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Paradigm as Foundation/Legacy

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  • Paradigm as Foundation/Legacy

    For all its import, Paradigm generally does little for the mage mechanically. I was thinking about dropping the whole Technomancer/Mystic split for surpassing instraments and just giving flat bonuses for each Paradigm specifically(ala foundations in DA mage or Legacies in Awakening) has anyone tried anything like this?

  • #2
    Yes, and no. I have a thread about reworking the Disparates to use Foundation and Pillars; and I have another thread about recasting the Technomancer/Mystic divide as an Internal/External divide: that is, do your powers come from within, or are they based on some sort of interaction with the supernatural world? Technomancy is typically External, though there are exceptions (most notably among the Virtual Adepts); and mysticism tends to be all over the place, with some having an Internal Focus and others having an External one.

    If your Focus is Internal, you get to Work Without Focus (M20 p.566) and Grow Beyond the Tools (M20 p.567), but your Arete is capped by your Willpower. If your Focus is External, your Arete isn’t limited by your Willpower, but you can’t Work Without Focus; and instead of Growing Beyond the Tools, you gradually learn to Master them: it’s a -2 Difficulty when you use a Mastered Instrument (as opposed to the -1 Difficulty someone with an Internal Focus gets for using an Instrument that she has Surpassed).

    But M20’s Paradigm is not something I have ever provided crunch for, nor do I ever intend to: it’s purely a roleplaying aid.


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    • #3
      Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post

      But M20’s Paradigm is not something I have ever provided crunch for, nor do I ever intend to: it’s purely a roleplaying aid.
      Its supposed to be the single most character defining aspect of the mage, more so than tradition/craft/convention or any other split.

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      • #4
        Rather than Legacies or Foundations, you may want to look at magical styles from the Mage Chroniclers guide. They were an optional rule from late 1e Awakening that more or less gave paradigm mechanics - easier time with certain arcana and practices and a general benefit of some sort in exchange for needing to use certain tools or methods to get those effects. In Ascension, you would always need those tools until they were surpassed, but they may provide a benefit to specific forms of magic over others. (Technically Legacies are mentioned to be a type of style, but the mechanics are different)

        In the same book, the Punk Mages from DIY Magic have a "magical component" merit that may be worth looking at. It allows you to exchange acts or things that have a cost of some sort (often time but also risking harm in some case) to get certain benefits. Replace the costs listed with appropriate tools (or not, if your paradigm works with them) that go beyond any required for your spell. (See also changeling's bunk mechanics).

        As a note, I actually love Foundation and Legacies both, and think they have a place in Ascension proper in their own ways. But I am not sure that place is as replacing or representing paradigm rather than supplementing the paradigm you have already. Foundation mechanics work better as a supplement to Arete, and Legacy seems like a goal to reach for to refine your paradigm. But ymmv.

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        • #5
          Two other ideas - check out Magical Traditions from Awakening as well. It has a lot of ideas on how to incorporate real world traditions into the spell casting system that may spark inspiration (especially the Kabbalah chapter - it gives ideas for using the Sephirot in lieu of traditional spheres to achieve thematic effects based on what they represent).

          Also look at Laws of Ascension and the Companion from the MET. The Traditions, Conventions, and some crafts (those who survived the start of Revised edition anyways) get write-ups, and as in post of the MET books, each one gets a defined mechanical benefit and disadvantage. In the case of the Traditions, this usually amounted to two Abilities and/or Backgrounds, a 1-3 point flaw or equivalent, and some sort of general benefit to reflect the training or connections you received (or inner quality that drew you and the Tradition together) - Akashics could make a check to control emotions without willpower spends, VAs got benefits when dealing with puzzles, and so on. Think the Conventions were similar. The Crafts varied in what they got. But, such benefits may spark ideas for ways to increase the mechanical impact of Paradigms.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Lian View Post

            Its supposed to be the single most character defining aspect of the mage, more so than tradition/craft/convention or any other split.
            And it is. It's just that it defines your character in roleplaying terms, not in system crunch terms. Some clarifications to make sure we're not crossing wires:

            What M20 calls “Focus” is what previous editions called “Paradigm”; what M20 calls “Paradigm” is what previous editions called “Philosophy” or “Theory”; and what M20 calls Instruments is what previous editions called Foci. Only Practice has managed to retain its same meaning in the transition to M20. With that in mind:

            M20's Focus does indeed supplant faction as the single most character-defining aspect of the mage. This is done primarily by presenting Paradigm and Practice independent of the factions and giving them names of their own, and by tying Instruments to Practices; whereas previous editions of the game tied all three of Theory, Practice, and Foci to your chosen faction.

            But no, there's no more system crunch associated with Paradigm in M20 than there was for Theory or Philosophy in earlier editions of the game. That's not a bad thing: I find myself thinking of the Resonance traits that MRev introduced in an effort to add crunch to Resonance, and how the Avatar Essences have always been important traits that help define the character of a mage but have never had any crunch behind them; they, too, are strictly a roleplaying aid. This being a roleplaying game, that's not exactly a bad thing.

            But if you want to add crunch, first define what you want to add it to: Paradigm (e.g., “A World of Gods and Monsters” or “Might is Right”)? Practice (e.g., “High Ritual Magick” or “Witchcraft”)? Instruments? Or some combination thereof?

            I don't see much point in adding crunch to Paradigm, myself, which is why I said that I'd just leave it as a roleplaying aid: it tends to be a lot like Essence in that it's more about what your goals are than how you go about working your effects (which is what your Practice covers); as such, I tend to use it more as a guideline when selecting Nature and Demeanor. If I were to add crunch to Paradigm, I'd do so by scrapping Nature and Demeanor, which are holdovers from Vampire: the Masquerade, and replacing them with Paradigm: if you believe that Might is Right, then events that reaffirm that belief should replenish your Willpower, and events that challenge that belief should put stress on your Willpower. I might even change some of the Quintessence expenditures in the Magick system into Willpower expenditures (e.g., spend Willpower points instead of Quintessence to lower the difficulty if an Arete roll) to further reinforce how essential Willpower is to a mage.

            Practice already has a fair amount of crunch associated with it, both in terms of identifying what sorts of Instruments you're likely to use (and providing guidelines concerning how they are to be used) and in terms of identifying what Abilities are relevant to the Practice, and thus which Abilities are involved in the casting: see Mundane Skills and Magickal Effects (M20 pp.532–535) for crunch on how those Abilities play into a Willworking (nutshell: in some cases, there are Ability minima that must be meet before the casting can be attempted; and in some cases, you can use an Ability roll to reduce the difficulty of your Arete roll; and finally, some Effects require the use of an Ability to properly direct them; attacks, for example). But if you want to add more crunch than that, I could see scrapping Arete and replacing it with Practice dots: instead of, say, Arete •••, a Hermetic mage might have High Ritual Magick ••• and Alchemy ••. When performing a given Willworking, he would use the dice pool from whichever Practice is most relevant to the working in question.

            In terms of crunch for Instruments: an awful lot of the Instruments are activities, not tools; and even those that are tools needed to be used in some way. This is where the aforementioned Mundane Skills and Magickal Effects factors in. As well, I have a house rule that generalizes the “spending extra time” Magickal Difficulty Modifier into a broader “using an inconvenient Instrument” Modifier: it's technically not so much the inconvenience itself which gets you the difficulty reduction as it is that bulky, awkward, or otherwise-inconvenient Instruments that nevertheless get used in workings tend to get used for a reason; and my house rule is that that reason is that they make the working more likely to succeed.
            Last edited by Dataweaver; 07-03-2019, 05:14 PM.


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            • #7
              As much as I love Foundation/Pillars over Spheres because they are much better at working the Paradigm into how you play the game, a simpler fix I have is a modified version one house rule I saw on this very forum. Have the difficulties be determined on how well your spell works with your Paradigm. 3+sphere would be if it is a spell that perfectly goes along with your Paradigm (ex. Hermetic casting a fireball from a wand), 4+sphere would be for ones you are trying to tweak a bit to keep it plausible to sleepers (ex Hermetic saying a few words of power that causes a gas line to ignite and blow), and lastly 5+sphere for ones that you basically have to twist your own beliefs about how magic works in order to keep sleepers from disbelieving (ex aerosol can flamethrower).

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