questions about the divine

I could have sworn I sent that as a private message. My bad. Sorry to everyone else :blush:

But it seems we have reached an accord we can both agree upon, so as far as I am concerned, we are all good :smiley:

I am talking about way before Moses. Araham, Issac, and Jacob. Moses comes at the end of the Egyptian era. I am refering to the ones that came long before. If you want to go back further, I would cite Noah, Enoch, and Adam. But that relies more on faith and speculation. Abraham is (most likely) a real historical figure.

You realize that in the time period the idea of a personal god... one that can be known by anyone, one that is infinite ... that is heresy and you will be killed.

Put to death in 1327

The entire reason of the post was to get more insight into the divine in the game. As far as the topic of conversation is religion, i do think it's good that we can all be civil.

I think as far as house rules go we will need to change the cosmology a bit to fit a more modern view of spirituality:

Divine = Good in human spirit
Infernal = Evil in human spirit

As it stands now we ignore most of the rules about Divine and Infernal. And rarely bring either into our stories. When they are we consider the church as evil as the other, and just kill them all.

I would actually like to do stories of redemption, the gain of a fairy's soul or slow decent to infernal influence of a heartless Magi. Or a good natured humanist that gets convicted of heresy. All great for story.

You would have loved third edition, where every priest and crusader was secretly a diabolist :laughing:

Again, I turn to Socrates (as written by Plato).
What is Pious and what is Impious? How do you define Good and Evil?
My stance is that, without the concept of diety (defined however you choose), then Good and Evil have no true meaning other than what an individual decides for themselves. Kind of like Nitchze (or however that guy's name is spelled). If their is no diety, then Good is defined by the one who has the strongest will and the greatest force in order to enforce their morality upon those who are not overmen.

It sounds like you want RoP: The Infernal, because it demonstrates the many facets of the Infernal and explains how the Divine is most characters' best defense against it.

Leaving aside "doing good" and "doing evil," the Divine is basically Team Monotheism. It is the realm of the One God, whatever god that happens to be. That god isn't especially consistent, though, so you can totally have angels and saints contradicting each other. It may tell people to do certain things to get in its good graces, but for the most part there's no way to know whether you made it until you die.

The Infernal is the eternal enemy of the Divine, both the realm and everything it is said to protect, i.e. everything. So it basically tries to corrupt, deceive and destroy anything it finds. The Divine opposes it in this, and is really good at it. Generally speaking, the Divine is the only realm that can overcome a concentrated effort by the Infernal.

If your characters are killing priests left and right, they're probably making infernal auras, and that will bite them pretty hard I imagine. Interference with the mundanes is another good story hook to introduce, because the local bishop is going to be concerned, which will ensure other mundanes get involved too. Pretty soon you have a mob with torches, or a crusading army marching against you, and that's going to get noticed by the Order.

Remember that in Mythic Europe, atheists are clearly wrong. They must be crazy, stupid, or evil, because it is possible to demonstrate that the Divine exists and that miracles actually happen. Attacking priests just because they are priests does nothing but help the Infernal, and the Infernal is never grateful.

Thanks everyone for your input. I found it very helpful .

I think that playing without the Divine Realm and its antagonist, the Infernal, weakens the game and the setting. Part of what makes it fun is that while the Magi may have stepped out of the medieval mindset (democratic Orders and acceptance of women, magic, pagans, and infidels) the rest of Mythic Europe has not. I like the fact that while the Infernal is all about tempting you with power (like the recent post about Festivals of the Damned) the Divine is about redemption.

I also like the fact that the agents of the Divine and Infernal (the angels, demons, saints, diabolists, and clergy) are just the agents of either God or Satan (and Satan to some extent is an agent of God, tempting man so that man must use his free will to make the only choice God is interested in). The agents are not the whole of their realm so they may be wrong or act in contradiction to their fellows.

However, what I like most is that the two realms introduce consequences that are not really considered in other gamming worlds. If you want to battle the Church and the Divine, that is another great storyline. Nevertheless, the challenge with such a conflict is doing so when you are railing against God, who could smite you directly, but probably will not.

Some friends of mine back in LA had a saga where one magus character was a secret diabolist. He periodically had to sacrifice an innocent child to fulfill his demonic bargain, each time damning him more and more. Eventually he was so overcome with guilt he backed out of his demonic pact, resulting in his swift demise. After he died, the SG let him play a few moments of his new eternity in Hell, since he had not truly repented but merely felt remorse. (I hope I have this right, as this story was retold to me. I am sure that one of the players or SG is on this list and they can comment more on it if they wish). The player loved it as it reinforced the fact that riches on earth do not carry over into the afterlife, and that he would pay for his moment of extra power.

The point is, what makes Mythic Europe connected to Europe is the impact of the Church. Take away monasteries, cathedrals, good, and bad bishops, reformists movements, heretics, etc... and you have the cliché world setting where everyone is free to believe in anything with no repercussions.

In Mythic Europe, life is very hard, disease is rampant, and wars are common, while the Church provides the only hope of something better in the end. The lowest peasant knows that no matter how bad things are, his belief will be rewarded. He also knows that the basest priest or bishop will get his comeuppance when he faces God's judgment. That is why tales of "bad" clergy are so popular at all levels of society.

Many players I know enjoy this conflict in their characters. How do they reconcile this newfound power of magic with what they know from their culture? Sometimes players choose to play pagan magi because they are not interested in this conflict. As pagans, they do not have to answer to a higher power by observing the social mores that are at the core of European society.

In addition, if there were not the trump card of God's omnipotence to balance the game, there would be little challenge for most magi.

I concur with earlier post that the ROP: Divine and ROP: Infernal are the books you are looking for. Having the 3rd Ed Books on those two topics, neither is as good for capturing the real medieval mindset and power of the 2 realms as the 5th Ed books.

If you have lived or visited Europe (either Western or Eastern), it is amazing how the Church molded the landscape of Europe. From just a setting standpoint, it gives a towns and monasteries to visit. It provides wise hermits and zealous heretics (even if as a reaction to its excesses) to interact with.

We always think that it saved Europe in the Monasteries by saving the classics. However, maybe even more so, it saved, or maybe created its culture with its bishops who created centralized and defendable communities, which became towns, then cities. I recently returned from a trip to Provence, and something that I was amazed at was all the hill towns. These fortifications (built around a Church, Cathedral, and/or Priory) saved the people from invaders, bandits and their neighbors. On the other hand, the Romans built their towns on road and rivers, on the flat plains where the agriculture was good. They could do this because Rome made life safe. When Rome fell, life became harder and less safe. Into this vacuum came the church. Its Bishops united the people and defended them. The patron saints of most towns are often their first bishops. Some were truly pious, such as St. Martin, while others were more known for their battles (such as the later St. Louis).

In regards to the aunguard10's problem with priest with short expiration dates, I agree with the idea of giving the PCs a reason not to kill the priests such as a bigger problem with demons. In the medieval mind, demons are everywhere, waiting for a chance to tempt a person away from God. If you are already without God's grace, then you are an easier target. Have someone come to the magi seeking help against greedy priest or crusaders only to be a demon in disguise. When the truth comes out, they will have a choice to make as to which side they are on. Have those with demonic help prosper initially, while the pious suffer.

I mentioned Festival of Damned earlier. Although a linear adventure, it really captures the medieval view of individual corruption as something that Heaven and Hell are fighting over, while still being high fantasy tale of "lets kick some demon a**."

Whether you buy the whole church thing in reality, it adds great flavor and can be both an antagonist and ally in the same saga.

I remember my first demon adventure (I ran it). The demon came to the covenant claiming to be faerie and telling the covenant that two faerie courts claimed the land they were on and taht the two courts were about to go to war over it with the mages caught n the middle.

He offered to for a fee to guide them to the courts and help them get their land out from the middle of the battle because his hom ewould have been caught too.

He managed to turn threat of a faerie war into a real faerie war only both sides against the covenant with him saying he could calm it down in return for souls. He got one and then got destroyed but the corruption was done. A good priest perhaps could have prevented it all.

I'd recommend you use the "God is a very, very big faerie" thing. It allows you to basically went your biases in the way you seem to want to.

No, you're wrong here. The creator seems to answer the prayers of pretty much any monotheist. He is Abrahamic God, and that means that he answers Jews, Christians of all stripes including heretics, and Muslims. He also seems to answer the call of Zoroastrans, and there is some evidence around that when Ra had a cult, he was in favour of them too, but that's not conclusive.

In previous editions, yes. In current edition, no. God exists. True Faith is a connecdtion with him that transcends doctrine.

In Ars, because the setting is not affected by mass faith. Satan exists. He doesn't care what you think he should do.

Kind of this? Although God's a bit of a bastard, really and so he plays a sort of hide and seek with faith?

Well, I'd go with "God is a big faerie." in that situation. You seem to want faith to define reality, and "God is a big faerie and Satan is his chief assistant." that makes the cosmology eaiser, IMO.

Pointing out that the Problem of Evil exists just demonstrates you are modern. Medieval people didn't get all heated about this. They did not accept your idea that as soon as you saw a miracle, you'd lose free will, because in their folk stories, a lot of people see a miracle, and instead of doing the right thing, they keep drinking and fornicating. This is because their view of human nature is that it is not constrained by the sort of rock-hard reason you are employing above, which is a post-Englightenment view of humanity.

Except that he clearly does, because, in folkstory, miracles happen, and therefore your argument fails the test of actual practical observation. Therefore, your construction of what God must do is wrong.

Fallen angels don't have free will anymore either.

Your premise is false: demons don't have an infinite capacity to lie, because the Dominion exists.

I, personally, would get another troupe, but that's a playstyle thing.

It's viable, sure.

I'd like to point out to you that you know less about history than you think you do. The Papacy was horrified by, and excommunicated all members of, the Fourth Crusade's siege of Constantinople.

It did forgive them eventually, sure, but the Church forgives all kinds of things if people can demonstrate their remorse, even murder.

Well, I'm basically agnostic now, although I used to be a believer. As an agnostic, I'd point out that I don't believe in your pagan gods or the widespread continuance of the modern pagan tradition from medieval roots. I accept your right to worship whatever you want, but find it ironic that your players' hatred of Christians is just hate-group formation, which is a basic fault of much religious thinking. Thery think the church is so evil, but they are the ones doing the hating, and they are doing the hating because of their religion, which is fake. See? Irony! :slight_smile:

Given that their religiosity requires you to dislike the Church and compare them to Nazis, I don't see why you bother trying to play in a saga where the church's people are generally good. Just play them as evil or morally ambiguous and get it over with.

Then just -do- it. Don't write stories with the Church in them if it annoys you.

...because saying they are like Nazis isn't critical at all... :smiley:

If you are going to do this sort of thing, your history is going to need to be better, because most of the people on this board are not willing to just accept this sort of hate-speech which doesn't require footnotes because it is faith based, as proper history.

The Pope in 1204 was disgusted by what happened in Constnatinople, and I say this as a guy who has taken a hammering for my treatment of the Church in former, and future presumably, books for the line. The Crusade was meant ot be against Muslims, which the pope calls "pagans" in the letter he wroite below.

Now, if you are going past arguing the attitude of the Church to critizing the Christian God, then I can't be bothered arguing with you, because its not like the pagan gods did anything much when the Christians burned their shrines, and soi sauce for the goose is sauce for tha gander.

The Pope sent a letter to his legate, and here is the shortened version:

[i]It was your duty to attend to the business of your legation and to give careful consideration, not to the capture of the Empire of Constantinople, but rather to the defense of what is left of the Holy Land and, with the Lord's leave, the restoration of what has been lost. We made you our representative and we sent you to gain, not temporal, but rather eternal riches. And for this purpose, our brethren provided adequately for your needs.

We have just beard and discovered from your letters that you have absolved from their pilgrimage vows and their crusading obligations all the Crusaders who have remained to defend Constantinople from last March to the present. It is impossible not to be moved against you, for you neither should nor could give any such absolution.

Whoever suggested such a thing to you and how did they ever lead your mind astray?. . .

How, indeed, is the Greek church to be brought back into ecclesiastical union and to a devotion for the Apostolic See when she has been beset with so many afflictions and persecutions that she sees in the Latins only an example of perdition and the works of darkness, so that she now, and with reason, detests the Latins more than dogs? As for those who were supposed to be seeking the ends of Jesus Christ, not their own ends, whose swords, which they were supposed to use against the pagans, are now dripping with Christian blood ­ they have spared neither age nor sex. They have committed incest, adultery, and fornication before the eyes of men. They have exposed both matrons and virgins, even those dedicated to God, to the sordid lusts of boys. Not satisfied with breaking open the imperial treasury and plundering the goods of princes and lesser men, they also laid their hands on the treasures of the churches and, what is more serious, on their very possessions. They have even ripped silver plates from the altars and have hacked them to pieces among themselves. They violated the holy places and have carried off crosses and relics. .

Furthermore, under what guise can we call upon the other Western peoples for aid to the Holy Land and assistance to the Empire of Constantinople? When the Crusaders, having given up the proposed pilgrimage, return absolved to their homes; when those who plundered the aforesaid Empire turn back and come home with their spoils, free of guilt; will not people then suspect that these things have happened, not because of the crime involved, but because of your deed? Let the Lord's word not be stifled in your mouth. Be not like a dumb dog, unable to bark. Rather, let them speak these things publicly, let them protest before everyone, so that the more they rebuke you before God and on God's account, the more they will find you simply negligent. As for the absolution of the Venetian people being falsely accepted, against ecclesiastical rules, we will not at present argue with you.... [/i]

Oh, and I'd cut it with the "whores" talk, too. At the very basic level, it is offensive.

Also, it's historically inaccurate in this case. Innocent thought that all sex was "filthy", which is a translation of his own words, but he was rather heavily in favor of prositutews being given a fresh start in life.

Innocent III is one of the founders of a larger movement in the West to allow women to leave the sex trade. He said that wedding a prostitute to save her from the sex trade was a "great work of charity" and therefore a holy and good thing. Previously it had been considered scandalous and demeaning to marry prostitutes, and in many areas that prejudice carries on. He, or one of his close successors, also did start some nunneries for women who wished to retire from the sex trade to the contemplative life. I'm not sure how this got twisted in your head to him having a harem.

(He was also pro-abortion, provided it happened in the first 40 days. On the down side he was a raging anti-Semtie.)

um well women and gold were sent to the pope after Constantinople's fall as spoils. But my point of bringing it up is to see how the current cosmology holds up to history. I'm not saying the historical Pope wanted to invade, I'm begging the question of how can the Mythic Europe pope have a connection with the Divine in light of the travesty... I'll drop it.

I'm sorry this conversation has digressed. I want to introduce the epic struggle of Good vs Evil and some humanity to my troupe. Not Divine vs Infernal as it is in canon Ars. And not the usual : "hey a priest... kill it" which is the tendency.

Sorry Christians are offended, but lets not kid ourselves by neglecting history.

Zoroastrianism i can do as the Divine, because last time i read Zoroastrians didn't kill people for thinking. They didn't say "Convert or Die" or threaten to kill people that looked into telescopes. And the Theme of that religion predates the primary monotheistic ones in Mythic Europe, but is the same as the Divine vs Infernal Theme intended by the game (my opinion).

Again I think Mythic Europe is a fun setting Ars Magica : Fairies and Magi are awesome.

And while the Church does dominate in Mythic Europe... to do stories of redemption and degradation to evil, i think it best to have the Cosmology of the Divine (Good) and Infernal(Evil) be something that can be viewed as actually Good and Evil from the perspective of the Troupe I play with.

To do a tragedy where in a character with True Faith gets sentenced to death for Heresy, because speaking from the heart of human compassion is against cannon... Seems like a good story.

What's your source?

Yes, but that's not actual history. That's a story that has been twisted to make the Pope look like a lecherous hypocrite, so you aren't comparing the cosmology to history at all.

He has the same link the historical Pope did. He thought it was a terrible sin. He encouraged sinners to repent and be reconciled with God.

This isn't as central to canon Ars as you are presrnting though. Canon Ars is about your characters and their personal community. God and the Devil are background bit players. Ars can do "Epic Struggle" sure, but that's not the default setting. The default setting is a lot more like, say "Hamish Macbeth" or "Doc Martin" or "All Creatures Great and Small." It's about the life of an interesting and eccentric community.

Your play group isn't one I'd personally play in, but different strokes for different folks.

OK, so bring up some real history, then. I'm not a Christian: the reason I'm offended is that what you have said about the Pope is demonstrably false and yet you seem to use it as the basis for a strong, negative emotional reaction.

And now we go for the hate speech:

Which just means you haven't read enough history. The Sassanid Empire, as the greatest example, were Zoroastrians, of the now extinct Zuvanite sect, and some of them -did- force conversions and did think that it was cool to spread their religion by force. Now, once they settle down to actual rule, they were comparatively liberal, but whenever you have a religion that says "We will militantly flight the forces of the Evil One!" it is very easy to say "...and that includes unbelievers!"

Now, I'm not saying they were monsters: their reign was a lot more liberal than some later Christian rulers, but you are choosing the best Zoroastrans and comparing them with the worst Christians, not the best with the best or the worst with the worst.

They were scientifically quite liberal, but I think you know less about Gallileo than you think you do. As to "convert or die!" the bits that said that were killed off by Muslims, and so that's why you don't hear about them much. You can argue, and I'd accept it as a vaiable line of argument wanting for more evidence, that one religion did more or less of this than the other, but it's hard to tell, because our records of pre-Islamic Iran are not really good.

If it feels like a good story, go for it, but I think it can be done in the standard setting without you needing all of this wrangling. Every action of the Church in Ars isn't Automatically Good, and no-one has ever said it was.

This is the first time I have every heard anyone compare the medieval church to the greatest evil in history of man in my view (the nazis).

This is also the first saga that I have ever heard of with the concept of "its a priest, kill him." My earlier saga did kill monks and a wandering priest but it was all political. THe wandering preacher was slain because he was luring workers from the mage field to go wandering with him on pilgrimage One mage of a covenant of 6 arranged for the death to show what happened to anyone that lured people from their proper service to their lord. The nearby monestery was destroyed because the covenant wanted to claim their land so two mages framed them for diabolism and had them destroyed completely. There was no hostility to the church otherwise and the mages knew they were doing evil but didn't care since they would go to final twilight instead of hell.

thanks for the info, it was much needed.

Like i said though, I'm working on doing Good vs Evil conflict with the human spirit. One where actions of charity, mercy and love defeat suffering, tyrany, and ignorance...

Divine vs Infernal in Ars cannon or Evil Vs "Cant tell if it's evil 'cause i cant detect it, but it wants me to kill babies, so i'll perdo vim just to make sure" as i view it.

The whole point of my arguments, i'll grant need more research, is that is good is not the Church ... I totally understand now the Divine vs Infernal conflict is in Mythic Europe. I thank all the people responding it has greatly increased my understanding, with out the input i'd be even more off.

The reason for Zoroastrianism isn't because it's a pure religion or whatever... its because it's older, has more mystic, isn't well known what it's atrocities are... from the player perspective. It makes for a decent story, and is the same dang Theme.

More evil has been done in name of religion than all other reasons combined that said, For every horror story in history of christianity, you have even more of good. The crusades were horrible but you also have the hospitalers. You have the bishops that rallied communities to protect them from bandits, you have the parish priests that were the primary face of the church, praying for souls, marrying families, burying the dead while consoling families. You have the miracles of saints, the kindness of St. Francis.

All the evil that occured was in many ways against scripture and the words of Jesus and the apostles and such.

This said, The church is not the divine, just as the shoal and mosque are not the dominion. They do partake of it to a great extent. The divine is channeled through the religions (christianity, judaism and islam) but it also acts outside the church (saints, angels, true faith).

The reason i make that comparison isn't shock value.

There is a game I played a long time ago, set in 1980s i think ... in an alternate time to WW2 where Germany creates the bomb first. The world is dominated by 2 powers, The Japanese Empire and The Reich.

It's a dark world, where the PCs are freedom fighters living in a grotesque fascist government. It's fun... playing the good guys. After a while though if you play "the bad guys" a conflict develops between the player and the fantasy. Because the Fantasy is based on real evil and if you are playing a nazi, you role play doing great atrocities. It wears on you and after a while the setting is just too dark. So it became not fun to even play the "good guys".

This is the conflict experienced by the players in my troupe and me as well. So we just ignore almost everything that involves Divine and Infernal, keep the auras sure... but Infernal auras are "stain of evil"...

All I heard was an unscholarly bigot with a serious "axe to grind with Christians" coming on to the boards to vent his hatred.

I'm sorry you hate Christians. I'm sorry the people you associate with hate people like me.

If your real-life views MUST reflect your gamer views, then I suggest you stay away from House Jerbiton, and not follow in the footsteps of Flambeau...or look into signing up for a diversity class.

I don't understand how some people are completely unable to suspend belief for a role-playing game.

My troupe consists of of four real life devout Christians (Lutherans, specifically), and a pagan. We are all very good friends. We harbor no ill will towards each other, and we love her (the pagan) like family. We rarely discuss religion out of mutual respect unless she asks the questions first.

In game, two of us Lutherans and the pagan play nominally Christian magi, one of us plays a pious magus, and one of us is an infernalist (yes, one of the Lutherans).

One of the main bad guys in our game is one "Cardinal Alphonse." One of our favorite covenant members is "Old Brother Tiberius," a devout friar who has started a parish within our covenant walls.

None of us neglect our history...even the uglier parts of it. Fact is, there isn't a Christian alive today that was around to commit the atrocities you so eagerly mention.

There are bad people in every group; Christian, pagan, atheist, and agnostic. There is no sense in painting everyone in a group with the same brush.

I apologize if my comments are inflammatory. As Tim Furg has pointed out, I need to do more historical research and my view points are held on historical inaccuracies.
That is most helpful, not only for helping me make a game, but for me as a human being. A few of my posts are defensive, trying to communicate my world view... I should not have done that.

It does not change the viewpoint of my troupe or me that religion is evil. In our games the Divine is always a threat, based on our world view.

Kazin, you are right, lumping all of the people in a group into a stereotype is logically flawed. Indeed a comon human sin, that i seem to have commited.

Again it is not my intention to post out of hatred etc, we just can not fathom the Church in Mythic Europe as a Good force. A force yes, trying to do good yes, succeeding on a micro level in communities yes, but not on a macro level.

But we want to incorporate some of the Themes of Good vs Evil: decent into darkness, salvation and redemption. Very real, human themes, regardless of religion. In that sometimes priests will be Good and other's evil.

In that I need to augment the Cosmology to allow for the Divine to be some aspect of Human Good... not faith or belief, but human action. To allow other characters in the story occasionally do Divine type magic... not because of some religions affiliation, but because they are performing an act of sacrifice or charity which the character has no direct benefit.

This thread has been most helpful, not only for understanding parts of the game for which i have no books, but also in helping define the cosmology i'm putting together for the troupe.

I apologize again if it has been inflammatory or offensive. Thank you all that posted.