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  • how magic impacts mage society

    How do you portray a society made of people that can be unreasonably lucky in social circumstances, or rewind and undo a gaffe, or can speak with TRUTH in their word, or can be so insidiously convincing as to make you kill your own mother? And that's at the low end, what about mages that just warp the social fabric around them to gain prestige and regard as needed (aka Status, Allies, Retainer, and Contact dots).

    Basically, what are the practical implications for a consillium when almost every mage can wield magic to their own social advantage within the consillium?

  • #2
    Rule no. 1 is Don’t Get Caught. Which if you’re going to be a dick can be pretty difficult since Mages are investigators by nature.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
      Rule no. 1 is Don’t Get Caught. Which if you’re going to be a dick can be pretty difficult since Mages are investigators by nature.
      But what constitutes an offense you can get caught at as opposed to "well that's just expected"? Is it a level of arcana dot used, whether the effect targets yourself as opposed to others? Etc.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
        Rule no. 1 is Don’t Get Caught. Which if you’re going to be a dick can be pretty difficult since Mages are investigators by nature.
        I'd argue that that's Rule 2, or at least Rule 1.1.

        Rule 1 is, of course, Cornelius's Lament: "The trouble is, the other side can do magic too, Prime Minister."

        Both revolve around the same thing-anything you can do to be an asshole, others can do too-and given the power of arcane secrets that everyone gathers as well as the semi-inherent hierarchies of mastering the Arcana, there's a fair amount of "Anything you can do, I can do better" with a healthy heaping of "Do you really wanna know what I can do?" style paranoia baked in.

        THis isn't to say that this armed society is always a polite society, or even hyper attentive, but if you're going to be a dumbass and think you can just cheat the game, there's a lot of hands on deck to slap you down. Trying to cheat your way through the ranks and into prestige is a trick and a half, and honestly, you're going to do better by just going at it. Using magic to get in the social edge over others is often a matter of more private, controlled affairs and fair manipulation of the circumstances going on. If you walk into a Caucus meeting with Fate swinging your first impression to perfect for everyone, someone's going to eventually turn your fate into a bunch of tripping wire-but if you use that same fate spell with an influential figure on a damn rough day where his usual circle isn't there, he might not bother with double guessing your perfect opening line.

        Honestly, it gets to a point where trying to use magic to up your game is less effort than just personally upping your game.

        The final notes on the subject is that you actually have a decent contrast between societies on the subject, because the Seers basically do operate by the logic mentioned in the OP, where as the Pentacle tends to take a more rational and less "rarwr" approach to handling things. If people can reasonably assume that the people around them aren't going to bend everything to come out on top, then they reasonably won't act in that way. If people can reasonably assume that the gods of this world only reward first place and any resource not used against others is a resource used against you, then you get a pyramid made of magically enforced Mexican standoffs.

        It's rather like life, that way. Community-minded people build communities, individual-first people build "Fuck you, I got mine" systems.

        Originally posted by Lareath View Post

        But what constitutes an offense you can get caught at as opposed to "well that's just expected"? Is it a level of arcana dot used, whether the effect targets yourself as opposed to others? Etc.
        Within the Pentacle, there's the order of Laws described in the Lex Magica that more or less describes the priority of sacred rights and such, as described in the Awakening 2nd Core. I think Sigil and Sanctum goes into it more? I'll admit, I'm not hyper clear on what are specific offenses and such, and my resources are in a box. But that said, those are at least two sources we can point you at.
        Last edited by ArcaneArts; 08-22-2019, 01:53 AM.


        Kelly R.S. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
        The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
        Feminine pronouns, please.

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        • #5
          I’d say what constitutes an offense is going to come down to whatever the local Lex says because they’ve already had some dealings with dicks, and a matter of personal preference which depending how things go may also become part of the Lex.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
            I’d say what constitutes an offense is going to come down to whatever the local Lex says because they’ve already had some dealings with dicks, and a matter of personal preference which depending how things go may also become part of the Lex.
            Yeah, 90% of the intrigue is gonna come down to the local Iron and Bronze Laws.


            Kelly R.S. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
            The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
            Feminine pronouns, please.

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            • #7
              Also it s difficult to totally conceal the use of magic, when in doubt about the nature of a spell one could dispel or counterspell it easily, a council could require the dispelling of suspect spell before entering a sanctum

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              • #8
                Some wise posts here, I just wanted to post a few things that came up in my own games.

                In my London game I had a large and established consilium that had a number of powerful foes. As a result we had a hard rule against spellcasting or most any magic beyond Mage Sight at consillium meetings and mixers. This included buff spells, so no using mind to max your social stats before your chat with the Herald and so on. I was a little worried that would feel dull, but found my players enjoyed the change of pace and having to occasionally find more grounded means of solving problems. The investigative powers of the average Mage and that no one wanted to piss of the scary chief Sentinel meant that this rule pretty much enforces itself.

                On people using time travel for a do-over, its worth remembering that time travellers are called out as pretty noticable, with everything they change/interact with triggering time sight. I generally play this up at my table, with travelors basically being lit up like lighthouses under AMS. While that does not (and should not) utterly undermine the usefulness of the spell, it does mean a savvy NPC will be able to guess what their dealing with and respond appropriately.

                Magic does and should have an impact on mage society, being able to seal a pact with a binding Oath can help engender trust and keep the peace between diverse groups. Words of Truth and other Prime spells mean that often the best way to manipulate is through cryptic metaphor, dropped hints and tidbits of truth rather than outright lies.

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                • #9
                  I'm gonna go on a limb and answer the OP's querry with "heavily ". Aside from the thought exercise of how say, 100 mages influence a geographical area, I wouldn't consider it unless it serves the narrative I want to portray.

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                  • #10

                    There are a couple dividing lines to consider. The first is what they use their magic to accomplish. If that's good and acceptable it's arguably good and acceptable use of magic. The second is who is being targeted by the magic. First impressions can be achieved by adjusting the mind of the other party, by granting insights into behavior to the person wanting the good impression, by testing multiple approaches and going with the best, or any of a number of other ways. If the magic affects others, it's far more suspect.

                    Using magic to improve one's own performance socially is going to tend to be avoiding being abrasive. It's not going to rub people the wrong way by design. Fundamentally, someone else being charming is pleasant. Them avoiding your hot buttons, even if they rely on magic as a crutch to do it, really doesn't seem like something to discourage.

                    An upshot would be that such organizations would tend to interact more smoothly than normal. The thoughtful and wise magi would seem remarkably composed and thoughtful because they would be using judicious magic to aid them in just that. Really helpful in keeping a bunch of zealots from competing religions working together, one might imagine.


                    Grump, grouse, and/or gripe.

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                    • #11
                      It's probably important to note survivor bias.

                      Every Mage society worth portraying has survived to the present day of your Chronicle (for Time-Arcanum-given values of "present day"). That doesn't mean that most Mage societies have survived: it means that most of them didn't work out and imploded in one manner or another. The structure of the Big Three sects exists because it works. The Lex Magica and the Iron Pyramid are a big deal for precisely that reason.

                      The other trick is that Mages are relatively rare. Forumites like to debate the exact numbers and ranges, but it never gets above "small town" numbers. So while there are some trappings of law and higher order societal structure, in most Consilia-sized societies everyone basically knows who you are, who your mentors were, who last owned the Hallows you sup at, etc. There are exceptions, yes, and those people are suspicious precisely because they're an exception.

                      If there's any kind of agreement that you're abusing your powers, they can and will track you down and end you. Indeed, most APs I've read have this kind of thing as at least a subplot. (And it usually seems to end with the PCs advocating for some kind of mercy, though sometimes not.)

                      What counts as abuse is different in different places, though. You'd expect traveling Mages to make a point of introducing themselves to the Consilia they visit, stating their business, learning the local customs, and to the degree they fail to do this, be regarded with suspicion to hostility.

                      So, honestly, the answer is, "Pick up Sigil and Sanctum."


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

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                      • #12
                        Magic that influences other Mages directly or indirectly is probably never regarded too favorable.

                        I'd say Magic that targets others is always bad, in the sens of ranging from a serious social faux pas to an outright crime.
                        If you use magic to improve your own performance, I think it depends on how subtle you are about it. Just a little bit here or there, not to much and not to noticeable, your fine. Otherwise you might either become the laughingstock of polite society as the clown coming to every social event heavily enchanted at best or you'd be an ostracized pariah at worst.
                        Because keep in mind, other Mages know what Mages can do, and so if things seem a little bit to perfect, the might become mistrustful.

                        The above describes a working mage community.

                        On the other end, you would have a society of paranoia and heavy mistrust, where every interaction with other mages would require heavy regulation.

                        There are of course variations and shades between those two but that should give you an idea.

                        One analogy you can use is the business world. When people play fair, trust each other don't and try to use every weapon in their arsenal against on another, a handshake is enough. Again on the other end of the spectrum, corporate lawyers go over every minute detail and word of any given contract.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by nobby View Post
                          Magic that influences other Mages directly or indirectly is probably never regarded too favorable.

                          I'd say Magic that targets others is always bad, in the sens of ranging from a serious social faux pas to an outright crime.
                          If you use magic to improve your own performance, I think it depends on how subtle you are about it. Just a little bit here or there, not to much and not to noticeable, your fine. Otherwise you might either become the laughingstock of polite society as the clown coming to every social event heavily enchanted at best or you'd be an ostracized pariah at worst.
                          Because keep in mind, other Mages know what Mages can do, and so if things seem a little bit to perfect, the might become mistrustful.

                          The above describes a working mage community.

                          On the other end, you would have a society of paranoia and heavy mistrust, where every interaction with other mages would require heavy regulation.

                          There are of course variations and shades between those two but that should give you an idea.

                          One analogy you can use is the business world. When people play fair, trust each other don't and try to use every weapon in their arsenal against on another, a handshake is enough. Again on the other end of the spectrum, corporate lawyers go over every minute detail and word of any given contract.
                          Targeting others is not a problem, depending on the method. Lets say you have an enemy who has sworn yoir death. If your cabal follows the Right of Nemesis, it means he can openly challenge you to a Duel Arcane. Can it be to the death ? Depends on the Consilium, but I would normally say not without a Hierarch's consent and some kind of mediation attempt by the Lex Magicka. The advantage of this custom is that it says to your enemies "form a line and I will give you a fair shot at me". You lose the ability to quietly deal with big problems, but you also diminish the chances of assassination and escalation.

                          I would say using magic to manipulate others is considered rude and untrustworthy, a big reason Bearers of the Eternal Voice are seen with suspicion. But using it to enhance your skills is pretty normal, if you tell people before casting. A Moros is making his car into the MIB one as you talk , or has a ghost cook friend making everyone breakfast, the Mastigos keeps pulling stuff from his bag of holding, the Acanthus literally makes time to talk to the cabal in private, etc.


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

                          The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists (Mind/Time)
                          The Szary Strażnik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate (Fate/Prime)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post

                            Targeting others is not a problem, depending on the method. Lets say you have an enemy who has sworn yoir death. If your cabal follows the Right of Nemesis, it means he can openly challenge you to a Duel Arcane. Can it be to the death ? Depends on the Consilium, but I would normally say not without a Hierarch's consent and some kind of mediation attempt by the Lex Magicka. The advantage of this custom is that it says to your enemies "form a line and I will give you a fair shot at me". You lose the ability to quietly deal with big problems, but you also diminish the chances of assassination and escalation.

                            I would say using magic to manipulate others is considered rude and untrustworthy, a big reason Bearers of the Eternal Voice are seen with suspicion. But using it to enhance your skills is pretty normal, if you tell people before casting. A Moros is making his car into the MIB one as you talk , or has a ghost cook friend making everyone breakfast, the Mastigos keeps pulling stuff from his bag of holding, the Acanthus literally makes time to talk to the cabal in private, etc.
                            In that case obviously not^^
                            What I meant was targeting someone with a spell is problematic if you want your relations with that someone to stay on non hostile terms .

                            As for the second part, what I mentioned refers to magic used in social interactions between Mages, since I figured that's what OP asked.
                            Enhancing your skills or attributes to ridiculous levels for example. If Bob had a persuasion skill of 1 and pumped it to a 4 or 5 every time he had to speak to other Mages at a gathering, people might get suspicious and start to laugh about Bob if, or rather when they find out,or feel tricked( “Bob used Magic to sweet talk me, I don't like that”). Or if you used Fate Magic to make sure that your conversations went well, people might not look at that very favorable, etc.

                            In the cases you mention, the Mage doesn't influence another Mage in an direct or indirect manner so mach as help out or show of. Things that of course are absolutely fine. (unleeees of course if the other Mage was a guardian. In that case, better don't overuse Magic^^)
                            Last edited by nobby; 08-26-2019, 12:46 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by nobby View Post
                              In that case obviously not^^
                              What I meant was targeting someone with a spell is problematic if you want your relations with that someone to stay on non hostile terms .

                              As for the second part, what I mentioned refers to magic used in social interactions between Mages, since I figured that's what OP asked.
                              Enhancing your skills or attributes to ridiculous levels for example. If Bob had a persuasion skill of 1 and pumped it to a 4 or 5 every time he had to speak to other Mages at a gathering, people might get suspicious and start to laugh about Bob if, or rather when they find out,or feel tricked( “Bob used Magic to sweet talk me, I don't like that”). Or if you used Fate Magic to make sure that your conversations went well, people might not look at that very favorable, etc.

                              In the cases you mention, the Mage doesn't influence another Mage in an direct or indirect manner so mach as help out or show of. Things that of course are absolutely fine. (unleeees of course if the other Mage was a guardian. In that case, better don't overuse Magic^^)
                              Ah, ok. In that case, I second Errol's recommendation and also add the Silver Ladder book, managing things is their specialty. They invented the Consilia, and the more I think analyze it, the more it sounds like a brilliant way to keep mages organized against their foes and away from each other's throats.

                              In general I go by the rule that using any kind of magical manipulation is viewed by other mages as unacceptable, so you would need to be extremely careful to conceal it with Prime and even then discretion would be advised. Unless you are using it defensively to conceal your own research or sensitive Order/Consilium data. Makes the mage seem paranoid, but its reasonable.

                              That just leaves favor trading via a prestation system, which is key to secure backing and resources. Regarding that topic I would like to recommend this article:

                              https://m45t1g05.blogspot.com/2017/0...ystem.html?m=1
                              Last edited by KaiserAfini; 08-26-2019, 08:38 PM.


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

                              The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists (Mind/Time)
                              The Szary Strażnik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate (Fate/Prime)

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