The Covenant

This thread is reserved for the Covenant description.

This will happen after the first round of character creation. Specifically, for all that the characters are diverse, the covenant will be suited to them, having been dedicated by Bonisagus seers who cast the omens.

(If other players come on board later--and I will usually want more players--their characters will get right to it without the usual problems of charter and probationary membership and blah blah, and perhaps have even been here all along. But the covenant will not reflect them in the same way.)

This is a placeholder post.

(EDIT: Note about esoteric knowledge.)

While I am writing other stuff up, players will probably want the lowdown on covenant resources for planning their development:

Magic Aura: 6 You can really feel the magic, but being here long enough can change you.

Library and Hermetic Access: For almost any topic you can increase by reading, a magus can gain 12xp per season. Some topics are harder to read about. Books on spell mastery exist, but probably not for the spell you want to read about. Ask a Redcap. Books on Organization Lores are even sparser. Feel free to ask, but the answer is usually no. Note that Code of Hermes is not an Organization Lore. Please be reasonable about exotic and esoteric knowledge: Polemics are easy to find, but useful books and conversation in Latin about Muslim Theology are hard to come by; you might eek out a few xp from corresponding with a few Criamon, but you'd be much better off traveling to the knowledge. You can certainly forget about Qabala or Talmud until you have some Hebrew, and even then, there isn't much conversation about this kind of thing in the Order, even though Jewish magi and even Qabalists exist.

Vis: 6 pawns per year, of any Form you like, before "Hermetic taxes."

Aegis: The Great Hall has three shields that allow a magus to cast the Aegis at levels 20, 40 and 75, even if he doesn't know it. There is enough vis set aside for the level 20 ritual. When you arrive at the covenant, the Aegis has not been cast.

Charter: In a nutshell, no PC or group of PCs can force another PC to do anything he doesn't want to do; there are virtually no covenant obligations and no way to impose them. There is also a crazy hermit Bonisagus NPC who lives in a house with no doors and windows, does not want to be disturbed, and who will enforce the charter. I will be very happy if he never shows his face or says a word; in a meta-game sense, both he and the Charter exist to reinforce the idea that this game is about characters with an outward posture toward the world rather than intrigue within the covenant grounds. There are covenfolk who run things so magi don't have to think about them. In most cases, they will step aside should a magus want to run things instead; such as a crafting magus with Precise Magic * 3 and Free Expression who wants to undertake a massive building project.

Labs and sancta: Right from the start, each PC has his very own stout wooden house that contains a standard Hermetic lab already prepared to +0, and a few rooms for living purposes. It is a very cozy and comfortable space. Dedicated Building comes free.

Mundane resources: When you're inventing something for yourself, the covenant probably has what you need. I say probably, to preclude enchanting a colossal statue of pure gold or something like that. Lab texts from outside might be missing resources, or perhaps the right kind of that resource. Magi can dress well, eat well and not worry about the basics of a wealthy life. Covenant resources are mostly intended for magical endeavors. If you need wealth for some other purpose, say, to finance an army or to pay off a loan shark, go earn it through a story--outside the covenant.

Shield grogs: If you want one, the covenant will provide you with one--provided you maintain sufficient Parma to protect him.

Horses and stuff like that: Of course. See "basics of a wealthy life," above. Most magi don't ride, however, so it probably doesn't matter.

The Pylon: A plain stone pylon surmounted by a bronze knob stands overlooking the river. On the first day of any Hermetic season, a magus can call out the trigger phrase and wave with his right hand. If the pylon is within earshot of the magus, the magus and any of his stuff that he wants to take with him and is in immediate proximity to him is transported to anywhere the magus wishes to go, has been before, does not have an adverse Aura and is not intended to be secure from the magus' being there. On the last day of the season, the magus and stuff are returned to where they had been; stuff that has been acquired elsewhere is also transported, if it is both with the magus and in the magus' possession. Stuff includes people, and even large, movable objects, but not buildings. Using the pylon causes no Warping. Characters are welcome to play with the limits of the pylon to see what works. Pylons of this kind are a relatively new discovery, brought (back) to the Order by a Bonisagus who claims they are from the ruins of the Tower of Babel, used by Nimrod to send troops to enforce his world empire. Only a few magi know how to create them; some magi are suspicious that these pylons surely have a downside. Most covenants do not have them.... yet.

I think this covers the basics.

Joining the Covenant

Durenmar, Summer, 1180

The Grand Tribunal opened with your being introduced as journeyman magi confirmed and accepted by your Houses. You have sworn the Oath. Your sponsor, probably your parens, left you then to find your own way, perhaps with words of encouragement.

One way or another, you have made yourself busy.

The season now draws to a close. Many magi have already left. Trading and politicking continues, of course, and animated conversation will continue even past formal closing. Most magi either have what they came for or lost it. All matters approved by the Praeco have been handled, the Tribunal has been ratified as legally binding, and you are still here. Your time has come.

Long ago, before the Schism War, covenants were most often created by reflex, reflecting immediate expedience. Journeyman magi just past Gauntlet were especially likely to huddle together in makeshift communities with tenuous contact with the Order, with few resources, with little experience. Spring Covenants, they were aptly called, easily blighted by the slightest frost. At the time, this was considered the best way. The outcome is well-known.

An Order that intentionally corresponds itself with Summer, it was argued, that celebrates and wishes for itself the vitality of endless Summer, that uniquely begins its year in Summer must also begin its magi in Summer. There would be costs, yet also benefits that would redound.

Now you stand before an ancient Bonisagus, amidst a group (let's not discuss how many, but certainly every PC who will ever be in the game and at least two other people per potential PC) of journeyman magi. Each of her hands is gloved in a remarkably lifelike handpuppet, with fluid eyes that catch the light and glance from place to place.

Then you realize that she has these instead of hands. Rumor has it that she was once a Merinita who returned to the Order from places unknown bringing back deep knowledge that elevated her to House Bonisagus, but leaving behind her name, her sanity, according to some magi her gender, and perhaps other things.

She holds her hands so that all six of her eyes are at the same height.

"Welcome to your inheritance," says her head.

"You shall do as you will," says her right hand.

"You shall go where you are needed," says her left hand.

"We'll see about that," scoffs her right hand.

"Not if I gouge your eyes out," shrieks her left.

"Rego Corpus," says her head firmly.

A moment of silence, as her hands attempt to gibber but fail to break her control.

Then, "They both are probably right. We have cast the omens--"

"Omens," moans her right hand, over-dramatically.

"Omens!" wails her left hand, even more over-dramatically.

"Omens!!!!" bursts forth from the Bonisaga herself, loudest of all and most ominous, because you have the sense that her voice reflects her true feelings with no deliberate drama. Her hands look at her and smirk as she tries to compose herself and wipe the spittle from her chin with her sleeve.

"Places have been prepared. Perdo Imaginem."

A doorway appears beside her. You hear murmers from some of the more senior magi, snatches of conversation that suggest that the ceremony isn't always the same. One mentions "cloud," another "boats," still another "floppy hat."

"One at a time, or you might end up with two heads," advises her right hand.

"Or two assholes," suggests her left.

"Speaking of which," says her head, as she crosses her arms firmly, despite her struggling hands.

Whether the Bonisaga's condition inspires confidence or the contrary, there is only one way to go from here. One journeyman looks like he is about to walk out rather than take his turn, until the Bonisaga says casually, "I declared Wizard's War against you 31 days ago."

"No you didn't."

"Remember," she says ceremonially.

"That was a dream."

She smiles.

He walks through.

Her right hand breaks free. "There's a funny thing about the future," it says. "Most people believe that it hasn't happened yet, that what happened yesterday determines where we are today, that what we do today can determine what happens tomorrow. But some people, on the other hand," it glances meaningfully at her other hand, see the world differently. They believe that the future is all that matters and that the future reaches back to shape its past. She says that it makes no difference whether the past determines the future or whether the future determines the past because either view makes you a slave right now."

The Bonisaga frowns.

"It's not that funny a thing," says her left hand.

Now it's your turn.

Somewhere Else, probably Summer 1180

The long corridor is perhaps seven paces across.

Dim light emerges from alcoves along walls hung with diverse pictures. You do not recognize the pictures, and the styles are alien to you. Some are portraits, some are landscapes, some feature ordinary objects. From this distance, and in this light it is difficult to make out the finer details. Even if you lack artistic inclination, you have a feeling that they are well done, that it is worthwhile to get closer and examine the finer details. Yet a palpable hungry attention emerges from each painting. Perhaps you have heard of art that can envelope the viewer, yet these would consume you. You are an intrusion. You could be fuel. Come closer.

But you don't.

There is music here too, snatches of different pieces, far more quiet than the light is dim, all involving male choirs, not at all like any church music you have heard. Attention to one song causes it to fade and be replaced by another.

Perhaps you cast a spell, or perhaps you walk or run to the other end of the corridor.

Either choice brings you into the cool summer night.

A gibbous moon just a day or so past full glimmers upon the surface of a river. The gently rising slope of the distant shore hints at the river's vast width, beyond that of any river you have seen. A boat awaits you, and a boatman.

Forested hills rise behind you, on your side of the shore.

Looking again at the boat and its man, you notice the dull glint of an iron collar about his neck. You approach. He says something to you in a language you do not understand.

He sees your reaction, and hands you a mug of something. You can see that he is not quite a man. The iron of his collar is possibly not about its physical strength. Wisely, you do not accept his food. He shrugs, with a half-smile, half-frown, and gestures. Your belongings, you notice, whatever you had brought to the Grand Tribunal but not to that final meeting, lie within the boat, properly packed.

With a spell ready to cast just in case, you step in and he shoves off, climbs into the boat and starts to row toward the distant shore.

Behind you and downstream from your embarkation point, the low-slung silhouette of a city becomes clear against the sky as distance provides a better vantage. By night it is hard to be sure of its size, but it seems unexpectedly large, one of the greater cities of Europe.

Just before you reach the shore, you hear voices on the wind, vast things calling to you. Then you feel a change in the air, and the voices cease abruptly. The cold feels more acute. The freshness of the air, sharp. The scent of trees, envigorating yet all too alive and alien, and the rich, loamy dankness of a river in summer given solidity. The moon shines down upon you with the light of awareness. The exhalation of a living world breathes against your cheek. The dim cacophany of night insect noises distanced to the background of the mind shatters into a myriad of myriad splinters of sound.

What seemed from afar to be a gently rising slope is a dock beside a steep embankment of firmly packed earth, its contour too graceful to be natural. A stairway braced with wood rises from the shore.

A man bearing a lantern descends the stairs as the boatman ties the boat to the dock, destroying your night vision.

"Welcome," he says in Latin. "I am Eirik, I am the steward here."

You answer, and perhaps speak for a moment. He glances toward the untouched mug and smiles. "I see you know a thing or two. It cannot harm you." He reached toward the boatman's collar as might a man toward his dog. "You see?"

Indeed, you see the emblem of the Order of Hermes etched into the iron. The boatman glowers to be treated thusly—yet does not resist.

The man reaches into the boat and hands you the mug. It is hot. "You'll want to drink it. It will not bind you." And if you pause, he says wryly, "If you fear to eat any food harvested or prepared by your covenfolk, you are likely to go hungry."

If you drink now, you notice that the beverage has a taste that is sweet yet sharp. There is some kind of vegetable floating in it, with a satisfying, starchy denseness to it. It does not belong here. That kind of realization can only from an awareness that somehow you do.

A few other covenfolk descend the stairs to take your stuff, all human. Or at least, they are not wearing iron collars and look human by night.

"I will show you to your sanctum," he says, which is news because you didn't know you had one.

He walks with you up the stairs, past a few small, low-slung houses on either side of the path, which you notice is paved in wood. The houses do not huddle one against the next, but each stands well-centered in a plot of land whose demarkation is clear even by moon and lantern. The path turns, and you realize, winds upward. The small houses are on a terraced level, and you rise above them.

Now, on the side of the path facing the houses below, are much larger houses centered on proportionately larger lots, separated by trees. On the inward side is a green commons and a larger structure the size of a prominent but secondary church, topped by an elegant dome. "The Great Hall," he says. Of course it wouldn't be a church, not here.

"This one is yours," says Eirik. From the main path, a narrower path but also paved with wood leads to the house. Eirik says, "I have other duties to attend, magus," and leaves. But the covenfolk wait for you to step first onto your land.

The house is large, stout and well-made, of tightly joined wood. Beside the door, hewn from a single piece of burnished wood rather than planks banded together, is an exquisite dagger thrust into the massive doorpost, pinioning a roll of parchment.

The pommel of the dagger gleams gold in the night, and the intertwined emblems of your House and of the Order are plain to be seen.

Within the roll of parchment is a quill and a small inkwell whose rim flares outward. There is no ink, but the dagger is plenty sharp. Fully unrolled, the document is revealed to be a copy of the covenant's charter. There is a space at the bottom for you to sign your name. The covenfolk wait silently as you read. (See next post.)

The door has a keyhole and a latch. It is locked.

Once you have signed the charter with your own blood, a key dangling from a chain of miniscule links appears in the keyhole. The covenfolk bow to you.

"Master," they murmur in a language you now understand.

(Add Russian (Kyiv) 2 to your character sheet. Freebie, enjoy.)

The Charter of Parum Sanctus Bellum

By signing this charter, I pledge my life in the presence of the world and its powers to its terms in full, accepting all rights and responsibilities therein.

I hereby recognize the benefits and assume possession of the following properties and annuities:

  1. The house and land situated at <precise coordinates relative to the apex of the Great Pyramid) whose bounds <boundaries described precisely relative to the apex of the Great Pyramid, including all natural and customary rights pertaining to such ownership with the explicit exclusion of the right to transfer possession either through specific or default action, or to allow another magus to establish residency thereon.

{GM Comment: This means that the house and the land belong to you, not the covenant, but you cannot sell it or let another magus have it.}

  1. An Annuity of 6 pawns per vis of any Form I specify. I understand that I must appear in my own person on the first day of Winter as determined by Hermetic Reckoning at the Great Hall of Parum Sanctus Bellum to receive this annuity, which I forfeit during any year I am not present.

{GM Comment: This means that you get 6 pawns of vis per year and have to show up for it.}

  1. A full share of annually allocated resources and access to covenant stores, to be devoted specifically and directly toward my own magical research and projects. I understand that these resources are not my own except if they are used in these pursuits, and that I retain the right to sell or dispose of all products of my research and magical work as I see fit.

{GM Comment: This means that your labwork is supported, but you don't get to sell off your lab equipment or the diamond you received for the embedded device you are pretending to make in order to settle debts or buy a sinuous Saracen slave girl. Or boy. On the other hand, if you incorporate the diamond into a magical device, you can sell that, as usual.}

  1. The support, service and sustenance of a kind that befits my august and noble station of magus.

{GM Comment: This means that the covenant is going to clothe and feed you in style and with at least +1 Living Conditions. They'll clean your house if you permit it, and show you deference. Since a magus of sufficiently good Parma is expected to have a retinue, you can have as many personal grogs your Parma can cover, and the covenant will find them for you if you do not already have someone due to a personal story. Except for when you want to do something extravagant, you do not need to think about money; such things are beneath you! Unless you're a Verditius or something.}

  1. The right to access and enter at any time all places within the covenant save those that are held by another magus as his own and those that have been reserved for the use of the Steward of Parum Sanctus Bellum.

{GM Comment: This means that you can go anywhere you want without asking permission, except for other magi's lots and land and a few administrative areas. Eirik's personal space is also excluded, but Eirik will show you where he sleeps if you ask or tell him too, and will also show you the admistrative stuff too—but not leave you there alone.}

  1. The right to undertake and assume responsibility for the duties of any covenfolk save the steward. I understand that in so doing I pledge to perform these duties at least as proficiently in all respects as those I have replaced, and that any and all improvements and profits derived from this activity shall belong to the covenant.

{GM Comment: This means that if you want to do something that ordinary covenfolk do, perhaps because you are a craft magus, or perhaps because supervising work along the river meets your study requirement for Aquam, the covenfolk will give way. However, you become responsible for making sure things are at least as good for the covenant as before, and the benefits of what you do will be split among the covenant if they result in an overall improvement. If you want to reap the full rewards for doing something clever with Other People's Money, do it outside.}

7)The right to be a full member of the Covenant of Parum Sanctus Bellum, and to be known as such.

{GM Comment: This simply means that you are a member of the covenant and are recognized as such.}

8)Access to books, writing materials and Redcaps without restriction save that necessary and prudent for the maintenance of the covenant, its library, scriptorium and Hermetic ties.

{GM Comment: You get your 12xps. :slight_smile: You can send and receive lots of mail. You cannot remove all the books from the library in the name of 'research.'}

I hereby assume the following responsibilities, and accept them as full and fair exchange for the benefits granted me under this Charter:

  1. I shall neither testify against, offer gossip about, disseminate rumor regarding, discuss, implicate or otherwise mention the activities, predilections or any other information regarding a magus who is a full member of the Covenant of Parum Sanctus Bellum, save as compelled by fair vote at Tribunal or as granted explicit permission by that member.

{GM Comment: Don't talk about your covenant-mates, or conspire against them with outsiders! You'll eventually be despised as a traitor by most right-thinking magi, and especially despised by House Tytalus.}

  1. I shall not resort either to Certamen or Wizard's War to resolve any disagreement with another member of Parum Sanctus Bellum.

{GM Comment: Two PCs who have a disagreement do not have a mechanical way to resolve it. This game encourages players to pursue their own interests rather than worry about whether they are just as powerful as the other Pcs. Note that there isn't even a mechanism for binding arbitration. Have fun.}

3)I shall not disrupt the normal and customary operation of the covenant, including but not limited to the harvesting of magical and mundane resources, the disbursement of books and vis, and the magical endeavors of other members of the Covenant of Parum Sanctus Bellum.

{GM Comment: In conjuction with Benefit #6, you can make good changes but not bad ones. Note that if you cast an Aegis, you must grant the other magi and their guests full access to the covenant.}

4)I shall accept fewer covenant resources when there is a shortfall, but not less than a share equal to that of other members of the Covenant of Parum Sanctus Bellum, recognizing that such a shortfall has occurred at least in part through either my actions or inaction.

{GM Comment: This is not going to happen for a very long time, unless your characters do stuff to make it happen, like bring down an army of Crusaders. It can happen eventually! This saga is intended to cover many years of game time and the world changes slowly.}

5)I shall promptly either completely repair or offer full and fair compensation to all members of Parum Sanctus Bellum encumbered or damaged by my magical research, Wizard's War in which I am engaged, personal enemies, or any other activities in which I am engaged.

{GM Comment: As usual, you're a lot better off initiating stories rather than being on the receiving end. If your enemies ravage the covenant, you are responsible. You might be able to get compensation at Tribunal for collateral damage caused to other members of the covenant, but you remain responsible. Get your enemies before they get you! Similarly, if your giant spider automaton runs amok, you get to deal with the mess.}

6)I shall not enter any building within the lands of Parum Sanctus Bellum that does not have a door.

{GM Comment: There's only one of these.}

7)I shall immediately establish my sanctum upon the land granted specifically to me under this Charter, and maintain none other. I recognize and confirm that my membership in the Covenant of Parum Sanctus Bellum and the benefits thereof shall immediately be anulled upon my establishing a sanctum in any other location, or upon joining another covenant.

{GM Comment: One sanctum, on your land. This is here for a variety of reasons. Two of particular interest: 1) Given the background about correspondences and sympathy, anything that dilutes a magus' association with a covenant is a Bad Thing. 2) If I need to change the lab rules, this works very much in your favor. Do note that the benefits lapse but the responsibilities do not. Also note that breaking the Code or being Marched does not suspend membership.}

8)I shall prevent any magus from establishing a sanctum upon any lands and properties of Parum Sanctus Bellum that are not his, and shall slay any magus who has done so. I shall defend the Covenant of Parum Sanctus Bellum to the utmost of my ability against all enemies and assailants. I shall support, sustain and defend magi and covenfolk of Parum Sanctus Bellum engaged in such defense, including but not limited to casting my vote at Tribunal to uphold such defense.

{GM Comment: Defend the covenant against enemies. Guests never have sanctum rights here, and the covenant considers this depriving its magi of their magical power.}

9)I shall notify the members of Parum Sanctus Bellum by writing before terminating my membership, and assume responsibility for fulfilling this communication.

{GM Comment: Allowing membership to lapse by default violates the Charter. Delivering the notification via Redcap suffices.}

10)I shall accept Telemachos filius Antar of House Bonisagus and the steward of Parum Sanctus Bellum as Authorities regarding the interpretation of this Charter and my assumed rights and obligations under it.

{GM Comment: As much fun as pretending to be a lawyer can be, I'm not one. Indeed, I'm a bit tired right now. And even real contracts sometimes need people to explain to its signatories what they agreed to. This is not here for me to spring nasty stuff at you out of the blue.}

Signed and witnessed, this

(space for signature)

{GM Comment: The covenant is basically a springboard for whatever you want to do. Where, in most sagas, it is a central character, this is not the case here. It will become central only to the extent that it matters to your characters.}

Covenant Lands and Environs

The city of Kyiv lies slightly downstream and across the river from the covenant. Mythic Kyiv has seen better days, yet remains a vital city that dwarfs London in size, though significantly smaller than Paris. It is situated on forested hills, and wood is by far the dominant building material, used to pave roads and build fortifications, very little of which is of stone. Its ironworking is not nearly up to the standard of western cities, let alone Saracen lands. But it is a mistake to consider this a primitive outpost on the edge of civilization. Kyiv is a wealthy city, with churches and schools and bustling craftspeople and merchants, though it lacks a university.

Kyiv is a cosmopolitan city, with a large Jewish population, some Muslims and even some pagans, though these are persecuted if they bring notice to themselves, and may not worship. Rus is wealthy, and money changes hands. You can find virtually any kind of person here, Varangians from Britain and Scandinavia, Saracens, Venetians, "Romans," steppe barbarians, Saracens, Jews and sometimes even people from mythic lands further afield.

The modern concept of Russia does not exist yet. This is one of the most tolerant places in Mythic Europe. The Rus have not yet been sundered from Europe by Mongol invasion (and this might never happen); their nobility is linked to that of Christendom by ties of blood and marriage. Barbarian Cuman raiding and settlement to the south of Kyiv and the decline of Constantinople since the mid-11C have sapped the commercial vitality of the city, but not entirely.

The Rus' have largely been Christianized by this time, yet many pagans remain, finding ways to continue observing the old ways. Especially in the countryside, people often prefer to adopt both Christian and pagan ways. Kyiv itself is mostly Christian.

The covenant ought to be clearly visible from Kyiv, its sculpted terraces and embankments, yet one's glance usually slides right past it uncomfortably.

The Dnieper River

Kyiv is situated on the west bank of this vast, vast but usually sluggish river that dwarfs the Rhine in size. The covenant is situated on the east bank.

The Dnieper freezes over most years during Winter. Between Kyiv and its terminus at the Black Sea lie seven rapids around which boats must be portaged and raiders waiting to attack commerce at its most vulnerable. On the other side of the Black Sea lies Constantinople, gateway to the Mediterranean.

The city of Smolensk, far to the north along the river, is a point of portage that eventually allows access to the Baltic, or to Novgorod and the northern interior.

The lands of the Rus

The lands of the Rus boast hundreds of urban centers, yet are vast beyond the imagination of most Europeans, abysses of unspoiled territory large enough to swallow entire realms. Men being what they are, all of this land is claimed by one ruler or another, yet the land yet belongs to itself. Magi in the west often feel threatened by the encroachment of the Dominion, but not here, where myth meets mundane, where the faerie gods of old have not been fully supplanted by the new order, and even where people have never sojourned in sufficient to recast the primordial magic of the land in their own image.

A man can get lost in the wonder of these fantastic lands and never return.

Politically, the Rus have fragmented into warring states. Kyiv has been repeatedly sacked by her rivals and is no longer even the nominal capital. To the south, Pecheneg and Cuman barbarians roam unchecked.

Parum Sanctus Bellum

The covenant lies within an uncomfortably strong Magic Aura, vividly sharp and alive, attuned to ancient powers alien to, perhaps alienated by humanity. The sun is hotter here, the winter sharper, the flowers sweeter, the decay where land meets water more sickeningly sweet. This is a beautiful place in its own way, but a perilous and untamed beauty.

This has not stopped magi from yoking the land to their own intentions.

The main site of the covenant is entirely artificial, a doubly-terraced plateau that rises from the low-lying shore of the river, held by massive retaining walls of unbroken rammed earth that to the unpracticed eye seems a natural, albeit unlikely, formation. But a magus would immediately recognize that this work has been done magically, probably by Rego Terram crafting magic.

Most of the covenfolk live on the first terrace. The magi all live on the second.

The Great Hall lies in the center of the green commons at the center of the covenant. This domed building of wood and plaster has a large central chamber, for which it is named. There are always at least two covenfolk awake here to serve magi. It is a place where magi can talk, or read notes left by other magi on break during their odd lab routines. (And all magi have odd routines; after all, do you really want to do critical work on Perdo Ignem during the day? Or Creo Corpus during an hour overly dominated by Saturn? Or read a book about Herbam during the 11th hour if your name corresponds to the number 426 and it is spring? Of course not.) The covenant's Charter has been rendered on the wall opposite the door of the main chamber in large Greek, Latin and Hebrew script, side by side, with exact but enlarged duplicates of the member's signatures. (Please don't count, as the number of PCs may change.) Your signature is there, as is that of Telemachos, whom you have never met. Beneath each signature is the location of his land. The other walls are not decorated, though you may change that.

The Great Hall has a kitchen and heat but no fire. Various enchantments prevent any fire from burning in this building while maintaining a comfortable temperature year-round. Eirik sleeps in a small room that doubles as his office.

Beneath the Great Hall, larders and storerooms have been delved into the earth. The library is also here, though the covenfolk implore magi to use the catalog and not to enter, because the librarian beats them if they fail to convince the magi otherwise. The librarian is a dour fellow who never leaves the library, hates to open the door, and hates light. Given a choice, he prefers to deliver and receive texts through a small hole in the wall with two sliding doors. But if a magus insists on viewing the library and promises to do so in total darkness, the librarian will admit him but not otherwise, and will lecture the magus deferentially but definitely about the evils of light and moisture. The librarian has an iron collar about his neck (if you manage to sense such things) and smells of onions. If you manage to see the library in the dark, it looks pretty ordinary.

One vast subterranean room contains the covenant's scriptorium, which is completely strange. A small viking boat is suspended from the ceiling. The dragon prow has been replaced by a rostrum from which a hortator in the Roman fashion beats a steady pace. A viking warrior is chained to each rowing position, but sits at a writing table instead of an oar. With each beat, each viking etches a single line or feature onto the parchment or vellum he is working on, and redips his quill in ink. A boy scurries to and fro refilling the inkwells. A magus who looks closely enough will quickly realize that none of the rowers or even the hortator is quite human. Each is bound in iron, the rowers with a leg shackle; the boy and hortator with a collar. They exhibit a range of bestial features that one might construe as demonic, as perhaps they are. None of them speak. Eirik is either not willing or able to speak about them beyond, "rowers on a sea of ink; Telemachos bound them while I was elsewhere," but will be glad to let a magus investigate them—if the magus is wiling to first demonstrate that he has the ability and intention to take up the slack of copying texts, should he disrupt the work.

I haven't decided if the there are subterranean corridors that link up the magi's houses to each other and the Great Hall (nice during the winter), or the extent of the rooms delved into the artificial plateau. I'm open to ideas. :slight_smile:

Telemachos has a standing request not to be disturbed because he is "busy working on a tricky problem and would hate to have to start over." His note seems confident that he will be finished in no more than two centuries.

Without the use of magic, the covenant is not defensible against a determined assault, even from the river but especially from the east. The retaining walls are strong and of moderate height, even the first terrace offers a commanding view, but there are no flanking towers, and the plateau is too large to easily defend. Fortunately, the site defends itself from mundane observation, as previously described, and magi are not limited to mundane defenses should the need arise.

Demographics are deliberately left blank. Regardless of how many PCs show up, the covenant seems too large, too many buildings for covenfolk and too many sancta for magi.

How the covenant earns its keep is also left ambiguous at present. Presumably, some covenfolk trade in Kiev, or trap furs, or something like that. Covenfolk also harvest vis.

Some of the rest of this information might need to be fleshed out further. Covenfolk will be created as necessary. If you want to create a grog-level coven-person, write a one-paragraph description of a mundane Russian or Varangian or something like that.

Note that we are not using the "Covenants" economy rules. There's an entire city of resources just across the river, and the optimizations to improve a covenant's economy based on the rules do not always make sense.

Covenfolk of Parum Sanctus Bellum

Eirik: He is the Steward of the covenant. He is a tall, human man on the far side of middle age, thinned out slightly by the years, and clearly sustained by a Longevity Ritual or something similar. He is deferential to PC magi, even subservient, yet not obsequious. He expects and subtly encourages magi to be slightly arrogant and cognizant of their superior station. He nevertheless maintains a dignity of his own. Or maybe it is not quite his own: He devotes every waking moment to the covenant and appears to have no personal life whatsoever. His Latin is flawless, but his accent hints of an origin far away from Rome or the Order. He will talk about most things but deflect comments about his origin. Discussions about the bound covenfolk meet either with cryptic hints or advice to discuss it with Telemachos, the only one who really knows.

The librarian: This dour man is almost human. He is passionate, zealous, even monomaniacal about his work, yet has been bound to it with enchanted iron. It is hard to ascertain his true appearance by the absolute darkness he prefers. His ears are pointy and too long, his skin is gray. He is slightly on the short side and completely bald. He has long, spindly fingers and quick hands with a terrible strength. He is will discuss books and documents, but has no interest in or real understanding of their contents, only their qualities and reputation. This can make for a bizarre and frustrating conversation. Unless he gets caught up in his topic, he prefers to keep all social interactions to a minimum. But a magus who draws him out and gets him to start talking about books might learn a lot about which magi in the Order know what, and even some information about disputes and rivalries.

Bound covenfolk: These include the boatman and the creatures of the scriptorium, and none others that have been seen. They cannot speak. They serve faithfully within their bonds, yet also seem to struggle against them.

Ordinary covenfolk: Most of these either cook and clean for magi or do the work that sustains the covenant. Not all of them are Russian, but all have been Russified at least slightly. Nearly all of them live as families. The covenant does not exhibit an obvious armed presence, with patrols and guardsmen in livery, but sometimes less is more: The menfolk of the covenant are willing, if not professional fighters. The covenant includes three or four Varangians and a few steppe horsemen all of whom have married local girls and are making new lives for themselves. Some covenfolk are also reputed to be Shapeshifters.