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  • Separating OOC and IC

    Anyone have any storyteller tricks for separating in character and out of character terms during play? There's so much overlap in the mage books tend to mix and confuse some things enough(like "How do you do That's" infamous sphere use based on paradigm system) that I often try to separate them myself.

    Example of things I like to do:

    1. Removing any mention of the spheres in game.

    In game all the characters think they work their own system of magic. This could reflect in crunch somewhat, as a techy might really completely on wonders for his magic, using issued guns(devices) and ammunition(gadgets) to do magic. A hermetic could work magic by studying spells(rotes) that using those exclusively. Paradigms can still learn outside themselves though, the hermetic can still "Wild Cast" without a spell, but his colleagues would consider that stupid given the increased difficulty and consequences. The techy could be of a psychic paradigm or apply for psychic training to learn to cast that way. Or even pick up the hermetics want and try to learn "spells"(though that'd be hard. As I'd rule the first casting of opposed paradigm system as vulgar with witnesses(themselves), all times after the first just being vulgar(they don't have the training to know what they're doing), and they'd be one the fast lain to getting room 101ed if they get caught.)

    2. Removing mention or knowledge of the consensus to only masters(knowing your magic is only a belief, everything you used to know is a lie created by the masses, and that the universe is made of spiritual playdoe isn't going to be healthy or helpful to a mages early stages. The revelation would probably make a mage unable to advance their arete for a while as they question their own paradigm.)
    Last edited by Prometheas; 03-08-2017, 10:19 PM.

  • #2
    It's fine if you want to play that way, but there is a fair amount material from the books to support Spheres as an in-character concept as well as an out of character one. Also I imagine it's hard for a mentor to explain to an apprentice mage why it's harder to do magic that seems impossible to Sleepers than more covert magic, even if no one is watching, without arousing that apprentice's suspicion. To me it makes more sense that novice mages learn about the Consensus only intellectually at first, but internalize it more and more as they develop. Remember, mages start being able to use Spheres without Foci really early. And typically they start with their most important Spheres.

    [Edited to remove sentence artifact.]
    Last edited by Faradn; 03-09-2017, 12:57 AM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Faradn View Post
      It's fine if you want to play that way, but there is a fair amount material from the books to support Spheres as an in-character concept as well as an out of character one. Also I imagine it's hard for a mentor to explain to an apprentice mage why it's harder to do magic that seems impossible to Sleepers than more covert magic, even if no one is watching, without arousing that apprentice's suspicion. To me it makes more sense that novice mages learn about the Consensus only intellectually at first, but internalize it more and more as they develop. Remember, mages start being able to willwork without Spheres without Foci really early. And typically they start with their most important Spheres.
      If I were said master I'd just explain that obvious changes to reality are more drastic and therefore take more work. All vulgar magic is more difficult after all, regardless of if there are witnesses(The witness part can be hand-waved until they're adept enough to figure it out themselves). They really shouldn't perform magic in front of people either as that attracts attention from other supernaturals.

      It's still easier to cast with foci, though. So it's still important.

      Comment


      • #4
        I usually determine what my player's characters are able to talk about based on there stats. If, for example, they having nothing in occult, no amount of having read the Order of Hermes book would allow their character to know, much less utilise this information.

        Similarly, knowledge of other Splats is almost always limited to rumours, heresay, or isolated incedents. Vampires make a point of staying hidden, while the Garou, Fae, and Wraiths tend to be much more umbrabound and so most Mages will never encounter them.
        There are exceptions, of course, but unless your mage has had dealings with these beings, or are from a particular faction or tradition which have historic ties to them, you simply don't know what they are and how they behave.


        Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running UPDATE Chapter 22: The Morning After

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        • #5
          The Spheres exist in-universe as a kind of intellectual trade language. When a Verbana asks a Euthanatos about another Euthanatos's strengths, the latter may be described as a "Time specialist" or "Adept of Time", for the sake of comprehension across Paradigmatic lines. Most every group has their own way of looking at what they do, with the exception of the Order of Hermes (who more or less invented the Sphere system, and have their own names for the Spheres, or "Ars"). Even the Technocracy acknowledges the Spheres of Influence, though they too have their own names for them (Psychodynamics, Primal Utility, Dimensional Science, Data, etc).

          It's also worth noting that, as the Spheres became more adopted in cross-Tradition and cross-Convention and even cross-Sect discourse, the mutable nature of Reality caused them to become ingrained into the Tellurian. There are nine Shard Realms devoted to them, and Paradox spirits that react to their frameworks (and abuses).


          This brings me to the Consensus, which also seems common knowledge among the Awakened. With the exception of the Technocratic Union, where the rank and file are given cover stories for how their superstitionist allies can do what they do, why Enlightened Science (and its bastardized equivalents among the Traditions) seems to go wrong when the unEnlightened masses are around, and why it's necessary to keep them unEnlightened. As a Technocrat's rank rises, they are given greater clearance to understand the true nature of Reality. With the hopes that they've seen enough to understand the necessity of the deception even for the Union's own junior agents.

          The Traditions, meanwhile, actively desire to change the hearts and minds of the masses, and get them to accept a more flexible view of the world. If Traditionalists know that the Belief (or lack thereof) influences their ability to do their Magick, they can all the more effectively act towards opening that Belief up. Like Faradn said, it's not the lack of understanding of Consensual Reality that stops mages from willworking without restriction, but their internalization of that idea on a deep, spiritual level.

          Hell, even believing that Magick comes from within isn't entirely necessary to justify the eventual overcoming of Instruments. And I suspect many initiates and acolytes more readily believe explanations for their Masters' prowess that line up with their own Paradigm. Hermetics cite their Master's honed Will. Choristers see their Masters as undeniably holy, having cultivated a relationship with the One so powerful, their very existence is a constant prayer and proclamation of the One's glory. Dreamspeakers may say that a Master Shaman has accrued enough respect among spirits that they react to his desires instinctively. The Children of Knowledge/Solificati may see a Master Alchemist as having transmuted his soul to True Gold, that acts as a catalyst for change by its very presence. Even Etherites may marvel at the palpable Genius of their Archmasters, a force of raw creative dynamism that effects Science(!) by that Master's mere understanding of it (and, indeed, Etherites must be quite accomplished to begin overcoming Instruments).


          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Prometheas View Post
            Anyone have any storyteller tricks for separating in character and out of character terms during play? There's so much overlap in the mage books tend to mix and confuse some things enough(like "How do you do That's" infamous sphere use based on paradigm system) that I often try to separate them myself.

            Example of things I like to do:

            1. Removing any mention of the spheres in game.

            In game all the characters think they work their own system of magic. This could reflect in crunch somewhat, as a techy might really completely on wonders for his magic, using issued guns(devices) and ammunition(gadgets) to do magic. A hermetic could work magic by studying spells(rotes) that using those exclusively. Paradigms can still learn outside themselves though, the hermetic can still "Wild Cast" without a spell, but his colleagues would consider that stupid given the increased difficulty and consequences. The techy could be of a psychic paradigm or apply for psychic training to learn to cast that way. Or even pick up the hermetics want and try to learn "spells"(though that'd be hard. As I'd rule the first casting of opposed paradigm system as vulgar with witnesses(themselves), all times after the first just being vulgar(they don't have the training to know what they're doing), and they'd be one the fast lain to getting room 101ed if they get caught.)

            2. Removing mention or knowledge of the consensus to only masters(knowing your magic is only a belief, everything you used to know is a lie created by the masses, and that the universe is made of spiritual playdoe isn't going to be healthy or helpful to a mages early stages. The revelation would probably make a mage unable to advance their arete for a while as they question their own paradigm.)
            I agree with SOME of what you're saying but I advise you and your players discuss how they feel about this and that you decide on these things democratically.

            Be careful, you're deviating from the source material as written in a game changing way, you can imagine the world of mage as being more like this but that doesn't mean that others will agree with you.

            Try to remain open to player feedback when deciding on making major changes to the game because things can go poorly if your players are unhappy with the changes.

            Comment


            • #7
              I actually see some fairly serious issues with these changes by the way, I'm supportive of you personally.

              I totally sympathize with your preference BUT the traditions having worked together for so long (over five hundred) years makes it unlikely that these two changes will be at all likely.

              Unless you're changing the setting so that the traditions are more like separate sects without much intertradition contact, there will be significant enough intermingling, even among the newly awakened, to make these two changes unlikely.

              I can certainly support leaning towards this setting and in fact I actually like your changes but you really have to think deeply on the sweeping consequences of the changes. They make the game world a different place, for good or ill.

              Comment


              • #8
                I think the only important thing is to avoid "Lo, now I use my Arete 5 to activate a Forces 4 effect". Players should know what their characters calling things... Arete or Genius, or something else. Avatar or Eidelon, or something else. Spirit or Dimensional Science or something else.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                  stuff.
                  Originally posted by Zennis View Post
                  I actually see some fairly serious issues with these changes by the way, I'm supportive of you personally
                  Originally posted by Zennis View Post
                  I totally sympathize with your preference BUT the traditions having worked together for so long (over five hundred) years makes it unlikely that these two changes will be at all likely.

                  Unless you're changing the setting so that the traditions are more like separate sects without much intertradition contact, there will be significant enough intermingling, even among the newly awakened, to make these two changes unlikely.

                  I can certainly support leaning towards this setting and in fact I actually like your changes but you really have to think deeply on the sweeping consequences of the changes. They make the game world a different place, for good or ill.
                  Thank you for the feedback. I'll try to throw in some acknowledgement of the spheres in player NPC interactions, though I think most old and powerful(non-hermetic) masters would consider it hogwash and only mention it for communications sake to their acolytes. I'll try to include mention effect of belief a bit more, keeping things vague until their teachers believe they can trust them with more knowledge. I haven't really had problems with players opinions, I guess they just take it as how I run the game. I'll ask them for more feedback on setting changes.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Prometheas View Post
                    Anyone have any storyteller tricks for separating in character and out of character terms during play? There's so much overlap in the mage books tend to mix and confuse some things enough(like "How do you do That's" infamous sphere use based on paradigm system) that I often try to separate them myself.

                    Example of things I like to do:

                    1. Removing any mention of the spheres in game.

                    In game all the characters think they work their own system of magic. This could reflect in crunch somewhat, as a techy might really completely on wonders for his magic, using issued guns(devices) and ammunition(gadgets) to do magic. A hermetic could work magic by studying spells(rotes) that using those exclusively. Paradigms can still learn outside themselves though, the hermetic can still "Wild Cast" without a spell, but his colleagues would consider that stupid given the increased difficulty and consequences. The techy could be of a psychic paradigm or apply for psychic training to learn to cast that way. Or even pick up the hermetics want and try to learn "spells"(though that'd be hard. As I'd rule the first casting of opposed paradigm system as vulgar with witnesses(themselves), all times after the first just being vulgar(they don't have the training to know what they're doing), and they'd be one the fast lain to getting room 101ed if they get caught.)

                    2. Removing mention or knowledge of the consensus to only masters(knowing your magic is only a belief, everything you used to know is a lie created by the masses, and that the universe is made of spiritual playdoe isn't going to be healthy or helpful to a mages early stages. The revelation would probably make a mage unable to advance their arete for a while as they question their own paradigm.)

                    Thats how i run and play mage. The reality war was lost in revised period. That said remember that the traditions incorporate the spheres into the paradigm and even have names for them.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Prometheas View Post
                      Anyone have any storyteller tricks for separating in character and out of character terms during play? There's so much overlap in the mage books tend to mix and confuse some things enough(like "How do you do That's" infamous sphere use based on paradigm system) that I often try to separate them myself.

                      Example of things I like to do:

                      1. Removing any mention of the spheres in game.
                      In the games I run, Sphere's are a mostly Hermetic concept and only really used to describe their current classification of magickal forms which still relies on the Creo (Create), Intéllego (Percieve), Muto (Transform), Perdo (Destroy), & Rego (Control) Techniques (Taken from Ars Magica) but now uses a more encompassing set of forms than the original Animál (Animals but not people), Aquam (Water/Liquid), Auram (Air/Wind/Weather), Corpus (Humanlike Bodies), Herbam (Plants), Ignem (Fire/heat/light), Imáginem (Illusions & Phantasms), Mentem (Minds/Spirit Matter), Terram (Earth/Solids), Vim (Power/magic/demons). Also, the term is rarely ever used outside of an academic context. The sphere's themselves are only mentioned in the Latin form and to denote a field of mastery or understanding. Non-hermetics talk about the spheres in non-latin form (which tends to bug the Hermetics) but this is what they refer to when they talk about these.

                      The other groups have their own understanding of magick. The Akashics, generally honing their Mind, Body, & Spirit and thinking of what they do as a collection of martial arts techniques, martial arts forms, meditative practices, and esoteric training methods that add up to what they are. The Celestial Chorus still refers to the Messianic pillars of Gavriel, Mikhael, Rephael, and Uriel as spheres, domains, or realms of understanding. The Euthanatos are very aware of the concept of Entropy but as a natural law rather than a sphere of Magick. The sons of Ether use the term in their writings, but only to classify the sort of Science! what they are writing about. The rest usually equate the idea of the spheres to their political nature as branches of the council with symbolic meaning that implies certain roles and duties or else use it as a way to talk to those outside their Tradition about magick.

                      My main trick is that when a player talks to the NPCs about spheres, they have to do so in a way the NPC will understand them. For example, if someone would slip and say, "Does anyone have the Matter sphere?" one mage might engage you in a debate regarding the nature of matter and energy, another might ask if you are referring to a Hermetic Primer on the magick of the four elements, while a Son of Ether might hand you something and say "Here you go."


                      Originally posted by Prometheas View Post
                      2. Removing mention or knowledge of the consensus to only masters(knowing your magic is only a belief, everything you used to know is a lie created by the masses, and that the universe is made of spiritual playdoe isn't going to be healthy or helpful to a mages early stages. The revelation would probably make a mage unable to advance their arete for a while as they question their own paradigm.)
                      In the games I run, this tidbit of knowledge is known to most every mage as purely academic knowledge. They know that belief can alter reality, that they can eventually leave their tools behind but it really doesn't help them except maybe as inspirational material and as a reason they shouldn't use magick in public. It's much like seeing those little inspirational posters in an office saying things like: "Belief is power!" or "Creation is what you think it is!". It's also a bit like real world martial arts. An outsider looks at some of the stuff martial artists do and think "That's impossible, it's a trick!" (Granted there are a lot of fakes in the martial arts world but that's not what I'm talking about). The beginner gains the ability to do things they never thought possible but still has absolutely no idea how the masters do what they do. Those who are further along the path and the why's and hows of the impossible become plausible. (Seriously, the stuff martial artists talk about and try at certain levels sounds like stuff out of mage sometimes: "No inch punches", Strike without force, Iron Egg technique, Soft Blocks, Coconut shell piercing fingers, stuff like that.) Telling you something you don't yet really understand doesn't actually make it any easier or harder to grasp when you've progressed far enough along to "Get it."
                      Last edited by Spacecat; 03-09-2017, 10:23 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Prometheas View Post

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                        Thank you for the feedback. I'll try to throw in some acknowledgement of the spheres in player NPC interactions, though I think most old and powerful(non-hermetic) masters would consider it hogwash and only mention it for communications sake to their acolytes. I'll try to include mention effect of belief a bit more, keeping things vague until their teachers believe they can trust them with more knowledge. I haven't really had problems with players opinions, I guess they just take it as how I run the game. I'll ask them for more feedback on setting changes.
                        Check out the Tradition Books, each one has an account of how they view each of the nine spheres, and how they fit together.

                        For example, the Verbena think of the spheres as part of an eternal cycle with each sphere representing a different time of year, with Prime at the centre providing the energy for all things.
                        While the Chorus consider each sphere a different manifestation of The One's divine will, each one requiring a different set of prayers, songs, or devout offerings in order to have such power lent.


                        Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running UPDATE Chapter 22: The Morning After

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Saikou View Post

                          Check out the Tradition Books, each one has an account of how they view each of the nine spheres, and how they fit together.

                          For example, the Verbena think of the spheres as part of an eternal cycle with each sphere representing a different time of year, with Prime at the centre providing the energy for all things.
                          While the Chorus consider each sphere a different manifestation of The One's divine will, each one requiring a different set of prayers, songs, or devout offerings in order to have such power lent.
                          This. Spheres are in-character concepts and being there for a several hundred years. The different Traditions might explain them and their nature/origin differently, but Time is Time for everyone. It's a bit like English and languages in general. Most of the languages have similar concepts and you could translate, but nowadays the majority of people understand English to some extent, because you need a common ground to be able to communicate and trade. In earlier times it was French and even back, Latin. The Spheres might be a Hermetic invention, but it's simple, it's fairly universal and the Traditions are using it for working together, however, internally, every one of them have their own interpretations/elaborations according to their cultural background.

                          However, I think there's definitely a room for mages who aren't accustomed to this metaphysical common-ground language, like at all, namely Orphans and Hollow Ones, but both depends on the particular case.


                          If nothing worked, then let's think!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Prometheas View Post
                            2. Removing mention or knowledge of the consensus to only masters(knowing your magic is only a belief, everything you used to know is a lie created by the masses, and that the universe is made of spiritual playdoe isn't going to be healthy or helpful to a mages early stages. The revelation would probably make a mage unable to advance their arete for a while as they question their own paradigm.)
                            It is easy to misconstrue how Mages think about this particular principle. Saying 'belief makes reality' is a lot like saying 'force is mass multiplied by acceleration.' It's true, but it's not the complete picture. Assuming that it is the most important element in every Mage's mind is dramatically oversimplifying how Mages look at the world.

                            They teach the principle, and they make decisions based upon it, but they don't treat it as proof that everything they know is a lie. Instead they divorce truth from reality. Their teachings and philosophies are true (or at least lead to truth) even if they are clearly rejected by reality.


                            Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                            • #15
                              I think it's worth pointing out that, in character, a Mage could think of some spells as more difficult than others - because that what the Sphere dots do, they determine the difficulty of the effect.

                              e.g. Ms Example, a Hermetic mage, has been learning about fire spells from her Mentor (i.e. Forces Effects) she's learned that controlling a small existing flame (Forces 2) is significantly easier than conjuring flames out of nothing (Forces 3/Prime 2). It's possible that she's never used the term 'Spheres', 'Forces', or 'Prime' but might be perfectly at home with 'Rank', 'Fire', and 'Essence'. Her player on the other hand would use the first set of terms, definitely while out of character but possibly (accidentally?) while in character as not every player can both come up with an alternate set of terms and remember to use them every time.

                              Essentially though, how a Mage thinks about their magic is almost certainly determined by their paradigm.

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