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  • Increasing Mana Costs

    I read the homebrew document of Pendragon and was very interested in their houserule of having ALL improvised spells and Rotes have a baseline cost of 1 mana. Praxes would not have this cost.
    Alternate houserules I have been thinking about is having all non-ritual spells cost mana instead of a Reach, but that might be something for a different discussion.

    Has anyone tried any of these or similar rules? How did it change your games?

    If I were to try it, what would you think about the potential effects?
    ​I am thinking:
    1) It limits the sheer power of Mages, which to me is not a bad thing. I have never been a fan of how godlike mages are to everybody else. Werewolves have to pay Essence for almost all of their tricks, Vampires need Vitae for many of their Disciplines while a Mage can potentially go many sessions without needing mana for anything.
    2) It would cause the requisition of Mana to be an important thing, and up the value tremendously of Hallows. Whether this is good or bad depends on if you like bartering, economy and such to be an important part of a game.
    ​3) It encourages players to cast spells that are long lasting with as much effect and utility as possible. It would reinforce the main principle that Mages profit the most when they enter a situation prepared which may be bad for some.
    ​4) When getting an Exceptional Success on a spell, it makes it much more of a dilemma whether to get all Mana back +1 or to go for a condition that grants Arcane Beats. I like drama and tactical dilemmas.
    ​5) It makes Praxes and Legacy Attainments more useful. I think this would make players more diversified and distinct from each other, but it might also just lead to the same types of spells being made into Praxes, such as attack spells and healing spells and other spells you would need to cast spontaneously.
    ​6) It would probably make attainments more common and would lead to us seeing more homebrewed ones, which is also a way to diversify characters.
    ​7) It makes Rotes less valueable. This is something I would not like, since I like Rotes. Alternately, it would lead to Rotes being what you use for ritual spells.
    ​8) It would probably make pattern scouring more common for some characters. I like desperation in my games, so it's a good thing to me.
    9) It would lead to us seeing more Paradox as mages will want to squeeze in more effect into their spells than before. This is only a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.
    ​10) Nimbus tilts would maybe be more utilized since they are one method of making an effect for free. I like Nimbus and see them utilized too little in my games so far.

    ​I would really like to hear opinions from others on this. So far I am seeing overwhelming benefits of this houserule, there has got to be more disadvantages than this.
    Last edited by Aristarkos; 03-01-2017, 12:11 PM.

  • #2
    9) I don't see how you came to that conclusion.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
      9) I don't see how you came to that conclusion.
      ​When each spell costs you something, you may start to think that RAW Paradox is a pretty small price to pay in order to squeeze in more Reach. It is just a preliminary thought though, I may be wrong.

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      • #4
        I still don't get it. Can you elaborate?

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        • #5
          You'd probably need to address the fact that you can spam praxi to regain any mana you use right after you use it.

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          • #6
            Mages have two tools to deal with Paradox in any given situations: Dedicated Tool or using Mana. Since they already payed one Mana for casting the spell I think most mages would be less thrilled about spending more Mana mitigating Paradox.


            Bloodline: The Stygians

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            • #7
              Let me elaborate, I don't see why charging a mana per spell would lead to Mages wanting to squeeze...wait, I think I got it.

              Do you mean they will try to make each spell do more work to cut down on mana loss? The thing is I think if you actually did this it would just lead to less spells being cast. Spells can typically only do one thing they don't have more than one effect unless you're using Combined Spells. This would result in a net loss of Paradox. Also, Ashenrogue is right you'd see a heavier dependence on Praxis for the mana refund, and you'd also see more investment in XP for Praxis in order to avoid paying the mana tax. Also, when you're using your Praxis more often the choice between Condition and Mana will become less important.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Aristarkos View Post
                ​3) It encourages players to cast spells that are long lasting with as much effect and utility as possible. It would reinforce the main principle that Mages profit the most when they enter a situation prepared which may be bad for some.
                This is also an area in which it really drags down certain character concepts, like the seat-of-their-pants Acanthus.

                It leads to magic being primarily about buffing, which is fine if that's what you want but many people like the idea of using more active magic.

                ​4) When getting an Exceptional Success on a spell, it makes it much more of a dilemma whether to get all Mana back +1 or to go for a condition that grants Arcane Beats. I like drama and tactical dilemmas.
                ​5) It makes Praxes and Legacy Attainments more useful. I think this would make players more diversified and distinct from each other, but it might also just lead to the same types of spells being made into Praxes, such as attack spells and healing spells and other spells you would need to cast spontaneously.
                It doesn't make really characters more diversified; it would make them feel more distinct from each other by making them more specialised. It also makes Paths almost irrelevant. I suppose that could be a positive or negative outcome, depending on what you're looking for, but I don't really like it. It really changes the focus of Legacies onto (a) the Attainments and (b) the oblations, since adding a third Ruling Arcanum doesn't matter much. On the whole, I think that might be one positive upshot, but I don't think that it outweighs the other aspects.

                ​6) It would probably make attainments more common and would lead to us seeing more homebrewed ones, which is also a way to diversify characters.
                Again, I think you're confusing specialisation and diversification.

                7) It makes Rotes less valueable. This is something I would not like, since I like Rotes. Alternately, it would lead to Rotes being what you use for ritual spells.
                Having the cost apply to Rotes makes no sense to me.

                9) It would lead to us seeing more Paradox as mages will want to squeeze in more effect into their spells than before. This is only a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.
                It might depend on your players, but I suspect the opposite would be true, because many people would want to avoid having to spend more mana to counter the ensuing Paradox issues.



                Other issues from my perspective:
                • It makes Prime nigh-obligatory, and generally has really uneven effects on certain Arcana. Spirit and Death (and Mind I suppose) become very powerful, as they can bind other entities and have them use active/spontaneous powers.
                • Sympathetic magic becomes really expensive. Space will be one of the most negatively impacted Arcana, especially early on, because very few of its effects are really useful as long-term/prepared castings.
                • It discourages experimentation and creative thaumaturgy in general; I think CT is one of the best things about Mage so putting a huge speed-bump on it is a no-no for me.
                • Spells with an existing mana cost can no longer be cast as a single action by starting characters, unless they increase their Gnosis with Merit dots. I guess this probably isn't so much of as issue given the goals you've mentioned, since it further discourages impromptu casting.
                • It probably leads to less use of the early Practices, since almost every spell now has a substantial cost
                • It encourages players to seek out the various infinite mana loop possibilities.
                • It seems likely to lead to a turtle/fortress approach to gameplay, which might be a theme you want to explore but I dislike because taking risks are good for drama and narrative. This also seems like it would probably undermine the theme of Hubris, since reckless use of magic will drop off substantially.

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                • #9
                  Thanks to all of you for your replies! I appreciate hearing different views on this subject. It seems less of a good idea now than when I started out thinking about it. I will not implement this homebrew, at least not in the foreseeable future.

                  ​I suppose what I really wanted was a "less is more" and low-fantasy approach to Mages since I sometimes don't like how enormously powerful they can be, but I suppose in that case I should be playing a different game altogether.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
                    Let me elaborate, I don't see why charging a mana per spell would lead to Mages wanting to squeeze...wait, I think I got it.
                    ​Yes, exactly. Sorry for not responding earlier

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Aristarkos View Post
                      ​I suppose what I really wanted was a "less is more" and low-fantasy approach to Mages since I sometimes don't like how enormously powerful they can be, but I suppose in that case I should be playing a different game altogether.
                      If that's the goal, you could still use Mage with some alternate rules. I've included some suggestions below, mix and match as appropriate.

                      1. Make every spell (OR: every Instant Action casting time spell, OR: every non-Ruling spell, etc etc) have a Paradox pool, even if by default it's only a chance die. This will make spell casting much more risky, especially in combat.

                      2. Remove the 'regain Mana' option from exceptional successes on spellcasting, or else limit the amount regained to the amount spent on the spell. You can also limit Hallows in various ways to increase Mana scarcity (e.g. cap the Merit at 2-3 dots, not have Hallow as a Merit at all, etc).

                      3. Increase the XP costs of Gnosis and Arcana (and ban trading in starting Merits for a higher Gnosis). This makes the high-end Practices more difficult to access (though one consequence is that certain spells, like Gravity Control and Psychic Domination, may become more powerful.

                      4. Change the Paths completely; have one Path per Arcana, which only gets that Arcana as Ruling. You might drop Inferior Arcana, or assign each Arcana an Inferior option. This has some of the effects of the houserule you were looking at while still allowing Mages an area of focus in which they have more freedom/flexibility. It also increases the value and impact of joining/creating a Legacy.

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                      • #12

                        ​Interesting suggestions, all of them. Have you tried these yourself and how did that go?

                        Originally posted by Eggs Maledict View Post
                        1. Make every spell (OR: every Instant Action casting time spell, OR: every non-Ruling spell, etc etc) have a Paradox pool, even if by default it's only a chance die. This will make spell casting much more risky, especially in combat.

                        2. Remove the 'regain Mana' option from exceptional successes on spellcasting, or else limit the amount regained to the amount spent on the spell. You can also limit Hallows in various ways to increase Mana scarcity (e.g. cap the Merit at 2-3 dots, not have Hallow as a Merit at all, etc).

                        3. Increase the XP costs of Gnosis and Arcana (and ban trading in starting Merits for a higher Gnosis). This makes the high-end Practices more difficult to access (though one consequence is that certain spells, like Gravity Control and Psychic Domination, may become more powerful.

                        4. Change the Paths completely; have one Path per Arcana, which only gets that Arcana as Ruling. You might drop Inferior Arcana, or assign each Arcana an Inferior option. This has some of the effects of the houserule you were looking at while still allowing Mages an area of focus in which they have more freedom/flexibility. It also increases the value and impact of joining/creating a Legacy.

                        1: ​I kind of like this one, especially if I would wish to drive home the idea of the Fallen World as a really repressive place where mages are not welcome.

                        ​2: These options are pretty close to the idea I started out with, namely to drive home the idea that the Fallen World is limiting and tainted enough to require a cost for even simpler spells. In this way, I still drive that point home but hopefully in a more elegant fashion.

                        ​3: I fear that my players would grumble a whole lot about this one and with reason. While it's not a bad idea considering my goals, it is a somewhat heavy-handed thing to do. The consequence of Gravity Control and Psychic Domination being more powerful is somewhat lessened though by the fact that with higher XP costs the players will have less Potency and other Spell Factors to work with?

                        ​4: I like this one a lot, it would certainly change themes a lot and, as you say, approximate some of my goals while not rendering Paths mechanically void. You have suggestions to look up if someone has already done this? I only know of Papa Bear's 25 Paths and Pendragons homebrew, neither of which actually does specifically this.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Aristarkos View Post
                          1: ​I kind of like this one, especially if I would wish to drive home the idea of the Fallen World as a really repressive place where mages are not welcome.

                          ​2: These options are pretty close to the idea I started out with, namely to drive home the idea that the Fallen World is limiting and tainted enough to require a cost for even simpler spells. In this way, I still drive that point home but hopefully in a more elegant fashion.
                          The problem with those is that you don't really have a point of comparison. You're generally always in the Fallen World so to your players it'll just feel like that's how magic is.


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                          • #14
                            If the Fallen World is indeed the source of this Mana tax, then is it alleviated or even removed in Supernal Verges, Demesnes, and Emanations? What about the Invisible Realms, where the Lie is not so severe? What about Abyssal Verges and Anunnaki?

                            EDIT: Oh, and what about the myriad half-worlds of the Lower Depths, which are perpetually hungry?


                            MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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                            • #15
                              The Invisible Realms (the Astral, the Shadow and the Underworld) are all part of the Fallen World, though.


                              Bloodline: The Stygians

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