Suppose you have the Lone Redcap minor virtue (from True Lineages) and the Wealthy major virtue. How many seasons/year do you have to spend performing services for the Order - one or two? The Lone Redcap virtue says:
So, it would seem that with the Wealthy Virtue one season would be enough. On the other hand, this invalidates the whole notion of Redcaps having to work two seasons/year for the Order, regardless of their wealth (in fact, even if they are supported 100% by a covenant, as per the "normal" Redcap virtue). Any ideas?
I would allow a normal Redcap to take the Wealthy virtue as well. This will not signify actual wealth, but rather a status and/or position in the House structure that allows him to devote less time to redcap duties.
Otherwise, you get the strange situation that a Lone Redcap might work for one seasons yet a Redcap works for two....
Hmm, well, when the rule seems in conflict with pretty much all the surrounding information, it could always be a typo!
Lone Redcaps, however, always get a bad reputation within their house. So, if we disregard the wealth necessary to meet living expenses, perhaps the idea is the following:
Work 2 seasons and report to the local Mercer House, and you are a redcap in "good standing" who receives magic and economic support from the house.
Work 1 season and/or act independently from the Mercer House system, and you are a redcap in "poor standing" - not enough to be cast out of the house, but enough that you get a bad reputation within it, receive no magic, and no economic support (so that you might end up having to work more just to make ends meet).
Yes, option 1 is the "standard" Redcap major virtue. You cannot choose Poor or Wealthy Virtues since your covenant/Mercer house supports you. The only constraint on your free time is your duty as a Redcap (2 season/year), not your income.
Option 2 is the "Lone Redcap" minor virtue from True Lineages. Now you have two constraints on your free time. The first is that the house still requires at least minimal service from you (1 season/year), or you will be cast out. The second is that you have to earn yourself a living. At best (wealthy major virtue) that season of service is enough: perhaps you have some other source of income, or perhaps the local covenants just tip you very well. At worst (poor major flaw) you need to work a total of three seasons/year to make ends meet.
This seems a fairly reasonable interpretation to me. I am wondering what the original writer of the Mercere chapter of True Lineages was thinking, though. It's not very clear from the book.
That's a good summary. Option 1, the character's income is based on his covenant. Option 2, he's on his own, since a Mercere House/covenant doesn't cover him. Lone Redcaps can cover their expenses by working for the House, but they don't necessarily have to. It's even possible for a Lone Redcap to not serve the House at all, if he lives at a covenant that supports him. I doubt the House would let that situation go forever, but there might be reasons they would (maybe he has a powerful patron or protector or something).
Also, note that the Virtue says that being declared Orbus is a possibility, not a certainty. I imagine most Lone Redcaps haven't served the House much before a saga begins, so his lack of status with his House will be a source of stories in the game. The threat of being declared Orbus can be used by the other Redcaps to make him cooperate, you see, but he could slip under the radar for a while. It's sort of inherent in the back story of a Lone Redcap that he hasn't been giving the House the proper attention, and thus doesn't have all the perks, but this might simply be because the House has lost track of him. A few years of faithful service and he could probably become a full Redcap again.