Attonement of a Demon

I have not read the RoP Infernal (one of the few books that I do not own). But can a demon attone in the eyes of God and become native of another realm as a reward?

Not according to RAW - by definition, a demon is an angel who has fully and completely rejected God; while they have free will, they will always choose their own selfish desires. (I believe that's almost a direct quote from the book; I'll see if I can look it up when I get home.)

Personally, I get around that seeming paradox (free will, but will never choose a given path) to mean that angels and demons implicitly exist outside of normal causality - and as such, the demon you are talking to right now is the same demon that is rebelling at the beginning of time, and is the same demon that is being cast into Hell during the Last Judgement; ie, they know everything from all points in their existence. As such, trying to convince them to change their ways is impossible, as they have already made/are making/will make that choice with all the information they ever have/will have/have had.

This doesn't QUITE match up with established game mechanics and canon views of Free Will (as it's based on a more modern understanding of space/time) - but it seems an interesting enough idea that I usually just go with it.

Right, in canon demons are physically incapable of acting virtuously. A demon cannot be other than wrathful, prideful, greedy, cowardly, and so on.

Which frankly rules out a whole lot of stories. The canonical presentation of demons is one of the first things I throw out when it comes to adventure design.

Probably not, as Jesus didn't die for the sins of fallen angels. The crucifixion of Jesus being the mechanism which allows people to atone.

On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be anything preventing the Divine (esp. as it is omnipotent) from causing or allowing an individual demon to atone (the key being that the Divine would probably need to create the opportunity rather than the demon). If it works for a story, I would go for it. In addition demons suffer from pride, so it seems to be totally within character for a demon to think he can redeem himself, somehow. Although, as it is not in nature of demons to want to atone the demon would probably be envisaging an "atonement" in a sort of "fingers-crossed-I'm-fooling-God" sense.

Also, I suppose the Divine could allow there to be a demonic messiah through whom demons can be redeemed. Actually, "The Passion and Crucifixion of Lucifer" sounds like a great seed for a saga/scenario.

I think part of the concept is that demons rejected God when possessed of full knowledge of what that meant, and there is no way that they could be induced to do otherwise now that they are possessed of less complete knowledge.
But yeah, the idea that demons cannot act virtuously is a bit odd given more than a second worth of time. Can a sloth demon not emulate patience?

Emulate patience, sure. Express it? No.

I remember way back in the day I had a repentant demon locked up in the basement of my first covenant (in game, obviously). Although even with that being early third edition and relying pretty much on the core book, the intention was always that the demon was not truly repentant - it just thought it was. Faced with what it meant, it reverted to type.

Now, your faeries on the other hand, they get to play the part of a really repentant demon, and sure the Realm isn't really infernal, but what's a Realm or two between friends.

In the end you have to either split hairs so finely that the rule is of little to no practical matter or you have demons becoming three stooge caricatures because they would be unable to persuade anyone of anything since they would be devoid of the virtue of courtesy, patience, and anything else which makes human interaction tolerable.

Demons can spend confidence to allow themselves a (light) comprehension of virtue for a scene. (Although there is a hard restriction on that, which escapes me at the moment.) Thus, they actually can act with politeness and whatnot, if they have to. Or at least, the ones with Confidence can.

Regarding the lack of social skills of a demon - yep. That's probably why most folktales have even peasents being able to trick them into exposing themselves, with just a little bit of social savoir-faire. But you also have stories of them being cunning and treacherous - which I would personally rule as kind of a non-supernatural version of The Gift - they're being socially manipulative, and thus is kinda-sorta SOUNDS like they're being polite, but something you can't quite put your finger on is off.

However, that's without blowing Confidence. Once they do that, it's pretty much open season. However, in terms of plot - Confidence is probably best spent by a demon in the long-term planning stages, so that they can actually put a plan together that allows for the possibility that their human prey might behave virtuously. And frankly, most plans of that sort include a "corrupt a human being, so that they might do my work for me, as they are better at predicting human behavior than I am."

Then, every so often, spend another confidence point to adjust the plan. With this in mind, it becomes the PC's role in the story to move against the demon fast enough that they can't adjust their plans, and are instead taken down by their own hubris/pride/inability to comprehend human nature.

Which means that functionally you probably aren't facing a demon very often - rather, you're facing their corrupted minions.

The main reason for this, IMO, is if demons actually acted completely rationally, they'd curbstomp any magi that they might come across.

which reminds me, reason is also a virtue, so all demons must be dumb as rocks.
You see where this leads.
Demons should be if not the ultimate threat one of the ultimate threats a player could face in terms of not just strength but cunning, and instead they are reduced to lampooning themselves.

RoP:I specifically addresses a demon's ability to reason - from what I recall, they use a corrupted form of reason that functionally denies virtuous behavior. Similarly, I would imagine they can use a corrupted form of politeness that also denies virtue; (ie, politeness as a selfish weapon to harm). Again - spending a Confidence point can restrict this for a scene, allowing demons to plan/emulate it temporarily.

I think you are mistaking the "goal" of demons in ArM (both in story-terms and from the demon's perspective). ArM demons are not really meant to be either direct physical threats or "comic-book" evil geniuses. Some demons certainly are physically threatening (esp. if you don't have the right magic tools to deal with them) and some are dead clever (within their limitations). However, that is not the point.

Demons are aiming to tempt mortals into damnation. Demons therefore either cause (or perhaps for the lesser ones are merely attracted to) situations where mortals (i.e. the PCs) are tempted to do something wrong. The question isn't whether the demon can murder the PCs, but whether the demon can arrange for a situation whereby the PCs choose to murder an NPC (or to commit some other sort of sin). The idea isn't that the demon fools the PCs into doing something wrong, but that the PCs willing choose to do something wrong. The deception is that the demon manipulates/appeals to the PCs hubris, or vengeance, or slothfulness, or whatever, to make the situation appear to the PC such that she wants to choose the sinful activity --- even though the PC knows it is sinful.

Interestingly, the answer is 'probably not' rather than a 100% not. Supernatural beings can change realms, though the process by which this happens is not covered in the rules - merely the fact that it happens is mentioned.

There's a few examples in canon; in both Through The Aegis and in Faith & Flame. One of them is even a transition from being a demon to being something else, with caveats of YSMV built in to the source material.

Supernatural beings changing realms should be rare and special, but if the story calls for it then I'd say go for it.

What demons can and cannot do with Intelligence, as opposed to Reason (two separate things in Ars Magica) is described on pg. 45-46 in the "without Prudence" header; the gist of it is that they rely on intuition and feeling, which actually works out for them fairly well (as they are, for the most part, quite intelligent). When they need long term-planning, they corrupt a human being.

Also note that demons with specializations can more easily emulate the virtues necessary for that specialization: so in the above examples, a demon of Corruption can emulate politeness (Prudence and Temperance) without having to spend a Confidence point, while demons of deception don't have a problem with pretending to comprehend prudence and Fortitude.

Can you refer me to where in the two books, chapters or pages, please?

Note that technically not everything with Infernal Might is a demon - Infernal Jinn, corrupted creatures like the dragons in Transylvania, etc. Those creatures could conceivably atone, as they're not subject to the limitations of 'proper' demons.

Page numbers are hard because I don't have the books to hand. However, I can spoil the heck out of it by simply stating which published characters have either undergone a realm change or have story arcs involving a realm change. Highlight to read, and obviously spoiler-warning.

[spoiler]* Praeco Dama's familiar transitions from faerie to infernal as part of the story arc in Faith & Flame.

  • Alexander of The Oracles of Didyma has a serpent familiar who used to be a demon in Through The Aegis.
  • The Dragon Abbot (can't recall which book he is in: Tales of Power? Hooks?) is a Divine creature who used to be a Magic creature.[/spoiler]

While I can't refer to the game rules that argue why a demon cannot atone, this article from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (published 1912) deals with the theological reasoning behind the impossibility of demonic repentance:

It's a bit of a large article but if you ctrl-f "repent" you'll find the relevant sections.

Realms of Power:The infernal p. 44 onward more or less spells it out, with a degree of what I find to be tortured logic. Accepting th Catholic version assumes that Catholic theology is synonymous with rules of Ars Magica for these purposes- it may be in some sagas, but according to RAW it is not, even if it borrows from catholic theology more often than not.
Of course demons of Judaism are already saved, being angels assigned to distasteful tasks, in Islam they cannot be saved because they are Djinn, and the offer of salvation to the Djinn was made of a clan basis rather than individual basis and the Djinn of evil clans are bound by the decisions of their ancestors.

The whole topic has probably the biggest YSMV caveat of anything I've seen.

On one hand you've got the rules in RoP:Infernal. On the other, you've got a published character with the flaw 'Dark Secret: Used To Be A Demon.' Reconcile these however you like.

Mythic Europe is full of exceptions and contradictions. It's part of the charm of the setting; it is what makes it feel so appropriately medieval.

Personally, I'd go with a variation of "transference of consciousness is not, despite the modern interpretation, immortality." As such, an entity can remember being a demon without actually being the entity that used to be a demon. (ie, a vaguely similar distinction between Lash and Lasceriel, in the Dresden Files.)

In this case, when the demon->non-demon transfer took place, the demon was killed (and can be found in hell, if one cared to look), while it's non-demonic clone took its place.

Of course, this is all hand-waving on my part, and not supported by anything. It does, however, have the benefit of being vaguely consistent with both claims. Of course, this does start getting into semantics: "A demon, by definition, cannot atone - for once it atones, it's not a demon." However, if we assume the existence of the soul, and if the non-demonic entity didn't have the same soul as the demon did (hey, kind of like what happened to Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), then it's a bit less of an issue to adjudicate.