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Advice for a beginner?


Verderer

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Hi folks, I have recently bough my copy of BRP system, and I am looking for interesting campaign worlds to play in. I got lots of ideas, but for now I am going to try two settings: first of all I got Green Ronin's Freeport books (piratey fantasy) which were originally meant for D20, but the latest copy of the city sourcebook is systemless. Which is nice, as I have had great reservations about starting a d20 game. Now I am hoping they will eventually make BRP/Runequest companion for the setting (they're in the process of writing companions for various systems, I hear.)

As it is, I intend to to use Runequest Pirates books to cover the pirate side of things, and fill out the rest by applying BRP and RQ rules. I got Avalon Hills 3rd edition RQ rules, by the way. I assume it won't be too difficult to combine rules from RQ and BRP? I am thinking professions and magic mostly? I know Mongoose RQ has a separate magic sourcebook, is it very much different from the RQ 3rd edition rules?

The second campaign I got interested is Stupor Mundi for RQ. I'd like to GM a historical campaing such as this, with crusader knights, saracens etc. Anyone tried this campaign with BRP? Does the the campaign book contain campaign specific professions, or do you just apply RQ (or BRP) professions? What about sorcery and divine magic, does the book contain its own spells, or does it use RQ ones? Do you use magic at all?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on using BRP for these games, and any tips you could provide would be appreciated!

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RQ3 rules are 90% compatible with BRP, except for the magic system. Mongoose RQ is a different thing. I think you will find a not so difficult way to convert the materials in RQ Pirates to BRP, the systems are similar.

Stupor Mundi was originally written for RQ3, which means that the original campaign was 80-90% compatible with BRP. However, the published version was adapted to MRQ, which involved some changes. You can play it with BRP with simple adaptations, mainly for the magic. The Stupor Mundi site (Alephtar Games) contains a list of minor changes you can apply to MRQ spells to make them compatible with BRP, but it does not include sorcery (yet) which is used in Stupor Mundi. The only new professions described are monk and knight templar, the others must be taken from RQ (or BRP). If you want a better idea of what to expect, just download the free supplement "The Hounds of Adranos" from the download section of this site.

In general, you can adapt MRQ stuff to RQ3/BRP rather easily, and this is what most old school players usually do.

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I think the Freeport setting rocks boulders for a BRP campaign. I Ran a campaign virtually along the same lines, only to discover the Green Ronin books (still d20 then) and finding that they could have saved me a hell of a lot of work. It is possible to introduce gunpowder (in the form of cannon and flintlocks) into BRP games without upsetting the feel.

As for porting RQ3 into BRP, the previous experience system in RQ3 would take some converting if you wanted to turn it into a BRP professions system. But You can probably find equivalent professions in BRP, anyway, so there might be no need.

I don't have Mongoose RQ, so I can't offer any advice on that front.

Is "rocks boulders" a saying? I guess it is, now. :confused:

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Thanks for the advice, Rosen and Vile! It sounds promising, I am pretty experienced gamer, but it has been years (more like 15 years) since we played RQ. BRP is somewhat new to me, except that I have been CoC keeper for decade or two. So that helps with BRP, and ties in nicely with Freeport which has a mythos element in it.

For Stupor Mundi, I have been thinking about professions and knights. Knight doesn't really exist in RQ or BRP, but there is the noble, soldier and warrior. How would you advice me handle knights, are they nobles or soldiers/warriors? My instict is that they might be bit of both, depending on their background. They might be courtier types or professional soldiers, and so on. I am thinking of making up some new professions to capture that special medieval feel. Has anyone made such specific professions, in addition to the ones Rosen mentioned in SM?

And Rosen, SM doesn't include professions for Teutonic knights or Hospitalers?

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Knight doesn't really exist in RQ or BRP, but there is the noble, soldier and warrior. How would you advice me handle knights, are they nobles or soldiers/warriors?

Just remember that Knight is a title, not a profession. :)

While all knights usually are considered (minor) nobles, and most are trained

as soldiers/warriors, there may well be knighted people from many different

professions: Priests, artists and scholars, merchants ... - the higher nobility

had a habit of using knighthoods as general rewards, and sometimes even

sold them to the highest bidders.

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For Stupor Mundi, I have been thinking about professions and knights. Knight doesn't really exist in RQ or BRP, but there is the noble, soldier and warrior. How would you advice me handle knights, are they nobles or soldiers/warriors?

And Rosen, SM doesn't include professions for Teutonic knights or Hospitalers?

You will find the Knight profession in the Mongoose RQ Companion or Mongoose RQ Deluxe. Or you can make it yourself by mixing the noble and warrior professions of BRP or RQ3.

There is no difference in skills or magic between Knight Templars and Knight Hospitalers, so I refer to all of them as Knight Templars for simplicity. There are a couple details that differ in Teutonic Knights and they are explained in the text, but there is no need for a separate profession. The next book in the Stupor Mundi series (currently in playtesting) will be all about Teutonic Knights.

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Hey, that sounds great! I will be looking forward to the new book. Ordered my PDF copy of Stupor Mundi a moment ago, so that should keep me busy for some time. Also ordered some historical books on the period from Amazon, found a couple that sound really interesting (in addition to the usual Crusades and Knights histories). Pity that the few English biographies of Frederick II seem hard to get...

I guess I can do without any more new RQ books, and it's pretty easy to create the professions yourself. Also, I got many Chaosium's Pendraken RPG books to draw inspiration from (even if they are Arthurian Romance: large parts of it are taken from high medieval period anyways.) One thing I intend to take from Pendraken and which is included in the BRP optional rules, is the opposed character traits. We've always liked the idea.

Rust, I guess I want to narrow the knight profession down to the most basic, noble cavalry fighter type, so it has a more definite place within the profession structure. Those who wear the spurs and carry the sword, sort of thing. And then let the noble be the courtier type, the soldier be the professional mercenary, and and let warrior cover any tribal and other less organised fighter types.

What about allegiances and magic? I havent' decided whether to include magic or not. Certainly I want to include situations where the PC might encounter situations which they might consider magical or miraculous, especially with crusader themes. But will I actually use a magic system, I dunno yet. Same thing goes with religion, does it work or not? If I do use magic, it will be more subtle and not so much fireballs etc. For allegiances heaven and hell would seem obvious to Christian characters, but then I should also include other religions, especially Islam and Judaism. Gnostics and heretics, certainly.

Edited by Verderer
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If you use just the standard divine magic from the MRQ Companion, it does not feel out of place in a realistic campaign. In the last combat during the playtesting Rurik's Teutonic Knight lopped off several pagan limbs with the Blessing of St.George (Truesword) he had cast on his sword, and everything felt ok. You will notice that in Stupor Mundi I have described two famous astrologers of the thirteenth century, Michael Scot and Guido Bonatti. Both are historical, and were believed to be able to make miracles. It is up to you to decide whether they actually have these powers in your game.

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Heh, yeah, but I bet the pagans didn't feel too good?!:)

I spotted the BRP Alchemy rules in the download section, and will certainly give them a go. That reminded me of an old computer game called Darklands which was set in 15th century central Europe. It was pretty cool, with alchemy, knights, priests, witches etc. I want to do something similar in this 13th century environment. I will read more about the MRQ divine magic system. Thanks again!

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Check out the Val-du-loup site ( Val-du-Loup - A Medieval Setting for Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying System BRP ). It has a lot of good stuff for historical BRP campaigns, including several new professions (including variations of knight).

I've also been working on a historical campaign set in the Crusader States.

De Gesta Francorum BRP Campaign . Not a lot of game rule stuff there, but some setting info.

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This is getting better and better, thanks for the links, bobapple! I think I may be able to use the Val-du-Loup pretty much as it is, and the crusader material is also useful, even if it does handle somewhat earlier events. :thumb:

I have been thinking more of the allegiances thing, and I am inclined to make things somewhat more complex than the black and white Heaven-Hell juxtaposition. I am thinking firstly that I would add a third divine allegiance which I might call Gnosis, or perhaps Aeons? I have to brush up my knowledge of Gnosticism, and it would been good to come up with an explanation how all the three might exist simultaneously.

Then, in addition to the divine entities there would be the Churches who act as intermediaries between the divine and mortals. In this role some of the divine has brushed on the churches themselves, and they have become Powers on their own, even if they are not the source itself. So they too can be targets of allegiances. Sometimes churches might work independently of, or even in opposition to, their divine 'parent'. So this might explain why a Pope might commit the most unchristian and cruel acts, and yet remain the focus the Christian world and be able to use divine powers. And why an individual might be most holy and perfom wondrous miracles without the blessing of the Church.

All this is kind of hazy and random in my head, but I hope you get what I am trying to say here? Does this make any sense?:rolleyes:

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I think it does make sense. :)

For example, both the Latin Church of Rome and the Orthodox Church of

the Byzantine Empire would basically be on the same side, with the same

basic (Christian) allegiance, but in fact they were bitter enemies most of

the time, and the consequences of an allegiance "to Rome" could therefore

be rather different from the consequences of an allegiance "to Byzantium"

for a player (or non-player) character - for example during the time when

the crusaders had conquered Byzantium.

Moreover, more than two dualistic "Good - Bad" allegiances would also give

you an opportunity to introduce interesting "shades of grey" when it comes

to the relations between crusaders and muslims, I think.

For example, the Templars often allied with muslim rulers, and the muslims

had their own various allegiances (Sunna, Shia, etc.) that prevented them

from being a unified power and that could give them more "colour" than

just one ("bad") "Islamic allegiance".

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Exactly, that's the sort of thing I am after. And the conflicts wouldn't be limited to inter-church relations: what happens when a character has conflicting allgiances, for example Heaven versus Church (Catholic)? In a situation where such a conflict might arise, the character has to choose which way to go, and this will have long reaching consequences. Will he endanger his/her salvation to gain power within the church? Or a character might start with both in harmony (an idealist, no doubt), and the drift might happen slowly, until one day the character might become persecuted by the same church that originally offered succour. Or Choosing Heaven over church, he becomes a hermit, or a saint in making? Lots of possiblities, which can be played out.:innocent:

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Hmmmm, I think it is up to you to decide how many Allegiances you introduce in a realistic medieval world. You can devise one for each Religion, one for each Church (splitting up Muslims and Christians into factions) or just the basic God/Satan dualism. Personally, I think that allegiance works better when your deities are personifications of natural forces rather than with monotheistic religion, but it is a matter of taste.

Gnosticism would be a very interesting addition to a game, but be aware that it is extinct in the age of the Crusades (it was common during the first centuries AD), so you are stretching history a bit. If you want to introduce realistic alternate churches and sects you can try the French reformers, who are described (alas briefly) in Stupor Mundi and were common in the twelfth and thirteenth century. They are easier to roleplay than gnostics, too, because their beliefs are more or less equivalent to modern Lutherans. Plus Jews were rather common in Europe at that time, even more than now.

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Yes, Gnostics certainly were rather scarce at the time, but there were certain heresies which have much in common with gnosticism, I am told. Mainly Albigensians/Cathars in the Europe, And they were considered a large enough a threat during the 13th century, that a crusade was required. And there would the Gnostics of Ethiopia, and the Zarahustrans of the Middle East, if I recall correctly? And not to forget, there would have been forbidden/hidden knowledge from the ancients in the form of books etc. Think along the lines of Simon Magus and Hermes Trismegistus.

Anyways, my intention is to include various other heresies under the banner of gnosticism. In my game it should have an appeal to the individuals anyways, not large masses as such. So Gnosticism wouldn't require/varrant a church. I hope the mysticism and individualism would appeal to the sorcerously inclined PCs. I feel Gnostics (and some other heretics) deserve a real divine power, as to make it a true threat to the (Catholic) Church.

And something to toy with is the possiblity that Templars might have adapted such heretical thinking into their version of Christianity (unless you decide they were unjustly accused, as they most likely were.) It would be an opportunity to make the Templars the 'bad guys' from the catholic point of view, if you're so inclined.

EDIT: and we shouldn't forget the Saints either, their worship is an interesting part of the Catholic faith. Perhaps even some Major saints would deserve an Allegiance? This type of thing will make religion a rather complex and convoluted issue, but I feel that is entirely approprite!:lol:

Edited by Verderer
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Yes, Gnostics certainly were rather scarce at the time, but there were certain heresies which have much in common with gnosticism, I am told. Mainly Albigensians/Cathars in the Europe

Hmmm, their theology had very little to do with gnosticism. They were more like Lutherans. This could not be true in your game, of course.

And there would the Gnostics of Ethiopia, and the Zarahustrans of the Middle East, if I recall correctly? And not to forget, there would have been forbidden/hidden knowledge from the ancients in the form of books etc. Think along the lines of Simon Magus and Hermes Trismegistus.

Ethiopian gnostics are a much more realistic source of fun. Zarathustra has nothing to do with Christianity, and I cannot recall whether there were any more of his followers at that time. Of course some knowledge can have survived, and this is MGF (Maximum Game Fun).

Anyways, my intention is to include various other heresies under the banner of gnosticism. In my game it should have an appeal to the individuals anyways, not large masses as such. So Gnosticism wouldn't require/varrant a church. I hope the mysticism and individualism would appeal to the sorcerously inclined PCs. I feel Gnostics (and some other heretics) deserve a real divine power, as to make it a true threat to the (Catholic) Church.

Then use Sorcery for this (either BRP or MRQ Sorcery).

And something to toy with is the possiblity that Templars might have adapted such heretical thinking into their version of Christianity (unless you decide they were unjustly accused, as they most likely were.) It would be an opportunity to make the Templars the 'bad guys' from the catholic point of view, if you're so inclined.

Doing something similar for the next episode.

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Rust, it was probably Manicheans I meant when I said Zoroastrians. :o

Rosen, from what I have read on the Cathars, I'd say they had many similar elements with Gnosticism in their theology. For example the dualistic view on God, the evil nature of the material world, the means of reaching personal salvation / divinity for the select few etc. Of course, there were many variations within Cathar beliefs too.

It seems Catharism had its roots in Bogomilism which in turn had a lot in common with Paulicianism and Manichaeism which in turn resembled Zoroastrianism and Gnosticism in some significant ways.

I dunno if these heresies can be said to form a direct lineage, but they all include some basic tenets which look similar enough for me. And it's remarkable how these features are carried from the Asia all the way to the Western Europe in some form or another, and indeed endured for many centuries. It is also intriguing to think what Christianity would be like today, if the early Church fathers had not suppressed some of these 'heresies'.

I intend to link sorcery in some ways to this Gnostic Allegiance, in the same way I will link RQ Divine magic with the established religions (Catholism/Orthodoxism/Islam/Juadism). So in some ways my sorcery will contain a divine element, but it comes from the divine nature of the casting individual, not from the Heaven/Hell/Churches. So when casting sorcery, the caster is in essence enacting his/her divine nature. And I could see Alchemism as en extension of this, freeing the divine self from the restrictions of the (evil?) material world.

Obivously, I need to work on these ideas some more, and would welcome any input.

EDIT: Heh, all this reminds me of the fun Chaosium card game Credo! have to play it again sometime soon.:)

Edited by Verderer
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And I could see Alchemism as en extension of this, freeing the divine self from the restrictions of the (evil?) material world.

I think alchemism had a kind of dual nature, on the one hand the religious

background you mentioned, but on the other hand also very non-religious

proto-scientific background.

Many of the Arabic alchemists and at least some of the European ones (e.g.

Albertus Magnus, a saint ;)) had a quite scientific, experimental approach to

alchemism - they were far more scholars than mystics, I think.

I am not sure what this could mean for your setting, except that scholars

with sorcery skills might become a profession, perhaps also a "second career"

for certain religious figures (like Albertus).

Somehow I have to think of "The Name of the Rose" (I hope this was the

English title) and the Franciscan monk played by Sean Connery ... :)

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This has become a very interesting discussion.

I think alchemism had a kind of dual nature, on the one hand the religious

background you mentioned, but on the other hand also very non-religious

proto-scientific background.

They did and they didn't. From what I have read, Medieval Alchemy is about Transformation. That could be Transformation on substances as well as Transformation of the Spirit.

Many of the Arabic alchemists and at least some of the European ones (e.g.

Albertus Magnus, a saint ;)) had a quite scientific, experimental approach to

alchemism - they were far more scholars than mystics, I think.

Medieval Alchemists were definitely Mystics but they were also Scholars. As to how much of their nature you want to introduce into a RPG, that between the GM and players. I would use both ideas, making Alchemists Mystics and Scholars, looking to transform themselves and society as well as investigating the properties of transforming other substances.

I am not sure what this could mean for your setting, except that scholars

with sorcery skills might become a profession, perhaps also a "second career"

for certain religious figures (like Albertus).

Again, from what I have read, it looks as though there were very few people who were just Scholars. Many mathematicians, for example, were also clerics or noblemen. I can see Alchemists and Magicians having a lot in common with a lot of crossover.

This is reawakening my interest in a Medieval Alternate Earth Setting.

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First off I would like to say this is a very interesting discussion. I don't want to interject any kind of stumbling block in your conversation but I would like to join in a bit. I may perhaps not be educated well enough to join in. Tell me to shut up if I am going to ruin the buzz.

I had to go pull out the old boxed RQ3 edition, (yeah I have had it a couple of days)

OK so I am the "newbie" (first post) here but my experience was with RQ3 with its baseline "Alternate Earth" setting and I have only looked at a little of the BRC rules, o I am going with what I know, magic be it Spirit Magic, Divine Magic or Sorcery(Alchemy) more or less based on the different baseline cultures that could be chosen, though the focus was some what more (in my mind) towards the first ten centuries and before. But in basics could be applied to the 13th century just as well.

I agree with Verderer to go with an understated magic system, but at least in RQ3 it was possible for everyone to have some sort of “magic”.

But is that what you want in your game?

Is “magic” to be kept to only a certain few (i.e. players and major NPC's) or is there the everyday “hedge magic”?

Hedge magic, such as honing a blade while reciting a particular prayer, with your grandfathers sharping stone, using a rare oil, or humming a tune that encourages a proper method of producing a superior edge (though temporary) effectively it to the “bladesharp spell”? You know those every day miracles that happen to everyone?

Yes, you can have your historical and theological debate between the Gnostic's and the Lutherans and the various sections of Muslim. But if your players are not interested in those bits and would rather be hacking up one side or the other in a quest for gold or relics as was so often the case in the crusades (least for individuals) the point become a bit moot to me.

Of course I am making assumptions that your players are on crusade some how. Is that your setting or is it something else such as court in France? Or a plague ridden armpit of the world? Oh and I have not even touched on, dare I say it... Monsters? I guess I should find out more about Stupor Mundi.

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That's a good question, BroCoyote. I think I want to limit the availability of magic quite a lot, especially compared with RQ3. Sure, the common folks might know some folkloric ways which could well be certain low key spirit magic spells, and the village wise women/men might know more. I haven't quite figured out yet what I want to do with the so-called Witches. Are they in league with Satan, or are they more of the white magic shaman types? So like the Templar question, it depends whether I want to make them the bad guys or not.

Divine magic I would reserve solely to priests etc, so no divine magic for laymen. And the knowledge of Sorcery and Alchemy would be extremely limited, only a few scholars or other special enlightened persons would know of these.

I do want to make religious issues and Crusades an important factor in my campaign, even if they weren't the central theme. So hopefully my players are interested in these things. I can certainly direct them to these themes by the choice of adventures and available character classes, and as there will the a great secret or conspiracy which they get lots of hints of, I am sure at least some of them can't help getting curious about it. And I think religion is an ever present factor in the lives of medieval men, it will be inevitable that matters of faith play a part at some point.

I think religion is a major factor in portraying the lifes of medieval people. It can be hard for us to understand how throroughly religion permeated their lifes, I think. Everything was seen through the mirror of religion, it affected how people thought of the world and each other, and of issues such as philosophy, medicine, politics, and indeed alchemy and magic. And most academic thinking was limited to following certain approved classic sources. There were precious few of 'free thinkers' and those were quickly condemned as witches or heretics, I guess.

But the I guess at the same time the seeds of scientific and free thinking were already sown in the form of Universities? And in addition, contact with other cultures, trading, the exchange of knowledge or even the Crusades, would broaden the Western people's world view, and eventually lead to Renaissance?

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I haven't quite figured out yet what I want to do with the so-called Witches. Are they in league with Satan, or are they more of the white magic shaman types?

In my opinion they would be more "grey": Practitioners of old Pagan know-

ledge, but without the true philosophical / religious background, doing what

works well without knowing exactly why and how it works.

To make them Satanic would paint most of the common folk superstitions

and thelike rather "black" and could give the campaign a "dark" streak.

As far as I can judge it (which is not very far), true Satanists were very ra-

re, and more likely to come from the middle and upper class, like for exam-

ple the (in)famous Gilles de Rais:

Gilles de Rais - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But the I guess at the same time the seeds of scientific and free thinking were already sown in the form of Universities? And in addition, contact with other cultures, trading, the exchange of knowledge or even the Crusades, would broaden the Western people's world view, and eventually lead to Renaissance?

In my opinion, the most important long-term results of the Crusades were

the translations of important Arabic scientific works, often Arabic transla-

tions of important Greek works, which completely changed the European cor-

pus of scientific knowledge.

In fact, Medieval European scholarship was almost entirely based upon those

translations, most of them done by Jewish scholars in Spain.

The Renaissance probably is the result of the fall of Byzantium, centuries

later, which forced many scholars from there to flee to European countries,

bringing their knowledge (and often their most valuable books) with them.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I guess it would useful to make a distinction between a wise woman/man, and a Witch at this point? Wise women would be your village healer type of persons (but sometimes misthought as witches by the ignorant and narrow-minded), and proper Witches/Warlocks would the ones who have made a pact with the Devil (Satan, Dark Man, whatever), and/or practice dark and blasphemous sorceries?

As to Renaissance, there's no doubt that the classical ancient and Arabic books had a huge effect on the birth of this 'golden era'. But equally important was the liberation of thought from Christian control. The sciences & arts were practiced for their own sake, not just to praise the glory of God. For example in the visual arts, sculpture and painting would more and more move on to secular subjects, portraying reality and beauty as worthy values on their own. To be sure the ancient and Arabic books had a large part in this, especially as they were for the large part free of Christian values.

In the context of Stupor Mundi, we're beginning to see signs of this liberation or severance from the Church in various forms. We have several heresies and religious reformation movements, we have the increased trade with the East and the Crusades, we have the Universities, and we have the power struggle between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope. I am eager to read more of Frederick II, as he seems to have been a very controversial person, perhaps even some sort of pre-renaissance man?

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I guess it would useful to make a distinction between a wise woman/man, and a Witch at this point? Wise women would be your village healer type of persons (but sometimes misthought as witches by the ignorant and narrow-minded), and proper Witches/Warlocks would the ones who have made a pact with the Devil (Satan, Dark Man, whatever), and/or practice dark and blasphemous sorceries?

In my opinion, this would be a very good idea, and closer to historical truth

than treating all practitioners of "folk magic" as somehow allied with Evil.

In fact, I have no doubt that a majority of the wise women / village healers

considered themselves good Christians (until told otherwise by the Church),

and would have been shocked by any accusation to have anything to do

with Satanism.

As for the Renaissance, I think we might have a little "terminology problem".

Over here, the early part of the movement that led to the Renaissance, with

its roots in Medieval times, is usually called Humanism, while the later part,

well after the Medieval Age, is called Renaissance.

So, it may well be that we mean exactly the same phenomenon, but use

different words for it. :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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