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1001 Interesting Paradox Backlashes

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  • 337) You Must Walk Home [Realm?]: Paradox hates time travel. A real pet peeve, no doubt about it. So when a mage decides to jump into his DeLorean and zip off to the end of time, Paradox will come in and tell him to knock it off. That he has to go back to his own time, and 'Dox will not take "No" for an answer.

    And the mage will have to walk home. Walk the whole way.

    Paradox doesn't expect the mage to actually march home at 1 second per second. Usually. But it does mean having to walk, and watch the years roll by. It is not instant, and it is not kind on the feet. Seemingly endless walking, until the character finally makes it back where they started. If they're lucky, their DeLorean will be there waiting for them, and they'll only have lost a few hours...or weeks...or years.

    If not, well...


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    • 338) Death's Handprint [Flaw]: Death is not cheated. While Death expects all to come to it eventually, it doesn't appreciate folks casually crossing the threshold between Life and Afterlife all willy nilly. That's untidy. Or perhaps Death truly is possessive. Whatever the case, to violate the sanctity of demise, invites Death to make its displeasure known. When a mage uses magick to either undo their own death (probably with a Time 4 delayed revival spell) or raises someone else from the grave, the cold, bony hand of Death itself reaches out and marks the mage by its touch. Where Death touched the mage, their flesh becomes discolored and cold, ever to remain so (or at least as long as the backlash duration lasts). It is a bitter mark the mage wears, that chills them and reminds them of their eventual, inevitable demise. Particularly bad backlashes can turn the handprint into a persistent open sore, that reoccurs each time they wake.

      If the mage ever perishes with the handprint still, that patch of flesh will glow with a sickly pale light at the moment of their passing. Marking the instant when Death claims its due.


      339) Hairspray Backfire [Burn]: The ol' lighter and hair spray trick. A classic piece of pop culture, and thus a common tactic employed by mages in the Ascension War. Disguises the summoning of fire nicely. What is less commonly known, however, is how dangerous this trick is to do normally. This is because when a spray can's nozzle is opened, it is not a one-way passage. Half the time in practice, the fire tracks backwards into the can, igniting the whole supply and causing an explosion. Mages with Forces knowledge can pull the trick off safely, since they can weave protections against such a thing into their Effects. Controlling the fire enough to prevent it from following back into the can. This, however, assumes that the Effect is successful. If the mage botches their use of lighter and hairspray, the explosion can be upgraded from possible to inevitable.

      Such is the price of playing with fire. Even for the Awakened.


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      • 340) The Telltale Gesture [Paradox Flaw ; Mind, Entropy] The True Mage makes a short, obvious, and very characteristic gesture with one of her hands every time she feels strong doubts about the sincerity of somebody next to them. This doesn't occur more often than once every fifty minutes per each person the True Mage suspects of being insincere.

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        • 341) The Earth Rejects [Spirit]: Whether through Vulgar arts that exploit the power of the Earth and that which grows on it, or when the mage contributes to the despoiling of the planet itself through their Awakened activity, terra firma rises up in vengeance. A witch might cause plants to dance or trees to walk, while a shaman might cajole the spirits of stone to rock and roll according to his will. It might be the Etherite's drilling into the Hollow Earth, or the Hermetic whose high ritual makes the ground quake. Even the Nephandus who spills gallons of blood upon the ground, or the Syndicate rep or Pentex loyalist whose business actions - through carelessness or malice - strike at the heart of Gaia herself. Whatever the case, the mage has made an enemy of the planet.

          The ground churns itself in the mage's presence, becoming grasping hands and gaping maws, of soil, sand, stone, and salt. Wherever the mage treads upon natural ground, that firmament will seek to attack them, and drag them down into the earth. Only on materials worked by man - cut wood, asphalt, brick, concrete, steel, or glass - is the mage safe...for a certain value of "safe". For indeed, does the raw earth not lie still, just below the surface? Does every road and building not stand upon a literal bedrock? When the backlash is great enough, Gaia's grasping hands will burst through simple floors, and set loose elementals of earth to stalk her quarry.


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          • 342) Dancers in the Smoke [Spirit]: Smoke is a curious substance. Created by fire, but with air's ethereal quality. When a mage uses smoke as an Instrument - whether smoking it as an herb (tobacco, marijuana, other plants) or separately in incense or from a roaring fire like smoke signals or from a smoke grenade - they can invite the fumes to come alive. The cloud of smoke produced will expand and animate into a fleeting, ephemeral dancer. This figure hounds the mage, obscuring their sight by dancing in from of them. Rarely overtly hostile, this Paradox spirit is distracting and highly visible, gathering attention towards the mage that they may not appreciate. The greater the backlash, the more dancers are summoned, and the more generally combative and disruptive they are. If the smoke dancers elect to attack the mage directly, they do so by smothering the mage with their bodies, attempting to harm them by smoke inhalation.


            343) The Sand Man [Spirit]: Specter of slumber and deliverer of dreams, the Sandman is as ubiquitous an abstraction as Mother Nature, Father Time, and the Grim Reaper. Mages have encountered the Sandman in many guises, both in Paradox backlashes and in the Umbra. Sometimes he is a wizened old man in a night cap, carrying a bulging sack like a somnambulist Santa Claus. Other times, he is a sand-covered mummy, his emaciated body clothed in brown, dust-encrusted funerary wrappings. The modern medium of comic books have spawned two different forms: a suited vigilante in a gas mask and wielding gas guns, and a pale figure with wild hair and sunken eyes. Even the Technocracy are no strangers to the Sandman, with operatives seeing him as a man in black combat fatigues and face-obscuring balaclava, a dart gun in his hand that shoots tranq bullets.

            Whatever the guise, the Sand Man appears before mages who dabble in the realm of sleep and dreams, or who make the waking world a living nightmare for others. The Sandman finds their quarry, and promptly tries to put them to sleep, with magic powder or sleep gas or tranquilizer darts. However it works, the Sandman will put the mage down for the count, sometimes for extended periods of slumber if the backlash was great enough. One mage is said to have slept for a year and a day after incurring the Sandman's ire. If the mage evades this tactic, the Sandman will either keep trying until it works, or will take more direct action to knock the mage out. Swinging their sack around, summoning minions made from sand, or simply punching their lights out.

            Needless to say, depending on when and where the mage is made to sleep, it could be a very inconvenient nap indeed. Who knows what sort of damage to the mage's interests could be done while they slumber? Or whether immediate threats might not make the mage's sleep permanent?
            Last edited by Bluecho; 10-20-2017, 04:08 AM.


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            • 344) Bite Bag [Flaw or Spirit]: One of the mage's carrying containers, like a bag or backpack or purse, gains a nasty surprise: the opening grows teeth, and attempts to bite the mage whenever they try to access its contents. Preferably, the backlash will target whatever container the character used to hold their material Instruments. That way, every time they need to fish out one of their magical tools, they need to wrestle open the container's maw and brave the biting teeth. The more severe the backlash, the more aggressive the container will be; in bad cases, the mouth won't just wait for the mage to need something to try biting them, manifesting as a Paradox Spirit that animates the container and tries to viciously attack its owner.

              Note that the container in question can be anything, so long as the mage stores within that which they value. Messenger bags, rune pouches, Bags of Holding (which in this case become Bags of Devouring), tool boxes, first aid kits, and even pockets attached to other objects (like jackets or trousers). If the character must insert a hand inside to get at the items within, the opening can become a toothy maw with a taste for the character's blood. Although, that's not necessarily the only thing it has a taste for. The mage may find that they can get at their things more easily, if they can find something to bribe the container with. Since this involves bribing it EVERY TIME the mage wants something, though, it's mostly just a stopgap measure.


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              • 345) A Certain Latitude [Paradox Flaw ; Correspondence] True Mages affected by this Flaw acquire a distinct and strong tendency to think about and be drawn towards places that they have interacted with while using Effects from the Sphere of Correspondence (or the equivalent Foundation and Pillars).

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                • 346) A Too Narrow Focus [Paradox Flaw ; Mind, Entropy] This Paradox Flaw affects True Mages who obsess about one issue to the exclusion of all others; while using their True Magick to justify their excellence in regards to it. A True Mage affected by this Paradox Flaw feels an overwhelming need to focus on this issue, and to question persons with who they converse in regards to their opinion about it; while at the same time ignoring any input they give that is contradictory to the affected True Mage's theses.

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                  • 347) Art Was A Mistake [Quiet]: It is said that those who love an art medium can be among its harshest critics, because they can see the flaws others would miss. When a mage uses Art as an Instrument, they may find themselves taking this to an extreme. Under this form of Denial Quiet, the mage comes to abhor their preferred artistic medium, whether it is the works of others or their own. They become sensitive to flaws in the work - regardless of whether the flaws actually exist - while at the same time becoming unable to appreciate its merits. This Quiet can afflict anyone who works in a creative field. Illustrators see smudged paint, bad perspective, and hideous color choices. Sculptors see cracks in the facade. Poets obsess over what words could have been substituted to make the poem better. Every song is off key, has clashing music, or could use a better performance. Even a Syndicate advertising specialist will find the medium of advertisement sickening, believing ads to be trite, distasteful, and likely to reflect poorly on the brand in the eyes of the consumer base.

                    As the mage grows in Quiet, they become more and more disillusioned with art, including (or especially) their own. Those who produce art for a living cannot finish a piece; they are forever trapped by the knowledge that their work Just. Isn't. Good. Enough.

                    When the Quiet reaches its nadir, the mage (and others, when the Quiet becomes externalized) see only shoddy pieces and poor work, all around them. No works in their field (or perhaps any field) are worth a damn in their eyes - their appearances warped into crude and ridiculous mockeries of their true forms - and perhaps these artworks were NEVER good. The mage comes under the mistaken impression that all art was awful, from the beginning; that they were naive and stupid, not to see how terrible the works were. How poor their tastes were, that they considered genuine masterpieces as such. To confuse matters, the world around the mage will become populated by Hobgoblins, appearing as overly nasty art critics (who naturally agree with the mage), straw man fans that defend works with superficial arguments, and even terrible works of art themselves, where none existed before.

                    The only way for the mage to drag themselves from this pit of existential despair is for them to relearn why they loved art so much in the first place. To rediscover the positive aspects of their medium, and see the forest instead of the few rotten trees. To stop seeing the offal, and to start seeing the beauty at its core.


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                    • 348) Assured Certainty [Paradox Flaw ; Conjunctional use of at least two of: Prime, Time, Mind, Entropy] This Paradox Flaw affects True Mages who consider both spoken testimonies and deductions of other persons than they to be insufficient proof on which the True Mage's actions can be based on. Mystical True Mages might be drawn into ruminations that cause them to discard other persons as being capable of both comprehanding and judging a situation accuretly; causing them to rely on confirmations given by their True Magick. Technocrats affected by this Flaw become arrogant to the extreme; assuming that only their reasoning capabilities, and their Procedures, can discover and confirm for sure the truth about a matter or an event,

                      True Mages affected by this Flaw acquire a tendency to mishear what is being said to them (if it doesn't fit their outlook in regards to a matter) ; and to doubt deductions of others. The arguments and information given by others just don't fit, causing the thoughts of the affected True Mage to wander astray; while a strong feeling of others' supposed inadequancy hangs on in their thinking. At the same time the True Mage is vehement about their point of view; to the point of considering unsuccesful uses of their True Magick, used in regards to comprehending a given matter or event, to be definitely relevant.

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                      • 349) Avenged Sevenfold [Burn]: Perhaps when Cain(e) slew his brother and God marked him - simultaneously cursing him and protecting him from harm - it set a precedent in reality. Or perhaps there's something to the old saying about threefold return. Whatever the case, when a mage uses their magick to harm another person, Paradox may answer the attack in kind. Upon wounding a person, the mage's body is afflicted suddenly with an equal and corresponding wound, suffering a equivalent number of health levels of damage. In particularly bad backlashes, the damage sustained may be triple - or even sevenfold - what their victim suffered. Naturally, this may very easily mean the mage's death; as such, the Storyteller should be careful where and when they employ this type of Burn.


                        350) Abyss Stares Into You [Flaw or Spirit]: While the Dark is not necessarily evil, it is a deep, mysterious, primeval element, that can play host to innumerable, indescribable things beyond man's comprehension. So when a mage dares to summon and direct the shadows, they ought to be careful what those shadows contain. Upon this Flaw, the darkness the mage controls seems filled with untold, alien beings. Glowing eyes stare out at the mage, voices babble in terrible tongues, and probing fingers - or stranger extremities - reach out for the Awakened. If the backlash is greater, one of these beings of Dark step out from the shadows, assuming something a shape, but one that cannot be easily grasped, for its form resists the light around it. This spirit of dark does not necessarily attack the mage - it may even regard the spell-worker fondly - but its mere presence is disruptive enough.

                        Are these dark beings merely shadows given form by Paradox? Or did Paradox use the mage's shadowplay as a door to darker realms? Does this backlash have anything to do with the realm that vampiric Clan Lasombra calls the Abyss? No one knows, and few Awakened are eager to find out. Still, the Abyss is enticing as it is terrifying. The aforementioned Clan Lasombra are not the only ones who harbor Abyss Mystics, it is said. Not all of them are even vampires...


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                        • 351) Trying a Little Too Hard [Paradox Flaw ; Life, Matter, Entropy] This Paradox Flaw affects True Mages who seek to overcome obstacles by facing them directly, while knowing that the odds, and the opinion of their friends and advisors, are against them. All True Mages affected by this Flaw develop a propensity towards considering only one person out of their group to be the one they should pay attention to; while at the same time feeling a slight, but unshakeable sense of meekness and complaisance that easily leads the affected True Mage to making the impression that they are much less capable than the one they are focusing their attention on.
                          True Mages are also affected differently based on which Sphere they used the most while trying to accomplish their goals through straightlined approach. True Mages who used Life develop intensely glowing pupils. Those that used Entropy place their steps in a stuttering rhytm that seems just a bit too careful. True Mages who used Matter find that when they give someone a handshake, it is always a one just on the edge of a crushing handshake (within a given True Mage's ability to give a crushing handshake).

                          This Paradox Flaw can be dealt with through serious considerations and ruminations of one's attitude to other persons and their goals; followed by apologizing and making up to those that the True Mage has treated badly and to those that the True Mage hasn't paid the slightest attention.

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                          • 352) The Right Person For Every Job But One [Paradox Flaw ; Mind] This Flaw affects True Mages who use the Sphere of Mind (or the equivalent Spells or Rotes in the case of True Mages using Foundation and Pillars) to try to learn or improve, for example, a specific skill or comprehend a specific kind of knowledge purely due to needing it for a given situation, rather than due to their personal interest in the skill or the knowledge.
                            True Mages affected by this Flaw are unable to focus on the activity that they sough to learn, or to think clearly about the topic that they tried to understand and comprehend. If they try to use the skill or think about the knowledge that they tried to gain, after a point they start rapidly forgetting - over a period of one hour - everything that they learned with the Sphere of Mind about the skill or the topic.

                            This Flaw can be dealt with by trying to supplement the skill or the knowledge, gained with the Sphere of Mind, with at least two skills or topics learnt without the use of True Magick, through mundane methods; and learning something notably new about the skill or the knowledge.

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                            • 353) Missed Chances [Paradox Flaw ; Prime] True Mages affected by this Flaw are unable to see, sense, nor use Quintessence other than their own.

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