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How paranoid are your mages?

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  • How paranoid are your mages?

    I am curious about the breadth of experience across the forum on this issue. For some their seems to often be an unspoken assumption that Mages refuse to leave their homes without casting a bevy of protective or divination spells first in the safety of their magically fortified nuclear bunker sanctums. On the one hand I can totally understand this view. Mages are relatively fragile compared to vampires or werewolves and are incredibly aware of how terrifyingly dangerous the world they live in is. If you had all this magic at your disposal, why wouldn't you take steps to protect yourself?

    On the other hand, mages are real people, not automatons, they get lazy, make mistakes or just want to get on with their lives, mages live in a dangerous world but I feel that for most weeks or months may pass for most between dangerous incidents. I don't see many of them checking their cars for bombs every morning before they start the engine or setting up home in an extra-dimensional space rather than renting an apartment. (Very difficult to get good broadband without Forces magic I assume)

    I am in the process of brainstorming ideas for a mage setting, so wanted to gauge how other folks have drawn the line between safety and practicality. What kind of steps do your PCs and NPCs take on a daily basis, on the 6 days out of 7 when they don't know of anyone specifically gunning for them. Do they divine the future and refuse to go to work if anything hazardous is predicted? Do they walk around swathed in layers of potent buffing spells? What about Sanctums and other abodes, do your cabals all live together so they can sleep in a Warded SafeSpace or have their own homes with marginal protection?

    No right or wrong answers, just wanted an insight into how different folk approach this in their games.

  • #2
    My players are not usually paranoid, but if they know they're going somewhere dangerous, they will load up on the spells. Currently they're pursuing their most hated rival cabal across the universe through a Wending into stranger realms, and they have Shielding spells against insta-kill spells from Life and Death (Unmaking and Making, respectively), a maxed out Wards and Signs, extremely buffed mental and physical stats to increase their defense and initiative to 9+, and the like. They're fighting against Masters and Adepts, and Supernal Dispellation is dangerous. All the protective spells in the world won't do anything when they're all wiped out by a single casting of dispellation.


    • #3
      For sanity sake, I assume they use up all their spell control slots barring one to maintain magic, plus one or two spells that they relinquish safely or unsafely if they have good way to control it. Spells with duration of less than full day have no drawbacks in releasing then unsafely, too, so if a Mage needs to prepare for something, they will use as many spells as they think it's ok and relinquish unsafely [as long as it's within the same day]. Cabals tend to benefit from group spells, but take note that our game's mage population is smaller than usual so some cabals are single person plus a circle of supporting non mage characters, two mages, etc.
      Last edited by WHW; 03-22-2017, 07:22 AM.


      • #4
        Hugely varies, depending on how much enemies the mages made, and what kind of enemies they made. Powerful mages tend to be more paranoid, since their enemies are accordingly more powerful and resourceful, and they've lived just long enough to experience firsthand that the Fallen World has a myriad ways to screw someone's day.

        MtAw Homebrew:
        Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
        New 2E Legacies, expanded


        • #5
          In my World of Darkness, Pentacle as community is under attack from all sides, all the time. Because of that, mages are naturally cautious. Use of defensive spells is normal. Every mage tries to make his sanctum secure by it being secret, or well-fortified, or both. Teachers try to induce useful habits into their pupils, like divining a close future every morning, or checking on new sympathetic connections daily. Mage communities are built on trust and co-dependency: people will check out on you from time to time, and purely social visits on neutral ground seen as a good practice. Some mages naturally see all this as a nuisance; natural selection usually take care of them.


          • #6
            I admit, I've tended to largely ignore the issue. Getting your Acanthus to spam divination spells is pretty normal, but that's more about it being useful, rather than as threat detection. Mostly, there's just not been much reason to be paranoid in my settings.

            Now contra to that, the players are always very paranoid. Maybe that's the reason; if your players are expecting to be suddenly attacked, it's more interesting to have them repeatedly overreact to non-threats.


            • #7
              Depends on game, on character, on much.
              Right now I'm in a game with two mages, a beast and an uratha.
              It's in an old city, well inhabited by a dozen or so mages (most of them are academics) and all sorts of creatures. Relationships with them are mostly smooth.
              The two mages are a public attorney and a cop, paranoia comes naturally.

              And then of course one of the npc mages gets murdered under circumstances no one managed to appraise for weeks right in the middle of our involvement with human traffickers.

              Check my Exalted homebrew!


              • #8
                As an Acanthus, I don't think I'm paranoid. I'm a little removed from society, thanks to my filiation to the Mysterium. But I plan acordingly.
                If I'm going to venture on a ruin with some cabalmates, we usually use some spells to protect us against ghosts, spirits and stuff like that.
                Or if something look particulary dangerous, I use Divination to get some clues. But having somewhat low Gnosis(2) I usually don't walk around overloaded with protection spells.

                Vampire Bloodlines: Abhartach, Kiasyd
                Ordo Dracul Coils: Hunger, Primal Blood
                Mage Legacies: Infernal Ones, Daoine


                • #9
                  I tend to feel that Mages are generally quite discreet. They don't walk around covered in protective spells usually, though in uncertain times they may have protections that are specific to a known public issue, and some may do so more often than others.

                  But all that said, they do avoid just swanning around in plain sight. Mages prefer for their movements and location to be kept on the down low typically; telling others where a cabal-mate is, that's a bit of a faux pas even if they are an ally. Remember, protective magic can be noticed, and it's often better just not to be spotted at all.


                  • #10
                    I liked the comparison that I read in the other thread about Mages basically behaving as if they were members of the Mafia or what not.

                    They understand that their lives as danger, know that there's some possibility of danger, but it doesn't stop them from living their lives and they can even sometimes get caught off-guard.

                    I.e., "basically like normal people, but with a certain amount of heightened awareness."


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Michael View Post
                      I admit, I've tended to largely ignore the issue. Getting your Acanthus to spam divination spells is pretty normal, but that's more about it being useful, rather than as threat detection. Mostly, there's just not been much reason to be paranoid in my settings.

                      Now contra to that, the players are always very paranoid. Maybe that's the reason; if your players are expecting to be suddenly attacked, it's more interesting to have them repeatedly overreact to non-threats.
                      This describes most of my mage experience too.

                      Mostly, I don't want them filling up their spell slots all the time with defense buffs (beyond the expected: one of Mage Armor or stuff like Incognito Presence or Machine Invisibility) because it gets in the way of doing cool shit.

                      I want the Obrimos to Imbue shit whenever they feel like it, I want the Mastigos to fuck around with Goetia and day-long portals. I want the Thyrsus to have Fetishes and whatnot.

                      As a result, PCs in my games are unusually active compared to "the average NPC Mage" (of course main antagonists are not "the average NPC Mage".) and the world they play in exists in a sort of equilibrium which they proceed to explore and disturb.

                      Yet they still think I'm going to kill their characters at a moment's notice.

                      (Okay maybe that one time I made a player's own Tulpa Squad try to kill him because of Havoc had something to to with that, but that's what happens when you let Paradox change your Spell Factors)

                      Bearer of the legacy of Trauma Bear
                      Need a dice-roller? Check out Dicemat.


                      • #12
                        I embrace ability of Mages to sustain multiple spells. One of reasons for that is the fact that a lot of magic that you can cast from the get go is able of redefining your daily routine and every day life experience, making interesting and big changes to your lifestyle. This means they can be used to emphasize a certain point about NPCs, bring something about them to life in a colorful, visible and touchable fashion, helping define these people sharply and cost efficiently. Tell me what spells do you sustain, and Ill tell you who you are, so to speak. These perks can vary from talking to plants and animals, body modifications, mental enhancements, "TV in my head", enthralled spirits, empowered items and flat out new senses.
                        So I see each unused spell control slot like wasted characterization space that could be used to tell something memorable about character in question [if npc], or a wasted opportunity to redefine your gameplay experience [if player]. It also helps with the whole Mage Monster thing, as the bigger your Gnosis, the more spell control you get to redefine yourself with, and the end result of your remodeling might be...thought provoking, to say the least.


                        • #13
                          How paranoid PCs are seems to follow a natural arc, from not paranoid at all (new to the game) to extreme panic paranoia (still learning the system) to the subtler and more insidious form of paranoia (familiarity).

                          Remember, a Mage who walks around with active spells on them shines like a Christmas tree. Walking down a crowded street without them, another Mage won't likely notice you, but if you are wandering with active spells, it attracts notice.

                          The truth is, there isn't much point keeping up spells like that constantly, especially given how much trouble it might attract and how unlikely the spells themselves are to actually protect you - not because the spells are likely to fail but because a given spell only protects against a narrow subset of issues. A Mind Shielding spell won't save you from Fate magic causing a car crash.

                          Remember, the first lessons a Mage learns is that a shining beacon calls to people and that a Lie keeps things hidden and out of reach. Staying hidden and unnoticed is more important to staying safe than any wall or ward.


                          • #14
                            Yeah, but if you are like, really concerned about not glowing like a christmas tree, it's easy peasy to just veil them and be done with it. Between "abandoning my cool toys that allow me to be super sexy, watch funny cat videos on the internet with my brain, thought drive my car and eat a perfect ramen soup at the same time" and "just casting a token effort veiling spell targeting all of my spells so people will fuck off", I rather see people choosing the second. I follow the idea that after you upgrade your living standards, you are going to be extremely unwilling to abandon them.


                            • #15
                              "Easy peasy" if you have Prime 2+. Most Mages do not.