Devil's Advocate
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Basic Information

A "Devil's Advocate" is a term used to describe someone who argues against a favored point of view not necessarily because he disagrees with it, but because he wants to test it and see if there are any logical flaws in it. The term came from a position in the Roman Catholic Church involved in the process of canonization.

The office was established in 1587 by Pope Sixtus V and officially called the promotor fideles ("Promoter of the Faith"). The way the system was organized, when a candidate was being considered for sainthood, a sort of trial-in-reverse was held in which one canon lawyer would argue that the person deserved to be sainted, and another would present objections. Since the lawyer arguing for sainthood was called the advocatus Dei ("God's Advocate"), it was only natural that the opposing position would be called the advocatus diaboli ("Devil's Advocate").

The role of the Promoter of the Faith was modified in 1983 by Pope John Paul II and the canonization process greatly streamlined.


Game and Story Use

  • The party is hired by an Advocatus Diaboli to investigate an alleged miracle-working holy man to determine whether he is a suitable candidate for sainthood.
  • Within a party, one player may adopt the role of "Devil's Advocate" when discussing plans of action
    • In GURPS this would be considered an Odious Personal Habit and be worth points.
  • Not to be confused with the Devil's Advocaat - a bottle of a Dutch drink made from lawyers and indistinguishable from any other bottle of the same stuff except that it belongs to The Devil.
  • In a dualistic faith, the Devil's advocate in any case might actually be a priest or other devotee of the opposing deity.
    • Or the Devil may appoint counsel in his own right … a step down, perhaps from dualism but to the same effect. Cynics might suggest that any lawyer would be capable of fulfilling this role.
  • More action orientated faiths might substitute other forms of trial, leading to champions for each cause competing in ordeals or judicial combat.
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