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  • Mundane lives and mage population

    I've been thinking about the mages in the campaign I'm prepping and I'm scratching my head a bit when it comes to the mundane lives of mages and maintaining a level of discretion.

    It's easy to be in the background of a big city but in a town and surrounding area with about 30,000 people and let's say 20 mages even with magic it will be difficult to keep mundane and shadow name separate.

    I can only think of two ways mages can remain behind the scenes. First are mages who have left their old life behind and secondly the newly awakened (which wouldn't last long).

    How have others handled it?

  • #2
    Have a higher bit of logistics dedicated towards it, such as more reliance on Guardians and Arrows to keep things low profile (such as a clean up and emergency hotline with remotely cast anti-Seer security checks). Have crash courses for new arrivals such that they know how to be discrete. A mage should never call themselves their Shadow Name whenever near Sleepers they know, they should try to limit themselves to Knowing and Unveiling spells in public unless they have Supernal Veil up (which might be a popular imbued item being ordered in this area), Mutable Mask must be another preferred one. Incentivize mages to develop Merits like Shadow Name and Occultation, the Consilium giving them some perks for demonstrated competence with them.

    Conduct most mage related business in safe houses provided in the Realms Invisible, such as the Astral, the different phases of Twilight, selected and secured pockets in the Shadow and Underworld, etc. Utilize the"spelleasy" locations provided to discuss more elaborate Mysteries. They are probably created by users of Space or Matter, but those warded by Fate, Life (they repel anyone who cannot use Pattern Restoration) or Time (time pockets, time phasing, accelerated time zones, warding it so Sleepers don't notice its present state has changed from empty, etc)

    There are multiple ways to go about it, it all depends in how much infrastructure previous generations left behind, what amount of interest the Consilium's mages are willing to dedicate to the problem and how many external contacts they can rely upon to help putting it into practice (call a security specialist from the Order Caucus to make Arrow spelleasies, hire a well known Guardian crafter to make imbued items with Supernal Veil, etc).
    Last edited by KaiserAfini; 07-01-2021, 08:44 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)
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Old Dog View Post
      I've been thinking about the mages in the campaign I'm prepping and I'm scratching my head a bit when it comes to the mundane lives of mages and maintaining a level of discretion.

      It's easy to be in the background of a big city but in a town and surrounding area with about 30,000 people and let's say 20 mages even with magic it will be difficult to keep mundane and shadow name separate.

      I can only think of two ways mages can remain behind the scenes. First are mages who have left their old life behind and secondly the newly awakened (which wouldn't last long).

      How have others handled it?

      Well for a start, I think consider the implications of the Shadow Name Merit, how it applies dice penalties to mundane skills to recognise a person who has developed their magical persona enough. That alone becomes kind of a Marilyn Monroe being unrecognisable on the street until she adjusts her walk a certain way, or the difference between how Christopher Reeve plays Clark Kent and Superman. The cross section of the clothing, body language, way of speaking and the fact that there's an actual magical element to it can allow a mage to be difficult to perceive as the same person as they are in the regular everyday life.

      As far as the population density goes, the big city is where you can disappear anonymously into the crowd and the small town is where you can disappear into the places where there isn't anybody.

      What and where do you think a mage will be doing that might cause Sleepers to ever be aware of the personalities they adopt when going about their wizard business?


      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
      Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post
        A mage should never call themselves their Shadow Name whenever near Sleepers they know, they should try to limit themselves to Knowing and Unveiling spells in public
        On the one hand, same question, what would they want to do so publicly in the first place.

        On the other, there are plenty of spells across multiple Arcana with no apparent sensory indicator. If you walk into a packed convention centre and cast Superlative Luck over the whole area, nobody is going to notice, and they're not necessarily going to attribute the great day they're having to some kind of mystical intervention.

        Originally posted by KaiserAfini
        unless they have Supernal Veil up
        But that spell is about hiding magic from other magic people.

        Originally posted by KaiserAfini
        Conduct most mage related business in safe houses provided in the Realms Invisible, such as the Astral, the different phases of Twilight, selected and secured pockets in the Shadow and Underworld, etc. Utilize the"spelleasy" locations provided to discuss more elaborate Mysteries. They are probably created by users of Space or Matter, but those warded by Fate, Life (they repel anyone who cannot use Pattern Restoration) or Time (time pockets, time phasing, accelerated time zones, warding it so Sleepers don't notice its present state has changed from empty, etc)
        That seems like a lot of overkill in a case where one would expect a private domicile to often suffice.

        A Consilium can plausibly meet in a hosting venue booked for a private event.

        When it's a question of hiding from Sleepers, I think one often can't go wrong with the points of "large gatherings of people was a thing that was done up until a couple of years ago" and "most folks do not much care what thirty or forty people are getting together for".


        I have approximate knowledge of many things.
        Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

          What and where do you think a mage will be doing that might cause Sleepers to ever be aware of the personalities they adopt when going about their wizard business?
          It's not actually sleepers I was concerned about. If I have a secret cabal of Seers operating in the town it will be difficult for Mages have a mundane life. It will require a lot of caution not to expose your family to danger. Keeping them safe for years might be impossible even with magic.

          And then there is the Seers, how are they secret? Which is where I was going to have them completely detached from mundane affairs.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Old Dog View Post
            If I have a secret cabal of Seers operating in the town it will be difficult for Mages have a mundane life.
            Well first there's the question of how the Seers have determined who the mages are in the first place.

            And then what their mechanism is for going around looking for those people again in the same town.

            Again, before we get into how there's a Merit to make it harder to connect your mundane and magical personas, either by sight or by spell.

            Originally posted by Old Dog
            It will require a lot of caution not to expose your family to danger. Keeping them safe for years might be impossible even with magic.
            There's a question there of what advantage it confers to do something harmful to family members.

            There's also a matter of whether it's a good idea to escalate in a manner that might expose you while outnumbered.

            You've been saying that these Seers are in the area in secrecy. What are their objectives? If it's to do something with a local Mystery, it's best not to harass the opposition. If it's about working against the Pentacle specifically, it's still smarter to wait and observe until in a position of strength, preferably overwhelming.

            Originally posted by Old Dog
            And then there is the Seers, how are they secret?
            Do you mean in general or this specific Pylon?

            In general, not all of them are going to be, but when they are the biggest thing is probably that Pentacle mages are less likely to be constantly scanning crowds looking for other mages, and it's a matter of whether your operations draw attention.

            If just for a Pylon, it's easier to be non-descript if you're just a visitor. Maybe don't all arrive at the same time; one has credentials as a geological surveyor, one is on a camping trip, one is a delivery driver. Hole up in different spots and then meet discretely.

            Originally posted by Old Dog
            Which is where I was going to have them completely detached from mundane affairs.
            The Seers on the whole need to be attached enough to influence society, and some degree of temporal wealth is part of the draw in the first place. They've got a more marked tendency to not form lasting intimate relationships, but that's more about cynicism in their ethos than a need for secrecy. There are plenty of cover identities that don't have many close people but still do a lot openly.

            You'd need to define what these characters are looking to accomplish.


            I have approximate knowledge of many things.
            Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post

              There are multiple ways to go about it, it all depends in how much infrastructure previous generations left behind, what amount of interest the Consilium's mages are willing to dedicate to the problem and how many external contacts they can rely upon to help putting it into practice (call a security specialist from the Order Caucus to make Arrow spelleasies, hire a well known Guardian crafter to make imbued items with Supernal Veil, etc).
              Thanks for the tips, the local Arrows are paranoid enough to put some of these in place and the Guardians don't even trust the other orders.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                You'd need to define what these characters are looking to accomplish.
                Guarding and maintaining the transcontinental Ley Line.

                Your right they don't all need to base themselves there. The Linesmen a pylon with train drivers, telecom techs and surveyors who monitor the whole Ley Line. The leader could reside permanently in Pine Gap as part of the intelligence agencies and monitor Alice remotely.

                When they do identity mages they just monitor and document. Calling in assets to neutralize them if their actions are seen as a threat.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Old Dog View Post

                  Guarding and maintaining the transcontinental Ley Line.

                  Your right they don't all need to base themselves there. The Linesmen a pylon with train drivers, telecom techs and surveyors who monitor the whole Ley Line. The leader could reside permanently in Pine Gap as part of the intelligence agencies and monitor Alice remotely.
                  Well I think a Pylon probably would want somebody on the ground level to make decisions, even if the Iron Pyramid is structured such that each Pylon reports to another. Seer Pylons are typically commanded by the one responsible for reading Omens for commands from the Exarchs.

                  In any case, a Pylon with such an assignment strikes me as likely to keep a low profile for their own safety, barring the occasional opportunistic attack. Looking for the Sleeper lives of the local Pentacle isn't just poking the bear, it's time not doing what they were put there for.

                  For their own security, the best way for a mage to be secret is to not cast spells where other mages might notice. Don't trigger their Peripheral Sight, don't leave your Signature Nimbus where somebody might notice, don't hang around the sights of Mysteries enough for others to recognise a pattern.

                  Although I suppose if one is daring enough, they might spread a few false leads to harass and misdirect the hard up Arrow cabal. Suddenly I'm thinking of a Profane Robe to allow continuous modification of their Nimbus and just going around imprinting varied Signatures on things. The enemy runs in circles trying to scrutinize things that didn't even have spells cast on them and insisting that these unidentified Nimbuses indicate Seers (and a lot of them) while the other cabals think it's more likely to just be some lone mages passing through.


                  I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                  Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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                  • #10
                    Well how does a mage reconcile any semblance of a mundane life with their mystical one.
                    Well it´s one of the greatest conflicts - especially the deeper a mage goes into the magical world.

                    20 mages (plus / including a seer pylon) is quite a high number of mages for a community of just 30.000.

                    it depends on the level of paranoia you want to have in your game - mage as a setting and their powers lends itself to a high paranoia game.

                    Are working to gether as a semi-illegal competitive hobbyist group or more like organized crime? even if you would know of any mages their mundane - just implying you have that knowledge makes it more personal and deadly than getting satisfaction against the mage "hjaldur greenhand" in a duel arcane.

                    John Wick - almost ok with people attacking him while in a work setting and will parlay if need be - but transgress his mundane life - and he will be on rampage.

                    Even a seer pylon is smart enough not to target another mage´s mundane life needlessly.

                    And yes many mages might know the mundane life or name of many of their colleagues - but remember - the mage self is seen as truer than the mundane life. Also many mages take precautions when dealing with the magical world. From changing nimbus and aura or tying sympathic links only to the shadowname or by literally shapechanging to using masks in consilium.





                    Gamelines: Requiem, Lost, Awakening, Trinity Continuum: Aeon, some V5.
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                    • #11
                      So generally given how alot of mage society works I assumed it to be more like an "honour" thing, if you have a personal beef with a mage it's still considered "Bad form" to go after there sleeper lives as this leads to a known escalation Mage personnas duel. Similarly using a shadow name only offers marginal protection to yourself but offers additional benefits to covering associated spacial connections in your sleeper life

                      I'm highlighting this in my current chronicle between a PC who is a lawyer and there Rival in the guardians of the veil who is also a Lawyer. In there mage personas they might well directly interfere with each others actions potentially endangering each other to get each other to back off shared interests and threaten each other with duels. But occasionally they do visit each other as sleepers either professionally or personally. It's explained as a "courtroom persona" thing.

                      Even seers generally don't want overt escalation although they do skirt the rules here and there if they think they can get away with it without retaliation. It's what makes Banishers and Scelesti absolutely terrifying, They will go straight for your family and co-workers to make you stupid.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pebbles View Post
                        Even seers generally don't want overt escalation although they do skirt the rules here and there if they think they can get away with it without retaliation.
                        It's one thing to be cautious and strategic, but apart from any conflicts that might arise from opposing interests their remains the point that destroying the Pentacle is a core commandment from the Exarchs. That's not necessarily killing them, but nor is it categorically not killing them.

                        Originally posted by Pebbles
                        It's what makes Banishers and Scelesti absolutely terrifying, They will go straight for your family and co-workers to make you stupid.
                        Banishers certainly (well... maybe except for the ones who eat magic), killing other mages is their raison d'etre and they're not wholly rational.

                        Scelesti? It should be kept in mind that they're not just generically evil cultists or something, and on top of the fact that a lot of them have interests that have nothing to do with hostility towards other mages, it's often practical to maintain discretion and good relations with one's society to remain unmolested. Hence the point on how often they actually suffuse the major sects.

                        Look at the example ones in Nameless and Accursed; most of them don't have any particular hostility towards other mages whatsoever (without quite counting the Free Councillor who has the usual Libertine beefs).

                        If anything, it's really more the other way around, the Pentacle and Seers who will slay the Scelesti as a matter of course; you get variations depending on how much you might be regarded as having gotten into it out of ignorance and capable of giving it up, but there's no question of permitting somebody to openly practice antinomian sorcery and live. The reasons to take on the Elder Diadem and what it costs varies, but the fact that Golden Law holds it as the highest crime requiring ultimate punishment does not, and on the whole it's probably more likely that a Pentacle mage will annihilate the soul of a Scelestus than the other way around.

                        Just look at the Acts of Defilement for Joining; it's all about breaking down magic and promoting the Abyss, not things like human sacrifice or whatever. Left-Hand Path was before the modern mechanics, and even that presented the idea that atrocities Scelesti might undertake might be more about the fact that such things approximate the unreason that composes the Abyss rather than in their own right, and the current characterisation doesn't necessarily hew closely to that*.

                        I actually once had an idea for a Thyrsus who became Nasnasi because she actually found the conventions of the Primal Wild and intuitions provided by its Gnosis concerning human life being no more significant than any other, and how it's not really necessary or proper to intervene for the sake of individual lives, to be offensive. She prefers the message of the Burning Iron Spiral that humans actually do have privileges over the rest of the natural world, and uses her magic freely to heal, cure and enhance Sleepers for the sake of saving and improving their lives, benefiting from the capacity to absorb the Paradox she would otherwise generate from being so flagrant.

                        The issue that other mages have with her isn't that she'll go after their families, it's that maintaining the work in service to her ideals requires her to keep going around and discharging her Paradoxes through their spells (as well as just the general principle of the thing).

                        * Although such actions might be the kind of thing you do to help generate the sorts of Abyssal incursions that increase Joining, or fulfil other agendas of the mage.


                        I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                        Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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