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Mage: the Awakening is a Tabletop RPG from White Wolf (now Onyx Path) publishing. The story goes that long ago, people all over the world had dreams that brought them to Atlantis. Once there, they undertook a spirit quest that enlightened their souls and gave them magic powers. Thus the Mages Awakened. Unfortunately, the good times soon ended: Mages wanted to get to the Supernal World, the source of all magic. To achieve their plan they built an enormous ladder that let them travel the gap between worlds. This ended badly, as these god-like Mages abused their newfound power, forcing others of their order to climb the ladder and fight them. This war broke the ladder— destroying the connection between earth and the Supernal, and thus magic— and replacing it with an evil, magic-destroying realm called the Abyss. Atlantis fell, and the rest is history. Literally.
When making a character, make a post detailing the player's name, the character's name, age, character archetype(s) (example: Corporate Executive, Lone Wanderer; TVtropes can be used as character archetype), the Chronicle name (in case the Storyteller is conducting multiple chronicles and the character in question is in only one or multiple).
Vice and Virtue:
Each character must have a recorded VICE and a recorded VIRTUE. Virtue and Vice may clearly reflect your character's background and concept, or they can be used to contrast his outward nature to create sources of conflict that make for excellent roleplaying. A character who is a priest might have the defining Virtue of Faith and the defining Vice of Pride. He's a man of great conviction and belief in his fellow man, but there are times when his beliefs lend themselves to self-righteousness. This is a fairly complementary application of Virtues and Vices based on character concept, as they both stem from the character's background. A contrasting approach might be to give the character the Virtue of Faith and the Vice of Wrath. He believes in the path of righteousness and the intrinsic worth of mankind, but sometimes the state of the world is such that it fills him with a violent rage to punish those who ignore the tenets of his religion. The result is a source of conflict within the character as he tries to reconcile an essential part of his nature with his dedication to the church.
The Storyteller determines if a character's behavior is in line with their vice or in line with their virtue. If the Storyteller judges that your character's actions during a scene reflect his Vice, he regains one Willpower point that has been spent. If the Storyteller judges that your character's actions during a chapter (a game session) reflect his Virtue, he regains all spent Willpower points. Note that these actions must be made in situations that pose some risk to your character, whereby he stands to pay a price for acting according to his Virtue or Vice.
Each mage awakens to a specific path. Each path is essentially a class in the game. There are five paths:
Acanthus: Enchanters on the Path of Thistle, who Awakened to the Watchtower of the Lunargent Thorn in the Realm of Arcadia, Acanthus mages tend to be easygoing, sometimes to the point of carelessness, due to their grasp of Fate and Time magic – it’s hard to be worried when you’ve seen what’s going to happen and you can tweak the dice so you know it’s going to work. However, the magic to which they’re born is subtle, and they have little ability when working with overt Forces. Associated with the Fool (0 or XXII) Tarot.
Mastigos: Warlocks on the Path of Scourging, Scions of the Watchtower of the Iron Gauntlet in the Realm of Pandemonium (Hell), the Mastigos tend to be driven and intense. Their ability to use Mind and Space magic to twist their enemies’ paths and thoughts alike make them dangerous foes, but their abilities focus on the intangible and impermanent, making it hard for them to affect Matter. Asocciated with the Devil (XV) Tarot.
Moros: Necromancers on the Path of Doom, visitors to the Watchtower of the Lead Coin in the Realm of Stygia (The Nothing After Death), Moros are often (though not always) dour and stern. They have dominion over Death and Matter, following the archetype of Pluto or Hades. Both of these things are dead and lifeless, though, and Moros have difficulty learning the ways of the Spirit. Associated with the Death (XIII) Tarot.
Obrimos: Theurgists on the Path of the Mighty, Scions of the Watchtower of the Golden Key in the Realm of the Aether (Heaven), the Obrimos tend to be devout and fervent. They often believe that they were granted their magic by some deity or deities (although given the fundamental order in their Realm, they respect science as a field and are often its greatest advocates among mages), and have power over the Forces of the natural world and the Prime ways of magic itself. However, as creatures so filled with life and power, they have little tie to the powers of Death. Associated with the Strength (VIII) Tarot.
Thyrsus: Shamans on the Path of Ecstasy, who Awakened to the Watchtower of the Stone Book in the Realm of the Primal Wild (Hungry/Wild Jungle/Woods), the Thyrsus are wild, primal, and passionate. Their ability with Life and Spirit magic makes them strong and gives them many allies among beasts and spirits alike, but this magic is wild and untamed and limits their ability to work with the Mind of another. Associated with the Moon (XVIII) Tarot.
In addition to Paths, mages also have Orders. Ordeers are the chosen, sociopolitical Splats of the Mages. The five Pentacle orders listed below work together (usually) in order to gain power and defend against common enemies. Each Order holds a philosophy on the best way to develop and use magic, as well as a common view on how to interact with Sleepers and the World. Four of the Orders (sometimes called the Diamond Orders) claim descent from organizations which existed in the days of Atlantis, although this can't be confirmed.With the Second Edition, it is made clear that the Pentacle are an alliance between two Sects of mages - the Orders of the Diamond, and the Council of Free Assemblies (known as the Free Council). The Diamond aren't literally descended from Atlantis, but rather, that symbolic imagery is something they try to incorporate into themselves. The Diamond generally follow an "As Above, So Below" principle, by finding signs of the Supernal left over from the Time Before. The Orders are as follows:
The Adamantine Arrow: Descended from the Ungula Draconis (or "The Claw of the Dragon") from ancient Atlantis, the Arrow believe that the best way to hone one’s strength (magical or otherwise) is through constant conflict, contest, and trial, and that the strongest and best should rise to lead. They often serve as the warriors and strategists of a Consilium (city of mages).
The Guardians of the Veil: Inspired by Atlantis’s Visus Draconis (or "The Eye of the Dragon"), the Guardians believe that Magic should be kept carefully and hidden from the world. They feel that Paradox widens the Abyss, removing further magic from the world, and thus they oppose vulgar magic whenever possible. In a modern Consilium, the Guardians usually serve as spies, secret police, and the like.
The Mysterium: Descended from the Alae Draconis (or the “The Wing of the Dragon”), the Mysterium believe that the collection and gathering of knowledge is the highest calling a Mage can seek. They seek out artifacts and tomes from ancient Atlantis, gather them safely, and sometimes share what they have learned – for a cost. They serve as a Consilium’s teachers, loremasters, scientists, and archeologists.
The Silver Ladder: Heirs to the Vox Draconis (or " The Voice of the Dragon"), members of the Silver Ladder believe that it is the fate of all Humanity to Awaken, and that until then the wisest among the Awakened (which is, often, the Ladder mages themselves) should lead them well. They often serve modern Consilia in positions of leadership or oversight.
The Free Council: The only Order not claiming Atlantean descent, the Council was born in the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent social turmoil of the early 20th century. They believe that the works of unAwakened Mortals possess as much magic as the works of the Awakened, and that democratic rule is the best way to run a Consilium. They are activists, revolutionaries, scientists, and often members of a Consilium’s “loyal opposition.”
Details on the Orders are here:
During character creation, each character starts out with three dots to spend in magic, social, physical, and mental attributes.The max you can spend on any attribute is five dots (unless the character in question is an archmage; then they can have 6+ dots. Characters cannot be archmages without Storyteller's permission). Traits under social physical and mental are as follows:
Mental: Intelligence, Wits, and Resolve
Physical: Strength, Dexterity, Stamina
Social: Presence, Manipulation, Appearance/Charisma
The tutor-apprentice relationship is a well-known wizardly archetype. A tutor can teach an apprentice to craft his soul. This teaching is called a Legacy.
Legacies are considered by many mages to be the next step in the evolution of their souls beyond Awakening. Learning a Legacy is a rite of passage into the "adulthood" of the mature soul, by which the mage chooses the mystical calling he will follow for the rest of his life. While he might be a master of many Arcana and an exemplar of his Path and order, others will come to identify him chiefly by his chosen Legacy.
At different degrees in his personal development as he follows his calling, the mage gains certain mystical attainments. These endowments move him beyond the need to cast spells -- to actively draw down power from the Supernal World. They allow him to alter reality (within the specific parameters of his Legacy's attainment) as if he applied a mundane capability.
While most Legacies are private practices, a matter between a mage and his own soul (with the tutoring of the sorcerer who taught the Legacy), some are social, fostering connections between followers of the same Legacy. They can even take the form of secret societies -- yet another layer of social organization beyond a mage's cabal, order, and Consilium. The mage must decide which of these connections takes precedence in case they ever come into conflict.
At Gnosis 3, a mage can learn a Legacy and acquire its first attainment. At Gnosis 5 and again at 7, he can further develop that Legacy (there are three stages of attainment for each Legacy). At Gnosis 4, he can instead create his own Legacy, as long as he has not begun to learn another. He learns this unique Legacy's extra stages at Gnosis 6 and 8.
Legacies are learned by way of a mage's Path, although some orders can teach certain Path Legacies to members not of that Path. Once a mage learns a Legacy, he cannot learn another. He has chosen his soul's true road and must now walk it to its end.
Mental, Physical, and Social have special skills. With these special skills, characters have three dots and can put dots in the following:
Mental: Academics, Computer, Crafts, Investigation, Medicine, Occult, Politics, Science. Skill attributes in Mental are generally made when the character is trying to recall something. When trying to recall something, it's special skill + Intelligence - Difficulty in dots of the subject in question. If result is over five, the character successfully recalls particular knowledge about subject (Note: number quota to successfully recall something increases depending on complexity of subject).
Physical: Athletics, Brawl, Drive, Firearms, Larceny, Stealth, Survival, Weaponry. These are generally used as bonuses when the character is trying to do something. For example: when character is punching an NPC, it's Strength + Dexterity + Brawl. When a character is trying to sneak, it's Dexterity + Sealth. When a character it trying to shoot something, it's Wits + Dexterity + Firearms.
Social: Animal Ken (how well you get along with animals; can also apply to spirits), Empathy, Expression (Art, dance, etc.), Intimidation, Persuasion, Socialize, Streetwise, Subterfuge (lying). These are generally used when a player is interacting with an NPC. For example, if the player is trying to seduce someone, it would be Wits + Persuasion against the NPC's Wits + Resolve.
Each player must specialize in one special skill (in which case they'll get a +1 bonus every time they use said special skill) and they must be unskilled in one special skill (in which case they cannot raise the special skill above four dots and gets a -1 penalty every time they use it).
Magic thrives off of mana. Each player character starts off with 5 mana, which increases as their Gnoisis stat increases. For Gnoisis 1-2, it's 5 mana.
For 3-4, it's 10 mana.
For 5-6, it's 15 mana.
For 7-8, it's 20 mana.
For 9-10, it's 25 mana.
When casting a spell (assuming the spell is successful), mages lose mana equal to the rank of the spell. For example, if a Mind Mage were to cast Sleep of the Just to make a subject have nightmares, he or she would lose 4 mana because it is an Adept spell.
To regain mana, a mage can perform an Obligation (a ritual associated with his/her path or Legacy) within a Hallow or they can search within their own patterns to restore mana. In-game, that translates to sacrificing one special skill point to add three points of mana. This process, Pattern Scouring, can only be done once per in-game day.
Spellcasting is a complicated process at time. Mages channel higher realities to change common reality in accordance with their wishes, or to perceive the secret realities hidden from normal sight. An individual act of magic is called a spell and the process of doing it is called casting a spell or spellcasting. Use the following steps when casting a spell.
The first step in casting a spell is to decide what the spell is supposed to do. Does the mage want to strike an enemy down with a bolt of lightning, read the deepest secrets of someone's mind, heal an injured friend, see visions of a distant place, or something else entirely? While magic is capable of accomplishing almost anything, individual mages are limited in what they can reasonably accomplish by their knowledge of the Arcana (that is, their Arcana dots). The descriptions of the 10 Arcana list the various spells possible with each dot in a given Arcanum. When a mage wants to cast a spell, the player chooses a spell from these lists. Magic, however, is not confined to a list -- anything a mage can imagine is potentially possible given the proper Arcanum lore. A mage can even make up a spell on the spot in an instant if he needs to.
A spell that requires the use of two or more Arcana to achieve its effect is called a conjunctional spell. If the effect can be achieved without the use of one or more additional Arcana, it is not a conjunctional spell. The spell descriptions for the various Arcana contain a number of examples of conjunctional spells.
Once you have determined the spell to cast, your character must now form an Imago. An Imago is the mage's mental image of what the spell will do and look like. In the case of Rotes -- that is, non-improvised spells -- the formation of an imago isn't necessary and the spell can even be linked with other mages who know the rote. The formation of an Imago is one turn.
Improvised spells are also possible. Improvised spells are spells that aren't rotes and require the formation of an imago. Improvised spells are determined in rank by the Storyteller, and if the ST decided that the improvised spell is above their rank (an initiate can't start a firestorm with an improvised Forces spell, for example), the mage cannot do it.
Improvised Magic: Requires the expendature of X points of Mana (where X is the determined rank of the spell by the Storyteller), unless the improvised spell is done with the two ruling arcana for the mage's path (Mind and Space for Mastigos, for example).
Sympathatic Magic: Magic cast on a subject that is beyond the mage's sensory range. This is usually done with True Names. Sympathetic magic requires the expendature of X points of Mana, where X is the rank of the spell.
Lethal Damage: Mages can cast an extra point of mana to give the spell lethal damage.
Pattern Restoration: As with pattern scouring, but reversed, the mage may spend a point of mana to increase their stats in a Special Skill or a Mental, Physical, Social attribute. They may also spend a point of mana to heal one point of damage. The Stat or Attribute buff lasts for one scene (post).
Each player starts off with three experience points in Mental, Physical, and Social and may spend a dot in experience on each attribute as they please.
With special skills, each player starts off with one dot in Mental, Physical, and Social and can spend the point as they please in the three branches.
With arcanum, players start off with three dots of experience, which they can spend on their two path arcanum (Death and Matter for Moros, for example) and one in an arcanum of their choice. Alternatively, they can spend points on any arcanum and none in their two main arcanum.
With Gnoisis, Willpower, and Wisdom, the player gets three points and may upgrade each of the attributes as they wish.
During character creation The Storyteller can level up the characters any time (ST is advise to do so when an important plot point has been reached). When a level-up happens, each player gets the exact same amount of experience points in each aspect of their characters as they had at the beginning of character creation unless specified otherwise by the Storyteller.When creating a character, players must be sure to give a detailed backstory of the character so that the Storyteller may know every detail about the character and the player may have a guide on roleplaying them. When creating a character, players should have a picture to give a visual of what the character looks like (pictures of real life actors/models is accepted, but not required).
No game is complete without mechanics and rules. Both of which are detailed below:
When a character attacks, it depends on the type of attack. If it's a brawling attack, it's Strength + Dexterity + Brawling bonus (if any) = Damage.
Each character has one attack per turn unless that character is using two weapons, in which case it's Whatever Trait Associated with Weapon + Dexterity + Whatever bonus associated with Weapon (if any) = Damage with a -1 penalty to Dex per attack.
When character is attacked, they do Dexterity + Stamina to see if the attack connects (this doesn't apply if character is getting shot at; they rely on the roll of the shooter), and if it does, they roll Stamina + Resolve - Whatever bonus associated with the weapon (if any) = damage done.
Close-combat weapons: Bats, fists, clubs, knives, swords, etc. (Strength + Dexterity)
Long-ranged weapons: Guns, bows, etc. (Wits + Dexterity)
Different weapons do different types of damage. For example, blunt weapons (clubs, fists) do bashing damage.
Bladed and gun weapons do lethal damage.
When doing bashing, do same system as always. When doing lethal damage, do attack system but add a -1/2 penalty to target every turn for bleeding damage.
Each character can hold a total of three weapons at the beginning of character creation.
Getting under cover is an instant action and protects character from bullets for that turn. Characters cannot attack while under cover.
Each character has a total of 12 dots in health (these can increase with varying conditions over the story). If a player loses health, they may heal it with First-Aid or other forms of treatment (in which case, they roll Medicine + Dexterity - Bleeding/Poison [if applicable] = Dots in health taken back). They may also use healing magic if they have any (in which case, they roll Dots in Life Arcanum + Medicine). If the character runs out of health, they (obviously) die.
When a character casts a spell, it's Gnoisis + Intelligence against the subject's Gnoisis + Resolve (possibly plus willpower point). When a character is resisting a spell, it's Gnoisis + Resolve (possibly plus willpower point). If the spell is an attack, it's the same, but + Stamina - Health of the subject. If the character is casting a spell on a Sleeper (normal human), it's Sleeper's Resolve + Ignorance (where Ignorance is how receptive Sleeper is to magic). If the spell is attack, it's Sleeper's Stamina + Resolve = Damage done.
Whenever a mage casts a spell that is visible to sleepers (normal humans) or seen as improbable by sleepers, a mage runs the risk of causing paradox. Damage gained from paradox is character's Gnoisis + Resolve - Wisdom (this is why you keep your wisdom up, folks). For example: if mage suffers paradox, and their health is 10, their Resolve is 3, their gnoisis is five, and their wisdom is seven, they suffer 1 point of paradox damage. Every time a paradox is cause, the mage loses one point of Wisdom.
A paradox runs the risk of summoning an abyssal entity. The chances are as normal (Gnoisis + Resolve - Wisdom), however, if the resulting number is above 5, the character runs the risk of summoning an abyssal intruder. Chances are generally 50-50 (Storyteller will determine with the flip of a coin), and if the coin flips on heads, the character summons an abyssal entity.
During a fight with Abyssal entity, characters lose -1 point of health unless they spend 1 point of willpower every turn. The power of the Abyssal entity depends on how high above 5 the paradox damage was. Combat rules for abyssal entities are the same for combat with other NPCs. </div> </div>
The Storyteller is not only the one who makes the story, makes the NPCs, and controls what happens, he/she is also the boss of the game. If the Storyteller establishes any house rules, the players are expected to follow them. Players are expected to not derail the plot, and Storytellers are expected to be creative and not railroad the plot in case a player does any derailing.
During the Storyteller's post, he/she establishes a set order for the players to respond. This usually comes as a first-come, first-serve basis, and the order in which the players originally responded becomes the order they will respond in for the rest of the game.
Sessions are periods of time that the game last as specified by the Storyteller. Sessions can begin every day, weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. The time duration of sessions is yet again determined completely by a storyteller. Sessions are not to go on if one or more of the players are absent.
Rules of Roleplaying:
1) No Godmodding: Godmodding is when a player gives a character ridiculously OP abilities that don't fit in lore. It can also be when a player ignores another player's action when they're trying to attack them.
2) No Metagaming: Metagaming is when a player applies OOC (out of character) knowledge to their character. Know the difference between what you know and what your character knows. If you know how to make a fire and your character doesn't, don't suddenly give your character that knowledge.
3) No Interrupting RPs with OOC: It is very rude to interrupt roleplays with OOC messages or posts. Don't be that guy.
Storytellers should come up with an interesting plot and setting to grab the attention of players. When looking for players, they should make a thread where they detail the plot and the setting without spoiling anything, then approve or veto player characters that players have made. The number of players in a game is totally up to the Storyteller, but it is advised to be no more than 5 so that the Storyteller can keep track of the players.
Recruiting for game Chronicles can be done via threads or blogs.
When a mage first awakens, he/she goes through one of two things: an astral journey or Mystery Play.
With an Astral Journey, a mage's astral form literally leaves his/her body and goes to the realm where they awaken. From there, they face whatever trials they must face in their realm to get to their watch tower, where they inscribe their name and awaken. These are the most common types of awakenings.
The second and least common is Mystery Play. This is when the soul and, by extension, the mage percieves everything in the Fallen (real) World as characters played by entities in the Supernal. For an Obrimos mage, for example, they might percieve a diner waitress as a flaming angel, and their house as a massive citadel. During Mystery Play, the soul guides them to their watchtower, where they somehow inscibe their name on the building playing the role of their watch tower and awaken.
Awakenings usually happen when the character in question has undergone a sudden, profound realization or if they have a near-death experience. There have been known cases of people awakening through sheer willpower, though this is incredibly rare. It isn't uncommon for humans to awakening while performing rituals they THINK are magical in nature.
Wisdom is the karma meter for Mages and there are ways to lose dots in Wisdom. Points in Wisdom can be gained back via spending EXP, and points in Wisdom can be lost by comitting an act transgressive to the morality system. Ways of losing wisdom are as follows:
-Stealing a soul. (-2 wisdom)
-Intentionally preventing an Awakening. Using magic to murder someone. Casual/callous crime. (-2 wisdom)
-Forcefully abducting/expelling another person into the Shadow Realm. Causing someone to be possessed by a spirit against their will. Planned crime without using magic. (-2 wisdom)
-Magically turning someone into an inferior being (man into a pig). Intentional mass property damage. (-3 wisdom)
-Forcefully binding an unwilling sentient being to a place or task (such as forcing a subject into a contract). Grand theft (burglary). (-3 wisdom)
-Laying a curse on someone. Petty theft. (-4 wisdom)
-Magically coercing someone so that they violate their own morals. (-4 wisdom)
-Magically coercing someone to do something against their will. Do a major selfish act. (-4 wisdom)
-Using magic to do something that they could've done without it (lighting a cigarette with Forces). (-5 wisdom)
Mages with high Wisdom tend to be more trustworthy to spirits. As a result, mages with Wisdom above 3 get a +1 bonus on every social interaction with spirits. A mage with Wisdom 9 or 10 gets a +1 bonus on all actions against a servant of the Abyss, and a page with 1 or 2 Wisdom gains a -1 penalty on all actions against Abyssal powers.
If a mage's wisdom is dropped to 0, they lose all sense of self and become one of the Mad, a mage that has gone mad with power and casts sentient spells that they cannot control.
Whenever a character does a Resolve check to guard against mental attacks or traumatic experiences, they run the risk of Derangements. If the number is below 5, the player has a 50-50 chance of getting a derangement (same as Paradox rules). If the character suffers a derangement, the Storyteller decides just what mental disorder they get, and the player must roleplay their character as if they have that derangement for the rest of the session. Derangements go away next session and the player can spend a point of willpower to get rid of the derangement.
Each scene, derangements have a 50-50 chance of going critical. If they do, the player suffers the full brunt of their derangement and they get penalties/bonuses accordingly to their derangement.