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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.

  • HorizonParty2021
    replied
    [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.

    Leave a comment:


  • nalak42
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • HorizonParty2021
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • monteparnas
    replied
    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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  • HorizonParty2021
    replied
    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.

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  • Saikou
    replied
    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.

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  • HorizonParty2021
    replied
    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.

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  • Saikou
    replied
    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.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    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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  • HorizonParty2021
    replied
    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.

















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  • Saikou
    replied
    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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  • HorizonParty2021
    replied
    I will give a more detailed reply when I have sorted out names and concepts of characters involved.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    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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  • Dogstar
    replied
    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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