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Resources for first time MtA Storyteller?

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  • Resources for first time MtA Storyteller?

    Hi there,

    I’m contemplating running a MtA chronicle. I love reading OP games, but I don’t get any chance to play them..so I’m thinking of just jumping in and running one.

    Are there any good resources for pulling together a chronicle? Especially for players that aren’t familiar with the game, let alone me. I did notice there are a couple 1st edition books like The Chronicler’s Guide, Secrets of the Ruined Temple, Boston Unvieled, and Reign of the Exarchs. I also noticed the new Signs of Sorcery book covers actual awakenings, and the Core recommends the Order books.

    I just feel uncertain about how to get started, before or after character creation. Thanks!

    (My pardons for starting a new thread instead of using Johnny Awesome’s, but he seem to dealing with specifics and I’m not there yet)

  • #2
    Theres too much to cover. Mechanics can come with time and patient players who dont mind retconning accidents are a boon to a table where everyone is just getting started.

    What you need is a firm idea of what you wanna *do*. You need players with obsessions and ideas to bring to the table and a plan to wrap things together into a story you wanna tell.

    Now I think fanfiction is a good place to start. Why not do a "this story but instead where mages" for a session or to just to break yourselves in, then, everyone can come up with characters.

    Alternatively some players dont know what chars to make until a setting is ready. Find out which kinds of players you have and help them along. Find out if they wanna follow your lead or if you wanna figure your setting from their ideas. Which option is better might depend on how large the table is.

    Irregardless, you might wanna start with this question, "If I had cool magic, what kind of BIG PROBLEM would I wanna tackle with magic." Or a conflict you wish you could solve with magic.

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    • #3
      A lot of the material is about to be updated in the new Mage Night Horrors book, but Left Hand Path is still a really good resource for coming up with antagonists.



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      • #4
        Well, it’s going to be a small, intimate group. Maybe 1 or 2 players. I guess...when I really think about it.. I’m imagining running the Awakening and segueing into recruitment. Sort of teach the setting and the background through in-game play rather than try to do an info dump. Because this is deeply textured game, and I say that as someone who is more familiar with Ascension. The players are used to working without too many rules, so that suggestion works. I wouldn’t want to pick their Path however. That seems like it needs to be a personal choice for character investment. Maybe I can think of a way to tease out of them what would be a good match.

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        • #5
          Id have them read about mage sight and ask "which paths mage sight or perspective made sense to you?"

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Yossarian View Post
            A lot of the material is about to be updated in the new Mage Night Horrors book, but Left Hand Path is still a really good resource for coming up with antagonists.
            That is also recommended in the Core. It’s a little confusing because it’s listed as a 2nd edition book on DriveThru but it was written well before the new edition was published.


            So off the top of my head I’m sketching a plan like this.

            1.) Get an idea of a location.
            2.) Figure a path the player(s) may like. Do a little Q&A to help me make that determination.
            3.) Plan and run an Awakening. This draws attention which can segue to recruitment.
            4.) Make characters if we haven’t already. Go over some basics.
            5.) Introduce a cool big problem.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Scarlet Witch View Post
              Id have them read about mage sight and ask "which paths mage sight or perspective made sense to you?"
              That works too.

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              • #8
                I'd say there's a few things to keep in mind that might sneak up on you, but this was the most important one to me. If you're the type to over prepare, Mage could be a system where players can easily throw a wrench in your plans.

                For just about every possible problem there is you can throw at a player, there's a wacky solution involving using magic that can blow through your challenge. This can be a very good boon to the fun of your games, just don't get stuck into there being one solution. Lightening up left me a lot more room to learn the systems as well.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Quinarch View Post

                  That is also recommended in the Core. It’s a little confusing because it’s listed as a 2nd edition book on DriveThru but it was written well before the new edition was published.


                  So off the top of my head I’m sketching a plan like this.

                  1.) Get an idea of a location.
                  2.) Figure a path the player(s) may like. Do a little Q&A to help me make that determination.
                  3.) Plan and run an Awakening. This draws attention which can segue to recruitment.
                  4.) Make characters if we haven’t already. Go over some basics.
                  5.) Introduce a cool big problem.
                  I might try and get a much clearer idea of who the characters are before running an Awakening. You dont need dots on a sheet necessarily, but I would want solid outlines on names, backstory, day jobs and any themes/aspirations/obsessions the player is interested in. Then you can tailor the awakening more uniqiuely to the PC, with some nice symbolism or foreshadowing, which should help make it memorable.

                  For example, I ran a game for Moros who had worked as a postman in his Sleeper life. I decided his mystery play had unfolded slowly, as his morning round became increasingly surreal and full of omens. Only when he realises hes been daily delivering boxes to a dead man did he finally snap and I dropped him in Stygia. It was a neat moment and was talked about many times, even years later.

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                  • #10
                    For reference APs, some great ones are Bleak House, The Broken Diamond, The Soul Cage and The Voice of Freedom. Those really help get a feel for the setting and leave your mind abuzz with ideas.

                    I also highly recommend The Technognostic Psychonaut blog. It has tons of articles on how to run the game, with clear and concise explanations, as well as plenty of cool ideas:
                    https://m45t1g05.blogspot.com/2016/1...links.html?m=1

                    The 1001 Mage Story Hooks thread also has plenty of interesting plot hooks: http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...ge-story-hooks

                    For the books themselves, the big one is Mage Chronicler's Guide. The others depend on what you want to focus on. For antagonists its Seers of the Throne and Invaders: Encounters with the Abyss. For globetrotting adventures its Secrets of the Ruined Temple, Sanctum & Sigil for consilium politics.

                    I once gave some tips on writing a Mage story, but I feel they also apply here:

                    General tips:

                    1- Don't ask "Can a mage do something ?", because most of the time the answer is YES. A creative and resourceful mage will eventually figure out a way to do it. Rather, ask yourself "What are the consequences of doing that thing ? And with that method ?".

                    2- Don't rely on keeping things secret until a critical point. Mages are the best equipped splat to collect knowledge from. Rather ask "so I know this, what now ?". For example, look at Life is Strange, Max knew fate was trying to kill Chloe, and she (in a very Acanthus fashion) tried to cheat the system, sending all sorts of ripples through the weave of destiny, uncovering painful truths and memories and having to deal with the consequences of the choices she could see.

                    3- While mages will eventually untangle a mystery, there is also a matter of timing. They can also be blindsighted, either by not accounting for a possibility, they could be shaken up by personal issues in their Sleeper or mage life to see certain avenues, having their attention redirected (great mages don't hide things from their rivals, they hook their attention on something else) or they could come to the conclusions too late to cleanly solve things.

                    Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
                    One thing to remember with the multilayered approach is how much natural misdirection there is in a system based on favors and intimations.

                    Vampire A has a problem with Mage X.
                    He tells his lieutenant, Vampire B, to "take care of it."
                    Vampire B cashes in a favor with Vampire C for the name of unconnected Vampire D, said to have a reputation for "fixing things."
                    Vampire B now agrees to a future favor to Vampire E if E will send Ghoul F to make contact and arrange things with Vampire D (this isn't out of fear of Mage X, by the way, just the natural paranoia that comes with meeting an unkown vampire).

                    Even now if D just went murderhobo on Mage X it would be an interesting line of contacts to trace back. But D isn't a murderhobo...

                    Vampire D starts doing his own research on Mage X. Rapidly he realizes that someone else is to: Unsavory Private Investigator G, on behalf of unknown external party H. As outside observers we know H to be a Seer.
                    D uses some dirt he has on a local Vampire I, who has a talent for Domination. He gives I what he knows about G.
                    Vampire I uses a retainer of his own, J, to make contact with G and hire him for some perfectly normal work shadowing some couple K that lives next door to X.
                    I attends J's second meeting with G, posing as a former lover of one of couple K, and uses the opportunity to Dominate G into doing something really violent to K in the vicinity of target Mage X.

                    Now, trace it back.
                    At first glance G looks like he was doing something unrelated to X. A few more brings out his connection to Seer H. That probably ends the search right there, or at least sidetracks it for a significant chunk of time. Long enough for I to fade away. Even if I is discovered, though, he has very little connection to D, who has very little connection to E. And while A, B, C, and E are probably much more connected, that is a convoluted web of interactions that contains many more agendas than just a grudge between A and X.

                    Sure Mages can pierce all that, but it will take time and energy and they may not have enough of either.
                    4- Mages are very much dependent of preparation. Given enough info, resources and time to prepare, they are demigods. But when ambushed or surprised, they are little better than mortals. Because of that, mage combat lends itself the least to white room scenarios, because mages will use everything they can to get an edge while under pressure and, given time, create the most asymmetrical combat scenario they can, to protect their squishy selves. Here is an example:

                    http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...t-game-session

                    5- Remember, no spirit is truly benevolent: http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...%80%99-spirits

                    6- The more you know about the history and sights of the city, the better. In one AP, there was someone who made the Headington Shark as a meeting spot for mages and werewolves. It was a Peace spirit, and if anyone disturbed the peace in its presence, it would eat them unceremoniously. One way I like to think about it: the Astral represents how people think about the city, the Shadow is how people emotionally feel about the city, if you could make them superimpose, you would get the zeitgeist of the city (an insight probably not lost on an experienced Acanthus or member of the House of Ariadne).

                    Those are all of the general tips that come to mind, hope they are helpful. If you wish for something more specific, like running a chronicle with plenty of spirits, ghosts or the Astral realm, just mention it and I can provide those references.
                    Last edited by KaiserAfini; 07-15-2019, 08:52 AM.


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


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post
                      For the books themselves, the big one is Mage Chronicler's Guide. The others depend on what you want to focus on.
                      I'd put a huge caveat on that. It has some content that is somewhat about creating chronicles, but the vast majority of it is about altering the setting to varying degrees.


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                      • #12
                        Thanks everybody, this has been invaluable. If anybody else has any ideas, I’d still love to hear them.

                        I’m going to try to get Signs of Sorcery as soon as I finish the Core Book.

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                        • #13
                          Because mages are experts in the occult, I always think of them as a "behind the scenes" pieces of various supernatural worlds in the Chronicles of Darkness, therefore in addition to always coming in strong with engagement with mysteries as the basis of gameplay, I try to include a couple of points where the cabal will interact with other monsters. There should be NPCs who are changelings, vampires, werewolves, spirits, sin-eaters, prometheans, etc. that the mages interact with/study from afar. Some Mage PCs will even have social bonds to these groups, maybe as a pack member or an ally to a local spirit court of storms, parks, or the electrical grid. Being invested in supernatural things outside of the most obvious supernal magic world gives you the chance to deepen mysteries as well.

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