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Focused Sight Breaking Down At Mid Gnosis

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  • Focused Sight Breaking Down At Mid Gnosis

    Since Scrutiny doesn't have any mechanics that would apply penalties to those who perform it, once you have mid-gnosis and are using an arcana that you're good at at it seems like you can have a dicepool that is unlikely to ever fail the scrutiny rolls, especially if you spend mana for additional successes. Is there anything preventing mid-gnosis and higher characters (including NPCs) from just beating every non-locked mystery without any chance of failure?

    Only thing that seems to make high opacity take any additional effort than a low-opacity mystery just seems to be the willpower cost?


    Genius templates: Super Science Mini-Template for Demon: the Descent

    Oracle the Endbringers: Time-Manipulator Fan-Splat

  • #2
    Dice pools are made of dice and Scrutiny explicitly requires multiple rolls to reduce Opacity by more than one level unless the character rolls an exceptional success. A character with enough Gnosis to support Mastery of an Arcanum is still going to be risking failure and/or cycling Mana, and not every Mystery suits every character's areas of competence.

    It's important to remember that"mid Gnosis" isn't a trivial thing and the odds of failure on any one Scrutiny roll at that point still amount to about one-in-ten-to-twenty.


    Resident Lore-Hound
    Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Satchel View Post
      Dice pools are made of dice and Scrutiny explicitly requires multiple rolls to reduce Opacity by more than one level unless the character rolls an exceptional success.
      Yes? That's irrelevant to what I was discussing. The issue wasn't that they were doing it in single rolls, but that they can effectively ignore the chance of failing any individual roll because of how Arcana + Gnosis can be dicepools of 8 to 11 at mid-gnosis.

      A character with enough Gnosis to support Mastery of an Arcanum is still going to be risking failure and/or cycling Mana, and not every Mystery suits every character's areas of competence.
      10 dice is going to make failing very very unlikely to occur, and I agree that not every mage will be applicable to every mystery but there are enough powerful mages around that it seems most setting mysteries would be impossible to not have been solved without using Locked Opacity.

      It's important to remember that"mid Gnosis" isn't a trivial thing and the odds of failure on any one Scrutiny roll at that point still amount to about one-in-ten-to-twenty.
      Mid-Gnosis is something over a third of the awakened population has, at least according to the non-binding guidelines given by Dave on what is the assumed default of mage demographics. it is important to note that I do realize that the numbers he gave are a general percentage and that it's fully intended for different locations and games to have different distributions depending on that campaigns themes. Also since the legacy requirements were lowered by 1 I'm assuming the percentages are probably also lowered by one step so there would probably be "around 44%" of the mage population with gnosis 4+ rather than 1e assuming of "around 74%".
      Last edited by milo v3; 06-25-2019, 09:09 PM.


      Genius templates: Super Science Mini-Template for Demon: the Descent

      Oracle the Endbringers: Time-Manipulator Fan-Splat

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      • #4
        Originally posted by milo v3 View Post
        Yes? That's irrelevant to what I was discussing. The issue wasn't that they were doing it in single rolls, but that they can effectively ignore the chance of failing any individual roll
        I've said this before and I will continue to say it until people understand: You can roll zero successes on a double-digit dice pool. You can roll more successes than your base dicepool with n-Again. I have had both of these happen to my players in the same game. Dicepools are made of dice, and each separate roll has its own chance of failure, which is the principal point of difficulty behind extended actions as a mechanic.

        because of how Arcana + Gnosis can be dicepools of 8 to 11 at mid-gnosis.
        If you're defining "dicepools" of more than ten dice at "mid-Gnosis" then you are counting Masters of an Arcanum, which I should damn well hope are competent at Scrutinizing a Mystery in their area of expertise.

        there are enough powerful mages around that it seems most setting mysteries would be impossible to not have been solved
        Mysteries aren't "solved." Individual characters can comprehend what's going on with a given Phenomenal supernatural manifestation, but that's knowledge that is both currency among the Awakened and generally agreed to be best understood through experience, to say nothing of the fact that Scrutinizing a Mystery provides a character with a point of reference that they don't get just from their mentor telling them about it.

        Mid-Gnosis is something over a third of the awakened population has,
        And by that point they've gotten established among their peers and interact with the local politics around who's allowed to study what even in the event that a given Mystery concerns something they care about as creatures of Obsession, to say nothing of their ability or inclination to do anything with the knowledge once they have it.

        Yes, a powerful Adept in the right place will likely already know the broad strokes of a Mystery before the PCs get to it. That's a starting point for a plot and an excuse to give them a crack at it to familiarize themselves and/or establish connection to other Mysteries they've encountered, not a reason to write off Opacity as a paper gate just because characters who've hit the cap on an Arcanum can quickly get to grips with supernatural phenomena under their chosen umbrella.


        Resident Lore-Hound
        Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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        • #5
          Except it's not getting to grips, it's complete all the deep information about things like "The Primary Mystery that the Consilia is built around" which presumably a lot of mages are interested with otherwise it wouldn't be the primary mystery that the consilia was built around. And yes of course I'm counting masters in the top end of mid-gnosis? Since mid-gnosis is when you have characters starting to take things like mastery.


          Genius templates: Super Science Mini-Template for Demon: the Descent

          Oracle the Endbringers: Time-Manipulator Fan-Splat

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          • #6
            The fancy new roadblock options in Signs are there for a reason, I’d never put remotely that much story weight on a single glorified extended action no matter what kind.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post
              The fancy new roadblock options in Signs are there for a reason, I’d never put remotely that much story weight on a single glorified extended action no matter what kind.
              I am aware of locked-opacity and mention them in my opening post. System seems flawed that the only way it works past low-gnosis is "go off and do quests" because that's called just investigating normally and basically ignoring the subsystem entirely.


              Genius templates: Super Science Mini-Template for Demon: the Descent

              Oracle the Endbringers: Time-Manipulator Fan-Splat

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              • #8
                Milo's point isn't that its impossible to fail scrutiny, but that it is stretching expectations to see a scrutinizeable Mystery with reasonable potency go unsolved for long. Even if one person fails, someone else still has really good chances of succeeding. 3 gnosis, 3 arcana, and plentiful mana? Success is not guaranteed, but a 5 opacity Mystery CAN be fully scrutinized by this character.

                Although I do agree with Satchel that explaining why world-renowned conundrums haven't been solved yet is politics and restrictions is a good explanation... I personally increase potency slightly above the recommendations. For me a world renowned Mystery is opacity 8, so that only masters working together and organized and prepared can scrutinize it successfully, and then theres so few mages who understand the Mystery that it can stay a secret (politics)

                But a difficult Mystery is said to be opacity 4, which is unlikely that *no one* has solved it if you have even a dozen mages in a city capable of solving it. If even one of them solves it, then the Mystery remaining mysterious depends on the solver keeping their mouth shut. And if they don't, well, that doesn't mean the other mages still don't have their own opacities, but everyone told would at least know whatever is spreading word of mouth.

                So the lore and intentions of the game do explain why Mysteries persist even if a couple Mages scrutinize it (individial opacity levels, contamination, politics and restricted Mysteries and people calling dibs), buuut yeaaaah. I always add at least one opacity to the Mysteries, my disparate players enjoyed the greater difficulty.

                Although I dont see stuff like locked and overlapping Mysteries to be a crutch--any importanr mystery should definitely have these, not as roadblocks but because they're built-in story hook opportunities!

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                • #9
                  The biggest limitation to Scrutiny, as I see it, is that you can't scrutinize a Mystery until you get your proverbial mitts on it.
                  The reason no one knows what's in the Secret Concord is because the only non signatory to ever see it supposedly died immediately afterwards.
                  No one has Scrutinized the Celestial Flange because no one can even verify that it exists.
                  Even in cases where you can Scrutinize something that doesn't guarantee that you will get all of the answers you need. Its like a cop who tries to follow the money only to have the trail disappear in the Caimans. Sometimes what you learn can only point you towards another possible, and seemingly unrelated, direction.
                  Give them the equivalent of a mook who doesn't know who hired him to murder the victim, he just knows the name of the middle man who set it up, and so on.

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                  • #10
                    I am with Scarlet Witch in that I have merrily used mysteries with an Opacity higher than 5, alongside things like Locked and Linked opacity, to make the Scrutiny system jibe more with my tables expectations.

                    A good example was the psuedo Well of Mimir/Iris that existed in the the PC cabals basement. Opacity 5 alone would never have allowed me to maintain it as a chronicle length mystery, but by having each level locked to a key event or linked to tracking down a secondary Mystery it made a really effective driving force for the whole plot.

                    My rule of thumb was to use the standard corebook rules for anything I expected to get solved in a single scene: an enemy mages spell, divining some of the nature of a gulmoth from the mangled corpse of a victim, pinning down the trigger for an iris to that pocket domain your breaking into etc. Any big 'static' mystery thats kind of a local landmark like one of Londons Runewalks benefits from a little something more.
                    Last edited by Katana1515; 06-26-2019, 05:36 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Regardless of what the descriptions say, doesn't most Mysteries reach Opacity ~6 when following the guidelines? I believe Weaving would correspond with most Mysteries (Veiling, Patterning and Making should account for most other types of Mysteries) meaning 3 in base. Most stuff doesn't fit neatly into one Arcanum, so lets +1 for two relevant Arcana. And, finally, we multipy it with 1.5 since the majority of Mysteries has nothing to do with the Supernal.
                      (3+1)*1.5= Opacity 6
                      If you want it to be easier or more difficult based on complexity, source, and the challenge meant for the players, add or remove one level in either direction (not a guideline, iirc, but makes sense to me as a base philosophy for STs).


                      Bloodline: The Stygians
                      Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
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                      • #12
                        I've not played Mage in a long time, so I might be outdated. I will add my two cents so you guys can tear them down.

                        After finishing the Mage Sight section from Signs of Sorcery, my impression is that the rules of the core-book do not fully support the intent of the writers. I will focus more on the mathematical side of the rules, not the concept.

                        Take this, for example:

                        Imagine a Mage with Fate ••• and Gnosis ••. Very, very far from being a Master of anything. By default, she has 5 dice to Scrutinize a mystery with Focussed Mage Sight, and 5 rolls before contaminating the mystery with her own Nimbus.

                        With just Fate •• and 1 Rote, she can use Exceptional Luck to give herself and all the members of her cabal a bônus of 6 dice on their next 6 rolls, add Prime •• for Light Under a Bushel and she can easily increase her contamination limit by 5. After that, she uses Prime • Shared Sight to allow teamwork with the whole cabal.

                        This cabal of 5 average Mages spent about 4 Mana on 3 Spells, and now everyone can roll about 9 to 11 dice, for 6 rolls. As by teamwork rules, each success of secondary actors adds 1 die to the pool of the primary actor. the average success rate of her Cabal mates would be 3, adding +3 dice to her rolls. She is now rolling 14 dice, which averages 4 successes per roll. If she spends Willpower on every roll, the average goes to 5.6 successes, which is an exceptional success on every roll. Signs of Sorcery states that an Opacity 5 Mystery is a Global challenge to Mages. This average cabal will tear this mystery down in just 3 to 4 rolls, which amount to 12 seconds.

                        I know they spent a lot of resources on cracking this single mystery, and that is fine. It just doesn't seem that this would be a global challenge to the awakened community as a whole.

                        Quote from the book:
                        Opacity 5 - A Mystery famous throughout the Awakened world; the principal Mystery around which a Consilium forms, an archmaster’s tomb, a potent Supernal artifact, an Abyssal Verge.
                        Looking at the numbers behind the rules, a challenging mystery for a Consilium would be from 15 to 20 Opacity, with several locked and linked components.

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                        • #13
                          From what I've been seeing, creating one of these big mysteries is about making a web out of lots of different mysteries with linked and locked connections. I also like the investigation rules being thrown in because sometimes figuring some aspects is going to be more nebulous than something you can just study. Boosting the Opacity might help, but its also an awful grind.

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                          • #14
                            The only thing I can think of is if the intent of high opacity is not "No one has solved this" but maybe more "CAN YOU SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACK LAGOON?! Winners earn admission to the local Consilium or a bottle of tass-wine!"

                            I don't think so, but, it occurred to me that I didn't remember the book saying world-famous Mysteries aren't scrutinized, just that they're famous. With that the political angle is stronger cuz it doesn't mean that these 5 or 6 Opacity Mysteries are impossible but highly restricted from people mucking them up, and anyone with a resume of good scrutinizing practices can try it (and probably succeed) and be part of the local authorities on the Mystery.

                            My issue with my own thought of this is, "Okay but how would Touscan and L.A. remain such absolute Mysteries to even the Mages who live there?"
                            It cant be politics everytime cuz if there is a handful of high ranking Mages who have scrutinized it, and are keeping the answer of "whats going on" to themselves, that kinda common conspiracy would get kinda old.

                            Basically I just feel that there needs to be extremely difficult Mysteries in the world to justify extremely powerful Mages Obsessions.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Scarlet Witch View Post
                              My issue with my own thought of this is, "Okay but how would Touscan and L.A. remain such absolute Mysteries to even the Mages who live there?"
                              It cant be politics everytime cuz if there is a handful of high ranking Mages who have scrutinized it, and are keeping the answer of "whats going on" to themselves, that kinda common conspiracy would get kinda old.
                              Probably because Scrutiny doesn't really give that much information (unless the Mystery is a mage spell). You mostly get to know how a Mystery came to be (even if not as detailed as you'd want) but you don't get to know who created it (the most you get is a Signature Nimbus or comparable power level; the rest you have to infer) and certainly not why. If whoever did it just remains hidden you're likely to never find out more unless it's related to another Mystery you can pursue or you just happen to stumble upon the correct answers when looking for other stuff.


                              Lets take the Hollywood walkers as an example:
                              You successfully unravel and Scrutinize the whole Mystery, which happened to be Mind and Spirit primary, meaning you get to know that walkers manage to escape the Astral and possess their representations because of a combination of goetic and spirit Influences. With Space you also get to know that the goetic part of the Influence uses a type of representational sympathy to guide the Temenotic walkers to their human doubles. With Fate you also get to know that it's a supernatural bargain that allows these two Influences to interact and cooperate in this way, and, unlike everything else, the bargain part of the Mystery is Supernal in origin.
                              That's a lot of how, though not everything is fully explained.

                              You gauge the comparable power level of the Mystery's creators and find out that both of them uses the Rank scale (saying it outright because it's really not comparable with regular Supernatural Potency scales) and are of about equal strength somewhere above Rank 5. Considering the how, it's extremely likely that these two entities are a goetia and a spirit, respectively. Presumably of natures relevant to celebrities.
                              The Supernal bargain is too far removed from the effects that are under Scrutiny to reveal its creator (think of the bargain as a third creator of the Mystery rather than part of the Mystery proper since it's just a facilitator of the effects you're actually studying) but it wouldn't have a Signature Nimbus anyway.
                              So you can guess a lot about the who. It's a great starting point as you've learned the probably nature of the primary creators and really narrowed down where to look for them, but nothing guarantees that you'll ever find these two individuals. And even if you do find them, you might never get any information out of them.

                              And you can only theorise about why. The spirit almost certainly does it because it either generates more Essence appropriate to its nature, or it's bribed Essence to do it.

                              Now, would you consider this Mystery solved just because it's fully Scrutinized? As you said, this information should be practically public knowledge for mages living around the affected area, but nobody really knows why any of it is happening. That's still a mystery in its own right, worthy of many Obsessions.
                              Last edited by Tessie; 06-27-2019, 06:06 PM.


                              Bloodline: The Stygians
                              Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                              Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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