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YCMV: Focus-building for fun and profit

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  • YCMV: Focus-building for fun and profit

    Well, maybe not profit.

    I thought we could share some custom foci (yeah, I guess there's no escaping that clunky word), and see what others think of them. Here's the one nearest and dearest to my heart, the psychic focus/paradigm that doesn't break the system's need for Instruments:

    Psychic Focus

    Paradigm: We Are Star Stuff

    Everyone has infinite potential. Not just in the touchy-feely "everyone is special" way, but in the sense that we are all, literally, possible gods-in-training. It's certainly true for the Awakened, and every person is capable of learning a small portion of that, if only through Awareness. Star Stuff mages usually Awakened on their own; even if they don't stay Orphans, most began that way, and their magick is a very personal, internal thing. They might develop strong faiths in God or gods, learn wizardry ancient or modern, or filter their techniques through a scientific lens of psychic phenomena or transhumanism. Wherever they develop, though, all their magick comes from the spark within.

    Practice: Psychic Arts

    Similar to both Reality Hacking and Yoga, but more intuitive and personal than either, the Psychic Arts are the various means by which one invokes the inner potential and brings it into the outer world. Even Psychic Awakened can't just Will things into existence without the proper advancement, but they can train their minds to give them access to their innate abilities.

    Instruments: Awareness, Energy, Thought Forms, Meditation, Esoterica (Visualization, Psychonautics, Transhumanism, and/or Parapsychology), Bodywork, Symbols, Gems/Stone/Minerals, and Group Rites (roughly in that order) are all possibilities for a self-taught psychic mage.

    While any other type Instrument might theoretically come into play later, Cards (especially Tarot), Eye Contact, Gadgets and Inventions (psi-tech more personal and "attuned" than ordinary devices), Herbs/Roots/et.al., and Prayers/Invocations are all plausible expansions of the Psychic Arts practice.

    Special notes:

    * Awareness is possibly the most solid foundation of the self-Awakened Esper. Already an insight into things most Sleepers never notice, Awareness is a powerful potential conduit for many kinds of magick, given that every Sphere begins with an expansion of the senses. Particularly suited to Mind, Prime and Spirit, it's probably not as compatible with Correspondence, since Awareness is typically limited to an extension of existing senses, while Correspondence transcends them.

    * Energy work is usually perceived as "drawing on inner energy." Most Awakened psychics will have at least one dot of Avatar, allowing them to store Quintessence. At least one dot then takes on a psychic Resonance, which becomes the Instrument. This has the advantage of being untouchable by Sleepers, but the disadvantage of being the one form of "pure" Willworking the Technocracy is familiar with. Technocrats hunting psychic mages could, at the Storyteller's discretion, receive a -1 to Enlightened Science efforts to track these Arts, and/or suppress them with Prime-based tech (though probably _not_ Primal Utility).

    * Thought Forms are probably seen by most psychics as a form of visualization, picturing their Arts in motion to wield them. Also, notions of a Third Eye, astral guides, and aura layers are all possibilities.

    * Symbols will likely be internalized at first, concentrating on chakra images or Quintessence "lenses." To avoid allowing a psychic mage to "double up" on Energy, the Awakened should probably either have to "draw" these symbols on their subtle selves with Prime or Mind (immediately visible to other Prime/Mind mages, unlike the more subtle psychic Resonance of the standard Energy Instrument), or have them spring up "naturally" through their gift and/or the Avatar's working (also immediately visible to the relevant Sphere).

    * Bodywork will probably not be a martial art at first, since it's likely a technique the esper-mage learned as an adjunct to a more peaceful Instrument like Meditation or Energy. However, learning to use martial arts as an Instrument via Bodywork should not require the same adjustment time as an actual change of Instrument, since martial arts is a form of Bodywork. Instead, if adding a martial art to Bodywork after character creation, it should be at a small difficulty penalty - perhaps +2 for the first adventure, +1 for the second, and it normalizes on the third, or alternately, just one adventure at +1 difficulty.
    Last edited by Captain Aeon; 05-26-2015, 02:38 AM. Reason: Added paragraph break for clarity


    Heroes die. Hope is a phoenix.

  • #2
    I was a bit confused about Awareness, but thinking about it further I think I got it. With time and effort, a person can train themselves to watch their gut for sensation. To read the vibes or subtle body or mental cues, and tune them towards particular areas like Mind or Prime or Spirit. Hell, Entropy sensing is as easy as training the Awareness to pick up feelings of dread.

    For Thought Forms, I can point you towards the essays by Mark Stavish, hermetic scholar. This particular essay discusses the creation of the Body Of Light, and how it can be created by ritually visualizing its formation in one's mind. Imagining it drawn from the heart, taking the form of a humanoid, and defining its every internal and external detail. It's a bit more advanced in terms of the Spheres (Mind 4 and Prime 2), but it's methods could be applied towards other pursuits.
    http://hermetic.com/stavish/essays/bodylight.html


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    • #3
      I like this a lot! I'm eager to see what other people will come up with.

      A couple quick thoughts:

      - One thing that might be cool to see in the paradigm description is a bit more of a broad focus; one thing that seems to give a lof of the M20 book paradigms some extra oomph is 'what does this mean for my path and the rest of the world'? Other ones focus on being existential, or holistic, or self-centered, I can see this being any of those really, but it'd be interesting to talk a bit about.. .once a person has started to 'actualize their potential' as a godling, what is the next step in this paradigm? Fuse with the universe? Create your own new one?

      - I think Correspondence could totally fit in as part of Awareness; consider how much of a focus Remote Viewing is in parapsychology circles.

      Keep up the good work! I may post one or two of my own ideas, though so far they're mostly tweaks or combinations of existing paradigms.
      Last edited by Indi Latrani; 05-26-2015, 03:47 AM. Reason: Silly typos

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      • #4
        There's actually a Focus idea I've been working on for an Orphan concept. I'm going to be posting a separate thread for that Orphan, but I can probably talk about the magic style here.

        Not tonight, though. Tomorrow. I'm too tired to do it tonight. So what I'll say now is the name: The Magick of Affect.


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        • #5
          I love this idea. I really missed the psychic focus, I mean with all the obsession with superpowers and people born special I think it's more relevant than ever. Now I just hope that my players don't use it as an excuse to cast magic just by thinking it.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Firanai View Post
            I love this idea. I really missed the psychic focus, I mean with all the obsession with superpowers and people born special I think it's more relevant than ever. Now I just hope that my players don't use it as an excuse to cast magic just by thinking it.
            That's why I included all those skill-based Instruments, and gave vulnerabilities to the ones that are most easily exploited. Awareness piggybacks on existing senses (sensory deprivation handles that), Meditation requires time and concentration, Esoterica requires skill use and concentration, and Bodywork uses motion and/or good condition. All have exploitable weaknesses. That's why I focused on the potential down sides for Energy work and Symbols written in non-physical form (Thought Forms would naturally have the same vulnerabilities).


            Heroes die. Hope is a phoenix.

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            • #7
              Here's that Focus I was talking about earlier. I designed it for an Orphan character I've been working on. It's rooted heavily in that character, and was built mostly towards Mind effects, but it could be adapted to others I suppose.

              The Magick Of Affect

              Paradigm: Appearances Are Everything

              Society and its conventions are constructs, a lie perpetuated mutually by everyone. Even those who reject the lie define themselves by that rejection. The lie is a game, and everyone has a role to play. A Mask that they wear. Enlightened is the one who sees the Masks for what they are, and learns to tailor their own to assume an identity to their advantage.

              Make yourself into a mirror of the world you want to see.

              Practice: Persona Arts

              People react to Appearances, and favor the appealing ones. It's a simple, ugly truth that the pretty and the amiable get preferential treatment. The Persona Arts create an outwards facade that draws people in, and influences them on a subtle, subconscious level. By tweaking Affect, the Mage can affect reality towards a particular Effect. Social Attributes are prized heavily in this regard, as are the applied principles of Psychology.

              Instruments: Make-up, Hair Style, Hair Dye, Body Language, Alertness, Clothing/Fashion, Accessories, and Color Theory act as common tools in the Social Mage's arsenal.

              Potential tools to expand this Practice can include Plastic Surgery, Interior Decorating, Advertising, and Branding (namely, a Mage's own custom Brand suited to their desired Effects).

              Notes:

              * Make-up is the first and foremost of the Affect Mage's tools. Blush, Rouge, Eye Shadow, Eyeliner, Lip Stick, etc. These obviously alter how the Mage appears and, by proxy, how others perceive them. Complex and subtle applications can have complex, subtle effects on observers. Rarely are strong and garish displays rewarded - there are definite diminishing returns in this regard - but some Social Mages might make it work. Rituals, in this regard, are the careful application of make-up in front of a mirror, to get the coating just right.

              * Hair Styles and Hair Dye are practically as important, if not more so, than decorating the face. A wild, bristling style could invoke primal strength, while hair pulled back into a stylish bun can denote professionalism and strong Leadership qualities. The right bangs hanging or looped over the face can frame it, and lead observer's eyes where the Mage wants them. Dye jobs, meanwhile, require care and forethought. Different colors within the natural hair spectrum have different connotations and evoke different assumptions in the minds of observers. Unnatural colors have their uses but can be overwhelming just like too strong make-up can. However, the right highlight on the right locks can make all the difference.

              * Body Language allows the Mage to speak without speaking. A half-grin here, a shake of the shoulders there. Leaning in, leaning out, tilting the head, cocking an eyebrow, extending the right hands (and fingers). Showing the right amount of teeth, opening the eyelids just so. Without saying a word, the Mage can convey so much, and people naturally underestimate just how much body language affects them. Such things can plant ideas or impressions into people's heads. Ideas that can pay off dividends.

              * Alertness of body language is as important as proper use of it. A Social Mage pays close attention to the way people movie. Nervous tics, where the eyes wander or dart. How they hold themselves or even breath. They betray themselves and their thoughts; the Mage could easily use this as a tool of Mind. The way others speak, too, and when they don't speak. Watch for how long someone pauses to think can be a tool of Entropy to determine truthfulness. Too long thinking of a response - or no time at all - can both betray a lie. Or a weakness. A Life user could scour a person's Affect for signs of tiredness or pain.

              * Clothing and Accessories - the realm of Fashion - convey so much about a person. A Social Mage uses the right effects for the right Effects. The number of ways to dress and what that seems to say about oneself is limitless. Even dressing down can be used to affect people, making oneself blend in with the crown and environment so well that they appear functionally invisible. Entropy can come in with how well the ensemble fits together, and with the make-up. If the design is flawless, the Mage can feel very auspicious - very lucky - indeed. And a simple wool scarf and light jacket might be all the Forces user needs to erect a barrier against the cold. To look appropriate - the dress appropriate - is to be appropriately suited for the time and place.

              * Color Theory is an element that winds its way through all other instruments and rituals. Different colors, after all, have different psychological effects on people, and are tied to different forces (or Forces). Red of rage, passion, lust, dominance, warmth, and fire. Blue of calmness, mystery, chill, and ice. Green of life and nature, as well as of envy. Orange of Autumn, harvest, speed, and danger. On and on, and every color is a potential tool that can be combined with other Instruments towards a particular Effect.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                Here's that Focus I was talking about earlier. I designed it for an Orphan character I've been working on. It's rooted heavily in that character, and was built mostly towards Mind effects, but it could be adapted to others I suppose.
                It seems that this Focus could also manage Entropy well, in addition to Life (on the mage's own body at first, at least), Spirit and Prime. The other Spheres would probably rely heavily on Color Theory, eventually expanding that into something that would look a lot like more traditional forms of mysticism (symbols, formulas, writing, etc.) as the mixes of color become increasingly complex.

                For comparison, my psychic focus would manage most Spheres on its own, but have trouble with Matter. Psychic phenomena are not ideal to transformation of the most Static Patterns in the Tapestry. This would be where expansion of the Practice would become valuable, delving into either more classic ritual mysticism or straight-up technomagick. Alchemy is also a possibility, especially if the psychic's earlier training involved some form of internal alchemy.


                Heroes die. Hope is a phoenix.

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                • #9
                  Yeah, the Orphan character this Focus was developed for uses Mind 2, Entropy 2, Time 2. Time is the main outlier, as she uses alcohol as a tool for pre- and post-cognition. Because time flies when you're having fun. I could also use clothing selection for higher level Time magic, like wearing red or stripes to make her go faster.

                  One could also employ this Focus by wearing clothes reminiscent of animals, channeling them for Life or Spirit Effects. Or for other Spheres, in a case of using the Law of Sympathy. A pair of socks with tree designs, so as to draw strength from the earth. Or a scarf with diamond pattern, to evoke good luck with money. It's all in the specifics.


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                  • #10
                    For the psychic practice, the Abilities could possibly be expanded to include a more 'academic' side to represent more formally-trained psychics, like the NWO and possibly Void Engineers might field (as well as a more SCIENtific approach for Etherites and maybe a few Virtual Adepts).

                    Academics (Psychology), Science (Psychoprojection and/or Paraphysics), and Lucid Dreaming seem particularly relevant to representing classic psychic/mentalist phenomena, as well as the ties into the Umbra both as mental realms and manifestations of the collective unconscious.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Quantumboost View Post
                      For the psychic practice, the Abilities could possibly be expanded to include a more 'academic' side to represent more formally-trained psychics, like the NWO and possibly Void Engineers might field (as well as a more SCIENtific approach for Etherites and maybe a few Virtual Adepts).

                      Academics (Psychology), Science (Psychoprojection and/or Paraphysics), and Lucid Dreaming seem particularly relevant to representing classic psychic/mentalist phenomena, as well as the ties into the Umbra both as mental realms and manifestations of the collective unconscious.
                      I agree with all of this, except I think the Science: Psychoprojection specialization shoudl be Esoterica. Paraphysics would be a (Weird) Science, sure, but I'm of the opinion that anything involving direct training of internal potential (and not an obvious part of another Ability, like Martial Arts) belongs in Esoterica. YMMV, of course.


                      Heroes die. Hope is a phoenix.

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                      • #12
                        I shouldn't just drop my favorite focus in here and move on, so...

                        Pop Goes the Magick

                        Paradigm: Either Everything is Chaos or (a really weird version of) Divine Order, Earthly Chaos

                        Every mystic knows that was passes for Occult lore among the Sleepers is bunk. Except this mage, who makes it work. Rituals from cheap New Age books (some created by the Syndicate to throw would-be mystics off!), spells from the honest-and-for-true secret diary of John Dee or that book supposedly written by the reincarnation of "Merlyn" (Yes, the last Merlin has reincarnated again; no, she hasn't written any books yet, she's five), Ouija boards and Angel cards -- good gods, even pure fantasy from Harry Potter and Doctor Strange incantations, to "Full Metal" alchemy and New Gods magic science, to spells from role-playing games, of all things -- all of it works in the hands of the Pop Wizard. Such Awakened (almost always Orphans) drive almost everyone crazy -- Technocracy, Craft (except Hollow Ones), and Tradition (except Ecstatics) mages alike all look at the Occult mage and go: "magick shouldn't work like that!"

                        But it can. And it does. Almost every system of magick was developed from a combination of observation and imagination, from the most classical High Ritual to the most recent Enlightened Science. Why wouldn't an invocation to Metron of the New Gods (an actual example used by Grant Morrison) work for one of the Awakened? Such mages are almost always aware that their mystic practice shouldn't work by "old school" magickal standards. Therefore, they usually believe that Everything is Chaos, since they're able to alter reality itself by wielding the mystic arts of Gandalf and Zatanna, or martial arts perfected by Naruto and Chun-Li. A few believe in Divine Order and Earthly Chaos, seeing transcendent symbols amidst the shadows of a twisted world -- for an example of this paradigm in more classic detail, see Ascension's sister game Mage: the Awakened -- but this is uncommon even among Pop Wizards.

                        Practice: The Fine Art of Whatever Works

                        Frankly, a Pop Wizard can, in theory, use anything. In -- ahem -- practice, though, the mage will probably have a solid foundation basis in whatever fictional/semi-fictional Art ze got started in. Ironically, it's not that different in principle from most "classical" spellcraft. What Pop Wizards do really isn't that different that what Wu Lung, Hermetics, Euthanatoi, or Verbenae do. It's the way they do it that makes the difference. That toy wand may not actually be rowan or have unicorn hair in it, but one proper swish-and-flick and ze can levitate you all the same. A classic Solificati alchemist will stare in horror at the mostly-made-up "seven point array" with just enough actual alchemical symbols in it to look dangerous, but when the Pop Wizard claps zir hands to make a circle and touches the edge with proper intent, an obedient automaton rises from it all the same. Just don't try to use that Art to raise the dead.

                        That's an important element to Pop Magick -- violating its internal rules can be bad. Paradox will notice, and if you mess up, things will get ugly. That's the other thing -- unless Pop Wizards adheres very strictly to actual coincidences, their magick is going to be vulgar as Hell. Even psychics might be able to generate the right Resonance to get bystanders to accept their Art, since there's at least a veneer of pseudo-scientific acceptability to it. If you shout "Crimson Bands of Cytorrak!" and your target is suddenly bound in red coils, no one is going to buy it.

                        Instruments: Occult, of course. Pretty much any other classical mystic Instrument will also work, from symbols to incantations to wands to martial arts to weapons, as long as they fit the original source(s). Even weird science might work its way in, if the original setting incorporates it (c.f. tons of anime, most superhero settings, many roleplaying games). Esoterica (SF/F/Horror lore) might be appropriate as well -- and it's Esoterica because for that character, it works.

                        Special note: No one rule can cover what a particular pop focus will handle. Raising the dead is a supreme horror in Fullmetal Alchemist, but a Tuesday in Dragonball. Generalist Pop Wizards might call on pretty much any fiction they're passionate about (again, note Mr. Morrison, above), but a player who chooses a specific core setting with limitations on the character's Art should get a -1 to difficulty for the equivalent of a dedicated instrument. This should be subject to the -3 maximum bonus from instruments, however.
                        Last edited by Captain Aeon; 05-29-2015, 03:52 PM. Reason: Edit: added Divine Order/Earthly Chaos sentence


                        Heroes die. Hope is a phoenix.

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                        • #13
                          I built this paradigm up based on some pretty classic ideas, and although the character I had who used it has since become a hardline Technocrat (don't ever roll seven 1s when trying to convince newly awakened Orphans that your paradigm is the best) I'm still a huge fan of the paradigm itself.

                          The Practice

                          Paradigm: Might is Right, A World of Gods and Monsters

                          Post-Awakening, every mage who can see into the spirit world can readily draw a number of conclusions if they're willing to do the intellectual leg work. First, spirits exist for everything; they might be as small as the humble light bulb or as grand as the Incarnae of Freedom, but every object and idea exists in the spirit world in accordance to its relative size and power compared to other spirits. Second, somewhere out there exists the Spirit of Awakening itself. Third, it picked you; so you have to have some kind of quality or trait that just makes you better or more deserving than everyone else around you. Finally, the world is an exceptionally dangerous place; the fact that Demons actually exist should be enough to force a mage into caution, but when it comes to the human condition most spirits range from apathy to sinister interest, protecting yourself is paramount.

                          Practice: Dominion, Shamanism

                          There's an inherent level of danger in dealing with spirits of any kind. While they may display some human traits and will occasionally be representative of a human aspect or emotion, the fact remains that they are all very distinctly Other. To minimize the risk of potentially getting screwed by a sadistic, mischievous, or simply bored Other, a practitioner takes two steps to ensure at least their own safety. First, they take a binding oath that their word is their bond, ensuring that everyone they come across knows they speak the truth. Second, they take advantage of the bindings in place on all spirits thanks to the workings of King Solomon, every Other the practitioner come across speaks the truth just as they do. Through a combination of fear, respect, trust, and the liberal use of precise legal contracts, a practitioner can buy power, borrow influence, or otherwise arrange for various types of Other to work with him to achieve his goals.

                          Instruments: Contracts, Blessings/Curses, Argument/Debate, Social Domination

                          Contracts form the barebones basics of dealing with Others, and the more precise the better. The specifics can range from one time transactions to a full blown Mage-Familiar relationship, but the core idea is that by getting things down in writing and then agreeing to those terms, a practitioner can start to get things done. For those who have agreed to take up service under a god or similarly powerful incarnae, blessings and curses carry weight and the authority behind them can either elevate or discredit a Practitioner depending on the frequency and context of their use. When your words are literal truth, the arguments you frame with them become exceptionally powerful tools themselves and losing a debate can mean losing a measure of power over yourself. Finally, as a mage becomes more experienced and powerful, word of their accomplishments will precede them. Using the reputation they've built up to alternatively charm and browbeat Others into service or inaction is a comparatively easy way to get things done.

                          Special note: Due to the way that the paradigm works, everyone who follows it has to take a level of Geasa equal to their level of Avatar with a restriction on intentionally lying.

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                          • #14
                            I can see the above Paradigm benefiting immensely from Entropy 1. The books (namely the Revised handbook) focus on the Ring of Truth - used to know when what someone says is meaningful and accurate, regardless of what the person believes to be the case - but they also describe briefly a simpler form. That of the ability to know when someone is lying. Combine this with Entropy's utility in blessing and cursing, and I can see it being a useful secondary Sphere to Spirit.

                            On another note, the idea of a spirit of Awakening is frightening and glorious to me. An entire campaign could be built around searching the Umbra for it.


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                            • #15
                              THE MAGIC OF ICONISM

                              -Paradigm: This IS A Pipe

                              Reality is an illusion. What we see is not necessarily what we get. Presupposing this, there is functionally no real difference between a Subject and an Image of the Subject. But while one is no more real than the other, both are tied together by similarity. The Rule of Sympathy, after all, dictates that Like affects Like. So it stands to reason that Image affects Subject. Power, therefore, can be gained by understanding images - understanding iconism - and creating or altering them to suit one's needs. The Iconic Mage is more than a creator of pretty pictures. They take to heart the twin elements: art imitating life, and life imitating art. When an Iconic Mage refers to their Art, are they referring to Representation or Magick? The answer is Yes.

                              Some of this belief - and the corresponding Practice below - can be found to some degree in many Traditions and Crafts. Solificati and other alchemists have their complex symbolic diagrams; Choristers have their portraits of Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Saints, or whatever relavent religious figures; the Wu Lung carve intricate statues of dragons out of jade; Dreamspeakers of various ethnic groups have their patterned cloth and rough paintings. Even Technocratic Conventions like the New World Order and the Syndicate understand the power of Images, and use them judiciously in propaganda and marketing, respectively. On the other hand, while Iconism is prevalent, there is also elements of Aniconism, the rejection of Image. Some Subjects are simply off-limits when it comes to depiction in art: the faces of gods, extreme and deplorable violence, sex and nudity, or scenarios too abominable to allow. Certain segments of Islam, in particular, preach Complete Aniconism; that to make an imperfect image of one of heaven's creations is to detract from that creation.

                              -Practice: The Art Of Art

                              The Practices of an Iconic Mage boil down to two overlapping disciplines: capturing images and altering images. These two often go hand in hand, though they can come apart. The one is about recording the Subject, and most often serves for sensory magic, as the Mage seeks to capture not only what the Subject appears as on the surface, but also aspects of what is beneath, or distant, or in another Time, or things that are simply immaterial. Altering images alone is about taking an existing representation of the Subject and changing it to fit the Mage's needs. As such, it is used in Effects that shape the world. These two disciplines come together whenever the Iconic Mage creates an image capturing the Subject, but altering it in the creation to what the Mage desires the Subject to be. Naturally, depending on their tools, an Iconic Mage can use either discipline to greater or lesser degrees, though both are generally used in some fashion.

                              A proper Iconic Mage employs Symbolism, Literalism, or both to capture the effect they want to see, applying it to the image so as to apply it to reality. This Mage studies art, art theory, art history, and art criticism. All to better understand and create their own Art. Creating one's own particular art style is important, but there is versatility and utility in being able to replicate the styles of other artists and art movements. On the other hand, one's favored style and motifs might state more about the person's world view than words ever could. In essence, capturing it in an image.

                              -Instruments: Awareness, Paint & Canvas, Photographs & Cameras, Ink & Paper, Pencil Sketches, Color Theory, Sequential Art

                              Additional Instruments include Carvings, Paper Crafts, Murals, Tattoos, Computer Graphics, Sculpture & Clay, and Make Up

                              It's worth noting that these instruments comprise a list of mediums with which one may create art. While any Mage - any artist really - may be skilled in multiple such tools, and there is a certain amount of overlap between the skills, they will usually have one or two preferred methods. Some may only use a particular medium, sparingly utilizing others or not depending on inclination. The art world is practically as varied as the mystical Art world, and between mediums and personal styles, one is unlikely to find two Iconic Mages with quite the same skills, taste, or Rotes.

                              Notes:

                              * An effective Iconic Mage uses Awareness by letting it guide their hand. Perhaps the subconscious knows something one doesn't when that sketch of a person is scratchy or jagged, or has billowing lines coming off them, or has an expression different than the one the Subject is displaying. Or maybe the hand is guided towards drawing, not what the eye sees, but what may or has been. Or the drawing is Representational, and the style turns out to reflect the Subject's Pattern.

                              Awareness can guide a person's hand in choosing which paint to use, or where the figures "should be" in relation to each other.

                              Trance States can be used to enhance this effect, letting the conscious mind go and relying on the well-practiced Skill put to canvas what the subconscious wants to tell the Mage.

                              * Paint is one of the oldest forms of artistic expression, seen as far back as figure drawings on the walls of caves in ancient prehistory (cave dwelling people almost certainly painted other things besides the walls of their homes; cave paintings are merely the ones that have longest stood the test of time). While Paintings can be simple, they are often complex - whether physically large in size or not. They are also lent an air of gravitas and refinement not quite seen in other mediums. Because of this and because of the time and work that must be put into making them (especially oil paintings), Painting lends itself well to High Ritual. The disadvantages, of course, is that Painting usually does not lend itself well to portability or expediency.

                              * Photography, a more recent invention, was eventually accepted as a form of art (helped by the ease with which Cameras could be used and pictures taken; no more standing still for minutes on end just to get one shot). It captures Subjects exactly as they appear, without the interference of a meddling artist's hand. Or is it? While a photograph is not subject so much to the photographer's interpretation, it still must be interpreted by the camera itself. Herein lies room for Magic to work, altering the photograph or digital picture in the taking. Capturing auras, spirits, the "interference" of Forces, distant places, times past or yet to come, or simply a notable difference in light and color distribution from the original Subject are child's play. And coincidental, as a ghost in a picture can be chalked up to a smudge on the lens, or a product of too slow a shutter speed. Images taken can also be altered; a photograph retouched (or painted over), a digital picture run through image editor and filters. Finally, with the advent of smart phones, everyone and their mother have cameras with them at all times. It's not even weird seeing people snap pictures of themselves, random people, their food, or assorted objects in the environment.

                              * Ink, where applied with the precise nub, the flowing brush, or the common pen, is a versatile and effective medium. At its broadest it still doesn't lend itself well to scale, but it works very well small. Pens are readily portable, while nubs or brushes work well in designated spaces, though an Ink Mage can work anywhere they need to if they can juggle the tools. Black ink or a white surface loses the breadth of color other mediums usually enjoy, but can create stronger, more absolute Effects. If color is needed, an ink drawing could be colored after the black outlines are complete, making Ink drawing a varied art. Moreover, Ink is the life blood of print media. However, printed materials cede more and more ground to digital each day.

                              * Pencil sketches remain the most ubiquitous of art mediums, at least in terms of portability. Every college campus or coffee shop has that one person breaking out a sketch book. The skills to sketch with pencil often overlap with those of other mediums like painting or ink work; many of both begins with pencil sketches before the "real" medium is applied. This illustrates both an advantage and disadvantage of pencil sketches. An advantage in the artist's ability to alter their work readily; Iconic Mages can reasonably receive bonuses to extended rolls, as they erase mistakes and try again. A disadvantage, as the mutable graphite can be seen as less permanent, less powerful that those Images rendered in paint or ink. Still, the sketch book and pencil are portable and plentiful, some sketch books small enough to fit in a pocket.

                              * Sequential Art is as old as Egyptian murals, but has emerged as an engine for telling stories with images. Often these images are combined with text, and an Iconic Mage may employ both to great effect. It's strength, besides putting text or words into the picture (and therefore the Subject), is in capturing dynamic action in the otherwise static medium of still image. Combine this with sacred geometry, and the Mage may either use the creation of such as a ritual tool, or distribute it to affect readers (nothing conveys a potent Mind effect past a person's defenses quite like a good story). In the nineteen eighties and nineties, Mages would distribute individual enchanted comic issues through the independent markets. With the advent of affordable computers, high speed internet, and drawing tablets, modern Iconic Mages can spread their subversive (or Sleeper stimulating) works through web comic form. Then again, it's said one or two major comic writers/artists have released Consensus undermining works through major comic publishers.

                              * Color Theory has been discussed before, but it's worth repeating that color creates a wealth of symbolic and emotional connections. Warm colors, cool colors, rich colors, washed out colors, complementary colors, contrasting colors, delineated colors, blending colors. The use of many colors, the use of only a little color, and the use of monochrome. All of these and more have artistic - and therefore magical - value. The only limit to an Iconic Mage's abilities in this regard is the limits in color selection imposed by their medium.

                              Take, for instance, the color Blue. For thousands of years, most of human history, man has tried to capture this one color. It's not been easy, as blue appears fleeting in nature. The sky and the sea cannot truly be touched, their Blue extracted from them, and blue materials, plants, and animals are hard to find. Blue, for millennia, was expensive. And even when artists had it, they could only create so vibrant a blue. Blue became associated with the infinity. The infinite sky, the infinite sea, untouchable, rich beyond measure. Blue could easily serve some Iconic Mages as an Instrument for Prime, all on its own (then again, so could White or Black, depending on whether you use CMYK or RBG, respectively).

                              With the modern day and modern science and technology, the barriers to color have been eroded. Yves Klein's creation of International Klein Blue (IKB), a paint that is as vibrant dry as it is wet, allowed the common man to see Blue more Blue than anywhere in history. As if looking into infinity itself. Computing and screen technology can render virtually any color humans can see, as easily as opening an image editor and typing in a hex value (IKB is 002f87, by the way). Staunch Traditionalists might scoff, declaring that the Technocracy and its work has devalued color in the consensus. That the Sleepers with their ubiquitous computer and smart phone screens and advanced ink/paint chemistry have become spoiled for choice when it comes to color. That modern art can only suffer for the restrictions lifted off of artists, and only gaudy, poorly colored displays will result. Other Iconic Mages, however, see the expanse of color for the gift that it is. That for all the Technocracy's desire to paint the world drab gray, they've done more make color accessible to the masses than ever before.


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