New Errata (The Divine) and Assorted Issues

That's odd, because I have an Honours Degree in Medieval History and I've never heard that to be the case.

Let's not get hostile here, one angry rant is enough (OP humor). Please, don't fiercely stand by your credentials, it just sets a hostile tone - a more diplomatic option is to indicate your background (your degree) and educate.

I believe he's referring to the lingering pagans in Lithuania - it was basically dead by the 15th century, but it was still in transition from the end of the 14th.

I'd imagine Mythic Europe's pagans will do a fair sight better job of surviving.

~ I opened this post to vent a little bit about my feelings on the subject and ask whether other people felt the same way and their opinions and solutions on it, and actually I'm glad to say it's been rather interesting so far. I may disagree with the esteemed gentleperson above who suggests I should leave behind presentist views of medieval theology, but I think he makes some excellent points and would be civil even if I didn't think so.

Is anyone else curious about the possibility of material on the Far East? I'm worried it'll be Devils All the Way Down, but Hinduism strikes me as having an interesting Divine flavor all its own. Of course, the bit about transubstantiation doesn't fit very well, does it? The polytheism/monotheism thing was never so much a barrier, at least in the Hindu way of looking at it, buuut...
It strikes me as relevant since journeys into China, at least, via the Silk Road were becoming increasingly common. Hell, Marco Polo was born in 1254 (His father and uncle had already visited Asia well before the son as well.) Obviously they visited Mongol China, but the point is that West-to-East contact was certainly possible.

For that matter, there's the matter of Art and Academe (hands down one of my favorite Ars books, actually. full of really great stuff) and its calculations with regards to the size of the earth. I suspect I'm not the only person who would immediately contravene that.

Its the difference between norm and detail, just that simple. And to some degree its also not a completely accepted fact. The evidence is rather overwhelming but much of it has a "classical interpretation" that says otherwise and even though those interpretations are clearly skewed or just simply without basis, they´re still held onto as gospel.

Its similar to the ongoing revision of Roman history, ~20 years ago it was "THE TRUTH" that the "celts" earned their gold as mercenaries. Today we KNOW that it was actually the celts that both mined the gold and crafted it, not the romans, who until their westward conquest completely lacked access to goldmines.

Or how about how we "know" that the majority of people "back then" were illiterate? More and more that looks to be a myth.
Because the offical "count" only bothered with latin literacy, and its just in recent decades that there have been some finds of wood(best known is the stack of wooden letters that wasnt completely destroyed when a roman longterm encampment was abandoned in haste) and bark(one big find in Russia and a smaller one here in Sweden and some few pieces of them in a handful other places where ground conditions happened to be perfect enough to preserve them) bits that apparently were originally used as we might have used a notebook or postit notes before computerisation. But because such wood and bark plates mostly didnt survive, we didnt know, and so it was generally assumed that people were illiterate. And the reason for that btw is the heritage of "ancient primitivism and barbary", a damned nuisance.

And why you dont know it? Heh, i´ve been researching WWII with a minor focus on the technology race since before i started school(not far from 30 years, and i read fast), and whenever i look into something in detail, still there are always surprises to be found, sometimes radically different from what i "knew" before.

How many today knows for example that the designer of the Zero intended from the start that the production model was meant to have a much more powerful engine(almost 50% more powerful!), but he was overruled due to bureaucratic cheapness and because prototype performance was already inline with requested specifications.
The Zero came as a bit of a chock to the allies, if it had been able of another 50-100kph much of the tactics developed against it wouldnt have worked nearly so well, and the base model wouldnt have become obsolete until at least a year later. Could have made matters a lot more ouchy.

And if you search online, how many places can you find this little tidbit of fact? Well i´ve only seen it on Emmanuel Gustins site sofar. And its only included in one book that i know of so far.
So, despite actually having done a detail study into the subject many years ago, it was more chance than anything else that caused me to find it a few years ago.

That probably answers your question.

Thats one place where pagans were in sizeable numbers for a long time yes, but i was rather referring to the smaller "leftovers" that probably were around.
And of course, northern parts of the Nordic countries, it took christianity a VERY long time to get a full grip(and by canon game era, even Denmark wasnt close to fully christian, even if the large majority was). While in Sweden, Norway and Finland, its uncertain if christians were in a majority or not at the time.
Converting to christianity was still something happening in the 19th century there.
And actually, at least the Sami peoples NEVER converted fully.

IIRC, there were also still quite a few pagan holdouts on the British isles in the game era.

But the really iffy issue here, how do you count people that are officially christian but still ALSO adhere to their former religious practises? Such "doublereligion" survived for a veeery loooong time. And its also part of the reason why christianity has so many prechristian influences, it had to adopt them to get people "on their side".
Its why christmas is celebrated surprisingly well coinciding with pagan yule instead of with the supposed birthdate(as far as known or guessed at least) of Jesus.
I´ve read of traces of "doublereligious" practises in Sweden as late as 18th century, and in Germany as late as 16th century, despite having a very christan focus long before that.

To the best of my knowledge, northern wodin/odin paganism was not really a religion in the same sense that Judeo-Christian-Islamic practise is.

Northern paganism does not seem to have been a closed religion that automatically disbelieved all others. So when pagan communities converted they really just added Christianity to their belief system (they did not wholly replace their pagan practise) and over time many of the pagan elements dropped away. And the Christian missionaries helped enable this by taking existing pagan labels and re-applying them to new Christian ideas --- the english words Easter and Hell, for example, are pagan in origin, missionaries just re-applied the labels to the Christian festival of Passover and the idea of Inferno.

It is certainly true that many communities in the 13th century had vestigial remains of older practises. Which is reflected in, say, carvings on churches, language, stories about local monsters and ancestors, place-names, local "traditions" and so forth, but I don't think there were significant communities that would have actually described themselves as pagan. They just described themselves as Christian. And Rome did not appear to see these communities as truly pagan --- they were just Christians with some idiosyncratic, local practises, which at various times and places the popes in Rome (and individual priests within these communities) were more or less bothered by.

Of course, in Mythic Europe, vestigial pagan practises are likely to be stronger due to supernatural support.

Interesting - so really, the whole thing isn't as monolithic as we'd like to think it was, really.

What I'm curious about: In-game reactions of priests or other characters with holy powers to holy powers used by other religions. I can't seem to recall anything of that from RoP: The Divine, feel free to correct and ref me if so.
I've never yet experienced this in game, but I'm sure SOMEONE here has. I briefly considered a Jewish magus - and a friend would have played his divinely inspired sister - but that idea was discarded, so I never got the chance.

From my in-game experience it all depends on context.

Whether another character's Supernatural powers are "good" or "bad" depends on what is done with it, and to whom it gets done to. And, of course, coloured by whether the person using the Supernatural powers are Gifted or not --- as The Gift tends to make a character be perceived in a bad light.

Most priests (and even many characters with actual Holy Powers) can only tell/guess what Realm another character's Supernatural Powers are aligned with by what the powers are used to do and how they appear to be "cast". And perhaps information received through Holy Visions, or other forms of Relevation.

Quite so. I wouldnt say that "northern paganism" was NOT a religion though, but i certainly think you can say that it was non-exclusive. You can notice this also when looking at the vikings that soldiered for moslem lords, they had no issues with being moslem there while retaining their own religion.

The majority yes, but with occasional "pockets" where the "old practises" remains the primary religion and christianity acting as the addition, or even just being "that odd outsider belief".
Over time those pockets became smaller and fewer, but it seems they might have been quite resilient at times.

Quite so. My impression is that it was generally considered better to let them be "odd" as long as they didnt act in any truly seriously "wrong" manner, like severe heresy, so essentially some of these "odd spots" were probably not really christian more than in name.

VERY likely yes.

Exactly the point i wanted to get across. Even if its just 5%, 1% or even just 0.1%, when those percentages are out of millions of people, you still end up with many thousands.

Obviously its the devils wicked glamours! :mrgreen:
That WAS commonly the real reaction to things considered "powers" after all.

Although i expect magi overall to have a more reasonable view on things. But religiously zealous magi probably will take the extremist view.

As I understand it, one didn't really "worship" the pagan gods and other supernatural agents ... you sometimes interacted with them, you sometimes tried to predict their actions, and you sometimes negotiated with them. Which is not quite the same thing as a Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion. Certainly, it was a "religion" in a broader sense.

Maybe. I think you could argue all day about the extent to which this was true or not.

It is entirely plausible, of course, in Mythic Europe for authentic pagan practices to survive into the 13th century.

Sure, but by THAT standard, there are MANY religions that suddenly becomes not so much "religion".
Buddhism and Shinto is almost certainly off the list, and lots of the pre-islamic beliefs of the middle-east and Persia-India gets dropped also. Ancient Egyptian religion and native American religions would be under serious question... Together with a BIG chunk of old African religions.

Hindu is about the only religion i can say is likely to still be considered a religion.

However, i very much question the relevance of assigning such arbitrary standards because common religious practise doesnt determine wether a religion IS a religion, it merely is the way it is practised.
Otherwise you are doing what AM5 tried extremely hard not to do ( for good AND bad ), assigning arbitrary values on belief.
Also, its a matter of regional differences as well, if for example you look at China, Vietnam or Japan(and my own Sweden as well for that matter, usually competing with Japan for the top spot as the worlds most secular country), religion now and in the past is generally low-key and a "personal thing". Compare that with how for example USA, Italy and Poland is today, were religion in many ways are outright intrusive(and to me as an outsider from the opposite side of the spectrum, is no less fanatical than for example Iran).
That however doesnt mean religion exists in some but not in the others of the above mentioned countries, it only means they have more or less direct and open significance and are practised differently.

No, based on the above i wrote, its simply religion. Just not identical in practise to some or other nonrelated religion. Ie, the comparison you made was a false one because it was based on an assumption(a view on what religion is) that lacks an actual basis, since it is an opinion based on the cultural beliefs of exactly one of the religions used for setting these arbitrary standards.

Ok, i hope you will excuse the complexity of the texts above. This is the perfect subject for getting messed up writing from... :mrgreen:


My point, such that it is, is that when we talk about things like "priests", "worship", "conversion", "belief" we are often applying concepts that are peculiar to Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion to a context that they don't really apply.

So when we talk about pagans in the northern periphery of Europe and go looking for evidence that in the 13th century they still "believe" in and "worship" pagan gods, are still following pagan "priests" and still have not "converted" to Christianity, we are looking for things that did not necessarily exist in the first place.

Yes and no. Belief, worship and priests wasnt identical to that of christianity for example, but the equivalent or equal generally existed. Mostly a matter of essentially same thing by another name.

With the notable exception of a few Hermetic magi (mainly Criamons), almost all of the residents of Mythic Europe (excluding parts of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia) are Christian, Muslim (in Iberia) or Jewish. The idea of pockets of pagans living in Mythic Europe is completely ahistorical and what's more, as far as I've read in Ars canon, not supported in supplements. Practicing pagans in Mythic Europe are either supernatural or Hermetic wizards.

(This is not to say that individual sagas can't have pockets of pagans or whatever else.)

You understand wrong. Pagan people in antiquity did indeed hold deep and profound beliefs in their gods. This could range from occasional pious devotion to selflessly devoting one's life to the god's service in a temple. The idea of pagan gods as "instrumental" is a modern projection (and probably influenced by Dungeons and Dragons).

I don't understand where you people see the Divine as being that powerful. The M&P guidelines aren't that strong, at least as long as Ceremony is restricted in use. And more importantly the Methods are such that the practitioners can only wield magic infrequently. They are also often even more specialized than Hermetic magi, and often weaker to boot. The angels, per RoP:D, are omnipresent but fairly weak; Divine Might 30 or more, i.e. a significant supernatural power, are specific individual angels, not the generic omnipresent ones. So they are no more an issue than other supernatural beasties in other Realms. I just don't get it.

The only real "problem" in regards to power as I see it is direct Divine action. To which I recommend the simple solution - ignore it. Don't have God acting directly, ever. Always act through "inspired" agents. This applies to the angels too! The Divine is much more interesting when there isn't an actual God sitting around on His Throne, telling the top-echelon angels what to do and having His commands trickle down through the Divine hierarchy. Instead, have the top angels "commune" with God through inspiration, much like mortals do. This opens up a way for uncertainty and error and schism, allows allies and opponents amongst the angelic host, and makes every Divine action defeatable or alterable in some way, which is much more fun in-game. Leave direct Divine intervention to truly unique events where the story requires an unmovable object to move around.

Right, but when Ceremony enters the picture it can get scary. Besides, once you start hitting True Faith 3 - at which point every Faith Point you spend gives +6 to your rolls...

That's true. On the other hand, there's a bunch of effects to which you can give really long, even indefinite durations -- making yourself and your fellow men invulnerable to all damage/resistant to magic, binding supernatural creatures to service (and they can use their powers frequently) etc.etc.

Christians get saints! And all their nifty powers :slight_smile:

Hmm right ... but you are agreeing that there are parts of the Divine that can seriously unbalance the game!

Game balance is an illusion.. In Ars Magica doubly so. Creo Imagonem or Rego Mentem.

Sounds like something out of The Matrix :laughing: I love it :smiley:

This is absolutely correct. Where's the game balance between a magus and a companion? The Line Editor made the (correct) decision that the Divine is the most powerful Realm. That accords with the existing and previous setting material. Angels and miracles in medieval legends rarely played second fiddle to devils or pixies.

The fundamental problem with this line of reasoning is that Ars Magica is a game that, throughout its history, has always revolved heavily around the acquisition, and wielding, of mystical power. It's called "Ars Magica", after all.

Magi struggle to gain vis, learn Arts, enchant magical items, challenge dragons/faerie lords/demons and so on. This is the main course of the game, so to speak. Carrying the metaphor a little further, we could say companions and (even more) grogs are designed to be the side-dish.

If you allow companions and even grogs to wield much greater mystical power than the magi, you are unbalancing the game - not in the sense that you are giving some characters more "power" than others (a nebulous concept which, I agree, rarely has any substance if you dig deep enough) but in the sense that you are allowing certain characters to displace others (in fact, probably the most central ones, the magi) from their role-niche. To some extent, the game ceases to be Ars Magica, and becomes into Dogs in the Vineyard.