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  • Pardigm Wording

    This has gotten more arguments and problems in my game than anything else. The words are so vague, the ideas so broad, that it doesn't help anyone. It's really sad when a book that has rules clearly meant to simplify something so oversimplify a concept that it becomes meaningless. I have to go all the back to revised, pulling out the dusty tomes and have people read that to understand what a paradigm is.

    I know what a paradigm is, but seriously, after reading this new definition I am so confused that I have to give my potential players a test to see if they know it. A lot of my veteran plays have stated that they are more confused than ever. Why, WHY was a Disney move required? Some of the paradigms listed aren't, and some are just the beginning of a paradigm. Hell, some of the paradigms from the earlier editions aren't even paid lip service to help explain or transition between editions.

    I know that I'm going to get flak for stating this, but I just can't help it. My players are so frustrated, I'm frustrated. A game that was supposed to be fun has caused more arguments because the authors wrote something that doesn't fit in with the rest of the game. See, gaming is trust. I trust the authors to make and play test the rule book. The players trust me to interpret those rules and I trust the players to have read the rules and ask questions. The only paradigm any of us agree is an actual paradigm is the reference to the Matrix. One player wanted It's All Good - Have Faith. I took a look at it and could not see how that was a paradigm at all. It was the beginning of a thought that might one day be a paradigm, but again, so vaguely worded that it held no information that the player could use beyond "it just happens." Then add in he wanted to use Maleficia with it....

    So that list, those aren't paradigms. Why are they listed as paradigms? They are the beginning of a paradigm. Why do you hate my players?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Thkaal View Post
    They are the beginning of a paradigm.
    Paradigm now refers to that first part, an old style paradigm would include all three, paradigm, practice and instruments.

    You could try Book of Secrets if you haven't already, it has some examples.


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    • #3
      Alternatively, do away with the book and do what I try to do with my players.

      Meet with them one by one and go over character creation, and figure out with them exactly how their mage does magic.

      To do this, I ask my players the following question:

      1) how does their mage think the universe functions?
      2) what do they do to control/influence this universe?
      3) what do they need to do it?

      This is basically how M20 separates it, but I find that results are much better when the player has to come up with something unaided. Rather than choosing from a list, they have to consider the raw philosophy of their mage. It helps them understand their character, and also allows them to develop small nuances and quirks unique to their belief, such that the modular method In M20 would not otherwise provide.

      Having the players do this individually, one at a time without the others in the room allows them to be free from influence from one another. This allows their paradigm to be truly theirs, and what’s more, increases the chance that their mages view of how the universe works contradicts what the other players come up with, further contributing to what I consider as the central themes of Mage.


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      • #4
        Those things in the books are just guidelines and paradigms evolve during play.
        One of my players begann with "Everything is an Illusion/Prison" using some Witchcraft, and Yoga. The premise was, that the world was limiting her in many ways and believing that there should be more, maybe on another plane of existence. Being a Mind-oriented witch, she chose to establish the concept of an "ego barrier" in play, after a while. The concept describes a fiel created by a consciousness that forms and influences her surroundings. Now this concept is the very center of her believe, influencing her entire magic and casting stile. It's all about how your ego can influence the world. Practice-wise, she evolved to use a mixture of psionics and high ritual magic now. She started as an Orphan. Having learned from an hermetic mage and by refining her starting paradigm, she evolved into a super high level Mind-Archmage by now and her paradigm pretty much rules.

        So, what exactly is your problem, by the way? I've read your post and you don't like the believe-descriptions? Well, you and your players have to take them and run with it. They're just loose concepts, give them meaning. I'm not sure if this helps you. Maybe I'm not getting what the problem is.

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        • #5
          Just that the way the book is worded, for new players, they think those are full fledged paradigms and the only things that are allowed. And for many, they get frustrated when I try to draw out more information. Knowing how potentially OP a mage can be, I want that built in self limitation of their paradigm to be very well defined. But then they point to these "paradigms" and say, "you're just trying to have no one as powerful as your favorite npc's." Which, I could see as a problem if the plan in the story wasn't for those npc's to die so the pc's can take their places.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Thkaal View Post
            Just that the way the book is worded, for new players, they think those are full fledged paradigms and the only things that are allowed. And for many, they get frustrated when I try to draw out more information. Knowing how potentially OP a mage can be, I want that built in self limitation of their paradigm to be very well defined.
            Your instruments do that. You need seven of them. The paradigm is really more a way to get the players thinking about how their character conceptualises the world and their relationships to it.

            Like, the character who wants to use "it's all good, have faith", still requires seven instruments.

            Further, the examples in Book of Secrets actually all meld at least two paradigms; and it introduces more of them, so you're not limited to the ones in the core.


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            • #7
              I find it very curious that the paradigm of your character is causing so much trouble.

              Granted, it *is* the part about mage that requires the most creativity and, in a way, self-restraint by the players, and is one of the things that really differentiates Mage from other RPGs - the players having to come up with their *own* rules of how their character in-game does their magic, what limits in worldview and belief their characters have, and what the requirements for them to do their magic are.

              That said...M20 does a MUCH better job at describing paradigm, tools and practice than the previous editions.
              I suggest doing what Michael suggested - read the Book of Secrets for further inspiration.

              Also, a good idea is, in my opinion, not to directly ask "What is your character's paradigm?". I highly suggest to approach it from a different angle, during character creation:

              1) Go into detail about the character's past, family and friends.
              2) Build up their history to the event that caused their awakening
              3) Then, figure out who found the Mage. Who was their mentor? What tradition was their mentor from, and what kinds of things did the mentor teach them? Did the mentor give them a slow introduction or was it a rush-job? Did the mentor prepare them for a specific view of the world? What moral limits did the mentor impose, and was their mentor more traditionalist, or did they have a more open mind about new ways of approaching magick? What *rules* did they impose?

              This last point is pretty much one of the biggest influences of your Mage's paradigm. Paradigm does not exist in a vacuum, and its rules and worldview is usually highly influenced by the mentor at first. Imagine all those olde movies about Yoda training Luke, Disney's merlin showing young Artur the world, the kung-fu master training the student. Things like "You are not ready for that yet" and "Your must never do X" come to mind. "This is how we humble the spirits", "These rituals must be strictly performed to achieve Y".

              The paradigms in the books are examples - a lot of them, but there is always more, and you should not feel limited by the (again, much better written up than in previous editions) examples.

              And, really, if your players have specific questions or examples they are struggling with, feel free to post them here with their permission. Peraps we can help.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Michael View Post

                Your instruments do that. You need seven of them. The paradigm is really more a way to get the players thinking about how their character conceptualises the world and their relationships to it.

                Like, the character who wants to use "it's all good, have faith", still requires seven instruments.
                Exactly. While the Paradigms in M20 seem broad, they are only the first of the three-part Focus that a mage has. The Paradigm may describe broad strokes of what the character believes, but having the player choose their Practice will immediately begin to refine what that Paradigm MEANS in that character's context. Reality being an Illusion is going to mean a great deal different to a High Ritual Magician who subscribes to Platonic philosophy, as it does to an ecstatic who uses Crazy Wisdom and Yoga, as it is to a Reality Hacker who thinks they're in the Matrix. Simply saying how the mage does magick, by that same token, implies how they DON'T do magick.

                Instruments take this point even further, especially when you force the player to explain why the character thinks they can use any given Instrument, given their Paradigm and Practice. Tools refine how they are used, which refines why the character uses them.

                This whole process of refinement doesn't stop at character creation, either. If the players still haven't gotten as fleshed out a Focus as you'd like, keep asking questions as their Focus is used. When they want to use a particular Effect, ask them, "Why does your character think she can do that?" After doing this long enough, both Storyteller and Player ought to understand the PC's Focus well enough that justifying their Effects should become second nature.


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