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Making the Mastigos more palatable?

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  • Making the Mastigos more palatable?

    The Mastigos has my favorite Arcana combination, and some of their character concepts and Legacies are my favorite in the game. The problem is that there’s a lot of things about the Path that I hate and these things are central to the Mastigos.

    Their Supernal realm and Path throws everything I despise about the occult into a single splat. Their Awakening sounds so traumatic if we were doing “realism in games” they’d have far more Banishers than anyone else. The description of their Mage Sight in 2E core is literally just depression if not existential despair. In several books it almost seems like I’m being railroaded to play as either a cartoonishly evil sociopath or cartoonishly self-absorbed hedonist. Even the two example Mastigos from the 2E corebook is a sociopathic heretic and a woman who embraces her apparent mental illness.

    I’ve tried to come up with Watchtower hacks to make their symbols more palatable, but I’m not able to decide what their “theme” should be. Originally the hacked Supernal realm was basically Fantastica from The Neverending Story and their “theme” would be imagination and creativity. But then I realized that’s too similar to the Acanthus.

    Now I’m leaning more towards making them like esoteric Buddhists and instead of demons their realm will have Asura. (Maybe Asura. I haven’t done enough research on Buddhism yet.) Rather than Seeing things through the lens of failure and enslavement, they would See the world as “interconnectedness and intimacy.” They see everyone as spiritually connected to the point that Pentacle Mastigos are reluctant to harm or allow others to come to harm, and also are reluctant to interfere in another’s free will. (Mastigos Seers and Left-Handed are some of the cruelest and most conniving because of this intimacy.)

  • #2
    Here's my take on them. Their theme is Awareness and Self Control, their Path is Choices and Consequences.
    For Mind everything is about will, everything that happens is due to someone making a choice or choosing not to make a choice.
    For Space it is knowing that nothing exists in a vacuum, everything touches, is connected to and effects everything else.

    As for Mage Sight, I would describe symbols of motivations and the vectors that show how one thing effects another.
    Like ripples flowing away from the thing viewed and the outside ripples that impact it.


    • #3
      It’s not really anymore traumatic to Awaken to the Iron Gauntlet than to any other Path. They’re all seriously borked experiences.

      And every Path has as one of its signature characters a bad guy, so...not sure why the Mastigos having one is a problem.


      • #4
        Originally posted by 2ptTakrill View Post
        Here's my take on them. Their theme is Awareness and Self Control, their Path is Choices and Consequences.
        Choices and Consequences are Acanthus. Transgressions and Confrontations are Mastigos.


        What's wrong with embracing your mental illnesses? They're a part of you, things you have to live with. Why not make them tools, vectors with which to master self and world with?

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


        • #5
          Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
          What's wrong with embracing your mental illnesses? They're a part of you, things you have to live with. Why not make them tools, vectors with which to master self and world with?
          Incredibly salient:
          Originally posted by Joseph Fink
          Keisha, the main character of this book (Alice Isn't Dead), has anxiety. This is a fact of her life and her identity.

          There is a comfort in naming something about yourself, even if it's something you wish wasn't there. It gives you power over it, and allows you to incorporate it into your sense of self. Through the course of this book, Keisha faces genuine danger and terrifying creatures while also struggling with baseline anxiety. Just because fear is often irrational doesn't mean that the world isn't a scary place.

          Anxiety can't be fixed, but it can be lived with. It was important to me that Keisha not be "corrected," that her character arc not be the story of her overcoming anxiety and coming out the other end serene and well-adjusted - that's not how brains work.

          She finishes this story as anxious as when she started, but with the knowledge that she can live with that anxiety - that it is as natural to her as heart and lungs, even if it sometimes makes the former pound and the latter gasp. Anxiety is her - and my - oldest enemy, and it is her - and my - oldest friend, and it is her, and it is me.

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


          • #6
            So, keep in mind that the central premise of Mage is that access to power lets out the worst in people, often in the name of accreting even more power. All of the Paths are villains to some extent, every Path leads to the Seers as much as it does anywhere else for a reason, and if Mastigos seems particularly bad to you, it's honestly more about what ticks you off personally. Which isn't a bad thing, for the record, but still a thing to keep in mind.

            Being a Mastigos is about knowing how to find the path to freedom. The reason that their symbol is primarily about chains is because chains have the dual purpose of binding and linking at the same time, and this duality is the key to being Mastigos: every prison is also a doorway; every pain is an opportunity for pleasure; every denial affirms something else. That's also why a chainlink is the most common image for a URL: connection is everything, for good and for ill; it's the world wide web as much because it provides pathways between all things as because it also creates bindings between all things.

            It's worth noting that most of what the corebook is talking about is a Mastigos being able to clearly understand the existence of chains, not any kind of veneration of them. The chains of sympathy are simply what is true, rather than the trappings that people cover them with. To be Asleep is to be shackled, and to Awaken is to break free. As you've noticed, this perspective is extremely similar to the Acanthus.

            Honestly, if you played a Mastigos like an Acanthus, you really wouldn't be far off. There's a reason that the two "see how stuff is connected in the Supernal" Knowing spells are Fate and Space. Whereas the other three Paths basically get radar pings, the Acanthus and Mastigos get threads to follow.

            Let's take some fictional characters. I can't really use fantasy because mind mages are always a step away from some kind of frustrating villain write-up, so instead I'm going to hit two weird Mastigos choices: Jean Valjean from Les Miserables and Tevye from Fiddler on a Roof.

            Valjean's story is about debt and repayment: chains of obligation that he took on because it was what made him human. He cloaks himself in deception brilliantly most of the time, but all of his heroics are motivated by the understanding that, "This person is/was very important to someone else who matters to me." Valjean isn't Fate-twisted like a Greek hero; he doesn't believe in transformation; he doesn't seek power or authority; he does not intercede between any worlds: Valjean builds bridges across the gaps to the people who have lost everything. The Bishop, of course, is his Daemon. In the end, he dies because he has been finally cut off from everything he cared about.

            Fiddler on the Roof is a story about letting go, and keeping one's faith amidst a world you can't keep up with. With his daughters, with his wife, with his village, and with his God, he struggles to figure out which parts of his connection to each is most important, how to reaffirm that connection, and what boundaries he will and will not cross. There's no reasoning with the Russians; beyond the wishing, there's no path to having more to command than he has at the beginning; he never truly changes so much as simply deepens his self-understanding; and part of the point of the story is that time is out of his control. Hell, a significant sequence turns upon his choice to manipulate his wife by pretending to have a supernatural visitation in his dreams.

            Neither of these are happy stories. There's a limited amount of justice available, despite the striving for betterment that happens. But the striving still indeed does happen, and enlightenment is found along the path between human beings. They choose when deception can be performed in service of greater truths. The enlightenment they undergo is less important for the introspection and more for the generosity it serves to inspire. Valjean, for instance, frequently chooses to undergo imprisonment and torture simply because it's the best path to eventual freedom, not only for him, but for those he cares about. Tevye, far, far more passive a character, submits to the inevitable over and over until he refuses, whereupon the inevitable happens anyways: he never Awakens.

            At this point, I find I am still unable to come up with an alternative for Chains and Auras. ... really, the best I have there is the Great Banyan-Grove Tree in Avatar: the Last Airbender, which is a pretty Mastigos way to view the Life Arcanum. <shrug>

            Anyways, that's what I've got, but this was a nice way to procrastinate way too much.

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


            • #7
              Separately, a thing that bears address:
              Originally posted by Livius Magos View Post
              Their Awakening sounds so traumatic if we were doing “realism in games” they’d have far more Banishers than anyone else.
              You do know that Awakening is generally a choice (or at least a metaphorical exercise of will) and most Awakenings in progress simply fail to culminate in Supernal enlightenment, yes? If you haven't got the spiritual fortitude to acknowledge your weaknesses you just don't Awaken to the Iron Gauntlet. Banisher Awakenings aren't an ordinary failstate in the mystery play.

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


              • #8
                Another option would simply be to make a character froma path you like and then taking the space and mind arcanum (hm is arcanum the plural of arcana or vice versa?).
                After all the Paths are not limited to their two main arcanum. They offer their own outlook to each of the arcana.

                After a while the focus on mind and space could lead your character to develop their own legacy even.

                Completed campaign: Scion 2nd Edition. Les Légendes Currently playing: Being a dad for a 3 year old daughter and a 1 year old son.


                • #9
                  Arcanum is singular, Arcana is plural. It remembering what a Latin second declension neuter noun is doesn't really help, a simpler way to remember is that in the tarot the major arcana is a plural term for the unsuited cards.


                  • #10
                    Read the intro fiction to the Guardians of the Veil order book, I think it's the best Mastigos Awakening (or Awakening at all) yet written for the game line as far as I'm concerned.


                    • #11
                      Heavy Arms and they both mean secrets. The Tarot deck has both Major and Minor Arcana cards.

                      Rain On Me... Lady Gaga (I went to the same academic summer camp she did) and Ariana Grande. This song actually works really well with the World of Darkness.


                      • #12
                        A Mastigos is someone who understands that the only true distance between anything is how symbolically important they are to each other. The enemy you hate with all your being is as close to you as a family member, the intensity of your emotions binds you to them. But its possible they don't even know you exist, so they are far away from you. Sounds contradictory? It isn't, distance is asymmetrical, the Lie made you believe otherwise.

                        Your emotions determine where your path will lead, your mind determines what you can do with it. These are the chains that bind us, or the connections that save us when we lose our footing and fall into the abyss.

                        Mastering your creativity, your knowledge and your emotions is the difference between being in control of your destiny or being bound in a promethean gaol.

                        So now you know the chains, but what can you do with them ? No mind is a shelter from you. What makes this person virtuous? What makes them weak ? What traumas and dreams do they have ? It would have taken you a lifetime of interaction with this person to know that, now it takes mere moments. You can name these things, call them forth, alter and define them, explore the secrets of the mind with unprecedented clarity.

                        At the same time, no barrier can hold you, no path can confuse you, no one can take your privacy away from you. Knowing all this, how will you react ? With compassion and patience, respecting that everyone has their failings while inspiring them to higher ideals ? With contempt and cynicism, manipulating their chains, using them like puppets so you can claim your satisfaction? Or perhaps as a keeper of trials, binding others to them until they learn to shed the right chains ? To answer these questions is what defines the type of Mastigos they become.

                        Lastly, I think this quote shows how the way the Acanthus and Mastigos approach the Supernatural converge:

                        Watch your thoughts, they become your words; Watch your words, they become your actions; Watch your actions, they become your habits; Watch your habits, they become your character;
                        Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
                        - Lao Tzu
                        Last edited by KaiserAfini; 01-01-2020, 01:33 PM.

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

                        The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists
                        The Szary Strażnik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate


                        • #13
                          Interestingly, Hedge has thematic elements of both Acanthus and Mastigos Paths, and the two Arcana most relevant in it are Fate and Mind. Hedge is also the Astral barrier and is closely connected to Dreams, both of which are closely connected to the Astral Realms, which are primarily the playground of Mastigoi. Dave even said that Hedge appears more Pandemonic in nature than Arcadian...

                          P.S.: If you want a Mastigos inspiration, think of Persona games. Hell, Persona 5 has so much Mastigos symbolism it's not even funny. You can play your character in a similar manner.
                          Last edited by Prometheus; 01-02-2020, 02:51 PM.


                          • #14
                            Tell that to my Mastigos paragon. I literally made a Mastigos Guardian of the Veil who is best seen as a paragon. His virtue is even honesty! Its *quite* tragic. But he chooses to see the best in people, even though he knows people aren't that great. He's careful, he wants to protect the Veil, but he'll help you if you ask him sincerely and he rewards honesty and believes in friendship.

                            His boss also wants to kill him but, heh, he doesn't know that yet :3

                            Don't let the lore intimidate you, you can stay on theme and branch out and get creative, with clean thyrsus and faithless/uninspired obrimos and unconfident acanthus and party animal moros. Their experiences shape who they are, and their Awakening is only a portion of the picture.

                            Originally posted by Prometheus View Post
                            P.S.: If you want a Mastigos inspiration, think of Persona games. Hell, Persona 5 has so much Mastigos symbolism it's not even funny. You can play your character in a similar manner.
                            omigosh speaking of which *I named the persona 4 protag after my aforementioned Mastigos paragon! Noice
                            Last edited by Scarlet Witch; 01-11-2020, 04:42 PM.


                            • #15
                              The way I read it, Mastigos often varies between the extremes of hedonism and asceticism. The experience in pandemonium is one that reveals your faults, your weaknesses and faced with them you have a choice. You can accept them or fight them and either one is a valid answer.

                              They see the worst in people because the fallen world is a pretty shitty place that brings out the worst in people, but their magic can see virtuous aspects and noble goals too if one has them. Their experience can propel them to a path of insight and self reflection as they try to reign in their demons just as much as it can lead them to indulging.

                              I can kind of see the meeting of these two extremes from the Darth Maul vs Obi-Wan scene in Rebels

                              “Look what has become of you? A rat in the desert.”

                              “Look what I’ve risen above.”