This topic describes the covenant of Fengheld.
Fengheld’s main site is a sprawling hilltop fortress in a fairly isolated spot among the hills of the eastern Harz. The south side of the hill is covered in vast vineyards and orchards, whereas grain and root crops are grown in the valley floor below. On the rest of the hill, sheep and goats graze, watched over by shepherds. On the top of the hill, an immense curtain wall surrounds the entire covenant complex, which consists of a score of individual buildings, including a tower for each of the resident magi, an elaborate guest house, an immense meeting hall, and numerous buildings inhabited by the various covenfolk and grogs. Well over two hundred people dwell in Fengheld and its outlying hamlets; most of the food — except for a few luxuries — are grown on site.
The covenant is magically rich in terms of minor items and raw vis, harvesting from about two dozen different sites, some of them hundreds of miles away. Fengheld’s library, while vast, is dominated by books of lower levels than one might expect from a covenant this large. The hilltop has a Magic aura of 5.
In addition to the main site, there are also half a dozen chapter houses spread throughout northern mainland Europe. Each is inhabited by one or more magi, and they take a variety of forms, depending upon the location and needs of the inhabitants.
Cureently there are over a dozen members risiding at the main site, plus about as many residing at various chapter houses. The covenant has a guest labs for eight visiting magi, who can be peregrinatores who pay for access to a lab and some of the library's texts, members of a chapter house spending a season at the main site, or magi from other established covenants who have come to visit.
As the covenant is the largest Mercer House of the Rhine Tribunal, there may be half a dozen here at any given time.
The residing members of the covenant are:
- Stentorius, follower of Tremere: Archmage and senior member, the leader of Fengheld and the Tremere exarch of the Rhine Tribunal. His familiar is a large gray cat named Oswald.
- Horst, follower of Mercere: Master and senior member, famed author and the senior Redcap of the Rhine Tribunal.
- Eule, follower of Bjornaer: Master and senior member, one of the oldest maga in the Tribunal, honorary rank of Quaesitor.
- Peter Von Würzburg, follower of Verditius: Master and senior member, famed grower of grapes and maker of wine. His familiar is a squirrel named Cracker.
- Dorana, follower of Bonisagus: Master and senior member, foremost maga of the lineage of Irmele filia Trianoma.
- Indulius, follower of Flambeau: Master and senior member, a feared hoplite.
- Günther Lupus, follower of Bjornaer: Journeyman and full member, Eule's filius.
- Adelheid Invigilix filia Friderich, follower of Tremere: Journeyman and full member.
- Renatus, follower of Jerbiton: Journeyman and full member.
- Rudolph, follower of Bonisagus: Journeyman and probationary member.
- (plus a number of other magi to be introduced later)
Fengheld also has members at various chapter houses:
- Fengheld House (in Normandy): Marguerite, follower of Flambeau
- Rheingasse (in Cologne): Wilhelm Weiss, follower of Jerbiton; Garrinchus, Ex Miscellanea
- Turris Acontiarum (near Fengheld): Hassan El-Megrayhi, follower of Criamon
- Lusatia (near the border of the Novgorod Tribunal): Odorpes, follower of Bjornaer
(This is a summary of the Charter of the Fengheld covenant. The following text is incomplete, as the actual charter is several times longer than the following text. In short, the full Charter contains additional clauses that may be used as story hooks that I haven't fully thought out yet. A magus who wishes to do so can spend a season studying the Charter in order to master it will gain the ability "Fengheld Charter Lore", which can be used to manipulate the politics of the covenant for his own purposes.)
The Covenant of Fengheld allows for three types of membership of its council, and recognizes a fourth status, which it offers to visitors to the covenant. It also makes the distinction between resident and non-resident members.
The status of Protected Guest may be extended to any person by the formal invitation of a single member of the covenant. Protected Guests are afforded the basic rights detailed by this charter, and are not obligated to the Council of Members, nor are they a member of this council. Protected Guests may partake in meetings of the Council of Members should they desire it, but are required to leave if asked to do so by a member of that council, and are afforded no voice nor vote unless granted such by the council’s chairman, the disceptator. The status of Protected Guest may be may be revoked by the member who granted it, or by a vote of the Council of Members.
The status of Probationary Member of the Council may be extended to any magus in good standing of the Order of Hermes, who owes no allegiance nor fealty to any other covenant, and is admitted upon the majority approval of the current Council of Members. Provisional members assume the basic and provisional rights detailed by this charter and the duties therein attached. The status of provisional member shall last a period of seven seasons, unless abridged through censure or canceled through expulsion.
The status of Full Member of the Council is extended upon the completion of the duties and obligations of a probationary member, unless testimony is brought against him that proves him unfit to swear the Oath of Covenant in good conscience; in which case all rights of membership will be withdrawn. Should elevation to the role of full member take place, then all rights and duties of probationary membership are shed, to be replaced with the assumption of the basic and full rights detailed by this charter, and the duties therein attached. Full membership persists, unless abridged through censure or canceled through expulsion.
The status of Senior Member of the Council is extended upon unanimous vote of the current Senior members. Should elevation to the status of senior member take place, then all rights and duties of full membership are shed, to be replaced with the assumption of the basic, full rights and senior rights detailed by this charter, and the duties therein attached. Senior membership persists, unless abridged through censure or canceled through expulsion.
A member is considered a resident member if his primary residence is at the covenant itself, and has been for at least a year. A member is considered non-resident if his primary residence is at one of the chapter houses, or has not been in residence for over a year.
Should a magus ever come to desire release from this covenant, he must renounce his Oath of Covenant in the presence of at least two members of the council, and shall thereby be relieved of all duties and rights, and may not call upon such rights furthermore.
Governance of this Covenant
The members of this covenant are governed by the Council of Members, which shall consist of all probationary, full and senior members of the covenant. This council shall not declare action except on behalf of the entire membership of the covenant; no action may be demanded of individuals by council agreement. Conversely, the rulings of the council cannot be overturned by an individual.
Any resident member of the covenant shall have the right and duty to convene the Council of Members for consideration of matters justly grave, and all resident members shall be charged with attendance and diligence in the proceedings. Should it not be possible to convene the full Council of Members, any quorum consisting of more than half of voting rights of its current resident members is considered valid; else the discharge of the council’s duty must be delayed until such time as the full council may be convened. The Council of Members shall convene four times each year, two weeks prior to each equinox and solstice, regardless of call from any member, and all resident members of the covenant should endeavor to make themselves present.
Motions to be decided upon by the Council of Members must be introduced by a member; debated fully and justly, allowing those who wish to speak to do so; and then proposed for the vote. Proposals must be seconded by a resident member of the covenant, else no vote can take place. All issues shall be passed by a majority vote of the members there present; excepting that the unanimous opinion of the Council of Members is required for issues involving changes to the charter; expulsion of a member; and acceptance of a new probationary member.
The Council of Members shall confer the office of disceptator to the representative of the covenant in matters of governance and temporal concern. The title of disceptator is a heavy duty that is laid upon a member by majority vote of the council. Each disceptator serves for a period of seven years, commencing one year following Tribunal. The duties of the disceptator are: to attend regular meetings of the council; to keep order at meetings; to break tied votes with a discretionary casting vote; to determine the yearly surplus of provision and store; and to act as a spokesman for the Council of Members. The disceptator shall not be empowered to rule on matters on the covenant’s behalf, but instead is charged with ensuring that the rulings of the Council of Members are enacted.
Resources Owned by this Covenant
Resources of this covenant are held in common by the Council of Members, and it is the responsibility of this council to maintain and defend them.
This covenant lays claim to all the vis originating from undisputed and unclaimed sources discovered by members of the council, although a suitable reward shall be given to the finder or finders, as determined by the council. This covenant also lays claim to all vis sources discovered within the territory under its influence, as defined by the Peripheral Rulings of the Rhine Tribunal. This covenant also lays claim to any vis gifted to the Council of Members as a whole. In all other situations, undisputed and unclaimed vis belongs to the finder or finders.
This covenant lays claim to all books obtained by members of the council while acting at the behest of the council, and all books scribed by members of the council where payment was received for this scribing from the covenant’s resources. This covenant also lays claim to any texts gifted to the Council of Members as a whole. Books claimed by this covenant shall only be copied with the approval of the Council of Members.
This council lays claim to all magical items obtained by members of the council while acting at the behest of the council; and all magical items made by members of the council where payment was received for this manufacture from the covenant’s resources. This covenant also lays claim to any magical items gifted to the Council of Members as a whole.
This council lays claim to all monies generated using the resources of the covenant. This council also lays claim to all monies obtained by members of the council while acting at the behest of the council. This covenant also lays claim to any monies gifted to the Council of Members as a whole.
This council lays claim to the buildings, defenses, chattels, and inhabitants of the covenant. This council also lays claim to any such buildings, defenses, chattels, and inhabitants gifted to the Council of Members as a whole.
Surplus resources of the covenant will be determined at the Winter meeting of the Council of Members. Resources necessary for the continued existence of the covenant and the protection of its members’ rights are accounted for first; this includes payment for seasons of work performed on behalf of the covenant, and a stipend of vis for the casting of the Aegis of the Hearth. Contributions to all debts owed to the covenant are decided by the disceptator, and set aside. The remaining resources are deemed surplus, and shall be allocated to the settlement of requests from each member of the covenant.
Rights of the Members of this Covenant
Each and every member of this covenant and protected guests shall be entitled to the basic rights of the covenant; to whit, full and unrestricted access to the protection and support of the covenant within the boundaries of the covenant by all the rights and benefits accorded by the Code of Hermes, the benefit of a sanctum which shall remain inviolate and the supply of materials thereof, and victuals appropriate to the status of a magus. These basic rights shall not be abridged except by expulsion from the Council of Members.
In furtherance and additional to the basic rights of a member of this covenant, a probationary member of the covenant is entitled the probationary rights of the covenant; to whit, access to the outer library of the covenant, a fractional share of those rights and duties offered to a full member of the covenant, such share being equal to half that offered to full members. A probationary member’s vote counts only half of that of a full member, and they may only claim half the share of the surplus provision and store of the covenant’s resources afforded a full member. The services and skills of the servants and covenfolk may not be halved, but the needs of a full or of a senior member of the covenant take precedence over the needs of a probationary member. Further, a probationary member of the covenant who remains true to his Oath of Covenant has the right to remain at the covenant for a total of seven seasons following the conferral of this status. Further, a probationary member of the covenant has the right to be considered for full membership of this covenant after serving a total of seven seasons as a probationary member. These rights shall not be abridged except by decision of the council under conditions of grave concern.
In furtherance and additional to the basic rights, a full member of the covenant shall be entitled to the full rights of the covenant; to whit, the right to presence and a vote in the Council of Members, which he shall exercise dutifully with due prudence. Further, full and unrestricted access to the services and skills of the servants and covenfolk. Further, an equal right to all surplus provision and store necessary to conduct his studies, or the travel demanded by those studies; such rights to include (but be not limited to) access to the outer library, vis, monies, and diverse magical and mundane resources claimed by the covenant. Where a conflict is evident between members of the council over the allotment of surplus resource, distribution is based on seniority; excepting that priority claims that have been advanced and agreed by the disceptator are taken into consideration and can supersede the claim of a more senior member. These rights shall not be abridged except by decision of the council under conditions of grave concern.
In furtherance and additional to the basic and full rights, a senior member of the covenant shall be entitled to the senior rights of the covenant; to whit, two additional votes in the Council of Members, which he shall exercise dutifully with due prudence. Further, full and unrestricted access to the inner library. Where a conflict is evident between senior members of the council over the allotment of surplus resource, distribution is drawn by ballot; excepting that priority claims that have been advanced and agreed by the disceptator are taken into consideration prior to the ballot. These rights shall not be abridged except by decision of the council under conditions of grave concern.
Non-resident members shall be considered, for the purpose of voting rights and resources allocation, to be of one rank lower than a resident member. Thus, a full non-resident member shall have the same voting rights as a resident probationary member. A non-resident probationary member shall have half the voting rights and resources allocated to him as a resident probationary member. The praetor of a chapter house shall be an exception to this, retaining his full rank with regards to the voting rights and access to resources of this covenant.
Responsibilities of the Members of this Covenant
Members of this covenant are obligated to obey the Oath of Hermes and the Peripheral Code, as demanded by the Oath of Covenant; failure on this account will not be tolerated by the Council of Members, and the covenant reserves the right to censure those members who are convicted in just Tribunal of an offense against the Order of Hermes.
The responsibility of the members of this covenant towards its lasting success is dependent on service to the covenant. The Council of Members will declare the duties that need to be performed at the regular meetings of the covenant. Such duties include (but are not limited to) the safeguarding and harvesting of the covenant’s claimed vis sources, the safeguarding and harvesting of the covenant’s income, the wellbeing and discipline of the covenant’s employees, the maintenance of the covenant’s resources, the increase of the covenant’s resources, and the maintenance of good relations with the covenant’s allies. Duties that will not entail more than a week of service at low personal risk will be assigned by the council to its members, with no more than one being assigned to each member in each season. Such assigned duties attract no recompense or advantage to the member who discharges them, but cannot be refused without reasonable extenuation.
Duties which will entail a higher investment of time or personal risk will be offered up for service by the covenant. These services will attract a remuneration which shall be commensurate with the time, risk, and potential benefit to the covenant. This remuneration is decided by the disceptator, but maintains a minimum payment which shall be, for a single season of work at low risk with a low gain, two pawns of vis, of the flavor most prevalent in the stores at the time. The disceptator may increase the remuneration to increase the attractiveness of a particular urgent task, for the Council of Members is not empowered to force a member to accept one of these duties unless failure to perform it would be in breach of this covenant, in which case the threat of censure may be employed. All payments will be made in the Spring meeting of the Council. If there is more than one claimant for the service, and each claimant refuses to share the duty, then the disceptator will assign the duty by ballot. If there is insufficient vis to meet the demands of the council, the disceptator may withhold payment for one or more years. Covenant work may be declared such retroactively.
Each probationary member of the covenant is obligated to perform no fewer than three of the tasks under remuneration currently outlined by the Council of Members during his period of probation. For this mandatory service, no payment need be offered by the Council of Members.
Each full member of the covenant is obligated to perform no fewer than three of the tasks under remuneration currently outlined by the Council of Members during every full seven year, as counted between Tribunals. For this mandatory service, no payment need be offered by the Council of Members.
Censure of the Members of this Covenant
If a member should contravene the decisions of the council, by vote or by charter, then the member may be censured or expelled by a vote of the Council of Members. Censure requires the passing of a motion at a meeting of the Council of Members. The censure of a senior member revokes the rights of that status, returning him to full status; whereupon he assumes all the duties and rights of that status. The censure of a full member revokes the rights of that status, returning him to probationary status; whereupon he assumes all the duties and rights of that status. Censure must not prejudice the application of a probationary member to the position of full member of the covenant. The censure of a probationary member shall abridge the rights of the member to remain a probationary member of the covenant, and shall confer upon him instead the status of Protected Guest. The status of a Protected Guest may be withdrawn at any time by a vote of the Council of Members without need for censure.
Expulsion is enacted by a unanimous vote of the remaining Council of Members of the same status or higher. Expulsion is the only means through which a member of the covenant shall lose his basic rights; and requires that the former member ceases to draw upon those basic rights subsequent to the first full moon after expulsion was enacted. Should a magus be cast out from the Order, it is the duty and obligation of this covenant that he shall also and without delay be expelled from this covenant.
There are almost two hundred mundanes working for Fengheld.
- Fabian(us): Castellan and head steward of Fengheld. In charge of all mundanes. He is assisted by a number of stewards, that interact with the magi (such as Tristam)
- Caspar: Captain of the grogs
- Theoderich: Head librarian
- Ursula: Head seamstress
- Judith: Head cook
- Engeltraud: Mistress of the pantry, responsible for provisioning
- About fifty soldiers
- Fifteen companions
- Mundanes that work the vineyards (the head vintner, the orchard keeper, the farming foreman)
- Craftsmen (such as smiths, glassblowers, and percemenarii)
- Specialists (such as scribes and huntsmen)
- Laborers (such as herders and serfs)