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  • Modern Foundations and Pillars

    I am a really big fan of the Foundations and Pillars system from DA:M. I love the system to pieces and I have seen references to people having some write ups for either more Foundation/Pillars sets and some references to write ups for modern traditions Foundations and Pillars.
    I was hoping if anyone had any of those they might be willing to share them with me.
    I really, really, /really/ don't want this to turn into an argument or debate over which is better Spheres or Pillars. Please, just don't. I personally love Pillars, but Spheres are also great.
    Again, any write ups, modern, historical, any are good for me.

  • #2
    I don't actually have write-ups; but my Pillars for the Modern Crafts thread has a number of ideas to consider.

    Another approach to consider would be to tie each set of Foundation and Pillars to a single Practice: that is, rather than associating them with factions, associate them with Practices. Modus and Forma isn't an Order of Hermes thing; it's a High Ritual thing. Divinity and Archangels wouldn't be a Messianic Voices/Celestial Chorus thing; it would be a Faith thing. Spontaneity and the Seasons wouldn't be an Old Faith thing; it would be a Witchcraft thing. And so on.

    That said, it needn't be a strictly one-to-one relationship: if two Practices are very similar to each other, then they might share the same Foundation and Pillars; and there's nothing wrong with a single Practice having more than one associated Foundation and Pillars setup.


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    • #3
      I love Pillar and Foundation too, but I think they are harder to implement in more modern mage because the route to Ascension logically progressed to a more standardized approach to magic. It's value seems to be in a intermediate step between Linear and Dynamic magic (because Foundations and Pillar contain elements of both which is one thing I like about it) or it can reflect a different way to get around some of the (over-rated IMHO) complaints about mage-hybrids (which is what V20's Black Hand book went with and works really well.)

      I know there's at least one floating around that contained a mostly-complete conception for Dark Age Akashics (I know its been mentioned here multiple times) Given the ties to linear magic you could take inspiration from Sorcerer, Hekau from Mummy... heck most of the other game systems have ways to implement mages within their 'game systems and some are more flexible than others (Hunter had an interesting approach in the Spellbound enemy book, esp for hedge magic, and VtM gave them a form of thaumaturgy) I also liked some of revised's ideas for minor spheres and other alternate systems which could help develop foundation/pillars. If you know the spellcasting 'concept' and you can develop four basic 'areas' you could tie them to one main 'sphere' then add a couple minor spheres to flesh them out. I haven't looked at Dark Age Mage and their foundation/pillar creation rules but no reason you still coudln't use those either.

      Edit: I also think Foundation and Pillar would mesh well with an 'Orphan' concept (or some of the Disparates): something 'non-traditional' that might evolve from 'dabbling' with a bunch of different mystical concepts (something that might evolve into spheres later... but it may not. Orphans seem like they'd be good for tying into a lot of the alternate magic systems presented in the Storyteller's handbook
      Last edited by Mister_Dunpeal; 02-03-2020, 12:48 AM.

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      • #4
        Let me push back on the notion that Foundation and Pillars exist in a middle ground between Hedge Magic and the Arete and Spheres system: they don't. Foundation and Pillars are essentially the same kind of system as Arete and Spheres.

        1. Both Foundation/Pillars and Arete/Spheres operate on a design paradigm where you have a power stat which describes in a general way how potent your magic is, and a set of “flavor stats” that define in broad strokes what kinds of things your magic can do.

        2. In both cases, raising your power stat lets you discard the tools you use to perform magic. Arete does so now slowly that Foundation (which is no surprise when you consider that Arete goes to 10 while Foundation only goes to 5); but in both cases, once you've maxed out your power stat, you don't need to use any of your magical tools anymore.

        3. Both Spheres and Pillars are rated up to five dots, and each dot provides some broad strokes as to what sorts of things become possible that weren't before. In particular, neither system requires you to learn individual spells, rotes, rituals, or whatever else you want to call them.

        There are a couple of ways that Foundation and Pillars are more restrictive than Arete and Spheres; but these have nothing in common with what makes Hedge Magic more restrictive than Arete and Spheres:

        1. There are only four Pillars per Foundation (except when there aren't, as in the case of the Forma of the Order of Hermes and the Craftmasons). The Hedge Magic/Sorcery system has more Paths than the Sphere system has Spheres, by a significant margin; it is more restrictive than Spheres in this regard in that the Paths are more narrowly focused than the Spheres are. By contrast, Pillars tend to be as broad or even broader than Spheres. As well, Hedge Magic requires you to learn individual spells (or whatever you want to call them); as stated above, Pillars don't.

        2. Foundation and Pillars are effectively hardwired to a Practice, with the choice of tools to be used being specified with each Pillar, and the nature of the Foundation tending to reflect a philosophy commonly associated with that Practice. The Sorcery system… isn't; not really. It uses a setup similar to earlier editions of Mage where your style of magic is determined largely by the faction you've joined, and at most this reflects on your Paths in the sense that different factions favor different Paths.

        Foundation and Pillars is firmly in the same camp as Arete and Spheres; just implemented differently.

        ---

        Again, I'd recommend pairing Foundations and their Pillars with Practices: Divinity gets associated with Faith; Spontaneity gets associated with Witchcraft; Modus gets associated with High Ritual Magic; Sensitivity gets associated with Shamanism; and so on.
        Last edited by Dataweaver; 02-11-2020, 03:45 PM.


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        • #5
          I feel Foundations are more the philosophy of the Group with Pillars being the Practices. With Traditions being Broader than Crafts/Fellowships incorporating Multiple Practices under One Foundation.. with the Traditions as a whole facilitating this to a Greater Degree. Or at least if we are attempting to use Pillars/Foundation to simulate something resembling the Modern Traditions

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          • #6
            Fair enough: Foundations probably have more to do with what M20 calls Paradigms and what older editions called Theory or Philosophy, while Pillars have more to do with the Practices. Older editions of the game wed Philosophy/Theory and Practice directly to the factions (as in “pick a faction, and that will tell you what your Philosophy/Theory and Practice is like”), whereas M20 treats Paradigm and Practice as standalone units, with the factions being described in terms of what Paradigms and Practices they subscribe to (i.e., “pick a Paradigm and Practice, and that will tell you what sorts of factions you might be compatible with”).
            Last edited by Dataweaver; 02-03-2020, 04:39 AM.


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            • #7
              While I really appreciate the advice for making new ones or tying them to Practices, I think I might have not explained my initial post sufficiently.
              I am genuinely just looking for write ups because I like reading them. ^_^;
              I don't play much these days but I like lore and character development so I just collect stuff for my personal enjoyment.
              While the Spheres and Arete serve the Mage The Ascension game fine, to me it always felt more shoehorned in, in actual lore. Whereas Foundations and Pillars fit what the lore said more accurately, at least to me. That's the problem with retroactive prequels, though, you have had time to think of more things to explain other things which might not make complete sense with preexisting lore.
              I, /personally/, see the Sphere system as a purely game mechanic thing, separation of gameplay and lore. I get where people come from when they say that the Sphere system is the Traditions' way of working together, but it comes across as, well, like the Technocracy. Very specific manner in which Will is focused, defined into distinct and separated studies that can be shown and followed by many regardless of, and in spite of, personal aptitude and belief. (Ironically, I love the Technocracy for the most part.)
              But! I do like Sphere/Arete because it is a simple way of stating out NPCs. The few times I've played as Storyteller I let my friends tell me what their characters magic could do and we worked together to build some basic Foundations and Pillars for them (and kept them from the other players beyond what was already unlocked so they would feel surprised by what each character could do) while I kept all NPCs running Spheres/Arete for simplicity. Made them all feel special and unique and powerful. Plus it really made them work together to come up with plans and roleplay.
              As I said before, both are very good systems for different things, I just prefer, and feel more immersed with Foundations and Pillars than Spheres and Arete. But thats just a personal preference.
              Really, these days I don't play much but I really enjoy just reading write ups. ^_^
              I really do appreciate the advice though, I'm not good with crunch as me and my friends are more storybased than mechanics based, but I might give it a try and make some writeups for some characters I have floating around in my brain!
              So, thanks!
              Last edited by KnightFenrirWulfhart; 02-03-2020, 05:55 AM. Reason: Missed some words here and there ^_^;

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              • #8
                V20's guide to the black hand had pillar based magic, called archaic sorcery included as well as a darker modern version of the Chakravanti (euthanatos) called the Idran, it also basically revised the pillar system for the 20th-anniversary rules.

                Majorly it linked each pillar to four keywords which defined what exactly the pillar could affect (fire, demons, ghosts, connections, growth), making the whole thing more comprehensive. It added clearly defined spell factors to define how, for example, damage, trait buffs/penalties and area of effect worked, as well as situational modifiers for casting in combat. Range was made simply either line of sight or sympathetic. Foci were linked to Foundation and each dot over 1 removed the need for foci for one pillar and getting four dots in foundation and a pillar let you get a specialty in one focus and keyword respectively. It did trim out any inherent bonuses for having a high foundation though. It also included rules for how blood bonds could be worked with magic. Finally, it added revised scourge rules.

                Keywords worked roughly like this
                Awareness of the keywords of a pillar, Protection against passive keyword effects (ex: heat but not fire)
                •• add bonuses or penalties related to keywords, call (but not compel or create) keywords, inflict bashing damage, interact with keywords directly
                ••• manipulate a keyword, inflict lethal damage, summon, ban or trap a keyword, damage/destroy keywords, embody or traverse the keyword, make another interact with a keyword directly
                •••• transform a keyword completely, command or control a keyword, transcend mortal limits, make another embody or traverse a keyword
                ••••• unleash widespread keyword, transcend divinely imposed limits, make massive incontestable transformations

                While I haven't converted the old DA: Mage pillars to the revised system it wouldn't be terribly hard to do.
                Last edited by Darkfoxdev; 02-06-2020, 07:14 PM.

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                • #9
                  Ooooo! I didn't know about that. I'll admit, I'm not very into Vampire so thats why I never knew but other than removing the special bonuses for Foundations that sounds a/lot/ nicer for my brain to work with!
                  Thank you for letting me know! I'll definitely check that out!

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                  • #10
                    I don't recall seeing the summary of the Pillars that Darkfoxdev provides here in the book in question. But no matter; Darkfoxdev provides it here. Also, the Scourge rules are remarkably simple: take the successes you get on the Backlash roll and craft a suitable spell to inflict on the caster, using the caster's Pillars as a rough guideline for what sorts of mischief the Backlash can cause.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                      I don't recall seeing the summary of the Pillars that Darkfoxdev provides here in the book in question. But no matter; Darkfoxdev provides it here. Also, the Scourge rules are remarkably simple: take the successes you get on the Backlash roll and craft a suitable spell to inflict on the caster, using the caster's Pillars as a rough guideline for what sorts of mischief the Backlash can cause.
                      The summary of what each pillar does per dot was my own work based on what each of the Idran's pillars did and trying to assess the design being used, it's been awhile so I forget exactly why I worked so hard to break these down, I think I may have been trying to stat out Lilith for some unfathomable reason and decided she should know Archaic Sorcery.
                      Last edited by Darkfoxdev; 02-07-2020, 07:36 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Well, it's nicely done. If I ever get around to the M20 Old Magics STV pdf that I'd like to do, I'd like to explicitly include this up front. (Of course, that's a long way down the road, if it ever happens at all.)


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                        • #13
                          If there was one thing I would change for the V20 Foundation/pillar adaptation is to have fount so it was more in line with Avatar ratings (or the Mana rating for some sorcerers from WoD: Sorcerer) It just felt odd that an archaic mage would somehow accumulate or use more quintessence than a modern mage.. in the same timeframe. Even if the methods are more archiac and less flexible than spheres I don't think it would explain that discrepancy. (or you could go the other way and allow Avatars to behave more like Founts from Dark Age: Mage)

                          Edit: Also Dataweaver I think I kinda see what you're trying to get at by saying that the Foundation/Pillar system isn't an intermediary step... but I'm not sure I'd agree with that interpretation. I mean yeah there's some correlation but you would expect that if its a medium step. and Dark Age Mage is pretty clear that Sphere and Foundation magic aren't the same:

                          Originally posted by Dark Ages Mage
                          The interconnectedness of ideas and concepts that crops up in the wake of the first gatherings of the Nine Mystic Traditions will eventually lead to a much more encompassing philosophy one that sees the similarities in what traditional wizards, woodland druids and ancestral shamans do, rather than the differences. But for now, those are gulfs that can be traversed by only a handful of exceptional people. Among other things, the result of this is that essentially no consensus exists beyond certain fundamental precepts (things fall down, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, etc.) Although this means that the broad spectrum of ideas necessary to beget thoughts of Ascension is virtually unheard of, it also means that each mage is ultimately bound only by the limits of her own ambition and ability to achieve. To put it another way: The magic of the Dark Ages is dynamic, within a certain set of static frameworks that are so (and will remain thus for a while yet) by convention, not nature.
                          So its quasi-dynamic, but with far more limits (intentionally) and less flexibility than the spheres. And this is by design (thats why learning a whole different foundation/pillar system would be more challenging than learning a different tradtiion through sphere magic, as I see it.) And I see the Foundation/Pillar system likewise being more akin to the 'minor spheres' optional setup from the storyteller's handbook (which is also kinda dynamic and has parallels to the sphere system but.. isn't too similar to sphere magic. In fact they flat out say its meant to be a midpoint between sphere and linear magic. But I'd also say minor spheres are MORE flexible - or differently flexible - than foundation and pillar.)

                          I'd also point out that there's a big gray area when it comes to sphere dots in whether or not you still think archspheres are a thing or not. If they are, then sphere magic has far more potential in other ways than foundation/pillars.. which again seems to be by design.

                          I'll acknowledge there's tons of wiggle room to quibble over these details but that is honestly how I see it.
                          Last edited by Mister_Dunpeal; 02-10-2020, 09:49 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                            Let me push back on the notion that Foundation and Pillars exist in a middle ground between Hedge Magic and the Arete and Spheres system: they don't. Foundation and Pillars are essentially the same kind of system as Arete and Spheres.

                            1. Both Foundation/Pillars and Arete/Spheres operate on a design paradigm where you have a power stat which describes in a general way how potent your magic is, and a set of “flavor stats” that define in broad strokes what kinds of things your magic can do.

                            2. In both cases, raising your power stat lets you discard the tools you use to perform magic. Arete does so now slowly that Foundation (which is no surprise when you consider that Arete goes to 10 while Foundation only goes to 5); but in both cases, once you've maxed out your power stat, you don't need to use any of your magical tools anymore.

                            3. Both Spheres and Pillars are rated up to five dots, and each door provides some broad strokes as to what sorts of things become possible that weren't before. In particular, neither system requires you to learn individual spells, rotes, rituals, or whatever else you want to call them.

                            There are a couple of ways that Foundation and Pillars are more restrictive than Arete and Spheres; but these have nothing in common with what makes Hedge Magic more restrictive than Arete and Spheres:

                            1. There are only four Pillars per Foundation (except when there aren't, as in the case of the Forma of the Order of Hermes and the Craftmasons). The Hedge Magic/Sorcery system has more Paths than the Sphere system has Spheres, by a significant margin; it is more restrictive than Spheres in this regard is that the Paths are more narrowly focused than the Spheres are. By contrast, Pillars tend to be as broad or even broader than Spheres. As well, Hedge Magic requires you to learn individual spells (or whatever you want to call them); as stated above, Pillars don't.

                            2. Foundation and Pillars are effectively hardwired to a Practice, with the choice of tools to be used being specified with each Pillar, and the nature of the Foundation tending to reflect a philosophy commonly associated with that Practice. The Sorcery system… isn't; not really. It uses a setup similar to earlier editions of Mage where your style of magic is determined largely by the faction you've joined, and at most this reflects on your Paths in the sense that different factions favor different Paths.

                            Foundation and Pillars is firmly in the same camp as Arete and Spheres; just implemented differently.

                            ---

                            Again, I'd recommend pairing Foundations and their Pillars with Practices: Divinity gets associated with Faith; Spontaneity gets associated with Witchcraft; Modus gets associated with High Ritual Magic; Sensitivity gets associated with Shamanism; and so on.

                            A more recent book(admittedly a vampire one) explicitly says that foundation CAN go over 5. Maybe the writers did not include it because in that game foundation has actual effects once you reach the highest levels. To be honest, like most first edition books dark ages mage was a bit shaky in terms of mechanic.

                            Anyway, if you want your fireball to do the same amount of damage that an Arete 10 mage's will, you definitely do need foundation 10 even though you also add the pillar to the dice pool(remember that the actual math are done differently)

                            The amount of pillars depends on the philosophy of the group in question. It is no secret that some are more versatile than others. Some subgroups can have entirely different ones. For instance germanic old faith are probably much closer to the valdermen philosophically. At least from what we know of real life germanic paganism i think. Likewise remember that the only thing needed for you to join the order of hermes is to swear their (entirely political) oath.



                            [QUOTE=Mister_Dunpeal;n1366890]If there was one thing I would change for the V20 Foundation/pillar adaptation is to have fount so it was more in line with Avatar ratings (or the Mana rating for some sorcerers from WoD: Sorcerer) It just felt odd that an archaic mage would somehow accumulate or use more quintessence than a modern mage.. in the same timeframe. Even if the methods are more archiac and less flexible than spheres I don't think it would explain that discrepancy. (or you could go the other way and allow Avatars to behave more like Founts from Dark Age: Mage)

                            Edit: Also Dataweaver I think I kinda see what you're trying to get at by saying that the Foundation/Pillar system isn't an intermediary step... but I'm not sure I'd agree with that interpretation. I mean yeah there's some correlation but you would expect that if its a medium step. and Dark Age Mage is pretty clear that Sphere and Foundation magic aren't the same:



                            So its quasi-dynamic, but with far more limits (intentionally) and less flexibility than the spheres. And this is by design (thats why learning a whole different foundation/pillar system would be more challenging than learning a different tradtiion through sphere magic, as I see it.) And I see the Foundation/Pillar system likewise being more akin to the 'minor spheres' optional setup from the storyteller's handbook (which is also kinda dynamic and has parallels to the sphere system but.. isn't too similar to sphere magic. In fact they flat out say its meant to be a midpoint between sphere and linear magic. But I'd also say minor spheres are MORE flexible - or differently flexible - than foundation and pillar.)

                            I'd also point out that there's a big gray area when it comes to sphere dots in whether or not you still think archspheres are a thing or not. If they are, then sphere magic has far more potential in other ways than foundation/pillars.. which again seems to be by design.

                            I'll acknowledge there's tons of wiggle room to quibble over these details but that is honestly how I see it. [/QUOTE



                            The reason founts are more effective in spending quintessence is that they are more closely attuned to their mages due to the psychopomps doing their job. As for mages regenerating quintessence with fount it's because it was more abundant" in the air" back then
                            None of which should apply to modern mages.

                            All of these limitations that you mention DO exist in Ascension. It's just sidewaves and not enforced by the rules. Hermetics are not supposed to be good with middle umbrood.. but there are no mechanics for it. Taftani are "bad" with life magic, but there are no mechanics either

                            Even though their real life groups(hermeticism is a real thing after all) are not supposed to be hyper efficient in all the magic that they (claim to) do and what i mentioned were simply two examples.

                            Again a more recent book implies archpillars do exist.. but that's another discussion






                            Last edited by mark; 02-11-2020, 03:45 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mark View Post
                              Anyway, if you want your fireball to do the same amount of damage that an Arete 10 mage's will, you definitely do need foundation 10 even though you also add the pillar to the dice pool(remember that the actual math are done differently)
                              With the exception of Forces, M20 Arete does successes x 2 levels of damage when casting a damaging spell. Foundation 5/Pillar 5 can do as much damage as that because the damage increases with the level of the Pillar, and while they start doing successes x1 of damage, they can do successes x 2 damage at latter levels (though perhaps you wouldn't call that a mere "fireball").
                              This changes with specific Rotes and different editions, but I don't think one can definitely say that Arete 10 damage = hypothetical Foundation 10 damage
                              Last edited by Aleph; 02-12-2020, 07:54 AM.

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