What if the Diedne were proven innocent ?

The 5e virtue is solid, in my opinion.

that one might be but that campaign was run in 3rd

and The Tempest is 2ed, with fiat mechanics for the Diedne. It takes a work-over to make that suitable for player characters.

One of the inconsistencies in the accounts of the runup to the Schism War is in the accounts (in their respective HoH write ups) of Guernicus and Ex Misc.

The Ex Misc account talks about a new Primus, by the name of Basilicus, seizing control of the House 'immediately before the Schism War', reorganizing it on more martial lines and leading it in battle against the Diedne.

The Guernicus account of the Tribunal before the war says that the Primus of Ex Misc (unnamed) travelled to the gathering by 'mundane means' and never turned up. He had gathered many proxies and he was expected to have a major effect on the outcome of the debate.

So how I'd run this is like this:

The Diedne were in fact indulging in human sacrifice. But this was not against the Hermetic Code at the time.

The Ex Misc Primus had evidence of this but he could see the disaster that the Schism War would be, so he planned to go to the Tribunal and blackmail the Diedne into agreeing to a compromise: Their past deeds would not be investigated, human sacrifice would be forbidden under the Code and in future their Primus would have to inform the Tribunal of any violations of the Code by their House in the previous period.

Whether this peace plan would have worked is perhaps doubtful. But Tytalus (and perhaps Tremere) were determined to have a war. The Primus was betrayed (by the same Basilicus who succeeded him/her), ambushed and killed.

After the war the Guernicus Primus discovered this and found the corpse of the Ex Misc Primus and that's the bundle of proof that has now been discovered. The Guernicus wept for lost opportunity but did not see any profit in re-opening old wounds.

So, House Tytalus (and perhaps Tremere) were guilty of attacking a fellow magus outside of Wizard War or Wizards' March. When Ex Misc finds out they are going to be pissed even now.

And Ex Misc probably has most of the Diedne descended Orbus (Orphan) magi. They could re-establish Diedne as a House friendly to them and knock House Tytalus out of the Order. (Full confession: I am deeply prejudiced against Tytalus.)

The idea of taking the Grand Tribunal discussion to a PbP game is a good idea (let's be honest, it's the only way that you can gather twelve people to play the Primi).


My thinking: It's too late to do something significant except help whoever meddles in that make enemies. The Schism war ended two hundred years ago. The oldest magi of the Order did not take part in the war, and very few were apprenticed during the Schism, so no one really has a personal stake except maybe an immortal magi (although some Houses do have a reputational stake, but that's a different story) or the reputation of their parens - if they still care. Any Diedne that's infiltrated the order in another house is likely to stay hidden. Any Diedne that hid from the Order without being a part of it (I'm looking at you, Fenistal) isn't likely to come out of hiding and trust the Order after two centuries of paranoia. Even if their name is cleared up, I don't see the Tremere disbanding the Burning Acord Vexillation either - being innocent doesn't mean you're not vengeful (or expected to be). They are very likely, however, to bully politically or otherwise anyone bringing out pro-Diedne material. They won a war, and they don't want to come out looking like being on the bad side of history again.

I was given to understand that Human Sacrifice is generally considered a diabolic act. But you are suggesting that a diabolic act was not automatically dealt with the "dealing with demons" clause of the Oath, until it was codified into the Peripheral Code?

Human sacrifice is not automatically a diabolic act - though infernalists would be the most common perpetrators.
Nor are all diablolic acts automatically considered "dealing with demons" - but not everyone will care about the difference.

It was part of Diedne's inherited religious practices and not intended to placate or please demonic entitites.

(This may be something that the more rigid monotheist magi cannot accept.)

Was House Guernicus turning to human sacrifice to end the war a diabolic act?

Or you could make it so that the 'sacrifices' were part of the qualification rituals for the higher ranks of Bard and Druid. (Look these up. I think you could probably kill yourself quite easily doing them.)

My read of the situation is that the 'outrage' that Tytalus and Tremere felt at the practice was secondary to their ambitions. I can see Flambeau Magi genuinely caring (bless their fiery little hearts) and not wanting to look too closely at the fine details.

Not everyone will care about the difference between human sacrifice and diabolic acts either.

SubRosa 13 was dedicated to Diedne, including thorough analyses of what can be found in canon. The human sacrifice allegation stems from the Wicker Man ritual which is a known druidic practice. Any of the following hypotheses make for plausible stories,

  1. The Tremere mistook the Wicker Man ritual for a diabolic ritual, and made the allegation stick.
  2. The Tremere knew full well that the Wicker Man was just a pagan tradition, but presenting it at diabolic gave them the upper hand.
  3. Demons had high-jacked the pagan traditions and turned the Wicker Man into diabolism.

This is of course in addition to the possibility that Diedne had rejected the Wicker Man practiced by their ancestors, and the possibility that Diedne engaged in other diabolic practices unrelated to the Wicker Man.

Knowing, as a player, which one is true, takes a lot of joy out of Ars Magica.

Also historically a lot of "human sacrifices" that have been attested to may have simply been executions for crimes- then again if you can get power from (non-infernal) human sacrifice and you have a person sentenced to death for a crime...
I mean the state of Texas alone could be generating all kinds of vis for the modern day order...

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Oh. I never realised that that was why they kept doing it.


That gets me thinking. Organ donors, would the organ be an arcane connection to the donor? Things like heart-lung, I can't see it being too useful, but non terminal donations, kidneys for example. What about blood transfusions?

Anyone asking how my thinking get there, certain countries, the organs of people executed by the state are harvested.

When discussing human sacrifices and whether they are automatically diabolic or not, please remember that most of the Order are Latin houses, meaning they refer back to the Romans at some level or other.

And about the one thing the Romans did not tolerate in religion, was human sacrifice. (Ignoring the 2-3 times it was approved by the state, across 700 years or so).
In many ways, the Schism War is little more that a repetition of the roman war against the druids of the British isles.

Good point, and in Historic Europe that settles it. Human sacrifice is evil, and so is pagan worship even if the Romans were late to realise. Nothing else matters.

However, in Mythic Europe, with magi with some intimate knowledge of the four realms, there is still a distinction. Magi may agree that human sacrifice is evil, but they also know that it may be used to feed either faeries or demons, and they know that that makes a difference. It may be a sin in either case, but not diabolism.

There might (YSMV) be situations where it feeds magic as well- certainly vis can be extracted from women through fertility magic, and animal sacrifice can be used instead of vis in contacting (at least some) daimons, there may be lost rituals that provide vis or other benefits to human sacrifice.

Also of note in this is that while the Romans often accused druids of human sacrifice, a number of prominent Romans were also druids themselves, and never ran afoul of the laws regarding human sacrifice, so a lot of the reports may well have been propaganda (or as mentioned earlier, ritually executed criminals). I mean if you viewed nailing someone up on a cross and being left out to suffer for multiple days a form of human sacrifice that the Romans practiced that a lot (just not as part of their religion). Similarly for witch burnings/hangings, execution for relapsed heresy and so forth with Christian religions. Martyrdom could even be described as a form of dominion based human (self) sacrifice.

Let's rephrase this for clarity

Human sacrifice is allowed only if you are an atheist.

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Remenber also the view outlined in Against the Dark: Tremere don't trust gods, and know that being a god doesn't mean being nice.

So even if going by 2, it may very well have been something like "What the Diedne are doing is evil, and, anyway, it will backfire on the order sooner or later, either because their god will betray them, or because they'll betray us at its behest. Yet, they won't stop. But this would be too complicated to explain to the rest of the order, so better to just use the shorthand diedne = diabolists. The difference is moot, anyway".

So you could have a saga in which the diedne were innocent of diabolism, the tremere lied, and yet, they could be right in their reasonning.

I thought we were saying the same thing, but maybe there are more than two subcases here.

2A. The Tremere knew full well that the Wicker Man was just an innocent pagan tradition, but presenting it as diabolic gave them the upper hand in their own struggle for power.
2B. The Tremere were convinced that the Wicker Man was an Evil pagan tradition, but since the rest of the Order consider such traditions Good, they had to lie.
2C. The Tremere knew that the pagan tradition is Evil, also by the Order's standard, but since other magi were too naïve to realise, they cast it as diabolism to expedite action.

Only in the latter case I can see the reasoning as right. Anyway, the Schism was politics, and politics is never black and white.

Yep, this is the kind of thing I meant :slight_smile:
As stated, 2 could mean very different things about the Tremere, and I like that. Theoretically, it allows for 2 very similar sagas, but with some twists ^^

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I think it is more like
2D. The Tremere consider human sacrifice to be evil and sufficient reason by itself to wage war on the Diedne. They also suspected the Diedne practice to be diabolic, and with the Diedne refusing to let the Quaesitores into their covenants to investigate (and the Tytalus diabolism scandal in fresh memory) it was not hard to convince the rest of the Order that this was true.