Grogs and Negative Characteristics

We noticed something odd in the character generation section of Grogs, under Characteristics - it appears to reference a rule in the main rulebook that my troupe hadn't noticed and can't find.

Page 65 of Grogs (first sentence under "Characteristics") says: "Every character has 7 points to spend on buying positive Characteristics, and can take up to 7 negative points to gain an equal number of additional points for positive Characteristics (ArM5, page 30)."

However, the page cited from the main rulebook merely says, "You start with seven points to spend." It says nothing about an upper limit on points gained via negative characteristics.

I checked the errata just now, and don't see it listed anywhere.

Is this a new rule masquerading as an old rule, or is this a possible errata?

It's not listed in the current errata, although it could be a new rule they're intended to add to the errata.

Or it can be an errata in the new book. It happens :slight_smile:


I said this in the saga where it came up, but it appears that the published Magi in Magi of Hermes follow this unwritten rule.

I'm not a fan of this, as I've created a few characters who violate this unwritten rule. I tend to like extremes, as that's where the interesting stories are. I would not be opposed to this being a grogs only rule, much like 3 Virtues and Flaws limit. Grogs are the fodder, and are meant to be limited. Companions are exceptional people without the Gift...

Those are my two bits.

I think it was a guideline from an earlier edition?

It's certainly not from 4th. And i don't recall it from 3rd, but can't check as that book is in my ex's possession.

I just checked my 3rd, and while it has a kind of bizarre point-buy system for characteristics (something like 7 points for characteristics, and you have to take at least that many in negative points, but they can be used to buy flaws or negative characteristics, I think?). But nothing about no more than seven points in negative characteristics.

Haven't gone through to check all the statted characters yet to see if any have more than 7 points in negatives, but even that could be "didn't feel like taking a lot" as opposed to "not allowed to take."

ooo, good idea. The Ex Miscellanea template (ArM5 p25) has 8 negative points (two stats at -2, two stats at -1) - and that's a character with Improved Characteristics even! (As an aside: man, those pre-statted characters love them some Improved Characteristics.)

Another template from MRB
The Specialist (grog):
Int -1, Pre -1, Come -4; -8

So, it looks like this is a new rule, since there are raw examples of both magi and grogs that have taken more than -7 points in negative Characteristics.

I can easily justify this being a "grogs-only" new rule, since (unlike magi and Companions), grogs aren't supposed to be extraordinary.

or a brain fart by the author?

Well, whether it's a new rule or not, it's definitely a mistake due to the incorrect attribution to the cited page. I would agree with Peregrine Bjornaer that it could make a lot of sense for a grog to keep the grog from becoming too extraordinary. I had already wondered about the 7 free points anyway. Since 0 is the average, and I figured grogs were pretty much average (as opposed to companions and magi), I was always a little surprised grogs got those 7 free points. I figure it was done for consistency.


Well, for fighting grogs it made sense. Usually you don't pick the average Joe to become a soldier/warrior.

Serving-maids and other covenfolk are a different matter, though. Makes for too many pretty maids. Not that I would be complaining! :wink:

While I'm not really so sure about this (It clashes with the systems with which I am familiar in the real world. Plus in the game you can be better that average physically without being better than average overall.), I would think what you say makes sense for a covenant since they're building something more like a special forces unit and not an entire army.


You can give grogs only 3 points to buy characteristics if you want more average grogs. Combat grogs can be fairly spectacular taking improved characteristics and puissant (weapon or ability). 3 points for all characteristics tends to work well for us, but it is true that we do not enforce that strictly.


I disagree.

It doesn't stop extremes. After all, with this limit, everyone can have a stat at -3 (the worse value for a normal human) and another at +3 (the best for your average joe). This is extreme, no? And you can still also have 2 stats at -2, which is already pretty bad, thanks.
What it stops is ridiculous optimisation and lack of diversity, with your fighter grogs all having Str +3, Dex +3, Sta +3, Qik +1 and Int -3, Com -3, Pre +0 and your scholars (or magi) the same thing in reverse.

You want an exceptionnal character? Well, Improved Abilities is here for you. Unless one wants to play a generalist, it is seldom taken, because dumping useless stats is so much easier. How often do we see it in PCs? How many times? Especially compared to having a dump stat or 2?
How many people, IRL or in history, do you see who are at the human worst in half of what they do, the human best in the rest? Look at the olympic games. Do the competitors really look as if they have Int and Com different from anyone, or did they take Improved Stats? Same for those scientists that didn't take that Major Disabled Flaw (Steven Hawkings). Are they so different from you in Str, Dex, Qik or Sta?

And don't tell me it kills diversity. There's a table on Grogs that show a few exemples of different spread for stats. Have you looked at it? Not only can these be arranged differently from character to character, having quite a few extreme proposals, but these are just an exemple of some possible spreads.

I like Xavi's proposal for grogs to have only 3 points of stats to buy, though, since it makes companions exceptionnal. Wasn't it like this in a previous edition?

I would tend to agree with this.
Partially because after a while it's boring to see the 'Strength -2 squad' run around, unable to open a stuck door without having a grog do it.

The door isn't a problem for a Rego, Herbam or Perdo specialist. IF it's an Iron door, then it's a Terram specialist instead of Herbam. The ignem specialist burns it down. The Imaginem specialist looks on the other side of the door to see if it's worth going. On and on. Magi solve problems with brains and Arts, not brawn.

I don't have a problem of the -7 max for grogs. Companions and magi should be on the extreme end. Look, this isn't going to be the case all the time, and I think SGs can spot ridiculously over min-maxed characters and say no. This is a rule that hasn't existed and doesn't need to exist, IMO.

I think +3 only is better for grogs, otherwise you can't really state 0 is anywhere near average. I made characters with a -3 stat, I use that, however, as a flaw, the maga with strength -3 really tried to avoid all work, everything that is somewhat bulky, and prefers other people to open the door for her. She even stopped walking after a while. The magus with -3 perception was asked once what his flaws were, he stated he did not have any, and firmly believed that, he also got hijmself into a lot of trouble for not being able to spot the traps he walked into.

If you play a character and intend for them to do well in a large set of circumstances, a more rounded character will work better. Even taking a staff with you when your strength is low will give you -2 on just about all rolls because of the burden, and a magus who manages full mail is a fierce challenge even for grogs.

I agree that the improved characteristics virtue is a bit strong, I'd change that to 2 points.

I think it may just be the wording: I'd ask the author and David Chart though. I'm not sure who wrote that bit? However as far as I know that is not the ArM5 rule, and if a change has been made it really should be in the Errata. It's more likely just worded to imply something that is not true I think?

cj x