Salve Soldales!

It's been ten years since the last website depicting the saga of Tarn Crag, the previous covenant which I both played a part in and acted as the secondary storyguide. That site has been off the web for a while, now. However, Sigil is back with another Ars Magica campaign. Welcome to Kettle Crag, home of the Covenant of Profundus.

Profundus begins as a Spring Covenant, populated by young mages, not long out of their apprenticedom and one well-established master from eastern Europe, Ulfric of Verditious, a cantankerous, spiteful old magus who has travelled far to study in peace. He wanted to move away from the traffic of Europe and most especially, the many young mages who come to consult him upon Muto in which he is acknowledged widely as a leading exponent. Why Ulfric has chosen to relocate himself to the Tribune of Stonehenge is a mystery to some but he will only say he wants to be far away in a realm where people will stop bothering him and let him get on. With him comes his most recent apprentice, the German-born Lothar of Verditius.

In creating the covenant, I have drawn on my knowledge of the area in which it is set. I have walked the crags in question with family and friends and made a study of Cumbrian history and folk lore in order to provide some depth to the story. The majority of the players have played Ars Magica characters, previously. I decided upon a rather poorly kept hill farm, roughly converted to the uses of the mages and their followers. It has some plus points but Ulfric has been more interested in his selfish needs than in providing for the covenant. Fortunately, Baldwyne, the Steward, was previously with Ulfric in Germany and knows a lot about what must be done.  On the down side, Baldwyne's health and memory are failing, not improved by the long journey and stress of having to set up a new home for a demanding and grumpy master like Ulfric.

I have also created a series of npc covenants that represent those known to our mages (through the good offices of the redcaps) so that we have some structure to use, later, in considering inter-covenant relations and future tribunals.

The Journal or Saga of the Covenant can be found here, part two following on...

So, to the creation of the covenant from a GM viewpoint - Spring Covenants typically are +20/-50 point establishments. I decided not to work to that figure in exact terms but to balance at -30 over the piece. The Covenant of Profundus looks as follows - Site -4, Buildings -3, Defences -2, Stores -2, Relations -2, Improvement -1, Library 0, Mystical Attributes +1. Not a good start for the mages and this explains why they have to spend quite a lot of time, at least in the first seasons, following adventure seeds to acquire what is needed to bring this back towards balanced scores. They are short of nearly everything.

Site - 10 negative points spent - Site scores -4

  • Access.  The supply level is such that in bad years, it will fail to provide and the covenant will have to pay more & travel wider to get what they need. This reflects the remoteness and the lack of substantive supply in Ulfric's calculations.  In addition, the water supply is the local beck and tarn which is outwith the covenant walls moving that 20% one step(-1).Only 20% can then be obtained in half a day. The other 20% moves out to within a day (-1).  Furthermore, a journey to York would be required to obtain the last 40% of supplies and that moves the final 40 out two places for four more negatives.  Access scores a total of -8
  • Although Profundus is close to a trail that follows the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes, they are bleak places and not heavily used. Once every two weeks seems enough for them to see travellers at the gates.  - +1 point on Seclusion.
  • Environment is harsh, particularly in Winter (-1), with no magical features within the site or known in the surrounds (-1) however, the air is fresh and when it blows from The Manx, may even make it possible to distill some environmental auram vis. +0

Buildings - 6 negative points spent - Buildings -3

  • Size is going to have to be average. There are six mages. The grog and companion numbers will be smaller to start but the potential is at least an average sized covenant, once recruitment has moved along, so rating is 0
  • Quality is not as good as the mages would like. Ulfric hasn't been too careful beyond the single structure which has been built out of the old farmhouse into the one (no cost) impressive structure, an entry hallway, council chamber with basement that houses Ulfric's sanctum (of good quality) and a first floor which houses the library of good quality +1  However, the others have only average laboratories off this while the poor grogs and specialists have roofs that leak or at least hold water, poorly kept in thatch and with much wattle and daub for the peasant work force at -2 - the quality balances at 0.
  • Of course, to make matters worse, the buildings are in need of repair. The covenant is going to be spending a whole 50lbs of silver/annum to keep the place up. Agh! 5 negative points.

Defenses - Total 3 negative points. Defences -2

  • Site is interesting. On the plus side, it's a steep climb up from the valley to the east, up a narrow trail which the covenant has blocked with a gate and small wooden tower so you can't come in their front door without them knowing +2.  On the down side, the covenant is overlooked by a cliff so that's a -1 eastwards. It has a trail to the south which is partially concealed by a crag which means a force could get close without being seen although they couldn't cross the final ground with ease so just -1, there. Northwards is steep and impassable so probably that's a +1. Total - +1 on site position.
  • The wall around the covenant is mostly dry stone or fence. Around the centre where the main buildings are is only a wooden stockade with a gate tower much like an old trading post so that gets a -1. There is an extra tower and gate across the trail, albeit only a standard farm gate but that rates a +1.  There is no defence from behind -1.
  • Like the buildings, the defences are not on Ulfric's mind and with wood that needs upgrading, the cost is going to mount up. The defensive cost is going to be -3, 30lbs of silver per annum to maintain the basic defence they have. -3

Stores - overall they rack up -5 so Stores -2

  • Vis Stocks - Oh dear. Anything that the covenant had, Ulfric has already helped himself to. There are no stores of Vis at all. -2 , there.
  • Supplies - The debt isn't good, either. They are carrying a 500lbs of silver debt which was borrowed to get them started. - 1 score.
  • Reputation - Although Ulfric is well known, he doesn't have standing in this tribunal and he isn't well liked, anyway. The others are nobodies in the view of the other covenants - 1 reputation.  The peasants have got wind and consider them to be dangerous wizards liable to cause trouble. It looks like someone has been stirring for some reason -1 there, too.  -2 in total on rep.

Relations - with -5 negative, Relations are -2

  • Allies - the covenant is too new to have built up hermetic or mundane allies.  +0 here
  • Enemies - They have an enemy they don't know who has been stirring matters - rates a -1  There's worse to come. The major master at the nearest covenant has a problem with a young magus in Profundus. That covenant are not keen on a Cumbrian rival and they are quite able.  A -3, there. In addition, the nearby village of Hawkshead is land belonging to Furness Abbey. The overseer considers the magi to be demon loving, devil worhsipping heretics and only the more restrained attitide of the Abbot is holding him back. A -1 on any opportunity he gets to make life difficult.
  • Contacts - the balance is going to be negative. It is likely that at least one covenant has spies in the fold but then, again, Profundus may have one or two contacts of its own. Since it remains to be seen, that's a +0

Inprovement - Overall the balance is 2 negatives for a -1

  • Income is going to be a positive. There is a blue slate quarry on the doorstep. Part of the allowance for the covenant taking on the farm is that the local squire requires them to ensure that this keeps running. There are bandits in the hills and occasional issues with collapse and weather. A group of mages could ensure these were no longer issues for him. Baldwyne agreed to the deal on their behalf and with it, obtained an income of 50lbs of silver/annum. That's a +1
  • Vis Supply - This is not good news.  The Vis supply is not what they hoped, either. With two negatives, it's going to be 20 points/annum. The covenant is going to have to find more Vis. This appears to be one of the reward areas and seeds for adventures. -1 scored.
  • Inhabitants - The average stands on covenfolk and magi but the specialists are short in supply, here. Only ten rather than 20 are on the books. It's another negative -1.

Library - Overall neutral.  The Library is +0

  • Spells - It seems that Ulfric has, at least, collected enough spell scrolls and books through his reputation and preparation. Not that surprising. It seems to be the one area of interest he does have. +0 and 1500 points
  • Hermetic Books - Tempted though I was, I decided this would also be flat. Book acquisition is going to be a useful adventure seed although the covenant needs more income. +0 for 450 points.
  • Mundane Books - I had studied ancient texts and wanted to have a good few represented, here. The +0 and 300 points allows a decent collection to start off.

Mystical Attributes - Overall +1

  • Aura - The covenant is very near to Dominion territory and has no obviously strong magical affinity. Why has Ulfric chosen it, then ? Just remoteness, it seems. Poor choice, perhaps at -1
  • Magical Items - If Ulfric has any, he isn't declaring them. The covenant have no items on their stock list. +0
  • Laboratories.  Seeing that currently, the balance is -31 and if it ends with a -1 , here, -32 there is room for positive scoring. Tempestus and Saphone will have +1 labs as they were of some interest to Ulfric. He makes sure his old apprentice gets nothing special and worse, takes from his to leave him a -1. The Bjornaer's master was stingy and difficult so he has no improvements to add but there is a lab that will be made ready to recruit a sixth mage and this is going to be a +1.

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Kettle Crag - The Saga of Profundus is a Sigil Production. Copyright Sigil 1996, 2006

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