Several questions about creating Covenants

In the insert on page 5 of the Covenants book it states a baseline covenant starts with 1 Grog and 2 other covenfolk per Magus. Is this maximum amount (baring boons or hooks that may change it) or is it a guideline?

I am working up my troupes covenant (because no one else wanted to do the work and I like this kind of thing) and I am trying to figure out how to figure out how many covenfolk we have. Based on the formulas to determine servants and teamsters it looks like that the 1 grog\2 covenfolk per Magus would be an insufficient number. So do we just get to decide how many people we have? And what type of covenfolk they are? Obviously we would have to pay build points for specialists (is there an exhaustive list of constitutes a specialist?) And is the only difference between Grog and covenfolk, one has a character sheet? I ask because I am in the process of creating character sheets for many of our covenfolk we were planning on having.

Also related to this is the income we selected, Forestry. In the description of a typical level income from forestry it says "A smaller royal chase with a few villages and hamlets of well trained huntsmen". Does this mean we have some authority over these villages\hamlets, are they technically part of our covenfolk? Or do we just maintain a right to profit off of their labor? And if we have authority over them is there some process for generating them within the rules?

We took the Veteran Fighter boon which seems to allow us to have as many veteran fighters that we can afford (assuming the story allows and storyguide approves), am I correct on that?

I am sure more questions to come.

Baseline. A covenant can have a great deal more.

The formulae guide you in the determiniation of number but there is a lot of latitutde. Just remember that you have to pay for everyone in your employ or you have to sign up to pay someone else for the service (trade can also work). It is all fairly complex and not truly necessary when you get down to it. If you don't want to track every pound of silver, you can just take a guess as to what is right and provided it isn't too out of line, then don't worry about it. OR, start with a guess, figure out how much silver that will cost you, then back down or increase to fill your income level. Don't let the rules get in the way of a good story or force you to do things that make the game a chore.

Take a deeper look at this. By definition, you do get to profit off the forestry (both hunting and lumber/firewood). How you set up governance will tell you how much actual authority the magi have. Perhaps you have arranged to be the exclusive sawmill for the area with the local baron. Maybe you own the land outright through some sort of charter (though, you need to watch out for Code infractions) and thus can do quite a lot. Again, the choice is yours. Make it interesting if you want it to be a story point. Make it boring if you don't want any stories from the income.

As for generating covenfolk, only bother with what is interesting. If you want ot name every person and thier pet dog, that's entirely your choice. Just make sure you have fun with it. But there is no need to build out every member. For most players, the game is about the magi, so a good place to start is to decide who the magi or companions are likely to meet with amongst the covenfolk. If your going to tell a story involving the baker's second daughter and her pet dog, then flesh them out a bit. If not, then simply note the existance of said individuals and move on. Everyone is on a spectrum here based on narrative proximity (for lack of a better term) so spending an hour to work up a character that will never be used doesn't make a lot of sense when you have other characters who will. Constider a covenant with 100 covenfolk. If you want to fully develop each of them, and full development takes you 1.5 hours a peice (not unreasonable if you want a lot of detail) then you are looking at 150 hours of work. If you liek doing that, and youa re comfortable doing it just for your own enjoymnent, knock yourself out. If not, then don't sweat it. Trust your improvisational skills.

Yes, but be aware that number could be quite small. Your income has to pay for them (I think, I'm away from my books). If you just have a "typical" income source, I think you are likely to only be able to afford 10 of these guys, if that, and still be able to provide for the magi and critical covenfolk.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

It's just a guideline.

Although if you have a vastly different ratio you probably need some sort of justification. In my saga we have about 9 (grogs + covenfolk) per magus/companion. But that includes dependents and is after 25 years of game-time; so we have several generations of grogs/covenfolk. The old ones are retiring from active duty, the second generation are becoming "frontline" servants, and the third generation are being born. Older covenants with multiple generations present will tend to have more grogs/covenfolk.

Something to think about is how the total population will appear to outsiders.

A total population of 10-20 is a hamlet. It could probably be pretty anonymous/hidden.

A total population of dozens is a sizeable village. It's the sort of size where people in nearby villages and towns will know of it (unless it is hidden in a regio or something). It's a big enough settlement that people would expect there to be a church, unless there is a church in another village within a couple of hours walk.

A total population of one-three hundred is a small town. A local noble probably thinks that he owns it. People will expect it to have a church. It will have strong influence over a hinterland of smaller settlements (people in nearby villages will come to the "town" for its market, etc).

If the total population is dozens or bigger, and it looks fortified, then local nobles will know of it (unless in a regio, etc), and will fret about it.

Pretty much. In play, characters often switch from one category to another. If a story occurs for which a specialist character has the right skills then he will probably acquire a character sheet.

Or sometimes, something might happen back at the covenant when the grogs are away doing something else. Which might mean that the "non-adventuring" covenfolk will have to muddle through.

Nothing wrong with that. Obviously, you want to ensure that the ones who you think will be partipating in adventures have character sheets. But if you have time for the others that's great. And will give you and the other players more flexibility about which characters they involve in adventures.

Either is possible. Choose whichever makes sense given the context.


I have read the entry as a baseline, a place to start, to what is needed for a covenant. Each magi with need at least one grog and two covenfolk, the idea being something akin to having the two covenfolk there to provide food and maintenance, and the grog as a servant/shield. Beyond this base, I believe you purchase your "Residents" as per the boon/hook exchange. Buying the covenfolk to fill the halls and fields, if you will. These purchases of CF will color what kind of residents you have and also give you covenant a flavor beyond mere setting of a medieval fair.

This is not to say you would not have more. I think as you build the covenant you expand on how many covenfolk and what they are like as a group of people. Personally, beyond the mechanical aspect, I do not think it a bad thing to adjust how many grogs and CF you have based on the story and how the covenant fits into the story.

As for the "A smaller royal chase with a few villages and hamlets of well trained huntsmen". Whether you control them directly as their lords or whether there is an agreed trade of service for protection or even a whole level of sheer intimidation "gives us your stuff regularly... we are wizards!!!" :laughing: , this is determined by what the story is going to be about. In a prior game, our covenant was give rights to the land by decree of the Empress. The villagers believed we were now their lords, even if we did not hold any status in the whole structure of the empire. ((this is such a simplistic view of our covenant standing... I probably should have not included it hah hah))

They more than likely are not your covenfolk but are subject to your authority and provide you with goods and service. I think they are not actually generated but represent a number of goods to which the covenant has access. (though we had a whole assortment of people in our village who had personalities and even places in the story... the head man, the superstitious blacksmith, the married couple cheating on each other as a result of our meddling mentum specialist, oh and Sally from the valley... thanks Marko! :laughing: )

It is assumed, at least on my part, that if you purchase a boon, the resources are pretty much covered. It is possible if you truly want to get deep into the thick of number crunching, to keep a detailed tally of the cost of each member of you covenant, but in the beginning a general assumption that as long as the boons and hooks even out then finances are covered. I have seen the spread sheet of our games number cruncher and I marveled at her details... I prefer to handwave.

Of course I tried to hand wave a manticore breeding program....

Great info guys I really appreciate it! This gives me a lot to mull over while finishing up the design of our Covenant.


Oh and while I am no expert at min maxing the numbers on Ars like so many on this board are ((they will blow your mind, a lot of geniuses on here)) I have found that Books are pretty much the most important aspect of the covenant, right after the Aura.

I am sure others will tell you better hints and secrets, but from a lazy man's perspective Books and Auras are top notch.

It´s a basic suggestion of what might be suitable if you want something similar to "standard covenants".
And you don´t need boons or hooks to change it. You can have zero covenfolk, or an immense horde without any boons or hooks. Though if you have many, it might get hard to pay or feed them. :mrgreen:

Perfectly fine if you want to. We´ve gone quite a bit "bigger" than that official norm in most games here, with 0-6 personal grogs and at least 2 personal servants for most magi and another bunch of each belonging to the covenant as a whole. Ie basically enough personal grogs to be able to have at least one guard around the clock, and a servant always available, sometimes acting as lab help or in other roles. Sometimes quite inventive roles.

I wouldnt say that is the difference no. If you expect to have a lot of people around, try to make the sheets simple, basic stats and description and if needed, their best skills, then simply assume the basic common skills or use a template(or several) as part of the description(like gambler, gossip, brawler, pious, sneaky, flirt, traveler, petty thief etc etc) which decides roughly what other skills the character has beyond their primary.

For characters you want to "know" what they are but dont want to do a sheet, assigning a primary and secondary descriptive word or template goes a long way in making them more personal without spending more than a few minutes generating them.

Remember that that is an example, not what you MUST have. It might as well be a nice oak hardwood forest which is the main supplier for a shipyard not far away or it could be a smaller forest with very finely grown trees suitable for highend furniture. Etc etc...

And yes you may have authority over them, or you may only have a very limited right to tax them and they probably wont be covenfolk but you can have them as such if you want to(i would advise against it simple because this may create an avalanche of additional characters needed to be generated).

As long as you can pay for them. And dont forget that if you have many, you may end up with the hook about involvement in mundane politics, regardless if you want to because neighbours might see you as a risk to get rid of.
And it could simply mean that all your grogs are veterans. Even if the grand total is 5. :wink:

ReMe mind control spells to control people to not bother with such silly things as payment and ReFo spells to animate items or perhaps corpses to act as dumb covenfolk also works. Tend to use up lots of Vis instead though.

There was someone on the forum that posted a spread sheet once? I got it and extended it into my own version to allow some additional options and quirks, anyway, if you want to keep track of finances, a spread sheet of this sort is a nice advantage.

And generally, getting stocks of Vis tend to be a clear advantage over taking sources, with the exception that if the SG deems there will be no new sources found no matter what during play, and the game will run for more than 25 years, then sources become a better idea.
I mention this because it can make a big difference in how a covenant might be planned, not because it makes for a good deal.

In regards to your Foresters, there is a Resident Boon (maybe Free?) that talks about having trained hunters as your covenfolk. Might want to look at.

All the rules are guidelines, meant to be a starting point for your own group's play contract. That is, there's no difference between a rule and a guideline.

Then, respectfully, the lazy bastards are doing it wrong.

Instead, just play and add features as they emerge in stories.

A grog was originally a combat-covenfolk, although the term has slipped ot more general use as the game has grown.

Don't sweat the numbers too much.

Yes, you have authority overthem, and no, there's no method of generating them. The income rules are deliberately vague. You can make cash rain from the sky as a magus. There are rules for accountign for every shovel if you like that sort of thing, but given that the rest of your players can't be bothered to crack a book, I'd be tempted not to use the precise rules, because they will just blow great holes in them with magic anyway.


No worries, pile them on.

LOL. I wouldn't call them lazy. One is new to gaming with us and has much less gaming experience than the rest of us, one is working on his masters degree and is working at the college, one is a nurse working 12 hour night shifts 3 or 4 times a week and stays busy otherwise, the story guide is working on the story (and has two small children and is working 1.5 jobs). Which leaves me, and the guy in our group who hates working on this kind of detail in any game we play, so, since I like working on these type of things it just naturally fell to me.

We did spend about 3 hours as a group picking boons and hooks, deciding on our income stream, and general shape of things for the covenant, I was just trying to convert our ideas into something within the rules and get the numbers correct.

The general consensuses in our group is that we want to have a very new covenant. We want to roleplay the struggle of making the covenant grow and be successful. But we wanted some specific things already in place. I would have enjoyed roleplaying the entire creation process e.g the magi and companions meeting, agreeing to covenant together, finding a location, recruiting covenfolk and grogs, but the bulk of the players wanted to start after we met and with the location already selected and some of the covenfolk and grogs already recruited, which is fine. What we did agree on is we didn't want to be wealthy with a lot of our covenfolk already recruited etc...

So we decided on a deep forest location in Pomerania. A manor that we had the rights to, with the forest around us to provide for our income.

Free Choices:

Autocephalous, Vast and labyrinthine, Hidden Resources, Veteran Fighters, Aura (x2), Mythical Portal, Hidden Ways, Loyal Covenfolk, Vast Aura, Healthy Feature (x3)

Haunted, Suffrage, Spies, Mercer House, Rival, Ruined Covenant, Fay Regio (which counts as a Major and a Minor)

I realize that that may be a lot of Hooks and Boons, but as we were selecting them we came up with ways that they all fit together and should allow for a good long campaign. We decided on a manor that was built long before and was added on to by successive generations of the founding family (hence the vast and labyrinthine boon). The hidden ways are an extensive system of tunnels and caves under the manor and extending out for quite a ways. The vast aura encompasses both the manor where we will base our covenant and the ruined covenant location (which we will not have discovered). The hidden resources are both in the vast manor and in the ruined covenant location. The Spies are probably working for the Rivals who we are thinking are another newish covenant who either wanted the location but didn't get it or maybe due to Enemies of my Magus. We have a Mercer House because of the Mystical Portal. And so on. It all seems to work together nicely.

Also at the moment we are looking at 100 Vis of stores, 10 Vis sources, 3 specialists Scribe, Turb Captain, and Autocrat (maybe 4), 200 points of Library, 60 levels of lab texts.

Nah, looks like a nice little setup, should go together very nicely.

You have to pay build points for the specialists you don't write then up. P72 of the main rulebook, "Characters created as grogs or companions need not be paid for with Build Points"