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Other Supernaturals as Mysteries, easy or hard

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  • Other Supernaturals as Mysteries, easy or hard

    I think the title says it all .

    Basically there is no dout in my mind that cryptids, werewolves, vampires, all kinds of demons and other gribblies are Mysteries in their own right especially for younger Mages. The question I'm asking myself is what Opacity would be these Mysteries? Would seeing a vampire in Mage sight for the first time let you know: "it's a bloodrinking animated corpse" or would it be more difficult to understand?

    Other exemples would be a pre-First Change werewolf, a Mummy or one of the weirdest Hunters. We know through the Contagion player guide what Arcana they ping under Mage Sight but how much information do they give?

    I know part of the answer is "ST fiat" but I'm wondering if there is a consensus.

  • #2
    I think a starting point for any question of how mages can analyse those things would be that in Mage terms, anything with a major template owes its origin to something with power comparable to Imperial magic.

    That doesn't make things totally untouchable to mages, but might create restrictions on how they approach it. Certainly I think it puts matters related to the origins and innermost workings of them on a level beyond Deep Information.

    So, for the other questions: note that Active Mage Sight alone doesn't reveal too much about the supernatural nature of subjects. In the case of that vampire, a Sight that has included the Death Arcanum will make the mage aware that they're looking at something who's existence is strongly covered by that Arcanum, but anything further will require Focusing. Surface Information is going to be the level at which you get things like it being a moving corpse, as well as how long they've been a vampire and an impression of the Predatory Aura that can be identified against in future.

    Deep Information is where one will be able to get things like what makes the corpse tick (namely energy derived by feeding off the blood of others), the fact that it has a beastly inner nature, how that nature can be applied to provide its own powers, the way that the vampire's aura passively affects the environment, and... I'm going to say the way that this specific vampire originates in having been Embraced by another (or alternative as applicable) while a sense of the overall origin of the vampiric nature gives a vague impression of something far beyond the mage. If the mage has scrutinized the results of vampiric powers in the past, they'll be able to make connections with varying displays of specificity as applicable (from "this is the same kind of being as did it" to "this vampire is capable of doing those things" to "this vampire specifically did them).

    The more esoteric vampire powers... I want to say that a mage can get an impression of their capacity to develop things like Invictus Oaths, Carthian Law, Coils and Scales, and Blood Sorcery, but exactly how they are possible is more elusive (although it can help to spend time scrutinising various of those powers in action and comparing back to the vampire). Of them all, I think the Sorcery would be the most understandable; a mage could figure out the broad themes in the blood that can be harnessed to create a class of rituals, but fumble with understanding how that is possible. Even if looking at a vampire who possesses no such powers, scrutiny can provide the insight that the blood possesses a capacity for developing greater magics (although I'd put that kind of information close to Opacity 0, if it's being dealt out in layers).

    I think that can provide a general outline for what the rest look like.

    I think pre-Change werewolves have very little in their nature to reveal, but a mage could get the Deep Information impressions of a spiritual nature differing a bit from regular humans (and how that is affecting personality) and an as yet unrealised potential.

    Hunter Endowments are a minor template, so their understanding is generally the same as with any other Mystery (although possibly a case where the information gotten on, say, this person empowered by elixirs will point you in the direction of the thing you'll need to scrutinise to figure out the origins and nature of the actual elixirs themselves).

    As far as mages doing any of this, I'll note that I think the most elementary obstacle is the beings in question actually standing around and letting themselves be observed in such manner. My thought on how mage society tends to teach about matters related to the likes of vampires and werewolves is that they should be approached with a lot more caution than most Mysteries, because being part of sophisticated societies with their own organisations and codes of conduct not only makes them distinctly dangerous (they can combine efforts against unwanted observers), but carries a risk of getting caught up in their own drama and intrigues in ways that distract from one's own Obsessions and duties.

    (Note: in the absence of any published crossover advice known to me, I'll suggest that the changeling Mask and demon Cover present Clash of Wills against being scrutinised that are extremely powerful at least, and just plain make it really inconvenient for mages to try learning anything that way)


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

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
      (Note: in the absence of any published crossover advice known to me, I'll suggest that the changeling Mask and demon Cover present Clash of Wills against being scrutinised that are extremely powerful at least, and just plain make it really inconvenient for mages to try learning anything that way)
      Demons spoof detection using an unopposed straight roll of their Cover rating to protect against a given method of scrutiny for the scene, flat-out. There is no Clash involved.

      The Mask is not a powerful means of thwarting supernatural methods of detection, it being an anti-mortal-attention mechanism, and the Contagion Chronicle Player's Guide specifies how multiple different forms of Active Sight can spot different facets of a fae mien.


      Resident Lore-Hound
      Currently Consuming: Demon: the Descent 1e

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Satchel View Post

        The Mask is not a powerful means of thwarting supernatural methods of detection, it being an anti-mortal-attention mechanism
        Ahh, sounds toned down from what I understand of the original version.

        Need to revise my private notion of how aware the big societies are of one another.


        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

          So, for the other questions: note that Active Mage Sight alone doesn't reveal too much about the supernatural nature of subjects. In the case of that vampire, a Sight that has included the Death Arcanum will make the mage aware that they're looking at something who's existence is strongly covered by that Arcanum, but anything further will require Focusing. Surface Information is going to be the level at which you get things like it being a moving corpse, as well as how long they've been a vampire and an impression of the Predatory Aura that can be identified against in future.

          Deep Information is where one will be able to get things like what makes the corpse tick (namely energy derived by feeding off the blood of others), the fact that it has a beastly inner nature, how that nature can be applied to provide its own powers, the way that the vampire's aura passively affects the environment, and... I'm going to say the way that this specific vampire originates in having been Embraced by another (or alternative as applicable) while a sense of the overall origin of the vampiric nature gives a vague impression of something far beyond the mage. If the mage has scrutinized the results of vampiric powers in the past, they'll be able to make connections with varying displays of specificity as applicable (from "this is the same kind of being as did it" to "this vampire is capable of doing those things" to "this vampire specifically did them).

          The more esoteric vampire powers... I want to say that a mage can get an impression of their capacity to develop things like Invictus Oaths, Carthian Law, Coils and Scales, and Blood Sorcery, but exactly how they are possible is more elusive (although it can help to spend time scrutinising various of those powers in action and comparing back to the vampire). Of them all, I think the Sorcery would be the most understandable; a mage could figure out the broad themes in the blood that can be harnessed to create a class of rituals, but fumble with understanding how that is possible. Even if looking at a vampire who possesses no such powers, scrutiny can provide the insight that the blood possesses a capacity for developing greater magics (although I'd put that kind of information close to Opacity 0, if it's being dealt out in layers).

          I think that can provide a general outline for what the rest look like.
          That's what I thought but I'm wondering which Opacity would the Mystery be. The suggested rules would result in something like 10 (Greater Templates are Arcana 8+malus due to it not being Awakened Magic). That seems to me a little too high to identify by instance: "this is a bloodrinking corpse and it has a specific flavor (the Clan)" or "this is a half-spirit creature related to wolves with a particular spirit signature (the Tribe)"

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

            Ahh, sounds toned down from what I understand of the original version.

            Need to revise my private notion of how aware the big societies are of one another.
            To be fair, a Contagion Chronicle book is likely going to be biased toward the various big societies being aware of each other; it's going with a “knock the walls down” mentality.

            And although we're talking about Mage Sight in this thread, the bigger issue is that Contagion Chronicle has a bias toward letting the various supernatural types recognize each other for what they are; because a team consistng of different supernatural types who each thinks that the rest of the team consists of mortals is going to be an awkward one to play out. In a non-crossover chronicle (in the sense that all of the protagonists are of one supernatural type, and any appearances by other supernaturals types are primarily in the form of antagonists; because if you're talking non-crossover in the sense of never encountering supernaturals outside your type, it's a moot point), it might be harder to get a sense of just what you're dealing with. In those kinds of Chronicles, you want the others to be mysterious. And in those kinds of Chronicles, I'd be inclined to make it harder for a mage to see through a changeling's Mask — and more generally for mages to learn the secrets of the other societies.

            That said, uncovering secrets is what mages do: if any supernatural type is going to have libraries of books accurately detailing the secrets of the other supernatural types, it's going to be the mages.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
              (Note: in the absence of any published crossover advice known to me, I'll suggest that the changeling Mask and demon Cover present Clash of Wills against being scrutinised that are extremely powerful at least, and just plain make it really inconvenient for mages to try learning anything that way)
              As mentioned, Cover already has Spoof built in as its anti-detection method.

              In Changeling it's specifically brought up that any sort of supernatural senses automatically pierces the Mask. As such, Active Sight should immediately reveal all aspects of a changeling's Mien that are relevant to the Arcana used. The Player's Guide to the Contagion Chronicle goes one step further and says that Mind or Fate Sight would see past the Mask entirely.
              However, a changeling can strengthen their Mask reflexively at the cost of one point of Glamour, which does allow the changeling to force Clash of Wills against everyone who attempts to pierce the Mask.


              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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              • #8
                Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                In a non-crossover chronicle (in the sense that all of the protagonists are of one supernatural type, and any appearances by other supernaturals types are primarily in the form of antagonists; because if you're talking non-crossover in the sense of never encountering supernaturals outside your type, it's a moot point), it might be harder to get a sense of just what you're dealing with.
                Well we do often have rules to the effect that beings can sense other auras along more or less the same lines as they do their own. Vampires might not be able to specifically identify the Nimbus, but in the presence of a mage casting a spell or messing up their scrutiny a bit I think they should still be aware of the touch of the supernatural.


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

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ganonso View Post

                  That's what I thought but I'm wondering which Opacity would the Mystery be. The suggested rules would result in something like 10 (Greater Templates are Arcana 8+malus due to it not being Awakened Magic). That seems to me a little too high to identify by instance: "this is a bloodrinking corpse and it has a specific flavor (the Clan)" or "this is a half-spirit creature related to wolves with a particular spirit signature (the Tribe)"
                  This would be a great place to use the “gradually reveal Deep Information” option, parceling out information on the template in general fairly quickly, and getting more specific as opacity is revealed, then shifting to more esoteric stuff like potential and origins.

                  In the case of major templates, I would propose inverting the opacity rules - such that your first roll is against opacity 1, and it continues to increase from there. How far does it go? No one knows for sure. At some point, every question they thought they had is answered, or it played into their existing knowledge, or the thing got too annoyed with their prodding.


                  Second Chance for
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                  A Beautiful Madness

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ganonso View Post

                    That's what I thought but I'm wondering which Opacity would the Mystery be. The suggested rules would result in something like 10 (Greater Templates are Arcana 8+malus due to it not being Awakened Magic). That seems to me a little too high to identify by instance: "this is a bloodrinking corpse and it has a specific flavor (the Clan)" or "this is a half-spirit creature related to wolves with a particular spirit signature (the Tribe)"
                    I think an overall Mystery of an individual supernatural creature doesn't need to worry about the big origin question and more about just getting around the specimen in question. I think with the guidelines it doesn't need to be any more Opaque than 4.

                    One thing I think is that the basic Arcana to identify the creature tells you the core concept and innate powers (so Death will tell you how a vampire can power its physical attributes up), and additional relevant ones give you information on the broad category of powers (if you have Mind you can uncover the knowledge that a vampire can psychicly conceal itself if it has Obfuscate dots), but knowing the specifics of what those powers do requires scrutinising them in action.


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

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                      Well we do often have rules to the effect that beings can sense other auras along more or less the same lines as they do their own. Vampires might not be able to specifically identify the Nimbus, but in the presence of a mage casting a spell or messing up their scrutiny a bit I think they should still be aware of the touch of the supernatural.
                      From the Contagion Chronicle Player's Guide:
                      As development of second edition progressed with Demon, though, it became clear that auras weren't appropriate for every type of character. We also didn't want to create the idea that all playable monsters had some kind of common denominator. So, Mage became the only game to attribute auras to all creatures. The guideline given here navigates around that potential confusion.
                      And part of the guideline in question states that:
                      A blanket permission for monsters to recognize each other it's a dangerous thing. You run the risk of making sniffing out threats (figuratively or literally) too easy and undermine the excitement of other “assessment” powers your characters have, like Aura Sight or Auspex.
                      So even in a full-on crossover chronicle, it's not recommended that all monster types be able to recognize each other as monsters automatically. They do suggest extending the idea somewhat (with, for instance, vampires and werewolves being able to recognize each other as fellow predators). But, say, a vampire and a changeling aren't necessarily going to be able to pick up on that; not unless the changeling in question is also predatory in nature (e.g., an aggressive beast or darkling).
                      Last edited by Dataweaver; 08-16-2021, 06:53 AM.


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                      • #12
                        That sounds reasonable.


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

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