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Faith and Flame

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Faith and Flame: The Provençal Tribunal
Cover illustration for Faith and Flame: The Provençal Tribunal
Product Information
Rules Edition: Fifth Edition
Abbreviation: FaF
Product Type: Tribunal Sourcebook
Author(s): Erik Dahl, Mark Faulkner, Lachie Hayes, Ben McFarland, Christian Jensen Romer
Publisher: Atlas Games
Product Number: AG0308
ISBN: 1-58978-149-X
Release date: June, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 144 pages
Availability: Hardcover

Faith and Flame: The Provençal Tribunal is a supplement for Fifth Edition, released in June 2014. (See also the official product page.)

Subject and Contents[edit]

This Fifth Edition sourcebook is the first full treatment of the Provençal Tribunal. Provençal was the default setting in ArM2.[1] but until 2014 had not been detailed in a book of its own. In fact, Provençal was the final Regional Tribunal to receive its own sourcebook.[2]

The product page contains the summary of the book's contents that is available before its release.

Additional material by the authors cut from the official release is available in the Provencal themed issue #17 of Sub Rosa and/or on various author's websites, social media sites and blogs [3].

The Cathar Heresy and the Crusade against the heretics are a central and defining conflict of the region throughout the canonical Ars Magica period. These are described in detail in Chapter II.

Chapter II: History & Culture[edit]

This chapter presents both the Hermetic and mundane history of the region, which in this Tribunal are intertwined.

Descriptions of fifteen lost covenants destroyed by the conflicts of the Tribunal -- the Schism War and the Albigensian Crusade -- appear on pages 10-11.

The Cathar heresy is described on pages 13-15. This is a defining conflict of the region during the early thirteenth century. Compared to Second Edition supplements, this book takes a more balanced view of the religious strife in the region. It explains the differences of religious doctrine between the Cathars and the Catholic Church, as well as the zealotry and violence on both sides. Both Catholics and Cathars had allies among the nobility, so the political dimension of the conflict is apparent. The Order of Hermes has divided opinion on relations with the heretics (p. 15).

The major events of the Albigensian Crusade are laid out on pages 15-19. By 1220, a second crusade has begun. ArM5 canon only describes history up to 1220. For a summary of later (real-world) events, see wikipedia.

Chapter III: Hermetic Culture[edit]

The Provençal Tribunal is a relatively easy place to found a new covenant, as explained on page 21.

"The Provençal Tribunal has three main power centers. In the west, the Mercurian magi of Aedes Mercurii and the Mithraian magi of Castra Solis dispute the true legacy of Val-Negra and House Flambeau. In the east, the chapterhouses that compose the multi-site Coenobium attempt to prevent new covenants form forming.[4]

Other prominent Hermetic factions in the Tribunal are the Mystery Cults of the Legion of Mithras, the Cult of Mercury, and the Knights of the Green Stone.

The Gorgiastic Cathars, an Ex Miscellanea tradition of mystical magi practicing the Cathar religion, is described on pages 30-31. As an Ex Miscellanea tradition, the Gorgiastic Cathars are Hermetic magicians with a customized package of Virtues and Flaws, not hedge wizards.

There is a helpful inset on page 31 listing NPC magi from Provençal who would make suitable parentes for player-magi. In other words, if you want your PC to have been apprenticed in Provençal, there is a handy table of magi who could have trained your PC.

Chapter IV: The County of Toulouse[edit]

The county contains two covenants, Tolosa Partage and Ostal des Exiles although Lariander and Windgraven (also listed in Chapter VI) are listed as ex-covenants. Description of the region includes mention of enchanted places and creatures such as the magical lake of Tolosa Partage and the faerie White Ladies of the town of Albi. The chapter also describes the capitol city, seat of the powerful Count of Toulouse. The (in)famous Crusader Count Simon de Montfort was killed in 1218. His son, Amuary, still claims the title of Count although Raimond (from whom Simon took the title) currently holds the city and title by miltary force.

Chapter V: Gascony[edit]

The province of Gascony currently contains only one offical covenant, Castra Solis. Mimizan is sometimes referred to as a covenant and is the residence of the current Praeco but it is technically part of Castra Solis.

However, the chapter also contains information on many other areas of interest including The Way of St James - referred to on page 50 as "the third most popular pilgramage in Mythic Europe - after Rome and Jerusalem". This means there are many Story Seeds with accompanying potential allies or antagonists.

Chapter VI: The Pyrenees and the Hispanic March[edit]

The chapter details the three current covenants in the area Aedes Mercurii, Bellaquin (recently relocated here) and Miniata Sophia. There are several ex-covenants noted, most notably Mistridge and Windgraven (also listed in Chapter IV) from previous canon. Val-Negra is also here geographically but it merits it's own chapter, see below.

This chapter also contains information about the Basques and even includes a new folk witch Tradition, The Sorginak with new virtues, flaws and abilities and some modified Powers.

Chapter VII: Narbonnais[edit]

The two extant covenants in the region are Ara Maxima Nova and Stella Durus.

The region is witness to the struggles of the Count of Toulouse and the kings of France and Aragon.

Also here is part of the Via Domitia amongst various other sites.

Chapter VIII: Arelat[edit]

The Coenobium (officially The Coenobium Rhodanien) is the only recognized covenant in the area and is an unusual multi-site covenant. The number of ex-covenants is large and the formation of the Coenobium is partly due to this.

There are a large number of Story Seeds in this chapter and several creatures, including the Lesser Drac and Tarasque are included. Additional Story Seed material and cut-files of hedge traditions, covenants and characters developed by the author can be found in the "Faith and Flame" section of the "My Life as a Grog" website [3].

Chapter IX: The Lost Covenant of Val-Negra[edit]

An entire chapter is devoted to the Lost Covenant of Val-Negra. It includes a map, location details, obstacles and creatures making it a playable area.

Covenants[edit]

Several covenants mentioned in past editions supplement such as ArM2, Covenants (Second Edition), and ArM3, are mentioned as having been disbanded or destroyed. In ArM1 through ArM3, the nominal starting date for Sagas was 1197[citation needed]. Starting in ArM4, Sagas nominally start in 1220. Although officially, canon was "rebooted" in ArM5, the authors of Faith and Flame did write older, "classic" covenants such as Lariander, Mistridge, Windgraven into the history of the Tribunal.

Those that don't appear on the list above disbanded, relocated outside the Tribunal, or were destroyed during the eventful 23 years between ArM3 and ArM5 start dates, which included the Crusade. Several other covenants and covenant ideas were cut during editing.

While the Covenant of Doissetep does not exist canonicaly in Fifth Edition, in earlier editions, it was located in the Provençal Tribunal as well. See one of the author's comments, "Whatever Happened to Dois..." for the true story...

Reviews and Commentary[edit]

Please add your reviews and impressions here. Criticism is encouraged as long as it doesn't cross the line into abuse.

What this book will add to your Saga[edit]

Faith and Flame takes ArM5 back to the game's roots, when the Provençal Tribunal was the default setting of ArM1 and ArM2. COOFs will probably enjoy it just for nostalgia. There are plenty of good reasons why southern France makes a great setting for a saga. As ArM1 pointed out, the troubadour tradition and ideals of chivalry and courtly love run strong in the region, giving it a romantic flair.

There's considerable emphasis on the supernatural throughout this book. It is a good example of how to evoke Mythic Europe. (Andrew Gronosky)

This supplement takes a deep dive into the history and culture of House Flambeau. This includes all branches of the House, the Cult of Mercury, the Mithraians, and the milites.

New Mercurian rituals are found in a large inset on pages 26-27.

Why this book may not be right for you[edit]

If you prefer to keep the religious aspects of Mythic European society in the background, the Provençal Tribunal in the early thirteenth century, epicenter of probably the largest and bloodiest religious turmoil in western medieval Europe, may not be the right choice. Player's attitudes toward religion in general and toward the Catholic church in particular may tend to bubble up to the surface, and you might find those attitudes are not held in common by everyone in the group. It is advisable to have a calm discussion about your players' real-world attitude toward religion before you select Provençal as your Saga's setting. If not everyone is comfortable having that discussion, or if it doesn't remain calm, then you'll almost certainly have a better Saga if you choose a Tribunal with no major religious war in progress. (Tribunals with major religious wars in 1220 are Provençal, Iberia, and the Levant.)

You could end up with PCs sympathetic to opposite sides of the Crusade. Don't get me wrong, that can make for great dramatic tension if your troupe can handle it -- but it can ruin your saga and real-world friendships if you pretend your group can handle it but they actually can't. Most people who play RPGs aren't looking for high inter-PC drama. If that's the case, you might want to agree among your troupe for all magi to be explicitly neutral in the conflict, or all sympathetic to the same side. (Andrew Gronosky)

Obviously, if your saga is set far from Provence, Faith and Flame will be of less practical use.

References[edit]

  1. Ars Magica Revised Edition, pp. 132-145, "The Setting: Mistridge Saga"
  2. David Chart, forum post, 1 March 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 My Life as a Grog: Faith and Flame (Provençal)
  4. Faith & Flame: the Provençal Tribunal, p. 22, "The Covenants of the Tribunal."

External links[edit]