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Challenging murder investigations for Mages with Time2 and other Sphere Perceptions

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  • #16
    I can see you’re quite invested in this style of play, but I’m going to tell your straight up this is not y style at all. It’s far too power-gamer, not nearly philosophical enough.

    Arete by default is capped at 3 points on character creation, so allowing them to get it to 5 is a deliberate choice that you have made. And I’m sorry to say that 5 points of Arete is master level status by all official account. From this point the only place to go is towards archmagehood which in my mind is when a Mage falls from the path towards ascension and into deep hubris.

    When I get my players to create their characters I always start with the philosophy. I’m interested in what they beleive about the world, what they care about, what they think is important, and what avenues of reality do their characters feel they can manipulate.

    Then we work on giving them actual stats, and have that be based primarily on the discussion we just had. None of this minmaxing nonsense which you’re table seem to be engrossed in.

    “Everyone gets avatar 3” for example is a big red flag for me. Why do they have avatar 3? Have they invested that much into their relationship with their avatar? Does their avatar have expectations of them? Will their avatar abandon them if they don’t do as they expect?

    It’s easy to play Mage like a DnD wizard “I cast a forced 3 fireball! And now I cast Time 2 divination!” But that completely trivialises the entire core of this game, which is fundamentally about the concept of belief and how it shapes the world around us. How conflicting beliefs can create turmoil, and that a domineering view of the world is the path to ruin.

    Also, sharing perceptions is just a level 1 sphere thing. You can house rule it otherwise, but then if you’re complaining that magic is making all your stuff to easy, that’s entirely on you.

    Mind 2 specifically enables a Mage to transfer their emotions into another mind, while mind 3 allows them to transfer thoughts. If you want another to see your time 2 vision, you’d need mind 3 for that.

    But anyway, my overall impressions is that I hate the way you’re playing this game. But if your group are into it, then carry on.
    Last edited by Saikou; 10-01-2021, 04:10 AM.


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

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      I can see you’re quite invested in this style of play, but I’m going to tell your straight up this is not y style at all. It’s far too power-gamer, not nearly philosophical enough.
      I think that your conclusion is based on limited information and possibly an assumption about the way slightly altered game mechanics affects philosophical depth. Since you recommended your post about Time Paradigm options, I took a look at both that and the link in your tagline to Keepers of the Wick. I have not had enough time to read either fully. When I was reading the Time one, it was at the end of the day and my brain was getting ready for sleep. I think each entry deserves careful reflection.

      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      Arete by default is capped at 3 points on character creation, so allowing them to get it to 5 is a deliberate choice that you have made. And I’m sorry to say that 5 points of Arete is master level status by all official account.
      Mage Core, P 328-329 lists Arete ratings going up to Ten, which is "Transcendent".

      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      From this point the only place to go is towards archmagehood which in my mind is when a Mage falls from the path towards ascension and into deep hubris.
      The first part is entirely false. Arete 5 raises the ceiling for Spheres to its maximum level (I find Arch-Spheres unnecessary). We are all starting new Sphere, just like we would if I had capped starting Arete at 3, because we don't have the Backgrounds to reduce the time it would take to get a Sphere at 4. I don't envision any of our characters going above 4 in a Sphere, which will be a major milestone in character development. That the attempt to become an Arch-Mage would likely lead to hubris is a sensible conclusion.

      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      When I get my players to create their characters I always start with the philosophy. I’m interested in what they beleive about the world, what they care about, what they think is important, and what avenues of reality do their characters feel they can manipulate.
      Yes. I did this. One character is an Orphan with a totally unique Paradigm.

      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      Then we work on giving them actual stats, and have that be based primarily on the discussion we just had. None of this minmaxing nonsense which you’re table seem to be engrossed in.
      For Attributes, the column that you prioritize highest gets seven dots added onto it. You couldn't avoid having at least one stat be at 4, giving you a specialty. For Abilities, any that you invest in has the possibility of being 1, 2 or 3. Taking 2 is the worst choice in terms of future Ability growth, because the investment in the second dot only saves a small amount of XP. Spreading dots so that you have a lot of 1s is advantageous, because it gives you a broad base to build on. Stats at 3 are good, because you get the expensive third dot. So, any method you use to allocate ability points has a 66% chance of generating a minmaxed or optimized stat for each one chosen. The same applies to Spheres. 2,2,2 is the worst option in terms of future growth, but could still be interesting to play, depending on Sphere choice (Mind2, Corr2, Entropy2, spy/saboteur). There is still a 66% that when you pick a Sphere, it will be optimized.

      If you are going out of your way to avoid optimization so that the character is a little bit of this and a little bit of that, you might be overlooking the fact that real people can be extraordinary in a few areas and sorely lacking in a lot of others. In the former Soviet Union, when a kid showed natural talent for something, they would push the kid further in that direction at the expense of other subjects. It produced people who were super-specialized, capable of great achievements in their field, but lacking a well rounded foundation. In the present day, western education tries to give everyone a common set of subjects that everyone knows a little about, making it easier for people to relate and communicate between fields (multidisciplinary). Who is to say which of these two systems is better?

      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      “Everyone gets avatar 3” for example is a big red flag for me. Why do they have avatar 3? Have they invested that much into their relationship with their avatar? Does their avatar have expectations of them? Will their avatar abandon them if they don’t do as they expect?
      In the beginning, it isn't the player who makes first contact. The Avatar appears to the player during or immediately following their Awakening. The Avatar has expectations and assigns the character a Seeking. In my Chronicle, this is not some puzzle in a micro-realm, but an objective to change something in the actual world. In the Cabal, we have Questing, Dynamic and Pattern Avatars with all kinds of conflicting pressures on the Mages. I suppose I put enough emphasis on the importance of the Avatar that I don't have to consider stripping a player of their Spheres.

      There are two reasons why I suggest taking Avatar at mid to high level as a background choice.
      1. Without choosing Prime, a Mage has no ability to store or spend Quintessence unless they have Avatar. It would be rather punitive if I put them in a dangerous situation without the Magick Resource they need to give themselves better odds.

      2. More Importantly, the Avatar's rating determines the limit of what form it can take and the clarity with which it can communicate. I will use the example of my girlfriend's character. She has Avatar 5. Before Awakening and as part of her backstory, she had a neighborhood friend who she could never visit, because her parents were to strict. According to her memory, she had met her friend in front of her house on many occasions, but had not met her parents.

      During the first session, she wanted to see this friend, but couldn't reach her by phone. She went to where she remembered her house was supposed to be, only to discover that there was only forest there. This left her wondering how it was that she could have imagined a friendship over many years with someone who might not even exist. She received a call from her friend asking to meet in a woodland part. On her way there, she had an experience, her Awakening, for which I actually created art to represent. She met her friend who (big surprise) turned out to be her Avatar. Being Dynamic, the Avatar asked her to intervein in a situation that had been orchestrated by the Technocracy. She was told to change the planned outcome to anything else. This was her first Seeking.

      In addition to the Seeking, her Avatar suggested she go to a specific market area if she hoped to meet others like her. This was where I had planned she could meet my support character, who my girlfriend was excited for her character to meet. She forgot about her Avatar's advice and went a couple of sessions without our characters meeting. Finally, she asked me why she hadn't met my character. So, I gave a friendly storyteller hint, reminding her of what her Avatar had said. Our characters met and she was super happy to have another Mage, besides her Mentor to talk to.

      The ability of a mid-to-high rated Avatar to appear in human form and communicate clearly is an essential for my game. If my girlfriend's character had had an Avatar of 1, it might have appeared in the form of a squirrel raising its paw to point in some general direction, leaving her to wander around as I describe each feature of a vast landscape to inform her choice of what to investigate. That's not my style of play. I could advise someone with a low rated Avatar to take high Intelligence and Enigmas or Esoterica to help interpret the Avatar's "instructions", but, of course, that would also be min-maxing.

      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      It’s easy to play Mage like a DnD wizard “I cast a forced 3 fireball! And now I cast Time 2 divination!” But that completely trivialises the entire core of this game, which is fundamentally about the concept of belief and how it shapes the world around us. How conflicting beliefs can create turmoil, and that a domineering view of the world is the path to ruin.
      I agree with all of that. However, if you imagine I actually play that way, you have probably made up your mind about us being depthless minmaxers.

      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      Also, sharing perceptions is just a level 1 sphere thing. You can house rule it otherwise, but then if you’re complaining that magic is making all your stuff to easy, that’s entirely on you.
      Time 2 divination is an entirely perceptual thing. Correspondence 2 scrying is also entirely perceptual. Spirit 2, looking into the Umbra is entirely perceptual. None of these change anything except what the character knows. But... nerfing my own reading of the Spheres would optimize the story in this case. So, it is a good point you just made.

      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      Mind 2 specifically enables a Mage to transfer their emotions into another mind, while mind 3 allows them to transfer thoughts. If you want another to see your time 2 vision, you’d need mind 3 for that.
      With Mind 2, you can read surface thoughts. Mind 3 - Memories. This is entirely perceptual, technically speaking.

      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      But anyway, my overall impressions is that I hate the way you’re playing this game. But if your group are into it, then carry on.
      Think of it this way. As someone who adheres strictly to RAW, you rely on the developers to publish more books. They need as many people as possible to buy their books so they can pay writers and print books. The people I play with had never played a single roleplaying game before I introduced them to Mage. Just the other day, I got someone who I would never have expected to take interest to start reading Mage content available online. I was merely talking casually and answering questions about my interests. Over time, I will be increasing sales of books to people who would never have even heard about Mage. We are also aware that if we went to some kind of gaming convention, we would have to change our playstyle.


      He/Him... I just Love Witches.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Saikou View Post
        It’s easy to play Mage like a DnD wizard “I cast a forced 3 fireball! And now I cast Time 2 divination!”
        That entire post was a really unfortunate exercise on prejudice and pedantry.

        HorizonParty2021 plays with some house-rules and a couple different interpretations. So what? What was the purpose of that whole lecture on badwrongfun? Full of baseless assumptions and nonsensical comparisons?

        You have an unhealthily strict view of this game, the many ways it can be played, and the many ways systems, themes, philosophical questions and stories can be explored.
        Last edited by monteparnas; 10-02-2021, 03:39 AM. Reason: typo


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        • #19
          Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
          That entire post was a really unfortunate exercise on prejudice and pedantry.

          HorizonParty2021 plays with some house-rules and a couple different interpretations. So what? What was the purpose of that whole lecture on badwrongfun? Full of baseless assumptions and nonsensical comparisons?

          You have an unhealthily strict view of this game, the many ways it can be played, and the many ways systems, themes, philosophical questions and stories can be explored.
          Without myself getting into anything about the poster above (Time variants are interesting), I reflected what you said here, generally. I think I share most of the same sentiments on conversation. If I were to enumerate the rules I apply to myself, they would be as follows:

          1. Refer to a person as "you" or by their username if you have something positive to say about them.
          2. Share your enthusiasm for an expressed idea if you agree with it.
          3. State your disagreement with an expressed idea in the most impersonal way possible.
          4. Never refer to someone, or the personality characteristics you attribute to them by what you read, in the negative.
          5. Don't infer that an idea expressed is evidence of ignorance, insanity or ill intent.
          6. Assume that there are more than two people "in the room" and that if you direct forceful criticism at someone, they are receiving it in a context that isn't private, where there is an audience they want to preserve their ability to be taken seriously by in the future, outside the context of the current conversation.
          7. If someone tries to back out gracefully from a debate, let them do so, rather than behaving like an overzealous guard dog that digs its teeth into the pantleg of a passerby.
          8. Try to foster a spirit of mutual support, forum-wide, as you showed here.


          He/Him... I just Love Witches.

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          • #20
            So on topic another option is presenting a number of viable suspects. Disregarding previous statements just to make sure I'm explaining myself clearly here. In a few mysteries I've seen part of the problem isn't figuring out who among the suspects could have committed the crime so much as which of the suspects decided to go for it.. (Usually this happens in shows by just establishing the victim was a truly horrible person, but this is WoD so I'm sure your victim may have a plethora of people that want them dead for no good reason if you don't want/can't do that.)

            Of course the part I'm confuses of is the objective of yours. Like is the goal to have this be like a tv murder mystery where the players have to uncover the killer then bring them to justice as it were, or is this more like one where the killer leaves a calling card and the players need to figure out the true identity of the killer/where they are/who the next target is before The Flamingo strikes again?

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            • #21
              [QUOTE=nalak42;n1463793]So on topic another option is presenting a number of viable suspects. Disregarding previous statements just to make sure I'm explaining myself clearly here. In a few mysteries I've seen part of the problem isn't figuring out who among the suspects could have committed the crime so much as which of the suspects decided to go for it.. (Usually this happens in shows by just establishing the victim was a truly horrible person, but this is WoD so I'm sure your victim may have a plethora of people that want them dead for no good reason if you don't want/can't do that.)[​/QUOTE]

              I have reversed the position of the Verbena Woodsman, Paul Joyce, from victim to killer. The post, Apex Predator Personal Paradigm, is intended to develop this character. http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...sonal-paradigm

              Phillip Durrani is the victim. He is a rather complex "individual". From the perspective of Tradition Mages, he is believed to be an Iteration X Macrotechnician. He owns an architectural firm, Pinnacle Atlantic Skylines. There is a term used in espionage, "Dangle". It refers to a person who has a negative potential value to an enemy who would try to recruit them to their side. Durrani is a Dangle, meant to defect to the Traditions and propagate rumors about a longstanding Technocracy ally.

              David Norfield, a powerful It-X Statistician, has supported the Tradition Mages occupying territory that the Syndicate would like to exploit for resources. A state of peace between factions is maintained by the alliance. A Syndicate led team sets up Durrani's defection to disrupt the alliance.

              When the Traditions take the bait, Paul Joyce's house in the deep woods, the Node Property, is deemed the safest location to gather and discuss what Durrani knows about the Technocracy, Norfield included. Even before the meeting, it is agreed between Paul and another Mage that Durrani could pose a risk to the alliance if he is allowed to walk around sharing his views about Norfield.

              The meeting happens after Paul Joyce tells a member of his Cabal that he has to go on an unrelated mission. Paul turns invisible and returns home to observe the meeting. Not liking what Durrani has to say, Joyce drops a poison pellet into the defector's coffee. As Durrani convulses, the other attendees try in vain to save him. They are left with a corpse and the knowledge that some in the Technocracy would seize upon the opportunity to have them all put on trial in the mundane legal system.

              The first suspect is Rhys, a Cult of Ecstasy Mage who legally owns the Node Property built by Paul Joyce over a century ago (Joyce can't use his real identity to continue owning the house he built, himself). Rhys is suspected by the other attendees, because he made the pot of coffee and served it to Durrani. There is a great deal of complexity between the attendees and other NPCs impacted by the defection plot.

              Fast forward to the point at which the PCs investigate the scene. One player took the Investigation Knowledge-Ability, rank 3. This gives me a good reason to output reminders about the steps to be followed in mundane investigation. They will not want to move furniture, because it disturbs the crime scene. Without moving furniture, the room is too small for them to hold hands and Share Perceptions as described in HDYDT. Paul Joyce's invisibility is a Life 2, Forces 3 effect. Neither of the two Time Mages have Forces and only one has Life. The crime has not been reported to the police.

              Until now, the Cabal has functioned without the benefit of a Node. The Chronicle has been running for over a year. The next thing I want to do is put them under siege by Technocracy Mages so that they are forced to defend the Node Property. They risk disturbing evidence if they move around, which they will likely have to do to coordinate a defense.

              After the siege, the investigation continues. If they come to the simplest conclusion, that Rhys poisoned the coffee, they are freed of the legal owner of the property and can claim it. This puts them in a conflict of interests as investigators.

              [QUOTE=nalak42;n1463793]Of course the part I'm confuses of is the objective of yours. Like is the goal to have this be like a tv murder mystery where the players have to uncover the killer then bring them to justice as it were, or is this more like one where the killer leaves a calling card and the players need to figure out the true identity of the killer/where they are/who the next target is before The Flamingo strikes again?[​/QUOTE]

              My girlfriend loves murder mysteries. So, I want to generate more, systematically. I think Paul Joyce will be a frequent fallback, but he doesn't really leave a calling card... intentionally. Actually, a calling card is a good idea, conceptually. He is tainted by Jhor. Jhor is associated with Entropic Resonance. After this post, I will go through the list of Supernatural Flaws and give him one that's appropriate to his condition.

              Another of my ongoing plots could be used for systematically generating murder mysteries. There are a group of genetically engineered people, Synthetics, who originate from a Progenitor Horizon Construct. Alien DNA was used, making them potential targets of the Void Engineers - NSC. On the Tradition side, Euthanatos and Chorus Mages might view them as abominations needing to be purged.

              I don't know to what degree I want them to be Thaumivors, if at all. I have a backstory on how they are integrated into society to avoid Paradox, which bends the rules slightly. That would need its own post to explain. The Synthetics are able to use pheromones to seduce people, a built in Life 3, Mind 2 effect. Considered Extraordinary Citizens and Technocracy Assets, they are frequently accessed by Union Mages and pressured to do tasks as part of political influence operations.

              So far, they have been unable to organize a shared agenda, because they are spread out over a wide area and hidden, even from each other. I want to have an institution they would try to usurp to help fortify themselves on Earth. Alternatively, they could found an NGO or something that allows an alien agenda to be expressed.

              Good questions. Thanks.


              He/Him... I just Love Witches.

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