True Faith, Faith Score, Faith Points and a non-mythic kabbalist companion

Hello,

This is my first post with a lot of questions! First, I want to thank those who have asked about similar mechanics in the past. I've spent several hours combing through posts with searches on faith and faith points but feel like I could use some additional clarity. If the answers to my questions are very apparent, I apologize. I only have the 5th ed. rulebook and the divine books plus what I was able to find on this forum at my disposal. Secondly, I apologize for the length of this post but thank you greatly for your patience and information!

Because I know this post is going to be quite long, I’ll break it up into parts: Preface, Faith, and Non-mythic kabbalist.

The preface:

I really want to make sure I get these things right because this is my first full game of Ars and also our story guides first run of it. He's been very reasonable with a lot of things; but, he's also made a very realistic and deadly world where choices have very serious consequences (good and bad), where mages are very human and magical creatures deserve the awe they've inspired in stories of old.

We like this but this means that if I'm going to make a divine companion, I want to make sure I can progress the character properly. Not to take advantage of rules, but just so that when I talk through the character direction and goals I'd like to work towards that we are on the same page with the mechanics, intent, and methods that could or could not take me there. For me personally, it also helps a lot with developing a personality and the role play thereof.

The Questions and what I know so far:

True Faith is a special virtue. It has it's own score. Through quests, pilgrimages, tests of faith, etc. it is possible, although very difficult, for a character to increase their True Faith Score(TFS). This much is well laid out in the Divine book. Knowing my SG, these will be insanely difficult, lol.

Faith score vs. Faith Points - What is the difference? From everything I've read it seems that your faith score is a different measure than both faith points and your TFS. For instance, you can get more faith points - above and beyond your faith score - and your faith score doesn't seem to inherently be your TFS as those without true faith can have a faith score. In this case it sounds like it functions similarly to confidence score and points.

If this is correct, then how does one go about raising their faith score independent of their TFS? Is it a difference in magnitude of difficulty of the quest/story? My understanding so far is that your faith score is basically your minimum hard cap faith (HCF) points that you can get back overnight and that your faith points are a soft cap faith (SCF) that can be increased above your HCF/faith score through various actions. From the sounds of it, gaining a faith score increase is as, if not more, difficult than gaining a confidence score increase, and gaining a True Faith Score increase is a magnitude or two even more difficult than either of the former.

Speaking of soft cap faith (SCF) vs hard cap faith (HCF) actions, how would this manifest in game? Under gaining faith points on page 58 of the Divine book, it says that pilgrimage and participation in holy rites such as sacraments are examples. But I’ve read in posts and perhaps in the book that you can gain faith points through things like constantly helping your community and portraying virtuous behavior. Taking part in sacrament/eucharist for a christian seems to be a way to gain SCF points.

1.) What about for a judaic non-rabbi kabbalist? What are some examples of ways to gain SCF?
2.) Would it be possible for a female kabbalist to lead a small community, ie. a new covenant’s jewish mundanes that lack a local rabbi, in prayer (with or without ceremony, does that matter?) weekly and gain a SCF point from that?
3.) Would reading and praying on a Sefer Torah minor relic nightly increase the SCF and if so how frequently/how much would be reasonable, if any?
3.) Would she gain points more or less frequently since prayers are a daily task? (Story guide discretion at some point but I’m just looking for a guideline of the reasonable.) Would this change if she had a Sefer Torah minor relic that she read and prayed on daily?
4.) What about a sofer who treats their repairs of Sefer Torah with utmost sanctity and does so at no charge, as it is the will of god.
5.) Tangential question: what is the ritual and custom to create a sefer torah? Would the participation or creation of one also allow for the gaining of a SCF point?
6.) Since community is so important in the Judaic faith, would consistent acts of self-less community service (advisor, teacher, healer/doctor, etc. without compensation) be a source of SCF points or are these acts too mundane?

A few generic divine questions:

1.) It seems both miracles and miraculous effects (method+power) can use faith points to buffer them at a ratio of 1point to +3 on a roll. Is this correct?
2.) Miracles over lvl 30 give a character 1 warping point unless they are the recipient? Do miraculous effects over lvl 30 also give a warping point?

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Non-Mythic Kabbalist questions:

I really got the idea to create a kabbalist companion from a client who gave me a travel-sized kabbalist book, which was very inspiring. I thought it would be really cool to play a female kabbalist character as homage to her. When I got the divine book, I admit to having been a bit dismayed that it seems that the kabbalist is built to only be a mythic companion.

Now, I really don’t want to overload our story guide with not only mechanics but requests for exceptions. I already have a magi with enchanting music that caused some mechanics confusion. The divine is so much more complicated and having a mythic companion plus a mage, even in a more powerful story, isn’t what I want.

That said, it’s a slow growth story with some very powerful NPC characters. The covenant is very new, very poor, vis sources are insanely rare, and all the mages are also very new (only 1 could even think of opening books for an apprentice without penalty). With that in mind, I think it would be reasonable to have a slow growth kabbalist.

1.) Is it possible to have a female kabbalist that is not a mythic companion? It would require the character to grow into being a full kabbalist through in-game actions, but I’d be all about that.

2.) So far, I was thinking of taking True Faith virtue, with Tzadik Nistar major flaw, Outsider major flaw, Intervention, Educated (hebrew), Sofer, and Sense Holiness and Unholiness. This brings me to 8 virtue pts and 6 flaw pts at a base before maxing out the remaining character creation virtues and flaws. Having a Sefer Torah as a minor relic virtue is extremely enticing but as a Sofer perhaps I can make one and save the virtue point for something more utilitarian?

Intervention would provide part of the reason of how they got their true faith, potential motive for seeking out kabbalists, as well as potential strife/conflict of some sort. Without a method, the use of the intervention would be a ‘fluke’ or divine will until I can learn a method. The issue is that I am worried about creating a character that does not have relevance to the troupe to start with if I don’t take a method at character creation.

3.) If creating a character in this manner is acceptable, would you recommend that I start with the Kabbalist Tradition or should I leave that open ended and use it in the story. We only meet every other week for a few hours, so I worry about growth being TOO slow without having it so I’m a bit torn. I’m a sucker for in-game achievements you see XD.

4.) Based on 1-3 above, do you have any recommendations, warnings, general guidance?

5.) Regarding meditation via dream interpretation or gematria. DI and Gematria can be used in place of mediation but it seems to me that the time it takes to create effects via these methods for miraculous effects is substantially longer. Meaning, to do a lvl 4 blessing (+12 bonus to recovery) you’d need to either meditate 1hr + sleep full nights sleep or read 12hrs - gematria score+meditate. Is this correct?

6.) Using Merkavah as a form of purification is different from using Merkavah to seek the true names of angels, yes? For instance, could a ritual ablution of purification through washing in a Mikveh be used as the method for invoking a purity based miraculous effect? If so, what would the “cost” be? The book offers things like light wounds as an example but what would be appropriate for the long-term stamina loss or “cost” for such a ritualistic ablution be? Trenchfoot sounds awful and the opposite of what the ablution is intending, lol.

Whew. That was… a lot. If you’ve actually read all of this I sincerely thank you for your patience and assistance!

Faith Score vs Faith Points is indeed very similar to Confidence Score vs Confidence Points, but not quite identical.
Your Faith Score is more or less fixed, while your Faith Points can and usually will vary up and down.

Anyone can have a number of Faith points. Once used, a Faith point is gone, never to return.
There are some explicit way to earn Faith points laid out in the rules - taking part in the sacraments for example.

To have a Faith Score, you need the True Faith virtue. (Relics also have a Faith Score)
Your Faith Score is mostly fixed and normally doesn't change unless you lose your True Faith (It is possible to get another level of True Faith and thereby raise your Faith Score, but this is rare and difficult.)

If your Faith Score is greater than 1, then you can use a number of Faith Points at once equal to your Faith Score. If you have less Faith Points than your Faith Score, you will gain new Faith Points every day up to your Faith Score.
Your Faith Score also gives you Magic Resistance and lower chance of suffering hubris/tragedy when failing with divine Methods and Powers. Probably also some other advantages that I have forgotten.

Thanks Erik, that's a good start.

So basically your faith score is actually tied directly to your True faith Score + faith score from relics. So a story arc that results in the raising of your True Faith Score is basically the only way to raise your faith score through actions. Relics could buff this but they are items, not action/story based.

I saw the sentence about sacraments. But that was the only hint about how to get faith points, which is why I had all those scenario questions specific to the judaic faith to better understand how faith points can be gained.

You can have more faith points than your faith score though, right? You just lose them when used and they don't come back. There's examples given on forum and book about someone using 6+ faith points to buff a miraculous effect. Does that mean that they need a true faith score of 6 to use 6 points at once?

Thanks again for a quick reply on some of this! Already very helpful.

Welcome aboard!

I love The Divine and it's options for divine charactes. I'll try to give some advice, but keep in mind that I'm not an expert and I haven't had the chance to play a holy character yet (it's on my list).

  1. Yes, it is possible. There are a few options.
  • Spend 6 points of virtues to start with one Method and one Power
  • Begin with True Faith and learn Methods and Powers in play (check RoP:D p. 47)
  • You can also have someone initiate you in Methods and Powers (since you don't have TM:RE, I'd suggest treating initiation as a quest taking about 3 seasons where you do something relevant for a senior kabbalist and study together at a ritualistic place, in a proper ritualistic time. After that you learn the Virtue (it's not that different from gaining True Faith after a few quests)).
  1. I won't comment on character design choices. But I do have a personal opinion on relevance. Take it with a grain of salt.

    • About having relevance, I'd say you don't need M&P for that. You can start as a "mundane" character with True Faith, and slowly grow to something more mystic. You still have all the other abilities, Virtues and Flaws after all. You don't need to be defined by M&P.
    • Another option is to pick both a Method and a Power, and let go of True Faith. This leaves you with a few more points to customize the character.
  2. Personally, this would be my default choice:

  • Pick True Faith AND the Holy Tradition: Kabbalist (or at least, tell your SG that you intend to go that route). With this you start with a holy character (due to True Faith) and you can slowly learn M&P (maybe as a preparation to face your personal challenge due to the Tzadik Nistar Flaw?). Ask the SG how the pace of the game will progress. It is likely that at the beginning you will go slowly, and this would be the time you establish your connection with a kabbalist group and do some quests to gain their favor. With time there could be time lapses between sessions. With this you can participate in a story to learn a Method in one session and at the next session 3 years have gone by, during witch you have trained and improved your Method.
  1. Se above. =9

  2. The time is longer, indeed. For DI it is actually 1h + full night + (6-DI)(minimum 1). Keep in mind, however, that Meditation requires you to make a +6 EF Stamina roll every 10 minutes, and on a failure you lose a fatigue level. Depending on your stamina, it is not impossible to pass out trying. It's a trade off between availability and reliability.

  3. I'm not sure I understand... With Purity (and Merkavah, which works in the same way mechanically) you can use either suffer a Light Wound OR lose a long-term fatigue level to activate an effect. Are you asking for example activities for the purposes of how much time the activity should require? I don't recall a explicit guideline for that, but I usually think in terms of an hermetic ritual (so, 15 minutes for magnitude of the desired effect). If you find something explicit in the book about this, let me know! ^^

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Yes, that is my understanding. That similar to one’s Confidence Score the Faith Score limits how many faith points one can spend on an individual action. One may also spend both Confidence points and Faith points on a single action, each limited by the relevant score. That said, there are some added benefits of higher faith scores and one of those, at True Faith Score of 3, makes each faith point spent add +6 instead of the previous +3 per point. Those are detailed in Embodying the Light starting on p61 of RoP:D. I assume these extras from higher faith scores are not actually available based added Relic Faith but only on the character’s personal score but it doesn’t seem to explicitly say one way or another.

Actually, no.

If you have Purity, you can "restart" the actions that activate the Method to spend confidence and faith points again.

Suppose you have Purity, Meditation and Transcendence. You want to use the lvl 30 Guideline for Transcendence (Meditation) "Become immune to physical damage" at range touch, duration Sun, to protect someone (final effect level 45).

Let's say you also have Faith Score of 2. According to RoP:D p. 57:

Each dawn, you regain a number of Faith Points up to your True Faith Score, although if you already have more Faith Points than your True Faith Score, you do not gain additional Points.

This means you can normally have up to 4 Faith Points:

  • starting at 0 you recover 2 on the first dawn, going to 2(2);
  • gain 2 on the second dawn (since you don't have more Faith Points than your Faith Score) reaching 2(4);
  • from the third dawn onward you have 4 Faith Points, more than your Faith Score, so you don't recover Faith Points.

Let's say your Meditation + Transcendence + Intelligence (meditation uses intelligence) equals 15. You also have Faith Score 2(4) and confidence 1(3).

Meditation requires you to meditate for 1 hour (and roll Stamina 6 times to avoid losing fatigue). You do so, spending 2 faith points (because you have a Faith Score of 2) and one confidence point, for a total of 15 + 9 = 24. Not nearly enough.

Thanks to Purity you can keep meditating for another hour (you will need to roll Stamina 6 more times) and after that you can spend again 2 faith points and 1 confidence point, for another +9. You are now at 33.

You keep meditating for another hour (and pray to God to not pass out due to fatigue), after which you can spend your last confidence point. Since you are smart you started the whole process 2 hours before dawn, so that you recovered 2 Faith Points in the midst of the third meditation, and can also spend them. You sum another +9, totaling 42. Now you have a good chance of success. You declare your meditative ritual finished and roll the die.

Over the course of the process you have spent 6 Faith Points (even having a Faith Score of only 2) and all of your confidence.


After a few weeks, Faith Points (but not confidence) recovered, you need to save a noble that is dying of old age (a major aging crisis). This would be the guideline 20 for Transcendence (Purity), +5 for touch. Sadly your Purity + Transcendence + Stamina is only 10.

You take a whip and start a ceremonial act of self-flagellation (but if you are Jewish you do this lightly to cause long-term fatigue, since self-harm is forbidden). After a few minutes you lost a long-term fatigue and spent 2 Faith Points for a +6, arriving at 16.

Realizing it's unlikely you will roll a 9 or 10 you go once more (again, thanks to Purity), and after losing another long-term fatigue and the last 2 Faith Points you arrive at a total of 22. Once more you roll, praying for success.


Note that these examples are a bit extreme. Different from a magus, you are not really "supposed" to achieve +30 totals with M&P in usual circumstances.

Achieving high totals with M&P takes time and preparation. It is either resource-intensive, if you are burning through Faith Points and Confidence, or requires you to have a lot of people to use Ceremony... or both.

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Thank you so much for the answers! They were all super helpful. Rafael, that example was very informative. Thank you again for putting in the effort to illustrate them in that way. I've seen an example of purity, but I didn't realize that was how the relationship between faith score and points worked. I thought that if you met your cap you were done but as long as it's not MORE, you can still gain the benefit. This makes it far easier to achieve low level effects without being uber powerful. I'm totally on board with 30+ being very difficult to achieve.

So basically, Purity is a very clutch skill to have but also is very "expensive". All considered, this makes a lot of sense to me now.

Your thoughts on character relevance are also spot on. Your suggestion around picking true faith and holy tradition then having a discussion with the story guide is spot on. I want it to be collaborative with him. He's a great writer and story teller so I want him to also enjoy that process and come up with fun stuff.

My question about #6 was in regards to the cost of using the ritual purification. I misread that the long-term fatigue in itself is a cost and not all costs need to be as severe as a light wound for instance.

I think the last thing I'm unsure about is how to gain faith points as a kabbalist. If taking part in the eucharist works for a christian then I think leading prayers (although somewhat heretical for a woman to do) on a sabbath, using and sharing a kiddush cup on holy holidays, ritually cleansing herself, making and repairing sefer torah, mitzvah, etc. should work in ways to slowly give additional faith points over the course of a season or a year.

Do those types of ideas sound reasonable for gaining a point here or there? I just want to have a few ideas to offer the story guide.

So as summary:

True Faith = Faith Score. Relics can add to your faith score. Crisis of faith = loss of all faith score for x duration. You can have more faith points and continue to accrue more faith points than your faith score but once a point is used it is gone and does not replenish unless you fall below your faith score.

You gain faith points each dawn equal to your faith score until your faith points are higher than your faith score, NOT equal to your faith score.

With this I'm afraid I can't help much. My practical knowledge of the Jewish faith is a bit limited, and I'd rather avoid offending someone (or misleading someone). ^^

But I will try to say something based on game balance (if such a thing exists in Ars Magica).

The only Sacrament which can be taken repeatedly and concede a Faith Point every time is Mass (well, it's actually the Communion that gives the FP...).

So, I think as long there are a few "big" ceremonies (such as marriage) that give a Faith Point only once, and one daily that gives a Faith Point every day (as long as you are in a state of grace), it should be fine for the purpose of game balance.

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Thanks again Rafael. You have been a great help.

If anyone else reads this and has thoughts on anything written I would love some other insights, suggestions,guidance. Especially if you've run or played a game with/as a jewish character that uses faith points.

Once again, I don't want to game the game, just to understand what to expect; and, if there are limitations, what they are and why that is the case.

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