Fighting for Salvation

I'm not wholly familiar with Scripture, but I was wanting a scenario where faeries & demons fight for a child's soul and the players need to intervene to make sure neither get it, and preventing the death of the child isn't an option. What circumstances are necessary for this scenario to happen? Does the child need to have sinned (can they sin?) to be vulnerable to this? What kind of abilities are necessary for a faerie or demon to be able to claim a soul once it leaves the body that can't be stopped by an Aegis? How easy is it for a Christian/Muslim to make the soul untouchable by either the Fae or the Infernal, and if it's too easy, what must be done to restrict said action?

RoP:TD p.73ff Beliefs, and especially p.74ff box The Sacraments, contains what you need to know for this in-game.
In particular, your character should look to have the child baptized asap, have Extreme Unction administered when the child is dying, and have the the body buried in consecrated ground.

Salvation is a central concept in Christendom, and its detailed theology is contested between different Christian denominations.
Western 13th century theology concerning salvation of infants is controversial as well: best start with .


One of the things I learned from Tim Ferguson's delightful (but too short!) podcast series is that, technically speaking, medieval children were incapable of sin. Sin must be voluntary; you must choose to sin, and children were understood to be incapable of knowing the difference between good and evil. A child might perform a violent or even cruel act, but because they didn't know it was cruel, it wasn't a sin.

This can result in many interesting stories, especially if you have faeries involved. If your child is an infant, this will not be a concern. But faeries might lure an older child into all sorts of things which you'd think are Infernally-inspired, like murder.

Doctorcomics, I'm glad you are enjoying the podcast. 8)

Although children are technically incapable of sinning, there is the problem of Original Sin, which is a hereditary blemish on the soul, from Eve and Adam, which is wiped away by baptism. Failure to remove Original Sin leads to not being saved, that is, damnation, but even the medieval church thought that was quite unfair, and the current Catholic position was popular then, which is: "We don't know the mechanism for the salvation of the souls of unbaptised children, but we hope God has one that he has yet to mention to us. He being made of mercy." The idea that faeries were the souls of the unbaptised is a folk response to this problem of what to do, theologically, about the dead babies who clearly don't deserve the Lake of Fire.

Do things work differently if it's not a Christian child, but a Muslim one?

A Muslim is a person consciously professing Islam - which an infant cannot do. How old is your child?
For younger children in Muslim families, see RoP:TD p.109 for their vulnerabilities in Mythic Europe and its surroundings, and the customs followed to protect them.

Have a look at for a first impression, which persons by Islam are condemned to hell. So your characters would first and foremost need to instruct the child well and make him/her into a good, obedient Muslim.

A few posts into the thread, I should address one issue now.
I don't see what interest ArM5 faeries might take in human souls. They want human vitality! Their meddling can endanger souls and condemn them to hell, jahannam etc. - but for an ArM5 faerie this is incidental.


If an infant is vulnerable to Original Sin, then it's a Christian child in all practicality. If you can have a Christian one, then you can have a Muslim one. The child in question is ~3yr old.

:question: If you use your own definitions here, you might explain them to the forum. Otherwise this thread might not be too helpful for you.

This is useful to focus the thread, however.


Can there be a Christian child/infant?

It's not entirely clear (to me) at this point what you mean with "Christian" in reference to an infant or very young child.
But, roughly speaking, baptism brings an infant into the fold of Christianity -- in addition to washing away Original Sin!

Original Sin is not recognized in Islam, unless Ars Magica is taking the stance that their faith is objectively wrong in this setting?

Original sin is indeed not recognized in Islam, in most versions of Judaism, and in a few versions of Christianity.
If this appears contradictory to you, that's only because you are too intellectually puny to understand God's mind :slight_smile:
This is the ArM5 canonical stance. A rather clever one!

Well, that child could later be inducted into Judaism, for example :slight_smile:
What I'm trying to say, is that baptism makes you Christian, but you can then become something else.
It's a D:Mom Ritual!

And until they switched, they are Christian and therefore a Christian child. Being lectured about the use of the phrase 'Muslim child' in this context (which is pretty clear) is both rude and internally inconsistent (unless One Shot is of the opinion that you can't have Christian children either). As it stands, the pages (both in RoP:tD and Wiki) cited by One Shot don't actually say a thing about the state of a young child's soul, with neither sin nor intellectual capacity to accept Allah, so that wasn't helpful either.

Yes! I just did not want to convey the idea that baptism made you Christian "forever". You remain Christian even if you sin (even really bad sins!), but there are some things that make you leave the fold.

Hmm. I hope I wasn't rude or lecturing. I did not mean to be.
I also think that One Shot in general does not mean to be, even if ... well, sometimes he or she (it?) does feel a little abrasive! But that's bound to happen without face to face communication between people from very very different backgrounds. In general I think that the Ars Magica forum is a pretty nice place.

Going back to the "religion" of infants.
Very roughly: you can be made Christian by baptism, even if you are so young that you can't really choose or be accounted responsible for your actions in the eyes of mortals or of the Divine. One Shot is correct in saying that you are not technically Muslim until you can knowingly choose to be Muslim. So a "Muslim infant" is not technically "Muslim" inasmuch raised by Muslim parents, in a Muslim community etc.

The catch is: what difference does it make? With the possible exception of Original sin, in ArM5 terms, none. In some sense, infants start as "undifferentiated", then become Muslim or Christian or whatever, and finally (if they are good and stuff) they rejoin the same "undifferentiated" Divine. If an infant dies before being able to willingly choose this or that, he has not sinned in the eyes of virtually all religions of the book, so he goes straight to Heaven.
As I said, the only issue here is Original sin, that in much (but not all!) of Christianity and a little Judaism stains the soul of even the newborn. Hey, it's unfair, but so is being out of the Garden, right? I think a fair ArM5 position in this regard would then be:
For the Divine the infant is, and simultaneously isn't, affected by Original sin. This does not depend on the point of view of the infant (which is rather limited). It does not really depend on the point of view of the observer either. It's an absolute. Though the point of view of the observer affects how that observer reacts and should react: a Christian seeing the infant risk death unbaptized should do the best to make sure his soul is saved, with fervent prayer being always a good approach, but seeking out a priest etc. also being a good approach.

Now, we were talking about an infant. 3 years is ... tricky. That's because a child of 3 usually already knows how to speak (so he's not technically an "infant", and he can already speak the Shahada, the "one sentence" Islamic profession of faith), and he can choose to act: he can disobey and eat a cake he's not supposed to, or pinch his little sister. To the medieval mind, I'd venture that's evil. Petty evil, but evil nonetheless. So, he stands at risk! The PCs should, I think, try to make sure that if he did "bad stuff", he "repents" -- or maybe, that just as he dies he performs some really "good" gesture like leaving his favourite possession to his little sister he always pinched and poked. A faerie and a demon fighting against you can make things interesting. Note that the demon might be in it for the child's soul, but the faerie might be in it just "for sport", i.e. to gorge on the vitality of the dramatic situation.

Baptism - by general Christian belief - makes an infant a member of the ideal Christian Church, and thus redeemed from original sin. This does not require any action by the infant, and does not preempt any responsible action the infant may make when it has grown up.

Typically, 13th century Christians would consider the Nicene Creed - Latin or Greek, with or without 'filioque' - as the touchstone of being a Christian. (See ... this_creed .) Many would not understand it in these languages. But this is not far from the Muslim doctrine of personal conscious adherence to Islam.

If IYC you need to work on common ground between Christian and Muslim faith subsumed into the ArM5 Dominion, this might help:

  • Christian discussion of the fate of unbaptized infants (see in particular Fra Rainaldo da Piperino in ) does not appear to hold those who died as infants, baptized or not.
  • A person's adherence to a faith is determined by consciously accepting a confession of faith, and practicing it.


You are failing to answer the question. What quality separates any particular infant from the rules of the Christian faith (such as Original Sin) vs the teachings of Islam or Zoroastrianism?

You are still failing to substantiate your question with the definition of "Christian" you use in it. I used a reasonable one which does allow for a substantial answer continuing beyond the part you quote above.

What kind of "rules of the Christian faith" do you think of?

Original sin is a complex and controversial theological concept ( ), not a rule.
By baptism, Christian parents and community assume an infant into the ideal Christian Church and thereby - acccording to their belief - into the grace of God and forgiveness of the original sin. The original sin of all people outside of this Church is not forgiven in this way. Those religions clearly outside of it see this differently.

In any case, imagining "Christian" infants with "original sin" to be forgiven, and "other" infants who never had any "original sin" in the first place, is strange and not leading anywhere.
IYC it will be the characters encountering an unbaptized infant, who according to their beliefs will or will not take into account original sin.


No, children become capable of good and evil at a far later age. This is why they don't do confession and communion (that is, the rite of reconciliation with God) until far later.

Precisely how far later varies over time and culture. It was set at 12 for an awfully long time, then dropped in the C20th to "the age of reason" which is about 7.

Ars deliberately keeps its underlying theology veiled from the player characters, so it does, if you want it to.

My big change would be that in Islam, there are some fae who are good Muslims, arguably (or at least pretend to be to such a degree that a child raised by them would in turn be a good Muslim able to say the Shahadad).

GM fiat.

The rules for Ars deliberately choose not to describe metaphysical positions which might prove one faith or another wrong. If you need Original Sin for your story to work, or you need the Name of the Allah to banish demons for it to work, then that works -in your story- and the rules have nothing to say about either as a general case for all of Mythic European humanity.

We deliberately choose not to have the "Who is actually right?" discussion. As a group of game designers it leads us nowhere useful.