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Grimoire of Cursory Dissection [A Thread for Personal Musings]

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  • #31
    It's a little obscured by the need to cross-reference the Conditions from across the book, but the consequences of Wisdom loss are, in fact, where a lot of the incentives for mages to be Right Bastards live, and unlike analogous Conditions for Integrity, Humanity, and Pilgrimage, Rampant and Megalomaniacal are supposed to be a bit sticky.

    Rampant provides a stick to the carrot of "exceptional success on spellcasting gives you Willpower" as far as incentivizing mages to cast spells, and it applies more broadly and gets harder to resolve without risking further Wisdom loss as your limits expand — being able to do more with magic means you have more circumstances where you lose Willpower, and with higher ratings in the Arcana it becomes increasingly difficult to just over-Reach without consequence unless you're casting obvious spells in front of Sleepers, which is an Act of Hubris for anyone above Falling Wisdom. Getting a Horror-esque Obsession that literally rewards you with Mana and Arcane Beats for casting indiscriminately itself makes the latter method of resolution riskier, too.

    Megalomaniacal, meanwhile… Well, you've got an extra Vice, with everything that entails, a recurring Obsession that gives you Mana and Arcane Beats for asserting your dominance, and a constitutional inability to understand other people's feelings outside the context of getting that information through a spell. Not only do you now have another thing to penalize further Acts of Hubris, the Condition doesn't resolve until you hurt someone important to you in a way that risks further Wisdom loss — which is a pretty solid excuse to care about people normally and keep your Wisdom at a level where "hurting someone" means less than death.

    Higher Gnosis gives you more Obsessions, which means the appropriated Obsession slots these Conditions take up are less of a concern for a character's magical focuses, and lower Wisdom means the base pool for resisting degeneration gets lower before the penalties from Vice and Obsession, which in turn increases the odds of dramatically failing and taking Rampant and/or Megalomaniacal as a Persistent Condition that only goes away if you raise your Wisdom, which itself is a thing that takes up an Obsession slot to pursue and costs narrative time and Arcane Experiences to earn.

    Inuring a spell makes it so that its use never risks your Wisdom but always risks Paradox, which has its own interactions with the Conditions, and you can inure more spells with higher Gnosis, which makes it easier to resolve Rampant but harder still to resolve Megalomaniacal; given this, gaining the Megalomaniacal Condition fills a similar role in Mage to dramatically failing a frenzy resistance roll (or normally failing a roll to ride the wave) in Vampire.


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    • #32
      Originally posted by Tessie View Post

      The Power of the Will (Mind •••)
      Practice: Perfecting
      Primary Factor: Duration
      Suggested Rote Skills: Academics, Expression, Survival
      The mage raises the subject's Willpower dots by Potency up to the subject's maximum amount of Willpower for the duration of the spell. This maximum is twice the subject's attribute maximum minus lost Willpower dots, or ten for ephemeral entities.
      +1 Reach: By spending a point Mana, the mage may raise the subject's Willpower dots above their maximum rating.
      +1 Reach: The subject also gains a number of Willpower points equal to Potency. The subject loses just as many Willpower points, to a minimum of zero, once the spell ends.

      Can't be bothered to format the text on phone.
      Very nice, its a powerful boost to spell pools. Another cool thing is that WP can be used to boost a resistance trait by +2 for a single roll. But if you use a Perfecting of Mind to boost that bonus and make it last a scene, then suddenly you have a defense akin to Wards & Sign, but with a broader application.
      Last edited by KaiserAfini; 01-29-2020, 07:10 PM.


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      • #33
        Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post
        Very nice, its a powerful boost to spell pools. Another cool thing is that WP can be used to boost a resistance trait by +2 for a single roll. But if you use a Perfecting of Mind to boost that bonus and make it last a scene, then suddenly you have a defense akin to Wards & Sign, but with a broader application.
        Enduring Will (Mind •••)
        Practice: Perfecting
        Primary Factor: Duration
        Suggested Rote Skills: Academics, Subterfuge, Survival
        Whenever the subject spends a point of Willpower to increase Composure or Resolve by +2, the effect lasts for a number of turns equal to Potency. Only one Resistance trait may benefit from this at the same time.
        +1 Reach: More than one trait may be boosted at the same time.
        +1 Reach: The bonus lasts until the end of the scene.
        Add Life •: The benefit also extends to Stamina.


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        • #34
          Minor thought brought about in part by the DE2 crossover rules with Changeling:

          The metaphysics of the Supernal include, as part of their potential unpleasantness, the matter of costs. Sacraments better ensure their spells' success when they're hard to come by, other Yantras mostly provide higher bonuses in exchange for some limitation or imposition, and of course Quintessences tend to be weighted proportionally to the archspell they're reverse-engineered to facilitate. It's sometimes a daunting or forbidding prerequisite, but it's a payment you make up-front as-advertised.

          The metaphysics of the Abyss, though? Everything you could possibly pull out of the Void between worlds has a catch, because that's how the price of "this is impossible, but it's happening anyway" manifests; be it in madness, mutation, or some other unfortunate side-effect, Abyssal phenomena are the malevolent genie trick writ cosmic, which probably has something to do with the place's resonance with the bit of Changeling's cosmology where the Untrustworthy Magical Nonsense lives. Goblins and gulmoth alike offer their services as guides through their respective native strangenesses, and getting "out"-out of those particular frying pans is substantially more difficult for folks without very particular luck.


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          Currently Consuming: Demon: the Descent 1e

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          • #35
            Loosely related to the above-mentioned stickiness of the Wisdom Conditions: The consequences of the Duel Arcane are another place where the Awakened Ego-Trip (and, to a lesser extent, the analogy to contentious academia) lives in the mechanics. If you lose, you have to debase yourself or be sympathetically victimized before you can marshal your Will against the victor; if you win, you're encouraged to let everyone who doubted you know about it.

            What's more, the benefits of victory are specifically a boon to Social rolls, and the Duel is typically encouraged under the aegis of the Lex Magica as a societal pressure-release valve, and… well, the introduction of rules for using Status to requisition Merits may make it easy to overlook, but Order and Consilium Status do still add their dots to Social rolls within their respective groups; more dice means Triumphant mages are especially incentivized to lord their victory over their social inferiors, which is easier to manage if you're insufferable enough to get them to give you something to clap back on.

            (Basically, the Duel Arcane is there for Mage's equivalent of everyone at an academic conference wanting to murder each other.)


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            Currently Consuming: Demon: the Descent 1e

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            • #36
              Dave has often said in places that Wisdom is one of the places that shows the limits of the core book's word count more than most, and it does stand out compared to similar stats that give more detail to what the personalities that emerge from their associated levels are like. Yet personally, I think these limitations are to its benefit. I think it actually strengthens the portrayal of Wisdom, particularly mages that are Falling in it, that it doesn't strictly make their personalities any more weird or callous than would be entailed by the associated Conditions while they last.

              Because considering the wider game, and even the general portrayal of the Rapt, I think it works to have an idea that a Wisdom 1 mage could actually present as fairly normal and be really good at convincing themselves that they are, that they aren't defined by the hubris and abuses of power that have gotten them so far, that they can still function appropriately and have a reasonable capacity to pull their soul back together a bit. Not just convincing themselves, but being accommodated and accepted by the mages around them. I think it lends a lot of weight to scenarios in which they finally break; not a final total disconnect from a humanity hanging by a thread like the draugr, but even a little nudge (relatively speaking) to a personality that had bought too deeply into delusions that it was still on the straight and narrow.


              I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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              • #37
                There have been a few arguments that took place on the forum when I wasn't around (between the core being released and me actually buying it), and in looking back through them I'll sometimes have ideas about how to respond to certain arguments that didn't seem to be made at the time. I'd think of this as a thread to bring them up.

                One that stands out to me a lot was several people griping about Primary Factor being something that you need to spend Reach to alter.

                Some of the argument was about it running counter to the principles of creative thaumaturgy, and while I have an idea about how a more fixed kind of Primary Factor could work in-character, I think that's not very important. My perspective, and the thing that nobody else seemed to bring up at the time, was that people were underestimating how significant an advantage Primary Factor is. Just the way that, as the character's Arcanum rating goes up, there's a factor in the spell that goes up several steps without paying anything at all, compared to something like the usual penalties to the dice pool within the game or the way that other games will always peg improvements to rolled successes. You know, you only need to have three dots and spend one Reach, and suddenly you can be handing out spells that last a week by default. And just the way that this applies to all spells, where it's not like Reach and applies more the further down your list you go; the Master gets five free Reach on the one-dot magic and only one for the five-dot, but their Potency starts at 5 on every single spell they cast, their Advanced Duration at one year. Advantageous not only in the factor it enhances, but in the dice it frees up to enhance the other ones; y'know, your Master can pretty readily make the spell both Potency 5 and year duration when only one of those factors is imposing a -8 penalty on a dice pool of ten (before even factoring in the Yantras)

                Primary Factor is a big deal, and so I'd say it's more than reasonable that being able to adjust it to match particular circumstances is still something you're given the option to do, just that it comes with a cost now (and maybe one that is smaller than the value of what it buys).


                I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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