Dominion Lore=Heresy?

I’ve been rereading RoP:D. I see great story potential in how 5th edition effectively divorced the divine realm from any specific theology. Instead the Dominion aligns itself with any sincere worship of a single benevolent creator regardless of theology. So that not only are Christians, Jews, and Muslims blessed but so are Zoroastrians, Gnostics, Cathars, and Platonists.

The fact (and in cannon it is a fact) that God blesses and empowers the faithful of other religions is probably not a reality that sits well with many members of the church. As Dominion Lore is a “knowledge of the manifestations of the divine” that is separate from theology, this fact should be known or at least suspected by anyone with a significant score in the ability.

One could defiantly see how Dominion Lore could be feared by the church more then any other lore. Teaching it could be dangerous and books about the subject could be more incriminating should church inquisitors come around then many infernal texts.

Has anyone created characters or run plots that deal with these aspects of the setting?

Personally I think it would be fun to create a character who has true faith and a high Dominion Lore but an ability block in theology. He literally can not comprehend the difference between religions.

Or perhaps run a storyline for a devote but bigoted character who slowly learns more about the nature of the Dominion and must come to terms with its nonsectarian nature.

That's a really interesting approach and one that I'd not seen before. But you're right, a specific Religion is different to the Dominion, which is different again to the Divine. Breaking it down like that is also one way to reconcile characters who choose no particular religion but must still accept the evidence of the Divine that they encounter every day.

But yes, I'd like to see a character or situation that plays up on the potential conflict inherent in contrasting a given religion to the Dominion and/or the Divine.

Hmmm - in some ways, Dominion Lore is almost Unitarian in its approach, which is looked askance by more than one modern religion.

But Dominion Lore is not "religion" or even "world view" as much as a collection of various knowledge and (authenticated) folklore. It's the difference between understanding the aerodynamics of a ball, and having a favorite sports team (if you'll pardon the analogy.) The two are related only by accident of intersection.

(But that doesn't mean a naive and over-enthusiastic Loremaster couldn't get themselves into deep yogurt if they were too honest with the wrong cleric.) 8)

In my saga, you get Dominion if you worship a single benevolent Creator. You get more Dominion if your tradition is attempting to partake of the Abrahamic covenant - this is the default level of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam within my version of the setting. Yes, this indicates that Abraham had a closer rapport with Divinity that most Divine traditions started with.

The Big Three are essentially equal, not because God doesn't care how they see Him, but because it's a crapsack world in a lot of ways and there are a lot of frauds within the ministerial ranks. The frauds tend to spend more time learning Leadership, Charm, Etiquette, etc., than they do Theology, Dominion Lore, Teaching, and so on, so they tend to advance faster within the hierarchy, or draw more of a following, or what have you. Essentially, 1st Samuel 16: 7 remains a valid observation.

What it boils down to is, none of the theologies are correct any more. Generation upon generation of accumulated mis-focus, error, and distortion has resulted in a situation where, while even the sincere draw near to the Divine with their lips, what they revere in their hearts has far less to do with God than it could.

Oh, and I'm working on the history of what happened when some members of House Bonisagus took a good look at Islam and wondered why they got Dominion bennies (Mary Sue AU fanfic version of Abraham/Isaac/Ishmael, the local pagan only-found-there pre-Islamic faeries get center stage in the Creation story, Mohammed's first big prophetic event looks like a standard straying episode, and so forth). Really cool Dominion bennies, in fact, since the Islamic Dominion doesn't inhibit the magic of pious Muslims who aren't trying to harm other Muslims.

(By the way, the proposal to convert to Islam en masse for the good of the Order died a quick death when someone pointed out that in order to count as pious Muslims, among other things each Maga would probably need to get only half a vote at Tribunal and might need to have an official guardian - either the master who trained her, or one of her master's male apprentices, or her husband.)

In any event, the predictable result was a series of experiments to see if they could create their own original Divine-aligned religions, and if they could, exactly what range of beliefs and practices still permitted the sanction of the Divine.

House Bonisagus refuses to discuss how that ended. Seferiel is only willing to speak of it in disapproving-yet-vague terms, and would like to remind everyone that there are more worthy methods of learning about God.


Dominion Lore covers things like Angelology, Divine Regiones and Divine Warping - the "technical" elements of the Divine. Theology deals with the salvation of the soul and doctrine.

A person with Theology will no doubt interpret their Dominion Lore in light of their religion.

Yes, the idea that all monotheistic religions benefit from the Dominion is heretical to most religions.

I'd see Dominion Lore as one of the rarest Lores - even the most erudite theologian would have a relatively low score in Dominion Lore, simply because there aren't many sources - most books are theological books in my view, and angels and divine spirits are close-lipped.

That said, it would be an interesting story-arc for a character with a high Dominion Lore.

While not exactly Heretical, I get the impression that the religious bodies aren't to enamoured by the "Theology" Ability being too widespread either,

A "don't you worry about theology, we'll look to your salvation for you" attitude seems pretty widespread in this era, and those religious organisations that make folks actually think about their religion weren't to popular with the religious authorities,

Not sure what you're thinking, there, GL - what else is there?

Theology is the study of accepted and non-acceptable doctrine, not the creation or analysis of such doctrine. If the student of Theology presumes that they can be discriminating on their own, that's heresy right there, before they even get to the non-canonical belief in question.

If a character had both the learning and connections to be placed, by the Pope, on a committee to revise Church canon, then maybe. But Theologists don't debate anything but the most benign details unless they truly want to meet their maker sooner than later.

What I meant was that the church would largely like the churchgoers to be ignorant of religion, and simply turn up to services, pay tithes, etc without thinking about it (and thereby thinking about the alternatives),

i.e.: "Don't you worry about it, we'll see to your salvation. Just do what we tell you to",

Actually, I don't think that was actually true of the church of the 13th century. Something that is easy to forget from a 21st century perspective, is that in the 13th century the church was actually a progressive force, rather than a repressive one (it is still a progressive force today in some ways too). Sure, it was a political force too, and church officials played realpolitik games. Of course, there were priests/bishops who saw the whole religion thing as a cynical wealth gathering charade, but the church generally, genuinely did care about the congregation.

The totalitarian church is more of a 16th century thing.

The main problem facing learning theology is that it basically requires that you be literate. Since the vast majority of medieval folk were illiterate, it would be very difficult to accurately disseminate theology (or dominion lore for that matter). Furthermore, there were no complete copies of the bible available except major learning centres. Most churches and abbeys would only have one or two books of the bible.

The Church was intensely repressive of alternative views (or science that pointed to alternative views), paganism, and those who espoused them, so don't be too quick on that trigger. Hell, the slaughter of the Cathars was around that time. I'm reading a book on the history of magical books that indicates clearly the Church's role in attempting (often unsuccessfully) to purge the world of magical writing.

My take on this is that the Divine is inherently flawed. It manifests in so many different ways because it is unable to reconcile the heresies into a unified theory because there is no unified theory. Angels and demons alike work at cross-purposes and God is divided amongst Himself. If God were truly omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent (or at least mostly benevolent) most of all, He would have sought to kindly put an end to the crass and bloody bickering of his chosen, for is He not the giver of Wisdom and the arbiter and clarifier of Truth?

That, or immensely cruel, which stands up to the example set in the traditional writings of all three Abrahamic religions.

Perhaps He is a deiphage and ate the other gods in order to become the Pantokrator, and occasionally manifests some aspects of foreign divine personalities. Whoops, slipped into Dominions (popular god strategy game) there, sorry. :slight_smile:

While in the real world I agree with you, for the game my take is that God is Transcendent. God doesn't interact with people, angels do; and God doesn't interact with angels, higher angels do. This goes all the way to the top - even the highest angels can't talk to God, they can only prance around the feet of his Chair, suffused with his Glory, blinded by the Light, lost in the Truth. So everything is an interpretation, a distorted image in a finite mind of the infinite and incomprehensible. Hence, you get divisions and schisms - yes, even in Heaven. This is a bit different from the standard ArM5 picture of God/The Divine, but I think it makes for more interesting gameplay when you have factions and divisions, and agents of the Divine can be mistaken and change their minds.

This is a valid take for your own game, but definitely is not the canon position in Ars, which is: God is perfect, human's aren't.


God can be perfect and the divine not, though :slight_smile: I like that take.

In the end, "by mysterious ways", everything falls according to plan :slight_smile:

I need to take more the "church as progressive force" in our next saga. In our present saga we have quite a battle inside the church (Culdee vs Roman) and the players tend to like the underdogh, so it is not the best moment to point out that fact. besides, this is a break to how we have been playing it for the past 15 years :stuck_out_tongue:



Although, I, as a player, have no special love for religion, I find that this is great for Ars, because, IMO, it helps to get a medieval feeling to have God be perfect, loving... even if its church is imperfect and all.

Also, for the "why God does let humans bicker", I see 2 big possible answers:

  • Free will: The more you impose your will on people, even "for their own good", the more you're a dictator. So, even if humanity must suffer, I can perfectly understand a loving god letting them free to chose, even between him and the devil.
  • The bigger plan, like "in 500 years, the current bickering will bring this or that, or will have helped humanity to overcome some problem". Thing is, God is Ars is as different from us as we are to a bacteria, if not more, so any human assumption is futile. Angels may be closer to him, but there's still a big gap.


The "church" was rather schizophrenic during these centuries - (think of the evil bishop in any variety of Robin Hood, or LadyHawke, or whatever). Some entered the clergy out of a true Faith, but many who could but were morally unqualified entered merely to escape a peasant's life, and also many not-first sons of nobility bought their way into the church hierarchy for prestige and political power - wolfs in sheep's vestments, "corrupt" by any other name. This had nothing to do with "policy", but was the reality, the same reality that led to the hypocrisy of the Albigensian "Crusade".

Meanwhile the congregation was given "The Word", which was passed down from his holiness the Pope, who was infallible in interpreting the Word-o'-Gawd, but was surrounded by a political beehive called the Vatican, and anything but "holy". "Shut up and sit down", the priest explained, and so the people did. (There is a reason Theology is an "Academic" skill, that characters cannot take during CharGen unless they have the right Virtue.)

(The word "catholic" means "of the people" - the assumption being that there is only one, and so you'd better get it right, or you are outcast, literally and often fatally.)

So - at the top you have a "don't question" expectation from superiors, at the bottom you have a population who is raised to be spoon-fed "The Word", and as the medium to the people you have a sizable percentage of the clergy who don't really care except that they know they must appear to care.

Fun with Salvation.

And this is why the Fransicans and other Orders that stressed charitable acts and poverty over cathedrals and temporal power were so feared - not from any Theological perspective (tho' it was duly clothed as such), but via the reality of the political animals who were in positions of power, and didn't want to lose what they'd fought for - which sure the hell wasn't salvation, dammit! :wink:

It depends exactly what feel you want with Ars, yes. Me and mine tend to prefer an Aristotelian take, a major heresy in canon, based on certain things from the Magic book. I admit that it isn't proper by RoP: Divine, but we like it.

Even if you don't want God divided against Himself or less than perfectly transcendent, His angels certainly can be. They rebelled once, after all, and they can have contradictory agendas which divide them against each other, even if it doesn't come to overt fighting.

To get back to the original topic though, dominion lore is the technical of what actually has happened in the past or usually happens.

Theology is the interpreation and belief around that event. Dominion lore might tell you of case where angels helped a Heretic (Theology is why god might have done so). Consider this, Every one of Jesus's miracles were performed on a non-christian. Some of them were performed for and on pagans as well as jews. This goes for saints, prophets and such as well. This is how God shows his power to convert people. The lore told you jesus walked on water, Nerius healed the sick without vis, etc... Theology then comes in to explain why.

dominion lore is not dangerous (by church view) unless there is no theology to go with it. To know of God's miracles in the world isn't necessarily danger unless you are saying it is not for the christian, jewish, Islamic, etc.... reasons.

The response to the Cathars is actually a good example of the way that the church tried to also be progressive.

Yes, part of the response was the Albigensian Crusade. However, another part of the response was the foundation of the Dominican Order. The point of the Dominican Order was to convert Cathars by intellectual argument. Many early important Dominicans were in fact converted Cathars. The Dominican Order was intentionally an ascetic Order, because that sort of celibacy, and abstinence from the material world was a critical part of Cathar intellectual thought. The intent was that some of the intellectual ideas behind Catharism could be embraced and someone could still be a part of the Catholic Church, as a Dominican monk/nun.

The problem with the Cathars was not really their intellectual ideas, but the fact that they were a mass movement with the beginnings of a parallel administrative structure with their own bishops, etc. Most of the people who fought and died as Cathars would have had no great understanding of Cathar theology. Anymore than most of the Catholic soldiers/knights on the crusade would have had a detailed understanding of Catholic theology.

You are a few centuries early with your judgement. Pope Gregory VII tried to stop nicolaism but a century ago, and the Holy Emperor still chooses bishops amongst his friends. There will be antipope until 1450, not a sign of strength at all.

Actually, "catholic" means universal.