What flavour of Divine Realm do you prefer?

Given that the point of view being referenced was early protestant anti-Catholic propaganda, yes, this is true. Ironically it is also true for 20th century pagan apologists who held that this was a feature of Catholicism which had translated pagan polytheism into itself as a recruiting tool- in some cases the argument was made that it was intentional by the more cynical pagans. The comparative counterpoint being that the pagan deities were carried over as traditions which simply weren't examined that closely and it was more of a survival mechanism of the pagan traditions.
So yes, those points of view clearly exist. The question of the relative validity of them is another reason that real life religion is something gaming systems should not only avoid touching with any pole of any length but also avoid looking directly at them in any public manner except, perhaps, as tangential reference such as was done in GURPs religion in 3rd edition.

My preferred Divine Realm flavor is "Aloof". I prefer to have Holy Men wield Holy powers and erect the Dominion, with very little in the way of direct Divine intervention either by God or by the Divine host.

According to RoP:The Divine, there is an angel for every blade of grass, which knows God's plan and can detect Infernal corruption and can reveal itself and talk to people and act in the material world, and the only reason it does not is... vague. I don't like this, at all.

I prefer there to be only a few true angels, and these to be great beings of power that are incomprehensible and aloof, only one step less so than God himself. Angels that can perhaps be called upon by holy men to provide confusing visions and mystic insights, but that hardly ever directly intervene in human affairs. These can be complemented by lesser Divine beings, like divine saints or ghosts, that interact more with the mundane world but are essentially eternal-humans with some Divine powers. Saints too I will limit to few intentional direct interventions, more responding to prayers on behalf of the faithful. I see no place for angels or divine beasts managing the mundane world; that is a role best left to Magic, and perhaps usurped by Faerie/Infernal*.

I prefer to see the Divine Realm itself as standing for Transcendence, i.e. pulling beings into better versions of themselves, better than their true selves. By necessity, this implies leaving the mundane world, where things are limited by their own natures. I like the Twilight-substitutes for Divine practitioners in RoP:The Divine, which mostly adhere to this idea. I like Divine regios, which are likewise places removed from the mundane Realm and better than it.

Perhaps a good way to make-sense of the conflict between different Divine religions is to grant Divine power and guidance based on the character virtues (piety, temperance...) rather than on consequences. Thus if both a Muslim and a Christian holy men show Faith in God, they may both wield Divine powers which they use to aid in the Crusade/anti-Crusade, the Divine seemingly working against itself. Which is fine, because the Divine is not about consequences but rather about inner growth; that inner Faith of the two men, not the consequences of it, is what matters.

**** As an aside - I have a thematic problem with Faerie/Infernal. Both seem to be based on Falsehood.

I like the idea of Faerie as Nothingness Given Form, as stealing existence from the Magic and mundane, and of being false and Seeming. I strongly dislike the idea of not-being-there-when-your-aren't-looking, but the ideas of stealing Vitality and being made up of raw vis and using Seeming, these are good and interesting. Even taking a Role or being Cognizant is good, although I'd downplay the "Story" part and instead consider the Role as being the "nature" or the Faerie.

In such set-up, of Faerie as the False, it makes no sense for Demons to likewise engage in deception and falsehoods. Yet the idea of Corruption of texts and traditions is vital, and demons lose much if they cannot sneak-in through Possession and undetected Infernal powers and so on. So I'm not sure how to best represent them, but I'd perhaps consider making most of them them more straight-forward and leaving the whole corruption and subterfuge gig to a few of them (which is arguably how things are as-written). What I don't like about 5e demons is their complete lack of Virtues; I think demons should completely lack a SINGLE virtue, but be otherwise capable - as otherwise they're too weak (lack of planning, fortitude, and so on) to be really interesting as foes, as they should be.


I like your take one the divine, especially regarding angels/the divine hierarchy.

Faeries and the infernal though, I don't see as being inherently based on falsehood. Well, the infernal, yes, because demons are without virtue and that means they can't be honest by their nature. Faeries are just following rules humans made up for them. Depending on your point of view that could be viewed as falsehood, but I don't think so personally. If anything faeries make real (sort of) things that humans make up that aren't real, they make human belief more true.

I think faeries have a strong robot vibe - sounds weird, but hear me out. Faeries are a sort of formless, soulless, and maybe mindless (for non-cognizant faeries) entity that can take on a set of rules and a physical form (a glamour), invented by humans, that give it the ability to act and interact with the world. They are a sort of unintentional artificial being arising out of human belief. Like a very haphazardly programmed supernatural robot they can only act within the confines of their rules. Some people can even take advantage of that (esp. Merenitae) and intentionally design these sets of rules to create artificial beings that are useful to them.

Like with anything artificial designed to imitate 'real' things there are big philosophical questions arising from this, which are hotly debated in a lot of fields right now so a definitive answer is out of our reach. Still, the faerie beneath the role, if there even is such a thing, isn't really being false. It can only play by the rules we set. It's a living Chinese Room - by external observation it appears to be able to think and we have no way to prove otherwise, even if we suspect it.

You can (and I have) gotten a good bit of mileage out of inspiration from science fiction in this regard, as stories involving more cognizant faeries have a strong resemblance to classic sci-fi "the robot starts to become self-aware" stories. This is a pretty off-the-wall take on faeries, I think, so feel free to ignore this as the ramblings of someone trying to apply sci-fi tropes to a game about wizards in medieval Europe...


If only ArM Faeries were three rules compliant...

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I'd be inclined to add an option between "One Mythic Faith should be the correct one" and "The divine should encompass all monotheistic faiths" for "The divine should encompass all of the Abrahamic religions" - it makes more sense to me that people could be varying degrees of wrong about what's purported to be the same deity (at least by Islam), but still get partial credit, than the "God really likes monotheism" of the current set-up does.

You could then have varying options for whether one Abrahamic religion's more nearly right whilst the rest are incomplete / corrupted. The approach of "they all have some degree of validity" probably leans towards Islam being the "most correct", on the basis that the earlier religions don't recognise it as having any validity, whereas my understanding is that it thinks the earlier religions are worshipping the same god but getting significant things wrong.

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Or for that matter go with some model where the distinction between monotheism and polytheism doesn't make sense at the divine level- a single God can have many faces or multiple gods can merge to be one if they choose...
the real problem is that it is hard to have (a) mysterious being(s) beyond human understanding modeled by a game created by humans.


I favor "the Divine is not something humans can fully comprehend" and "you don't necessarily need to get it right to have a valid religion with a connection to the Divine." Magi can observe the effects of the Dominion and come up with some rules for what it is and does and how the various religions and paths interact, but they'll never have the whole picture any more than any individual religion does. It also allows for holy men of all religions to have appropriate and equally divine powers. And while Zoroastrian mobeds have the mightiest Divine magic, that doesn't imply that Zoroastrianism is more correct.

That's a player problem. Fortunately, we can avoid playing with them, ban them if we discover them in our games and quit if we find storyguides who run games like that.

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The problem is that most people would disagree with this. If the willingness and ability of a deity to light the alter for his own sacrifice justified teh extermination of a handful of priests of Baal, certainly this kind of objective evidence is something people would rely upon.
Unless there was another obvious mechanism in play, such as the age of the religious sites giving a stronger aura or an academic/technological component where they have gotten stronger over time and thus it demonstrates simply that they are the oldest and not necessarily the most correct. That, however, is how the magic aura works, not so much the divine aura beyond the first decade, after which the presence of holy relics is of greater significance, which becomes confusing in other ways when a relic only works for followers of a certain faith- does the aura vary depending on the faith involved? Or will the relic only support an aura generated by that faith?

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Which is my assumption regarding the mobeds - they have nearly two thousand years of divine ritual behind them, and while they're not exactly scientific about it, the tradition taken as a whole has an impressive amount of lore.

Also, Zoroastrianism is the one religion that was built around priests as divine wizards and retains their priesthood. Rabbinical Judaism lacks the Temple and the kohanim (in my headcanon, the Aaronic priesthood were absolutely a magical tradition), Nicene Christianity is organized around canonists and theologians rather than ritualists or mystics, and Islam has a strong and relatively accessible tradition of secular magic and learning. Kabbalists, mystics, and Sufis are all outside their religions' mainstream, so they don't usually have a role in society that provides them with a steady income to study with and their lore is usually limited to their particular group's knowledge.

honestly one of the things that bothers me about the Divine in 5th ed is how ecumenical it is- which simply does not fit the setting. Even if we assume that the difference between teh divine and the church covers the idea of conflict between the differing faiths, it is hard to see anyone embracing the idea- popular at the time- that Muslims and Jews were agents of teh devil is anyone entering a mosque or synagogue felt the same kind of awe and reverence that they felt entering a church. The simple empirical evidence this would present would dramatically alter history. Crusades against "heretics" would likewise not have gotten off the ground if a priest encountering the Cathars had recognized a divine aura in their midst...

What's the alternative? Christianity just being right is equally plagued with issues as you then have to draw a line between which sects are allowed to be divine - are Cathars? Are Lollards? Gnostics? Monophosites? All while making all non-Christian characters either deluded or devil worshipers. The 5e approach is not flawless but it allows for a much greater degree of player and storyteller freedom.

The only way to completely reconcile the divine with historical events and beliefs is to have it be totally undetectable to inhabitants of Mythic Europe - no auras, no manifestations, and miraculous happening appear to be natural rather than overtly supernatural. Or, to put it another way, remove the empirical evidence of the divine that doesn't exist in the real world.

or to make it subjective- natural auras affect everyone, but auras arising from a faith only affect either members of that faith or those who are involved in a foreign realm- so demons are equally affected by a Muslim or Catholic aura, but a Catholic is only affected by a Catholic aura.
Of course then you might need an interaction table for various faiths since Catholics might consider Eastern orthodox more correct than Islam, for example, and bigotry towards Jews is also inconsistent across peoples...
which comes back to my point of why games should not involve empirical rules regarding real world religions...

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True, it being subjective would also fix the problem in much the same way. I largely agree with you, if it were up to me personally I would:

a) Remove any notion of the divine intervening directly in the world in the sense of a 'divine plan', at least in any way that can be recognised as such by inhabitants of the world.

b) Refocus the divine on the people who interact with it. There are still miracles etc. but it is left intentionally unclear if they are truly granted by god or if it is simply another type of 'magic'. This, I think, allows the greatest freedom for stories as the divine is only ever felt through the intermediary of fallible religious figures meaning no interpretation is provably wrong or provably right.

c) Play up the divide between dominion and empyreal auras. Dominion auras are generated by a community engaging in worship and only empower/effect members of the sect that generates the aura. Empyreal auras are 'natural' divine auras and are recognisable to all faiths as sacred in some fashion but much much rarer. A Christian cathedral generates a Christian dominion aura that is only felt by Christians, but the temple mount has an Empyreal aura that is felt by everyone.

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Of course there is also the point that the Empyreal auras have the same intent as a natural magical aura in previous editions- the idea of pristine nature which manifests as a supernatural power. The difference is that in 3rd edition it was a magical aura of wonder, in 5th edition it is a divine aura of wonder- makes me think it should be its own realm which interacts in a way that lends itself to both forms of understanding- sort of a divine realm that is not dependent on monotheism. Of course that opens several other cans of worms as well...

I am gonna step right into it. Just because a group calls themselves Christian doesn't make them so. Without getting into a theological debate, in paradigm, there are only two sects that are Christian. Catholics and Orthodox. They may be on the outs with each other, but neither had disavowed the other. The other groups
are heretics, and are condemned by both the "official" groups.

In my games, I avoid the issue entirely. No Infernal or Holy player characters. I am Orthodox. I have friends that are Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Pagan, Hindu, Moslem, and Atheist. I don't want to exclude anyone or mock their faith.

So you would define Mythic Christianity (in the setting) as the subset of Christian groups not branded heretical by the chalcedonean churches at some point? It's a clear cut certainly, if a little restrictive. You'd still have to decide then what exactly those sects are, if not divine - infernally inspired, or just deluded? Though as I've said above one faith being overtly correct is my absolute least favourite approach to the divine.

Ignoring the divine and the infernal definitely avoids offending anyone, but seems pretty unsatisfying to me. How do you handle interactions with the church (a huge part of social life in the period) or religious characters? Do you just not use the supernatural elements and have religion be 'mundane' or do you just totally avoid it being included in your sagas?

It's always interesting to hear how people have handled these sorts of things in actual games.

Exactly. If I did have to handle it (which I try to avoid), that is cut and dry the way I would do it. And I don't have to decide anything until it comes into play. Case by case basis. Is the Cathar an ally or antagonist? What would make a good story in the moment. It is easier to handle if everyone in the group is of the same faith. But that is rare. It all comes down to a consensus of the troupe. What do we as a group want to do?
And the person I am most worried about being offended or being offensive is ME. I have a pretty solid paradigm. I am a Greek Orthodox Freemason. I have tried allowing some of these elements as player options, and it was a disaster. Read through the early years of "Light of Andorra" to see what I mean. That experience is the very reason why I avoid the subject.
When such subjects come up now, t is a case by case basis, and they are NPCs. I don't have to define it at all. Church life is a big part of the social life of mundanes. We play magi. In the church, only a small fraction would be empowered. About one in ten-thousand (same odds as having The Gift). Most clergy are indeed just mundane scholars and politicians. And it doesn't really matter. I have many other tools in the box to play with. After 25 years of this saga, I have explored the subject more than I wanted to. Someone else is running a story, I let them do what they want for the most part. The Divine is incomprehensible to mortals anyway. "Great is the Mystery of Godliness" (1 Timothy, 3:16, KJV). There is no need, or desire, to be consistent.
I am dealing with Dragons pretending to be human, an undersea kingdom of faerie Tritons, Magi researching attempting breakthroughs, a schism in House Flambeau, a covenant on the verge of Winter, and a ton of other stuff. My plate is full. I don't need a theological debate to add to the pile.

Current Sub Rosa #21 Heaven and Hell tackles interaction with the Church, religious characters and religion in general head on - and you can see from the reviews here, how deeply ingrained the avoidance of these topics in several sagas is.

So your question is indeed not rhetorical at all.

Going beyond the denial/avoidance of religious issues in a saga in a way truely respectful to the historical faiths involved requires first and foremost a solid research.
Relying on the necessarily limited treatment in the role-playing game proper limits you indeed to the dominant religions in 1220 Mythic Europe and surroundings, and to their more common features. Blaming ArM5 for this is just disingenuous.

Every saga needs to decide its limits here on its own: especially when the differences between historical and contemporary faiths come up, of which David Chart wrote in his From the Line Editor in Sub Rosa #16: "Even this approach presents difficult issues. The immediate issue that prompted someone to call me an anti-Catholic bigot was my presentation of an aspect of theology, which, I was told, was obviously from a Protestant polemicist. In fact, it was taken directly from St Thomas Aquinas."
I personally prefer to candidly address these as well. I expect, that role players in Mythic Europe are prepared to accept and explore in-game not only a different world than their own, but also the historic faiths that come with it.

Fair points, though I would say my own criticism of the divine 5e (which is pretty mild as I think it mostly is a great take on a difficult topic) is mostly due to difficulties I've had being someone who is willing to go out and do the research (and enjoys it) with reconciling trying to do the less prominent faiths justice with the way the divine is presented.

I very much like the rules in RoP:tD etc. I just think with some tweaks to how things are framed when the divine is introduced could offer more freedom to develop less prominent faiths for those that want to without needing any increase in complexity for those that are happy with the major faiths or with avoiding the divine altogether.

On that last note I myself was accused (privately) of anti-Catholic sentiment because of things I posted in this very thread (a remark about medieval Christianity being fairly close to de-facto polytheism, from a certain point of view). That was certainly a new one to me, as I'm a Catholic! Although in hindsight I can see how it could have been taken the wrong way.

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We had this issue in my troupe in the past. We tended to play in Catalonia (our real world home turf) until PRECISELY these issues made us move to other foreign tribunals (brit isles and the far north).

In the end we decided that most monotheistic religions were wrong. All of them got the basics right, but later the trappings of secular power and influence (and the need to codify everything of humans) added a lot of crap to it. So Muslims, Christians and Jews got it right. Sol invictus does not, and neither do the cathars. The cathars talk real bullshit here, with the world being created by the demon, and that is just wrong. their prefecti can have mystical power, but it will be of an infernal nature because they have an inherent and unavoidable sin: that of hubris thinking they are better than their peers (souls about to Ascend). the PLAYERS decided this. the MAGI are totally unsure about it since Hermetic magic has no way of differentiating between divine and infernal magic. Cathars were a friendly faction in a lot of adventures.

Having the major religions getting it right does not mean that a Christian feels at pace in a mosque. He does not because he as a strong cultural bias. True faith does not prevent that bias. Relativism does not work well in our Mythic Europe. reading you all this can easily be inconsistent. It has never bothered us, though.

Other religions have not been thought much about except that the old religions tend to be associated with beings of power, like they do in the current setting.

But as others point out, we try to keep the sagas religion.lite in terms of doctrine. Religion is everywhere, just handwaved.