Of Grails, and Holiness

(Python references will be ignored. Dan Brown references will be mocked, and then ignored.)

So I'm working on an Ars game that will be set rather early, in the Stonehenge tribunal. The idea is to run through the events of the Great Pendragon campaign (either using KAP, or Ars, haven't decided) and then switch to Ars Magica afterwards, playing up to the conflict with Pralix.

However, this means that there is a very slight chance that the party will actually be in possession of the Holy Grail at some point during the game. Granted, it won't be easy, but the possibility exists, which means I need to ask... what stats should it have?

My first thought was, "It's a level 10 relic", but now I'm not so sure. The True Cross would have been a level 10 relic, but I don't know that the Grail was considered that holy overall. It's a relic, and a decently powered one, but I'm not sure the appropriate magnitude.

Drinking from the grail heals wounds and grants immortality, sure. That's easy enough to model; I'd almost certainly use the Unaging Virtue rather than transforming the character into an immortal creature of Might, since (I believe) once the Grail has been found anyone can drink from it and I don't like the idea of non-saintly people developing Divine Might.

Or would they? The Grail takes a lot from Celtic myths; I've never seen a story where the Grail raises an army of skeletal warriors that can only be stopped by someone of pure heart sacrificing his life inside the cup, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Stephen King writes one. The Grail is a Divine item, but with elements of either Magic of Faerie, probably Faerie. Is there any precedent for items that combine multiple realms like that?


Given by God, but held by the Faerie in the lake.

Also, you might want to get Heretical, and assume that the Grail is a person...

There are so many stories and interpretations on the grail that you can make it whatever you want.

A possible idea, if you don't like the vis-costing healing, is to allow a magus with it to cast momentary healing spells without vis, or to make someone's injuries heal at an accelerated rate (*10, for exemple).

For exemple, something like a level 5-7 relic, which grants the unaging virtue and pious flaw (this is a life-changing experience), and make wounds regenerate as one step higher (light wounds heal within the day).

It can also be the caudron of rebirth of celtic legends, where you can revive someone by cooking it in the caudron. Quite a big grail, there.

A nice twist can be to have the grail guarded by demons, that give you accdess to it for a small fee or favor.....

I like the Grail being a person. It can be a given person at any given time. When it dies, the grailness of the person is reborn in a child being conceived somewhere. I would give it divine might in that case, not relic MR. Make the Grail to be a sinner, so that he does not express his/her powers until he/she repents and you vcan have the magi having to make sure that happens. Difficulot for haughty megalomaniac bastards. Most magi and companions are like that, even without personality flaws :stuck_out_tongue:



Oh, making the grail a person also gives quite a vampirish sense to "drink my blood" et al. Maybe God was in favour of human sacrtifices?

Man, your mages are gonna burn at the stake if you implement all this :stuck_out_tongue:



Well, there's always the Christian interpretation of course.

Hmm, maybe the Grail could be a key to answering the question of whether Magi can be saved or of reconciling the Divine to Magic. Hmm, note to self....

:laughing: I am imagining an army of skeleton warriors, all of whom are pure in heart and have true faith. I like it!

That last one is a good question. I am curious about that too. Hope someone answers that here.

I'm not one for blasphemy, personally, but our group had one of those "what if" inklings about the Holy Grail.

For those that want to take a darker look at "the Holy Grail," your group could have the Grail nothing more than a myth, and that the "real" Grail is none other than The Black Cauldron...an infernal artifact that gives eternal life to the dead; as the unliving.

That's not the way I'd go personally, but some players like those "darker twists."

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Or this could be a false trail.
As per the grail being a person, it's too dan brown to me.

Nonetheless, based on what belladona says, you could make it a rather potent artifact, which works only on those with True Faith and/or when used by them. This could be fun. Sure, you can heal people without vis, you just have to be a pious magus, humble and charitable"

As per the grail belonging to different realms, this is not nescessarely the case. It might just have a kind of "fascinate" effect so that faeries are interested in it.
Or you could use something like the Infernal Taint, maybe, although this is difficult.
IMO, either the grail is this cup from whith the blood of christ and all => basicely mundane, then a divine item, or it is a faerie/magical/infernal (although I doubt it) item that people confuse for a divine one due to its powers (it might then become aspected through association and use by a lot of True Faithly-people)

can go with a more indiana jones version, which seems to be, it grants immortality but only as long as you have it, but you still age. Can heal wounds. Guarded by a secret cult.

Salvete Sodales!

My memory might just be playing tricks on me, but if it doesn't there was a short scenario in a 3rd or 4th Edition product (probably the booklet for the SG screen or Pax Dei) connected with the Grail. I don't have access to my books now, but I will look it up these days.

Apart from this: Why should there be just one Grail? Sure, there is a Holy Grail somewhere out there (probably hidden in a divine regio). Old Celtic Druids (or even the Old Ones) might have enchanted a powerful Cauldron, and perhaps an untypically intelligent demon is using the stories about either artifact to set up a trap including a fake Grail. Anyway, there are many stories about the Grail and the cauldron, often mixed up with each other - it would be a wonder if there wasn't a faerie item created out of this myth.

If there were characters honestly questing for the Grail I would put them on one of these false trails first.

Alexios ex Miscellanea

Well, the characters might not go looking for the grail. But their ancestors might have been involved with its finding.

I don't want to spin too far off type with this; I've got a really big, St. Elsewhere-style surprise planned for the characters and I'm only going to be able to pull that off if things are relatively normal (in a mythic sense) up until then. So multiple grails, the grail as something other than a cup or plate (especially a person!), demon grail, etc, are all interesting but not useful for this scenario, per se.

Still, some helpful advise here. My thanks.

Salvete Sodales!

I've managed to look up the old official version. It is from 3rd ed. 'Pax Dei', so it isn't canon any longer, but perhaps it is still useful. As the book is out of print, I hope nobody complains for me reciting from the technicalities conected with the grail:

PD, p. 111

I can't find the passage defining its power as a relic, but I would put it at 10.

However, the Grail in your saga will be what you want it to be, but IMHO it is by far to important to appear just in the passing without a major story connected to it.

Alexios es Miscellanea

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Harry Harrison's "The Hammer and the Cross" series of books - "The Hammer and the Cross", "One King's Way", and especially "King and Emperor" - presents an entirely different Grail story. I found it fun and intriguing. Still medieval in flavor, it is not like any of the other sources of Grail literature.

Matt Ryan

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Another more linear take is told in Bernard Cornwell's Grail Quest Series: The Archer’s Tale (2001), Vagabond (2002), Heretic (2003). Not full of twist, but many players get lost if there is too much plotting. Set during the 100 years war from a pro-british merc point of view, the books have many references to St. Guinefort, which is always fun. Who needs a lucky rabbits foot when you have the paw of a saint around your neck.

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Working on the multiple grail theory...

The first Wizards Grimoire mentions a magus that tried to show that Hermetic magic was the equivalent of the Divine by making various spells, walking on water and so forth.

Perhaps there could be multiple 'fake' grails out there put out by some Verditius, Himinis perhaps. These fake grails could have any kind of divine-inspired thing attached to them, maybe they even work as advertised. It'd be up to the PCs to decide which, if any, were real.


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Wasn't he the one that god cancelled his magic while he was levitating, causing him to fall to the stone floor below, suffering a very painful and slow death from mass injuries?

.. .. I'm just sayin.. .. .. perhaps it's best to learn from his lesson ^^

I suspect you're thinking of Simon Magus but I don't have my old ArM books handy to verify the spell(s) I'm thinking of so you might be right.

Either way, I think it would be interesting to see what happens when the characters finally gets their hands on the "Grail" only to find their rival covenant is going around the country with their own "Grail".

I'm sure lots of stories could be forthcoming when multiple grails are in the picture.


If would be interesting if a grail actually spawned out of each of the Realms: a natural spark of power arising from the merging of legend and history. Each of the grails might have their own agenda, which naturally conflicts with the others. Such artifacts would become highly desirable by all concerned.

Somehow, I can't help seeing a final dinner being held with four representatives sitting around a table, each drinking from their respective grails, the night before a great battle.

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We've had hints in our game that Excalibur is an item that exists in a trinity like state, with an aspect that is divine, an aspect that's fae, and an aspect that's magical. Mind you, it's been the overarching plotline combined with something about fallen angels and old cult of Roman tax-collector/spies and a Tytalus/Infernal plot, but all the same, it's there.

We know that the Divine aspect might have been collected from the field after Arthur's fall, the Myddrin may have absconded with the Magical one afterwards, too, and the Fae aspect is currently held by the Unseelie Queen who is most recently in power. They're all tied to the full and proper rulership of England on all the Realms. Henry II had an opportunity to renew the pact with the Fae early in th game, and gain their allegiance, but the knights with him were more convincing than our magi.

I guess what I'm trying to show is that such an item becomes a big part of any saga it is involved in-- rather than a possibility or a sideshow. I say if you're going to bring it into the picture, then give it a starring role and give the grail whatever powers you think are appropriate. There's no reason it needs to operate within the same mechanics as a magus' talisman or the Sacred Eye of St. Cullen or an old Druidic cauldron. :slight_smile: Let it do whatever you need it to do, and keep it mysterious-- it will drive the players even more furiously to find it and learn about it, because all they get are hints, fragments, and third-hand tales.

Don't worry about the mechanics for it, better to give it a proper role in the storyline as a whole, and its needs and capabilities will decide themselves.


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