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Benefits of locking Arcana to Paths?

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  • General Tacticus
    started a topic Benefits of locking Arcana to Paths?

    Benefits of locking Arcana to Paths?

    (Apologies if this question has been discussed before, but I did some forum searches and didn't find anything on it.)

    I was discussing Mage with one of my gaming groups tonight, and the question arose "What are the paths actually supposed to do, from a game-design perspective? What would be wrong with players just picking two [Arcana] to specialise in?" My first thought was that the Paths provide broad archetypes for the PCs to fit into (or defy, if that's their jam), but while that's a good reason to have Paths and Realms and Watchtowers and so on, it doesn't require them to have specific Arcana locked to them. So... why are the Arcana locked to particular Paths? What's the game-design purpose? What would happen if you just let people pick whichever two they wanted?

  • Reighnhell
    replied
    If looking at it from a purely Game-Design perspective, this is an instance where the mechanics are used to reinforce the theme.
    In any game that features "Factions (Classes, Clans, Tribes, Orders, Magic Colors, Alliance, Horde, etc), you need mechanics that both define the identity of your faction, and to separate you from your rivals. Choosing sides needs to be a meaningful choice.
    In the case of Mage, tying Arcana to Path establishes in a tangible, effects game-play way, what that path is good at, and what it is bad at. That give and take makes the choice meaningful. If you go free form but still want to have Paths, then you will need some other mechanic that defines a difference between paths beyond just flavor text.

    A label or faction with no mechanical weight is one that will soon become largely irrelevant, and it creates a disconnect if you are running a setting where in-game people care about something that out-of-game has no impact.

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  • HerbertIsBestBert
    replied
    From a sociological game-design standpoint, it also binds Mage society closer together.
    Knowing that roughly 20% of Mages will have an experience with Magic which is incredibly similar to your own can be a great assistance.

    Otherwise you've got about 90 different variations, with no guarantee there's even someone in your caucus who's got Spirit and Time ruling.

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  • HarbingerLeo
    replied
    Mechanically, what would happen is unknown to me. That would be between you and your players.

    Story wise? I believe the the story reason for the five watch towers (and there being only five instead of millions of combinations) is each is part of the only five archmages to oppose the exarches and that made it to the supernatural world before the silver ladder broke. Each had their own take on things so codified their watch towers accordingly. No one else has made it across the abyss or violated the ?Pax Arcana? to make more towers. That's sort of a back tracking logic though.

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  • ArcaneArts
    replied
    Because an Acanthus is not just a Time/Fate mage, but one who walks the path of Thorns and bears the fickle crown of the Fae. The Arcana are symptoms of the perceived-symbols-states that a Mage finds themselves walking, not the other way around, and the consequences of that extend far beyond the phenomena you have ease of understanding over.

    On more mechanical fronts, Paths describe a lot of mechanics outside of Arcana specialities and limitations, and while you can always work to make new ones of your own, it is a lot of work.

    Leave a comment:


  • RaphaTheAscended
    replied
    Originally posted by General Tacticus View Post
    (Apologies if this question has been discussed before, but I did some forum searches and didn't find anything on it.)

    I was discussing Mage with one of my gaming groups tonight, and the question arose "What are the paths actually supposed to do, from a game-design perspective? What would be wrong with players just picking two [Arcana] to specialise in?" My first thought was that the Paths provide broad archetypes for the PCs to fit into (or defy, if that's their jam), but while that's a good reason to have Paths and Realms and Watchtowers and so on, it doesn't require them to have specific Arcana locked to them. So... why are the Arcana locked to particular Paths? What's the game-design purpose? What would happen if you just let people pick whichever two they wanted?
    Because it's something deliberate in the CoD designer to have 5 (or next to it) Splats-X. And also because it is easier to write generalities of 5 types of Mages than of 100 (Combinations of 2 Arcana). But if you want to have all this work you have information for this in the Chronicles Guide.
    Last edited by RaphaTheAscended; 10-26-2018, 01:14 PM.

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  • Octavo
    replied
    Originally posted by General Tacticus View Post
    (Apologies if this question has been discussed before, but I did some forum searches and didn't find anything on it.)

    I was discussing Mage with one of my gaming groups tonight, and the question arose "What are the paths actually supposed to do, from a game-design perspective? What would be wrong with players just picking two [Arcana] to specialise in?" My first thought was that the Paths provide broad archetypes for the PCs to fit into (or defy, if that's their jam), but while that's a good reason to have Paths and Realms and Watchtowers and so on, it doesn't require them to have specific Arcana locked to them. So... why are the Arcana locked to particular Paths? What's the game-design purpose? What would happen if you just let people pick whichever two they wanted?
    I hated the paths in 1e, but the 2e versions sold me on them.

    Basically, in a game about manipulating reality via symbolism, the paths represent forms of enlightenment whose epiphanies make certain sets of symbolism more easily perceived and understood while de-emphasizing those symbols that aren't central to the flashes of insight Awakening provides.

    When Thyrsus mages look at the world through the Primal Wild, they see ecologies so vibrant and interconnected, even inanimate objects pulse with spiritual animation. The nature of this revelation makes it easy for them to grasp Life and Spirit, but its wholly systematic nature leads them to miss out on individual minds.

    That said, I'd say that if you uncoupled ruling arcana from paths, at least require one dot in each original ruling arcanum just so the mage sight rules don't get confusing.

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  • Satchel
    replied
    The Arcana aren't "locked" to the Paths. Mastery without mentorship is limited to the signature Paths, but there's a lot an Adept can do without the ability to create phenomena wholesale, and Inferior Arcana are only one per Path to begin with. It provides a group of relatively firm symbolsets to build from in a game whose entire magic system is built around symbolism and occult pursuits, which are not write-ins as far as setting conceits go.

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