Atlas publish a book on the Theban Tribunal...?

on a related note,what is the form & bonus for various brewwing objects?

abe... that query should go in your thread. Go to your thread! :slight_smile:

My advice would be to concentrate less on how many craftsmen a community needs but on what quality is acceptable for the goods it needs. A fun show I saw last year showed a group of historians living as 1500's farmers in a welsh valley, they demonstrated the basic level competance in most needed subjects that any farmer from back then would have picked up. In those days the knowledge of how to build houses, make clothes, cook, brew, make tallow candles etc. were things that were taught by parents to children as they grew. For most products your average village will be able to produce a rough version by themselves. Rough furniture, plain clothes, drinkable ale etc.

It is only for quality products that a craftsman would be needed. Even then a normal villager would be capable of maintaining a quality item and repairing it for a while, so you should look at the amount needed and decide whether you can make do ordering a batch of top quality from the city or waiting for a merchant to come through. For specialist repairs you can look at tinkers, and other travelling salesmen who would tour villages selling specialist materials and performing competant repairs. Even for noblemen not all the items they owned had to be expensive, minor nobles like landed knights would probably just have a couple of good sets of many things for when they were showing off.

It is for specialist subjects that you really need craftsmen, book binders, illuminators, scribes for a library. Glassblowers and carpenters for a lab. These are the subjects dearest to a covenants heart and are also good sources of income, as you can have those scribes churning out copies of the books for trade when they have free time. If you have soldiers then you would need a blacksmith, and any farming village needs a mill. As you have said your covenant is on an island and needs to do counter piracy, I would assume you need shipwrights as well, but not necessarily, construction of small vessels would be easy enough for most fishing villages, it is only warships that you would need drydocks for.

Basically choose what needs quality, and where it doesn't then there is no need for a specialist, instead you have general servants and villagers who provide basic services as well as being productional in the covenants income.

I'd just like to congratulate you on this post. This is simply a great explanation, and excellent advice.

Thrakhath, I concur, that is a good way to think of the problem of figuring out how many butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Given the 1100-1200s agarian worker (generally) operates outside a liquid economy with high transportation costs, the villagers would trend toward self-sufficiency and act as their own butcher, brewer, and candlestick maker. The covenant (or noble) would likely demand the craftsmen level 4+ be it mason or carpetener.

One part of the covenant's obligation to the Orsini (powerful Venetian family) in exchange for the use of the lands around the covenant is protection of Venetian trade in the immediate area. To that end, the covenant has a small galley (forget the name for it) with necessary rowers (from the village) and marines (part of the turb). One of the covenant's important buildings is the drydock facility and stores w attendant shipwright, carpenter, joiner, weavers... Also, the Flambeau (he's an engineer in Mythic 2006) is dedicated to naval technology and warfare has as an affection for shipbuilding.

Thanks for the insights.

FWIW, this article may be of interest (it used to be linked here).

Edit - updated link.

Here's a link that is based on Historical Sociology, but written with an eye to RPG's- pretty good, actually!

(Ravenscroft has friggin' lost it!) :open_mouth: :unamused:

And then some.. :open_mouth:

Seems that Michelle has offer us some peace for now. Thank you Moderators!

Thanks for that link, it was really informative. I had been struggling with a lot of those questions myself.