Ars Magica Pet Peeve – Overtly Optimised Grogs

An overtly munchkin Grog is a pet peeve of mine. Over a few years I’ve developed a sense that grogs can be flavour within a story but should not overshadow the Conpanions and Magi. Likewise in their downtime and advancement their abilities should be useful but not fantastic.

What I’ve seen in a few places are grogs which are so specialised that they really stand out from the background. They are so skilled or optimised that they really should be specialists or characters. Maximised stats combined with Abilities scores of 5, 6 or 7, a boosting Virtue, and a total lack of breadth in their skills selection.

So what to do? Well unless I’m the SG then not much except write about it here…and suggest some things to guide creating grogs. Primarily they are meant as supporting cast and not the heroes. They assist, guide, protect but should not be resolving complex issues.

When designing Grogs you might consider:

  • Stats which match their purpose but are not stand-out,
  • At least a few languages,
  • At least a few social abilities,
  • A few Lore skills and Area Lore skills should be mandatory,

May your grogs be flavoursome and supportive.

Tephromancy, for those who think Necromancy is soft

Aside – I came across the term Tephromancy – “a form of divination involving the examination of the ashes remaining after a sacrifice“. It is perfect for one of the forms of divination that a seer themed Criamon Magus might indulge, and one that is not come across. Finding a sacrifice of suitable type, age, condition, and assuredly an animal. Then burn it to ashes. Then divine something.

I know necromancy is creepy, but I find this amazing and just as odd. Happy gaming.


An aside about the DnD edition rants and wars


The ruleset has always been trivial when compared to the influence the playstyle the team brings to the table has on gameplay. A bunch of tabletop war-gamers could railroad 1st ed just as well as a bunch of roleplayers could chatter happily in 4th ed.

I made this comment on an article over at GeekoSystem about getting into the dnd playtest. Its not that I don’t respect the debate, or even that the ruleset affects the players – I just feel that getting hung up on the mechanic resolutions is a detractor to why I roleplay. I ply rpgs for entertainment, and that entertainment is based around acting in character; the mechanics are secondary. Continue reading