My own views on Hermetic non-intervention are simple enough:
Magi are Christian:
Magi are largely Christian, through upbringing. While gaining knowledge and power might cause them to have doubts, we must remember how deeply ingrained the indoctrination of belief can be. It's belief, trust, it doesn't have to be proven, therefore slight flaws will not cause undue doubt.
We should also remember how inclusive Christianity is of diverse traditions. Wherever there was a pagan religion that couldn't easily be crushed, it would have it's key features and holidays subsumed into the local christian traditions as St's days etc. I would quite easily say that amongst the Hermetic Order there are probably a few unique Saints known only to magi. Take the example of St Nerius from 3rd edition.
While twilight might be an option for the end of their existence, why would most magi want to take it. Christian heaven is paradise for the righteous, compare that to an unknown fate of twilight or damnation in hell, and I know which option I'd take.
Magi who wish to end up in heaven would try not to sin, they would believe it wrong to mind control, to kill, to steal for no reason. This naturally leads to non intervention.
Magi are scholars:
While having the gift is the defining trait of magi, my impression of the game world is that there are far more gifted children than are actually selected to become apprentices. Magi choose apprentices with the object in mind of study and experimentation. They choose intelligent kids over dumb ones. They reinforce this by spending 15 years minimum training them in labs and libraries. Children who didn't like knowledge wouldn't be able to hack it. There are failed apprentices other than those who destroy their gifts.
Magi who pass their gauntlets therefore are on the whole scholars who value knowledge for itself. Their social structure reinforces this through the grading of apprentice, magi and archmage. Added to the the bonisagus and rhine tribunal extra rankings that recognize study and publishing of research further. Knowledge and study gives social power for them.
A small minority of violent and antisocial magi might enjoy using power for itself, but those would have to operate within the confines of the order and those who get carried away with it would end up with reputations as thugs. When the social structure rewards active study and the laws punish making a mess then peer pressure as well as self interest will help enforce these.
Magi might be powerful but:
Yes individual magi are powerful and yes they can probably defeat any number of lesser enemies. However they need to sleep, and they want private time in their labs. Making enemies of mundanes is plain stupid. Mundanes who control small or large armies can send men to kill you when you are busy trying to study. Setting up protections can be costly and assassination attempts are disruptive.
The Church is likely to side against magi in any dispute, and while priests are individually weaker than magi, they have greater numbers and a better command structure. A reputation as an evil magus in a neighbourhood can lead to strike force of priests loaded down with relics leading their men to put you down.
The Church putting you under excommunication will destroy a covenants functioning. Any grogs and servants who are willing to serve you still are either so absolutely loyal they are willing to risk their own soul, or shouldn't be trusted if they don't even worry about it.
Magi who make trouble and get caught become effectively outlaws and will either have to defend their covenant against mundanes, whether investigations or attacks or go into hiding at a site outside the authority of those who they have offended. Which is a lot of trouble and if it is deep in a wood will have much worse access to the luxuries that make life easy.
Most magi are social and live in covenants, while one or two in a covenant might be interventionist regardless of the cost and trouble that it will cause them, they should take into account the impact it will have on their sodales. Getting a reputation as an offender and oath breaker (the sample covenant charter to stick by your sodales and avoid getting them in trouble includes an oath to consider it as binding) is bad for you. Other magi will cease to do business with you, cease to join you on projects you are interested in, and cease sending you copies of their research.
Anyone who ignores all of these reasons to be a well behaved, studious magi who doesn't make waves is going to suffer magically, socially and their home life in their covenant will become much less pleasant. By the time they have the power to ignore all that they are probably so set in their ways not to try.[/b]
And exactly the balance between embracing and suppressing is a very interesting side the medieval church. In the pop version of medieval history (bestsellers and Hollywood) there's often a singular emphasis on the suppression only. But the 'canonisation' of movements such as the friars are examples of how the papal court also adapted to lay religiosity instead of suppressing it. Another example, which Timothy Ferguson and I have argued quite a bit on this forum, is the Lateran IV and the adoption of clergy and lay religiosity and practices to dogma (such as Purgatory).
This is not to diminish the stories of brutal suppression committed by secular or church power, just that those are only a part of the picture. And church reactions to the Order might be as varied if more formal contacts were to be expanded.
I thought furion was more on the side of the "action guys" like the GI Joes of the OoH. Research would be for saint..... Timothus? Saint Ericus? Saint Yairus? Of course a demon smither can be easily canonized
I've just pulled myself through an old and long thread on RPGnet that might be of interest to those mulling over this issue. The thread is on the divine, the belief of magi and most of all whether Ars is a 'Christian game'.
If you have patience and can tolerate the odd trolling, a touch of siege mentality and some random bias and bigotry it does have some very interesting posts and pointers. You can find it here. There is even a few familiar faces in the crowd.
It certainly did test my bile as well! I was only glad that it was sufficient old to not really inspire to chime in. I do think I know of which post you speak and I did in fact consider copying it here. In fact I think I will..
okay - this is a copy from RPGnet - posted by a CJ.23, who if I am not mistaken in fact frequent this forum as well. I take the liberty of bringing it because I think more people would benefit and get inspired by it.
And CJ - I do recieve declarations of Wizard's War over the PM if needed be
Personally I'm not a poster or really familiar with the RPGnet, but I found the thread by way of a googling and found it quite interesting. And it only goes to show what a little bit of malign trolling can do (I honestly think the original poster of the thread was a troll) in terms of inspiring and useful answers to said troll. Even if the not appreciated by the troll himself - I reckon he went back to his swamp or under a bridge or where-ever trolls mull there days away.