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  • lbeaumanior
    started a topic [M20] do Archspheres still exist?

    [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.

  • Ambrosia
    replied
    Originally posted by Mister_Dunpeal View Post
    if anything what bugged me more about Masters of the Art was how... inhuman or 'other' the archmages there sounded.
    Mh, I have to say, that *is* something that I personally lean towards;
    With changed perceptions and a whole different understanding of the world and reality comes a different mindset and set of behaviors. We don't even need to go as far as Mages - in our very RL, humans that have grown up in vasty different or niece cultures (especially the extremes of *still existing* hunter-gatherer tribal vs. industrialized) can already be utterly baffled at each other's behaviors and mindsets and needs and conceptual differences and cultural quirks. And that's just due to different, mundane RL circumstance and upbringing.

    And then we add something as abstract and otherworldly as a magickal understanding of very reality on top of that.
    Young Mages already do 'crazy' things or think in 'weird' ways that normal folk at times wouldn't understand. Simply from enhanced perceptions and growing from there. I can only imagine that behavior getting stronger and stronger the more the Mage's perceptions and understandings differ from a normal person's. Archmages are far out there when it comes to their thought processes.

    I am not sure 'inhuman' is quite the right term, as if you think about it, those Mages *are* humans that are...simply faced with a whole new understanding of things - but I think a growing sense of 'alien' (as in, different and non-understandable by the norm) is quite accurate.

    As a sidenote, that's why I love the cover of HDYDT so very much: Without any textual storytelling it gives off the vibe of the Mage depicted there being one of those. Old, and very alien.

    EDIT:
    And maybe, just maybe that is the hard trick to actually ascending: Spanning the bridge and doing the balancing act between remaining 'you' and achieving high enlightenment, without becoming too weird and abstract and alien.
    Last edited by Ambrosia; 09-06-2021, 11:24 AM.

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  • Mister_Dunpeal
    replied
    I always see it as a 'different path' sort of thing. That is Horizon and Masters of the Art could reflect different ways to the same goal, with different tradeoffs (if anything what bugged me more about Masters of the Art was how... inhuman or 'other' the archmages there sounded. Something approaching an Oracle mayhap, or a Pure One. Never quite got that vibe from Horizon, but then again narratively the risk of losing humanity on that path to Ascension might be an interesting bit of role playing in and of itself..) I always remember the Masters of the Art take on so called 'hedge' magic (at least from an archmage's POV I believe) and how it can sometimes match or exceed sphere magic even if it is a 'lesser' art - like the hint of extended lifespans/immortality without paradox.) Archspheres represent a different approach but not necessarily a *better* one compared to alternatives. Also, like Dataweaver I feel Awakening's approach to archmages was also really good as well (its more narrative and less game mechanics I feel but that's part of its charm and its strength. Archamges in Awakening didn't feel quite so otherworldly either, at least not to me.)

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  • Ambrosia
    replied
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    The bottom line is that Sphere 6+ is only in the setting of you want it to be. That said, it hasn't been officially "banned"; as I said earlier, M20 doesn't do bans. Of anything.

    Which, presumably, means that it has implicitly lifted the aforementioned ban on Ascension, too. For what it's worth, my understanding is that high Arete is necessary for Ascension, or at least helpful; high Spheres are not, and can be a distraction. That much, I'm okay with; but I wouldn't go so far as to say that high Spheres lock you out of Ascension, or that you need to max out your Arete in order to Ascend. At best, these should be seen as tendencies.
    And, since it's Mage, of course high Arete might *help* with Ascension...but in-game as well as out-of-game it is still not *known* what the requirements for Ascension are - or even what the process of Ascension looks like or ends with, aside of some vague 'something something other plane of existance maybe?'.

    I remember a short-story in one of the books or novels, where a relatively young and rather...normal everyday Mage character has simply vanished, and there is an underlying feeling from the narrator and others involved that she Ascended and is..gone. She wasn't an Archmage or, really, anybody that would stand out if you lined them up in the vast array of Mages that got described in the books. But they just knew she had reached it. Somehow.

    But it was a little intriguing example of how absolutely unpredictable Ascension is, and how all the Mages involved in the Ascension War don't *know*. They just believe - much like us players - in different reasons or requirements, how it must be X or Y, or helped by Z.

    It gives quite a huge chunk of ST freedom to define the exact nature of Ascension differently in each game - or just leave it vague.
    Last edited by Ambrosia; 07-14-2021, 03:53 AM.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    The bottom line is that Sphere 6+ is only in the setting of you want it to be. That said, it hasn't been officially "banned"; as I said earlier, M20 doesn't do bans. Of anything.

    Which, presumably, means that it has implicitly lifted the aforementioned ban on Ascension, too. For what it's worth, my understanding is that high Arete is necessary for Ascension, or at least helpful; high Spheres are not, and can be a distraction. That much, I'm okay with; but I wouldn't go so far as to say that high Spheres lock you out of Ascension, or that you need to max out your Arete in order to Ascend. At best, these should be seen as tendencies.
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 07-09-2021, 12:35 PM.

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  • Kharnov
    replied
    Originally posted by Aleph View Post
    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.



    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.
    Yeah, I was definitely trying to distinguish between Archmasters, who """only""" have Mastery of multiple Spheres, versus Archmages that actually possess 6+ in a Sphere. If 6+ Sphere Archmages aren't a thing anymore, having it become a synonym for Archmaster or something similar is probably the easiest solution.

    I think I would agree that having it be a "hard ban" against Ascension is extreme, but I think something a bit stronger than "Ascension is something else" might be warranted; I kind of liked the implication that Archmages were running the risk of being distracted too much by the pursuit of power rather than enlightenment.

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  • Aleph
    replied
    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.

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  • Kharnov
    replied
    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?

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    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.

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  • Shakanaka
    replied
    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?).

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  • Theodrim
    replied
    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.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    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.

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  • Ramnesis
    replied
    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.


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  • Aleph
    replied
    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

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  • 11twiggins
    replied
    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.

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