Results of Cracking the Infernal Limit

Let's say for the sake of argument the optimists are right and The Limit of the Infernal is just a flaw in Hermetic Theory. What would the effects of integrating a breakthrough that makes Intellego Magic entirely reliable when analyzing demons and other infernal phenomena.

Just to make the ramifications more profound also assume second sight is also fully integrated into Intellego (as per HMRE) so you don't have to penetrate a beings might to sense it.

Imagine this scenario (it's from a classic Gary larson comic). In it you have a man standing on a soapbox at a busy street corner yelling "Vampires! Vampires are everywhere!" an in the comic there are large windows and a few moving men carrying a large mirror, and the only person with a reflection is the guy on the soapbox. One of my favorite comics from him.

What does it mean? First off, if it worked, some magi would suddenly be in the scenario I described above; surrounded by demons in far greater numbers than they ever imagined. That's the first impression I'd get. And from that point on, I'd say the Order would be moving up to a high position on the Infernal's most wanted list.

But realistically, I'd say that the forces of the Infernal would try like hell to stop it from being discovered, or put the same effort into making the Magi think they discovered it, because how would they actually prove it? What if as part of a scheme the Infernal fools the researchers into thinking they've found the way to detect them, but have actually perverted their discovery?

Either way it could make for a great campaign setting.

Demons would only be a different kind of monsters for the players characters to kill instead of vicious corrupters that help keep good people in line.

In my game, the reason you can't detect infernal is there is no infernal.

I wouldn't say no to that idea.

I'm all for using dark cthonic forces in the game, especially as foes, but I prefer them to have an agenda more sophisticated than "evil and corruption for its own sake". Infernal Demons are simple minded.

Not only do you have to make this breakthrough but you have to convince others that you actually did it and that you are not tricking them. That could be difficult.

In fact, I could easily see a demon discovering that some magus is trying for a breakthough and setting up a long, convuluted plot to make him think he suceeded while screwing him over.

Yeah, while i dont mind using infernal either, but if they CANT be detected at all, why aint they simply everywhere causing trouble?
I´d like more sophistication as well but above all i´d like the above inconsistency gone.
If there´s almost no way to see through them, and even if you do, you cant know if you REALLY do, then there´s no reason at all for the infernal not to rule or play with the mundane as they please.

One variant i played with for a while and liked was that it simply require double base guidelines and penetration to see through infernal disguise... It makes it a lot harder, but not impossible. Best of both worlds.

People from Rule of Mann stop reading now.

I said stop

Interesting idea :slight_smile: Just FYI I might introduce this in the hands of a NPC in a while and see how the players wpould react to the idea. He would probably be untrusted as a potential corrupter/corrputed/biassed fool, maybe smithen. I quite doubt they would accept such a claim at face value. One of our covenants was destroyed by demons, so my troupe has a healthy respect (read: shot first, ask later) for the Infernal.


:smiling_imp: That would be an interesting thing to have a character research. Hmmm... How to research it? Bargain with the Devil of course! But then, he'll only make it seem like you're successful as long as it suits his purposes, and then you'll find your research failed miserably. Sounds like something I'd be more likely to drop on an NPC doing that research than on a PC.


To remove this limit of Hermetic magic would utterly destroy the setting from a thematic point of view. It would be far better to have the breakthrough be false, a demonic deception (how would you know until it was too late).

Other alternatives would be that by breaking this limit the Magus discovers true nature of reality, such a revelation sends him utterly insane (or indeed utterly sane which may be the same thing), and possibly angers both heaven and hell. The Magus should possibly say something cryptic and bizarre and is never seen again, is ripped apart by demons, immolated by divine fire or instantly ascends to heaven.

But an actual applicable breakthrough is thematically inapropriate.

Also I don't quite understand people who don't use the infernal or consider demons simple minded or one dimensional.

Hardly. Its saga dependent above all but even by RAW, its not inapropriate unless you really feels like the gameworld must remain static.

Existing only to cause corruption? Yeah, very 3D. I usually throw in at least something that can act as "The BIG Motivation", like maybe if the devil can corrupt enough people, "god" can be "overthrown" or something other radical.

Well all the limits exist to highlight different themes of the setting. Because of the mechanic of magical research these story elements can (if the players and story guides want) also be changed. This is good too since magical discovery is also one of the themes of the game.

When you tinker with a Limit like this you first must think of why it exists and what themes it promotes in your game. (After all not every saga deals with the same themes.) Then you want to think about what effect the change will have on those themes and what new elements it might add to your stories.

Frankly I'm not sure I see how eliminating the infernal limit would utterly destroy the themes of the setting. I've played in a few saga's where we never even dealt with demons at all. Also just because Hermetic Magic can't be trusted to reveal the truth about Demons doesn't mean it is impossible in the setting as written. Divine magic and abilities is perfectly capable of revealing infernal deceit in the setting as written (The SAW?).

And the false breakthrough idea sure that could be a good story. But how long could all the demons of Mythic Europe stay organized and united enough to pull off that kind of long con. I mean not every demon is into self control and long term planing let alone cooperation. I think a far more interesting stories might come out of Mages actually trying to convince skeptics they really did make the breakthrough. But those are the themes I like to explore.

A few questions.

  1. How would this outcome improve the story and what themes does it promote. Don't try to discover anything or push the limits of magic because you will be arbitrarily erased.

  2. Does the universe crush you like a bug before or after you stabilize the discovery.

It feels inapropriate to me personally, I like Ars Magica because of the setting and the themes of that setting. The limit of the infernal directly follows on from those themes. Some things should remain static, or at least if they are as thematically 'inapropriate' as breaking the limit of the infernal than that should be the primary focus of the saga.

You don't consider the epic struggle between God and the Devil, the constant battle to redeem or save the souls of man, questions of cosmology to be three dimensional? What about the simple joy of constructing long drawn out Machievellian plots in which a demon manipulates the PC's?

Also you could also give your Demons a deeper personality, there is no reason why not. They could have secondary desires. needs and hobbies outside of pure corruption.

One must remember demons are considered the masters of deception. In our world... The craftiest witch was one that seemed just as a kind mother. ie people were continuously burned and killed and tortured as witches and demon worshipers through out our history, even though there were no demons.

So if in a world there are Demons AND they are given ultimate deception ... its unplayable and too dark. It's best to either keep them as non existent, but allow the fear of them, the hysteria of the witch hunt, to take place. Let the players think there is an Infernal Realm... Since they cant detect it... it doesn't matter if it exists. YOU know it doesn't. YOU know they kill innocent people. Because once they realized THEY were the only inhuman thing in the story, its beautiful. THEY killed and tortured people with little proof. THEY did not listen to reason, THEY were taken advantage of by ambitious priests and killed political enemies of the archbishop, prior, etc... OR allow them to detect the evil, so they can smite it.

If you don't then the above happens, because people are people, AND the dark twisted evil of the infernal happens as well. You have to remember this is the middle ages. Be wary to be educated, female, or rich. And god forbid if you're all three. Because the world of men was tormented, dark, and hell on earth. Add actual demons and it's a terribly paranoid scary world.

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True, it is rather subjective. I personally think that any Ars Magica saga that lasts beyond a few seasons should involve demons. Even if it's just at a very small and petty level. Also Divine magic should obviously be able to break the limit of the infernal because that is appropriate to the setting. Again a different saga might assume a different cosmology, but as Ars stands then thats the right thing.

True, the deception should only be carried on by one, or a small subset of demons for a limited time only.

There should be the implication of risk, or simply sucide with regards breaking some of the limits. This in fact would encourage certain Magi to pursue it. Some of my suggestions could lead to some interesting events, such as the players seeking out an insane archmage who has somehow gained sanctury in an incredibly holy site because as soon as he steps outside he will be subject to assault by hell.

This was working from the assumption that the knowledge was akin to what 'man was not meant to know' and it was the discovery itself that was 'fatal'.

To me there's just not much complexity to a being of pure evil. It's almost the definition of a one dimentional character. What's the demon's motivation? It's evil! There's no need to probe further. A good adversary should have more complex drives than a desire to simply cause pain or degeneration.

my bonisagus is searching a way to break that limit and be able to realise if a book for exemple is a way for a demon to be called instead of a daemon... she probably will never find the way, but it is not a reason why not to seek a solution (she saw her father and pater being taken by a demon he had called by mistake)

There are some ways around it. Partially.

Have a room with a T: Room enchantment cast a high penetration DEO on everyone within the room, with an ignem requisite. Everyone catching fire is probably a demon.

Note than, IIRC, the reason why one can't detect if a demon is lying or not is that they're not, or something like that: When a demon is saying something, he believes what he says, deluding even itself. Serf's parma, but I'd advise people to check the Infernal for this: One might be able to detect a demon despite its illusions (in fact, one sometimes is, see above), but not to see through his deceptions.

That to me is a misrepresentation of the infernal in Ars Magica, as I see it anyway. But anyway that is a bit of a tangent.

There´s no reason what so ever for demons to do complex plotting and manipulating. As long as they CANT be seen and as long as any lies or whatever cant be detected, you´re basically having players trying to oppose a hacker with godmode activated(excuse the FPS game comparison please, it just seemed rather appropriate).
There IS no challenge because to the players, there´s no chance to find out whats truth and what isnt.

No. Thats more like a showcase of a 1D conflict.

Meaning that its your opinion that it is inappropriate, not your knowledge that it is inappropriate by RAW.
My opinion is that its extremely inappropriate with the limit because it provides a deux ex machina to the infernal. It makes stories with(/against) the infernal impossible because anyone trying to tangle with the infernal will by default LOOSE.
And again, for that very reason, the infernal has zero motivation to come up with complex plots or evil machinations, because with their almost impunity to even being recognised they could cause corruption far more easily and effectively.
Which means that by RAW, the infernal is pulling its punches(to a ridiculous degree) or is nerfed. Except they´re not...

Except the players cant know wether what they´re dealing with really IS Divine Magic, or something a demon is faking for them.

If a GM did this in a game, i would probably leave instantly. This is GM epic fail in 99% of cases.