This hurts *my* head

hypothetically, if someone associated with the divine were to build confidence with rituals indulging a vice without thinking of what they are doing in that way (say for example making a ritual of torturing Heretics), they could in theory turn around and use the infernally gained confidence to invoke a divine blessing...

Hmm, I disagree. To gain confidence through infernal rituals you must sin. You may lie to yourself about it (e.g. because of your pride), but you are sinning nonetheless. Remember that option about a tragedy of Hubris hitting a character not only when he fails a method activation roll, but also when doing various "bad stuff"? That's definitely a very appropriate time for the SG to invoke it, ruling that the divine blessing that the character attempted to "fuel" with infernal confidence stops working for him (major tragedy of hubris) until he atones for his sins. And if the character has True Faith, this is a perfect time to hit him with a Crisis of Faith.

Note that I would not want to discourage a player from having his Holy character do, as long as the player knows what's about to happen to the character. Falling from grace through pride is a cool, thematic plotline, and the perfect "hook" into a Crisis of Faith (and, if the character eventually redeems himself, possibly an increase in Faith Score).

This apparently refers to:

(bolding mine) Can a simpleton be stupid enough to not recognize performing a ritualized act of the sin he has a penchant for? And can he still gain the infernal Warping Point and the Confidence point from that?
By RoP:TI p.20 both is possible, but because the act he needs to perform is a ritual reinforcing sin through the power of the will, he needs to be tricked/corrupted into willing to sin.

By RoP:TI p.22 Redemption, there always are ways to redeem the sinner from the results of his sin - but before doing so he is in a state of sin, and has a serious penalty "to invoke a divine blessing" - whatever silveroak may precisely understand by this.


Can you give me where this penalty is spelled out? The question actually involves an NPC who has been convinced (by an infernalist) that his sinful ritual is in fact virtuous (pride can be funny that way) and the question is more what limitations are on his use of confidence than the other way around and reading through both books it appeared to me that he could use infernally acquired confidence to fuel requests for divine aid.
This also gets into some finer points of theology, in terms of asking general forgiveness of sin and not recognizing a sin is a sin (even a mortal sin), and how to ask forgiveness when you don't realize you have done evil and believe yourself to be doing good... setting those questions aside into YSMV, is there a defined penalty to asking for divine aid or does that come down to storyteller/troupe understanding?

Wait. Full stop.

The NPC's pride is driving him to behave in a certain way?

page 46 of Realms of Power: The Divine. Second column.

You must be reading this differently than I am because a person associated with the divine but without faith points has no mechanical penalty in that column to what I describe.

And yes, the character's pride drives him to an act of evil, along with a little prodding from an infernalist. The full explanation is complex (human behavior tends to be), but the base underlying sin is pride.

You haven't yet explained, just how your sinner is invoking a divine blessing or requesting divine aid. Please give book and page.

Only after guessing, what you were referring to - for which I don't have the time. In the meantime, reread ArM5 p.202 on penance, TC p.15 on False Devotion, and in particular RoP:TD (1st version) p.87 on Invoking a Saint.


Page 46, Realms of Power, The Divine

Admittedly, it would be at your discretion. However, if it hurts your head to be otherwise, I don't see why you wouldn't.

He doesn't have faith points, he Is associated with the divine by appointment.
So restrictions based on True Faith would not apply.
The method is under "Invoking God's aid" on p. 41 of the divine, and I don't have the church...

The text on RoP:TD p.41 is from July 2005, while RoP:TI is from July 2006. So RoP:TD cannot address a rule from RoP:TI directly.

Still, RoP:TD p.41 is quite clear about the character of Invoking God's Aid:

(bolding mine)

Your prideful NPC sinned willingly when gaining Confidence through sin. For that see again:

(bolding mine again)

So a SG can certainly just cut to the chase, and even hand out divine wrath to the wilful and prideful sinner who indeed put his confidence into his sin. Being blinded by pride, and unable to recognize the error of one's ways, is not considered a mitigating circumstance in the middle ages. Quite to the contrary: it was often seen as the first sign of divine punishment, preparing the sinner for worse to come (see e. g. Proverbs, chapter 16, verse 18.)


Yes, he has already taken the warping, and divine retribution is likely to be subtle and may even wait for the afterlife- I don't like to play up the power of the divine as an independent agency in my games- free will is very strongly encouraged. The real question when it comes down to it is whether there is any difference between confidence gained through ritual sinning and any other confidence. Because the fact is that when the priest prays for intervention he is sincere, just unaware of how much his soul has been corrupted. He already has the tainted with Evil flaw and so his career as a priest is unlikely to go any further...

Ars Magica is a simulation and does not accurately model real world theology. Press any simulation or analogy hard enough, it will break.
In real life, God forgives all sins save for Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which requires knowledge and belief and opposition to the forces of good.
Further, all are sinners and all fall short of the Grace of God by an infinite margin. I would go so far as to say it is sinful (or delusional) to think of one's self as perfect and holy.
In Game, if the guy is Tainted with Evil, I as an SG would say there is no way the guy coulld not know he is a sinning sinner. He may still seek for redemption. But I would, as an SG, rule that this trait precludes the ability to invoke a saint.
I also, as SG, try to avoid these sorts of things. As a bit of flavor it is okay. As a theme, it leads to too many conflicts and disputes. And it makes me uncomfortable because it is fictionalizing my own faith

A character can have the Flaw Tainted with Evil (ArM5 p.59), without bearing any moral responsibility for it. So it should be at least saga-specific, whether she can Invoke God's Aid (RoP:TD p.41 - and the issue of this thread) or Invoke a Saint (RoP:TD p.87). She might be in desperate need of such help often enough.
Gaining Confidence by 'reinforcing sin through the power of the will', and then invoking God's Aid with that Confidence gained, is quite another topic: it is willingly challenging God. So a SG and troupe might also respond quite differently.

I try to keep my hands out of other people's sagas. In this case, silveroak raised a rules question in his typical way - so I stuck to that and a little history on the side.

Subrosa #16 has a Letter of the Line Editor addressing, how ArM5 tackles historical religions in 1220. This should be the base to discuss the subject on this forum.


One way to look at the issue could be following:

  • Let's admit that a character can use unknowingly sinnful practice to gain Confidence (it is a topic in itself to sin without being aware of, but a crafty player/ST can manage that)
  • Then he use this Confidence to invoke some holy power (whether it is a Saint, God does not matter for the sake of my hypothesis)

Two things can happen:

  • because he sinned relatively recently, a False God decide to answer his pledge, for the very obvious reason that he wants the character to be sinning. His intervention will be infernally tainted (and the character might have a chance to detect something suspicious), and the character will be for an unpleasant surprise when judgment come as he will not be any wiser of his mistake, thus will likely repeat it again;
  • because his pledge was sincere and worth a Divine intervention, it occurs, but at the same time the character is made aware of his previous mistakes and has to atone. I cannot see a Divine manifestation occuring and not letting the supplicant know that although his pledge was worthy he should renounce his sinnful practice as he was mislead in believing it was acceptable or he was doing God's will. Thus if the character try again the same trick to boost his confindence, it should soundly fail - or he might get a second warning, maybe even a third and if he keeps doing so, he will be damned for good.

Receiving several warnings is quite common in tales - and I would say, quite within Mythic Europe flavour/paradigm.

There is this tale - which does not involve God, but Death instead - where a young boy has Death as his Godfather. Being a good Godfather, Death teachs his godson a cure against all illness, so he can become the most famous physician in the world. But if Death is standing by the head of the laying patient, the cure will not work as it is the patient destiny to die.
The young man find a way to cheat Death by simply moving the patient body so Death is no more standing by his head, thus the cure becomes effective. Death warn him once not to do it again. Yet, he does it. He got a second warning. Yet it does it again. The Death takes him.

It is the very short version of the whole story which originally involve beautiful princess and aging king. Just to illustrate that sometimes we, as storyteller, want to make god always act in mysterious ways, or always remain silent on the name of free will. But I believe that giving warning does not preclude free will. It is still the character choice to do what he wants. And there will always be some demon or demon-inspired NPC who will very willingly explain to the character that he misunderstood God's warnings and misread the clues...

It is well-known that "Road to hell is paved with good intentions". So it is reasonable that the trick works once or maybe even thrice, but ultimately will be the doom of the character. So after an initial or three fair warnings, the character (whether it is a PC or a NPC) cannot pretend anymore doing that unknowingly and deserve his damnation.