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How to downplay the Mage Traditions/Conventions/Crafts

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  • How to downplay the Mage Traditions/Conventions/Crafts

    It was mooted in the recent interview between Matthew darkins and Phil Satyros Brucato that, in order to make the game more accessible, just ignoring the various groups and factions while making a more street level Orphan campaign was a good suggestion. With some talk of an eventual M5 edition, would it be too radical to consider that this type of set up might be a way to go generally? I have sore

    I know that, for the most part, WoD games have always been based on designing characters within a group affiliation structure - Clans, Tribes, etc - but most of these cap out at 13 (or less in certain editions of Vampire) whereas the current version of Mage 20 has nearly double this, if you consider the inclusion of Technocracy and Crafts.

    Some people really love certain groups, so any change would be tricky, but my enthusiasm is really for something else that has been introduced in a way, with M20: actual specified Paradigms. So, an idea would be to build characters on this level, while making the factional elements a seperate political identity (akin to Vampire Sects or Changeling Houses), that you might or might not join.

    So, rather than having players join an Order of Hermes, per se, they would have a 'Hermetic Paradigm", and join whatever faction they want, if they want. The assumption of training and hierarchy need not be contained to established splat groups either. One might read the lost notes of Isaac Newton, explaining a hermetic paradigm and by doing so Awaken, and so on. Other Paradigms could be listed as Animistic instead of Dreamspeakers, Theistic instead of Celestial Chorus, Akashic instead of an Akashic Brotherhood, Techno-Gnostic instead of VAs and so on.

    As said, this would be a very radical departure, but it could mean that you wouldn't need to splat out different groups in such detail as before - just describe the paradigm, rather than organisational structures - and it could help reduce the convolution of political groups accordingly. Overarching conflicts could still be brought into the game, however.

  • #2
    Theres really no need to include everything anyway. My stories are normally myself and 4 players. Even with every player choosing a separate faction that's only 4 different groups to deal with. As long as you as the ST keep them confined to Tradition or Technocrat with non conflicting Disparates they can all find a common enough ground to work together in a cabal.

    There is certainly no need for them to be heavily connected to their specific faction unless they are Technocracy and that solves itself with not having to much to worry about. Even if 1 or 2 players want a strong factional connection it shouldn't pose to big of a problem. And all factions not relative to the story can be tossed.

    This of course is a starting point. As the players grow in power and influence others will become intrested,whether for good or bad, but that is played out and grows over time so it shouldn't be overly burdensome.

    Hell, I ran a 2 1/2 year weekly campaign that only used Dreamspeakers, Celestial Chorus, Hollowers, Akashic, CoE, Euthanatos, NWO, Progenitors, and Void Engineers. Oh and a few Marauders and 1 Nephandus. Now that may seem like a lot but a few of them were only a single Mage.

    The point is that theres a lot to offer in Mage but very rarely will a campaign, much less a single story require you to use very much of it. It's not like you have to know all about a faction just to use a few Mages that represent it. Especially if the are not primary NPCs or the players themselves.

    I'm a fan of always starting the players out as street level Mages unless it's a 1 on 1 game. The previously mentioned campaign (which began as a Revised game) I started them as following the paradigm of there desired sect which they then drew the attention of. So in a way they did start as Orphans that entered into the various factions over the first few sessions. It guarantees that they start at the bottom of the ladder and then grow into their respective tradition.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Trippy View Post
      So, an idea would be to build characters on this level, while making the factional elements a seperate political identity (akin to Vampire Sects or Changeling Houses), that you might or might not join.
      Do you have anything in mind to replace belonging to the separate Traditions and Conventions for young Mages starting out ? I think that it is a big part of the background, that a young Mage recruited by the Traditions and the Technocracy is welcomed into the fold, and becomes a self-aware, responsible and capable Mage. This is one of the reasons those Mages tat don't experience and benefit from this are called ' Orphans ' by the Traditions.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Muad'Dib View Post
        Do you have anything in mind to replace belonging to the separate Traditions and Conventions for young Mages starting out ? I think that it is a big part of the background, that a young Mage recruited by the Traditions and the Technocracy is welcomed into the fold, and becomes a self-aware, responsible and capable Mage. This is one of the reasons those Mages tat don't experience and benefit from this are called ' Orphans ' by the Traditions.
        It's a good question. I think the main thing for me is that there doesn't need to be as many organisations as such, and this would mean having some 'broad churches' in practice, where the actual paradigm of the Mage is not a prerequisite to joining.

        So, for example, there could be an Order of Hermes - but within their circles they may include Mages of all sorts of different paradigms - Animists, Techno-mages, Ecstatic mages, Death Mages and so on, as well as classic Hermeticists. It would be a college of magical diversity, in effect.

        You could do the same with other groups too - just eliminating the need to have the whole society essentially bound by the same paradigm, or indeed, just making up an 'organisation' to fit a particular paradigm. I've never seen how Dreamspeakers, for example, could ever really be a cohesive organisation because they really amount to whole bunch of independents just married to a similar world view.

        The sort of organisations then, based on what we have already could be:
        • The Order of Hermes - An ecclectic college of magics, organised into different Houses, with a Pyramid power structure
        • The Society of Ether - Incorporating any fringe or 'sci-fi' mages (so very ecclectic and possibly including some VAs); organised into secret conventions and journals
        • The Akashic Record - Bound by the shared access to the records; mental links to world knowledge rather than just martial artists.
        • The New Order of Reason - Possibly a more benign organisation than the Technocracy of previous editions, partially due to the poularity of playing techno-mages, but also due to changing threats in the 21st century where 'reason' is no longer seen to be omnipotent.
        • A unifying faith type of group like The Celestial Chorus - but eally gettiing more diverse, to really encorage more faiths, rather than just the emphasis on Christianity.
        • Dispirates, Orphans, Independent Crafts, etc
        Of course, all I am really doing here, in a way, is revisiting the Traditions as they are, and collapsing a few of the narrower ones in together - so, I guess, what I am really trying to do is divorse the relationship between organisation and paradigm a bit. It is tricky, but what are others thoughts?



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        • #5
          It could make the game a lot more accessible but such a departure, other than getting rid of a group that somebody really likes (What do you mean there's no such thing as a Virtual Adept / Son of Ether anymore?!), it also really scales back the Ascension War.

          In some ways, this could be a good thing (dialling back the Pogrom that the technocracy is waging on the Traditions etc). That being said, it would have knock-off effects that would need to be accounted for in the 'big picture', aka the consensus. If any given mage could have any given paradigm and join any given group, it heavily restricts if not removes the current view of the Consensus.

          That might be a good thing, but I rather like the consensus as a thing in mage games, even though it makes it hard to draw more people into the setting, the fact that nothing is strictly speaking true is one of the things that makes Mage unique. You might have different views of course.

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          • #6
            I'd suggest cutting it back even further.

            Technocracy, Orphans and the Nephandi/Mauraders.


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            • #7

              Originally posted by Michael View Post
              I'd suggest cutting it back even further.

              Technocracy, Orphans and the Nephandi/Mauraders.
              Quite possibly, with the greater variety of Mages then being based upon unaffiliated "Paradigms" and "Practices" and as taken from - or at least similar to - the Paradigms/Practices included in the M20 book as the basis of 'splats'.

              I'd probably not call them Orphans as they wouldn't be orphaned from anything without the Traditions being there. So, basically, we'd probably call the faction 'The Traditions' as a sect of sorts, but without any inner structure or collective organisation. Basically just a collective term for any disparate magic practitioner that isn't Nephandi or Marauder.



              Last edited by Trippy; 09-24-2018, 08:38 AM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Trippy View Post
                Quite possibly, with the greater variety of Mages then being based upon unaffiliated "Paradigms" and "Practices" and as taken from - or at least similar to - the Paradigms/Practices included in the M20 book as the basis of 'splats'.

                I'd probably not call them Orphans as they wouldn't be orphaned from anything without the Traditions being there. So, basically, we'd probably call the faction 'The Traditions' as a sect of sorts, but without any inner structure or collective organisation. Basically just a collective term for any disparate magic practitioner that isn't Nephandi or Marauder.
                Yeah, I should have made that explicit. I'm suggesting moving everyone who isn't a Techno/Nephandi/Maurader into the Orphan category.

                Disparate would maybe work as a term.


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                • #9
                  Rather than try to compress the Traditions and ignore the Paradigm dividals, It would be better to say that each Tradition caters certain Practices. I.E: Hermetics are about High Ritual and Might Makes it Right. A "you need to have at least one of these Focuses to join" would suffice, no need to transform all Traditions in the Hollow Ones.

                  Also I wouldn't recomend to downplay the Ascencion War - it gives players and ST stuff to do.

                  Since we're talking about a WW5 product, I propose this idea. Traditions as Loresheets: "You've been Initiated in the misteries of the Order of Hermes" sure sounds like one, and the neat perks that come with it would help to flesh out why people join in the first place.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Aleph View Post
                    Rather than try to compress the Traditions and ignore the Paradigm dividals, It would be better to say that each Tradition caters certain Practices. I.E: Hermetics are about High Ritual and Might Makes it Right. A "you need to have at least one of these Focuses to join" would suffice, no need to transform all Traditions in the Hollow Ones.

                    Also I wouldn't recomend to downplay the Ascencion War - it gives players and ST stuff to do.

                    Since we're talking about a WW5 product, I propose this idea. Traditions as Loresheets: "You've been Initiated in the misteries of the Order of Hermes" sure sounds like one, and the neat perks that come with it would help to flesh out why people join in the first place.
                    Actually, this is what Mage 1st did in the way, and I find it problematic because it pigeon-holes the characters too much. I'd like to be able to play, for example a member of the Order of Hermes who specialises in death magic and develops a paradigm on voudun practices, for example. I'd like to pigeonhole less, and essentially uncouple the link between group affiliation and paradigmatic belief.

                    I do like the loresheet idea.
                    Last edited by Trippy; 09-24-2018, 11:28 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Michael View Post

                      Yeah, I should have made that explicit. I'm suggesting moving everyone who isn't a Techno/Nephandi/Maurader into the Orphan category.

                      Disparate would maybe work as a term.
                      I do get that. The idea that the various Traditions and Crafts are essentially smashed, but dispirate Mages still group together.

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                      • #12
                        Actually like the idea of an all orphans game with regard to the mystic magi who are seeking Ascension. I find the idea to be refreshing and actually think that it could be a big step forward.

                        I like the idea of members of all the other major factions ceasing to be individuals in away and somehow becoming part of the larger force that they have both been empowered by and consumed by.

                        Typically this force is depicted as those of the metaphysic trinity: stasis, Entropy, and dynamism, though I’m not suggesting that we go back in that direction.

                        It gives me a sense of alienation from these groups, it makes them in a way much more frightening and thus, makes the entire world of darkness more frightening. To think of these groups are beyond touching on an individual level because their members had become beyond individuality and are now like tendrils of the force they have been pulled in by gives me a sense of being a being of great power but being dreadfully small st the same time.

                        I don’t propose this depersonalization of the major factions, of all those who are not lone mystic orphans, but I do really like the idea of the orphans game and the sort of alienation that they might feel in such a world.
                        Last edited by Zennis; 09-26-2018, 01:11 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Trippy View Post
                          I'd like to be able to play, for example a member of the Order of Hermes who specialises in death magic and develops a paradigm on voudun practices, for example.
                          Of course you should be able to do that, I don't propose to go back to 1e. I expressed myself poorly, what I mean it's that your Focus shouldn't ignore the fact you're a Hermetic.

                          Hermeticism exists in the real world. A given practicioner may easily be intriged by death magic and vodun, but will also believe in Hermetic things. Otherwise what's the point of joining the Order in the first place? It would be like calling yourself a Christian (and getting in fights with non-christians because of that) without believing in God nor uphilding Christian values.

                          Dreamspeakers, on the other hand, don't work as a Tradition - that's not for lack of Focus among individuals, however, but rather because they're compressed into a "Spirit Tradition" that has no Focus. Is that the example you're proposing to follow?

                          Originally posted by Zennis
                          Actually like the idea of an all orphans game with regard to the mystic magi who are seeking Ascension. I find the idea to be refreshing and actually think that it could be a big step forward.
                          I think Mage can work as an Orphan game, but I also think this leaves in the door all that's human about mages. Humans join in groups of like minded people, there's few things more humane than that. Paradigms form the core of religions, sciences and philosophies. All mage Mechanics from M20 point in that direction (Reality Zones, Paradigm as a belief that can hold water, Cults). Why mages would be unable or unwilling to craft Traditions?, are they cursed in a fashion that prevents prolonged contact with other people?, it's magick so divisive that they can't make a common ground unless a major power brainwashes them?
                          Last edited by Aleph; 09-26-2018, 07:02 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Aleph View Post

                            Of course you should be able to do that, I don't propose to go back to 1e. I expressed myself poorly, what I mean it's that your Focus shouldn't ignore the fact you're a Hermetic.

                            Hermeticism exists in the real world. A given practicioner may easily be intriged by death magic and vodun, but will also believe in Hermetic things. Otherwise what's the point of joining the Order in the first place? It would be like calling yourself a Christian (and getting in fights with non-christians because of that) without believing in God nor uphilding Christian values.

                            Dreamspeakers, on the other hand, don't work as a Tradition - that's not for lack of Focus among individuals, however, but rather because they're compressed into a "Spirit Tradition" that has no Focus. Is that the example you're proposing to follow?
                            The last point is really what I am driving at - there are groups made up to support a particular paradigm, rather than the logic that such a group would actually be realistically organised. In the case of Dreamspeakers, I actually see them as being more like a Disparate group than something that would be part of a "Council of Nine" because the cultures it represents are so diverse. They only have them there, really, because they want a group to be the "Spirit Sphere Specialist" Tradition. I think the game should move away from this sort of categorisation.

                            I would note that the Hermeticism in the real world actually takes a lot of it's paradigm from Christian belief too. The various angels and demons used in summoning rituals, for example. In the Mage game, much of the Order of Hermes seems pretty ecclectic anyway, and I'm not sure that it often holds with real world Hermeticism in a completely strict way. The curious thing, if we are modelling real world groups, would that a Hermetic mage would probably be more of a hybrid between the OoH and the Celestial Chorus in effect, while occultists like Aleister Crowley actually spent a lot of time reading up on Eastern philosophies and then adapting them into Western occult practices.
                            Last edited by Trippy; 09-26-2018, 07:31 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Trippy View Post
                              The last point is really what I am driving at - there are groups made up to support a particular paradigm, rather than the logic that such a group would actually be realistically organised. In the case of Dreamspeakers, I actually see them as being more like a Disparate group than something that would be part of a "Council of Nine" because the cultures it represents are so diverse. They only have them there, really, because they want a group to be the "Spirit Sphere Specialist" Tradition. I think the game should move away from this sort of categorisation.
                              I agree, wholeheartedly. It wouldn't even be a Disparate group because they are no group.

                              Then again, if M5 wants to follow the metaplot they have to be there. If they decide to follow the "Traditions as Loresheet" idea, being a Dreamspearker could be related with having a diverse contact network and odd allies (a bit like what they did with the Ravnos) more than with having a particular Focus. I would wish to preserve their "shamanic vive", but that term is pretty loose and gives a lot of leeway.

                              I would note that the Hermeticism in the real world actually takes a lot of it's paradigm from Christian belief too. The various angels and demons used in summoning rituals, for example. In the Mage game,
                              Indeed, Hermeticism it's very related to Christian belief. In concrete, with Gnosticism.

                              [QUOTE]much of the Order of Hermes seems pretty ecclectic anyway, and I'm not sure that it often holds with real world Hermeticism in a completely strict way. The curious thing, if we are modelling real world groups, would that a Hermetic mage would probably be more of a hybrid between the OoH and the Celestial Chorus in effect, while occultists like Aleister Crowley actually spent a lot of time reading up on Eastern philosophies and then adapting them into Western occult practices./QUOTE]

                              OoH as depicted it's, indeed, very ecclectic (having from chaos magicians to zoroastrian mystics) It certainly isn't an ortodox hermetic sect, and that's why I think that, by all means, a vodun practicioner should be able to fit somewhere.

                              Personally, I think that while OoH as a group has a very "Western occult practices" vibe (and that's alright to me), it should be able to adapt High Ritual stuff of other occult systems. I liked that about house ex-miscelanea: there you could find such disparate elements as Ngoma and Wu Lung, joined by the relevant theme of being highly ritualized Practices.

                              If they decide to follow the "Traditions as Loresheet" idea, being a Hermetic could give, among other things, some bonus to adapt ritualized magick from other Paradigms.

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