In game Shield Grogs

I thought we were, or more specifically, how they would plausibly have hung around with the magus until the game starts ...

The most obvious answer to me is that because the players made characters that are motivated to be a part of the adventure, the same as basically every rpg

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My Magi's grogs and staff are all (distant) family. This came about through a combination of long saga, Magi with Busybody, not taking a LR until nearly 50 (SFB) which let him actually have two children, and starting with his baby brother as his shield grog. All of the ones who work for him currently have known him since they were a baby. Granted he is the creepy (great great great great) Uncle or Grandfather, still giving everybody the shudders, but he is family and takes care of his blood (plus having two decades to get used to him before working helps a lot).

There are currently 68 of them alive and tracked, though at least two or three times that many are out in the world not being tracked. Those descended from his brother are more martial in bent and are where his shield grogs are drawn from (two currently). His direct descendants make up his staff (lab assistant, housekeeper, cook, gardener, valet) and also work in varies craft jobs around the Covenant.

There is one other Magus who has family, Calidus who is a Jerbiton with the Gentle Gift and a gifted healer. None of the other Magi have any tracked family (a possible third had his brother die early in the saga). Their combined descendants make up over a fifth of the total Covenant population, though the largest portion not mixed is from Calidus.

If anyone is wondering, the Covenant population is 841 tracked. Of those, 102 are babies (0~4), 147 are children (5~12), and the remaining 592 are older. The children/babies of the laborers and teamsters are not tracked, if they were it would put us over 1k. There is 881 population points (treating babies as 0 and not counting laborer children). 189 of the tracked members have blood from Orthon and/or Calidus.

We do use a split governance system, which gets us more people without the Gift to help offset more of the loyalty penalty. There is a High Council (8x Magi, 2x Redcap, 1x Autocrat) and a Low Council (Autocrat, Steward, Chamberlin, Turb Captain, 5x Guild Head, 6x elected). Yes the Autocrat is a member of both. The Low Council handles all the day to day stuff while the High Council sets the "direction" of the Covenant. For anyone who was in the Military the breakdown is much like Officers and NCOs.


how they would plausibly have hung around with the magus until the game starts

YSMV, but most sagas I've ever seen start with newly Gauntleted magi. Even if your shield grog is the type to go "screw this, I don't care if I starve to death, it's better than dealing with ghosts and dragons for some creep!" they just haven't had to deal with anything of the sort yet. And if such a breaking point is reached during play, story fuel!

As others have said, life in a covenant is generally at least as good as in many other medieval environments, and better than most, except for the resident oddities (magi, talking animals, faeries, heretics, heathens, etc) and even that becomes a positive thing for members of those groups who would be generally persecuted elsewhere.
That said, life for covenfolk is still hard and unpleasant; and for actual grogs there are the issues of being a serving warrior to consider. If a servant’s working life is mostly drudgery, then a grog trades most of the drudgery for ninety eight percent boredom and two percent terror. Figure in that grogs typically have the highest status among the covenfolk, and shield grogs not only are the most esteemed of the grogs but also if fortunate have a magus (effectively a local aristocrat) who has a vested interest in their wellbeing, at least up to a point.
Add in that in general, life is relatively cheap and short for many, and the attraction of being a shield grog is understandable.


Indeed. And the effect of the Gift is that the grog would tend not to believe in that vested interest, even if known. We are stuck in rational arguments, when the real problem is that the Gift defeats all rationality.


No, the Gift does not override all rationality. Sure, the bad feelings it induces are irrational, but it is possible to reason around them.


... and that's what takes a decade or more to learn, according to core. It does not solve the bootstrap problem of OP.

Decade or more is what it takes to get used to the Gift of a person, to the point it doesn't bother you any more.
People who associate a lot with many Gifted people will eventually learn to recognize the feelings from the Gift for what it is, and can then mostly ignore those feelings.

But even when neither of those cases apply, it is still possible to use reason to override the negative feelings from the Gift and work for a magus - even if he is a creepy bastard who might backstab you any day now. Of course, that will only happen if you are seriously short of better options.

In my book, «eventually» is not shorter than a decade.

I totally agree, I would just have rephrased it slightly at the «even if»-part.

even if he is a creepy bastard and you may have to backstab him if the bad hunch proves right.

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In game it's a -3 penalty, and depending how you read the examples on page 76 in the AM core rule book, a gifted person getting a 6 result after factoring in the -3, is the same as a mundane getting a result of 3, so it's sort of -6.

-6 (if we go with a harsh interpretation) is the difference between a charismatic person +3, and an uncharismatic person -3, without having to go in to inhumanely charismatic or vile +5 or -5. There have definitely been bad lords in history, which could arguably had a -3 or even a -5, however people followed those bad lords.

I'll present the thoughts of a soldier. There was an article I read about a soldier who did not march in the Anzac day parades. In an interview, he said, and this isn't exact, but it's conceptually close.

"There were people fighting with me that I would never spend time with in normal life. I'd be frightened to have them around my family. It saddens me to this day, it's the cold killers I wanted to be around, as I knew they were my best chance of getting home alive."

I appreciate we are going round in circles, but I have to return to the point that the magic creapyness of a Magi is not the worst employment issue a medieval person may need to face. Also,they know the magi is more likely to keep them alive, than most other soldiering jobs, and that is a Huge factor.


I don't think you're wrong about the inability to reason away the effects of the Gift, but I don't think the book backs up the level of intensity you ascribe to those feelings. You don't need to do any amount of reasoning away the feelings of the Gift to simply have strong enough priorities to put up with it. The regular Gift is described as comparable to someone having a "reputation for dishonesty and unreliability, and undeserved privilege of whatever sort is most important to [the other party]." It's only at the Blatantly Gifted level that that comparative reputation is of someone actively dangerous. For instance, Gifted magi can usually still barter for goods and services, they just tend to get the steepest prices and an assumption that any bargaining is an effort to cheat the seller. Ultimately, money still wins over the (regular) Gift; people won't immediately forsake value to their livelihood over it.


that's when you have overcome the initial obstacles and the mundane victim is convinced or coerced into interaction. The Gift is described as a qualitative and non-quantitative effect, at least upon first contact.

If the -3 was all there was, wizards before Bonisagus would not have had as much trouble collaborating as the core book presumes.

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Indeed, but priorities are relative to the situation, and situations change. Putting up with the magus in the covenant is not the same as putting up with the magus in a camp, and putting up with the magus negotiating with an innkeeper is not the same as putting up with the magus negotiating with a dragon.

OP was concerned with the grogs who remain loyal when the situation turns to the worst. It does not take the Gift sometimes to think that «this is not what I signed up for», but the Gift may be the difference between thinking that you misunderstood and should make the best out of it, and being convinced that the magus cheated and lured you to your doom (and maybe they are the devil).

Sure, ten years into service with the magus, the grog may have risen above the supernatural burden, but we were talking about the other cases.

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If I may?
Due to my Depression, I am subject to fits of anxiety, which are quite stressful and exhausting.
The thing is: I know these ain't rational, that it's the depression making me panic needlessly. This doesn't help one bit: I can control my acts, but I can't reason my way out of a fear attack.
I figure the Gift works just like that: Even if you know that it's the Gift speaking, you just can't help it.


I feel you brother. I have similar issues with my PTSD. When something triggers it I suffer from illogical anger, fear, and anxiety related to what triggered it. Even though I rationally know I should not be reacting to something the way I am, it is very difficult to overcome and so often I will withdrawn to avoid conflict. Had a few instances when I first joined the boards but many of the people here are pretty awesome. Once they realized what set me off they avoided it and talked to others behind the scenes to explain things.

The Gift might very well trigger some of that "fight or flight" reaction in people.

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There is the devil you know. Sure this guy gives me the willies, also the heebee geebees, and even a little bit of the yucks. I know he isn’t trustworthy, may comport with dark forces, and probably buggers sheep in his lab, but when the demons charge, if I can hold fast, he will absolutely lay the smack down, and we will both get out of this alive.

If I break and run, that demon looks a lot more than one scrawny creep worth of hungry, and after he eats my boss, I have no way to protect myself. So I’ll hold the line and give my boss the extra three seconds he needs to save our asses.

As a bonus, if I get hurt, he and the other creeps back at the tower can put me back together, pretty much good as new. The only thing I’ve every seen a priest do for a soldier is last rights.

Will I keep him alive so he can keep both of us alive? Sure, until I get a better offer, but the working season is short, the health plan is excellent, and I can’t remember the last time I was hungry enough to eat my boots, so it would have to be an amazing offer from the king himself and involve being his official good things tester.


A smart magus extends their Parma Magica to their shield Grog, at least when in the field, thus negating the effects of The Gift.

"The Parma Magica blocks these effects of The Gift entirely. A maga with a Parma Magica is not bothered by the Gifts of other magi, although other people are still bothered by her Gift. This effect may have been as valuable as magic resistance in aiding the foundation of the Order." (ArM5 p 76)


"Since an apprentice without a Parma Magica would normally suffer a –3 penalty to all totals due to the effect of The Gift, the Order has ruled that failing to extend your Parma Magica to cover your apprentice during training is a violation of the requirement to train your apprentice properly. If your score in Parma Magica is three or less, it does not give you any bonus to Magic Resistance while shared, but it still deadens the effect of The Gift." (ArM5 p 106)

While extending your PM to your shield Grog isn't a requirement, I have trouble imagining it's not standard practice.


Yep! And it certainly helps to cover the time needed by the Grog to get used to you!


Perhaps a shield grog is not just one who shields you, it is also one you shield.