To paradigm or not to paradigm. That is the question??

This post is an off-branching of this thread.

I see the reason for this. We all have different approaches to history, some being regular middle ages history buffs, and different preferences on the level of "authenticity" of our saga settings. Personally it isn't what I miss the most, but I would surely get it if it was published.

And I think, feel free to correct me Berengar, what Berengar meant was that there was no the medieval paradigm and that trying to construct one is somewhat artificial and unconclusive. You might even go further and say that the modern secularized pluralistic societies in a way is much more of an uniform paradigm - at least when it comes to natural science and the explanation of natural phenomenon - then what can be said of a (/the) medieval world.

Having said that, even though being quite "unauthentic", I personally do portray the setting to my players as having a uniform paradigm. Not in the sense of what people believe, or a shared understanding (they might be quite contradicting), but in the sense of how it IS. I think I do this for two reasons: in a roleplay fiction you have at times have to make calls where you have to take into accord "laws" about how the world functions (a simple e.g.: that there is gravity, or rather that the elements seek their "proper" place) to resolve a diversity of things, and I do it because it is a great instrument to make the setting come alive and be tangible to me and the players.

As Berengar points to, I am among the ones choosing to use a somewhat anachronistic scholastic view of the world and how it functions. This is very artificial - but so is the fiction of Mythic Europe :smiley: . I think a scholastic approach is great because it has an in-setting feel and because some of the argumented logics are so darn hillariously funny. In an inspiring way that is!

So in short, an answer to your question, it would either not be "the logic in the world Ars Magica takes place in", but rather a hodgepodge of beliefs (or disbeliefs :smiley:) on how the world works. Or you could screw the authencity - excuse my French - and artificially make one up. If you chose the latter you could follow Berengar's suggestion of using a scholastic interpretation of the classics.

Ah, now I see what you both are saying. Thanks for the clarification.

I guess I'm coming from a nuts and bolts view. I'm not overly concerned with what is fact and what is myth (though I would prefer to have the different things labeled as such), I'm more concerned with what one could expect to find in the Ars Magica version of Mythic Europe. I see what you're saying about how different things are believed in different places, but I suspect for the sort of world I see portrayed in the various books that there is an actual truth for many of these questions.

That is, maybe some cultures believe the earth is flat, or that going around is a short cut to India, or that there's a Vinland just over there, however I suspect that there is really an answer in ArM5 Mythic Europe. It doesn't matter what they believe where I start my journey, I'm going to find the same thing sailing West (though, there is some attraction to the opposite).

And if fevers are caused by Ignem imbalances where I set my covenant, I would expect my PeIg(Co) "Cool the Fevered Brow" spell to work in the area where it is thought they are caused by evil spirits. Maybe that's not a great example, because there could be spirits in that land who cause fevers, but if I carried my original fever from my covenant to the other land, I would expect my spell to work.

One of the things I like about this 5th edition is they're not afraid to say "Criamon are wrong", and explain how to incorperate the weird magic they present as having existed long ago.

If the rules of Mythic Europe are not by and large the same, then it seems to me the unification of Hermetic Magic would be pointless.

I am another who has asked in the past for the main points of the medieval paradigm where it effects magic use to be summarized. There have been a number of discussions, on magic resistance particularly, where there have been disagreement.

The main issues that I have been informed of as definately in the rulebook, are - No inertia, therefore magically propelled objects stop dead when hitting parmas. Disease is spread by demons. There have also been debates on exactly what happens to a person living on magically created food over the long term once the spells creating duration runs out. The concensus seems to be that the person would loose weight, but not die.

I have no problem with using the medieval paradigm or not in campaigns. But if I am going to use it, then I should use it properly, not just drips and drabs. It would be worse than playing without the paradigm, to use it for some bits, and because I don't know on others, to just play as per modern reality.

Reality defines Belief. The spell would work fine - assuming you aren't inded dealing with an evil spirit in this specific case; otherwise it's just ordinary mis-diagnosis :stuck_out_tongue:. The only thing you have to do is to define what the reality is for your Saga, possibly depending on what you think or know the mainstream belief was for the region you locate it in. So a Saga set in Scotland may very well have a different reality than a saga set in the Levant. If the scottish magi were to travel to the levant, they might very well find something rather different than what the levantine magi take for granted in their own game.
Now, published setting helps smoothing over such issues, and the possiblity of everyone being more or less right is very present - as your example showed, but I don't think that the rules change radically depending on where your characters travel. Rather the setting is decided once and for all when the Saga itself starts.
Although, as was discussed in an earlier thread (or on the Berklist, can't remember), the idea that the relative unity of Mythic Europe's reality is due to the Romans and maintained by their network of roads (Mercurians!) is rather enticing.

I would urge all of your to be very weary of the Paradigm Police. You don't want to meet those guys.

I agree with everyone that you should set the game reality for your saga, and that's the paradigm. I think ArM5 is intentionally vague on what's "in paradigm", and that's good.

Some elements are pretty well established, though. As thrakhath said, lack of inertia (alluding to Aristotelian physics) is one. I'm not familiar with demons being the cause of all diseases (I think humor imbalances also play a part), but then I haven't gone through The Infernal yet. That you sense by collecting species emitted by objects is again well established (and again Aristotelian). There are probably other Aristotelian elements too, like the existance of a Lunar Sphere.

Generally I see the paradigm as serving two roles. On the one hand, it establishes Aristotelian physics (or at least some aspects thereof) and a world where magic is real, the Divine is all powerful, there are secret gateways to Arcadia, and so on.

On the other hand, and perhaps most destructively, the paradigm is also a mindset. When a player works to "free the prolitarion from the oppression of the aristocracy", he isn't "thinking in paradigm". The paradigm sets a mode of thinking like a person in the world, instead of like a person in ours. I think that aspect is far more destructive, as it claims a hold over character actions and concepts.

Personally, I don't stick too much to paradigm. I have only a vague conception of Aristotelian physics and none at all of Thomistic thought, and I don't stick to it. And I try not to wrinkle my nose at un-paradigmatic characters, and do not care too much over all but the most blatant of anachronisms. I try to maintain a Mythic Paradigm much more than a Medieval Paradigm - a world where things are mythic and legendary, rather than medieval and Aristotelian.

I wouldn't mind such a book - but I wouldn't need it eiher. That is untill it is there. Then I would quite certainly buy it. I know this is an old discussion, but I only wanted to start a new thread so as to not fill the other thread up with it. And even being an old discussion, in a life of a forum these things will have to come back once in a while, because we were not all around the last couple of times it was discussed.

I fully understand the wanting to do it comletely or not at all. Personally I feel I know sufficient about the middle ages to wing it - and if I dont know about something specific while playing I don't hesitate to rule on it, at times explicitly temporary, and find scholastically-sounding arguments for things being thus. For me it's all about the mood and theme. As a historian I am all about authencity and critically use of sources etcetera, but as a SG I don't mind making "inauthentic" or shaky assumptions ingame. As long as the fiction of our sage (ME) seems cohesive. And I do set "rules" - in the sense of natural laws or universal laws for the setting. These might not be known, shared or believed by the inhabitants, the PC and NPCs, but they are aknowledged by us, the player and narrators of the stories we tell.

I have not set these in stone nor spend time outlining them in advance. It would be too comprehensive and give me less flexibility later in the saga (face it that some of our stories depend on how the world functions). Concerning the "Reality defines Belief", I always heard its opposite that "beliefs define reality". Could be interesting to hear you Fruny elaborate on this. I find belief defining reality as a quite interesting notion, and it opens up for a pandora's box of microcosms. It is pluralism or social constrution taken to its extreme (not as being extremely but as furthest) and to bring in old carcass (knowing we cannot run from Ars' relation to White Wolf) it is what Mage: The Ascension was all about. My chosen perception was to do the same with Mythic Europe, letting almost every little hamlet have it's own belief-defined reality (or universal laws; sounds kind of self-contradictory :laughing:) but now I have kind of decided against it. I think it might have been because I started my frenzy buying Ars with the 3rd ed. which was very focused toward this (with all the Reason nonsense). All the better to make it blend into the World of Darkness-future Mythic Europe had to have coming. Today I prefer to portay the "rules" (as in the universal laws - that at least players know) as universal. At least in Europe that is. The Roman roads might have played a part in it - it is a neat idea I havent heard before - but mostly I legitimate it with the Divine. Not neccesarily as the divine as something present keeping it that way, but rather as a consequence of the divine creation of the world, and thus the "rules" (another small anachronism as the focus on god as the divine creator MORE than divine sustainer is later in time) are more or less set, no matter the belief of the locals. I choose to do it like this partly bc it leaves a wide frame for using a scholastic logic on these rules, and because the way the divine functions in the rules supports a sovereing universal divine. I might still, as a sensation of the exotic, if they PC travel far enough let them experience some "laws" to be different. But it would be far and it wouldn't be completely altered. And it wouldn't be localised differences, but far away.

As a sidenote, and because that subject is one of my "darlings", I personally think it is more of a question on the charateristics of Hermetic Magic than on the setting rules/doctrines/paradigm (and I think that Ancient Magic might enligthen us further on this). I know some would agree on the "loose weight, but not die" approach, but I personally wouldn't -I don't know how many have to disagree before you couldn't label it a concensus :smiley:

OH no, dear god(s)!! :open_mouth: :confused: :cry:

But do they even have legitimate authority outside the "bezerkerlist"? Can they also use force out there? :laughing:

Yeah. The middle ages can be an inspiration for the setting we make of Mythic Europe and it shouldn't be a set of guidelines. For the former it can be a treasure trove, for the latter it will be a straitjacket. hides under the table from the PP pacing my windows with a straitjacket in their hands

Most importantly I think it is a good idea to think it over instead of mulling over it as you go ahead. In general terms that is. What kind of ME do I want? What does my troupe presumably want? Instead of trying to do one thing or the other and becoming a bit frustrated by it, it's better to start out with an idea. And making it you own, instead of forcing yourself to try making it something else. Or someone else's.

I think you might be right on the intentional thing. And it does somewhat challenge the idea of "the book of ME".

Hmm. I agree, and yet not. I think it is a question on who your players are and how your troupe handles these things. For me, and most my player, this is one of the positive challenges that makes us interested in playing Ars. To me it is something that promotes the actual roleplaying to a much higher degree than your average fantasy setting. In a sense those self-inflicted boundries, or limits, is what at the same time forces and sets you free to play our roles. But it has to remain a positive inspiration and not the enforced straitjacket from earlier. again someone fussing about at the frontdoor. Hides again. Hoping that the PP haven't got a skeleton key

Do those neccesarily contradict each other? :wink:

I don't really have much to say about it. You and I have broadly compatible points of view. I think there may be a lot of weird things going on at the local scale - though beyond a given point, news would spread - but it mostly isn't affected by what people might believe in. Auras and their effects, as well as faeries are obvious exceptions.

Reality being Divine Law is a very solid position. The future of Mythic Europe is more Mythic Europe, with the Apocalypse near the end.

"Unnaturally ravenous" is obviously the superior option.

Regarding the road thingy, I'd point you to the berklist archive, except that it seems to be down, and I haven't heard anything from that direction in a couple weeks.

Absolutely. One of the great things in ArM5 is the saga advice, such as the sections talking about playing ArM as a dark fantasy, high fantasy, little historical research, and so on. Thinking about these kind of things in advance can definitely improve the saga - though it's best to think them over as a troupe, not just as a storyguide.

Aaaah! :open_mouth: :horror: :panic: No! Please! Aaarrhhhh!
I have almost managed to blissfully forget the Realm of Reason, and now you drag it back! Why, Furion, WHY?!! What did I ever did to you to merit such cruelty?! :sobs in the corner:

BDR, how I don't miss thee. Let me count the ways. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,....

BDR can sometimes be cool, but I much prefer the Reality Is stance.

I'll just say I'm totally onboard with Fruny's "unnaturally ravenous" preferance, now that we're counting towards a consensus and all.

I'm still in the magically created food is not nutritious and will not sustain life.
It may quell hunger pangs , but you still die.
Part of my reasoning is , if this option is used offensively.

You capture someone you want a hold over.
Feed them only on non-vis created food and water ,
and , unless you choose to have real food and water for them ,
they die a horrible death from thirst and starvation in minutes.
(after the duration of the magical food expires)

There is no need to limit yourself to one person ,
keep your grogs loyal in this manner ,
it is cheaper than actually feeding them. :smiling_imp:

This option can be used on player characters ,
while some may find it a roleplaying challenge ,
i am not one of them.

Here I was thinking you counted away from a consensus and not toward it... I am nevertheless onboard with the "unnaturally ravenous"-notion, but you will have me life before I attest to having let people survive beyond what you normally would without food. Or was it freedom?

And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR (Ritual) FOOD!

Well - maybe there is a reason for my master naming me Furion Transsanus!?!

Maybe it is because you were the one who started by waving the Paradigm Police about - got me scared and a gutt jerk motion reaction I am not to blame?

Or maybe you have just revealed a sinister disguise:

Translation (and quite accurate too):
Furion: eeeehm, I can explain....
YR7: I knew it! The horns in his forehead and the hooves were no #?§! coincidence, but you wouldn't listen you idiotic brethren! For 12 years I have been telling you! That guy should never have been accepted in our Order!

I agree. On top of your examples it could also be used to feed some prominent guests, even a sodalis (hmm... think: food spells with a high penetration), and then see them off smiling, knowing very well that they will not go far from your doorstep before they will die a seemingly unvoilent death. I have earlier taken to calling this sillyness for a "horribly cartoonic possibilty of assasination by prolonged exposure to magical created non-permanent food". :confused:

Consensus begone! :smiley:

It would not be too difficult to create an enchanted device to produce non-vis food and water.
The penetration is easily gained in this case.

I've started the food thread to end all food fights.

Now let's get back to topic. :smiley:

I am quite busy right now. Still here some more comments about 'logic of the ArM setting' and 'medieval paradigm'.

For anybody with some background in philosophy, sociology or history of science in particular, and of ideas in general, 'paradigm' is a well defined term - derived from the work of T. S. Kuhn. (See .)
It does not refer to the logic of a game setting at all, but to a consistent, if partial, aspect of the world view and methodology of a defined group of people.
Talking of 'the medieval paradigm' as if it existed hence claims the existence of a consistent, clearly defined world view of medieval people: it pretends that one is not cobbling together from tidbits of medieval - and even not-so-medieval - sources some half-way plausible game world, but is able to define something appearing extremely dignified, but indeed being completely and utterly impossible. In short: it sets the scholars' teeth on edge.
So let's henceforth call the beast we are interested in by its proper name: 'logic of the ArM setting'.

That gotten out of the way: there was a - quite luckless - attempt in ArM3 to tackle the medieval part of the ArM3 game setting, namely the 'Medieval Handbook'. AFAICS it was not highly regarded by the community. I at least put it aside quickly and now have mostly forgotten its contents. But perhaps it contains something for others. At least it should be as valid or invalid for ArM5 as it was for ArM3.

Kind regards,


Don't you mean 'logus of the ArM setting' ?

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing oooiii

  • Yair, the former philosophy student

Well, I do know Kuhn and I do agree in his importance, and I understand how it puts your teeth on edge. But I still disagree. First of all, no matter what scholarly pursuits we do in other circumstances, this is a play ground. A sandbox for grownups. So I do not think that scientific strictness is a neccesity. Secondly, I do not think that logic fully captures the full spectrum of what we mean when we want to describe the setting of ME. I agree with you that in terms of history and science to talk of the medieval paradigm is a meaningless. But we need not adhere to that, nor to the way the phrase paradigm is used most significantly by Kuhn.

We are talking about Mythic Europe, an artificial fictional world. We are talking about a completely static world were no anomalies will lead to a paradigm shift. The cornerstones to Kuhn's paradigm are relativism, post-modernism, science and it rests on the potential faults and limitations in the scientist's ability to perceive an objective and comprehensive "truth". All of which are not applicable on the way we put together our setting. There are no people, or scientist for that matter, in ME. There is only us - who distant and as "godly" persons create our world, the setting, and there is no limitation to our perceptions or ability to percieve. The setting is exaclty as we make or chose it to be. No relativism. And that is what the term, whatever we prefer to use, should be measured up against: the setting; not the middle ages of our own past. For now I prefer, in spite of Kuhn but not to spite him, to use the term paradigm for the many facets that go into describe the setting I artificially create together with my players. The word covers much more than logic alone, and in lack of a better alternative I will stick with it.

Concerning the Medieval Handbook, I do have it, but I think that it has spent far more time in the bookcase then out of it. And what I have read is many years ago. I recall most of it being writen as if told by the people population ME themselves. I do not know how enlightening it will be - and I don't think that it answers many of the questions originally asked by Angafea, that lead to this thread. But it does give some scenery descriptions and impression of daily lives. For those who might feel a bit a loss on how to handle or put together their setting it might be helpful. Or in Berengar's words "At least it should be as valid or invalid for ArM5 as it was for ArM3."

Or 'locus'? Or rather iocus? :laughing:

I hope this doesn't mean we have to make up a fictional language with borrowed academic trappings when talking about it?

Here you mean Kuhnian paradigm shift, I suppose? Well, I never SGd an ArM campaign where no such paradigm shift occurred or was about to occur. Indeed around 1250 the scholars of medieval Europe are in for a huge one: towards a better reception and understanding of Aristotle, and towards Thomism.

Quite right. So why misuse the term?

I guess we both know the Lewis Carrol figure. :wink:

Kind regards,


Then we only need something old and somethng blue, right? Seriously, I am just saying to let your hair down (please dont read this in the marriage parrable from before). You are welcome to do that if you prefer, Tolkien did, but I think I will stick with the languages I actually know and then only pringle it with some tidbits of latin to spice it up. And I didnt borrowed them - nor did the many Ars players before me. Borrowing implies accept, and since Kuhn has been gone for a decade by now I couldnt get a hold of him. No borrowing only pure simple abuse. Did I forget to mention that postmodern relativism implies a constant cannibalism of other people('s notions)? OMG, I think I broke a tooth on Kuhn! :smiley:

First of all that is self-contradictory. First of all Kuhn himself primarily adressed the shifts starting with the renaisance and, even tough important, a step further than Thomism. Secondly and more importantly, you are now talking of a shift in the middle ages, I was talking of the setting of ME. Close but not the same.

a) the term is not Kuhn's alone and was in use before him, b)because it fits better than logic, c) because so far not many have been getting fits over its use. Honestly this is not misuse - if this was for a piece for a scientific review your objections would be legitimate, but it is not.

Well - can you see the fat black cat smiling back at you? :laughing: