I would get the stuff earlier and nicer if I ordered them from Amazon or equivalent onlibne store. however, I made a point of supporting the Ars line in my local store so that it remains on display. I have this crazy idea that it is likely to be selling some stuff to other people as well. Hope I am right
Never mind... I've got it. Which, you must admit, is impressive delivery time.
On the whole, I'm pleased... especially since my troupe is planning to write up a bunch of grogs in the near future. The career advancement templates look nice (though I would have like a sentence or two of descriptive text for each of them) and, from a quick review, the virtues and flaws look mostly solid. I've only skimmed the rest of the book and generally, I like what I see.
A couple of serious criticisms. I am distressed to see a lot of "see City & Guild / Arts & Academy / Lords of Men / The Church" statements littered throughout. It really demonstrates the level of "supplement bloat" this edition is beginning to suffer. For the most part, these references seem to be "idea" related rather than "rules" related, so it's not all bad. However, I will note that the Mythic Farrier virtue is useless if you don't have City & Guide and rather redundant if you do. I also wonder why there are two Major Story Flaws in a book about grogs, who can't take them (one of which is reprinted only in part and expressly states it cannot be taken by grogs).
Those points aside, I'm really happy to have picked up this book and I know my players will love using the career templates to write up our manor staff.
The only ways to avoid this are to kill the line, or to create a new edition after a few supplements that invalidates and ignores everything published for previous editions. Otherwise, we have to publish supplements for the game, and over time we will accumulate quite a lot. We do, generally, try to write books so that only the main rulebook is necessary to use them, but I don't feel we can just ignore the supplements we have created.
Because the section you've not read yet covers the possibility of using the concepts for companions, and the Flaws are suitable for them.
Nor should they be ignored. Everyone who has worked on the Ars Magica line has done a great job and should be very proud. If you all hadn't, I wouldn't still be buying the books. I think it's fine that, for instance, the section on running an All Grog Noble Saga essentially ends with for more ideas on this see Lords of Men. That, IMO, is a fine reference to another product. What I don't like are things like Mythic Farrier where the rules for it are not included and to use it at all, you need to have another book. References like those, IMO, cross a line. Suggesting in the "template" that a Farrier who creates magic items ought to look at Touched by (Realm) in City & Guide is one thing... including a virtue for magical Farriers which cannot be used without City & Guild is another. It's a pet peeve of mine. Fortunately, such examples in the book are few.
Don't let that my criticism detract. It is, sadly, easier to go on at length about criticisms rather than praise. Grogs is overall an excellent book, a fine addition to the line and one my players are thrilled to have. It's release couldn't be more well timed for my saga... and in a few weeks (assuming I actually get my sorry lot of schedule-challenged players together) expect a few comments from me on how the career templates were used the creation of our manor famulii.
Where does the idea for Grogs p. 111 of an early 13th century noblewoman founding a nunnery for 'fallen women' come from?
To my knowledge, at that time not even the saints to be, like Chiara d'Assisi, Elisabeth of Hungary or Agnes of Prague, entertained such projects.
Indeed, there exists a lot of literature about urban lay women of earlier 13th century looking for some organized religious communal life, and the established orders fending them off as best they could. This problem is at the roots of the Beguine movement.
The first convent explicitly for ex-prostitutes that I know of was the 16th century foundation of Sta. Maria Maddalena on the Giudecca in Venice, turned into state prison for women 1857. But maybe there is a far earlier example I am not aware of?
I actually originally wrote this for another book, about four years ago, so my notes are far from complete. I recall "The Medieval Underworld" by McCall was one of my sources, and on page 189, it mentiones beguinages for ex-prostitutes being founded by St Louis of France (king from 1226). I also vaugely recall an Order of Saint Mary Magdelen, called the White Ladies, being set up by Gregory IX.
But the first convent for ex-prostitutues far predates this: the Metanoia (c6th)
I was of course not looking for 'fallen women' from Byzantium at the time of Justinian, or such.
But thanks a lot for the enlightening Rollo-Koster reference. On p. 116ff it makes clear how institutions like the Repenties (penitent prostitutes) existed in major French and German cities some of the time in 13th century, "linked to the reform of an increasing number of prostitutes and, as Leah Otis suggests, to the logical charitable complement to municipally authorized brothels".
On that evidence I wouldn't look for noble-women to spend their old age in the company of Repenties, though, or religious orders assuming Repenties as true members instead of wards.
"The various institutions labeled as Repenties houses were often hybrids with little chance of succeeding because of their own lack of coherent vision. They were usually not places of reform but temporary shelters. Male chroniclers and benefactors presented prostitutes with a distorted conventual model. Their houses or refuges were not full-fledged convents; they were halfway houses, lacking the institutional and protective apparatus of a genuine religious order. The communities are variously described in the sources as refuges organized like convents, as retirement homes for elderly prostitutes, or as houses for younger, unruly ones." (p. 117f)
Anyway, that's a lot of motivation for ex-prostitutes, repentant or not, to join a covenant even as scullery maids, I should say.
I guess you mean the Weißfrauen, Reuerinnen or Magdalenerinnen here, an order founded around 1226 by Rudolf von Worms, a secular canon from Hildesheim charged by papal legate Konrad von Urach to preach penitence at the middle Rhine.
At that time the Franciscans took roots in the Holy Roman Empire, holding their first provincial chapters at the middle Rhine, preaching penitence whereever they went and causing a significant movement in Germany which the church had to contain and channel. And the pope since 1227 was Gregory IX, former Ugolino dei Conti di Segni, the great patron and protector of Francesco d'Assisi already in his times as cardinal.
The Weißfrauen were founded as a very early, or even the first, all female Catholic order. Their convents, financed by burghers of the towns they were founded in, were meant for urban penitents, and first in particular for former prostitutes and their daughters - those who had to be offered a place once the penitence movement induced a town to reform. The pope gave them 1232 the rule of St. Augustine, together with working practical statutes from early mendicant convents for women. So the Weißfrauen convents had a solid financial and organisational structure, quite differently from the 13th century Repentie houses Rollo-Koster describes, and quickly spread over the cities and towns of the empire.
But already around 1250 they began to require dowries and previous impeccable conduct from their candidates, which came now from those social strata that had financed them from the beginning.
So here we have indeed, mainly as a feature of urban reform in the wake of a penitence movement, far earlier real Catholic convents for ex-prostitutes than I have been aware of before. But their function as such did not endure, thereby in a different way confirming Rollo-Kosters assessment of their inherent instability.
UPDATE: I quite forgot to mention that Weißfrauen convents until 1280 each had a male convent attached, to guide, manage and control them. Not a surprise, I should say - but no noble-woman lording it over the formerly fallen sisters in her old years here, either. After 1280, with penitent sisters from the right background now, these male convents were reduced to a single male prior each.
It doesn't matter if they endured or not in the real world...it didn't have wizards in it. Or, arguably, a just an beneficent God who aided the pentient. 8)
There are stories of them occuring in the period we need, and they have enough of a surge to make a plot hook an interesting thing. If you want hard history, then, sure, they aren't for you except in small bits of France. Then again, if you want hard history, the Roman army that turns up in my other chapter is...more of a problem. 8)
Which is to say, the setting is superficially similar to Europe until 1220, and then all bets are off, IMO, so they might endure, or take different forms (like a noblewoman setting one up).
Just wanted to throw out some more love for Grogs! I am definitely enthralled with this book. The Virtue/Flaw section fills in several homemade ideas and I like almost all of them. I've really disliked the lack of General Flaws in the books available for Grogs so this section has really filled the lists a bit more. Haven't dug too deeply into some of the other mechanics before, I'm kinda scared since it adds more nuance to covenant finances and such but I definitely love the book so far! Bravo!
Got it. Cursory glance and... The Bull has a suggested v/f (serf's parma) called "Offensive Fighter". It is asterixed, meaning it's supposed to be in chapter 6, yet I can't find it. At the same time (but maybe I'm missremembering from some other game), it rings a bell.
Am I missing something or is there an error?