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  • Shadow Names and Intent

    A baby boy is named John Smith. John was his mother's father's name, chosen as the man had passed just before his daughter gave birth. As an adult, John takes a trip to hell and back and returns a Mastigos, eventually joining the Subtle Ones.

    A hippyish anarchist couple names their daughter after a flower, but Rose isn't gonna cut it- they have to get creative, Amaryllis or Nasturtium or Belladonna or something. The girl takes after her parents and, improbably enough, ends up on a shroom trip straight to the Primal Wild.

    It's hardly common - truthfully, it's exceedingly rare - but a few people in the world have the name "Anon," for reasons totally unrelated to the Greek. About 17 people in the Norway hold the name, for example. What if one of them Awakens? What if he's multilingual, and appreciates the double meaning in his own name?

    These names don't sound like "real names." A person used to subterfuge may take it at face value that "John Smith" is an alias, forgetting that it's a popular alias because those are two of the most common names in the Western world. If John Smith pisses off a Left-Handed cabal, even if they find out he's "John Smith," would they know that means anything? If Amarylis Diana Macintosh introduces herself as Amarylis, warden of two rivers, to John Smith, how would he separate the true name there from her title? If each of these Magi tried scrying the other, knowing each other's true names but not understanding their significance...what would happen, exactly?

    Put another way...is the power in the True Name itself, or is the power in knowing it?

  • #2
    I'm confused. So their sympathetic names (not "true names") really are John Smith and Amaryllis Diana Macintosh and Anon, right? If so, then knowing those names belong to them enables Sympathetic Magic to target them, period.

    I suppose John Smith, for example, could have his Shadow Name be "John Smith" to leverage the symbolism it naturally has and hide his sympathetic name under plain sight, but the moment someone figures out John Smith is both his Shadow Name and sympathetic name, well, he'd better have some Wards on him.


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    New 2E Legacies, expanded

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    • #3
      Originally posted by QuatreVingts View Post
      A baby boy is named John Smith. John was his mother's father's name, chosen as the man had passed just before his daughter gave birth. As an adult, John takes a trip to hell and back and returns a Mastigos, eventually joining the Subtle Ones.

      A hippyish anarchist couple names their daughter after a flower, but Rose isn't gonna cut it- they have to get creative, Amaryllis or Nasturtium or Belladonna or something. The girl takes after her parents and, improbably enough, ends up on a shroom trip straight to the Primal Wild.

      It's hardly common - truthfully, it's exceedingly rare - but a few people in the world have the name "Anon," for reasons totally unrelated to the Greek. About 17 people in the Norway hold the name, for example. What if one of them Awakens? What if he's multilingual, and appreciates the double meaning in his own name?

      These names don't sound like "real names." A person used to subterfuge may take it at face value that "John Smith" is an alias, forgetting that it's a popular alias because those are two of the most common names in the Western world. If John Smith pisses off a Left-Handed cabal, even if they find out he's "John Smith," would they know that means anything? If Amarylis Diana Macintosh introduces herself as Amarylis, warden of two rivers, to John Smith, how would he separate the true name there from her title? If each of these Magi tried scrying the other, knowing each other's true names but not understanding their significance...what would happen, exactly?

      Put another way...is the power in the True Name itself, or is the power in knowing it?

      sympathetic name != true name. But the sympathetic name is the name those with links to the baby think of the the baby as. So dont use a shadow name thats the same as your sympathetic name. It doesnt matter how weird it is.

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      • #4
        Yeah, there's no "true name" spoken of in the mechanics if I remember. Either one of your sympathetic name (the first identifier the "I" is formed around), whatever mark you left in the Supernal Realms when you Awoke (the first moment of exaltation above the Lie), and the Shadow Name you adopt (the Truth you choose to embody) can all be said to be your "true name," depending on perspective.


        MtAw Homebrew:
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        New 2E Legacies, expanded

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        • #5
          Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
          Yeah, there's no "true name" spoken of in the mechanics if I remember.
          Apologies - this must be a Chronicles of Darkness thing. I'm still running nWoD 1st ed or whatever the previous generation of games is called now. IIRC, my old M:tAW book using the term "true name." Well, that kinda dampens the hit of this post.

          You got at the idea I was going for in your first post, though. A mage using their sympathetic name as a shadow name.
          I personally thought it could be an interesting, weird twist for an investigation-heavy game with a mysterious antagonist but damn if the wording isn't all-important when you present these things, especially trying to get all fluffy with it like I did haha.

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          • #6
            I think the whole true name not being a real concept was only clarified in the 2E, so that's probably where the confusion stems from.

            EDIT: Now I'm thinking of John Smith who prepares a fake legal identity beneath layers of paper, so that anyone trying to ferret out his name will find that fake name... and end up confused since it doesn't work.
            Last edited by 21C Hermit; 07-12-2017, 07:50 PM.


            MtAw Homebrew:
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            New 2E Legacies, expanded

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            • #7
              I would not be surprised if a Knowing Space spell could link you to your Sympathetic name if the Mage tried it. Basically, the scenario would be to say out loud the name or to write it down and then you could probably just cast Correspondence and cut through any mundane clutter they've created to try obfuscating their Sympathetic name with an identical Shadow Name. Especially if you used the Reach to search for a specific Sympathetic connection. However, you'd first have to suspect that you have the correct Sympathetic name to bother trying it in the first place, so the mundane clutter could still be useful by throwing out a false red herring to deter the attempt ever being made. In my opinion, a Sympathetic name is next to useless unless the Mage knows just who it's connected to.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by QuatreVingts View Post
                Apologies - this must be a Chronicles of Darkness thing. I'm still running nWoD 1st ed or whatever the previous generation of games is called now. IIRC, my old M:tAW book using the term "true name." Well, that kinda dampens the hit of this post.

                You got at the idea I was going for in your first post, though. A mage using their sympathetic name as a shadow name.
                I personally thought it could be an interesting, weird twist for an investigation-heavy game with a mysterious antagonist but damn if the wording isn't all-important when you present these things, especially trying to get all fluffy with it like I did haha.

                Nope. It's never been True Name in M:tAw, and that people kept saying that it was was a source of some consternation among the writers.

                "True Name" in Mage is what it's called when an Archmaster password-protects your Sympathy using a Space 7 spell, and has been since the 1e Tome of the Mysteries. It's only ever been "real name" or "symapathetic name", and we only use the latter from 2e onwards.


                Dave Brookshaw

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                • #9
                  The question remains - do you have to know that a sympathetic name is a sympathetic name to use it? If you think you know someone's sympathetic name but aren't sure, can you just try casting a sympathetic range spell to check?

                  Oh, and how much of the name is sympathetic, anyway? If my sympathetic name is Jonathan Jacob Smith, does it only count if someone knows the whole thing or would it be enough for them to know that I'm called "John"?

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                  • #10
                    I think I got it.

                    'speaking a person’s sympathetic name counts as a Yantra as per p. 122, but not knowing it makes affecting her at range more difficult, increasing the Withstand level against the Sympathetic Range Attainment by one.'

                    You're asking what if they speak it by accident?

                    Or alternatively, what if they know it, though aren't necessarily aware they know it? Like I was friends with Nemean as a kid and knew his sympathetic name before we Awakened, and though I remember the kid, I haven't put together that the kid is now the Nemean?

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                    • #11
                      Now I'm just picturing someone applying a mundane-sounding Shadow Name to their non-mage lives.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Terrorforge View Post
                        Oh, and how much of the name is sympathetic, anyway? If my sympathetic name is Jonathan Jacob Smith, does it only count if someone knows the whole thing or would it be enough for them to know that I'm called "John"?
                        The way sympathetic names are formed suggests that only the first name (or whatever name was the most common form of address during the subject's early childhood) would be it. Not many parents uses first, middle and last name when speaking to their children so it seems logical to me that the very first sense of self would be developed without complete understanding of their own full name.


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                        • #13
                          The significance of a sympathetic name is its connection to the Supernal, not the caster. When you attempt to cast using a sympathetic connection you reach out, figuratively speaking, into the Supernal using whatever possible link you have. If this link is only a shadow name or even just a vague description that is what you use and it won't be worth much, but if you are using their sympathetic name, even if you think it is a shadow name, the effect is the same the Supernal recognizes its symbolic significance and the link is stronger.
                          ​Of course if all you have is a name and no real idea of who it is connected to then that creates barriers all its own. The use of a sympathetic name reduces the penalty for casting but other factors still apply.

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