Design of a Relic

heya folks,
I'm looking for some details on what the Faith Point granted by the relic minor virtue actually does. ArM p 189 says it grants MR 10 x Faith points, and the use of faith points for miracles.
Q. I assume that the carrier also needs to be faithful (to some degree) for that protection to be present, or can a non-faithful person gain that protection?

Without RoP:D in front of me...I think that you must be pious to be able to ask for miracles. I tend to think that you must be at least faithful if not pious to get the MR. That one I am less sure about. I am sure there are many examples of non-pious NPCs with a relic that grants them MR.

You can't be a demon (i.e. have infernal might) or be Irregular Clergy, but otherwise pretty much everyone (pagan, religious, lay, infidel) should get the benefits from a relic. To suggest otherwise places limitations on the Divine, and the Divine is omnipotent.

I'm not sure what the official rules are, but I would suggest that anyone (i.e. any mundane) could use a relic to both gain MR and ask for a miracle. They have a soul, and hence may gain the Divine's protection and compassion. That said, I would base the chance of actually getting a miracle on the person's piety (as well as that nature of his request and so on). I might consider not allowing characters aligned with the Infernal to benefit from the MR - it's nice for the corrupt priest to benefit from the finger-bone of the saint even as he does diabolical things, but it also sounds weird, so I don't know.

Creatures without true souls, like Magical and Faerie beings, shouldn't benefit from relics. The Infernal likewise cannot benefit, and the Divine don't need to (they already do). So it's just mundanes that can use relics.

Pg 46 of RoP:D - Relics will cease to function if the person carrying them behaves impiously or in an inappropriate fashion.

That does not seem consistent with elsewhere, and as far as I know is inconsistent with historic dogma; although there are, of course, at times various heresies that hold otherwise.

If a magus holds onto a fragment of the True Cross (say) why should its properties and functions now depend on the behaviour or beliefs of the magus? Is the magus able to suppress the power of the True Cross?

It seems fair that a creature who behaves in a directly evil manner (whatever that is?) would not get the protection of a holy relic. The power of the relic is not being suppressed at all; the relic might withhold its influence. Perhaps treat the relic with a form of semi-sentience.
It's up to the relic to say if an action is evil enough, and that might change with the relic involved.

That might seem sensible and "fair" from a gaming point of view, but doesn't seem to very accurately represent medieval (theological) ideas of the Divine and the miraculous.

Miracles happen to sinners and pagans too. That's often why they stop being sinners and pagans. Miracles don't happen because someone "deserves" them.

It is more "realistic" if relics have miraculous effects that happen or not according to the (ineffable) Divine Plan rather than being the product of some sort of identifiable moral calculus. After all, if a person could influence whether or not a miracle occurred by their behaviour we would be calling the effects of relics "physics" instead of "miracles".

This argument mixes up an in-game construct - the ArM5 p.189 relic carrying Faith Points - and popular theology.

First, I would refer you to David Chart's From the Line Editor in sub rosa #16:

Then to the core rules proper:

These relics - of which the OP speaks - are clearly in-game constructs, and as such need to have limits to their application, which are stated. Even the Divine realm proper needs and has such in-game limits.

Does this make any of the medieval discussions about the omnipotence of God impossible in a saga? Of course not. It just posits that ArM5 God did will the ArM5 p.189 relics to work that way.

To roleplay such discussions, first have a quick look at the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia entry , which indeed nicely sums up the positions of classical and medieval Christian philosophers for use in your saga. From there you can go on to study specific medieval theologians. But you are already enabled to role-play the arguments of those of your magi interested in theology about the reason, why that shinbone of saint whosis did not protect their sodalis.


To avoid misunderstandings, I should state clearly, that miracles in any RPG saga are in the end a SG prerogative. Don't let rules lawyers take that prerogative away.

Here's my favorite medieval miracle story, which subtly underlines this point. It is from the Legenda Aurea, and you can find Caxton's translation in ... cholas.asp .


Separate relic from miracle. Yes. A divine miracle may happen to sinner and pagans as well as those of true faith. But a relic is different and has different rules. It does not act like a magic ring that anyone can pick up and get a benefit from. A pagan who is burning criminals in the fields in a wickerman should not get MR of a relic just because he found the finger bone of St. Blaze.

I'll weigh in on this too, since I'm the SG for the saga I think you're talking about.

My opinion (like that of any good lawyer) is that the answer depends. As others have pointed out, Faith is kind of squishy from a rules standpoint, being left up to the SG in many cases. In this particular instance, I see a few possible situations.

The Relic is carried by someone with True Faith
This is an easy one. The relic ought to work just fine. But you knew that.

The Relic is carried by someone who is pious, but doesn't have True Faith
Again, this is pretty easy. The relic ought to work just fine in these circumstance too. In fact, this is probably where Relics are meant to be, aiding and defending those who are pious, but whose piety does not quite rise to the level of True Faith.

The Relic is carried by someone who is moderately pious, though not without his doubts
Here's where it starts to get squishy. In some circumstances, I would say the Relic should work just fine. This seems like just the sort of circumstance so that the Divine would use to try and help bolster someone's faith. However, and this seems to jibe with the rules, if the semi-pious person were looking to use the Relic in some less than noble way, it might not work. Then again, it might if that were just the sort of thing that might resolve a crisis of faith.

The Relic is carried by someone who is not a member of the faith, but is a good man
This remains in the squishy territory. If a Relic were used by one of the non-faithful, it might just work if doing so might help bring the person closer to the faith. A demonstration of the power of the Divine in just the right time and place might change someone's mind about matters of faith. But again, if the Relic were being used for venal purposes, it probably wouldn't work.

The Relic is carried by someone who is not a member of the faith, but is a bad man
Here it becomes less squishy. Most likely, the Relic will not work for this person. They are just the wrong target audience. However, as was mentioned above, if using it might help convert the person carrying it to the true faith, it might just work. Still, I wouldn't bank on it.

The Relic is carried by someone who is trying to abuse its power
Now were back into simple interpretations. If someone is trying to abuse the power of the Relic, it shouldn't work. After all, the power of St. Sebastian's knuckle bone does not come from the bone itself, but from St. Sebastian. Presumably he's clever enough to know when he's being used. Likewise, it isn't an impious magus that prevents the sliver of the True Cross from working. Rather, the power of the True Cross comes from Christ, who's clever enough to deny His power when someone's trying to abuse it.

That all having been said, a generally pious person who may be a little heterodox will probably still get pretty good use out of a Relic. Remember, the power comes from On High, not from down here on Earth. It isn't like the Pope were some Bishop could withdraw the power of the Relic. That's above their pay scale. So long as the person holding the relic is generally a good person and generally keeps to the faith, the Relic ought to keep working.

This still seems to be setting up Miracles as something that a character receives from the Divine in exchange for Faith.

This smells like making bargains with the Divine, and its the other team that makes bargains. Miracles should happen because of the Divine plan, not because of what people are or are not doing.

Great answer Trogdor, thank you. Certainly in line with what I had in mind, and makes choices easier to make. It's for my companion in Rise of Atlantis, and also for a potential side character in another game.

You appear to underestimate the value Christian religion puts into faith.

Character building in RPGs is intrinsically and inevitably about trade-offs and exchanges. By allowing a Virtue Relic in ArM5, you need to delimit its value: and requiring faith of the character using that relic - which ArM5 p.189 does - is a limitation very appropriate to medieval Christianity. But keep that relic apart from those miracles you need to reserve to SG adjudication.