I've started my first Saga as a ST, and things are off to a good. However, I have a (n)pc at the covenant to help out the players and hes a lab rat looking to improve his lab...and well, the whole occupied size thing is really confusing me.
All the labs of the covenant are Size +3, with +1 Virtues (Spacious) - so I figure that occupied size would be +3 (+1), but i keep re-reading the text and that doesnt seem right acccoridng to it. Also, trying to bring Refinement into the equation is even more troubling
Can anyone help me out and explain it to me in simple terms....
I don't have Covenants at hand ...
But i think you have mixed here something. The size is something different as the occupied size.
As I understand it:
size = the actual available space
occupied size = the space you have used for features
size - occupied size - refinement = the space that is available for new features.
IDHMBWH either right now, but I'll look into it when I get home.
But Size is the physical size of the lab. It is also a measure of how much "features and things" you can fit into it. You can effectively put more features into it, if you balance it with negative features, or build up the Refinement.
What is the wording of the "Spacious" virtue? It should list which attributes and traits it gives.
You're right: the Size is +3 and the Occupied Size is +1, which can be listed concisely as "+3 (+1)". The Occupied Size is calculated as Virtues - Flaws - Refinement (see the parenthesized sentence in the last full paragraph of Covenants, page 109, or the Size and Refinement Summary at the top of the next page), which in your case is 1 - 0 - 0 = +1. The number of points you have left for additional Virtues, assuming you don't take any more flaws, is Size - Occupied Size. In your case, the laboratory could fit in two more Minor Virtues without having to take any Flaws or increase its Refinement.
For another good example, see Helvius Pertinax's laboratory on page 124 of Covenants. It has 7 points of Virtues (one Major, four Minor, and one Free), 3 points of Flaws (six Free - not counting Empty - and 3 Minor), and Refinement +1, for an Occupied Size of 7 - 3 - 1 = +3. The Empty x2 Free Flaws arise after the fact, because the Occupied Size is 4 less than the Size (see page 114). Note also that the first "Minor Supernatural Flaws" on page 119 should be "Free Supernatural Flaws", as per the official errata, so that Impregnable, Lair, and Precarious really are Free Flaws.
I undertand that Occupied Size and Size are kinda different - its how they interact and effect the basic Safety of the lab and at which point a lab gains the Emptty flaw for being too big/not in use...
The Spacious virtue just incomes the safety and ascethetics slightly...
Think of it as Size being the actual size of the lab and Occupied Size being the space taken by stuff. So Occupied Size depends on everything except Size, though it cannot exceed Size.
I think it's best to consider Occupied Size without Spacious for the moment. You have a Size +3 lab with nothing in it (Occupied Size 0). You are required to take Empty for every 2 full points of unused Size. But you can help alleviate the problem by applying 1 point to Spacious (in the beginning it doesn't require a season). So you've got 3 points to use. Even applying 1 to Spacious (making Occupied Size +1 now), you still have 2 left over. So you have Spacious and Empty (x1) (you can have Empty multiple times). Had the Size been +4, you would have the same Spacious and Empty (taking Spacious prevented needing the second Empty).