Do your magi have custos?
My mage went out on a light journey recently (first trip of the saga, his season of Redcap service) and in short order I realized that the Redcapped mage with two scale-armored guards was something of an attention gatherer.
Next thought - "I should recruit a custos. A couple simple spells and in time an enchantment or three to make sure the custos is a serious bodyguard, and I would stick out less." There's the red cap, and all, but less.
Next - "You know, I've never heard of a Redcap with a custos."
This led to a consideration of how Recaps really should travel in groups of twos to fours (Redcap, custos, second grog, sometimes an apprentice, and possibly a servant for this little band, except for magic travelers with Seven League Boots or such) and then -
- Do players make much use of this traditional custom?
In my troupe's first saga one of the standout character pairings was Magus Nyhan of Flambeau and his custos, Ursule, who spent a lot of her time backing up the headstrong mage with the bad habit of rushing off into and in battle, so my opinion is colored. (She wound up a serious hardcase, a deadly warrior, and one of our first retirees - we discussed activating her as a companion).
So, custos; do your magi have them? Are they background characters or active grogs?
Yeah every magus in our covenant who is a full member gets a manservant or a maid. None are active grogs. One of the non-member magi does have a dogsbody who is an active grog. That came about through a story. We don't play troupe style though so it pretty easy for me to assign stuff to suit the situation.
In the game I run, the magi do not have any grogs established as custodes.
In the game I play in, we had one custos (the steward of the manor) who was smashed to goo by a giant, but his spirit lives on (literally) as the ghost steward. My magus is pretty loyal and appreciative of his favored shield grogs and even performed a (relatively weak) longevity ritual for Margot, his extremely keen-eyed, keen-eared transvestite grog.
Somehow we did establish a covenant mascot from among the grogs, a goblin-blooded malicious lunatic who patrols the edge of the Aegis of the Hearth with a tiny faerie on a stick, testing for weaknesses. We toast to Woebuska Uegha, may he never die.
Faerie on stick, gotta love that.
Most of the magi I've seen in my sagas had a personal bodyguard. There were exceptions, of course: the Holy turn-the-other-cheek magus, the necromancer attended by his undead (I guess they count as custodes of sorts...), the Flambeau too proud of his own martial prowess to have a bodyguard, the reclusive (Alpha-Storyguide) magus who never left his tower.
All characters of our covenants always get fully fleshed out - it's a lot of fun!
My troupe tends to complain when I start writing up a character like this
It depends on the reason the magus is venturing out, but actually, my players almost always have a group of several custodes if they're going outside the covenant grounds. My players usually maintain a decently rich covenant because they like having wealth to show off and they like not having to worry about lab upkeep, and not only are guards a nice way to protect yourself from anyone or anything that gets jealous of your wealth, but an entourage of well-equipped guards makes you look even more wealthy. Plus by their own request I run rather combat-heavy games, and they like putting [strike]worthless meat shields[/strike] skilled and honorable men between themselves and those who would bring them harm.
How many they have is based on what they're doing. Hunting a creature that doesn't seem legendarily threatening or just travelling? Probably a six-man group. Going to an event where other people show off power and wealth, going to a warzone, or hunting a legendarily threatening creature? As many as they can get away with taking away from the covenant. Only if they're going incognito (rare), doing something that can only be done alone (not quite as rare), or in the extremely unusual circumstances that there's something legendarily threatening happening and that one player of mine who isn't ruthless to non-magi characters doesn't want others getting hurt in the process of dealing with whatever it is.
To answer my own question, many of the magi in our games do not take custos. My own mage in The Long Game (about twelve years, I think) was getting around to it after taking his longevity potion and graduating an apprentice. Some did, some didn't.
I don't think any of the magi in The Second Game took one; I may be wrong. If they did, they weren't memorable.
Yes, you need to get out more :mrgreen:
Well, I thought Edan was actually pretty good about not getting himself stuck in a lab
Yes. Loads better, good concept