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A few questions I had about certain things in the 2e core book

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  • A few questions I had about certain things in the 2e core book

    Hello, and thanks for stopping by my thread. I am fairly new to mage, but have read the core book twice so I have a solid grasp of most facets of the game I think (at least mechanically), and I'm currently working my way through some of the other supplemental mage books from 1e.
    That being said, a few things bother me in the 2e core book, and I'd like to ask your guy's take on some of them.

    First, I have a few questions regarding some of the published spells and how the way they are written seems to ignore the guidelines for practices laid out in creative thaumaturgy, or in some cases even violate the spell casting rules entirely.
    An example of the former would be the Death 2 spell "Ectoplasm". The spell states that the practicing is ruling, but it seems to me that randomly spewing ectoplasm is not something that a body ever does, so wouldn't this be more akin to a higher practice? Additionally, since to my knowledge bodies don't spew ectoplasm, why does it have to be a body? why couldn't it be a teapot or from the keyhole of a door? Heck, why does it have to be an orifice at all? As far as I can tell, that stipulation is there to distinguish it from the Making practice, but I'm having trouble understanding why the stipulations are what they are. Why does is function this way? (This also begs the question of what IS ectoplasm in the first place, and what are its uses? The book seems to make no mention of it outside of the death spells that let you use it. Is it material? Does it only affect things in twilight? To my understanding ghosts are made of ephemera, not ectoplasm so it doesn't let you mess with them directly, so where does ectoplasm occur in the CoD world naturally?)

    An example of a spell that seemingly violates spell casting rules would be the forces spells that affect the weather. How is it that a storm can be created without an astronomically huge spell scale factor? As far as I can tell scale isn't even used at ALL is this spell, which really just throws a wrench in my understanding of practices and spell casting rules. Why do those spells operate in this fashion?

    My final question is not one that seems to be a contradiction, but one that just seems to lack clarification in general.
    Are there any established rules for consciously controlling spells that are currently under your spell control? I am aware that you can adjust spell factors of spells you control with an instant action, but I don't think that's quite what I mean (maybe it is though). I'm imagining a situation where the matter 2 spell "Shaping" is being used, as it is my understanding that the spell gives you the "ability" to shape the subject, and the consequent shape is a lasting effect of the spell. So if I cast Shaping with a multiple turn duration, is it possible to make a new shape each turn and have it perform actions? ( think like a water tentacle that you use to grapple opponents), or would you have to create a new spell that specifically performs the action you were trying to accomplish? My initial thought was that this would be a 6 dot spell using the practice of Dynamics because the spell is reacting to conscious thought, but after re-reading the practice I do not believe that the be the case. Now it is my understanding that spells that use dynamics intuit the desired effect specifically in the *Absence of conscious thought.

    Thank you for any input in advance.

  • #2
    I think the ectoplasm question is going to have to be answered by someone who knows ghosts and possibly
    Geist better than I do.

    I can answer the storm question. You’re basically thinking too big, all the weather you need usually happens in a fairly local area. The wizard’s house is the only one that doesn’t get affected by the tornado or whatever. You don’t need the Scale factor to go that high to get that kind of effect. On top of that, you could use weather manipulation as a seed that will generate a bigger effect naturally without more magic, though then the weather would be happening on nature’s timeline, not yours.

    Shaping, yup, waterwhip away.

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    • #3
      As to ectoplasm, you're confusing ruling and compelling. Compelling allows you to cause things to happen that would naturally happen, ruling allows you to do things not fitting within natural law (water flowing up hill, time accelerating and slowing down, etc). Pulling ectoplasm out of an orifice is hardly that incredible. Sure, it's basically magic putty, but it's uses are still fairly limited, and...honestly ectoplasm leaking from corpses doesn't exactly seem that out of line with the game. It's possible that the makers made a mistake with the spell, but in this case it doesn't seem likely. I imagine someone else more familiar with ghosts could verify that ruling would in fact be quite sufficient for extracting ectoplasm from a corpse.

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      • #4
        As I understand it, compelling gives you the ability to nudge an already possible if not likely outcome into existence (making a coin land on heads), and ruling allows you to make things do things that don't happen naturally ( making the coin float in midair). I'll concede that spewing ectoplasm out of orifices certainly falls under the category of "doesn't happen naturally" but the issue that I see is that ALL practices higher that compelling fall under that category and I feel like there needs to be a more concrete distinction between ruling's upper ceiling and subsequent practices. As an example, is Forces 2 all that is required to make fire spew forth from bodily orifices? That certainly doesn't happen naturally. I would think that Forces 2 is not sufficient however, since manifesting fire from nothing would require Making, and there is nothing intrinsic to the human body that gets around the fact that at Forces 2 you need some form of fire already present to be able to do anything with it. So it seems to me that the implication is that ectoplasm has some sort of relation to body that fire does not, but this relationship isn't really clarified at all in the core book. That, or it is just an oversight. In any case, I would be very interested in hearing the opinion of somebody with a wealth of knowledge of CoD ghosts.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by THE DUNKENING View Post
          As I understand it, compelling gives you the ability to nudge an already possible if not likely outcome into existence (making a coin land on heads), and ruling allows you to make things do things that don't happen naturally ( making the coin float in midair). I'll concede that spewing ectoplasm out of orifices certainly falls under the category of "doesn't happen naturally" but the issue that I see is that ALL practices higher that compelling fall under that category and I feel like there needs to be a more concrete distinction between ruling's upper ceiling and subsequent practices.
          Ruling's upper ceiling is that "doesn't happen naturally" still entails "happens." Geist makes this a little clearer, but: the vast majority of dead bodies have a solid chance of being an Anchor for a ghost, which allows them to manifest and thereby generate ectoplasm. Mediums can do the same thing with some focus, and Promethean outright animates an entire Lineage with ectoplasm as a humour found in mortals with supernatural qualities, so there's clearly something about the human body, dead or living, that makes it a natural place from which to draw ectoplasm.

          Contrast this with breathing fire, which necessitates the symbolic overhead of changing some other form of force into fire and therefore falls under Weaving or Patterning. (Very little of Forces requires Making for roughly the same reason that it's so Reach-intensive: the raw materials are theoretically universal, because if you're in a place that has no energy whatsoever you are far off the edge of the map, and that also means it's very easy for changes your spells make to propagate in unintended ways.)


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

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          • #6
            With the Control Weather spell, think of it instead as using Forces 2 to convince a candle to light a curtain on fire. It's a fairly simple, low-effect spell at a Scale so small it barely even merits mention on the spell factors. Some time later, you're poking through the burned-out wreckage of the building... not because your spell Scaled to the building, but because no one put out the fire in time.

            Weather is more complicated, but it's the same principle. The effect you create is Scaled according to the Area of Effect you choose, no more, no less. But if you choose the right effect, it may cascade into a thunderstorm, or peter out into a light breeze. To explain this would require more meteorology than I know, but it's a safe bet that your mage's Forces training covered enough that they would have a rough idea of what needs doing to achieve the effect they want: it's not a blind, parroted incantation, after all; they're consciously shaping the effect as they cast.

            There's a lot of cases in Mage that take advantage of this. A lot of economical casting has less to do with micromanaging the outcome and more giving things the right push after studying the situation.


            I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
            An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
            Guanxi Explanations: 1, 2, 3.

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