Selling enchanted items

We were balancing the covenant finances last night and the players came up with a shortfall of about £70 per year. After a bit of discussion, they decided that selling magic items was the best way to go. Originally it was proposed that each magus should spend a season each year creating charged items. This was objected to on the grounds of losing individual time. After a bit of arguing they came up with an elegant system that all the players agreed to.
At the midwinter feast, when the magi cast the Aegis for the year, they are going to have a competition where each magus that wants to take part presents the items they have made for sale. A vote is then taken among the magi and the winner with the most original item as voted by their sodales wins a purse of vis put aside by the covenant for this competition.
The idea is to sell the items through the nearest mercer house. Comments? Story ideas?

That's... not a great long term strategy. Anything that eats up magi's seasons and eats them repeatedly is really costly. You could also consider selling the vis. That might fetch a decent price. Oh and if any magi are chewing up the resources with fancy labs, I might suggest you enforce a budget.

Anyway, reducing long term costs or improving income! A few methods:

  1. Replacing servants with magic: If you learn a spell like "cleaning the soiled clothes" you kick out your washers. If you make a spell that auto cooks food the cooks can be fired. This is generally going to be rego magic. Although some of it might be perdo magic (destroying dirt) or whatever.
  2. Reducing costs: You need to buy all sorts of supplies. Fuel for the various light and heat throughout the covenant. A few ring duration create fire spells and well, all those supply costs vanish. Food is expensive. Creo Herbam can make plants grow in a day. You can make your own food, wood etc. Enchanted light and heat source in the lab not only provide the appropriate virtues, they reduce costs.
  3. Magical Production: Rego craft magic with a side of Creo Herbam. This can tie in with 2 sometimes but not always. Instantly produce products. Spend a day casting a spell that does a day worth of work? Well... enjoy the over a decade of mundane production. Craft Herbam can produce crops rapidly.
  4. Getting mundane money makers: In general your covenant probably isn't in a good position to produce mundane goods even if you do get the craftsmen. If it was a guild would spring up nearby. Usually you'll need to provide magical assistance (eliminate fuel costs for a forge for example) to make it profitable. However there is one activity that works well: Sale of books. Get a few magic book scribes, write a few decent books, and sell them for cheap. (And buy cheap I mean large amounts of silver.) Everyone will jump at the chance to add a cool tracti to their collection when the cost is only silver.

This gives me an idea for my current Ars magica game actually.

Remember that the rules that apply to magic item sales apply as somewhere between 1 and 3 items a year to be sold to mundanes.

That only applies within House Verditius (in most Tribunals, if I recall correctly). That said, it's probably unwise to encroach on too much of their business.

If you are going to be dealing with the Mercer on a regular basis, why not contract work with them? The Mercer are always in need of Longevity Rituals and various magic items, and they are the biggest Vis brokers around. And it avoids any unpleasantness with the Verditius (while the Mercer keep the Verditius quite busy, they are a small house, and cannot, by themselves, do all the work and still have time for their projects).

Assuming you haven't used up the option, you can also have someone cast the "Create large pile of gold and/or silver" for you; it costs 5-7 pawns of vis (depending on which version you're doing), and pretty much gives you more gold/silver than you can ever hope to spend.

The issue being, of course, that Hermetic rules restrict it to 2 pounds per year per magi....per Tribunal. So assuming you're got 5 magi in your covenant, there's 10 pounds' for local spending. Assuming you ship in stuff from outside the Tribunal (wine from Italy, etc.), you can probably justify another 10 pounds as well. So there's 20 pounds a year from the budget. (Assuming you haven't already used up this option, of course. Duremar's got a copy of this on file for anyone to use, but you need to have a solid business plan going in if you want to use it.)

Another option is the "Set up a private hospital in the nearest large city" - a Creo Corpus ring (engraved in the floor) around a single hospital bed can grant +18 to Recovery, and is essentially a free permanent enchantment. Put an agent in the city, and be discrete about gathering clientele, and you're good to go. (It also sets up stories for dealing with the rich folks that want to use your services, of course - as well as the inevitable "interfering with mundanes" potential politics.)

Another easy one (that I recall from the last time this came up)...create Ice. Another example of using a ring effect (Perdo Ingem, to either to permanently chill a large room, or else to set up a hoop you pour water through) to make a permanent magic item for free. The frozen water itself isn't magical, and as such can be sold during the summer months for a hefty profit.

It's generally much more efficient to use magic items and Ring duration spells to generate wealth. My take on wealth generation is that it's fairly easy, and can be done in lots of ways - which is good, because it means that your magi just don't have to worry about wealth. I can see a story about wealth generation, and a few seasons invested in it, but generally speaking not more than that.

Anyway, here is my analysis:

  1. The simplest approach is to generate precious materials directly, using CrTe (silver, gold, iron, salt...) or CrHe (wheat, wood, apples...; do create a CrHe preserver-silo for the goods) Momentary Ritual spells. This requires raw vis, but can generate so much raw materials that you can just cast the spell once every few decades and be done with it. In some tribunals this option is nixed by the Peripheral Code on the creation of silver; decide if that's the case in your tribunal based on whether you want this option. Even in that case, direct creation can still help out a covenant's finances, which seems to be what you need, even if not completely replace mundane income.

  2. An even better option is creating raw materials using non-Ritual magic. Unfortunately, this requires storyguide cooperation. CrIg Ring-duration spells can create salt from seawater or glass from sand; if the SG approves. If the SG allows the CrHe "mature a plant in a day" guidelines to not require a Ritual, then just make a bunch of "Grow Your Own (Magical) Field!" items and you're producing hundreds of times more produce from your fields.

  3. Then there is creating finished goods. Some ReX ("Craft Magic") effects can mass-produce cheap tools, weapons, food utensils or so on - without even requiring Finesse from the wielder.

  4. Then there is reducing raw resources needed. CrIg Ring spells instead of hearth fires and candles, CrAq effects for tanins.

  5. Then there is reducing labor needed. ReTe to move stuff, ReTe and ReHe to assist agriculture ("The Instant Harvest") and crafts-men, teleportation effects to reduce shipping and transportation costs and times, ReHe/An to replace cooks...

  6. Finally, there is assisting in mundane money-making enterprises in various ways - from weather-controlling spells to improve agricultural produce to employing spirits as magical spies to exhort blackmail.

Overall, any magus should be able to come up with effective money-making schemes that rely on more-or-less permanent solutions, that don't require a lot of the magi's time (or raw vis!) to supervise and maintain. Spending a season and some raw vis each year (or every few years) to make magic items for sell just takes up too much resources. I can see a magus doing that because he likes to produce magic items (Veriditus...), but overall it just isn't an efficient way to generate income so I see covenants as relying on other sources of income.


This is all brilliant stuff.......for my players. If they ever come up with any of these ideas, fine. Or if they ever have the sense to ask elder magi about how the whole thing works. As it is, they've decided on this approach so I'm looking for storylines that'll come from it. I think that I'll have their redcap (one of the players has a companion who is an un-gifted redcap) be contacted by someone higher up in the mercer house talking about longevity rituals etc.
At the moment, though, the players are all excited about the yearly competition and some of them have talked about the possibility of making items to be used around the covenant being part of the Aegis Fayre (as they're calling it). They've already decide that only charged items are to be sold to mundanes, thus not costing them vis, keeping lesser or greater items for use by the covenant.

Wait, what? Charged items don't cost vis? I do not recall this.

@BlackLiger read ArM5 96 under Charged Items first line

Goodness gracious! What are they spending all that silver on?!

Covenant finances: Income from toll gathering and market rents: £130, from school: £15. Total = £145

Expenses for 8 magi, 8 companions, 8 specialists, 25 shield grogs, 30 labourers, 20 servants, 6 teamsters, 20 horses and 100 dependents are: buildings: £28 - 14(mason) = £14, consumeables: £56 - 22 (carpenter and blacksmith) = £34, laboratories: £9 - 1 (silversmith) = £8, provisions: £140 - £58 (labourers, master hunter and cook) = £82, wages: £75, writing materials: £8. For a total of £221 adding the pound of Enumerus gives £222

Overspend = 222 - 145 = £77. They own a hoe of automatic weeding which saves them a few pounds a year.

100 dependents? :neutral_face: What are you interpreting as a dependent, remembering that children work in the fields with their parents etc a lot, and the 'elderly' work until they cannot physically do so anymore.

100 dependents is a lot. Are they tied to the school in some way? If so, and you paid for school operations as a lesser income boom, then the cost of maintaining those dependents is already in the income source, sources are supposed to be net income, not gross income.

I don't think your players have thought through the long term economics of having a competition with new types of charged items each year. Suppose I have a CrAn lab total of 40. The first season I could then create a charged item which cast a moon duration version of "The Wizard's Mount" Every subsequent season I could create 8 (or more when my CrAn lab score improved) charged items which produced the same thing. Economically, it seems better to produce lots of a previous good rather than one of something new. The contest would encourage production of something new all the time.

I don't know if there's anything official-ish in terms of recommendations for dependents but I tend to think of them as being those people who a) are solely dependent upon the covenant for their support, b) offer no recompense in terms of meaningful labor or other suitable contribution, and c) are somebody the covenant as an institution would actually consider their responsibility to aid. Perhaps it is inaccurate, but I do not try to include the wives and children of laborers, grogs, and such as dependents. I assume those who don't work for the covenant themselves are being supported from the wages given to the member(s) of the family that do. Since people started working very young and typically didn't stop until they were forced to by injury or extreme old age, that seems fair.

It mentions in Covenants (pp 36, 38) that offering a pension is something that'd improve loyalty from the default, so I think we can assume the normal situation is one where dependents are only taken on for some reason not considered typical to Mythic Europe. On the other hand, the paragraph defining covenfolk categories and dependents later in the book (p 63) seems to imply all the idle spouses, children, and so forth are covered, but I tend to believe that's really intended to include only the families of the magi and perhaps the custos. If not, I'd also expect some kind of recommendation, especially given the thoroughness and complexity of the economic guidelines, as to what percentage of dependents to add into the equation given a certain number of workers.

In any case, I definitely wouldn't include them in the wages unless the covenant does specifically offer a pension. I made that mistake in the spreadsheet I came up with when first planning out a covenant's finances and couldn't figure out for a bit why things were so strained!

Indeed. The "Pound a year" is the average income for a typical peasant (Covenants, pg. 56, center-bottom of the page) - which heavily implies that such an income can support the peasant's entire family, assuming that everyone is chipping in and doing their part.

Given the size of turb etc that was quoted that is only about 1 dependent per covenfolk/magus. If the covenant is configured much like a conventional village/setttlement, that doesn't seem unrealistic.

This is something I've noticed about the Covenants rules in general:

A typical income source works well for a covenant of ~4 magi. When you double that number, your monetary needs go up as well. Not to double, but they do go up.

25 grogs is a fairly sizeable grog force. Not massive, but certainly not small. The covenant could potentially get by with half that number, which in turn would drop various other numbers as well.

Of course, the covenant is the size that it is... and downsizing a covenant comes with difficulties that downsizing a company doesn't have. The covenant population is what it is. That is... ethics, morals and necromancy notwithstanding.

Because a covenant has magic, it is always in a position to be an economic power-house with a little bit of up-front effort. The trick is to get a good balance between sufficiency and annoying your mundane neighbours with all your wealth.


Once a year. Oh, the exuberance of youth!

Well dont forget that there are consequences some enchantments:

Example given, in my saga we can use a bit the creo herbam to grow the crops healthier bigger and somehow faster but if you abuse you will ruin the land; ( the CrTe to recover the soil needs vis [ims] )

Just found this article on the "how much did spices (and salt) actually cost back in the middle ages?"

In the table down at the bottom, it looks like a 1/2 penny will buy you a pint of salt, which is (roughly) a 1/2 kilogram. So 1 penny per kilogram. (1 mythic pound = 100 pennies, right?). In doing some rough calculations, it looks like a T: Individual of saltwater is a "small pond" - I'm saying could hold 260 cubic meters of saltwater. Using lvl 4 PeAq, you can turn a pool of salt water into a brine (base 3, +1 touch). A pool that size hold something like 8900 kg of salt (34 g of salt/liter), which can fetch...8900 pennies, or 89 mythic pounds, if sold sufficiently far away from where you created it.

...OK, that sounds like a lot. Anyone care to check my math?

Pond = 10 paces across = ~10 meters across = 5 meters in diameter.
Volume = 1/2(sphere volume) = 1/2(4/3pirrr) = (2/3)(pi)(r)(r)(r) = 2/3(pi)(5)(5)(5) = 83(pi) = ~260 cubic meters
Saltwater = 34 g of salt/liter = 34,000 g/cubic meter = 34 kg/cubic meter
260 cubic meters of seawater (34 kg of salt/cubic meter) = 8900 kg of salt.

Which is 89 mythic pounds' worth of salt. Yeah, that's a lot. So if you're anywhere NEAR a body of salt water, you can pick up some serious money pretty easily - if you can figure out where to sell it by avoiding tariffs and the like. (So, really - the main money-maker here is transportation, rather than creation.)