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  • yantra complexity

    One thing that has bothered me about Mage for a while is that while I love the concept of yantras, the implementation lends itself to overly simplistic yantras. Why build an entire graveyard of specialized memorial tombstones to act as the yantra of a single spell when you could use a bottle of water and gravedust instead for slightly less dice?

    What I've been thinking about is coming up with a scale for complexity/effort of a given yantra from say 1-10, where 1 is on the scale of throwing table salt, and 10 is a national or global scale effort. And then yantras would give bonus dice equal to (1+complexity - highest arcana rating of the spell) minimum 0.

    The point of this all being that simple spells can have simple yantras, but complex (high arcana dot spells like Making) require effort and complexity.

  • #2
    I would argue that "symbolism" provides greater supernal framework than "effort" and "complexity". However, this can be a basis for a great legacy. I can see both Mysterium and Guardians of the Veil fueling their spells with compexity.

    Otherwise, it can be a merit. I think it souldnt overshadow all the other yantras, especialy stuff like soul sacrifice and verges. Thus, additional high dot yantras would be mandatory. Something like:

    Imago Perfectionism (merit, 3 dots)
    Requirements: Prime 1, High Speech
    You are able to enchance existing potent yantra with effort and complexity of a ritual act of some kind. Choose a collection of yantra that add to a spellcasting bonus of +3 and also include a form of high speech. By increasing the complexity of the imago you can increase the bonus from high speech by an amount proportional to the effort as below:
    1hour = +1 (lasts 1 h)
    1 day = +2 (lasts 1 d)
    1 week = +3 (lasts 1 w)
    This represents ýantra preperation before the actual casting. If a Sleeper even notices a yantra prepared like this, the yantra returns to its normal bonus. Note that Sleepers can never be prepared successfully as enchanced yantras but non-sleepers can.

    For example, one can enchance his high speech yantra by +3 by chanting each day for a week in the forrest at midnight holding his personal tool with closed eyes arriving each time at different spots before finally starting actually casting a spell to misdirect tresspassers
    Last edited by Shadowjim12; 07-14-2019, 06:01 PM.

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    • #3
      I think effort can be factored in as well, in a way. For example, lets say you want to assume the identity of a certain person with a Life or Mind spell.

      A +1 yantra would be a mask, a piece of that person (hair, nails, clothes, etc) or a theatre. This is vaguely related to the spell.

      A +2 yantra would involve burning or eating that piece, or shattering the mask. By sacrificing the yantra and impeding it from being used again, you increase its symbolic value, so you get a bonus. But in this case, its the perfect mundane yantra, so it counts for more.

      However, I would argue sitting through a whole play or spending a scene describing the person (through a speech or case profile), method acting as them as them or similar could also count as a sacrifice. Its a lot slower than destroying something, but it has strong symbolic resonance.


      New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


      The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists

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      • #4
        Shadowjim12 You ummm ... actually kind of missed the point. The main thrust of this was to set a minimum level of symbolism (I like your name for the scaling) for a yantra to have any effect.

        An unveiling spell might get a minor +1 boost out of a leaf put over one eye, but that's just not good enough for a Making spell. A spell of that level of arcane mastery requires rearranging the trees, bushes, and grass of several acres of city parkland to get the same +1.

        The bit where doing all of that horticulture for a humble unveiling spell is rewarded with a +5 is just an additional incentive for grandious yantras
        Last edited by Lareath; 07-14-2019, 08:44 PM.

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        • #5
          I think a potential issue with that idea is that it requires layering another level of complexity onto what is already a very complex system. Yantra are, when you get down to it just modifiers. There's absolutely nothing stopping a GM from reducing the modifier for uncreative Yantra, and increasing the modifier for creative Yantra. Theres just so many specific circumstances and potential caveats that having it just be under GM jurisdiction can be much easier.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Lareath View Post
            One thing that has bothered me about Mage for a while is that while I love the concept of yantras, the implementation lends itself to overly simplistic yantras. Why build an entire graveyard of specialized memorial tombstones to act as the yantra of a single spell when you could use a bottle of water and gravedust instead for slightly less dice?
            Because you can theoretically use the first one for both more Yantras and more spells. Complex Yantras benefit from having more symbolism to take advantage of. Higher-level Practices often "require" effort and complexity through the simple facts that Yantra bonuses are mostly individually small and many of the spells need to invest penalties for multiple spell factors in order to accomplish a practical outcome, but no spell technically needs a Yantra.


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

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            • #7
              Yeah, I was going to point out what Satchel said. Yantras are not required to cast spells. They help a Mage focus, and like any good mnemonic device that can make doing a task easier which is why they give bonuses. Requiring a Yantra to take as much, or more effort than casting the spell itself to use seems backwards. If I'm trying to remember the state capitals I'm not going to do it by reading an entire history of the nation, that's really inefficient.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Lareath View Post
                Why build an entire graveyard of specialized memorial tombstones to act as the yantra of a single spell
                You wouldn't build such an edifice for a single spell, you'd build it because it can act as multiple yantras for a host of different spells. It'd probably be situated on a leyline nexus and you'd shift the resonance to one appropriate for a graveyard. Maybe even situate it on a Hallow, or in an appropriate Demense or Verge.

                when you could use a bottle of water and gravedust instead for slightly less dice?
                Because of the way dicepool systems work, even a few extra dice can have a significant impact on the odds of your spell succeeding or even getting an exceptional success.


                Mentats - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Mind/Forces) built around being a human computer; Thaumatech Engineers - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Matter/Prime) focusing on the creation of Imbued items and the enhancement of Sleeper technology

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                • #9
                  I think the idea is pretty interesting.

                  However, I think it really requires a deeper reworking of the system. As Mrmdubois and Satchel pointed out, Mages don't really need Yantra; in order to get the feel you want, I think you need to make mages much more dependant on them.

                  Like, maybe creating the dicepool out of just Yantra, rather than starting with Gnosis + Arcana? (Presumably, we'd also up the number of yantra given by increasing gnosis).


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                  • #10
                    I'm also torn. I remember I once asked the GM what was the most "dragon looking" wild animal I could find because I wanted to use it's heart as a Yantra in a "speak with animals" spell, but then realized that hunting a sewer alligator or whatever made no sense when mechanically it made no difference than buying a lizard in a pet shop, or even just a cow's heart from a butcher. And that kind of left me a sour taste. I like the idea of more complex or elaborate yantras being more powerful, but I acknowledge that can kind of mess everything up.

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                    • #11
                      More complex and elaborate Yantras do actually tend to grant larger bonuses by RAW. One die Yantras are extremely common. Two dice Yantras almost always has some sort of drawback, such as requiring a full turn, requiring painting up runes, etc. Three dice is really rare, and the only example I can think of (sacraments) are described as being a story in itself to actually acquire.
                      Sacrificing a bought lizard (or its heart) is a one die Yantra. Wrestling a sewer gator in order to sacrifice it is definitely a two dice Yantra.

                      It's not quite dependent on complexity, but it is based on effort which usually correlates to complexity. Thing is, the effort has to be meaningful. You can't just spend more time painting your entire sanctum with complicated runes because it's not a meaningful effort; it just takes time to do and isn't interesting in play.

                      Edit: This trend doesn't quite apply to Personas and Mudras, but on the other hand you have to spend XP on them so it's kind of a meaningful effort for the player.
                      Last edited by Tessie; 07-16-2019, 08:59 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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                      • #12
                        I think "significant effort" for the +2 is both too vague and too broad. I'd feel stingy If I told my players that spending a scene or more crafting or tracking down an item wasn't really significant effort, but I still think hunting a dangerous animal should count for more than making a few phone calls or spending some time at home working on a sculpture.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by EW-Matias View Post
                          I think "significant effort" for the +2 is both too vague and too broad. I'd feel stingy If I told my players that spending a scene or more crafting or tracking down an item wasn't really significant effort, but I still think hunting a dangerous animal should count for more than making a few phone calls or spending some time at home working on a sculpture.
                          I think there's an issue with what you're making the yantra. Like, your description suggested that the heart itself was the yantra; so the hunt itself would be basically irrelevant, and indeed you could just order one online. Hell, buy a few and keep them in the freezer for next time.

                          I think you'd need to invent some new form of yantra for taking on a difficult task or something.


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by EW-Matias View Post
                            I think "significant effort" for the +2 is both too vague and too broad. I'd feel stingy If I told my players that spending a scene or more crafting or tracking down an item wasn't really significant effort, but I still think hunting a dangerous animal should count for more than making a few phone calls or spending some time at home working on a sculpture.
                            Then it seems your problem mostly is with the small range of available bonuses, that you want more granularity than could exist with the current +1 to +3 range.
                            You could just extend the range to something like +1 to +5, but then you need to be aware that it'll make it much easier for mages (especially those with high Gnosis and thus more Yantra slots) to reach massive dice pools to spend on spell factors. If you want to keep the balance close to what's originally intended you'll instead have to somehow compensate somewhere else. E.g. increase the cost of spell factors, or reduce the base dice pool as suggested above, or a combination of both. You'll also have to rebalance Mudras and Personas if they are still to be the most powerful Yantras around.


                            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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                            • #15
                              yeah, maintaining that balance was why I was going for "more complex spells require better yantras in order to get the yantra bonus".
                              I think people have misunderstood something about my initial proposal: absolutely nothing in it REQUIRES a mage to use yantras. A spell can be cast without them. It was instead about disallowing yantras that are too simple for the spell being cast. With simple spells getting benefits from simple yantras, but high arcana spells getting nothing out of simple yantras

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