Why are faeries ungroggable?

Low-power, magic characters (i.e. ones with might) can be grogs as per RoP:M. But the same is not true of faeries: true faerie starting PCs can only be created as companions -- including mythic companions.

I wonder what were the motivations behind this design choice. After all, of all creatures with might, faeries would appear the best-suited to the role of grog, given that they are quintessentially support characters in someone else's story.

Note that I am not asking how this could be accomplished mechanically (much of the "support" is already provided under the section "becoming faerie through fable", that works for grogs too -- but only in the faerie realm). I am just asking what was the rationale behind the choice; I feel I might be overlooking some crucial aspect that I should consider before allowing faerie grogs in my sagas.

Yes, I am aware of the becoming mystery and of the faerie blood virtue(s); those are not really relevant to my question!

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I had never seen that. Is that from RoP:F? It feels almost like a challenge at this point.

Seconded, I too hadn't noticed that.

However! One definition that I sometimes use to explain grogs vs companions, is that Companions are important enough to be main characters in their own stories. Grogs are not. And in that view, it shouldn't be all that surprising why the fey make bad grogs, neh? :wink:

Given that RoP:M (2008) allows grogs with Magic Might, you will have to ask an author of RoP:F (2009) for the rationale.

My guess is, that grog faeries, even if starting as (RoP:F p.11) Stock Characters, might not long remain grogs, because RoP: p.10: "Faeries become more powerful when they participate in stories. <...> A faerie need only be an incidental character in a story to harvest some vitality from the human participant."

But this would mirror the XP gain of grogs over time.
Suppose a Covenant decides to send a Valkyrie, two grog vikings and a grog apprentice to harvest some vis in the summer. At the end of the year, the surviving viking which came back puts XP in single weapon ability and the Valkyrie can put some in her Single weapon pretence. In the absence of quests, she spends winter drinking and feasting with the older fighters of the Covenant and as they put XP into Carouse, she will put some in her carouse pretence.

Now having written this, I realise that the Valkyrie is quite strong for a grog-tier character, so maybe a triton would be more in line power-level wise with regular grogs.

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It's on RoP:F, p.45, the very first page about "Faerie Characters". They can be created as either companions, or as "magus replacing" characters with the same V&F balance as mythic companions.

Actually, I disagree. Faeries are explicitly the side characters and supporting cast in the stories of others. Thematically, they make better grogs than companions. I can sort of see that mystical powers and all, they can be a bit more "high powered" than the average human grog. But the mechanical quantities could be easily adjusted. Something like:

Minor Supernatural Virtue
Lesser Faerie

You are a lesser faerie associated with a Companion, Magus or Covenant; there must be a Virtue, Flaw, Hook or Boon explaining this association and your role as "supporting cast". By default, you are clearly recognizable as a faerie and you automatically have the Negative Reaction Flaw (without compensation). Passes for Human is a Minor (rather than Free) Virtue for you, that you must take if you want to take the Infiltrator Virtue. See RoP:F p.52.

You automatically have a Faerie Body, with all the attendant advantages and disadvantages -- see RoP:F p.47. You have a Faerie Might of 5, and you cannot take the Improved Might Virtue, though you can take the Reduced Might Flaw. You automatically have, free of cost, either Faerie Sight or Faerie Speech, and (one pick of) either the Lesser or Personal Power Virtue.

You start with only 240 points of Pretences and are automatically Incognizant, as per the Flaw. You cannot take Virtues or Flaws related to experience or its equivalent in terms of Pretences. You do not gain additional Pretences except by explicit participation in stories, and you can never gain more than three additional Virtues (all of them Minor) by any means.

In all other respects, you operate as a Faerie from RoP:F. This Virtue is only available to grogs.

EDIT: Edited to incorporate some suggestions provided below -- thanks to everyone for their constructive feedback.

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I doubt that.

Take a look at RoP:F p.64f Faerie Advancement Through Change, and execute such changes on a Faerie shield grog. Note that this grog also does not age (ArM5 p.168ff) and does not suffer acclimation.(RoP:M p.52ff).
I expect that 'shield grog' faerie to develop a lot better, it the magus it serves understands a little bit of faeries and has - or has access to an individual who has - some creative energy (like Inspirational or Free Expression) and skills.
Make a try, and then compare after a few decades the standard shield grog and the 'shield grog' Faerie.

Let me see if I understand you correctly, OneShot.

As far as I can tell, what you are saying is that faerie grogs would become unbalanced over long sagas because they do not age. And that no so much because they could raise their Pretences to ludicrous levels (they need to adventure with a human who has an equal or higher ability score and is experiencing a momentous life event -- meaning it's very very hard to become better than the best human grogs).

But because, instead, they can "transform" Pretence points into new Virtues if they have access to human creativity to "reshape" them... and they want to be reshaped. But that's easily solved: all you need to stipulate is that grog faeries are Incognizant and "unconsciously" happy to keep their role as it is (which is true for many lesser faeries).

Check RoP:F p.63f Increasing Pretense. Faeries don't need to 'adventure' with a person: they just need to be "closely involved in the person's story", as that human from a "momentous personal experience" gains xp.
If the magus guarded by the 'shield grog' faerie gains experience in stuff the faerie copies, but does not know much about (e. g. from discovering something from a book), the faerie can gain pretenses, which the Inspirational grog sergeant helps it to transform into Virtues.
Note, that RoP:F p.52 Highly Cognizant is a Minor Virtue, hence by ArM5 p.28 Virtues and Flaws available to faerie grogs, if these would exist. Highly Cognizant would actually fit quite well an observant 'shield grog' faerie actively seeking out and serving humans, in particular magi.

Congrats, you have already found the first restriction you wish to impose upon grog faeries - but which the rules so far don't provide.

Could the authors of RoP:F provide more?

I think the suggested restrictions work well:

I think two approaches would be viable: either the complex way, described in the book, where you have to track who in the Covenant is getting how much xp and when or simply give them 15xp/year like everyone else and simply have a cap that they cannot bring any pretence higher than any member of the Covenant. This latter way the faerie would gain 300xp over 20 years with no risk of decrepitude, however this is more or less in line with a grog who'd start as a teen. Over a particularly long campaign this could lead to problems, as the faerie might, over time, grow to be as good as at anything as the best person in the covenant.

I would add some restriction to the reshaping the faerie to turn XP into virtues, possibly by maintaining the cap at 3 virtues on top of the free ones...

While this is true, faeries also have (or take) explicit roles of their own. When they take part in the story of another, they still have their own role to play, not the grog role defined by the story's main character. You can build a case either way.

Personally, I don't like the idea of mighted grogs simply because I think such characters should be scarce, and the few that are there should be developed with the depth of a companion. That of course, is really a question if you want a lot of Europe and little Mythic, or the other way around.

I certainly agree that it is odd to allow Magic Might grogs and not Faerie Might grogs.


Note that I clearly stated that this is not an issue of what mechanical support / restrictions faerie grogs might need -- implying that yes, you certainly may wish add a minor mechanic here or there. For example, as it stands, just being a "basic faerie" requires several minor virtues and flaws, so you probably want to "package" them into a single minor virtue to make sure the system works well with grogs (see my example above). But that's true for magic grogs too -- e.g. they get a lower might than "magus" or "companion"-level magic pcs.

The question is whether allowing faerie grogs, perhaps with a minor extra rule here or there, might fundamentally change the nature of the game. I do not think it would. At least in a game that already allows magic grogs (I do agree with loke that some troupes might prefer "heavily supernatural" PCs to be companions or magi to emphasize how exceptional they are, but I think that's best left as a saga dependent decision).

I would probably simply disallow faerie grogs to advance in experience unless you take them on a story.
The rough idea behind their Incognizant restriction (above) was that faerie grogs should be and stay "stock" faeries. That's also the reason for giving very few pretence xps: they should have one "role" pretence they are really really good at (a score of 8-9) or two at which they are pretty good (5-6), plus/or a smattering of very low others, so they are really very "cardboard" support characters.

If you want to increase their pretences you would pay for it in stories. Significant change such as that achieved through creativity, should be reserved for companions. Well, maybe not if you stick to 3 minor V&F, but that's it.
EDIT: I edited the Minor Virtue suggestion above to incorporate many of the suggestions made. As it stands, I still fail to see how grog faeries built with the Minor Virtue above, and following RoP:F in all other respects should "break" the game, at least one that already allow magic grogs.

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My understanding is that fundamentally grogs melt into the background while faeries seek the limelight.

Two reasons:

They just don't scale. All faeries are effectively immortal, speak every language, have Faerie sight and so on. There is a Flaw in one of the later books that allows faeries grogs, but only by limiting what the can do down to very tight rolls, like a ferryman who never leaves his ferry.

The other is that PCs are the centre of stories. Faeries lacking sufficient volition to be the centre of stories is part of the basic cosmology. You can swear blind your grog faerie won't draw focus, but if so, why are they a PC?

Well. None of these advantages seem that out of scale, really.

  • All faeries are ageless, but it's easy to ensure that does not translate into power.
  • Faeries are hard to "destroy", but if you "kill" a faerie, it's probably out for the rest of the story ... and if incognizant it it comes back as a "blank slate", which is the same as hiring a new grog :slight_smile:
  • Some faeries have Faerie Sight. Is it that unbalancing? Some mortal grogs have Second Sight.
  • Some faeries can speak (but not read nor write) all languages. But unless your saga moves around a lot, you can generally have a few grogs that speak any language you care about. It's a very niche advantage, and it would not have been difficult to rule "grog faeries don't have access to the Faerie Speech Virtue" if it appeared that unbalancing in a grog.

Oh, interesting! Could anyone give me a pointer?

This would be a good reason for disallowing PC faeries altogether.
But I fail to see why it should be a a good reason to allow PC companion faeries, and disallow PC grog faeries, given that the former are by design far more likely to be the focus of stories than the latter.

@Timothy_Ferguson refers you to the (Grogs p.76f) Minor Supernatural Flaw Bound to (Role) Role: "The manner of this bonding determines the kind of life that the character may live. <...> This Flaw may originate from any of the Supernatural Realms: <...> a faerie origin could show that the character occupies an archetypal role, ready to play his part in the wider story, <...>. This Flaw may only be taken by grogs and is suitable for the Warping to a Pattern Minor Site Hook presented in Covenants, page 11."

Yes, Bound to (Role) Role could be removed with some RoP:F p.65 Creativity by the Inspirational grog sergeant. So not allowing faerie 'grogs' to just follow RoP:F appears to make sense, and you have anyway decided to go that way already.

Maybe you misunderstand "Faeries lacking sufficient volition to be the centre of stories is part of the basic cosmology." It doesn't say, that all Faeries lack sufficient volition.

EDIT: There may be another misunderstanding in setting up the thread already. By RoP:F p.45 Faerie PCs are limited to replace Companion and Magus PCs. There are Faerie NPCs which look and smell like grogs - but these can't be PCs.
RoP:F as is - without the changes you will introduce in it for your saga - appears to hold too many options for PCs to allow Faerie Grog PCs.

Also, fundamentally, a faerie tries to involve you in their story, as defined by their glamour, not the other way around. A grog gets dragged along for the ride, a companion, or a faerie, does the dragging. A faerie which fills the role of a grog is in the service of a faerie court, not a covenant, and thus not suitable as a PC.

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To be fair, I've never really thought of grogs as PCs, at all, since they're designed to be handed out to different players every game (though we have a bad habit of the grogs being the same people every time). Can someone point out where it says your grogs can have Magical Might? I know the table of Might has a column for Grog-level power, but I never read that as 'your grogs can freely be magical'. To me it was always a barometer of power.