Sixth edition being looked at?

I should stress, that the Gift, basic Hermetic Magic, the Order of Hermes with its Houses and a lot of its fictional history, the Oath of Hermes and the resulting role of the Order in Mythic Europe are truely inspired concepts for a role playing game.

The mistakes in the Latin names of the Arts were all gone in the 4th edition 1996.

  • Basing Hermetic Magic on 20th century wizard's fantasy gives players who are not historians immediate access to the game and its medieval world: this is arguably the single most important reason why Ars survived.
  • The anachronistic scholar's republic of the Order of Hermes provides a handle to organize magus player characters in a way every player used to modern society structures can relate to.
  • The Houses of Hermes integrate basic player choices for their characters with the political structure and history of the Order.
  • The simple Oath of Hermes - with "Nor will I interfere with the affairs of mundanes and thereby bring ruin on my sodales" well-founded in the Order's fictional history - finally assures, that this entire fictional complex integrates pretty smoothly with Mythic Europe based on historical Europe in 1220, its beliefs, legends and superstitions.


Here I feel, that I need to refer once more to David Chart's next to last From the Line Editor in sub rosa #16. It needs to be read in its entirety. But for this umpteenth round on the carrousel, the following may suffice:


The reins of mundane power, Church and State alike, are run in accordance with Christian lines. Christian auras are everywhere in settled areas, interfering with magic in general and really screwing with supernatural abilities. These auras trump those of other realms even at equal numerical levels. Non-Christians are socially ostracized; even the most tolerant educated person will regard a pagan as, at best, an ignorant hick.

Isn't this enough of a privileged position?

Players who can't deal with this situation probably don't really want to play in medieval Europe. But I don't think this is actually what causes annoyance among AM5 players. The annoyance factor comes from the little out of game asides, like stating that a pagan afterlife is just some sort of hedonistic illusion, not at all comparable to Heaven, or stating flat out that everything Criamon believe is false, or giving a simplistic definition of sins in RoP:I. The game doesn't gain anything from this sort of pedantry and it would be well avoided if there were a new edition.

The Divine, or rather the Dominion was always powerful to the point of trumping anything else, but that was only one aspect of religion back in the early editions. There was always some level of suggestion that Christians, at least sincere ones, were onto some important truths that these arrogant Hermetics couldn't see. But there was also a strong anticlerical theme to the early materials, understandably enough given the setting amidst the Albigensian Crusade.

I dug up an old 2e rulebook and found this explanation:

That's the right feel for AM and always has been. I don't want a sidebar explaining that both of these views are wrong and reminding us that the Pope has been given divine magic resistance in RoP:D.

Such things can become annoying with inept SGs, who have no respect for their players and/or insufficient knowledge of the religions, whose rewards they claim to administer in-game. I lack a term to properly qualify a SG running a competition of the afterlives of characters.

For the Criamon, you appear to misunderstand HoH:MC p.47 box Empedocles Was Sometimes Wrong, which states "The Criamon create a coherent cosmology out of their insights, but use their House’s beliefs as its basis. To an omniscient observer the Criamon are the most enlightened magi, and yet simultaneously the most self-deluded. They do not have the Delusion Flaw because there is no way for their error to be demonstrated within the usual game setting." The author of the Criamon chapter correctly states, that Criamon theories contradict in many ways the cosmology ArM5 is based on. But he also acknowledges, that in-game they cannot be shown to be wrong.

Roleplaying is about beliefs, convictions and truths in-game. A brutish SG using the above box to show up a Criamon maga can simply be shamed by her player, as he isn't respecting the rule he thumps. While the maga's player cannot complain about a box, that makes her character's convictions impossible to falsify "within the usual game setting".


The problem is that simply speaking, Chart is wrong. Historically paganism was still alive in 1220, it was simply prosecuted as heresy rather than being treated as a different religion where the Church moved against it. Certainly the temples were gone, as well as public celebrations, outside as he noted some of the more remote regions of Europe- though he notably missed Ireland which actually had a peaceful transition and coexistence of paganism and Christianity through the Irish Monastic period until the English invaded the Isle with the blessings of the Pope in order to establish Catholicism as the predominant religion (at least that was the reasoning of the pope, I'm pretty sure the English just wanted the land). Isolated groups were still being arrested and executed for the heresy of polytheism for as long as the church had the power to execute people for heresy.


And it seems that religion isn't the only culturally sensitive issue that AM bumps into.

The Matter of Ireland remains an enduring history, with ongoing issues and consequences and factions. I'm pretty sure you have skin in the game when you suggest that Ireland was a peaceful culture in which all religions got along until the dogmatic and greedy Catholic English crushed it in a mailed fist. But it's a conversation to step away from carefully.

Far from being off-topic, cultural and religious perspectives feed into AM and its editions. Any rpg set in some variant of the real world has to confront this to some extent, or fail to confront it and annoy someone. As in the rest of real life, there's no winning here.



Each of the tribunals that don't have a book for 5th edition (Rome, Stonehenge, et). This please! I can live with it if 5th edition is the final edition of AM, but I want it complete, and not having the all the tribunal books in HC on my shelf makes be very sad.

Personally I'd like to see a book cover Syria and the Crusader Kingdoms, to fill out the Middle East with the same high quality work as the others Atlas has done on the area. I doubt that's a top pick though.

That would be the Levant Tribunal, another one I'd love to have for 5th edition (Blood and Sand was for 4th edition).

He did his research well, and is right about his article in sub rosa #16.

No. In the 13th century the Roman Catholic Church defines heretics as Christians corrupting Catholic dogma. An unbaptized person observing pagan practices could hence not be prosecuted as a heretic - but in 1220 you will not find many outside the areas David Chart listed.
13th century bishops found in their dioceses again and again baptized persons, who more or less knowingly observed pagan practices. This does not imply, that organized pagan religions with their strong dependence on sacred places still existed there. In ArM5 these practices are indeed best handled by introducing faeries: consider e. g. the Powell&Pressburger film Gone to Earth.

Which brings us to Ireland.

The Church in medieval Ireland had its own development and history. But its alignment to the Roman Church does not begin with the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169.
It starts with the pilgrimages of important people to Rome (king Sitric of Dublin 1028, Donnchadh Ua Brian in 1064) and the Betha Grigóra, a description of the life of pope Gregory the Great likely also from 11th century.
The Irish Church then gradually takes up the reforms of the Roman Church after the synod of Sutri 1046. The most important change in the Irish Church in the 12th century is the establishment of territorial bishoprics: Dublin 1054, Waterford 1096, Limerick 1106, the First Synod of Cashel 1101 addressing territorial organisation, the Synod of Ráth Breasail in 1111 establishing 24 dioceses, and the Synod of Kells in 1152 confirming 36 sees covering all of Ireland.
The Cistercians come to Mellifont Abbey in 1142, invited by archbishop Malachy of Armagh. 1152 that abbey already has 7 filiations in Ireland, and 1172 8 more. The introduction of the Augustinian rule to Ireland, attributed also to Malachy, was even more successful: in 1170 it was followed by 63 Irish monasteries.
So, if pope Adrian IV in his purported bull Laudabiliter really deplored wickedness and evil manners of the Irish Church, he had rather transparent political designs in mind.


So a baptized person practicing paganism would be a heretic, yes? There is no requirement to paganism that one be unbaptized, and in the 13th century in order to fit in to a predominantly Christian society any pagans likely would be baptized.
Aside from the question of how many pagans came to their beliefs later in life.

I don't know if ... val_Europe? Both of these suggest a survival of paganism in the social fringes of society throughout the medieval period. Additionally I have found in previous searches 9which I do not at this moment have time to fully replicate) found numerous convictions in history of those convicted of heresy for openly embracing a polytheistic doctrine starting from the 9th century when the standards of prosecution shifted from treating paganism as a rival theology to treating it as a heresy.

Finally to state that something did not exist is to assume that your research materials are omniscient in their span, which clearly they are not as I have been able to find numerous counter-examples to this claim. In short it is academically laughable to call this, or in my experience, anything else in Ars Magica "well researched"

Nor does paganism require organization. While there are examples where small scale organization existed in academics or remote communities, the simple fact is that there is a huge gap between not existing and not having an organized religious structure. My point had noting to do with the organization of religion and everything to do with the level of disrespect the rules show to those individuals who maintained their faith under such extreme conditions of hostility.

Well, you brought up the concept of heresy as a means to persecute pagans. Rather: a bishop could consider a baptized person known to persist in observing pagan practices a heretic, and persecute her as one. And so could ulama persecute Muslim persons observing pagan practices as apostates. But many such practices of simple people would instead just be treated as superstitions and local customs, while intellectuals of the 13th century could give many good reasons for their studies of classical, pagan, authors like e. g. Aristotle, Plato and Ptolemy.

It is you who wishes to treat pagan religions, hence cultural systems, not just pagan practices in a predominantly Christian society.
The pagan religions in the earlier European middle ages all share specific vulnerabilities among them:
(1) dependence on specific sacred sites for their larger functions,
(2) exclusively oral tradition of their lore,
(3) their close links to specific ways of life of their followers,
(4) and apparently little emphasis on faith among them: that's why many got easily baptized.
Most christianizations did not involve violence, but mainly judicious political treatment of fragile cultures. To understand the position of pagans in conquered areas, consider the enormous effort of the Jews to maintain their religion in the diaspora, which tested each individual's and family's firm dedication to their written tradition.

Where would they find these beliefs? This is what David Chart addresses: in 1220 there are no reliable sources for the lore of these old religions of Vikings and Slavs any more. There is just some Baltic pagans under assault.

David Petts' Pagan and Christian from 2011 looks very interesting, but is - according to my quick scan of an 138 pages .pdf - based on examples from 7th century Anglo-Saxon England and late iron age Estonia: so nothing new for our topic.
The 2013 collection of talks on Paganism in the Middle Ages by Leuven University Press has many articles. Those, whose subjects I can quickly identify, are all completely besides the point of pagan religion in 1220. Most appear to be either about early middle ages - Merovingians, Agobard - or about scholars relating to paganism in classical texts.
You do not expect me to further sort out this kind of undisciplined quoting, do you? At least read yourself before, what you quote here. Or is it even something like this again?

Yeah, sure.

There is an obvious difference between pagan religion as cultural system, and pagan practices. For ArM5 the former is relevant. Pagan practices without a culture around it are well covered by ArM5 Faerie.
As for "those individuals who maintained their faith under such extreme conditions of hostility": show one from 1220 and beyond who is not from the Baltic, not a refugee Kipchak, and not a scholar of classical texts drawing undesired conclusions (like e. g. a radical Aristotelian). This one we can then discuss further, instead of wasting time with your scatter-plot references.


I'd love to see a rules cyclopedia too! But I'll also welcome any new ArM5 books whether scenarios, tribunal books, etc.

One shot, you are being a complete ass
I am not referring to cities filled with pagans, but a continuing tradition that existed orally. If a bishop discovers several individuals who are continuing to practice pagan rites then that qualifies under the points I am making.
You ask where they would get the information and in the same post mention the typicality of oral traditions. So if there are several people practicing pagan rites might they not talk to one another?

Lets put it this way- I find the rules offensive, and I find your approach more offensive, in that I feel you are moving the goal posts in the discussion, to the point where I believe points you have made within your posts prove my point, yet you declare my point "disproven".
Now entirely aside from the questions of how many people were involved in pagan rites, or what the legal arguments of the time may have been, I find the cartoonish mischaracterization of these people to be an obscene affront to my sense of decency. The primary trial I had found was regarding a group of the radical Aristotilians, and one reference to prosecution of such heresies in Spain- if my evidence is "scattershot" it is because we are dealing with groups which were not coherent or cohesive to begin with hiding out within a culture which, by the very nature of it would eschew documentation.

So regardless of how few or undocumented those pagans may have been, I do notfind their treatment in "faeries" to be the "best handling" of this topic, and consider you to be little more than an unabashed religious bigot.

Also "It is you who wishes to treat pagan religions, hence cultural systems, not just pagan practices in a predominantly Christian society. " is flat out wrong, I did not say anything about pagan cultural systems in the quote you sited. Hence the shifting goal posts.

Let's see:

Now the wiki tells us the definition of religion, of which we should all be speaking, and which starts:

So we can't go below a cultural system, or we do not speak of paganism as religions any more. David Chart knows that. I do. Did you? Or did you have just another, flawed, understanding of what David Chart said?

No. Not if you wish to provide counterexamples to David Chart's statement above.

Don't announce, but provide decent references to these trials! Don't blather about them! Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
But note, that radical Aristotelians were typically charged with atheism, not certainly with polytheism - so their trials would probably not help you prove your claims.


Silveroak, you have form for personal abuse. Remember that time you got up David for being a Christian bigot and then we pointed out he was a Shinto priest? Stop leading with your fists, eh?

Modern paganism is a reconstructed religion, based on scholarship that occurred after the game period. Your oral tradition of pagans didn't exist. I'm happy for you, in the real world, to believe otherwise, and for that to be a focus of your faith. You do you, but you keep getting into these argument here about how we are putting pagans down. Nope. The desire to not put down non-christians is the main thing that stops the setting from expanding into the east and south.

We know you find the rules offensive: you've been saying it for years. The problem is that the only solution you'll accept is yours, and you aren't willing to do the work to write the rules in any detail, so, given that the game of writing the game is played by the people who are actually willing to do the work, your opinion's not a strong one. Write the ruies you like and send them to Perpipherl Code. Then, as a community we will be able to look at what they provide in terms of play experience.

We have really good records for atheism in Spain. We have really good records for recalcitrant Jews in Spain. We have really good records for minor spiritual differences in Spain. Your pagans don't turn up. It's weird how they don't turn up, but there you go. We have great records for when non-Christins do turn up (when Spain expands to the Americas, when they trade with Japan and so on). I get that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but you are pulling Russell's Teapot here. You're making an extraordinary claim, and then saying that we can't prove it's wrong. The thing is, though, if you are the one making the extraordinary claim, the onus of proof lies on your side. Saying we are disgusting and indecent for pointing that out doesn't make your argument stronger.

OK: write your own version and we'll see how it plays. Be the change you want to see. Also, I'm not a religious bigot. You can see my way around the problem in the Chinese material which is up and around on the web.

Religions are cultural systems: you can't have a religion of one. If you are discussing religions you are discussing cultural systems, by definition.

Again: put in the work and show us how to do it better, please. I'm interested to see what you've come up with in the years when you've been considering this problem.


I know when you create a thread, it's like raising a child. If it wants to go and move to Kentucky and look for Elvis, there isnt' much you can do about it. Just wish it well. I'm also not a moderator.

The world I live in is a pretty scary one right now and I've only got one request. Let's be nice to each other. I appreciate having a place to discuss a neat game that I've found, and I think we can disagree without personal attacks. I had no idea that this thread would lead to the raising of what seems to be an old conflict. If I had, I never would have started it.

If anyone has a report from GenCon, that would be super.

Sorry Jetpack. Hope things improve for you.

Oneshot, I would say I respectfully disagree with that definition of religion, but I have no respect for you or your opinion, and I don't lie.

a religion is a set of spiritual beliefs, pure and simple.

The other thing is simply this- aside from what the historical facts may have been- and when even one shot is agreeing that there were people who were many people practicing pagan rites I think I have a strong case for an oral tradition, the fact I this is a game- and if I want to have a devout pagan who is not shallow and worshiping the Old Gods out of some sense of selfish desire but through actual faith the rules should be able to support the existence of such a character.

Consider if you will, if someone had a game in which they claimed that Christianity was a corrupted religion which turned ideas of good and evil on their head, which embraced symbolic cannibalism, endorsed unclean acts such as dealing with the dead amongst its priesthood which could be seen as necromancy, and belonging to a tradition which had been oppressed for 600 years and therefore could not have legitimately survived, you would feel outraged. Yet I try and point out the sparse record which indicates surviving pagans after a mere 400 years and somehow I am being unreasonable?

Jumping back a bit, I did not claim Ireland was peaceful prior to the English invasion, only that Druids coexisted peacefully with the Irish monastic tradition of Christianity.

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.