I feel like there are a bunch of misinterpretations of things that have been written for ArM5, and most these misinterpretations are coming from those who are offended or bothered. Perhaps if the misunderstandings are cleared up, then people will be happier?
The rules are able to support that. Why can we not have devoted pagans in the game? The Flaw Pious does not specify what religion. Why only selfish and short-sighted? Other realms can provide eternal life or afterlives, too, not just the Divine. The Divine is not the only realm from which a god can grant thing to mortals.
How is Christianity blatantly right while being imperfect? Specifically, RoP:tD disagrees with your statement that Christianity is "RIGHT":
So in canon the Roman Catholic church is not even mostly right, the Eastern Orthodox church is not even mostly right, etc. They're just not 100% wrong. This sounds pretty far from Christianity being " blatantly RIGHT." Not only that, they really can't know enough to be truly right because
But the alternate afterlives are not all just illusions in ArM5, and there is no reason they cannot by idyllic. RoP:F specifically has denizens to lead people to non-Divine afterlives. I see the box "Happily Ever After Is Just a Pleasant Sort of Death" that you may be referring to. But that isn't stating that all pagan afterlives are just hedonistic illusions. It's stating that if you are Christian and truly believe you already have an immortal soul, then in your opinion a nymph's offer wouldn't be so tempting.
It doesn't state that everything Criamon believe is false. Even within the canon setting (completely disregarding the comment about how to play it differently), the statement is only that two of Empedocles's disputed conclusions are false, not everything he said nor everything the Criamon believe.
Edit: I would also note that some who want to play Criamon would like to investigate the Enigma and try to piece things together. If everything's figured out, there's nothing left to figure out. Making sure there are things that are incorrect or incomplete give a lot of room for players to do big stuff themselves. And if you're going to make one belief system significantly in error, it's good to make it a non-real one.
This doesn't sound very simplistic at all to me, nor does it seem to lock things down very tightly:
I also feel like an important part of what David Chart wrote is being ignored in two ways.
The first issue is that there should be ways to do things like traveling to Hades. But this can't be done with the transcendent Divine. The structure of Magic and Faerie makes them work better for things like Greek mythology, where the gods themselves interact with mortals. It would seem to be better for totem spirits and other stuff, too.
Second, take a really, really big note of the end of the last sentence: "Magic or Faerie, like most player characters." The heroes of our stories are mostly of Magic and to a lesser extent Faerie. The Divine tends to rank #3. Also, within the Order of Hermes, we have a very strong Cult of Mercury.
and then there are the Neo-Mercurians, some of whom
The Divine isn't given anywhere near that sort of standing within the Order of Hermes.
As for what I'd like, I'm with many others above: no new edition, but more Tribunal books to complete the group. I'd also enjoy an update on Land of Fire and Ice: Iceland/Greenland (maybe touching on Vinland), as well as an update for Scandinavia. Those would make things more complete and balance the cool southern and eastern stuff we have.
As for a 5.5, I could see value in a rules compendium. Bring lots of the rules together from multiple books to clarify a bunch of points and to cut down on scattered hunting for Virtues and the like. Maybe add more Shape & Material bonuses (there is a huge list from WGRE to help fill that out) and other things that don't change things much and don't increase power but give more options.
Since there's no way to prove the Criamon wrong within the setting, why step outside and use authorial voice to make them seem lesser? That's all I was saying in my earlier post.
Yes, the text box goes on to say, more or less, YSMV. That really goes without saying in any RPG. We are, after all, discussing the official setting.
I admit to imprecision in my statement. The part that stuck in my mind was actually from the chapter in infernal auras, which implies that the Gates of Hell can open up due to failures hold to a code of behavior that can be best (though anachronistically) called Puritanical and is certainly specific to a particular cultural and religious system.
Why? Perhaps because the books say nearly as much about all the religions? Still, my point remains as even that doesn't say everything. A large chunk of what many of the Criamon believe is incorrect. I find that a far stretch from everything they believe being incorrect. Considering the comments in this very thread and what I quoted above about all the religions not getting things right, I suspect it would have been a far, far worse mistake not to have a comment like this in HoH:MC.
Also, I suspect it was handy for the author(s) of that section to not have to worry about what would be written in all of the RoP books and The Church (some of which hadn't been published yet) when writing the Criamon cosmology. Better to say there are some mistakes there so those who are actually in charge of more of the cosmology don't
Now look back at your quote for the parts I emphasized. Whether it's a sin or not then goes back to the person's beliefs, from my earlier quote. I think that makes this much less cut-and-dry than it would otherwise seem.
If there's no game effect determined by the truth or falsity of the Criamon philosophy, which I believe is what's meant by the sentence explaining why they don't all have the Delusion flaw, then there's no game need to tell players that, by the way, their characters really are deluded and don't even get an extra point for it.
Why is there a problem in leaving questions like this unanswered? I don't think it's unreasonable for readers of the published material to understand it as meaning that Christianity and other monotheisms are not just predominant and powerful in the setting, as they have to be to approximate historical medieval Europe, but are also right and correct in ways other beliefs aren't. I find this easy to ignore but it clearly annoys some players and doesn't seem to provide any benefit in return. It certainly doesn't help in understanding personalities of non-believers or believers of less than unshakable faith. The thirteenth century is a period of reaching out from a formerly insular Western Europe, not of closing in.
The Fourth Edition Mysteries covered similar issues with Empedocles and the Criamon in the book's Theurgy section. The approach taken was to describe phenomena and then suggest how monotheists, pantheists, and polytheists might explain them. I think it worked better than suggesting a single truth.
So dockside taverns don't get debauched auras if the clientele think that what the priests say is just a load of b.s. and Abelard and Heloise weren't real hellraisers after all, since they were in love? It's a bit too complicated for me; I feel as if I'm reading a game text to look for esoteric meanings instead of the seeming meaning of the words.
If one considers your antics on this forum, holding your respect should be cause of concern.
"Alice waited a minute to see if he would speak again, but as he never opened his eyes or took any further notice of her, she said ‘Good-bye!’ once more, and, getting no answer to this, she quietly walked away: but she couldn’t help saying to herself as she went, ‘Of all the unsatisfactory—’ (she repeated this aloud, as it was a great comfort to have such a long word to say) ‘of all the unsatisfactory people I ever met—’ ..."
I think some of you are fighting quite hard to make (and use) a definition of religion basing it on modern terms (I'm thinking in the Wikipedia quote, for example), which have no other way than to point religions as cultural stuff.
This is because IRL there is no other way to treat religion, as all gods in fit themselves in the range of existence between the "non existing" to "existance impossible to prove and just a matter of faith" points. But in Ars Magica all these gods do exists and their existance tend to be quite easy to prove by indirect means (they get rewards and punishments) or direct ones (who hadn't faced a pissed faerie god?), and there are no reasons to doubt of their existance: the only debate is in which Realm can each god be aligned. So a definiton of religion is the Ars Magica setting can be a lot more straightforward, in the lines of "the worship of any number of gods".
Having gods that exists make religions so easy to have that you can get your own private one, not being then even a cultural-whatever-wikipedia-says. You can always expect to find a Fae or Demon willing to futfill the role of any god you need besides the big old bearded grumpy guy sitting on a cloud with a triangle over his head.
Then it comes the soul-trade business exclusively ruled by the Divine and Infernal realms. Souls are by default God's property (he's the only provider, after all), and then the main game is that you get a lifetime to see if you park it at your death either in Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. But then as it have been pointed, the other Realms have also places where they can store souls, and then there is the Twilight, so there are sideways and detours. So I don't see where lays the problem of having your characters being pagans without expecting eternal damnation for them the minute after they last decrepitude roll or combat botch: walkiries can come riding to get the fallen hero into Valhalla to feast and fight for eternity, because even if God exists in the setting, also walkiries and Valhalla can do in your Saga.
That being said I would love to have yet more Tribunal books updated from previous versions. I'm Spanish, so I would drown in my own saliva for anything Iberian.
And please don't fight, you are going to make Baby Bonisagus cry.
Of course every troupe can invent and use their own terminologies in game. Even businesses do: sometimes intentionally, and sometimes not.
But here we have somebody attacking a statement on history of religion in a published article from sub rosa #16, which obviously needs to use conventional definitions. It turns out that he made this attack because he didn't get that statement's terminology. And when this finally is discovered to him clearly, he comes up with his own, idiosyncratic, definition of religion and implies, that the article should have used that instead.
This is not an issue of the definition of "religion" within a troupe or even in RPG rules, but just that issue of method of discourse, which Lewis Carroll brings to the point in Through the Looking Glass.
I don't know whether to say you're welcome or apologize. A moment ago it was bothersome as "simplistic" and now it's "too complicated." I figure it can be less complicated if you figure a very large number of Europeans truly believed they were sinners. If such a large number hadn't, would we really have seen so much use of penances and such success from the about-to-be-argued-for indulgences? And it doesn't matter if every single person in such a dockside tavern, nor even specifically the clientele, believe they're sinning as long as lots of them do.
I have found this thread - with all its deviations - absolutely fascinating but I will return to topic and an earlier post by Fafnir which I completely agree with.
These are all great ideas! I only hope Cam Banks is reading this!
This is very well put. While Ars Magica fifth edition achieves great historical depth, and wonderful attention to detail in rendering medieval foklore and religious belief into the game, at the heart of the Ars Magica are inventions of the original designers around Hermetic magic and the Order of Hermes that might work well for some fantasy fiction but are very incongruous when stuck into medieval Europe. Some of these devices might assist some players getting into the game - e.g. it's helpful that the Order is pretty gender-blind and class-blind, unlike the society it sits upon, so female players have the option of playing female characters with no social restrictions or cultural prejudices within the Order, etc. But I find others are a real obstacle to the game. The biggest obstacle, for me, are the twelve houses. I mean, you try to sell your players on a game which aspires to a high level of social and cultural realism, and then explain that wizards of the Order of Hermes are not grouped around any tradition of medieval magic that a player might recognise - as diviners, natural magicians, necromancers, cunning folk, etc - but as a house of messengers, a house of detectives/judges, a house of fire wizards (although that got changed a fair bit), etc. It does seem really goofy and it does put people off the game. I think the authors of the fifth edition HoH books have done a great job bringing some depth and believability to some pretty ropey original ideas. There are so many better ways to segment the Order - the mystery cults, societies, factions around powerful magi, perhaps hedge traditions taking the oath but not practising Hermetic magic. But as Fafnir suggests if you went too far in the direction of changing the very foundations of the game you would end up with a game that wasn't Ars Magica. I would love Atlas to publish other RPGs set broadly within the terms of reference of Mythic Europe, and adopting the ArM5 approach of historical fidelity, attention to detail, and an open, sandboxy approach to story development. But that is another matter entirely.
On a sixth edition of Ars Magica, I can't see Atlas replacing all fifth edition supplements so I would want to see full compatibility with the wonderful wealth of material already published. And then really what I would love to see is an edition which enables new players to enter the game more easily. For me this means publishing an accessible, attractively produced core ruleset (possibly breaking up the one, dense book, into two or three books also incorporating some materials scattered in supplements that really deserve to be in the core books), and then publishing a range of supplements which all focus in on one single geographic area. A major reason that I found Ars Magica a difficult game to get into is that so much is written at a high level of abstraction - the RoP books are toolboxes more than providing material you can use straight out of the book, books like City and Guild and Lords of Men, while excellent, cover Mythic Europe as a whole and so need to written at quite a general level and sometimes need a bit of thought and research to be applied at the level of an individual saga. Of course there are the tribunal books, but my feeling after reading the one I use (Faith and Flame) was that while the book is great and really very useful, I wanted more information on everything - more on mundane politics and society, Hemetic politics and society, faerie and magical creatures, etc, etc. In fact I really want five or six books just based on that one tribunal.
If I was publishing sixth edition, I would select an area of Mythic Europe not yet covered by fifth edition (I would go for Rome and the Greater Alps, but Stonehenge/Loch Leglan is also a strong candidate) and publish exclusively on material for that area, at least for the first few years. We can then have a whole range of detailed NPCs (as per Antagonists and Magi of Hermes), covenants (as per Through the Aegis), individual stories and extended saga arcs, and a detailed exploration of local faerie, magical creatures, etc. Those who want to play in other areas of Mythic Europe still can, because of course all fifth edition books will still be available and will be compatible with the new edition, and players of sixth edition can be encouraged towards fifth edition if they want to expand the geographic scope of their game.
This is not reall a recommendation as to what I would want, as I am now pretty committed to Provencal and will be, I suspect, for some years to come, but more remembering how difficult it was to get into the game, and thinking how things could be made easier - by gearing all new books to a narrower range of campaigns which the publishers envisages new players to run. Ars Magica is a fantastic game, and notwithstanding my points above I consider ArM5 to be an absolute masterpiece and the best RPG ever published. But it is having trouble bringing in new players and simply producing a game that fits what the existing fanbase want, some of whom have been playing for decades and know the published material inside out, will not necessarily help expand that fanbase.
I feel differently about full compatibility. I wouldn't be terribly interested in a new edition that didn't significantly streamline and revise the rules. I wouldn't like to see the overall pattern of Ars Magica change, but something alone the lines of the switch from 4e to 5e would feel appropriate to me. I can still look back at 2e supplements and find ways to use them in a 5e setting but obviously with some adaptations.
I think it's time to change the setting too. We've explored the world of the late 12th-century and early 13th century Europe for thirty years now and it's enough. The Tribunal books for 5e are generally very good and I wouldn't feel much inclination to buy new versions covering the same material. Something different, perhaps moving things a few centuries earlier, is really need to sell setting material to me.
This is related to a hypothetical 6e; I'd still be delighted to pick up the missing area books for 5e if they got published.
I don't know if it is in sub Rosa, but I think 8th century would be interesting. Though that might require reworking the history of the order to not place it too close to the establishment...
Of course the other problem is that going backwards in time means there should be fewer resources available, but inevitably people will want more, not less.
I think the Carolingian setting would be ideal, but I'd also enjoy the 1066-ish date proposed for the AM computer game. I think a new version should remain medieval but not just rehash the same period that's been covered so well. I can't work up much enthusiasm for revised game coverage of France c.1220.
History of the Order: What happened with the Diedne, the Shadow Flambeau, Tytalus affair ad the First Tribunal and what these do that still affect the Order (adventures). Like Hooks, but a historical setting that spark adventures
I think there's at least a few books worth of room left in the current edition...
A new Iberia book
A new Roman Tribunal book (or three, as the three volume set suggested in these forums previously)
A new Novgorod book
A book of introductory adventures along with material about creating a covenant from scratch, joining an existing covenant, proceeding as apprentices and maturing into a new covenant, or beginning as very junior members of an existing covenant.
A collected bestiary of all the creatures from the books, but with added story seeds and potential other locations to use them, perhaps a soft-cover book just about making monsters of each type, collecting all the rules together with new examples.
I'd love a look at the Swahili Coast, the Kilwah Sultanate, perhaps even a trip into Mythic India, or along the Silk Road.
I'd love a look at Cahokia (North America), maybe with some vikings in Newfoundland, Welsh princes in the SE US, potentially some lost Phoenician colonies, playing off the stranger theories out there.
I'd love to gather up the Storyteller's Guide material from Sub Rosa for a book. As John Nephew put it very well once-- we need to reduce the apprenticeship necessary to run Ars Magica. Giving a roadmap of running and writing Ars adventures would help that reduction immensely. There are a couple of three or so other projects I could see being made which I think would really help tables learning to play or easing play of Ars Magica.
At two books a year, that could be another four years of material. That's a lot of room to work on a 6th edition in the background while a few more books continue this game, and help create a larger fanbase to help that new edition enter the world.