questions about the divine

Edit: Please note at times in this conversation I seem inflammatory I apologize for that. If we could not add to the fire, that would be great.

I'm curious which book to get that would explain some things about the Divine and Dominion.

A problem exists within our troupe atm. No introduction of the Divine elements of the game, as they exist in cannon, will be liked or accepted by the players.

I'm working on a variation of the Ars Magica cosmology, because some things don't jell with me about what exactly the Divine is in what I've read. I cannot for the life of me even humor the idea of Christians as good guys. Neither can anyone I play with. Generally the PCs tend to be pagan, and priests we encounter live 3.5 seconds, about half a round.

Saints and the many selfless priests that protect their flocks, I can see as being able to effect the world through "divine" magic.. but because they are compassionate and selfless... not because the Western Roman Church is actually like... real. Edit: We as players know Mythic Europe's setting, but because of the players world views, we as a troupe have largely ignored the Divine and Infernal in our games.

So in the cosmology in the core books is there like really one creator, that made the angels etc, and that creator is the Western Roman Christian God? If so is that why there is nothing on Thebes and Eastern Orthodox? Nothing on Persia and Muslim scientists? Edit: this question was posed because I do not have the books and was confused as to how the Divine get's it's power... in light of 3 differencing religions all having access to Divine, but killing each other.

Is it Belief and Faith that causes Dominion Auras and fuels divinity, if so then it doesn't matter What you believe( since it is the Belief that fuels it), so do Pagans have a Dominion Aura, and can you have True Faith for some god you made up? And why is infernal not the same as divine, since faith in a dark god has the same animosity to other people as Christianity does to the Hebrew and Muslims etc.

Or does the power come from the "Divine" aspects of humanity its self, compassion, love, charity, etc? At which case it doesn't matter that you flog yourself, say a million prayers everyday, and burn heretics like the pope commands... You can only work divine magic if you really act on love, compassion, charity etc.

We also see righteousness as Infernal. And the infernal as "sins against mankind", not the Christian ones... But instead the dark aspects of human nature that has been with us since the beginning.

Anyway advice on books and any suggestions when reworking things as not to make players react adversely would be appreciated.

I am not sure if you have read RoP: Divine but if you read it, you will notice that One God is the same god for Judaism, Christianity (all versions) and islam. It even gives examples of muslims on Jyhad and crusader fighting against him both calling on God to strengthen their arm and God answering both prayers.

Saints, Pious magi, Holy men have powers because god grants it to them for doing their holy work. Those that true faith have power for the strength of their faith.

The strength of dominion AURA is based on strength ofthe belief of the community and closeness to the focus of God's worship as God grants free will so he will come come unless invited in (of course once invited, there is no limit to what he will give save what he thinks is best.). However that belief has to be in GOD to pull in a dominion aura. pagan beliefs are not prayers to God that he would answer them to grant a dominion to them (unless you as SG change the standard).

If you read the divine book, divine miracles have infinite penetration. This means that if god chooses to grant a miracle, nothing can stop it. It is the Deus ex Machina in its purest form.

I would also point out that RoP:D also has chapters on all three of the main dominion religions to help you play the rights for all three.

Well to start with the existence of the Divine realm is not the same thing as the existence of God. RoP: TD does include some information about the Eastern Orthodoxy, but in 1220 it has apparently been forcibly reintegrated into Western church. Essentially there are two types of Divine Aura (Empyreal and Dominion) Empyreal are caused by exposure to Divine effects etc, while Dominion derives from repeated worship by the faithful. According to the revised True Faith rules in RoP: TD, True Faith only derives from God (it can exist in any individual however, regardless of religion or lack thereof)

Angels and Saints are described (and statted) in the book and can be prayed to for aid (it's tough to get responses though). Miracles are even harder to achieve, but as ladyphoenix pointed out, have infinite penetration. Divine effects invoked through Methods and Powers can be used for wicked purposes (free-will etc.), but there are consequences.

Islam is treated in the same tome, but because the book focuses on the Divine, little mention is made of the academic accomplishments of the period (Zoroastrianism is also given a brief treatment in the same chapter).

As for introducing the Divine to your players, it's a bit hackneyed, but may I recommend having them face trouble from Demons and offer an opportunity to make common cause with a friendly holyman?
His powers while inferior to those of a magi in duelling potential are very useful when combatting agents of the infernal so maybe they'll keep him around and even grow to like him...

Catholocism and Orthodoxy were never stitched back together. The shism of 1066 remains in full force to this very day. There have been diplomatic attemts at reunification, as recently as John Paul II, but they have been separate for almost a thousand years now.

A comment to the original poster: It is a mistake to think of the Infernal as a Dark God. Satan/The Devil is vastly inferior to God, and is not a diety whatsoever. The Infernal was created by the Divine and is subervient to it. If you seek the reasons and whys and wherefores, I suggest the movie "Time Bandits". When asked why evil exists, God mentions it has something to do with Free Will.

This is one of those things that makes me really, really confused.

Magic doesn't really exist. The Old Gods don't really exist. God, in the singular, doesn't really exist.

I can play in a game where I suspend my disbelief in all three of those things. I can play a magic wielding scholar who seeks the secrets of the Old Gods, while wary of the outright power of the Dominion. I don't have to believe in those things for my character to.

And as far as I can see, they're all equivalent.

That the Dominion exists is just part of the fabric of the game world. So what is it, apart from a modern reactionary mindset, that makes magic acceptable and the Dominion not?


While God and the Divine are unutterably and completely "Good" (capital "G"), what they do doesn't need to be considered "good" (lowercase "g"). The Bishop trying to turn your nearest town against the mysterious infernally corrupted users of dark magics (that's your magi...) might not be acting for anyone's good but his own. He might even be acting out of selfish or fearful reasons. But he's still protected by the Dominion because he's a Bishop.

Now, he might be protected, but he's sure going to attract some Infernal interest for his loathsome motivations. But all the while he resists Infernal temptation ("away foul spirit, I will not heed the council of devils even to smite yet more devils") he's done nothing "Wrong" (captial... oh, you get the idea).

I think the setting is much more rewarding by having the four realms, each with their logical opposite. Your PCs can be as pagan as you like, for whatever reasons you like, but the Dominion and the Divine in general is a powerful example of what "Good" should be, even if its practitioners aren't always "good".

And I think as has been pointed out, Good is not the same as Christian, or the same as Jew, or the same as Muslim. The philosophies might seek to converge on that ideal, but they don't necessarily need to have achieved it within your game. It's a great tool for stories and character too. As you say, being Righteous can be both a blessing and a curse, especially to those who end up with the rough end of the stick. So how do you contrast a character's actions with the ideal?

Free will... yah here is the problem...

In order to maintain free will god must not ever act on the behalf of anybody, because the instant faith is confirmed with an act, a miracle, etc. Free will is destroyed in the witnesses to the event. Thus there cannot be divine powers, at least none that actually derive directly from the creator of free will or his direct servants, angels.

Likewise Angels have no free will, only the will of their creator, so they would never act out to protect the faithful, unless out of direct orders of the divine, which would be never. Fallen angels i can see, but they wouldn't have Divine powers by cannon.

Also, since Demons can have infinite ability to lie, the only way characters would ever know any plot ever that involved a demon, would be if the demon wanted the PC to know about the lie. That is the only reason anyone would ever know a demon exists would be 'cause he told you he does.

I probably need another troupe, because all priests last 3.5 seconds (about half a combat round)

The three major YHWH based religions differ to much to think of them as the same. I think the best I can do, without going completely off cannon, is base the Divine on Zoroastrianism and view the three major monotheistic religions as having power because they are close enough.

The devout fighting the devout i would see as work of the infernal.

I am also confused why, after the fall of Constantinople, the Vatican still exists, I would think that at least One magi, living their entire life in Thebes, is mad enough to break the oath. Free will after all, so if a magi were to exert free will to cause an earthquake...

I understand your point of view, but I would ask you to be sensative to the diversity of beliefs that the rest of us have. God, in the singular, does in fact exist. That is my sincere and absolute belief. I value freedom and individualism, so if you do not believe that, such is your right and I support you in that. To say "people believed" as in the past tense, that is one thing. But to flat out say God is a fiction, that is somewhat disconcerting to the small minority of Gamers with True Faith (such as myself).

No flames, no desire for debate. Just putting it out there. Be sensative to Diversity :smiley:

Perhaps God also has free will and helps whom he chooses? And I disagree with the idea that seeing a divine miracle sublimates free will. You can ascribe any number of excuses for what you saw, call it magic, or say that this Jehova guy is just another powerful magic being.

Demons have an night-infinite ability to lie, it is eclipsed by the divine's ability to impart truth and revalation. God places limits on the demons.

The three major YHWH religions are too simmilar to think of them as different. The central diety is exactly the same in each. The Israelites are the chosen and the first to know God, Christ was indeed the messiah, and Islam is descended from Ishmael (God promised Abraham that he would take care of Ishmael and make his offspring powerful and rich). That is my take on it. Zoroastrianism, IMHO, does not fit into the Divine. It should be a Magic based religion.

I do not seen the connection between Constantinople and the Vatican. The 4th Crusade debacle was perpetrated by the French and Venitians, but it was the Greeks own fault. I say this as a Greek, they brought it upon themselves with their political intrigues and double dealing.

And no magical earthquake could ever penetrate the Vatican, not if God is indeed guarding it.

I'm trying to figure out a way for the Divine to be Good. And Infernal to be Evil. I'll check out the books that people have suggested. I really like the game, but because I and the other players cannot reconcile Christian = good, we ignore all the rules about Divine and Infernal.

We do this because it is fun to play a magi, but not fun to pretend for an instant that "x" religion is good. It's like pretending Nazi's are good, from our standpoint. Sure it can be done, but as far as fun long term we ignore it. We would like to have "y" greek god be real, just as real as "x" religion. So I want to make the divine simply : Good and Infernal: Evil. No matter the religion or whatever.

Thank you all those posting btw. the reason for the post wasn't to critisise "x" religion at all, but for me to gain insight. Thanks.

Let's start with this point. A complete athiest or determined agnostic is going to have a harder time I think with the dominion than a player that is a firm deist. I am one of those that does believe God exists and also that magic exists (though not necessarily in the magical form of fantasy).

I have a harder time with games that go totally against my beliefs or upbringing (I refused to play Wraith after WW put out a Holocaust senario treating something so serious as something to be played in a game (or part of a game and treated lightly)

I don't see anyone is saying Dominion is not acceptable. The divine is good, the dominion is meant to be good. The humans living in the area of the dominion are not intrisically good or evil as they have free will. They just have the umbrella of God protecting them from other supernatural powers (by impact of divine aura on those powers).

The bishop is not protected by the dominion. If he is a blatant and and corrupt sinner, he is not going to get any special protectoin from God. any powers he gets are likely supplied by demons to tempt and taint him.

There are certain things that he can do by position of his office and authority (tempering dominion for a particular virtue) but if he really was evil, the dominion aura might slowly fade and eventually become infernal (an example of this is the Maus tower in Rhine gorge section of the Guardians of the forest tribunal where the home of a bishop that was evil is now infernally tainted place and the bishop is now infernal might ghost)

There are those that are christian that are evil and they are as much a part of the church as the good ones. Overall though the church and christianity is good.

The church and lands have a dominion aura most likely from the consecration of the altar, the regular mass and belief of the worshippers. This aura will hinder magic, faerie and infernal but doesn't protect him in specific (it protects everyone including mages and demons from powers being used on them so demon fighting demon, both would be weakened and gain benefit of aura weakening penetration of powers)

He may or may not have done something wrong. If he is trying to kill all the mages out of greed for their lands, hatred and fear, then he is sinning and no longer in state of grace even if he is striking down a sinner. The opening for evil is there and a demon of temptation will have prime target.

Divine might beings: Angels, saints, and such should be examples of what the dominion is about. This includes the fiery wrath of St. Michael's sword or the turning Lot's wife to a pillar of salt as well as the gentle healing of St. Francis and the wise judgement of St. Peter.

The dominion is about the power of God on earth. It about the fact that God created the earth, he has sent revelations to inspire faith and the impact of his power as people obey those revelations.

It is interesting, ars magica has holy magic and infernal magic and from what I have seen, while parma is best defense, infernal magic is among the most powerful offense. (the limitations on holy mages can be very harsh, -15 to most casting rolls unless your spell is silent/subtle from virtue or mastery, can't use the magic to sin, have to relearn/invent all your spells, while a number of the infernal arts double the value of one of your arts for penetration and more.)

The best you can do is look at the character's play verse the ideals of the dominion that they are in or they believe in. If they are pagan, dominion isn't necessarily going to help but it might if it could show them the way to faith in something real or they are opposing a great evil.

Zoroastrianism predates Christianity. Indeed the entire Theme of Heaven vs Hell fighting over the fate of human souls is Central to Zoroastrianism. Which again predates the transition of YHWH from a capricious, self-centered, vengeful god, to a peaceful one that actually cares about your soul and not for you to worship him and only him. YHWH acts more like a Fairy than anything else prior to christianity.

This struggle between Order/Good and Chaos/Evil is the central theme in the Divine vs Infernal in Ars. As such it is in line more with Ahura Mazda then YHWH. Many Zoroastrianism concepts get absorbed by Islam, which in turn affects Christianity by the time period in question 1200's.

But is the Divine guarding the Pope? Even after he takes the whores, Constantinople women, now slaves, given to him? Does the Divine really guard the Western empire after letting the Eastern Holy City fall? Did the Divine take sides? Edit: the statement about the pope was inflammatory and it has been pointed out by Tim Furg as wrong. He posts a great excerpt, a letter from the pope denouncing the actions of the Crusaders... great read.

As per the divine book, god sides with the faithful. This means sometimes he is aiding both sides in a conflict because he aids his faithful that the aid cancels out.

I could easily see Zoroastrianism as being a fourth divine/dominion based religion. From the little I have heard it could be dominion and divine powers/methods or could be magical. I don't know enough about it to say yay or nay and it probably should be decide saga by saga.

It is interesting but the dominion's effects are mostly of the following:

  1. curses and smiting the truly and majorly evil (and it takes a lot to provoke that smiting)
  2. Healing the sick
  3. giving strength to the faithful at times (so their own abilities are boosted a little)
  4. shielding places of the divine from other supernatural powers (divine aura vs other realms, magic resistance from true faith or guardian angels)

Everything else that is done in divine name is men acting as men. The bulk of where the divine has effect is when you die (burn in hell or bliss of heaven) and telling you the guidelines so you can get there.

But it does not predate Judaism. That stretches back to at leastancient Egypt (though in my belief, it dates back to the dawn of humanity, but that is another debate). In my view, it all begins with Judaism. Christianity and Islam are both branched off of the religion of the Israelites.

That is not at all the God described in the Old Testament. Are you making the claim that the Jews worship a capricious and self-centered god? What happened to respect for diversity?

I turn to Socrates. Define Good. What is Pious and Impious?
And the struggle is salvation versus damnation, eternal existance versus finite destruction. Good and Evil is an apt description of this, and Order versus Chaos does not enter into it at all. In fact, Jesus states for fact he is an agent of "chaos", he will set father against son.

And some people believe Chaos is Good and Order is Evil.

I will look into that, but it seems to contradict the history that I have studied. No debate, just questioning it and agreeing to look into it.


That never happened. I did an extensive research paper on the fourth crusade, and such a tale is simply not anywhere in anything I have read. The French crusaders, they did plunder treasures and indulge in whores. The pope did in fact excommunicate everyone involved in the 4th crusade. A few years later he undid it, but it was not anything that the pope planned or desired. He was shocked and horrified.

And again, the the debacle was caused by the Greeks themselves. The dynastic intrigues of the Byzantine inperial family is the whole cause of the diversion in the fist place, and double dealing is what enraged the Franks to the point that they decided to sack the city. Nothing religeous about it. Pure politics.

I'm absolutely sensitive to the need and the desire to protect everybody's right to believe what they feel they need to, or want to, or have to.

But I don't believe it and I'm confident enough to share my certaintly that there is no divine being and have that afforded the same respect as the belief that there is.

That's cool. It is not about protection, it is only about respect. Stated as belief is one thing. Stating it as matter-of-fact, that is what bothered me.

I sometimes think I have an easier time because I'm an atheist. After all, if I'm suspending disbelief on one unbelievable thing, it's not such a stretch to include another.

I'd need to go back to the rulebooks and check, but I believe he still gets a Divine resistence by virtue of his position. He still benefits from the effects of relics and can probably influence the intervention of saints too (though as a storyguide, I'd be laying on the penalties at this point). In those terms, my understanding is that even if he's an unpleasant bloke he's still within God's grace.

Agreed. But my example specifically was not corrupted, merely narrow-minded, selfish, and probably fearful.

And I would say "Good" in the capital and metaphysical sense, the affirmative and righteous sense, which usually, by the grace of God, also includes the more earthly "good".

Yes, the opening for evil is there. But unless he succumbs to that temptation, I don't think he is evil. In fact, I wouldn't class him as evil even if he did succumb. I think "fallen" is probably the word. Led astray. Weak. Tempted. All the while that there is a way back... but that's the storyguide in me talking. So long as there is a way for the player characters to give the Bishop the strength to cast out his demons (assuming he did eventually fall) and the Bishop wants to, then he's not evil in my book.

I agree. All those things and more have the potential to show the awesome glory of the heavenly powers. Those powers don't have to be "nice" and that's the key to all this. Turning Lot's wife into salt wasn't a nice thing to do. Ah, they say, but she disobeyed and so must pay the price. I agree, so long as we accept that while it may have been just (face it, if God did it then it had to have been) it certainly wasn't "nice".

I state it with as much certainty as I possibly can, and I wouldn't do myself the injustice of reducing my position to one of belief. But that's all a question of semantics. My stating it as certainty isn't going to shake your belief any more than you stating your certainty is going to make me suddenly take confession and communion.

And that, though it seems like I'm taking a pot shot at everyday religious practice, is the point of all this.

Just because I assert something as part of the game world, there's no implication that your way of life or belief or practices are going to be affected one way or another.

So just go with the awesome power of the Divine. You might view it as hocus pocus outside the game, but within the game there is a personal God and that personal God has a direct presence. Enjoy the storytelling opportunities it provides. You don't have to take it home with you.

Ahura mazda is very very old, predates moses.

So you don't mind if I in turn refer to Atheism as an unbelievable thing?

Freedom of speech is sacrosanct, and as long as we can both peacefully express our diverse opinions without denegrating the other, I am most pleased.

This may bother you, and I apologize if it does, but I consider atheism to be a religon* in and of itself, and something of a cult. That is my belief, but I refrain from posting it publically because I do not wish to offend others on this board that I happen to know are atheists. All I ask is that I am given the same consideration and respect that I try to offer others. In my game, I have Christians and Jews and Wiccans and agnostics and aetheists. Everyone may speak their view on their own beliefs, but it bad form to make dismissive comments about the beliefs of others. I think Wicca is false. But I keep that to myself. I simply say "I don't believe in it", and leave it at that.

  • (The Latin root of "religon" means "to bind back together", whence also allegience or leige. Any idea or philosophy that rings people together in unified opinion, even if that idea is a rejection of other ideas, qualifies as a religon using the latin root meaning of the word.)

Quite right. I might not be able to respect religious belief, but I respect the right of people to believe it. A lot of people across this world of ours cannot conceive of there not being a God, so I'm not going to take offense at you being within that demographic. You're in good company.