New to the forum. Long term Ars enthusiast, and have spent a year or so playing an Ars campaign longer ago than I'd like. Having become the primary GM in my group, it means I now get more say in what game we play, and that means Ars is back on the shortlist.
I've been refreshing my memory with respect to the system, and there's something I haven't been able to work out. That is, how many grogs are there in a covenant. I'm pretty sure the core rulebook doesn't tell us, given its rather brief treatment of covenants. The Covenants book is obviously much more detailed, and there are things in there that suggest there should be some guidance (primarily that it assigns a cost to grogs in the covenant), but I'll be darned if I can find anything saying how many grogs there should be, or setting out any kind of normal(ish) distribution of roles (e.g. 10 soldier grogs, a cook, a stablemaster, etc).
I would be much obliged if anyone could point me at what I'm missing.
there are no general rules on "how many grogs there should be, or setting out any kind of normal(ish) distribution of roles". You can configure your covenant as you like, using Covenants or not using it.
There are just too many possibilities, and too many different styles of play and of distribution of roles: just magi, magi plus companions, magi plus companions plus shield grogs, and so on.
Best decide first with your troupe, where your covenant shall be, what kind it is, and how it relates to the country around. Covenants p.6ff Boons & Hooks helps here. In due time you find how many grog level people you need, and what they will be doing. And then Covenants p.42ff Covenfolk comes in handy.
Answers may range from "However many you want and can afford" to "Two troop grogs per mage, plus [factors]."
My understanding of tradition has 1 mage, 2 companions, and 2 grogs per player, plus NPC staff.
The Grogs supplement has much more on grogs.
For our recent (couple of years ago) covenant creation, most of the magi brought two specialists with points, and we hired a band of a dozen mercenaries. The teamsters and so on were determined from Covenants.
Is there a distinction to be made between grogs and covenfolk? Probably. Grogs do jobs, covenfolk exist and live within or near the covenant, they are typically the spouses and children of the grogs, and don't provide any services to the covenant. You could easily have the same number or half again more covenfolk than actual grogs.
So, you need to figure out what jobs are being done at the covenant and then adequately staff them, and then build in (or not) some redundancy in the event of death or transition to other roles. You have fighting grogs, of course, and then grogs related to upkeep and administration, and then there are likely grogs involved in the financial part of the covenant, generating the income that the magi use to run everything, unless magi are a significant part of the revenue stream, that is.
Then you have the seasons of the covenant. I'd hazard a guess of about 5 per magus in spring, 10 in summer, 20 in winter, and whatever number makes sense in Winter, because you could have one wily old wizard running the place with 100 grogs. Obviously these numbers aren't hard and fast. And you'll likely not find anything that's ultra-specific.
Obviously, naming and creating the grogs is a logistic challenge, this may not be at all necessary, unless the grog is intended to be played, and you can probably use some of the templates from the core book, Covenants and other supplements to round out those times you need some stats. My experience is that grogs need only be created when you do all grogs stories, or when intersecting with a magus a frequently.
Well, traditionally (as, in early Ars Magica editions) grogs were the warriors who accompanied magi on their adventures, whereas covenfolk were all the other (non-magi) people living at the covenant -- many of whom, like servants and specialists, provided important services. Right now, grogs and covenfolk seem to term used interchangeably.
I would add that a realistic medieval economy doesn't really allow for a population that's 60%+ non-working (though a magical medieval economy might). Virtually all adults do some work, and "children" are typically required to provide the same work as an adult from when they are 12-14, and at least half as much from when they are 8 or so. Even a 6 or 7 year old might carry out some chores, like gathering firewood, or herding geese.
To answer to the original question, as One Shot pointed out, answers can vary wildly.
There are some "covenants" without grogs or covenfolk, but just a lonely magus or two.
There are covenants with hundreds of covenfolk.
In general, the answer seems to depend a lot on
a) how many magi the covenant supports (and how well) and
b) how many services it "outsources" -- if it grows a lot of its own food, forges its own weapons, scribes its own books etc. it will have a significantly more personnel than if it has some discreet, efficient income source with which it buys most stuff from the outside world.
c) its source of income -- a covenant whose income is based on piracy will have a drastically different population setup from one whose income is based on agriculture, or one that lives on charity.
I would suggest playing with Covenants, and more precisely with the rules for cost savings as a function of your personnel, to get an idea of the actual distribution of covenfolk beyond those who provide the Covenant's main income. But as very rough rule of thumb, a relatively estabilished covenant with half a dozen to a dozen magi and apprentices, in addition to the personnel providing the main source of income, could have 6-20 "warriors", 3-30 specialists (a carpenter, a smith, a scribe etc.), some 5-50 servants, possibly up to another 10-40 "dependents" (including children) providing no useful service, and 3-60+ people whose function is to acquire and/or haul in food and other necessities. Say, of the order of a few dozen to one or two hundred people.