Some COVENANTS Queries

I'm in the process of setting up a new on-line game set in Stonehenge Tribunal and my players are coming down to chosing one of two options for where their covenant would be based.

The first is to bring back from Fairie (where it has been ensorcelled for many a long year) the Covenant of Castra Antiqua which was based in one of the Roman forts on Hadrian's Wall. Problem I have here is: how do I classify the fortifications in the scheme given in COVENANTS? Is it a ringwork or something fancier?

The second is to reactivate the destroyed covenant of Rosalba in the Yorkshire Dales. It has been empty and untouched since the last defenders died: its enemies were unable to penetrate the magical defenses.

How to model such a covenant? Lots and lots of hidden boons and hooks? Any suggestions?

And in both cases what would be credible as a means of financial support for the covenant that would survive not being around for centuries?

Ringwork does seem to describe a typical roman camp quite well, and would work, but a permanent fort on Hadrian's wall may have been stronger : a shell keep (minor boon) would then seem appropriate, since it simply strengthen the typical elements of a ringwork. As far as I know, the romans didn't go for fancy fortifications (well, except Hadrian's wall, so this may be the one place where they would build a fancy fort).

And if it is coming back from Fairie, and has a moat, why not put a fairie creature in it, either ally or a problem to be solved ?

For an untouched covenant, hidden boon and hooks are good, like a hidden library or treasure room, and hidden traps. Possibly a flawed resource (building that will collapse soon).

As far as financial support goes, you can put a chest of gold or two lying around in both cases (particularly the second) to help get the covenant running, but I can't see actual resources surviving centuries. The magi will just have to start something on their own: bring in some peasants to start some agriculture, or tax existing ones, make a deal with fairies, start some industry (steel making perhaps ? With a magically powered hammer they can do quite a bit...). Time to brush up the Poverty Hooks (Major and Minor).

It''s a ringwork, if its a basic Roman fort.

Deends on the stories you want ot tell with it. Model it as a storytelling tool, not in a simulationist way.

Answer based on the stories you ewant to tell, not on what you feel you -should- do to make it realistic.

The Hooks and Boons system is not there to model the covenant, but rather to give a moderately fair way of letting people decide what sort of stories they're interested in playing and then describe the covenant. An Unknown hook/boon is not one that the characters don't know about, but that the players don't know about - it allows the players to say, "Surprise us" to the alpha story guide.

There is nothing wrong with deciding what the covenant situation will be like in advance and letting the players discover it - indeed, this can be great fun - but at that point the Hooks and Boons are just there to help you frame options as you plan things. There's no actual requirement for things to balance, numbers wise.

As such, to use the Hooks and Boons, I'd think of a half-dozen or more story ideas for the first ten sessions or so, and then see how to represent those as Hooks and Boons to help your memory and records. Certainly such a covenant will probably have a large library, but equally it could have a large hole where the library used to be and suspiciously rotted stones leading from the well to the former location.

Castra Antiqua would be very convenient if you want to involve the players in multiple stories involving faeries. Alternatively if you aren't planning anything to do with the faerie then covenant-related faerie troubles could provide a nice change of pace. It's certainly an interesting site on its own as well.

If Castra Antiqua came back it would end up in a rather crowded location. Not only is it pressed up against the Loch Leglean tribunal but it's between the covenants of Ungulus and Burnham. Chances are any resources not in the immediate vicinity of Castra Antiqua have already been claimed which will make things difficult for a spring covenant. Even worst both of these covenants are very insular so it will be difficult to deal with them in a productive manner. Of course that could be a lot of fun to play through. :slight_smile:

Rosalba is in the same general area as Castra Antiqua but I think it's far enough south to avoid most of the crowding problems. Given the history of Rosabla, and Voluntas just down the road, this would be a great location for a covenant interested in tribunal politics. Blackthorn will certainly be hostile to a group trying to re-establishing the covenant, and even if it's a new and politically neutral covenant established on the old site they're sure to involve themselves. Either way this will attract Voluntas' attention.

The opportunity to uncover lost vis sources, and perhaps other Rosalban resources, would give the covenant some early economic advantages. However even here I think Halancar is right that a poverty hook makes sense.

You're American, aren't you? The Borders is a fair way (in English terms) from the Yorkshire Dales. They've decided to go for Rosalba Nova (or whatever they end up calling it) BTW and I've spent the past few days looking for a good location. I finally decided on Cotterdale which is, to quote the Yorkshire Dales National Park website 'small, hidden and remote'.

I'm going to go for Major Poverty: they will need to find new covenfolk and workers to get Rosalba functional again.

From my admittedly American perspective the covenants of the Stonehenge Tribunal are clustered in three general regions: Northern England, East Anglia, and Wales. There seems to be more than enough room in Wales for Cad Gadu and Blackthorn and even Northern England is quite spacious. In fact even if Castra Antiqua came back the strip along Hadrian's Wall would still be less crowded than the East Anglian covenants - although not by much. I suppose it was inappropriate to call one of these clusters "the same general area." However while this may be inappropriate for the people of the Tribunal it still seems to fit for the magi. With so much of the core of England devoid of covenants even a spacious cluster gains some cohesion.

The Major Poverty hook does seem like a very good hook and it will give the covenant's lost resources more weight. Do you think your players will actively court political problems or will they wait for them to come find them? :slight_smile:

The odd thing about the placement is that Norfolk and Suffolk were the most heavily populated parts of England, London aside, in 1220. Now, we think of England as being inhabited up the middle, with Wales on one side and Anglia as sparsely populated in the East. That's an industrial landscape however. In 1220, the second biggest town in England is Norwich: its only when iron and coal become the commodities of indutrialisation and war that the population lurches inland.

So, if you want to put more covenants up the middle, there's certainly space.

Population density certainly has a huge impact on concepts of space. This also leads to interesting problems when the people rely on resources which are tied to terrestrial geography rather than population geography. In fact this very issue is raised in the political section of Heirs to Merlin in regards to the Eastern covenants.