Although I contributed some ideas to the concept of Aedes Mercuriae (see Dois…?), and pitched the unrecognised “pirate covenant” of Fraxinetum Redux, I really created only one major covenant to Faith and Flame: the Provencal Tribunal that ended up in the final supplement.
This was the multi-site Jerbiton and Mercere led covenant know as Coenobium Rhodanien or more commonly, just “The Coenobium”.
<cue moody threatening music>
The concept for this covenant actually originated long before the initial pitch for Provencal (more on that later), while I was researching material on Burgundy.
I’d had this concept (inspired by reading the House Jerbiton section of Houses of Hermes: Societates) for an urban Jerbiton led Autumn covenant that would be suitable as a “home base” for starting players – one where they could explore their characters a bit first, without having to run an initial sequence of common beginning stories about “setting up camp” (Spring) or “exploring the ruins and decay” (Winter).
Although I didn’t know it a the time (as Against the Dark wasn’t out yet, and I wasn’t privy to it’s development) the concept was quite similar to some of the ideas for stories of magi working for the Tremere, but I was thinking somewhat more along the lines of a Saga based on an ensemble cast TV serial where there was an existing background of supporting characters with a history but plenty of potential for new characters to develop and create stories. Potentially the Coenobium makes a great place to end the Itinerarium of newly Gauntleted Jerbiton magi.
I kept thinking “Deep Space Nine set in Mythic Europe”. But without the Ferengi.
No, seriously, that was the core of the initial concept – in some ways a hearkening back to the “Old School” days of RPG where the adventurers all met in a bar, got into a fight and then found a reason to all trudge up into the hills to the old cave to find the village elder’s lost relative. Except this is Ars Magica, so it’s newly Gauntleted magi being thrown together while visiting the Coenobium…
This was all before I enrolled in iversity the Future of Storytelling MOOC and knew about pacing and development of mini-series serial dramas and “dailys” – there’s something more to be said about a “TV” approach for RPGs (and I know of at least one Saga that uses this style of play) but perhaps that discussion can wait for now.
See below for some additional short Coenobium related articles:
Next week… “the Backstory of Fraxinetum”