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1899, Mage 20th in the Wild West: ideas?

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  • 1899, Mage 20th in the Wild West: ideas?

    I'm GMing a game of Mage 20th Anniversary Ed. in the US Wild West, 1899. The inspiration of the game is, as you might expect, a mixture of Red Dead Redemption 2, Westworld, Lucky Luke, the "Spaghetti" Westerns, Hateful Eight, and even some Akira Kurosawa thrown in there.

    My motivation for wanting to set a Mage game in a fictional 1899 setting are the various variants of the themes of "Modern" versus "Traditional". Mapped/explored versus "un-mapped"/unexplored, historical Truth versus Legend (as is the Western genre), sustainable communities (Gemeinschaft) versus ressource-hungry accelerating/timed/busy societies (Gesellschaft). My players picked various stereotypical character archetypes:
    • A charming Brothel "Madam" whose magic stems from post-traumatic enlightenment that faith in goodness can be made manifest in reality;
    • A monstrous tragic hero, disfigured and icy, yet preoccupied by the plight of regular people who hate him for what he represents;
    • A "Lucky Luke" figure, the solar hero, who actually comes from the far future, and vies to oppose both crime and a future dominated by the Technocracy;
    • An Appalachian native who is very far from home, on a quest to fight the Wendigo, a metaphor for the insatiable modern man;
    • A Mexican alchemist whose magic comes from ancient knowledge of the land's leylines;
    • A Japanese early feminist agitator and martial artist who is trying to bring justice to disgruntled migrants and women in general;
    • A prophetic appostle of the Apocalypse who has become the unwilling leader of a Cult he was recruited in as a child.
    Of course, the summaries do not entirely describe the characters. Also, yes, they are (magnificent?) seven. I'm well aware of the challenges that this entails. I don't pretend this is sustainable, but it's the situation. The game is quite popular, I didn't expect that.

    Now, I've already introduced an agent of the Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, accompanied by an agent of the Technocracy (they have guessed it rather easily OOC).

    I find that there are many interesting ways to explore, quite literally, the tropes of both Mage and the Western genre at the same time. The rapid expansion of railroads and he telegraph contributed to the acceleration of society, as well as the growing usage of time measurement tools (watches, clocks, etc.), like the ubiquitous "pocket watch".

    What do you think the Technocracy would look like right after its Victorian founding? What interesting stories would you imagine in such a setting? Does it inspire you any campaign ideas? Do you see any obstacle?

    What do you think of this?

    I've done two game at this point, and it seems to work quite well.
    Last edited by BarbeChenue; 03-10-2019, 03:08 AM.

  • #2
    Pity it's a way off yet because Victorian Mage I feel would answer some of these questions or inspire some answers anyway.

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    • #3
      If you haven't read it yet, you may wish to check out Werewolf: the Wyld West and assorted supplements. Obviously the focus is on the Werewolf side of things, but it may give you some inspiration. Specifically, the book "Frontier Secrets" (which is on sale at Drive Thru for GM Day: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...ontier+secrets) has a couple pages on antagonists from different splats through a Wyld West Werewolf's perspective, and then provides a couple pages of updates on what the Mage and Changeling worlds were like at this time. It's only a couple pages, so it may not be worth even the five bucks it will cost you, but it may be helpful. There is also a W20 update that may be more rules compatible with M20 if that's what you're using, but it doesn't cover the mages (though there is a group of anti-Garou Hedge Wizards that were also an antagonist in the original game).

      As a note, if you are interested in the "canon," the Umbra in the West was being battered by the Storm Eater, a bane of tremendous power (in the BNS LARP continuity, Storm Eater returned in 2012 and, along with a gathering of Wyrm servants called the Dark Brigade, helped to destroy all but 13 of the standing caerns; that said, without the Dark Brigade, it likely was strong enough to devour at least a few caerns on its own before it got stopped, at least, and in continuity I think it took a sacrifice of a member of each of the thirteen remaining tribes to put it back in the Wyld West era in any event) and was even referred to as the "Storm Umbra" as there were incredibly frequent Umbral storms in this era. This doesn't make it unexploreable, but it does shift things a lot (and in fact can make magic harder or easier to work - in Frontier Secrets, it is said that paradigms that are Christian, Native American, and Infernal in origin almost always can work coincidentally; subtle witchcraft, and Technocratic magic generally can function okay, but the storms shift things around and can throw things off for those and all other types). That said, though it isn't the dangerous-to-cross barrier of the Umbral Storm, the Umbra is definitely nowhere near as safe as it would be in any time outside of the Reckoning Era (for whatever loose value of safe you feel would apply to the Umbra, anways...)

      On the whole, though, while I agree the size may be unsustainable depending on the group, it sounds like if you're having fun it works. Sustainability may not be impossible, though - I am part of several LARPS that manage between 10 and 20 players with two STs, and individual scenes can easily run seven to one. It DOES get messy and can create a few issues (without others helping, I can't always portray multiple NPCs effectively), but maybe if you have a player or two who are willing to go a bit troupe-like, you could split the burden (maybe get them to run the personal plots of other players or come up with smaller things to do so that you can split the party from time to time).

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      • #4
        The revised Storytellers Handbook has some parts talking about the Wild West and the Victorian Technocracy in the Alternate Settings chapter. And there's Mage specific material in the Frontier Secrets book for Werewolf: The Wild West.

        You may also get some ideas out of the Down Darker Trails sourcebook for Call of Cthulhu (and possibly also Cthulhu by Gaslight), GURPS Steampunk, Ravenloft's Masque of the Red Death, and Space: 1889.



        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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        • #5
          I have often thought that during the American Civil War, the Traditions were probably on the side of the Confederates and siding with the Union was the, well, Union. The 1899 game could deal with the fallout of that conflict.

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          • #6
            You probably had as big a divide as you did in WW2, with everyone picking a side (or trying not to) for various reasons. But I have always had this image of Hermetic plantation owners obsessed with maintaining their grog-dependent lifestyles.
            Last edited by No One of Consequence; 03-10-2019, 04:21 PM.


            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)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post
              You probably had as big a divide as you did in WW2, with everyone picking a side (or trying not to) for various reasons. But I have always had this image of Hermetic plantation owners obsessed with maintaining their grog-dependent lifestyles.
              Yes, the second part of this is my read as well. I can also see members of the Celestial Chorus justifying all their abuses of slaves, and Verbena witches practicing magic in valleys of the Appalachians, all siding with the CSA. Dreamspeakers in the Native Tribes in the Oklahoma Territory were also throw in with the CSA because they don't need white people from Washington DC telling them how to live. And so on.

              Edit: There is actually a Verbena, Alabama. It's an unincorporated community, not far from the Interstate.
              Last edited by Grumpy RPG Reviews; 03-10-2019, 04:41 PM.

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              • #8
                Back on topic, the late 19th century saw many epidemics. These included yellow fever and cholera. Maybe the mages are grappling with such an outbreak, which hides worse things.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post

                  Yes, the second part of this is my read as well. I can also see members of the Celestial Chorus justifying all their abuses of slaves, and Verbena witches practicing magic in valleys of the Appalachians, all siding with the CSA. Dreamspeakers in the Native Tribes in the Oklahoma Territory were also throw in with the CSA because they don't need white people from Washington DC telling them how to live. And so on.

                  Edit: There is actually a Verbena, Alabama. It's an unincorporated community, not far from the Interstate.
                  I don't know about that way to look at it. Individual mages totally, but the whole point of the Traditions is that they not really come from the guys in charge of anything but the guys at the fringes of society. Looking at their history the Celestial Chorus would probably frown at slavery for example, given it kind of clashes against their more spiritual take on religion and the idea of everyone being the same to the One. I mean, religion doesn't equal to choristers. Theirs is a very specific take on that kind of idea.

                  To me the American Civil War feels like a Technocracy internal problem gone wrong, even more with that whole idea the Guide of the Technocracy presents about the United States being a NWO pet project having Paradox Flaws all the time. The Civil War would be another of those. Or maybe a reaction to the Order of Reason reorganizing into the Technocratic Union in 1851.
                  Last edited by History; 03-10-2019, 07:12 PM.

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                  • #10
                    I've started a thread to explore the question of Mage during the American Civil War. This thread, on 1899 Wild West Mage, should stand on its own and explore that question.

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                    • #11
                      There is the book: Werewolf the Wildwest. It might be a good place to start as well. I think just some creativity on your own and with your group would be enough. Anything more and you'd never stop.

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