Grogs are grogs?

Recently I asked a new GM in their game about having a grog (character type) who was a covenant craftsman (social status) about how it would affect the economic impact of his covenant and whether the craftsman covenfolk was allowed- his only response was "grogs are grogs", then told me the character was okay but wouldn't impact the covenant expenses because he was not a specialist paid for with build points. I later asked him about having a grog character that was an independent craftsman following the rules in city and guild which would not impact the covenant expenses and he asked me "what part of grogs are grogs do you not understand" before kicking me out of the game claiming I must have understood him and was trying to wheedle the system.

Now I was confused by this because clearly grogs are not just grogs- there is no grog social status and even grogs as covenfolk can fulfill roles beyond simply being turb-grogs. However it does also bring up some other issues- for example craftsman is a free social status which is not restricted for grogs, and yet the rules in city and guild allow a craftsman to develop the wealth virtue, which is a major virtue, which is not allowed to grogs. The rules seem to assume, without requiring, that all grogs (character type) will be covenfolk, but do not require them to be so. Thoughts?

Grogs, I suppose, are Grogs (at least unless they become Companions), but I'm confused about what context mystery SG was talking about as well.

Maybe in his mind all Grogs are functionaries of covenants? That strikes me as unnecessarily restrictive, however. I mean, I guess I can understand the proposed character not fitting into every campaign (Grogs, by definition, are supporting characters and it's hard to do that if you don't associate with major characters), but it still strikes me as a weird response.

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I think it means that you can make whatever grog you want, but you won't derive mechanical advantage from their existence. You can roleplay them for fun and whatnot but if you have an accountant or something you can't then give them a bunch of work to do.


That is one way to read it, sure. it could also mean that all grogs in his game had to be warriors. It also never answered the question of whether they could be characters who weren't part of the covenant- which is something the general rules have as a whole as well, given the issue of wealth and city and guild I raised in the IP. The main problem I had (and this part is pure venting) is that whenever I asked him to clarify he would only repeat "grogs are grog". back from venting however, the question it does raise is that there are definitions of what a grog is that seem to be pointless- if I make a grog as an independent craftsman and accumulate labor points to become wealthy then they automatically become an ungifted companion? Or do you generally not allow grogs to take craftsman social status? More how would you house rule this conflict than looking for a rules answer since I know there isn't one.

I understand Grogs as being minor characters who are therefore neither Magi nor sufficiently important to be Companions.
The term Grogs cover all covenfolk; turb warriors, servants, craftsmen, or specialists.
I don’t mind that a grog has a function that impacts the covenant’s economy.

That SG seemed...not worth the bother.

The covenant in my saga has both a chair maker and a clothier who are often played grogs and have solved many problems for the magi.
Their skills make them useful for the covenant as their craft gives saving from having to buy less dresses and furniture from elsewhere. Hence they impact the economy and are but a few named craftspeople among the many employed for this purpose.

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To strike to the mechanical heart of the matter: Page 72 of ArM5 clearly states that grog specialists exist and, "Characters created as grogs or companions need not be paid for with Build Points."

Covenants makes the rationale for this explicit, p. 42: "The rules allow covenants to purchase specialists with Build Points, but these are blanks-with-Abilities, lacking even character sheets. They cost Build Points because they allow the players to sketch the covenant without effort. Characters created as grogs or companions, however, need not be paid for with Build Points. This chapter encourages you to flesh out the covenant with real characters -- companions and grogs -- rather than simply purchasing specialists with Build Points, and it includes character templates as examples for customization."

It's unclear to me what advantage your SG thought you could be "wheedling" from the "system."

To your other questions: I've seen grogs "graduate" to full companion status. I'd suggest that if circumstance and/or mechanics indicate that they should receive a Major Virtue, then that's a signal that their status in the campaign has shifted.

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This kind of does come down to what people believe the game system works as. The default setup seems to assume that grogs are fighter-type mundanes who serve magi. Non-fighter covenfolk can be built as grogs. Sometimes I feel Ars Magica is a very, very mechanical game with a lot of places where the mechanics are 'let your storyguide figure it out'. A lot of the problems early covenants can run into is easily solved by someone deciding to build a character to fix it.

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The SG could have been more articulate. However the player should let it go when asked to let it go multiple times. The intent was to limit material gain to the covenant and thus the players’ magi by having skills that would improve the covenant be bough with specialists. Several of us understood that. When City & Guild was brought up, by me, the SG said it was not to be used. The SG repeated that.

It’s pretty shady to discuss this here. Suggesting that the SG or his game is not worth the bother is a bit unfair without seeing the other side of what was presented.

I just meant, that if the SG doesn’t explain the problem, suggest a fix, or go beyond saying “grog is grog” it seems better to give up.
The situation seems simple, it sounds like the player says: “ I would like to play as a grog one of the craftsman the covenant has”
Maybe i missed something, but I can’t see anything getting broken or unbalanced. Just charge BP for the grog anyway.

The troupe in general was attempting to explain their understanding. The SG echoed that understanding, but not to the OP’s satisfaction. The OP wouldn’t drop it. Despite being asked to drop it. Despite no other players having a problem with understanding what was meant by grogs and specialists.

I just re-read the original post.
It actually mentions that the grog only impacts the covenant of paid for by BP, which is an important fact for me. I just envision most covenants as already having some workers like that, which make good grogs, since they already gave a role. So I saw no problem.
I must have focused solely on the “grogs are grogs” phrasing, which is a non-explanation for me. Initially it sounded like poor communication. I apologise if I dismissed the SG off hand, I can’t know how things happened.
It’s a shame they couldn’t work it out.

I actually brought up the question of city and guild in private to avoid the turmoil that happened the first time I asked the question- the troupe did not "explain it to my satisfaction" for the simple reason that the troupe was not the storyguide and I did not feel that having them speak for the storyguide was a sufficient response. Which I stated multiple times while the troupe was explaining their understanding. My intention here was not to impute that situation but to discuss tangential issues I felt the conversation had brought up regarding the fact that the rules as written make different assumptions in different places as to what a grog is. That being said the storyguide in question did far more than simply fail to articulate their understanding, on a number of points that are, again, irrelevant to what I was hoping to discuss here. I did in fact drop the issue of a grog contributing to the covenant, but when I brought up city and guild and the possibility of the grog being an independent craftsman which did not impact covenant finances I was met with the same response- new question but the SG decided I was trying to rehash the same issue, and decided to be punitive and told me that if I had any more questions I would be removed from teh game. I told that GM that more questions were inevitable, and was removed.

To see what advantage silveroak could get from using a lot of grogs with beautifully detailed design, you should have seen the mighty covenant of Praesidium Orae in its glory. Silveroak carefully detailed grogs of every speciality to ensure the magi had skilled support in every area.

Combined with the rules in City & Guilds for superior items, this can lead to situations where a covenant with a massive folder of grog character sheets is vastly superior to one which has just spent points on a couple of specialists.

The "grogs are grogs" point was probably to point out that the SG in question wanted to focus on magi and maybe their companions, and he didn't want grogs to distract from this focus. In pre 5th edition games, there are far fewer options for grogs and most end up being servants or members of the turb.


I say the following respectfully, but I think the OP feels the rancor they do on this issue particularly because they want to use grogs in this way. The books are unclear on the matter, the SG in question made a call, and it cut out a major source of benefits that they feel the rulebook provides, but is ambiguous enoguh that the SG has to sign off on. This one didn't and they're now super annoyed.

I feel rancor because 1) I dislike ambiguity, 2) I don't like people making assumptions about my motives, especially assigning me nefarious motives I do not have, and especially when I have specified my motives to be something else which does in fact fit my behavior, and 3) I dislike people speaking for someone else and expecting me to accept their version of what someone else means as authoritative, especially because I do not like other people speaking for what I mean, referencing point 2.
In this case I had already accepted that he covenant grogs would have no economic benefit and was considering making a new grog to play using long term development with city and guild to build personal wealth and income, but since I figured there wasn't much chance of it being accepted wanted to ask the GM first, and was punished for asking.
However I also want to note that I have not named the GM in question in this thread because I didn't not want this thread to turn into a back and forth about personalities but instead be about the inter-relationships of the terms grog and the assumptions which fall behind them. Please drop the personal attacks on my character which are, by my understanding a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the TOU for the forum.

No one is impugning your character. I stated the facts as they stand. It is not cool to bring problems with your troupe(s) here. Just isn’t.

Pretty much everyone in the troupe understood what was being asked. Specialists are characters that would provide some material advantage to the covenant. In addition, he had stated that City & Guild would not be used. I was the one who originally asked, because I was building a Verditius who would be crafting a lot.

If you’re going to cite people for violating the terms of use, I dare say you might as well report them and point out where they violated them.

I briefly mentioned the exchange as forward in that it got me thinking about these other aspects of the game system. Where everyone else took it I cannot control, but the only people who have specifically been bringing this in to "relitigate" what is a dead topic are you and those who feel the need to insult my motives and yes, impugn my character with a one sided second hand accounting of events to which you were not fully privy, as the key events happened in a private chat in a discord forum. Now here you have actually posted twice with nothing to add to the conversation except accusations directed at myself personally. I will also note, however, that what "everyone" understood included a few people who actually each had a different understanding of what exactly was meant.

Whatever, dude. If you want to take the facts as impugning your character then that’s on you. I got kicked from a group a time or two. I never went to people outside of that group to complain. I complained to others in the group who might be sympathetic. I also apologized for what I had done that was part of the reason why I’d been kicked. Sometimes I came back. Sometimes I didn’t.

That SG has come here, before. How do you think he would feel seeing you describing your side of events? Now, you say I’m not saying anything constructive. So here you go.

Don’t go around talking about other people to people who weren’t part of what happened when you feel you were wronged in some way. It’s just not cool. If you feel wronged and you cast your appeal for understanding your side to a wide, uninvolved audience what are you going to get? Affirmation that you were right? To what end? To rejoin the group, saying all these people think I’m right and your wrong. Does that work?

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Like I said, not what I was doing, please stop trying to tell me what my motives are, and stop trying to tell everyone else what my motives are. Because you are wrong, and you are hijacking the thread with a personal vendetta. I didn't name the GM precisely because I was trying to avoid making this personal to anyone.

Whoa. I did not say what your motives were. I asked. Perhaps in a leading fashion. I don’t have a personal vendetta with you. I don’t particularly care to interact with you, but this egregious action made me. 9 times out of 10 I’ll leave your threads and comments alone.