Setting Development: Covenant and Characters

This thread is to discuss the Covenant. We are in the Theban Tribunal, and one of our players (silveroak) has been kind enough to mention that there is a Holy-only covenant already in Thessaloniki. I propose that we take the name and patron (Saint Demetrios), although there may only be one Holy Magus.

It was agreed that the covenant would be powerful, with about 2000 build points. I would like a little bit of discussion of how that should be composed. I'm fine with using the description on page 72, with maybe each player adding 100 Build points of their own desire, say in labs or specialists. While we probably need to detail the Arts Summae, the Lab Texts could remain undefined until a player wants to study a particular spell, and then he can find it in the library. Or we can detail everything.

The info about the Oikos tou Eleous covenant is at The Sundered Eagle 69-70. Interesting is i.e. that

what makes our current slight divine orientated approach of our group the right focus.

Because the covenant in the book is


I think we need to complete rework the covenant instead of going with what is written in the book. But if we stay with just a lose covenant with labs spread all over the city I will go with a "mobile" lab on a ship.

With a split up set of labs, how do we deal with the Aura? An Aura of 0 is not that appealing.

One way I can think this could work if each player have its own boon and hook with the major Urban Hook & maybe Road Hook is for all to take.
Edit: A other way is to say the labs where done by a Creo Vim specialist with hermetic architecture and have a +2 Magical aura thanks to Guideline at TMRE 100. (problem here is that it is a constant magical effect)

But I prefer if the labs of our covenant are in a Magic Regio linked to the city.

There are also Lacunae, but again if we go by the book we would all be required to be holy magi... which admittedly would get rid of the concerns about magical versus divine auras... if not we need to rework the history of the covenant as well as its structure.

Ok then there is 1 more player with Holy Magic as it go well with the Criamon Path of Walking Backwards. I leave it open to the other player if they also want to play a Holy Magic character or not.

I could certainly make up a character that used Holy Magic. But it seems to be a bit restrictive as far as plots go to have everyone be a holy magus.

That having been said, I'll go along with what other people think. Do we want to all be Holy Magi? What do the rest of you think?

The Magus of thompsja have Ars Notoria but not Holy Magic so I think we go with a bit Divine centered covenant but not full Holy Magic. And I agree its a bit limited for all to have Holy Magic.

Sounds like I may have to review RoP:D.

Did we ever settle definitively on a starting year? If it's after the Sack of Constantinople, I want to have my companion be a refugee; I just need to know how much longer after that event our saga will begin so I can settle on an age/figure out how much time has passed since he had to flee.

Let's go with 1220, to keep it simple.

Okay, in that case I might tack a few years onto my companion to make him have been older when the sack happened.

We current have 3 ideas how to handle the covenant
For your decision keep in mind that the city have divine and infernal aura but to my knowledge no magic aura. I personal think the 3rd approach and the 1st are the most easy to handle but I'm also open for the 2nd one.
I would set my lab at/near a Temple / church or even go with a lab on a ship if there is big divine aura at the harbor / at a good anchoring berth and we go for a split up way.

  1. A central place for all with all have the labs in the same aura

  2. A split up covenant with labs all over the city with only one tower protected by the Aegis for the library, treasury and maybe some labs.

Edit 3) Maybe we just have the covenant in 2 places one place for some labs and other buildings in a Divine Aura and the rest in a Tower at one of the rare magic aura places in or around the city

just a thought about a 2 split covenant

The covenant forefront are some building at the harbor, some anchorage ground and the chapel while most labs are in the magic regio that can be accessed from different places in the city with one of them is in a covenant owned building next to the chapel and a other is inside the ocean.
The Divine Aura near the chapel is at the same level as the Magic aura in the regio. The Healthy Feature and Immunity to common diseases is centered on the chapel to have a reason for the magus to stay in the city and not just the regio.

-3 Major Site Hook Urban
-1 Minor Site Hook Divine Regio with one access near / in the chapel
-1 Minor Site Hook Road (harbor)

+1 Minor Boon Regio can be accessed trough different ways in the city
+1 Minor Boon Healthy Feature (near chapel)
+1 Minor Boon Immunity to common disease (near chapel) or some other immunity that would be divine related.

this leaves 2 Minor Boon open that could be used for a higher aura, better healthy feature, income or covefolk.

No doubt we all have slightly different ideas about what would make a good covenant. The real trick is to meld those ideas into a single functioning covenant.

As I see it, if we're going for a covenant in Thessiloniki, the absolute minimum boons/hooks are as follows:

-3 Urban: the covenant is located in a major city
-1 Road: the city is a harbor city with many people passing through it

Beyond that, it all seems up for debate. Here are some boons and hooks that might be of interest to us. I'm not saying we should take them all. But they seem the ones that might fit with a city covenant.

+3 Regio: the main portion of the covenant might exist in a regio in the city to which we control access
1+ Aura: the covenant might have a magic Aura greater than 3 (e.g., in one or more lacunae, or in a regio)
+1 Healthy Feature: Adauli suggested that the chapel might be considered a healthy feature
+1 Regio: the main portion of the covenant might exist in a ragio in the city to which we don't entirely control access
+1 Immunity: Adauli suggested that the chapel might grant immunity to certain common diseases
-1 Regio With Unexpected Entries: the main portion of the covenant might exist in a ragio in the city to which there is easy access by all
+0 Manor House: we could simply have the covenant made up of normal buildings, with one or two major buildings and a bunch of minor ones.
+0 Small Tower: we could have the center of the covenant be a tower, though this will be harder to explain since towers were mainly used for military purposes
+1 Edifice: we could have a particularly impressive building, though that might draw too much attention to us
+1 Secondary Income: if we're an old covenant, we might want a secondary income to keep our finances in the black
+1 Vis Grant: if we expect to have a lot of vis, we might want to give it away as a matter of right
+1 Wealth: similar to secondary income, we might want an added buffer for our finances
-1 Vis Salary: in the alternative, we could require the magi to perform services to the covenant to gain vis
+0 Peasants: the majority of our covenfolk could be normal commoners
+1 Literate Covenfolk: given that we're in the second largest city in the area, our covenfolk might be better educated
+1 Loyal Covenfolk: if we're an old covenant, we might have covenfolk who are a bit more loyal than green covenfolk
+1 Strong Community: if we're an old covenant, we might have covenfolk who are more tightly knit than green covenfolk
-3 School: Given that we're well educated and in a population center, we might potentially run a school (maybe even as a source of income)
-1 Guild: given that we're city-based, our covenfolk might be organized more like a guild (especilly if a source of income fits into a guild structure)
-1 Rights and Customs: if we're an old covenant, the covenfolk might have accumulated some rights and customs over the years
+3 Powerful Ally: given that the concept of this saga is coming out into the open, we might have drawn the attention and support of a powerful figure in the area
+1 Local Ally: similar to above, we might have only gotten the support of a minor city official or noble thus far
+1 Promised Favors: if we've agreed to help the local authorities (not sure where we are in that development), we might have some favors owed us
-3 Beholden: we might find ourselves under the thumb of the local authorities
-3 Mundane Politics: this seems an easy one, since the whole point of the saga is that we're getting more and more involved with the mundane world (possibly this might be a minor hook since we're saying that the local quaesitors aren't getting on our case for mundane involvement)
-1 Favors: instead of beholden, we might choose this to represent that we simply owe some favors to someone
-1 Hangout: given that we're in a major city, there could easily be an inn or a church were we hang out
-1 Rival: someone (hermetic or mundane) might object to us and work against us
-3 Meddlesome Saint: given the (still?) religious focus of our covenant, we might have come to the attention of a saint
-3 Seat of Power: we're right in the heart of the power of the current leaders of Thessaloniki (whoever those happen to be at the moment)
-1 Fallen Temple: we're in Greece; there's always the possibility of a fallen temple
-1 Festival: there might be relevant festivals (e.g. religious ones) that have an effect on the covenant
-1 Sanctuary: there might be a church nearby (on covenant grounds?) that can be used as a sanctuary

Then there's always the appeal of taking some mystery hooks to allow the SG to reveal something like diabolic corruption or a possession victim or spies or something equally interesting in the future.

Now, I realize that this is a very long list. I don't expect us to select everything on it. But I went through Covenants and looked for anything that I thought might possibly be relevant (I might have missed some). I thought this would be a good starting point for debate.

I agree that school might be a good idea to bring some of our already known characters together and give us direct reason to interact with the mundane.
Also I see Regio in some form as a must if we want to have a magic aura but I dislike it if we have control over all entrances as it would take away story potential.

notes on a few of these:
fallen temple: a main point of a fallen temple is that it is a source of building materials as well as adventure (exploring unknown ruins) given that we are in a city while ruined temples may technically be present I don't think either of these would apply.
meddlesome saint: all things considered I would see this as a given, since our covenant patron is the saint of the city.
Mundane politics: yes, obviously, both from intent and setting, since our covenant patron and city patron will want o generally defend the city...

income: any boons involving income should be after we decide what our source of income is, and what secondary income we would conceivably have. A school as a source of income certainly makes sense for this, and personally fits with my companion character whou would presumably been educated there- though that is not a necessity if we decide to go a different way.

covenfolk: this ties in to overarching structure- if we are split amongst the city we will likely have few true covenfolk, getting most of our supplies from the marketplaces. One possibility that has not been discussed for this is one central location for our library, treasury, etc, but individual sancta spread arround the city in lacunae

allies, favors, etc.- I think these all fit the game concept, and likely will move back and forth as the game proceeds, we should chose the "starting condition" in part to ballance out the other boons and hooks we choose.

regarding covenant structure, if we all have lacunae we need to set up a way to create the custom sanctums for each location, including the possibility that auras will vary
if we are all attached by regio then we have a similar but not quite the same situation- for example the aura of any lacunae would have to be lower than the regio... on the other hand if we have a regio which is accessable from nearly anywhere in the city (which would technically imply a truly massive regio!) then we could have the best of both worlds- we are set up as normal people in the real world but can access labs, libraries, etc in the regio regardless of where we set up. This works especially well if the regio has an aura of 6 or higher, which would explain why we would need to keep ourselves heavily involved in the mundane world.

For what it's worth, there is an archaeological site today in, basically, the busiest part of Thessaloniki, where they uncovered an old temple to Aphrodite. It's off of Antiginidon.

They have also unearthed a Roman (pre-Byzantine) forum, which takes up a whole city block. It's just sitting there exposed to the air, so you can walk by and see it. Then, over by the Arch of Galerius, there are some spots where they dug up some old foundations from some other stuff. I'm not sure which period they are from, but it's really cool to just be walking down a modern-day street and be a few feet away from the places where people, thousands of years ago, just lived their everyday lives.

Apologies for the tangent, I know I'm not adding much; just waxing nostalgic about being in Thessaloniki.

In addition to a school we could easily have any of a great variety of ventures as secondary income. We could own a piece of the local industry in any of a variety of areas, just like any wealthy merchant or noble might. We could make books, run a textile business, own an inn, have land outside the city - really anything fits in a city the size of Thessalonica.

I guess it depends on whether you assume the servants in dispersed locations are covenfolk or not. I could see it going either way. On the one hand, they could be local servants who really have no idea about the inner workings of the covenant. On the other hand, they could be hereditary servants who go back to the founding of the covenant and who know a lot about the ways of the covenant. Just because they're dispersed doesn't mean that they can't be covenfolk. (Especially if they ever travel to the regio to serve the needs of the magi.)

That makes sense to me.

Agreed. Do you have any thoughts on this?

FWIW, I don't see a regio that can be accessed from multiple places in the city to be too extraordinary. In the few examples given in Covenants, two involve regios accessible over an entire city. In describing a 1 point boon regio, the example given is "a regio in a certain city that can be entered from the steps of any building, within the city, that contains bricks stolen from the ancient mithraeum, by any woman with a red ribbon in her hair, and any man in pursuit of such a woman." LIkewise, in describing a 1 point hook regio with an unexpected entrance, the example given notes that "[t]he Dogrose School is particularly notorious for the ease with which it can be found. The School hides behind a city, and draws Gifted children to itself, by possessing their toys with an urge to sneak out on moonlit nights and walk odd streets, drawing their little masters away." Both seem to involve a regio that can be accessed across an entire city. As I interpret it, space is not exactly one-to-one in matching the regio to the city. The regio may be accessible across the city without being as large as the city itself.

So, based on the comments I've heard so far, here's one possible starting point for what the covenant might look like. Of course, this is only a proposal to get us talking. Nothing is intended to be set in stone. Feel free to say how you think it should be done differently.

+1 Regio: the covenant is based around a regio accessible throughout the city; all entrances are not controlled by the covenant
+5 Aura: the regio has an aura of 6; auras of individual lacunae may vary
-3 Urban: the covenant is in the city of Thessaloniki
-1 Road: Thessaloniki is a port city

+0 Manor House: the various structures of the covenant are normal buildings

+1 Wealthy: the primary income source is a major income source.
+1 Secondary Income: the covenant has a secondary income source (not sure what this should be - maybe a scriptorium and book binder)
+1 Vis Grant: the covenant grants vis to the members of the covenant as a matter of right

+0 Peasants: what covenfolk exist are commoners
+1 Literate: the covenfolk are by and large literate (this seems appropriate especially given that we're centered around a school)
+1 Loyal Covenfolk: the covenant has been around for a long time; what covenfolk we have are loyal
-3 School: the center of the covenant forms the grounds of a local school; all of the magi are publicly associated with the school

[size=150]EXTERNAL RELATIONS[/size]
-3 Mundane Politics: the covenant is involved in the mundane politics of the city

-3 Meddlesome Saint: the patron saint of the city is the covenant's patron as well, and has taken an interest in the covenant

[size=150]-2 TOTAL [/size]

Now, this leaves us at a total of -2, so some additional boons could be taken. Or Mundane Politics could be reduced to a -1 hook. Or we could change the regio so that we have full control of the entrances. OR we could add some more income sources such that we're truly wealthy. Plus, there are other boons and hooks that could be added. (I'm particularly fond of adding a few mystery hooks so that we can have some unknown trouble ahead.) We could also alter the Aura strength of the regio. We'd save 3 points if we drop the Aura to level 5, and allow covenfolk to freely pass through there without danger of Warping. That might be important in a city covenant. It's harder to have severely Warped grogs if you're in a city.

As I said, this was just meant to be a starting point to get a discussion going.Have at it!