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Cleaning up the clutter of the WoD: Psychics are just Wild Talented Orphans

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  • Cleaning up the clutter of the WoD: Psychics are just Wild Talented Orphans

    So Psychics in the WoD irk me. They feel out of place. They don't jive with any game other than Hunter, and there the issue is that they are overshadowed by Mystical Numina, which they clash with. A small tweak in psychics fix them, in my opinion.

    Psychics are Awakened individuals, Orphans, with Wild Talent and little idea of their powers.

    Pyrokinesis? Forces. Can he move objects? No. "My powers don't work that way." Now, this limitation is purely psychological, and with the right placebo (I will use my ancient powers to overcome your mental block, for example) or use of Mind could open them up as Mages and let them use their Forces 3 for things other than fiery death.

    Most "Psychics" would be picked up by the Technocracy and either neutralized (too much a Deviant) or turned into agents of one form or another.

    Now, this might feel like a small shift, but since I thought of this I've felt much better about Psychics in WoD. They don't feel like a loose thread anymore. The limitations they put on themselves mean that they aren't out of place in any game (Pentex makes Psychics, for example, and some Hunters are psychics, but they'll be Orphans with no Spherical powers really, Spheres on the sheet but no idea of how broad they are), and they can fit into Mage too.

    Could someone who is more experienced in Mage tell me if this works? Add to it? Also, are there any other loose threads that you've tied up using Mage?

  • #2
    On the matter of sorcerers, I used the following as a house rule

    Hedge Sorcery
    Instead of using an entirely different system for “Hedge Sorcery”, allow non-mages of the proper inclination (Sorcerers) to learn individual rotes.
    Each rote is a single well-defined spell, ritual, procedure, or other act meant to produce a magical (or hyper-technological) effect.
    The rote is cast using an appropriate Ability rather than Arête (often but not always Esoterica) but otherwise uses most of the same system as awakened magic, complete with foci.
    The dots in each rote’s highest sphere cannot exceed to the Sorcerer’s rank in the Ability she uses to cast that rote -1.
    In terms of Difficulty, 1 dot effects are treated as Coincidental, 2 to 3 dot effects as Vulgar, and 4 (or greater) dot effects as vulgar with witnesses.

    Paradox
    Rather than invoking actual paradox:
    2 - 3 dot effects always have some predetermined inconvenient drawback that either takes place when the rote is used or limits when or how the rote can be used.
    (For example: causing the sorcerer 1 die of bashing damage when used, having no effect on ordained members of a certain religion, being unusable on Saturday, etc.)
    4 - 5 dot effects always have some predetermined dangerous or truly troublesome drawback that either takes place when the rote is used or limits when or how the rote can be used.
    (For example: causing dice of lethal damage equal to dots in the highest sphere used, having no effect in the presence of unbelievers, requiring the light of the full moon, etc.)
    Botches on 1-3 dot effects entail a minor paradox backlash, while a botch on a 4+ effect entails a major paradox backlash.

    Each rote costs:
    Experience points equal to [2 x The Highest number of dots in any sphere used] + 1 per sphere required beyond the first, or
    Freebie points equal to the highest number of dots in any sphere used.

    Awakened Hedge Sorcerers
    An Awakened mage may not learn Hedge Sorcery unless it becomes somehow appropriate for the mage to learn magical effects that he or she could not otherwise recreate with his or her spheres. If such an exception is made, the mage nonetheless casts the effect using Arete and gains paradox from it as per the rules of awakened magick. The mage is later refunded any points spent to buy the effect when the mage is able to recreate it with spheres. Variably, the mage’s player may take the points spent on hedge magic and use them to buy the spheres required to recreate the rote’s effects.

    Hedge Sorcerer Characters
    The expert Hedge Sorcerer who has been practicing magic for some time is built in the same way as a starting mage character but with Willpower 4, and with 12 dots worth of rotes in the place of spheres. The Sorcerer can’t have a rote with a highest sphere of more than 1 dot unless she already has a rote with a highest sphere of exactly 1 dot lower.


    This was mainly because I was too lazy to refer to the sorcerer book for every single sorcerer, psychic, or hedge mage I wanted in my game and also so I wouldn't have to think too hard about spheres if ever one of these people would awaken and become a mage. This way, it's an add on to the mage system rather than a new system altogether.
    Last edited by Spacecat; 03-23-2017, 04:11 PM.

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    • #3
      That's really sensible! Good system all around. The same could be done with the Rom powers of "WoD: Why the fuck did someone okay this title", and various other oddities.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

        Psychics are Awakened individuals, Orphans, with Wild Talent and little idea of their powers.
        This works as a solution. The only thing I don't like about Wild talent is that it's too much of "This happens like this because the Storyteller says it does", which doesn't lend itself too well to a balanced game with psychics as players... not that you will have any psychics as players in a mage game in any case. So it's really a moot point.

        Incidentally, I think psychics would be valued by the Traditions as well as the tech. Tradition mages would probably pick them up too and send them to a teacher with a paradigm that person is most open to. At worst, they get a grateful person with a cool power to work for them. They might later help the person learn other magick. Heck, maybe the person learns one style of magick but still uses psychic powers roughly the same way like a Hermetic mage with "Innate" Telekinesis or a Telepathic Kung fu master.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Spacecat View Post

          This works as a solution. The only thing I don't like about Wild talent is that it's too much of "This happens like this because the Storyteller says it does", which doesn't lend itself too well to a balanced game with psychics as players... not that you will have any psychics as players in a mage game in any case. So it's really a moot point.

          Incidentally, I think psychics would be valued by the Traditions as well as the tech. Tradition mages would probably pick them up too and send them to a teacher with a paradigm that person is most open to. At worst, they get a grateful person with a cool power to work for them. They might later help the person learn other magick. Heck, maybe the person learns one style of magick but still uses psychic powers roughly the same way like a Hermetic mage with "Innate" Telekinesis or a Telepathic Kung fu master.
          Oh, yes. Psychic powers lend well to conversion to Akashic and Hermetic paradigms, since those are a tad "will it and it becomes so", and are also heavily ingrained into pop culture. I can see a Wild Talent Psychic being primed by Hermetics to become a proper Mage, them opening up their mind to unlock their full mastery of Forces.

          As for the Wild Talent, I might be using that phrase incorrectly. I mean that they can use Forces 3 and have Arete 3 despite having no training whatsoever, but their powers are limited to "fire" or "moving objects", and they don't understand how Spheres work or have a properly fleshed out or consistent paradigm.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
            So Psychics in the WoD irk me. They feel out of place. They don't jive with any game other than Hunter,
            In what way do Carrie, The Dead Zone, Firestarter, The Shining, Scanners, Stir of Echoes, The Fury, Village of the Damned and other stories of that stripe not fit with Werewolf, Wraith, Project: Twilight or The Arcanum?


            What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
            Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
              As for the Wild Talent, I might be using that phrase incorrectly. I mean that they can use Forces 3 and have Arete 3 despite having no training whatsoever, but their powers are limited to "fire" or "moving objects", and they don't understand how Spheres work or have a properly fleshed out or consistent paradigm.
              I suppose that's a bit like the reverse of Wild Talent, which is using more of using magic powers that are beyond your normal capabilities. It should be noted though that you can become a mage without any training at all whatsoever. You'd probably be quite limited in terms of what you know you can do, kind of like what you've described.

              Edit: Rom powers? Wait, Gypsy? LOL
              Last edited by Spacecat; 03-23-2017, 09:50 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post

                In what way do Carrie, The Dead Zone, Firestarter, The Shining, Scanners, Stir of Echoes, The Fury, Village of the Damned and other stories of that stripe not fit with Werewolf, Wraith, Project: Twilight or The Arcanum?
                Because they step on the special snowflake toes of Mages?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Spacecat View Post

                  I suppose that's a bit like the reverse of Wild Talent, which is using more of using magic powers that are beyond your normal capabilities. It should be noted though that you can become a mage without any training at all whatsoever. You'd probably be quite limited in terms of what you know you can do, kind of like what you've described.

                  Edit: Rom powers? Wait, Gypsy? LOL
                  Yeah, I read about a woman who decides to go travelling around the world, and as she steps out onto the road she steps onto a road far away, moving around Europe and Africa, South America and Asia through hiking, clearly using Correspondence 3 effects.

                  This does make me wonder whether Arete can really be described as a way of showing how far you understand and accept your paradigm, how deeply you've mastered it, since a total newbie can manifest level 3 sphere effects. My explanation would be that they have a deep instinctual understanding of Magick which they simply cannot verbalize.
                  Last edited by 11twiggins; 03-24-2017, 02:56 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

                    Yeah, I read about a woman who decides to go travelling around the world, and as she steps out onto the road she steps onto a road far away, moving around Europe and Africa, South America and Asia through hiking, clearly using Correspondence 3 effects.

                    This does make me wonder whether Arete can really be described as a way of showing how far you understand and accept your paradigm, how deeply you've mastered it, since a total newbie can manifest level 3 sphere effects. My explanation would be that they have a deep instinctual understanding of Magick which they simply cannot verbalize.
                    Well, M20 describes it as the core of True Magick and goes on to say that Mages disagree about what Arete actually is. I'd say calling it understanding would be somewhat inaccurate. Spheres are a better gauge of "understanding" and even then, some people are really more or less talented than others in certain fields, why not Magick?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Spacecat View Post

                      Well, M20 describes it as the core of True Magick and goes on to say that Mages disagree about what Arete actually is. I'd say calling it understanding would be somewhat inaccurate. Spheres are a better gauge of "understanding" and even then, some people are really more or less talented than others in certain fields, why not Magick?
                      Okay, so can you think your Paradigm is wrong? Like I'm thinking of a Technocrat who is aware that technology isn't a natural result of the order of the universe being harnessed by human intelligence, it relies on reality zones and belief and all that... it's not too hard to observe if you're smart and self-aware. Could someone with Genius 6 think that the Technocratic paradigm is actually bullshit?

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                      • #12
                        I think that would work is if the mage has some other paradigm they feel is more accurate or they are somehow overcoming their Foci. This is supposedly rare among technocrats.

                        In my opinion, the original technocrats and many of the higher ups don't actually believe that "technology is a natural result of the order of the universe" in the sense that the average scientist does. I think the heart of their belief is that everything "should" follow the same natural law, and that everyone "should" live in an ordered, predictable, comprehensible, safe, and stable universe... and that if this isn't true that they will make it true because belief determines reality and they can control belief. It's more of an ideology than something they take for granted, at least at a certain level.
                        Last edited by Spacecat; 03-24-2017, 11:10 AM.

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                        • #13
                          As an idea. Since Orphans aren't usually so limited (although it's not impossible, I guess), you could make this "condition" of psychics a new variation of the Sleepwalker Defect. 1 point of Sleepwalker let's you build a mage that can't use vulgar magick, and may or may not count as a sleeper when watching it. A variation could allow you to use magick regardless of coincidence, but only of certain limmited types that, your mage believes, are determied by a special conditioning, biological mutation or training (aka. Pyrokinesis). Dependant on how restrictive you want to make it, it could count as a 2 or 3 level Deffect (compared with Sleepwalker).

                          Originally posted by Spacecat
                          In my opinion, the original technocrats and many of the higher ups don't actually believe that "technology is a natural result of the order of the universe" in the sense that the average scientist does. I think the heart of their belief is that everything "should" follow the same natural law, and that everyone "should" live in an ordered, predictable, comprehensible, safe, and stable universe... and that if this isn't true that they will make it true because belief determines reality and they can control belief. It's more of an ideology than something they take for granted, at least at a certain level.
                          This it's not just an opinion. It's right there in the "Metaphysics of Magick" section of the Gide to the Technocracy. High ups lie to the rank and file, in truth they believe in consensual reality. That's why they want to control it. As for this discovery being a function of Arete...well, several, if not all, books seem to point to this (Masters of the Art, suggests that appart from gaining Arete, the mage should invest some effort in finding this truth. Like learning and using other Paradigms, as an example. I'm not sure if I'm entirely ok with this, I like a lot the idea of expanding Paradigm, but I would say that a mage that doesn't invest in this kind of efforts shouldn't get to a high level of Arete in the first place).

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Aleph View Post
                            This it's not just an opinion. It's right there in the "Metaphysics of Magick" section of the Gide to the Technocracy.
                            Wow. I never actually got around to reading that part of that book.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Aya Tari View Post

                              Because they step on the special snowflake toes of Mages?
                              The system as presented in this thread works perfectly well and does do a good job of simplifying things mechanically and metaphysically for Mage. But, if I'm playing any game other than Mage, then it's sort of problematic. If I'm running a Werewolf game involving Kinfolk touched by Luna and her moon spirits and Pentex's Project: Odyssey, or a mortals/"twilight people" game of psychic investigators recreating The Haunting of Hill House, Hell House and 1408 , I don't really want to get bogged down by things like Spheres and Arete ratings. So, as a Mage thing, it's a success. As a World of Darkness wide thing, eh. :/


                              What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                              Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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