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Why is long immortality so difficult?

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  • Why is long immortality so difficult?

    So, many(at least mage themselves) say Magick is very powerful and flexible, but why is long immortality(I mean thousands of years) so rare? Why can't we see many ORDINARY Methuselah-old mages?

    Long immortality is so hard that Tremere, the mightiest mage of his time in some books, had to accept vamprism, even if it means destroying avatar.

    No common mage in canon has lived for more than 1000 years old, needless to say older than Tremere.

    Some books have resource about it, i can recall Horizon: the Stronghold of Hope, Masters of the Art and Verbena Revised...

    The reason I think of:

    1.Paradox
    Paradox becomes more and more, making too-old mages die or hide in Umbra. Living too long can also cause Permandox.

    2.Quintessence
    One of major reasons Tremere worried about himself. Vis becomes rarer and rarer, making immortality spells harder to cast. This and above also make spells easier to fail.

    3.Paradigm
    One of major reasons, too. Consensus makes old paradigm fade away.

    4.Sphere
    Verbena book says no known Magick can grant true immortality, but I think it's just (ordinary) Magick, if you have archspheres like LIfe 6(see Medea) maybe you can surpass this. Maybe the reason many ancient mages perish is that they didn't become archmages...

    What's your opinion?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Rock113 View Post
    No common mage in canon has lived for more than 1000 years old, needless to say older than Tremere.
    Depends on what you mean by 'common'. Lilith, Maedea, The Black Man etc. are probably all examples of mages that are way older. Though I guess what you mean by 'common'...none of the usual Tradition members seem to have examples that are that old, yes.

    1.Paradox
    Paradox becomes more and more, making too-old mages die or hide in Umbra. Living too long can also cause Permandox.
    That's reason one, yes. The older you get past your natural lifespan, the more Paradox hits you when you linger in normal Earth space. That's why you found most Archmasters in the Umbra before the Avatar Storm. That and their acts usually are safer to pull off there, as well.

    2.Quintessence
    One of major reasons Tremere worried about himself. Vis becomes rarer and rarer, making immortality spells harder to cast. This and above also make spells easier to fail.
    Eh. Depends on which kind of immortality rotes you go for. Quintessence is just as important or unimportant as with any other spells.

    3.Paradigm
    One of major reasons, too. Consensus makes old paradigm fade away.
    I don't think this is a valid reason the way you put it - most mystic traditions fly in the face of the Consensus, but that doesn't stop Mages from using it - but paradigm *is* a valid reason in the way that a Mage might simply not believe, according to their paradigm, that 1) It's possible to prolong the lifespan that much 2) It's *acceptable* to prolong it that much. Especially the latter hits a chord with some paradigms out there - even the Verbena, masters of Life, believe that passing on is a natural part of the cycle. There might be some old ones among them, but even they only stay until they feel that they have done their duty.

    What's your opinion?
    In my opinion? Immortality itself is easy by pure, raw factual mechanics. Life 3 can do it, if paradigm allows. Keep the body young, keep the illnesses away, boom, you're done. That's it from a "least mechanics-based possible way to do it" standpoint.

    Anything on top is flavor and "in-world" realism. A mixture of paradigmic consequences, Paradox and IC lore, ST Fiat and the kind of mood you want to set at the table depending on what the Mage's paradigm says on how age works, if it is more than a biological concept, wether it should even be extended, the reality-zone they're etc. All those things.

    But to me, if you keep all that to the side, Life 3 is at its core the most simple, non-fluff laden, non-paradigm influenced, non-higher-power-restrained way to do it if you go by a purely modern-biology based paradigm without any external metaphysical influences.

    Personally I don't quite get why so many ways described in the books make it much harder than that - or rather, why no simpler way ever was mentioned - ( Yeah yeah, I know, it's probably the whole Tremere backstory needing constant reason d'etre... ), given that the Unaging Merit is a mere two points.
    Last edited by Ambrosia; 09-23-2019, 11:06 AM.


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    • #3
      1.Paradox
      Paradox becomes more and more, making too-old mages die or hide in Umbra. Living too long can also cause Permandox.

      2.Quintessence
      One of major reasons Tremere worried about himself. Vis becomes rarer and rarer, making immortality spells harder to cast. This and above also make spells easier to fail.

      3.Paradigm
      One of major reasons, too. Consensus makes old paradigm fade away.
      These 3 reasons are all the same reason in the fluff.

      Reality has become hardened, forcing long lived mages to flee Earth. That's the main reason and why Tremere did what he did and it's the most important reason, I think.

      4th it's untrue. Verbena are wrong. And they are wrong because they have a Paradigm that values natural cycles too much, and that includes death. That some of the longest lived mages in the world are among their members it's pure irony.

      My opinion of why we don't have many Methuselah-old mages:

      1º Mages are rarer than vampires as it is, obviousy long lived ones are going to be rarer too.

      2º Mages don't have immortality as granted. Also, not all Paradigms are equally forgiving about what being immortal would require.

      Hence, many mages would simply die before getting to the point where immortality it's possible for them. Remember that mages can be as frail as any human when they start. They can die from all the usual causes if they don't have a spell to prevent it (sickness, wounds). On top of old age.

      3º And Reality makes it harder too because the Consensus.

      4º Many mages just wouldn't prioritize immortality. Many would rather seek Ascencion. Many are deeply religious and believe in an afterlife that's better than this world. Many believe in reincarnation, and thus why would they bother?, unless they're exremely power hungry, which may or may not be a sin. Immortality may be blasphemous or just undesirable

      Mages are notably stubborn. If they decided they don't care much about immortality, they're unlikely to change their mind (and even if they do change their mind, it may be too late because 2º)

      5º Mages have a greater tendency to seek (and actually reach) trascendence compared with vampires. Some Ascend, others willingly (or not) become Umbrood, and that reduces the already small stack of mages that would immortal.

      Of all these reasons, 3 it's the most important for Mage because it's deeply ingrained in the themes of the game. It's the main reason Masters of great magicks/sciences have to leave Earth. I think this reinforces the idea that greater miracles would be possible if the world was less gray and banal, embracing wonder (if you're a Traditionalist) or less superstitious and more under the grip of science (if you're a Technocrat). The whole "death of magick" drama, that might not be strictly true but it's very important for Mage mood nevertheless
      Last edited by Aleph; 09-23-2019, 09:46 AM.

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      • #4
        In addition to what Aleph said, immortality was covered in some detail in 'Masters of the Art' (including 'immortality' rotes as alternatives to things like Ghouling which along with vampirism, mummies and Liches is covered to an extent.) The main reason they give for immortality is that immortality means an effectively static resistance (one reason why many of those routes discussed seem to either deny you the use of magic, or in raising at least Arete, like with Liches.) You trade 'dynamic' for 'static' (which is interesting as its implied hedge mages might have a source for immortality too...) There's also a bit of Fullmetal-alchemist-esque 'equivalent exchange' thrown in for good measure and that might be the 'best case' (think of it as 'immortality' being '100% perfectly efficient life forms' Except nothing in life can be 100% perfectly efficient - at least not anymore - so you have to let in a little entropy. And once that happens, you're consigning yourself to a finite lifespan - the only question is how long.

        The first 'immortality' rote incidentally gave you back 9 years of life per usage, but was very involved to the point it was best cast in a Horizon Realm. The second one (tied to the Akashics) made the mage into a kind of thaumivore, but only extended life, rather than stopping it. The typical ratio was 50 years of 'life' equated to one year of aging. In that POV you could theoretically have a Mage lasting thousands of years, but it still runs into problems in the 'modern' setting unless certain fundamental assumptions (as outlined above) reversed themselves.

        As a further example: Look at the lengths someone like Voormas went to try and evade death, you can kinda see why. As Aleph noted, it's an issue intimately connected to the themes of the game, right up until the literal end. In the end there's alot a person can do to bend the rules, but you can't 'break' them without some sort of consequence (Again Voormas and the sort of world he sought to create being a prime example.)

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        • #5
          There's also the issue where, immortality magick was probably a lot easier back then because paradox flat out didn't exist. The reason all the current immortality rotes kinda suck (And require more than just 'life 3 I live longer', they are all very involved, require reagents, and like 4-5 spheres) is probably due to this.

          Also due to how paradigm and stuff works in general.
          People really like to underbloat their magick compared to how Whitewolf gives examples for it, notably something like the Forces X Life X rote that lets you turn into fire/a fire golem for a bit. (Maybe matter as well). Requires a lot of prep and planning, personally hand crafting a clay object, putting your name into it like 10 times, then a bunch of other stuff.
          People like to just say "I chant and wave staff".
          Magick is hard.

          Also IIRC Tremere didn't accept Vamparism, they were trying to like...alchemically pull the immortality out of vampire blood for themselves, without the vampire part.
          It fucked up.
          I think sources vary whether Tremere knew Gor-whatever fucked the ritual up and whether or not he fucked the ritual up to begin with or if they just botched/they were doomed from the start.


          On Sorcerers and living forever:

          Yeah the Arch-mage book mentions some of them have methods of immortality. The Alchemy sorcerer path (Atleast in revised sorcerer) mentions that Alchemy 6 is what you need for, essentially, unending life (I think it gives possibilities for Mummy-hood, Awakening, Vamparism, or true immortality [I assume like the archmage life ability]). Keep in mind, I think the max cap is 5 and the '6' paths are all theoretical/possibilities. Like an Arch-Sphere.
          I think 4 alchemy is enough to let you hit the 50 years to 1 year threshold though, or I think you can make a potion that deages you without paradox/risk as long as you upkeep it.
          Last edited by Jihelu; 09-24-2019, 06:13 PM.

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          • #6
            I actually also forgot that Mage Revised had 'unaging' as a 2 pt merit and the excuses included various reasons (including Technocracy gimmicks like really good nanotech) which might technically fit the requirement but isn't exactly 'common' (but also somehow avoids the 'stagnation' I spoke of from Masters of the Art.)

            The first version of Sorcerer had an even funkier merit called 'Immortal' which came in two flavors - a 5point one that seemingly offers partial immunity to diseases, indefinite/increased lifespan. Basically tolkien elf-version since it requires being killed (weapons, etc.) to die.

            The 7 point version seems closer to mythology figure or 'I'm a fan of Highlander' - you'll heal from almost any damage inflicted on you that does not totally obliterate the body, except for one weak spot (the 'final doom' - examples included of course getting your head chopped off.)

            Mage20 seems to have adopted a variation on the Sorcerer merit rather than unaging, but with changes: the 5 point merit is slow aging (perhaps 1 year for every 10 years that pass) and recovering from all injuries and diseases (at usual rate) that don't kill you outright. The 7 point merit is slow aging BUT immune to death short of special doom or complete obliteration (still heal at usual rate, but you can heal even from the point of death).

            I'm not sure if it means you keep suffering the effects of aging (albeit at the reduced rate) but you still can't die or if it means you still end up dying a natural death. I'd guess the former probably, which means that the physical and mental consequences of old age eventually become an issue (barring use of magic) but in a sense is still immortality.

            In the case of sorcerer 'immortality elixir' is in fact an option at level 6 Alchemy Hedge magic (alongside transmutation). Revised kicks this up a notch at level 6 suggesting its not just elixirs but 'immortality regimens' (multiple approaches), as well as potions that might cause 'awakening', vampirism (hello Tremere!), Mummification (Spell of life analogue) or 'true immortality' (whatever that means. The unaging merit in Revised would be my guess.)

            Revised makes mention of 'elixirs' from the Mythic ages being one source of immortality but also mythological ones (mystic or supernatural fruit and mermaid consumption for mystical alternatives (alongside the aforementioned nanotech or 'Progenitor symbiote')

            Edit again: Sorcerer:revised also mention a level 4 Alchemy that involves a 'regimen of drugs and potions' which slow aging to 'one month for every year' that passes, or basically 1 year for every twelve years.
            Last edited by Mister_Dunpeal; 09-24-2019, 08:02 PM.

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            • #7
              M20 has the unaging merit as well I think in Book of Secrets.

              I'm pretty sure 'True immortality' is what it mentions for like, Life 7-8 (OR even 9). Basically: You can't ever die.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Jihelu View Post
                I'm pretty sure 'True immortality' is what it mentions for like, Life 7-8 (OR even 9). Basically: You can't ever die.
                It’s a Life 9 effect, in Masters of the Art. But Archspheres in the book is a VERY OPTIONAL rules in M20, meaning you could fold them into one Lv.6 or even 5.

                And again, to be honest MotA is not that good. Archspheres in that book seem really redundant because you can achieve them with lesser or ordinary magick.

                For example, I think true immortality can be achieved with Life 6, Prime 6 , some Mind and Time: You can use Life 6 to maintain perfect body, Prime to create a perfect Pattern, Mind to maintain your brain and so on...
                Last edited by Rock113; 09-25-2019, 03:27 AM.

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                • #9
                  The game didn't want to be "a bunch or hoary immortals run everything" aka Vampire 2.0. However even then Vampire has reason to push its elders off stage afterwhile he whole war of the ages while Mage doesn't have that. Plus mage does need paradigms evolving. Revised gave us the Avatar STorm to clean the board but that also presumably doesn't sit well.

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