Winter 1228- the disappearing Mingus

Within a month he comes to you with a problem "We barely have enough gold to last the year, our expenses are over 83 pounds of gold per year, our income is only 40 gold per year and we have reserved of 60 pounds. We will be out of gold next summer if we do nothing!"

Kriegeist will look at the books with him to see where the expenses and income are coming from.

Is the quartz mine in a magic aura? And already being mined well?

The mine is in a magic aura and provides a pawn of terram vis per season. Whether it is being mined "well" would require someone more experienced in mining to determine. Expenses wise your largest expense is food, which costs the covenant 22 pounds of gold per year, followed by a run off between wages at about 17 1/2 pounds per year and a variety of consumables (firewood, candles, clothing etc.) which is all accounted for separately but looks to come in at a similar number.

Anastasia would definitely like to be included in any conversation on covenant finance, and it's one of the reasons she was aiming to setup a covenant meeting. I really think we can't let time go by without figuring out how the covenant is working, and who's responsible for what. Incidentally, this means I'd also like to know whether the covenant is setup with the typical covenant charter in the covenants book, or something else, and if something else, how decisions are supposed to be made and by whom.

OOC: I'm offering a humble spreadsheet for calculating covenant finance. I've input some preliminary information based on what I think I know at this point. I'll post on Discord, if this is useful to the gamemaster and troupe. If we have a financial problem, I'd like to see where our wealth is draining away, and where our income is coming from, so that we can make the necessary decisions. Of course, if the gamemaster has already his own tool, that's fine. I use this to keep track of auto-calculation of cost-savings, and it also doubles down to keep track of the accounting season by season with a log we can refer to if we forget something.

Mingus didn't put together a covenant charter, relying instead on something more of a handshake agreement. (He was really bad at planning apparently)
speaking to covenfolk it sounds like Mingus also had additional sources of vis that came out of the magic realm (right now the 2 mentem/season come from rocks he placed just inside the entrance)

After a cursory look at the covenant's finances, Kriegeist calls a meeting, sending a grog to every magus in the covenant to say, "Kriegeist of Tytalus sends his regards, and invites you to meet in the council chambers immediately if the upkeep of your laboratory concerns you."

[to frame our conversation on discord]

Elia comes to the meeting with her hands a bit dirty with soil, and some smudges of it on her dress and face. "Sodales, you have called us here for a meeting."

Kriegeist nods. "To get to the point, we have a finance problem. Without new funds, we will have a shortfall by summer. We also have almost no vis, and our sources are quite sparse. I didn't brook the delay of making copies, but here." He passes the documents over.

"And setting up sources of income is needed, if we are to keep ourselves, our covenfolk, and our labs, in good order. Yes, I agree. But I have given it some thought, mainly because some of the things I need are not readily available. We need to buy seeds of medicinal herbs. I can make them grow, and it will be both useful for us, and to be sold. In addition, we can set up an orchard of fruit trees, and lumber trees, and make sure that they reach maturity, and usefulness easily, so we those as another income source."

note: the most commonly grown trees in the order are oak and olive- oak trees take 50 years naturally to reach maturity, live to be around 1000 years, and produce 10,000 acorns a year, in nature about 1 out of every 1000 becomes a new tree, but this is largely because most acorns get eaten by wild animals. Olive trees take 100 years to reach maturity, and while oak trees need deep soil clear of rocks olive trees will grow in relatively thin soil conditions, but do not handle cold well. You can find soil for oaks locally, but it will be a half days walk from the covenant. Or you can try and find a less common (hermetically) type of tree to use.

Kriegeist nods, but says, "That's a good idea, but more of a long term solution. In the short term... the simplest path seems to me to be to procure Terram vis, and create some gold. My understanding is that this Tribunal has no prohibition against it, though I do not have a spell for it. I can write a book in the spring which should sell for enough vis to solve this problem and have enough left over for a modest Aegis."

Elia nods, but brushes concerns aside "While naturally oaks take a lot of time to reach maturity, I have a spell to make a tree reach maturity is a single day. And with a season or two, can probably create a version of it that will do it on several trees at once. And on the plus side, it doesn't require the use of Vis. I don't mean to discourage you, or anyone else, from coming up with other plans to supplement our income, far from it, but it's not far from our reach, if we so choose."

Kriegeist shrugs, "I'm in favor of any plan that works, but we need 100 pounds silver by summer. Do you think you can manage that with what you are able to grow?"

Anastasia takes some time to look over the figures they gathered.

"We're importing far too many things that could be managed at the covenant. I'm suggesting we increase the number of craftsmen and laborers to reduce our imports." she asks Guida to help her come up with a hiring list and presents it to her fellow magi. "This is a draft proposal for what it could look like ahead at the end of this winter, and next Winter - assuming no increase in income, casting a minimum strength Aegis of the hearth using vis trade, and casting a touch of midas using our own Terram vis, then investing some of the created gold to buy businesses, lands to tax, or setting up a money-lending bank, etc."

"If we're able to expend the staffing along the lines of what I'm proposing, we have the funds to last us through next year until we cast a touch of Midas, at which point we'd have funds not to worry about a deficit too much while our new income sources get setup, and I'm fairly optimistic we can run a surplus in two or three years time that allow us to possibly improve our labs. But we have some work ahead of us to get this covenant up and running, and vis sources will be another choke point that I'm a lot more concerned about than the Finances. It seems like our founder shut down his lab and emptied the vis stores, so we should plan on him not coming back. We may need to check if he also thoroughly looted the library before leaving, since he did not leave us with any vis. Ensuring we have the resources to learn and develop as magi is going to be a worry, not to mention the covenant can't afford to replace a longevity ritual that would fail..."

"Beyond the staffing increase, I propose each magi plans to dedicate at least two, possibly three seasons by Winter 1229 on covenant needs, including:
*Trying to locate vis sources
*Researching spells that are necessary for covenant operation like Aegis of the Hearth if none of us know the ritual - personally I don't;
*Researching spells that help us improve our financial situation like Touch of Midas, or anything you need to improve our mining or launching a business such as tree growth;
*Plugging gaps in the library;
*Extracting vis for covenant needs - extracting vim vis would save us on trading our Mentem vis for the next aegis so we can keep it for covenant needs,"

OOC: See budget spreadsheet on discord for details

"I agree regarding devoting the next year to communal needs, but I'm not sure it's the best idea to bring new people in. Whatever Mingus' faults as an administrator, he was aware of the need for secrecy so I think his choices for traders and covenfolk should be reliable. Bringing new people in invites spies, and risks making our location easier to find. The simple solution is the best, in my opinion, which right now is just having more gold. I can write a tractatus in the spring which will raise probably... 10 pawns? So if someone can spend that season inventing a spell, we can solve the immediate problem, and have enough savings to keep us going while we establish a better income stream."

Anastasia seems to consider the rebutal. "I think you're right that a large number of covenfolks arriving in the next season or two is not the best idea to maintain secrecy. Perhaps procuring the services of a handful of experts that can assist with controlling our laboratory expenses would at least help somewhat, as well as prove useful to future enchantment projects we may have. As for spies - I can help vet the newcomers to see if they have multiple allegiances, or if they are under some kind of magical effects. I'm thinking in the vincinity of 5 to 10 covenfolk. Does that seem more reasonable to you?"

"As to wealth creation itself, this is not my specialty. I can offer to research an Aegis of the Hearth this season, of 4th or 5th magnitude, so that I'm ready to cast it next winter - unless someone else wants to do it. And when the weather is more forgiving in the Spring, search the surrounding lands for any untapped vis sources that we could claim."

Speaking of vis sources, Guida would inquire whether Mingus registered any of the covenant's vis sources with the redcaps in the past.

Elia considers things "Well, if we're able to research Touch of Midas, and at least take care of the immediate costs, and we bring in a few carpenters, then growing several dozens of oaks, would at least reduce our costs, in terms on furniture and such needed in the covenant. And I have researched the spell to grow a tree over a single day, so that's not a worry. Now, while my knowledge of Vim isn't great, I can extract some Vim Vis from the Aura. And I'd be more than happy to assist in locating Vis sources." (OOC: I believe I have a CrVi lab total of around 51 in the Aura, so that's about 5 pawns of Vim).

Mingus did not register any sources with the redcaps, however he did have to make a declaration of vis income to the tribunal, and claimed the covenant has an income of 42 pawns per year- 8 mentem, 4 terram, 8 Herbem, 8 Ignem, 8 corpus, 3 aquam and 3 animal.

Kriegeist sighs, and leans back in his seat. "Here's my problem with new covenfolk. Mingus just announced to the whole Order that he has founded a covenant with a portal to the Magic realm. Now, given that some fools don't believe there is a magic realm, and some magi won't care, or won't believe him, or can't be bothered to do anything about it... if there are even a tenth - no, even a twentieth of the order who are interested in inviting themselves to stay here, or challenging us to certamen over it, or declaring wizard's war over it - that could be 60 magi. And all it takes is one success for our secret location to become no longer a secret. Not to mention that the tribunal of the Alps doesn't really want us to be here at all, which means another wholly separate group we have to contend with.

The Aegis might prevent effects from coming in, but every person we recruit is a potential trail to be followed, by mundane or magical means; a potential arcane connection for a caster strong enough to overcome our Aegis; a potential spy, whether prepared ahead of time or blackmailed later by threats to family. Perhaps every threat comes down to a duel or a war, both of which might be won; but all it takes is one successful gambit for our location to become public knowledge. Even the traders Mingus already built relationships with are a concern. In ten or twenty years, we can have all manner of defenses and methods for hiding our location, and then we can relax a bit. But right now is the time for healthy paranoia. We don't know anything about the covenant, yet, so I think we should take the time to learn all we can about things as they are, prepare defenses, and make sure we have rigorous security measures in place to check anyone who comes here, before we let anybody new in."

"The mundanes can be recruited without revealing the details of the covenant they're going to. They don't need to be recruited locally either if you're concerned about our Alps sodales being on the lookout. Once they're living inside the covenant on a permanent basis, if they have no connection to existing magi, I fail to see why they would be a target for magical investigation because there's realistically no magi that will be aware of their existence if they're not aware of the covenant's location. Even if they are tracked down using magic somehow, following their trail with magic in order to reveal a covenant's secret location would still count as scrying since the intent is to peer in our business. If someone is willing to commit a crime in order to locate us, let me put it this way... the real security risk is us because we're known to be living here, and it's far easier to track down someone you know you're looking for than someone you don't know exists. We left existing covenants. If someone wishes to track us down, the investigation starts there, not by posting sentries to survey for what the carpenters are doing in an entire country in case one moves. I also frankly will not be devoting endless seasons to building up fake defenses for imaginary conflicts because we're afraid of hiring a maid for the covenant, and I would rather deal with a Wizard's War than waste my time on imaginary problems."