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  • #31
    Originally posted by Illithid View Post
    BUT a mage with those dots in Spheres could do a lot more, and a broader range of things as well.
    Yes but the Pillar at 4 is capable on a starting Pillar mage, while getting a MtA Mage with Arete 4 and that many Spheres is going to require almost 200xp and that's only to get to the single Pillar 4 effects.
    • Arete 3 - (8 Freebies)
      • Arete 4 - 24xp
    • Spheres
      • Mind 3 Matter 3 (starting dots), Spirit 1 (affinity), Forces 1 (7 Freebies, all spent)
      • Spirit 2 (7xp, 31) Spirit 3 (14xp, 45), Spirit 4 (21xp 66) Mind 4 (24xp, 90) Matter 4 (24xp, 114) Forces 2 (8xp, 122) Forces 3 (16xp, 138) Life 1 (10xp, 148) Life 2 (16xp, 164) Life 3 (24xp, 188)
    • 188xp spent - Arete 4 Mind 4 Spirit 4 Matter 4 Forces 3 Life 3
    With 188xp an Itarajana could have the following if they started with a single Pillar at 4 (and I'll buy some Foundation with freebies and xp just to be somewhat fair, in theory as long as they have Quintessence to spend they dont need it)
    • Foundation 1 (starting) Foundation 3 (10 Freebies)
      • Foundation 4 (24xp) Foundation 5 (32xp, 56)
    • Pillar Naraka 3 (starting) Naraka 4 (3 freebies, 13 Freebies spent to where they cannot buy Foundation or Pillars)
      • Naraka 5 (24xp, 80) Preta 1 (10xp, 90) Preta 2 (6xp, 96) Preta 3 (12xp, 108) Preta 4 (18xp, 126) Preta 5 (24xp, 150) Triyagyoni 1 (10xp, 160) Triyagyoni 2 (6xp, 166) Triyagyoni 3 (12xp, 178), Deva 1 (10xp, 188)
    • 188xp spent Foundation 5 Naraka 5 Preta 5 Triyagyoni 3 Deva 1
      • That Foundation and two Pillars each grant a Specialty (Foundation for a Focus and Pillars for a keyword) so when rolling not only do they have a pool of 5 + Pillar their 10s count as double, meanwhile the Arete mage is only slinging 4 dice.
    I'm not saying that Arete mages aren't obscenely poweful, just pointing out that Pillar mages are a scale greater. When I used Pillar 5 to compare to Disciplines it was both to highlight how powerful they are and because that is attainable at start (Pillar 5 would require 6 freebies after the 3 starting dots).

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Cynic01 View Post
      Problem is the Itarajana don't use the Spheres and Arete; they use the Foundation and Pillar system from Dark Ages Mage. The mechanics for the two are different enough to not be exactly comparable for a number of reasons
      (...)
      Originally posted by Cynic01 View Post
      (...)
      I'm not saying that Arete mages aren't obscenely poweful, just pointing out that Pillar mages are a scale greater. When I used Pillar 5 to compare to Disciplines it was both to highlight how powerful they are and because that is attainable at start (Pillar 5 would require 6 freebies after the 3 starting dots).
      Is there anything at all written in M:tA or V:tM indicating that the case with Mages who use Foundation and Pillars being arguably more capable and/or more powerful than Mages who use Arete, is anything more than how it ended up within the rules ; is there any in-setting justification for this ? I think there isn't anything in the setting that says or indicates this being the case, or anything that justifies it ; I think that it is just inequality ( or unfairness ) within the rules between the two systems for knowing and casting Magick Effects.

      I think that if there are both Mages that use Arete and Mages that use Foundation and Pillars in a chronicle, then one of the options is to somehow equalize the two methods of casting Magick Effects in regard to the capabilities and the experience costs. Another one is having all Mages use for their Magick either Arete, or Foundation and Pillars - either within just the rules system, or within both the rules and the setting.
      Last edited by Muad'Dib; 10-22-2018, 05:57 AM.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Muad'Dib View Post
        Is there anything at all written in M:tA or V:tM indicating that the case with Mages who use Foundation and Pillars being arguably more capable and/or more powerful than Mages who use Arete, is anything more than how it ended up within the rules ; is there any in-setting justification for this ? I think there isn't anything in the setting that says or indicates this being the case, or anything that justifies it ; I think that it is just inequality ( or unfairness ) within the rules between the two systems for knowing and casting Magick Effects.

        I think that if there are both Mages that use Arete and Mages that use Foundation and Pillars in a chronicle, then one of the options is to somehow equalize the two methods of casting Magick Effects in regard to the capabilities and the experience costs. Another one is having all Mages use for their Magick either Arete, or Foundation and Pillars - either within just the rules system, or within both the rules and the setting.
        Unfortunately the Pillar system is presented in only a few books. However Dark Ages Mage discusses the differences between the two systems in a sidebar on pg 97

        Readers familiar with Mage: the Ascension and Mage: the Sorcerer's Crusade are no doubt aware even this early into the description of Dark Ages magic that things are significantly different...
        Among other things, the result of this is that essentially no consensus exists beyond certain fundamental precepts (things fall down, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, etc.) Although this means that the broad spectrum of ideas necessary to beget thoughts of Ascension is virtually unheard of, it also means that each mage is ultimately bound only by the limits of her own ambition and ability to achieve. To put it another way: The magic of the Dark Ages is dynamic, within a certain set of static frameworks that are so (and will remain thus for a while yet) by convention, not nature.
        This period was known as the High Mythic Age to Mages and M20 pg 63 describes somewhat of why that is (matching up with the above quote)

        In the old days, this sort of thing was often known as casual magick; it had a clear and believable cause and was therefore acceptable by the beliefs of the day. Back then, however, believable meant that it fit the prevailing view of reality in that area. If folklore said that witches flew on brooms, well then, a witch could fly on a broom and be considered believable. A priest could call down fire with a prayer, and a sorcerer could curse his enemies and watch them die. Such things would never be considered coincidental today, but they were part of the belief system back then. Because almost all belief systems favored the existence of magical phenomena, modern mages often refer to this period as the High Mythic Age. And like so many other golden ages, it has achieved a certain glowing reverence in hindsight that clashes with the grubby truth of that era.
        Pillar magic can be more potent because it comes from the concept that a power works because the region the Pillar developed from believed that it worked like that even among the common folk. The Pillar mages weren't trying to fool reality, reality essentially had different rules. The Itarajana never opened themselves up to differing beliefs and in that stubbornness traded breadth for power.

        Balancing Spheres vs Pillars

        Below are some ideas of how to tone back Pillar compared to Sphere magic.

        Altering the Freebie and XP costs
        • Have Pillars cost 7 Freebies to raise and have an XP cost of Current Rating x 8 like Spheres.
        • While the Pillar mage will still have an advantage it will be reduced.
        Watching the limits of a Pillar's purviews.
        • This is something that should be done anyway, but it is one of the few built in balancing factors (however small).
        • Pillars while encompassing a bunch of different things are more specific about what those things are. Don't let a Pillar mage stray too far from the effects described within the Pillar's ranks.
          • Example - Naraka 4 allows a mage to convert any significant source of energy into intense fire and cold. Even though that is like Forces they cannot change that energy into lightning or gravity.
        Making use of the Dying Art sidebar on V20 TMR pg 159
        Magic has changed. The old sorcery has split into the static works of petty sorcerers, and the fluid, grand nature of true magick. Magi change the world and are changed by it, and the Tapestry of occult energies has woven itself anew throughout history, leaving the archaic sorcerers as weavers of old, frayed threads.
        The Storyteller may represent this by increasing the amount of Scourge that accumulates when practitioners of Archaic Sorcery cast spells. Each Unbelievable spell cast in the mundane world acquires a cumulative, additional point of Scourge (+1, +2, etc.) until all accumulated Scourge Backlashes or the bonus Scourge equals the magus’ Foundation rating. Mages who utilize “modern” forms of magic do not suffer this disadvantage. This problem doesn’t manifest in the Shadowlands or other supernatural realms.
        • In this case the Pillar mage is going to accrue Scourge far more quickly (and suffer backlashes sooner and more often) unless they are careful with their effects or use them in other realms.
        Treat all Pillar effects as Unbelievable outside of other realms
        • Effects that should be subtle are instead Unbelievable without witness regardless of whether witnesses are there.
        Let Sphere Mages roll Countermagick against Pillar mages at difficulty 6 (like if they were using Thaumaturgical Countermagic) instead of 7 (as per M20) or 8 (as per V20 TMR).
        • The idea is that since Sphere mages have a broader understanding of universal fundaments they are better prepared against the more specialized effects of Pillar magic.
        Limit Pillar ratings to not be able to exceed Foundation.
        • While this removes one of the big advantages of Pillar magic it still leaves most of the powerful but less broad parts intact.
        Itarajana use Sphere Magic
        • The most balanced but least interesting option. The Itarajana are simply an old variant of the Chakravanti/Euthanatos.
        • The Itarajana can now do things they could not before, such as reshape matter and see the future. If not then you end up where they are just penalized Mages which unbalances it in the opposite direction.
          • Being able to reshape matter changes the Itarajana's interactions with vampires since they can affect them in an entirely new way.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          I use it as a hodge-podge buffet of ideas.
          Considering that's basically the explicit point of the book, that seems appropriate.

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          • #35

            Originally posted by Cynic01 View Post

            Unfortunately the Pillar system is presented in only a few books. However Dark Ages Mage discusses the differences between the two systems in a sidebar on pg 97
            (...)
            This period was known as the High Mythic Age to Mages and M20 pg 63 describes somewhat of why that is (matching up with the above quote)
            (...)
            Pillar magic can be more potent because it comes from the concept that a power works because the region the Pillar developed from believed that it worked like that even among the common folk. The Pillar mages weren't trying to fool reality, reality essentially had different rules. The Itarajana never opened themselves up to differing beliefs and in that stubbornness traded breadth for power.
            These parts that you quoted don't talk about Foundation and Pillar using Mages and Arete using Mages , they talk about how it was in the past in regard to the beliefs of mundane humans, the beliefs of Mages, and reality zones ; and how it affected the Coincidental and Vulgar division of Magick Spells. I think that going by the quoted parts, a Mage who would be using Arete and Spheres would still benefit from the conditions and circumstances that are described as being in place back then.

            It also has to be noted that the situation and circumstances in regard to this are still similar ( or the same ? ) , they are just ( much ) more tilted toward mystic Magick being Vulgar. At some places - for example deep wild or rural areas with strong mystic traditions - mystic Spells can count as Coincidental.

            I don't see any information or implication in these quoted parts that would justify the extra dice for casting Effects, that Foundation and Pillars using Mages get, as anything more than an unfair difference in the rules in comparison with Arete using Mages ; one that has no in-setting reasons.
            Last edited by Muad'Dib; 10-23-2018, 04:17 AM.

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            • #36
              Pillars aren't really better. They're just bundled differently due to theme. Naraka is a bundle of things associated with inferior/demonic incarnations. You can make someone act like an asshole, but not like a decent person, for instance. So it's not "Mind Plus Stuff." With actual Mind, I can do all kinds of wacky things Naraka can't do. Yes, a player can argue to get it to do just about anything. This is not different from bog-standard Mage: The Ascension.

              Really, the reason why M:TAsc has 9 Spheres has less to do with "balance" than character differentiation. Sphere boundaries are largely permeable and determined by a bunch of fiat, so the idea that their divisions are going to matter much falls apart outside of the context of a character group where you set things up based on the Spheres in play. DA:M does this differentiation by paradigm more or less directly,while V20 TMR doesn't bother at all since Idran are crossover weirdos.

              Ultimately though, successes are the limiter on Pillar performance. Whenever people don't get this I know their approach to the system is highly theoretical. Like, erasing somebody from existence is hard--so hard that it's easier to just lob a grenade at them. This reminds me of all these folks who complained mages could turn werewolves into silver with a a bunch of successes when just burning one to death requires far fewer.

              Let me let you in on something, though: If I had written the whole thing, I would have made it way more extreme, because a True Black Hand that was a low-key organization is boring, thinking about Canonical Consistency is boring, and a bizarre conspiracy of vampire superspies running ops from the land of the dead is interesting. Because hey, you're not a better Vampire player for wanting every faction to be a sort of shitty Camarilla clone because that's Just So Plausible. The Camarilla isn't plausible. None of it is plausible. It's secret urban dark fantasy/horror bullshit, and the key is coming up with interesting hooks and excuses, not developing ironclad apologetics. (I *have* done apologetics, yeah, but only to come up with interesting ideas.)


              Writer, Game Designer, Pro since 99.

              Thoughts at mobunited.com

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Malcolm View Post
                Let me let you in on something, though: If I had written the whole thing, I would have made it way more extreme, because a True Black Hand that was a low-key organization is boring, thinking about Canonical Consistency is boring, and a bizarre conspiracy of vampire superspies running ops from the land of the dead is interesting. Because hey, you're not a better Vampire player for wanting every faction to be a sort of shitty Camarilla clone because that's Just So Plausible. The Camarilla isn't plausible. None of it is plausible. It's secret urban dark fantasy/horror bullshit, and the key is coming up with interesting hooks and excuses, not developing ironclad apologetics. (I *have* done apologetics, yeah, but only to come up with interesting ideas.)
                This. This is how I'll always see it.


                “Nobody is purely good or purely evil. Most of us are in-between. There are moths that explore the day and butterflies that play at night.”
                - Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute The Sun
                (She/Her)

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Malcolm View Post
                  Let me let you in on something, though: If I had written the whole thing, I would have made it way more extreme, because a True Black Hand that was a low-key organization is boring (...)
                  I do agree with that the Tal'Mahe'Ra Sect being more clearly distinct, and separate in their approaches and methods, from other factions and groups of Vampires does make this faction more interesting. I also think that the Tal'Mahe'Ra portrayed under this direction does fit and is appropriate for the V:tM - and wider WoD - as a setting. I think that it being the third major faction next to the Camarilla and the Sabbat ( The other factions of V:tM seem to definitely be on the sidelines, for various reasons. ) makes the setting better, deeper, and more thought-provoking.

                  Originally posted by Malcolm View Post
                  Pillars aren't really better. They're just bundled differently due to theme. Naraka is a bundle of things associated with inferior/demonic incarnations. You can make someone act like an asshole, but not like a decent person, for instance. (...)
                  I would like to note that you can make somebody act like a decent person or cause someone to become a better person by first making them act in a bad way or because of dreadful motivations. Thus a Mage using the Pillar of Naraka at 4 to cast Effects in regard to a person is capable of causing changes and events in other directions, as well ; she or he must just do it in an indirect way.
                  Last edited by Muad'Dib; 10-26-2018, 06:10 AM.

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                  • #39
                    One thing I'd say about Vampire and the whole WoD is that it's futile to try to digest the whole sandwich of it. Basically, not everything in V:TM can really be true at the same time and continue to suspend disbelief. You have to pick a nucleus of things that are definitely true and make the rest of the game serve them. Once you get into crossover this becomes especially necessary. Like, if you try to figure out the complete story of the Catholic Church in the WoD, your head would explode.

                    So once you pick a nucleus of setting, that should suggest theme, mood and style. A Black Hand game is about enormous secrets, sleeping gods, Last Vampires of Their Kind and occult weirdness, unabashedly. If that's the spotlight, everything else should serve it. It really plays well this way.


                    Writer, Game Designer, Pro since 99.

                    Thoughts at mobunited.com

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                    • #40
                      To add more confusion, the four 'factions' do exist in the Dark Ages, but it's not clear they remain in those forms after that. For example, you have Azaneali, Molochim, Nergali and the Swarm which don't map perfectly with previous iterations. Some followers of Via Hyron, for example, join the Molochim and follow a rather different ideology than the Swarm of DA. In DA, the Swarm was said to be the faction descended from the Unnamed, but in V20 the only members we see are part of the Order of Moloch instead (with no mention of the Unnamed). Obviously, the constant routing and purging of members has transformed the face of the bloodline. And is Nergal-as-an-Aztec-god still leader of the Nergali? Or is a follower of Azaneal or someone else in charge of them, since Nergal's been AWOL for so long?

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Cynic01 View Post

                        Balancing Spheres vs Pillars

                        Below are some ideas of how to tone back Pillar compared to Sphere magic.

                        (...)
                        If anything, I think that Foundation and Pillar using Mages are too limited in regard to their Magick capabilities, compared to Arete and Spheres using Mages. Putting aside rolling dice based on both Foundation and Pillar(s) ratings for casting Effects ( I have addressed this in a previous post in this thread. ) , it seems to me that they really ought to get something in return for the limitations that Pillars have, even at the ratings of 5 ; or these limitations should be done away with, at least to an extent. Maybe make them able to learn additional types of Effects once they have two or three Pillars at 4 or 5 ? This would represent a widening of perspectives, Paradigm, and methods that I think most of such experienced and competent Mages would be capable of and would go through.
                        Last edited by Muad'Dib; 11-03-2018, 03:01 PM.

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                        • #42
                          I gotta tell you, I found the addition of the Baali to the Tal'Mah'Ra made it even WEIRDER and I didn't think that was possible.


                          Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                            I gotta tell you, I found the addition of the Baali to the Tal'Mah'Ra made it even WEIRDER and I didn't think that was possible.
                            I personally loved it. The T'M'R is my favourite sect (though not as playable as the Sabbat), and I love the Harbingers and Baali. Having them all together is wonderful.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post

                              I personally loved it. The T'M'R is my favourite sect (though not as playable as the Sabbat)
                              Vampires who are in the Tal'Mahe'Ra seem to me more playable than those who are in the Sabbat ; assuming that such a consideration is made at all ( I don't see playing members of the Sabbat as harder or problematic in any way ; though most of the time it is certainly going to be a different experience than playing a Vampire who is in the Camarilla, or one who is an Autarkis ) . Why do you think that Vampires from the Tal'Mahe'Ra are less playable than those from the Sabbat ?
                              Last edited by Muad'Dib; 11-08-2018, 07:30 PM.

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                              • #45
                                To be honest, i haven't read much of anything on the Tal'Mahe'Ra in a long time. The supposed jumbled character of the book sounds far from a problem from a ST standpoint, imho: you pick what you like most for a take of the group that pleases you, the rest one might either ignore - or use as seeds for other mystery/gehenna cults, like the Edenian Groundskeepers, Servitors of Irad, Lilith-worshippers or whatever one feels like cooking up.

                                To those with preocupations about overall setting consistency, interlinking with hooks &/or storylines in future books and such it might be more of a issue for certain and i can relate, but personally, it stopped being a issue for me the moment i decided to utterly ignore everything related to KotE. :P

                                Now back to something much earlier in the topic...

                                Originally posted by Cynic01 View Post
                                As for the Baali Methuselah(s) there are generally said to be two or three.
                                • Nergal - Ba'al the Destroyer, the Slave Boy, Huitzilopochtli. A Baali who has wholly sold himself out to his infernal masters for power. Seeks to awaken the Children of the Outer Dark so that they might take over the world.
                                • Moloch - A Baali who sought to keep the Children of the Outer Dark asleep through offerings of placating sacrifice. Sealed beneath the salted earth of Carthage along with his lover Troile.
                                • The Unnamed - Likely Ur-Shulgi. Evidence points to Haqim having embraced the demon possessed child to unite the Baali in an effort to destroy them. Based on the actions of Ur-Shulgi upon his awakening its possible that Ur-Shulgi has since sold out to the infernal forces that his sire embraced him to fight.
                                So trying to piece this all together in a way where the most things are true here's what I think the Baali origin might be (note to those who may have read some of my previous thoughts on the origin of the Baali, this differs after having read and considered different possibilities).
                                Ur-Shulgi is most certainly not any of the Three, if going by the tale that connects it to the Baali, as they already existed and were in an ongoing conflict with the clans at the time. Haqim's embrace of Ur-Shulgi is described as an attempt to replicate the charnel pit origin legend, as a way to create a figure to serve as a leader/lure to bring the Baali together (so they could all be caught in one place and swiftly destroyed) - only to backfire terribly, as the Baali proved far more effective at uniting themselves for war than the kindred of the Second City.

                                So, technically speaking, Ur-Shulgi - if one takes the tale at face value - would be "a Fourth" but every bit a match for the Three. It would also far more probably than Nergal imho, be the true face behind the Ba'al the Destroyer, whose name and legend is wholy centered on being a Baali leader/founder that lead them into anihilating the Second City, if i'm remembering the bit from V20 right.

                                I have seen many people trying to relate "Ur-Shulgi as Baali" with the Unnamed (possibly because that one is so obscure and empty of info upon), though my overall impression has always been that the tale itself contradicts this, making Ur-Shulgi a (relatively) later creation and very much one of what the Molochim would call "Shaitan impostors".

                                But to cite Fate/Unlimited Works "not every copy is a knockoff. the replica may match or surpass the original"...

                                Little aside, the matter of Cibele & Petaniqua's uncertain lineage - Baali, Malkavian, both - also opens room for the posssibility of the Shaitan of Knossos (who might - or not - be Huitzilopochtli) not being Nergal as claimed in DA, but an ancient Malkavian forsworn manipulating the line at the time for its own misterious reasons.

                                Just my two cents of thought.
                                Last edited by Baaldam; 11-10-2018, 01:48 PM.

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