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  • Stacking Paradox Rules

    So, this is something that came up in a PbP campaign online, but it seems that there's some contention on how stacking Paradox works within a scene. Specifically, referencing this section. 'Each Paradox roll after the first made for the same caster within the same scene. This bonus accumulates with each roll, so the third roll made for a mage within a scene has a +2 modifier.'

    So there's two interpretations.

    1. This only applies to spellcasting rolls that risk Paradox in a scene, and spells cast that have no risk of Paradox do not suffer this cumulative penalty.
    2. This applies to *all* spellcasting rolls made by the same caster, causing a 'floating' Paradox dice that incurs for the scene even if you do not risk Paradox through other means.

    I had always thought it was the first interpretation, but others have called this into question. Is there any clear ruling, or errata on this?

  • #2
    I haven't gone back and checked, so take this off the cuff memory with a grain of salt: It's #2 once you've done something else to incur Paradox. So you still have to trigger a Paradox roll first, but once you do the +1 from the stacking penalty counts as having dice in your Paradox pool, and thus means you have to roll.

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    • #3
      Once a single Paradox die is added to the Paradox dice pool, the Storyteller must check for the possibility of a Paradox, even if other factors reduce the Paradox dice pool to a chance die. The dice pool can be modified by certain factors.
      Actually, on rereading this, the rule seems to be independent of source. Huh.
      Last edited by thenate; 08-04-2019, 04:53 PM.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
        I haven't gone back and checked, so take this off the cuff memory with a grain of salt: It's #2 once you've done something else to incur Paradox. So you still have to trigger a Paradox roll first, but once you do the +1 from the stacking penalty counts as having dice in your Paradox pool, and thus means you have to roll.
        This is how it is played at my table.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by thenate View Post

          Actually, on rereading this, the rule seems to be independent of source. Huh.
          It seems pretty in-line with how 2e approaches these things. A mage playing it safe can do a lot without worrying about Paradox, but it takes very little for their hubris to get the better of them and push a bit more... and then things start to snowball if they keep going.

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          • #6
            As an addendum to this, wouldn't that mean every spell cast in the same scene add +1 to Paradox and therefore add to the cumulative paradox? So you risk 1 reach on your first spell, your second spell will be 1 paradox, and third spell would have 2 paradox and so on, even if the other spells do not normally risk paradox?

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            • #7
              I believe its the second option. As soon as the Paradox pool has any dice, then you need to do a roll and it begins to count for accumulations purposes. Over Reaching is the most common way to do it, but whatever the reason, the Abyss infects their Gnosis for the rest of the scene.


              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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              • #8
                Originally posted by VenomPuppy View Post
                As an addendum to this, wouldn't that mean every spell cast in the same scene add +1 to Paradox and therefore add to the cumulative paradox? So you risk 1 reach on your first spell, your second spell will be 1 paradox, and third spell would have 2 paradox and so on, even if the other spells do not normally risk paradox?
                Yep. You can keep things down to chance dice on the Paradox pool, which creates an interesting choice regarding Releasing or Containing Paradoxes, but eventually things will snowball to the point where you need to stop using magic or be willing to eat some nasty consequences.

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                • #9
                  I think 2 is very weird interpretation and that the rule would have been worded differently if it was intended.

                  Suppose a Mage would cast 3 spells in a scene, the first one being obvious magic in front of a Sleeper and the others being unnoticeable. No paradox due to reach or inured spells. The first spell requires a paradox roll of 1 die. The second roll doesn't get any paradox dice from anything, and the first paradox roll doesn't count so no paradox rolls have been made for stacking purposes. The third spell is the same, no rolls have actually been made after the first. If I would cast a fourth obvious spell, that would add a die, and since this is the actual second paradox roll, it would get an extra die. A fifth obvious spell would have a base die, plus two for being the third roll, as the rule specifies.

                  If #2 were the intended interpretation, it would talk about "spells" instead of "rolls". Something like this: "Each spell after the frst Paradox roll made for the same caster within the same scene."

                  If you wanna interpret a spell that doesn't risk any paradox at all as a "paradox roll" for the purposes of stacking, you would only get a single paradox free spell pero scene.
                  Last edited by EW-Matias; 08-04-2019, 09:09 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by EW-Matias View Post
                    If you wanna interpret a spell that doesn't risk any paradox at all as a "paradox roll" for the purposes of stacking, you would only get a single paradox free spell pero scene.
                    No, you'd get as many Paradox free spells per scene as you can manage until you cast with more Reach than you can safely use, use a spell inured to Wisdom loss, or obviously in front of sleepers.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

                      No, you'd get as many Paradox free spells per scene as you can manage until you cast with more Reach than you can safely use, use a spell inured to Wisdom loss, or obviously in front of sleepers.
                      Why? If NULL Paradox dice counts as a roll for the purpose of stacking, then after the first spell you cast the number of Paradox rolls is 1, the next roll will be at +1 for stacking, no matter what. If NULL number of dice is not a roll, which would be the more intuitive interpretation, then the interpretation you are pushing makes no senses, as I explained above.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by EW-Matias View Post
                        Why?
                        Because, in this interpretation, the Paradox cascade doesn't kick in until you cast a spell that risks Paradox. If the first spell you cast that risks Paradox in a scene is the third spell you cast, you have not gotten only one Paradox-free spell for the scene.

                        The chart is preceded by an explicit note that once a die is added to the pool, a check is made. Which makes more sense for Mage 2e's ludonarrative toolbox: That overreaching has no immediate consequences that can't be offset by Mana and dedication and using more magic in a scene where you've already risked things going off the rails isn't playing with fire, or that a mage who pushes their limits once would be advised to play it safe and pace themself if they don't want a follow-up spell to blow up in their face?


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                        • #13
                          Disclaimer: I've been known to be wrong about Mage mechanics, so if I'm missing something obvious or I'm not understanding the argument, please bear with me.

                          So, I've always interpreted it to be 1, from first edition on. That is, the cascade effect only applies on spells that evoke Paradox on their own either from overreaching or from casting obvious magic in front of sleepers.

                          But, reading over the relevant text, I can see why it's a bit ambiguous because of the phrase "Once a single Paradox die is added to the Paradox dice pool, the Storyteller must check for the possibility of a Paradox". However (as someone mentioned above), I think the operative word here is "roll" not "spell". "Each Paradox roll after the first..." means each time a Paradox is provoked, not each spell. Still, I can see the other side of the argument, and it could be I've been misreading it (the first edition core is no help, incidentally).

                          With all that said, I did a bit of digging, because I remembered Dave Brookshaw wrote a very detailed (and very fun) run through of how casting works in the new edition, and it turns out to be relevant. The caveat is that this was 8 months before the book went to press, but I don't see anything that's too different from the way the final system works:

                          https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?thre...#post-19183548

                          Cowl casts three spells in the scene. The first two spells cause Paradoxes because he overreaches, and sure enough, the second spell's Paradox roll gains a die because of the cascading effect. But then we get to the third spell:

                          "The spell does not Risk Paradox. Jon rolls the ten dice, and gets another exceptional success. This time he decides to take a Condition along with his Willpower point."

                          If we were going with the second interpretation, Cowl should've had to buy off 2 Paradox dice. So, unless Dave was mistaken for some reason, or the intent was changed later, I think the interpretation here is 1.
                          Last edited by Yossarian; 08-05-2019, 02:08 AM.



                          Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

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                          • #14
                            There are some changes from that sample and the final rules though. One example would be that Cowl is picking to Contain after Dave rolls Paradox instead of before (not that you don't pick Contain if you've reduced Paradox to a Chance Die anyway).

                            Perhaps it's time to summon Dave Brookshaw ?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              There are some changes from that sample and the final rules though. One example would be that Cowl is picking to Contain after Dave rolls Paradox instead of before (not that you don't pick Contain if you've reduced Paradox to a Chance Die anyway).
                              It could very well be the intent was to change it to interpretation 2 and the wording is just unclear in the chart; the modifier's text is pretty much word for word from a similar bullet point in a chart in First Edition. I still err toward the first interpretation, but you're right, the link is a playtest and not necessarily authoritative to the final product, so I'm more than happy to be wrong.



                              Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

                              VtR: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2ndTricks of the DamnedBtP: Secrets of VancouverCofD: The CabinActual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
                              Podcast: The Breakup

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