Crusade and Divine Aura


I was wondering whether there was any material on the effect of crusade on a Magus. My feeling is that a (Spring) Covenant which would happen to stand in the path of a crusade would be easily crushed by it, but I have trouble translating this into game terms. (Actually my Saga is set in the Provençal Tribunal in the time of the Crusade against the Cathars; since so many Cathar castles and cities were mercilessly destroyed, I would have trouble believing a (Spring) Covenant wouldn't risk to meet the same fate...)

Unless I'm mistaken, I can't seem to find any specific game mechanism about crusades in RoP: The Divine, although I must admit I only browsed through it. I know there was something about a "mobile Divine Aura" in Pax Dei (p. 26 ff) but even this does not seem enough to me.

Would you have any idea/advice on this matter?

Thank you,

Well I don't have my books with me, but off the top of my head....

  1. The crusading army of the faithful can probably be assumed to have a +3 bonus from invoking God's aid.
  2. If the crusaders decide to besiege the covenant they could set up a Dominion aura. This would aid any Divine powers and (IIRC) might even suppress the Magic aura.
  3. Even if none of the crusaders have True Faith, a sufficiently powerful relic could be very dangerous.
  4. With all those faithful people about, you can probably expect a few Saintly Interventions and maybe even a Miracle!

Of course, all of the above assume that the crusaders have actual Divine power and aren't merely church-sanctioned looters....

The setting pretty much assumes that, indeed, any covenant that finds itself on the path of a crusade would be in trouble; even non-Spring ones. However, I do not think the rules bear this out as-is. Magi are immensely powerful in the setting, and I believe they are strong enough so that a Summer covenant (let alone a Tribunal) could smash, confuse, or disperse any mundane army, even one enjoying the benefit of some people of True Faith, Divine tradition, or so on. The only way to avoid this is by more direct Divine intervention and/or extremely powerful Divine beings - such as Michael - and I think this is essentially the SG saying "Oh yeah?! Well, I'm God, and I'm Allpowerful, so THERE!", which isn't very satisfying.

I would advise against making this into an Order-vs-Church affair. Instead, have the other magi in the Tribunal largely lethargic about the whole military campaign. If it doesn't target their lands or raw vis, this makes sense. Perhaps have some Jerbiton magi working behind the scenes to ensure the covenants in the Tribunal are not affected.

There should be something about the PCs covenant that makes it take the brunt. Perhaps it has affiliated itself with the Cathars, for example, and the rest of the Tribunal sees the crusade as proper "karma" - perhaps even warning the covenant to be wary of interfering with the progress of the crusade, and sending Quaesitors to sniff around to make sure of that. Or maybe it isn't recognized yet, so the magi directing the crusade away from covenants don't feel like they need to protect it. Or maybe some mundane reason prevents them from diverting the crusade from this specific stretch of land, and the Tribunal decides it is better to just let the crusade wade through this single covenant if that buys everyone else peace and quiet.

Thus, while every other covenant is hiding itself by magic, is hidden in a regio, or is off the crusade's path - the PCs covenant alone finds itself in the warpath.

Do make the crusade more "Mythic" as much as possible. I would start very small, indeed with stories preceding and heralding the crusade itself. Have angels and divine miracle workers work against a local Cathar community, and see how the PCs respond. Have them drag a noble, and a small military contingent, into this affair, to see how they deal with armed mundane forces. This will give you a feel for the magic the PCs could wield and how they could defeat/trick the crusader armies.

When it comes to the crusade itself, crank up the Mythic elements. I would allow a "Moving Aura", simply by having mobile "shrines", relics held by the priests overseeing the crusade. Erect a large spherical aura equal to a Cathedral's around such a relic, and good aura around pivotal people in the army (such as the king). Have a weak Dominion aura present whenever the divine host of the crusade is, much like a village's fields. Have the papal legate leading the crusade wield Divine powers (via Powers and Methods), and have crusading orders built (at least at the level of sergeant and up) as Divine supernatural societies, too (again wielding various Methods and Powers, as well as initiations into other Mysteries and hence Virtues). Have the leaders of the crusade guarded by relics, which grant supernatural protection and magical effects as well as sheer Faith points. Have angels and other Mythic creatures/events, such as saints' intervention, occur 'regularly' in the course of the crusade. Also, have some magus or secret society aiding the crusade against the PCs for some reason. Perhaps a clandestine faction of Catholic magi secretly serving the Church, perhaps an overzealous Flambeau, perhaps a Tytalus using the mundane turmoil to foster his plans against the PCs...

I would also consider making the crusade Infernal, rather than Divine. This is a big choice to make. Note that an Infernal campaign will likely be accompanied by various deceiving demons, who act as 'angels', and that the magic wielded by the diabolists would be indistinguishable from Divine magic to Hermetic investigation for the most part.

Thanks for all these suggestions.

Actually the Saga is pretty much on track already, and I have indeed chosen to have a slowly-building threat. If anyone's interested, you can follow the first step of it through an adventure that I wrote, but which is unfortunately in French ( More episodes are due to be uploaded as soon as I will have played them.

As for the game mechanisms themselves, I was wondering whether instead of Powers, Methods, Faith Points and so on, it wouldn't be easier to rule that any spell directly opposing the Crusade (such as a Pilum of Fire directed against the crusaders, a Rego Mentem spell trying to make them go away, and so on) would simply fizzle. Pretty nasty, but simple, elegant and effective. :smiley:

Any more ideas are welcome!

What if the magi allied with the crusaders? I prefer crusades to be Divine rather than Infernal (had plenty of that in 3rd edition). What if it is the Cathars that are infernal? That could be another layer, the magi sympathize with the cathars, try to help them, only to discover that the cathars are actually deluded diabolists.

I think this is counterproductive on two fronts: first, it would be a huge source of frustration to the magi, who effectively would be turned powerless (as a player, I definitely don't like being made to feel powerless), and secondly it would be too overt - such a rule essentially means God is directly intervening to stop any spell against His plan, so it feels like you're fighting God - which in addition to making you powerless, also feels rather disgusting and futile.

I would much more prefer a Dominion Aura rule, perhaps augmented with some Magic Resistance. This would keep things fairly simple while still allowing some leeway for magi to act.

Actually using Divine Methods and Powers and so on is indeed a bit of a bother; I'll try to use them, myself, but if not just give NPCs whatever powers and effects you feel are right.

I myself do indeed rule that God is all powerful. If he wants to prevent the PoF from harming the crusader, then it is prevented without any dice roll. The most powerful magus in the world has no hope of penetrating a divine might of 1, unless God so wills it. Might strippers designed for Divine beings are just a wast of lab time.

God is either all powerful or he isn't really God at all, just a powerful supernatural being that you can hope to replace one day. As a side note, for similar reasons polytheism seems illogical to me. There cannot be multiple infinite powers, and if they are not infinite then they are not truly gods. Just powerful supernatural beings that you can hope of conquoring.

Well, as an author of RoP: D, I guess I should throw in my two cents. :slight_smile:

It seems to me that if there is a confrontation between the magi and a crusading army, the army will have a number of things in their favour (some of which have been noted already):

  1. A +3 bonus to the rolls of the soldiers in the army (a trained group).
  2. Modified Personality Traits from Holy Influence (giving bonuses to Brave rolls and the like)
  3. Members of the army with True Faith
  4. Members of the army carrying relics, which give Faith points and magic resistance, and may also have additional powers
  5. Members of the army who may have Holy Methods and Powers
  6. Constant prayer for miracles; if the cause is just, someone's prayers will be answered eventually.
  7. If you really want to give the army divine sanction, have it supported by an angel or two.

While individually many of these may seem quite weak, the accumulated weight of them should be enough to give the magi pause.

Heh, I can see it now...

"Make sure everyone keeps praying! You think a 34+ Ease Factor is just going to happen?!"

More to the point, either the Army's cause is just and they kick ass for the Lord, or they don't. And they are not the ones... (ahem)... they are not The One who decides that.

So, the question could be, what does the Big G care about the Covenant?

That is an importnt and interesting point. Maybe God is displeased by all sides and chooses not to get involved at all. Maybe, just maybe, God really doesn't like righteous slaughter in his name. He may have a "hands off" approach to the whole thing.

But the thing is, God isn't the one saying what is going on in the game. Well, at least I don't think Atlas Games has God in its clientele - Ars Magica is good, but it's not that good. Who the players are up against is the storyguide, not God. And so ruling that God gets his way no matter what is, in practice, ruling that the storyguide gets his way no matter what - in other words, blatant and oppressive railroading.

God just doesn't work that way in the setting. Did God want Rome not to be sacked? One would imagine. Yet he let people do it anyways. Creatures with Divine Might are not infallible and do not, generally, work directly for God but rather according to their understanding of God's wll. God is allowing all sorts of stuff, which is possible for any number of reasons - free will, his mysterious Plan, or even heretical not-all-powerful ideas. God intervenes directly - through miracles - only very rarely and only then, indeed, is his power inviolate. All of these are fine options that, in my opinion, make for better gaming. And that's what counts. It just makes for more fun gaming when God, for whatever reason, does not intervene that much, essentially leaving the players to form their own plans and have a chance to succeed in whatever course of action they choose.

As a side-note on paganism, there are two options -
A) There is indeed only one infinitely powreful God, but he is aloft and tradnscendant. It is only his lesser 'emanations', the pagan gods, that matter to humans. This is the path Hinduism takes, for the most part.
B) There is no such thing as an infinitely powerful being. This does not mean the power of humans can ever reach close to that of the gods, nor their perfection, nor does it mean that gods didn't create the earth and sea and the humans themselves, so that the humans owe them thanks and gratitude. There are other meanings to the word 'god', which have nothing to do with 'all powerful'.

I respectfully disagree. I don't think even all of these, combined, can really wreck havoc for a strong Summer covenant, let alone several covenants. Sufficiently diverse powerful magi can, if given enough advance warning and logistical latitude, wreck havoc on the approaching army along its progress.

The caveat is that angels have abominably high Divine Might, so that if one of the greatest intervenes that would be problematic. Another caveat is that a loose hand with miracles will quickly undo any mortal plan. Both are, in my opinion, severe railroading, however. Yet another caveat is intervention from other factors, such as Infernal corruption or pious magi.

Another caveat is that I haven't looked at the Methods and Powers recently, and so I may be misremembering their power. I'll run along and refresh my memory.

Check your private messages :wink:

I must beg to differ.

As to feeling powerless, it is not IMO such a bad thing. Usually, Magi tend to feel almighty; isn't it good to remind them sometimes that - at least in the medieval paradigm - pride is the deadliest of sins? Moreover, I think a certain feeling of helplessness dramatically increases the epic dimension of the plot. If you think for instance of some great stories such as Episodes IV-VI of Star Wars, Volume VII of Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings, each time, the heroes must face a terrible threat (the Empire, Voldermort, Sauron) against which they are practically hopeless; and yet, there is a glint of hope, and it is by clinging to it that their final victory is so moving. What I mean is that it can be justified sometimes to let the players think that they have absolutely no power against a certain antagonist (in this case a crusade), provided the Storyguide makes sure at the same time that they can see a way out, however faraway and difficult to reach it is. In the present case, the Magi could notably have to learn with trial & error what "opposing the crusade" really means : a pilum of fire cast against it clearly does, but what about an invisibility spell? Or a wall strenghtened by a MuTe spell? More importantly, how can they secure the Covenant before the crusade knocks on the door?

As to fighting God, actually, it is more God - or at least God's armies - fighting the players. The whole (official) purpose of the Crusade against the Cathars was to crush heresy under all its forms. In this sense, this is really in my view a holy war led by the Church against all heterodoxies, including the Order of Hermes if it happens to stand in its way. Of course, every Storyguide could have a different view in his own Saga, but I daresay the suggested approach could lead to interesting results.

I certainly agree with you on this point, and this is why I think that at first glance the existing mechanisms do not offer a satisfying solution to the treatment of a crusade. Now, it may be true that an automatic failure of any spell opposing the crusade would be a bit too radical - one could imagine instead to give a Magic Resistance to every crusader (after all, they do fulfill a sacred function on behalf of the pope himself), but of which power exactly?...

Thank you for feeding the debate!

Best regards,

RoP: D, page 88: Check Celestial Immunity, Resist Temptation and The Incombustible Shroud. That should give your crusaders a significant edge...:slight_smile:

A covenant in the path of a crusade should first hear about it a season or two before it comes as the call goes out and it takes time for forces to gather. Perdo Terram and Perdo Herbam can render a covenant near imprenetrable (Use them to destroy the seige engines and seige ladders in the night and all they can do is stand outside and wave angrily at you.) (well be prepared to deal with sappers too).

That time can be spent hiding the labs or concealing things and then mages could welcome, supply or work with the crusade to get spared. A brief show of piety from many of the mages and most of the grogs (the other mages remaining hidden in lab or unseen) should work. No military commander wants to attack a strong fort and get bogged down and every military command worries about their supply lines so a safe source of supplies can make them your friend. If nothing else, a little friendliness can at least insure that you are last on their attacks rather than near the first and thus buy more time to prepare.

Attack their supply lines as long as it can't be traced back to you. Attack their supplies. Create rumors that pull them higher priority targets. Bribe their political superiors or some of the officers (a lot of people on crusade did it for the looting and rewards as much as belief). The one against the cathars might never have gotten off the ground if the cathars hadn't also decided by their belief that they no longer need to pay tithe or taxes.

Considering all the powers of saints for worshippers including magic resistance, soak bonuses, healing help, it is something best not fought directly.