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posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

See, you know what just came out? A new Onyx Path game! Well, sort of. A new edition to one. Specifically, Mage 2e just came out. (Well, technically speaking, it releases tomorrow, but it released to Beast backers a few days ago and while I am not a Beast backer, I know someone who didn't pull backing before it ended, and so...) The first edition of Mage was released way back in August of 2005 - just over ten years ago, really.

The cover looks the same. And when Mage 1e came out, it was met with rather lackluster feeling - in part because people were still mad about the whole oWoD/nWoD thing, but also because Mage 1e was laid out terribly, had no clear direction at the time and spent a lot of time talking about an Atlantean prehistory that was essentially irrelevant to most of play. As the line went on, however, the game found its feet and ended up as quite a good game, if bogged down by some poor mechanics decisions in certain areas (Mage Sight, for example) and some bad books (Free Council, for example). So, what's changed?

The art's pretty great.

So, straight up, we open with our themes: Gnosis and Mystery. Mages are the Awakened, humans who have unlocked the potential that exists, buried deep in every person, to see the occult symbols and magical conspiracies that influence every part of the world. Mages have power because of this, as their insight into the true nature of the world lets them perform the Art - magic, the manipulation of symbols to cast spells. While they are no more than any human when surprised, they are capable of grand power when prepared. They deepen their insight, called Gnosis, by seeking out and understanding the Mysteries of the world - the strange, the bizarre, the unknown. They deal with these mysteries by use of the ten Arcana, each of which controls some aspect of reality. The more power they gain, the more esoteric the Mysteries they seek, until they either escape this world entirely or die. Mages must deal both with the powerful supernatural beings of this world, which they know as the Fallen World, and the fact that most humans are Sleepers - people whose souls reject magic and recoil from it.

Why do they call this world the Fallen World? Well, because...it is. People want to believe reality is only what they can touch and see, that the physical is more real than abstract concepts, which exist only to define the real. The world is all of reality - a cruel, oppressive reality that grinds us down. Hunger, oppression, failure, prejudice, pain, disease...and in the World Chronicles of Darkness, the voice in your soul that tells you you have no worth, that you are a mere human. Keep your head down. Survive. Don't look at the monsters. Focus on the now.

That's all a lie. The Lie. It is a Lie created by evil gods out of the symbols of oppression and the Paradox that draws off the untrue world of the Abyss. Mages Awaken by confronting that Lie, either deep in themselves, or by being shocked by the world, seeing past the Lie to the symbols that lie beneath. These symbols, this secret truth, is the Supernal World. The real world. This Fallen World around us is not real, not true - it is merely physical and concrete. Despite this understanding, however, mages too are trapped here by those evil gods. They can see the Supernal but can never reach out and touch it. They can see how the Supernal symbols inform the Fallen World, but cannot become those symbols and experience the being of pure magic. However, they do know that the Supernal is inhabited by creatures - creatures of pure magic. And some of those creatures are evil gods.

These beings, known as the Exarchs, made the Lie. They did it to keep humans vulnerable to their influence and ignorant of it. Halfway between the Supernal power and the comfort of the Sleeping Curse, mages often feel like their lives are always moving - always forward, unable to go back to what once was. They refer to the symbols that resonate with them as Paths, and labyrinth or prison imagery is common in their description of Mysteries. By focusing on an imaginary journey, the mages can shut out the physical world and go inward, traveling to the Astral landscapes of the human soul. And in the far reaches of the Fallen World, hidden and secret, there are signs that once, the world was not Fallen. Once, the Exarchs did not rule. This was the Time Before, when humans were free, and it seems to these mages that study it that it is possible, by some means unknown to most, to Ascend to those realms Supernal and dwell there forever, in the world of truth.

The problem, of course, is that even if they knew how, it would not be teachable with mere words. Magic must be experienced. It transforms the user, and the journey is just as important as the solution reached at the end. That is part of why mages seek Mystery - to experience and be transformed by their magic. And there is so much Mystery. See, once Gnosis exists, it never leaves. You can't turn it off. Once you have seen the Supernal, you don't stop seeing it. Everything supernatural - from the weakest ghost to the greatest power - stands out to mages without any efforto n their part. They feel it around them constantly, a sensation they can never ignore. Other supernatural can pretend the world is normal still, despite their being vampires or werewolves. Mages can't. They know that magic is everywhere. Even if they tried to ignore it and live a noraml life, they'd soon be forced to deal with strangeness just by their own screaming senses. A rare few cannot take it, lashing out at magic and other mages, but most are prouder and sterner. Their Paths call them to face the unknown, to learn and understand and grow closer to the Supernal truth. With more insight, they gain more power, and with more power, they can seek more difficult Mysteries, despite all the risks to their minds, their souls, their friends. This is the greatest flaw mages have: hubris. They know their obsessions are worth any means, and their pride is great. They can't fail, can they?

So how's that for no direction?

Because this is an Onyx Path game, we also get a list of inspirational media. For things directly involving wizards: Hellblazer, The Invisibles, The Night Watch books, House of Leaves and The Dresden Files. For non-wizard media: True Detective, Dark City, John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders. It also suggests some other OP bookx: the Chronicles of Darkness core to get more expanded core rules than the somewhat abridged set in the book, the six 1e Order books, which are mostly good (except Free Council) and provide an in-depth look at each major Order of mages. Left-Hand Path, which talks about heretical mages - the Mad, the Scelesti, the Reapers, and more. And the Fallen World Anthology, the companion book to this which is a set of 12 Mage-focused short stories. I haven't read it, myself.

Next time: Paths of Power


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition

So, mages have only some idea of the cosmology of the Supernal. Some argue that there are infinite numbers of Supernal Realms, hidden deep in the Supernal World, beyond what mages can see. Others believe there is only one Supernal Realm, and that any seeming division is simply mortal minds imposing order on magic, which has no divisions. Despite these debates, practically speaking, mages have five different Paths, reflecting five facts of the Supernal and five ways to see through the Lie. In the Time Before, it is possible that these Paths did not exist, and some mages believe the symbolism of the Watchtowers seen in many Awakenigns is a sign that something in the Supernal is creating mages, much as the Exarches create the Lie. The Silver Ladder names these theoretical beings Oracles, but no mage has ever claimed to have met one during their Awakening. In any case, each Path is dominated by the symbolism of two Ruling Arcana, which mages of the Path have a natural familiarity with, and each Path is deficient in symbolism of a third Inferior Arcanum. Each Path's Ruling Arcana are split - one Subtle Arcanum, focused on the symbols of the hidden and esoteric, and one Gross Arcanum, focused on the concrete and eminent.

The first path is the Acanthus, also called the Witches or the Enchanters. Acanthus tell stories about other lives. They are mist-shrouded figures of myth, tricksters and prophetic poets, cunning folk who wield the laws that bind all people. Their Ruling Arcana are Fate and Time, the roots of destiny. Fate is a Subtle Arcanum, and it is embodied in every soul - the vessel that gives them purpose. Acanthus, like Merlin, study potential. Like the Morrighan, they wield Fate as curses and oaths to trap the unwary. The Gross Arcanum of Time is the loom on which Fate is spun. The Acanthus gaze through the possible to predict what will be. To them, these future visions are a mythic story. The Supernal Realm of Arcadia (no relation to Changeling's) teaches them that all lives are legends, ready to be shaped at the pivotal moment. They stand outside these stories, not heroes but directors. However, their Inferior Arcanum is Forces. Energy has no place in Arcadia. The elemental is a manifestation of destiny and passion. Fire is not heat, but anger and climax. To the Acanthus, the power of elemental energy is not something to be controlled by will alone.

Symbolically, the Acanthus are represented by the Fool. They are trackless, able to move within destiny freely. They are no naive wanderers, however - rather, they unburden themselves of attachment and use their magic to keep new attachments from forming. Often, they seek Mysteries that are symbolically represented by the Wheel of Fortune - the relentless spin of destiny. There is no stillness or equilibrium in what they seek - even they cannot just hold out a hand and stop the wheel where they want it. Instead, they must be in the right place at the right time to push things as they desire. The further they are from this ideal time and place, the more they need to push, and the more dangerous the magic.

Witches are known to call on the Fae of the Supernal - but they are not Fae-worshippers. The Fae seek bargain and payment, not adoration. They enjoy it, but do not take it as payment. In this modern age, Fae can take any shape. Many Acanthus invent their own personal fairy idols to attune themselves to Arcadia. Beyond this, they also structure their magic around tricksters, who demonstrate the value of breaking conventions yet illustrate why convention exists as well. Coyote is always punished, Loki is bound. Acanthus sometimes prefer gods and signs of duty, obligation and destiny, as well. Their rituals tend to call on stories of luck, fate and obligation. Their magic is never without its price for those who would use them - the monkey's paw wish is theirs to unleash, as well as the geas. They recreate stories and trap people in them.

Meet Lucy. Lucy is a DJ.

The game gives us three example characters. Lucy Sulphate is a woman who was seized by the Acanthus Path on a normal day, sent raving for days as she explored Arcadia as a cityscape of broken glass and twisted metal. Now, when she performs, she sends audiences into a frenzy willingly...but with magic, she imposed and assaults. Other Acanthus manipulate people subtly - something she abhors. Instead, she is stuck between her respect for autonomy of others and her strong sense of justice. To her, the Wheel of Fortune is an intricate rhythm she can tap into by music. Now, she works behind the scenes to nurture musicians that can touch the soul of the world. She prefers to use her magic to foster that rather than deal with the Awakened society and its disputes, and as a result, she is a natural Free Councillor.

Movran is a man better known as Merlin, a member of the Legacy known as the Walkers in Mists. His mother and sisters were Awakened as well, so even as a Sleeper, he knew magic existed...but none of that prepared him for the Thorns. In the realm of Arcadia, he learned that knowing occult traditions meant nothing - he was too filled with preconceptions to master the inuitive side of the Art. While he was a young boy when he went into his Awakening, he descended from the Watchtower with an old, old soul. Now middle-aged, he feels he's just starting to resemble what he thinks of as his true self - a mentor and meddler in the mold of Gandalf or Merlin, staff and all. He feels helpless, often, because he knows the most important things cannot be taught...but his knowledge makes the Mysterium value him highly.

Sunjata remembers cannons, swords and sharks before he met foreign mages in Jamaica, some 13 years back. Nobody had ever seen him before and he had no understanding of modern technology. He knows his Shadow Name, how to box, how to sail an archaic ship and half a dozen languages, but he has no idea where he came from or how he got there. (He looks African and South Asian.) He uses magic intuitively, based on the principle that oaths sealed with blood grease the flow of destiny. His is a world of wishes and promises. He fell in with a Free Council cabal in Boston and sought answers with the Silver Ladder, but only in dueling with an Adamantine Arrow did he recognize techniques and mysteries he knew. He is a warrior without a past, and he now believes he'd prefer not to know about the bargains he made in a time he remembers only in dreams.

The Inevitable Stereotype Box of the Lunargent Thorn posted:

Mastigos: What you call free will, I call a chain of accidents and their responses. Fight your way into their minds if you like. I surround them with the conditions they need to follow a correct path chosen of their own accord.
Moros: You know that everything moves, no matter how solid and dead it may appear. That's a start, but their transformations are just a small part of destiny's plan.
Obrimos: Your world of gods and secret names hides the truth: They don't care. Even when thunder speaks, it only wants to spark and roar.
Thyrsus: Even when you make your flesh a sacrament your hour of worship will pass, and when your orgasm subsides you'll be stuck with this question: What's my true purpose?

Acanthus join the Adamantine Arrow in search of hope and potential. They see the mighty destinies that the Fallen World would crush, and the Arrow trains them to defend these seeds. They are precise - pressure points, bullets to the eye, striking just the right weak spot.
Acanthus join the Free Council because they know: we make our own fates. The Free Council want everyone to follow their own path, to shake off the Lie of oppression and compromise. The Acanthus of the Free Council free people to explore their true destiny - at least, to a point. After all, freedom is also dangerous, and makes its own evil.
Acanthus join the Guardians of the Veil because they know foolish actions raise horrors. The power to save or destroy the world is in every soul. Some must be encouraged, others kept ignorant that they never use their power. Acanthus can spot the danger before anyone else, and have the power to deal with it subtly. They can gaze into the future to foretell disasters the Guardians must stop, cutting them away to let a better world grow.
Acasnthus join the Mysterium because destiny is the pulse of living magic. The Mysterium guards the health of magic, helping correct arts to grow and amputating that which is diseased. Acanthus can tell when someone is ready for a secret, which secretsm ight prepare them and how to mentor them properly. They are notorious for speaking in riddles and sending others on strange ordeals, however.
Acanthus are prophets, and the Silver Ladder always needs prophets. It is a religion of sorts, devoted to the secret divinity within every human being. The Acanthus are not just practical oracles, but also those who predict when people will Awaken. Every mage is a messiah, and every messiah needs someone to teach and purify them.
Acanthus join the Seers of the Throne because they are born manipulators. They turn their sense of entitlment into an unbreakable faith. Their foresight defeats raw power easily, and especially those of the Visionaries have more foresight than any. They honor the Ruin, Exarch of Fate, and obey it in making their inferiors serve a purpose as they head to their inevitable dooms. They are beloved of the Prophet of Time, as the makers of history.

Next time: Mastigos


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition

The Mastigos, also known as the Warlocks or the Psychonauts, are masters of desire, thought and perception. Thought, for them, is substance. Space is emotion. Wherever you go, your love is with you. The road is longer when you go somewhere unpleasant. This is a truth - but one the Lie hides. Without Awakening, you are trapped in the Lie of objective distance. Without discipline, your thoughts escape you, traveling invisible realms. Space is a set of chains born of desire and ssociation - and those chains can be used. Mastigos are individualists, confrontational and disdainful of pretense and taboo. They map the depths of the mind and the connections of space. Their Ruling Arcana are Mind and Space. Passion and connection. The Mastigos understand - consciousness is not an inner advisor. It is calm, transcendent. It does not strive, but flows, laying out the mind within it. The Mastigos is above thought, commanding the goetic manifestations of mental states and touching the thoughts of others. They use Space to control the chains of connection. They understand - its true nature is not yardsticks and maps, but iron threads tying people and places together, easily tangled and broken. However, their Inferior Arcanum is Matter, a concept that does not sit well with them. It seems to be part of the Lie alone, an illusion to fill the empty spaces between people...and yet, it undeniably has a Supernal nature and a claim to truth. This is difficult for Mastigos to understand.

Mastigos represent themselves symbolically with the Devil, reflecting their journeys to the Supernal Realm of Pandemonium. They know that everyone has Pandemonium within them in the form of desire, and that Mastigos not only possess strong desire, but the power to name and tame them. They represent the Mysteries they seek with Temperance: control, guidance. Despite their initial victory in Awakening, they know that life is a constant struggle of determination and self-control, calmness and careful release and use of passion. They are the most direct in their approach to magic. Gods and demons are a state of mind to be conjured, bargained with, bound. These beings, they know, are not illusory, but as real as flesh and blood. They make pantheons of consciousness and thought, conjuring these beings from the mind to use them, confront them, control them. They care primarily for the problem of self. They know they are more than urges and emotions...but once those are gone, what is left? They try to eliminate bias and rebuild themselves, defining what they are by what they are not. They give into their desire in order to purge it. It is risky...but it works. Usually.

Meet the first half of why 4chan hates this book. No, really.

Once, she was Aasiya Ahmed, a woman from a decent Mogadishu family. She knew from youth where ot find shortcuts and safe places, hiding and reappearing at will. Her parents gave up on bringing her into 'proper' society when they realized they could never keep her out of anywhere. She found her way to the secret city, full of ghuls and ifrits, and now, she is Ichneumon, an apprentice of the Silver Ladder, and she knows that secret city is everywhere. Its predators an ddemons move between bodies and shortcuts in the endless city-of-the-mind, and Ichneumon follows, stopping them when she can and looking for their patterns.

Arctos was sought by the Iron Gauntlet. It dragged him through amateur occultists, made him enemy to the Scelestus named Angrboda, and all before he know what magic really was. He was the unwilling prodigy...but until he entered Pandemonium, he refused to admit that he sought it out as his way of being the center of attention. His ego is his focus, his secret, whispered only to the devils of the Watchtower. Now, he must decide whether to embrace his quiet demeanor in search of discipline, or use it as a strategy to remain at the center of attention.

Baphomet does not remember their original gender. They are a mistranslation, something between demon, ghost and archmage. They didn't think their gender was that important in a leper colony outside Jerusalem, some nine centuries ago, when they Awakened. The First Crusade showed them religious hate and misunderstanding, made into a devil - their Shadow Name comes from an early misspelling of Mohammed by Templars. They became a Master of Mind and Space, but their body began to fail them. They abandoned their body, embracing the form of their goetic demon and living in the minds of Templars, priests and occultists. Baphomet now haunts dreams in the Astral reaches, struggling with the archetypal Devil itself, who would reduce them to a mere slave.

Mastigos join the Adamantine Arrow because the Order understands the challenges they face in battling rogue thoughts. They are less enthusiastic about oaths and chain of command - they don't like to bend knee. They prefer to be loyal from love or a true sense of duty, not ritual. Despite this, they can see into souls and secret places, making them excellent scouts and spies as well as warriors.
Mastigos seek the Free Council because the Libertines believe everyone sould be allowed to transform their own soul without others using them. Mastigos enjoy the role of the guru to Sleepers, peering into the human psyche and providing the help that false mystics can only promise...though they are capable of some of the worst abuse, as well.
Mastigos understand the difficulty of Awakening without submitting to weakness, and this draws them to the Guardians of the Veil. They give up themselves and become pure in order to guard mages against anyone unable to make that same sacrifice. Mastigos Guardians are masters of interrogation, disguise and surveillance.
The Mysterium knows that magic lives, made of Awakened desire and frailty. Spells are what magic thinks, and those driven by blind impulse, the Mastigos know, corrupt the mind of magic. Thus, they serve as moral gatekeepers, examining use of magic fo ethical implications. Their power allows them to enter inaccessible areas easily, making them excellent archaeologists, as well.
Mastigos seek the Silver Ladder because they know that to rule others, you must rule yourself. Their self-mastery gives them the right to govern. They know that the darkness hides unpleasant truths, and leaders must drag the flock out of the dark by quelling their fears, driving their ambitions and destroying their destructive urges.
Mastigos join the Seers of the Throne beause they see your weakness and they despise you for it. They know why you must be ignorant and limited to the flesh. They respect the Eye, Exarch of Space and master of surveillence. People who know they are being watched behave, after all. They also channel the Unity, Exarch of Mind, to strip dissent from lesser minds to bind them to serve the Throne.

The Iron Gauntlet and its Lovely Stereotypes posted:

Acanthus: I didn't break my chains to forge more with a promise, Witch. Chase my future and you'll see my dreams come true. It may frighten you.
Moros: They deal with the stuff that fills illusory space. Leave them to it. Leave them to the dead, too. Better to live free than concentrate on the bondage of the grave.
Obrimos: If God would burn me, He must be afraid of being judged on His merits.
Thyrsus: I don't have to talk to a tree to appreciate its beauty. I don't have to become an animal to fuck like one. But I respect anyone who explores the borders of experience and names its passions.

Next time: Obrimos


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition

The Moros, AKA the Alchemists or the Necromancers, are in some sense scientists after their return from the Supernal Realm of Stygia. They understand that which makes up the world. They can make the dead rise, command the motions of the soul, steal it from the body. They can make atoms dance and transform. Their Ruling Arcana are Death and Matter, the Arcana that represent foundation and ending. Death is the Arcanum of change by destruction, the power to influence the inevitable doom of all things. Bodies shift from Life to Matter, light scatters into random chaos. While every subtle Arcanum touches on a component of the soul, it is Death that, once present, removes it from its living shell or tears it into its parts. Mages know that ghosts are not souls - but Moros know that lack of soul does not mean lack of personhood. And Matter? That's the skeleton of our world. Forces shape the world, Life gives it flesh, but Matter is the bones. The world constantly transforms itself, performing the Great Work that alchemists pursue, perfecting itself, transforming and rebuilding. Moros also use mechanical metaphors when talking about Matter - everything down to the smallest speck of dust is part of a great cosmic machine whose components adapt to the tasks the machine is given. Their Inferior Arcanum is Spirit. Yes, Moros know that the inert is abuzz with activity. They know that the spirit world exists, but have little need for it. They already have the invisible lands of Death and the motions of Matter. What need do they have for spirits to bring the world to life?

Moros claim Death as their symbolic representation. They know that Death, in the Tarot, does not mean murder, but guidance through radical change. The Leaden Coin of Stygia is the payment Death talks, and it points the newly unburdened to a new way of life. The Moros give up their fear of loss, embracing their own imperfections, their personal nigredo, as the mess from which creative power comes. Their Mysteries are represented by the World, as they embrace all things. The World is the Great Work, the search for self-perfection that can exist even within the Lie, written into the souls and the substance of the world as they are put into newer forms - the rubedo, the crown, the philospher's stone. Moros have always taken gods of death, alchemy and industry as their symbols, especially when these fields overlap, as in Hermes, Hades and Anubis. The Moros prefer lonely gods, set apart by their duties but aggressively guarding their realms. The Moros tend to be represented by practical trades, artisans and scientists. Most also deeply study both alchemical and funerary tradition, keeping labs full of instruments both ancient and modern. They acknowledge the supremacy of Death, but they are at heart practical craftsmen.

Iosis was once one of the richest women in the world. She was also once a drug dealer in Milwaukee and a worker on an ICBM assembly line. She is called Mammon's sister by some, and in all of her many roles, she has had a goal which she as achieved and then moved on. She believes that no one in service to the mighty Exarchs should have strong personal preferences, so she finds it simple to adopt and abandon new identities. She has connections across all parts of society, and she often understands the world better than more elitist Seers. Her ever-shifting life hides the fact that no matter how much or how often she changes herself, she cannot deny the experiences of human suffering and human kindness. She is starting to use her subtle machinations to hide her reluctance, inefficiency and fear of either being discovered by other Seers.

Brother Owl is alchemist, necromancer and priest, all combined into one man who serves those in need. He rebuilds what is broken for run-down communities in his role as an alchemist. He appeases ghosts and helps them achieve their unfinished business, allowing them to move on, in his role as a necromancer. These things fulfill the commitments he made as a priest, even though they meant abandoning his church. While he sitll wears the collar of an Episcopal and he still believes in God, he has no taste for any one particular religion. He is a fringe member of the Silver Ladder, but unlike many, he believes that humans cannot return to the glory of magic without first fixing their collective problems.

Note the wine glass the size of his head.

Mayfly is a killer in service to the Guardians of hte Veil. His payment of the Leaden Coin was in middle age, well after he started a family and sent his kids on to a good start in life. He thought his life was over, for all real purposes, and Death obliged him - his Awakening came during a stroke, and when he returned from Stygia he had a new purpose: to end life, after years of helping it. He's good at quiet murders that look like accidents - not just to cover his tracks, but to minimize the collateral damage to the families of his victims...and to his own family, so they don't realize he's an assassin. His wife is dead, sure, but his kids still check on him and worry about him.

Moros are beloved by the Adamantine Arrow. They are unbribable. They do not fear death. They shatter steel with their hands and bring dead soldiers back to fight again. They are implacable, cold, relentless. Their pride is dulled by their experience in Stygia, so they avoid rash use of violence...but they also tend to be less loyal than other Arrows, for fear of falling under the thrall of another's ego.
Moros join the Free Council for a simple reason: modern death and modern chemistry are wonders. The world is now full of things ancient aclhemists could never conceive. Modern doctors understand death as a process that jumps from cell to cell, not a sudden ending. New knowledge brings with it new problems - the temptations of wealth, the endless stretch of death thanks to machines that preserve a mockery of life. The Moros cannot help but see new magic arising from these new ways, as well as seeing the need for the Sleepers to be comforted in the newly changed world.
Moros join the Guardians because they know even death cannot hide a secret. Ghosts talk and reveal. Sure, they also serve as assassins sometimes, but the Moros know that death is a crude tool. Death attracts investigators. Bribery, that doesn't. It turns someone into a conspirator with just as much reason to hide as you. Moros do not fear death nor desire riches, and so they are incorruptible and ruthless in the protection of secrets.
Moros seek out the Mysterium because they know that magic is - not alive, really, as it contains both death and base matter, but a form of directed change that is associated with life by the laypeople. It is numinous energy concealing deep truth, which the Moros embrace. They tend to be more interested in ancient tombs and dead mages than living masters or questions about worthiness.
Moros of the Silver Ladder know that the secret to fostering human potential is in lineages and temples, as any single person will die. Change is their tool. They pass on knowledge, adapt the past to fit the new future, and help the entire world grow stronger. They do not plan in years, but in decades.
Moros seek out the Seers because they want to perfect the materialism that other Orders avoid. The Chancellor, Exarch of Matter, teaches that wealth is a god being devoured by scarcity. The Moros of the Seers command the fortunes of people and of nations. The Psychopomp, Exarch of Death, condemns the Fallen World's souls to lives of suffering or undeaths of pain. The Seers' Moros trade in souls and ghosts as commodities, for that is what the Psychopomp intended.

The Many Stereotypes of the Leaden Coin posted:

Acanthus: Even eight million paths lead to the same destination, so there's no need to obsess over the details of one's journey. One day we will all lie still, yet journey to trackless lands.
Mastigos: It's not all about you. "You" are a transitional state between forms of "it."
Obrimos: You can only destroy something by burning it in the way growth destroys a child with adulthood. Ash creates the most fertile soil. That's the Creator's gift.
Thyrsus: We both hear things slither and speak, but mine are driftwood sliding on a beach and whispers from coffins. Your barrens and charnel grounds are my gardens, and we listen to one song, played by two instruments.

Next time: Obrimos, whoops, I am do alphabet good.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition

The Obrimos are also known as the Thaumaturges and the Theurgists. They know that the world obeys laws - complex and mighty laws, sigils and hymns built into both Supernal and Fallen Worlds. Magic is the discipline that studies these laws, yet also an act of faith in the creator of those laws. Obrimos wield the powers of God, calling on the nature of the heavenly Supernal Realm of the Aether. They often use the traditional tools and symbols of wizardry to express the structure of their magic, but others are just as happy to treat magic as science and engineering, preferring to work in a clean workshop than a wizard's lab. Their Ruling Arcana are Forces and Prime. They know that will drives the universe, that the unseen commands all. Prime, of course, is not mere power over magic - it is language, truth. Prime is the tongue spoken by the gods when they created all things. Prime is the Platonic reflection of speech - the power to create ideas. To make something, you need more than to imagine it: you need to name it, giving it a symbol that makes it more than just an idea. Forces, meanwhile, moves through a cycle of creation and destruction. Without Forces, time would be static - nothing would move or change. The seasons rely on the constant careening of the universe. Fire burns the rot and debris that would suffocate life. And for this reason, their Inferior Arcanum is Death. Death is an interruption, not an end, and the Obrimos know that souls should be sent on to their destinies, not imprisoned by worldly obsession or trapped in magical jars or corrupted by magic. Theirs is the cleansing power, and so they have no time or talent for the magic of rot, stagnation and ghosts.

Obrimos claim two representations of themselves symbolically - the Hierophant, who translates the patterns of the stars into law and ordered systems, and the High Priestess, who is mistress of intuitive power. The Hierophant writes Grimoires and inscribes circles, while the High Priestess feels the ecstatic pulse of the power within. While western Obrimos once viewed these roles as highly gendered, contemporary mages understand that they are approaches to practice, not dogma to follow. They represent their Mysteries with Strength, for by whatever means, the Obrimos wrestle the universe into submission. They do not pit force on force, but use technique and care to tame power. They develop their magic around the symbolism of celestial hierarchy. The stereotype, of course, invokes the Abrahamic God and His angels. Other Obrimos call on the Olympians, the Ennead, Kabbalah or the Celestial Bureaucracy for their symbols. Sky and fire gods are particularly common, as well as aspects of the Creator or culture heroes who bring enlightenment. Not all Obrimos call on divine forms, however - others see 'angels' as the names of natural laws. Many dispense with religious language in favor of a view of magic as a high science, in which all symbols are manifestations of the Golden Key, the knowledge that unlocks power. Obrimos are highly diverse in the rituals they use - physicists, hymn singers and Hermetic sorcerers all have visions in the Aether. With experiment and cultic rites, the Obrimos name the Law that rules over all things. Some become dogmatic and intolerant, but most accept that evidence trumps doctrine - even fools Awaken and gain power, after all.

Glorianna sees magic as a secret science, understandable by a mix of reason and intuition. She adores making, and the Aether only supplemented that love. She is a Free Councillor, a specialist in techne by way of science, mechanics and engineering. She sees Hermes in the stirring of engines, awakens him and makes him serve in anything from automata to lasers.

Reason #2 that 4chan is mad.

He is Khonsu. He is the Eight-Fingered Man. He is unbroken by the endless gaze of the gods. Khonsu was an archaeologist, who knew that there is not one grain of dust that has not been touched by human will - built, destroyed, concealing and horrific. Hunted by tomb robbers, he hid in an ancient Atlantean ruin, and there, he walked in the presence of the Egyptian moon god that protects travelers. Now, he is a Censor of the Mysterium, hunting out dangerous knowledge and hiding it, in order to protect mages from the worst secrets. Sometimes, this means burying knowledge until it will be needed, and that makes him unpopular, but he's learned to take beatings from those who resent his work without complaint and with enough power to avoid major injury.

Weapon was once the most feared of Boston's Banishers. Now, though, despite all his power, he is getting old. He exercises, his body is strong, but his face shows every one of his 66 years, as well as the cold stare of someone who can no longer see a just world. He Awakened 35 years ago, finding a world of secret monsters. A world with no God to fix things. Magic, he knows, is a soulless machine that creates disasters and feeds abuse. And so he became Weapon - a tool to smash the machine. In spite of everything that's happened, he wants a successor, an apprentice - but the next Weapon must be broken as he was, that they can be reforged to the task of destroying magic.

Obrimos seek out the Adamantine Arrow because the energies of the world show them the truth of constant struggle. Warriors embody this celestial conflict, but guide it with a will and a moral purpose. The Arrow thus keeps Obrimos from abusing their power, teaching them to calm the storm within.
The Free Council is attractive to Obrimos for the sciences and arts it shows the gods tob em ade of: physics, anthropology. Obrimos like fundamental patterns, and the Libertines are drawn to science, technology, theology and more. Obrimos love techne, whether via electrical engineering, Freemasonry or Jungian archetypes. They see the path to power and teach it to Sleepers. Perhaps some will even Awaken.
Obrimos join the Guardians of the Veil because they see - morality flows from natural law, but the ignorance of the Sleepers pit them against the natural order, causing the original moral paradox: you can't save some without punishing others, even if they do not know their crimes. In a principled universe, all you can do is try to limit the damage, do your dark work and prey for forgiveness, all while knowing that while God may have infinite compassion, the angels have no mercy.
Obrimos embrace the Mysterium because they know magic lives - Prime shows them that. The thoughts of magic grant resonance to mana, its metabolism is heat and motion and light. The Obrimos track ley lines and uncover Hallows to better study and heal magic, like a biologist listening to the movements of blood. Religious Obrimos often characterize it as a quest to understand God (who is magic), but many simply see it as the search for ultimate patterns, for the storm that breeds all others.
Obrimos come to the Silver Ladder because they have a divine plan, given to them by the universe. They are naturally attracted to the duties of the priests of the Ladder, the thearchs, and the urge to impose order on a broken, Fallen World. The Aether shows them that logic and revelation are twins, and Obrimos join the Ladder to bring Earth into accord with Heaven, for they know: the ruling angels would be ruled by humanity, if they could just claim the right.
Obrimos of the Seers of the Throne are soldier-priests of the Lie. They punish rebels in service to the battle doctrine of the General, Exarch of Forces and master of cold violence. The Father, Exarch of Prime, enforces the Lie by oppressive scripture and blind zeal. The Obrimos keep to the true faith of the Exarchs and impose false religions on the Sleepers, condemning them to follow blindly.

Unlocking Stereotypes with the Golden Key posted:

Acanthus: Time is motion, and there are no accidents - but there are things, fallen from Heaven, which would have you believe otherwise.
Mastigos: Your mind isn't the cosmos. It's a speck of ash and a glimmer, floating among millions of others. Look beyond to the wind we all drift upon: the Creator's breath.
Moros: It's easy to transform the dead and inert things of this world. Burn them. Banish them. Illuminate them!
Thyrsus: Energy precedes form. Ecologies arise from prior laws. Don't worship those laws. Manipulate them, and honor the Lawgiver who made them.

Next time: Alan Moore and the Thyrsus.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition

Thyrsus, otherwise known as the Shamans or the Ecstatics, are wild and free, explorers that climb the mountain because it is holy and because it is there. They are loney, but they are not isolated - rather, they are set apart, speakers to men and to spirits, mediators and tamers of gods. They are flesh, not spirit, and they are loyal first to flesh, never to spirit. Despite this, they know the words of the ephemeral and dance to its music, embracing its simple and forgotten truths. There is no division between civilized and wild in the Thyrsus, as they obliterate the border in their journey to the Primal Wild. Their Ruling Arcana are Life and Spirit. These, to the Thyrsus, are two halves of one whole, the same thing reflected. Life is sex, hunger, fight or flight. It is all we eat and it is what will eat us when we die, making us immortal in the flesh of others. Thyrsus celebrate the primal sensations of Life and its lesson that we, none of us, are individuals - we are colonies, tissues and bacteria that divide and break and are reborn constantly. The Spirit is the living nature of the world. Before the Fall, any could see this - the Shadow was not separate from the world. The Lie blinds us to Shadow, and even mages must work to reclaim that vision, but the Thyrsus see it naturally, and they easily reach beyond the Gauntlet to deal with spirits and gods. they know: Shadow and material are one. Their Inferior Arcanum is Mind - because Mind denies the nature of existence as Thyrsus understand it. They are holistic, seeing consciousness as an adaptation, no different than a thumb or your bipedal walk. The idea of people as individual minds is irrelevant - it's no more special than a lion's teeth. It's a function, to the Thyrsus, not a fundamental truth.

The Thyrsus symbolize themselves with the Hermit - one who has journeyed through the wastes and returned, full of stories of what lies beyond. Their Mysteries are symbolized by the Moon, the primordial symbol of the spiritual. The Moon does not care for rational excuse - it shows what is below, the pain and fear and pleasure and rage that drive us. It shows that our imaginations, like our bodies, grow as the components command - genes for body, spiritual archetypes for imagination. The Thyrsus stand on the border of the orthodox, trusting experience over faith. Their magic invokes gods, but not with worship or deep respect, but rather with familiarity. They call on local legends as representatives of greater archetypes, tribes of spiritual power. They speak not to the mask of the god but to the archetypal figure beneath. They prefer to call on deities of basic desires, concrete things and ecstatic practices - Shiva, Aphrodite, Weyland Smith. Those that see themselves as shamans tend to prefer traditional gods and heroes, while the ecstatics build their own personal mythologies, meaningless to anyone else, as signs of the wordless sublime. Modern Thyrsus in general also use ideas of biology and psychology.

Once, she was Amy Wu. Now, she is Nine Fox Thunder, Awakened to the Heavenly Masters Taoists. She was trained by them as an exorcist, ascetic and martial artist at the mountains of Wudang, then joined the Guardians of the Veil out of respect for her grandfather, who served them in life. She found their practices immoral, however, and got out quickly, remembering why she Awakened: to serve Xi Wangmu, Queen of the West, a vital goddess of oracle bones and pestilence. She now belongs to one of the many 'Nameless Orders,' teaching two apprentices and using her fox familiar as an emissary of her goddess.

Marple is a Guardian, subtle in most ways but more blatantly Anglophile in appearance and, of course, Shadow Name. She is an investigator of murders, both for the Guardians and for her Legacy, the Eleventh Question. She is mid-30s, the daughter of Chinese immigrants in Seattle, but she prefers to dress like an old 1930s spinster. She sees the Primal Wild through the lens of British imperialism - polite faces over vicious predators. She is especially good at handling the spirits of the manufactured things of the world, using them to tell her about what has come before her. To honor these spirits, she takes tea with them on occasion, speaking with them and, rarely, feeding them almost raw meat.

Alan Moore, terror of Boston.

He is the Nemean, a man who implied he was a cannibal, a man who used his raw personality and magical power to bully the mages of Boston into unity. He was Silver Ladder, but they imprisoned him in Astral dreams for what they called 'moral crimes,' never named. He escaped before they could tear away his secrets. He Awakened during a vicious beating from a bunch of bikers, and the Primal Wild taught him to be an apex predator. He is the Nemean, a lion that eats others' cubs, a king with a bloody hand. But he needs his pride, his family, and now he is a fugitive in his own kingdom. He forms cults and abandons them, driven by a need to evolve further, to finally mix his humanity and his pure desire to dominate completely.

The Thyrsus know that animals, too, are warriors. It draws them to the Adamantine Arrow, driven by the need to slay their foes and mark their territory. Thyrsus are not afraid to get a little bloody, but they are never worried about something so flimsy as a duel over a matter of honor.
The Free Council appeals to Thyrsus because of shamanism - the first heritage of humanity. The universal path of spiritualism. Thse Thyrsus know - Sleepers touched the Supernal once, and they never forgot. They still know the oldest way to touch it, to get so close to it on a high of pleasure and pain. And so they will help people take up the tools of the shaman and ecstatic, to reach out to the hidden realms.
Thyrsus seek the Guardians of the Veil because they are worthy - who worthier than those that do not shy from pain? Who better to defile themselves than those who can see the spirits of corruption? They are not emotionless, but they are ascetics, sacrificing their very lives for the cause. They remind the Guardians that they are more than practical - theirs is a spiritual calling. They use ritual ordeal to test Guardian dedication and to teach the Veil's assassins how painful their actions are.
Thyrsus know what the Mysterium knows: magic is alive. It feels pain and pleasure. It is a place of sex, predators, offspring and prey. Magic acts on instinct and drive, not sterile rules. Thyrsus of the Mysterium often seek out cryptids, genius loci and other strange creatures. Anyone can study an old temple - it takes a Thyrsus to understand the Atlantean traces of an ecosystem.
Thyrsus of the Silver Ladder are not afraid of being animals, not despairing over the many tiny gods of the spirit world. They know every species has a niche - and that humanity's is to rise and bring new symbols to the Supernal. That is how new ages are born - but the Exarchs have broken the system with the Sleeping Curse, sterilizing us, and the Abyss is death without renewal. The Silver Ladder, they say, will help humans reclaim their ecological rule - not just ruling the universe, but revitalizing it.
The Thyrsus of the Seers of the Throne don't like to call the Lie a prison. It's a habitat. An environment that must be controlled. They domesticate the Sleepers, keeping them just unsafe enough that they cannot unite and share the knowledge that might Awaken them, yet not so threatened that they Awaken from desperation. A little hunger, a little fear, enough to keep them home and safe and confined. The Nemesis, Exarch of Spirit, and the Raptor, Exarch of Life, assist them in this - the Nemesis with fear of the unknown and the Raptor with trust in instinct over free will.

"The Singing Stone and Dumb Stereotypes posted:

Acanthus: Life doesn't make bargains. Lions don't barter for meals. They eat.
Mastigos: Failing human relationships occupy one tiny corner in a vast web of lovers and hunters, birds and worms, blood cells and red stars.
Obrimos: God's in the ozone smell of lightning strikes, but it's burn scars and scorched grass, too. In fact, I'd call it God because burns heal and the grass grows back. Resilience is the universal miracle. We taste pain and live!
Moros: Lead turns to gold when it wishes it. If you knew how to ask, your Art could be reduced to simple questions.

Next time: Orders


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition

The Paths are something innate to mages - what they are. Orders are not. The Orders are organizations. Smaller groups, the Nameless Orders, hang on in isolated areas, focused on regonial interests or practices none of the other Orders would tolerate. But most mages in the modern world belong to one of six great Orders, each of which is composed of hundreds, even thousands of smaller mystery cults, secret societies and magical associations that ended up, over the years or centuries, banding together for common cause and belief. Even the youngest Order has components they can trace back thousands of years. Four of the Orders form the Diamond, sharing common origins and a philosophy built around modeling themselves after the Supernal symbols of the magical society in the Time Before, attempting to take on the roles of mages from that no-longer-ever-was utopia.

The Diamond consist of:

There is a fifth Order, allied to the Diamond but not part of it. This alliance is called the Pentacle, and that Order is the Free Council, a young alliance of many former Nameless Orders that focuses on democratic ideals and the pursuit of magic in Sleeper culture, out of the belief that Sleepers can touch the Supernal on their own and reveal hidden truths by their own beliefs and actions.

As a whole, the Pentacle opposes the sixth major Order: the Seers of the Throne, the willing servants of the Exarchs. The Seers have a simple purpose: keep the Lie strong and the Sleepers weak and deluded, in exchange for temporal reward and power. They are magical sellouts and quislings, giving up the entire world for a little comfort.

The Adamantine Arrow know that without testing it, virtue is weak and worthless. This is a truth hidden in the Fallen World, which is designed to aggressively destroy enlightenment. The Lie oppresses all. Beyond the Abyss is the idealized self, a concept that can only be reached by struggling against the Lie. Everyone struggles, but the Awakened are the only ones who know they're doing it. Every Order uses magic to fight, but the Arrow are built on the principle of the eternal war against the Lie - quite literally. They are soldiers and generals in that war, fighting to maintain magic. They are the Pentacle's guardians and warriors, pushing against stagnancy and complacence. Adamantine Arrow tend to end up in pretty much any position that isn't straight up leadership in Pentacle society, as they embrace community-focused duty as philosophically fulfilling. Above all, they aim for dedication in pursuit of their chosen goals against meaningful opposition. Mages become Arrows when they want to define themselves by supporting others, learn self-discipline and control, are from martial or fighting backgrounds and want to maintain that ethos, or believe that magic must be wielded with honor and responsibility.

The Adamantine Arrow philosophy is condensed in the Adamant Way, created over millenia from many texts written by many cultures. It is boiled down to five precepts, the Hand - five fingers to make a fist. Hands are the gate of will, the first tool by which humans enact their desires.
[list]1. Essence is War: The Adamant Way teaches that improvement comes by opposition and restraint - a self-evident truth of the universe. All beings struggle to live, all Awakened struggle against the Abyss to reach the Supernal. The soul grows stronger by conquering the desires of other souls. Arrows are always warriors, if not always martial ones. All seek challenge and conflict, though often in friendly competition. The Order is disgusted by true pacifists, though they are happy to seek the challenge of maintaining a peace over petty bloodshed.
2. Adaptability is Strength: Arrows know that nothing worth doing is easy and that any limitations are imposed by the self. Attack and defense are valuable components, but not the whole. One must never be predictable and inflexible in a world of sympathetic magic. It is crippling. The Arrow must rise above these weaknesses.
3. Service is Mastery. Control is only ever over yourself. Only your nature and soul are yours. Honest service is not about becoming the power behind the throne - it is about limiting and controlling your own pride and ambition. Until you set aside your own desires in place of others, all of your ideals are mere justifications. By abandoning selfishness, the Arrow understands their place in the universe, serving the Supernal as well as themselves.
4. The Supernal is the Self. Your mind and soul are a microcosm for the universe. Every trial reinforces your honor and integrity. You are your magic, in the same way that you are your hands. Every victory draws you closer to your spiritual ideal. Arrows often try to shed flaws by swearing oaths that tie them to a higher purpose. Oaths declare intent to the world, sharpening one's focus on the challenge before them - whether that challenge is protecting someone or killing someone. An Arrow, once sworn, has declared that they will be serving with dynamic action, not hollow words.
5. Enlightenment is Honor. Your soul, when it expresses your intent, then accomplishes it, reveals a true vision of your eventual perfection, unclouded by the Fallen World. Challenges are more worthy if you restrict yourself in the paths available to you. Honorable mages always act in accordance with their own ideals, thus achieving a more perfect harmony with their perfect selves.[/quote]

The Adamantine Arrow is simultaneously the oldest and youngest Order. Its core formed around 200 CE, primarily from an Indian philosophy called the Vajrastra, or Thunderbolt Weapons, mixed with Alexander the Great's philosophy of eternal war. Since then, they have chosen to become part of Sleeper society, fighting alongside the Sleepers rather than trying to control them. They championed warrior ethics, and during the Italian Rennaissance, many European Arrows became obsessed with the code duello and Italian mercenary culture - though they also began to split into two factions, one that sought purity in combat and another that sought constant war. This lasted until 1945. The Arrows had fought on both sides of both World Wars - far from the first time that had happened - but they found the wars incomprehensibly large and purposeless. They concluded that war had fundamentally changed. They swore never again to bind themselves to temporal ideals, but instead to refocus on their true enemies: the Seers, the Banishers and the Abyss. They abandoned their practice of championing Sleeper causes to focus on championing mage society, Sleepwalkers or magical sites.

Arrows primarily seek out Mysteries that threaten their charges, trying to understand malicious magic so that they can better stop it. They also aid the other Diamond Orders in their investigations, which are often dangerous. Some Arrows will also swear oaths to uncover secrets, proving dominance and self-mastery by defeating the foe hiding the secret. Arrows especially love Mysteries that involve tests or contests of skill, and they hate easy solutions. Their symbolism is attack and defense - while not all wars are martial, they rely on weapon symbolism. After all, their philosophy is eternal war, and so a weapon must be at hand at all times. They favor swords or pistols - tools made only to kill - but that's just preference. Anything that can fight is acceptable, so long as it is clearly a weapon. Besides armor and protective gear, they also use the symbolism of protective charms prominently - amulets and so on. In the ideal Awakened City, the Arrow were Ungula Draconis, the Talon of the Dragon - righteous warriors fighting to keep the flame of human power alive.

The great danger of hubris that Arrows face comes from overestimating their own abilities and creating Paradoxes to get out of the trouble they got into, or when they are confronted by their own deficiencies. It's easy for an Arrow to assume they've conquered all challenges just because they manage their lives efficiently, forgetting that they should seek constant conflict. It is easy for them to mistake disdain for avoiding necessary fights for a willingness to use violence needlessly. Violence is always a solution but not always the best one, and hubris makes Arrows forget this. Some of them even consider keeping their word more important than morals and human lives - something the Order as a whole would not agree with. Lastly, the Arrow prides themselves on being above politics, serving rather than leading. When they take on leadership, it's because they're the best able to defeat a threat. That's just prudence. However, hubristic Arrows give up guardianship to seize power under the guise of defense.

The game gives us two sample Arrow concepts. First is the Pro Bono Defense - an attorney who seeks out the chance to fight injustice for falsely accused clients. He pursues conflict in the legal system, taking on hard cases without flinching and never looking to get a better job - because the rush of winning is what he's there for, and he never wants to give that up for a cushy office. Second is the Gun Runner, who trades in weapons. She believes that while the strong use force to oppress the weak, they can't if the weak fight back - and so she provides weapons. Before her Awakening, she believed the secret to survival was not to fight, but now she understands that it is impossible not to fight. She has become much choosier about her clientele, though other Arrows still believe she might be a Praetorian Ministry plant from the Seers. She knows her motives are clear - life is war, and war needs weapons.

Black Mage got buff.

Stereotypes posted:

Guardians: Regrettably necessary, but untrustworthy, even if we're on the same side.
Mysterium: Keepers of what we protect. Damn if they're not ungrateful, though.
Silver Ladder: Our oldest companions. They provide the structure, and we the service.
Free Council: Address them as individuals, not as a unity, no matter how loud they protest.
Seers of the Throne: Every war needs enemies.

Next time: Guardians of the Galaxy Veil


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition

The Guardians of the Veil know that the Fallen World is not just Fallen but still falling. The Abyss grows with every Paradox, and the Exarchs laugh. Humans are inherently broken, damaged by the Lie. Even if Sleepers do not go mad witnessing magic, they fray and snuff it out. Knowledge is power - but so is fire. And both, left unchecked, consume and destroy. Those whose reach exceeds their grasp must be stopped. Forcefully. The Guardians defend mages from chaos and treachery by wielding chaos and treachery as weapons. They are spies and recruiters, watching for threats internal and external. They maintain the Labyrinth, a world-spanning conspiracy of mystery cults that contradict each other and serve to keep the weak out, the unworthy distracted and the newly Awakening attracted. Most new mages stumble onto the Labyrinth in their search for answers - so much so that the Guardians discover the majority of all Awakenings and willingly pass on recruits to Orders that suit them best. However, they also work hard to ensure that traits they dislike become lost in the Labyrinth, unable to find any real truth or power, unable to Awaken. They work to keep magic secret, and by being secret, keep it safe. Mages join the Guardians when they believe magic should require a certain level of responsibility to use, when they've suffered due to magical accident and want to ensure no one else does, when they are naturally talented in espionage and when they Awakened within the Labyrinth and trust the system to keep working.

The Guardians of the Veil are the smallest Order, and they are a mystery cult. Initiates often join because of their actions, but their true nature is kept carefully secret by those in charge. This leadership follows a faith they call the Esoteric Tenets. The Exoteric Tenets, on the other hand, are those the Guardians want publically known. The Guardians hold that the collective souls of all mages are symbolically represented as the Diamon Wheel, which is the spirit of the Awakened City to come. The most faithful believe in a messianic figure, the Hieromage, but most simply agree with the Guardians' goals.

These are the Exoteric Tenets:

These are the Esoteric Tenets, kept secret in order to prevent the other Orders from censuring the Guardians over them...in part. But mostly because these sacred tenets are not for outsiders, and the Order's symbolism and magic is based in large part on secrecy:

The earliest proto-Guardians were cults that felt magic was too dangerous and precious for the unworthy to use. The Arrow and Ladder only spared them being classed as Banishers because they admitted it was possible to be worthy. Even as the Diamond grew, the Guardians were always the smallest Order, the most stringent in entry requirements. Candidates had to prove they'd kill to protect the Mysteries, and also show willingness to exercise their own judgment and refuse to obey commands that conflict with the Order's stated goals. For most of their history, the Guardians hid in empires like Rome, sometimes absorbing likeminded Nameless Orders, but always hiding, drawing subversive occultists into the Labyrinth to be monitored or destroyed. This occasionally backfired - in the 2nd century, the false Hieromagus Abraxas reformed a heretical Gnostic cult, the Basilideans, to form a secret society that even today causes problems for the Guardians. Other Orders claim famous movements or historic figures as proof of their influence on Sleeper society, but the Guardians see that as a point of shame. They consider the British Empire the height of their influence, a time when the Labyrinth was truly worldwide - and yet they celebrated the growth of intelligence agencies, adopting spy methodology when it was created. Besides focusing on their core beliefs and hunting dangerous mages, the Guardians also serve two vital roles: they watch for Seer influence, and they attract the newly Awakened. This is what keeps them around - that and their concession that no Guardian will ever be asked to investigate or harm the members of their own cabal.

The Guardians do not really seek out Mysteries so much as get drawn to them by the threat of Paradox. They focus mostly on hunting the enemies of the Pentacle - rogue mages, Left-Handed Legacies, Banishers and especially the Seers. They encourage surveillence and honing of instinct, and espionage is part of their magical heritage. Those initiated in the Esoteric Tenets also often seek out Mysteries involving reincarnation and the soul, and take a special interest in mages that seem to be prodigies or who suffer few Paradoxes. Their magical symbolism draws on concealment of identity. In Atlantean symbols, they are the Visus Draconis, the Eye of the Dragon that sees all. They value anonymity and security, and they know - they must be disliked, yet also able to have friends. Thus, they use the Veil as a symbol, covering the face but allowing sight. They also use mask and cloak symbolism to operate unseen, as well as using tools that let them see clearly, like prisms or lenses.

Guardian hubris primarily takes the form of corruption. While they focus on punishing hubris in others, they are no less vulnerable to it. It is easy for them to fall into the habit of ruthlessness and lies even when it is unneeded, eventually using them for all problems, and then taking pleasure in doing so. While they perform unwise actions for others to selflessly take on karmic debt, this is not a thing to be celebrated. Hubristic Guardians forget this and forget why Paradox happens, justifying things to themselves without true basis. They must be paranoid to work, but the Guardians thus also suffer from distrust within and without, and some Guardians take the idea of subsuming the self too far, losing their own identities in their masks.

Sample concepts: First, the Black Hat, a hacker who breaks through encryption easily and sets up shells, fronts and false trails for seekers to follow and find. They falsify evidence, frame people and set up scandals to keep people distracted and unaware of magic. Second, the Minotaur, a woman who runs a mystery cult of soldiers and ex-military. She knows her rites are meaningless, but it lets her find new recruits easily, keeping out the unworthy while entrapping those with potential and bringing them into mage society.

Stereotypes posted:

Adamantine Arrow: Let them deal with the obvious threats. We each have our strengths.
Mysterium: Some secrets must remain so. Keep your friends close...
Silver Ladder: Knowledge is power. We know that, even as we repair your errors.
Free Council: Half transparent revolutionaries, half ancient Diamond emigres, all ignorant.
Seers of the Throne: Our Great Game might be less fun if we both played to win.

Next time: Mysterium


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition

The world is Fallen, but not without wonder. Truth still drifts down from the Supernal, fragmented as it is by the Abyss. The driven and worthy, the mysterium say, must track down this knowledge and gain true wisdom, seperating Supernal truth from Fallen chaff. By piecing together the past, mages now can form the future. This pursuit of mystic lore is what holds the Mysterium together. They are crypt-raiders, scholars, mythic historians, all retrieving and hoarding knowledge fragmented from its crossing of the Abyss. They battle against what they name Pancryptia, the tendency of magic to actively hide itself among the cultural detrituss of the Fallen. They would like to see themselves as academics, disciplined and rigorous in sorting through the Fallen World for pearls of Supernal truth. The world is damaged, but their focus allows them to put the pieces together. Their beliefs are united by two open secrets of the Order: Magic is alive and active in the world, and anything living can be healed. Mages join the Mysterium to proactively hunt out Mysteries, out of a desire to withdraw from Sleepers in favor of arcane lore, or to preserve magic in a hostile world. And, of course, some join to travel the world with the knowledge that they'll be relatively welcome no matter where they go.

The Mysterium is more than just scholars or adventurers. They are a religion, a priesthood of magic itself, which they view as a sentient, living force diffused throughout the Fallen World. Their core beliefs date back to the 13th century, based on a grimoire written by an anonymous archmaster. Copies of the text, if not the magic it contained, are still given to every new Mystagogue, and the title of the book, the Corpus Mysteriorum, is where they take their name from. Little is known of the author, who took great pains to erase themself from history.

The tenets of the Corpus Mysteriorum are as follows:

The Mysterium is the youngest of the Diamond Orders. The Guardians, Ladder and Arrow are of the Hellenic period, but the Mysterium was once two Orders: the Pancryptiates of the west and the Keepers of the Word in the east, a pair of cultural schools dedicated to seeking out and preserving magic from Sleepers. The Keepers focused more on the desire to gain and preserve knowledge, while the Pancryptiates focused on their theory of ignorance destroying Supernal secrets. Both Orders eventually adopted Diamond symbolism, but they waxed and waned over the centuries. The Keepers built the first Athenaea, allowing Diuamond mages to access them when proven worthy, and earned a reputation for aggressive pursuit of Mysteries. The Pancryptiates studied Paradox and developed the techniques called egregore to preserve knowledge against physical loss, pursuing any means to safeguard magic from all dangers. The two Orders merged after the publication of the Corpus, becoming the Mysterium and taking equally from both traditions. When the Byzantine Empire collapsed, the Mysterium spread along the old Silk Roads and even across continents by use of Space magic. Since then, they have maintained a global presence. They claim the earlest European mages to reach North America were Mysterium, allying with their local counterparts to preserve oral language. They claim the same in sub-Saharan Africa and Australia, and many Mysterium cabals have centuries of history. They have provided the Pentacle with global communications since before they even were a single Order, taking news with them on their explorations. They have in part lost some of this role to the Guardians, but publicaly, there's no better way to communicate securely between different areas of mage society.

The Mysterium seeks Mysteries that are in danger of being lost forever, rescuing them from Pancryptia. Atlantean ruins, for example, at risk of discovery (and thus destruction) by Sleepers, Legacies with few surviving members, lost Grimoires, verges of all kinds, rare magic. Sometimes, these quests are very dangerous or anger other mages...or stranger things. The symbolism of the Mysterium is knowledge. They worship Gnosis, the knowledge of magic gained by experience. Many believe that lying about magic directly increases Pancryptia, as it is deliberate degradation of information. The especially faithful may refuse to lie at all, on any topic - though they will refuse to answer questions, or tell only part of the truth. Knowledge is why the Mysterium exists. In Diamond symbolism, they are Alae Draconis, the Wings of the Dragon, uplifting the Awakened City with their insight. The symbols and initiations of the Mystagogues allow them to gradually enter the communal mind they name egergore, expressed in magical avatars called the Egregori. This communion of minds allows them a unity beyond that of most Orders. They do not use only tomes and scrolls, but also art objects to hide symbolic messages.

The hubris of the Mysterium is the same as ny academics: ritualizing and mystifying what they do. They fall when they believe that Mystery is more important than people - especially people in their way. Hubristic Mystagogues often aggressively acquire magical sites and objects for 'safekeeping,' causing internal conflict. They are also more likely to ignore dangerous mages on the basis that their unique powers and lore are too valuable to lose. More than a few have been prey to cursed items because they refused to destroy them. These dangerous Msteries are kept hidden in high-security Athenaea, called Censoria, but that is not always neough. Further, just because they're honest doesn't mean they're tactful, and too often, the Mysterium fails to grasp that difference. Too often, their refusal to play politics or consider diplomatic options has caused problems. They are also the Order that cares least about Sleepers, and the worst anti-Sleeper bigots and abusers are members of the Mysterium, blaming Sleepers for magic's rarity. Many hubristic Mystagogues would value a Mystery over the lives of Sleepers who might destroy it with their presence, and a few go so far as to murder Sleepers that would prove a threat to magic.

Sample concepts: the Archaeomancer is a man who lives to find the old, the hidden and the lost. He loves the purity of ancient temples, the lore he finds inside, and the power of the magic that he will find. It is that magic, the thrill of finding it, which keeps him going. The Curator is a woman who guards an Athenaeum, keeping it hidden and locked away within a secret wing of a museum. She protects magic, guarding it and keeping it hidden with theatre and trickery in order to preserve items from a past that was unmade, the Time Before.

Stereotypes posted:

Adamantine Arrow: The guardians of our collections.
Guardians: Focused on magic, but repression over discovery. Our only true rivals.
Silver Ladder: One cannot lead from a position of ignorance; we give the Pentacle wings.
Free Council: Fashion and culture are not true wisdom. Too often, they obscure the true prize.
Seers of the Throne: Willing servants of the Lie, architects of Pancryptia. Betrayers of their own Gnosis.

Next time: The Silver Ladder.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition

The Silver Ladder knows that all souls strive for enlightenment. The Exarchs, traitors to the world, have chained them with the Lie, but even so, they strive. Even in the Fallen World, the dream of destiny is alive. It is the duty of those who are more advanced to reach down and pull their lessers up, to free them and bring everyone to their own level of perfection. Of course, help only matters if the helpee has the will to take it. The Awakened have pulled themselves up on the ladder on their own, but even for them, the climb continues. The Silver Ladder cares deeply not only about their own Order, but about all the Diamond and Pentacle. They are more than just the definers of magical society - they are advisors on how best to free humanity from the Lie. The enemy wants to keep humans chained, Sleeping and ignorant. The Silver Ladder dreams of freeing them, and so they found Cryptopolies, mystery cults to encourage Sleepers towards enlightenment and to work against the Seers' influence. They seek out and shelter Proximi lineages in the hopes of creating a more magical, enlightened humanity. Thearchs of the Ladder also serve as mediators between the Awakened, as they believe all mages belong to a single magical nation. Their strong belief in personal rights and diplomacy is the backbone of mage society. They are even responsible for the Diamond's code of laws, the Lex Magica, and it was they who championed the right of individual mages to research as they liked, citing commands from the invisible and theoretical Oracles of the Supernal. They formed the Diamond, and later the Pentacle alliance. As a result, even when they don't hold political rank, thearchs are always politicians. Often, if they do not lead, they are advisors to leaders. Mages join the Silver Ladder when they want to take control of their lives, when they want to help enlighten Sleepers, when they want to help friends or family Awaken, when they admire classical Awakened society and want to perpetuate it, or when they feel a desire to lead others rather than serve them.

The core of the Lex Magica and the beliefs of the Silver Ladder are, despite their legalistic nature and complex practice, surprisingly simple. They are based on a core set of beliefs, the Elemental Precepts, which have helped to form the core of Diamond society as well as the Silver Ladder. Even the name Diamond is from these, not geometry - remember, when the Diamond formed, it was three Orders, not four. The Elemental Precepts are:

The Silver Ladder was born from the intersection of low-status cultural mages and proto-Stoic philosophers in ancient Greece. The founders were students of Plato, and by the time of Alexander, they had reinvented themsevles from hedge wizard to sages, pulling on the ideal of the philosopher-king. They latched onto Plato's Atlantis as a mythic past of a respected city of great sage-kings, the ideal which the Diamond strives for. After an early schism with those who believed that the less enlightened should worship their betters, and that mages should worship the Tyrant Exarchs, the proto-thearchs successfully forged alliances with the other Hellenic orders to form the Diamond. (The schismatics would become the ancestors of the Seers of the Throne.) The Diamond systems of Consilium and Convocation were Ladder inventions, and they still form a slim majority of leadership roles. Their philosophy has shifted somewhat from enlightened kings to Sages, wise advisors that enable their charges and empower their followers. The Ladder are teachers, authorities and counselors to the Cryptopolies, and they've even allied with Seers before when something threatens the Awakened as a whole. For example, they worked together during the First Crusade's Siege of Jerusalem in order to preserve their influence over the Sleepers of the area and to defeat the soul-stealing demon Desiderus.

Thearchs seek out Mysteries that give them clues to rising upon the Ladder of being, particularly in pursuit of Sleepwalkers who possess magical abilities, ancient records of the Awakened or Supernal entities. They are more obsessed with artifacts of the Time Before than anyone but the Mysterium. They can justify nearly anything in pursuit of these relics, claiming they grant a pride in the past and a vision of what will be again. In doing this, they hope to improve their standing on the Ladder and, eventually, free every soul from the Lie. They believe all Sleepers must Awaken, and that all Awakened must Ascend. The symbolism of the Silver Ladder is towards authority. They are the ones that propagate the idea of the Diamond descending from an ancient ur-culture, and they serve as the Vox Draconis, the Voice of the Dragon - priest-kings of Atlantis, leaders not because of conferred authority or divine right, but because of wise leadership. They often use the trappings of priesthood as symbols, or other authority figures, but at heart they are humanists, exalting the potential within us all, not gods. They use symbols of authority from many cultures, including badges and judge's robes, and also tend to adopt the trappings of the strongest LAdder mage in their area. They prefer not to use crowns or royal symbolism - it's ostentatious, and besides, the job of the Ladder is to lead, not to rule.

Hubristic Thearchs deny the very existence of hubris as anything but cowardly mockery. After all, it is the right and duty of every soul to strive for more than they are. Forcing reality to bend its knee is a duty! Paradox is a curse from the Abyss, which is the creation of the Exarchs. But ignore that rhetoric. Silver Ladder mages fall to hubris when they overestimate their own abilities and ignore advice when it goes against their own desires or tellls them not to act boldly. They also fall to it by mistaking the role of a leader for that of a ruler, or when they use Cryptopolies and politics to gain temporal power rather then enlightenment. And, perhaps ironically, they fall to hubris when they believe their own Wisdom places them above all others, especially Sleepers.

Sample concepts include the Cabal Negotiator, who spends his time keeping mages from killing each other. He owes allegiance to no cabal himself, instead representing the Consilium as a whole and allowing the many competing interests of the cabals in his area to come to terms. The Self-Help Guru is ap ublic name, a lecturer who teaches others how to help themselves. He takes the symbolism of the Silver Ladder and translates it into something even Sleepers can understand, pushing them towards enlightenment with the language of the self-help seminar.

Stereotypes posted:

Arrow: Loyalty, honor, and service. We cannot ask for more.
Guardians: Every tale has its necessary villains, and fear must go along with love for effective rule.
Mysterium: Reclaimers of our birthright. We climb the ladder, but they blaze the trail.
Free Council: Even democracy must recognize the firsts among equals.
Seers: True wisdom comes from leading all, including your enemies.

Next Time: The Free Council


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition

There is magic in the Fallen World, like a stunted tree thank to the Abyss, but still growing, reaching out to touch the Supernal. This modern age is a time of power and potential. All of human knowledge can be put in your pocket. Revolutions fly on the wings of invisible bluebirds. Mathematicians and scientists puzzle out the fundamental structure of the Fallen World. Yes, the Lie is a chain on the soul - but chains can be reforged into keys and swords. The Council of Free Assemblies knows that change and innovation lead to Wisdom. They are an Order born of modern idealists and ancient rebels, all united by a love of humanity and a belief that the Fallen World has a place equal to that of the Supernal. They are rebels, geniuses and malcontents, idealists and iconoclasts. The Free Council is larger and more varied than any other Order, drawing on a mix of anarchists, free-market capitalists, ancient former Nameless Orders and cutting edge technomancers. All are united by the Libertine Creed and faith in the future. Mages join the Free Council when they want to fight for Sleepers, when they find more value in modern work of culture and humanity than those of ancient mages, or when they are deeply invested in a Sleeper magical culture or tradition.

The Free Council is made of mages with deep ties to the Fallen World. They don't deny that the ancients had deep insights on magic, but they believe that the potential for these insights exists today, as well, that the modern world forges new Supernal symbols with its achievements. The past is done, and the future is changing, but the present is the most exciting time. Despite being made of thousands of different traditions ranging wildly in age, all of the Council's Assemblies agree on the Libertine Creed.

The Creed has three tenets:

For most of history, those mages not part of the Diamond were shuffled off to dead ends or ignored. Powerful Legacies existed outside Diamond society, but definitely in the minority. Others stood against the Diamond, and were branded heretics or Left-Handed. Many formed Nameless Orders, ultimately becoming regional powers at best. However, the democratic revolutions of the 18th century and beyond changed everything. Mages found new and unique symbols in the bombs and gunpowder. These revolutionary mages chafed under the Diamond, finding allies in the Nameless Orders. Ancient mystery cults and traditions met with these new, modern mages, each eager to escape Diamond dominance. They were transformed, catalyzing the birth of a new globalist Order. They took advantage of mass travel to spread the Libertine Creed, turning NAmeless Orders into cells of revolution able to communicate easily. Membership grew rapidly, sparking conflicts across the world and threatening magical war. It seemed to be the conflict that would shape Awakened society in the 20th century. Seeing an advantage in their cold war, the Seers offered the Nameless an alliance against the Diamond, offering them a chance to marry human culture and technology to wealth and power. It was an attractive offer - the Nameless were deeply entrenched in Sleeper cultures and opposed to the Diamond. The Seers could use them to lock down on occultism and seal the Lie entirely, completely controlling Awakening. However, on New Year's Eve, 1899, the Nameless sent back their answer, simultaneous and unanimous: No. The Great Refusal was, perhaps, unanimous only because the dissenters were quietly, brutally and swiftly purged, but it refocused the new Order against the Seers. Within a decade, the Nameless Wars were over. The Diamond offered its support, instead, and the Silver Ladder helped the Nameless to unite into a true order, the Free Council. The Pentacle alliance was formed.

The Free Council searches for Mysteries in scientific and cultural innovation. Supernatural fringe theories, retrohistory, archaeology and social movements. Radical occult theories rejected by the Diamond find homes in the Free Council, and even occasional success. They were born in the era of anarchism and communism, when occultists invented the tarot (which even the Diamond admits was a success) and when West and East fused religions into new forms. Globalization was the true mother of the Pentacle. Libertines are very proud of their Lorehouses - a sort of mix of university and library of lore. Every mage in the Council is tasked with spreading magical knowledge through the Lorehouses, requiring constant new research. The symbols of the Free Council are tied to culture. This methodology was derided by the Diamond as Techne - that is, craft, not art. The Libertines adopted the term proudly, recognizing the power of humanity in creating symbols. They use complex Sleeper phenomena as magical tools, seeking and inventing new ways to tap into the Supernal via cultural power, not Atlantean symbols. Modern math is just as valuble as gematria. Stonehenge and solar panels can be used similarly. Science itself is a tool of wonder.

The hubris of the Free Council can be ironically intolerant of other viewpoints. Their Order is fractious and argumentative, made of many conflicting traditions. They often find themselves unable to agree on any methodology and so unwilling to act. Their lack of hierarchy means they act with one purpose, but they can't take any action that is unpopular. Hubristic Councillors often abdicate responsibility for group decisions or mistakes, or justify unneeded deaths to battle the Lie. Lone voices of dissent or even questions can be censured and crushed by the majority - or even struck down by violence. Most Libertines also are forced to accept things that make them uncomfortable in the name of social and political unity.

Sample concepts! Radio Free Libertine uses her magic to broadcast a personal radio show over the city. She speaks truth to power, transforming the beliefs of magic into words that Sleepers can understand. She inspires, reports, brings truth, all to remind people that things are worth fightng for, that the Lie cannot grind them down. She is fighting for reality in hearts and minds. The Dreamer is a traditionalist, a shaman following the path of spirits and stories. She agrees with the Diamond on some things - the power of stories, say - but she knows truth lies with the listener, not the speaker. When telling stories, she always learns more from the listener, asking for their thoughts and learning from their understanding of her words. She is an animist, a member of an old religious tradition, and she wouldn't abandon it for anything.

Stereotypes posted:

Arrow: No man is an island, no matter how strong the fortifications.
Guardians: Magic is to be shepherded, not feared.
Mysterium: What good is hoarded knowledge if you don't share it?
Silver Ladder: How does one exalt the equality of all, then claim to be first among equals?
Seers: Our antithesis, our great cause. The Great Refusal was our Calatafimi.

Next Time: The Seers of the Throne


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition

So, why the Seers of the Throne? Well, isn't it obvious? The Exarchs won. They are the living Supernal symbols of oppression and they won. The Fallen World exists by their will. All but a few humans are blind to magic by their will. Those that remain squabble over broken remnants at the feet of the throne of gods. Better to rule on Earth and get the chance to serve in Heaven. The Seers have wealth and power as their reward for serving the will of the Exarchs. They oppose the Pentacle out of religious obligation, for they serve faceless, invisible gods of the Supernal. They can compete directly with any of the Diamond Orders in their field of expertise, and they can exploit human culture so well that the Free Council gets mad. Their battle-mages worship war itself, their sages serve the symbol of control by surveillence. They get wealth, power and sex, all for oppressing others and reinforcing the Lie. The Seers serve under the Ministers, the Earthly servants of the Exarchs and heads of the Ministries, each dedicated to a specific form of control over the Fallen World, ranging from military force to economics. These form the Iron Pyramid, a massive power structure of Supernal politics capped by the Exarchs, each of which patronizes one Ministry specifically, each functioning as a small Order in their own right. Of course, the Iron Pyramid acknowledges four Exarchs particularly as Archgenitors, their Ministries Greater to the rest of the Exarchs' Lessers. The Ministries didn't invent the human misery they push - but they do draw strength from it. Their cults are often fanatical cannon fodder. They maintain stables of magical servant-creatures and have ties to monstrous societies. The Ministries rise and fall with new forms of tyranny, though the Seers pretend the Great Ministries are eternal. Mages join the Seers when they want to use magic for their own comfort, taking everything they couldn't get before, or when they're afraid of the Exarchs or Seers and want to be on the winning side, or when they're promising young apprentices lured in by the promise of knowledge they need desperately.

The Seers know that humans are fallible. They aren't gods. The Exarchs are gods, and so are infallible. Thus, the world is not Fallen - it's just on the bottom of the cosmic pyramid of power. The Exarchs rarely speak directly to the Seers, except via the Ministers and, more rarely, their Prelates - that is, Seers they like, who are granted visions or dreams of Exarchal will. These visions always focus on themes of domination, defining a clear victory condition but no clear method of achieving it. Seers hold these cryptic and metaphorical visions to be tests, with success granting great power over rivals. The Exarchs, the Seers believe, were once human, and reward loyal serviec with secrets and a place in their hierarchy. Seers often live as plutocrats, rewarded for their crimes. Advancement comes with strength to demand it - most Seers want to undermine their minions to ensure they don't become strong enough to challenge.

The Seers believe several tenets:

While individual cults in the Seers differ on fine points of myth, the majority agree broadly with the Diamond's stories of Atlantis. They believe the Exarchs are Ascended humans who created an artifact or portal known as the Celestial Ladder, using it to force their way into the Supernal physically. They thus were able to remake the cosmos to their own vision. When the Diamond first formed, all Orders had groups that believed the Exarchs should be placated or worshiped, and the first major Exarch cult split off from the Diamond in order to enslave themselves to the General, Exarch of control by fear of violence. They died when Republican Rome was born, crushed by circumstance and rivals. However, other cults survived, both in and outside the Diamond, until the 1500s, when the followers of the Unity, Exarch of control by xenophobia, became the Ministry of Hegemony, the first Ministry of the Lie, by use of political ideology, nationalism and racism to divide humanity.

The Seers seek Mysteries that reveal the will of the Exarchs, or those Mysteries their divination points them at. Many are also pushed into Mysteries by their superiors, ostensibly by will of the Exarchs but often just to satisfy a whim. (Most Seers assume that if the Exarchs cared, they'd say so.) The Exarchs generally command the Seers to conquer the Watchtowers of magic by studying Awakenings, control magic by hoarding secrets and magical places, enslave old gods and various powers, regulate the Abyss, keep humanity divided and resentful to keep them Sleeping, and to destroy the Pentacle and Nameless Orders. They are also directed to protect humans from existential threats and to guard the seals on ancient beings known as the Bound. Not even the Exarchs want the world destroyed, and more than once the Seers have worked with the Diamond to stop a disaster - mostly the Silver Ladder, but sometimes the Guardians or Mysterium. And, rarely, the Exarchs do take direct action, sending forth emanations known as ochemata into the Fallen World. Ochemata are Supernal beings formed off of an Exarch, godlike in power. The Seers claim they are still mere shadows of the Exarchs' true power. Sometimes, ochemata issue commands. Most of the time, however, they take care of problems the Exarchs don't trust the Seers with. The symbols of magic used by the Seers are simple: the Exarchs' will. Their tools are beyond culture, relying instead on their patrons. They use Exarch icons, runes and scripture, praying for aid. This draws their souls closer to the Tyrants, more in alignment with the symbols. Eventually, a gate appears in their Oneiros, their personal dream-worlds, leading them to a Supernal test of loyalty controlled by the Exarch patron, with the offer of the power of Prelacy behind it.

Hubris is easy - the Seers are never, ever altruists. EVen the deluded and willfully ignorant are quickly disabused of any ideals of fighting the good fight. But hey, there's profit in tyranny. No shame there. Unfortunately, the Exarchs don't care how traumatic the missions they give are. They don't care about you and while they reward Prelates, few ever stop being expendable. Seers tend to fall to hubris when they obey blindly no matter the cost to anyone, when they enslave Sleepers to their will or when they steal objects of power without regard for others. This is, incidentally, most of what Seers do.

I'm going to straight up quote the concepts because they are fucking monstrous, good job writers.

Concepts posted:

Abacomancer: I lazily trace a glyph in the fresh ashes. He was a father of three, and his children hardly spoke to him in the last decade of his life; their guilt means a particularly gaudy spot urn in the columbarium. The ashes of a father are a fitting tribute to my gods, so it's his ashes through which I work my divination. The wind kicks up, blowing coolly over white marble, shifting and twisting the glyph into something new. I wipe the ashes on my greatcoat and ignore the screams of the man's ghost. The Exarchs have answered my queries, and I will not let some crying shade distract me from the call of gods.
Architect: The city stretches before me. Others of my Path would deem her a concrete jungle, but I see her as a living companion, as lonely as I am. Her lungs billow black smoke into the air, while her guts teem with thousands of residents. I raise my hands, and a dozen architects at three different firms unknowingly coordinate their efforts. The Exarchs bring order to this world, just as I bring order to this city. A skyscraper here, highway ramp there - enough to alter weather patterns, bringing storms to my lover's belly. Drop by drop, the poorest within her will wash away, their foundations crumbled and possessions destroyed. In five years, property values will be low enough for gentrification to take hold, and my true work will begin.

Stereotypes posted:

Adamantine Arrow: They exalt challenge, but not the ones who challenge them.
Free Council: Genius is unappreciated, even when it's completely backwards.
Guardians of the Veil: Their dreams aren't as empty as their conscience seems to be.
Mysterium: Career scholars who worship power? There's lots for you here, friend.
Silver Ladder: One nation under gods, accept nothing less.

Next Time: The experience of the Fallen World


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition

The world is a Lie. Magic, monsters, everything that is hidden from most people - they're real. Most urban legends and horror movies have some kernel of truth humans prefer to deny. This is not because human belief shapes reality - it's because reality nudges the minds of humans that would prefer to look away. Vampires, werewolves, they exist. So why do so many humans not acknowledge this? People should notice, someone should spot it. But so few ever do. And that is because of the Lie. Mages who study the Lie argue that mere social pressure cannot explain the human reluctance to acknowledge the supernatural. Some humans even do notice some things - ghosts, say - but remain blind to the rest. Even those who witness undeniable magic often rationalize it away or even forget it happened. Mages name this Quiescence, or the Sleeping Curse. Quiescence causes Sleepers to forget revelations of magic they encounter, reinforcing the learned impulse to rationalize things away and forget. This is a problem for those mages that wish to get people to cast off the Lie.

It is clear - the Lie is too pervasive, too targeted, too elaborate to be an accident. It has a guiding intelligence behind it. Mages know some Supernal symbols are alive - they can summon Supernal entities into the Fallen World, after all. Most of these entities are content to allow mages to call to them. However, the symbols that guide the Lie are evidence that something Supernal is actively attempting to cripple humanity - and succeeding. The term most mages use for these beings, whose nature is a matter of debate, is 'Exarch' - rule from outside, in Greek. Anything that challenges the Lie risks allowing the Abyss into the world. The Supernal is all that is true and real - and the Abyss is everything that can't be. Occasionally, parts of the world are so tainted by it that they are overwhelmed with anti-symbols - a Paradox occurs, damaging the world. The impossible becomes real. Very rarely, this happens by itself. More often, mages overextend themselves or fall prey to weakness when casting, accidentally allowing the Abyss to seep out of their magic. The Abyss is no mere void exploited by the Exarchs, either - it contain millions upon millions of impossible beings. Mages divide them into three rough categories. Greatest are the Annunaki, stillborn universes driven mad by nonexistence, each trying to infect and overtake the Fallen World and twist it into themselves. Lesser entities merely twist the laws of the Fallen world. Beings created by this warping are referred to as Gulmoth. Other times, the Abyss warps a human soul and creates an entity dedicated to creating similar warping, and these are called Acamoth.

Now, we've talked a lot about the Supernal as being real and symbolic, but what is it like? It calls to people, begging them to Awaken, but most never hear it. A few, however, feel the stirring. Sometimes Supernal symbols haunt their dreams, or they see the waking world around them suddenly become fraughtw ith meaning. However it happens, it becomes increasingly clear to those that feel it that everything they thought they knew was a Lie, that there is a truth beyond it. They realize - the world is not deterministic. Boundaries need not constrain us. Change does happen. Humans do have great power. They begin tos ee the truth, their Sleep becoming restless and fitful. Some mages claim that this lasted decades for them, but for most, it is a few weeks. This stirring, however, eventually becomes a mystical pilgrimage that takes one of two forms.

The first kind of Awakening is called a waking world dream. The symbols of the Supernal around you become more and more pronounced, more real to you than the physical world around you. You have a choice: ignore it, turn away, return to Sleep. Or you can accept this reality and explore it. You cease to perceive the physical world at all, and everything becomes a journey through mystic truth. In your mind, you overcome obstacles on your quest for truth. In the mundane world, your body interacts with others as if they were part of the dream. What happens in reality mirrors your dream, and everything you do in the dream affects the events of the real world. This can lead to impossible events happening, at times. Quiescence quickly ensures witnesses do not recall. Sleepers cannot see the world of your dream, and even other mages must be of the same Path and using their Mage Sight to glimpse what you see. However, mages are familiar with the symptoms of these Awakenings and most know not to get in your way - intervening often means being cast into the dream's narrative or even preventing the Awakening entirely - and so only Guardians and Seers consider doing it with any real frequency, and even then, only when absolutely required. Mages of all Orders, however, will often tail you in hopes of recruiting you once your Awakeing is complete.

The second, rarer form of Awakening is the supernal journey, taking place entirely within your soul. Sometimes, you see, a Sleeper is asleep or meditating when the Watchtower calls to them, or they have a moment of inspiration so strong that it takes them out of their body. In these Awakenings, you experience the Supernal World directly, removed entirely from the Fallen. You travel across dreamscapes formed from your Path's symbols, interacting with the native beings without any mask. To onlookers, you appear asleep or comatose, and it can last anywhere from a few minutes to years, entirely divorced from the subjective experience of time.

However an Awakening occurs, it invariably requires you to successfully navigate hazards and leave your mark on the Supernal. In waking world dreams, this usually means signing your name, leaving a bloody handprint or crafting some tool or weapon, a song or anything unique to your identity. In Supernal journeys, it typically manifests as a Watchtower you must reach, climb and mark. Once you mark the Supernal, you regain awareness of the ordinary world, but are now Awakened, forever changed. Each Supernal Realm represents a Path, and by marking it, you declare yourself a member of that Path. Mages do not consciously choose their Path, but the Paths seem to bias towards certain types of people. More philosophical mages describe Paths as revealing the truths of the five aspects of the Lie, and some Seers believe that each path is a challenge to the Exarchs of a Supernal Realm. Some members of a Path seem to be chosen because they saw through a facet of the Lie the Path challenges in the moment of Awakening, while others struggled with it all their lives, or always knew but never had the power to act on it.

The Acanthus Awakening sends them to Arcadia. Before Awakening, they are often powerless, shackled by duty or obligation or poverty or some other unchangable. Their life is predictable, clad in iron, lockstep. They are even more confined than most Sleepers. They yearned for escape. They begin their Awakening by breaking patterns, rebelling against destiny with bizarre choices. They give up routine. They see the secret rhythm their life has danced to and refuse to continue the dance. Thus, a stranger world is revealed. They find hidden paths and impossible routes thanks to their rejection of their place. In these strange places, they meet strange beings, Mysteries that live and walk. These Mysteries will drown those who do not have the will to pursue them, leaving them to die, alone and confused, fearful and deluded - but those that give chase? Those who freely enter? They reach the Watchtower of the Lunargent Thorn. You must run forward, never away. By solving that first Mystery, the thorns are opened. Ancient mages said the Watchtower was dominated by thorny woods, but in the modern day it is as often a factory of rust or a filthy hoarder's home. Whatever it is, it is unfinished business and unborn potential, and you must shove it aside to confront Arcadia directly. The fairy lords of Arcadia are living destiny. Do not take what they offer for sustenance. Do not love or hate them, or they will trade your destiny for theirs. In Arcadia, no act is trivial. You must face temptation, and there are no simple answers. There are worse answers, but no perfect ones. Make a decision. Accept that every decision has consequences. Carve your name upon the Watchtower and accept that you have changed your fate. Accept that everything you do will have consequences and deny the legacy that would have been yours. Free yourself from destiny and for the first time in your life, be the one to choose.

The Mastigos Awakening sends them to Pandemonium. It is a terrible thing and a liberating gift. Mastigos are those who Awaken to confront spiritual wounds, obsession and destructive behavior. They were the people who had sex just to feel anything at all, the artists that used their own illness for inspiration, the priests and scientists who lacked any willingness to show anything but outer faith or who tampered with things, who cared more for appearance than reality. They are people who suffer and whose coping mechanisms were unstable. However, the Watchtower of the Iron Gauntlet is not there to fix their lives and straighten them out. Pandemonium is not a place for ascetics merely for the sake of asceticism. Mastigos never deny the self. Rather, the potential of their base desires is unlocked. They understand, they justify their vices, turning them into functional symbols, even servants. Their Awakening begins with risktaking, ever greater, until they face an existential crisis with only one solution: own your passions. For some, this is a symbolic deal with the Devil, for otehrs taking command of their desires. You face a simple choice: Awaken or destroy yourself. Crisis sends you to Pandemonium, home of demons. You must navigate through a maze of thought, prejudice and belief. You must reveal yourself to yourself in full, carving your name on the Watchtower and taking command of your flaws and your vices. Abandon shame and embrace what you are, turning weaknesses into slaves of your own transcendent will. Do not hide. Understand your nature and use it, rather than obeying it. Be the master, not the slave.

Next Time: Stygia, the Aether and the Primal Wild


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition

The Moros Awakening heads to Stygia, but they do not go there seeking the Watchtower of the Leaden Coin, quite. The Leaden Coin is always with us all, you see. It's the weight of everything we find precious and everything we hate. When we die, if we are lucky, we pay it to the ferryman and are released of our weight as we pass on. The Moros, in Stygia, perform this transaction without having to die, undergoing an alchemical transformation as their Leaden Coin is made a fearless gold. The Awakening begins with Death - as the tarot says it, that is. Change, sudden but inevitable. It comes and cannot be resisted, no matter how you try. The harder you work to prevent the change, the worse it gets. The harder you fight, the hotter the flame burns you. You need to let go. Accept it. Change happens. Embrace it. Become it. The world changes, and you change with it. You understand now - change comes because it should and it must. You are the one who changes things. You carve your name on the Watchtower, aware that all things change, and that yours is the hand that brings change. You embrace this nature - the Great Work, the alchemy of the self, the transmutation that does not destroy, but purifies and clarifies. You die and are reborn, your weight lifted.

The Obrimos Awakening goes to the Aether. Their Awakening is the logical conclusion of their work, their theories. It is not a sober or rational event, however. The Obrimos Awakening begins when you paint yourself into a catastrophic corner, when you end up in a disaster where there is only one exit: an intuitive leap of understanding. You do not like to act without analysis, to feel without thought. But you must. You must become aware of the flaws of your theories, refine them, rebuild them greater. You will do this, become someone who builds ever higher on a foundation of your own beliefs. But before you can, you are someone who liked order. You thought it all made sense. You loved structure. And then...you started to notice the flaws on your systems. You saw the nonsense that was built into your theories and beliefs. You began to question the order of it all. And yet, when you tried to describe the problems to others, you sounded insane. You see a great force in these problems, a God that should be present yet is not - and is all the more obvious for it. You spit the place where an answer should be, but is missing. You feel a deep urge to complete that answer, to create that God. And in a surge of understanding, an intuitive leap of perfection, you do it. You write your name upont he Watchtower of the Golden Key and you create the God that fills the hole you saw, you write the answer that perfects the flaws of the system. There will be new flaws, and always, you will fill them in a way that fixes them. Again and again, you will rebuild, better than before.

The Thyrsus Awakening is of the Primal Wild. It comes after long madness. The world speaks to you before you are ready to listen. Every living thing around you crowds your attention. Your heart feels like an alien creature pulsing in your skin. Even the concrete speaks to you, a wordless babble you cannot understand. You can ignore it at first, but not for long. The world screams at you for attention. You feel it everywhere you go, everything you see. You can't escape it. Everything has something to tell you, and you begin to listen. You need to - it is the only way you will survive. As you listen, you realize: they were talking for a good reason. They have so much to tell you. You turn to the Watchtower of the Singing Stone and you leap in. You leave the old, silent world behind and embrace the life that is everything. Spirit and animal and plant and all, it is there and it is alive and you love it. You embrace it. You are part of it. You are the apex, the predator, the peak. All of life flows from you and to you, an eternal sacrifice from itself to itself. Life is devouring and fighting and fucking and living. You carve your name upon the Watchtower and emerge, part of the life and master of it. The world still speaks to you. But now, you speak back.

When the Awakening is over, you perceive the material world again - but never as you did before you Awakened. Your eyes are open now. You can see the symbols that underlie the world. This, the Peripheral Mage Sight, can never be turned off. You will grow used to it quickly, the buzz of magic that you can always sense. When you focus, you can call upon the Active Mage Sight, perceiving the truths of all Arcana whose rudiments you understand. This will show you more - the nature of the things around you, the activity of the spells cast around you, and more. But that information may not be enough. By focusing all of your attention on a single thing, you may engage the Focused Mage Sight, blotting out the material world to gaze on the Supernal symbols within your object of focus. This can reveal deep, deep Mysteries - but it can also draw Supernal attention.

To the Acanthus, the world is full of destinies and paths that others follow, bizarre anomalies of time, signifiers and omens. The Active Mage Sight of the Acantus often is accompanied by time dilation or contraction. Under the Focused Sight, they may perceive thorns - visual metaphors of the branching timelines that grow and die ahead of all things, appearing as vines or cracks or shining lines. To the Mastigos, the world is full of thoughts that turn in on themselves to become minds, and proof of how distance is purest illusion - there is no real separation. Their Active Mage Sight warps distance, shows mirages, causes the sense of being lost, watched or chased. They see auras around all things that think, a haze of thoughts an emotion. Under the Focused Sight, they often sense chains, bars, uniforms or other symbols of imposed boundary. To the Moros, the world is quiet, settled. Sounds are muffled, movement slow. The dead and the destroyed leave afterimages to Active Mage Sight, or the world is seen through a lens of entropy and decay. The Focused Sight sees those who are distracted or tied to the past with these things set aside, broken or discarded. These impressions are known as shells or crypts. The Obrimos see the power living in the world. They see the interaction of Forces and PRime in all things, feel the world straining at its seams, barely able to contain the energies. Under the Focused Sight, they see mandalas, complex patterns of all forms of power and authority. Halos, shining lights, the sound of sunlight. To the Thyrsus, the world is ecstatic, transcendent, connected. It is alive, pulsing to its own beat, magic flowing like breath. Under the Focused Sight, they often see all life as part of one massive superorganism, each creature a cell. While all Arcana you study are part of your Mage Sight, your path is what predominates. A Moros sees Matter differently than a Thyrsus.

Mages name the aggregate Supernal symbols that correspond to a thing or event a Pattern. When more clarity is needed, the individual symbols in a Pattern are Forms. A Life Pattern, for example, isa ll the information the Life Arcana can give about something. All of the Patterns of the world together form the Tapestry, or in older texts, the Tellurian.

The language of these Supernal symbols is known as the High Speech. All mages learn to speak it in Awakening, and statements in the High Speech can alter reality. Using it can increase your control over your magic. Because its nature is entirey Supernal, the Lie conceals this speech from Sleepers, who hear it as meaningless gibberish or glossolalia. That said, the High Speech is not really a language - it is the Platonic ideal of language. It is gibberish to mages, too, but their Mage Sight responds to it, and they know the information it tells without having to understand the sounds. That said, nothing the High Speech conveys can be spoken in normal language directly, and it is useless for conveying long messages - but very, very good at expressing intent or mood. The High Speech cannot be used to lie, either, and is the only language that can fully describe a spell. The runes of written High Speech are derived from the shapes Mana takes on when released while viewed by Mage Sight. They are rather like drawing a blueprint for magic. Communication in High Speech need not use them, though - any alphabet will do, and only the Awakened will be able to read it. Often, the Awakened find High Speech in strange and unexpected places - written in architecture, in roadways, in advertisements, in the sounds of animals. Some of thse are messages from other mages, or put down intentionally. Most are not. (Indeed, the oracle at Pythia and some Christian groups that practice glossolalia sometimes actually speak High Speech without knowing it.) It is unclear what makes these marks - the Exarchs, perhaps, or the Oracles. Often, they lead to deeper Mysteries.

Mysteries, to mages, are things that beg to be understood and explored. They are phenomena that, in understanding and experiencing them, allow a mage to increase their enlightenment. They are the knowledge that cannot be taught. Old European magical societies called this experience a Mystery Play - a story with a symbolic moral. Each is a tiny reminder of the Awakening, of the first truth a mage learned. Chasing Mysteries is intoxicating to mages, and the journey is often as important as the destination. Even those Mysteries not easily solvable help in enlightening you and making you stronger. There are many Mysteries, and not all are obviously tied to the Supernal. In fact, most don't seem to be. Nothing forces mages to study them - but mages are a curious lot, and generally willing to go to great lengths for truth.

Next Time: Will and magic


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

You can do magic, as a mage, by virtue of your Path. This grants you access to a functionally infinite variety of magical symbols that you can sense and understand. To cast a spell, you picture the effect you want, focus your mind on the appropriate symbols that will create the effect (called the Imago) and then you utilize your Gnosis as the medium by which you force reality to obey. Thus, your theoretical magical properties override the Fallen reality of the world, and it changes. Magic is extremely good at observing the Fallen World - practically anything can be analyzed by it, using the right Arcana. Those rare exceptions, it is usually agreed, are things that come from realms entirely alien to human thought, such as the Abyss. It is clear that not all Mysteries are tied to Awakened magic, of course, any more than the existence of water pressure is tied to barometers.

Your magic is tied to your Nimbus - a sort of spiritual signature influenced by your Path, any Legacy you have and your own nature. Your Nimbus is unique to you. Whenever you do magic, your Nimbus flares outward, revealing you to anyone actively using Mage Sight. Even once the spell ends, your Nimbus lingers on the target like a fingerprint for an investigating mage to find. You can also deliberately reveal your Nimbus to everyone, even Sleepers, though doing so will trigger Quiescence. Your Nimbus also reaches out to twist the lives around you, even if you don't intend to. It makes them more closely reflect your Nimbus. This can often negatively affect your Sleeping friends and family - but there is a solution: the Shadow Name.

Most mages adopt a Shadow Name, an expression of their identity in the Supernal, without their mundane persona involved. Most use the Shadow Name only with other mages and supernatural beings. Some go so far as to alter their voice or body language to make it harder to tell when they are 'out of character'. Shadow Names are taken extremely seriously for several reasons. First, they help to conceal your true, sympathetic name from enemeis, who might use it to cast spells on you from a distance by sympathetic magic. Second, and more importantly, the Shadow Name protects those who know only your Sleeping identity from being affected by your Nimbus without you intending them to be. This works best, however, if you also avoid using magic in their presence. If you allow too much connection to form between your Shadow Name and your Sleeping family and friends, they can still fall under your unintended influence. Using a mage's sympathetic name to address or refer to them when your friendship is not intimate is often seen as extremely rude by most magical societies. The Silver Throne, Guardians and Seers even see it as a punishable crime.

I'd put money that this is a direct response to M20.

Mage society is not normal, because mages do not live normal lives. Their obsessions with Mysteries do not make for easy small talk with Sleepers. The Lie overwhelms their families, making it hard for them to connect intellectually with the Awakened mage. This awareness of the Supernal often draws mages away from their old friends and into new social circles. The Awakened all understand a fascination with MYsteries, and odds are that anything that draws your attention has also captured the attention of another mage. This can sometimes lead to conflict if you see them as a competitor, but more often people treat it as a potential friendship. Older and more experience mages that meet new ones often use it as a chance to invite them into Awakened society by offering them assistance, and some Orders even dangle Mysteries in densely populated areas in order to identify new mages.

Most mages belong to a sect or Order, as noted before. The four Orders of the Diamond Precept claim common origin as spiritual inheritors of the Awakened of the Time Before, modeling themselves on what they see as a perfected, Supernal society - rather like a vast and shared Shadow Name. The evidence they base their historic claims on is inconclusive at best, but the symbolism has helped them hold together for centuries by giving them common cultural references. The current form of the Council of Free Assemblies is the youngest major sect, a former coalition of Nameless Orders that once fought the Diamond for resources, they now unite in common cause against the Seers and have quickly become a major force in the Awakened world. The Seers, of course, serve the Exarchs and so enjoy considerable wealth. They are happy to use magic for their own petty desires, and so have more resources than anyone else...but they are also hamstringed by constant infighting and resource disputes.

Not all mages belong to these sects. This minority of mages include the apostates, the Nameless and the Nameless Orders. An apostate is one who has rejected membership in any and all Orders for some reason. It's not an easy decision to make - the Orders grant so many resources and access to lots of knowledge. Some apostates once belonged to an Order and left, perhaps after stealing secrets. Their exit, whether voluntary or not, makes them distrusted by all Orders, who see them as potential enemy spies or traitors. A Nameless mage, too, is not a member of any Order - but not by choice. Rather, they are usually from a remote area or otherwise have not attracted the notice of an Order yet. Most join an Order when they get a chance.

The Nameless Orders, meanwhile, are any number of other magical groups - usually small and local - that mages set up that are not part of the major sects. Some are ancient magical traditions, while others are a small group of cabals with common cause. A handful of Nameless Orders are potent enough to have great influence in their particular purview, but none have the global reach of the major Orders.

So, what is a cabal? While mages tend to be individualists, most realize they're more likely to succeed at their goals with help. Most eventually join a cabal - a group usually ranging between 2 and 30 other mages. Large or old cabals may have a mix of mentors and apprentices, but most are peers at the same level of power. Cabals can be loose organizations that share little but communal rent on safehouses or tightknit circles who choose Shadow Names intended to complement each other and enhance group ritual - or anywhere in between. Despite the social pressure to join at least a loose cabal, the Orders do accept Solitaries - mages that work alone - as members. Cabals do have a lot of benefits, however.

First, cabals often have a symbolic theme based on one or more members, their practices, the area or some other factor they agree on. Elemental, astrological, Tarot, it doesn't matter what the specifics are as long as they matter to the members. This shared symbolism is as important as a Shadow Name to most cabals and most mages, and the choice of name and theme often dominates the destinies of members. Further, cabals that perform rituals together are more capable when using symbolism tied to their theme.

Second, cabals provide protection. At the very least, it means someone will notice if you vanish, and they'll come looking. Mages can usually depend on their cabal to support them in any dispute with others and to have their back if a Mystery becomes dangerous. It's good manners to tell your cabal what you're looking into and what kind of enemies you might be making, but when it comes down to it, a cabal will usually help you out and ask questions afterwards.

Third, cabals often have a common cause. Each mage has personal obsessions, but cabals frequently seek out Mysteries together, allowing them to pool their resources and cover more ground than any of them could alone. Each Mystery helps increase the Gnosis of the entire group as a whole, making them all stronger and better able to pursue other Mysteries.

Lastly, cabals provide a sort of collective bargaining power with other mages. A mage with cabal backing has a lot more to bargain with. The cabal, after all, is a sort of insurance that you'll keep your word - it reflects badly on the entire cabal if you don't, and so they'll make you do it. Plus, if something beyond your control keeps you from fulfilling a bargain, your cabal will help do it for you, usually. Further, the cabal will help enforce any agreements you make. Sure, a Solitary can appeal to the local Consilium for aid, but a cabal can carry out any justice it needs on its own most of the time.

Next time: Wait, what's a Consilium?


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Wherever a lot of mages gather, you get the problem of potential conflict. Cabals dispute resources, and some Mysteries can't be accessed by everyone. The Pentacle's solution is the Consilium - a panel of councilors led by a Hierarch, who hear and resolve disputes. Consilium decisions are enforced by social pressure - if you don't obey them, you get no Consilium protection. Plus, the judges tend to be older, powerful and backed by strong cabals and Sentinels. Sentinels are the enforcers and detectives of the Consilium. Mind you, Consilium decisions aren't all final - a Convocation can serve as a sort of court of appeal - and they aren't governments except where they make rulings to protect every mage in their terriory. As long as a cabal break no laws, they can do anything they like.

Most Consilia have several roles:

So, what are the Lex Magica? They are the body of laws of a Consilium. Typically, mages don't tell each other how to do magic, but some people get dangerous enough to need rules and limits. The Lex Magica names four kinds of laws: Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron. Gold Laws are those the Diamond believes are from the Time Before, as gathered from Artifacts, lost ruins and general consensus. They are rare, largely concern individual rights of mages to follow their studies unless they cause conflict, or to maintain their sancta and Hallows without trespass, or to be recoginzed for skill in the Arcana. Silver Laws, on the other hand, are the local laws the Consilium has made as part of their charter, or by concord - when all Consilia in a Convocation agree to alter their laws in a specific way. Every council ruling apart from these are Bronze Laws. Silver and Bronze are by far the most common laws. A few are commonplace in nearly every Consilium.

These are:

Last, the Iron Laws are all rules, oaths or treaties ratified by smaller groups within a Consilium's jurisdiction - cabal charters, sworn oaths of service, that kind of thing. Whenever two laws conflict, Gold is highest in precedence, then Silver and Bronze, then Iron, but a Consilium may judge any infraction. Consilia also typically act against Left-Handed mages. The definition of Left-Handed varies by place, but typically it maens someone whose obsessions or practices involve the abuse or destruction of souls, the destruction of magical potential, routine interference with Awakenings, casual abuse of Sleepers, Abyssal corruption, contact with the Lower Depths or prolonging one's life by ethically questionable means.

I mentioned Guardia Caucuses. What's a Caucus? Essentialy, Consilia exist to keep peace, and little else. Your Order is much more influential on what you look into for study. They give you a philosophy to follow and often goals to pursue. Each is a global organization, but different locales need different focuses. Caucuses, then, are regional groupings of culturally similar mages of a single Order, typically led by the highest-status member. They tend to cover more land than Consilia do, often covering three to six different Consilia. Two Caucuses may well overlap for different Orders, but frequently they'll only ahve incomplete overlap. The structure varies heavily by Order.

Arrow Caucuses always have a clear chain of command. New members are Talons, with the most proven tacticians and leaders being First Talons. Above them are the Thunderbolt Guardians, instructors and trainers as well as specialists in some area of battle. Above them are Adamant Sages, the leaders of the Caucus, who typically advise Hierarchs in their territory on dangers and threats. Some Talons also receive formal recognition as guardians of a cabal, gaining the title of Banner Wardens, though not all Talons in mixed cabals get this privilege, as it places their duty to their cabal over their duty to the Order.

The Guardian Caucuses typically center around the Labyrinth, their vast network of mystery cults meant to misdirect Sleepers while finding new Awakened. Cultors are the ones that maintain individual cults, either as leaders or important members directing from behind the scenes. Emissaries serve as the Order's messengers to other Orders, delivering intelligence or threats. Susceptors investigate every other Order for signs of corruption or infiltration by the enemy. Last, the Epopi is the leader, secretly directing the Caucus from a number of false masks.

Mysterium Caucuses are built around clusters of Athenaea. Outsiders often think of them as massive libraries of lore, but they can take many forms - yes, centers of learning, but also Censoria, where dangerous artifacts and lore are kept locked away for the time when they are, regretfully, needed. Acquisitors seek out Mysteries to add to the Athenaea, while Censors ensure that dangerous Mysteries are kept away from the unworthy and reckless, even if they are other mages. Savants work to memorize entire bodies of lore, to ensure that should an Athenaeum fall, its knowledge is never lost. Each Athenaeum also has a Curator who determines who gets access and borrowing rights to an lore or artifacts in their Athenaeum. The religious aspects of a Caucus are led by the local Hierophant.

Silver Ladder Caucuses focus a lot on Cryptopolies, networks of mystery cults that both propagate their ideals (and hopefully guide Sleepers to Awaken) and also allow the to influence Sleepers socially against the Lie. Thearchs do not, however, control Cryptopolies directly. They rely on Illuminated retainers - Sleepers, Sleepwalkers and Proximi intiated into the Order as sub-members. Many Pentacle organizations and practices originate with the Ladder, such as the Consilia, Convocations, Lex Magica and Duel Arcane. New initiates, or Acolytes, do errands and carry messages for senior thearchs. Lictors act as wandering investigators and judges for the Caucus. Masters of the Lex Magica can become Factotums, essentially lawyers of the Silver Ladder. Clavigers ensure ideological purity and also serve as envoys to supernatural beings, in part for their expertise and in part because they're somewhat more expendable than Deacons. Most Caucuses have only one Deacon, who oversees all the local thearchs. Some very populous Caucuses will have an Archdeacon who rules over several Deacons with more narrowly defined responsibilities.

Libertines usually agree to obey Consilia they belong to as cabals, but they prefer their Assemblies. In theory, an Assembly is a democratic gathering of all mages in an area, voting on policy and abiding by it. In practice, they're Free Council Caucuses, except for a handful of younger mages that think they might get more out of the Libertines than the local Hierarch. However, not all members of an Assembly can vote right away. New initiates have only provisional membership until they prove their loyalty. Those who attend from other Orders can also become Voters by submitting to the Assembly's judgments and participating in thei rituals, but don't start that way. This is to ensure that infiltration and sabotage by Seers is harder, and also prevents voter abuse by the other Orders. Emissaries serve as contacts to the local Consilium and Caucuses. Minutemen respond to local emergencies. Letter Carriers deliver messages hidden telepathically in their minds. Citizen Agents serve as spies, watchmen and covert agents of the Free Council. In some areas, a Strategos will serve as a general and military leader, a chief executive or an expert on threat assessment. Libertines with enough reputation to sway many votes are known as Syndics, the politicians and lobbyists of the Free Council.

So what's a Convocation? They are meetings organized by the Silver Ladder to ensure Consilia don't become too isolated. Mages from many Consilia send representatives to the Convocation to make friends and trade information. The smallest Convocations cover overlapping territories of a Caucus from each Order, while the largest gather all Consilia on a continenet. The Ladder want to make a Great Convocation of all Pentacle mages, but it's never happened. Convocations keep the Orders together, allowing Caucus leaders to meet and plan. They also hear appeals for those that don't like a Consilium's rulings, serve as swap meets for lore and Legacy induction, and even the Free Council likes them, as their attempts to build large-scale Assemblies have yet to succeed. While anyone, even the inexperienced, can be made Hierarch if they are respected, and anyone can speak at an Assembly, Convocations are run by a council of Magisters - defined as any Pentacle mage attending who can prove mastery of at least one Arcanum.

The Seers organize in the Iron Pyramid of prestige and service, ranking themselves above Sleepers (and all other mages) and below the Exarchs. Each Exarch's Ministry is led by a Minister, the Exarch's earthly servant, who leads their Ministry in pursuing a specific form of world control. Many Ministers are archmages, living in Supernal Verges to better commune with their gods. Beneath them are the Tetrarchs, who command the Seers over a wide region. All Tetrarchs in an area make up one Tetrarchy, the groups that discuss Seer goals and plans and pass commands down the chain. Beneath the Tetrarchies are Pylons. They resemble cabals in size, but have a clear pecking order of rank and prestige absent from most Pentacle cabals. Most Pylons have ranks within their number, and also report to senior Pylons. Advancement requires becoming strong enough to demand it successfully, and most Seers watch their superiors like hawks for weakness while undermining their inferiors.

Next time: Legacy


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Every mage has one of the five Paths, coloring their perceptions. The Orders give general guidelines on how to use magic. Legacies, however, are a chosen and narrow view on how you, specifically, should use your magic. Some are ancient belief structures, millenia old, that remain true today. Others are new but still highly specific worldviews developed by careful reflection. Those that share a Legacy are part of an elite clique, highly specialized. Some have hundreds of members across the world, others no more than a dozen, depending on how widely their beliefs appeal and how questionable their practices are. A Legacy offers its members a network of contacts with similar beliefs that understand each other deeply, and the bond of mentor and student within a Legacy is often stronger than between master and apprentice in an Order. Legacy members also develop Attainments, instinctive powers so often used that they carve channels in your soul, pushing it into a new shape, and so primal that they can be used without casting spells. Some Legacies also cause physical or mental changes. Choosing a Legacy is a sign of maturity for mages, marking your dedication to a magical style. Some mages do not develop one out of reluctance to reshape their souls, or wait to be able to create their own Legacies rather than the far easier route of joining one that exists, but masters without a Legacy are very unusual. However, while Legacies are expected, and often radically different from each other, Consilia do keep track of what they name Left-Handed Legacies - banned Legacies. These practice Attainments that are deemed unacceptable, or are placed under general interdict for vile or hostile practices.

This brings us to character generation! How's the Mage template work? Well, Mages are similar to base humans in a lot of ways. They get Virtue and Vice, the same stats and so on, though the book actually forgets the note Virtue/Vice stuff. But then you first choose your Path, to get your Ruling and Inferior Arcana. You then pick your Order. Order grants you three Rote skills - skills you get a bonus die to using Rote yantras for. More on yantras later. Stats are provided for being a Seer in general or a member of one of the Greater Ministries specifically, and a sidebar on how to be a Nameless Order mage.

If you belong to any Order at all, you also get a free dot in Status with that Order, a free dot of the Occult skill and the High Speech merit for free. Then you define your character's Nimbus, based on your Path and personal symbolism. You also define its Nimbus Tilt; more on that later. You also select your Dedicated Magical Tool - a specific magical tool you are most comfortable with, from among the things you can use based on your Path and Order symbolic tools. More on that later, too. You then select your Arcana. You get 6 dots of Arcana. Your Ruling Arcana both need at least one dot, and at least 3 of your dots must be spread between them. You cannot put any dots in your Inferior Arcanum. You cannot have any Arcanum over 3. So you can go 3/2/1, 3/1/1/1, 2/2/2, 2/2/1/1/ or even 2/1/1/1/1. You then select six dots worth of Rotes, all of which you must be capable of casting normally. (Rotes are spells your Order has taught you secret mudras for, allowing you to use the Rote yantra.) More on Arcana and Rotes later. Lastly, you get Gnosis 1, though you can spend 5 merit dots to raise Gnosis to 2, or all 10 for 3. (This is a bad idea.) You begin play with your maximum Mana for your Gnosis level.

On top of this, mages get Obsessions. An Obsession is an Aspiration...but instead of normal Beats and XP, it grants Arcane Beats and Arcane XP, and it must be related to pursuing mystical knowledge of some kind. More on that in a moment. Lastly, you get a number of Praxes equal to your Gnosis. Praxes are spells you know so well that you can cast them with great ease, which are symbolically important to you. More on that later, as well! Finally, you add 1 dot to your choice of Composure, Resolve or Stamina. Oh, and you replace Integrity with Wisdom, which starts at 7. More on that later.

Now, Arcane Beats. You gain Arcane Beats when:

5 Arcane Beats become an Arcane XP. Arcane XP can be spent on Arcana, Gnosis or Legacy attainments, either by itself or in combination with normal XP. Arcane XP is the only XP you can spend on new Praxes, raising Wisdom, or to learn Legacy attainments when you have no tutor.

Obsessions! The number you can have at once is based on your Gnosis. At Gnosis 1-2, you have one. At 3-5, you can have two. At 6-8, you can have three. At 9-10, you can have 4. Any time you resolve an Obsession rather than just making headway, you not only get you Arcane Beat but also gain 1 Mana. Obsessions also function in all ways like Aspirations besides what's noted here...and whenever an Obsession applies while you are using Focused Mage Sight on something, you get +1 dice.

The amount of Arcana dots you can have in a specific Arcanum is limited by your Path. After you hit the limit, it costs more XP to raise, you can no longer spend Arcane XP to raise it, and you need a tutor. The limit is 5 for Ruling Arcana, 4 for most Arcana, and 2 for your Inferior Arcanum.

What does your Gnosis determine mechanically? Well...

Mana is your power points. You can spend it to:

You may gain Mana by:

Next time: Wisdom


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

According to Mage, Wisdom is the ability to judge the real value of when, where, why and how to use magic, and mages debate it a lot. It also represents the control you have over your magic, so at low Wisdom, your magic is doing whatever the fuck it wants and not giving a shit about Paradox happening. Wisdom is lost by Acts of Hubris, in which you ignore consequences in pursuit of your goals. Stepping out of the summarizing voice: WoD 2e basically abandoned Morality as a thing, replacing it with Integrity. Vampire, on the other hand, essentially kept it under the name Humanity. Mage is kind of uncomfortably between the two still.

Anyway. Back to summary. Wisdom is lost by Acts of Hubris, but as you get lower, it gets harder to lose. At high Wisdom, it's a constant balancing act. You risk Wisdom degeneration different depending on the scale of the ACt of Hubris - a worse one is a lot harder to resist than a minor one, and having high Wisdom doesn't make it any easier or harder - it just means you can lose Wisdom from lesser acts. Committing Acts of Hubris in pursuit of your Obsessions actually makes things worse - you get -1 die on the check if you were pursuing an Obsession. However, if you were committing in Act of Hubris in defense of your Virtue, you get +1 die. On the other hand, in pursuit of Vice, you get -1 die. Exceptional Success on a Wisdom check grants an Arcane Beat, success does nothing. Failure means you lose a dot of Wisdom and get the Megalomaniacl or Rampant Condition. Dramatic Failure is that, but you also get a Persistent Condition pertaining to what you did that can be resolved only by gaining a new dot of Wisdom.

Mages with Wisdom 8-10 are known as the Enlightened. Sins against this level of Wisdom roll 5 dice, and any Act of Hubris risks losing it - essentially, anything you could do via mundame methods without any actual risk, or any time your magic or actions affect innocent bystanders. Wisdom 4-7 mages are the Understanding. Sins against this level roll 3 dice. Most mages are at this level - stuff like allowing a Sleeper to witness obvious magic, creating a soul stone, not trying to contain a severe Paradox, forcing any sapient being to act counter to its own interests, altering the nature of a sapient being for a longterm period or binding a sapient being to a task are all sins here, as si deliberate and premeditated murder or violence that leaves lasting injury. Wisdom 1-3 mages are the Falling, and sins against this level of Wisdom roll 1 die. These Acts of Hubris are terrible - killing someone in a fit of rage, destroying an Awakened soul, allowing a Supernal being to be destroyed or making deals with the Abyss. (Honestly? I'd think that impassioned murder wouldn't be as bad as premeditated murder, but Mage disagrees.)

I don't really like Wisdom as it stands, but I'm not really sure what to replace it with.

Anyway, there are ways to avoid Wisdom loss. Well. Way, singular. Any time a specific spell causes Wisdom loss, you may choose to inure yourself against it. Any future uses will no longer ever risk Wisdom loss no matter what you do...but now, every time you use the spell, you risk Paradox. From this point on, it has a base Paradox risk of two dice, not zero. You may only inure yourself to one spell per dot of Gnosis.

Oka. So. Your Nimbus. We discussed the three types. Your Long-Term Nombus produces subtle coincidences around you - purely story effects based on your Path. You cannot control your Long Term Nimbus in any way, and as your Gnosis grows, it becomes more powerful. It will also go out over sympathetic ties to you, based on your Wisdom score. Enlightened mages only affect those with Strong sympathetic ties to them. Understanding mages can affect Medium connections. Falling mages can affect even Weak connections. Shit gets weirder as you lose Wisdom. Anyway, your Immediate Nimbus is a potent aura that flashing outwards as you cast spells. Any time you do so, it becomes visible to anyone using active Mage Sight, no matter what Arcana they're using. When your Immediate Nimbus flares, it also causes a Nimbus Tilt on anyone nearby, with a strength of the spell's Potency and a duration of the spell's Reach in turns or one turn, minimum. More on what those words mean later, when we do spellcasting. You may also spend one Mana to flare your Nimbus for one turn without casting, rolling Gnosis to dertermine its strength. Even Sleepers can perceive this flare, though after the Nimbus Tilt fades, they will suffer Quiescence. Anyway, you compare the Nimbus' strength to the Resolve of any witness nearby. If their Resolve is less than or equal to the strength, they gain the Tilt. They can choose to accept this Tilt without resisting if they are aware of it. Mages can resist it with their own Nimbus. And last, your Signature Nimbus identifies spells cast as yours. Whenever you use a spell, Praxis, Rote or attainment, you leave your identity behind, visible to those who use Focused Mage Sight on your target. If you have Gnosis 6+, it's easier to read. By default, these marks last for a week, or more at high Gnosis. The You may spend one Mana to imprint your Signature Nimbus on something or someone for several weeks, or months if you spend a Willpower as well.

Supernatural creatures often have their own ability to plac Conditions on others, such as the vampiric Predatory Aura. MAges are particularly resistant to this as well as to the Nimbuses of other mages. Whenever targeted by such effects, they can resist with Gnosis plus one of their Resistance Attributes, depending on what sort of Attribute the other person is using. Any such resistance flares your Nimbus, as well. Any successes you gain directly counter the other person's successes, one for one. If you have any left over after that, they suffer your Nimbus Tilt.

Next time: Mage Sight.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Before we talk Mage Sight, a brief note on High Speech. All mages can comprehend and understand it, but you have to be part of an Order to learn how to use it as a Yantra in spellcasting - that part isn't instinctive. Any mage, however, can use it for a crude spoken or written language. It has restrictions, however, due to its nature as a more symbolic than actual language - it's good at facts, but you can't use it to lie deliberately. (It is, however, possible to be mistaken in High Speech.) High Speech is also incapable of using metaphor or symbol, as it is itself entirely a symbol, a Supernal concept of itself. While it can be used to make Persuasion or Intimidation rolls, any attempt to use it for Expression or Subterfuge is automatically reduced to a chance die. Sleepers who hear the High Speech hear only gibberish. While their memories are affected by Quiescence, mere hearing of the High Speech does not cause a Breaking Point.

Okay, Mage Sight. We've discussed the concept - what are the mechanical notes? First, Peripheral Mage Sight. You perceive all magical occurrences through the lens of your Path and Nimbus. Often it is not perceived as actual sight, but some other feeling - a smell, a touch, a sound. While most Mage Sight relies on the Arcana, the Periphery responds to any and all supernatural events...but only active ones. Any supernatural attempt at concealment will automatically defeat it. It will not detect a ghost hanging out in Twilight, but will detect if the ghost uses any of its Numina or if it manifests itself. Peripheral Mage Sight will not, however, tell you anything about what happened beyond 'something just happened.'

Use of the Active Mage Sight requires more concentration. Any use of Active Mage Sight automatically uses your two Ruling Arcana from your Path and can freely use any Legacy-granted Ruling Arcanum. You must spend 1 Mana to add use of a Common or Inferior Arcanum for a scene. It is a far greater sensory experience than the Peripheral Sight - it interprets everything you see through the lens of your Path and Arcana, causing oyu to hallucinate the connections of the Arcana. It is a vast torrent of information, hard to deal with and make sense of, and it does not grant new senses - you have to be able to perceive something for the Active Sight to tell you about it. Other magic will be needed to expand your senses or the Mage Sight. Each Arcanum does provide a minor benefit on top of the ability to perceive active magic, however.
Death Sight allows you to detect any ghostly Anchors, manifested ghosts or related phenomena. Further, you can tell at a glance if someone has a soul or if a body is actually dead.
Fate Sight allows you to detect when anyone you can perceive rolls a dramatic failure or exceptional success. Further, you can tell if someone has a Destiny and when they use it, though not the Destiny's details.
Forces Sight allows you to detect motion and the presence of environmental tilts, fire, electricity and other similar hazards. Further, you can tell at a glance if a device is powered.
Life Sight allows you to detect life signs, whether something is alive, and how injured anyone you can perceive is. Further, you can detect toxins, diseases and physical Tilts at a glance.
Matter Sight allows you to determine the Structure and Durability of any object you look at, as well as its value and quality.
Mind Sight allows you to detect at a glance if something is a thinking being, as well as if someone is asleep, comatose, awake, meditating or astral projecting. You are also aware when anyone you can perceive spends or gains Willpower.
Prime Sight allows you to tell at a glance if anything you can perceive is usable by you as a Yantra, as well as the presence (though not the composition) of any Awakened spell or Attainment effect. You can also recognize tass, Hallows and Nodes at a glance.
Space Sight allows you to judge distance, range and cover instantly, before taking any action. You can also detect spatial warps, scrying windows and the presence of Irises.
Spirit Sight detects the local Gauntlet strength, the presence and nature of any Resonance Condition or other source of Essence, and any manifested spirits or related phenomena.
Time Sight detects split-second temporal adjustments (and so allows you to detect the Initiative ratings of anyone you can perceive), makes you aware of it when anyone is trying to act, even reflexively, and allows you to, if you are able, preempt them, though you will not know what they are doing. You can also detect temporal warps and time travelers.
On top of the above, any Active Sight detects supernatural effects that fall under purview of its Arcana, or any Awakened magic as it is being cast, including the Nimbus. Concealment magic will work against it, but only if it would logically mask the target from the purview of the relevant Arcana. Even then, if the concealment uses the relevant Arcana, there is a chance to detect it via a Clash of Wills against the power. Active Mage Sight lasts (Gnosis) minutes for free, and then costs 1 WP to maintain for the rest of the scene. While active, you get -2 to all rolls unrelated to use of or perception of magic.

Focused Mage Sight allows you to scrutinize a single subject through the lens of an Arcanum. Unlike the other Sights, this requires you to focus all your attention on a single thing - a persona, an object or a place no larger than a small room. Instead of perceiving them physically, you see the Supernal as filtered through the target. Magic pourts through them, shaped by the Fallen World, and by examining that interaction, you learn about them. You may also release Mana into the world to study its patterns. This is not entirely safe, however. Looking so deeply into the Supernal is no passive act. It is a thorough, persistent, invasive investigation, flooding the area with energy. Anything that can sense magic will notice it...and so will otherworldly beings, which might well get annoyed at you. You must be using the Active Sight to be able to Focus. There are two stages of Focused Sight: Scrutiny and Revelation. Both are more difficult, the more complex the Mystery you are staring at. This is represented by the Mystery's Opacity - a sort of abstract measure of how deep you have to go to understand it. You can attempt Revelation at any time - it's a simple glance or taste test. Useful, yes, but not indepth. For that, you need Scrutiny - time-consuming and occasionally dangerous study of your target. These are two different actions, possible to be used in either order - you can Reveal to get some idea of what you're dealing with first, or Scrutinize first to try to reduce Opacity. What you cannot do, however, is Reveal twice without Scrutinizing the object. Once you have Revealed an object, that's all you get without Scrutiny.

Revelation is an Instant action, usable when you first encounter a Mystery to gain its surface information, or when you have reduced or eliminate the Mystery's Opacity. It's a roll of (Gnosis+Arcanum-Opacity). Success grants the surface information, and exceptional success also allows you to lower the Mystery's Opacity by 1 or, at the ST's discretion, gain one piece of deep information. Failure gives you nothing but uses up the Revelation attempt anyway. Dramatic failure, however, overloads your perceptions and floods the target with mana. No one may attempt to Reveal or Scrutinize it for 24 hours or until someone uses the spell Cleanse Mana on it.

Scrutiny requires 1 WP to activate. While using it, the penalty for all non-magic-related rolls from Mage Sight increases to -3, as you become unable to perceive most of the Fallen World meaningfully. If you are Scrutinizing something magically concealed, you get the rote quality on your Clash of Wills roll. Scrutiny is a variant extended action. Each roll takes one turn, so you can't speed it up any more than it already is on an exceptional success. You do not have a target number of successes, either. Instead, each time you roll a number of successes equal to the Opacity, the Opacity is reduced by 1. So if you start against Opacity 4, once you get 4 successes, it drops to 3. Then 3 successes drops it to 2, and so on. Further, there is no maximum number of rolls you can make. However, maintaining Scrutiny becomes dangerous. After (Gnosis+Arcanum) rolls, your magic begins to leak into the Mystery. At this point, any time you fail a roll at Scrutiny, add (Gnosis/2) to the Opacity, rounding up. This Opacity increase applies to any and all mages attempting to Focus on the object, not just you. You may spend Mana while Scrutinizing, to watch the patterns it makes for information. Each point of Mana adds a success to your roll...but only if the roll gathers at least one success naturally. If the roll fails, you lose the Mana uselessly. You are still capped by your Gnosis' ability to spend Mana per turn.

The pool here is Gnosis+Arcanum. Successes are used as above, but an Exceptional Success also lets you choose: You can apply all the successes in the roll, even if that would reduce Opacity more than once, you can spend a point of Mana to increase the object's Opacity for all other magi by (Gnosis), or you can spend a point of Mana to obscure any trace of your Nimbus on the area, causing a penalty to anyone searching for your Scrutiny. Failure, unlike most extended actions, lets you continue...but as noted above, it can increase Opacity after a while. Dramatic failure adds 2 to the Opacity and, if you've done too much Scrutiny already, attracts the attention of a Supernal entity related to your Path, which may use its powers on you for as long as your Mage Sight remains active.

You can Scrutinize with multiple Arcana at once, but it's dangerous and harder to filter. For each Arcanum beyond the first that you are using, subtract one roll from the period before your failures start to affect Opacity. The base number of rolls is (Gnosis+highest Arcanum used).

Opacity is assigned by the ST. The higher the Arcana involved in a Mystery, the higher the Opacity should be. As a general rule, the base Opacity should be at least equal to the highest rated Arcanum in a spell, plus one Opacity per Arcanum used beyond the first. Note that Opacity is not linear, but exponential - Opacity 4 takes 10 successes to get rid of, not 4. High Opacity can also represent cloaked magic - decoy spells and Prime-laid false paths. Also, for non-Awakened magic, Opacity should be higher - roughly 1.5 times higher, usually, than a similar effect using Awakened magic.

A Mystery's surface information as revealed by Revelation generally includes:

Deep information is the truth and intent of the Mystery, its Supernal resonance. It will only be revealed if you remove the Opacity and then succeed at Revelation. The GM has a few options. First, you must hit Opacity 0 before you can learn any deep information - appropriate for low-Opacity Mysteries that have little deep information to begin with, or Mysteries so complex that they are impossible to grasp without their full context. A second method is to parcel out deep information each time Opacity drops, without requiring a Revelation. The third method is between the two - you get minimal information as Opacity drops, but still need to perform Revelation at the end to get the rest. Either way, the ST decides which method is used in any given situation, and need not be consistent. It's a case by case thing to make the ST's life easier.

Deep information can include:

Next time: Summoning Supernal beings


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Mages are actually able to call forth the beings of the Supernal into this Fallen world. It's never easy, and it risks Paradox as you pull the being across the Abyss. But it's doable. And there's good reasons to try it. Sometimes, you need answers. The beings of the Supernal can answer pretty any magic-related question in their purview. Sometimes, they bear Artifacts of great Supernal power from their home Realms. Plus, they can do magic that is beyond your abilities, unfettered by the rules of the Fallen World. Of course, you'll have to bargain with them, but like I said, it's never easy.

There are two broad categories of Supernal being, depending on whether they are summoned by a Gross Arcanum or a Subtle Arcanum. Those summoned by Gross magic are manifest beings - forthright, obvious, animalistic. Subtle summonings draw forth recondite beings, clever, subtle and manipulative. Summoning either kind of being requires a ritual space - ideally a Demesne of the appropriate Supernal Realm or a Supernal Verge to that realm. Even in these places of great magic, however, there is a risk of Paradox and the Abyss. Shielding against that takes time and effort even there. Now, you can only summon entities with the two Ruling Arcana of your Path, and you must have at least three dots in an Arcanum to use it. Supernal entities correspond to two Arcana each, at least. They may cast spells of those Arcana up to their Rank. If you have 3 dots in a second Arcanum, you can specify what you want the second Arcanum of the entity to be; otherwise, the ST decides.

The summoning itself is an extended Gnosis+Arcanum roll, with each roll taking one hour. It takes 1 Mana to perform the usmmoning, or 2 if you specified the secomd Arcanum. You need a base of 10 successes...but that's base. The entity at base will be a Rank 1 ephemeral entity. Add 5 successes per rank past that, max of Rank 5. Add one success to extend the duration it can remain in the world without suffering damage. Each success adds 30 minutes; you start with none, base - it will take damage immediately. Add successes to protect the area against the Abyss. Each success allocated here allows you to make one additional roll without the ST checking for Abyssal corruption. Add one succes per Sleeper present; note that any Sleepers will suffer breaking points and Quiescence. Add one success per mage present not of your Path. Add one success if the summoning is in a Demesne oriented to a Realm other than your Path's. Add one success if you've caused any Paradox in the past week, even if it was contained. Subtract 3 successes if the summoning is in a Demesne oriented to the realm of your Path. Subtract successes if you incorporate items and conditions correspending to your Path's Realm into the summoning, as determined by the ST or by an Int+Occult roll (every 2 successes removes one success from the target number).

This is a normal extended action, but if you dramatically fail you automatically cause the space to be flooded with Abyssal energy. You and any other mages in 50 feet take (Gnosis)A damage, and the taint lasts for (Gnosis) days. Abyssal entities can form in the area at any time in that period, and the place may develop into a full Abyssal Iris or Verge, if an Annunaki notices and gets involved.

Beyond this, there are other Abyssal risks. Once the summoning begins, if it goes too long, the Abyss will notice. You get (Resolve+Composure+any successes allocated to avoid Abyssal intrusion) rolls without risk. After that, the ST rolls yur Gnosis every time you roll. If they build up successes equal to your Gnosis plus the primary Arcanum of the summoning, the Abyss breaks through and what you get is not a Supernal entity - it's an Abyssal ne. The ST is instructed to keep their rolls secret.

Once a Supernal being arrives in the Fallen World, it is protected by your summoning circle for a brief period (assuming you assigned successes to that). After that period, it suffers one point of Corpus damage each hour. If it leaves the circle, this becomes once every half hour. Contact with Sleepers reduces this to once every 15 minutes. If a Mage causes Paradox within 50 feet of it, even if the Paradox is contained, the being suffers one damage per success on the Paradox roll. Every time the being suffers damage, the ST rolls its Power, Finesse and Resistance. Failure on a roll reduces the appropriate stat by 1. You can use magic to boost its traits, but the dmaage is resistant and cannot be healed by magic. Further, raising its Resistance does not increase its Corpus for purposes of remaining the world. Once it runs out of Corpus, it vanishes. It can sense when this is coming and will attempt to return to the circle. If it 'dies' in the circle, it returns to its home Realm. If it 'dies' anywhere else or is killed by deliberate magical attack, it vanishes into the Abyss forever, a fact which is obvious to anyone watching. Directly contributing to a Supernal being dying in this manner is always an Act of Hubris against Falling Wisdom.

All Supernal beings demand a test - a condition or action that must be met by their summoner. This is similar to a spirit's ban - if you don't perform the test, the entity literally cannot help you. It may even attack you. Powerful beings often have complex Trials, while lesser ones may simply demand honesty and respect, or that you show your dominion over magic forcefully. Research into Supernal beings usually reveals the nature of their Trials indirectly - for example, records on the Primal Wild are recorded as respecting those who do what it takes to survive. The GM should allow an Int+Occult roll to get hints as to how to extrapolate that out to what a given denizen might ask.

The beings of Stygia are Shades. The recondite Shades are the Specters, beings of Death. They are called on for advice on matters of mortality, immortality, loss, grief, the dead, lost civilizations and the Underworld. Often, they resemble beings traditionally associated with death or deities of death. The manfest Shades are Apeirons, creatures of Matter whose name is derived from the theoretical substance all matter is made of. They sometimes take human form, or the form of something shifting between states of matter. They are useful in advice on magical materials and how to work with them, alchemy, and finding lost Artifacts.
The beings of Arcadia are Fae, and the recondite Fae are Moirae, beings of Fate. They manifest in many ways - humans, balls of energy, a sense of potential. Moirae provide advice on destiny, changing your fortune and cheating your fate...but they are often known to turn the tables on this sort of thing. The manifest Fae are Anachronism,s creatures of Time. They are, by nature, unstuck in time. They appear in forms related to the passage of time, often speeding through a life cycle over and over or wearing the shape of something related to timekeeping. They are useful for questions of the past and future and how to change them, and their knowledge of the timestream is unequaled...but they do not like allowing people to alter the past or future too much.
The beings of the Aether are Angels. The recondite Angels are Cherubim, beings of Prime. They understand raw power and magical potential more than any, and are more nuanced than Seraphim. They appear in many forms, but always glow with Mana and often have many eyes. Some take animal forms. They are usually summoned for advice on making Grimoires, Imbued Items, Demesnes or other magical things, as well as how to counter or alter powerful spells. The manifest Angels are Seraphim, beings of Forces. Many are resplendent and terrifying creatures of sword, wings, fire and light or other elemental phenomena. They are useful in matters of elemental magic, war, virtue and morality.
The beings of the Primal Wild are Beasts. The recondite Beasts are Totems, creatures of Spirit. They resemble spirits in most ways, taking the forms of animals and natural phenomena, but unlike spirits, they have autonomy and choice. They can be more than what they are. They can advise on spirits and anything to do with them, or how best to avoid offending them. The manifest Beasts are Atavisms, beings of Life. They are primal, brutal creatures of animal instinct. They can give material components for spells and rare magic items, as well as advice on animals and plants or knowledge of ways to use Life to shapeshift in new ways.
The beings of Pandemonium are Demons. The recondite Demons are Wraiths, creatures of Mind. They are terrifying and dangerous things that take the form of an image from your mind, usually one related to trauma or fear. They aren't always malicious, but the Trials are highly stressful on your psyche. They are useful for self-discovery and memory, but also to learn secrets of the Astral. The manifest Demons are Imps, creatures of Space made flesh. They are sometimes immense monsters or skittering, hiding horrors. They have great knowledge of scrying and magical sympathy, and are often good at knowing where to find sympathetic Yantras, or at opening portals.

So, souls. Your soul is not your mind, spirit or morality. It's more like the metaphorical supports of your psychology. Remove it, and your sense of self starts to collapse. Souls are insubstantial and invisible to anything but Death Sight when proper part of a person. When outside a body, any subtle Arcanum's Mage Sight can see them as a vague humanoid aura. They are clearest to Death Sight, and are insubstantial even to ephemeral beings, most of the time. All Supernal beings, however, can spend a Mana to physically interact with loose souls. Mages need spells to do it. The origin of souls is a Mystery even to mages - they appear at birth and vanish utterly at the moment of death. In theory, a Master of all five subtle Arcana should be able to make one, but all attempts at soul creation have failed. Mages believe, often, that souls originate from the Supernal and cannot be recreated by earthly magic.

Souls have valu,e however. Destroying a soul is always usable as a sacrament Yantra for Death, FAte, Mind, Prime or Spirit. A mage's soul can be studied to determine their Legacy by the marks left on it, and can be used to recreate that Legacy in yourself. Even when integrated in a host, Death magic can reveal quite a lot about someone's wellbeing via their soul. Further, many Left-handed Legacies, known as Reapers, can consume or manipulate souls to produce strange powers. Loss of your soul is very dangerous - it will slowly drain your Wisdom or Integrity, then your Gnosis and Willpower, until you become a barely conscious sort of half-person, unable to care about anything, until a soul is returned to your body. While you have no soul, any spells you cast are PAradox risks, and you can't contain any Paradoxes or enter the Astral realm. Full descent into the Thrall condition prevents any spellcasting at all.

Any soul can recover you, not necessarily just your own. Recovering a soul ends the Soulless, Enervated and Thrall conditions. Willpower regenerates at 1 point each time you rest or fulfill your Birtue until you reach your normal Willpower cap from before losing your soul. Lost Gnosis returns at one dot per scene if your soul was a mage's, or one per arc if not. Legacy Attainments return once your Gnosis is sufficient for them. Once your Willpower is normal, you regain one Integrity or Wisdom dot every time you regain Willpower from rest.

It is possible to place a portion of your soul inside an object, a soulstone. These objects have several purpose.s They can be used to create Demesnes. They serve as proxies for their maker for sympathetic purposes. When used by another mage as a tool Yantra, they offer a +2 bonus, or +3 if the soulstone's creator had higher Gnosis. When used by their maker as a tool Yantra, they count as a Dedicated tool. Peripheral Mage Sight will reveal to your any magic cast around, at or using your soulstone. Mages can study a soulstone to determine or learn the creator's Legacy. Every Order also has a simple method for resolving conflicts in which one mage has taken another's soul stone. The stone must, legally, be returned after the creator does three services for the holder. Even the Seers acknowledge this rule.

It's easy to make a soulstone - take an object up to Size 2 and imprint your Signature Nimbus on it, then spend a full dot of Willpower. Bam, soulstone! However, you reduce your maximum Gnosis by 1 while it exists - so if you have three soulstones, you can't raise Gnosis above 7 without destroying them. A mage always knows when one of their soulstones is destroyed. Creating a soulstone is an Act of Hubris against Enlightened and Understanding Wisdom.

A Demesne is made by taking one or more soul stones and placing them into an area as part of a ritual. Up to five soulstones can be used for any one Demesne, and the more that are used, the bigger it is. One stone can cover one to two rooms, while 2 can cover 3-4. Three stones can handle 5-8 rooms or large enclosures. Four stones can handle the equivalent of 9-15 rooms. And five stones can be as big as you fuckin' want. Once the stones are gathere,d they must be enchanted and kept within the Demesne, but can be anywhere within it. If a stone is destroyed, the Demesne obviously shrinks until it's replaced. It takes an extended action of Gnosis+Arcanum, with 3 successes per stone and one hour per roll to make a Demesne, and costs 1 Mana per stone. Dramatic failure blows up all the soulstones involved, dealing 1A damage to each mage whose stone was used.

Next time: Magical merits


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

So, new merits! Let's go down the list.

Adamant Hand (2 dots): Requires Adamantine Arrow Status 1+, and one of Athletics, Brawl or Weaponry at 3+ dots. Essentially, it allows you to use combat techniques as Yantras for instant-speed spells. When you take the merit, you pick Athletics, Weaponry or Brawl. You can use that skill in combat as a reflexive Order tool Yantra, either to add dice to a spell cast in a later turn or to cast reflexively this turn. You can take this merit separately for each skill, and it's part of why the Arrow is terrifying.
Artifact (3+ dots): You own an Artifact, an item from the Supernal that is both a symbol of magic and a unique magical item that can creates its own power. These items have their own Mana, Gnosis and Arcana, casting spells when a mage who owns them knows how they work. An Artifact's cost is based on its greatest effect. The base cost is equal to the highest Arcanum used, or 3, whichever is higher. Every additional efect adds to the cost, but only at half the highest Arcanum used in dots per effect. You can apply Attainments to an effect at the cost of one dot per Utility Attainment added. An item can hold (Artifact dots*2) mana, and has effective Gnosis of (Artifact dots/2), rounded up. You can use its Mana as if it were your own, or just to fuel the Artifact. It has effective Arcana equal to the highest Arcana used in its various effects. They cannot Reach, however, beyond the 'free' Reach their Arcana provide. If they risk Paradox, you can spend Mana to mitigate it and can choose to contain it; if without a wielder, the Artifact will always release Paradox rather than contain it. Each Artifact has specific circumstances under which it will use its powers, determined when they are (OOCly) made. (ICly, they are from the Supernal.) You can use your Gnosis and Arcana in place of the Artifacts or in combination with them to get the best pool. Every Artifact is also a Path rool Yantra worth +1 for mages of the Path of its highest Arcanum.
Astral Adept (3 dots): You must be a mage or Sleepwalker. You can spend a WP to meditate your way into the Astral Realms via a ritual ceremony even without access to the normal methods of Astral entry.
Between the Ticks (2 dots): Requires Wits 3+, Time 1+. You can, once per scene, give yourself -1 Initiative for a turn to get +1 dice to your action that turn, or -1 from an action to get +1 Initiative that turn.
Cabal Theme (1 dot): All members of a cabal must have this merit for any to benefit. All members are counted as having 1 extra dot of the Shadow Name merit for purposes of persona Yantras, even if they don't have the merit at all or it would take Shadow Name over 3 dots.
Consilium Status: On top of the normal benefits of Status, you can access Artifacts, libraries, Grimoires and other magical resources based on your Status level, treating Status as Resources for the purposes of getting those things, which cannot be bought with normal Resources most of the time. You can get temporary access to all kinds of merits - Alternate Identity, Retainer, Imbued Item, ARtifact, Grimoire, Mentor, Hallow, Sanctum, Library, Advanced Library, Safe Place, Familiar and Resources are all possible, with 'cost' of their dot reating, or +2 dots if it's a permanent gift.
Order Status: Obviously, this unlocks various Order merits and also will get you access to people to teach you more dangerous rotes of the Order. Seers Status also directly adds to your Resources score for getting mundane items and services. Sleepwalkers can only get the first dot of one version of this Merit. Mages can get one dot of a second Order status, but no more than that. You may use your Order Status in Caucuses outside your main one, but at -1 dot in the same Consilium/Assembly, -2 in the same Convocation and -3 dots anywhere else.
Destiny (1-5 dots): Each arc, you get a pool of (Destiny) points to spend. Each one can be spent to make a single mundane roll gain the rote quality or to reroll a single mundane action after seeing the result of a roll. You can spend a WP when spending a Destiny point to apply either of those benefits to a spellcasting roll instead. This is very powerful...but there's a cost: your Doom. You must define a means by which your life as you know it will end - addiction, betrayal, crippling, devouring, enslavement, imprisonment, maddening, murder, etc. This will either kill you, leave you alive and suffering or turn you. Whenever you spend Willpower to avoid your Doom, you only get +2 dice, not +3, or only +1 to a static value. However, when you spend Willpower on an action that will bring your Doom closer but fail, you immediately regain the Willpower. The ST decides what actions will delay or hasten your Doom.
Dream (1-5 dots): Whenever you sleep or meditate for four hours, you can ask the ST a yes/no question about the topic at hand. They must answer accurately, but can say 'maybe' if the answer really is neither yes nor no. You may then ask additional questions based on that answer, or wait to use the merit again. You can ask a total of (Dream dots) questions per arc.
Egregore (1-5 dots): Requires Mysterium Status. Essentially, it is progress through the Mysterium's secret mystery cult. At one dot, you do not suffer the normal -3 penalty to teamwork spellcasting without the necessary Arcana, and if you have it, you get a free success. However, all members of the ritual team need to have the merit. At two dots, you apply your full MYsterium status to all Mysterium Caucuses, not just your local one. At three dots, you can access any Library held by your cabal or Caucus mentally rather than physically, and once per arc you can gain the Informed Condition regarding the local Mysterium's membership and their abilities and focuses. At four dots, the first magical tool you use in any spell always counts as Dedicated. At five dots, you are considered to have a Medium sympathetic connection to any Mysterium member in the world, as long as you are in a Mysterium Sanctum.
Enhanced Item (1+ dots): Each dot you purchase in this reflects one dot worth of spells placed permanently on an object to boost its capabilities, or +1 to the object's bonus as a tool, +1 to its Structure or +1 to its Durability. You can have more than 5 dots in this, and the cost of a spell is always its highest Arcanum. Can be combined with Imbued Item but not Artifact.
Familiar (2 or 4 dots): You have a pet ghost, spirit or Goetia that has a greed to serve you in exchange for safety from Essence bleed. You can choose if it is entirely Twilight or Fettered to an object or animal. Two dots means it's Rank 1, four is rank 2.
Fast Spells (2 dots): Requires Firearms 2+, Time 1+. Your Aimed spells do not apply Defense unless someone can apply Defense against firearms.
Grimoire (1-5 dots): You have a Grimoire! Each dot allows it to contain two rotes of any level. You can use the Grimoire to learn these Rotes or to cast them following its instructions, as detailed later.
Hallow (1-5 dots): You have a Hallow! It produces one Mana per dot each day. You determine how Mana left in it congeals into tass. It can store (dots*3) Mana in tass before it becomes dormant and stops producing anything until all the tass is harvested. You can pool dots in this with your cabal.
Imbued Item (1+ dots): You have an item that contains a spell and the Mana to cast it. You pick a spell, and anyone - even a Sleeper - can cast it from the item if they know how to trigger it. The spell always costs at least 1 Mana, even if it normally wouldn't. The pool to cast it is the spell's Arcanum rating, plus the user's Gnosis if they have any. Each dot is one dot worth of spell contained. For multiple Arcana, use the highest to determine cost. Utility Attinments increase the cost by 1 per Attainment. By default, an Imbued Item has only one MAna inside it; points in the Merit can be applied to purchase a battery of 2 Mana per dot. Recharging it takes one hour per point and Mana to transfer into it. An Imbued item can have only one spell in it, but can go over five dots of cost because of this. Imbued items can cast spells that risk PAradox, and you can spend their MAna to mitigate it, but limited as normal by Gnosis. You can't contain a Paradox from an Imbued item. This can be combined with Enhanced Item but not Artifact.
Infamous Mentor (1-5 dots): You must have Mentor at equal or higher level. Your Mentor has a reputation; when taking this merit, determine their Order and Consilium Status, generally close to their Mentor dots, and Social merits equal to (Infamous Mentor dots*2). You may access the STatus and Merits, as long as you're willing to live with the consequences of name-dropping your Mentor...which generally includes people looking down on you later for relying on that.
High Speech (1 dot): You can use High Speech as a Yantra.
Lex Magica (2 dots): Requires Silver Ladder Status. When you act in an official, titled capacity, you may add either your Silver Ladder or Consilium Status, depending on where the title comes from, to your Doors when anyone tries to socially maneuver against you. Further, others can't spend Willpower on Social actions or magic to influence your behavior when you act in these capacities. Finally, you may use your higher of Silver Ladder or Consilium Stats as a Yantra in spells that directly enforce the Lex Magica, including investigating possible crimes, pursuing offenders, defending the innocent or any spell to help the rule of law. The benefit of this Yantra is (relevant Status/2), rounding up.
Mana Sensitivity (1 dot): Requires Prime 1+, Wits 3+. You can sense Hallows and stored Mana with Peripheral Sight, even without any active magic.
Masgue (1-5 dots): Requires Guardians of the Veil Status. You have a Masque, an alternate persona you can assume by spending a point of Willpower, which you may not regain while in the Masque. Removing a Masque requires a full minute to 'get out of character.' You may buy two-dot merits to reflect additional Masques, which have all the powers of the main Masque this merit represents. At one dot, you choose a Virtue and Vice different than your own. While in the Masque, you use those. At two dots, you choose (Masque dots) Specialties. You use those instead of your own while in the Masque. At three dots, you choose a new Signature Nimbus, using that instead of your own while in the Masque. At four dots, choose two Acts of Hubris you'd normally suffer. While in the Masque, they do not risk Wisdom. At five dots, choose up to five Merit dots. You have access to these while in the Masque, but they must be logical parts of the identity and cannot include more Masques.
Mystery Cult Influence (3-5 dots): You have influence over a Mystery Cult without being a member - you may be their god or a power behind the throne. You have the benefits of Mystery Cult Initiation at the same dot level as this merit, but need not have ties to the cult.
Occultation (1-3 dots): You are magically hard to notice. Any time someone tries to use a spell on you via a sympathetic connection, it is at a -(Occultation dots) penalty. Further, any attempt to read your aura or otherwise magically determine truth from you is at the same penalty. Finally, any attempt ot scrutinize your Nimbus to identify or track you suffers a similar penalty, and the Withstanding level of sympathy for any spells targeting you is a minimum of your Occultation dots. However, if you ever gain the Fame merit or otherwise become noticed by the public at large, you can lose this merit.
Potent Nimbus (1-2 dots): For purposes of determining your Nimbus Tilt's effects, add 2 to your Gnosis (at 1 dot) or 4 (at 2 dots). Additionally, you get a bonus of (Potent Nimbus dots) to any rolls to flare your Nimbus.
Potent Resonance (2 dots): Requires Gnosis 3+. Whenever someone scrutinizes your Signature Nimbus with Mage Sight, they siffer the effects of your Immediate Nimbus and its Tilt.
Prelacy (1-4 dots): Requires Seers of the Throne Status 3+. You are int ouch with your Exarch. At one dot, you get the Persisent Condition 'Mystery Commands.' At two dots, you may use the patron Exarch's symbolism as a patron Yantra worth (Prelacy dots/2), rounding up. At three dots, you get a special Attainment based on your Exarch's symbolism. At four dots, if one of your soul stones is part of a Demesne, that Demesne becomes a Verge keyed to your Exarch, inhabited by loyal Supernal entities. The entire thing will collapse and destroy all soul stones involved if you try to link it to multiple Exarchs. The drawback of all this? You can only earn Arcane Beats from other Obsessions in an arc if you've already earned one for obeying the one granted by Mystery Commands.

Sanctum (1-5 dots): Requires Safe Place. Add (Sanctum dots) to your Gnosis for purposes of spell control when in the Sanctum. You can maintain these benefits on previously cast spells when you leave, but if you add any new spells the benefits immediately end and you must Reach as if you'd cast each spell without benefit. For an extra three dots not counted towards the 5 dot limit, the Sanctum includes a Demesne. You may share this merit within the cabal.
Techne (2 dots): Requires Free Council Status. Choose a focus in the form of some mundane activity, such as gaming or computer programming or dancing. You treat this focus as an Order tool for the Free Council as long as you include it in your spellcasting. Further, you can treat the presence of Sleepers performing this focus as a separate Order tool, as long as the spell is not obvious. If all mages using the teamwork rules have this Merit and the same focus, the leader gains 8-again on the spellcasting roll. You can buy this multiple times for new focuses.
Shadow Name (1-3 dots): You have developed a magical persona of great power. Determine your Shadow Name and its symbolism. You may use those symbols as a personal tool Yantra worth (Shadow Name dots). Further, apply (Shadow Name dots) as a Withstand rating to any spell attempting to identify you or cast sympathetically on you while you are in your mundane persona, or to spells using temporal sympathy to target a time you were in your mundane persona, and as a penalty to any mundane skill rolls related to identifying your mundane persona and your magical persona as the same person.

Last, a general Merit imported from Beast: Advanced Library (1-5 dots): Requires Library 3+ and Safe Place at least equal in dot level. You have a thorough library on a secret, supernatural topic. For each dot, choose a topic - vampires, mages, whatever. When you consult your library on a topic it contains, once per arc per topic, you gain the Informed Condition related to that topic. You may share this merit with the rest of the party.

Next time: spellcasting! Finally.

Spellcasting (1)

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Spellcasting all shares a basic structure: you channel your understanding of reality and the Mysteries to alter reality. Yo envision all parts of your spell and its effect before casting, creating the Imago. The Imago represents the spell's result, and without it, you would be incapable of casting the spell. Most spells are improvised spells, cast as needed by drawing on the Arcana and your Path symbols. This is less personal than using a Praxis and less formal than a Rote.

When casting a spell, your base dicepool is Gnosis plus the highest Arcanum required for the spell. You must decide exactly what you want the spell to achieve before you roll, and a single success on the spell roll will produce it according to your specifications. All spellcasting has the same general structure, but without modifying its spell factors or risking Paradox, a spell's basic traits are:

A spell's dicepool is modified by Yantras and spell factors. There is no cap on how large the penalties can get...but if your dicepool hits zero and then has more than another -5 of penalties beyond that even after all Yantra bonuses, the spell automatically fails because it's too complex for you to cast. If you are improvising a spell using a Common or Inferior Arcanum, you must spend 1 Mana, on top of any other Mana costs the spell has. However, it is possible to use various techniques to get more out of your base spell after you determine the effects and Arcana involved. Most changes will either provide bonuses or penalties to the dicepool...but others, more profound changes, require you to Reach, risking a Paradox. You can Reach to move from a Standard to an Advanced spell factor chart, or to create specialized effects with some spells, such as boosting lethal damage to agg damage. Each time you Reach, you add dice to the Paradox pool of the spell based on your Gnosis. However, you receive a number of points of free Reach, which does not add Paradox dice. Specifically: you get one per dot of the highest-rated Arcanum in the spell that you have that meets or exceeds its requirements. So if you cast a spell requiring Mind 3, but you have Mind 4, you get two free Reach - one for Mind 3, one for Mind 4. You may also use Yantrass to boost your dicepool, which we'll cover soon. Essentially, a Yantra is an object, a place, an environment or even an action that focuses your will and symbolically recalls your Imago. These tools can negate as many penalties as you want, and after negating penalties have a cap of up to +5 to the roll. However, the number of Yantras that you can apply to any one spell is limited by Gnosis.

Praxes are spells developed by dedicated practice or use. A Praxis is an Imago you have special insight into, memorizing it by heart. You can cast your Praxes better and they shape your Gnosis. When casting a Praxis, you get an exceptional success with three successes, not five. Further, when casting a Praxis from an Inferior or Common Arcana, you need not spend a Mana, unlike with improvised magic...though all other Mana costs still apply.

Rotes are spells developed by experienced Masters, specialized Imagos that tap into special skills and mnemonic techniques, known as mudras. They can only be developed by Masters, but they can be taught to other, less experienced mages, and the Orders provide these useful Rote mudras to assist in memorizing and recalling spells quickly and efficiently. Rotes can be copied onto physical media via the Prima Arcanum. These are called Grimoires. Anyone able to cast the improvised version of a spell can use a Grimoire to cast the Rote version of it by following its instructions...but when casting a Rote this way, they may not use Reach to cast at instant speed, and the casting time is doubled. Casting a Rote from a Grimoire rather than memory, or casting any Rote you designed yourself, causes the spellcasting roll to have the rote quality. When casting a Rote from memory via murdras, you may use dots in the associated skill as a Yantra. However, you must be able to perform the mudra gestures to get the benefit. When casting a rote, you are considered to have five dots in the highest Arcanum involved for the purposes of free Reach, and your Signature Nimbus is harder to determine. Further, when castin a Rote from Inferior or Common Arcana, it doesn't cost mana...though, again, all other Mana costs still apply. You cannot stack Rote and Praxis benefits. IF you have a spell as both a Rote and a Praxis, you have to decide which one to cast for any given spell.

Spell factors are the things that can modify from the base traits of spellcasting, listed above. These elements are fairly standardized. They are:

Spell factors are increased by taking dice penalties. You may also spend one Reach to move from a standard spell factor chart to a much more potent advanced chart. All spells also have a primary factor, either Potency or Duration. After all penalties have been applied, you may move the primary factor up its chart by (highest Arcanum involved-1) steps. So, if yhou want a Forces spell with primary factor of duration, and your Forces Arcanum is 3, with a -2 penalty, you will have it last 5 turns by default - -2 puts it at two turns, then you get two more steps up the chart for having Forces 3.

Potency has no sidebar chart because its effect varies and is listed by spell instead. Each level of Potency beyond the first gives a -2 penalty. You may spend a Reach to get Advanced Potency, which makes the spell harder to dispel, increasing its Withstand against dispellation by 2.
Duration is above. If a spell logically has an immediate effect but is cast at Advanced Duration, the effect recurs at each multiple of your Gnosis-based ritual casting time, until the Duration ends. So if you have Gnosis 1, your healing spell with a Duration of a day will heal its Potency in damage every three hours. An Indefinite-duration spell lasts until dispelled or you cancel it. An Indefinite duration takes a second point of Reach and one Mana.

Scale is how large the spell is. You have to decide whether you plan to hit specific subjects or a blanket area of effect - though Aimed spells always use area of effect, centered on wherever you aim. If you use number of targets, the factor determines how many are hit and the Size the largest can be. Once you decide that, you can choose to affect fewer than the maximum your Scale allows. For Area of Effect, Scale instead determines how large the area covered is, applying the effect to anyone or anything inside it. You cannot signle out specific subjects in that space without use of the Fate spell Warding Gesture.
Range determines if you have to touch your target or just perceive them. This doesn't increase in increments - standard Range is 'touch or self', and you must make an Aimed Spell roll to hit anyone you can't touch. You may, however, spend a Reach to make it sensory range - anyone you can see, hear, or sense in real time. Remote viewing by scrying or camera takes an additional Reach. Sensory range spells cannot be dodged and do not need an Aimed Spell roll. If you have the Space attainment Sympathetic Range or the Time attainment Temporal Sympathy, you can cast spells without needing to sense your target. More on that later.

Casting Time determines how long it takes to create your effect. Standard casting takes time - ritual casting time. It is determined by your gnosis. You may, however, extend the ritual. Each ritual interval of casting time gives +1 to the roll, to a max of +5 dice from this. You may, alternatively, spend a Reach to cast at instant speed, taking only one turn to cast your spell. You cannot get extra dice from taking extra time if you do this, though you can still take several turns to use all the Yantras you want. Ritual-speed spells can benefit from teamwork, but immediate spells cannot.

This is a massive improvement on 1e - it used to be an extended thing to cast spells as a ritual, allowing you to rack up truly insane numbers of successes, and magic basically let you go 'oh, however much I roll' rather than specifying how much you want beforehand as you do here in 2e.

Next time: Paradox

Spellcasting (2)

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Magic is not resisted. It is Withstood. And Withstand ratings are important to consider. If a spell has to overcome something of the target to take effect, the spell will have a Withstand rating - generally a resistance Attribute, but spells Withstand dispellation using the rating of the caster's highest Arcanum used in it. You directly reduce the Potency of a spell by the target's Withstand rating. If this makes the spell's Potency hit zero it still counts as an active spell for purposes of spell control. It just is a spell that doesn't do anything. Spells with multiple subjects apply Withstand individually, so it can affect some targets but not others. In a combined spell, each spell is Withstood seperately, so you can Withstand one part but not another. If a spell has multiple Withstand ratings - perhaps because of Sympathetic range and a normal Withstand rating - then the highest rating is used, +1 for each additional rating. You can only spend Willpower to boost a Resistance Attribute used for Withstanding if you are aware a spell is being cast on you.

An aimed spell is, essentially, a spell you throw at the target rather than touching them while casting at standard range. These appear as bolts of energy or projections, unlike sensory-range spells, which just materialize on the target. To hit, after casting the spell, you must then roll Gnosis+(higher of Athletics or Firearms)-(target's Defense). Cover also helps, and the range bands of an Aimed spell are Gnosis*10 for short range, *20 for medium and *40 for long. Success means you hit, failure means you miss and the spell does not hit you r target. Aimed spell rolls are reflexive - they happen on the same turn as the spellcasting roll.

And one note - exceptional success on a spellcasting roll gives you one Willpower, plus you can choose one of:

So, Paradox. As you envision your Imago and create your spell, you risk warping it into a Paradox. Once all the factors are determined, but before the spell is cast, the ST determines if there is a Paradox. Paradox dice most commonly come from Reaching too far. Once there is even one Paradox die in the PAradox pool, the ST must check for Paradox, even if other factors reduce the pool to a chance die. On top of Reaching, the Paradox pool can be modified thusly:
It can also be modified by certain Conditions. Mana can be spent reflexively, as noted, but you're still stuck by how much you can spend per turn - though you can take multiple turns before casting to spend the Mana. Multiple witnesses do not add more dice, but do increase the odds of Praadox. A few Sleeper witnesses gives the roll 9-again. A large group gives 8-again. A full crowd gives it rote quality.

Before the Paradox pool is rolled, you decide whether to contain the Paradox or release it. If you try to contain it, it's going to hurt - or worse. Releasing it, however, can warp your spell. Nothing can force you to contain a Paradox. If you do release the Paradox, the ST rolls the pool. Failure causes no Paradox, while dramatic Failure gives you 1 Willpower and your next Paradox roll this scene does not get a +1 modifier from this roll. However, any success causes a Paradox, and an exceptional success always gives you a Paradox Condition. If a Paradox occurs on a release, the spell is tainted, and so, possibly, is the area around you. First, the spellcasting roll gets a penalty equal to the successes on the Paradox roll. Whether or not the spell fails, a Paradox anomaly than occurs as well. If you dramatically fail the spellcasting roll, you get a Paradox Condition.

The ST counts the successes on the Paradox roll, using them as Reach, one to one, to affect the spell. Paradox Reach can alter the spell factors, create taint or even summon an Abyssal entity. STs can spend Reach however they like, warping the spell into something entirely different or leaving it alone to summon Abyssal beings. The Paradox effect should, however, reflect the type of spell being cast. A Paradox anomaly lasts for a time depending on your Wisdom. Enlightened mages suffer it one scnee. Understanding suffer for a session or one day. Falling mages suffer for an entire story arc or one day. The Mad suffer for entire campaigns or one year. (The Mad, of course, being mages who hit 0 Wisdom and became NPCs.)

Containing a PAradox within your soul lets you contest the Paradox roll with your Wisdom. Each success on your Wisdom roll cancels one success on the Paradox roll. However, each success canceled this way deals one resistant Bashing damage to you. If the Paradox roll still has successes afterwards, the spell isn't penalized and causes no anomaly, but you gain a Paradox Condition, with severity based on how many successes were left. (Despite the chart above, the text claims you can only get Paradox Conditions from dramatic failure on Paradox-causing spellcasting, exceptional success on a released Paradox roll or failure to fully contain a Paradox.) Each Paradox Condition has two resolution possibilities - either you actively accept the negative consequences, or you wait for the Paradox to lapse. Paradox Conditions, see, lapse after time determined by your Wisdom if you do nothing about them - a full arc or month for the Enlightened, a session or day for the Understanding, a scene for the Falling and a turn for the Mad. Until the Condition is gone, you cannot use any magic at all to mitigate Paradox effects. If the PAradox merely lapses, the Abyss enters your Nimbus. Every spell you cast is tainted, gaining a PAradox die even if you do not Reach. Conditions resolved this way grant an Arcane Beat, and the only way to remove the taint is to Scour yourself, dealing a resistant Lethal but gaining no Mana. Otherwise, resolve the Condition based on its rules.

For spells that have little risk or effort, the GM is encouraged to use Down And Dirty Spellcasting - just roll Gnosis+Arcanum, success grants success, you can hit an area or number of targets based on the successes gained. This is for stuff like reviving a garden full of dead roses when it is narratively unimportant to do so. Anyway, some minor quibbles: while casting a spell, you can use your Defense. You can also cast during a grapple, but if you aren't in control of the grapple you have a -3 penalty on the spellcasting roll. Further, you cannot use any Yantras involving movement, though any Yantras you have already used before being grabbed still work.

Multiple copies of a spell do not stack. Instead, the highest Potency spell takes effect and all others run out duration but don't do anything useful. Once a spell is active, you can't change it short of ending and recasting it...but you can take an instant action to reduce one of Potency, Duration or Scale as you choose...so long as all changes apply equally to all targets. You may, however, reflexively end any of oyur active spells. You may have up to (Gnosis) active spells; after that, any new spell requires a Reach, plus another Reach per spell already over the limit. Fortunately, there are ways around this.

First, you can relinquish a spell, removing it from the number that count against you, by spending a Willpower point. This makes the spell go as if someone else had cast it - you can no longer end it or reduce it short of dispelling it. However, without maintenance, longterm spells often go awry. At the start of each session, the ST rolls one die for every Reach the spell used above your free Reach, or a chance die if that's 0. A success grants Reach as if the spell had caused a PAradox, and an exceptional success also immediately ends the spell regardless of duration. To prevent this, you may instead spend an entire dot of Willpower to relinquish safely - the spell just runs out its duration until it ends or is dispelled, no chance of Paradox. In amny Consilia, unsafe relinquishing is either grossly negligent or even illegal, for longterm spells. When you die, all of your active spells are immediately relinquished unsafely.

Combining spells! The main advantage of combining spells is that they all count as one spell for purposes of active spells, and all effects happen simultaneously. You must be Gnosis 3+ to combine spells, and you can't combine many. You can never combine Rotes, but can combine PRaxes as long as all spells to be combined are Praxes. Casting uses Gnosis+(lowest ARcanum of the spells cast), with a -2 penalty for each additional spell past the first - so if you are casting a Mind 3, Forces 4 spell, you roll Gnosis+Mind-2. Yantras and factors affect the entire pool and both spell effects. Multiple effects must use the same scale unless you use Reach to separate them, and results for the roll are as if you had rolled that result for both spells.

Mages can work toegether on ritual-speed spells. All mages involved in the casting must have at leasto ne dot in the Arcana required for the spell, while the leader must be able to cast it personally. If the leader knows the spell as a Praxis or Rote, the team-cast spell is a Praxis or Rote. Any secondary caster who can cast the spell completely rolls for casting and adds successes at bonus dice to the leader. If a secondary caster can't meet the requirements to cast the spell, they just roll Gnosis-3, providing any successes as bonus dice. Each participant must also roll for Paradox seperately. If any of them release instead of containing, it affects the entire spell. Mages without hte Arcanum, Sleepwalkers and Proximi can also assist, but do not roll - rather, they are able to be used as an environment Yantra.

Next time: Yantras


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Yantras! What's a yantra? Well - essentially, they are semiotic shortcuts. A mage can do magic by will alone, but the focus needed to form and maintain an Imago that way is not easy. Yantra is a Sanskrit word for a mystical design or tool, and it's the word the Diamond prefers for symbolic objects, places or actions that assist in maintaining an Imago. The Free Council prefers 'Instruments' and the Seers prefer 'Chains'. But yantra is the word for cool kids. Unfortunately, Sleepers and Sleepwalkers often make the mistake of assuming the yantras are actually sources of power. This sort of belief, that the right tools and motions will let anyone do magic, is not true. Yantras are not, themselves, inherently magical - they are tools to aid concentration on the Imago, symbolic shorthand.

The meaning of a yantra is beyond the yantra itself. To one mage, a crystal rod may symbolize clarity and action at a distance. To another, it is male sexuality. To a third, it is a means of channeling power and destroying illusion. To a fourth, it is command. All of these are true - a crystal wand can be many things, all reflections of the Platonic ideal of the Crystal Wand in the Supernal. However, to actually use a yantra, you must recognize the symbolism you intend for it. This understanding thus enables you to use it as a symbol in the Imago, a sort of aid in visualizing. The mroe Yantras you use, the easier it is to form the Imago. However, there are limits. If you can't symbolically fit a yantra to your spell, it won't help at all. Sure, you have a Chamber of Veils designed to hide truth and reveal secrets, but that's not going to help you with a healing spell unless you can conceptually link it to healing somehow.

Using a yantra in a spell gives you bonus dice on the spellcasting pool, the amount of which varies by the yantra. These dice can offset penalties or give bonuses. You can offset any amount of penalties, but once that's done, your total yantra bonus cannot raise your pool more than +5 dice. Obviously you want to use as many yantras as possible...but there's only so much access to the Supernal you can manage. Thus, the number of yantras you can apply to a spell is limited by your gnosis. If you use one ritual item in several ways, each use is one yantra. At Gnosis 1-2, you can manage 2 yantras to a spell. Another limit of the yantras is that they take time to draw on. You can use a single yantra reflexively when casting a spell. Any further yantra extends the casting time by one turn. Ritual spells, of course, already take more than a turn - they're long enough that you can incorporate as many yantras as you are capable and willing to use without extending the time to cast them.

Yantras of Place draw on the symbolism inherent to a location you are in. Mages make or seek out places that border on the Supernal in order to draw on its power.
Demesnes are ritual spaces enhanced by a soul stone, creating a work sort of Verge. Often these spaces are decorated in a manner relevant to your Order. A Demesne is primarily useful as a space for ritual casting, providing a sacred place in which you can work without interruption by the Lie. Only a very rare few, such as Adamantine Arrow dojos used for sacred weapons practice, are any use for instant spells - and even then, only in defense of the Demesne. Beyond that, the symbolism of the Demesne's construction and the tools within it determine what magic it can apply to. A Libertine's workshop and garage can easily help with spells to build, repair or dismantle, wile an Arrow's training room helps with duels, battle preparation and self-mastery. Demesnes are worth a +2 Place yantra bonus, on top of the other things they do that we'll cover later.
Environments are places and times in the Fallen World that reflect the nature of the spell you are using. An Acanthus might tap into the noontime sun to pierce lies, a Mastigos might use the full moon's light reflected in water to scry, an Obrimos might use a church to perform spells of persuasion or command. Some mages prepare ritual spaces intended for multiple yantras - Atlantean runes and magical tools to create a summoning circle as well as to tap into the nature of the space. This easily combines yantras...but also gives you a clear point for your enemies to strike at. To use an environment yantra, the place must tie to the spell itself, not just you. The Obrimos in a church can't use it to magically charge a phone battery. The magic has to link to what Sleepers know about a place or time - not because their perceptions cause the Supernal to care, but because their actions reflect the place's Supernal nature. Using an appropriate location is a +1 Place yantra bonus.
Supernal Verges are places where the Supernal touches the Fallen World. In these places, it is much easier to draw on Supernal power. These places are a sort of natural yantra, empowering all within. Each is tied to a single supernal relam, boosting the Ruling Arcana of that realm. Within an appropriate verge, you may draw on the power of your Path's Watchtower as a Yantra for any ritual spell that does not involve the Path's Inferior Arcanum...or for any spell of the Path's Ruling Arcana. A Verge provides a +2 Place yantra bonus, on top of the other parts of its nature to be discussed later.

Yantras of Action draw on the symbolism of what you do. Orders teach ritual gestures to boost the Imago of Rotes via conditioning and muscle memory. High Speech intones or writes spells in the true language of the Supernal. Even mere concentration can help. Some mages prefer Action yantras because they're always with you - even naked and imprisoned, you can speak the High Speech. It takes some practice to get used to, but it's quite helpful.
Concentration draws on your will even more than most casting. Most spells end when you force the Lie to change. some hold on as long as you focus, however. As long as you maintain concentration on the spell - and only the spell - you can empower it. If you waver, however, the effect is lost. On the most basic level, this is exerting your will over your own mind, forcing yourself not to weaken. As a result, it is primarily a symbol of ongoing action - a way to have spells lastl onger than they should. As a result, focus and concentration works exceedingly well on spells with longer Durations, as long as you can keep the focus. Other mages view it as a lens, focusing Supernal truth. While this can bolster a spell's power, it leaves you open to disruption until itends. Concentration on a spell with a Duration longer than one turn provides a +2 Action yantra bonus. However, if you are hurt or take any non-reflexive action while the spell is going, it immediately ends.
Mantras are the use of High Speech to intone your Imago, describing the change you intend. It is a very versatile yantra, and many mages know enough to use it for command or dominance, or defensively by repeating words over and over. However, the High Speech is not subtle. You can't mix itinto conversation to get someone to listen to you. It can't hide in other languages. Further, you need the High Speech merit to use it as a yantra. If you have it, however, the High Speech provides a +2 Action yantra bonus...at a cost. High Speech is slow - you can't use this yantra reflexively. It always increases casting time by one turn.
Mudras are Supernal mnemonics, motions taught by the Orders that draw on skills and knowledge of the world via the Order's philosophy. Mudras are key in defining a Rote, codifying its structure in symbol. They take many forms - zazen, tensing key muscles, specific rhythms of walking and gesutre. Each Rote is unique to the Master that made it. Using a Rote's mudras allows you to apply an Action yantra bonus equal to your rating in the Rote's encoded skill. If this Skill is one of your Order's Rote Skills, you add an extra +1. Mudras do not require actual use of the skill involved beyond the gesture of the mudras, as a note. You can't spend a turn hacking to get a Computers mudra. (That is the realm of the Techne merit, which works differently.)
Runes are somewhere between High Speech incantation and concentration. Most mages use runic yantras to boost a spell's Duration - the fact that you need to draw runes on the target makes it less useful for most things. Anything that disrupts the shape and arrangement of the runes ends the spell immediately. Some mages like to inscribe runes for a healing spell as mystic tattoos, while others prefer to paint runes or carve them onto solid objects to harden them. When using runes on a person, you might paint them, tattoo them or even brand them. However, properly drawing runes always takes time equal to your ritual interval. Runes grant a +2 Action yantra, but as ntoed, if anything damages the runes while the spell is active, the spell ends immediately.

Yantrs pf Tools tap into a symbolic link between a mundane item and a form of magic. Almost no mage has only one tool - it's too easy for a tool to be taken away. Most mages, instead, keep a handful of tools around for different jobs. No matter what, all tools have the same effect: a +1 yantra bonus.
Path tools are those which tie in most closely to your Path. While they do show in several Sleeper occult traditions, their direct elemental or Tarot symbolism are the Lie's corruption of Supernal truth - these tools are symbolic not for Sleeper associations, but because of their direct tie to the Supernal realms. Each Path has five tools, each of which has a specific symbolic function.

Order tools draw on an Order's symbols rather than those directly of the Supernal. The formal style of the Diamond and the Seers all resonate via similar tools. The Arrow uses martial tools as symbols of conflict. The Guardians use cloaks, masks and veils as symbols of the hidden and the revealed. The Mysterium uses books, writing and language as tools of knowledge and communication. The Ladder uses signs of authority as tools of status and persuasion. The Seers use sigils and words that they display as tools, related to the meaning of the sigil. The Free Council, rather uniquely, are able to use complex systems and mechanisms as Order tools via Techne - with the Techne merit, they can focus on a highly personal magical style, tapping into Sleepr culture as a tool.
Patron tools are largely the domain of the Seers. Once a Seer becomes a Prelate, they can draw on their patron Exarch's symbols for power. Every Exarch has its own set of symbols by which it commands the Fallen World, and each Exarch's symbols have limits, so no one Seer can tap into them for everything. Other mages, like the Scelesti, may also bargain for Patron tools from other sources...like the Abyss.

Yantras of Sympathy do not symbolize what a spell does, but who it targets. You might use someone's name, their hair, a ghost's Anchor, a piece of a building, the articles of incorporation of a company. Whatever the case, the yantra represents the target, allowing you to build them into the Imago or use a sympathetic connection via Space or Time attainments.
Material sympathy represents the target as they are now, or at the time you want to do magic on. This could be their physical substance or a recent recording of them, or something they made within the past month. Material sympathy gives a +2 Sympathy yantra.
Representational sympathy is something that represents the target, though they've changed since then - an old piece of hair, a photo of them as a child. Representational sympathy gives a +1 Sympathy yantra.
Symbolic sympathy is indirect representation - someone's sympathetic name, a drawing or caricature of them, a costumed photograph. This yantra gives no dice bonus...but to use a spell at Sympathetic range or via Temporal Sympathy, you must have a sympathetic yantra, and when doing that, no sympathetic yantra gives a dice bonus. So hey, may as well go for the easy one then.[/list]

Yantras of Sacrmanet are tools symbolic of the spell in question that you destroy during casting. Often, they provide a sympathetic link, but not always. You might infuse bread and share it out to make the eaters work together well. You might burn a driver's license for a spell to remove the person who owned the license from government records. You might crush a clay figure of a man to turn physically male. Some mages go even further, engaging in quests to find magical items they can destroy to empower their spells, or even killing animals or humans for power. Most sacraments give only a +1 yantra. However, if you must go to significant effort to find the right item to sacrifice, it increases to +2, or +3 if you had to go beyond the materail realm. And don't forget - living sacrifice also provides Mana!

Yantras of Persona tap into the power of your Shadow Name, the persona in which you do magic. It binds together your magical style, your personal Mysteries and your Shadow Name into a solid identity which you can draw on Supernally. Your actions must, however, play into your persona's symbolism. A fortune teller or faith healer persona cannot use their Shadow Name as a yantra to harm another. However, a faith healer might draw on their power to convince others, not just heal. A persona yantra provides +(Shadow Name merit dots) as a yantra bonus.

Every mage has a single magical tool that is Dedicated - an item that uniquely synchronizes with them and their understanding of magic. It is often but not always the first Path tool you used, or something you grabbed during Awakening. If it is destroyed or lost, you can replace it, but it's not easy. To do so, you must use your chosen tool as a yantra in every spell you cast for a full month, counting it against your yantra limit for each spell, even if it can't provide any benefit. When you use a Dedicated tool as a yantra, however, you get -2 to the Paradox pool for that spell, in addition to its use as a tool yantra.

Next time: the Practices of Magic


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Mages divide magic into thirteen Practices, which get more complex as your power over magic grows. Demonstrating expertise with these Practices is how you prove your skill - if you can do Unmaking or Making, you're a Master of that Arcanum.

Initiates, with one dot of an Arcana, can use:

Apprentices, woth two dots, can use:

Disciples, with three dots, can use:

Adepts, at four dots, can use:

Masters, at five dots, can use:

With this, you can generally create spells even beyond those that are in the book already. Some basic guidelines:
For direct damage, dealing Bashing is always 3 dots (Fraiyng) and Lethal/Agg is always 4 dots (Unraveling). Damage is always equal to Potency. Dealing agg requires 1 Mana and 1 Reach. These limits do not apply to indirect attacks - if you make a bonfire spread onto someone, they take standard damage as per fire.
For healing it's the reverse - healing is almost always Perfecting (3 dots) or Patterning (4 dots), though Ruling (2 dots) can boost healing times. A Ruling spell can halve the target's normal healing time for its duration, or quarter it for a Reach. Perfecting heals bashing or repairs the inanimate. Patterning heals lethal and can repair an inanimate object that has been totally destroyed. Patterning can also heal agg instead of lethal if you spend a Mana and a Reach.
Conditions are easy to apply by magic, but they're very broad, so you have to use your best judgment. Compelling (1 dot) can't make Conditions from nothing, but it could intensify existing things to inflict Conditions - like making someone already nervous become Spooked. Ruling (2 dots) can make most non-Persistent and non-supernatural Conditions. Supernatural Conditions such as Soulless typically require a Weaving (3 dots) spell. Persistent conditions are almost always Patterning or Unraveling (4 dots). Spells mostly inflict harmful Conditions rather than beneficial Conditions, and beneficial ones made by magic cannot grant Beats when resolved unless they're the result of an exceptional success. Tilts can generally be created by applying a Reach to an attack spell, but if you just want to make one on its own it's usually a Fraying (3 dots) or Patterning (4 dots) spell. Conditions made by magic last only as long as the duration. If the Condition is resolved before then, the spell ends early and the target gets a Beat (normal or Arcane, ST's choice). If the Duration runs out, however, that doesn't count as resolving it. Removing a condition by magic is always at least Ruling (2 dots) but otherwise follows the same guidelines.
Spells that grant bonuses or penalties can be nearly anything depending on what they apply to. Increasing a Skill or Merit is usually Ruling (2 dots), and Attributes are Perfecting (3 dots). Spells that grant or increse equipment bonuses count as trait bonuses, as do spells that increase a dicepool. Spells like this grant dots equal to their Potency. Gnosis, Blood Potency and similar stats cannot be granted by spells; nor can supernatural powers like Arcana or Disciplines. Any spell that increases a trait beyond the target's natural maximum requires Mana. Equipment bonus 'maximum' for this is +5. Trait dots granted by magic last for the duration of a spell and are not subject to Sanctity of Merits.
Dice effects take Ruling (2 dots) for 9-again, or a Reach for 8-again. Perfecting (3 dots) can grant rote quality, but it costs a Mana. Spells affect (Potency) rolls, but any excess rolls are lost when the duration ends.
Protective magic using Shielding (2 dots) can easily grant blanket protection from natural or mundane phenomena, or (Potency) supernatural attacks, which must win a Clash of Wills to affect the target. Likewise, Veiling (2 dots) can make the target entirely undetectable to the ordinary senses of certain phenomena or beings, and requires Clash of Wills for supernatural detection.,
Making a narrative effect spell - one that does stuff beyond simple mechanical bonuses - Lasting always costs 2 Reach if it's possible at all, but the GM is warned to be very careful about that.

Next time: Example spells. Death Arcanum.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Death is the Arcanum of darkness, decay, ectoplasm, ghosts, the Underworld, the soul, cold, absence, enervation and ending. It is a Subtle Arcanum, governing the cessaiton of all things. It brings you close to endings, decay and darkness, and often makes Death mage seem far more morbid than they actually are. Rather, they take solace in the fact that all things end. It may sound fatalist on the surface, but those who see past the Lie realize that noy only can they create these endings, but they can control and even prevent them - strengthen souls, restore mind and pleasure to a ghost, reverse aging, not just destroying souls, consuming ghosts and ending life.

Death 1 spells include:
Ectoplasmic Shaping, which lets you reshape and mold an existing manifestation of ectoplasm. You can make it any shape you like, and it'll remain that shape for the duration. If you make it into a mirror, it reflects ghosts and ghostly Twilight phenomena in the area. You can also use to make an object or location suitable for a ghost to manifest in for the duration.
Deepen Shadows lets you make an area darker, placing the Poor Light Tilt for the duration...or, for a Reach, the Blinded Tilt.
Forensic Gaze reveals to you the exact method of a corpse's death and the exact time of death, plus contributing factors based on the Potency. For one Reach you can even witness the death through the corpse's eyes.
Shadow Sculpting lets you mold the area's shadows to any shape you like, and for 1 Reach you can animate them and move them around, too.
Soul Marks lets you read someone's soul, detecting Persistant Conditions, if they're a mage, if they're a supernatural being, if they've made a soul stone, if their soul has been tampered with, if they are possessed, if they have any Gnosis 5+ Legacy attainments, if they have consumed someone's soul or if they are suffering a Paradox Condition. For 1 Reach, you can use this on a free-floating soul, too.
Speak with the Dead allows you to see and communicate with ghosts in Twilight and to detect their Anchors without use of mage sight. You can also stare at a single ghost to determine its Rank, if it has an Anchor and if so, how many it has. For 1 Reach, you can tell if any Anchors you see are temporary or permanent. For 1 Reach, you can make yourself understood by Rank 2+ ghosts even if they don't speak the same languages you do.

Death 2 spells include:
Corpse Mask alters a body's appearance. You can modify the wounds and apparent time or cause of death completely. For 1 Reach, you may use it on a living subject that has been injured to alter the appearance of the injuries. For one Reach you can alter a corpse's appearance totally, even changing apparent age and sex.
Decay degrades an object, lowering its Durability by (Potency). For one Reach, you also decrease Structure by the same amount, which can destroy the item.
Ectoplasm creates ectoplasm from one of your orifices or those of a corpse. You can shape it as you wish and it retains the shape for the duration.
Ghost Shield renders someone immune to ghsotly Numina, Influences and Manifestations, requiring a Clash of Wills roll to break through.
Shape Ephemera allows you to reshape ghostly ephemera into other objects. This epehmera can be from a ghost or other Twilight entity, but they can Withstand with Stamina and they are not damaged by being reshaped. Any object so shaped has Durability 2, weapon rating 2 if it's a weapon and armor rating 2 if it's armor. However, this applies only against ephemeral creatures or objects, or those within Twilight. They can be used by any being in Twilight.
Soul Armor prevents any effect that would remove, manipulate or harm the target's soul, barring a Clash of Wills.
Soul Jar creates a recaptacle in which to hold a soul. If the jar is opened before the spell ends, the soul is released. For one Reach you can bind the soul to a person, as long as they have no soul already. For two REach, the spell's effects are Lasting and the soul remains bound or attached even when the spell ends.
Suppress Aura allows you to suppress someone's aura, removing their Nimbus and magical resonance for a time. They appear as a Sleeper to all Mage Sight and are harder to read, giving -2 to all Empathy rolls or supernatural effects to tell their emotional or mental state. Magical attempts to pierce this illusion provoke Clash of Wills.
Suppress Life makes a living target appear dead, with all physical symptoms of death and an apparent absence of soul. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, you can cast this reflexively in response to something that could reasonably kill the target. (Note: does not actually prevent the target from doing anything, they just look like a soulless corpse while doing it.)
Touch of the Grave allows you to physically interact with ghosts and other Death-attuned Twilight things. You can pull items frm Twilight and make them solid, though they aren't very durable. They otherwise function identically to normal material objects.
Without a Trace allows you to remove any of the target's physical forensic evidence from casual observation. For the duration, the target leaves no fingerprints, footprints, blood traces or any other forensic evidence of their presence. Using Death Mage Sight to hunt ofr such things provokes Clash of Wills.

Death 3 spells include:
Cold Snap destroys the heat in the area, causing all surfaces to gain the Ice Tilt for the duration. For one Reach, you also apply the Extreme Cold Tilt to the area.
Damage Ghost deals (Potency)B damage to a ghost's Corpus.
Devouring the Slain allows you to harvest suffering. You choose when casting to either harvest Willpower or scour the target for Mana. The target must have at least one Health level filled with Lethal or Agg damage. For each level of Potency, you either steal one Willpower from the target (to a max of however much they have) or you may deal 1L to gain one Mana as their wounds fester. This counts towards the number of times per day you can gain Mana by scouring. For 1 Reach, you can target someone who has taken no damage. For 1 Reach, it doesn't count towards the limit on scouring. For one Reach, you can target a ghost, damaging its Corpus to gain Willpower or Mana.
Ghost Gate creates a portal into Twilight, transforming anyone who passes through into ghostly ephemera, able to see and interact with other Death-oriented ephemera. Items can be taken through, but this permanently destroys their material forms by turning them to ephemera. For 1 Reach, you can transform a target into Twilight state without need for the portal.
Ghost Summons calls to the nearest ghost in sensory range, or a ghost you know personally, or the nearest ghost of a specific type. The ghost cannot travel further than allowed by its Anchor, however, and ghosts above Rank 5 are immune. For 1 Reach, you can also make the area good for the ghost to manifest, even if its Anchor is not nearby. For 1 REach, you can give the ghost a single, one-word command it will obey for the duration. For 1 Reach, you can summon ghosts from the Underworld if you are near an open Iris to the Underworld. For 2 Reach, you can give the ghost a complex but singular task to follow, described with a sentence or two, for the duration.
Quicken Corpse animates a corpse as a loyal but simple zombie, capable only of obeying one or two-word commands. It is mindless, soulless, immune to fear, pain, exhaustion or coercion, and it obeys you without regard to itself. It is unsuited for combat, however, serving as a Retainer of (Potency) dots with a field related to your commands. It is only destroyed by aggravated damage and cannot fall unconscious or bleed. For 1 Reach, the zombie is combat-capable. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, it is exceptionally good at combat...for a zombie.
Quicken Ghost bolsters a ghost's attributes or heals it. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, you can also increase the ghost's Rank by 1, increasing its attribute caps and Essence pool and giving it a new Numen.
Rotting Flesh rots the target from within, dealing (Potency)B damage. For 1 Reach, the target also gets -(Potency) to all Social rolls for the duration, capped at -3, due to horrific appearance.
Sever Soul rips the soul out of a Sleeper and casts it into Twilight. The soul returns when the duration ends unless it is otherwise prevented, such as by being trapped in a jar or in someone else's body. If the spell is cast on someone who is already soulless, you get no soul, but raise them straight to the Enervated Condition from Soulless. For 1 Reach, when the target's soul leaves their body, they skip straight to the Enervated Condition. For a second Reach, they instead jump to Thrall Condition.
Shadow Crafting allows you to harden shadows into solid, 3D shapes. These objects have Durability 2, weapon rating 2 if a weapon, armor rating 2 if armor, and otherwise a +2 equipment bonus. They cast no shadow and retain a shadowy appearance.

Death 4 spells include:
Enervation causes the muscles to stop working, imposing either the Leg Wrack or Arm Wrack Tilts on the target. For 1 Reach, the entire body seizes up, causing the Immobilized Tilt for the duration instead.
Exorcism removes (Potency) Manifestation conditions from a ghost or their host. This is Lasting, though they can be reestablished. With Mind 2, this also effects Goetia. For 1 Reach, the target cannot attempt to recrate the destroyed Conditions on the same victim or location until the duration ends.
Revenant allows you to grant a ghost (Potency) Manifestation Conditions, immediately placing them in the Manifestation of your choice. They may not leave it until the spell ends. Often, this is used to have ghosts possess their own corpses. With Mind 2, this also affects Goetia.
Shadow Flesh transforms the target into a mass of animated shadow, either 3D or 2D at your choice. 3D shadows have no apparent mass or substance and still can't interact with the physical. 2D shadows can move through cracks or crevices, though they remain bound by gravity and cannot stop touching the floor even when moving on walls. The target retains all stats, but can take no physical action except movement, though they can cast spells still. They are immune to all physical attacks, but not Supernal magic. They are invisible in natural or supernatural darkness but can see in them.
Withering causes the target to wither and atrophy, dealing (Potency)L. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, it is instead Aggravated damage.

Death 5 spells include:
Create Anchor, allowing you to place the Anchor condition on a target and, as a second target, anchor a ghost to it. For 2 Reach, any ghost can use the Anchor.
Create Ghost creates a ghost whole cloth. You can choose to make them an echo of living or dead person, but the ghost is not that person and is wholly made as a newborn ghost. It is Rank 1 and remains your loyal servant for the duration of the spell, after which it dissipates. You need not cast any spells to direct it to do things. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the ghost is Rank 2.
Deny the Reaper reverses entropy and decay and can even return the dead to life. The starget is restored to its physical state from up to (Potency) months ago. On a living target, this can restore wounds and damage of any kind. On inanimate targets it can repair the damages of time. For 1 Reach, the recently dead may be brough to life. However, soul less occurs in the instant of death, so the subject immediately suffers its effects, and dies again when the duration ends.
Empty Presence destroys a target's presence in the world, removing all evidence of their existence. Any attempt to see the target by any mundane means fails automatically. Any results of social interactions with other people are removed. All Conditions they have applied or had applied to them are removed without granting Beats, except for Paradox Conditions. The target cannot take violent, overt action without ending the spell. Damaging or breaking anything or attacking someone ends it immediately. Mages uses Active Mage Sight make a Clash of Wills to see the target, and use of Focused Mage Sight reveals the target to the mage using it. Conditions do not return when the spell ends, but the effects of social interaction do.
Open Avernian Gate opens an Iris to the Underworld's upper levels, giving the area a Death resonance and the Gateway Condition for the duration. For 1 Reach, the Iris leads anywhere you've been before in the Underworld.
Sever the Awakened Soul is identical to Sever Soul, save that it works on mages and immediately places the soul in a jar or your body if you want it to.

Next time: Fate


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Fate is the Arcanum of blessings, hexes, probability, luck, oaths, promises, intentions and destiny. Fate is the Subtle Arcanum of Arcadia, describing what should happen, but not defining exactlky when or how. Fate's masters tend to seem lucky or carefree, but in truth, they deal with the inevitable and ancitipating it, then changing it. Fate spells often apply hexes or boons, and these are mechanically defined.

A hex imposes one of the following, which can be mixed and matched - so Potency 4 can give a -2 to two actions and apply two ilts. Note that you can't add duplicates together - only the worst version of a tilt happens:

A boon grants one of the following - and again, you can mix and match with your Potency:

Fate 1 spells include:
Interconnections, which reveals the marks of Fate on things around you. You can observe one person, place or thing per turn. You can see sympathetic connections between subjects, can identify those who have violated an oath or geas and can perceive the presence of spells with conditional durations. For 1 Reach, you can also detect possession, supernatural mind control or alterations of destiny. For 2 Reach, you can tell specific information about someone's destiny, such as the Doom of a Destiny merit or the conditions needed for a conditional trigger or duration.
Oaths Fulfilled lets you know when a specific thing happens to the target, whether because they do something or something is done to them. The trigger event must be something you could perceive if you were present - they go to the bathroom, they break their word, they speak your name, they get hurt, whatever. For 1 Reach, you get a brief vision of the target when the action occurs. For 1 Reach you can track the target until the duration ends - not by location, but as a sense of a path that will take you to them. For 1 Reach the trigger can be something you could only perceive via Mage Sight.
Quantum Flux negates up to (Potency) in penalties on the target's actions for (Potency) actions within the duration. Further, the target can spend a turn while the spell is active to 'aim' an action, losing Defense and remaining sitll. This grants a bonus to the next action equal to (Potency), though only to mundane instant actions.
Reading the Outmost Eddies lets you grant a minor blessing or curse. As a blessing, either the target gets exceptional success on 3 instead of 5 successes for (Potency) rolls within the duration, chosen before rolling, or they get a small beneficial twist of fate, such as finding 20 dollars, at some point within 24 hours. You can exert only limited control over the nature of this event. As acurse, you remove 10-again from the target's actions for (Potency) rolls, or you curse them with a small negative twist of fate as above. For 1 Reach, the event happens within one hour, not 24.
Serendipity grants you a clear omen suggesting a course of action that will lead you closer to a stated goal, though it will rarely guarantee success at that course of action. For 1 Reach, when you make a roll to achieve your stated goal, you can substitute any one Skill of the same type (Mental, Physical or Social) as the one the task would normally need - so you can use Streetwise instead of Empathy, say - up to (Potency) times during the duration. For 2 Reach, you can substitute any skill freely without caring about type, instead.

Fate 2 spells include:
Exceptional Luck either gives a boon or inflicts a hex on the target. For 2 Reach, the boon can affect spellcasting rolls. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, you can cast this as a reflexive action.
Fabricate Fortune conceals or falsifies fates or Destinies. You can use this to trick conditional spells or durations into ignoring an event that would trigger them, or create false omens about the target for Mage Sight. Any such deceptions cause a Clash of Wills if someone tries to overcome them.
Fools Rush In allows you to let the target act erfectly...as long as they have no detailed knowledge of a situation before entering it. The target suffers no untrained penalties during the duration and increases any impression level in unfamiliar social situations by 1. For 1 Reach, the target gets +(Potency) for (Potency) non-spellcasting rolls in the duration, so long as they are instant or reflexive actions not planned ahead of time. For 3 Reach, as above but the bonus can also help spellcasting.
Lucky Number allows you to guess the combination or password or correct phone number for any input device on the first try. On top of any plot benefits this also gives the Informed Condition to the next relevant roll that would benefit from such knowledge. The target is the input device, so you don't need sympathy to, say, randomly enter the correct phone number for anyone on the planet - you just probabilistically guess the correct answer and reach the nearest available phone to that person, though you don't know where it is.
Shifting the Odds will let you locate a particular kind of person, place or thing within the next 24 hours - usually faster, if you're somewhere that thing could appear. It will always be the nearest or most available subject, never a specific person or thing. Alternatively, it can give you access to Ally, Contacts, Mentor, rEsources or Retainer with a rating no more than your Fate dots, usable up to (Potency) times before the merits go away unless you pay XP for them. For 1 Reach, it only takes up to one hour, not 24.
Warding Gesture protects the target from supernatural effects that manipulate fate - geases, compulsions to act against their will, Fate magic and so on. Any such attempt provokes a Clash of Wills. This does not stop any preexisting changes to destiny, however. Further, you may selectively exclude the target from any area-effect spell you cast. If cast on multiple targets, you can exclude any one, all, some or none of them on a case by case basis. For 1 Reach, you can selectively exclude them from any spell you cast or any Attainment you use. For 2 Reach, you can selectively grant protection from supernatural effects targeting an area rather than individuals. This causes a Clash of Wills, which you may automatically pass if it's protecting from your own spells.

Fate 3 spells include:
Grave Misfortune causes problesm to get worse. The next time the target would take at least one damage during the duration, the damage is increased by (Potency), on up to (Potency) attacks during the duration.
Monkey's Paw increases or decreases an object's equipment bonus by (Potency), and it can become a penalty, though neither bonus nor penalty can exceed five dice. For 1 Reach, anyone using the object gets a boon (if it's blessed) or a hex (if it's cursed). For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the bonus or penalty can exceed 5 dice.
Shared Fate ties two or more targets together. Whenever one suffers damage, a Tilt or an unwanted Condition, so do any other targets. If Scale is not increased in casting, you are treated as one of the targets automatically. For 1 Reach, the link is one-way for one of the targets - any harm done to them is done to the others, but not the other way around. For 2 Reach, the target is not linked to anyone specifically, but rather suffers any harm they cause to anyone else.
Superlative Luck grants the rote quality on (Potency) mundane rolls for the target. For 2 Reach, the effect can also apply to ritual spellcasting, though this doubles the Gnosis-based casting time.
Sworn Oaths allows you to witness an oath and enforce it with magic. The target makes a promise and defines what will happen to them if they break it. No one can be forced into an oath, though they can make one without realizing it's magical. As long as the target keeps the oath, they receive a boon. If a supernatural effect would force them to break the oath somehow, the effect must make a Clash of Wills. If the target breaks their oath, willingly or not, they suffer the hex they agreed to at the time of the oath, lasting for any remaining duration. If cast on multiple targets, each can swear their own separate oath. For 1 Reach, as long as you maintain control of the spell, you are aware whether the target is currently blessed or cursed by the spell.

Fate 4 spells include:
Atonement allows you to spel any supernatural effect or curse enforced by destiny. When you cast the spell, you learn of a task chosen by fate (and the ST) that will end the curse. Minor curses (effectively spells of 1-2 dots) require minor quests - bathing in a nearby river, donating a small sum to charity and so on. Moderate curses (effectively 3-4 dots) require a medial quest - find a rare book, remove all graffiti in a neighborhood. Major curses (5+ dots) requier major quests - months-long pilgrimages, recovering an artifact lost for centuries. Especially potent curses, such as those from ephemeral entities Rank 6 or more, will often have very elaborate tasks. For 1 Reach, the quest can be performed by a willing champion rather than the target.
Chaos Mastery allows control of complex patterns - swarms, traffic patterns, crowds, flipping a thousand coins and all getting heads. You can reflexively generate up to (Potency+Fate) useful patterns affecting any valid target in sensory range. Common uses include:
For 1 Reach and 1 mana, the direct attack option inflicts agg damage.
Divine Intervention curses someone in a way that encourages them to achieve a specified goal, or stops them from doing so. The target must be aware of the goal, which cannot be impossible. One of the target's Aspirations is replaced by the goal, and they suffer a hex if they do not pursue the goal in a meaningful way at least once every 24 hours. As a ban, the target instead suffers a hex when actively striving towards the goal.
Strings of Fate lets you specify an event you want to happen to the target. If the event is at all possible without either magic or effort on the target's part, it happens as soon as it can within te duration. If the event requires the target's participation or can't happen without a change of circumstance, opportuniteis occur to work towards the event at least once each week during the duration. If the event is impossible, the spell does nothing. The spell cannot deal damage directly, but can put someone in harm's way. For 1 Reach, the spell's opportunities come daily, not weekly.
Sever Oaths allows you to do (Potency) effects to the target, chosen among the following:
For 2 Reach, the effects of this spell are Lasting.

Fate 5 spells include:
Forge Destiny lets you apply one of the following to the target:
Pariah curses someone horrifically. Anyone who meets them intuitively senses it, feeling uncomfortable towards them and dropping any impression level by 1 in social maneuvering or causing -(Fate) to any social actions the target takes to persuade others to help or be kind to them outside it. Any actions aimed at helping or aiding the target suffer the effects of a hex, including any attempt to lift the curse - or even just giving them directions. Any actions aimed at harming the target in any way gain the effects of a boon. You must account for any Reach spent on the boon and hex separately. For 1 Reach, you can adjust the curse's sensitivity, so only specific kinds of aid are cursed or only specific kinds of harm are blessed.
Miracle dictates events to the world. You gain (Potency) Intercessions, which you may use reflexively during the duration. Spending an Intercession can do any of the following on any one target you can sense:
For 1 Reach, you can spend an Intercession and a Willpower to cause a low-probability event. For 2 Reach, you can spend an Intercession, a Willpower and a Mana to achieve any thing that is not completely impossible.
Swarm of Locusts causes chaotic conditions - rains of frogs, locust swarms, unscheduled eclipses and other such things. This creates Environmental Tilts of your choosing in the area, is obviously supernatural and causes Breaking Points in most Sleepers that witness it.

Next time: Forces


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Forces is the Arcanum of electricity, gravity, sound, light, heat, fire, weather and movement. It controls the powerful energies of the Fallen World and is one of the most dramatic forms of magic, often. It is rarely subtle but can be used in very clever ways as well as unleashing tornados and so on.

Forces 1 spells include:
Influence Electricity, which can operate or shut down any electrical device. It can only cause existing devices to work as they normally would when powered on or off, however. You can hotwire a car with a touch, sure, you can turn lights on or off, but you have no further control over the devices than that. Still, it does let you turn things on and off when you'd normally need, say, a password or keycard.
Influence Fire, which lets you cause a flame to arc or stretch, follow a particular path or head away from an area, or even make particular shapes. You cannot make the fire more intense, however, though you could direct it to a fuel source. For 1 Reach, you can use fuel and direction efficiently to increase or decrease the size of the fire by one level.
Kinetic Efficiency enhances a target's motion, maximizing its use of kinetic energy. The target gets +(Forces) on rolls to resist fatigue, and the distance of jumps, swimming and running Speed and any clombing rolls are increased by (Forces) yards.
Influence Heat can direct the flow of heat in the area, though it cannot create or increase heat. Still, by pulling in ambient warmth and so on, you can keep warm in the cold or cool in hot weather, preventing heat- or cold-related damage and Conditions caused by up to level 2 Extreme Environments, or level 3 for 1 Reach. For 2 Reach, you can even protect against level 4 environments.
Nightvision alters your senses, tuning them for vibrations and thermal shifts as well as allowing you to see the infrared and ultraviolet. You can intuitively sense electromagnetic radiation, sound and kinetic energy as well, allowing you to navigate in complete darkness. You can still see and make out details, though colors are somewhat muted in the dark. However, you become vulnerable to light and sound. You suffer no penalties for darkness, but instead take similar penalties from bright lights. Very bright flashes or loud sounds can disorient you or even inflict the Blinded condition for the duration. For 1 Reach, the spell compensates for and allows you to ignore the negative effects of bright lights and loud sounds or other extreme stimuli.
Receiver allows you to hear infrasound and ultrasound frequencies that humans cannot normally perceive. Add +(Potency) to relevant dicepools, sucha s those to avoid ambush.
Tune In allows you to listen to free-floating data transmissions, such as radio waves, cell phone calls or wireless modems. You translate these into their original meaning, though it grants you no special understanding of messages in foreign languages. You can see data transmitting in any cable and see a shimmer in the air for wireless transmissions. Any form of transmission is open to you to intercept, including walkie talkies or CB radio as well as wireless communications.

Forces 2 spells include:
Control Electricity, which lets you alter electrical flow and weaken current. You can't increase current without some kind of generator, however. You can, however, cause selective power outages as long as you have some method of conduction to make electricity flow (or not flow) along. Causing a short or using current to attack someone usually burns out breakers or shorts out a device afterwards, unless it's made to handle power fluctuations. Damage caused by this spell uses the standard electricity rules. You may also use this to subtract (Potency) from the damage of an electrical source by directing power away from someone. Each level of Potency allows you to control one line of power, and what happens when you divert it is up to the ST. Diminishing power drops it by one level per Potency.
Control Fire lets you do just that, fueling a fire to become larger or weakening it. You can only control existing flames, however. For each level of Potency you can increase or decrease a fire's strength by one level. If you reduce heat or size to 0 or below, the fire dies. Unless it dies, after the duration it will eventually spread to all available fuel as normal.
Control Gracvity lets you redirect gravity. You can alter which direction it pulls in, making things 'fall' in that direction. Anyone or anything targeted that is not secured will 'fall' in the appropriate direction you chose. Colliding with objects causes falling damage, while falling up will lead to a loop as they exit and reenter the area of effect. The ST can grant a roll to escape by grabbing onto a nearby object or otherwise controlling their position.
Control Heat lets you increase or decrease local temperature. Each point of Potency allows a shift of one level of Extreme Environment to produce heat or cold, counting a temperate room as 0.
Control Light lets you dim or intensify existing light, artificial or natural. The light itself is changed, not the light emitter, so a lightbulb won't burn itself out this way and sunlight won't become hotter, just brighter. Each level of Potency doubles or halves incandescence. You can also focus or disperse light or alter its wavelength as you desire, often causing the Poor Light Tilt. For 1 Reach, you can create a mirroring effect or blackout by turning all light in the area back on itself or away from onlookers. This causes the Blinded Tilt or grants substantial cover, though because it is purely visual, the cover has no Durability.
Control Sound lets you amplify or weaken sound. Each level of Potency doubles or halves volume in the area. You may also direct sound by focusing sound waves, allowing you to hear even a whispered conversation across the room or make sure no one but one person can hear you. Loud enough sounds can cause Deafened in combat, and you can give -(Forces) to Perception rolls to hear you approach by directing sound away. You can also alter the tone of sounds, even changing voices, though mimicking a specific voice might require an Expression or Subterfuge roll. For 1 Reach, you can cause an echoing effect that makes Stealth rolls take a -(Potency) penalty, to a max of -5. For 1 Reach, you can grant +(Potency) to Perception rolls, to a max of +5.
Control Weather controls existing weather patterns, making minor shifts in the weather - storm to light drizzle, say, or fog on a clear morning. The change takes mere minutes to happen. You can change or create up to level 4 weather-based Extreme Environments as well as cause environmental Conditions. You can shift an Extreme Environment up to (Potency) levels, to a max of 4. for 1 Reach, the weather shift is gradual, over the next few hours. For 2 Reach, you can make drastic changes, such as thick fog on a clear morning or freezing rain on a hot summer day or making a blizzard into a cool, clear evening.
Environmental Shield shields the target from harmful environmental conditions, granting complete immunity to any Conditions or Tilts caused by the environment, up to level (Potency) Extreme Environments. This protects only against indirect damage sucha s hail, heat or cold - the target can still drown in crashing waves or be struck by magically directed lightning, though natural lightning will avoid them. Against magical weather, this spell causes a clash of Wills.
Invisibility renders the target invisible, masking all forms of light. Even cameras can't see them, no matter the lens or filter. This does not mask sound by itself, however.
Kinetic Blow focuses kinetic force from bludgeoning attacks to a piercing point. This works only on unarmed attacks, not held weapons, though it will boost gloves and shoes. Unarmed attacks, including grapples, get a weapon bonus of (Potenct), max 5. For 1 reach, these attacks also cause the Knocked Down tilt. For 1 Reach, these attacks also cause the Stunned tilt. For 1 Reach, this spell also boosts held weapons. For 2 Reach, this spell also boosts thrown weapons, or it grants Armor Piercing of (Potency) to bullets.
Transmission allows you to hijack existing data signals and change their content or destination. You can shorten or lengthen the transmission but can't change the type of signal - you can't make a wifi broadcast into radio. You must also work with a preexisting signal. Mimicking specific sounds or information requires a Skill roll or access to the information being transmitted. For 1 Reach, you can send the signal 'encrypted' so that only certain actions such as specific keystrokes or frequencies, will receive the data properly, and anything else reads the signal as meaningless noise.
Zoom In focuses light entering the target's senses, magnifying their vision. Without use of sensory enhancement magic, this affects only visible wavelengths. If you focus on the small scale, the ST may require Science rolls to understand what you see. Every level of Potency doubles the distance you can see before penalties happen, though the atmosphere can still cloud your view. You also add (Potency) to any roll to notice small details. For 1 Reach, the target can see clearly out to (Forces) miles. For 1 Reach, the target can clearly discern even dust-sized particles. For 1 Reach, atmospheric conditions no longer cause penalties. For 2 Reach, the target can see microscopic particles even down to molecular bonds.

Forces 3 spells include:
Call Lightning conjures lightning from a stormy sky. An existing storm must already be around, however. The lightning bolt cannot be avoided, but there is a brief warning period beforehand as the energy builds. The target must be exposed enough to be hit. With multiplet argets, the lightning forks and hits all simultaneously. Damage is dealt per the electricity rules.
Gravitic Supremacy allows you to increase or decrease gravity. Increasing causes each target to lose (Potency*3) Speed, penalizes all jumping rolls by (Potency) yards of distance. If the Potency exceeds a target's Strength, they get -1 to all Physical dicepools for each point of difference. Flying creatures must roll Athletics not to plummet at a Speed of (Potency) each turn. Nullifying gravity increases Speed of all targets by (PotencY) and increases jumping distance by (Potency) yards per success on the jumping roll. Further, you can define what direction objects fall in when you cast the spell.
Telekinesis lets you telekinetically manipulate things with effective Strength of (Potency) and Dexterity 1 or effective Dexterity of (Potency) and Strength 1, chosen when casting. Objects moved by this force move at Speed (Gnosis+Forces). Controlling this takes an instant action and concentration each turn, or else objects just hang suspended in the air that turn. You may spend Reach 1 for 1 to increase the telekinesis' secondary Attribute, up to (Potency) times.
Telekinetic Strike hits a target with a ball of pressurized air and kinetic energy, dealing (Potency)B. For 1 Reach, it also causes the Knocked Down or Stunned tilt.
Turn Momentum allows you to redirect momentum. Usually this is a shield against projectiles, but it works on larger things, too. Whenever you could use your Defense against an object, you can instead use this spell to redirect it as an instant action. If cast with prolonged duration, you can take a Dodge action and use this spell rather than actually using the Dodge rules. You may turn up to (Potency) objects. You do not have fine control over where they are deflected to, and they cannot be directly reversed, just sent off target. The target's weight and speed are irrelevant, though size is not - max size is determined by Scale factor. For 1 Reach, you can use the effect reflexively. For 1 Reach, you can control the objects direction within 90 degrees of its original arc. For 2 Reach, you can fully reverse the object, causing ranged and thrown weapons to strike their users. with Time 1 and 1 Reach, you can turn objects too fast for you to apply Defense against them.
Velocity Control doubles or halves an object's speed for each level of Potency. You must be able to affect an object's entire Size to target it - you can't just hit a car's tire. Velocity change will affect collision damage on vehicles, and can add or subtract 1 damage per Potency from projectile attacks, which can reduce them to 0, though you cannot reduce an object's velocity to 0.

Forces 4 spells include:
Electromagnetic Pulse creates a destructive EMP, snuffing out any mundane electrical device in the area unless it is shielded, which requires Potency equal to the level of hardening. Shorting out magical devices requires a Clash of Wills.
Levitation causes the target to float through the air with telekinetic force, with a speed of (Gnosis+Potency). Targets can use their Defense against attacks while floating. You can direct their float each turn with an instant action, but if you don't, they just float in place. For 1 Reach, the target retains momentum, so if you don't direct them they keep moving in whatever direction they were the turn before, if slowly. For 1 Reach, the target can fly freely, maneuvering at a speed of (Gnosis+Potency) at their own direction, making Athletics rolls to avoid obstacles, getting Defense normally and flying without exhausting themselves as they would running.
Rend Friction alters a target's level of friction. If it increases friction, every 3 yards the target moves in a turn, rounding down, causes 1L, as long as the target is exposed to air, though nonmagical armor is only half as effective as normal. If it decreases friction, the object moves twice as far before slowing down per point of Potency, even after it stops accelerating or maintaining its speed. This also doubles weapon ranges the same way. Vehicles get -(Potency) to their Handling.
Thunderbolt conjures energy to harm the target, dealing (Potency)L. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, it deals agg instead.
Transform Energy: You can transform one energy type into another - light, sound, heat, electricity or fire. You can affect energy up to a level of (Potency). For 1 Reach per level decreased, you can decrease the level of the energy. For 1 Reach, you may split the energy into two different kinds of energy or leave some of the original source behind. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, you can increase the level of the energy by 1.

Forces 5 spells include:
Adverse Weather, which summons a major weather system that can be as severe as a hurricane, tornado or tsunami. It occurs within minutes and disperses immediately when the duration ends. You can create Extreme Environments up to level 5, but without any of Change Weather's limitations. You can call up lesser weather if you choose to. For 1 Reach, you can even produce weather drastically different from the local conditions, such as a hurricane in the middle of Death Valley.
Create Energy creates energy from nothing, filling a volume equal to the targeted area. It can be light (including sunlight), fire, radiation, sound, electricity, whatever. For fire, assume +1 heat for Potency 1-2, +2 for 3-4 and +3 for 5+. After making the energy, you can modify it with other spells. Creating radiation also makes an Extreme Environment for living beings.
Eradicate Energy snuffs out all energies in a volume equal to the targeted area. This destruction is spectacular, exploding the energy into particles. If used on a living being, they die instantly if they cannot Withstand it totally with Stamina.
Earthquake causes an earthquake. It deals (Potency) damage to all structures in the affected area. Most modern buildings Withstand with their Durability as normal, but anything older or smaller does not Withstand at all. Living beings can make an Athletics roll to keep balance. Failure causes Bashing damage unless the fall sends them into a more dangerous landing. Collapsing buildings cause all the chaos and devastation that they would normally cause.

Next time: Life


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Life is the Arcanum of healing, disease, food, animals, plants, evolution, metamorphosis, physicality and vigor. It is visceral, often, and governs over all that lives - even your nerve cells. It is tenacious, and its magic lets you be just as tough.

Life 1 spells include:
Analyze Life determines the target's species, gender, age and overall health. It also gives the total number of all dots in Physical Attributes, but not the value of any one Attribute. It reveals any illnesses, diseases, physical Conditions, injuries ot Tilts. It will identify living but supernatural beings as unknown species, even in human form, unless you've identified their kind before and studied them. The undead do not register to this spell at all. For 1 Reach, you may choose to learn the value of one of the target's Physical Attributes rather than the total dots in all of them.
Cleanse the Body gives +(Potency) to the next roll to resist a toxin. For 1 Reach, the target can also make that roll immediately on top of the one they'd get at the normal interval.
Speak With Beasts lets you speak to a targeted animal, generally by making noises at it, though it isn't needed - the target will speak and the magic will translate it for you. This gives you no control over the beast, just understanding. Animals have only limited understanding of what humans do and what goes on around them, but you at least get +(Potency) to any Animal Ken rolls on the target. Animals are also good at remembering any physical features their senses are good enough to pick up on. For 1 Reach, you can speak to all animals, not just the target's species.
Web of Life detects all nearby living things within limitations you declare. (Don't pick 'all', you'll go mad from microscopic organisms.) You may detect all beings that fit your specifications within the spell's area or that enter the area during the duration. If you cast on a person rather than an area, you can scan them for parasites, bacteria or pregnancy.

Life 2 spells include:
Body Control, which gives control over the target's bodily functions. For the duration, each level of Potency gives you one rank in eah of these:
For 1 Reach, the target gains +1/0 armor for the duration. For 2 Reach, for each rank, halve healing time for Lethal damage.
Control Instincts causes a Condition representing the desired instinctive response on the target, such as fight-or-flight response, leaping, hunger or secreting venom, for various animals, or fatigue, hunger or adrenaline responsse for humans. This works on any mundane lifeform - and a human who just has Supernatural Merits counts as mundane. For 1 Reach, you can affect supernatural living creatures.
Heightened Senses increases your perceptions, giving +(Potency) to all Perception rolls. For 1 Reach, you also instinctively know how to track by scent for the duration.
Lure and Repel magically calls or repels creatures. When luring, you specify certain types of organism to be drawn to you. Plants and microorganisms have Resolve 0 for Withstanding. These organisms are not necessarily friendly to you and will remain cautious or hostile if that is their nature, but will not openly attack the target unless cornered. People affected by the spell find the target irresistable or repugnant but cannot pinpoint why. Repelling a chosen organism means that type of being must Withstand the spell to enter the area of effect, fleeing if they do not. For 1 Reach, lured creatures are benign to the target and will offer food or small favors. For 1 Reach, lured intelligent creatures treat the target as having a good first impression and repelled ones treat the target as having a bad first impression for purposes of Social Maneuvering.
Mutable Mask allows you to change the target's skin pigmentation, phenotypical features, apparent sex, hair color, hair texture, small fat deposits, their scent or the sound of their voice. You can add or remove moles or scars, too. However, even at the most extreme there will be some resemblance left afterwards, like a familial resemblance, though the changes are enough to fool sketch artists or facial recognition. However, fingerprint scanners and retnal scanners can stil tell. You cannot use this spell to mimic specific people. The changes are purely illusory and can be seen through with a Clash of wills by certain powers, such as Life Mage Sight. For 2 Reach, you can duplicate a person's appearance, all the way down to scars, retinal patterns and fingerprints.
Purge Illness reduces an illness or infirmity's severity level by (Potency), curing it entirely if its Potency is greater than the severity level.

Life 3 spells include:
Bruise Flesh deals (Potency)B to the target via bruising. For 1 Reach, they also suffer a -1 wound penalty on top of any normal wound penalties due to endorphin blockage.
Degrading the Form reduces one of Strength, Dexterity or Stamina by (Potency), to a minimum of 1, chosen when the spell is cast. For 1 Reach, the Potency can be divided in lowering two Attributes. For another Reach, you can divide between all three.
Honing the Form increases one of Strength, Dexterity or Stamina by (Potency), chosen when the spell is cast, but cannot raise them above the target's maximum. For 1 Reach, you can spread the bonus between two Attributes. For another Reach, you can spread it between all three. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, you can go over the target's maximums.
Knit heals (Potency*2)B damage, including damage caused by toxins or deprivation. For 1 Reach, you can heal physical tilts such as Arm Wrack, forcing broken bones to mend. For 1 Reach, you not only heal deprivation damage but also charge the target's system as though they'd had a full meal and lots of water. For 1 Reach, you reproduce the effects of a night's sleep, including regaining Willpower if applicable.
Many Faces lets you alter the target's body and appearance in any way within the bounds of species and age. This is not illusory, but entirely functional and physical. You may even rearrange up to (Potency) dots of Physical Attributes, though you cannot alter the total number of dots, reduce any to 0 or raise them over the target's maximum. With Time 3, you may also alter age.
Transform Life can transform the target to grant features found in other creatures, granting (PotencY) features. The target instinctively knows how to use these features. This can even target microorganisms, if you can perceive them, though obviously many features besides increased Toxicity, resistance to environments or new ways to reproduce will not be useful to these. Common features include:
For +2 Reach, if the change is made Indefinite duration, the traits can be passed on genetically.

Life 4 spells include:
Accelerate Growth, which doubles the target's growth rate for each level of Potency. When the spell ends, the target reverts back to their natural age at the same rate...and if they die of old age, they return to life. For 1 Reach, the effects wear off even faster than they aged, stressing their mind and body enough to need a Stamina roll to not enter a coma for (Potency) days. Further, targets dead of old age do not return to life when they revert to their natural age, appearing to have died of natural causes despite their youth.
Animal Minion allows you to take control of the target's body, making it do anything it is capable of, though you have no access to their thoughts. You can force a human to talk, but not intelligibly except in your own words, and targets often move differently than they would naturally. While using this spell, your body is rendered inert (though it ages and tires as normal). You lose Defense and are only vaguely aware of your own body, though you are alerted to any damage and may immediately end the spell to return to it. For 1 Reach, the body behaves more normally and you get an understanding of its normal tics, movements and habits.
Life-Force Assault deals (Potency)L via unspecified tissue damage. For 1 Reach, it can also cripple nerves, increasing all wound penalties by 2. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the damage is agg.
Mend heals (Potency)L. For 1 Reach, it can erase scars. For 1 Reach, it heals deprivation damage as well and charges the target's system as if they had a meal and lots of water. For 1 Reach, it also reproduces the effects of a night's sleep, including Willpower regeneration if applicable. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the spell heals agg damage.
Regeneration can restore lost limbs, scarred tissue, dead tissue and even brain damage, as long as the target is alive, with larger or more important parts costing more Potency. The regeneration takes about 1 minute per level of Potency needed. Most mages cast this with Indefinite duration, but some can't or don't, and when the spell ends, the regenerated parts wither in less than a minute.
Shapechanging transforms the target into another animal, with all the instincts of that animal. They must roll Resolve+Composure not to obey those instincts when they are triggered, though mages add Gnosis and other supernaturals add their Tolerance traits. With Matter 4, you also merge the target's gear into their new form. For 1 Reach and Matter 4, the gear becomes part of the form, appearing as scars, fur or scales with odd patterns. For 1 Reach, the target can be turned into a swarm. For 1 Reach, the target has full reason and no instinctive urges.

Life 5 spells include:
Create Life conjures a new organism from nothing, though it has no mind of its own and acts purely on instinct, simple even for an animal but otherwise fully functional. You may create anything you can imagine, though it will obey laws of physics - a conjured dragon can't fly, for example. When the duration ends, the creature vanishes, which can be an Act of Hubris against Enlightened Wisdom, as can the creation of certain creatures. Created human bodies are soulless. With Mind 5, the creation has a true mind appropriate to its nature. With 1 Reach, you may apply up to (Potency) features as per Transform Life.
Contagion unleashes a disease of Severity (Potency). If you have equipment that can store it, you can create the disease in that, or else you must find a carrier suitable to its transmission method. It is immediately contagious, requiring a Stamina+Resolve roll to not contract it. For 1 Reach, the disease can be an entirely new one, unseen before. This is almost always an Act of Hubris. Because no living creature has ever encountered the disease, rolls to resist getting it or resist its effects are at -5.
Salt the Earth kills all living creatures in the targeted area, period. Even microscopic organisms die and decomposition halts due to this. Nothing in the area can become fertilized, though any existing pregnancies remain if, somehow, something survives. The area becomes an Extreme Environment of level (Potency). For 1 Reach, anything that manages to survive is unable to grow or heal naturally and also gets a -1 wound penalty on top of any they already have.

Next time: Matter


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Matter is the Arcanum of alchemy, gases, solids, liquids, shaping things, crafting, transmutation and stasis. It covers all that is inert, lifeless and material. Even stuff that used to be alive or was produced from life, like wood or wine. Many see it as the basest Arcanum, closest to the Lie, but in truth it is an echo of the perfected material of the Supernal.

Matter 1 spells include:
Craftsman's Eye, which reveals the intended use of any tools, no matter how simple or complex, or if it has no purpose. It also reveals the nature of any problem that prevents the object from fulfilling its purpose. For 1 Reach, you also learn how to use the object - the combination to the safe, say - and get 8-again to any roll to use the most recently studied item. For 2 Reach, you learn all possible uses for the target, though focusing on any particular use may require a Wits+Composure roll for especially complex items. With Fate 1, you can name a specific task when casting, and the spell will highlight any item that would be useful for that when you look at it.
Detect Substance lets you name up to (Potency) substances that fall under Matter. You are aware of those substances' presence and location in the area of effect for the duration. The substance can be defined as broadly or specifically as you like. With Tim 1, you can detect if the substances were in the area in the past equal to the spell's duration. With Forces 1, you may search for specific electronic information, revealing both what device the information is on and, if you are using it, where the file is stored on it.
Discern Composition makes you aware of an object's composition, weight and density. For 1 Reach, you are aware of anything concealed in the object. For 1 Reach, you instinctively know the object's structural weak spot, and any attempts you make to damage it treat it aS (Potency) Durability less than normal until the object is destroyed or fully repaired. With Space 2, you also know where the materials making up the object came from precisely. However, using this on an Artifact produces an overwhelming rush of symbols, rolling the Artifact's rating against your Gnosis. If you lose, you gain the Shaken condition, resolvable for an Arcane Beat.
Lodestone lets you name a substance or object. For the duration, that substance is drawn to the target. Coins bounce towards them, water flows towards them as long as they are downstream, whatever. Unless the object can move under its own power, it can only be lightly nudged - a ball might roll towards you but a book won't fly at you. You may alternatively repel the substance instead - not enough to deflect a blow, but enough to keep you dry in the rain or saf from poisonous gas.
Remote Control allows you to make any mechanical device perform its function - you can flip a switch, make a press slam down or shift a car into gear. Anything that could be done in an instant action and which the device is capable of doing. If the action needs a skill roll, treat it as having (Potency) successes. For 1 Reach, you can also perform complex tasks while controlling the object, including extended actions or maintaining continuous control for the duration.

Matter 2 spells include:
Alchemist's Touch, which lets you name a particular material or form of matter. That material cannot cause Bashing damage to you, and any lethal damage from it is reduced by (Potency). Aggravated damage is not reduced. However, this only reduces harm intrinsic to the material - the harm from a sword or bullet is the force behind it and so is not reduced. However, you could handle radioactive materials or breathe chlorine gas. For 1 Reach, you may add a second form of matter to the protection. For 2 Reach, you are immune to both Bashing and Lethal damage and reduce Aggravated by (Potency). With Forces 2, you are also protected from extreme temperatures caused by the material - you could touch lava unharmed, scoop up molten steel or dip a finger in liquid nitrogen safely.
Find the Balance improves a tool's balance via subtle manipulation of density. The tool grants 9-again for the duration, as long as this balance could help it. For 1 Reach, it instead gains 8-again.
Hidden Hoard makes the target object seem entirely unimportant. Mundane attempts to find it automatically fail, and supernatural ones require a Clash of Wills.
Machine Invisibility renders all inanimate objects incapable of seeing you - cameras, microphones, and so on cannot detect you at all. Supernatural objects such as remote-viewing Artifacts provoke a Clash of Wills. For 1 Reach, this also applies against unliving constructs of magic, such as golems or zombies. They always provoke a Clash of Wills.
Shaping allows you to control the shape and movement of gas or liquid or amorphous solids. You may shape them in any form you like, ignoring gravity, for the duration. You can't change their state of matter, but objects made temporarily malleable by magic can be affected. Particularly intricate shapes may take a Crafts roll. For 1 Reach, you can alter solids as well. If used to warp a tool or weapon, reduce the equipment or weapon bonus by (Potency), making it useless if reduced to 0. For 1 Reach, reduce the number of successes needed to create or repair an object in an extended action by (Potency), to a minimum of 1. For 2 Reach, you can create an appropriate Tilt, such as Earthquake or Howling Winds.

Matter 3 spells include:
Aegis, which renders a wearable object tougher or weaker. For each level of Potency, choose one:
For 1 Reach, the object is immune to Armor Piercing.
Alter Conductivity changes how an object conducts electricity. It can automatically shut down any powered device that isn't powered enough to inflict damage, or it can increase or decrease the amount of electricity that can flow through an object. For each level of Potency, the object can conduct 2 points of electrical damage or reduces electrical damage by 2. The object must still be in contact with the electricity source capable of dealing that damage. Reducing damage to 0 also shuts down any devices tied to that power. For 1 Reach, you can alter the ability to transmit other forms of energy, such as heat, sound or even light. Each additional form costs 1 Reach.
Alter Integrity increases or decreases an object's Durability by (Potency) without affecting Structure. For 1 Reach, you may instead spend levels of Potency to give 2 Structure per level of Potency spent for the duration. For 2 reach, this spell's effects are Lasting.
Crucible grants 8-again when using the target object for (Potency) rolls due to Supernal purity. Valuable objects become incredibly pure, increasing their value in Resources by (Potency), to a max of double its original value. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the object gains the rote quality for (Potency) rolls, rechargable during the duration for another Mana to give another (Potency) rolls. For 1 Reach, the object's value can increase to triple its original value.
Nigredo and Albedo lets you restore or inflict (Potency) Structure damage. For 1 Reach, this damage ignores Durability.
Shrink and Grow moves an object further or closer to its Supernal ideal, making it grow or shrink. Add or subtract (Potency) from its Size. Size 0 items can be shrunk to the size of a dime. With Life 3, this can affect living targets.
State Change transmuts a material one 'step' on the path of solid-liquid-gas, without altering temperature. Newly made solids have (Potency) Durability and (Size+Durability) Structure. When the duration ends, the object returns to its natural state but retains the form it held in its altered state. With Forces 3, you can transmute matter to plasma. For 1 Reach, you can transform a solid to a gas directly or vice versa.
Windstrike causes wind or water to lash out at the target, dealing (Potency)B damage. For 1 Reach, this also creates an environmental tilt such as Flooded or Heavy Winds.
Wonderful Machine allows you to superimpose parts of objects on each other, transposing one quality per level of Potency - such as making a rotisserie's heat generation become part of a gun, say. You can swap out what bullets a gun uses, or incorporate a full gun into another device, disguising it until it's used or is closely inspected. With Life 3, you can graft properties of machines onto living beings, like taking a blowtorch and giving a bird fire breath...or taking the bird's flight and making a flying blowtorch.

Matter 4 spells include:
Ghostwall renders a volume of matter wholly or partly insubstantial, remaining where they are but unable to touch anything. They are not in Twilight - they're just not 'real.' With Death, Mind or Spirit 3, they can be made Twilight, attuned to the Arcanum used.
Golem animates an object, letting it move as if alive as a Retainer of (Potency) dots, whose 'field' is simple labor, fighting and simple tasks. The golem is mindless and can only obey one order at a time, which must be simple. If attacked, it has no Defense but has Durability based on its makeup and Structure of (Durability+Size). With Death or Spirit 3, you can bind a ghost or spirit respectively to animate the golem as an intelligence, using the ephemeral entity's powers and a 'field' of whatever it is now capable of. With Mind 5, you can create a mind for it whole cloth as per the Psychic Genesis spell.
Piercing Earth makes stone and earth attack the target, dealing (Potency)L damage. For 1 Reach, this applies an environmental tilt, such as Earthquake. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, this deals Agg damage.
Transubstantiation turns any matter into any other matter, with purity and quality determined by Potency, treated as an equipment bonus or Resources value as appropriate. Both the initial and transformed substance must be relatively pure - wood to gold, yes, but not gold chased with silver. Purity is, according to Moros, a perceptual concept - wine may be a mixture, but it is seen as one thing, so it's 'pure'. With Life 4, you can turn matter into living things or living things into matter. Unless you also have Mind 5, any life created this way is mindless and driven by pure instinct. For 1 Reach, you can turn multiple substances into one or vice versa.

Matter 5 spells include:
Annihilate Matter reduces any inert matter into nothingness instantly, dissolving its atomic lattice entirely. Not even dust remains. Magical objects cannot be touched by this spell. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, they can be.
Ex Nihilo creates an object from nothing - any simple tool or relatively uncomplicated machine, like a revolver but not an automatic. Potency is allocated as you choose between Durability and equipment bonus. For 1 Reach, the object can be as complex as you like, even electronic, so long as it obeys all known physical principles.
Self-Repairing Machine causes an object to heal (Potency) Structure each day for the duration. For 1 Reach, it heals every hour instead. For 2 Reach, every 15 minutes.

Next time: Mind


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Mind is the Arcanum of communication, language, hallucination, Goetia, thought, memory, mental projection and the Astral realm. It encompasses anything from emotion to higher states of awareness. It deals largely in social interactions but not entirely.

Mind 1 spells include:
Know Nature, which tells you the target's Virtue, Vice, and the levels of their Social and Mental attributes. For 1 Reach, you also know their Aspirations and Obsessions.
Mental Scan, which tells you the target's mental and emotional state and allows you to ask the ST one question per level of Potency, such as 'What is their current mood,' 'how intelligent are they,' 'are they supernatural,' 'what do they most desire' or 'what, if any, psychosis do they have?' Answers come in the form of flashes of insight from the target's thoughts. For 1 Reach, you can read surface thoughts, getting snippets of ideas and any speech before it is spoken. You cannot scan deeper than the immediate, but can usually direct thought with conversation.
One Mind, Two Thoughts allows you to perform two Mental or Social extended actions at once, as long as neither is physically demanding. You cannot, however, multitask spells. For 1 Reach, you can do two Mental instant actions at once. For 2 Reach, while in the Astral, one of the actions can be purely 'Physical.'
Perfect Recall lets you remember (Potency) memories with perfect accuracy, down to the smells, the specific font of a page or the weight of an object held, including parts you weren't consciously paying attention to.

Mind 2 spells include:
Alter Mental Pattern lets you alter someone's apparent subconscious thoughts into any mental or emotional state you want. Their state of mind is not actually altered, but rather how they project themselves, protecting them from mind reading and lie detection. Add +(Potency) to any relevant Subterfuge rolls, and any attempt to read surface thoughts or emotions causes a Clash of Wills.
Dream Reading allows you to enter and witness the target's dreams as they sleep. You can influence them but are not part of them directly. If used on yourself, you always remember your dream. For 1 Reach, you are an active part of the dream, able to take action within the Oneiros. Using this on yourself induces lucid dreaming within the duration, with no need for meditation.
Emotional Urging projects an emotional state on the target, chosen either positive or negative. This allows you to open or close one Door for Social Maneuvering, either to benefit yourself or another. You may close previously opened Doors.
First Impressions affects the next Social Maneuvering attempt made against the target, raising or lowering their impression by (Potency) levels.
Incognito Presence causes people to ignore the target and not remember seeing them. Anyone trying to maintain their gaze or remember the target must make a Clash of Wills. For 1 Reach, only those with Active Mage sight or some other supernatural ability can make the Clash of Wills.
Memory Hole seals away any single memory for the duration.
Mental Shield protects the target from Goetia, forcing a Clash of Wills against any Goetic Numina, Influences or Manifestations. For 1 Reach per supernatural being chosen, it also protects against the mind-affecting abilitis of other supernatural beings (or the Mind Arcanum).
Psychic Domination allows you to send simple telepathic commands via thoughts and emotions to your target. The commands must be simple, one-word orders. The intent of the command is sent, not just the letter of it. The target knows the ideas are not necessarily their own, but not where they are coming from. For 1 Reach, the target can be forced to act against their will, obeying any one task you set, as complex as you like so long as it isn't suicidal and doesn't place them in serious danger. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, you can do that without any limitations on what can be forced. For 1 reach, you can give another command.
Telepathy lets you synchronize the surface thoughts of one target play out in the mind of another, giving +(Potency) to relevant rolls (like Empathy) and -(Potency) to relevant rolls (like Subterfuge) between the targets. Subjects may think carefully to speak to each other telepathically, though this may require Empathy rolls for those unused to it. For 1 Reach, only thoughts the first target wants to share are shared. For 1 Reach, all subjects of the spell can send and receive thoughts, but if multiple targets are not used to it, it can cause a -2 penalty on all Mental actions due to noise.

Mind 3 spells include:
Augment Mind, which can increase one of the target's Mental or Social attributes by (Potency), but not above their maximums. For 1 Reach per attribute you can boost an additional attribute, splitting Potency between them. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, you can go above the target's maximums.
Clear Thoughts suppresses a mental Condition for its duration. It cannot affect Paradox Conditions and supernaturally imposed ones require a Clash of Wills. For 1 Reach, the target regains 1 Willpower. For 2 Reach, the effect is Lasting, removing the Condition without giving a Beat.
Enhance Skill increases one of the target's Skills by (Potency) as long as they already have at least one dot, though it can't go above the target's maximums. For 1 Reach per Skill, you can boost additional Skills, splitting Potency between them. All such skills must have at least one dot already. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, you can go over the target's maximums.
Goetic Summons calls the nearest Goetia in sensory range, or any Goetia you know personally. You can specify a Goetia type by its Resonance. This doesn't work on Goetia over rank 5. With Spirit 2 or Death 2, the entity can be materialized for the duration. With 1 Reach, you place the Open condition on the area even if it doesn't match the Goetia's Resonance. For 1 Reach, you can give the Goetia a single, one-word command. For 1 Reach, if you are somewher you could meditate into the Astral, you can summon a Goetia from your own Oneiros or that of another person there. The subject loses the part of their personality the Goetia represents while it is materialized, and you must pay Mana enough to enter the Astral from your location as part of the spell. For 2 Reach, as above but you can summon the Goetia from the Temenos. For 3 Reach, as above but from the Anima Mundi. For 2 Reach, you can give the Goetia a complex command to follow.
Imposter makes the target believe you are someone else, whoever you like. However, if you haven't interacted extensively with the specific person you are imitating, you must make Subterfuge rolls every minute to maintain the charade. This does not grant you any of the impersonated target's Social merits. If you open any Doors or make new first impressions, the benefits go to whoever you appear to be rather than you.
Psychic Assault projects psychic noise into the target's brain, mimicking a stroke and causing (Potency)B. For 1 Reach, it also applies a -1 penalty to all Mental rolls for the duration due to trauma, which can be stacked up to 3 times for 1 Reach each time.
Sleep of the Just controls the target's sleep cycle, either letting them remain awake without ill effect or forcing them to sleep for the duration. You also control what they dream about or if they enter a lucid dreaming state. Anything trying to enter or influence these dreams provokes a Clash of Wills.
Read the Depths functions like Telepathy, but lets you pull memories and ideas from the subconscious, rather than just surface thoughts. For 1 Reach, you can also modify a single memory you've read this way, adding to, deleting or changing it for the duration.
Universal Language makes the target able to understand and translate any language, spoken or written, body language, hand signs, encoded signals, whatever. The target must be able to perceive the language, however. It also does not allow the un-Awakened to understand High Speech.

Mind 4 spells include:
Befuddle lowers one of the target's Mental or Social attributes by (Potency), to a minimum of 1. For 1 Reach per attribute, you can split Potency among the chosen attributes to lower more than one.
Gain Skill functions as per Enhance Skill, but you can give dots to someone with no dots, including the Reach effects for the same Reach costs.
Hallucination creates false sensory input for the target, affecting all senses but touch. For 1 Reach, you also affect touch, but the illusion can't attack or harm the target in any way.
Mind Flay tears apart the target's mind, dealing (Potency)L. For 1 Reach, it also causes the Insane tilt. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, it deals Agg damage.
Psychic Projection sends the target's mind into Twilight or someone's dream, using the normal rules for dream forms. The target has no ephemeral body but is rather an intangible mental image, unable to interact physically while in Twilight and forced to use magic to do anything. However, they are immune to physical harm, though not mind-affecting powers. While projected, the target's body is comatose and they are unaware of its physical state. If the projection dies, the mind returns to the body, which gains the Soul Shocked condition. With Spirit 2, you may project the target into the Shadow, across the Gauntlet.
Psychic Reprogramming lets you alter (Potency) aspects of the target from among Virtue, Vice, Short-Term Aspiration, Long-Term Aspiration, Obsession, a non-physical Persistent Condition, moving one dot between any two Social skills or moving one dot between any two Mental skills. For 1 Reach, you may also move dots between any two Social Attributes or any two Mental Attributes.
Terrorize overwhelms the target with fear, causing the Insensate tilt for the duration or until the tilt is resolved, whichever comes first. For 1 Reach, you instead inflict the Broken condition.

Mind 5 spells include:
Amorality, which removes either the target's Virtue or Vice. Without Virtue, the target gets 2 Willpower rather than 1 from indulging Vice. Without Vice, the target cannot perform any activity that would be a breaking point or Act of Hubris. Witness horrific or horrible deeds still causes breaking points for Sleepers.
No Exit traps the target in their own mind for the duration, rendering them unable to do anything but play out a continuous loop in their mind. Thoughts cannot enter or exit, and they appear near-catatonic to others. Attempts to read their mind or memories reveal the thought loop. Supernatural attempts to force new thoughts cause a Clash of wills.
Mind Wipe removes large chunks of memory, causing the Amnesia condition for the duration, covering (Potency) months of time chosen by you. For 1 Reach, the memories erased need not be a continuous span. For 2 Reach, the effect is Lasting.
Possession sends your consciousness into the target, taking control of it via the Possessed Condition. You obey all possession rules for ephemeral entities except as follows. You may use any of your Mind spells to read their mind, and you may spend 1 Mana to use your own social or mental attributes instead of theirs. You always use the target's physical attributes, but can spend 1 Mana to reduce the -3 penalty to physical actions to -0. While possessing your target, your body is comatose as per Psychic Projection.
Psychic Genesis generates a self-aware consciousness in Twilight, with traits as a rank 1 Goetia. It exists as your loyal servant for the duration, and you may direct it without need for more spells. For 1 Reach, it counts as a Sleepwalker for purposes of assisting in ritual casting. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, it's rank 2.
Social Networking grants the target (Potency) dots in one of Merits, Contacts or Status.

Next time: Prime


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Prime is the Arcanum of magic, the Supernal, the Nimbus, truth, Yantras, Mana, Hallows, tass, resonance and revelation. In many ways, it is the meta-Arcanum, the magic that does magic to magic...but it is also the easiest way to tap into Supernal Truth, piercing illusion and lies. It is the Arcanum by which the Supernal knows itself, yet it is weak without the other Arcana to support it beyond that.

Prime 1 spells include:
Dispel Magic, which can dispel only Awakened magic, and only that below the rank of archmastery. Further, it requires you to use all Arcana involved in the spell you are dispelling, at least at one dot each. A successful casting suppresses the target spell for the duration. With Fate 1, you can selectively dispel only against certain targets of the spell you are dispelling, leaving others intact. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, the effect is Lasting, though the original caster knows it happened so long as they are alive and didn't relinquish the spell.
Pierce Deception sees through all mundane falsehoods you perceive - lies, disguises, the works. Magical illusion or deception causes Clash of Wills. However, this only reveals 'active' deception - you know someone's blonde-dyed hair is dyed or that someone lies when they speak, but you don't know they've been committing tax fraud just by looking at them. You would know their tax return was fraudulent by looking at it, though. For 1 Reach, you also get a symbolic sense of what the truth actually is, couched in Supernal metaphor and symbolism.
Supernal Vision lets you study ties to the Supernal. Looking at someone for a turn reveals if they have a connection to the Supernal (and so if they are a mage, Sleepwalker, Proximus or Sleeper, if a place is a Demesne or Verge, if an object is Imbued, Enhanced or Artifact, etc.) and can ask (Potency) questions from:
You perceive the answers as Supernal symbols around the target. You may study a target multiple turns to get more answers, as long as the duration lasts. Effects that hide their nature cause Clash of Wills. For 1 reach, you also see the nature of other supernatural beings and effects, not just Supernal ones, though you may not understand all of what you see or get useful answers.
Sacred Geometry lets the target can perceive ley lines and Nodes, based on your Path. If there are none in sensory range, they feel a tugging towards the nearest. For 1 Reach, they can tell when a Node is on top of a Hallow. With Death 1, you can detect Avernian Gates, and with Spirit 1, Loci. Other Arcana may detect stranger places.
Scribe Grimoire allows you to encode a Rote into a Grimoire - either one you know or transferred from another Grimoire on hand. Only one Rote can be inscribed per casting, but a Grimoire can usually hold between ten and fifteen (for a large book), though some can hold barely two (a fist-sized carved stone) or unlimited (a computer database). When the duration ends, the Rote fades from the Grimoire and cannot be recovered. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the spell is Lasting.
Word of Command allows you to bypass magical trigger conditions, activating a spell or object as if you'd met the criteria, with (Potency) successes if a roll would be required. If the target requires Mana to activate, you must spend it from your own pool. Without additional Arcana, this only triggers Supernal magic and items. With other Arcana, it can trigger relevant items - Spirit for fetishes, Fate for faerie curses, etc. If the target would require Essence or other power points to activate, spend Mana instead.

Prime 2 spells include:
As Above, So Below imbues your yantras with power. For each level of Potency, choose a single, specific Yantra. Any spell using that Yantra gets 9-again on the casting roll for the duration. For 1 Reach, it gives 8-again.
Cloak Nimbus hides the target's Nimbus from effects that would read it, causing a Clash of Wills on any attempt. Anything that fails registers the target as a Sleeper. While under this effect, the target's Nimbus does not flare unless they want it to. Further, their Signature Nimbus is muted, and any attempt to scrutinize it triggers Clash of wills to find any identifiable traits. If the target does anything that would normally flare their Nimbus, such as allowing it to when casting or imprinting it on an object, the spell ends. For 1+ Reach, the target's Nimbus is instead altered. Each Reach lets you choose to display Gnosis, Mana or any Arcanum as lower than the target's actual values, seen by anything that fails to pierce the deception. You cannot, however, make them seem greater than they are.
Invisible Runes draws a message in High Speech, visible only to Mage Sight. Anyone trying to alter or overwrite the marks must make a Clash of Wills.
Supernal Veil wards a target from all magical detection, causing all passive abilities (like Peripheral Mage Sight) to fail and making active abilities go to Clash of Wills.
Wards and Signs gives the target magical shielding. Any spell cast against them is Withstood by (Potency). Only spells directly targeting the subject are affected - if you turn the air into fire, they're still fucked. Likewise, only they are protected, not other targets of the same spell.
Words of Truth grants you the power, as long as you say only things that you know are true, objectively, to be heard and understood clearly by all targets, regardless of distance, noise or language. Further, every target knows what you see is true. However, this only works for statements that are both objectively true and which you know before you say them are objectively true. This does not compel the target to act in any particular way, however, though ignoring or refuting you may be a breaking point. In Social Maneuvering, you may use this to remove one Door or to improve an impression by (Potency) steps. (It may be Potency doors; the text is unclear on this point.) For 1 Reach, if a listener goes along with what you say, they gain the Inspired Condition, and if they ignore you, they get the Guilty Condition.

Prime 3 spells include:
Aetheric Winds calls forth the fury of the Aether to deal (Potency)B. For 1 Reach, this also causes the Heavy Winds tilt. For 1 Reach, Potency can be split between dealing damage and destroying Mana in the target, one for one.
Channel Mana allows you to move up to (Potency) Mana between one or more vessels you can touch, including yourself, other mages, Hallows, Artifacts and so on. You must still respect your Mana-per-turn limit. For 1 Reach, you can ignore the limit, channeling as much Mana as you want in an instant action.
Cleanse Pattern removes the signs of Awakened interference, such as the dramatic failure effect of a Focused Mage Sight Revelation, and also removes Signature Nimbus.
Display of Power calls the Supernal down, allowing the Imagos of spells to be visible to all Active Mage Sight as they are formed, as magical runes and symbols around the caster. This is useful both as a teaching aid and to create the arena of the Duel Arcana. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, any attempts at a counterspell in the area gets the rote quality due to the obviousness of the Imagos. (This is often used to prevent cheating in duels.)
Ephemeral Enchantment causes the target to be able to physically interact with Twilight beings, no matter what Arcana they fall under. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, an enchanted weapon deals Aggravated damage to a specific Twilight being. For extra Scale factor you can add extra subjects, but each costs 1 Mana.
Geomancy lets you freely redirect local ley lines and Nodes as well as freely altering their Resonance.
Platonic Form channels mana into an object, making tass representing an idealized form. The created object must be a simple tool or object no more than Size 5 - swords and gems, sure, but no guns or cars. It has default Durability 1 and 1 Mana, paid as part of casting. Potency can be spent 1 for 1 to increase Durability, Mana Capacity (Which can be filled by spending Mana or left empty) and equipment bonus. However, each use of the item as a tool expends 1 Mana as the form is corrupted by the Fallen World. When all Mana is gone, the object dissolves. Channel Mana can 'refill' the tass, but when the duration ends, any Mana in the tass is lost forever. For 1 Reach, the object gives 8-again when used as a tool. For 2 Reach, it is Lasting (though still dissolves when out of mana).
Stealing Fire temporarily turns the target into a Sleepwalker if they are a Sleeper. Any breaking points from witnessing magic or quiescence they'd suffer are held in abeyance until the duration ends, at which point they happen all at once.

Prime 4 spells include:
Apocalypse strips the Lie from the eyes of the target. No matter who they are, their vision is attuned to Mage Sight of your Path and are temporarily immunized to any Quiescence they might suffer. However, non-mage targets cannot turn the Mage Sight off until the duration ends, but still suffer all costs and penalties from it. If they run out of Willpower while the duration is active, they gain the Blind condition as the vision burns out their eyes, or a similar condition if they used other senses. Further, breaking points due to the trauma of the sight are not uncommon. For 1 Reach per Arcana, you may add any one Arcanum you have to the Sight, but must pay Mana to add Common or Inferior Arcana as though activating them yourself.
Celestial Fire summons the flames of the Aether to deal (Potency)L, which can hurt Twilight beings. For 1 Reach, it also sets flammable objects on fire. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, it deals Agg. For 1 Reach, you may split Potency between damage and destroying the target's Mana, one for one.
Destroy Tass destroys tass, sublimating the Mana within it out in the world.
Hallow Dance lets you suppress an active Hallow or awaken a dormant one. Awakening a Hallow takes Potency equal to its rating, while suppressing one reduces its rating by (Potency), sending it dormant if this makes it hit 0. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, the effect is Lasting.
Supernal Dispellation suppresses any spell less than archmaster's for the duration. With Fate 1, you can suppress a spell selectively among its targets. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, the effect is lasting, as per Dispel Magic.

Prime 5 spells include:
Blasphemy removes an area from the Supernal, severing its ties to truth and creating a 'dead' zone of magic. Ley lines in the area dry up, as do Nodes. Hallows with rating less than the Potency fall dormant. Sleepers that spend more than a day in the area gain the Enervated condition (though they retain their souls and do not progress to Thrall). Any attempt to reawaken a Hallow in the area adds (Potency) to the rating for purposes of Withstanding the effect. For 2 Reach, the effect is Lasting, though without major geomantic reworking to maintain it, ley lines will reassert themselves within a month. The effect on Sleepers also ends at that point, but Hallows remain dormant.
Create Truth creates a Hallow with rating of (Potency), with Resonance appropriate to the location, your Path and your Nimbus. This causes massive aftershocks in the local ley lines and likely creates new Mysteries. Hallows cannot, no matter what the Potency, have ratings over 5. For 2 Reach and 5 Mana, this is Lasting.
Eidolon creates tass in the form of an animate being. It's still tass, with base Durability 1 and Structure instead of Health. It consists of 1 Mana, spent on the casting, and can be up to size 5. Potency can be allocated to raise Durability, Mana capacity or grant you a dot of Retainer. The tass is mindless and cannot act without command from its owner - which is any mage that marks it with their Nimbus, overwriting the last owner and gaining the Retainer dots. When it runs out of Mana, it dissolves, though you can refill it within the duration via Channel Mana. When the duration runs out, it dissolves and all Mana is lost. For 2 Reach, the effect is Lasting (barring loss of mana). With Mind 5, the tass can be made intelligent.
Forge Purpose gives the target one of your Obsessions, though if they already hit their Gnosis-based cap on them it triggers Clash of Wills. If you win, you replace their most recently gained Obsession with yours. Even Sleepers can be targeted, however, gaining Arcane Beats to be used should they ever Awaken. Some mages believe this makes them more likely to do so, but mental illness is more likely to happen. For 1 Reach, you can impose a new Obsession rather than one of your own.
Word of Unmaking destroys any magic item except for an Artifact. For 2 Reach, the item explodes, rolling its Merit rating or Durability as a pool that deals (successes)L to anyone within 1 yard per dot/Durability.

Next time: Space


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Space is the Arcanum of distance, separation, sympathy, conjuration, scrying and warding. It expresses distance in its true meaning - not physical, but the distance between souls, the sympathetic ties between places, things and people. Because Space has command over portals, doors and liminal spaces, many of its spells require a Key - an item, password or other thing that either activates a spell or bypasses it. A portal could be keyed to a time, to a bloodline or to people with a particular object. Most of the time, applying a Key costs a Reach, and a Key can have up to (Potency) requirements to be met.

Sympathy is the bond that Space manipulates. It's a complex concept, one that mages write about a lot, but essentially, two things become sympathetically linked when they share a strong emotional, physical or mystical connection. Naturally occuring links are sometimes permanent, but just as likely to fade over time. The link formed by a brief affair might fade within weeks of a breakup, while a murder weapon might be linked to killer and victim for years. Sympathetic links manipulated by magic exert a subtle but potent change over the people tied to them. Cutting off the link between two spouses cools the relationship and makes them grow distant. Bonding a person to an object makes them dream about it, think about it and, left to their own devices, cross paths with it. It's not really mind control or even destiny - it's just manipulation of connections. It doesn't control reactions or outcomes. You can ignore the thoughts of the object, for example, if you try to. It's just, sympathetic links have a real and tangible effect on people. Thus, mages tend to be weirded out by people who deliberately try to 'cull' their sympathetic links for safety - it's a choice to deliberately cut off your relationships, not just a mystical decision for safety. Most spells that deal with sympathy target the links themselves, Withstood by their relative strength - deeper bonds are harder to affect. However, mages with Space 2 can also use sympathetic links to cast spells far beyond sensory range, using the lines of sympathy via an Attainment that lets them target sympathetically. In this case, Withstanding is done by Space itself, and weaker connections are harder to use. When targeting sympathetic links, each connection is a different subject for spell factors, so you can target several by increasing Scale.

I'm not totally sure how I feel about the fact that sympathetic names appear to deadname trans people. 'Weird and bad' is a good choice for it.

Space 1 spells include:
Correspondence tells you (Potency) of the target's sympathetic links, starting with the oldest and strongest. You understand these links the same way the target thinks of them - 'my childhood home' rather than an address. If you can sense the other end of the link, you know that and where it is exactly. For 1 Reach, you can choose to follow a link, learning a sympathetic link of someone the target has a link to when you learn about that person. For 1 Reach, you know the emotional character of the connection in broad terms. For 2 Reach, you can specify generally what connections you want to find - 'an object with strong childhood ties' or 'those she hates,' say. For 2 Reach, if the target is a Keyed spell or Iris, you may use a level of Potency to find the Key rather than a sympathetic link.
Ground-Eater causes stutter-step as the target covers more ground than their stride should. Add (Potency) to the target's speed. Watching them move is weird, as they seem to move farther than they should, especially when you blink. You may also use this spell to reduce the target's Speed by (Potency), to a minimum of 1, making distance longer for them.
Isolation makes empty spaces seem larger and more foreboding for the target, while crowds seem impenetrably packed. Any attempt the target makes to interact with other people costs 1 Willpower and is at -(Potency). Exposure to this for (Composure) days tends to be a breaking point or cause Conditions like Shaken or Spooked.
Locate Object tells you the precise location of the target as long as it's in the spell's area. Nothing but concealing magic can hide it, and that causes a Clash of Wills For 1 Reach, you can keep tracking the target if they leave.
The Outward and Inward Eye allows you to see and hear in all directions, from any point within sensory range, simultaneously. It's like 360 degree vision but better - you can also see perceive things through solid objects. Essentially, you can perceive things from any point you would be able to sense on a flat, empty plain. Any attempt to ambush or surprise you is reduced to a chance die barring amazing camouflauge or a great distraction. You may reduce any penalties from range, cover or concealment (but not darkness or poor visibility) by (Potency). For 2 Reach, you may see through an existing spacial warp, Distortion Iris, scrying window or magical potal made by Co-Location, or similar things. With other Arcana, you can look through other portals, too, depending on their nature and the ST's whim.

Note: Connected can only be removed by an Unmaking spell.

Space 2 spells include:
Borrow Threads transfers up to (Potency) sympathetic connections between you and the targets. You can steal their links or give yours. If someone already has a connection to something you transfer to them, the new one overwrites the old one for the duration. You must be aware of a connection to manipulate it, either due to magic or just knowing the subject. For 1 Reach, you may redirect the connection between other subjects of the spell directly without having to transfer to yourself first. For 1 Reach, instead of transferring connections, you copy them.
Break Boundary bypasses a single obstacle restricting the target's movement, such as handcuffs, a locked door or a barred window. The target blinks through the door, the handcuffs pass through their arms, and so on. This can only bypass obstructions of an actual path - you can't blink through a wall, but you can teleport past a fire in the road or across a chasm too wide to jump. If cast on an inanimate object you or an ally must still carry or push the target through the obstacle. For 1 Reach, you can use this to pass through paths too small for you, even if the path were unobstructed - you can drive a car through door, say. For 2 Reach, the target passes through even if unable to move, just appearing on the other side.
Lying Maps twists the target's sense of direction, making them certain the best route to somewhere is the one you choose for them. If the target carefully and actively uses a map or GPS, the navigation roll is a chance die, and even a success feels wrong to the target, who still wants to believe the route you planned for them was the right one.
Scrying creates a 'window' to the target, rather like a TV screen. You may choose whether the window is one- or two-way. When casting it sympathetically, what you see depends on what sort of sympathetic Yantra you use - a location gives a broad overview, like a wide shot that's static. A person or object is a closeup of the target, following them if they move but giving little detail on the surroundings or who else is there. When cast on someone in sensory range, the window gives you the view of standing right next to them. You may move it reflexively to any angle you like. Casting spells through the window counts as remotely viewing them. With Fate 2, you can make the window selectively one-way, so only specific other people can see back through it.
Secret Door hides a door, intersection or other liminal boundary location from mundane perception entirely. All magical attempts to find it cause a Clash of Wills. For 1 Reach, you can specify a Key that allows the location to be seen.
Veil Sympathy lets you conceal and suppress the target's sympathetic links, though you must be aware of the links you're hiding. Any attempt to find them causes Clash of Wills. For 1 Reach, you can instead make a sympathetic link appear to direct to someone or something else, causing Clash of Wills to any magical attempt to see through it. For 1 reach, the target can't be used as a sympathetic Yantra, with each level of Potency reducing their potential uses down a step (Material to Representational to Symbolic to none). For 2 Reach, you may suppress all of their links, even the ones you don't know about, and also all links to the subject from others, Withstood by the strongest connection the target has.
Ward locks the target down, preventing the space within its area from being manipulated. Magic using Sympathy of Warded targets or areas causes a Clash of Wills, which you are aware of when it happens. For 1 Reach, you may specify a Key allowing magic to be used on the target. For 2 Reach, you can Ward an Iris or its Key, preventing the Iris from opening for the duration, with supernatural attempts to open it causing Clash of Wills.

Space 3 spells include;
Ban inverts an area of space, so nothing can get out and nothing can get in. Attempts to enter the space place you on the far side, while attempts to leave just drop you back in it. Magic that manipulates space, such as teleporation or crossing the Gauntlet, provokes a Clash of Wills. Even light and air can't pass through - from outside, the space appears to lens as you approach, as light jumps across it. From inside, it's the only light in a world of darkness. Any Arcanum at 2 can allow the Ban to be selectively permeable to specified phenomena of the Arcanum, or create a Ban that only prohibits phenomena of the Arcanum.
Co-Location smears distance between (Potency) locations, causing them to overlap. You must use Sympathetic range to overlap locations not in sensory range. Only mages with Space Mage Sight active can see the overlap, seeing it as a jumble of images interpenetrating. To others, all appears normal. Each turn, reflexively, anyone able to perceive the overlap may 'move' one object, person or other being they're touching, including themself, from one location to another, effectively teleporting it. Those able to perceive the overlap can touch things in any of the areas, but can only interact otherwise with things in their own physical location. The other location counts as being remotely viewed for purposes of magic across the overlap, and you can't attack across it or cause telefrag. For 1 Reach, you can make anything in the overlapped areas visible - specified objects or people, or everything, as you choose. The contents of each location are insubstantial to each other, but anyone can 'move' an object they see over, not just people with Space Sight. For 1 Reach, you can restrict the colocation to a 2D plane, creating a stable portal. Anyone who can perceive the portal can use it. It is invisible by default, but the above Reach works fine. For 1 Reach, you can specify a Key to use the overlap. For 2 Reach, those capable of perceiving the overlap can reflexively switch locations twice a turn.
Perfect Sympathy causes any action the target takes towards one of their Strong sympathetic connections for the duration to have 8-again. For 1 Reach, when the target is targetted by magic, it causes a Clash of Wills. If you win, you may redirect the spell to one of the target's Strong sympathetic connections. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the target gets rote quality on (Potency) rolls that affect one of their Strong sympathetic connections. For 1 Reach, this spell also extends to Medium connections.
Warp twists the space someone occupies, dealing (Potency)B. For 1 Reach, it also causes either the Arm or Leg Wrack tilts.
Web-Weaver lets you boost sympathetic connections, raising one connection a step per level of Potency, from Weak up to Strong. It can also create a weak connection to anything the target has been in contact with in the last turn. With Time 2, you may use Temporal Sympathy to bolster nonexistent connections to anything the subject touched in the targeted time.

Space 4 spells include:
Alter Direction overwrites the concept of direction. You can change (Potency) absolute directions - north, up, and so on. If you redefine down as up, anything not rooted down falls into the sky. Redefine north as south by southwest, compasses point wrong. Objects entering the area at speed abruptly shift direction of travel and momentum, which may require an Athletics or Drive roll to control. The change doesn't have to be reciprocal - if north is south, south isn't always north. It might still be south and you just can't get north from here. Alternately, you can cast this on a single target, changing direction relative to them - their personal down can be 'wherever my feet are pointed', say, so they can walk on walls, or their forward can be 'toward the person holding the gun' so they shoot themself. For 1 Reach, you can even redefine directions as curves, loops or other non-straight shapes, allowing you to lock a straight path in a circle or make your bullets go around obstacles, giving (Potency) as a bonus or penalty to relevant actions.
Collapse forces two objects to briefly occupy the same space, dealing (Potency)L damage to all of them. (If targeting just one person, presumably it's different parts of their body.) For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the damage is Agg. For 1 Reach, the colocated object remains inside them, preventing any natural or magical healing of the damage until it is surgically removed or ripped out.
Cut Threads destroys one of the subject's sympathetic links entirely. This is Lasting, but the link can be restord normally. For 2 Reach, the target also loses their sympathetic name for the duration; this is not Lasting.
Secret Room makes a space much larger or smaller than it should be. People crushed by a shrinking space take (Potency)L and are forcibly ejected. The Scale factor must encompass the entire area before the spell is cast. The volume is then increased or decreased by (Potency) steps along the Scale factor table. Anyone or anything in the expanded space when the spell ends just appears outside the original, unaltered space.
Teleportation moves the target somewhere without covering intervening space. By default, their current location and destination must both be in sensory range, but you can apply Sympathetic Range on one of them. For 1 Reach, you can swap the location of two targets with no more than 1 point of Size difference. For 2 Reach, both ends of the spell can be cast at Sympathetic Range, with the worse link Withstanding. With another Arcanum at 2, you can move things between the physical world and any realm covered by that Arcanum, such as the Shadow or the Underworld.

Space 5 spells include:
Create Sympathy creates a new sympathetic connection whole cloth. The connection is Lasting, but can fade over time. For 1 Reach, they can't fade - only magic can sever them. This can have very dramatic longterm psychological effects, as the target can never emotionally let go. For 2 Reach, you may apply a new sympathetic name to a target, though it does not replace the original - it's just a second one. This second name is not Lasting and fades when the spell ends.
Forge No Chains causes the target to leave no sympathetic traces behind for the duration - no blood, no hair, no skin left behind can be traced back to them sympathetically. Their Space spells cause no links or ripples, and any attempt to scrutinize their Space magic or previously made sympathetic links with Mage Sight add (Potency) to the Opacity.
Pocket Dimension creates a space outside space, devoid of all features unless other Arcana are used, in which (without Time) anything within is held in timeless stasis, unaging and unhealing. There is no Twilight within the space. Someone within it can walk endlessly in any direction, but when they turn back they find themselves only as far as the boundary of the Area factor. The dimension is divorced from physical reality unless you choose to anchor it in the world; the only way to reach it is teleportation. Spells within the dimension cause no Paradox, ever, unless cast sympathetically on someone outside it. You are a material sympathetic Yantra to your own pocket dimension. If it is ever destroyed or its duration ends, everything within it reappears in the world at the exact spot they left from. For 1 Reach, you can make an Iris to the dimension in the material world, allowing anyone to enter or leave it. For another Reach, you can specify a Key to that Iris. With Time 2, time flows normally inside the dimension. (It is suggested you also use Matter spells to ensure it doesn't run out of air.) With Death, Mind or Spirit 2, Twilight exists in the dimension for entities attuned to the Arcanum used.
Quarantine removes the target from space, causing them to cease existing. A Quarantined house doesn't leave an empty lot - the two neighboring houses are just adjacent now. A Quarantined 12 floor is gone, leaving only a useless 12 button on the elevator. Anyone inside the Quarantined area cannot leave - they just reenter the space. Effectively, you turn the space into a Pocket Dimension that was once part of the Fallen world (and so has its own Time, Twilight and so on). For 1 Reach, you can specify a Key to access in and out of the area. With Mind 4, for as long as the spell lasts, no one remembers that the area or anyone inside it exists, altering memories as necessary to make this work. With Time 5, not only does the area not exist while the spell lasts, it never existed, and any influence the space or anyone inside it had on the world is undone or caused by something else until the spell ends.

Next time: Spirit, the Pokemon Arcanum

Dave Brookshaw posted:


Which is undeniably harsh, but yes. It's why we emphasize Awakened culture as treating calling any mage by their sympathetic name as deadnaming (the Seers will especially kill over it, much as that denies obvious "Mr Anderson" quote-alikes). And call them sympathetic names, not "real names" like last edition.

It's a scar in your Space Pattern. Mastery can get rid of it.

Dave Brookshaw posted:

By the time they're old enough to use anything for themselves, it's irrelevant.

Read that pasted sidebar in conjunction with the one about mages and identities in Chapter Two. Sympathetic names don't change to conform with a person's self-identity because they're an imposition. They're the prison-brand of the Exarchs. Awakening chooses to show all mages building their magical identities as who they really are - just as Gnosis is a trait, we have things like the Shadow Name Merit, the way mages' Dream Forms appear as what they think of themselves. Every character in the game is rising above being trapped in the Lie.

Undermining that to avoid knee-jerk reactions about inclusiveness would be cheap. Everyone gets hit by the sympathetic name stick, until Sufficient Magic lets you tell the universe to fuck off.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage the Awakening: 2nd Edition

Spirit is the Arcanum of Essence, spirits, Shadow and the Gauntlet. This may seem narrow, until you realize: spirits can do anything. A spirit can be a spirit of basically anything. Everything can potentially have a spirit except for human beings. The flow of Essence that empowers spirits and the Gauntlet that holds them out of the world are yours to control as well.

The Gauntlet is a sort of membrane between worlds, a medium through which you cross to move from material to Shadow or vice versa. Its strength varies on a variety of factors, not all of which are known or even knowable. The presence of humans usually strengthens it, likely due to the tumult of human emotion and activity, which simultaneously hardens the Gauntlet and births new spirits and the Essence they use as food. Any spell targeting something on the other side of the Gauntlet or targeting the Gauntlet itself is Withstood by the local Gauntlet Strength, or the lower if the target and your area have different strengths. If you target something you can see in real time across the Gauntlet, it counts as remote viewing.

Spirit 1 spells include:
Coaxing the Spirits, which forces a spirit or its physical representation to take a single instant action in accordance with its nature. Note that this works even on slumbering motes of spiritual energy lacking will or sapience - and everything except humans has a spirit. You can make a frightened dog bite or flee, a car start, a cliff cause an avalanche, so long as it's in the nature of the thing. The spell is Withstood by the Rank of the spirit or the Composure of its living representation, whichever is higher.
Exorcist's Eye allows you to perceive and speak the language of any spirits in the physical world, either roaming in Twilight, slumbering in an object or discorporate, or possessing a living being. You can also sense any spirit-related Manifestation conditions in the area, and you can see the conduit of any spirit with the Reaching manifestation, but cannot communicate across the Gauntlet. For 1 Reach, you may shift your perceptions to view the world on the opposite side of the Gauntlet from you, Withstood by the local Gauntlet strength. With Death 1 or Mind 1, these benefits extend to ghosts and Goetia, respectively.
Gremlins causes spirits of objects to hinder. When someone fails a roll using the spell's target as equipment, it is a dramatic failure, for (Potency) failures in the duration. If the user is a PC, they gain a Beat as normal. For 1 Reach, as long as you can perceive the object, you choose which failures become dramatic.
Invoke Bane makes a spirit avoid its Bane even more than it normally would, forcing it to spend a Willpower to even come near the Bane, with near defined by the Area factor, and cannot touch it at all. If the spirit is already in the area of its bane and doesn't spend Willpower, it must flee immediately. Spirits over rank 5 are immune.
Know Spirit reveals (Potency) facts about a target spirit from among these:

Spirit 2 spells include:
Cap the Well, which wards an Essence source, making it harder to feed on but harder to sense. Any attempt to feed on the Essence or otherwise siphon it causes a Clash of Wills.
Channel Essence lets you draw Essence into your Pattern from a Resonant condition or channel it to a spirit or suitable container. You may transfer (Potency) Essence, but no more than your Mana limit per turn. Essence stored in your Pattern stays even after the spell ends, but it takes up space in your Mana pool as if it were Mana. With Death 2 or Mind 2, you can channel to a ghost or Goetia respectively. For 1 Reach, you may siphon Essence directly form a spirit, which Withstands via Rank.
Command Spirit allows you to command a spirit to take up to (Potency) actions, though the compulsions lasts only for the duration. Commands that go against its self0interest, such as abandoning a host or Fetter, provoke a Clash of Wills. Spirits over rank 5 are immune.
Ephemeral Shield protects against the Numina, Influences and Manifestations of spirits, forcing a Clash of Wills for them to harm the target. For 1 Reach, Spirit spells and the magical powers of werewolves are also blocked. For 1 Reach, the physical attacks of spirits are also blocked. With Death 2 or Mind 2, the shield also affects ghosts or Goetia, respectively.
Gossamer Touch renders the target's flesh solid to spirits in Twilight. With Mind 2 or Death 2, this also applies to Goetia or ghosts respectively. For 1 Reach, anything the target carries is also solid to spirits. For 1 Reach, the target's unarmed attacks count as a weapon against spirits with (Potency) as the damage modifier.
Opener of the Way lets you shift the Resonant condition on the target to the Open condition or vice versa.
Shadow Walk makes the target invisible to spirits and Spirit magic. Any supernatural effect that would detect them causes Clash of Wills.
Slumber slows a hibernating spirit's Essence gain. Instead of 1 Essence per day, it gains only one Essence per (Potency) days for the duration.

Spirit 3 spells include:
Bolster Spirit heals (2*Potency)B damage to a spirit. For 1 Reach, you may instead spend potency one for one to raise one of the spirit's Attributes for the duration, though its Rank-based maximums apply. For 2 Reach and 1 Mana, you can increase the spirit's Rnak by 1, giving it higher attribute caps, more Essence pool and one free Numen for the duration.
Erode Resonance removes the Open or Resonant condition from its target. This is Lasting. For 1 Reach, any future attempt to reestablish the same Resonant condition while the duration is in effect is done at -(Potency).
Howl From Beyond floods the target with spiritual Essence, draining their soul's power. This deals (Potency)B, and can target physical beings or spirits in Twilight. For 1 Reach, the target also gains the Open condition. For 1 Reach, you can target across the Gauntlet, Withstood by Gauntlet strength.
Place of Power raises or lowers the local Gauntlet strength by (Potency) in its area. For 1 Reach, you can alter the Gauntlet independently from either side - it may be easier to cross from material to spirit, say, then the other way around.
Reaching allows oyu to physically and magically interact with anything on the other side of the Gauntlet from you. For 1 Reach, you open an Iris between Shadow and the physical, through which anyone or anything may pass, with the Scale factor determining its size. With another Reach, you may assign a Key to the Iris to restrict access.
Rouse Spirit prematurely awakens a hibernating spirit, requiring Potency equal to the difference between its current Essence and total Corpus. The spirit awakens immediately, with only its rightmost Corpus box cleared. For each Reach applied, an additional box is cleared.
Spirit Summons calls the nearest spirit in sensory range, a spirit you know personally or the nearest spirit that matches the type of Resonance you specify. This does not work on spirits over Rank 5. For 1 Reach, you also create the Open condition on the area even if it doesn't match the spirit's Resonance. For 1 Reach, you can give the spirit a single, one-word command for the duration. For 1 Reach you can summon spirits from across the gauntlet, though if there is no Iris open nearby the spell is Withstood by the greater of Rank or local Gauntlet strength. Spirits can only cross the Gauntlet if they'd normally be able to. For 2 Reach you can give the spirit a complex task for the duration.

Spirit 4 spells include:
Banishment strips (Potency) Manifestation conditions from a spirit or its host. This is Lasting, but the spirit can try to reestablish them. This does not work on spirits over rank 5. With Mind 2, this also works on Goetia. For 1 Reach, the target can't recreate the destroyed conditions until the duration ends.
Bind Spirit grants the target up to (Potency) Manifestation conditions, and must create any prerequisite conditions for the one you want. The target immediately enters the Manifestation of your choice and may not leave it until the spell ends. This has no effect on spirits over Rank 5. With Mind 2, this also works on Goetia.
Craft Fetish binds a hibernating spirt into a Fetish, an object that works like an Imbued Item, but it is fueled by Essence instead of Mana and instead of a spell it holds one of the bound spirit's Influences or, possible, some Numina. This requires one Potency per dot of Influence the object will have, plus one Potency per Numen. A fetish need not have all of its spirit's abilities, however. Activating the fetish is an instant action using the spirit's dicepool. The fetish uses the spirit's Essence pool and can recharge Essence in a resonant location like a hibernating spirit or by receiving Essence from another spirit, Channel Essence or similar powers. The user can pay Essence from the fetish's pool to use its powers, but if the bound spirit ever gains Essence equal to its Corpus, the spell ends. You may also make a simpler fetish that has no spirit but can hold Essence, holding (10+Potency) Essence maximum. Triggering the bound spirit's Ban or Bane immediately destroys a magically created fetish.
Familiar creates a Familiar bond between a mage and a spirit, both of which must be targets of the spell. The spirit cannot be over Rank 2. The mage gains the Familiar merit and the spirit gains the Familiar Manifestation condition for the duration. Both targets must be willing, and they can end the bond whenever they want. You may instead cast this with Death 4 or Mind 4 to bind a ghost or a Goetia respectively.
Shadow Scream channels raw Essence and half-born spirits in to the target, which is torn apart, taking (Potency)L. This can target physical beings or spirits in Twilight. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, it deals Agg damage. For 1 Reach, you can split Potency between damage and destroying Essence, 1 for 1. For 1 Reach, the target also gains the Open condition. For 1 Reach, the spell can target across the Gauntlet.
Shape Spirit lets you perform (Potency) of the following effects on a target spirit:
You may also alter the spirit's size, shape and appearance as you like within the spell's Scale factor. The traits the spirit has must be within its Rank-based maximums. When the spell ends, the target returns to its original form and abilities. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the spell can heal Agg.
Twilit Body causes the target and any of their equipment to become Spirit-attuned ephemera in Twilight. For 1 Reach, the target's form is so refined that they become immaterial even in realms without Twilight.
World Walker lets you shift the target across the Gauntlet, either to or from Shadow, without a portal. For 1 Reach, you may grant a conjured spirit or ephemeral object the Materialized Condition until the duration ends.

Spirit 5 spells include:
Annihilate Spirit utterly destroys a spirit. The target can spend 1 Essence to roll Power+Finesse as a Clash of Wills in a last ditch attempt to not die. If it fails, it's gone. Boom. It does not retreat to hibernation, it's fucking gone. Without archmastery, this cannot affect spirits over rank 5.
Birth Spirit creates a Rank 1 spirit from raw Essence. It is not under your control, but most do feel some respect or gratitude toward their maker. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the spirit is Rank 2.
Create Locus lets you create a Locus at a location with the Resonant condition. (A Locus is an area in which the Shadow is particularly close. Spirits need not use the Reaching manifestaiton to cross the Gauntlet there, attempts to cross are at +2, and spirits that match its Resonant condition heal at twice normal speed.) For 1 Reach, the Locus also generates (Potency) Essence per day.
Essence Fountain generates (Potency) Essence within the target's Pattern, with a Resonance of your choice, as long as you've encountered that Resonance before. For 1 Reach you may give the Essence as many Resonances as you want.
Spirit Manse carves an extradimensional space into the Shadow, taking any form you like but colored by your Path or Nimbus. For the duration, you gain (Potency) dots of Safe Place. For 1 Reach, you may create an Iris between this Manse and the physical world, allowing anyone to enter the Shadow directly into your Manse. You may make a Key to the door if you want. If you make an Iris, the spell is Withstood by Gauntlet strength.

Next time: Time.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage the Awakening: 2nd Edition

Time is the Arcanum of prophecy, change, postcognition, time travel and time dilation. Time governs both history and the many futures of the Fallen world. Sleeper philosophers may debate about the nature of Time and theoretical paradoxes, but they know they are locked into the endless forward march. Mages, however, can get practical experience to go with theory, and they often find that while some philosophers approach truthiness, no thought experiment can prepare you for the truth of temporal magic. The traditional Acanthus description of time is a spinning wheel, gathering strands of unwoven material and binding them into tight thread.

The unspun material, in this metaphor, is the future - protean and ever-shifting. Accessing the future with Time magic only ever tells you the most likely future at the time of casting, and knowing that can and often will change the outcome immediately. Magic can rewrite the future like any Pattern, dictating the outcome of immediate events or constructing vast theoretical futures for you to examine and then dissipate back into probability. The past, on the other hand, is the spun thread - set, unless changed by magic. Sleepers may theorize about temporal paradoxes, but magic defies causality. A mage that travels back in tme can alter the cause of their own trip or more, with the magic handling any contradictions. When an object or person is in the past, the distortion is visible to anyone using Time Mage Sight, and as they change history, everything they alter will also have that telltale aura. When a time traveler returns to the present, any changes made in the past are 'set', and the distortions around the things they were changing vanish, as the events become Lasting. Travelers are insulted to altered history - if you prevent your own birth, the world will have no idea who you are when you return, but you will not vanish. While in the past, if the spell that projected you backwards is dispelled, you return immediately to the present but any changes you made are reversed. The present, meanwhile, is the point at which future becomes past. It is a set present - the past is the past and is not the present for anyone, and time travelers coming back from the future will not be from their own present. There is only one present, and it's now, advancing constantly forward. Mages that travel back and then look forward find the intervening time is still set - without their action, nothing will change. While it may be their subjective future, it's still the past. From their perspective, the present is frozen at the moment they left. If they 'catch up' ot it, anything they changed is set, and normal timeflow resumes. Spells to travel into the future jump you out of time until the future becomes the new present.

The 'spun' time of the past is more certain and useful to usem agic on, but harder to affect, due to the weight of history. Much as two subjects can have sympathetic links across Space based on how closely tied they are, a target has temporal sympathy to its past selves, which influences any magic used with a past version of the thing, place or person as the target. The more something has changed in the intervening time, the harder it is to look back at but th easier it is to do magic on the sympathy itself. Just as Space magic that alters sympathetic links has consequences, so to does altering temporal sympathy. If you increase someone's temporal sympathy to their youth, they will become nostalgic, perhaps try to recapture it. Destroy a building's temporal sympathy to its past and people will forget about its history. Magic affecting the future needs not care about temporal sympathy - the many potential future timelines have no substance to worry about.

Time 1 spells include:
Divination, which lets you look into the target's most likely future. Without Reach, you can only see generalities - 'will I meet X again soon?', sure, but not 'what time will the cops get here?' That's too specific. This can see quite far into the future, but the further you look, the more likely the future will change before that comes true. You can ask (Potency) questions, but answers are either 'Yes,' 'No' or 'Irrelevant'. For 1 Reach, you can ask more specific questions and get mostly accurate answers, and the answers can be more than yes/no.
Green Light/Red Light affects the subtle timings of events, smoothing or obstructing the target's progress. Positively, they get elevators and taxis and green lights just as they need them. Negatively, anything that can delay the target will.
Momentary Flux can sense whether a target will be useful or harmful in the most likely future. It will not tell you exactly how - a stranger approaching you might be bad, but you don't know if that's because of malicious intent or because they have a cold. If you cast this with yourself as the target, it will tell you if your own actions will help or harm you. With Time 2, you can use Temporal Sympathy to cast the spell on a target in the past, telling you if something htey already did will have positive or negative future outcomes. For 1 Reach, when using this information to react, you get +(Potency) to Initiative.
Perfect Timing ensures you act at the exactly right time. The target may spend a turn at any time in the duration to plan an action, losing Defense and remaining still. This gives +(Potency) to their next action, so long as it is a mundane instant action - neither spellcasting nor extended actions can benefit.
Postcognition reveals the past of the target as if you were physically present. By default, you can see only Unchanged targets, but with time 2 you can use temporal sympathy to look into the more distant past. You view things in real time from a moment you declare when casting until the duration ends. While viewing the past, you lose all Defense and can take no action. For 1 Reach, you can speed up, slow down, rewind and pause, like watching a video. For 1 Reach, you remain aware of your surroundings and do not lose Defense.

Time 2 spells include:
Choose the Thread lets the target roll twice for their next mundane roll, picking which roll to use. For 2 Reach, this can also affect rolls for spellcasting or supernatural powers.
Constant Presence prevents the target from being changed by any shift in the timeline. (Useful if you notice the distortions that indicate a time traveler is altering the past.) Any alteration to history via time travel causes a Clash of Wills. If you win, the target is safeguarded against being rewritten, as if they were returning from a time travel trip themself.
Hung Spell lets you suspend a spell, allowing it to do nothing and not lose duration...but the target must cast the spell with this in mind and pay 1 Mana when casting. Hung Spell can trap up to (Potency) spells, which remain in their casters' control but do not take effect until Hung Spell ends or is canceled. When it ends, all trapped spells immediately occur and begin their own durations. Many mages prefer to use the Fate 2 conditional duration attainment to set this to happen at a set condition.
Shield of Chronos protects the target from temporal senses. While under the spell, any magic viewing the target through time, whether looking at the shielded duration from the future or predicting the target's future from the present, provokes a Clash of Wills. For 1 Rach, you can instead design a false series of events to be uncovered instead of the truth, with any attempt to discern the illusion magically provoking a Clash of Wills.
Tipping the Hourglass momentarily slows or speeds up time for the target, but not by much. It might be enough time to dodge a car or slow some movements, but won't go back in time completely. You may add or subtract (Potency) from the target's Initiative. A target that's already acted this turn before the spell does not act again until next turn despite this.
Veil of Moments wards off the deleterious effects of advancing time but cannot undo them. While it is active, the target is immune to things that worsen over time. Wounds don't bleed out, poisons and toxins pause, disease stops for a while. New Conditions and Tilts can't be imposed during the duration, and supernatural effects that would cause a Clash of Wills. However, the target also does not heal during the duration, though magic can still heal them. The target also can't gain Willpower or Mana, or spend Experiences, until the spell ends. They do not age for the duration, either. For 1 Reach, the target can ignore Persistent Conditions for the duration, but time spent under the spell does not count towards any needed for Conditions to lapse. For 1 Reach, the target still heals naturally. For 1 Reach, the target can still regain Willpower. For 1 Reach, the target can still gain Mana.

Time 3 spells include:
Acceleration greatly speeds the target's temporal motion. Outsiders see them as a blur if they are put into fast motion - to the point that, at high enough levels, they cannot be perceived at all. The target's Speed is multiplied by (Potency). While under the effect, the target always acts first in a turn unless they choose to delay, in which case they can interrupt any other character's turn reflexively and return to the top of Initiative the next turn. Other characters using preempting powers provoke Clash of Wills. Acting in this time also makes the target hard to hit - when performing active dodges, add (Potency) to Defense before doubling, and the target can use Defense and active dodges against firearms. For 1 Reach, divide the time per roll of extended actions by (Potency), but not ritual casting interval. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, active dodges during the duration have rote quality.
Chronos' Curse slows the target's experience of time. Everything seems to move at dazzling speeds, and they feel unable to even speak properly. From the perspective of everyone else, their speech is long and impossibly drawn out. Divide the target's Speed by (Potency), rounding down. If this makes it 0, the target is so slow they are effectively immobile. While under the spell, the target always acts last each turn, and their Defense is reduced by (Potency). For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the target loses Defense entirely. For 1 Reach, multiply the time per roll of extended actions the target takes by (Potency), but this has no effect on ritual casting interval.
Shifting Sands lets you undo a few seconds, sending the target back (Potency) turns. They retain any injuries or conditions gained in the undone period, and do not regain any Mana or willpower spent during it. Spells cast on them in the undone time remain only if they are the caster. All other spells they may have cast or had cast on them in the intervening period are canceled. Until the target catches up to the present, the distortion caused by the spell is visible to active Time Sight. Once they do, however, any changes they made to the past few turns are Lasting. For 1 Reach, the target travels back a full scene. You may apply this multiple times to jump multiple scenes back.
Temporal Summoning replaces the target with an earlier version of itself, chosen by you. Without temporal sympathy, only Unchanged pasts can be brought back, but that's enough to heal most conditions or wounds. With temporal sympathy, you can restore ancient ruins to their inhabited state, return enemies to childhood or even resurrect the dead. When the duration ends, they immediately return to their present self. Injuries, Conditions or other effects imposed on the target transfer directly to the present version of it when the duration ends.
Weight of Years inflicts aging on the target, dealing (Potency) damage to objects and structures, bypassing Durability and reducing it by 1 per 2 Structure lost. Used against living things, it deals (Potency)B, but the ST may rule immortal beings like vampires immune. For 1 Reach, a living target also reduces their Athletics by (Potency) due to exhaustion.

Time 4 spells include:
Present as Past reads the immediate future of the targets and lets you react accordingly. In combat, while the spell is active, you may require any target to declare their action at the start of each turn. You need not do so yourself, but may instead act freely at any point in the Initiative order, trumping all other supernatural effects except for those created by the Time arcanum, which cause Clash of Wills. In Social situations, you add (Potency) Doors when your target attempts Social Maneuvering against you, or remove that many from a target you are maneuvering against.
Prophecy causes the future to conform to your expectations, building a hypothetical scenario you may examine to decide on hwo to change the future. This works like Divination, but you may ask specific questions and also get answers about things that might happen based on choice or outside chance, such as whether calling an ex will lead to reconciliation if you try it or if killing someone will make their son go out for revenge in the future. You may ask (Potency) questions, receiving detailed answers that account for hypothetical events. Other mages using Divination on the same target while the spell is in effect see the most likely outcome of the scenario the spell sets. For 1 Reach, you may build the hypothetical future around a social interaction, reducing the target's Doors by (Potency), as you have intimate knowledge of how any question or interaction might affect their choices.
Rend Lifespan causes rapid aging in some body parts and regression in others. These effects are temporary, but devastating, dealing (Potency)L. Targets killed by the spell often appear to have died of old age despite their apparent age. At the ST's whim, undead may be immune. For 1 Reach and 1 Mana, the spell deals Agg.
Rewrite History lets you rewrite the target's history, choosing a point of timeline divergence and specifying changes there. Without temporal sympathy, only recent decisions or changes can be rewritten - anything as long as hte target is still Unchanged at the point of divergence. With temporal sympathy, you may change any detail of their history, as long as the new timeline is still possible. When the duration expires, the target reverts to their original history. Memories of the time spent rewritten are distant, haze and dreamlike, but without Mind magic, they do remember. This does not normally have any effect on supernatural beings. For 1 Reach, you may also reassign up to (Potency) Skill or Merit dots to represent shift in background and trianing, but still not exceeding any maximums. For 1 Reach, you can reassign (Potency) Attribute dots, but may not move any category below the chargen amount for its priority or take any over their maximum. For 2 Reach, you can affect supernatural beings, though you may not remove the supernatural advantages of creatures born to their conditions (such as werewolves, spirits or demons), though you can remake vampires, changelings and other altered creatures as normal humans for the duration.
Temporal Stutter allows you to throw a target forward in time, to wait for the present to catch up. They vanish entirely, reappearing unchanged when the duration ends. They experience this as a momentary lurch of perception, dropping them back into time with their surroundings changed. They remain in the same location and retain any momentum. If something now occupies that space, whichever is smaller gets the Knocked Down tilt. With Space 2 and tthe sympathetic range attainment tied to a destination, you can bring the target back at that destination rather than the point they left at.

Time 5 spells include:
Blink of an Eye collapses time around the target, turning their next extended action into an instant action, performing (Potency) rolls in a single turn, though this does not affect ritual casting intervals. For 2 Rech and 1 Mana, you may instead increase a mage's effective Gnosis by (Potency) for purposes of ritual casting interval only. For each effective Gnosis over 10, reduce the interval by 1 turn.
Corridors of Time allows you to choose any moment in the target's life and destroy all history after it, sending their present self back to any moment of your choice. They arrive in the past at that time and are free to act, changing history, though the distortions to the timeline are visible to Time Mage Sight. The target remains in the past for the duration or until they 'catch up' to the present, whichever comes first. Once they retunr to the present, the timeline sets and any changes made become Lasting. Without temporal sympathy, they must be sent back to a period of Unchanged sympathy. With temporal sympathy, well, any period in their lifetime.
Temporal Pocket creates time for the target. To them, all of the rest of the world is frozen in time. After a subjective duration factor, they rejoin the timeline and the world seems to start moving again. While in a Temporal Pocket, they age normally, conditions that change with time continue, wounds bleed out and so on. They can move freely, examine things, take Mental actions, heal, touch things or even cast spells on themself, but may not physically move, consume or injure anything. Doing so immediately ends the spell, returning them to the timeline having just done whatever they tried to do.

Next time: Attainments


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage the Awakening: 2nd Edition

What are Attainments? They're magical effects, similar to spells but not obeying the same rules. They let you employ meta-effects to improve the use of your spells and change the world in permanent ways. They come to all mages as their understanding of the Arcana increases. As your dots rise, you get access to new Attainments. The Orders will teach you how to use them, but it's really more like conditioning or learning fundamental principles - you have to learn how to manipulate and change the perception of time, sure, but your basic understanding of the Time Arcanum will let you use its Attainments. In game terms, they vary wildly in mechanics. Many of them need or allow use of Mana to boost something. They do not require Imagos and cannot be countered by Counterspells or any other effects that target spells. Adding an Attainment to a spell, however, does not stop the spell from being countered.

One dot Attainments are countermagic:
Any Arcanum: Counterspell. Knowledge of an Arcanum lets you know how to stop it. To cast a spell, a mage forms an Imago - to counter it, you just disupt that. This is actually 10 Attainments, one per Arcanum. Even the most basic principle allows you to counter a spell. However, by the time a spell happens and you sense it via Peripheral Sight, it's too late. To use this, you must see your target casting in the Active Sight. It is a Clash of Wills, pitting your Gnosis+Arcanum against them. You can attempt to counter any spell using the Arcanum, even if others are included, and you can even try to counter a Master with one dot. However, if the target has a higher rating in the Arcanum than you, it costs 1 Mana to try to counter. Counterspelling is an instant action. If you are using Active Sight in combat, you can attempt to counter regardless of your position in Initiative, however, as long as you haven't acted yet.

Two dot Attainments grant two things - a Lesser Utility Attainment and a form of Mage Armor. Lesser Utilities are those that fit an Arcanum's purview but do not map well to a Practice and rely more on general understanding. The ones listed are not the only ones possible, and you can come up with others:
Death: Eyes of the Dead. You can see ghosts and souls in Twilight when using Active Death Sight. Your Peripheral Sight reacts to even the passive presence of ghosts. If a ghost is using a power to hide, it provokes Clash of Wills with Active Sight. For 1 Mana, you may interact physically with ghosts for one scene, but they can hit back.
Fate: Conditional Duration. You may create a condition under which a spell will cease function. This increases the Duration of the spell, though you must still spend 1 Mana and 1 Reach to hit Indefinite. Some mages uses this to levy curses which teach a lesson ('you will suffer boils until you dirty your hands helping another out of kindness') while others use it tactically ('the floor will vanish when I snap this rod'). It costs 1 Mana to make a spell Conditional Duration. The condition changes the duration. An improbable condition, which is unlikely to happen given current conditions, adds 1 level of Duration. An infrequent condition, one that will eventually happen but rarely on its own, adds 2. A common condition, one that will almost certainly happen in the near future, adds 3. When the condition is met, the spell ends regardless of how much duration remains.
Forces: Precise Force. If you have a full turn to calculate an action designed to damage something, you can take 9-again on the roll. If you are using force on a stationary object, you ignore 2 Durability and a successful hit automatically deals +2 Structure damage. Against a stationary and armored target, you ignore and destroy 1/1 armor if you hit. This will not work against anything moving faster than a casual walking speed.
Life: Pattern Restoration. You now heal 1B per Mana spent to heal yourself, or 1L per 2 Mana. If you Scour a Physical Attribute, its derived traits are not reduced.
Matter: Permanence. You may spend 1 Mana instead of spending Reach to use the Advanced duration factors on a spell with Matter as the highest Arcanum involved.
Mind: Mind's Eye. You can see Goetia, other Astral beings and astrally projecting beings in Twilight with Active Mind Sight, and your Peripheral Sight reveals even their passive presence. If they are using a power to hide, this provokes Clash of Wills with Active Sight. For 1 Mana, you may interact with them physically for a scene, and they can hit back.
Prime: Universal Counterspell. You may use Prime to counter any Awakened spell, if you don't know the related Arcanum or it would be a higher pool than the related Arcanum. You may also spend 1 Mana to counter a spell's lowest Arcanum rather than its primary one.
Space: Sympathetic Range. You can cast spells using sympathy to target something outside sensory range. This requires a sympathetic Yantra to use as a focus and 1 Mana. The spell is Withstood by the sympathy's connection to the target, with weaker being harder. Further, if you do not know the target's sympathetic name, the Withstand level increases by 1.
Spirit: Spirit Eyes. You can see spirits in Twilight with Active Spirit Sight, and your Peripeheral Sight reacts to even their passive presence. If they're hiding magically, Clash of Wills with Active Sight. For 1 Mana, you and they can interact physically for a scene.
Time: Temporal Sympathy. You can cast a spell through time to a target's past. You must be casting it as they exist now, at sensory range, and also use a sympathetic Yantra and spend 1 Mana. The spell is Withstood by the fragility of the connection, plus 1 Withstand level if you don't know their sympathetic name. It is possible to also use this with Space sympathy to cast at a distance by paying to activate both Attainments.
Mage Armor is another set of 10 Attainments, one per Arcana, that let you protect yourself magically. Each requires 1 Mana to activate for a scene, and they remain active until the scene ends or you die - whichever comes first. You can only have one active at a time, but you can spend a Mana to swap Arcana armor reflexively.
Death: You get an entropic field to protect your body from injury. (Death) Lethal damage from kinetic attacks is downgraded to Bashing. You need not roll to stay conscious when your Health track fills with Bahsing damage until you have also taken (Death) in Lethal or Agg damage.
Fate: You get incredible luck. Add (Fate) to your Defense, and you can apply Defense to firearms attacks. If you successfully active dodge an attack, you can spend 1 Mana to add (Fate) as a weapon rating to your next attack on that person, which is lost if not used on your next action.
Forces: You disperse the force of attacks before they hit you. You get (Forces) general armor, applicable against all damaging physical attacks and automatic damage from fire or electricity, but no effect against mental or psychic attacks.
Life: You boost your combat instincts and prepare for injury. You get (Life/2) general armor and +(Life/2) to Defense, rounding up, and you use the higher of Wits or Dexterity for Defense, rather than the lower.
Matter: You alter the properties of the matter around you to protect you from damage. You get (Matter) as general armor, applciable to all damaging physical attacks, which is immune to Armor Piercing. This has no effect on mental or psychic attacks.
Mind: Attackers hesitate and suffer minute doubt about your location, which makes you great at dodging, but no good against threats that don't have minds, like explosions or natural disasters or machines. You get +(Mind) to Defense. When you actively dodge an attack successfully, you may spend 1 Mana to apply the Beaten Down tilt to your attacker, though a supernatural being contests this with Clash of Wills.
Prime: You have no protection against mundane atacks, but plenty against magic. You reduce the damage of any and all wholly supernatural attacks by (Prime) - fireball spell, yes, the attack is wholly magical. Werewolf claws, no, because those are physical and not just magic.
Space: You alter the fabric of space minutely, shifting attacks away from you, so long as you are aware of the attack. This provides no protection against anything that prevents use of Defense due to Surprise. You get +(Space) to Defense. If you active dodge, the dicepool gets +(Space). You can paply Defense to firearms attacks. Further, if you successfully active dodge an attack, you may spend 1 Mana to redirect it to another applicable target, making it hit with (Space) successes.
Spirit: You cloak yourself in ephemeral armor, protecting against any Twilight-originating attacks and slowing physical ones. Downgrade the first (Spirit) Lethal damage from kinetic attacks and attacks by ephemeral entities to Bashing.
Time: You slow or speed time in the area, allowing you to get out of the way. You get +(Time) to Defense and can apply Defense to firearms attacks. If you successfully active dodge an attack, you can spend 1 Mana to reduce the attacker's Initiative by (Time) for the rest of the scene.

Three-dot Attainments are for specialized Supernal summoning.
Any: Targeted Summoning. All Supernal beings have a primary Arcanum defined by their home realm and type of being. However, they can also have other Arcana, and now you can focus on that. If you spend an additional Mana during the summoning, you may specify a second Arcanum for the summoned being, though the primary must remain one of your Path's Ruling Arcana.

Four-dot Attainments are Greater Utilities - methods, again, of using the Arcana outside the normal Practices of spells.
Death: Inviolate Soul. You may reflexively repel any magic that would harm your soul, using this whenever your soul is being tampered with or attacked, whenever something tries to alter or influence your Nimbus or aura, or whenever anything ties to possess you. You become immediately aware of the circumstances and may spend 1 Mana to cause a Clash of Wills using your Gnosis+Death.
Fate: Unbound Fate. You can repel magic that would harm your fate. You can reflexively use this whenever you are being forcibly bound to a geas, when a supernatural compulsion to do something you don't want to do is directed at your or when a supernatural effect alters your destiny. You are immediately aware that it's happening and can spend 1 Mana to cause a Clash of Wills using your Gnosis+Fate.
Forces: Environmental Immunity. You can spend 1 Mana to immunize yourself to the effects of Environmental Tilts and Extreme Environments for the rest of the scene, but this does not protect you against any spells aimed at you specifically.
Life: Autonomy. You can repel magic that would alter your body. You can reflexively use this whenever you are the target of a supernatural power that would alter your physical form in some way, you are the target of a supernatural power that would injure you or you are the target of an attack that would place a Personal Tilt on you. You are immediately aware of it and can spend 1 Mana to cause a Clash of Wills using your Gnosis+Life.
Matter: Durability Control. You may touch an object and spend 1 Mana to raise or lower its Durability by (Matter) for the rest of the scene.
Mind: Intuitive Leap. You may spend 1 Mana whenever you roll three or more successes on a Social or Mental roll to turn it into an exceptional success.
Prime: Imbue Item. You may create Imbued Items using any spell you are capable of casting. The item retains its magic indefinitely, but Attainments can only be included if they modify a spell. The spell remains in your spell control, even if the item only casts it when it's activated. If it casts the spell multiple times, however, it still only takes one control slot. Most mages relinquish after imbusing, but if you don't, you may alter spell factors when the item casts the spell or even end its spells as if you'd cast them. By spending Mana equal to the item's dot rating, you can destroy an item you retain spell control over no matter where it is. It costs Mana equal to the rating of all Arcana used in the imbued spell to imbue a spell, and requires an extended Gnosis+Prime roll to do. A dramatic failure on this will produce a cursed and essentially uncontrollable item bearing the mark of your Nimbus.
Space: Everywhere. You may spend 1 Mana instead of a Reach to use the Advanced Scale factor.
Spirit: Honorary Rank. Spirits consider you to have Rank of (Spirit). They can sense this as if you were a spirit, and your physical attacks count as Banes to spirits two or more Ranks below you. You may spend 1 Mana to reduce a spirit's Doors against your Social Maneuvering by 1.
Time: Time in a Bottle. You may spend 1 Mana instead of a Reach to use instant casting time for a spell.

Five dot Attainments are simple. You can make rotes:
Any: Create Rote. You may create a Rote in any Arcana you have five dots in, so long as you have cast the spell inq uestion many times and are familiar with it. You perform it slowly and deliberately, infusing every gesture and action with magic until the Rote is solidified. You must have hit Master rank with all Arcana involved. You choose a Skill to encode and perform an extended action of Arcanum+Skill, though you can spread the roll out over a period of weeks rather than doing it all at once. You must spend 1 Mana per roll. Once you have mastered the Rote, you must spend 1 Willpower and 1 Arcane Experience to complete it. You may then teach it to others or scribe it into Grimoires for others to cast.

Next time: Legacy


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage the Awakening: 2nd Edition

Technically, not all mages adopt a Legacy, but most do, because they have a lot of advantages. By taking on a Legacy, you alter your Gnosis in accord with its principles. Some are long traditions with initiations, while others are personal obsessions. All Legacies, however, possess an originating Path. Many, though not all, are also connected to one Order or another. Normally, a mage must belong to the Legacy's originating Path or Order. However, it is possible for any mage to join a Legacy regardless of Path or Order if they learn a Praxis that duplicates the Legacy's first Attainment and utilizine of the Legacy's Yantras. This develops the understanding to join as long as you meet any other, non-Path or Order requirements. Some Legacies, it should be noted, make this impossible due to their unusual Attainments. Once you join the Legacy and learn that first Attainment, you lose the Praxis it duplicates but receive 1 normal Experience and 1 Arcane Beat.

Before you may join a Legacy, you must have at least two dots of the Legacy's new ruling Arcanum, and you must have Gnosis 2. If you are founding your own Legacy, you must have Gnosis 3. Legacies also require other forms of knowledge based on their theories and beliefs. Normally, this takes the form of 2+ dots in a particular Skill, but the ST (and a Legacy's founder) can specify additional requirements. Lastly, each Legacy will demand you perform tasks, ordeals or otherwise directly experience their perspective. Even a self-founded Legacy can't be just an idea - you must explore its Mystery by action.

So how do you get into a Legacy? No matter which method you use, you have to meet the prerequisites. Once you do, you usually use one of the following methods, then spend a week in dedicated study and ritual (or longer, for part-time) work - at minimum. Some Legacies take longer. A very rare few take less. The first method by which you might join a Legacy is to be Gnosis 3+ and make your own. You spend 1 Arcan Experience after you and the ST design your Legacy. This is the least common method - most mages just aren't up to the job. Anyone can join a Legacy, but few have the ability to found them. There is no hard mechanics for that - just, most mages, ICly, cannot found a Legacy. A cabal in which each member has founded their own Legacy would be legendary. Option 2: You study a daimonomikon, a special sort of Grimoire containing hte Legacy's secrets. This takes at least Gnosis 2, and these books are hard to find, often deliberately hidden or destroyed by rival groups. Once you have one, it costs one Arcane Experience. Option 3: you study the soul or soul stone of a Legacy member. This takes at least Gnosis 2. Outside of those few Legacies that traditionally use this method, this is a serious crime - theft of both a Legacy and probably a soul. Still, one Arcane Experience to get in. Option 4, and the most common: get taught. Once you hit Gnosis 2, an established member of the Legacy can initiate you. The tutor must have the Legacy's third Attainment. You can join by spending 1 XP or 1 Arcane XP, and both you and the tutor get 1 Arcane Beat. If you spend Arcane XP, the Beat can go toward it, but that's not mandatory.

So, why join a Legacy? Well, you get benefits. First, you learn the Legacy's Yantras. Most take a turn to use and give +1, but a few give +2 at the cost of a nasty Condition, need for rare materials, extra time or special care. The required effort is part of the Yantra, so if you somehow reduce it, you lose the extra bonus. Second, you get access to the Legacy Oblations, which reflect the Legacy's philosophy and legends. Unlike normal Oblations, you can use these anywhere, drawing on the power of your soul. However, away from a Hallow, you can't get more Mana this way per day than your dots in the Legacy's Ruling Arcanum. And third, you get a new Ruling Arcanum - generally, raising an existing Common or Inferior Arcanum to Ruling status, but in some cases it's already one of your Ruling. In that case, you gain an especially strong understanding of it, and whenever you gain a dot in the Arcanum, you also get a full Arcane Experience. Fourth, the master-student bond is useful if you had a tutor. See, the connection there is strong and real. Mentors and students have a Strong sympathetic link, and in any scene where they interact over some mystically meaningful or intimate and emotional matter, both earn an Arcane Beat, no more than once per session. If you had no tutor, you don't get this benefit, and you can't choose your tutor - it's whoever initiated you, even if you hate them. However, these interactions needn't be friendly. Last, all Legacies give Attainments.

Legacy Attainments have certain advantages and disadvantages.

You may either develop Attainments based on the orthodox teachings of the Legacyo r invent your own based on your personal approach to its doctrine. Each Attainment costs 1 XP, and they must be purchased in order. You can use either normal or Arcane XP if a tutor is teaching you the Attainment, but must use Arcane XP only if developing a new one without a tutor. Some Legacy Attainments also have other prerequisites.

Next time: The Eleventh Question and other Legacies.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

The Eleventh Question are a Legacy that claim descent from Lucy Caspian, a 19th century Mystagogue. She claimed that each Arcanum answered a question - Mind revealed the nature of thought, Matter the truth of tangible and inert phenomena. However, each answer was incomplete, and the full Mystery of magic and Ascension required an Eleventh Question, beyond the Arcana. While investigating a haunting, ghosts possessed her cabal and made them kill each other, staging it as a murder-suicide. A Guardian named Sullivan helped Caspian's student, Jeremiah Moon, solve the mystery and clear the names of the dead. They mixed Sullivan's training with Moon's philosophy (learned from Caspian) to found the Eleventh Question, becoming its first two members and teaming up as nomadic investigators. After Moon's death on their final case, Sullivan passed on the Legacy to three other Guardians, then vanished. For the next century or so, the Eleventh Question have been nearly exclusively Guardians, but the Epopts have kept them at arm's length for their obsession with revealing truth, though they have been valuable when needed. They accepted members of other Orders, but only if approved of by Guardian leadership. This was the history accepted by mages and taught by this 'Jeremiad' Eleventh Question.

However, in 2008, a group of Mystagogues came forward and claimed descent from the 'true' Legacy. They held that Caspian was the real founder and had taught the Legacy to Moon, but had been killed by Sullivan so he could claim its secrets. This 'Caspianite' Eleventh Question felt they had the true lineage. Both they and the Jeremiads claim to be the true Eleventh Question and use the sectarian name only for the other group, but most mages use the sectarian names for both now. The Caspianites even claim that Sullivan arranged the original murders to cover his tracks. They will accept members from any Order, and now that's happening, the Guardians consider the Querents (as the Legacy is also known) to be untrustworthy at best, if sometimes useful.

The parent Path of the Legacy is Moros, while both the Guardians and Mysterium are parent Orders. Most Querents are ex-law enforcement, though some were mathematicians, priests, philosophers - or, for the Jeremiads, spies. All, however are people obsessed with seeking the truth behind raw facts. They are also almost all impatient with half-truths at best and often develop offputting habits. Prospective members must have Time 2, Investigation 2 and one of Academics, Larceny, Medicine, Occult or Science at 2. Their initiation requires them to solve a Mystery assigned by their tutor. The group has no formal hierarchy, though members often work in pairs. They rarely gather in larger groups except for emergencies or truly bizarre events. Their belief system holds that all evidence provides clues to a holistic ultimate truth. Secrets prevent enlightenment, so they must be revealed, but not everyone deserves enlightenment, so often they will not share all they learn freely...though some Free Council members have begun to ignore that part of the tradition.

The ruling Arcana of the Eleventh Question is Time. Their Yantras are: Succeeding on an Investigation roll relevant to the spell (+2), verbally explaining a mysterious phenomenon to a trusted associate, collecting samples or recording information relevant to the spell (as a note, the Yantra is the act of collection; the stuff may or may not also be a sympathetic Yantra possibility) (+2), using stimulants to stay focused (+2 if they cause a negative Condition). Oblations are: Solving a riddle or puzzle, studying esoteric magical theories, pursuing an obsessive or antisocial habit, or giving an extended lecture on an intellectually challenging topic.

The First: The Undisturbed Scene. Prereqs: Initiation. You get an uncanny knack for showing up before evidence is lost or finding evidence that was not wiped away. This emulates the spell Perfect Timing, in that you get +(Time) to rolls to gather information at a location. With optional Matter 1, you may also engage Matter Active Sight on arrival, and if it must pierce supernatural concealment, you automatically get (Matter) successes.
The Second: The Unobvious Answer. Prereqs: Time 2, Investigation 3. You can study a person, place or thing to peer into its recent past, gaining information by subtle cues and behavior. This duplicates the Postcognition spell, with (Time) successes and Reach applied to instant speed and sensory range. With optional Matter 2, you can also make liquid or particulate matter that's been diluted or diffused reshape itself into the shape it once held, provided some residue remains. You must touch the spots where the stuff was, but you can reform fingerprints or washed away blood. This duplicates the Shaping spell, applied to liquid and particulate matter. Its changes can be obvious (now the murderer's hands drip blood!) or subtle ('hey guys, I think you missed a clue over here').
The Third: The Chance Answer. Prereqs: Time 3, either the skill you got into the Legacy with at 3 or one of the others on the list at 2. You extrapolate from the present to a future scenario, learning what you will know then. This resembles the spell Divination, with Reach assigned to instant speed, sensory range and specific questions. However, you may only ask questions you believe your future self will know the answer to, by methods other than use of this Attainment. If you would not have personally discovered the answer, all you get is 'Irrelevant.' With optional Matter 3, you also reshape matter into an object relevant to your personal future - a duplicate of a murder weapon, an item of clothing someone important will wear, a key you'll need. You must have raw materials but need no tools, and from your perspective you probably just 'discover' the object. It may become the actual future object rather than a duplicate, or it might not.
The Fourth: The Timely Answer Prereqs: Time 4, Investigation 4. You may build a profile of known data on a subject over the course of a scene, then predict their actions. If you have at least a Representational sympathetic Yantra, the subject need not be present. This duplicates the Prophecy spell, with Reach assigned to sensory range. With optional Matter 4, you no longer need sympathetic Yantras to do sympathetic magic, as Time and Matter will construct one for you from the past or future, reshaping present matter into a Representational sympathetic Yantra, usually in the form of a lucky find on an investigation.
The Fifth: The Penultimate Answer. Prereqs: Time 5, either the skill you got into the Legacy with at 4, a second one at 3 or a third one at 2. After a scene of meditation, you may project your consciousness up to a year into the future, inhabiting your own body and ruling it there. You experience a future scene no more than an hour long. While doing so, your body is unconscious and can't be revived until the scene ends. If you die in the future, you immediately awaken, unharmed, but the scene ends. In the future, you are limited by your current stats even if they would most likely change. The future you visit is the most likely one but is not set in stone. When the present reaches that point, if you do not change it, the future may happen. If it does, you may choose to take exactly the results you foresaw, or you may choose to act differently and change things. You may repeatedly visit the same future scene, but each time you overwrite those that came before. With optional Matter 5, you may also add or delete objects when the future happens, as per the Ex Nihilo or Annihilate Matter spells, with combined factors equal to the lower of your Time or Matter dots, either from your person or in sensory range. You have a rebreather instead of drowning, your enemy has no bullets. This cannot, however, add or delete magic items.

There are many other Legacies, and the book gives us examples but does not stat them up. Acanthus Legacies include:

Mastigos Legacies often form around Astral space and dreams. Legacies include:

Moros Legacies include:

Obrimos Legacies include:

Thyrsus Legacies include:

Next time: The world of magic and how it will kill you.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage the Awakening: 2nd Edition

I'm going to skim over Chapter 5, which is the condensed 'here is how the rules of CofD work' chapter. Instead, it's off to chapter 6 and the description of the shit out there in the world. The first and most common foe that any mage is going to face is...other mages. The Left-Handed, often. They're the people who have been warped by mystery. Left-Handed is a term that the Pentacle and Seers both use, referring to any magic they have banned. However, there are five larger subgroupings of Left-Handed mages that are themselves considered to be hazards to continued existence of other mages. While they are grouped together, each subgrouping contains many philosophies and reasons for what they do - all mages that deal with the Abyss are Scelesti, all mages that hunt mages are Banishers.

The Mad Ones, or simply the Mad, have neither organization nor philosophy as a whole. Each is unique. The term is just a taxonomic classification for those mages who have gone past obsession into something new, so consumed by a single idea or issue that they have lost all Wisdom. For a very long time, mages believed that each Mad One was a unique event. It's only in the last century that people have begun to realize that the Mad have similarities - they all have become so obsessed that their obsession has become a Fault in their worldview. One Mad might not believe the world is real unless they cast a single spell over and over. Another might be compelled to perform some bizarre behavior they believe is entirely normal or even compulsory, like poisoning innocents and recording what happens, or planning all things around astrology. Another may be obsessed with a Mystery such that without it they have no reason to live.

The very presence of the Mad leaks magic, whether they're casting or not. Sleepers that encounter them experience Quiescence when thinking about them, as if they were a spell. This cuts them further from the mundane world. Soon, they cannot interact with the mundane side of the Fallen World at all, as their friends and family forget them entirely. When they think about it, they may mourn this...or they may be relieved by the loss of these needless shackles from their work. Any mage can become Mad. It's quite easy. All you have to do is focus on something so much that you ignore the rest of the world and your own Wisdom. Sometimes, a cabal can enable this without meaning to, even welcome it as they see their cabal-mate gaining great insight into their obsession. The Mad rely almost entirely on any cabal they have for dealings with others. Their obsession even removes their ability to enter the Temeons, unable to venture beyond their own souls. They are extremely skilled, however, in the fields of their obsession.

Mechanically, the Mad are mages that hit Wisdom 0. Once you do that, you replace your Virtue with one of your Obsessions, now called a Fault. Your default state is pursuing it. In the field of their Fault, a Mad One is supernaturally able. Their skill rolls related to it only need three successes for an exceptional success. They might be able to use a specific Practice with any Arcanum, regardless of how many dots they have. Further, the Mad cause Quiescence by their very presence. Their own existence in the Fallen World is diffuse and disjointed. For every week in which they do not indulge their Fault, they gain one dot of Occultation. However, any time when they are not indulging their fault, either by choice of roce, their subconscious manifests magical effects known as Tulpa, which force them back towards the Fault. Sometimes, these benefit the Mad One. Sometimes they harm anyone in their way. Sometimes, they prevent any semblance of a normal-ish life.

Banishers are mages that turn on their own kind. It's easy, too. A second of indecision, a moment of dead, an answer you can't handle. With that, you realize that Mysteries are everywhere, incomprehensibly vast. The Fallen World hides its truths, and surely for a reason. But you're still a mage, drawn to and aware of Mysteries. Some Banishers happen organically - mages pushed too far, discovering answers better left unknown. They are traumatized, perhaps insane, determined that no other mage should suffer the same. Other mages dscover answers that disturb them so much they join the Logophages or Timori, Left-Handed Legacies devoted to destruction of magic. Others suffer Awakenings gone wrong, experiencing magic as pain and fear. Banishers rarely live long. Those who fear the Mysteries often prefer suicide to facing their fear, as do those who can't see magic for what it is. Others fight other mages, dying in battle to stop them from engaging in Mysteries or trying to steal their magic. Some mages take it as a duty to kill the Banishers coming from twisted Awakening. They see it as an act of kindness - better to end their pain then drive them further into madness. If nothing else, they can't hurt others once dead. Some cabals even form around the herrible calculus of figuring out how many a Banisher will hurt, and how badly.

However, a handful of Banishers manage to escape death until they develop their powers and are able to rationalize their experiences. Many believe that, though they are damned by their magic, their awareness lets them help those who are not. Others accept that mages - including themselves - are ordinary people, and while others do not appreciate the danger, they must use their magic as a necessary evil to speak truth to power. Banisherrs that join Left-Handed Legacies gain a support group that can teach them dark lore and magic. Those whose Awakenings went poorly never understand theri amgic, lashing out by blind instinct at the things that hurt them. Perhaps this kind of internal hypocrisy has a Supernal resonance, or perhaps they tap into a fear all mages have. It's unceral. What is clear is that friendly contact with a Banisher seems more likely to make you become a Banisher than cure them. The mindset seems to be almost contagious.

System-wise, most Banishers are just Nameless mages. Twisted Awakenings, however, are different. A Banisher with a twisted Awakening retains Integrity rather than Wisdom, and experiences their Peripheral Mage Sight in the form of pain and suffering.

Next time: Liches and Reapers


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage the Awakening: 2nd Edition

Liches are...well, what you get when a mage decides to live forever. It's not actually that rare an idea, especially among those who Awaken in their late teens or early twenties, or who have suffered a great loss. These mages tend to view death as something to cure, a Mystery to be overcome. It's an interesting thought experiment, but most mages don't actually end up going for it - they're still human, and most have no desire to outlive their children...or their grandchildren. That's a sign that you have bigger issues than a healthy fear of death. Those mages, the ones who never let go of immortality? They're the ones you call a Lich. For many, it's a chance to prove that mages don't have to be human at all. If magic can defeat death, surely they are superior to mere humans. Others are fearful, hoping to never face the death that claimed their loved ones.

Immortality is certainly possible via magic, but it definitely isn't easy. Indefinite Life and Death spells can stave off death, bound to one's body by scars or tattoos used as Yantras. But all it takes is one dispellation to end those and let time catch up to you, or a blade or bullet ruining your patterns. So you need more options. Maybe you transplant your mind and soul into a new body, stealing it from a stranger or even your own child, if you want to keep family resources. Maybe you give up a physical form altogether, transforming your body, mind and soul into the form of a ghost mage, a spirit mage or a Morphean, a sort of Lich that lives in the Temenos. The only thing a Lich won't do is accept death. The real drive is fear, for all the posturing they might have. Humans can accept mortality. Liches live in constant fear of their magic fading and their immortality being severed. Liches lose none of their magical power, of course, and continue doing what most mages would, with the added exception of...well, being a spirit, a Morphean or a body thief. They often become quite expert about their new state of being, and while few would admit to communing with a ghost-Lich to learn more of the underworld or learn how best to bind dying souls, it happens...and in the process, they learn how to become a Lich. Many find Liches repulsive and would never do it, but some take heart in knowing they need not be human.

Mechanically, a body-thief lich or a lich that binds their soul into their body is effectively a longlived mage that believes they've overcome human nature. Those who become spirits, ghosts or Morpheans ratain their Gnosis and Arcana, using the systems for Supernal beings noted later.

Reapers are technically normal mages. But they do what you shouldn't. I mean, sure, you can do a lot...but even the Mad, Banishers and Scelesti have limits. One limit almost all mages accept is that it is wrong to use magic to steal and destroy human souls. Those who do are the Reapers. It doesn't take a lot of knowledge to harvest a soul, and the benefit can be great. Reapers often claim the taboo on soul theft is not a matter of morality, but that soul use causes a mage to gain power far greater than any mage that does not partake. This is...partially correct. There's a lot of power in a soul. You can consume one to use any of the Subtle Arcana related to the victim. You can drink deep of good fortune from a victim steeped in Fate, steal the intelligence by Mind, bind a ghost with Death or even drain their soul to extend your life.

Some Reapers try to conceal their actions and claim the victims should know better, that a mage should naturally take precautions against the theft of their soul, that people should know not to cross a Reaper. This is a lie. Reapers are the purest expression of magic used selfishly. To them, no one else matters. They don't care whose soul they use, just that they have one to fuel their power. Mages sitll seek out Reapers, albeit only with protection for their souls. Only the Mad who focus on soul usage know more about the extraction and binding of souls. Some make soul jars to trap the souls of their foes or to gather talents. A few sell souls to more squeamish mages, who want the power without the danger of harvesting. That rarely lasts long after the first hit - anyone who really wants to use souls will find their own supply.

Reapers obviously often specialize in Death, to steal and manipulate souls. Many also develop Legacies to focus on using those souls with a different subtle Arcanum. Reapers have no other special mechanics - their nature is from use of souls as power, nothing more.

Scelesti are mages that call on the power of the Abyss. While it's an easy way to commit suicide, the Abyss is also a place of power. Scelesti claim many reasons, but they always give up their Supernal ties for power, and that's why any Order - even the Seers - will kill them on sight. The trick si finding them. The marks of the Abyss are not always obvious, and there are Scelesti infiltrated in every Order, at some level. Other Left-Handed mages can survive alone, because they have use. Scelesti must hide to survive. They are no formal Order - each has their own reason for calling on the Abyss. Maybe they want to control Paradox as a sign of strength. Maybe they need the power to accomplish a goal. Maybe they yearn to slip the shackles of the Fallen World. Whatever the reason, the Abyss gives them an answer, a power that frees them from doubt and solves the unsolvable. Some Scelesti have no noble reasons. They just know that the Abyss is the antithesis of what is, real in a way the Fallen World is not, and they want to hasten its coming. By placing faith in the Abyss, they fall prey to the urge to destroy all.

Abyssal magic comes in three broad forms. Many Scelesti use only one, others all three. First, you can deliberately invoke Paradox. Any mage can do it, though no Order will teach you. Many learn only by secret writings or suggestions from others who have done it. The rush of this power can be addictive, and some cabals will try to rehab these Scelesti...but, you know, after a while it's like telling an alcoholic to just choose not to drink. Other Scelesti reject the Supernal and its Watchtowers entirely. The Abyss is the antithesis of everything, including the Watchtowers. A Scelestus can abase themself before the Abyssal Zigguart, their Path warping into its opposite. This warps their Yantras and Oblations, but gives some control over Paradox. The third and final kind of Scelesti make bargains with the astral reflections of the Abyss, communing directly with it to bargain for command over Pradox. They sell their soul to the Abyss to become a conduit for Paradox, twisting other mages' magic against them or infecting them secretly with Paradox.

Mechanically, any mage can invite Paradox, but doing so is addictive. You choose not to contest the Paradox roll, but instead roll Gnosis. Each success lets you control one Paradox Reach. Scelesti who take the other two paths get even more control, but the details are left to the ST.

Next time: Strange places.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Mysteries are everywhere, and seeking them strengthens your Gnosis. Mages know the world is full of contradictions and flaws in the Lie, rogue elements from other worlds - not just the Supernal and the Abyss, but stranger places yet, which do not fit the established order of things. You can find strange things to pursue anywhere, and mages love high strangeness events.

There are many special places in the world. First are Sancta. Sancta reflect the Paths of their owners, and mages theorize that they tie your soul to the Supernal. They provide a safe place for magical research. Mages that prefer to wander may not have personal sancta, but they still use communal facilities, often provided by their Order or an ally. Because communal sancta are less tailored to you, they are less effective and comfortable, however, and experienced mages almost always have at least a personal ritual space. Sancta include:

Mechanically, Sancta use the Safe Place and Sanctum merits. Some may also provide other Merits, such as Library, though users will need permission from the owner, of course. Characters must have the Sanctum merit or requisition it through their Order to make use of its benefits.

Hallows are the strongest channels of Supernal power in the Fallen World, places of symbolic importance. They trigger a mage's mystical senses, and their strength and place on ley lines can be examined by Prime. Even without ley lines, however, they are special. Things are more real around a Hallow, more memorable. They always seem to happen near unique features or places that are the epitome of their environment. Mages harvest Mana from Hallows by performing Oblations there or harvesting tass, Mana that fills a material form. Tass manifests differently based on a Hallow's physical and symbolic nature, as unharvested Mana merges with the area. It might be water from a sacred spring or stones from a mountain summit. When people change the environment, tass does not conform quickly. Cap the spring, and the water pools around the concrete. It takes time and, generally, reawakening from a long dormancy to change the form of a Hallow's tass.

Mechanically, the Hallow merit gives reliable access to a Hallow and its Mana. Powerful Hallows - 3+ dots - almost always intersect with ley lines, and Prime spells can connect the ley lines to any Hallow, to imbue it with a specific resonance. Many Hallows are, thus, also Nodes.

Ley lines and Nodes are the ripples of imperfections in the world. They take on the Resonance of emotion in their area. The web of ley lines join, and where they meet, Nodes form. Each ley line harnesses a specific Resonance, and Nodes are where multiple lines converge, providing access to multple Resonances. Many Nodes also coexist with potent Hallows, which is why many believe ley lines are cracks in the Lie. Their Resonance subtly affects the area around them - on a Fury line, the murder rate goes up, say. Resonance also generates Essence for spirits to feed on.

Mechanically, spells cast at a ley line can harvest its Resonance, and when a ley line intersects with a Hallow, any tass shares the Resonance. Resonance typically has a keyword - an image, emotion or theme, like Subterranean or Fury or Icthyoid. When you spend Mana from this tass on a spell that matches the Resonance in manifestation or effect, like Icthyoid mana to grow gills, it fills your Nimbus and gives you a +1 Yantra bonus. Further, Prime spells can move ley lines, create them or alter their Resonance. Some Spirit spells can also manipulate Resonance. Third, Nodes are places charged with power related to a gross Arcanum connected to their Resonance traits. Each point of tass from a Hallow with a Node carries only one Resonance type, but it can generate multiple types, which can be distinguished via Prime or Spirit Unveiling spells. Lastly, a Node gives the following benefits within an area of about 100 yards per ley line contributing to the Node to anyone who uses the Sacred Geometry spell or an appropriate Unveiling spell to examine its energies linked to the appropriate Arcanum.

Verges are places where the Supernal manifests itself, barely diluted. Mages adore them and fight to control them for the power they give. Supernal phenomena can manifest freely in a Verge without fear. They manifest physically only in the heart of the Verge, but are usually hidden in Twilight along the periphery. Space might warp at a Verge's heart, making it invisible to anyone outside. Thus, ancient ruins and strange beasts are hidden within their Verges. They can manifest spontaneously or in response to supernatural events, and can be temporary or permanent. Stable verges often develop other traits, creating Hallows or ley lines or even Irises to Emanations connected to their ruling Supernal Realm. A sanctum can be used to create an artificial verge, a Demesne, by extendign the Supernal connection of a soul stone. This works much like a natural verge, save that Supernal phenomena do not spontaneously manifest on the material plane.

Mechanically, a verge gives a +2 Yantra bonus to spells using its Ruling Arcana. Further, as long as a spell that uses this bonus does not leave the verge, it cannot risk Paradox unless a Sleeper is present at some point in its duration. Spells cast in natural verges do not cause Dissonance, but those cast in Demesnes do. Sleepers suffer Quiescence as usual. Demesnes use the same system, but are confined to a sanctum. Natural verges spontaneously manifest weird shit, Demesnes do not. Demesnes can be used to travel to the Astral, natural verges cannot, as the soul stone provides the power to do so. A verge or Demesne's Yantra bonuses are still limitedb by symbolism, as usual - a Stygian verge full of metal but with no aspects of Death can't help bind ghosts. Typically, you should set up your Demesne with tools representing spells you plan to cast. Both a verge and a Demesne will give a +2 bonus to summoning Supernal beings from the realm they are tied to.

Next time: Irises


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

An Iris, essentially, is a portal, a gate to another world. These passages come in many forms, but they are called 'irises' because of the blurry line between travel and perception, and possibly as a hint to look before you leap. Many Irises require a special action or object to work. They occur spontaneously or in response to powerful events. Spells can create them, but most such spells need five dots. Archmages, of course, can open them to wherever they like. Irises to various realms have specialized names, but most mages are happy to leave those to the cosmology nerds and just call them Irises to <insert place here>.

Passing through an Iris on Earth's side drops you in the connected realm as long as you use the Iris' key. Irises formed by things other than spells tend to have Keys related to their formation. The following forms of Iris have been catalogued:

Certain ruins exist from the Time Before. But wait, you say, the Exarch unmade the Time Before and removed it from time! That is correct. However, when the Lie unmade the Time Before, it wasn't very thorough. Gods fell, temples collapsed, but the ruins scattered through history. However, there is always something out of place about these ruins, a memory of the age without the Lie. The beings that are within them are often the Bound, ancient god-monsters of the Time Before. Mages claim that in that time, these Supernal beings rampaged through the world - minotaurs, gorgons and other myths are distorted reflections of them, maybe. Mages killed some, tamed others, imprisoned those they could not kill. When the Exarchs came, they hurled these beasts to Earth.

The so-called Atlantean temples may or may not be religious structures, but most mages revere them. No one knows what the people of the Time Before worshiped, if anything, but mages have many theories about the symbols in these ruins and the visions found in some far corners of the Temenos. Both sources are unreliable, as they never seem to come from the same 'Atlantis' as each other, ever. Some believe there was never a true Awakened City beyond the Supernal ideal that cast shadows across Fallen history. Thus, they hold, these temples are Greek, Indian and other structures twisted by their true origin in an unmade time. Others believe there have been many Atlantises along various timelines, all smashed together into the Lie. Many of these ruins contain Bound which seem intentionally imprisoned within, but they are not always found together. Both interest mages due to their ties to the Time Before. They often have weird enchantments, potent artifacts and wonders, but also traps. The Bound remember the lost age, resent but obey their binding spells and offer service and secret lore to any that can free them.

At first glance, Atlantean temples appear to belong to one or more ancient cultures, but there is always something off about them - anachronistic features, strange stylistic elements, wooden elements that have no known species or radiocarbon date, parts made of 'adamas' - materials that cannot be affected by Matter. Contemporary mages don't know why, and cannot reproduce adamas. Examination often leads to bizarre or inconclusive results. The Bound are treated as Supernal entities. Weaker ones are often guardians, while stronger ones are prisoners or exiles. They often live in temple complexes even if not imprisoned - it gives them a safe place to hide and lore to bargain with. They hunger for Mana. Each loses one Mana per day, and once all of it is gone, they must return to the prison where they fell to Earth and sleep. When a mage or other Mana source draws near, they awaken and try to devour the Mana...by destroying the source. A few Bound can eat Sleepers to gain Mana equivalent to what a mage would get for scouring themselves to death. Most, however, can only feed on mages, tass and magical items. Awakened grave Mana as per total scouring, plus any Mana they had on hand, plus one per Gnosis dot. Thus, they are attractive food...but they can often bargain by channeling Mana into the Bound. While the Bound can only take Mana by destruction, they can receive it more peacefully.

So, those worlds you can reach by Iris, what are they? The Lower Depths are places that, by rights, shouldn't exist, but do. They are the worms crawling under the rotting log of Earth, countless realms that each lack even the energy to contain themselves as one reality. They are to the Fallen World as the Fallen World is to the Supernal, and thus they are a Lie of the Lie. Some mages believe that the petty symbols of the human mind take on great importance in the Depths, much as Supernal signs do here. Each Lower Depth is unable to support some critical piece of existence - it's either gone or distorted into something hostile. Sometimes this is an Arcanum - a Depth without Death is choked with imperishable flesh and plant matter. Others lack less defined principles, like shape, identity or righteousness. Some mages claim Hell lies among them, due to the inhabitants - the akathartoi, or 'unclean ones,' resemble demons of Abrahamic legend, feeding on human depravity. Mages have catalogued a lot of Lower Depths, but only by interrogating the akathartoi and examining them. No reliable source records any mage going into a Lower Depth and returning, but it's possible to summon things out. These things find it very hard to manifest, however. They must satisfy signature hungers, and even in doing so find it hard to become material.

Mechanically, you aren't going there and coming back short of archmastery. The Depth have a basic hostility to existence that destroys most - just try to exist without, say, solidity. It is theoretically possible to make a spell to reinforce against this sort of thing, but no one's ever actually done it.

The Underworld resembles many Sleeper myths - it is a place of ghosts that can't find peace. Mages know that ghosts are not souls, but rather reflections made by passions that persist after the soul is gone to...wherever souls go. Some believe that ghosts are a part of the soul, and others that they are the personality and self. Therefore, they should be laid to rest and honored. As for the soul...well, the Moros claim that once, souls went to Stygia for purification and rebirth, but none can say if this happens now or ever was true to begin with. Some ghosts travel to the Autochthonous Depths, strange caves and passages that lead to secret mazes where the dead and strange monsters that were never alive, native to the Underworld, lair. This maze eventually gives way to great vaults, sunless valleys and huge tunnels, until you reach, at last, the rivers of the dead. Each river has a unique supernatural property, and often they are patrolled by powerful ghosts or cthonians (as the natives are called). The Lower Mysteries of the Underworld have many such rivers, distinct from the Deep Dominions, which are ruled by powerful lords, called Kerberoi. Each is a realm unto itself, made of unique legend and laws, though not always those that match mythology. These Old Laws restrict natives and visitors alike. They might make speech impossible or turn all sustenance to ash. There is one rule that applies only to the living, however: they aren't welcome. While some ghosts and cthonians tolerate the living if they offer some benefit, most beings of the Underworld are indifferent at best and violent at worst.

Mechanically...well, the Death Arcanum can handle most things in the Underworld. While in the Underworld, any Death spells get a -2 to all Paradox rolls. The Underworld also has a strange effect on the living. Their Virtues and Vices are reversed - so Vice provides a full Willpower refresh and Virtue gives only 1 Willpower. Cthonians obey the same rules as ghosts, but have no Anchors nor an Integrity stat, and they can be any Size or appearance. They usually are gross and unsettling, mixing human, insectile and maggoty traits.

Next time: Shadow and the Astral


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage the Awakening: 2nd Edition

Getting to the Shadow requires either crossing the Gauntlet between worlds or finding a Locus, a sort of naturally occuring spirit Iris. Once you get there, it's...familiar, sort of. The Shadow is an exaggerated parallel of the human world. It is the land of spirits, where animism is just a fact. While a werewolf is native to both Shadow and material, mages are invaders. They're rarely welcome and get grudging respect at best. Every location has a Shadow counterpart, as do most objects - though fallen trees and wrecked buildings are usually whole in Shadow, maintained by the spiritual power they had when they stood. These things, in Shadow, are ephemeral. Anyone and anything that crosses over shifts to ephemeral matter, turning back when they return to the material plane. Anything that began as ephemera, however, arrives in the material world in Twilight.

Some parts of Shadow differ in size or shape from their material counterparts. A mansion might have extra rooms, or a forest reduced in the material world may be a twisted old growth in Shadow. A few places simply have no material counterpart at all. To reach them, you must cross the Gauntlet, then head through Shadow beyond the mirrored locations. Some Mysterium texts claim that some of these places are Irises to other worlds - the Lower Depths, Emanations, even the Astral...though going unconscious in Shadow is certianly a bad idea. The dominant Resonance of an area in the material determines its characteristics in Shadow, as that is what generates the Essence that fills the region and determines what spirits can feed best. Those places with no parallel are emergent things, growing from the mixing energies of nearby realms and spiritual connections that mages do not really understand.

The Shadow is full of spirits. There's a spirit for almost every living creature, object and emotion, and spirits covering species and evolutionary roles. Every cat has a spirit, and there is a greater cat spirit, too, and a spirit of stalking predators. Mages would name all these as part of the same 'spirit choir,' though the spirits might not agree. Humans and former humans, however, have no spirits. Some mages believe the human 'spirit' is possibly an aspect of the soul. Werewolves, meanwhile, are half spirit and half flesh in one being, both at once in all places. Spirits tend to be stronger the broader their profile, but this isn't always true. They obey a hierarchy of raw power and ecological niche. All spirits eat and drink Essence, the energy generated by Resonance. Essence flows through the entire Shadow, but is concentrated around ley lines. Few spirits, however, eat raw Essence much. They prefer to hunt each other.

Spirit, mechanically, is the go-to Arcanum for the Shadow. Any spells using it in Shadow get -2 to any Paradox rolls.

The Astral Realms are found inward, the worlds of the human soul and beyond. They are as much states of mind as places. The self, after all, is infinite, expanding out to other selves and intermingling. Travelers meditate and send their dream-selves out for knowledge. Everyone enters the shallowest reaches of the Astral by dreaming, but few go deeper. All mages traveled the Astral through their Watchtowers during Awakening, though they may nor have been aware of it at the time. They've gone beyond, even, to the Supernal - but can't duplicate the journey. Still, this allows them to go partway and even blaze new trails beyond individual dreams.

Dream is the shallowest realm, experienced by every human. Mages can use Mind spells to enter the dreams of others or practice lucid dreaming to explore their own. Some Goetia and other, stranger supernatural beigns stalk through human dreams, and meditation in a dream state can help inspire a mage. Beyond this, however, is the Oneiros, the Personal Soul. This is the lowest layer of the Astral proper, containing the individual thoughts, beliefs and passions of each person, carefully locked in dozens of cells. Memories, beliefs, vices, virtues, the works. Each cell in an Oneiros is an individual realm, large enough on the inside for any setting. A traveler's Oneiros makes the people, places and things needed for the scene at hand. Most of these are weak Goetia, but a mage's daimon, a sort of embodied higher self, is stronger and more insightful. Here, mages raise personal Goetia or examine the Imagos of their Rotes. Mages may entire their own Oneiroi by default, but can use Mind magic to enter that of others, or they may cross by building a tenuous bridge of shared thoughts - specific people, places and things that both you and the other person are thinking about at the same time, and only if they have personal significance...as long as the other party is actively meditating or dreaming. The Oneiros, however, is usually just a starting point for Astral journeys. If a mage looks outward, they generate a vision-narrative about widening perspective. By dealing with the petty challenges of the vision, they meditate upon and vault into the Temenos.

The Temenos, or the Soul of Humanity, is thought of as the next layer up from the Oneiros. Here, individual souls coaelesce into the massed soul of all of humanity, where private thoughts become shared myths and archetypes. They gather by theme - there are realms of Fascism, Collectivism, and Democracy, all in the greater realm of Government and Human Nature. You can meet any god, any fictional character and anyone famous enough to fill a mythic role here. These conceptual realms also contain every magical tradition ever done by more than a single person. Regions belong to the Paths, Orders, Legacies and other cults. These groups usually take some interest in their realms, often protecting them magically. Traveling between regions is a game of association, a more general form of the traveling used between Oneiroi. To get from Democracy to Fascism, say, you'd travel through the realm of a failing government. If you want to head 'upward,' to the Anima Mundi, you must travel through a story of archetypes giving way to primal concepts and emotions, the dreams of beasts and stones and stars.

Mages use the Temenos to hunt for occult insight and to understand human nature. In fact, they can use it to alter collective thought-realms by changing their stories. This manifests itself in the material realm. Want to get a TV show canceled? Find the protagonists in the Temenos and kill them. On some level, viewers believe the show to be dead now and watch something else. The good news is, the more pervasive and important a concept, the harder it is to alter this way. Free will, true love and so on probably can't be radically altered this way, and gfenerally they have guardians as well. Goetia don't depend on their ideals being popular, but it helps, so they try to protect them. Goetia also play the parts of gods, celebrities and other personified ideas. As you pass through the Temenos and head upward, however, cultural skins flake off the collective ideas until you reach the border with the Anima Mundi: the Omphalos, or Boundary Stone. This is the liminal ream of High Speech that is the purest and highest form of human language. From here, you may either travel the stone's tunnels into the Anima Mundi, or skirt its edge to entire the realms of Primordial emotion and fears. These realms, representing the animal instincts of humanity, are poorly understood, and their inhabitants generally monstrous and protective of their territory. (And this, I think, is probably the closest we will get to a cromulent explanation of what the fuck Beast is up to.)

The final layer of the Astral which mages can reach is the Anima Mundi, the Soul of the Cosmos, the Dreamtime. It is the shared soul of the entire Fallen World, even the animals and the stars. After following the High Speech runes of the Omphalos, you might reach the Swath, home of polluted nature and post-industrial civilization, or the Spire Perilous, a remnant of the Anima Mundi believed to have been damaged in the destruction of the Time Before. These places connect to the Dreaming Earth, home of nature and the raw elements, and from there, the Sidereal Wastes, the dreams of planets and stars. None of these places are human-generated dreams or ideas. Sidereal Mars is no planetary romance or home to little green men - that's in the Temenos. Sidereal Mars is sterile red sand...if Mars didn't once bear life. The Sidereal Wastes shift Time, such that time is divided there into actions rather than measurable units, even if actions might noramlly take years to complete.

In the Anima Mundi, travelers must resist the Ecstatic Wind, which dissolves human thought into the cosmic oversoul unless you protect yourself with an Astral Amnion. If you manage to pass the Sidereal Wastes, you will find a desolate beach on the shore of the Ocean Oroboros, which absorbs all light. This is the Astral reflection of the Abyss. Here, on this beach, you may find the citadels of the Aeons, incarnate beings that represent the Arcana, all but one manifesting in pairs to match the Path Arcana. The final Aeon, however, is the Old Man of the Abyss, who lives alone in a ramshackle hut. Mages can pass no further than the shores of Oroboros, for even touching its waters is tantamount to entering the Abyss. Mages sometimes cast things they do not want into the Oroboros, causing them to vanish forever - memories, souls, even items you've made into ephemera for the trip.

Mechanically, all you need to enter your own dreams is a Resolve+Composure roll as you go to sleep. Mind spells just bypass this need or let you into the dreams of others. Spells in dreams are cast normally, save that Sleepers do not treat spells affecting the dream or its narrative as obvious magic. The Astral proper is made of thoughts and emotions, but the Arcana affect them by the same rules as the material realm. In place of symbols, each Arcana's dominion has equally symbolic importance - Matter affects visions of stone, say. However, it still is easier to use Mind here, and Mind spells in the Astral get -2 to Paradox rolls. To make an Astral Path and begin your trip, you must meditate in a place of power - a Hallow, Demesne or Synese. Each of these has their own requirements to access. After you manage that, you meditate and roll Resolve+Composure to enter your Oneiros over the course of an hour or one scene. Exceptional success reduces this to a single turn. You enter your own Oneiros unless you are making telepathic contact with someone else, in which case mutual assent or Clash of Wills determines which Oneiros you visit.

Within your own Oneiros, your spells never risk Paradox so long as the magic remains within only your own soul. This does not, however, apply to shared or foreign Oneiroi. Further, Sleepers' Oneiroi cause Paradox risk on all magic cast within. A mage 'killed' within the Oneiros by its contents or native Goetia (though not intruders) do not suffer Soul Shock - they just wake up, disoriented but able to restore their dream health after meditating again. A mage manifests in dream form in their dreams or the Astral. This is shaped entirely by their self-image as influenced by the Supernal, rather than flesh, and the Shadow Name merit will often cause you to appear radically different to conform to your magical self. You use this form to interact in the Astral.

Dream forms have the following traits rather than normal ones:

In the Oneiros, you must pass through a vision and defeat any challenges to reach the threshold of the Temenos, passing it using the same system as Oneiros entry, save that you don't need to satisfy the means of access condition again. You can then choose to either step off the path and explore, or you can keep going, passing through a challenge from humanity's collective imagination. If you survive it, you can continue to the Anima Mundi. If you decipher its symbolism or mystery as well, you get an Arcane Beat. Magic works normally in the Temenos, save that every point within is a potential place Yantra for +1 to appropriate spells. To breach the Anima Mundi, you need to make the meditation roll again, arriving at the Omphalos and entering either the Swath or Spire Perilous. From there, you must contend with the Ecstatic Wind, which deals damage at various intervals.

When 'killed' by the Ecstatic Wind, you awaken with the Soul Shocked condition but also lose a full dot of Willpower due to depersonalization. Finally, your soul momentarily escapes its confines to smear across raw being, often returning with a Paradox Condition, which resolves itself as normal. You will encounter a challenge every time you move from one region of the Anima Mundi to the next. If you can solve its hidden truth, you get an Arcane Beat. If you just survive, you only move on. The Ecstatic Wind ends when you reach the Oroboros' shores. You may at any point in the AStral journey return to your Oneiros reflexively, just waking up. Returning to anywhere else requires a Resolve+Composure roll, but you don't have to pass through a challenge - you just walk back. Alternatively, you may deny yourself full psychic reintegration with the material to wake up in a single turn, but this leaves part of yourself behind and causes the Soul Shocked condition.

Next time: Still not the weirdest place.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Even realms like the Astral suffer the Lie. To escape it, you must reach the Supernal. This is done during Awakening, but you can't go back unless you become an archmaster and Ascend. The Abyss will obliterate you, otherwise. However, on rare occasions, links from the Supernal extend to the Fallen World beyond mere verges. They become worlds unto themselves, which you may enter materially, known as Emanations. Each symbolizes how an Arcanum manifests in the world. Typically, entry is via an Iris in a verge, near a potent Hallow or in places related to the Arcanum and symbolism. Some Legacies teach other ways to enter specific Emanations, but otherwise, those are the only ways in. Multiple Emanations exist per Arcanum, though some believe these are each regions of a sort of meta-Emanation, and that a spell might be able to let you pass between them. Every Emanation has its own unique physical laws, though always influenced by the dominant Arcanum. The inhabitants of an Emanation are Supernal beings, taking forms according to the realm's symbolism. They often mix Fallen myth and archetype with Supernal correspondences. The deeper in you get, the less Fallen myth is involved. The heart of an Emanation has a passage to the Supernal, but the Abyss makes them inhospitable before this point, corrupting the gate's periphery. Even if you managed to reach it, the unfiltered Supernal would destroy you.

The Orders record any Emanations they find, but most are so obscure that you'll only find a brief description by research into obscure Grimoires. Rumor has it that the Exarchs create Emanations of their own, linking them to Exarchate verges. The best known Emanation realms include the following, though many more exist:

An Emanation realm provides the same bonuses to magic as a Verge - +2 Yantra and no Paradox risk with its signature Arcanum - but only to the one Arcanum. While an Emanation is generally a material place, the inhabitants are Supernal entities, though visitors generally retain material form.

Magic may seem infinite in scope, but even masters have limits. They can't make souls or Artifacts, they can't alter supernatural power sources, they can't make spells that change beyond their initial Imago, and they can't enter the Supernal. However, archmasters seem able to do that. They are also called archmages, Imperial Masters, Seekers, Bodhisattvas, Exemplars and many other names. They are mages that have gone beyond their limits, transforming themselves into something more, though they never explain how. Most who try it are destroyed, and the archmasters often imply that they act to prevent the unworthy from achieving archmastery. They often come off as amoral, focused on Mysteries beyond mortal ken. The Pentacle bans archmasters from holding any rank, and see the fact that the Seers are run by them as proof of their slavery. Most mages don't other seeking archmastery in favor of pursuing their own interests, but everyone can name at least one Master who is questing to become an archmaster. Most die of old age chasing dead ends, but even so, if you ask your Order for help and are in desperate need, they can probably point you towards an archmaster.

However the archmage transformation is done, it is a profound one. Archmasters transcend their Path, forging a personal connection to the Supernal known as the Golden Road, a shimmering Astral realm seperate from all known Inner Realms. A handful of archmasters have revealed that these are actually their half-Ascended souls. Rather than meditate into the Astral, they meditate out of themselves, and their physical forms become about as vital to them as a normal mage's dream form. They can even go further, using some unknown Imperial Practice to create a Chantry, a personal Emanation Realm inside themselves, inhabited by Supernal beings and anything they create or import. Archmages form Irises in their Golden Roads and Chantries to places they find interesting, and these doorways are the ones you must find to get their attention. When an Archmaster dies, their realm does not vanish, but instead becomes a Wending, an unoccupied and unstable Golden Road that remains a valuable Mystery and nexus of useful Irises.

If living archmasters accept visitors, they rarely like to speak of their studies. This is not mere arrogance or impatience - the Orders have heard rumors of the Pax Arcanum, a nonaggression pact between archmages (and, some say, the Exarchs as well) to not grossly interfere in the Fallen World with their power. Archmages that break this unwritten rule vanish or are killed by Ochemata, avatar-servants of the Exarchs. When an archmag does agree to use Imperial magic for another person, they invariable set a quest or task in exchange. The Orders believe that these magics use unique Yantras, known as Quintessence, each the culmination of months or years of work on the spell. Archmages do at least all do one thing anyone can understand: their goal, uniformly, is Ascension, exploring deep Mysteries to fuel their own rise to the Supernal - even if it means decades or centuries of work.

Mechanically, archmastery is beyond the scope of the book, but at minimum: they treat all ten Arcana as Ruling, and have all ten Arcana Mage Sights up without cost. They automatically win Clashes of Wills against lesser beings. Their spells from the known Practices can break normal spell factors and cannot be countered or dispelled. If a mage explores a Golden Road, it is treated as an Oneiros for purpoes of magic. Wendings cause fluctuating PAradox bonuses or penalties, and Chantries are Emanation realms.

Next time: Denizens of other worlds


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

The game talks about the ephemeral entities as being ghosts, spirits and Goetia, with Supernal entities being similar but distinct. Interestingly, neither angels nor the God-Machine are mentioned in any context anywhere in Mage 2e; mages apparently have no idea it exists and would have no context for it if they did.

Generally speaking, this is a rehash of the ephemera rules from the core. There's some notable exceptions, however, that we should mention.

First, on Essence and Mana. Ephemeral entities use Essence, Supernal ones use Mana. Ephemeral beings must spend 1 Essence each day in the material world to remain active, or else they go into hibernation. Goetia and Spirits are pushed to their home realm, while ghosts are forced to the Underworld if they have no Anchors left, but instead reform at the nearest Anchor otherwise. Supernal beings need not spend Mana to remain active but have a very limited lifespan anyway. In its home realm, a Goetia, ghost or Supernal entity will regain (Rank) Essence/Mana per day. Spirits do not. Spirits, ghosts and Goetia without a suitable manifestation Condition bleed one Essence per hour instead of per day, and if they run out of Essence they bleed Lethal damage instead. Supernal entities always bleed out lethal damage.

Oh, and the Familiar condition is finally defined. A Familiar can use any other Manifestations freely, but does not suffer Essence bleed at all. They and the bonded mage have Connected Sympathy and may use each others senses reflexively. Casting through these senses is remote viewing but does not require Sympathetic range. A familiar and its master can pass Essence or Mana to each other, converting the one to the other. However, any conversion loses 1 point - so giving three Essence into Mana causes the mage to get 2 Mana, while passing 4 Mana to Essence causes the spirit to get 3 Essence. If a familiar is discorporated, it reforms at a location bearing the mage's Signature Nimbus. Either party may end the Familiar bond at will.

That was short, so let's talk about specific places now! London's first. London has its own mage population, plus a lot of mage tourists who come in seeking its mysteries. The entire place is a maze of bus routes, walking paths and the Tube, and it's a running gag among local mages to claim that all of the taxi drivers are Proximi with an affinity for Pandemonium. The important takeaway, however, is that High Speech can be found anywhere in London - etched on buildings, flashing in neon signs, hidden in street art, written under cobblestones. The way the roads are set up, there's an infinite number of possible paths through London, and these paths have shown a tendency to write out High Speech words. Not all of these are runes, but the mages of London have dubbed these routes Runewalks. Wheb a mage walks them intentionally, they usually get a magical outcome related to what they hope for. Walk a healing symbol will strengthen a healing spell. Ride the Underground in the symbol of the word for clarity, you get inspiration for problems. However, you have to mark the trail somehow for it to work. Breadcrumb trails, mark buildings with chalk, touch every lamppost on the way, swipe your Tube card, repurpose a fitness tracking app.

The problem is, you can also trace a Runewalk accidentally or purposelessly, and this often has surprising results. Some mages go on unfocused Runewalks when they're out of ideas for a problem's solution, trusting in the Supernal to guide them. Others do it out of sheer curiosity to see how the trail will affect them. Walk the Death rune and maybe you help a dying man find closure. Go on a pub crawl and end up condensing a week's worth of drinking into one night by walking the rune for 'water of life'. But sometimes, a Runewalk has tragic results. Unwittingly trigger the word 'lightning' and maybe you get struck from a clear sky. Or maybe you take out power in a three block radius. Sleeper memories of these events tend to be inconsistent - they remember a transformer blowing, maybe, for lightning guy. Trace out the rage rune and cause a bar brawl, no one remembers exactly what caused the fight save that it was an insult and they all heard it. Some hold that Runewalks are derived from subconscious desires manifesting in the presence of High Speech. Others believe the hidden symbols act as a guide, pushing you down a path once you start. The Orders keep libraries of successful Runewalks, which have been happening for centuries. It used to be hard for the Nameless to access these, but now there's whole websites dedicated to sharing these paths. However, following a route rarely yields the same results from mage to mage. In fact, two people can walk a Rune together and have different results - or the same ones. No clear pattern.

Runewalks have the same effect on Sleepers as seeing High Speech - that is, nothing. Sleepwalkers, however, can experience a Runewalk on a smaller scale. They may feel energized, joining a mage walking a healing symbol. Banishers and Seers have also been known to plant false paths or flawed routes for Order mages to find, sketched on napkins or posted online with throwaway accounts. At least one Seer with municipal power has tried to destroy a Runewalk before via mundane means - blocking off intersections and so on. The Consilium of London employs several cabals to watch out for this kind of thing and spread the word to the Orders and Nameless alike.

I'm gonna skim over the local politics - get the book yourself for that. I'm just sharing cool magic stuff. Off to LA! Mages know it as the city of dreams, more tied to the Astral tha practically anywhere else. Occasionally, parts of the Temenos become visible there. Everyone can see it, and it doesn't cause Quiescence. This is always noncorporeal, and photos tend to be blurred and unrecognizable. Most never appear more than once. One, however, appears a lot: the Lesser Wall, a mural that regularly changes appearance but is always the same size and always has at least one iconic LA image. Mages have seen it all over, and it often has cryptic High Speech messages on it. Sometimes, as before the Rodney King riots, the images on it are prophtic. Goetia also often possess people in LA despite the fact that normally they can't. Hundreds of people make transitory connections to the Astral while high or drunk or delirious, and the Goetia inspire them to speak or shout random phrases. Mind sight reveals that these people, universally, are asleep. Others are possessed by single Goetia, always while intoxicated or sleeping, and always by a Goetia somehow associated with them. Several celebrities have been possessed by legends of themselves, leading to tragic spirals of exaggerated behavior.

Most Sleepers are never aware of this except as reports of sleepwalking. Some, however, retain fragmentary memories. These people, whom mages name Dreamers, tend to believe it's because of mental illness, and they seek help - making it easier for mages to find and study them. Others try to talk to the entity possessing them and often learn how to invite it in and eject it. They may believe it a ghost, an alien or other things. Most dreamers seek out others, joining cults or support groups, including those run by the local Guardians. Oddly, their number seems tied to the local populaton - as more people come to LA, the number of dreamers rises. It was first noticed in the early 1900s, and only a handful got possessed. Now, nearly a thousand people are regularly ridden by Goetia.

Lastly, attempts to visit the Astral from LA seem to be easier, but less reliable. Using a Hallow to enter the Astral from LA costs one less Mana than usual, but when you first enter the Temenos, you must roll Gnosis. Fail, and you don't end up where you expected, instead arriving somewhere vaguely associated with LA or which is appearing in a mirage at present. Parts of LA can also be found in the Temenos, and an entire Astral mirror can be found in the realm called the Metropolis. Some of the murals and mirages of LA also show up in the Temenos, but never less than a day after first appearing in the city.

Next time: Salamanca and Tokyo


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Salamenca is a small Spanish city that is home to Spain's oldest university, the third-oldest in all of Europe. Between students and faculty, it's nearly a quarter of the population. It has many rituals and traditions - but its core Mystery is a complex phenomenon centered on its library, the oldest in all of Spain. It is part of the oldest portion of campus, with buildings constructed according to Hermetic lore, and it has many old manuscripts. Occasionally, mages take note of books appearing in the catalog without explanation, or that their book request comes with a second text. These unexpected books are unique and occasionally very magical. Many appear only once, others only appear for one person, and a few appear to multiple patrons. All other attempts to get the online catalog or a librarian to find these books fails - the books have no other evidence of existing, even to the most thorough searches. Known as libros efimeros, or fleeting books, they are highly diverse. Some are diaries of events that never happened or haven't happened yet, others technical manuals for devices never made, or detailed explanations of very strange ruins, which may or may not exist. They can be any language, but always appear to someone who can understand them. All vanish instantly if removed from the library or when the library closes or when returned. Most seem ordinary, but some can only be read by Mage Sight, with photographs showing only meaningless gibberish, blank pages or mundane text. Others can be scanned or photoed, but this usually requires a librarian's permission to do so anyway.

The Consilium includes an oath to share knowledge of any of these books in its membership oath. In practice, most mages immediately share the contents but may keep things like unique Rotes or the locations of arcane resources secret for up to three years. Several librarians are Sleepwalkers employed by the Consilium - mages are almost never librarians, as the books never appear to librarians. Consilium mages are asked to immediately report any book they find to these librarians, and they also watch outsider visitors to see if they find active texts. While it's rare, sometimes people try to spy on or steal these texts, or try to stop others from using them. It is expected that such disputes will be kept out of Sleeper sight, on pain of being banned for a year or more. What is most puzzling, however, is that the books can appear to Sleepers, unlike many Mysteries. Never Grimoires, but other texts, sure. They only ever appear to people able to understand them, at that. Some local mages believe this has been the cause of a certain scientific advancements, but the books themselves cause Quiescence - Sleepers remember what they read, but not what they read it from.

Every few weeks, a crack in reality appears somewhere in Salamenca. They can appear anywhere in the city more than 50 yards from the library, but almost always outdoors. They are known as puertas efimeras, or fleeting gates, and these Irises are invisible to Sleepers but trigger Peripheral Sight. Closer scrutiny reveals them as narrow, faintly glowing rips in the air of the Supernal, with other places visible beyond. All you have to do is step through - no Keys. The worlds beyond are known as the mundos efimeros, or fleeting worlds. Visiting is rarely planned - the gates rarely last more than 3 hours, and some no more than 30 minutes. Once someone passes through, the gate becomes unstable and collapses between 5 and 15 minutes later. Most commonly, someone that discovers one will spend a few minutes preparing before going through, or will contact mages who can make the trip immediately. The act of passing through a rip triggers Peripheral Sight. Mages are expected to report anything they find to the Consilium, as well as turning over any recordings they make.

All worlds have certain common elements. In almost every one, magic cannot affect anything other than you or others traveling with you. It simply does not affect anything from the other side of the rip. All visits are brief. Between 30 minutes and eight hours after entering a rip, all visitros are dropped back in the Fallen World without ceremony, never more than a block or two from where they entered. Originally, it was believed that each world was unique and one-time, and some are only seen once, but others have been documented...or, at least, similar or identical worlds have been seen appearing, suggesting that the worlds can persist between visits. The Irises have been reported for at least 1,300 years, and most mages assume they've either always been there or were caused by the Fall. The worlds are also present in local legends of people wandering briefly into strange realms and then returning. Indeed, Sleepers can, rarely, pass through the rips. It is rare, and no one knows why certain Sleepers can do it. The most recent time it happened was 11 years ago, and the Sleeper Awakened the moment she returned to the world.

The Consilium attempts fair distribution of chances to explore the other worlds. Officially, a list is kept of local cabals and at any time, three have permission to use the rips. After each has visited one world, they are not eligible again until every other approved cabal has gotten their turn or at least refused the right to take it. By Consilium law, anyone seeing an Iris should report it immediately to an eligible cabal; in practice, the rule is often ignored because of the fact that the gates don't last long and most mages want to use them. However, it is common practice to gather your cabal before going through, as the fleeting worlds can be dangerous.

Anyone who looks at a fleeting book with Mage Sight that has also visited a fleeting world can immediately tell they're connected. The current working theory is that the books come from the worlds, but it's not been proven by finding a book from the library in one of the worlds. No gate has ever been seen within 50 yards of any part of the library, despite appearing all over the rest of the city. The books are much more regular than the gates. Masters of Fate, Prime and Time who have examined the library have determined it is under a powerful, lasting and entirely unknown enchantment. Most mages believe this magic channels and directs the Irises that would usually appear in the library, causing them to open imperceptibly quickly, small and only to deliver books. Others believe the gates are a side effect of the spell making the books appear. However, Sleeper legends of the gates predate the library - which means the spell must, as well. The question of who made it and what its parameters are is a major area of study.

Twenty-one worlds are known to appear semi-regularly, while dozens more have appeared only once. Two of the most common are:

Tokyo's primary thing is that it is home to Ansho - magically dead zones, ranging in size from a small room to an entire neighborhood. Awakened spells do not work there, and Mana immediately bleeds from any container. Despite this, there are a disproportionately high number of mages in Tokyo, and it has two full Mysterium Caucuses, plus one of each other Order. However, apparently there have only been mages in Tokyo for 500 years, dating back to a semi-mythical first mage named Nakatomi, whom the locals have a lot of beliefs about but few firsthand records. Thus, a lot of it is boring-ass politics rather than weird shit, but there's still some.

The prevalent theory on the Ansho is that Tokyo is home to small pockets of Abyssal energy which neutralize Supernal forces inside them, or that the Lower Depths have welled up in these spaces. Masters of Prime have had limited success in shrinking Ansho via extensive ritual but it's never permanent and is very costly. New Ansho are rare, perhaps three to five each year in all of the greater Tokyo area, but that's enough to justify always looking for new ones. Their current method for doing so was inspired by the hunt for black holes - they send out slow magical pulses expected to bounce back, and investigate when they don't, using this to triangulate in on new Ansho. One to three Ansho seem to randomly vanish each year, but the number is still rising overall, and some fear they will overwhelm the city.

Beyond this, Paradoxes released in Tokyo send out a 'beacon' that alerts anyone sensitive to the supernatural nearby. While this doesn't necessarily identify the offender, it does draw notice. Functionally, this affects vampires, werewolves and other mostly supernatural beings, including ghouls and other 'lesser' types, plus anyone with Supernatural merits. The becon goes out (10*Gnosis) yards, plus 10 per success on the Paradox roll, as long as any successes happen at all. Those sensing it do not know the source, nor understand it, just that something 'off' happened and from what general direction it happened in. Ansho, however, block these beacons.

Next time: Tucson


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Tucson, Arizona was, long before it became part of the US, the home of the Hohokam people. Until nearly 1450, they lived there, and their descendants, the Tohono O'odham, remain in southwest Arizona. By 1700, however, it was settled by Spanish missionaries - most notably, the Mission San Xavier del Bac, or Saint Xavier of the Water, founded by a Jesuit named Eusebio Francisco Kino. When Mexico became independent, Tucson was Mexican for 30 years before being sold to the US, and it was the largest city in Arizona until Phoenix surpassed it in the 1900s. It was the image of the Old West for many people. Now, Sleeper kids tell ghost stories of vengeful cowboys, desert monsters and the phantom bells. They say that if you hear the bells of the old missions, out in the desert, you will die. They rarely hear them. Mages hear them all the time.

The original mission was destroyed by the Apache in the 1700s, but the Franciscans who took it over rebuilt it, mostly using Native American workers and artisans. No one recalls their names, but their influence on the building was clear. When the Mexican government banned Spanish-born priests in the 1820s, San Xavier spent 30 years falling into disrepair, and it was the Tohono O'odham who first restored it before Tucson became part of the US. It was finished by the Bishop of Santa Fe, reopened in 1859. Today, the old mission is a church, a community center for the Tohono O'odham and a pilgrimage site. It hosts a yearly festival for the Tohono O'odham and Yaqui people. However, despite all the renovation, one dome is unfinished still. Local rumor claims it's a tax thing, while others speak of a prophesied Excellent Builder who will finish it. The bells ring out of this empty tower, heard by those who use Mage Sight to see and hear them.

Attempts to determine what makes the bells ring have been inconclusive. They ring at least once a week, often more, for variable durations. They can come at any time, sometimes for hours, sometimes just one peal. The bells do not always signal the listener's death - and indeed, the two events rarely seem to correlate. However, there is a kernel of truth: for those at the mission grounds when the bells strike, the dead come out. Specifically, the future dead. The 'ghosts' who appear at any given time will die within a few weeks of each other, usually. Sometimes the same day, sometimes the same time of day within the same month. How far in the future the death will come varies wildly, usually between a month and five years. On average, between ten and fifteen future-ghosts appear when the bells ring. Anyone using Active Sight can interact with them, though it's best to do so quietly, as the mission is an active church. Any form of Mage Sight works - no one knows why - so they clearly aren't normal ghosts, though that's the term mages have ended up using.

One Mysterium cabal has made it their job to study those whose ghosts appear, maintaining lists of those who have appeared more than once. They call them 'frequent fliers.' They have also noted that the future isn't set - sometimes, those destined to die do not, for various reasons. Over time, the Tucson mages have begun to set guidelines on interfering with the future dead. Twelve years ago, one manifestation was all mages, and attempts to fix the clearly-extant future disaster fell apart within hours, thanks to existing bad blood. Ten months of trying to control and prevent the outcome led to tragedy, with destiny manipulated daily. In the end, the battle came anyway, and all of those in the original vision died - plus four others. The survivors declared it would never happen again. Only two of them remained, and they formed a new alliance, and still head the local committee on guiding and mediating those who disagree on how to fix the future. There is no official punishment for disobeying them...except for social pressure, which is quite intense.

The mission isn't the only place with phantom bells, either - it's just the most consistent. Santa Cruz Catholic Church, built 1918, sometimes rings unexpectedly. The results are similar...but the 'ghosts' of Santa Cruz Catholic are scenes of future triumph, not death. They also aren't limited to the local area - bringing an item belonging to an ally or rival will reveal their victory or defeat no matter where they are. El Tiradito is a shrine in the Old Barrio. Legend holds it was built by a man who died fighting for his lover. Sleepers claim that a wish made on a candle will come true if the candle is still burning by sunrise. Mages sometimes see the entity that lives there, but more often, she is heard - quiet bells. She speaks in High Speech, sometimes, usually on matters of love and loss, but for the right offer, she will speak of the area's nature in the Time Before. Last, fifty miles southwest is Baboquivari Park, a sacred site of the Tohono O'odham and home of their creator god, I'itoi, who is said to live in a maze under the mountain there. Stories tell of a Spanish officer that tried to dig through the mountain to find I'itoi rather than use the maze, and how the ground swallowed him and his men. The sounds of the area are not bells, but shovel on stone, and they reveal hubris.

The ST advice section is pretty standard and uninteresting, talking about music and Shadow Names and how to make Mysteries. It also talks about the Duel Arcane. It is a form of magical conflict in which two mages can fight without actually hurting each other. It involves conflict of mind and soul, to allow you to determine who is most true and right. You set up the stakes of the duel - it could be anything from death to 'i want them to admit I was right', and you set up what conditions the winner and loser might get at the end. You then use the Display of Power spell to set up the arena. Rather than Health, each character gets Doors equal to their Willpower, plus modifiers:

The duel uses Initiative, but the bonus is Wits+Composure, rather than the normal Initiative modifier. On your turn, you can choose one of three actions:

Once one of you runs out of Doors, they lose. The winner refills all Willpower and gains the Triumphant condition, while the loser loses Willpower equal to the Doors that were opened on them and gains the Defeated condition. If the terms were 'to the death,' that's taken care of mundanely after the duel ends - the dueling space fades with the duel.

Next time: the Sleeping Curse and how it works


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

The Sleeping Curse derives from the warping of Supernal symbols by the Abyss, rendering their meanings false and unknowable. Every time a Sleeper sees the Supernal, they are forced to 'choose' between unknowable, meaningless Truth or terrible, impossible Lie. It is not a choice. It is the nature of the Curse. Any time a Sleeper is faced with magic, their mind wrestles with these conflicting, impossible messages. Thus, any obvious Supernal or Abyssal manifestation is always an Integrity breaking point, no matter what.

Inflicting the Curse upon Sleepers is hubristic, an act that mirrors the Exarchs' arrogance in locking away the Supernal. Thus, causing a Sleeper to risk loss of Integrity because of your magic is an Act of Hubris against both Understanding and Enlightened Wisdom. Further, exposing Sleepers to the Supernal means they automatically think of Abyssal symbols as well, even if the Supernal symbol is pure and perfect and so would not risk Paradox on its own. Because the Sleepers cannot sort truth from Lie, they bring part of the Abyss out, corrupting spells. Any Sleeper witness to an obvious spell increases Paradox risk by one die, even if the spell would not normally risk Paradox. Multiple Sleeper witnesses don't add more dice, at least - they just make the roll get a dice trick, which might sometimes be worse. Human interconnectedness strengthens the Lie and complicates it, you see, but also allows individual humans to survive it without being crushed.

When a Sleeper struggles with the non-choice reality offers, that creates internal conflict. This degrades not only their own soul and mind but also the Supernal symbols they experience. This is known as Dissonance, and it weakens magic. Dissonance affects more than just spells - it also weakens Supernal beings...and strengthens Abyssal ones. At the end of any scene in which a Sleeper witnessed obvious magic, they roll Integrity, Withstood by a spell's dots, a Supernal entity's Rank or a number set by the ST for other stuff. Multiple Sleepers use the highest Integrity and then apply a dice trick, as per Paradox. Dramatic failure means the magic is fine but the Sleeper(s) suffer a breaking point. Failure means the magic's fine. Success, after Withstanding, does the following:

The good news is, Legacy Attainments and Emanation Realms are immune to Dissonance. Abyssal beings are treated as Supernal for the roll, but they do not Withstand successes at all and, instead, any Dissonance heals them by (successes) and gives them (successes) Essence.

Sleepers cannot remember Abyssal or Supernal events after they happen. This is, perhaps, the only mercy of the Curse. Yes, it protects the Lie and prevents Awakenings...but the alternative would be constantly being confronted by their internal conflict, forever. It would break them. Forgetting or self-editing the memories involved prevents this mental collapse. Some mages believe this is actually not an inherent part of the Curse, but of the human mind finding way to survive it. In any case, in the scene directly after exposure to the Supernal or Abyssal, a Sleeper forgets what happened or changes it into something mundane. Any serious attempt to prod at those memories, question them or correct them with magic causes a new breaking point as if witnessing the event again, followed by the memory being removed again. Like Dissonance, this isn't just spells - Sleepers will also forget the interior of Time Before ruins, the presence of the Mad, Emanation Realms or seeing Abyssal or Supernal entities.

Sleepers occasionally form or join Mystery Cults, groups on the outskirts of magical society. This is useful to many mages, who often run these groups. Examples include:

The Guild, who do not meet publically. They're an online raid group, see, the best team in Battle Sword Online. They've never lost in PVP, and the game's level cap has been raised twice entirely because of them. For them, raiding is life. "Kyle" is the name used by the Libertine that runs the thing. Well, Libertines, plural. 'Kyle' is a face, and one that has been worn by a few different Libertines for RL meets. The study and manipulation of the Guild is half research, half internet experiment. Most of the Guild is high-functioning members of society, not basement-dwellers, and they are often placed well in creative and competitive fields. The Libertines manipulating them plan to use them as part of a longterm plan to do magic via the internet.

The Truthers of America Liberation Coalition are an astroturfed political group. Originally, they were directionless malcontents, until the Guardians found them. They still have no unified purpose - they just show up for protests under a number of political events. Their protests often have very little to do with whatever they're protesting - maybe they protest a Summer City Carnival in the name of anti-abortion activism, even when no abortion clinics are opening in the area. They show up at city hall to demand better senior options at a diner chain in town. The protests don't actually have a purpose. Rather, the Guardians of the Veil use them as a distraction from actual magical events. The entire point of the TALC is to disrupt and derail. They go to random places to recruit and keep up appearances, but the atual targets are events that might interfere with magical society, or potential mages that'd be dangerous to allow to Awaken if not distracted. They're mostly retirees, political extremists and displaced veterans from all parts of the political spectrum, as long as they're willing to be loud and distrating.

Sleep to Dream are a K-pop phenomenon, though they aren't all Korean. A cult is growing up around their music, and their message is: the real world sucks, dream instead. The fans mimic their crazy costumes - Jungian dream archetypes, mostly. Wet Dream is a fan favorite for his provocative costumes. In reality, one of the band Awakened a few years ago, and it went...poorly. She saw the Lie, but never achieved Wisdom. She is now a deeply, deeply broken person who wants only to sleep and never awaken, ever. She's working by instinct on magic that will put her and her fans into eternal slumber. And worse - her magic may be able to spread the Banisher affliction to other mages that hear her music. Most of the cult are teenagers and young adults that have noticed some fragment of the Lie but remain Asleep and afraid. The music comforts them as a way of pushing back against a hostile reality.0

After that, we get advice on how to play a Sleeper, plus some Sleeper-only merits:

Next time: Sleepwalking


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

The Lie imperfect. It must be, by nature. Its Curse is insidious but not flawless, and entropy weakens it. Thus, some people manage to escape the Sleeping Curse without Awakening. These are Sleepwalkes. They do not suffer the Curse, but they do not see through the Lie as the Awakened do, either. Sleepwalkers do not increase Paradox, cause Dissonance or suffer Quiescence. Some Sleepwalkers just don't suffer the Curse, while others have unique powers or innate abilities that set them apart from normal people. Possibly they have ties to the Supernal that even mages do not understand. Perhaps they draw on some other power source that shields them from the Lie. Maybe they're just weird.

There's a lot of people out there that count as Sleepwalkers, though they may never run into the Supernal or Abyss. Any character with Integrity and at least one Supernatural merit reflecting internal talent or inherent ability counts as a Sleepwalker. Owning a cursed camera? No. Being able to telepathically mimic a serial killer's mindset to better catch them? That pushes back the Lie. Drinking vampire blood? No. Developing mystical powers from the ghoul bond, though? Yes. Being wolf-blooded? Sure.

It's possible to force a Sleeper to become a Sleepwalker with the spell Stealing Fire, but it's a brutal experience and is always considered obvious magic for causing breaking points. Even if it works, it has to get past the Paradox from before the Sleeper becomes a Sleepwalker. And when the spell ends, Quiescence descends anyway. Beyond this method, mages have no reliable means of creating Sleepwalkers any more than they have a reliable means of Awakening others. Any of the means described before to try and force an Awakening might work. There's a theory that being blood related to a mage makes Sleepwalking more likely but it's unprovable if so - the influence must be very subtle. Certainly power has nothing to do with it. Sleepwalkers with skill and cunning often have no trouble fitting in with mage society if they learn it exists. They're useful - they can do things you have no time for and no skill at. It's unlikely that they'll hold major rank, sure, but that's not to say they'll never hold any - many positions of great respect and some authority have been filled by Sleepwalkers, even if some Awakened sneer at the practice.

Some mages believe that a Sleepwalker exposed to Awakened magic or society is less likely to full Awaken then mere Sleepers. The logic is that regular exposure means they're less likely to have a moment of sudden Gnostic revelation. There's no solid proof or way to study it, so it's just a traditional assumption - albeit one that is challenged occasionally. (The book says that if someone wants to play a Sleepwalker who Awakens, let them.)

Now, technically, anyone with a sympathetic tie to a mage can carry spells for them, and the Diamond hold that this ability was often used in the Time Before. Dissonance, however, means that in practical terms only Sleepwalkers can do it, and even trying to do it with a Sleeper is a crime in most Consilia. It's pretty simple, though - you can place a spell in the keeping of a Sleepwalker if you are connected to them and they understand and agree to it. The first part means that they need at least a Medium sympathetic connection to you to hold one spell, or a Strong one to hold two. These spells no longer count towards your spell control limit, but remain under your command and can be relinquished or canceled as normal. The Sleepwalker has no command over the spell, despite holding it.

The trick is the second part. Attempts to hang spells on the unwitting never works. Ever. Telling the Sleepwalker what's going on works. You don't have to explain all of it - it's often easier to explain in terms of traditional religious practices, supertech or philosophy so long as you get across the basic truth of 'I am using you to make me stronger' or 'I will use you to keep me safe.' From there, the Sleepwalker must agree of their own free will. Often a bargain is involved, but magical coercion cannot be used. It causes the spell in question to fail automatically. Some older and more studious Sleepwalkers of the Mysterium believe that this harkens back to ancient covenants between the Awakened and the Sleeping, and also believe that other such covenants also exist, still unexplored.

Placing spells in a sleepwalker's care is a double-edged sword for everyone involved. Carrying a mage's magical working makes you a target of their enemies, both to end the spells and use the sympathetic tie you have to them. This part, mages don't actually have to inform Sleepwalkers about before they agree, and some don't, because they're jerks. We get some advice on character types for Sleepwalkes, and new merits!

Next time: Proximi


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Sleepwalkers whose powers are close to those of the Awakened are known as Proximi. A Proximus sometimes develops powers spontaneously, but most come from long family lines, or Dynasties, of Proximi that share their powers. Proximi are free of the Sleeping Curse, but cannot yet see past the Lie. Their blood is rooted in the Supernal, however, giving them talents other Sleepwalkers do not have. All Proximi have at least one Blessing - an inherent power to cast a single spell.

Proximi are Sleepwakers, but with the following changes:

Many Awakened claim that Proximus Dynasties were created by ancient archmages and are tended to by modern ones. This may be so, but there is growing evidence that some Proximi lines have no identifiable source and just happened 'wild,' as it were. The Orders actively track and care for Proximi families, even groom them. Not all members of a family become full Proximi, however - Blessings can skip generations, even multiple generations, before reappearing.

For the Seers, Proximi are tools to be used and discarded as needed. The other Orders are typically more humanitarian about this, but not always. Every Order has a few Dynasties they consider 'theirs,' no matter what an individual Proximus might believe. The Silver Ladder tracks the most families. Proximi seem to Awaken more often than most Sleepwalkers, a trait encouraged by most Orders, who try to prepare young Proximi for the chance. In the moment of Awakening, a Proximus loses all Blessings and their Curse, but Sanctity of Merits does apply so they get a full merit dot refund - though the GM can instead convert some or all Blessings into Arcane XP instead.

The example Proximus Dynasty is the Sisters of the Mountain. They are a line of traditional Appalachian witches, the strongest out there, and loosely tied to the Mysterium. Their magic mostly focuses on health and longevity. They help families achieve genetic diversity where it might be lacking, ensuring the babies they deliver grow up strong. Occasionally, a family of Sisters will have a generation with too many strong girls born. When this happens, at the time of their "first blood" (read: menstruation), a girl will be prepared, geared up and sent out into the world to find knowledge and wisdom for the family. Boys often carry the Blessings of the family, but are rarely sent out into the world, as they are believed to return home less frequently. Either way, these 'pilgrims' gather what knowledge they can before a longing to return overtakes them and they go back to the Hills. Some had back to the mundane world a few more times over their lives, and most believe in fairly trading their healing powers for the wisdom they learn. The Sisters are also known as the Hill Hags.

Sisters of the Mountain live close to the land, such that they are a walking extension of it. All Sisters, women or men, contain plant life within their bodies. Most of the time it's not visible, save for a slight green tinge where the skin is thin. When they are stressed, performing magic or sleeping, however, the plants push up against the skin like throbbing, moving green veins. When a Sister dies, the plants inside them explode outward, creating a magical garden on the site of their death and entirely consuming the corpse. These death-gardens are practically impossible to remove.

The Parent Path of the Sisters is Thyrsus. They can have Fate, Life and Spirit Blessings, drawn from: Oaths Fulfilled, Exceptional Luck, Shifting the Odds, Monkey's Paw, Shared Fate, Cleanse the Body, Analyze Life, Body Control, Lure and Repel, Purge Illness, Degrading the Form, Honing the Form, Knit, Coaxing the Spirit and Gremlins.

The Sisters' Curse is...well, they have a garden inside them. It has needs, which cannot always be drawn off their bodies. Every night, they must lay down in fresh, healthy soil so the plants can creep out through the skin, digging into the dirt and feeding. In the morning, they wake and the roots recede, healing the skin, mostly. However, all Sisters have one health box full of Lethal damage at all times, which cannot be healed by any means. They get a Beat whenever their garden is noticed or discovered and makes someone react badly to them.

When a Sister suffers Paradox or cannot sleep in healthy soil, the plant-caused injuries worsen. Every additional night they can't sleep properly, they take an additional unhealable Lethal. When they do return to the soil, this heals at a pace of one week per extra wound, until it returns to normal. Wounds caused this way do not bleed out once they hit agg, but instead send the Sister into a coma-trance as the garden takes over their body, using all their physical and magical abilities to get them to safe dirt. They will actually dig into the soil and partially bury themselves then, sleeping until all but the first box is healed. (Presumably Paradox causes some extra injury as if they'd not slept for X days in dirt?)

The Oblations of the Sisters include tending wounds and offering succor, experimenting with the human body, gardening, and singing the old songs.

While one can complain that the Pentacle are condescending towards Sleepers and even Sleepwalkers, they are far better than the Seers. To the Seers, humans are cattle. Resources. They are commanded to keep humans from going extinct, but that's as a whole - the Exarch don't care about any single human. They are tyrants and symbols of tyranny - they need slaves. Successful Seers enjoy wealth and privilege, supported by the Ministries' resources and cults. Particularly loyal Seers are even given Artifacts to help them command Sleepers, most infamously the Profane Urim.

These can take many forms, but most are cloaks, robes or veils. They let the user take command of the body of any Sleeper with a Medium or Strong sympathetic tie to them - and worse, give them a Connected link while it's in use. Any Sleeper is a potential puppet of the Seers...but because many mages can detect possession, Urims are used mostly when it would be dangerous to be physically present or when they want literal human shields. A Profane Urim is a 6-dot Artifact able to cast Possession at Sympathetic range. Rarer versions exist with variant powers. Seers can pool merit dots to buy an Urim for their group.

Beyond mere puppets, the Ministries also command Servitors, humans twisted into forms pleasing to the Exarchs and enslaved. Some are Proximi Dynasties, like the Myrmidon clan serving the Praetorians. Others were created by archmasters, like the Hive-Souls - clusters of identical bodies sharing one mind and soul, making them excellent couriers and spies for the Hegemonic Ministry. Most, however, are forcibly transformed Sleepers and Sleepwalkers, like the Grigori and Hollow Ones.

One variant Profane Urim takes the form of a shroud or grave wrap. These exclusively are granted to the Panopticon, and when they bind a Sleeper in these shrouds, a horrible transformation takes place. Their body enters suspended animation, and their mind and soul are projected into an ephemeral being, an invisible spy and watchdog in Twilight. When viewed in Twilight, these Grigori resemble mummified, struggling humanoids covered in eyes, with six wings of smoke. Their bodies are stored securely, constantly whispering descriptions of everything they see. Removing the shroud is instantly fatal to them. These shrouds, known as the Shrouds of Observation, are 8-dot Artifacts only available to Panopticon Seers with Status 3 or higher. The Shroud consumes 1 Mana per day to maintain a Grigori transformation, but can absorb Mana from a Hallow, so typically 'Grigori farms' are kept in those. The Grigori itself is a Rank 2 Goetia with Influence: Watching and Resonance with its body and a target set by the owner of the Shroud. The Shroud can teleport the Grigori near its target for 1 Mana.

The Hollow Ones are slaves of the Paternoster Ministry. They are victims of human trafficking gangs run as Mystery Cults, taken to a secret spot in North Africa, a Sanctum that is home to a monster of the Lower Depths that 'stings' Sleepers that see it, tearing away their sense of self. The results are then sent to ranking Seers with Mind magic skill. The Hollow Ones that result are 'blank' humans, souls stable but, without a steady Mana supply, empty of memory and drive - a blank canvas. Hollow Ones are special Sleepwalkers. They have a 5-mana pool but cannot refill it themselves. Every day, they consume 1 Mana. When they run out, their Mental and Social attributes become 0, their Virtue, Vice and Aspirations vanish, and they lose all skills. However, Mind spells are automatically Indefinite on Hollow Ones regardless of spell factors, Reach or Mana, ending when the Hollow One 'resets.' Paternoster Seers with Status 3+ and Mind 4+ can buy a Hollow One servant as a 2-dot merit.

Next time: The Fall


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Mage: the Awakening, 2nd Edition

Atlantis, they say, was the First City, the Awakened City, the greatest that ever was. It was the height of Awakened potential, where every mage could be their greatest self. It is a Truth that rings deep in the soul, the same thrill felt as you first touched your Watchtower. It is a Lie you tell yourself. Atlantis was, then wasn't.

Mages have passed the story of the Awakened City down for ages, for as long as any can recall. It has always been told, though no definitive proof it ever existed has ever been found. Perhaps it was true, but no consistent records survived its destruction. No one has ever found evidence to suggest, definitively, that there was an Atlantis. What they've found is evidence that...doesn't fit anything. The Mysterium have libraries of journals, full of sketches of ruins of civilizations that never were. In far corners of the Earth are the tombs of kings who never ruled, the bones of creatures that could never exist, painted caves that humans could never have reached.

Sleeper technology is utterly useless on dating these artifacts. Any results they get are contradictory, nonsensical and, often, result in the machine making weird noises or breaking. Time mage is no more useful - attempts at it tend to leave splitting headaches and days or even weeks of temporal confusion. No matter how far back you look, Atlantis simply has no place in Earth history. Further, the evidence found in all these ruins and digs cannot be fit into a single consistent history. Tales of glorious past cities are sprinkled through world myth, of course - Aztlan, the Naga Kingdom, Shambhala, Hyperborea. It doesn't matter what the name is. For the Diamond, 'Atlantis' is just a catch-all term, used because the Diamond's origins lie in Greece. For four millenia, mages have chased stories of ancient cities in hope of finding some greater truth, a world that existed in the Time Before. Little is known of what life was like then, but the Orders have managed to agree on a few things.

Whether the Exarchs caused the Fall on purpose, it was the result of a war between mages or it was just caused by too much magic for reality to handle is a debate that's raged for millenia. The lesson, however, is not 'do not seek Ascension.' It is 'do not repeat their mistakes.' The desire to taste the Supernal directly survived the Fall, but the path to Ascension is neither easy nor simple. There are always rumors of the Ascended, but little can be known for certain. No two legends are the same, and there is no one, clear way to Ascend. Just about every wizard has heard an Ascension story. They're great topics of debate in philosophical circles, especially over drinks.

An Acanthus of the Silver Ladder, Xeras, spent his pre-Awakening life studying string theory and special relativity. He never fully abandoned that, and he discovered that you could see a lot more at the subatomic level with Mage Sight. He saw time as a vine, roots deep in soil, branching out below where the plant breaks surface. He was last seen on his way to the Tevatron at Fermilab, but no records exist of his presence there. His notes are a complex mix of Sleeper formulae, High Speech commentaries and a page in a language whose origins remain a mystery. Time mages have used vines, his name and some of the symbols from that mysterious final page to power their spells since.

Phrygia was a Nameless Moros in the early 20th century, who walked the entire US. She wasn't quite a phantom hitchhiker, but may have inspired the legend. She convinced many to let go of the heavy weights in their hearts, acting as the passenger whom you unburdened yourself to. After meeting her, you became a better version of you. She disappeared after the Depression began and hasn't been seen since. Her face appears in several Tarot decks made by mages, on cards signifying upheaval and change.

Neither Xeras, Phrygia nor any Ascended is remembered by any Sleeper that once knew them. They slip from Sleeper memory with Quiescence, especially their close friends and family. These people may wax nostalgic briefly, then quickly change the subject, resisting any attempt to return to it. The more distant the Sleeper, the foggier the memories get, until none remember at all. Mages, however, remember. They seek evidence of the Ascended with fervor, especially those who prefer to focus on what mages might become rather than what they were once. Finding proof of the Ascension is like finding a holy relic.

Ascension is a transformative act, and what you leave behind may be transformed as well. Your body may be converted to strange materials, Artifacts known as Sariras which have potent powers. The place you Ascended may be changed, forming a Verge that reflects your final moments as a mere mage. The environment can be profoundly altered. The Fall placed Ascension out of reach of almost all, but mages have not given up hope. The Supernal still exists, calling them home.

The End