"The world as medieval europeans knew it"

How closely does Ars Magica stick to the idea that the world works the way medieval europeans believed it does? We know that leprosy is literally a divine curse and that species are a thing. What else? Is black skin the mark of Cain? What does happen if a magus ties a light weight and a heavy weight with a rope? Do Ars Magica people have holes between ventricles in their hearts because that's what Avicenna wrote? The islamic scholars largely supported Philoponus' stance on Aristotle's explanation of inertia being moronic, do physics work differently between the places? Consequently, can I stop arrows with Perdo Auram?

This has always been one of the central. defining aspects of Ars Magica since the 1st edition. Unfortunately, medieval europeans often had widely divergent beliefs about the world, so Ars Magica really sticks to the idea that the world works the way some medieval europeans (allegedly) believed it did. Art & Academe has a good discussion on many of these issues.

My impression is that the idea of dark skin being the mark of Cain occurred much later, during the American slave trade. The idea may or may not have had earlier origins, but did not appear to be widespread until then.

Ok, let's pick something Aristotle and Plato believed. Do Ars Magica men and women have different number of teeth? If I make a Creo Animal teeth-regrowing spell, how many teeth would a horse have?

Basically, the core of my question is that I obviously don't live in a world that is anything like the theories of Aristotle and his peers. Ars Magica corebook doesn't describe that world instead making references to Aristotle. So how closely is it supposed to mimic the wrong ideas of ancient scientists?

Would you mind to quote a source for Aristotle's beliefs here?

Those interested in this subject may start from here: plato.stanford.edu/entries/arist ... gy/#LifWor , and will find, that Aristotle's work, as we know it, is far more involved with zoology and comparative anatomy than with human anatomy:


On the Parts of Animals

You see, that this is part of a collection of observations, to form a base of the further investigations of On the Parts of Animals.
Neither Aristotle nor his medieval followers would have maintained this part in the face of evidence. For the methodology involved, see plato.stanford.edu/entries/arist ... #AriBioPra .

But your quote also is a hint at the practical and social difficulties in observing and investigating the human body, both at the time of Aristotle and in Mythic Europe (see e. g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o ... o_medieval ). To maintain a feel for Mythic Europe, these difficulties should be role-played.


In the face of evidence we know that essential traits are bullshit, that vermin don't spontaneously generate in the bodies of water and rotting corpses, that bad smells are not the cause of disease and that inertia is a thing that exists. So I'm not really sure what your point is. Either Aristotle is right and men and women have different number of teeth in Ars Magica (and thus men live longer), or Aristotle is wrong and the world actually runs on newtonian physics and Muto operates with categories that don't exist.

:question: This is evident, utter nonsense.

No philosopher or scholar, and certainly not Aristotle, is or was ever considered completely right down to his fact collection and grocery lists. And being wrong in such negligibilities does or did never affect his authority.

Apparently you have an idea of cosmology, of RPG worlds in general or ArM5 Mythic Europe in particular, which you do not communicate and which leads you to such statements.

Try to think it all through once more, rephrase, and perhaps I see what you really wish to say.


So then we get to my original question: how closely is Ars Magica supposed to stick to the ideas of Aristotle and his peers? Spontaneous generation of vermin is obvious nonsense, but it is true in Ars Magica. Which wrong ideas of medieval scholars did the authors intended to cherrypick for use in the setting?

Art and Academe has a good summary. Season to taste, particularly with cool elements.

Also, remember that the tools to find out what rules apply aren't always there, especially when Platonic and Aristotelian systems collide,and that's before we get into the functions of the Realms and how they underlie reality. How is the vital faculty of a blade of grass affected by the angel who stands over it, exhorting it to grow (q.v. the Talmud)? Perhaps a Kabbalist with an interest in Philosophiae and Medicine, as well as Dominion Lore, will try to find out!

If the freaking unnatural laws of physics are such a minor part of the setting that I can add or remove them whenever, then I just feel like the writers are wasting my time...
What laws of physics actually are in Ars Magica and how are they different from the real ones is an actual question that came up in my game with new players, and I guess the answer is "whatever".

It sounds like you have an axe to gring against Aristotle and some of the fundamental concepts of the game. Ars Magica is what it is. There are other games that do other things. This game is about this thing.
But your conclusion in the end is correct. The Answer is Whatever. Do whatever works for your saga. Use Newtonian physics for all things mundane. And remember that not everything Newton said was right and that he was an alchemist.
But the Magic system is pretty much fixed to Aristotle. You want to use science for emulating reality? Fine. But magic isn't reality. Magic is magical. The unreal made manifest.

To such an extent as your troupe find enjoyable. The rules are a tool to create a pleasurable play experience. Use it that far, and no more.

After our many disagreements, it's a pleasure to be able to agree entirely with Silveroak.

Whichever ones gave us the best plot hooks, basically...at least, that's me. Some of the others were more rigorous.

Dunno about the Mark of Cain but the Curse of Ham and Africans as Hamitics was very much a medieval thing, with pretty much the same effect.

Except that in the middle ages black slavery was not a thing, and the curse of Ham was applied to serfs regardless of skin color. The racist variant again rose up in America with the rise of black slavery.

There were sub-Saharan African slaves, mainly in the Near East / Arabia.

Yes, but that was ideologically based in religion (Islamic enslavement of pagans) rather than race.