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Challenging murder investigations for Mages with Time2 and other Sphere Perceptions

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  • Challenging murder investigations for Mages with Time2 and other Sphere Perceptions

    So, I know I could have a killer be a Mage with Corr2, Matter2 and just teleport a poison pellet into the victim's coffee from the other side of the world. That might be a little too hard to solve. One of my players has the Time Sphere. Even if I restrict access to the crime scene, she can see who went in or out of a place in the past. The killer could have the Time Sphere as well, but I already had a different NPC use a Time Ward to hide their participation in something nefarious. I'm not ruling out using it again if there's no better option.

    If you were building a Technocracy character (any Convention) to be an assassin intent on covering their tracks, what Spheres, Abilities and Backgrounds would you prioritize? A bonus would the ability to frame a Tradition Mage from the same Cabal as the victim. Their targets might also include sleepers, later on.


    He/Him... I just Love Witches.

  • #2
    Something that helps to make a heavy use of proxies. Don't do the deed yourself, but make others make others make others do it for you.


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    • #3
      Yeah, that: That way mages will lose time pursuing the leads, and may expose themselves.

      In general, I think a good idea would be to provide an alternate easy (but wrong) solution intended to led the mages astray. Mages can see a lot, but they have to want to see: So if you can provide an alternate truth to the most superficial scans, they may miss some clues.

      Time alone will allow to see the scene. That doesn't mean you will understand the scene, that's where the other Spheres enter. Like, w/o specific Spheres you wouldn't know that the scene has an illusion superimposed onto it. W/o Life you can't see it's poison rather than another cause. W/o Mind or Prime you can't see the murderer was being controled ... etc. And, in the same vein as the Spheres can detect something, the Spheres can also make something seem like it has another cause.

      For instance: Any kind of magical murder it's easy to detect for someone with Prime, but a second spell of the same or lower intensity, that's used to suggest a different cause of death, may pass undetected - especially if the characters don't bother to try other (or more specific) perceptions. Toss in some subtle ressonance, perhaps some other "clue", and you could try to frame another mage (and if that mage had reasons and/or the opportunity...)
      Last edited by Aleph; 09-15-2021, 11:04 AM.

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      • #4
        I wouldn't build that kind of assassin. I'd focus on him not getting caught instead.

        Your technocratic assassin is going to have a difficult time hiding his actions from the Traditions. More importantly, though, he probably doesn't need to. What he needs is to be difficult to stop and difficult to catch. If he has that then the Trads knowing he is responsible works to his advantage. It makes him the hunter and them the prey. He might even want to leave some kind of oblique calling card.

        My advice is do a token gesture of hiding evidence, but let the players find out if they put in the legwork. Put your effort into blocking them from doing anything with that information. Make sure what they do find is useless for sleeper authorities. Make him difficult to identify, track, and predict.

        But if you do want to cover up the real evidence, too much evidence is better than not enough. Mages are really good at detecting things, but they usually don't have more time than anyone else. Give them too much to handle at once.


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        • #5
          The traditional crime story functions by layering clues on top of each other, one after the other. Any that are solved before the climax turn out to be dead ends, inscrutable, or lead onto another clue to be solved, and it is not until that climax that the 'real' clues are presented which leads to the actual solution. Real police work, of course, is not at all like this.

          For an RPG campaign to function like this you need to keep setting new tasks for the players before they have a chance to completely solve and follow up on the old ones. There is a fine line here because if you give your players too many they will get frustrated, which is no fun for anyone.

          Ramnesis' advice is good here 'too much evidence is better than not enough'. Try breaking things down into smaller simpler clues and then let the players try to puzzle out how they fit together. Once they've bought in throw them a 'corner piece' which they can build from. Most importatnly, when the players use their abilities make sure to only answer what they directly ask, don't volunteer information, and don't join the dots for them (unless they're getting frustrated of course).

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          • #6
            That's the gist of it. If you try to use magic to counter magical analysis, you're working against the game's purpose and against yourself. Instead use magic to create.

            To create proxies;

            To create red herrings;

            To create dead ends;

            To create scapegoats;

            To create escape routes;

            To create noise;

            To create distractions.

            And then almost any combination of Spheres, simple or complex, can be used for your NPC's style of doing those things.


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            • #7
              Emphasis on using a Proxy. Three possibilities present themselves.
              1. Killer for hire.
              2. A person previously drugged and subject to mental coercion in a mundane fashion.
              3. A person controlled via Mind 4.

              None of these proxy-killers would stand a great chance of sneaking up on the Awakened victim, who I need to define a bit.

              As for layering, here goes:

              1. Victim is a male Verbena Mage appearing to be in his late twenties. He is over 100 years old, having used Life Magick to extend his lifespan. Long ago, he built a house on property he owned in what remains a Primal Reality Zone in a forest. It is also the site of a rank 3 Node. Unable to maintain his real identity with passing time, he officially sells the property to a member of his Cabal, refunding the sale in cash. Every twenty years or so, the property is sold in the same way to another Tradition ally who respects his right to remain in the house he built. It is a fallback position for his Cabal and can accommodate guests. The Verbena woodsman has never taken any interest in pretending to be someone else.

              2. The killer, a Technocracy Mage, devises a scheme to cause confusion, in advance of an assassination and frame-up. The plan is to:

              - Find a dying male hospital patient who resembles the Verbena Mage.

              - Extend the patient's life with cybernetics that function well, but would fail in a Primal Reality Zone.

              - Install a brain-machine interface to control him.

              - Surprise and overwhelm the current legal owner of the Node-Property using Mind and other Magick to force a sale of the property to the cyborg who the killer claims will die of Pattern Bleed if not brought to a Node that can supply Quintessence.

              - Have the cyborg pay substantially more than the property is worth, with the sale being officially recorded. Have the cyborg carry all of the legal documentation proving his identity and ownership of the Node-Property.

              - Send the cyborg to the Node-Property, announcing to the Verbena occupant that it was bought out from under him.

              The plan unfolds in the following way:

              - The Verbena who built the house without power-tools is not having any of it. A physical altercation ensues, the Verbena using Magick aligned with the Primal Resonance of the Node and RZ to improve his combat abilities. This triggers the cyborg's hardware to fail, putting him on death's door.

              - Realizing this is the last chance to get any useful information from the cyborg, the Verbena attempts to save him from death. He brings him inside and tries to do surgery to restore the man to his optimal state of health, removing the broken cybernetic hardware. This fails, leaving a bloody mess.

              - The Verbena goes through the dead man's possessions to determine who he is. He discovers the documents that seem to confirm that his own Cabal ally sold his home to the dead man. He wants to go to town to confront his old friend, but his clothes are soaked in blood. He also realizes that he could simply use the identity of the dead man who he resembles, but he is unsure about doing so without knowing about what kind of person he was or why this is all happening. He's also wary about leaving the Node undefended.

              1:52 am. I will continue this in the next day or two.





              He/Him... I just Love Witches.

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              • #8
                What is the connection between the woodsman and the killer? i.e. How does the killer know of the woodsman and why does he want to kill him? Good motives make for good mysteries.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by HorizonParty2021 View Post
                  Emphasis on using a Proxy. Three possibilities present themselves.
                  Interesting plan forming, but the secret is that I didn't said proxy, I said proxIES. The basic plan doesn't need to be too complicated. Also, keep in mind that your proxies don't need to be all common humans (or dying cyborgs, for that matter). Your killer may also provide them with all sorts of equipment, as long as it is never directly delivered.

                  Find out the basic steps of your plan in broad terms. Those are your Setups. Inside each setup, you define the actors you'll use, those are your Proxies. The key is to keep the Setups as simple as possible, but each setup as crowded as possible. Not complex, crowded, they most involve as many people as possible, with as few as little actors willing to do all the work themselves.

                  Lets devise a simple plan: sell the house to a guy that will bring a party to it, so the occupant can't solve the problem without leaving (since eliminating so many people will attract undue attention). Get the official owner out of town for a time to avoid problems. Arrange a place for the target to wait their return, maybe another Tradition Mage have a safe place nearby. Arrange the assassination there as something that would target something else, it could be a botched robbery or an assassination targeting their host. Backup: have at least two planned attempts and/or accidents to accommodate changes in course.

                  Now we establish the Setups: #1 - The Sell; #2 - The Party; #3 - The Distraction; #4 - First Accident; #5 - The Invitation; #6 - The Robbery; #7 - The Reunion; #8 - The Attack; #9 - The Return; #10 - Second Accident. This is a plan in 4 steps: sell the house, get them out, get the friend out of town for good measure, kill. Step 3 is just a safety measure and then 3 other fallback attempts are planned in two steps each. As the ST you decide at which attempt the deed will be done, but the unused plans may still provide extra clues or extra foils for the players, if you feel the need.

                  Example Setup #1 - The Sell, lets crowd it. Find someone who would have interest in the house for its own purposes, but don't know of the house yet, lets call them Proxy 1: Buyer. Find someone who would be able to falsify the deed for the house and the transaction documentation, Proxy 2: Forger. Our next is simply a Real Estate Agent working in the area, Proxy 3: Realtor. We need someone to pose as the owner of the house in the sell, Proxy 4: Conman. And the person that will arrange the thing for money, Proxy 5: Mobster. Finally, we need extras to do any contact needed with the Setup and needed adjustments, Proxy X: Extras. The owners of other forest houses in the area are all Proxy X uninterested in selling now. Mobster hires Conman to sell abandoned houses, Conman learns about the house in the forest and hires Forger first then starts looking for a buyer, Buyer wants a house in a forest and find out about Realtor, Realtor knows about a few houses but don't know their owners yet, Conman and Realtor meet.

                  Caveats:
                  1- never act in the Setup directly, not even to contact your main Proxies. Always use a Proxy X.
                  2- avoid using the same Proxy X more than once in the same overall plan, unless it makes too much sense.
                  3- using the same Proxy X in different setups of the same plan is a big no-no, too much of a red flag.
                  4- good proxies aren't cheap. This plan won't leave a big mark in any one proxy, but useful proxies probably were used several times before.
                  5- for actors being used for the first time, always have a backup plan.
                  6- don't use one Proxy X if you can use a chain of 3.


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                  • #10
                    I will give a more detailed reply when I have sorted out names and concepts of characters involved.


                    He/Him... I just Love Witches.

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                    • #11
                      Just a small thing to add. Time 2 is not the “tell me all” sphere a lot of people think it is.

                      Depending on the paradigm it could just give vague intuitions, dream like symbols, points of data, vague shadows, a single clear image, or even just a crackle mess of pixels and static.

                      The time Mage would have info, but not all the info. And arguably if their paradigm doesn’t beleive that time is fixed, they might only get possible past events that would require entropy to comb through.

                      Time magic RAW wouldn’t even give a very clear understanding of past or future without a lot of successes pumped into it, and that’s not including the number of successes required to how far back, how big a space, or how long a sequence to focus on.

                      And the more successes that one pumps into an effect, the more chance for horrendous botches, the effect becoming vulgar and so accruing paradox, and leaving a big resonance signature that would be exactly what a NWO agent would need to get a lock on to these meddling reality deviants.

                      Time wards are just one way to make time magic more difficult, but played properly, the biggest challenge for a time mage is using the time sphere itself.

                      If their paradigm holds that the future is already written, I might even argue that any attempt to change the future seen in their vision will result in paradox for that time Mage, while if they have a more flexible approach to time, then it calls into question how accurate their time glance may be.

                      For Mages that don’t think past or future actually exist, and they are all but functions of the mind, it may be that the very act of viewing the past is enough to change it.

                      Remember, time only goes in a strict straight line by technocratic convention, there is no reason a Mage’s time magic has to specifically adhere to this. Time can be curved, or wonky, split, convergent, or even a great sea of random events that collapse into a straight line only as we witness them in the present.

                      There is more than enough uncertainty in the system for time magic to be less than perfect to downright speculative.
                      Last edited by Saikou; 09-24-2021, 07:28 AM.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                        ​Just a small thing to add. Time 2 is not the “tell me all” sphere a lot of people think it is.

                        Depending on the paradigm it could just give vague intuitions, dream like symbols, points of data, vague shadows, a single clear image, or even just a crackle mess of pixels and static.
                        I have kind of set myself up for an accusation of player-favoritism. There was a plot where the details of a drowning and resuscitation of a side character had to be investigated. A PC went to the lake and investigated using Time 2. I gave highly detailed information, partly to introduce a Technocracy NPC. A full year later, another PC has Time as well. If I say that they can't use Time to get detailed information about the murder, they are going to feel disfavored and that I am not applying rules equally.

                        Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                        The time Mage would have info, but not all the info. And arguably if their paradigm doesn’t beleive that time is fixed, they might only get possible past events that would require entropy to comb through.

                        Time magic RAW wouldn’t even give a very clear understanding of past or future without a lot of successes pumped into it, and that’s not including the number of successes required to how far back, how big a space, or how long a sequence to focus on.
                        Between the two of them, they have ten dice to roll on a Cooperative Magick effect. One has Corr2 and so could view the scene at a distance if they cast alone. The murder will have been fairly recent and happening in a single room.

                        Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                        And the more successes that one pumps into an effect, the more chance for horrendous botches, the effect becoming vulgar and so accruing paradox, and leaving a big resonance signature that would be exactly what a NWO agent would need to get a lock on to these meddling reality deviants.
                        How does scoring successes increase the chance of a botch? In the card game, Bridge, you give an estimate of the number of tricks you intend to take at the beginning of each round. The more accurate you are, the better your score. Are you saying that the players should give an estimate of the number of successes they think they will roll and if they roll under that number, it is counted as a botch?

                        Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                        Time wards are just one way to make time magic more difficult, but played properly, the biggest challenge for a time mage is using the time sphere itself.

                        If their paradigm holds that the future is already written, I might even argue that any attempt to change the future seen in their vision will result in paradox for that time Mage, while if they have a more flexible approach to time, then it calls into question how accurate their time glance may be.

                        For Mages that don’t think past or future actually exist, and they are all but functions of the mind, it may be that the very act of viewing the past is enough to change it.
                        By default, I don't output different results for Time-Sight based on how the character's Paradigm views the flow of time. When the PC looks into the past, I give high detail about events that are now unchangeable. When they look into the future, I give a couple of different causalities - things that are likely to happen should they or an NPC do a given thing. This often has the PC saying something like, "Please don't go there. I can't explain why.". I could work a discussion of how the characters view time into the next session, but I would have to be able to offer a menu of advantages and disadvantages to applying these differing perspectives to the Magick results.

                        Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                        Remember, time only goes in a strict straight line by technocratic convention, there is no reason a Mage’s time magic has to specifically adhere to this. Time can be curved, or wonky, split, convergent, or even a great sea of random events that collapse into a straight line only as we witness them in the present.
                        This has me thinking of my favorite movie, Arrival. I tried to explain to one of my players about how there used to be a Mythic Age, during which giants and dragons roamed the Earth and that the Void Engineers came and wiped them out before establishing outer space as what surrounds the Earth. I further explained that now that the Void Engineers' and NWO Ivory Tower have established this in the Consensus, a version of the past exists that adheres to the Historical Consensus. This explanation caused a mental short circuit. I have since gone with the past being totally linear and the future indeterminate.

                        Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                        There is more than enough uncertainty in the system for time magic to be less than perfect to downright speculative.
                        In the process of considering your comments, I came to remember something that might work. There is a Chronicle Metaplot that I established at the beginning. There is a science fiction TV series the Technocracy used to diffuse Magick. It makes predictions and sets up expectations for the future. The principle actors were Syndicate - Media Control and It-X Statisticians. I could have a Time Object that distorts temporal perceptions until the players explore, destroy or adapt to it.

                        Thanks for the ideas.



















                        He/Him... I just Love Witches.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by HorizonParty2021 View Post
                          How does scoring successes increase the chance of a botch?
                          I think the idea was going for a ritual. After all, the best way to achieve more successes and with them better effects is to use rituals, but with rituals more successes mean more rolls, which means more chances of a botch happening.

                          Either way, nice to know that your players with Time magick like enough ability to think of time abstractly. They're unlikely to get much out of it anyway, go ahead.


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by HorizonParty2021 View Post

                            I have kind of set myself up for an accusation of player-favoritism. There was a plot where the details of a drowning and resuscitation of a side character had to be investigated. A PC went to the lake and investigated using Time 2. I gave highly detailed information, partly to introduce a Technocracy NPC. A full year later, another PC has Time as well. If I say that they can't use Time to get detailed information about the murder, they are going to feel disfavored and that I am not applying rules equally.
                            There's a simple solution for this. Just explain to your players that you realised you messed up last time and didn't properly read the rules on Time 2, and now you have you realise its scope is a lot more reduced than you originally thought. If your players are mature then they'll get it and just move on with the revised system. If they are going to complain that the are no longer able to be OP, then there's a bigger problem here than you being inconsistent. You are the ST, and that means your interpretation of the rules must be adhered to, even if that means reassessing previous ruleings and revising your judgement going forward. Don't let yourself be bullied by entitled players expecting to get everything they ever wanted with a level 2 power.

                            Originally posted by HorizonParty2021 View Post
                            Between the two of them, they have ten dice to roll on a Cooperative Magick effect. One has Corr2 and so could view the scene at a distance if they cast alone. The murder will have been fairly recent and happening in a single room.
                            What? They have 5 Arete each!? Are you playing a master's game or something?
                            Unless you're making the mistake of adding their sphere dots to the dice pool. Don't do that, for magic a mage only ever rolls Arete, nothing else.

                            Also, that's not how rituals work going RAW. Mage's can only contribute full rolls to the dice pool if they could in theory conduct the effect on their own. That means they to all have the same number of points in each sphere. Both mages need Time 2 and Corr. 2 in this case. On top of that, both mages need to have paradigms which strike enough common ground that they would be able to make sense of what it is they are doing. But that might be a harder ask considering this group doesn't seem to really understand the metaphysics of Mage very well.

                            But the first point still stands, they cannot use their full arete if they can't in theory cast the effect by themselves. If they wish to aid each other with incomplete spheres, one mage takes the reigns and it becomes their effect, while the others with at least one sphere in common with the effect can contribute a single die to the arete pool of the primary spellcaster.
                            And even if they are able to use their full arete pool on a spell together, each mage casts individually. So four mages with 3 arete each is NOT an arete roll of 12, it's four separate arete rolls of 3, and a single failure causes problems for all spellcasters involved. A single botch strikes down paradox on EVERYONE involved.

                            Cooperative rituals have a lot of potential to be very powerful, but also have a huge risk all participants, and the weakest link in the chain causes the whole thing to snap.

                            Originally posted by HorizonParty2021 View Post
                            How does scoring successes increase the chance of a botch? In the card game, Bridge, you give an estimate of the number of tricks you intend to take at the beginning of each round. The more accurate you are, the better your score. Are you saying that the players should give an estimate of the number of successes they think they will roll and if they roll under that number, it is counted as a botch?
                            The way I run it is like this. You roll your arete for a time 2 effect, let's say you get 3 success. That's 1 success to put into the location, one to make it look within the last few days, and one to afford a little clarity. That might be enough to see, depending on paradigm, a shadow moving about for possible a split second. They could have instead rolled as an extended action to build the effect, getting maybe 5 success total, the extra 2 success could be put into duration and clarity, pushing the effect to last for a scene and provide greater clarity, now they can see exactly where the shadow is going, and maybe make out a few details of the shadow, but nothing more than that. If instead they had biult it to a total of 7 successes, pumping 3 successes into clarity would make it less of a shadow, and more of an actual figure they would see, knowing what they would be doing and maybe even what they are saying. Had they gotten 9 successes, then pumping 5 into clarity would give them a very crisp image of what is going on. But without putting anything else into the location, it would only be from a very narrow vantage point.

                            Each time they build the effect, they are rolling their arete again, and while each roll contributes to successes gained, they are still considered separate rolls. Each has a chance of delivering a failure, which enhances the difficulty of future roles, or delivering a botch, which makes the entire effect collapse around them. In my mind, this is a microcosom of the central theme of mage. Great power is at your grasp, but push too far and you will fall.

                            Originally posted by HorizonParty2021 View Post
                            By default, I don't output different results for Time-Sight based on how the character's Paradigm views the flow of time. When the PC looks into the past, I give high detail about events that are now unchangeable. When they look into the future, I give a couple of different causalities - things that are likely to happen should they or an NPC do a given thing. This often has the PC saying something like, "Please don't go there. I can't explain why.". I could work a discussion of how the characters view time into the next session, but I would have to be able to offer a menu of advantages and disadvantages to applying these differing perspectives to the Magick results.
                            You are severely limiting the scope of your game by making all the spheres behave the same to all players, and that really does go against the theme of a world where reality functions exactly how one believes it to function. But whatever, it's your game and if you want things to be static, that's your choice.

                            But if you want to have this "menu of advantages and disadvantages" then, for the time sphere at least, I got you covered. I wrote a whole post about the different things you could do by applying paradigm to time.


                            http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...e-going-deeper

                            Originally posted by HorizonParty2021 View Post
                            This has me thinking of my favorite movie, Arrival. I tried to explain to one of my players about how there used to be a Mythic Age, during which giants and dragons roamed the Earth and that the Void Engineers came and wiped them out before establishing outer space as what surrounds the Earth. I further explained that now that the Void Engineers' and NWO Ivory Tower have established this in the Consensus, a version of the past exists that adheres to the Historical Consensus. This explanation caused a mental short circuit. I have since gone with the past being totally linear and the future indeterminate.
                            If they can't handle the idea that reality runs on consensus, how the hell are they playing Mage?

                            Originally posted by HorizonParty2021 View Post
                            In the process of considering your comments, I came to remember something that might work. There is a Chronicle Metaplot that I established at the beginning. There is a science fiction TV series the Technocracy used to diffuse Magick. It makes predictions and sets up expectations for the future. The principle actors were Syndicate - Media Control and It-X Statisticians. I could have a Time Object that distorts temporal perceptions until the players explore, destroy or adapt to it.

                            Thanks for the ideas.
                            That's... a solution. And yeah, if that seems the most appropriate thing for your group, then fine.
                            Last edited by Saikou; 09-30-2021, 10:28 AM.


                            Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                              There's a simple solution for this. Just explain to your players that you realised you messed up last time and didn't properly read the rules on Time 2, and now you have you realise its scope is a lot more reduced than you originally thought. If your players are mature then they'll get it and just move on with the revised system. If they are going to complain that the are no longer able to be OP, then there's a bigger problem here than you being inconsistent. You are the ST, and that means your interpretation of the rules must be adhered to, even if that means reassessing previous ruleings and revising your judgement going forward. Don't let yourself be bullied by entitled players expecting to get everything they ever wanted with a level 2 power.
                              Yes. I also think that if I end up with entitled players, I'm responsible to some degree. There's no *time* like the present to handle that before it becomes a problem. They are reasonable, flexible adults to begin with.

                              Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                              What? They have 5 Arete each!? Are you playing a master's game or something?
                              Unless you're making the mistake of adding their sphere dots to the dice pool. Don't do that, for magic a mage only ever rolls Arete, nothing else.
                              They have Arete 5. Taking one more point in flaws than merits during character creation gives you sixteen freebie points, enough to purchase Arete 5. You might consider this boosted(overpowered). High Arete only increases the likelihood of get phenomenal successes on Magic rolls. Beginner players still have to learn about when is an appropriate time to use Magick, coincidence and Paradox. In my experience storytelling, starting with high Arete does not increase player reliance on Magick as a solution to problems their characters face. A lot of play is straight in-character dialogue between them and NPCs.

                              My character has Prime and Matter both at three and Arete 5. After more than a year of play, he created a substance of value out of thin air for the first time last session in order to demonstrate something. He incurred Paradox for Vulgar Magick and now the Cabal has a chunk of uncut diamond that has to be refined so it can be sold to a jeweler. It isn't something he would do very often, despite the profitability of doing so. A Son of Ether, he would greatly prefer to build a quarry, a goal he has kept on the back burner to prioritize helping the Cabal with their adventures. He's a support character.

                              Since you have the option of taking a Sphere at 3 during character creation and this requires Arete to be at 3, Arete 3 is usually the minimum that players begin with. This costs 8 freebie points, leaving 7 to be applied elsewhere. There are a number of ways that these could be allocated to produce a boosted character. Take Perception at 4 with a specialty that yields double tens on Meditation rolls, three Ability points invested in Meditation and two freebies invested to put it at 4 with a specialty that applies to circumstances the player can often arrange to benefit from when meditating. With only two freebies, you now have a Willpower Battery, constantly investing WP in Arete rolls. This effectively simulates having Arete 4 (not much difference from having 5).

                              Each character in a Cabal could take four points in the Instruction Secondary Ability with a specialty that applies to Magick, allowing everyone to train each other without the need for Mentors (Sphere Builds: 3, 1, 1 ,1). That costs four points, leaving one left over to add to Backgrounds, giving you 8. Everyone takes Avatar 3. Each player puts their remaining 5 points into things like Node, Resources and and Merits like Noted Messenger that keep the enemy at bay. This Cabal will be rich, well supplied for Quintessence (further improving Arete rolls), able to perpetuate a state of peace that gives them safety and positioned to learn Magick quickly in terms of reduced downtime requirements.

                              The Arete 5 build is just a different style of play where PCs have to use their great gift for Magick, among other things, to accrue things Mages need or want, while responding to plot conflict. They have all the Arete they will ever need. As to the question of it becoming a Masters' Game, I don't think so. The characters' ages range between 15 and 32. I have it that raising a Sphere from 3 to 4 takes a maximum of 5 years and from 4 to 5 taking max 10, with Mentors and Library reducing that significantly. Additionally, I do not connect Seekings to spending XP. I use Seekings differently, merging them with the rest of the story, rather than intervals determined by XP accumulation. I find that this leads to a better flow - pacing, if you will.

                              Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                              Also, that's not how rituals work going RAW. Mage's can only contribute full rolls to the dice pool if they could in theory conduct the effect on their own. That means they to all have the same number of points in each sphere. Both mages need Time 2 and Corr. 2 in this case. On top of that, both mages need to have paradigms which strike enough common ground that they would be able to make sense of what it is they are doing. But that might be a harder ask considering this group doesn't seem to really understand the metaphysics of Mage very well.

                              But the first point still stands, they cannot use their full arete if they can't in theory cast the effect by themselves. If they wish to aid each other with incomplete spheres, one mage takes the reigns and it becomes their effect, while the others with at least one sphere in common with the effect can contribute a single die to the arete pool of the primary spellcaster.
                              I should have made the distinction between Cooperative and Conjunctional. By Cooperative, I mean the two Mages who both have Time 3 being able to use that Sphere to great effect in terms of power. Conjunctional means combining different Spheres, for which I use a house-rule. I posted this on M20 House Rules, "Conjunctional Magick does not require casters to have any dots in the Spheres used by other participants. They cast as if they were a single Mage with Arete based on the average of all participants. They take on a Fused status, during which they cannot do individual casting as normal, making them more vulnerable. The Fused status lasts for three times as long as it takes to do the spell. Quiet can spread from a single participant to others. Intense Resonance can spread from one Mage to another while Fused. So, Conjunctional Magick isn't something you would want to do very often, but players can spend precious XP on the Sphere ranks they want to take, rather than spreading it across the bottom.".

                              HDYDT describes Sharing Perceptions as only requiring Mages to be touching and negotiate a shared paradigm in order to share the benefits of the Sphere Perceptions. For Spirit, Correspondence and Time, there are Rank 2 perceptual abilities, unlike most others for which it's 1 (Mind 2 and 3 has applications that could be considered Perceptual). If I used this rule as written from HDYDT, we would have a combined perception that includes Prime 1, Forces 1, Matter 1, Life 1, Mind 1, Time 2 and Correspondence 2. I will probably still require it to be done at the scene despite Corr2 for other reasons, mainly difference in Reality Zones.

                              Plot-wise, I might make it difficult for the Cabal to do this, as I am thinking of having the killer use Life 2, Forces 3 to become invisible for the purpose of dropping poison the victim's coffee while she is meeting with a third person who made the pot. If they used Time and Correspondence alone, they could view the crime and conclude it was the character who made the coffee who is the killer. I think I will specify that the room where the poisoning happens is to small for the Cabal to hold hands without moving furniture that would interfere with a mundane forensic investigation.

                              Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                              And even if they are able to use their full arete pool on a spell together, each mage casts individually. So four mages with 3 arete each is NOT an arete roll of 12, it's four separate arete rolls of 3, and a single failure causes problems for all spellcasters involved. A single botch strikes down paradox on EVERYONE involved.

                              Cooperative rituals have a lot of potential to be very powerful, but also have a huge risk all participants, and the weakest link in the chain causes the whole thing to snap.
                              My house-rule incorporates this and players are forewarned of the potential danger. Paradox is the most flexible plot device, so I don't nerf it for sympathy's sake.

                              Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                              The way I run it is like this. You roll your arete for a time 2 effect, let's say you get 3 success. That's 1 success to put into the location, one to make it look within the last few days, and one to afford a little clarity. That might be enough to see, depending on paradigm, a shadow moving about for possible a split second. They could have instead rolled as an extended action to build the effect, getting maybe 5 success total, the extra 2 success could be put into duration and clarity, pushing the effect to last for a scene and provide greater clarity, now they can see exactly where the shadow is going, and maybe make out a few details of the shadow, but nothing more than that. If instead they had biult it to a total of 7 successes, pumping 3 successes into clarity would make it less of a shadow, and more of an actual figure they would see, knowing what they would be doing and maybe even what they are saying. Had they gotten 9 successes, then pumping 5 into clarity would give them a very crisp image of what is going on. But without putting anything else into the location, it would only be from a very narrow vantage point.

                              Each time they build the effect, they are rolling their arete again, and while each roll contributes to successes gained, they are still considered separate rolls. Each has a chance of delivering a failure, which enhances the difficulty of future roles, or delivering a botch, which makes the entire effect collapse around them. In my mind, this is a microcosom of the central theme of mage. Great power is at your grasp, but push too far and you will fall.
                              For me, having only a shadow to look at would be a function of the killer's Arcane, which I will give him 3 or 4 points in. Another trick would be to provide details about the conversation between the two visible Mages and having them eat up successes to observe that further if they decide to, totally missing the invisible killer.

                              Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                              You are severely limiting the scope of your game by making all the spheres behave the same to all players, and that really does go against the theme of a world where reality functions exactly how one believes it to function. But whatever, it's your game and if you want things to be static, that's your choice.

                              But if you want to have this "menu of advantages and disadvantages" then, for the time sphere at least, I got you covered. I wrote a whole post about the different things you could do by applying paradigm to time.
                              There are a couple of entries in there that I find quite interesting. I might elaborate in a further reply here.

                              Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                              If they can't handle the idea that reality runs on consensus, how the hell are they playing Mage?
                              They are able to understand the Consensus. It may have been the way that particular conversation unfolded that overwhelmed one player. It was outside of gameplay and there were other subjects being discussed.

                              Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                              That's... a solution. And yeah, if that seems the most appropriate thing for your group, then fine.
                              Onward to adventure!
                              ​​
                              Last edited by HorizonParty2021; 10-06-2021, 11:28 PM.


                              He/Him... I just Love Witches.

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