I'm really surprised to read, in the Record Keeping thread, the number of people who don't use grogs or simply write up generic grog templates rather then creating individual grogs.

Personally, I've always found grogs to be one of the most engaging and interesting parts of Ars Magica. Fully designed grogs can bring a lot of character and depth to a saga. In my longest running saga, we have literally generations of grogs, with the children and grandchildren of the orginal turb taking up their parents roles. It gave the players of those grogs a real sense of investment in the saga and made the covenant a community rather than just a home base.

So, here's a thread in the honor of the stalwert grog. Post your favorite grogs.

Like you, my groups tend to generational stories, as far as grogs are concerned. I don't have his stat sheet handy at the moment (it's on my desktop and I'm in mid-holiday-travel mode) but my favorite grog ever from a saga I SGed for is the Legend of Horse.

Horse began his career as Abram, a young Jewish boy adopted by the covenant because he had a strange way with animals that disturbed his parents (Animal Ken). One of the wizards, Ventulus Ex Miscellanea, was an Auram master with a Bird magical focus, who was trying to accumulate an impressive aviary. He claimed the boy as his servant, and put Abram's talents to use as a bird-keeper. He remained somewhat in the background, a pet servant of Ventulus, until a story came along that involved the magus tracking down rumors of a magical eagle he wanted as his familiar. Abram (now probably about 18ish) was brought along as an 'interpreter' for any magical beasts they happened to encounter.

When the travelling party was waylaid by a group of (mundane) bandits, Abram hung back a bit with the other non-combat member of the troupe - until one of the turb's two mounted warriors was taken down by an arrow and his mount bolted. Then Abram (and his player at the time) started getting visions of heroics...

In sober retrospect, the group wasn't in SERIOUS danger. Ventulus was a reasonably powerful wizard more 20 years past his Gauntlet, and the other mounted warrior was a companion-class turb captain, and a MEAN S.O.B. in a fight. I had really just designed the encounter to let Venty show off a couple of badass new combat spells he'd been devising. However, in the energy of the moment, Abram's calming of the bolting horse, his mounting with just an improvised club in hand, and his headlong charge at "the biggest, meanest-looking bandit I see" took on a kind of epic "coming to the rescue" quality - especially because the bandit botched his defense roll, and Abram knocked him out in one mighty swing of his club. Because the wizard then fried one of them and Abram had just pounded their leader, I judged that the rest of the bandits made a hasty retreat (mostly being mopped up as they fled by the turb captain, naturally.)

Everyone was so impressed with Abram's boldness that the turb captain jokingly referred to him to Ventulus as his "Knight" - but since the Turb captain's Latin score was poor, he called him "Equus", "Horse", instead of "Eques", "Horseman". The wizard laughed, and the nick-name was cemented.

Horse retained his 'day job' as keeper of the aviary (the birds, after all, were good friends), but following that exploit, Ventulus treated him as an honored member of his staff, and gave him an assistant. The Turb Captain also took him under his wing and trained him as a warrior as well. He came to be an exceptional horseman, and pretty decent with a lance. He defended the magi well on several other occasions, though none quite so dramatic as the first. Not too many years later he found a nice Jewish girl (hah!) from a nearby town, settled down in a fine cottage that Ventulus commissioned for him out of gratitude, and started a family. He retired from active duty in the turb around fifty when his age first started to really slow him down, but he lived out the remainder of the Saga. His three sons also became important members of the covenant staff. His eldest became a warrior (who by the time the saga wrapped up had risen to become the new Turb Captain and was taken by a player as a companion), his second son left the covenant to become a merchant but helped the covenant grow its income, and his youngest son (at Horse's request) was taught to read, became versed in the rudiments of Magic Theory, and became the chief scribe of the covenant.

When the saga came to a close, Horse was approaching his 70th birthday, celebrating the birth of his first grandson (two granddaughters had already been born, the eldest exhibiting signs that she might have the Gift...) and still working as the aviary-keeper, and closest friend, of Ventulus Ex Miscellanea.

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I think you are confusing using generic grog STATS to avoid bookkeeping with using generic grog CHARACTERS. Quite different things. :slight_smile: We use common grog stats (we have only 7 grog templates in the whole covenant, I think), but each grog has a different personality and abilities. The templates we use are: child, worker, fighter, servant, and worker, fighter servant (veteran).

Our individual grog templates look more or less like this:

NAME: Dumhail the herder
Age: 29
Quiet +1, drinker +1, brave +0
Second Sight, Fear: Presteris
Role: Herder, Second Sight (faeries), sling<-- this marks his role in the covenant and indicates his profession among the workers (skill at level 5, Second Sight at level 4, uses a sling at level 3. The rest of his skills are the general area lores, social skills and other abilities of his grog template)

  • Thin and tall. Likes a good beer or two and tends to be rather dirty. he keeps to himself most of the time, but can be quite a laugh if he decides to dance at Imbolc.
  • Married with Marie. Son: Duncadh (age 12)
  • Second sight. Always on the lookout for faeries trying to steal his sheep.
  • It is rumoured that he beats his wife sometimes, but no proof has been found so far, and she keeps quiet about it.

The "horse" character can easily exist among our grogs, only that he will have generic stats and skills. No biggie. for us, it is how you play a role, not the individual stats that matter. :slight_smile:

The best grog scene ever must have been the oblivious scribe-librarian Joan del Vendrell storming out of the scriptorum to find a battle between moorish raiders and the turb in the middle of our (unfortified) covenant and shouting at everybody angrily to stop making such noise, that he could not concentrate. Presence roll: 100+. After that, he headed back in. The warriors stopped fighting due to the shame of having disturbed the wizened old man in such a temple of culture. The moorish raiders retreated as silently as they could and the grogs put down the fires without uttering a word


My troup doesn't name grogs unless they do something memorable. We use generic templates but keep notes on them, wounds, personality, possible flaws. They don't get their own sheet until they have a name.

I have a list like so:

  1. -lazy, two light wounds
  2. Veteran +1 weapon skill
  3. Two light wounds, one medium wound, one heavy wound. This is the second time he's narrowly escaped death, men think he's tough. Maybe he is?


Never post while on cold medicine.

We don't want to lose the Story in the details.

It's a more cinematic approach in our troupe style play... Watch the cast of characters scroll by at the end of a movie the Lead and Supporting roles are mentioned by name, "Grog" type characters are referred to as their 2 dimensional role: Policeman 1, Policeman 2, Old Lady, Bank Robber, etc. If plot would dictate fleshing out a Grog, then that's done in notes. It's only when a character achieves a supporting role or if the character shows up in more than a few scenes, that the grog is named. Until then, it's just "The Blacksmith" or "The Captain of the Guard".

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern example. Those type of characters, which are Grogs, but take a larger role in the Story, are named and given personality traits. But they are only foils that, if doing "Hamlet", are going to die and will be played by the main story teller as two dimensional NPC's. They're only given names because they are in multiple scenes. Explaining their past and giving them their own sheets is a waste of time and would detract from the Plot. If the players wish to explore those characters at a later time, for instance we're in the middle of doing Hamlet's Story, but the Hamlet's player can't make it this week. Do we cancel? NO! We decide to flesh out these poor sods and do a one off : "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead". Only at that point, when they take a primary focus or more supporting role, are they given their own sheets so players can develop them.

@ Kallista, Xavi and anyone who doesn't write up grogs...

I have no intention or desire to debate this with you. You are free to play the game in whatever way makes you and your group happy. However, I intended this thread for people who do write up and play grogs to talk about their grogs.

I have no desire to debate either, and I don't want to get into a lengthy back-and-forth on this, but I'll briefly set out what I think to be the difference.

Some people play Ars Magica to tell the Story of a group of protagonists (Magi and Companions) who happen to operate out of a home 'community'. For this, 'extras' grogs make sense. Other people play Ars Magica to tell the Story of that whole home community. For them, 'extras' make less sense.

Now, more stories! Surely some of you must have them...

When we did the Gathering of 12 Years, 3 grogs stayed in a village for a year while the maga was taught a few things. It was a fun story, but I don't think having a full-fledged list of Abilities helped us in any way. They came out with extra qualities that were worth remembering, since that was the result of play.

Every grog has a Metacreator sheet but I don't feel it brings anything yet. Making characters is fun, but breathing life into them takes time. I prefer to leave them in a quantum state of non-existence until the roleplay defines them, and then retcon them into what they've become, even if it means removing half the Abilities to fit the new role.

And yes, we have a few grogs that are alive. In fact, most breathing grogs were brought in to explore a facet of our magi/companions and stayed in as support characters.

The Story of Flounder

Flounder started off as Mercenary # 12, hired to defend the group of characters while they were searching ruins. A skirmish with brigands left him injured and many of the other mercenaries dead. He recuperated but then was bashed close to death by a troll, his first night out after healing. At which point we decided he needed a name. The Captain decided to call him Flounder, as he was always on his back. We made note he was Tough.

Later we decided to hire the mercenary group full time, to be a part of the Covenant. Flounder was put on a character sheet as he was selected to train with the magi and was desired as a shield grog, being Tough and having a little more xp than others :stuck_out_tongue:. Originally bitter at his namesake, he grew to enjoy the Reputation it gave him, he however pays back the men by giving them all his own nicknames. He was taken on a few adventures and continued to survive despite being wounded severely many many times. He was passed around to other players a few times, each time becoming a more grizzled veteran. He quibbles and gripes about having to do anything with the magi, however shuts up if the Capt comes around or his pay is threatened. He was getting played so much, he was made a companion. Now is the second in command of the men. He now sports a "magic" greek helmet found during one of the adventures, it's not magic it's an item of quality looted from Nicopoli, but he swears it is because "How come I can see in it?"

"Look the wizard is readin again. Hey why don't you read us some food, oh ya can't? Guess I gotta hunt. You, with the bow, yah... go hunt." He has Self Confidence(now as a companion), Tough, Luck ... Mostly gained through role play, strange die rolls and what not. As a grog he had Tough and Improved characteristics twice. He's also is Reckless, has a Compulsion to Gamble, and can be a bit of a Braggart as well as a few Story flaws.

Int: -2 (Bag of Hammers)
Perception: +2 (Guard Dog)
Strength: +3 (Brick Shouse)
Stamina:+3 (Brick S
Presence: +1 (Brick S***house)
Communication: -1 (Crude)
Dex: +1 (a 'Natural')

Cheeky +2
Brave +2
Loyal(Red Rook Brigade, NOT the Covenant) +3

Tough as Nails +2
Lazy: +1

He's the type of guy that names his weapons. Everything about him came about through role play and taking on new things that seemed to make sense. He wasn't made from scratch, which is why he's fun to play. He's actually the most consistent character of the troupe. Someone is always willing to play him.

Canwulf the Viking. It was a 4th ed saga, set in the 9th century. Also, I've lost his stats, but he was a heck of a fellow. Strong, tough, a mighty warrior who could not complete a sentence without utter some sort of profanity. Cursed by a Saxon witch, he'd been forced to leave his people and take up residence at the covenant.

Canwulf had a long and violent career, but his death was most memoriable. Having reached a rip old age, Canwulf came to fear dying in bed. So, when he heard the magi planning a raid into the very fortress of a dark necromancer and his undead army, Canwulf volunteered. In the final battle, he held the hall against the undead warriors while the magi escaped. Canwulf fought like a madman, heedless of his own defense... and he still wouldn't die! Even aged, berserk and nearly without armor, he was still almost too tough to be wounded. I have no idea how many it took to finally bring him low, but Canwulf earned his place in Valhalla that day.

Harold the Forester... Harold is, essentially, the shield grog for my magus in a saga that I haven't gotten off the ground (yet) for want of players. So, I haven't had a chance to play him. He's got a backstory worthy of a companion, but for his role in the saga Harold is just a grog.

Harold the Forester
Characteristics: Int +0, Per +0, Str +1, Sta +2, Pre +0, Com +0, Dex +2, Qik -2
Size: 0; Age: 52 (year born 1045, current yea 1097); Decrepitude: 1 (8)
Virtues: Warrior, Well Traveled
Flaws: Vow (fealty to Alnoth), Poor Hearing
Personality Traits: Loyal +3, Brave +2, Curmudgeon +2
Abilities: Animal Handling (horses) 4, Athletics (running) 2, Awareness (alertness) 3, Bargain (services) 3, Bow (short bow) 6, Brawl (dagger) 3, Carouse (feasts) 2, Chirurgy (bind wounds) 2, England Lore (countryside) 3, Etiquette (nobles) 2, Folk Ken (peasants) 3, Hunt (small game) 4, Leadership (men-at-arms) 3, Long Forest Lore (hunting paths) 4, Long Forest Coven Lore (people) 2, Magic Lore (faeries) 1, Ride (in battle) 4, Scotland Lore (countryside) 1, Single Weapon (long sword) 6, Shropshire Lore (countryside) 3, Speak English (Shropshire dialect) 5, Speak French (orders in battle) 2, Speak Welsh (Gwynedd dialect) 3, Stealth (in woods) 3, Survival (foraging) 3, Wales Lore (nobles) 2, Whitcot Lore (people) 2
Warping: 0 (0); Warping Scars: none
Equipment: tunic, spear, short bow, dagger, leather jerkin; Encumbrance: 0 (0)
Description: Harold is a grizzled, grey haired old man, quiet, reclusive and tough as an old boot. He lives in a small cottage in the woods between Whitcot and More, serving as the lord’s forester. Harold has led a long and diverse life. In his youth, as a page to Eadric the Wild, he helped his lord steal a faerie princess from her forest hall. Years later, he served his lord as a warrior in his rebellion against the Normans and later still fought alongside the Normans in Scotland. After his lord’s disappearance into the Otherworld, Harold served as a mercenary, traveling England and fighting for pay. After many years, he learned that his lord’s son Alnoth still lived and sought him out. Finding a priest instead of a warchief, Harold nevertheless swore himself to Alnoth’s service. Alnoth politely rejected Harold’s fealty, but helped him gain the position of forester for the local baron. Despite Alnoth’s rejection, Harold still sees the priest as his true liege.