Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

[M20] do Archspheres still exist?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • [M20] do Archspheres still exist?

    Greetings,

    As the title says, for M20, do the Archspheres ratings and effects still apply? Or are mages limited to 5 dots and 6+ equivalent effects have to be achieved by combining spheres and using rituals?

    Thanks,
    Last edited by lbeaumanior; 07-02-2021, 08:38 AM.

  • #2
    The older books "Horizon Stronghold of Hope" and "Masters of the Art" still exist. So those ideas about Archspheres are still out there. I assume they're allowed/official-ish for now.

    The two interpretations aren't the same.

    Comment


    • #3
      Brucato doesn't like Archspheres, and has expressed the preference for the notion that there's little if anything that an Archsphere can do that can't be done with Mastery and a lot of successes. If he could do it over, there wouldn't be any Archspheres in Mage.

      But officially, M20 points you to Masters of the Art if you want to include Archspheres in your game:
      Rumor has it that levels of Archmastery exist for each sphere, granting abstract powers that even gods might envy. In game terms, these would be the EXTREMELY optional Sphere Ranks 6-10. Such powers are beyond almost every mage alive, take centuries to attain, and turn chronicles into blasted wreckage. Groups that want to bring such powers into play can find them in the source book Masters of the Art. We cannot, however, overemphasize the destructive potential of these, again, OPTIONAL Sphere Ranks. Though technically canon, they should be avoided for all but the most outlandish mage chronicles.
      M20 p.68
      So again: in M20, Archspheres technically exist; and if you want to use them, you're directed to Masters of the Art for appropriate game systems. But the text makes it clear that M20 not only doesn't endorse their inclusion, it discourages their use in the strongest terms possible. Don't expect M20 to update the Archsphere rules in the foreseeable future: the closest you're going to get would be a Storyteller's Vault product, much like we finally got M20 sorcery rules through STV.



      Personally, I like to borrow ideas from Imperial Mysteries, a supplement for the first edition of Mage: the Awakening. In particular, it posits the notion that Archmastery is more than just a linear extension of magery: becoming an Archmaster requires a change in state that's every bit as profound as the shift from Sleeper to Awakened, and Archmaster-tier Effects are fueled by what amounts to experience points.

      On the first point, not even centuries of development are enough to get you from Master to Archmaster; you need to find a way to transcend merely being Awakened to achieve something beyond. (Note that I'm not calling it “Ascension”: Mage: the Awakening includes the notion of Ascension, too, but says that attaining Archmastery is something else.) In practical terms, this means that you can't just attain a sixth dot in an Arcanum (the Awakening counterpart to a Sphere) by acquiring a lot of experience points, raising your Gnosis (Awakening's Arete) to 6 or more, and buying it; you have to cross a threshold to get to that sixth dot, and the Storyteller is under no obligation to allow that to happen.

      On the second point, the idea is that Archmaster-tier Effects are incredibly potent, each one having the potential to be world-altering. Fueling them with experience points helps explain why Archmasters use that power so sparingly.
      Last edited by Dataweaver; 07-02-2021, 01:50 PM.


      Comment


      • #4
        Further to the other stuff mentioned, I think I agree with M20's take that archspheres aren't needed. The "archsphere" for Forces is doing a Forces 5 effect with Arete 9 (as opposed to Arete 5), a specialization in the Magick being performed, and all sorts of powerful advantages accrued over decades or centuries. The Spheres as described in M20 nicely cover the universe between them, and as a result it feels as if anything would be possible with enough dice, enough time, and enough ranks in enough Spheres.

        Breaking the Curse of Caine, for example, even on a single Vampire, isn't a matter of "if I had Spirit 9 I would do this", it's a matter of "Am I willing to invest the Quintessence, time and risk to my life in order to complete a ritual to achieve this end... and am I willing to live with the consequences if I do?" Sure, you can do ANYTHING with 5 in all the Spheres... on paper. But you need a lot of successes and there are many things which you only get to do once, since the consequences will be severe.

        Comment


        • #5
          Archspheres are, as Dataweaver points out, not 'Vanilla'. They are discouraged, and Brucato, at least, also won't make any updates to their old write-ups.

          That said, Archspheres are also not *really* necessary in M20 anymore. Several things from Revised that were in the realm of Archspheres are now in the realm of 5th level sphere levels.

          'Mass-creation of life' is pretty much possible with lots of succesesses and a generous usage of the 'targets' rule.
          Shifting other people into animal larger or smaller thaa their original mass used to be Life 6. Now it's just part of 5, as it should have been.
          Traveling back in time? Time 5 now. Some of the other level 6 writeups (Corr, anyone?) quite rankly can easily be justified by lower levels.

          M20 philosophically puts things less on an 'Sphere level above 5' but more on an 'amount of successes' - Twiggins is on the ball here. High Arete plus high sphere levels and experience and a gallery of ready Wonders, to average Mages, very well doth an Archmaster make. They can pull off things those Mages can only dream of, and have seen things they can't imagine.
          Last edited by Ambrosia; 07-07-2021, 01:57 AM.


          cWoD Dice Probability Chart ||| cWoD Dice Statistics Calculator ||| cWoD Alternative Armor System
          cWoD Alternative Damage Roll System ||| My explanation of cWoD Damage Levels ||| 'Interesting' Strength Attribute Stuff
          EXPLOSIVE cWoD STUFF! ||| How Technocrats don't think they are Mages

          Comment


          • #6
            I would also point out that the Magick casting rules are already on the verge of breaking at Mastery: a Coincidental Effect is Difficulty 8, a Vulgar Effect is Difficulty 9, and a Vulgar-with-Witnesses Effect is Difficulty 10. That's one of the things that Masters of the Art does a good job of addressing: just how broken the mechanics become when you're pushing the base Difficulty up into the 10–14 range, and how to address that. The Threshold mechanic becomes essential, as do the negative Magickal Difficulty Modifiers; but because of the ±3 limit on the latter, Archspheres aren't going to be getting very many successes even with the large dice pools.

            So if I were tasked to do a M20 Masters of the Art, I'd definitely build a Scale mechanic into the Archspheres, so that the successes that you do get from them are still meaningful. I might even make that be the whole of what Archspheres provide: the same uses as what Mastery lets you do, but with each success doing more for you. Trying to come up with more things for Archspheres to do strikes me as being both a nightmare and running counter to M20's design philosophy.

            But yeah; my preferred solution is actually to stick to Mastery and Godlike Feats. Even there, you've got the complication that Outlandish to Godlike Feats have a +1 to +3 difficulty modifier associated with them; but at least it's a Modifier, which means that you can offset them with difficulty reductions and still be able to take another -3 Difficulty on top of that. So you can get reasonable Difficulties for the Mastery+Successes approach.


            Comment


            • #7
              Also worth noting that Mages shed instruments as their Arete increases, and their Practices tend to expand to include more ways to use their powers. The "reality hacker" who did impossible heists using Data but thought that teleportation was "impossible, that's magic!" will, at Arete 7, have a broader perspective. He doesn't need a computer to hack reality, that was always a crutch, in some ways he is the hardware and he need only think to perform those changes.

              And to a Virtual Adept apprentice, an "Archmage" very much could just be the mysterious hacktivist who bends reality to his will and performs godlike feats that would take others a lot of equipment and time to pull off.

              That said, I don't like the idea that Mages drift towards "purple paradigm" or gradually "lose" their practice as they reach higher power levels. An interesting mud witch at Arete 3 shouldn't be a boring Generic Witch at Arete 7, so finding a good balance is important. Overcoming the need to use tools without giving up the flavour they gave your magick.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                That said, I don't like the idea that Mages drift towards "purple paradigm" or gradually "lose" their practice as they reach higher power levels. An interesting mud witch at Arete 3 shouldn't be a boring Generic Witch at Arete 7, so finding a good balance is important. Overcoming the need to use tools without giving up the flavour they gave your magick.
                About that, I like the idea (not so much the execution) of Masters of the Art that says that Archmasters "expand their Paradigm" in their attempt to go beyond what's normally possible for them.

                This could be represented in various ways. Could be the mage learning from other Traditions or traditions, could be the mage reinterpreting what his Paradigm says. A hermetic that typically summons angels could start learning magick from other cultures, (to get that "eclectic genius" vive that learned tricks from all over the world), or perhaps could dig even deeper to the roots of Hermeticism and below...the Avatar Esence could provide a guide here

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                  Also worth noting that Mages shed instruments as their Arete increases, and their Practices tend to expand to include more ways to use their powers. The "reality hacker" who did impossible heists using Data but thought that teleportation was "impossible, that's magic!" will, at Arete 7, have a broader perspective. He doesn't need a computer to hack reality, that was always a crutch, in some ways he is the hardware and he need only think to perform those changes.

                  ...

                  That said, I don't like the idea that Mages drift towards "purple paradigm" or gradually "lose" their practice as they reach higher power levels. An interesting mud witch at Arete 3 shouldn't be a boring Generic Witch at Arete 7, so finding a good balance is important. Overcoming the need to use tools without giving up the flavour they gave your magick.
                  It's not so much finding a balance as keeping the two ideas separate. Shedding instruments is not the same thing as shedding practice or gravitating towards a generic paradigm. Indeed M20th takes the stance that Mage's shed instruments not by shedding their practice but by internalizing it. The experienced Ecstatic realizes he can reach an altered mental state without the aid of drug, but he still needs the altered mental state. The experienced Hermetic realizes his seals and sigils were only an aid to understanding and guiding the forces he controls and he can do without them, but he doesn't stop using those forces. Even though both of them can now operate without instruments they are not doing the same things.




                  Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Also: given the high difficulties involved with Mastery and Outlandish or Godlike Feats (again, we're talking a base Difficulty of 8–10 to begin with, with a further +1–+3 for the severity of the Feat), you'll want to take whatever difficulty breaks you can get your hands on. And actual Archspheres are worse.

                    Since using an instrument that you no longer need to use is a -1 difficulty, that's pretty much a no-brainer when performing these pseudo-archmagic workings. So in practice, the instruments tend not to be dropped even when they technically can be: it merely shifts the incentive from “with Instruments, no modifiers; without Instruments, +3 difficulty and 1 WP” to “with Instruments, -1 difficulty; without Instruments, no modifiers” — a carrot rather than a stick. This allows mages with higher Arete to use the lower-level magicks more casually, while higher-end magicks still get the full weight of the trappings applied to them.
                    Last edited by Dataweaver; 08-28-2021, 10:41 PM.


                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ambrosia View Post
                      That said, Archspheres are also not *really* necessary in M20 anymore. Several things from Revised that were in the realm of Archspheres are now in the realm of 5th level sphere levels.
                      Even in Revised edition several arch-spheres were on shaky grounds in terms of justification. Few arch-spheres offered purviews and sample effects that couldn't be readily replicated either by mastery of that one sphere, or by the addition of other spheres of varying levels. All the worse for, more often than not, the latter was more easily attainable and cheaper from an experience point perspective. At least, of the arch-sphere levels with purviews and effects that would be remotely useful or relevant to a given chronicle.

                      Were I do to anything related to arch-spheres, I'd cap it at level six, and instead of that level having its own set of powers, function as a permanent difficulty reduction or auto-success to Arete rolls incorporating that given sphere.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Archmastery was one of the best things and fun things in Mage for me (I don't even know why I'm personally addressing it post-humorously, I still use it), but saying this alone is probably extremely unpopular and a "hot take", so to speak. People always felt Archspheres alone were too static in description, when the blurbs are only supposed to me examples to show the possible feats that can be done with proficiency and skill in the sphere.

                        Everything about it represented Ascension to me (emphasis on the me bit, maybe in a different realm for other people), as you culminate and consolidate your magickal prowess into new untold heights. Ascension in the grand-scheme of things was always personal, not the bothering of the affairs of others as M20 tells you about the "Ascension politicking" and subsequent war. Nothing more is Ascended then being an entity that no longer needs a physical body and Just Is, or something that could fundamentally create a new force of physics, or even awaken the Avatar in other people at will.

                        Also the M20 book, despite inferring in some places that Archspheres aren't a thing anymore, also infer in other places in contradiction, that somethings will change when you get higher Arete (with an example being, in such as, the blurbs about Technocrats needing to have Arete 9 to stop using instruments, while Mystic Mages can begin not using instruments at around Arete 6 if I remember correct; which is strange if it is inferred later on that Arete can never increase above 5, so why mention this fact in the book in the first place?).


                        Jade Kingdom Warrior

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Arete has always been able to go all the way up to 9 or 10 (I forget which). It's the Spheres that capped out at 5. Also, M20 never says that the Archspheres aren't a thing anymore; it says that they're a bad idea. But the bottom line is that M20 will never tell you not to do something, no matter how much the writer thinks it's a bad idea: ultimately, it's your game to do with a you will. It doesn't even tell you not to play Nephandi. It goes through the many reasons why it's a bad idea; but it stops short of attempting to decide for you what you should do.

                          Frankly, the only definition of the Archspheres that ever made any sense to me was this: if it fits in the Sphere's purview but it's something that not even a Master can do, then you need a sixth dot for it. That is, the sixth dot isn't defined positively, in terms of what it can do; but rather negatively, interms of what the previous dots can't do. It's "whatever's left" once the other five dots are done. The catch is that M20 makes an effort to fit a much as possible into the first five dots, making one wonder if there's anything left by the time you get to the sixth dot.


                          Comment


                          • #14
                            A follow-up question, that just occurred to me. Going with the interpretation that Archspheres do no exist in M20, do Archmages exist in M20?

                            Was there an earlier version of Archmages that was not defined by possessing 6+ dots in one or more Spheres?

                            My understanding is that Archmages are something of a distinct phenomena from potential Oracles or Ascension candidates (IIRC, becoming an Archmage is at least implied to hinder Ascension). How easy or difficult might it be to "fix" Archmages to work without Archspheres or, alternatively, "retcon" them out of the setting?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Kharnov View Post
                              Was there an earlier version of Archmages that was not defined by possessing 6+ dots in one or more Spheres?
                              Horizon SoF it's the book where Archspheres appear propperly ruled for the first time. Yet the word "Archmage" it's used in a much looser way (and the Archspheres weren't called that either, they were just the "Sphere Level 6").

                              Like: all the council members are called archmages once, but later is said only two use the "Archmage" template, the rest use the template for "Master": Hyemyong Sunim and Getulio Vargas Sao Cristavao are the two Archmasters of the Council.

                              The Archmaster template has the following Sphere spread: 30 to 45 dots in any combination, at least 5 in four and possibly 6 in one or two (As comparison, the Sphere spread for the template of Master is: "15 to 30 dots in any combination, at least 5 in one")

                              Since it's just a posibility, and Getulio seems to be WAY weaker compared with Porthos in the story (everyone seems weaker than Porthos), I'm inclined to belive he's one that hasn't a 6th dot...but he doesn't have a defined charshet, just an indication to the template you should use. So YMMV

                              In any case, to be an Archmaster it wasn't necessary to have the lvl 6 back then.

                              My understanding is that Archmages are something of a distinct phenomena from potential Oracles or Ascension candidates (IIRC, becoming an Archmage is at least implied to hinder Ascension). How easy or difficult might it be to "fix" Archmages to work without Archspheres or, alternatively, "retcon" them out of the setting?
                              In MotA, that's the case. However, in play, Archmasters are more like the leaders of the factions. Most known Archmages are among the big honchos of the factions in conflict (Like, say, Porthos), and thus very much part of the war.

                              I see Archmages as the luminaria that found movements and undercurrents in the world of mages. The founders and leaders of whole factions. The greatest teachers and mentors.

                              This would naturaly come in conflict with Ascencion because they're very much involved in the "world of magick" (and Ascended mages leave the world, while Oracles are mysterious and far removed).

                              But I think MotA shouldn't have banned them from Ascencion. In general, the books have always avoided to give rules for Ascencion - and MotA banning it's a rather hard rule. It would have been enough to just say that the path to become an Archmage it's not the path of Ascencion, and leave it more vague if it's possible at all for an Archmaster to ascend.
                              Last edited by Aleph; 07-08-2021, 03:23 PM.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X