What I usually do is plan out development, but I do not apply the numbers to the forum/wiki until certain time hurdles have been cleared. Things do get revised a bit along the way, depending on the events that actually transpire. For example, with Carmen, no development will be applied until she has cleared "Mission: Improbable". After that, she is free & clear untill Fall 1233 (the season she spends in Sigmundo's Library). There may be sidereal events or interactions aside in someone else's story where exact stats may be called into play. In said case, I have a record of what her score would have been exactly at that time.
And you are correct. There is nothing that mandates you provide service to the covenant. You are supposed to sorta want to though . And there is incentive. You recieve a base annual salary of 3 pawns of vis and 6£ silver. You recieve this again as a Stipend for serving as an Officer, and likewise you can earn this as a Wage for providing Service to the covenant. Your time as an Officer or the manner in which you supply Service is up to you. It may or may not take up a season, or it may take more. The point is doing the duty of your office and/or providing service that is of value to the covenant.
For example, Carmen recieves annual Benefits fro being a Pontifex. She also feels obligated to fufill the duties of any office not taken up by anyone, and by default she will serve as the Tresurer (because this is a GM book-keeping chore). But this will not take up a significant portion of her time. And in each yer, she made sure to dedicate at least one season in service: 1230 Drake Hunt & Mission Improbable, 1231 help Arachne, 1232 help Arachne again, 1233 spend two seasons inventing & creating the "Rods of Lightning" (high penetration charged items for a trustworthy veteran custodes to use in combat). Then in 1234, at the Dragon's Library, she will spend the season Copying something for the covenant to use (which she of course will also use, but everyone else gets to use it too).
Vibria didn't use a whole lot of her skills (and none of her magic) in Mission Improbable.
So, I'm leaning toward 1 xp Folk Ken (only to avoid the three botch dice, although I do find the "I like you...you're relatively fireproof" thing appealing). And 5 xp in Bargain (which, as near as I can tell, is the most appropriate Ability for figuring out how much something might be worth) and 4 xp in Awareness.
A couple of things that I have on the planner, I think I need some adjudication on.
I have Summer of 1231 pencilled in for a Vis Hunt. Is that going to require a story? (in which case, I can push it back to the next cycle, and spend the summer practicing Mastery (I think it works best with Imperturbable Casting).
I also have Summer of 1232 tagged as “Exploring, prospecting, and making sure there aren't any other threats in the area.” Same basic question.
And a season (Autumn 1231) chilling with my homedragon Maurice learning Draconic culture. Is that okay? And if so, what does she gain.
And finally...Sigmundo had mentioned taking Vibria down to the Mists of Tarragon, but that it was a way down the road yet. She will ask him what she has to do to prepare herself for them.
Practice Mastery in Summer 1231, then in Fall you hang out with Maurice and essentially Practice using your Magic Lore (specializing in Dragons). This is only worth 5xp, and that sucks, so if the troupe is generous and allows me, I would rather it grants you 10xp. Your Magic Lore score is already 4, so your score won't increase. But we can say that you have firsthand knowledge of what draconic culture is like.
Then in Summer 1232, you can combine your exploration and vis hunting activities, and I can make a story out of that.
Well, IIRC, practice XP varies depending on the source quality, and can go up to 7 or 8, so you can certainly give more than 5, although it stretches belief.
But Instead of putting irrealistic practice XP, since Vibria is "learning Draconic culture" from Maurice instead of "studying dragons", wouldn't it instead stand to reason to use the Teaching rules, with Maurice as the teacher? She's not observing dragons and trying to decifer their customs, she's actively being taught by one about what it is they do. XP should be 9 + Maurice's Com + Maurice's Teaching
Spring, 1231: Studying under the new Teacher #2, either Folk Ken or Etiquette (whichever people think Vibria really needs to learn so she'll stop rubbing people the wrong way all the time).
Summer, 1231: practice with Sword of the Avenger Imperturbable Casting Mastery. Basically, training with whomever (or whatever) for three months with a flaming sword, in the armour and helm that Vulcanus made for her. 8 xp.
Autumn, 1231: Learning Draconic Culture from Maurice. 12 xp.[strike]And, not to sound munchkinish, but Fixer's idea of treating Maurice as a teacher makes a lot more sense than training or Practice.[/strike]
Winter, 1232: Study Riddles of Mars (Ignem summa).
Spring, 1232: Study Liberi de Creationé (Creo summa)
Summer, 1232: Exploration and vis-hunting. (Adventure Time?)
Autumn, 1232: Learn Leadership (from Armando, or Alexandro, or somebody?)
Winter, 1233: Study Riddles of Mars (Ignem summa).
Spring, 1233: Training/Teaching in Single Weapon from Armando(?)
Summer, 1233: Train with the Andorran Guard again.
Autumn, 1233: Study Elaine's Opus.
Winter, 1234: Study either Elaine's Opus or Corpus Hermeticum (Magic theory summa).
Maurice has a Com of +2 but no teaching skill. Still, that will mean 11xp in Magic Lore, and I will give you a bonus of +1 because you specialize in Dragons and are studying from a dragon. So 12xp. Then 8xp for Mastery practice, that keeps things even at the abstract average of ten.
Okay, that just leaves the questions about the Andorran Guard ability/source quality (Summer 1230 and Summer 1233), what to learn from Teacher #2 (Spring, 1231), and what the SQ would be for learning or being trained in Leadership (Autumn, 1232) and Single Weapon (Spring, 1233), and the Quality/Level for Elaine's Opus (Autumn 1233) as yet unanswered.
For each of your seasons of training with the guard, I will grant you 10xp that can be spent on any Martial Ability, Brawl, Athletics, Profession-Soldier, and maybe some other tangentially related ability. But more importantly, you will now be able to fight as part of a Trained Group with just about anyone from our guard. The term Wizard's Lance refers to sharing your Parma with other members of the group, both to protect them from magic and to shield them from the effects of your Gift (so you can fight as a cohesive unit). Most magi don't do this. It is mainly a Flambeau thing
I can't tell you what to do with teacher #2. I suggest you pick a skill you do not have.
All of the teachers Vocis acquired are of a Quality of 15 for one-on-one teaching.
Fausto, the Swordmaster, is Quality 18 for one-on-one.
I know nothing about Elaine's Opus. Maybe it was written elsewhere. Ask Ryu