Yep, designing the grog and servant would be good. Basic rules for them is that the grog is a shield grog, he's there to defend you. So he shouldn't be an archer or something else that isn't suitable to protect you from physical attacks. The servant, for his/her part, should be someone who handles day-to-day affairs for you. Cleaning your clothing, feeding you, arranging lodging, etc. After all, magi are so useless at those tasks if left for themselves.
The servant can easily be a bit older, with some useful skills. But probably not litterate nor any kind of teacher. Someone who won't mind getting his/her hands dirty for the magus.
As for visiting rules (for advancement), remember that things must be paid up-front. Arrangements are possible, but usually less favorable for the visitor. And you won't know about the exact stats of a book (or teacher) until you are commited for the season. So taking your example, if you were to visit a covenant in the hopes of studying from their library and use of a lab, you'd need to first pay for your year's stay there (3 pawns or 1 season of service). Then, pay for access to the library (1 pawn per season) and the lab (also 1 pawn per season). And they might not allow you to extract raw vis from their aura for your own use, depending on that aura's strength, as some believe that too much extraction can weaken an aura -- so those covenants tend to restrict that lab activity to their own benefit.
(Yes, established covenants milk visiting magi for all they are worth. That's a way to "encourage" independent magi to join as members -- which has its own set of constraints, particularly for the younger ones.)
Okay. Sounds like I design the two grogs (should get that tonight, US Eastern time). probably spending a year looking for vis while trying to visit various covenants and giving up in frustration. At which point the Mercere finds me and suggests I join this band of hardy expanders / fools. Let me know if I should adjust his birth year to make this work (at least I don't have to worry about the Theban rules as to which year you can exit your apprenticeship.)
I'm a bit late to the thread here. But this raised a question with me that's germane to my own character. The basic rules say that you can have no more than 5 minor Flaws. (P. 37 of the core rules.) Has that rule been removed? I only ask because I'd likely have picked my Flaws a little bit differently if I'd been allowed to pick seven minor flaws and one major.
Okay. I will look for a major I am willing to take in place of three minors. Is it acceptable for me to include the difficult spontaneous magic in the set I replace? Not sure if I can find a combination that does that acceptably, but you have convinced me that one is worth trying to replace.
Sure, you can replace Difficult Spontaneous Magic.
One suggestion I would have for a Major flaw would be Supernatural Nuisance -- faeries tend to like you/hate you/be interested in you more than they are with other people. Perhaps the vital energy they derive from stories you are involved in just is more intense. This would explain why you former Faerie Friend sometimes still show up (basically encapsulating Aerianos in the major flaw), though he often puts you in trouble.