Surprisingly exceptional grogs

There are many ways in which the word "exceptional" can be used. Many gamers will claim that a PC is "exceptional" if that PC had an "exceptional" impact on the quality of the stories they told -- perhaps even "just" by making the troupe laugh a lot. That's a very reasonable definition.

But in this thread, I use "exceptional" with another meaning, strictly related to the mechanics of the game: a PC is exceptional if, at least in some narrow area, he can achieve results that are at the limit of what any character "designed by the rules" can achieve. He is surprisingly exceptional if he can beat the intuitive expectation of what those limits are. This thread is for exceptional, and ideally surprisingly exceptional, grogs in the sense above. Post them, and comment on them!

Note that in some cases, small teams of grogs are more "(surprisingly) exceptional" than their individual members are. One such case can be made for a team of exceptionally well coordinated warriors. Such "(surprisingly) exceptional" groups fall well within the scope of this thread.

Surprisingly exceptional groups are one reason why I am considering grogs. There are two other reasons. First, because they are secondary characters, grogs can be very one-dimensional. It's ok if they are phenomenally good at one thing, and terrible at everything else, because you can use them only when the situation warrants it, and then forget about them. This is rarely the case with companions and magi, who are usually built with much more nuance, so that they can be viable in a wide spectrum of situations at least within the main themes of the saga. Second, grogs have more stringent limits (in particular in terms of Virtues, but also e.g. of having no Confidence) to character design. This makes optimization "with fewer resources" more fun (at least for me).


Technically not legal. But I was imagining a magus (I was imagining a character who entered apprenticeship with a coterie) or companion with the Outlaw Leader Flaw, whose Outlaws were all grogs with Shapeshifter, and pretty much all their xps shoved into that Ability, perhaps each with a different specialty and with a high personality trait of that specialty (Bear +3, Goose +3, etc)

So you get a turb that's great at shapeshifting.

A companion would be somewhat better, of course, being able to take Affinity and Cautious too. But a grog could come close.



Well, take any useful ability, apply Affinity and Puissancy, pick another useful virtue, spend a bunch of XPs in that ability, and there you got the exceptional grog.

I have seen that kind of grog countless times for combat grogs (Puissant weapon, Affinity with weapon, and something like Tough), which is ok: no matter how good they are, a botch is a botch.

But the most valuable grog I'd seen that I think would qualify was the failed apprentice, with Puissant Magic Theory & Teaching, good Int and Com, and decent Scribe, Artes Liberales and Philosophiae scores. It taught both magi and apprentices, he was used to do lab refinement and to install lab virtues, leaving the lab owner free for the season... and he never had to ask to get for a Longevity Ritual. Magi loved him so much that hey ended scheduling his work through Certamen. Also he was asked to read a lot about Magic Lore, Infernal Lore and Faerie Lore, to be able to teach about these subjects later. And he was divided between the teacher and lab-worker roles; he could just focus on one of them, replacing one puissancy with an affinity with his main ability, and become a truly useful grog.

And Ways of the [whatever land applies]. That +3 to almost anything you do in that terrain is just so sweet to ignore.

Ah, that's why a "combat" grog should almost always take "Cautious with " before taking Tough :slight_smile:

I've used a design several times, for a Combat Medic grog: A spearman with adequate fighting skills, no min-maxing of the usual stats in order to have a positive Int, a good Chirurgy plus Cautions with Chirurgy.

Seconded. Cautious With [Ability] is simply amazing for anyone planning to enter combat.
Or even just hang out near it.


Cautious with Much-Used Ability is very important, because botches in AM are so nasty and easy to come by.

Flawless Magic is good for that same reason.

These are great defensive virtues for players who, having invested many hours in one of this hobby's more complex character creation processes, do not want to lose that investment to one bad roll.



Geesh, I have such the list...
affinity with just about anything, mythic (craft). Especially if you put those together to allow grog-made enchanted items.
if you want to go dark infernal lore has the potential to allow a grog to transform into a mythic companion... for the cost of their soul.
really good craftspeople rock anyways between saved money for the covenant and high quality goods.
high ability in medicine lets them brew up fatigue restoring potions without using vis. Herblore might do the same in some games with lower lab costs. Apothacary with either of these abilities...
one of my favorites are simply student/authors. Com 3 good teacher, book learner, and educated. A few of those can expand the library knowldege on any subject by reading books, writing commentaries and tractatus, and then reading each other's tractatus.

Cautious with (Ability), Affinity or Puissant (Ability), and Faerie Blood: God (with a suitable Sympathy Trait) can do extraordinarily well in a limited area and lives slightly older. For example, consider Ares's blood for Faerie Sympathy: Weapons along with Cautious with Single Weapon and Puissant Single Weapon, plus Faerie Upbringing. Even without starting with Warping, this character can reach Single Weapon 5 + Puissant 2 + Sympathy 3 = 10 at game start without hitting an age requirement.

Also, Lesser Craft Magic combined with an appropriate Virtue or two can allow one grog to boost everyone in the covenant.

I don't know. With Ars Magica's system for character creation, once you have built a grog and liked how he worked, is there any motivation not to use the same design with the next game. In which case, it it really a surprise?

How about a grog who is exceptionally good at teaching Teaching? :slight_smile:/2

Well, a character is not just what's written on the character sheet. And also mechanically optimized characters use to rely on certain high stats, virtues and abilites, but you still have plenty of room to make each version unique playing around with the other stats, the flaws and the personality traits.

Think of two versions of any of these character, one with a weakness (seduction), no sense of direction and some XPs spent in charm, carouse and athletics: climbing into someone's else bedroom, and the same one with Disfigured, Vow (of silence) and Tainted with Evil. Even being the same concept, the kind of stories (and surprises) they are going to bring are quite different.

Take the Failed Apprentitce Variant (Int 3, MT Affinity + MT Puissant + Inventive Genius), and let him go on a Path to learn Folk Magic; then have him develop a Magic Theory for it. Easier to do with a Companion (as you can pick up Cautious and Mythic Int, of course), but still doable. (EDIT - this assumes that a non-Gifted person can take Inventive Genius, of course - I'd allow it, as this is a scenario in which you don't need to do Hermetic magic to perform the activity in question.)

Personally, I consider the Folk Magic guidelines to be so weak as to require only the most technical of Ordeals to be used. (ie, a year's study in a high magic aura, for example; 4 points of warp for the first Folk Magic virtue you get.) Or else they can be learned all at once as a Major Virtue (if you want to add in an additional set of guidelines, I like "speak to nature spirits and bargain with them" or "detect and enter regios"). As such, it's possible to learn them without completely gimping the character.

The result is interesting, to say the least - depending on what you you think Magic Theory can do for folk magic. (At the least: actual spells, possible Accellerated casting abilities, use of AL+Ph in ceremonial casting, refined and slightly improved guidelines, enchanted items, and alternate casting techniques. Considering he's got all of Hermetic Magic to pull from as an Insight source, it shouldn't be too difficult...broadly speaking, of course.)

Having a grog character ultra-qualified in ArM5 p.66 Magic Theory of the Order of Hermes create by HMRE p.16 Integration by Hedge Wizard Researchers a (HMRE p.12) (Hedge Magic) Theory for the (TSE p.123 box New Virtue: Folk Magic) Minor Supernatural Virtue Folk Magic from scratch already requires winning out in Nomic against one's troupe.
But to abuse HMRE p.16 Integration by Hedge Wizard Researchers further to convert one or more options of Folk Magic into a HMRE p.5 Hedge Tradition, you might have to donate a life time supply of his favorite whiskey to the SG.


Please point out which rules, in particular, are being violated. Hedge wizards can learn Hermetic Magic Theory and create their own Hedge Magic theory. It's laid out on HMRE, pg. 16, in the callout box.

There's no requirement that an a Hedge Wizard be a Hermetic Wizard in order to perform the research necessary to develop a (Hedge Magic) theory for their own tradition. They're using their understanding of Hermetic Magic theory to create a framework for their own magic.

I mean, sure - rule 0, and all that. But I don't see how it's prohibited by the RAW.

Or to throw it back at you: how can a Hedge Wizard invent (Hedge Magic) Theory for their own tradition, without being able to do what I describe the Exceptional Grog as doing? (Rules restricting Grogs from Initiating, maybe?) OK - if that's the issue, take out Affinity and replace it with one of the Folk Magic virtues. Make the Grog a few years older, and it's done. Not as complete a wizard, but he's still able to do the research.

I think the confusion comes from choosing Failed Apprentice. That Virtue doesn't really do much of anything for this build. But it looks like it is the way you presented it. If you assume it's an important part of the build, then you'll may end up confused about how the research is being done.

A grog with Magic Theory and some Folk Magic is neither an Hermetic researcher in the sense of HoH:TL p.26ff Original Research nor a hedge wizard in the sense of HMRE p.12. In short, that grog is neither a Hermetic magus nor a member of a hedge tradition.

Compare for that



EDIT: If that grog gets initiated into a hedge tradition like HMRE p.33ff Folk Witches instead of learning just some TSE p.123 Folk Magic, the debate is quite another.

Ah - well, no, that's not necessary. While it's an interesting plot point (a failed apprentice trying to recapture some small portion of the magic he's lost), it's not a necessary part of the build.

OK - in looking through Hedge Magic, I'm not seeing any requirements for making your own Hedge Tradition, other than "you have magical virtues that allow you access to magical power". Other than that, can you show me the rules that define how to create a Hedge Tradition? Because in what I read in there...there aren't any. As near as I can tell, you create a Hedge Tradition, both in on a narrative level as well as in-game, by declaring yourself to be a Hedge Tradition, and that's it. There's no requirement for Mystery Cult lore or anything like that.

EDIT - in looking though HMRE, the rules for creating a Hedge Magic tradition seem to be focused mainly on a narrative level: what magic abilities the hedge tradition can have and how powerful they are relative to the Order - ie, whether or not they have Magic Resistance or Magic Theory or whatever. Using existing magical virtues (even lame ones such as the Folk Magic virtues) seems to be perfectly viable from that perspective.

You seem to be arguing that there is some rite or ability or something (or time passing or necessary in-game narrative events) that is required before someone who has gained magical power (somehow) can call themselves a Hedge Tradition. My argument is that there isn't. And my evidence is...that there's no requirement in the RAW that says so, at least none that I can find in a brief scan of the text.

EDIT - I mean, I suppose there's the social virtue that you mention. But that's a character generation virtue; claiming that the character belongs to an existing tradition. It has nothing to do with creating their own.

EDIT II - well, OK. I suppose you could claim that "organization Lore" (HMRE, pg. 12) would be a requirement. However, for a 1st generation Tradition, that would be "there is 1 practitioner, and he's been doing it for 5 minutes now, right here." Not exactally a difficult ability to create.

But even ignoring that - using a Path to learn Folk Magic doesn't prevent someone from being part of a pre-existing hedge tradition. The hypothetical hedge tradition may simply have that Path as part of their required magical training.

It helps here to look up MerriamWebster for Tradition, especially

So, without definition of a technical term in Ars Magica - which would have been needed already 2006 in Covenants - a hedge tradition is just a magical tradition - something grown and shared, not something to make up on your own and alone at all.
Especially not if you are just a grog starting from TSE p.123 Folk Magic: Healing, Dowsing or such.