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[OSSR]Masters of the Art
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Ancient History
Invincible Overlord


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:45 am    Post subject: [OSSR]Masters of the Art Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Masters of the Art


High-level characters are difficult to handle, and become all the more so when you're running a game without discrete levels. Dragon Kings is a good example of how at higher levels the disparities between threats and classes becomes increasingly obvious and insulting; the Epic Level Handbook just doubles-down on the fact that linear advancement falls apart as the bonuses stack up.

But when you go classless and level-less, things get weird. Caps exist in games like Shadowrun and the various World of Darkness games primarily to act as some sort of control over potential munchkinism and power gaming run amok, and what that encourages is either hitting the caps early through specialization or bypassing them by stacking bonuses. Which is fine if that's your aesthetic. In Shadowrun, you can start out as a world-class sniper. That is a thing you can do in pretty much any edition of the game, as long as you devote enough points to it, and there is an entire character creation mini-game for which builds are most effective at doing that. You might not be able to build the best sniper from the get-go, but you can generally max out at least one skill and buy the best rifle you can at chargen and be an effective sniper.

This is generally not a thing you can do in World of Darkness games.

World of Darkness is a mix of systems, so it's difficult to generalize. But basically the more involved the game is, the harder the caps are, and the more room you have to play within limits. The best example is probably Vampire: the Masquerade, where Generation sets a hard cap on your powers. In that way, it acts as a sort of pseudo-level cap, replicating some of the effects of having levels in a game that technically doesn't have levels. The same basic concept underlies initiation, the most broken aspect of Shadowrun, which acts as a leveling-up minigame; Earthdawn tries to split the difference, and is more or less successful depending on whether they did the math right. But I digress.



The thing about World of Darkness games is that there are a lot of powers, but generally speaking individual characters do not get many of them. Vampires are lucky to start out with a handful of discipline powers, unless they really min-max. Werewolves don't begin with dozens of gifts. Wraiths have a set number of Arcanoi. And raising your stats in WoD is expensive. Stupidly expensive. Which is why, in large part, the upper-level abilities are so much bullshit NPC powers. Your PCs are probably never going to campaign long enough to get six dots in fucking anything, and even at five dots you're probably barely getting the powers you need to function effectively.

It's why Blood Sorcery took off so well that they devoted two and a half entire supplements to it, and had paths and rituals crammed into damn near every sourcebook. It's why Abyss Mysticism and combo disciplines became a thing. It's not that people needed more shit to spend their imaginary XP on, and it isn't because they were going to bust through the hard Generation cap - it's because they were looking for more variability within the level. The kind of thing Shadowrun does by default and Earthdawn manages by largely disassociating circle and talent ranks.



Mage: the Ascension was a different beast, however. The starting powers were already open-ended, both from a game mechanics and a roleplaying gamepoint. We like to joke about it devolving into "Mother May I?", but the ostensible goal of the setting was that you could fiddle with the cornerstones of creation, and were limited only by your imagination and how many dice you had to roll. You began the game with an infinite number of low-level effects at your fingertips. If you suck the gamemaster's cock hard enough.

There's no really hard levels, just your Arete and Sphere ratings, but there's also no distinguishable difference between have one dot in a Sphere and two dots. Figuring out how to do a two-dot rote with one dot instead is just a challenge, not a hard limit, even when the writers forget and try to write it that way. It's like Shadowrun if the numbers on your character sheet didn't actually matter.

Which is only part of where things fall apart. In Mage, the rubric is that technology is just a sufficiently advanced form of magic which has become such a default paradigm that anybody can use it. This is not how it actually functions, however. Frank and I talked about this a bit in the oMage vs. nMage OSSR. The thing about magic is that people can't do it. Building a big cannon isn't a magical act, and mechanically you don't need dots in any of the Spheres to do it. So call that Problem Number One.

Problem Number Two is stakes. Mage liked to talk big stakes, but it was ultimately about as effective as Cosmic Bumfights. PCs not only didn't have the capability to actually challenge the consensus of the setting in any way, but if they did it would make them horrible monsters, not heroes or saviors - explicitly because everybody can use science and only a few people can use magic. There is no fucking rote you can come up with which is as useful and effective at scale as penicillin. You can't teach child soldiers to throw fireballs, but you can train them to disassemble, clean, reassemble, and fire an AK-47.

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So trying to scale up effects in Mage has always been both a pain in the ass and arbitrary. Mage doesn't go in for GURPS-style mechanics where you just pump more mana into whatever you're doing and the range/area of effect/damage/etc. scales proportionately. It has to create and impose arbitrary limits on what you can and can't do, and you don't really find out about them until you pick up a new book and see what they set the limits at for the rotes therein. You're honestly better off never buying a single damn splat for Mage, because their intended goal is to cockblock you from doing some effect that you could have talked the Storyteller into letting you do with the Spheres you have.

And beyond that, Mage doesn't want you to actually, y'know, play a powerful wizard.



Let that one sink in for a minute, because it's a major theme of this book. The designers of Mage do not want you to walk around throwing fireballs, turning bankers into sheep, summoning hookers and dragons, muttering arcane incantations, or waving magic swords and staffs about. Trying to act like a regular D&D wizard in Shadowrun will get you some odd looks, because this is the 21st century and all that Tolkien shit isn't necessary; trying to act like a regular D&D wizard in Mage will have Paradox prison-fuck you like you insulted someone's mother and commented on the suppleness of your colon in the same breath.



Which is about where this pre-review rant is going to be wound up...this is a book that the authors didn't want to write, and pretty much assumed would never be used. It deals with becoming an Archmage - getting those Sphere ratings into 6 dots or higher - and what you can do with that. But it is mainly about what you can't do, and why you shouldn't do it, and what a lot of shit it is to be an archmage in the first place. This book isn't just a celebration of mediocrity, it encourages it, because the designers figure that if you're actually trying to use this book then you're a powergaming shit that is playing their game wrong.

Dragon Kings giving 3 hp when the Fighter hit 21st level is an insult. But they never tried to sell it as the Fighter being a bad person who should have dual-classed for a bit to round out their character instead.

Next: Actual review begins!
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Mechalich
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So this is an OSSR of the 2e Masters of the Art then, and not the Revised one? That's what the cover art choice implies at least.
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Mord
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm hyped for this one. Mage splats were such a delightfully mixed bag to begin with, and this one was definitely one of the more controversial entries.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Masters of the Art: Official Beginning Of Actual Review
This is indeed the 2e version of Masters of the Art, one of White Wolf's slim 88-page splats that has only two authors (Deird're Brooks and Adam McCandliss) and four artists (Richarc Clarc, Jeff Holt, Leif Jones, Alex Sheikman), not counting the cover (Jason Felix). So this is relatively short, chock-full of art, and laid out in such a way to eat of space - which looks flashy and dynamic when compared to D&D products of the day, but means that the actual information density is pretty low.

Quote:

This book uses the supernatural for settings, characters, and themes. All mystical and supernatural elements are fiction intended for entertainment purposes only. Reader discretion is advised.

For a free White Wolf catalog call 1-800-454-WOLF.

Check out White Wolf online at

http://www.white-wolf.com; alt.games.whitewolf and rec.games.frp.storyteller

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.




1999 was a weird year for the World of Darkness. Nominally, this was Year of the Reckoning, but that "theme" only covered seven books across as many game lines, none of which had any particular connection to one another. There's just not a lot of lines to be drawn between the Cainite Heresy and the Time of Thin Blood, or Ends of Empire and the Guide to the Technocracy. Technically the big deal was that Wraith was officially wrapping up, but realistically they pushed out about 40 books in World of Darkness by itself, not counting gamelines like Aberrant or Trinity. Most of them were filling in weird corners of the setting like Blood-Dimmed Tides and Ratkin.

So if you're actually looking for what Masters of the Art pairs with, it's Initiates of the Art - released the same year, a couple months prior. Initiates is about playing a just-Awakened mage - Masters is about playing one at the other end of the scale, with more dots under your belt than spots on your cheeks. At least, that's all I can figure.

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The book begins with A Narrow World, which is something less than two pages of fiction somehow squeezed into three pages, with the aid of a very large title and judicious use of a large symbol to fill up the whitespace. A newb Hermetic mage is getting a lesson in using Prime, and discovers that 1500 years ago he was the mentor to the lady giving him the lesson. The only bit you care about is:
Quote:
Magic was rarely easy, and it looked like it wasn't going to get any easier.


The Introduction, for reasons beyond my ken, begins with yet more disposable fiction, this time in italics. Nominally, it's about how Masters of the Art is nominally an in-universe guide to being an archmage, and how they were the same dudes that wrote Initiates of the Art. So the fiction is immediately followed by the in-character introduction, How to Use This Book.

Quote:
Perhaps you've seen some of those other magical help texts floating around. I've been mentioned in some and I've penned bits of others. I'm Mark Gillan, rogue, adept and general pain in the rear. In this book, I'm going to explode your notions about the POWER of magic, and ask questions like:

What does it mean to be one of the most powerful entities in the cosmos?

Vampires have their ancient elders, werewolves their legends and reincarnated heroes, but even the humblest mage can twist the fabric of the world to her desires. The rising luminaries of Mastery rearrange the Patterns of the universe itself, their thoughts resonating across cosmic boundaries and the spirit of Creation. Certainly, those so in tune with the universe, and so potent in directing its flow, can achieve feats of near-godhood.

But not without consequences.


Like I said before, a lot of this book is dedicated to telling you that trying to achieve power sucks. This isn't exactly a fucked-up version of Buddhism where desire leads to suffering as much as it is a half-assed effort to try and get you to think about your humanity, and how being a demigod changes you, and that power isn't the actual goal of the game - which is Ascension.

Except, of course, there are rules for gaining power but not rules for Ascending. You can't actually "win" Mage, and if you did it would be equivalent to just not playing anymore, which you can do at any time. This is a bit of enlightenment they perhaps aren't ready to explain yet.

From an in-universe perspective, natch, the idea of power as a spiritual trap that precludes true enlightenment is very, very Buddhist. It also works from the literary standpoint in that it is often the limits, not the capabilities, of humans that truly define us: we all have to eat, shit, breathe, sleep, etc. Eliminate one of those needs and you subsequently eliminate a lot of the basic business of being human, and you also eliminate a lot of the normal drives and desires. You need money for a lot of things, but one of those things is so that you have food. You eliminate the need to eat, then you suddenly have much less reason to work, and much less reason to interact with any human pasttime that involves food, and much much less enjoyment from normal small pleasures like a cookie or edible underwear. It's part of what makes Vampire work as a concept. Mage could have taken this into a posthumanist realm like Eclipse Phase did, where you can still be dazzled by the expanded possibilities of what you can be, but they...didn't.

Quote:
With this book, you have a chance to avoid the pitfalls that trap so many other great mages. I assembled this volume so that you could learn the wisdom that Archmages discover too late. The Archmage's powers may seem attractive, but they're hollow when they come at the cost of Ascension. Read carefully. Learn. To use the colloquialism of a rather romantically minded friend, embrace the journey, not its end.


Note carefully there's nothing in there about how awesome it is to kick a vampire elder's fangs in or decide to de-desertify the Sahara. These people just want to mope. It's a failure of the imagination.

Also, the entire concept of this book as a primarily "in-character" document is immediately destroyed in the next column over on the same page, which starts with Words from the Real Writers, immediately breaking the fourth wall and using out-of-character voice, emphasizing "See through the eyes of the wizards themselves; understand the flaws that even they possess."

Mood: With Greatness, Loss
This is the actual heading of an actual section. It's a weird road to take, because it is somber and depressing and not at all fun or interesting. The moral fable that "Look into the heart of the Archmage and you see a person who has squandered a great gift for understanding for the power to control." sort of assumes that there is a path to enlightenment, a single right way to ascend. It doesn't take into account that maybe your sum total goal in life is to be a giant spider, or feed the homeless, or to become one with the universe internet. It doesn't allow an archmage to self-actualize, or maybe even just enjoy their power a little.



And it's really fucking backwards when you think about it. It's the Rosebud moment from Citizen Kane, but that's only one narrative: what about the loss that drives people forwards? The sacrifices that make them heroes? Superman, Last Son of Krypton. Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. Batman, My Parents Are Dead.

This is all hammered home in the next section: Theme
Quote:
Hubris often drives the mage to greater feats of Mastery. So, too, does insecurity or even simple curiosity. The mage who wants to know how things work learns powerful magic indeed, but misses the journey of self-discovery. These mages impose themselves upon the universe instead of learning their place as part of Creation.


Ah, there it is. The Southern Baptist bullshit. If only everyone knew their place. We might all still be fucking herding sheep and fearing we'd be stoned to death for wearing mixed fabrics, but barefoot and pregnant we'd be enjoying our journey of self-discovery while knowing our places. Yeah, fuck that.

I'm almost tempted to wonder if the authors were trying to be clever here - because the whole thing about wanting to know how things work is basically the reason why we have science. It's not unique to silence - lots of people pre-science tried to figure out how shit works too - but the thing is that science works much more consistently, which is why it became the dominant paradigm. So I'm trying to figure out if the writers were actually self-aware enough to customize the themes to make it look like the Technocracy is fundamentally on the wrong spiritual path because they've been successful at impressing their will on the universe instead of...uh...y'know, letting people die of smallpox, I guess.

I think perhaps I'm giving them too much credit.

Quote:
But ca any less-enlightened mage learn the distinction and survive a world outside her control? The cycle continues....


Next up: Chapter One: Retrospect
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Mechalich
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ancient History wrote:


So I'm trying to figure out if the writers were actually self-aware enough to customize the themes to make it look like the Technocracy is fundamentally on the wrong spiritual path because they've been successful at impressing their will on the universe instead of...uh...y'know, letting people die of smallpox, I guess.

I think perhaps I'm giving them too much credit.


At points Mage is aware enough to call out how the Traditions are blatantly anti-materialist and that they lead to the world generally sucking hardcore as a result - the Revised Iteration X book, in which the in-game narrator has no legs and is positively thrilled at the prospect of getting some cybernetic ones, is a good example. It has a sub-heading titled 'I'm a material guy.'

Yet at other points...the Revised Dreamspeaker book at point says something to the effect that 'We've mentioned how the Technocracy gave in to materialism, that's awful, enough said' and basically just assumes it's understood that anything associated with materialism has to be a priori soulless and if you don't get that then why are you playing Mage. Which is strange because the traditions have at least two explicitly materialist factions: the Hermetics and the Etherites, and the Virtual Adepts probably count as a third.

My hypothesis: there was an actual divide at WW between the writers who actually believed the New Age-y BS that MtA was built out of, and those who recognized that this was a game.

Quote:
or decide to de-desertify the Sahara.


That is a great campaign seed for Mage, and could be done with both Trads or Techs. Just wanted to note that.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mechalich wrote:
That is a great campaign seed for Mage, and could be done with both Trads or Techs. Just wanted to note that.


That's exactly the problem though. That kind of thing should be a great campaign seed for Mage. But it isn't, because there's no direction there. What do you actually do to dedesertify the Sahara? Conceptually you get some power together and then do some magick, but what do you actually do to get from here to there?

To give a solid example of another game with a similar premise: Feng Shui. In that game you turn the Sahara into a grassland by capturing Feng Shui sites and attuning them. So each adventure has the format of finding a Feng Shui Site, then having a big set piece battle with whatever criminal syndicate or sorcerous cabal that happens to be camping on it at the moment. The adventures you have each night of the campaign have a clear connection to the overall campaign goal from the beginning and the players can see demonstrable progress towards their goal at each step of the way.

But in Mage? You turn the Sahara into a grassland by sitting in your basement for a long ass time doing a big willworking. That's it. The only intermediate goals you could have would be to do random stuff that gets you XP so that you have a bigger dicepool to do your ritual magicking with. That's it. That's the sum total connection between any episodic adventure and the overall campaign goal.

-Frank
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Longes
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mechalich wrote:
At points Mage is aware enough to call out how the Traditions are blatantly anti-materialist and that they lead to the world generally sucking hardcore as a result - the Revised Iteration X book, in which the in-game narrator has no legs and is positively thrilled at the prospect of getting some cybernetic ones, is a good example. It has a sub-heading titled 'I'm a material guy.'

Yet at other points...the Revised Dreamspeaker book at point says something to the effect that 'We've mentioned how the Technocracy gave in to materialism, that's awful, enough said' and basically just assumes it's understood that anything associated with materialism has to be a priori soulless and if you don't get that then why are you playing Mage. Which is strange because the traditions have at least two explicitly materialist factions: the Hermetics and the Etherites, and the Virtual Adepts probably count as a third.

My hypothesis: there was an actual divide at WW between the writers who actually believed the New Age-y BS that MtA was built out of, and those who recognized that this was a game.


A big problem is Phil Brucato, lead developer of 2nd edition and 20th anniversary edition, the guy who actually does believe in magic and wrote a blog post about Trump's election being an evil ritual.

To showcase: in M20 when Brucato gets to the campaign advice on Technocracy games, he suggests running traditions as baby-eating kitten-sacrificing demon-fucking monsters to make Technocracy the good guys. That shows profound lack of understanding of everything. Technocracy fans saw Technocracy as the good guys even in the first edition when they were uniform jack-booted fascists. Technocracy fans like Technocracy not because they are knights in shining armor fighting evil necromancers, but because they view the goals of even the most benevolent saintly mage as being harmful in the long term. Brucato doesn't get the Technocracy, Brucato doesn't get why people like Technocracy, and so things which are directly or tangentially related to Brucato have a tendency to be very stupid.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chapter One: Retrospect
Quote:
What drives a mage to seek the exalted status of Archmage?


This isn't actually a rhetorical question, but it gets into the heart of "Why be a Mage in the first place? What is your character motivation?" We've discussed this at some length, but the World of Darkness was never good at answering these questions because the primary concept of the games was to be something - a vampire, a werewolf, a reality bender, a ghost - not to do something. In level-based games, you level up because that is part of the game, but leveling up is rarely the goal of the game itself - you want to clear out the dungeon, defeat the Big Bad, slay the princess and rescue the dragon, get paid, that sort of thing. There are some players that will trip at the idea of being an elf or a wizard or a dwarf fighter or something, but for most players focus on being stops at chargen - and from then on you focus on what your character is doing.

Arguably, I think Mage missed a step in not considering Shonen manga like Dragon Ball Z, where you needed to gain more power to deal with bigger threats - an issue which is second nature in MMOs where you grind to level up so you can win the boss fights, but which doesn't translate as well to Mage because the long-term and short-term goals of the traditions are rather...vague.



Quote:
The mage who walks this road finds her work truly monumental. The obstacles in her path may seem greater than the eventual reward. The sacrifices are costly and the successes are rare. Rivals impede her progress while inhuman beings try to lure her to their masters with promises of power and knowledge. She must visit rarified Umbral Realms to seek wisdom not found even in such libraries as those (formerly) of Horizon or Doissetep. Death, madness or servitude to malevolent entities awaits the majority of mages who desire the Archmage's power.


Well, sortof. One of the key points of any game is that the higher you level/more powerful you are, the greater the threats will be and the fewer people there are of your level/power, so you become more important. That makes sense because it mirrors real life: there are only a finite number of top-tier athletes/politicians/etc. in the world, and as you ascend the ranks your circle of peers in that regard shrinks; at the same time, you still want a challenge for these characters, so threats scale to meet their needs. In practice, this doesn't often work because PCs getting way powerful tends to upset the setting, and there is a given understanding of...I dunno, dick wand comparison involved. Which is why many NPCs end up with "unique" powers and abilities that PCs are outright told they cannot have or obtain.



Also, from a strictly pragmatic point of view, high Sphere ratings cost a shitload of XP that represents many nights playing your mage. You don't need to pretend you have to go on epic quests to get high Sphere ratings. You're already going to be grinding like mad.

Seekings
Quote:
Seekings are tests administered by the Avatar. They reflect your shortcomings and destiny in larger-than-life symbolism. A Seeking guides a potential Archmage through a demonstration of those aspects of his life that he must develop or resolve before he can move on.




Shadowrun had this thing where when a magician initiated, they had to pay X amount of Karma, and they could reduce that amount by going on a quest or going on an astral journey or something. If it could be done in such a way that it was worked into the weekly game, great...otherwise, it was essentially a single-character only sidequest, and those suck. Seekings are basically those all over. There's an out-of-character (and off-kilter) sidebar about "Storytelling an Archmage's Seeking" where it talks about how the Storyteller should make it some profound mystical journey that challenges the PC's expectations blah blah fucking blah.

Quote:
Remember to draw the line between player and character, though - the Seeking needs to challenge the mage and his perceptions, but it doesn't necessarily have to cause the player to re-evaluate his own real-world behaviors. If both player and Storyteller agree to that sort of education, go for it. Just don't try to force issues on the players as part of the game.



Look, it's this or we get Bob an intervention about his drinking.

Like a lot of White Wolf games, the PC is supposed to be sort of at war with themselves - Vampires have the Beast; Wraiths have the Shadow; Mages have their Avatars. The Avatar is supposed to set up the Seekings. Which is...problematic. Because each Seeking is supposed to be unique to the character, personal, and yet there's only one right answer and it's suck the Storyteller's cock. Much ink is spilled on the different avatars, nominally to give the Storyteller some ideas of how to flavor their cock.

And then they get into some painful efforts to explain what an avatar is. I'm not sure that the writers were actually on the same page when they were writing these bits. For example, we have:

Quote:
Avatars are nothing more than shards of Prime. They're particularly potent, and they sometimes seem to have their own consciousness, yet they do nothing without attachment to a mage. They don't have a mind in the way that a person does. Since they are fragments of universal energy, they reflect only a piece of that universe - a specific Resonance, if you will. Each Avatar theoretically contains an image of "the big picture," or Ascension would be impossible, but each Avatar shows only a particular facade.


...and on the facing column:

Quote:
Some see Avatars as angels or incarnate gods. Others, as strange spirits, visions or abstract concepts. Many Avatars show a startling degree of self-awareness and motivation, though they have no true consciousness or mind in human terms. The Avatar seems to be essentially a shard of Prime energy, tied to the awareness of a human soul. Some mystics theorize that it is a piece of the Pure Ones, one of the ancient entities of early Creation.


This was well into the point where White Wolf was transitioning to humans + spiritual bullshit parasite = new supernatural breed which gave us crap like Hunter: the Reckoning and Mummy: the Resurrection, and finally reincarnated Atlantean dicks. But the fact that they can't keep the avatar bullshit straight for even a single page is pretty typical. To White Wolf, having actual strong metaphysics in place like Shadowrun was anathema. They were way too invested in the pick-and-choose menu occultism to actually have any hard metaphysics that people could argue coherently about...which, of course, makes life all the harder. If you argue a monadist point of view where everything is made of Prime, so your Prime sphere should let you do basically whatever the fuck you want, that is as valid as the crack mage next door saying coca spirits answer his wishes so he can do whatever he wants. Neither is more or less justifiable than the other, in Mage terms. And that is terrible.



Life in the Halls of Power is supposed to be about how the various Traditions treat their Archmages. Short story: having a bigger magickal dick does not actually lead to greater respect. Seriously, none of these actually convey any information. You could drop any of them, as they are, in any Mage book and nobody would fucking blink. Example:

Quote:
Euthanatos
Euthanatoi are about karmic balance - cutting away the dead flesh so that the remainder can flourish, equalizing costs and gains with mortal responsibility. Do not become a murderer or allow Jhor to rule you. Of vital importance in this Tradition is a sense of responsibility, especially for a Master or Archmage. You must account for the consequences of your actions. It's too easy to step off the path and lose your way - look at Voormas for an example of a fallen death mage.

TO revel in death is to forget what it means. To forget why the good death is important - or to dismiss it altogether - garners little respect. True Euthanatoic Masters are gentle souls who understand the necessity for ruthlessness, but do not abuse it.




The tl;dr about all this is that just because you raise your Arete and Spheres, doesn't mean you've actually raised your Status in the various factions of Mage. Personal power doesn't represent power or respect within the organization. Even in nominal meritocratic institutions like the Technocracy, being able to do really whiz-bang magic and being the boss are not the same thing.

Which is both kind of weird, and kind of realistic. We like to think of the individuals in charge of organizations as powerful, but not in the sense of personal ability. You can be a quite mediocre electrical engineer and still be president of the Electrical Engineering Society - because electrical engineering and bureaucracy are not the same skillset. On the other hand, at lower levels like the martial arts dojo, you presume that the guy in charge really is the best at what they do, because the institution is a reflection of their personal experience an ability. This could have been pushed to the point where they straight up admitted that the people "running" the Technocracy are actually just rather middling mages but good organizers, and their success comes from recognizing those talents, while the Traditions are all holistic and shit and so they have relatively weaker organizations led by badasses, but they don't actually have the insight to look into that too far.

Learning
Quote:
The Archmage does not live by magic alone. She must also attend to her mundane life.




If I can't like by magic alone, maybe I need to get better at magic. You might see it as magical work-life balance, but I see it as a challenge to be accepted.

Quote:
More than one mage has found a spouse replaced with a clone, taken hostage or even killed in some lethal crossfire.



Infinite grandkids.

I'm not saying that you couldn't make a good argument for why pursuing archmagedom could have a detrimental impact on your loved ones...but how much more dangerous is it than your default job as magical terrorist? Do you suddenly pop up on the Technocracy's magical radar when your Arete hits 6? I mean, that would actually be a cool and useful thing, because it would give a good justification why the Traditions would maybe advise caution before becoming an archmage, telling people to stay under the radar until they're ready to fight, but I think this is just a generic "we're trying to think of yet another way to talk you out of being an archmage."

Holding a Job
Quote:
This is not as easy as it seems. Many of the same difficulties mentioned for relationships are even more applicable to the workplace. Where a friend might accept your explanation of a "'round-the-world-tour" after you've been gone for two months questing for the Sacred Orb of Macondo, an employer may not be so understanding. Holding a job of any sort takes effort and dedication that most mages simply cannot manage in concert with magical studies.


Holy fuck, if you can't get your Archmage on because you're busy roleplaying Dilbert, you need to re-evaluate your priorities in life.

Quote:
So why bother holding down a job? A Master or Archmaster can certainly conjure or acquire just about anything he needs. However, a job provides several tangible benefits. First, it's an avenue to connections and resources without the threat of magic blowing up in your face. Second, it's a cover - if you have a normal job and seem like a regular Joe, people are more likely to overlook your otherworldly nature. Last, a job often opens opportunities that you can't find elsewhere: travel or access to special materials and information, authority over specialists who may have useful mundane knowledge or even the opportunity to scout for potential apprentices and allies. Don't think of it as work - think of it as an opportunity.


This motivational speech lost me at "tangible benefits." Well, yes, asshole. That is why I have a job. If I could passively win a Powerball ticket with entropy, I'd do that and retire.



There's an out-of-character sidebar here where they straight up say it takes nine years to acquire Mastery and lifetimes of experience to get your sixth dot and qualify as an Archmage - both of which are, from a mechanical viewpoint, bullshit. The thing about the whole mundane life, though, is that it's a contrast that works from a narrative viewpoint but not necessarily from an in-game viewpoint. There really is no reason why you need to hold down a job in Mage, at any level of magical ability. Which they address thusly:

Quote:
Of course, the nearly unemployed mage may decide at this point to apply mind control to avoid his fate. I cannot discourage this course enough. While it may work for a time, inevitably such controls wear off and the result may be much worse. Such interference may leave the poor Sleeper unable to attend to other aspects of his life. Even worse, such activity is akin to rape.


SPACE WIZARD: WANTED FOR RAPE

While there is a philosophical argument to be made for how one can ethically utilize one's magical abilities...this isn't it. I mean, these dudes aren't even scraping the surface. What if you're effectively homeless? What if you travel about in a magical cardboard box that opens up into a mansion filled with magical food and inflatable sex dolls every night? What if you have a farm and tweak things so you have pizza trees that don't deplete the soil? What if you just have a rote that causes your bills to magically be marked paid in full? Yeah, getting the barista to sleep with you might be date-rape, but if you can't survive off your magical abilities, you just aren't trying.

Study
Quote:
Some mages choose to return to school.

This is actually a set-up for a later pitch, which is that to be a well-rounded character you should increase your various other skills as well as your Sphere ratings and Arete. It falls about as flat as that one does. It's trying to present an argument that you should, although quite capable of ripping the information you need right out of your professor's skull, buckle down and study the old-fashioned way because it is character-building. So while yes, you would expect somebody trying to improve their magical abilities and expand their magical knowledge to study, the idea that there is some philosophical and moral - but certainly not mechanical - benefit to doing so is both disingenuous and frankly kind of insulting.

Because let's look at the basic pitch:


Keeping the bad guy away from the magical book is a classic trope. It works. The idea is to stop them from gaining too much power and becoming an archmage. And it works the other way around, too: maybe to be an archmage, you need to study up all that forbidden magic by going and getting such-and-such a book. That is a totes legit campaign for Mage, or Call of Cthulhu, or D&D, or Shadowrun. So I don't have an issue with characters needing to study to become archmages, but I do have a problem with potential archmages needing to attend community college courses to satisfy the Storyteller's desire to see them suffer enough.

And in a lot of ways, that's the issue with this book so far: it doesn't want to help the PCs become archmages, or lay out a path, it just wants to throw up obstacles and complications and "you suck for wanting to be a munchkin" at every turn. These aren't down-to-earth practical considerations, these are "yes, technically, you can be an archmage but you're still shit."

Next up, Chapter Two: Threshold.
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Mechalich
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Ancient History wrote:

While there is a philosophical argument to be made for how one can ethically utilize one's magical abilities...this isn't it. I mean, these dudes aren't even scraping the surface. What if you're effectively homeless? What if you travel about in a magical cardboard box that opens up into a mansion filled with magical food and inflatable sex dolls every night? What if you have a farm and tweak things so you have pizza trees that don't deplete the soil? What if you just have a rote that causes your bills to magically be marked paid in full? Yeah, getting the barista to sleep with you might be date-rape, but if you can't survive off your magical abilities, you just aren't trying.


Mage Revised at least managed to mostly fix this particular part, offering a number of ways for mages who were considerable less powerful than masters to both use their magic to survive and to do so in a way that didn't trip Technocratic alarms and have the Syndicate haul them off for magical tax fraud - the latter part actually being the much larger issue than simply magically acquiring money.

The challenge in using your magical abilities to not just survive, but to advance in society in whatever ways your character wants should be about doing so unobtrusively, so that neither the Technocracy crushes you or Paradox ganks you for blatantly attempting to restructure reality. So, for example, if you wish to murder society into a better place - an ostensible Euthanatos goal - you can't just fabricate a Death Note and go all Light Yagami on the world, but you could absolutely become a modern day Jack the Ripper. Unfortunately the game lacks any sort of consistency in enforcing limitations, especially at higher levels of power.
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Cervantes
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the entire point of a TTRPG system is to scold players and DMs into following the narrative structures you want instead of putting into place rules and incentives that promote those narrative structures
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Cervantes
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sorry, wait, the exact opposite
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hyzmarca
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FrankTrollman wrote:
Mechalich wrote:
That is a great campaign seed for Mage, and could be done with both Trads or Techs. Just wanted to note that.


That's exactly the problem though. That kind of thing should be a great campaign seed for Mage. But it isn't, because there's no direction there. What do you actually do to dedesertify the Sahara? Conceptually you get some power together and then do some magick, but what do you actually do to get from here to there?

To give a solid example of another game with a similar premise: Feng Shui. In that game you turn the Sahara into a grassland by capturing Feng Shui sites and attuning them. So each adventure has the format of finding a Feng Shui Site, then having a big set piece battle with whatever criminal syndicate or sorcerous cabal that happens to be camping on it at the moment. The adventures you have each night of the campaign have a clear connection to the overall campaign goal from the beginning and the players can see demonstrable progress towards their goal at each step of the way.

But in Mage? You turn the Sahara into a grassland by sitting in your basement for a long ass time doing a big willworking. That's it. The only intermediate goals you could have would be to do random stuff that gets you XP so that you have a bigger dicepool to do your ritual magicking with. That's it. That's the sum total connection between any episodic adventure and the overall campaign goal.

-Frank


You'd probably explode from the sheer paradox of that will-working, so the Traditions are right out. Turning the Sahara into a grassland is a pure technocracy goal, the Traditions can't complete it, because their methods would be disbelieved hard before they came close to such a huge and spectacular result. Instead you'd need to have the NWO cast Appropriations Bill Rider to put an incredibly huge amount of money towards irrigating the Sahara, and then have the Progenitors agrotech that bitch up and the Syndicate turn the money into Quintessence to fuel the magical megaproject. And then you'd need to spread rumors that it's really an Israeli conspiracy to conquer the region so that people won't think it's too good to be true.
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Ancient History
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De-desertifying the Sahara can be done any number of ways, depending on your paradigm. And it can be complicated a lot of ways. If this was Werewolf, you'd go on a quest to defeat the Desert Wyrm or some crappola. But this is Mage, so all you really have to do is come up with sufficient technobabble. The Euthanatos would do a ritual that would shift the entropy across the desert so more plants grow faster on the edges, and they'd use the excuse of a localized climate shift like the Little Ice Age; the Verbena would breed species of desert plants that spread more successfully and store more water in their roots and then do wide-scale guerrilla gardening; the Celestial Chorus would encourage people on communities to plant more trees and grasses and shit to hold back the desert. As long as the change isn't overnight, you can do that nonsense and still make it look coincidental.
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Chapter Two: Threshold
I'd like to take a moment and mention the art in Masters of the Art, because it is shit. Not necessarily the composition of execution, but just the basic observation that it is pointless. It never actually illustrates anything relevant to the text, it's neither references the text or is referenced by the text in any way. They exist completely independent of one another. You could replace any of the art pieces in this book with any of the art pieces in any Mage book - hell, almost any WW book - and the end result would be exactly the fucking same.



Quote:
How does a Master know when he's become an Archmage? When other Archmages acknowledge his skill. Sure, he might be able to drop California into the ocean, or nudge the moon out of its orbit, but does that really mean he's the best of the best? Not at all.


All jokes aside, this is actually a relevant point in games without discrete levels. In D&D, you have a direct dick-measuring stick: your level. Is your level higher than their level? Then your level is higher than their level. Implicitly, that should mean you're stronger, but as we all know D&D classes aren't actually balanced and there's enough variation within levels that this means nothing - and that's before you get into gamebreaking shit like Pun-Pun.

For level-less games, it's...sketchier. You have your primary stats, sure. Technically, you get Arete 6 and raise a Sphere to 6, you're an Archmage, with a capital A. It's a minimal requirement. But it's also relative on a lot of levels, because - and this is something that White Wolf always sucked at - it's not just the raw rating, it's about your Pool. The basic relationship is:

High Attribute + High Skill > High Attribute + Low Skill > Low Attribute + High Skill

Now, World of Darkness games will straight-up tell you that someone with 5 dots in a skill is a Master. But five dots in a skill is meaningless if you have 1 dot in the corresponding attribute. Your effectiveness in the game is based off how many dice you have in your pool, whether they come from attribute, skills, bonuses, whatever. So the biggest magickal dick is the one that can throw around the most dice, and "most dice" is going to be highly determined by what else is in play at any given time.

Which is a long way to say that while there is some hard math that goes into determining what your character is good at, and whether they are better at that than other characters, in level-less games with hard caps the "top" is relative. Usually you advance to a certain level and declare the top to be where you are...until something else is added to the mix that upsets the status quo. This is most obvious when you're dealing with hard level caps that are relatively low. For example, in Vampire you're usually 13th generation, which means your max Discipline can have five dots, and with judicious effort you can max that out pretty easily (at char gen). Which is part of the reason why Vampire added so many more low-level options, and made some of them exclusive or hard to get, to keep you from just having All The Powers.

Anyway, this chapter doesn't actually talk about that. Instead, it talks about what traits you need to have to be socially accepted as an Archmage by your friends, which they say are: responsibility, ambition, and power. Which I think is dead wrong.



I mean, even aside from the fact that I'd hope somebody that can juggle cars doesn't give a fuck about peer acceptance, there's plenty of examples of wizards that are powerful, irresponsible, unambitious, or just plain idiosyncratic because they can do whatever the fuck they want and nobody can tell them otherwise. You don't have to act all stately and wise just because you have power.

On the other paw, this should totally mean that there are people that act like Archmages but are just faking-it-til-they-make-it. But this chapter doesn't address the possibility.

There is, however, a very good sidebar about this:
Quote:
Why can't I just buy a sixth dot and be an Archmage?
Good question. The simple answer is: You can. The more complex answer is that, while you might possess the magical might to be a real Archmage, you also need the Abilities and Backgrounds to match.


...and like that, they've lost me. It's like dudes that say just taking a level in the Archmage prestige class isn't enough, you also need to the Robe of the Archmagi and the Staff of the Archmagi and the rest of the fucking trappings. It's insulting and shallow and stupid. If being an Archmage isn't about power, then it's just a title like "Honored Elder" (no one ever asks about the Dishonored Elders). It's like being told being a billionaire isn't enough if you aren't a member of the right fucking country club.

Then they try to explain the difference between Mastery and Archmastery/Archmagedom, and again they're not talking about strict mechanics (5 dots vs. 6+ dots), they're talking about social roles and shit. Which is weird, but starts to make sense when they decide to talk about Judgment.



Most RPG games don't have a very good way to discuss mechanics in-game. Your 3rd-level fighter in D&D doesn't introduce themselves as a Fighter of the Third Level, your Shadowrunner doesn't tell anyone they're a Certified Level 6 Firearms Expert (probably), and in Mage you don't have your Sphere rankings floating above your head like it's an MMO (probably). Vampire has Generation as an in-character concept, Earthdawn has Circles as an in-character concept, and Shadowrun has initiate grades as an in-character concept, but those are exceptions.

So in mage, becoming an Archmage isn't about getting the sixth dot. To be recognized as an Archmage, you have to be recognized by your peers - the group of assholes that already have their sixth dots. And if those assholes don't like what they see, they can slap you down.



Yes, that does mean that you can save and scrimp and adventure and spend your XP on that sixth dot, and then the Storyteller can decide you don't deserve it and a bunch of planeswalkers will descend and gangrape you like it was the soap-dropping championships in the prison shower.

This chapter ends with some Closing Thoughts.

Quote:
Each mage studies his magical capabilities in a specific, individual way. A mage learns how to do everything within one or two ways of thinking. Each Tradition teaches a different way of looking at the universe. Through such training, the budding mage learns to describe magic in specific forms, thus learning more about it. The Archmage directs his study and focuses it, becoming highly specialized in some areas. Eventually, the Archmage's paradigm creates a complete, functional model of reality. Through that language of paradigm, the Archmage can describe any phenomenon of magic.


Pop quiz: Does this sound like Mage, or Unknown Armies?

Quote:
Some mages don't go this route, deliberately casting aside such jargon. Although a paradigm is useful for discussing magic, it's limiting by nature. When a mage chooses a certain vocabulary, she restricts her discussion to the terms of one or two paradigms. Some mages fight to understand reality from every angle, to cast aside the formative nations of their magical youth in favor a more complete understanding. They learn to "think outside the box," in popular business-speak. These latter sorts generally don't become Archmages. They have a different destiny.

More on that later.


Okay, aside from being bullshit and a waste of space - I challenge you to come up with any value those two paragraphs added to this book - this also underscores one of the basic problems with Mage: it tries to embrace kitchensink magic, but it's using a single, hideously ludicrous "system" to do it. So the idea of there being multiple working paradigms that can describe reality falls a little flat when you have only one mechanical system, because that means that however you try to justify your magic, it's all going to come down to rolling the same dice - and it's why the various magical paradigms in Mage tend to all look the fucking same. Shadowrun ran into basically the same issue, because it started out with Shamanism vs. Hermetic, and then it had to add Druids, Voudoun, Wujen, etc., and their instinctive approach was to try and adopt those very distinct traditions with variations on the same mechanics - with the result that a lot of very different magical concepts basically started to look like little more than different flavors of the same ice cream.

Case in point: real-life magical systems don't talk about launching fireballs. They might issue curses, or point the bone, or slip a poison into your wine, or send a ghost to haunt you, etc. but battle-magic isn't a thing that exists in real-world magical paradigms. But Mage lets you do that, because it wants it to be fun.

A real paradigm-vs-paradigm fight should be one mage that uses D&D-style Vancian memorized spells and another mage that uses Shadowrun-style formulas. And each of those mages, if working within the context of their own traditions, would have unique advantages and disadvantages. A Shadowrun mage is never going to not run out of spells, but Drain might kill them; a D&D mage can't astrally project without a high-level spell. The problem is, while they both agree that they're using something called magic which is itemized into effects called spells, the two paradigms use largely different and incompatible systems - what does it mean when a Shadowrun fireball hits a D&D mage? Or vice versa?

To avoid this kind of mechanical conflict, the creators of Mage built a statue system with feet of mindcaulk. But when you do that, it means that you actually lose all the distinctiveness of the individual paradigms. And when the mindcaulk begins to crumble, the whole fucking system falls apart.

Next up: Chapter Three: Archmastery
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Mask_De_H
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So a legitimate Mage paradigm fight game would want to use the resource management system setup Frank came up with for a fantasy heartbreaker, then? The one with 17 different options.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

A legit Mage paradigm fight game would have to come up with different paradigms with separate and distinct mechanics for each, and would then have to work out how they interact with each other. Which is exponentially more difficult than creating one single paradigm that doesn't fall on its face. It can be done, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's to be done.

For example, you can take a bunch of different d20 magic systems and declare they all exist in the same game universe. And that might work, to a point. Some of the systems are going to be better than others at different things, and that's fine as long as no one system is better at everything. I did a (highly limited) version of that in Shadows over Stygia, where I let Conan d20 magic and Cthulhu d20 magic coexist, and just decide that any shared terms ("spell" for example) applied to both equally. But it's very messy and very fiddly and generally doesn't work on light systems like Mage, because it mostly just devolves to Magic Tea Party.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mask_De_H wrote:
So a legitimate Mage paradigm fight game would want to use the resource management system setup Frank came up with for a fantasy heartbreaker, then? The one with 17 different options.


That's certainly one way to do it. Different spell lists with different resource systems. You pick a magic system and you get the resource management system that goes with it. If you really wanted to hammer in the "breaking free of your paradigm by achieving enlightenment" thing, you'd just fucking let people get other abilities that used different resource systems after they got to name level or whatever. If you wanted to have a game with real mechanics and game balance that was in any way compatible with characters being vampires and werewolves and shit, this is what you'd do.

If you wanted to go more freeform, you'd want to go a little bit more freeform. You could still have a line-edit to reality if you really insisted, but you'd schematize it differently for everybody. If everyone divides the real into Matter, Forces, and Life, then only philsophies which recognize those distinctions are possible. If on the other hand a Hermetic Mage was allowed to invest in "Earth magic" or "Water magic" while an Aztec mage could have "Obsidian Butterfly magic" or "Ravenous Toad magic". It's all bullshit anyway, so you could even make new paradigms where you just have to justify how your paradigm divides up reality and then your character gets access to some portion of that to line-edit as a starting character.

And yeah, Earth magic is fucking overpowered because pretty much all the things you care about are in some way solid. And Obsidian Butterfly magic is overpowered too because everything casts a shadow. And figuring out those loopholes and having stoned conversations about them would be the entire point of the game. And that would be better at being the game Mage is trying to be.


Itzpapalotl gonna fuck your couch.

-Frank
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Longes
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ancient History wrote:
If you argue a monadist point of view where everything is made of Prime, so your Prime sphere should let you do basically whatever the fuck you want, that is as valid as the crack mage next door saying coca spirits answer his wishes so he can do whatever he wants. Neither is more or less justifiable than the other, in Mage terms. And that is terrible.


That is actually not true. Regardless of how you believe your magic works, you have to know the right spheres to do the right things. Even if you believe that everything is just a manipulation of prime energies, manipulating prime energies in living things requires Life. It's a known problem, but it's the problem oposite to what you describe. It's the "purple paradigm" problem. I.e., the real paradigm everyone follows is the game mechanics, and it doesn't really matter what your character claims to believe.

A particularly douchy GMs who may or may not have read How Do You Do That may go a step further and fuck you for trying to pull off what you described. HDYDT suggests making all Dreamspeakers add Spirit X to the sphere combination they actually want to use and having all martial artists add Prime and spend a point of Quintessence to their effect because manipulating Chi is prime. So an Akashic would need Forces 3 Prime 2 to fly, where as hermetic will do fine with Forces 3.
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Longes
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
If you wanted to go more freeform, you'd want to go a little bit more freeform. You could still have a line-edit to reality if you really insisted, but you'd schematize it differently for everybody. If everyone divides the real into Matter, Forces, and Life, then only philsophies which recognize those distinctions are possible. If on the other hand a Hermetic Mage was allowed to invest in "Earth magic" or "Water magic" while an Aztec mage could have "Obsidian Butterfly magic" or "Ravenous Toad magic". It's all bullshit anyway, so you could even make new paradigms where you just have to justify how your paradigm divides up reality and then your character gets access to some portion of that to line-edit as a starting character.

And yeah, Earth magic is fucking overpowered because pretty much all the things you care about are in some way solid. And Obsidian Butterfly magic is overpowered too because everything casts a shadow. And figuring out those loopholes and having stoned conversations about them would be the entire point of the game. And that would be better at being the game Mage is trying to be.

-Frank


This game actually exists, and it's called Dark Ages: Mage. In DA:Mage instead of spheres mages have Foundation and Pillars. Foundation is replacement for your general power level and describes broad paradigm of your magic. Pillars are actual magic. For example, the pillars of Order of Hermes are Life, Mind, Elemental Forces, Quintessence (metamagic). The pillars of Celestial Chorus are Gabriel (fire, healing, motion and reason), Mikhail (leadership, light and war), Raphael (creativity, peace and water), Uriel (darkness, death, fear and earth).
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DrPraetor
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My understanding of Mage was:
The traditions had all gotten together and pooled their bullshit so you already knew you were supposed to be breaking out of your paradigm. If you were an Akashic Brotherhood dude and you wanted to blow someone up, you'd cast a hermetic spell or voodoo death curse them or load some phlogiston cartridges into your flash gordon death ray, whichever was easier/most resonant/whatever. Doing a better job of breaking free from any one paradigm was what having a higher Arete score meant; it was assumed that whatever magic you chose was more in-tune with some cosmic infidibulum and that was why you got to roll more dice.

Now, that may have been my effort to read smoke signals out of that particular garbage fire, but other than the people who wrote some of the better Technocracy sourcebooks, every treatment by later authors seems to have made the basic pitch worse. This is not, of course, unusual among White Wolf products.

As far as having multiple types of wizards, it's a big challenge, because the power levels of different traditions would be so different. "Having a magic amulet of animal form" might be sufficient to make you a wizard, as might "having a bunch of goblins who are your flunkies", but such character concepts do not mesh well if other characters are willworkers.

Ars Magica has a few sourcebooks that make a serious stab at mixing different magical traditions, which I suppose are worth reviewing.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So...what happens if you aren't recognised as an Archmage? You don't get to put "archmage" on your business cards, but you get to keep using magic the same?

Does recognition have to be unanimous, can you be recognised as Archmage by some archmages but not others?
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Dogbert
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Oh good old seekings... that crap concept based on the White Wolfesquely arrogant idea that MC knew your character and their personal paradigm better than you (hell, 9 out of 10 GMs didn't even understand the actual mystic paradigms portrayed by the Traditions).
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thaluikhain wrote:
So...what happens if you aren't recognised as an Archmage? You don't get to put "archmage" on your business cards, but you get to keep using magic the same?

Does recognition have to be unanimous, can you be recognised as Archmage by some archmages but not others?

You get snubbed by your peer group. Also, maybe, the other archmages come and kill you. They're not super clear about that, because it's not a formal process, but it's definitely an option on the table.
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saithorthepyro
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So, this is essentially a book about where even you achieve at least some accomplishment and better than low value of magical capability, you have to deal with your fellow archmages being out for your blood if you don't follow certain rules they'll just steal your power, where it's actively encouraged you go be a greengrocer or college student after achieving the power to rewrite reality because reasons, and in general just tries to punish you for daring to try and have mechanical character growth and some more capability.

Maybe I shouldn't give Paizo such a hard time when stuff like thise exists.

Did White Wolf ever make anything good worth taking from WoD/Exalted/Scions, intentional or not? Because I'm currently trying to run an Urban Fantasy game.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Certainly not from Scion. Scion has literally nothing. At all. It's not even a game, the only characters you care about are already public domain, and everything about it that's different from the thing you imagine in your head when you hear the 20 second pitch is worse than the hypothetical game you just thought up. It's kind of an achievement. Scion is worse in all ways than just playing magical teaparty with the chalk board conceit that you're all the children of various gods.

-Frank
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