False Faith

This is an idea that has been bouncing around in my head for a bit- it is mentioned in ROP:I that there might be false versions of divine gifts. While the infernal would probably require a lot of power to corrupt even minor gifts, False Faith is something that it seems reasonable to me that the infernal could create- someone who believes they have truth faith but it is a self serving and intolerant version of the same- the sort that says it is right to execute people who disagree with you and where the one with False Faith does not feel they need to be humble because they have the one right way of reading the word of God.

The big question is where that can go, which divine powers (if any) might be able to be learned by this prophet of false faith? Would those powers come from the divine (the way someone with the False Gift can draw on magic) due to the real component of the false faith, or would it be entirely infernal in origin?
Thoughts, ideas, opinions?


By RoP:I p.88f False Powers:

... the troupe may not allow it to apply to Virtues derived from the Divine.

But The Church p.85ff The Corrupt proposes three Religious Orders, that in a specific saga might have fallen to Infernal corruption.

Falsely believing to have ArM5 True Faith were an extreme kind of bigotry going beyond The Corrupt, with game rules mixed in.
Having it really mimic the Virtue True Faith requires - by ArM5 p.189 True Faith - that they get false Faith points from somewhere determined by the troupe. That would be an up-front decision establishing an important feature of their saga.

Sound like a Delusion to me.

I'd just give that person infernal methods and powers, which would been perceived as divine.

The thinking would be pretty different, too. While a "true" divine practitioner would think of themselves as "just a channeller", that person would believe they have been granted exceptional powers by God because they are really, really, doing his work.
Edit: To that effect, Demons would, obviously, encourage such a person to think that they're some kind of chosen one, prophet, whatever. Pride and all that.


Take a look at some of the Infernal traditions in RoP:tI. In particular the Luciferans are often thinking they are actually serving God while they aren't. The insert "Unknowing Evil" on p129 seems relevant.


I like this idea, and it would certainly work for some historical characters like Konrad von Marburg.

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Making an important, problematic figure like Konrad von Marburg infernally tainted - and not just an eloquent and ambitious zealot reacting to changes in society and Church - already requires a lot of decisions.
Giving him an illusion of True Faith to boot is certainly pretty arbitrary.

Konrad was the guardian and confessor of Elisabeth of Thuringia, installed by the Pope: so did he drive a saint to her death?
Konrad is also a very early example of a Papal inquisitor overriding the authority of local bishops: was he the infernal root of such direct inquisition installed by the Pope?

Better discuss this with your troupe in time and in detail.

So I had him as one of tthe main antagonists in my saga. His going after the count von Wied, who just happened to be the guardian of some of Saint Elizabeth's daughters, certainly reads as a political power play over an important heiress rather than the acts of a holy man.

The final scene of my saga was his death at the hand of the knights send by von Sayn, while Guazzo(RoP:I) egged the PC (with the "plagued by supernatural entity" flaw) to wait until the knights had killed the churchman to intervene. I was loosely using the devil & deep blue sea plotline of rivalrly between infernal entities as well as the infernal posing as other realm (both for Igor ex Misc and in my write up of the Rudiaria Awakening).

As many things, false faith would need to fit within the themes of the saga and probably not a flaw for a PC. How much to discuss with the party will depend on where the slider for mystery and player vs pc knowledge should go. As a plater, I would prefer to uncover it IC than OOC, but i like the mystery.

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While I don't have the historical knowledge of some here, I know a few stories of Papal shenanigans which strongly suggest some of the popes definitely did not have True Faith.

See the box on RoP:Divine p.56, Who Can Have True Faith? and the rest of the section on True Faith. Short version, True Faith is something between you and God. It simply isn't possible for False Faith (as in, a corrupted virtue similar to True Faith, but infernal in nature) to exist.

But someone with a few infernal powers, MR from an infernal source and the self-confident virtue might well think that he has something equivalent to True Faith (and even mistake it for "true" True Faith).

As for which "divine" powers this person could have, the box on RoP:I p.129, Unknowing Evil, makes a few suggestions for an infernalist who thinks they are good (essentially, change the name of the infernal methods and powers for they divine counterparts).


False faith is very clearly in a YSMV territory. The question here begins with the idea that for a given saga it is accepted as existing, so all the arguments about why you don't see it working in your campaign are essentially wasted space on the topic- I didn't start this to discuss whether there could or should be false faith but rather what would it look like when it does exist.


Mechanically it would likely work similar to True Faith, i.e. you have "Faith Points" that can be used like confidence points, and a Magic Resistance score.

In general False Powers detect as infernal when investigated with Divine or Infernal powers. It would probably be the same here.

I would expect so, with confusion arising when those with false faith detect genuinely divine powers as being infernal as well. But can someone with false faith initiate divine mystical paths the same way as someone with true faith?

What has this to do with our subject? True Faith is certainly no necessary qualification for a legitimate and decent Pope.

It might interest, that Gregory IX revoked in Anagni 1233 Konrad's inquisitorial powers in front of a delegation from the synodal court of Mainz: "Talem miseriam, ut nobis dixistis, non permittimus!" - "We don't allow such misery as you have described to us!" (see Chronicon episcoporum Wormatiensium).
So Konrad's inquisition was indeed a political issue involving Pope, Emperor, the King in Germany and the German high nobility.

Just to be clear, I don't see a problem with False Divine virtues. Just with False Faith itself, because it requires subverting core assumptions about the relationship between good and evil in Ars Magica. It also wasn't clear to me that you want a de-facto False Faith.

I'm just pointing out that a de-facto False Faith doesn't need to exist at all for you to have something that is has pretty much the same results, both from a mechanical and narrative standpoint.

Back to the question of what powers could be learned using this False Faith, I'd say that they should be all infernal in nature. In the case of the False Gift, all supernatural abilities learned are also false powers, so it should be natural that any divine abilities learned because of the False Faith are also false powers.

If initiation scripts of truly holy traditions would work or not, this depends on how capable of disguising itself you want the infernal to be.


I've generally seen god in the 5th Ed Ars Majica world as a fae who's just got bigger than all others. That narrative supports Jews, Muslims be they Shia or Sunni, Christians, even Cathar heretics all being able to access true faith. Also makes all the Greek, Roman, Norse gods makes sense, which is part of the reason I like that interpretation.

A somewhat strong fae could imitate some godly powers and have someone think they are a vessel of god. That's a way around it always being infernal.

The good book says to beware false prophets. To test his flock, God could divinely inspire an unworthy person, just to later revoke the powers. During the time of the false prophet, the false prophet could have every power someone with "real" true faith has.

It's entirely infernal is the way to go if it's demonically powered.


The powers of false faith would be tainted the same way the powers of someone with the False Gift are tainted, so that they are infernal is without question. At the same time I would expect they are also divine, the same way that someone with the False Gift is also using the magic realm.
To me the idea of a False Faith is not some cynical demon worshiper trying to emulate True faith, but rather a believer in religion who thinks they are serving God being misled with a false message, similar to the way the followers of the Mallus often believe they are doing holy work. The details would have to be very campaign specific, because what would be false faith in one campaign might pass for true faith in another based on details of doctrine, but where ultimately the purpose of false faith is (from the supernatural perspective, not the person who has it) to mislead, divide and disrupt the community of faith.
Obviously whatever power existed for demons to Grant False faith would also require the tacit support of the divine in allowing the challenge to the faithful to exist (as a test?), in much the same way that it is presumed that the infernal exists with the suffrage of the divine, only perhaps more so. The question then becomes whether some divine powers would remain barred to people of false faith.

If the powers of False Faith really are infernally tainted divine powers (rather than straight-out infernal powers) then they should be able to do everything that untainted divine powers can do,

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Yeah, Konrad was really fascinating.

His murder by a local knight was admitted and the knight in question was given a slap on the wrist for it, because the witchhunter crossed a threshold when he went after a count and became a danger to the ruling elite.

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So where would IYS the Faith points of False Faith come from? Would there be False Faith points even for people having neither True Faith nor False Faith? Because these can get Faith points! How would you distinguish the different kinds of Faith points for these?
Looks like you get a "Chinese curse" interesting saga. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Quite. Henry III Graf von Sayn was far better connected and respected than Konrad.

There were several knights involved slaying Konrad and his companion: one wanted to make sure! Different chronicles even spell out some of their family names. All knights involved underwent their Church penance - and Gregory IX made sure it took some time. But all returned from "duty" to their families hale and healthy.