Character Responses to Divine Inconsistencies?

So, here's a weird one. Much digital ink has of course been spilled on the simple fact that a God who provides equal support to all Abrahamic faiths would necessarily be highly distinct from the beliefs any individual group has about said God. However, here I'm more concerned with what qualify as pious responses to evidence of that fact. This is pretty immediately relevant to my intentions to play a Jewish Hermetic magus interested in Kabbalah, and who's gonna be living at a covenant with the pretty active presence of a saint per the Hooks and Boons we selected.

Like, according to RoP:D medieval Judaism considers sainthood as the Catholic Church practices it to be idolatry. But a Jewish mystic could pretty well confirm that a saint is using Divine power, and that the church built on the site of that saint's martyring has a huge Divine Aura. So like, at what point, if any, does acknowledging that fact become problematic for the Jewish character? Would it be opposition to something God clearly supports if you were to attempt to dissuade people from supplicating the saint on the basis of idolatry? Conversely, if God's apparent support for sainthood makes it not idolatry to supplicate saints for aid, would that permit the Jewish mystic to do so, or would he still be punished for violating the beliefs of Judaism (a la loss of True Faith)? Or is there room within the Divine functionality for updating one's personal understanding of God/Yahweh without breaking from Him, even if one would be considered in a state of sin/spiritual uncleanliness by either community, by like, idk, incorporating sainthood as a concept into your belief system without actually converting to Christianity?

Obviously it's up to me to decide what my character does, but I'd like to hear you guys' thoughts on the metaphysics side of things.


Wouldn't that church still be a church - and thus a Divine Aura there expected? A Sefer Torah would be Divine, whether written by a famous Rabbi or a humble scribe.
Making a point of comparing the relative strength of Divine Auras would be scholarly hybris, certainly not an issue of faith.

He wouldn't likely believe in saints,as that is a Christian concept, and his faith frowns upon it, at least until the 19th century.
As Oneshot wrote, the church the saint is honored in, is still a church, so he'd expect it to have a Divine Aura.

I'm not sure why both of you seem to be saying that a church having a divine aura is expected.

Like, let's flip the script here- If a Christian walked into a Mosque or a Synagogue, why would they expect a divine aura in those places? Those religions are to the Christian, wrong about God, right?


So what if they are wrong about God?
Those buildings are still there for the worship of God, even if you believe the way they are doing it is all wrong.
Besides, does the mere presence of a Divine Aura necessarily indicate that God approves of everything that is going on inside it, or that God had to take direct action to make the Aura appear?

Magi are more learned than most medieval people, so I expect their studied to encompass that all three abrahamic religions can create Divine Auras emanating from their religious structures.

I don't think we're on the same page here, so I'm going to come back when I have something of more substance for the OP.

So, I think RoP:D and the treatment of monotheistic faiths in Ars Magica 5e comes from trying to have the cake and it eat too.

Because, right, the setting needs Christians to be kind of right in order to make sense. They can't be completely wrong, but writing a game in which Jewish and Muslim people are simply wrong because Christians are right is... well, it's uncomfortable for a variety of historical reasons. It would also attract a certain kind of person to the game, who delights in engaging in some of the worst kinds of Christian supremacy.

So you have to square the circle somehow. Making it so that all monotheistic religions are simultaneously correct makes a lot of sense- especially if you're Christian and you take it implicitly that you're going to make Christianity more correct in your mechanics and setting material (Demons mostly work along Catholic lines in RoP:I, for example).

This, however, runs into immediate problems for several reasons- one of them being that people in the game period would not have believed that all of the religions that the Divine supports are equally valid and true. This makes Magi really weird.

They can determine the presence of the same kinds of auras in all monotheistic holy places. They can see that angels of different faiths do, point of fact, align to the same force. Anyone with Dominion Lore can know about how there's both Jewish and Muslim and Christian and Zoroastrian angels.

But these faiths are mutually exclusive in terms of doctrine, which creates the problem you already outlined.

So your options here are kind of strange. You can have your character simply not think about it, which is the quickest and easiest way to gloss over this. I wouldn't like to do that, since it seems like it would fly in the face of the main reason to play that character.

Your character could be a heretic who believes that all monotheistic religions are kind of correct, but Judaism is most correct, and their god chooses to support these lesser faiths as an act of mercy. This still leaves a ton of issues, of course, but it at least allows you to engage with your faith in a way that respects that you're a wizard who knows things people aren't supposed to know.

In one of my games, there was a Maga who was a Nun that believed something like this. She believed that God was a vast faerie being who embodied all beliefs in him simultaneously, resulting in a being of omnipotent power. This is deeply heretical, but flows more naturally into the setting as presented.

I'm not sure if God only enforces the things your religion believes to be virtues, prohibitions and sins; or, if it's all the ones you believe in yourself. If it's the first, you'd have to convert (this also makes God kind of a hypocrite?); and, if it's the second you just need to have a change of heart about what you really believe (which means morality is kind of arbitrary).

There's a possible argument that God has a set of immutable, perfect moral standards and we are only privy to parts of that; but, that argument kind of falls apart when you consider that faithful Christian crusaders murdered tons of Jewish and Muslim people on the basis of lies and bigotry without ever being punished by God for it.

So, like, it doesn't seem to be the case.

As an atheist, the natural path for most characters I play is to decide that God is inherently hypocritical and arbitrary as a force. This, of course, precludes playing a character with a deep faith in God.

I'll ponder more ways to square this circle, to give you some ideas you might find useful in your game. Hope my ramble helps in some small way.


You have to make sure, that those able to determine and measure auras have understood, that more than one specific doctrine of those using a place can lead to its aura being Divine.
The idea of People of the Book, sharing the same god, but having different opinions about most doctrines, is quite accessible to scholars at the time of the crusades and supports the idea of a single type of aura around their places of worship and life.
The parable of the three rings - certainly documented in the 73rd tale of the 13th century Novellino - scourges Christian narrowmindedness from a standpoint of personal experience with Muslims and Jews, which many travellers in the Mediterranean had made at that time:

E così è delle fedi, messere: le fedi sono tre: il Padre che·lle diede sa la migliore, e li figliuoli (ciò siamo noi), ciascuno la si crede avere buona».


And so it is with the faiths, my Lord: there are three of them: the Father who gave them knows which is best, and the sons (that is us) each believe theirs is the good one.

Keep in mind the issue of the infernal as well- a crusader finds a mosque, first of all they are unlikely to be able to tell that it has a divine aura. They might explain it as a pre-Christian sacred site and suspect a demon is hiding itself within and thus deluding Muslims. Or the Jew might see a Christian saint and think it is a devil trying to deceive it.
Those who can be certain that the auras or entities are truly divine are few and far between, and those amongst them willing and able to travel to distant lands fewer still.
And then is the question of whether they are believed, or whether others might think the man with true faith is being led astray by demons, or perhaps be in league with them and only appear holy.

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It didn't require great culture to identify a mosque or a church in the 13th century. Typically, churches were turned into mosques (putting in a mihrab) and mosques into churches (putting in altars) after the conquest of an area: solid, representative buildings able to serve a community were too valuable to destroy them at a whim.

Whoo boy, I feel like I’ve got a ton to say about how I interpret the Divine working in Ars Magica, but I’m hoping to work at least a little bit of it into the saga I’m currently running so I don’t want to spoil any of my players who may be browsing. :wink:

Mechanically, though, I think you can go about the kind of situation you described in one of two ways.

First, you could have a character learning about the fact that the Divine is at work (and True Faith exists) across all Abrahamic religions be a path to:
-writing/contributing to works on religious philosophy that might bring them to the attention of other scholars across Mythic Europe
-better relations with local religious communities
-achieving True Faith or even Holy Magic
(Not that the first discovery leads to “oh, I Get It and now I have no more penalties for spellcasting in a Dominion aura”, but that it’s a first step towards a possible long-term goal. If you feel so inclined you could even invent a skill for your saga that represents this understanding, like a Divine version of Enigmatic Wisdom.)

Second, and whether or not you decide you want this character to gain something substantial mechanically from these observations, you could have a bunch of things happen should a character talk/write about/otherwise share their “blasphemous” ideas:
-a negative Reputation
-a steadily increasing Personality Trait like Paranoid or Distrustful
-they could start attracting weirdos: the classic “yelling nonsense about conspiracies” weirdo, the weirdo who wants to talk to you about incredibly obscure texts you don’t care about, the weirdo who thinks you’re starting a cult and wants to join, the weirdo who thinks you’re starting a cult and must be stopped…

Basically, you can make it a boon, a hook, or both. Whatever suits your story and strikes you as most interesting.

Well, they also killed Christians on the same basis with the same lack of result.

I don't see how the new Covenant brought by the Cross should invalidate the 10 Commandments one, nor how the later one invalidates the previous ones. At best, you could consider the other 2 as imperfect approach used by deluded people.

All roads lead to Rome, but stopping at Medina/Jerusalem is a mistake.

Keep in mind as well that humans can be influenced and allied with more than one realm at a time- a crusader might well have true faith and be part of a Christian tradition but aso fall under the sway of the Mallus Islam, for example, and be led into infernal paths in his belief that Islam is an existential threat and pure evil.

I think I might have worded my curiosities too ambiguously. I'm very aware that the setting enables the lack of awareness of God's mutual aid to religions to survive mostly because only an extremely small number of people have both the supernatural tools and lived experiences to confirm for themselves that all Abrhamic faiths are supported by God, and even fewer of those people have any persuasive way to communicate that information to others, rather than just sounding like accursed heretics and blasphemers.

My question is specifically about how to reconcile the situation if you are one of those small handful of people. For my character, he's a Jewish holy magus living in a place under the protection of a Catholic Saint. He can, as much as anyone in the setting could hope to, confirm that a saint is every bit as much of a being of Divine Might as a golem created by Kabbalah. Regardless of whether anyone would believe him about that, I guess I wonder what would be the... Divine-compliant thing to do with this information? It seems, with such a picture of the situation, you could make equally reasonable arguments that it would be spiritually wrong for him to oppose veneration of the saint since God demonstrably rewards doing so, yet also spiritually wrong for him to partake in said veneration since it violates the Jewish interpretation of idolatry.

If God is responsive to deviations in an individual's belief system compared to the religions as a whole, that would solve the problem quite roundly as "whichever thing he does is fine by God as long as he thinks it's fine by God," which may very well be the case if we're supposing that the crusaders are going to meet everyone they kill up in Heaven (how awkward), since you do need a God who's open-minded to the point of moral arbitrariness. It feels weird to me that sin only counts if you consider it such, but... that might be the only way for an Infernal Realm whose Auras can be generated by sin to make sense.

I suppose, if we're generously trying to create a cohesive narrative, God in Ars Magica might actually have no moral perspectives beyond "worshipping me is good, not trying to worship me is bad" and give a gold star to anyone he can tell is trying their best and a smack to the head to anyone doing something they think He wouldn't want, no matter what that effort or failure looks like. Which probably isn't the most satisfying answer for anyone on any side of the "Ars Magica God perspectives" issue.


First: accepting the will of God.
Second: accepting the lives of the other people, even if far less insightful.

As an example to consider, you might wish to read Lessing's Nathan der Weise - perhaps in a decent English translation/adaptation.

Nobody said, that being a jewish holy magus is easy or just an issue of mechanics in ArM5.

EDIT: Just found this:


There are people who have access to all modern day science and still have a literal interpretation of the bible. Noah's ark is literally correct for them. 8 people on the planet then spawn the 7 billion we have today, with the diversity we have. Good luck with that. Use their justification. It's true because God.

If you want a better answer, I'm struggling without making your character slightly heretical. I've read the King James bible,the Qur'an, book of Mormon, the histories of the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Aztec, Norse and other gods, Hinduism, Buddhist and Taoist texts and more. None of them make logical sense with what we know today. I consider they were the attempts of people without the benefits of the science and learning we have to explain the horror of diseases, famine, floods, etc, to gain some agency over these horrors, and to answer the question of how did we get here and where do we go.

The slight heresy angle is your character accepts that all the Abrahamic stuff was written by fallible humans and is an imperfect translation of the word of God. Anything that doesn't square with Judaism is because that aspect is due to an imperfect translation. God helps everyone as he knows no-one has got it 100% right, but they are doing their best.

The other character option is; God is preparing the way for the one true prophet to unite all three Abrahamic faiths, so while Judaism is the one true path, God assists the other 2 faiths, as they are monotheist and are better than those pagans.

Here is the thing. You do not know that a being having Divine Might, or a place having a Divine aura, indicates that God has rewarded them, or that God approves. That they detect the same, does not necessarily mean they have the same source.
There could, theoretically, be many ways of getting Divine powers, with only some of them actually involving God himself.
It is also quite possible for a person with Divine-aligned powers to use them contrary to God's will.

For a Jew it is probably (I am no expert on Judaism) wrong to venerate a saint, no matter how holy the saint may be.


You might also ask your SG, to have your jewish holy magus find a copy of Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed.


Is that saint still alive? The 3rd book of the Guide to the Perplexed treats and condems idolatry extensively, while also stressing how God protects his prophets.

If the saint is no longer alive, things become tricky, as the true identity is pretty hard to ascertain. He could also be an angel or a demon - but holy magic can sort that out with the right Method and Power.
After making sure, that he has no demon but a Divine being before him, proper reverence is in order, like Abraham showed to the angels. This is not idolatry.

Remember also, your character, taken to another extreme, could also consider the Saint, and the Church, to actually be an infernal plot, to get worshippers of the true faith (Judaism in his case) away from the righteous path.