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  • #16
    Originally posted by thenate View Post
    Eh. Counterargument:

    Without magic, one must harm living things to live. Only with magic can one avoid that.

    If a mage used this as a lazy way to bypass eating requirements, it'd be a Wisdom check. Used as a means of living in the world in a manner more pure (or noble or whatever) it really isn't something that they can do, so why would it be a Wisdom check?

    (I might have that character roll Wisdom if they carelessly ate a salad afterwords, though because it damaged that state of being.)
    Whether you can do less harm with magic than without doesn't matter because Wisdom does not measure ethics or morality. It's about carelessness vs control. A high Wisdom mage is generally a better person than a low Wisdom mage, but it's far from given. A high Wisdom mage could be a complete monster who gets off on ruining other people's lives as long as they act deliberately and with restraint, while the most caring and wellmeaning altruist can be on the verge of Wisdom 0 because they always act rashly without thinking of the consequences.


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    • #17
      I think of Wisdom as a measure of how precise and focused is the character's use of magic. Its about knowing when to use it, the minimal amount needed, being discrete, tying up loose ends and knowing when a mundane solution is enough.

      Using magic to quietly keep yourself fed during a plague outbreak, reducing risk of infection on yourself and minimizing the burden on the town's supplies ? Sounds good. Doing it not to buy the food already on sale in everyday life ? Overkill, not terribly so, but not the apex of Wisdom either.

      Wisdom is not necessarily tied to morals either. Harry Dresden is a low Wisdom Obrimos with a good heart. He has a habit of casting powerful spells before using Knowing or Unveiling ones, using magic like a blunt object, and this keeps making things harder further down the line. But he also tends to commit those Acts of Hubris in service to his Virtue, so those Arcane Beats keep rolling in. That volatile power mixed with his connections make him terrifyingly dangerous.

      John Marcone is a high Wisdom Seer. Not nice by any measure, but very focused, in control. He knows how to read a situation, take charge and optimize the moves to maximize his advantage. Is it a very delicate balancing act when serving the Exarchs ? Absolutely, but its just one more trial on your way up the Iron Pyramid. If you got lost in your Obsessions on your way up, you may lose usefulness as a major mover and shaker for the Throne.

      Lastly, John Constantine is a very high power and high Wisdom Mastigos with a mastery of Fate. He is generally a good person (or tries to be), is a very good at planning ahead, knowns how to use guile to accomplish things pure power never could and is ready to make the needed sacrifices. Everyone he saves ends up hating him for it, but he tends to tie up loose ends a lot more neatly than Harry.

      In theory a high Wisdom mage should be able to accomplish more with less (see Rhea in BlueWind's Active Play for an excellent example) and have less fallout from their actions, but it requires a more deliberate approach to their problemsolving.
      Last edited by KaiserAfini; 11-04-2020, 01:01 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

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      • #18
        Hmm, this is making me reconsider the idea of what exactly an Act of Hubris represents.
        Like, I previously thought that an Act of Hubris is 'an act which expresses Hubris', or more specifically an 'act which expresses Hubris and violates the vague tenants of Wisdom', but I'm starting to wonder if it might make more sense to consider it as 'an act which -invites- Hubris'.
        In this essay, I will-... Bluh bluh bluh-...

        I don't think a Mage using magic to eliminate their need to consume other living things to survive is necessarily 'unwise' or even 'hubristic', but I could -definitely- see how it could nudge the mage toward a more Hubristic line of thought. After all, that's definitely a ethically secure way to use magic and arguably even 'wise' in a typical usage of the term, but it's an act of uncompromising moral restriction that is literally impossible to achieve without magic - surely, this is a sign of your supremacy over the common people!
        I guess this is how I try to think about the whole 'Extending Your Life Past Human Limits Is An Act Of Hubris' thing. It's not because its somehow an inherently bad thing to do, nor because it's nebulously 'unwise', but because it invites a change in your worldview that might nudge you towards a more Hubristic perspective - it can lead to you to start thinking of yourself as 'superior' to all the mere mortals out there. It can lead you to think that your life, one that might stretch on for millennia, is inherently more valuable than others.

        Furthermore, I think it's worth considering what an Act of Hubris does to Wisdom, mechanically. Acts of Hubris don't directly make you drop in Wisdom, but instead are 'attacks' against your Wisdom - they represent moments wherein your Wisdom is challenged, where your self-control risks being eroded by your growing sense of self-importance.
        Succeeding in an Act of Hubris doesn't necessarily mean you recognise that the action you took was wrong (It might be, without any reasonable doubt, the right thing to do), but rather that you have managed to 'check yourself' and stop yourself from falling into Hubris - realising that, no, just because you have access to mystical superpowers that can make you a hyper-mega vegan or let you never grow old doesn't make you inherently superior to the Sleeping masses, doesn't mean that you matter more than they do.
        Failing an Act of Hubris doesn't necessarily mean you've done something terrible, but rather that you're mindset has shifted and you've become more affected by the sense of self-importance endemic to the Awakened condition.
        Consider that the hyper-mega vegan in question is also likely to be rolling five or six dice, which leads to pretty good odds for succeeding the roll. My point with that is that it isn't necessarily a 'big deal' Act of Hubris and, just because there's a slight risk of a decrease in Wisdom, that shouldn't necessarily stop the mage in question from going for it - it wouldn't even be a dilemma for a Mage who isn't already in the extreme upper echelons of wisdom to begin with.

        I suppose that not every Act of Hubris can be explained by this theory and some of them definitely are moral sins, but I think this makes a certain amount of sense.

        ---

        I find myself thinking of the meaning behind the Silver Ladder's much quoted saying: "Hubris is a Coward's Word."
        It's usually thrown around by people to indicate that the Silver Ladder doesn't believe in Hubris, at all, but I think it's more that they see it being used to hold people back.
        The above quote is the Silver Ladder's response to those who might say that our hyper-vegan mage shouldn't live according to his morals, because it is Hubris. It's their response to those who tell an old man that he shouldn't pursue a means of extending his life, because it is Hubris. It's their response to the Seers of the Throne's claims that one should simply accept the cosmic boot placed firmly upon the face of humanity, because to stand against the Gods is Hubris in its highest form.
        Perhaps a better way to phrase it, or at least that interpretation of it, is as follows: "Don't let fear of Hubris hold you back."
        Last edited by Kleptomania; 11-04-2020, 06:13 AM.


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        • #19
          Originally posted by Kleptomania View Post
          Hmm, this is making me reconsider the idea of what exactly an Act of Hubris represents.
          Like, I previously thought that an Act of Hubris is 'an act which expresses Hubris', or more specifically an 'act which expresses Hubris and violates the vague tenants of Wisdom', but I'm starting to wonder if it might make more sense to consider it as 'an act which -invites- Hubris'.
          [...]

          I suppose that not every Act of Hubris can be explained by this theory and some of them definitely are moral sins, but I think this makes a certain amount of sense.
          Note that such Acts of Hubris are generally exclusive to the Enlightened tier. It's when you get down to Understanding that AoHs can be difficult to fully control or mitigate any consequences (but not impossible, and it's intended that such things should modify the severity of AoHs), which is what could be considered "violations", while the Falling tier is generally filled with AoHs with unavoidable consequences or actions that are inherently hubristic.


          Bloodline: The Stygians
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          • #20
            I am going to complicate this discussion further by introducing another angle to the specific question of whether nourishing yourself indefinitely is Hubristic.

            Going by the fact that destroying a Supernal entity is an Act of Hubris, and a very severe one at that, it seems that respecting the Supernal is part of Wisdom. It cannot be just about care or arrogance because you could destroy a Supernal entity relatively carefully (which would probably still be against Enlightened Wisdom at least) and for reasons that you believe appropriate and just (which should make it against Understanding Wisdom at most). But no, destroying a Truth, no matter how noble your intentions and how carefully your approach, is an Act against Falling Wisdom. In fact, it is considered so severe that causing this through inaction is just as severe as doing it directly.

            How does this relate to the question at hand? Well, the fiction rarely actually gives us concrete examples of Supernal Truths, the best we tend to get is the Truths the Paths are based on and the Tyrannic Truths which are the Exarchs. However, occasionally we still get samples stated. For example, thanks to Theumiel from Imperial Mysteries we know that Predator-and-prey is a Truth of the Primal Wild and one that seems to predate the Reign of the Exarchs. Indeed there is another Truth presented in the book that represents Predation, which the Exarchs specifically did not cast out of the Supernal.

            If "predator and prey" is a Truth, quite possibly "life feeds on life" and "the foodchain" mght be Truths as well. A Mage who nourishes themselves through magic then acts against one of the fundamental Truths of reality, which could even be seen as being a vaguely Abyssal act. They could even do so for many of the same noble reasons that Theumiel has, but that does not change the alignment with the Abyss such an action has.


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            • #21
              Another complication: destroying any Supernal entity is an Act of Hubris. So lets say a prelate of the Chancellor summoned some that let him buy anything with souls you have control over. So mostly that means they kidnap victims.

              Boons, familiars, the more souls you provide, the better the things you can buy (although Artifacts are very expensive and limited time offers). Secretly he believes that by sacrificing the entire city and its inhabitants, Seer and Pentacle mages included, he will be able to buy archmastery.

              So lets say the cabal followed the trail of thralls they leave behind and interrupted a summon after it arrives. Do they eliminate it and risk an Act of Hubris ? Do they let it go while willfully knowing that all it takes is another greedy Seer to restart the cycle ? Do they summon it later themselves and risk drawing Exarchial notice ? Tough call.

              Here is the thing, sometimes an Act of Hubris might be a good enough solution. Not perfect, but if the situation derailed beyond an even handed approach, it will have to do.

              This kind of scenario is perfect to show how heroic the Guardians can be. When one sees the cabal did all they could to solve the situation Wisely, but now a better option is out the window, they will step up and say "someone needs to dirty their hands for the greater good, better my soul than yours, I knew from day one I was signing up for these sacrifices". Best case scenario, they have a Masque to prevent soul damage, but even if they don't, it can be a powerful moment for the characters.


              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

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Excess View Post
                nearly the epitome of responsibility.
                Responsibility is not the opposite of hubris. The thing to understand about Wisdom is that you don't win against it. You always lose. It's a question of when, not if. How, not why. You will commit an Act of Hubris. You do not get to live and be above reproach. [insert Dark Knight quote] Everyone fucks up. Everyone goes too far. Everyone does something that traumatizes the world.

                That's what Mage is about. It's about taking that quintessential "to err is to be human" factor and supercharging it with the privilege that is Access Codes to the Building Blocks of Reality. As noted in the "subjective stat" explanation in my signature, that doesn't mean it has to be part of your game--your character's story--; perhaps for the duration of the chronicle, you scrupulously avoid Acts of Hubris, or deliberately buy your Wisdom back soon after you lose it, or ask your ST to not make you roll it. That up-and-down is, as noted, the default narrative for your character's internal life.

                It is what Mage was designed to be about: losing Wisdom, and the myriad justifications you come up for doing so. Do you have to play that? No. You can absolutely ignore Wisdom if your ST doesn't call for rolls, or gives you automatic successes. Discussing that kind of houserule is what Session Zero is for.

                Originally posted by Excess View Post
                Perhaps for the most part your explanation holds but inuring and legacy wisdom represent extreme exceptions
                They are not exceptions to my understanding of Wisdom. Inuring and initiation into a Legacy are deliberate acts of soul-shaping. Wisdom isn't about the amount of control you choose to have over your magic. Wisdom is about the amount of control you have over your magic. Why you have a lack of control is up to you and your character's history of decisions. The fact is that, at Wisdom 2, you have little control, just as at Stamina 2, you don't have that much health. Similarly, why you manage to maintain control after performing actions that normally subvert it is similarly up to you.

                Inuring and Legacy initiation change the ways in which you might lose control, largely by removing some paths towards doing so. Bringing up Reapers wasn't an accident or just a joke. Part of what makes a Left-handed Legacy scary is that they don't share the accepted wisdom amongst the broader Mage community about what a healthy soul looks like, and have willingly used soul-shaping to allow them to flout those norms.

                Originally posted by Excess View Post
                They mean that you can be saintly wise while demonstrating the total lack of either discipline or morality, such as possible for the Seers.
                Yes, that's an intentional part of the design. Discipline is not the opposite of hubris. Morality is not the opposite of hubris. Hubris is the blindness that goes before the fall. It's the conviction that your justifications are adequate. It's the confidence that your mission is righteous. It's the statement that because you believe it, you must be correct and reality will bend to accomodate.

                That blindness erodes your capacity to control your magic. As I said in the link, it makes cracks in your soul and lets Truth spill recklessly from it, heedless of any "discipline" or "morality" or "responsibility" you might have. Those are words that describe why you feel bad when it happens. They don't stop it from happening.

                Originally posted by Excess View Post
                It is a prohibition. The developers did not think this through.
                The purpose of subjective stats is not to prohibit play. An example of a prohibition is "you may not advance your Inferior Arcanum beyond 2 dots without some form of training". An Act of Hubris is something that you roll for to see what happens, just like trying to kick down a door. ...or a Door. They don't automatically bump you down the Wisdom track. There's no roll to see whether or not your Thyrsus can just intuit themselves into Mind 3.

                Wisdom is a stat. There is a means to move it up, and a means to move it down. That's the same degree of freedom afforded to your Health track. It's more freedom than your Attributes, your Skills, your Gnosis, or your Arcana, none of which have clear methods for moving downwards. You move it down via Acts of Hubris. You move it up by taking an Obsession to become wiser.

                Saying that an Act of Hubris is a prohibition is no different from saying that being shot at is a prohibition. There are guns in the setting. They're gonna get fired at you. There are reasons to take unWise actions. That's why there are systems for handling that.

                All that said, I'm not actually a huge fan of the system or the write-up. I don't terribly like the three-tier system. I've seen some alternative homebrews proposed which are interesting, but also don't quite do it for me. And that's fine for me, because I can understand the bones of what it's trying to do and can fill that gap during play. If your chronicle relies on the average human adult casually teleporting across the world on a regular basis, then you do you. Thinking through that isn't really on the developers, though: as I said, why does the Silver Ladder even exist as an Order in this world?

                But to me, all spellcasting is an act of hubris, because that's the essential conceit of the game. It just doesn't merit a roll, the vast majority of the time, much like lifting weights doesn't merit a roll most of the time. In the case of the latter, you're damaging your muscles and stuff, but without doing it to excess, it heals and you're fine. In the case of the former, you're carefully opening the tap on your soul instead of cracking it open with a hammer, so it's usually no big deal. I mean. Unless there's Paradox in which case the faucet just exploded and water went everywhere, or you clamped down on it so only you were affected, in this metaphor. Or something.

                I'm not good at plumbing. Don't look at me like that.


                I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
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                • #23
                  Related question: from an etiological, root cause standpoint, why is creating a soul stone an offense against Enlightened and Understanding Wisdom? The immediate justification provided by the text is that it's self-mutilation (due I suppose to the reduction in potential Gnosis that isn't going to materially impact any normal character unless they make like 5 of them). I can't clearly relate this to concept of Wisdom as discussed above.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by galivet View Post
                    Related question: from an etiological, root cause standpoint, why is creating a soul stone an offense against Enlightened and Understanding Wisdom? The immediate justification provided by the text is that it's self-mutilation (due I suppose to the reduction in potential Gnosis that isn't going to materially impact any normal character unless they make like 5 of them). I can't clearly relate this to concept of Wisdom as discussed above.
                    The reduction in Gnosis is one of the symptoms (the other being loss of a Willpower dot), not the cause. You did in fact harm your soul (note how many effects that damage the soul are represented by weirdness with Willpower, like losing a dot) in the pursuit of power.

                    The reason why harming your own soul for power is an issue could have multiple explanations:
                    1. Wisdom includes respecting other's integrity (and Integrity), but also your own. Harming yourself is no better from an objective, deontological viewpoint than harming another.
                    2. Related to the above, but with a slightly different focus: Harming yourself is bad enough, but the real problem for Wisdom is that you do so in the pursuit of power. If you do such things to yourself for more magic mojo, then clearly you cannot handle magic as responsibly as you would like to think.
                    3. Related to the above, that your maximum Gnosis goes down may not be relevant to most characters, but it does highlight priorizing temporal power over supernal enlightenment.
                    4. The potential loss of Wisdom could also be a direct result of the soulstone creation. The damage to your soul also means a chance to damage the parts of your soul associated with Wisdom. This is an explanation that could relate to the ability to Inure, which is otherwise left mostly unexplained, but Legacy Attainments strongly imply that Wisdom is also associated with the soul.


                    Politeness is the lubricant of social intercourse.

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                    • #25
                      It is an act of magical self-mutilation. By doing it you not only lower your own magical potential, but also introduce risks towards you as it's basically a chunk of your magic that anyone could potentially get hold of. But since it can be done safely by not being close to your maximum Gnosis and keeping really good track of it, it's not an AoH against Falling Wisdom. As such, one could make an argument that someone who is extra careful should only have it as an AoH against Enlightened Wisdom, while someone who is extra careless (i.e. messing up their Gnosis because they were at the cap and/or leaving the soulstone to be way too vulnerable) should have it as an AoH against Falling Wisdom as they're literally squandering their magic potential and putting themselves at great risk. In fact, it might actually be intended to be that way since AoHs are supposed to be both individualised and context dependent. The text just doesn't do a good job of describing how.

                      That Wisdom isn't relatable is fair criticism. But it's also kinda necessary since Wisdom primarily relates to a mage's ability to use magic as well as the link between their soul and the Supernal. Literally every mage experiences some sort of enlightenment when they Awaken that affects them quite deeply. It's not something we can ever experience except through analogies.


                      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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                      • #26
                        Personally i think that it s not exactly an AoH, the risk is only associated to the damage inflicted on your soul.
                        If i understand it rightly Wisdom is a DIRECT measure of the "health" of a mage s soul, as Integrity is for a human.
                        An healty soul is surely more efficient in blocking paradox intrusions.
                        In a surgical operation of the brain there is always a risk of brain damage, and similary creating a soul stone is a surgical operation to your soul.

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                        • #27
                          When I brought up the counter examples of how Wisdom in Mage is neither discipline nor morality, I already understood it was neither of those things. I wish the developers presented Wisdom as the strange and alien thing it is rather than some theory of morality.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by saibot View Post
                            If "predator and prey" is a Truth, quite possibly "life feeds on life" and "the foodchain" mght be Truths as well. A Mage who nourishes themselves through magic then acts against one of the fundamental Truths of reality, which could even be seen as being a vaguely Abyssal act. They could even do so for many of the same noble reasons that Theumiel has, but that does not change the alignment with the Abyss such an action has.
                            I am not convinced. They did not use Scelesti magic nor attack a connection to the Supernal like a Supernal being. My take is that just as Prime rules over dispellation it also binds Symbols with parameters and exceptions so that totally and normally contradictory Symbols can coexist. After all, what happened to the Symbols of Acts of Imperiam when another came along and "erased" it?

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                            • #29
                              I feel like some associate Wisdom with morality while others associate it with health.

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