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Can Magick Manipulate EXP?

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  • Can Magick Manipulate EXP?

    I know that Magick can allow for EXP breaks, like halving the cost of raising a trait if you have raised it with an Effect, but does Magick allow you to manipulate EXP in other ways?

    The only example I'm aware of within the WoD of a power "creating EXP" is a level 5 New Age Thaumaturgy ritual, where you sacrifice a cult by putting cyanide in the communal blood-bonding ritual liquid. Each dead cultist is 1 die, and you roll all of them at difficulty 6. Each success is a point of EXP. There may be others. So clearly it's not entirely impossible for static magic to generate EXP... but does EXP even exist in an IC sense? What creates it? How can you replicate those conditions? Could Time work? Your own realm that exists out of step, where you can figuratively "grind" for EXP for eons while only seconds pass in our world?

    I'd welcome any other examples of blood magic / sorcery / gifts / arcanoi / cantrips / domains / lores / powers / etc. creating or gifting EXP. The only other one which jumps to mind is the Path of Skulls Necromancy abilities, which includes a power where you can take traits from a Skull, including Disciplines and Attributes. For example you could jump from Dexterity 1 to Dexterity 5 by destroying the skull of a mortal or supernatural who had such refined dexterity. But this is still limited, and relies on special conditions and gives only certain outcomes.

    Ideas people!
    Last edited by 11twiggins; 09-15-2018, 08:03 AM.

  • #2
    Well EXP is a gaming abstraction. It shouldn't be possible to affect it like it is a real thing. Part of what it represents isn't even in the WoD but instead a reward for behavior at the gaming table.

    To the extent that it does represent a kind of effort and life experience, some of that is replicateable or stealable, sure, but it would be better to consider what is happening in fiction and then write the numerical effects to match.

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


    • #3
      Well EXP is a game term, but it definitely... well "exists". It's an abstraction of knowledge and time and effort and learning and growth; but can those be artificially induced in a permanent fashion, that's the question.


      • #4
        My answer would be "No, but..."

        XP itself, in my opinion, is off limits. It is a metagame abstraction, it exists in some weird place between the real world and the roleplaying world. It's not even just linked to the characters themselves, it is awarded to the players (for good roleplaying, for example) as a boon to customize and expand their character as much as to the character to model their progress and development. Why do those 5 XP become two new levels of firearms instead of melee ? Well, probably because the character has been using firearms or is training with them, but maybe he has been using melee too, and the most important reason is that it's the way the player want to develop the character. In my opinion XP should always act in a "top down" way, flowing from the ST to the player, and then from the player towards the character, shaping it while respecting previous character development.

        A wider question is: could magick achieve (more or less) the same things XP does? I think it is a ST choice and that it depends, to a vast extent, on how you handle Backgrounds. There are clear rules for Backgrounds ratings at character creation, but the question of how they change after that has always been a bit fuzzy, deliberately I think: should Backgrounds increase through character action, with XP, or both (one or the other, or at once) ? Let's take a few examples:
        • A technomancer equips itself with an adamantium skeleton giving him greatly improved stamina (and probably a big Brawl bonus too, and possibly other bonus, whatever): he is technically turning himself into a living wonder, which is covered by the Enhancement background. Should he pay for it in XP ? Just go through the (horribly complex, expensive and risky) magickal work to craft the wonder ? Both ? I would be inclined to the second option (and play the whole operation, which is certainly not easy), but it's storyteller choice.
        • A mage uses a talisman allowing the holder to learn faster: the talisman itself is a Wonder, but its effects can linger and are not necessarily tied to it. That could be modeled as a discount on (some) XP costs, which seems less problematic to me than directly giving XP. If that still seems problematic or too easy, you could decide the character can only use the new level while using the talisman (so basically the increased level is stored in the wonder, and covered by whatever rules you decide about getting backgrounds and wonders), and if you want to make the benefit truly permanent you need to pay the rest of the XP cost.
        • A mage is using Mind 4 to basically ransack another person's mind and absorb his considerable knowledge of occult and academics (represented by bonus to related abilities): if the effect is not permanent, no problem. If it is... Mmh... I would be inclined to let my player get away with it but nerf it in indirect way: first, nobody learns the same way, and though you can use that extra knowledge you absorbed, it is alien to your usual way of thinking and you can't easily build upon it. In game terms, if you want to further increase the ability level, you have to "assimilate" the knowledge first and spend as much XP as you would have needed to raise it normally. Second, if you absorb such an important part of someone's knowledge and thoughts, you might absorbe part of their history and personality too; it may occasionally manifest as voices or alien thoughts, or influence the way you use the knowledge.

        To sum it up, I see three basic ways to handle it:
        • Disallow completely permanent increase of traits through magick without paying XP
        • Allow it but make it difficult, expensive or subject to limitations and drawbacks
        • Allow it but treat the new level as provisional or dependant on something until the character has paid the full XP cost
        • Part of those choices can be implemented through the rules you use to handle how to increase Backgrounds such as Enhancement and Wonder


        • #5
          Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
          Well EXP is a game term, but it definitely... well "exists". It's an abstraction of knowledge and time and effort and learning and growth; but can those be artificially induced in a permanent fashion, that's the question.
          1° a caveat: Magick doesn't control the mechanics of the game but rather the mechanics of the game are used to reflect what the magick does: No magick controls "damage" : You control fire and the fire causes damage, you control the body of others and damage them tearing it's pattern. Damage mechanics reflect what you do. So, I agree with the others in that EXP isn't a thing in the universe that can be directly grabbed and twisted with magick.

          HOWEVER, I also agree with you that experience it's something that exists in game, and so does the Bible. Here's some food for tought:

          Grimoires: These reduce the xp cost for learning Spheres and even Arete. Grimoires are made with (among other things) Mind 5. Apparently a (rather difficult) Mind 5 effect it's what you need to condence the abstract and arcane experience that constitutes magick and pass it to others (as per Grimoire fluff). Note, thoug, that this doesn't "create xp", but rather reduce the cost of other Traits. And the beneficiary of the Grimoire needs at least one xp point of his own to complete the change. A token gesture compared with the cost of a Sphere, but still a very significative token gesture

          A different example of magick that influences xp costs is raising Attributes with magick. When you increase permanently an Attribute trough magick you have to pay half the cost of the Attribute in experience to avoid Pattern Bleeding. If the level its within Consensual reality it doesn't cause Permadox. In that fashion a mage can theoretically halve the xp cost of every Attribute. Again you aren't creating xp, but you are altering the amunt you need to do stuff.

          Based on that, I think that the answer to your question should be a very solid maybe: Magick most certainly can influence the stuff that is abstracted into xp and thus, in a way, "manipulate xp", but these rules never touch xp directly. Not even when they explicitly manipulate experience as is the case of Grimoires.

          There's not a neat table about xp costs and there's no canon way to create xp and for a good reason: In Mage you always need to be careful, if you allow to create xp ex-nihilo you open the gate for all sort of alterations that most likely aren't going to be limited by quaint stuff like "sacrifices" (as static magic does) for too long. Soon you will have mages creating swords that absorb xp and give it to the wielder, xp nukes, etc. XP is no sacred cow, but it is delicate: Ultimately mages CAN "manipulate knowledge and time and effort and learning and growth", but it's ST discretion to determine how that will be represented whitin the rules. The official stance of the books seems to be to allow a reduction of the costs and never give stuff for free. magick it's supposed to be costly and hard, after all. Surely if you create a sword that absorbs the experience and expertice of others you could argue for a sword that lower Skills and then allow you to gain them with a reduced xp cost
          Last edited by Aleph; 09-16-2018, 01:43 AM.