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  • Sell me on the orders

    Hey! Setting up my First Mage Game, we usually play Vampire, I needed a little guidance on the orders. In contrast to vampire where each covenant has vastly differently beliefs. It seems in Mage that each order is more like a sub faction of one larger Order rather then completely different belief systems of origins and such, or am I understanding it wrong?

  • #2
    Well, is pretty much what you said. Every Order has a function on the Mage Society, and they usually don't try to wipe each other out of existence or for dominance.


    Check my homebrews:
    Vampire Bloodlines: Kiasyd
    Mage Legacies: Infernal Ones, Daoine

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    • #3
      I can definately see a feel for that. The Diamond Orders seem knit in such a way that they feel more like interconnections of the same group, but that's likely because they all comprise one sect together, and the Seers/Free Council each comprise of a sect all by themselves.

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      • #4
        Any crash course information for me? That'll help me present the Orders in the way that doesn't seem like friends slap boxing and more cut throat? Or is there a different answer in Mage for a political savvy game?

        I am very new to Mages cosmology, but I thought the Seers were more of "kill or be killed on sight" no so much veiled threats and political under minding.

        I'm approaching building the game from the top down so I know the hierarchy and how my players can eventually try to elbow their way in.

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        • #5
          Any crash course information for me? That'll help me present the Orders in the way that doesn't seem like friends slap boxing and more cut throat? Or is there a different answer in Mage for a political savvy game?
          Define cut-throat. I mean, there are real stakes to the politicing in the Pentacle, it just doesn't generally end with one person dead.

          The most common punishment is that a consilium simply publicly declares that you're guilty of something. That alone gets you locked out of a lot of benefits as other Awakened shun you, it's essentially blacklisting you.

          Originally posted by Kevorkiandoctor View Post
          I am very new to Mages cosmology, but I thought the Seers were more of "kill or be killed on sight" no so much veiled threats and political under minding.
          Not really. Think more Cold War. Both sides loath each other, but neither actually wants to fight directly as that's extremely risky.


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          • #6
            I'll leave it up for someone else to describe the Diamond Orders, but I can point out that while the Pentacle and the Seers are enemies, they are so in a cold war sense. While some zealous cabals and pylons might adhere to that philosophy, the two factions are most likely capable of cooperating during dire circumstances (the enemy of your enemy), and I believe it's much more common for Seers to try to recruit Pentacle mages rather than straight up killing them, implying they can keep civil at least.
            Last edited by Tessie; 05-14-2017, 04:17 PM.


            Bloodline: The Stygians

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Kevorkiandoctor View Post
              Any crash course information for me? That'll help me present the Orders in the way that doesn't seem like friends slap boxing and more cut throat? Or is there a different answer in Mage for a political savvy game?

              I am very new to Mages cosmology, but I thought the Seers were more of "kill or be killed on sight" no so much veiled threats and political under minding.

              I'm approaching building the game from the top down so I know the hierarchy and how my players can eventually try to elbow their way in.
              Well, first off you're not going to have politics in Mage that are as cut throat as Vampire. It simply isn't the setting. If that level of cutthroat politics is what you want then you should return to Vampire. The theme of Mage is addicted to mysteries, not politics. The consilium is mostly there just to keep mages from killing each other. Any politics in the game, at least in second edition, mostly springs from two groups of mages (or at least just two individual mages) wanting to have control over a particular mystery and neither willing to share. Sharing, by the way, DOES happen, and my understanding is that it isn't strictly uncommon either (I could easily be wrong about that). The way that any given mage approaches a mystery will likely be based off of his order. What mysteries a mage might be interested in is also colored by his order, but that doesn't prevent mages from two different orders wanting to study, preserve, and/or destroy the same mystery. But yeah, politics have definitely been de-emphasized in 2ed.

              That being said, some consiliums are more political than others. If you've read Dave Brookshaw's "The Man Comes Around" then you know that he's depicted it as a place that is fairly political. Also, while his "Soul Cages" game was first edition, it was well done. That game was fairly political.
              Last edited by Falcon777; 05-14-2017, 06:44 PM.

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              • #8
                In answer to the original question, the orders ARE very different in beliefs, they just happen to get along far better than vampires do. An example would be the Guardins of the Veil and the Mysterium: both want to keep mysteries from falling into the hands of sleepers, but while the Mysterium will preserve any mystery they can, the Guardians are perfectly willing to destroy mysteries they believe are evil (e.g. anything to do with the abyss). Guardians will actively prevent awakenings while the Silver Ladder fosters them. The Arrow disagrees with the Mysterium about what truly needs protecting. The Silver Ladder sometimes asks too much from the Mysterium, while the Mysterium is prone to give too little.

                There's plenty of opportunity for conflict between mages of the different orders, but mages are individuals first, and members of an order second (unless you're a Guardian...sort of). Hopefully that helps.

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                • #9
                  So, the Orders tend to have parts that overlap with other Orders with differences that cause contention. For instance, the SL and FC both believe in the elevation of humanity, but the FC wants to take the egalitarian approach while the SL believe in a structured heirarchy. The Guardians -also- believe (In a roundabout way) in the elevation of humanity, but they think it can only be accomplished through the perfection of the Diamond Wheel which requires the Heiromagus. On an Order level, it's these ideological differences that cause problems. On a personal level, Mages have to navigate these ideological differences and are under the added pressure of trying to get their hands on as much of a limited resource (Mysteries primarily) as possible. This can escalate to the level of violence and death, but Mages don't suffer from the same cut-throat need to survive that vampires are inflicted with in the personification of the Beast. For Mages, I think, political conflict is more likely to escalate on the personal level, you want another Mage dead because he did -this- to you, not necessarily because of where he came from.

                  The Seers have overlap with the Pentacle too for the record, they and the Guardians both worship at the very least the idea of a higher power. They and the SL believe in heirarchy. They and the Mysterium believe (Essentially) that magic is self-directed. They and the Arrow believe in the necessity of service in order to gain mastery. They're a dark, twisted mirror to the Pentacle, so while they're bastards in bastard coating they can also have motives that other Mages can understand and even appreciate.

                  Knowing where the similarities lie so that you can highlight the differences, with an emphasis on personal political rivalries via scrambling to keep the other junkies from getting to the next fix before you do is where you'll probably manage to find the political meat for your game.

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                  • #10
                    A good shorthand for interaction between virtually all of the mage factions is that all sides are trying to avoid mutually assured destruction. Every mage is a potential nuclear explosion waiting to happen; even if you catch your rival/enemy unawares and manage to kill them, odds are they have more than a few friends who are all just as capable and now very pissed at whoever splattered their friend.

                    (That's not to say that there isn't actual magical combat, but structures like the Consilium exist to first prevent open conflict by peacefully resolving disputes whenever possible, and when not to minimize fallout and collateral damage from spreading too far.)

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                    • #11
                      I have to agree that the best way to play up politics in Mage is to leverage the things the Orders have in common, while creating tension with their differences.
                      ​Personally I would relegate the Seers to the shadowy edges of the campaign, after all politics requires a willingness to actually talk to each other (even if all you do is scream insults). The Seers instead fill the role of dangerous outsiders who threaten to up end everyone's wheel barrow.
                      For example:
                      ​There has been a recent and very public discovery of a Time Before relic hidden within the Shadow in a Place that Isn't. This relic is building towards a cascading event that the experts all agree will greatly increase the number of future Awakenings in the city (note that might mean five awakenings a year instead of two).
                      ​The Silver Ladder think this is awesome, especially if that energy can be directed to a specific part of the city (say the University as opposed to the crime ridden ghetto).
                      ​The Free Council hold that trying to control Awakenings is the height of hubris and argue that the relic should be left alone, least meddling destroy its potential.
                      ​The Mysterium goes even further than the Ladder, believing that steps should be taken to ensure that only the worthy benefit from the relic's potential (they've even written up a list of potential candidates for Awakening).
                      ​The Guardians remind everyone that forced Awakenings usually result in Banishers, they feel the relic should be derailed until after further study (at which point everyone should agree to destroy it).
                      ​The Arrow are the prize, with the other Orders trying to convince them that it is their point of view that should be protected.

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                      • #12
                        I'd say the Seers are pretty mainstream compared to the Tremere or Nameless Scelesti orders.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kevorkiandoctor View Post
                          Any crash course information for me? That'll help me present the Orders in the way that doesn't seem like friends slap boxing and more cut throat? Or is there a different answer in Mage for a political savvy game?
                          Something to take right off the bat is that the Orders both are and are not in direct competition with one another. The Pentacle Orders are all ostensible allies, not enemies; they're not supposed to actively work against one another and, indeed, nominally believe in similar ideals of a utopian future that's awesome for everyone. What form everyone thinks that will take is different and a constant source of conflict, but they share a root goal of A Better World.

                          The Pentacle Orders' membership conflict, though, because they're still Mages and different Orders have different approaches to how certain things should be dealt with. The Mysterium, for example, might believe a rampaging spirit should be captured for the knowledge it contains, whereas the Guardians would prefer just to destroy it to more quickly end the risk it represents to the Veil.

                          Mage politics doesn't tend to revolve around power for its own sake, as it does in Vampire. Rising in status in the Consilium is actually something many Mages actively avoid, because it takes away time from their "Investigate cool things" budget. When they do seek power and status, within their Order or within the Consilium, it's for a purpose. Thearchs seek the Hierarch role because they want to see the Lex Magicka enforced properly (i.e. their way) and enhance their sympathy to the ideal philosopher-king, but to a mystagogue, listening to legal cases just means more time outside of their library. Unless there's a need to adjudicate Mystery access in a way they find desirable, a mystagogue probably won't give a toss.

                          Most politics in Mage aren't about rising or falling in status; they're about who can get access to what Mysteries and resources. The so-and-so cabal entering an alliance with the whatchamacallit cabal so they can put their mutual firepower towards protecting a Hallow they're all drawing Mana from, for example. Then, their fates are united, and the interests of one are the interests of the other.

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                          • #14
                            I would say that the Pentacle is anywhere near perfect harmony. Guardians are not trusted by many due to their sneaky and assassinating ways, extreme members of the Free Council advocate open war against the Seers and Silver Ladder, the Mysterium likes to take Mysteries away from other mages... Not to mention the Nameless War in the 19th century.

                            Most of the time the Pentacle is able to cooperate with one another, but they can just as easily fall prey to the tribalism and divisions that affect Sleepers.

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                            • #15
                              Sometimes seeking Status in the Orders is just an excuse to gain a greater level of access and free time. Looking at you Mysterium.

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