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on the subject of Rotes

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  • on the subject of Rotes

    How do rotes work: do you instantly learn the rote once you meet the sphere requirements? Do you have to learn the rote within a game session? does it cost XP to learn a rote, etc etc. Keep in mind this is for 20th anniversary.

  • #2
    Rotes have to be learned somehow in-game (or at start, but there's no actual guide to this). There are no rules about how long it takes, or what it takes, to learn one besides: have the Spheres, cast the spell a bunch.

    Fortunately, there is no XP cost to rotes, and it doesn't really matter because they barely matter mechanically anyway.

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    • #3
      If you would like a simple rote system as well as a compilation of rotes in published Mage books, I recommend Enlightened Grimoire. This work is on the Storyteller's Vault and has a system where you can start with rotes (based on Library and Mentor ratings plus points if you want to assign them) and buy rotes during play. Sadly, there's no information on time to learn rotes, but you could use the Sphere Learning Chart in the Bitter Road as a guide. The Sphere Learning Chart is for how long it takes to learn a Sphere.

      If you're playing more Revised-era magic, where things are difficult and the rote lowers the difficulty by 1, rotes are more important than in other flavors of Mage where they are just a codified way that a certain magical group uses certain spheres to produce a certain effect.

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      • #4
        Just think of Rotes as a written flash-card to memorize a specific Effect you want or an Effect you made up and want to keep it remembered for later use. Ascension is basically a freeform magick system and Rotes aren't necessary, but its good to help you out for details-sake.


        Jade Kingdom Warrior

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Shakanaka View Post
          Just think of Rotes as a written flash-card to memorize a specific Effect you want or an Effect you made up and want to keep it remembered for later use. Ascension is basically a freeform magick system and Rotes aren't necessary, but its good to help you out for details-sake.
          This is how I ran them when I ran Mage.

          People would note their favorite rotes down but that's about as far as it went.

          When Revised came out we had a kind of hybridized 2-Rev system and ignored the avatar storm + changes to magick.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by baakyocalder View Post
            If you're playing more Revised-era magic, where things are difficult and the rote lowers the difficulty by 1, rotes are more important than in other flavors of Mage where they are just a codified way that a certain magical group uses certain spheres to produce a certain effect.
            Rotes weren't event that good in Revised. They didn't lower the difficulty by 1, they negated the +1 difficulty penalty for fast-casting (a penalty that's never actually been codified in what exactly that means mechanically).

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            • #7
              The closest thing to mechanics for Rotes in M20 is the “Knowing and Learning Rotes” section on p.529: as an option, learning a Rote is done using Intelligence+Esoterica or Science (or, in some cases, Research) with a difficulty of 5+highest Sphere. No experience cost, and the time required is left entirely up to the Storyteller.

              M20 defines Fast-Casting on p.535: “a desperate or reckless mage might try fast-casting her effect — that is, making stuff up and firing it off without preparation of practice”.

              Basically, M20 assumes that the default is that mages are rote-casting, but that Rotes are so easy to learn once you have the right Spheres that there's really no need to track which ones you know: just assume that your mage knows a given Rote unless there's a narrative reason why he wouldn't; and in the latter case, he can still cast the Effect through fast-casting.

              That's the official stance on it. As baakyocalder pointed out, the Storytellers Vault supplement Enlightened Grimoire suggests some optional rules where Rotes are harder to learn and provide special benefits once learned (primarily letting you roll Arete+Sphere instead of just Arete; but it suggests other benefits as well), making them something that needs to be tracked. As such, it essentially results in three levels of preparedness: fast-casting, what M20 calls a Rote, and what Enlightened Grimoire calls a Rote.


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              • #8
                There's a reason I qualified it as "mechanically." What is, and what isn't fast-casting is going to vary by ST interpretation of what preparation and practice mean in this regard.

                If your mage has cast an effect 100 times, they're clearly practiced. What happens the first time they try to cast it but add on Correspondence to cover a wider range than normal? Is this a new effect they're casting on the fly without practice? Or not?

                There isn't (and never has been) an objectively correct answer to that. Running it either way is completely valid by how the rules are written. It's even valid to not rule evenly between different PCs at the same table, as some Focuses are more improvisational and others more rigid. Saying that a go-with-the-flow CoXer with a Focus that emphasizes getting in touch with the rhythm of the world has a lower bar to meet to consider apply practice from one effect to another than a strictly devout Chorister that believes every miracle requires a specific and perfectly executed prayer to the One, is a completely legitimate (if not necessarily happy for the players) rules call.

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