2016/01/07

The difference between Enchantments and Miracles

To me, Magic has always been the most important part of a fantasy role-playing game. After all, what sets apart any fantasy world from our own world is only one thing: the fact that it is fantasy, that is, that fantastical things can happen. Dragons exist, magicians exist and they can wield powers unimaginable to mortal humans, ans so forth.

Also, Magic should be magical. Therefore i have always despised the treatment Magic receives under most of the rule systems available on the market: hence, in my world, you'll never find any trace whatsoever of wizards throwing fireballs or flying in the sky. In my view Magic is something FAR more mysterious, much rarer, and much risky.

It exists, but it is totally cloaked in mystery, almost unapproachable by humans. If you really dare studying it, be prepared to lose your soul or something similar.

See for instance the opening phrases in Land of the Rising Sun rpg:


Definitely, it sets the tone and you are instantly transported in a faery-realm, so to speak, quite different from the one we are used to (magicians depicted as battle machines).

So, to reiterate, Magic is the most important thing in a role-playing game that is of the Fantasy type, and Magic should be magical, otherwise it is spoiled of all its fascination and charm, it loses its potential and it doesn't succeed in conveying the sense of wonder and mysticism it ought to possess.

That said, if magicians in my campaign are very rare (and it is nigh impossible to have one as a player character- because to me that would amount to let a player run an Istari like Gandalf in my world), Priests of any kind are even rarer- to the point that they just don not exist anywhere. 
I totally removed the priest class. Why?- you might ask.

Well, the point is that they wield a power that is even more fabulous- a power man is not meant to know, ascertain, nor comprehend. We are entering here in the Divine Realm.
Whereas Magic and the occult science is an esoteric kind of science, priests devoted themselves to the ineffable and the Divine.

This kind of distinction is always underrated. How could i blame this fact if even what i consider an obvious, self-evident truth about Magic is underrated? (See what we said about it before).
Put in another way, if Magic is mysterious, the Divine is mysterious up to the point of being unfathomable.

As i made in some previous articles (you'll find a list of these at the bottom of this post), i will relate a story which explains all this.



St Cyprian was a pagan and a native of Antioch. From his early childhood his misguided parents dedicated him to the service of the pagan gods. From age seven until thirty, Cyprian studied at the most outstanding centers of paganism: on Mount Olympus, in the cities of Argos and Tauropolis, in the Egyptian city of Memphis, and at Babylon. Once he attained eminent wisdom in pagan philosophy and the sorcerer’s craft, he was consecrated into the pagan priesthood on Mount Olympus. Having discovered great power by summoning unclean spirits, he beheld the Prince of Darkness himself, and spoke with him and received from him a host of demons in attendance.

After returning to Antioch, Cyprian was revered by the pagans as a prominent pagan priest, amazing people by his ability to cast spells, to summon pestilence and plagues, and to conjure up the dead. He brought many people to ruin, teaching them to serve demons and how to cast magic spells.
The holy virgin Justina lived in Antioch. After turning her own father and mother away from pagan error and leading them to the true faith in Christ, she dedicated herself to the Heavenly Bridegroom and spent her time in fasting and prayer. When the youth Aglaides proposed marriage to her, the saint refused, for she wished to remain a virgin. Agalides sought Cyprian’s help and asked for a magic spell to charm Justina into marriage. But no matter what Cyprian tried, he could accomplish nothing, since the saint overcame all the wiles of the devil through her prayers and fasting.
Cyrian sent demons to attack the holy virgin, trying to arouse fleshly passions in her, but she dispelled them by the power of the Sign of the Cross and by fervent prayer to the Lord.
Even though one of the demonic princes and Cyprian himself, assumed various guises by the power of sorcery, they were not able to sway St Justina, who was guarded by her firm faith in Christ. All the spells dissipated, and the demons fled at the mere mention of the saint’s name.
Cyprian, in a rage, sent down pestilence and plague upon Justina’s family and upon all the city, but this was thwarted by her prayer. Cyprian’s soul, corrupted by its domination over people and by his incantations, was shown in all the depth of his downfall, and also the abyss of nothingness of the evil that he served.
“If you take fright at even the mere shadow of the Cross and the Name of Christ makes you tremble,” said Cyprian to Satan, “then what will you do when Christ Himself stands before you?” The devil then flung himself upon the pagan priest who had begun to repudiate him, and attempted to beat and strangle him.



2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting. So, if I am understanding this correctly, the events that occur through magic (fireballs, etc.) and the events that occur through miracles (healing, etc.) come from two different sources. If miracles are sourced from divine intervention, where is magic sourced from? The planet itself?

Thanks for the perspective.

Catacomb librarian said...

That's a good question.

In my view, the two most probable sources are the Infernal realm or The Faerie Realm (for both, see the corresponding book in Ars Magica).

Another option could be from other planes of existence (see how TSR "Spells & Magic" supplement deals with this topic), In this case, it is the contact with extra-planar devilish entities which grant powers to the mage.

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