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Victorian Mage [Homebrew Mage: The Ascenscion in Victorian New York]

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  • Victorian Mage [Homebrew Mage: The Ascenscion in Victorian New York]

    Hello All,
    In the past, I ran a ~6 year campeign in a modified version of Mage: The Ascension, that I brewed up, I called Victorian Mage. I love it, becuase it is so campy and wonderful. Here's all my documents and however much fluff I can fit here. Please enjoy!

    PS: I'm so sorry that the wonderful Victorian photos that illustrated these did not survive the exodus from Wikispaces. The House Rules docs are the only ones with pics any longer. EDIT: Sorry for the typo in the title, I don't have edit rights to fix it!


    Setting (document link:

    You and everyone else in the game are the inhabitants of an alternate version of New York City, one
    which is larger than life, and a dark reflection of our real world. Great and terrible things exist here, and
    the mortals of the City have no idea what they're in for.

    1861, May 1st is the start of the the official game time-line. The Civil War has just broken out, and soon
    its effects will ripple throughout the country.

    You will be in competition against on another.

    Differences in philosophy and aesthetics set up the canvas, but the City itself drives mindless competition
    like gravity pulls down those who would fly.

    The vehicle of your competition is the Parliament of the City, wherein Mages compete against one
    another politically, and ultimately you wind up fighting in the streets.


    Orders (document link:

    Orders, or Who Lives Here, and Why Do They Fight?
    One of the more exotic aspects of our setting is the fact that it predates the published setting from
    Ascension (1980+), but postdates the published setting of Sorcerer's Crusade (1400-1600's), a time called
    the “Age of Decadence” in canon. Since we are in between, it is necessary to pick certain features of both
    and blend them in our setting. To this end, we have kept the Orders of Mages from Sorcerer's Crusade,
    and adapted them to our setting of Victorian New York. To “modernize” the published Renaissance
    versions of these Orders, we have taken a cue from Victorian History, and divided them less by
    Traditions/Order of Reason, and more by social class. The “haves” and the “have nots”. In this place,
    High Guild financial-wizards debate tariff policy with Hermetics---while Akashics and Void Seekers toil
    to make their way in a largely indifferent City. In time, the social structures of New York will be swept
    away by the rising tides of the Technocratic Union, but until then, the people of the City live in
    interesting times.

    High Orders
    These orders have been granted special political clout in 1861 New York for their long history of

    philanthropic contributions to the city.


    (Traditions ,Correspondence)

    While many of the exotic and religious groups within New York are either riding the wave of
    Orientalism, or loudly proclaiming their one true God on the street corners, the Ahl-i-Batin are neither of
    these. When they came to the City, they did it without pomp and circumstance. They came here to work,
    because there was a City in need, and they were capable of helping. Providing themselves a place to live

    page 3 / 26


    and work was just a side-effect. Called the Subtle Ones for a reason, they quietly administer many parts
    of the City infrastructure, especially the new system of educational institutions. They have been here for
    such a long time that the Crown has delegated a large number of minor tasks to them, without obvious
    complaint on their part. These may be things a simple as periodic surveying of domain lines within the
    City, to as complicated as arranging that certain tax codes pass the local legislature with specific
    provisions included to support schools or hospitals.
    Philosophy: The Ahl-i-Batin are famous for their Doctrine of Unity, which holds that everything and
    everyone (even unbelievers) are connected through the will of Allah. Perhaps it is this Doctrine that make
    the Subtle Ones so much more tolerant of unbelievers than their Christian cousins in the Celestial Chorus.
    Magic is the gift of Allah to the learned ones, requested through prayer, dance, meditations, mathematics,
    and music.
    Mundane Face: There is a secret society called the Brotherhood of Veils, which the Ahl-i-Batin strongly
    influence. Among its numbers, there are a number of ordinary people who seek to find their place in this
    tumultuous world. A task the Subtle Ones
    are uniquely positioned to help with.
    Open Secret: Their famous Doctrine of Unity is more than a matter of faith, it is a political call to unity
    and consensus. Always striving to merge political groups and religious groups into increasingly
    monolithic organizations, the Subtle Ones press their political agendas quietly but insistently. Often, if
    asked, they have very real and legitimate rationale behind any particular merger. In the light of this new
    Confederacy of States, the Ahl-i-Batin are strongly opposed to secessionist elements, and push the Union
    to re-annex the rebels by force. This puts the Subtle Ones in direct opposition to the High Guild and
    others that would support continued schisms.
    Secret Vice: They call it “Devşirme”, or “forced conversion”. When someone of importance to their
    programs does not share their vision of how the world should be organized, they correct the imperfections
    within that person that make them resistant. Generally, the process involves taking a person and reshaping
    their views to account for the truths that the Subtle Ones find self-evident. Such conversions have been
    broadly successful in the City, but some in the order question the practice, citing line and verse from the
    Qur'an saying “let their be no compulsion in religion”. Detractors of the practice effectively advocate
    murder rather than conversion. In such light, conversion is often seen as an act of mercy.
    Stereotype: Few people in the City can really be counted on for anything. The Ahl-i-Batin are different,
    you can always count on them grabbing for unity. Just like a duck finds water, and a dog licks its own
    asshole, the Subtle Ones find an excuse to grab power. At least they're nicer about it than the Celestial
    Masters or High Guild.
    [Sorcerer's Crusade p122-123, see also Lost Paths p9-56 for modern info]

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    Celestial Masters

    (Order of Reason, Time)

    Leaders among the Order of Reason and the High Orders alike, the Celestial Masters are consummate
    public planners. Taking guidance from the stars themselves, they predict the roads that people and
    organizations will take, and make the best of the situation. Often as not, they wind up wealthy and
    affluent. Unconcerned with such things, they donate most of it philanthropically. For them, the mere act
    of direction is their aim, not the accouterments of leadership. Closely allied with the Void Seekers, the
    two cooperate to map out the known world. Here at home in New York, this means that the Celestial
    Masters are often sought out as scholars and advisors. Some avoid their help out of paranoia that the
    Celestial Masters are somehow pressing a secret agenda in their advice. Others point out that they
    wouldn't have been advisors for 600 years if they gave poor advice.
    Philosophy: Descended from the Astronomers and Astrologers of times past, the Celestial Masters see the
    world through the motion of the stars. “As above, so below.” is a common adage. Knowing what will
    happen is a handy trick, which allows for small changes to become big ones. Every member of the order
    strives to eventually come into contact with the Stars Above, whose motion so rules the low world.
    Imagine if you could guide the stars themselves? Their magic works on both principles, but they are not
    above borrowing from the other Order of Reason paradigms when applicable. This is called a “Partial
    Paradigm”, and implies that when the techniques of celestial guidance are inappropriate, they fall back on
    the Order of Reason's shared methods (such as chemistry, mechanical engineering, thermo-dynamic
    steam-powered things, etc.). For example, wanting to read the future in the stars is easy, throwing a
    fireball is not, and would likely require use of external tools or representations of the fireball idea, like a
    tube filled with “fire chemicals” (not real chemistry, but magic chemistry).
    Mundane Face: As advisors, the Celestial Masters find themselves enmeshed in nearly all aspects of
    public administration and planning, and lack a physical representation. However, there is a secret society
    which meets in back rooms across the City called “Ad Astra”, which is composed primarily of people
    who fancy themselves ambitious, and the Celestial Masters who guide them.
    Open Secret: More than any other group, the Celestial Masters desire to explore the stars. It is well known
    that they maintain a small fleet of steam-powered Otherworldly Ships, with the aim of being able to
    venture wherever their calling might take them. In part, this behavior is an echo of a time where they were
    explorers themselves, before they delegated it to the Void Seekers. What's more, there have been multiple
    attempts to venture to the Moon in the great steam-ships, none of which have been particularly successful.
    Some of these ships are said to float above the City, disguised in clouds of their own steam.
    Secret Vice: Though it is intentionally uncommon, the Celestial Masters occasionally are required by the
    Masters of their Order to betray not only the confidences of those they advise, but to outright sacrifice
    them for the greater good. Utilitarianism, they call it. Some people cannot be permitted to continue if the
    public welfare is to be preserved. Many of these betrayals are so complete and vicious that the betrayed
    never sees it coming. Secrecy is preserved by planting evidence that the plan failed due to the betrayed
    being somehow at fault for their own death. Always, they do this, to send a message dissuading others
    from following the path again.

    page 5 / 26


    Stereotype: Sure they're helpful, but they are also terribly bossy and prideful. What makes it worse is that
    they tend to be right. Members of the Order of Reason are those most likely to seek them out, but others
    do as well, when desperate.
    [Sorcerer's Crusade p148-149]


    (Traditions, Entropy)

    With their traditional focus on selfless good works, the Chakravanti are a City favorite. Being unaffiliated
    religiously and politically, they are often sought out as neutral mediators. Even among the Orders of
    Reason, the City Chakravanti are trusted to be neutral, to the point that they will typically back the party
    which is Right in a conflict rather than just who would pay the most. When they came to the City, they
    asked the Crown what work needed done, and they have been a High Order ever since. Their role as
    mediators and judges has been institutionalized by the Crown, which it assigned to them in addition to
    their existing philanthropic efforts. Being fair and generous does not make one wealthy, but the kindness
    of the community is usually sufficient to keep them fed and clothed in proper attire.
    Philosophy: Life, Death, Creation, Destruction, these things are not separate. They are complementary as
    the two sides of the same coin are complementary. Through endings are beginnings wrought. Magic
    carries this principle with it, by destroying something a new thing can be made. Much of their
    philanthropic efforts to create are driven by the philosophic necessity to balance the fact that they must
    also destroy.
    Mundane Face: The Walker Street Philanthropic Organization is a club consisting of many affluent
    members of the City, where they meet to direct their philanthropic efforts and energies to where they can
    collectively do the most good. Sometimes this means destroying abandoned housing to make room for
    new construction, other times there are less mundane policies put in place by the organization's
    Chakravanti patrons.
    Open Secret: With such kindness and compassion, the Chakravanti are often compelled by the tides of
    Karma to grant mortals premature endings. Sometimes it is to grant a magnificently pure soul the release
    of rebirth into a new better life. More often, it is to execute those that have condemned themselves
    through their actions. Chakravanti don't like to dwell on the Jhor that they gather in their calling, but some
    note that their philanthropic activities neatly offset the lingering death-urge that the karmic executioners
    find themselves tainted with.

    page 6 / 26


    Secret Vice: In a town so laden with Jhor and anger, it is inevitable that those tasked with cleansing it
    would eventually snap under the strain. A brother fallen to Jhor is a terror to behold. Wrapped in their
    own unavoidable death-urge, they fall free from the constraints of morality and logic. Possessed with
    animistic rage, the Jhor-brother brings destruction like a living fire among tinder-dry fields. Viewed as
    sacred monsters, these Jhor-brothers are only hunted down on the night of the New Moon, and run free
    the remainder of the time. Chakravanti see in these Jhor-brothers the culmination of urges that are
    universally felt in their own hearts.
    Stereotype: Everyone likes the Chakravanti. Who wouldn't like having enthusiastic free servants? They
    can be a little high-strung, but there's no one better to have your back than a Brother.
    [Main book, p61-64 , see “Euthanatos”, Sorcerer's Crusade p126-127]

    Julia Margaret Cameron October 1874

    Chœur Céleste/Celestial Chorus

    (Traditions, Prime)

    No other order is so deeply entrenched in the religious life of New York as the Chorus. In a town torn
    apart by violent sectarian religious conflicts imported from across the seas, the Celestial Chorus is a
    microcosm of the wider conflict. There are two main factions within the local group: “native” Protestants,
    and “immigrant” Papists. Viciously competitive, these groups are barely on speaking terms, let along
    cooperating. Fortunately for them, regardless of their stance, they each have a significant portion of the
    town backing them in religious solidarity. Their place in the High Orders comes at the price of having to
    tend to the souls of the mortals of the City. Usually, this comes from normal clerical practices, but
    occasionally they run into some or something that threatens the very souls of the City. In such cases, the
    Chorus either handles it alone, or calls upon their allies.
    Philosophy: Merely being a Christian is insufficient to join the Chorus. Instead, their very Paradigm is
    based on the will of God. They cast no spells, they make prayers to God, Jesus, the Angels, the Saints,
    and appropriate divine intermediaries. It is imperative to the Chorus that they follow revealed divine will,
    regardless of its conflict with secular or religious authority.
    Mundane Face: As priests, reverends, and clerics, the Chorus is often drawn to the rolls tied into the
    public life of clerics. They work more with common folk that nearly any of the other High Orders, and
    they also tend to have community support in the form of their churches.
    Open Secret: Heresy would be the last problem you'd expect out of the only Order so dedicated to God,
    but that is the exact problem that the Chorus presents to the religious in town. Unlike nearly all other
    Christians, the Celestial Chorus strongly believes that it receives direct transmissions from God and

    page 7 / 26


    divine intermediaries. They spread these revelations enthusiastically among their flocks, who then attract
    the wrong kind of attention to their novel religious views. As a result of this, the Celestial Chorus often
    finds itself at odds with more mundane religious authorities.
    Secret Vice: The legacy of violence followed them to the New World. Their very beliefs call them to
    persecute the unbelievers and heretics. What results from this are secret Pogroms. Coordinated systems of
    violent persecution that insight genocidal riots against their competing sects. While the Regency would
    undoubtedly intervene if it suspected that the recurring religious riots that resulted in uncountably many
    mortal deaths were the result of the Chorus, they take great pains to conceal their involvement through
    intermediaries in their churches. Whenever some group flaunts the traditional ways of violence, the
    Pogrom swallows them whole. The Chorus cannot tolerate the thought of its flocks trying to compromise
    over something so important as faith. Only extermination is an acceptable end to this story of heresy.
    Stereotype: Followers of the Christian God whose prayers burn the sins from the backs of unbelievers.
    They are no fun. Not even members of their religion like to spend overmuch time with their fanatical
    [Main Book p51-54, Sorcerer's Crusade p128-129]

    Hippocratic Circle

    (Order of Reason, Life )

    Composed of Doctors, Blood-letters, and Biologists, the Circle is the modern inheritors of the great
    traditions of western medicine before the invention of things like antibiotics. Anesthetics are a recent
    invention, and overall more people live than die as a result of modern medical treatments. Many fear
    doctors, but go to them out of necessity. Still riding a high off of successfully battling yet another
    outbreak of cholera, the Hippocratic Circle were the most recent group to be elevated into the High
    Orders. Many of its members are proud of their accomplishments, and seek to further improve the lives of
    common men. Unfortunately, at this point in time, much experimentation remains undone, and many
    treatments amount to trial and error. The Regency has tasked the Circle with preventing plague outbreaks
    in the City, a task they likely would have done anyway, but with the weight of law behind them, they do
    with fewer interruptions.
    Philosophy: Like so many in the Order of Reason, their Paradigm is highly integrative. While they have
    strong ideas about many things, those topics which are outside their purview they turn to the work of their
    colleagues to address. One central tenant of the Circle is that the secrets to Divinity are hidden within all
    life. In the Renaissance this idea transformed from a theological position to a practical one. Whatever the

    page 8 / 26


    task, there is probably some way that life can accomplishment it. Having thousands of years of medical
    knowledge passed to you in distilled form means that there is probably some prior case that you can draw
    upon in your work. Few other in the Order of Reason are so lucky. They have a “Partial Paradigm”,
    where certain tasks are a natural fit for their ideas about biological magics (like throwing a fireball using a
    “incendiary gland”), while others are not (foretelling the future). When this happens, they rely on the
    default tools of the Order of Reason (like chemistry, mathematics, statistics, mechanical engineering, etc).
    Mundane Face: Most obviously, the Circle works strongly with City hospitals and doctors, as well as the
    Metropolitan Police to control the course of disease in New York. Many of the mundane doctors have
    Enlightened relatives, since Medicine is still a family business in 1861. The Staff and Serpent is a
    fraternal order of Doctors which the Circle oversees, and which helps disseminate medical findings.
    Open Secret: Across the river from town, the Circle maintains a eugenics program in the form of the
    Battle Creek Sanitarium. Most of the people that go there do so for health treatments to cleanse them
    from the unclean living of the City, things like calisthenics and thrice-daily enemas. In addition to this,
    the Sanitarium offers free “fertility counseling” to both the elite as well as lowly prostitutes. Their plans
    revolve around breeding humans to be superior in measurable ways like physical strength, intelligence,
    and disease resistance. Their accomplishments speak for themselves, as many of the current generation of
    “brood-stock” serves the Circle as able assistants.
    Secret Vice: Medicine does not pay for itself, and neither the Regency nor the High Guild subsidize the
    Circle's work. In order to serve men, the Hippocratic Circle had to set aside its oath: first do no harm. The
    Circle has been quietly developing new plagues for use in biological warfare. While they made great
    strides selling sheep-derivatives to the Union, the South has been paying considerably more for new
    hyper-virulent strains that require human testing.
    Stereotype: They're all strange little doctors. Stand too close and they're likely to stick you with
    something as not. They'll think they're doing you a favor too.
    [Sorcerer's Crusade p154-155]

    High Guild

    (Order of Reason, Mind )

    While it is fine to call lightening from the skies, it is finer still to be able to have someone else do it for
    you. These Magi are the masters of Trade, and while they didn't invent it entirely, much of the current

    page 9 / 26


    international trade is conducted under their watchful gaze. Unabashedly political, the High Guild devotes
    itself to acquiring wealth in all its forms. Control over others enriches the soul. Trade benefits all the
    parties involved, and the Guild is all about Trade. In New York, they are the most affluent and wealthy
    individuals in mortal affairs. Even those Mages who are wise to their ways tend to find themselves
    involved in mutually beneficial projects with the Guildsmen. As a High Order, they are called upon to
    develop trade policies, protect trade routes, oversee banking, and similar functions for the community.
    Philosophy: Aside from their obvious views on personal power being tied to wealth, the Guild endorses
    all of the works of its fellow Order of Reason members. While they do not necessarily develop unique
    paradigms of their own, they are adept at borrowing and adaptation. Whatever works best, given the
    resources they are willing to utilize. As for their views on the ethics of personal power, lets just say that
    they are an early echo of Nietzsche's ethos: if I have the power to silence my detractors, doesn't that make
    me right? Keep in mind that they were contemporaries of Machiavelli. Their paradigm does permit
    magics based on trade, such as “hiring” a minion to throw fireballs around. The minion does not need to
    be able to throw fireballs normally, but would acquire it through the mutually-beneficial magics of trade.
    The High Guild has a “Partial Paradigm”, so they often utilize the default Order of Reason tools and
    techniques (like chemistry, astronomy, steam-powered engineering, etc.). Their ideas about the power of
    trade can do some things (like giving someone good fortune) easier than others (like dissolving the lock
    on a door, which is better handled with chemistry).
    Mundane Face: Most of the Trade Unions in town are under their thumb, as are nearly all the banks. Their
    work in the mortal world is conducted through The Lion Club, a private club popular among the elites in
    Open Secret: Having their hands in so many pies, its unsurprising that the Guild would support Weapons
    Dealers. However, the extent of their support is surprisingly thorough. Many secessionist elements in
    New York are strongly tied to Guild plans to support this new War between the Confederate States of
    America and the United States of America. Evidently aiming to increase net demand for arms sales, the
    Guild is pushing for more open War between the two powers. Reports tell of a map on the wall of a secret
    room in the Lion Club that shows the continent divided up into warring states.
    Secret Vice: Coercive violence is the last recourse of the desperate, so it is said. If that is true, then the
    Guild often becomes desperate in its bids to control various aspects of Trade. Sometimes, when those
    they wish to trade with don't agree to their terms, the Guild gets rough. Normally this wouldn't be
    unusual, save that the Guild tries to maintain a scrupulous business image, and the thought of such things
    would ruin their reputation for years to come. For this reason, it is said that the witnesses to truly
    unscrupulous dealings seldom live long enough to tell anyone.
    Stereotype: Some would argue that the Guild contributes very little to the occult world of Magi living in
    New York, others claim that their work in the mundane world more than makes up for their lack of mystic
    creativity. Most think them nice enough, in a predatory sort of way. Just don't ask them for a loan, unless
    you've a pound of flesh you aren't using.
    [Sorcerer's Crusade p 152-153]

    page 10 / 26


    Order of Hermes

    (Traditions, Forces )

    No more stereotypical Tradition wizards exist than the Order of Hermes. They are one of the original
    inventors of magic, thousands of years ago, and they never let anyone forget it. Before anyone else, they
    ruled. When their battles with the Vampires and Werewolves attracted the attention of the great spirit of
    the sea, they fought not to bend their knee—and were only convinced to do so by combined efforts of
    what would become the Parliament of New York (both Traditions and Order of Reason). What more do
    you need to know than the fact that they were willing to fight the Ocean, and must have at least thought
    they stood a chance at winning. They only joined the Parliament on the condition that they be granted
    exclusive rights to effect the defense of the City. While there were grumblings, none questioned that the
    Order could defend the City, only that they be given a monopoly over such things. They have been among
    the High Orders ever since, throwing their weight around as movers and shakers.
    Philosophy: Challenge defines their Paradigm, with each trial being another step on the road to
    understanding the self and controlling the world. Magic comes from Willpower and Focus. The force of
    your will, expressed and guided by Hermetic symbolism, forces the world to bow before you. Challenge
    the world and win, and you gain Enlightenment from the process.
    Mundane Face: Masonic Lodges are the preferred tools of the Hermetics. Their teachings naturally fit
    with many of the Lodges views, and those that don't care for the Masons have numerous Esoteric Orders
    to patronize. Such Lodges and Esoteric Orders are often placed in competition with one another, to find
    the tools which are strongest.
    Open Secret: Paranoia and mistrust run deep in the Order of Hermes. They expect betrayal at any point in
    time, from the Parliament, from the Order of Reason, from the other supernaturals, from the outside
    world. Such things drive them to build defenses largely considered extravagant, bizarre, and wasteful by
    the other orders. Some realize that those parts they can see are merely the ramparts of some greater
    mystical fortress designed to protect the Order of Hermes against all comers. The last time any of the
    City's defenses were mobilized was against a torch-wielding mob of lawfully lettered Hunters that started
    to burn down part of the west City. Witnesses report a fog descending on the area, so thick it blotted out
    the light of the torches. It lasted for hours in strong winds, and when it finally faded under the light of
    dawn, there was no sign that the Hunter mob nor their fires had every been in town.
    Secret Vice: In the dark of night, the Order practices Extraordinary Rendition. Any they judge to have
    violated the Laws of their august order are placed on boats and sent elsewhere for torture, interrogation,
    and execution. Not to be limited to Magi enemies, this practice extends to the Vampire, Werewolves,
    Hunters, and any other supernaturals unlucky enough to attract their attention. What would normally be a

    page 11 / 26


    direct violation of the great spirits laws requiring Vendetta Declarations is easily sidestepped by the
    simple fact that none within the Order in the City have done any torture, interrogation, or murder
    themselves. They just put someone on a boat to parts unknown, and later receive a letter containing that
    person's confession. They always confess, even if not guilty.
    Stereotype: Hard bastards to like, they are arrogant and do whatever they can get away with. They'd run
    town like they own it, if it weren't for the combined efforts of the other orders in town.
    [Main Book, p65-68, Sorcerer's Crusade p132-133]


    (Traditions, Matter)

    Old Fashion alchemists and scholars, the Solificati were once one of the founders of the Order of Reason,
    until they deemed it unworthy of their attention. They joined the Traditions shortly afterward, until a
    decade latter, they decided the Traditions unworthy as well. A decade later, they rejoined the Traditions,
    only to shortly leave again. Thus began a tradition of oscillation that continues to this day, where they
    periodically join or leave the Council of Traditions for some reason or another. If they weren't so very
    useful, their behavior might be less tolerated. Among their accomplishments, they include the invention
    of a method of obtaining immortality that was much safer, easier, and more accessible than anything that
    came before them. Rather than keep it to themselves, they shared the secrets in the Renaissance, and all of
    the orders now have their own versions of the process. Not one to sit on their laurels, they take a rather
    active supporting role in City life. They have been charged by the Parliament with two tasks. First, in
    compliment to the Chorus' overseeing the souls of mortals, the
    Solificati have been tasked to shepard the spiritual growth of the City's Magi. Oddly enough, there are
    few complaints about the ways the Solificati accomplish this, mostly due to the fact that the Solificati
    permit the rejection of their efforts without issue; if a Mage wishes to guide himself to Enlightenment,
    that is their prerogative. Their second public task is the performance of vetting those Magi who claim
    Mastery before they can be allowed to set up to take a seat in Parliament. Such vetting is generally
    viewed by Mages as a chance to publicly show off their prowess, and again receives little complaint.
    Philosophy: Primarily concerned about how to refine themselves towards platonic ideals of perfection,
    they view Magic as a transfomative tool for self-refinement rather than an end of its own. Only by
    cleansing yourself of all imperfections can true inner Divinity be revealed. Though they do share some
    beliefs with the Order of Hermes, the goals are different—with the Order seeking refinement as a means
    to power, rather than seeking refinement for its own sake.

    page 12 / 26


    Mundane Face: More than any other Order, the Solificati have withdrawn from the general affairs of
    mortals. When they must work with mortals, it is to guide them to self-discovery in a process that echoes
    the Solificati's own practices. The secret societies that they administer in this way are the primary way
    they recruit new Magi.
    Open Secret: One of the side-effects of the immortality serums developed 500 years ago by the Solificati
    is the creation of the Phylactery upon the death of one whose immortality is derived from these serums.
    The Phylactery is a hard bezoar that they soul and Avatar become entangled with upon death, trapping
    them from the cycle of rebirth till the destruction of the Phylactery. If left alone, the bezoar generally
    break down on their own after about a week. It is common practice however, to preserve such bezoar in
    the hopes of keeping the Mage from True Death until a suitable replacement body can be crafted for
    them. How each Order does this is dependent upon their beliefs, but the Solificati are renown for their
    skill at such revivals. Typically, they perform the revival automatically upon finding a Phylactery, on the
    off chance that the Mage didn't desire to die yet. However, all such revivals carry terrible costs to those
    that do the revival ceremony, and so the Parliament has decreed that any who conduct the revival are
    entitled to extract a reasonably large Debt from the revived Mage. If they cannot pay it themselves (being
    dead for any reasonable length of time typically causes the mundane world to divest you of your
    resources), their Debt must be paid through a period of Indentured Servitude to the holder of the Debt.
    Solificati have little enough use for assistants and servants, and typically sell off the Debt to another
    order. If you are lucky, your own order will buy the Debt. If you are less lucky, your own side in the
    Traditions/Order of Reason conflict or High/Low Orders conflict will buy your Debt. If you are very
    unlucky, an enemy may buy it. Some poor souls have been sold to the local Vampires as assistants and
    Secret Vice: In their focus on self-refinement, the Solificati sometimes need to study the process in others
    through experimentation and observation. The local group has taken to studying how to induce
    Awakenings as a means to understand self-elevation. Their subjects rarely volunteer, and the mortality
    rate is startlingly high. Where they get these people is not clear, but the remains sometimes remain
    animate, in a sort of walking brain-death induced zombie-ism. The order tries to keep these experiments
    secret, not because they are wrong, but because the others would misunderstand. Distractions need to be
    kept to a minimum.
    Stereotype: Mild of temper, and deep of learning, the Solificati are the Order of Hermes with the volume
    turned down. They are really judgmental though. No violence comes from it, but their insistence on
    self-refinement evidentially carries an implicit license to look down your nose at the unenlightened
    [Sorcerer's Crusade p136-137, modern info available in Storyteller's Companion p21-22]

    Low Orders

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    These orders lack a community-centric focus in their behaviors, and thus do not maintain either major
    political machinery or philanthropic efforts. They have been granted no favors by the Regency, and
    generally get trod upon politically due to under-representation.

    Akashic Brotherhood

    (Traditions, Mind)

    A few peasants have come across the world in search of wealth. Those that came to New York brought
    their culture with them, preserved in a format inaccessible to the wider world until recently. The wild
    surge of Orientalism has brought renewed enthusiasm in all things Asian. When translators finally got
    around to reading the scribblings of peasants, they found themselves astonished. Hidden away for so long,
    these peasants had been living the traditions laid out by philosophers already wise and old when the
    Greeks were still nameless tribes. Since the wave of Orientalism, there is a renewed interest in the old
    philosophies of Laozi, Confucius, Zhuangzi, Boddhidarma, Siddartha Gautama, and others. Now, the
    downtrodden Asians who have adapted to City life are proud of their heritage, and embrace it. Similarly,
    westerners find themselves inexorably drawn to exotic ancient ideas, rich in heritage and insight.
    Philosophy: While there are many variations of thought within the Akashics, there is one universal: The
    Way. The Dao. The Do. The flow of the universe from which we are not separate. The Way goes where it
    will, and all things along with it. Crafty mages know how to guide the flow. A popular addition to this is
    the tradition of Avidya and Maya from Buddhism, where there exists a prevailing illusion of separation
    between observer and observed. Adherents would point out that we are not separate people, but rather
    small drops in a large river.
    Mundane Face: While many other options exist for them, the Akashics tend to operate traditional opium
    parlors. Such places, they say are a good way to meet and talk discreetly, while also turning a reasonable
    Open Secret: It's no secret that Orientalism is very much in vogue, and the Akashics are exploiting that
    for all its worth. Dozens of money making ventures funnel cash from interested westerners down into
    land purchases in a single high-immigrant area of the City. What are they doing with their new land?
    Evidently, they are trying to set aside cultural enclaves in preparation for the continuation of their beliefs
    when the fame dies out. This apparently includes the opening of several training areas called “dojos” or
    Secret Vice: Slavery is still a very real thing in America. The profits from it are unspeakably high, given

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    the minimal cost and risk. In order to fund their expansions, the Akashics get their hands dirtier than
    most. Rather than just slaving, the Akashics established a processing center where otherwise rebellious
    slaves are tamed. Some of the Akashics who defend the program justify their actions thus: these people
    were already slaves, would you rather they hate their condition or embrace it? The funds have already
    been used to open a Buddhist Shrine and a Taoist Temple.
    Stereotype: The easily impressed masses may gawk at the exotica of the East, but Magi are a different,
    and entirely harder to impress breed. Once you stop living in the City, and start becoming a part of the
    community, maybe we'll give you the time of day.
    [Main Book p47-50, Sorcerer's Crusade p124-125]


    (Order of Reason, Matter )

    Purity of purpose is the party-line of the Artificers. They were once called the High Artisans, and they
    still consider themselves consummate craftsmen and inventors. They scoff at the very notion of political
    involvement, or civic duties. When they joined the Order of Reason, their terms were clear. They invent
    things that the rest of the Order of Reason is welcome to pick over like vultures, and they are to be left
    alone. Unless its really important, like that time when you all murdered the Craftmasons and all the
    Ksirafai disappeared. Then we expect a polite notice of intent be delivered to our shops, so we can ignore
    it while we finish working. In this, the Age of Decadence, the Artisans are the Order of Reason group that
    has shifted farthest from the original goals of helping the masses. Their fellows view them as shirking
    their public duty, and consign them to the Low Orders.
    Philosophy: Invention is the pinnacle of human achievement, and each act of creation brings you one step
    closer to Divinity. Not in a pious sense, but in the way that creating makes you godlike. Magic is
    invention, applied. Like so many in the Order of Reason, they have a “Partial Paradigm”, where some
    effects are easily expressed in their inventive magics (like creating a steam-canon to fling fireballs), while
    others are a poor fit (like cursing someone). When this happens, they rely on the inventions of the default
    Paradigm of the Order of Reason (like mathematics, statistics, astronomy, etc.).
    Mundane Face: The Right Society of Inventors and Creative Persons was created by the Celestial Masters
    for the express purpose of bringing people in contact with the Artificers. No one told the High Artisans,
    or they ignored the message. Any public contact is made piecemeal.
    Open Secret: Unlike nearly all of the other Order of Reason secrets, this one is completely mundane. The
    Artificers have been working towards expanding and revising the current patent laws, such that their

    page 15 / 26


    inventions would qualify for greatly expanded protections. If successful, the patent proceeds alone would
    pay for the High Artisans' work, thereby freeing them from the confinement of the Renaissance patronage
    system that had so long controlled their art. Many others in town are against this, for similar reasons.
    Secret Vice: Taking the assumption of divinity angle a little literally, many in the Artificers advocate the
    practice of creating Prometheans. It is viewed as the pinnacle of the creative arts to fashion a new human,
    a better human. Now, done in moderation, and with proper oversights, the process is nothing to worry
    about, but many Artificers have short attention spans and Prometheans won't just sit on the shelf while
    you move on to another project. As a result many Prometheans have used their enhanced natures to stir up
    trouble among humans. For example, one especially short one recently attacked Russia and was then
    exiled to Saint Helena island off the coast of Africa.
    Stereotype: Inventors that don't have the time to bathe or eat properly. What they make is beautiful, just
    don't stand too near them when they're discussing it.
    [Sorcerer's Crusade p144-145]

    Difference Engineers

    (Order of Reason, Entropy )

    The newest group in the Order of Reason, the Difference Engineers have yet to find their place in society.
    Once they were a small secular heretical group within the ultra-orthodox christian Cabal of Pure Thought.
    After many attempts at reconciliation, the infighting finally came to blows a few short decades ago, and
    when the smoke cleared, only the underdog Engineers were left. The Cabal was unexpectedly purged
    from within, in the view of the Order of Reason, and the new group was welcomed awkwardly into the
    fold. The Engineers spend the majority of their time deeply involved in calculations and mathematics, and
    have enthusiastically adopted the new mechanical calculating devices from Europe. Without having a
    long enough history to be pigeonholed by their fellows, the Engineers engage in many eclectic projects,
    from the automation of weaving factories, to the creation of clever little tables to describe how to navigate
    without the usual tools. Common folk only really see them when there's gambling to be done, since the
    Engineers primary community roll at the moment seems to be as bookies. They're good and profitable
    bookies, but many view it as a waste of the talents of such a group. Doubly so that their frivolous wastes
    of time come at the expense of the stalwart warriors that once led the Cabal.
    Philosophy: All of the world is merely the result of the computation of a complex mathematical
    expression. Knowledge of mathematics and the equipment used to compute it are prerequisites in order to
    do Magic. It's not really Magic either, just the application of mathematically rigorous expressions to the
    ongoing calculation that underlies reality. Due to their striking dissimilarity to the rest of the Order of

    page 16 / 26


    Reason, they almost never borrow Paradigm from them, nor does the Order of Reason borrow overmuch
    from the Engineers. The Order doesn't understand, but it does like results. Unlike most groups in the
    Order of Reason, the Difference Engineers do not have a “Partial Paradigm”, and rely only on their own
    ideas when using magic. Everything can be expressed through Math!
    Mundane Face: The Boole Lectures are the main social events that bring the public in touch with these
    mathematical savants. Less formal encounters happen much more frequently via the bookies that the
    Engineers run. Their statistical acumen lets them set very accurate odds.
    Open Secret: In this age, the cutting edge of communications technology is the Pneumatic Tube Network.
    The Engineers have been combining this technology with their computational systems to make remote
    automation a reality. The secret part is that they have been (for some reason or another) attaching
    something they call “Protocol Collars” to machinery all over New York, connecting it to their
    computational systems via this intricate system of tubes. Last April first, a test run of some of the systems
    resulted in dozens of doors locking residents out of the streets while certain pachyderms were released
    from the cages of P.T. Barnum's World of Curiosities. No one was injured, though the elephant did eat the
    cart of a peanut vendor. Most who know of the incident are unimpressed at what the warriors of the Cabal
    have become, others wonder what such a wide-spread system of control would mean if the Engineers
    stopped having a sense of humor.
    Secret Vice: They don't tell anyone how their math works, because it requires a certain world-view to
    appreciate fully the consequences of computations. Looking ahead isn't just a job for quaint old seers and
    soothsayers, its a natural consequence of the world being computable. Run a an accelerated-time
    simulation, and watch till you see something interesting. Simple. What the Difference Engineers saw
    when they looked ahead they don't tell people. It's bad news for the Engineers. In a number of decades,
    they will be turned upon by their former allies in the Order of Reason, and killed off for inconvenience
    and heresy. The Engineers aren't 95% certain, but their margin of error is such that their simulation is
    unlikely to be a false positive. Every time they run it, they get the same results: death at the hands of their
    brothers. Given this, the order is taking every opportunity they can to reduce the risks to themselves.
    Current recommendations involve becoming friends with the Voltarian Order and the Traditions, though
    they haven't the foggiest idea about how to do that—having so little in common with either. Further,
    specific figures in the Order of Reason have been targeted for assassination within the next 9 +/- 3 years,
    as part of a plan to delay the betrayal a few more decades.
    Stereotype: Mathematicians have a place in the Order of Reason, I suppose. No one really knows what
    they do, but asking them just leaves me more confused.
    [Main Book p, see “Virtual Adepts” p75-79, also see Sorcerer's Crusade, “Cabal of Pure Thought”

    page 17 / 26


    <Snipped for space, see doc link>


    Character Creation (document link:

    House Rules (document link, with amazing pictures:

    Costuming Guide (document link:
    Last edited by bitterWalnut; 05-10-2019, 01:00 PM.