Minor Orders

The conversation in the Alternative Mythic Europe that can be found in the following link ([url]https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/an-alternate-mythic-europe/1450/1]) made me remember a question I wanted to ask you all.

One of my saga players has showed an interest in having a priestly companion. He wants it not to be linked to a big church organization (or none that shows a lot of interest in knowing what the hell is he doing) and he wants it to be quite militan at the same time. I suggested him to be an exorcist of the minor orders.

Now I have the problem that I have no idea where the hell I read about them. In what ArM (any edition) supplement do they explain how the minor orders work? Thanks :slight_smile:

Additionally, what V&F would you suggest for a fiery priest that would charge ahead holding his crucifix of doom if he saw a demon? Would martial skills be appropiate? (with a bow to use them only against demons and infidels)



Probalby not in Hell :laughing: Unless the infernals have a tradition of putting pictures of their adversaries in their loo!

Have you taken a look at RoP:D - that's where I'd start.

For V&F maybe. For a description of the minor orders, nope: ROP:D is oriented towards the supernatural, not towards the mundane aspects of religion. The oprganization of the different religions is quite sketchy there. I will check it when I am back home, but I doubt there is much there that really covers my question (or the question of the player, in fact). I am more concerned about the mundane aspects of the minor orders than the supernatural abilities he is likely to have. I know I read something about it in an ArM supplement, but can't remember where.



Exorcist is one of the four minor orders.
Exorcism of Demons was left to Priests.
Is what you want the name of a less well known Militant Order?
Rather than say the Templars or the Teutonic Knights.

Yes - RoP:D is fine for the potential powers, in terms of background info I do not think there really is any in 5th ed. But you might find inspiration from earlier editions or from the various online fan material - e.g. Holy Orders
by Mark Shirley
or The Rite of Exorcism also by Mark Shirley.

In generel my impression of the minor orders is that one major feature that divide them from laity is their right to be treated under canon law - which is a privilige compared to the tradition of secular justice. That and that even if called 'orders' they are in many ways not comparable to the regular orders in terms of vows and way of living. But even if not living within monestary walls or in a stricter hierarchy the members of the minor orders still answer to a superior - often the Bishop who ministered their ordination. I believe that in the West the minor orders included lectors, porters, acolyte and exorsists (earlier and in the East there's also the fantastic ring of the 'door-keepers' as well as the cantors) and each based on its function. The ordination to these orders bestowed not only the privilige of canon law - it is also discussed whether these orders are sacrementel. According to the Catholic Encyclopediæ the medieval theologicans regarded them as such even if they're not today. Depending on your use of the Divine this might have importance wehther the office of minor orders is Divine.

The ordination often included some symbolic object - such as being given the 'tools of the trade'. E.G. the exorcists were not the only ones in a position to exorcise demons, regular clergy or even lay people could do that, but on their appointment during the ordination the exorcist would recieve a book or text from the bishop with excorcism rites accompanied with the words: ""Receive, and commit to memory, and possess the power of imposing hands on energumens, whether baptized or catechumens".

Celibacy is not required of the minor orders. But it might hinder them from getting a benifice.

No. Exorcism of Demons is left to Priests, today. But it wasn't earlier.

The minor orders and their place in the church hierarchy are mentioned briefly on pages 81-82, including a sidebar on with mechanics for exorcism. There's also a Church Deacon template on pages 94-95 of the Characters section that could be easily adapted to a character from one of the minor orders instead.

After reading the supplied material (thanks to all for this :slight_smile:) and before checking my copy of ROP:D it seems that exorcism of demons is a priestly duty, not an exorcist's duty. I will council my player in that direction, then.



Well, whatever suits your game...

Just remember that the office of exorcist wasn't removed until 1972, bestowing it on the priests, and that it's role changed a lot since its roots in the early church; and that exorcism also can be divided into three generic kinds of exorcisms: exorcism of objects (such as houses), of candidates for baptism and of people believed possessed by demons.

My player is interested more in the combative aspects of the clergy (demon and spirit exorcism) than in providing protection for the souls of his peers. At least when confronted by a supernatural being. In fact the character is a potential enemy of the covenant if the other PC do not deal with him carefully. My players enjoy making companions that are not allies of the covenant by default, but that earning their trust is part of the introduction of the character. We have had some memorable arch enemies that were introduced into the saga as wannabe companions.



The powers avilable to the faithful in RoP: The Divine are a little work to get your head around, but will make a very powerful Companion that can do the things you describe, such as bless a weapon to damage a demon or cast them into the pits of Hell.

And if they become an enemy of the covenant, they can be quite a deadly opponent.

We are likely to use those as inspiration for his V&F and wannabe powers, but we do NOT want him to be a mythic companion, or to have too much supernatural help. The rules creeping in ArM5 supplements is the only thing I dislike about them: it seems no supplement is good unless it has extensive rules additions or something :confused: We have a preference to rely in hand waving to resolve those issues and solve most things through roleplaying. For us the rules ansd mechanics are a tool, not what should be at the core of the setting. We have already steamlined a load of the ArM5 rules (and ArM4 rules back in the day, for that matter). Otherwise we tend to find that mechanics interfere with our roleplaying experience, not enhance it.

So yes, I will check the mechanics in detail, but only to get an impression on what he should be able to do. We might even build him with those abilities. We have a rather weird tendency to build the characters in common, even the mages after the player explains the background of the character. This will be no exeption :slight_smile: We might use some of the ROP:D V&F in his layout, but they are likely to work quite differently for us.

Anyway, I am ranting now. Thanks to everybody for the help. Greatly appreciated and informative :smiley:



I agree on the nature of rules. They should be a tool, not an obstacle. But a couple of comments.

Firstly I think it is in the nature of all RPG mechanics that the divide between obstacle and enhancing is also a question of taking the rules to heart. Especially for the players, who sometimes either don't put an effort or who claim they simply can't make sense in them (which incidentally is also foten due to lack of effort). If all had an interest compared the SGs, or as the SG often have or ought to have, then the rules will be much more usable as an enhancement. What other game do you expect to play just of the bat without any interest in the mechanics? And just jump right into it and only expect the refere to inform you when you're in need of it or you are in trouble? Investment of energy = ease of playing = less interference.

Concerning the specific rules of Ars Magica. I do in fact find the 5th edition, in spite of the amount of crunch, to be very streamlined and accessible. What you'd like of crunch is a personal choice, but given the supplements at hand I like the beauty that they all fall back on the same frame instead of making odd add-ons and outbuildings. The system is general and streamlined while it allows for uniqueness like Methods&Powers or Virtue/Flaws.

Obstacles vs enhancement. Well I agreed that the rules should enhance the gaming experience and not burden. In general. But in terms of meta I do in fact think that obstacles are enhancing! The frame we set and the pbstacles set by the rules are what challenge us - they are what makes us go through loops and which direct the flow of stories. Embrace it and you have a 'beat' to your sessions. This is also the project of many of the Indie-games now seeing the light of day. But it has to be in a positive spirit. In other words the obstacles are only enhancing if they force you -your character- to excel and to simply just 'move' by setting a frame or limit of actions. Obstacles are not enhancing if they are about not knowing rules, not caring, or if putting the session to a grinding halt to ponder over books or rules questions.

Actually we use a single pseudo-ArM framework for all our RPGs. We have used it for cyberpunk, Lord of the rings, Ars Magica and Chtulhu so far. Worked great for all of them. ArM is the best framework that we have found precisely because in practical terms it is extremely steamlined and easy to pick. No weird tables floating all around the book (only the completely awful weapons table, but that is a minor point).

We simply do not enjoy rules getting in the way of our adventures. We think a series of rules are necessary, but we try to roleplay most actions, and reduce the number crunching if possible. We love the ars setting with a passion, as well as the basic mechanics, but more rules in the supplements (appart from V&F) are not called for in our gaming group. YMMV and I expect it does! :smiley:

It must be the way that we play (each group is a world) but we found that new rules tend to hinder our experience, not enhance it. We can replicate the same effects of methods & powers using other methods, for example.

I disagree that all follow the same framework. Covenants (loyalty and income) and city and guild (the build points for the craftsmen) are way out of the rest of the system: they are add ons to the ArM5 system. They use the same broad mechanics, but are new stuff, not only stuff that you build from a previous base. I was surprised that TMRE actually introduces lesds rules deviations than those supplements. TMRE is much more ArM5 mainstream rules than the previous 2 for example. methods and powers can also be seen as deviations, but are more consistant with the setting and we like their feeling. For any of those, you can like them or not, but they are not the same as plain additional V&F for example. Quite a different load of stuff there. We think they are probably good, but they do not provide much for us, so we simply ignored them.

I didn't undertand the "obstacles" bit of your post, sorry.



Important note; It wasn't my intention at all to pass judgement on your mileage, only to make a generel note based on my own experience. That no matter what mechanics I've played or with whom, disregarding the variation in style and preferences, if almost always met the problem of players and SG on one hand complain that the mechanics bog down play and on the other hand invest zero energy in getting to know those mechanics.

In a way you might have solved this by sticking to the same familiar 'pseudo-framework'.

I know I might come of as a 'rule hard arse' - this is the spirit of how I argue the subject, but it is not the spirit in which I run my saga. At least I think so.. :astonished:

Okay I have to admit to it being add ons. In fact the least streamlined parts of Ars Magica are the downtime mechanics. In many ways they are also what makes Ars unique. My main point however is that it doesnt matter to me. Downtime is something me and a few others meddle with as a way of passing time till the next session - what is really important is the streamlining and accesability of the in-session rules. And they are streamlined very well IMO.

I don't know exactly how to make the point.. In short that when playing a session being challenged is a positive thing - it is what makes the medium of roleplaying unique and the stories we tell our own yet more than the sum of the players participating. The challenges offered by 'obstacles' are what spur us to surprise ourselves with the direction of 'beat' of a story. Why use die if it weren't to infuse a measure of chance to rock the boat and to set a new course we had never imagined? Why the Limit of magic if not to inspire the acts and stories those very Limits make us tell?

Oh, I see what you mean by "obstacles" now :slight_smile:

In fact, this is what we do. What we do not think is necessary is to increase the mechanics to put forward serious obstacles. Some of the most nail-biting stories we have had were pure roleplay scenes with few or no dice.

But in general, I can't see why you made this point about obstacles here.... it doesn't have much to do with what we werre arguing, does it? All your suggestions are NOT mechanical obstacles, but STORY obstacles. Quite a difference here. You can tell the same story obstacles using different mechanics, in fact. What I said is that we find that the mechanics sometimes bog us down instead of enhancing the story. I said nothing about the setting or the plots boging us down. If the later is true it means that we are struggling to overcome the plot set by the SG (wich is usually me BTW :wink:) and me and the players tend to think of them as the BEST stories we play when that happens :smiley:



You are missing my point -and my examples might have been bad in that regard- as it wasn't about story obstacles. It was about meta-obstacles. Not the obstacles that the characters meet as deviced by the story, but the frame of the roleplaying in itself; what challenges the players by setting their options. In most RPGs of the old school these obstacles (or challenges) are rule mechanics on what or what not a character in said gameworld can or can't do and how and why. Even if these mechanics are a reality to the character, it is to the player and to the troupe a frame of options. Hence a challenge. Some games completely forego dice or number crunching, but they often still have 'rules' -or frame of options- that regulate how you play. Such 'rules' exist in any troupe and often implicit.

Finally there's the Indie, or Forge, wave of RPGs - they often have rules for all the things ordinary RPG do not have rules for, while not having it in all the traditional ways. For instance they might have rules that only concern the players and has nothing to do with the character or their skills. And they often address the essence of a given scene rather than the particulars - instead of die rolling and number crunching whether character A aka Jeremiah 'farmhand' Whyte can make a grand entrance into the town saloon (Pre + Carouse) as a town hero for having disarming Joe 'Bad Guy' Stetson out in the street (Dex + Brawl vs Qik + Riffle), keeping sober in spite of all the free pourings of gratitude aka Whiskey (Sta + Hard Drinker), succesfully seduce Lady Rose (Pre + Charm), duck before getting shot by Joe sneaking in the backdoor (Qik + Dodge) and shoting Joe without hitting Rose (Dex + Pistol). In stead some games focus on conflict resolution between players - for instance player A thinks Jeremiah should be portrayed as a perfect hero, player B actually think Joe should be revealed to be the upstanding fella, player C thinks Joe is the crock på that he should shoot Jeremaih dead leaving him to die in the arms of his beloved Rose, player D (the odd female of the troupe) think that Rose should play a ruse on them all, let the men fight it out while she sneaks out and rides into the sunset on Jeremiahs horse wearing Joe's silverbrimmed hat...

[EDIT :exclamation: : forgot my point - that some RPG system do not at all use the first kind of mechanics, but instead have mechanics on how the troupe, probably with a SG, resolutes the conflict between the stories desired by the four players A-B-C-D. These rules might include tokens or plotpoint etc or they might include dice between the players. This might include an investment or risk factor - simply just risking your influence (in terms of conflict resolution) later on or by a possible escalation of the conflict, so that if they push the risk the consequences will also be increased. E.g. not winning the the grand entrance player A wanted might lead him to escalate and if still not succesfull the consequence for the character Jeremiah might instead of a lack of grand entrance move toward public outcry or even a lynch mob against him]

This is just to visualise how rule mechanics are an obstacle to the players - and one that sets a frame of options that define how and what we play. No matter whether it is old school D&D or misty Indie RPGs. The rules matter - also in terms of what stories we tell and how.

As a sidenote this is a reason to me that setting and mechanics should merge. This is one reason I dislike generic system such as GURPS or the ever prolific D20. This is also why I have a fetish for finding in-setting rationales for rules that are basically more about the integrity of the rules or balance than about what makes sense in terms of the setting.

Why? Well by now we are far of track and my interest of RPG-meta has taken possession of me (any exorcists around?? :astonished: ), but my point was concerning the implementation of the rules in-session and the often lack of player motivation of really knowing the rules. And that this makes a divide of having a very useless discouraging obstacle of not knowing the rules bogging down play and making the rules the 'fall guy'; or the very positive 'obstacle' of the rules 'obstructing' not due to lack of knowledge or having to look stuff op or explain it, but due to it setting a frame of options (to a troupe who can use the mechanics of the mechanics fluently).

Oh, I see your point now. Finally :stuck_out_tongue: hehehe

Just to clarify, we have simplified the ArM rules, but they are still the same basic mechanics. Simplifying for us means that:

  1. There ar eless abilities, since we think quite a few of them overlap. In fact this has happened across ArM editions as well (specially for combat), so nothing weird here.

  2. We simplified some mechanics on how some rules work, like regiones that we find cumbersome withoutr needing.

  3. We steamlined (or is it streamlined?) rules that we found not to fit our own (paerticular and biased, for sure) vision, like developing a combat system that is a mix of ArM5, ArM3 and the Ars Magica Simplex system of jerome Darmont.

  4. We tend to ignore all the new mechanics like loyalty et al. We simply take the reason that the setting has to have that set of rules and handwave it: "covenfolk have a -3 loyalty when they join the covenant, and this goes up by a point for each year that they spend in the covenant" for example. it is not that we think that the rules are wroing, but that we think that they do not fit into our own saga as rules, even if the rationale of having that aspect of the setting welded into our saga might suit us (and so the steamlining). Idem for build points mechanics for craftsmen (reduced to "you need to work X seasons and have X adventures to earn your sustenance"): the system is not bad (I played around with the numbers, actually, I always do so) but it is not playing any significant role in our saga, so it is being ignored as a rules mechanic. In a sense, we think that more detailed rules do not necessarily contribute to represent a richer setting.

  5. As any troupe should do, we take what we like and ignore the rest. My players are not going to Eden any time soon, so it would be stupid to haver Adamic magic in our setting. Not that it is not out thwere necessarily, but it will never appear in our current saga.

It works for us, but does not necessarily work for anyone besides us. We are perfectly happy with that. :slight_smile: