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  • Life of a Mage

    I wanted to see more about how other players play their characters in regards to magic. Specifically, how much do they use, and for what. Like, do you use tons of 1 dot effects to make life easier, but reserve your biggest spells and reserves for extremely rare occasions? How often do you perform 3-dot or higher spells?

  • #2
    Results may vary.

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    • #3
      They setting I'm playing in allowed us to pick any two ruling arcana and removed paradox from sleeper witnesses. So I've been casting Acceleration for travel a lot (think D&D times so horseback or foot are your main options) and generally trying to buff my party as much as possible (A Changeling, Ghoul, and Matter/Prime Mage) Life/Space are mine while also being an adept of Time. It's surprisingly versatile and for my first time playing mage I think I might have to tone down the spellcasting since it might be stealing others' thunder a bit..

      SO far my favorite part of playing mage is that they're so damn versatile, maybe not very powerful without spending half a day casting BUT unlike disciplines I can really go wide with the things I can do and fit just about any situation in some way or another.

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      • #4
        Every Mage is different. All I can offer is one of my Thyrsus characters, who is relatively cautious in their use of magic when not in situations where people would address her by her Shadow Name. Magic is almost exclusively used when other people aren't around, with the occasional Knowing or Unveiling spell when something curious gets her attention.

        3+ dot spells are relatively common, though, once the magic comes out. Mostly, it's stuff that accords with the aforementioned Shadow Name; usually shapeshifting (either for travel or combat) or healing, with magic to travel to and from the Shadow occasionally thrown in. Almost all magic used is from the primary Arcana, with the rarest of exceptions, largely because Mana is a limited quantity and very difficult to replenish.

        Keeping your mortal and magical lives separate is something of a big deal for many Mages, since you really don't want to blur the sympathies.

        As an example, the last adventure involved finding a piece of an old ship hidden in a house while a party was going on, and not a single spell was cast. The next scene involved turning into a bird, flying out over the ocean, then turning into an enormous, impossible mosasaurus-like thing and diving several kilometers down to the abyssal plain to recover a magical trinket from a pirate ship. Enough high-powered spells were used once it was found to push the Paradox pool up to 12 dice in at least one case.

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        • #5
          [QUOTE=Axelgear;n1208470]",then turning into an enormous, impossible mosasaurus-like thing and diving several kilometers down to the abyssal plain to recover a magical trinket from a pirate ship."


          I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who uses Shapechanging to achieve bizarre or extinct animal forms for various uses. As for your use of magic, it resonates with my character's; I once spent an entire week without casting a single spell, and in the span of 6 hours, threw an Unraveling of Time at a monster from a dead world, aided in a ritual to cover a city in fog, and altered the memories of a family of Sleepers in order to prevent from suffering future Breaking Points.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Axelgear View Post
            Keeping your mortal and magical lives separate is something of a big deal for many Mages, since you really don't want to blur the sympathies.
            Most games I've heard about and the one I ran tend to solve the problem by 'just being a Mage.' It even happens in DaveB's actual plays, where for the most part at a point the characters may as well not really have a mortal life, except as a stepping stone to get them where they are.

            Mages don't really have touchstone equivalents or much of a reason to pretend to be mortals beyond people sometimes asking who you are when you're trying to do mage stuff.
            Last edited by nofather; 04-18-2018, 01:38 PM.

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            • #7
              On the flip side of the coin, you have my Obrimos mage, who actively pretends to be a mortal even when she's actually using magic. Cloak Nimbus is 100% standard equipment - she feels naked without it. Every spell she casts is combined with Supernal Veil. Before Gnosis 3 and combined spells, she was as wary of using magic in front of mages as she was of sleepers.This is mostly the re sult of past trauma, and how poorly-fitting her shadow name is (plot reasons). Despite the rest of the group thinking it's weird, she spends a lot of time and effort to keep up her mortal life and avoid being pidgin-holed into 'a mage.'

              But anyway! To more directly answer the question, she avoids magic as a habit, except for life-or-death situations and during her personal research. Sphere 3+ effects are equally uncommon as lower sphere ones - when it's time for magic, she'll use whatever's needed, but until then, Forces 1 is just as rare as Prime 5.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Zombiecakes View Post
                I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who uses Shapechanging to achieve bizarre or extinct animal forms for various uses. As for your use of magic, it resonates with my character's; I once spent an entire week without casting a single spell, and in the span of 6 hours, threw an Unraveling of Time at a monster from a dead world, aided in a ritual to cover a city in fog, and altered the memories of a family of Sleepers in order to prevent from suffering future Breaking Points.
                Yeah, that tends to be how it goes for any Mage who maintains a mortal life; magic is distinct from their day-to-day experiences.

                And, yes, this character uses shapeshifting a lot and rarely to attain natural forms. This adventure was adding the third major form to her repertoire; the Leviathan. The others are the Harpy (for traveling about) and the Beast (for doing damage).

                Originally posted by nofather View Post
                Most games I've heard about and the one I ran tend to solve the problem by 'just being a Mage.' It even happens in DaveB's actual plays, where for the most part at a point the characters may as well not really have a mortal life, except as a stepping stone to get them where they are.

                Mages don't really have touchstone equivalents or much of a reason to pretend to be mortals beyond people sometimes asking who you are when you're trying to do mage stuff.
                The problem here is the assumption that just cutting your mundane existence off like a gangrenous limb is somehow "solving a problem" and not actually magnifying one to an extreme degree.

                Trying to "just be a Mage" 24/7 is actually really difficult, to the point of exhaustion, and the separation it brings between you and the common masses of humanity is toxic to your Wisdom; not in any direct mechanical sense but you'll quickly have a hard time treating people like people if you cut yourself off from them all the time and start treating them like impediments on your path to enlightenment.

                A Moros who calls themselves Anubis isn't going to spend 24/7 meditating in their temple, waiting for the next call to action. Sometimes, they're going to want to go sit down to a meal or go read a book or watch TV or play basketball or something. If they did, they're more likely so in thrall to their magic that they're going to become one of the Mad. Blurring the sympathies between your mystical life and your mundane one is a fast path to living in interesting times. If you care about people - anyone - then you want to keep these lives separate. The rule is simple: If you want someone protected from your magic and its consequences, don't use magic around them.

                Of the games I've run, two particular examples of this are notable; the Obrimos, Ash, and the Moros, Midas.

                Ash tried living as a Mage 24/7. It didn't take him long to suffer a huge stress-related breakdown and to lose himself to substance abuse and Abyssal magic. He ended up eventually living in the sewers under Chicago, communing with outre powers through gazing into mysterious pools of liquid tass that turned out to be the blood of one of the Bound. Only when he stopped declaring himself a one-man mission to overtake the cosmos, stepped back, and started to acknowledge others, taking time to smell the roses, did his life finally start to come under control again. At the moment, though, it looks like he's about to redouble his efforts on chasing magic - the Supernal kind this time - and make all the same mistakes all over again.

                Midas, meanwhile, never gave up his mortal life. He remained an elementary school teacher and spent most of his adventuring at night, on weekends, or over the summer (enhancing his ability to do so by taking lots of Life-enhanced alertness aids). He maintained a comfortable little house, adopted a fae-touched daughter, married the woman he loved, and generally lived a relatively pleasant existence. He managed to not just maintain his hold on his Wisdom but enhance it; dedicating himself to the concept of transformation (he was an alchemist, through and through) of even the worst people into friends and allies; refusing to kill anyone.

                Basically, if you want friends, a family, a life that isn't going to explode the instant you look away from it... Keep your Shadow Name separate from your mundane self.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Axelgear View Post
                  The problem here is the assumption that just cutting your mundane existence off like a gangrenous limb is somehow "solving a problem" and not actually magnifying one to an extreme degree.
                  It was worded in response to your comment that it was a 'big deal,' not because PCs should all throw off humanity.

                  A Moros who calls themselves Anubis isn't going to spend 24/7 meditating in their temple, waiting for the next call to action. Sometimes, they're going to want to go sit down to a meal or go read a book or watch TV or play basketball or something. If they did, they're more likely so in thrall to their magic that they're going to become one of the Mad. Blurring the sympathies between your mystical life and your mundane one is a fast path to living in interesting times. If you care about people - anyone - then you want to keep these lives separate. The rule is simple: If you want someone protected from your magic and its consequences, don't use magic around them.
                  I didn't say you should just be a casting machine, either. A person who considers themselves the Mystagogue Anubis can go read a book and eat a meal and play a pick up game of basketball without saying, 'I'm no longer a mage I'm Beatrice Sapiens the 34 year old Gemini from Albuquerque.'

                  It's more that a mage can go through life where most of their interpersonal relationships are with other mages or supernatural entities, and their interpersonal relationships with Sleepers barely gets shallow. And come on, that wouldn't drive a mage to being one of the Mad on its own. Your characters are your characters, but one can live an entirely supernaturally-oriented life without dropping below 7 Wisdom, while a character who devotes themselves to balancing their lives is just as capable of becoming a substance-addicted scelesti.

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                  • #10
                    Things run smoothly if your character's mage life and mundane life work together well.

                    After Vivian graduated from college with a B.A in archeology, it couldn't have been more appropriate that she awoke as a Moros. She was at first just an intern at a natural history/archeology museum, but soon "developed talents" that rose her pay and position, but still about as high as someone with a graduate degree. Due to her Supernal sense in matter, she can have a "hunch" or so about the composition of artifacts brought in, such "hunches" re-direct her attention to clues about the composition of something when explaining her rationale to sleepers. If she finds that difficult she senses the composition of the material if it's made of something like stone or clay and cross-references it to data on the soil, clay, etc of certain sites. Either way, she has a "knack" for composition and clues of the origin of artifacts that are donated from private collections so their source has to be investigated.

                    Sometimes artifacts carry an attachment with them, sometimes it's an attachment beyond the grave. Some have shown up with ghosts anchored to them, and Vivian finds them to be pleasant company. Part of her knows that it's best the ghosts pass on, but they have a lot of information to offer her about the past and make work even more interesting to her.

                    Her social life over time has increasingly become more and more tied up with mage society, which can on the outside just easily pass as another circle of friends. Archeology offers a lot, but magic and the Supernal offer a lot more. There is a certain thrill to having a social life that is dipped in secrecy and power, it boosts your ego and feeling of specialness in the world, one that brings a great confidence and boldness about one's own abilities and importance in the world. Sleeper friends and family are still checked up upon, but are now distant or acquaintances or Thanksgiving and Christmas. Vivian has a hard time befriending sleepers, if she were to choose someone to date or hang out with on a Saturday evening the first place she'd look are the mages in the local consili.

                    Unfortunately she's only one out of two Awakened who work at the museum. The other one is a new intern being lured by the Seers.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by nofather View Post
                      It was worded in response to your comment that it was a 'big deal,' not because PCs should all throw off humanity.
                      To be frank, that's not "the games solved this problem" so much as "the games skimmed over this source of problems."

                      Part of the premise of Mage is that the Awakened are more aware than most of how much supernatural entanglement is at work in the setting that Sleepers forget or ignore for their own safety; the relationship calculus that brings into play is such that even if it's just to give you something to do while you're taking advantage of the passive benefits of your Shadow Name it still behooves you to think about who and what your obsessive and driven seeker-after-mysteries cares about besides the secret guts of the universe when they aren't enmeshed in their ritual persona.

                      The Mad are invisible to Sleepers and consumed by the Mysteries — you don't think barely interacting with people and getting your magical fingerprints all over everything you bother with is going to make that state a lot easier to get to thematically?

                      A person who considers themselves the Mystagogue Anubis can go read a book and eat a meal and play a pick up game of basketball without saying, 'I'm no longer a mage I'm Beatrice Sapiens the 34 year old Gemini from Albuquerque.'
                      That is, in point of fact, exactly what having a separation between your Shadow Name and your mundane identity is for, unless you feel like switching diners and basketball courts on a regular basis. The switch isn't just what you're calling yourself at any given moment, it's adopting a distinct identity to better deal with the heady work of shifting the fabric of reality so you can poke it with a stick.

                      Actors who don't break character until the DVD extras are recorded are unusual for a reason — refraining from eating casual meals and playing a pick-up game of horse as Anubis makes it easier to avoid slipping up and just going about your normal mundane day as Anubis, which makes it easier to avoid bringing all the baggage Anubis carries with them into your normal mundane days. Considering all the stuff that mages can wind up dealing with, the solution of "don't have loved ones" generally doesn't work quite as well as "hang up the mask and drop the squint when you leave the sanctum" for characters who aren't serendipitous orphans with a scholarship grant.

                      Most people worth following in fiction have something they care about that isn't just esoteric supernatural minutia, or at least have reasons for caring about esoteric supernatural minutia that aren't just "for its own sake" (and those motives tend to link back to parts of their life that relate to other people).


                      Resident Sanguinary Analyst
                      Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e

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                      • #12
                        Skipping out on a mundane life is easier but that's the problem with it, you're skipping out on a lot of story hook potential especially where horror is concerned. It's not very personal when threats of bad things only happen to complete strangers.

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                        • #13
                          It seems to me that if you’re going to have a mundane life it would be smarter to keep it as non-complementary to your magical life as possible to keep magic from leaking into both.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
                            It seems to me that if you’re going to have a mundane life it would be smarter to keep it as non-complementary to your magical life as possible to keep magic from leaking into both.
                            Yes, but it's hard. A mage has their Passive Mage Sight turned on nearly constantly. It's hard to ignore the colleague from work that came to the office with a malicious Hung Spell attached to his pattern just because now you're Beatrice instead of Anubis.

                            Then there's the problem that even if someone tries to separate both worlds as much as possible, they may not want to stay separate. Your girlfriend may want to know who are these people you spend so much time with and why she is never invited. Or a Scelestus or Banisher you enraged with your meddling may try to come after your family out of spite.

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                            • #15
                              Obviously there’s complications, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s probably smarter to keep them as separate as possible.

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