One of the Boons from Covenants is time dilation/contraction.
With time dilation, only one season within the covenant may pass while one year passes outside.
With time contraction, one year may pass within the covenant while only one season passes outside.
Covenants states: "In some regiones, the time difference is unnoticed until the visitor leaves, when age fades from them, or comes crushing down." It's not entirely clear to me what this means. Take a contracted regio, and assume a 20-year-old character spends 40 years within it while only 10 pass outside - and then leaves. Does it mean that just before leaving he's 50 (20+40) but as soon as he leaves he becomes 30 (20+10) again? Or does it mean that just before leaving he's 30, but as soon as he leaves he ages to 60?
Become young again, but lose all the xp/learning ('fades') or keep that (avoids anomalies with items enchanted vs actual xp gained) - in which case, I'd expect the entire Order (and every mundane too!) to descend on that regio and wage bloody war over ownership if anyone found out about its effects; or
I would prefer to make it so that nothing happens - time spent within the regio has been spent by that character and they age (apparently) normally for the subjective time spent, and that age remains on exit.
In the reverse situation, where the character has eg spent 10 years, but outside has experienced 30 years, again you could rule that suddenly they gain all those extra years (hope you made a longevity potion, ready for emergency use! And without any gain in terms of xp) but I would prefer to have nothing happen - they're just younger.
If you want a non-aging effect, I think it would be better to use the magic realm rules from RoP:M.
The 'time crushing down on them' effect reads more like the results of a faerie glamour wearing off, where the apparent agelessness was never real. See various faerie tales for details.
Hm. For a Magic regio and most Divine regiones, I'd go with "time experienced=time experienced" in the majority of cases. The Magic Realm is generally predictable like that; the advantage of a contracted regio is immense in real time (though distractions are absolute murder), but you don't get any benefits beyond spending a year in the lab or the library every season, and you age as fast as you live. For Faerie regiones, anything goes; there's mythic precedent for age catching up to mortals when they return from Underhill (such as in the tale of Oisin, son of Finn), and also precedent for them coming back a century after they left, no worse for wear. Infernal regiones that provide benefits will do so maliciously.
However, any time-contraction regio that allows you to live four seasons while only aging one is a huge strategic resource, as mentioned above, and Wizard's War will most certainly be fought for control of the covenant that will be established there (or if it's a faerie regio, House Merinitia will immediately swarm it). Even regular time contraction is awesome for a Hermetic magus, but this will lead to magi growing to nearly four times the usual level of power.
Yeah, in general just have experienced time=actual time. For balance purposes. But here is what I might do if I wanted exceptions.
An infernal Regio, has age revert when you step out. There are no other issues, except maybe subtle influences on personality. It will even advertise itself and have lots of potential entrances. Its probably a unique infernal aura that helps with magic. Wizard's Wars for everyone!
A divine Regio might suppress aging if you live a sinless life. Of course, if you aren't using it for good purposes...
A faerie Regio will do anything it pleases. But attempts to abuse it will result in Dwarf Fortress style fun.
A magic regio might slow down the rate of aging, but it would also slow down gain of experience.
Hmm, personally, time contraction does not appear such a huge advantage, from the point of view of a troupe. I don't really see it as allowing characters to advance four times faster. Instead everyone and everything else advances four times slower. Plus, if you are a magus, the distractions you can allow yourself without compromising your studies are four times shorter - and your vis sources replenish at one fourth the normal rate! Now, having the extra age vanish when one leaves the regio is indeed an advantage but ... how big? For magi, with their longevity potions, it's not really a big deal. For companions it's certainly more of an advantage, but overall, as a Major Boon, it seems to me it barely pays for itself.
I suppose it is more of a thing when you are competing in some fashion with those outside the regio. You'd have more time prepare, heal, study, etc., compared to your rivals. Whether that is a really significant advantage in itself depends on the contents of your saga.
This. The advantage really comes down to say, raising arts faster than rivals, training apprentices faster etc. One could also write higher level/quality books sooner as well as copy books faster. Crops inside would grow faster a well.
I think the actual time = experienced time causes all sorts of interesting problems on its own. Say that 1 year goes by inside the regio vs outside. That means they need 4 times more vis for longevity potions, they can spend max 2.5 days outside of the regio adventuring before they run into problems etc.
You can do a lot of things. First off, you can stash a pack of highly paid scholars inside, and make them study and write for you. Or learn MT so they can set up awesome labs. For that matter they can rush awesome labs inside then transfer them to the outside world! In fact, they can do all of the above! Assuming you manage to nab a good writer or 5. They'll have high MT in know time, great labs for everyone and a nice series of books. Think of all the books! If you want to be a real jerk you can make them discover adamic in under a decade. Just think of the limitless power. If you get hit by a wizard's war, you have the time to learn a new spell or grab a spell mastery. As mentioned crops can grow in a fraction of the time. Your familiar ages at your rate, so it can do endless amounts of work in the regio and not suffer from extra aging. Make you're apprentice work inside the regio, you can get 12 seasons of vis extraction out of the little bugger for one season of teaching! Its not like you suffer from your apprentice aging! In fact, why do you suffer from aging? Seriously get on that!
Point is, such a regio is completely and utterly awesome. Just how awesome depends on how well you exploit it.
I was under the impression that the rapid aging seen after exiting some Fairy regios was due to glamour being used to suppress aging. Spend 100 years locked up in a Fairy court and they might use glamour to make it seem like you arnt aging at all. As soon as you leave, that glamour falls away and you suddenly age 100 years (and probably die in the process without a high end longevity potion).
I have to disagree with your view, Lamech. As was noted before, the only advantage that time contraction by a factor 4 gives you is that it effectively slows your rivals' advancement by a factor 4. However, many, if not most, rivals are one-shot rivals that you have to compete with when you reach a certain power level (regardless of when you reach it), or rivals that do not significantly improve with time (ancient dragons, princes of hell etc.). So again, it's a relatively limited advantage for a Major Boon, particularly because you pay for it by having your vis sources replenish at 1/4th the normal rate, and interruptions from studies start hurting your lab & learning totals 4 times earlier.
Alas, then, it seems much more sensible to take 30X time dilation and stay inside of the covenant while the rest of the world stays outside. Every year you spend in your covenant means 30 years outside. You can have all those books and labs in a single season of subjective time, from people living outside of the covenant. And every season inside the covenant you get 30 times the normal vis. Just think of the limitless power! Not to mention that your sodales in the rest of the Order are researching for your benefit advances to Magic Theory at a breakneck speed -- from your perspective, Bonisagus lived less than 15 years ago.
This is a good point, though it may be argued that good timing on your opponent's side would make 4X contraction insufficient for you to do it. In any case, I think it's a rather marginal advantage.
Then why not stay within a dilated regio, and let crops, familiars and everyone else work for you outside, as above?
Ah, no, I think this is actually breaking the Code.
That, as in all things, depends on your local Tribunal and your Communication+Code of Hermes total. Giving an Apprentice one season's teaching outside, then nine seasons' slavery inside, is technically within the letter of the law.
And that apprentice then blathers about it when he's gauntleted, because of personal enmity, or whatever. Not only that 9 seasons of slavery, instead of the 3 seasons normally means you're adding another 180 XP experience points to the apprentice by the time he gauntlets. It's like Skilled Parens x2 for free.
It may not break the letter of the Code, but it certainly breaks the spirit of the Code. And it puts at risk something that the magi of the covenant would rather keep secret, I would think. Whether it means the Order investigates all the apprentices who seem to go missing, because the magi of the covenant kill their apprentices before they gauntlet, or because their apprentices move on and eventually tell people about the covenant's time dilated regio.
Sure, and story driving consequences are the purview of the SG first, and the troupe second. Which means, I say to my players what the consequences of doing X will be. They say, sure sounds good, because they are focusing on all the mechanical advantages that will accrue to their players. Whereas I am focusing on all the ways they're going to pay for those advantages. And they aren't going to like them...
There would certainly be benefits to doing exactly that. From your perspective you would have nigh unlimited vis. The problem is the world would pass you by. You would effectively be cutting yourself off from the outside world. Same thing with living in a contracted regio.
Eh, a handful of spells can be a huge boon in a wizard's war. And I think that such an interpretation is a bit silly. You stop your previous research project and start on a new one. Its not like lab work needs to start and end at specific times through the year. (Or does it?!?)
Actually, it is assumed that they do, although this is rather indirect. ArM5 p.103 mentions at the end of the section on distractions, that "If you miss more than twenty days, you cannot perform a laboratory activity at all, as you lose tyour synchronization with the cycles of the heavens."