Magic and sin

One of the main NPCs in my campaign is a Magus of the Priory of St. Nerius. He's a former crusader of the Knights Hospitalliers, and he has True Faith.

One thing I've been trying to figure out is if this character can be a magus, with everything that involves, and still be able to avoid sin. One sidebar in RoP: Divine notes several rules from some religious text that makes it very hard to work magic without sinning. This character has Holy Magic, which says he can't use magic to sin at all. Isn't it impossible for a Holy Magus to even work magic?

Am I missing something here? Do the Nerusians have their own views on what is sin and what's not?



well I would say (serf's parma) that your character should just follow the biblical injunction to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" when using magic. So long as he uses it for good (healing, rescue, bettering others' situations. Then there is no sin involved.

Of course not, or we wouldn't need rules for it. :slight_smile:

The prescriptions against magic in the penitentials show what most Christians believe to be sinful, and the Neriusians probably teach that they are. I imagine that your Neriusian would be especially wary of Magic or Faerie auras, since eating and drinking there is considered a sin and he risks losing his powers if he does so. I would also suggest that the character shies away from Intellego magic and doesn't craft magic items, since divinations and amulets are considered dangerous. He should not use his magic to summon storms, instill love in another, or cause the death of another human being. If he believes such a thing is God's will, he must trust that God will take care of it.

But why then, would the devout Christian even work magic at all? Wouldn't he just sit back, believe as strongly as he could, and hope everything turns out for the best. Since everything is part of God's plan, he shouldn't interfere. He would tell people if they did the wrong thing, but they'd have to decide for themselves. Right?

There's nothing that says a devout Christian couldn't believe he is part of God's plan. He might believe God wants him to use his powers for good, otherwise why give them to him? He just can't use them for evil.

Ah, that's the beauty of Faith and religion in general. It's true if you belive it, true for you, that is. Or, might be.
So you can justify (to yourself, agian) doing almost anything. But boy will your face be red, when/if you actually face this God fella, and it turns out you've taken too many liberties with your interpretation. Then it'll be downstairs for you mate!

I don't think you can auto-justify almost anything to yourself if you are a proper Christian (or any other religion for that matter. Killing would be out of the question. At least killing a human being (BTW: this is a concept I plan to implement with the full force of a flaw in.... a flambeau knight/adventurer). Animals might be allowed to be killed. The same goes for the rest of the capital sins and the 10 commandments. Thinking everything on that list of commandments can be questioned and adapted to suit the situation and should be weighted according to circumstance is a too liberal interpretation of proper behavior according to the rules asa were laid down in the first place IMO. We do that all the time, but it is not "proper" medieval Christian behavior.

But I am ranting. When it comes to the original question, I think that yes you can work magic, but not to harm others et al. That will limit the KIND of magic you can perform and render some combos difficult to use properly (PeCo anyone?) but not a lot of others.

Taske in mind that I would say that 90% of the magi of the OoH do not kill, rape and disembowel enemies at the rate most RPGs assume the player characters will. PCs, if played that way will look quite like some mavericks to the OoH at large. Killing in 1 adventure out of 3 would be most exceptional.

Having said that, the directives laid down in the bible tend to be ignored by the powerful (and not so powerful) on a regular basis, no matter if mundane or supernatural. This is why we have the option of penance :slight_smile:

I think you can work magic, but a lot of the "useful" on a day to day magics would be rendered as sinful and so less usable by this magus. Healing, teaching, improving produce, producing/building himself and transforming to make the world a better place, no problem with that kind of magics :slight_smile:



I've just been reading the book 'Pillars of the Earth' and in that there is one very deluded knight who thinks that his sins are washed away just because a corrupt Bishop gives him absolution for them. And the corrupt Bishop pushes him to give huge donations, assassinate the Bishops enemies and burn down the town of his rival.

I haven't read the 5th edition version of the Divine so I don't know if that works in the game. Do priestly absolving sinners work no matter how bad the crime? Does it have to be a priest in good standing or just one with True Faith?

If it does work then absolution would offer a huge loophole for Holy Magi. Every week at the minimum he heads back to his home church with his friendly priest to give his confession and recieve absolution and the Sin counter is reset.

"Thou shalt not kill"

True, however we've seen plenty examples of "crusades against the infidels" or whatever, used as justification. So...
Again, it's mostly a question of what you tell yoruself, or use as excuse. In the end, when the final score is settles, you might not like the bottom line, regardless of your beliefs and justifications during your life.

OTOH, I also feel the general philosophy or Ars (at least in my sagas) is less of the "life is cheap" thing, seen in D&D for example.

In my case the life is cheap concept has changed quite substantially from saga to saga. OUr current saga is rather cheap, even if not as cheap as the last semi-failed one, where we destroyed Toledo and all its inhabitants. In oprevious ones we have spent real years of our world without a single death at the hands of the magi.

Less prevalent than in hack & slash style games, yup. Unexistant nope. :slight_smile: I think we all agree that this is an extremely "IMS" issue, though.



There is also the issue of overcoming metaphysical evil. This is touched on in RoP:tI. Evil is defined as privation from the good, a loss of something. It can be Physical Evil (sickness, accidents, mental suffering), Moral Evil (the objective choice of someone to cause loss), and then this odd category of Metaphysical Evil. This is where you are limited or deprived because of your own nature or the nature of others. A wolf killing a man is a metaphysical evil; since it is in the wolf's nature to be a predator. Lacking the ability to breathe water is a metaphysical evil to a drowning man. The blame for these things cannot be placed on the environment or on other beings, but instead it occurs because God made it happen.

The danger for magi is that they can undo metaphysical evil. They can give man the ability to breathe water, make a predator as docile as a lamb, or survive in a desert climate. They are undoing what the Creator has wrought, and overcome the limits of their nature. There is no evil in this per se, but there is the sin of hubris.

A Holy Magus must recognise this fault in magic, and ensure that the hubris does not overwhelm him. That is not to say he must abstain from these magics, but he must be aware that it can lead him to pride.


Hum... A lot like these saints that quieted ferocious animals, but thanked god for it, not themselves.

As per the crusade thing, I don't think this applies: Holy Magi, IMO, should be patterned after saints, and I can't remember a lot of people becoming saints for whacking up people.

As an aside...

Santiago Matamoros


Santiago Matamoros was already a Saint before he came down from the heavens to kill the moors.

Before that he had been one of the apostles, brother of John the Apostle and was the supposedly the first apostle martyred by King Herod. However, before that he went to Spain, spoke to the Virgin Mary who appeared on top of a pillar (always putting women on pedestals, he was), then went back to the Holy Land to get his dead cut off. Then things got wacky and he was entombed in a stone coffin, which was washed out to sea and floated to Galicia. Either that or angels or his disciples took him away buried him in Spain and then his bones were removed to Santiago d Campostela. He later showed up to kill moors at some opportune time.

Therefore, he was already a Saint from his Apostle days and he was already dead before he killed anybody.

Argh, so he was Undead??!??! A Holy Undead - even worse!
And you know what they say:
"The only good undead is a dead undead!"

I'm absolutely certain it says somewhere, probably RoP: The Divine, that extremely pious magi, after very earnest prayers and entreaties, can cast magic in Divine Auras without any of the usual penalties if it's for the very best and noblest of reasons. Can anyone confirm that?

IIRC, I do