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Alternate rules for Wisdom

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  • Alternate rules for Wisdom

    I don't really like existing Wisdom system, and I wrote about it. However, re-reading Understanding Wisdom thread and especially Freemind posts gave me idea about how to change Wisdom into more personal system about internal barriers and limitations of the Mage. In this system, descending into Madness feels like ascending from Fallen reality; removing limitations, one by one, and finally, Supernal "enlightment". As mage power and Gnosis grows, the need for keeping some internal barriers and limitations untouched arise, less you descend into delusions of godhood.
    Each mage is deeply aware of one important thing: magic wants to be conjured. Magic supersedes everything else. It becomes the answer to any question. Magic is an absolute drug; It gives power, and power requires more power. Magic destroys self-control and soundness of thought. Each mage deep inside feels like a god, but only a few surrender to the power of this sensation.

    A person is determined not only by what he does, but also by what he does not do. Each of us has his own version of morality, his own ideas about what can and can not be done, and this is an important part of our personality. Mages know more; mages know that a person's limits are an important part of his soul. And the magic of each mage seeks to break these barriers, to break the magician's personality, to break his soul and control him. Or all mages feel the instinctive desire to break these barriers with the help of magic and become nothing more than a self-limiting god.

    Magic is formed by thoughts and will. Destroying limits, making decisions based on impulses and desires, ignoring the will and rights of others - all this destroys the barrier between what the magician will do and what the magician will not do. Once breaking the barrier, to overcome it again is easier - the mage begins to rationalize the use of magic. From a magical point of view, passing through your own lines, weakening control over yourself is symbolically associated with a weakening of control over magic. The magic flows more freely. Errors become more difficult to control. And in the end, losing control over yourself becomes a loss of control over magic. Inside, this is felt as complete and absolute liberation; freedom to make reality what you want to see it, because you can. Outside, the magician becomes a whirlpool of uncontrolled magic; His spells gain their own will and consciousness. Having lost all limitations, the magician rushes to his Obsessions without any restrictions. Such magicians are rightly called Mad.

    At the same time, the destruction of the metaphysical barriers which make up the soul and personality of the mage makes him stronger in magic. Even the risk of breaking such barriers opens the soul and the Gnosis of the mage to the Supernal Truths. Not one magician broke his soul, too often testing it for strength in the pursuit of the Supernal revelations. The thirst for power can harm not only the body or mind of a mage.

    The attitude of mages to Mad ones is mixed. On the one hand, Mad are a threat to the entire magical community. Their power, their unusual powers, their ability to literally disappear among people, using Lie as a personal shield - all this makes them a terrible threat. What is even worse, each mage is a little Mad deep inside, which makes Mad not only eerie, but also tragic opponents.

    On the other hand, Mad are pure magic. The Supernal penetrates to Earth through each of them, and often absolutely uncontaminated by the lies of the Abyss. In ancient times, around the Mad there were often cults of mages, who studied the Supernal Mysteries through incoherent prophecies, random spells and the senseless whispers of the Mad. This practice did not disappear completely - it only changed. And now in many Consilia, sorcerers quietly allow the less dangerous of the Mad to exist, guarding their existence for the opportunity to touch the Supreme in the Fallen World.

    Each character has his own Barriers: his inner limits, the destruction of which destroys his Wisdom and control over magic. They are defined when creating a character as a response to the following five questions:
    • What is the worst thing your character has ever done?
    • What is the worst thing your character can imagine himself doing?
    • What is the worst thing your character can imagine someone else doing?
    • What scares the character about magic?
    • What would the character do to achieve his goals?
    The performance of this act is breaking the Barrier: the character gains the Arcane Beat and rolls 5 dice with the usual effects described on page 88. Constant testing of the limit strength weakens it: the second time the character allow breaking the Barrier happen, he throws 3 dice, the third time 1 dice and after that, only a chance die . A character can lose Wisdom 2 times by completing the same breaking the Barrier. After this, the barrier breaks down completely, and the magician can no longer lose Wisdom by breaking this Barrier.

    The purchase of Wisdom restores these barriers or replaces them with new ones. As mage's worldview changes, so does change his Barriers and personal morality. They could take truly strange and terrible forms. For example, weathered and cynic Banisher may answer to "What is the worst thing your character has ever done?" - "Leaving the demon-worshipper (regular Mage) alive after attack."

    The mage has two ways to avoid losing Wisdom by breaking the Barrier.

    The first of these is Inuring. The mage intentionally weakens control of a particular spell, metaphysically removing the consequences caused by this spell from his soul. This action is similar to the action of children accusing the "other" of their misdeeds and pranks; in this case, the "other" is the all-accepting Abyss. Inuring is a controversial practice, which in many Consilia is condemned and equated with forbidden practices, and in some it is considered the first step towards the worship of the Abyss.

    The second is the Vow. Often, magicians are forced to commit disgusting acts that destroy their natural barriers and personality. However, over the past millennia, magicians have found a way to create artificial barriers and make them part of their personality.
    Vows are like Legacy: they change the soul of the mage vowing them. They strengthen existing barriers. They allow the magician to rationalize his actions at the metaphysical level, giving his actions a higher meaning. However, the consequences of violation of the Vow are terrible - mage who breaks the Vow literally tears his soul apart.

    The Vow consists of two parts. The first of these is the affirming part in which the magician describes the ideal, society or person to whom he swears an oath. The second is the prohibiting part - the magician describes what he can not do at all. Example: "I swear fidelity to the Silver Ladder. I will never betray the Ladder in a word or deed."

    While the mage acts in the interests of the recipient of the vow, nothing is considered an Act of Pride. Thus the magician does not receive any Arcane Beats. However, breaking the Vow inflicts a terrible damage to the soul of the magician: all Barrier breakings ever committed in the interests of the recipient of the Vow are instantly cast again with a chance die in place of their usual dice pools. Therefore, only the most devoted to their ideals - or the most stupid - mages bring Vows. These mages can be truly creepy creatures - eternally standing on the verge between immorality and insanity.

    One Vow can be bought at the character creation for the same Experience cost as Legacy, spent from Merit points instead. Mage can buy take up one Vow per two points of Gnosis, but rare mage ever take more than one Vow - the risk of accidentally breaking one by serving another is too great. Most Order mages who take Vows take up Vow to serve their Order faithfully, and enjoy social respect out of it. Other mages usually take up Vows based on their Virtue, subserving their magic to the higher morality principle.

    Advantages and disadvantages of Wisdom:
    High Wisdom has its advantages. Constant and rigid self-control leads to the fact that the mage gets used to such an existence. At Wisdom 9-10, the magician has +2 all throws for self-control.
    Losing Wisdom, the mage begins to feel distanced from people and suffers -1 to all Social throws associated with Sleepers and Sleepwalkers on Wisdom 5-6, -2 on Wisdom 3-4, -3 on Wisdom 1-2. However, the mage begins to feel much closer to the supernatural being which were never human: +1 to all Social throws associated with all kinds of Ephemeral entities, and also to the Supernal and Abyssal entities on Wisdom 5-6, +2 on Wisdom 3-4 , +3 on Wisdom 1-2. The magician does not receive any bonuses or penalties in dealing with other magicians, as well as with entities that once were, partially remain or try to look like humans: vampires, werewolves, changelings and so on. The magician also ceases to understand the need to restrain himself: -1 to all throws for self-control on Wisdom 5-6, -2 on Wisdom 3-4, -3 on Wisdom 1-2.

    Wisdom 9-10: The magician retains strict control over his magic. He carefully weighs every spell, and never uses magic without as much as possible full understanding of its consequences. Only the most enlightened and wise magicians are able to remain at this degree for a long time.

    Wisdom 7-8: The magician basically retains control over his magic. At this stage, there are either magical novices who have not yet fully realized their power, or balanced magicians, seeking to maintain control over themselves and their magic in spite of external pressure.

    Wisdom 5-6: At this stage, the magician felt the power of magic to the fullest and managed to break several important barriers to his personality. His excuses become justifications: he ceases to believe in them.

    Wisdom 3-4: A lot of mages stop about this Wisdom. Most of their personal barriers have been broken: voluntarily or necessarily, but the magician retains control over key parts of his personality, often carefully guarding himself against even coming close to scrapping these barriers.

    Wisdom 1-2: Magic is not the answer. Magic is a question, and the answer to this question is yes. Virtually nothing restrains the magician in using magic, and only a few barriers (maybe only just one) restrain his soul from the final breakdown.

    Wisdom 0: There are no questions and no answers. The magician gained the Supernal "enlightenment". He no longer controls magic; his magic controls him, like a puppet of flesh and blood and the source through which it flows into the world.
    The general idea is to make Wisdom more of the Sanity Meter opposed to Karma Meter. Every mage have his own Barriers; as long as he keeps to his own morality with regards to magic, his sanity and control over magic is fine. Because you need to broke most of your Barriers to completely descend into Madness, most mages are relatively safe. Unless, of course, they intentionally test themselves for Barriers in search of more Supernal revelations and sweet Arcane Beats. Also mages can now really devote themselves to their ideas and cling to their sanity by doing this. Monstrous Seers, Banishers and Scelesti keeping their Wisdom relatively high are now entirely possible, but the last ones are also have a reason to keep their Wisdom low - it helps in the "conversations" with the Abyss.
    I'd like for everybody with ideas to help me out with Vows - I feel like they are great idea, but current wording is clumsy and easily broken.
    Last edited by Dark Archon; 03-21-2017, 03:05 AM.

  • #2
    This looks like mechanically solidfying (or emphasizing) what Wisdom was supposed to do fluff-wise. Which is to say, it's a good thing.

    For Oaths, hmm... how about giving each mage's Virtue as a 'default' Oath, and use each Order's tenets as additional ones? The penalty for breaking them seems a bit too harsh, though. I'll get back after class.


    MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Dark Archon View Post
      Wisdom more of the Sanity Meter opposed to Karma Meter.
      Personally, I feel like that's what Wisdom already is, Oaths is just systematizing the flexibility that Wisdom already has as a subjective measure of what a Mage will experience as being Wise or not.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
        This looks like mechanically solidfying (or emphasizing) what Wisdom was supposed to do fluff-wise. Which is to say, it's a good thing.
        That was the point.

        Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
        For Oaths, hmm... how about giving each mage's Virtue as a 'default' Oath, and use each Order's tenets as additional ones? The penalty for breaking them seems a bit too harsh, though.
        I don't think it's really good idea. In this risk, breaking Wisdom is not very likely to happen accidentally. "Normal" mages just won't feel the need to accept Oath. It is need of mages who will find themselves breaking one Barrier after another in service of some greater Ideal - Guardians of the Veil, or fanatical Seers to the Throne, for example.

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        • #5
          Oh, I meant 'default' as in 'one you can take without other character customization options,' not 'you always start out with this.' This way even Apostates and mages who don't really agree with their Order's core philosophies can take Oaths. It also absorbs existing mechanics (Acts of Hubris committed in defending your Virtue gain bonus dice) into this one.


          MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
            Oh, I meant 'default' as in 'one you can take without other character customization options,' not 'you always start out with this.' This way even Apostates and mages who don't really agree with their Order's core philosophies can take Oaths. It also absorbs existing mechanics (Acts of Hubris committed in defending your Virtue gain bonus dice) into this one.
            I added a small part of how you can buy Oath at character creation and what it can be.

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            • #7
              How about calling these Oaths "Taboos" instead? This way we can avoid language mishaps (the Arrows have a big thing about taking personal oaths seriously, and Fate magic can seal magical oaths), and the way your Oaths are largely prohibitive in nature and work closely with some of the fundamental forces of magic reminds me of the concept of taboos.


              MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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              • #8
                Yeah, I would reshape Oaths into Taboos, and make Arrow Oaths a specific kind of Taboo.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
                  How about calling these Oaths "Taboos" instead? This way we can avoid language mishaps (the Arrows have a big thing about taking personal oaths seriously, and Fate magic can seal magical oaths), and the way your Oaths are largely prohibitive in nature and work closely with some of the fundamental forces of magic reminds me of the concept of taboos.
                  Is there some other good word for it? "Taboo" is purely prohibitive in hearing, and character have some goal or ideal, towards which no act is Act of Hubris.

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                  • #10
                    Just search for synonyms.

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                    • #11
                      Maybe Pledge? This overlaps with changeling's Pledges, though...

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                      • #12
                        It doesn't really matter though since Mage and Changeling don't really overlap unless you start to play crossover games.

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                        • #13
                          They also have a much more notable overlap in the form of Arcadia.

                          Edit: I meant the terms.
                          Last edited by Tessie; 03-20-2017, 02:14 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Say it with me now: Mage Arcadia is not Changeling Arcadia.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Axelgear View Post
                              Say it with me now: Mage Arcadia is not Changeling Arcadia.
                              She's referencing the shared nomenclature, not saying they're the same.

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