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  • Going full Masquerade

    Way back in the mists of time, I remember people referring to Awakening 1e as turning the social setting of Mage (the consilium) into that of Vampire (we're talking back when Awakening was still pretty new). Now, recently, I've been reading some of the more social-focused books of Masquerade Revised, and suddenly I saw what people meant. The consilium system (at least as it was in 1e) wasn't just vaguely similar to the basic Camarilla city from Masquerade, it was much more one-to-one. There's no Elysium or keeper, but everything else is more or less there.

    That got me thinking; I remember Malcolm Sheppard (one of the recurring writers for Awakening) mentioning in an interview years ago, that the dominance of the Orders in the setting was something that arose largely from player feedback. Like, originally Paths were supposed to be a sort of co-equal method of mage organisation with their forums, which haven't been seen much since their introduction in Tome of the Watchtowers. However, for whatever reason players tended to gravitate towards Orders, so they became the predominant organisation system for the game.

    These two things made me wonder; what would an Awakening that actually played into the Masquerade comparison look like? Like, the original comments of Awakening borrowing the social system of Masquerade were almost always meant as criticism, but actually reading the Revised stuff made me think that a combination of Mage with the oppressive generational politics of Masquerade could be really interesting.

    So, I've been mulling over the idea for a while now. My ideas so far are:

    - No Orders. I think this needs to happen to give the Paths the social spotlight. Though, I think I'd still have their philosophies floating around, they simply aren't institutionalised as in the base-setting.

    -The Paths are mutually incomprehensible. Basically, the Paths know that other paths are mages, but the mutual intelligibility that base-Awakening has isn't present. Hopefully, this should drive the division into Paths.

    -All Arcana dots require a teacher. This is to create the Masquerade-style tension between new and old mages. Actually, I don't think this should be a hard and fast rule; I just visualise gaining an arcana dot independently as being kinda like the initial process Imperial Mysteries describes for crossing the threshold. It takes a lot of work and dedicated research, and is basically a story unto itself.

    -Cannibalising the Order social structures. I admit this is a little odd, but the potential organisations that we have for the Paths are about a paragraph each from TotWT. So, I thought it might be interesting to recycle the underlying social structures of the Orders as the skeleton for Paths having their own cultures. So:

    -Acanthus: Being Fate mages, it seems obvious to make their culture all about oaths, in the vein of the Arrow; though maybe a bit more focus on the letter rather than the spirit.

    -Obrimos: These guys seem pretty cut out for the Ladder's focus on law, and following general principles.

    -Mastigos: I thought their mixture of hierarchy mixed with social ambiguity made a good fit with the guanxi system described in Mysterium.

    -Moros: Their whole theme seems to me a decent fit with the basic democratic system of the Free Council.

    -Thyrsus: They seem to already have a kind of rough and ready meritocracy, somewhat reminiscent of both the Guardians and the more aggressive Arrow.

    I'm not wedded to these by any means, it just seemed a useful way of quickly generating a social culture for each path in imitation of the way Masquerade has each clan having their own politicial culture.

    There may be more stuff I've forgotten; I really just wanted to get my ideas down. Any comments or suggestions are welcome.



  • #2
    Link the Moros with the Guardians instead. and the Thyrsus with the Council, and you pretty much yanked out of my head the “archetypical splat combinations” idea I had floating around

    How would Legacies fit here?


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    • #3
      I guess a few questions would be what is bringing them together into the Consilium in the first place.

      But I'm also thinking about the ways in which Paths differ from Clans in terms of how much the latter ties together culture and their specific powers and the fact that entry requires initiation by an existing member, compared with something like Arcana, diverse in a manner that any goal would benefit from the inclusion of several of them.

      Sure, people can learn other than their Ruling Arcana, but if there are still Mana costs for improvising from that then it still strains a lot.

      I feel as though something more organic would be for the basic social unit to be cabals; Paths are the community where mages of different cabals can gather to talk what they're doing and promote the value of their contributions, while the groups they're attached to are too atomized to take up a competing large scale social function.

      Hmm, that actually sounds like it ends up making them more like Forsaken then Masquerade's vampires. They're different enough that I think it's hard to make them fit.


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      • #4
        Is this thread about refocusing Awakened society around the Paths, or refocusing Awakened society to better resemble Masquerade's vampire society? Because I don't agree to begin with that Paths are, as I assume you're using them here, good analogues for Clan. They didn't become a social focus in the game as played because they're much more vague and archetypal, I think. To use an Ascension comparison, they're not like Traditions. They're like your Essence (Primordial/Dynamic/etc).

        Personally, I would take a wrecking ball to Paths and embrace the two-tier structure of Sect and Clan. For Sect, you've got the Diamond and the Seers in broader, more generalized forms. For the large familial cliques and political alliances that Clan represents? Legacies. A curated set of iconic Legacies, each larger and more politically unified in general motives than they are in core Awakening. Perhaps, rather than Awakening in the wild, Legacies have some limited ability to initiate chosen suitable disciples, so you even have the associated clique angle of a set of mages you're more familiar with, indebted to, and like in ability with than other mages, because you have to initiate into a specific Legacy from their teachings.
        Last edited by Stupid Loserman; 09-30-2021, 08:46 PM.

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        • #5
          No, I do think Paths can work as clans with a little more tweaks.

          Instead of the Awakening being a personal experience, make it into an initiation. Few people if any can Awaken without the help of another Mage. Now the Initiation is also an indoctrination. By the time the student Awakens they're already immersed in the culture, customs and goals of their Path.

          But the key to this is to have limited resources for the Mages, something that makes having more mages being a liability, so you must balance any benefit of bringing a new initiate with the increase in competition. It may be Mana, but it also may be that sources of Arcane Experience don't work in the same way and are limited, maybe when you acquires it you absorbs the Symbol instead of just understanding it, so other Mages can't delve in the same Mysteries, having to wait for new ones to form.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
            I guess a few questions would be what is bringing them together into the Consilium in the first place.
            That's a good question. My thinking is that this version basically returns to the 1e status quo. The consilium isn't just a court for a specific area of intense competition, it's a small state that tries to lock-down local resources as much as possible.

            But I'm also thinking about the ways in which Paths differ from Clans in terms of how much the latter ties together culture and their specific powers and the fact that entry requires initiation by an existing member,
            That's the idea behind making teachers more or less mandatory. Gaining membership of a path by Awakening is free to anyone, but if you want to get ahead, you really need access to more experienced members of your path.

            compared with something like Arcana, diverse in a manner that any goal would benefit from the inclusion of several of them. Sure, people can learn other than their Ruling Arcana, but if there are still Mana costs for improvising from that then it still strains a lot.
            That's a valid point. What I'm trying to emphasise is the undercurrent of the stereotypes portion of the Path write-ups in 2e. That the Paths really don't see eye-to-eye. So that even if strategically it'd make sense for them to organise across paths, it's difficult.

            Also, to clarify I'm not suggesting getting rid of cross-path cabals.

            I feel as though something more organic would be for the basic social unit to be cabals; Paths are the community where mages of different cabals can gather to talk what they're doing and promote the value of their contributions, while the groups they're attached to are too atomized to take up a competing large scale social function.

            Hmm, that actually sounds like it ends up making them more like Forsaken then Masquerade's vampires. They're different enough that I think it's hard to make them fit.
            It's basically how Boston is presented. Like, there are Orders, but they don't really have any institutional power.

            Is this thread about refocusing Awakened society around the Paths, or refocusing Awakened society to better resemble Masquerade's vampire society? Because I don't agree to begin with that Paths are, as I assume you're using them here, good analogues for Clan. They didn't become a social focus in the game as played because they're much more vague and archetypal, I think. To use an Ascension comparison, they're not like Traditions. They're like your Essence (Primordial/Dynamic/etc).
            It's more the path not travelled. Like, apparently the Orders and Paths were intended to be kinda co-equal organisations; you'd have your Caucus and your Forum. But the developers quickly saw that players latched onto Orders as the social structure with paths taking a backseat. Now, I agree that that was the correct decision with the way the Paths practically functioned. But I'm interested in what the game would look like if it had developed the other way; which I think reasonably requires some reworking of the path setting mechanics to make easier.

            I admit, the Masquerade reference probably isn't as important as it feels in my head. It's more that the similarity of the consilium structure to that of the domain sparked the idea that you don't actually have to have paths act as a background element like Essence did (and indeed more or less how Paths work in the base-game).

            Personally, I would take a wrecking ball to Paths and embrace the two-tier structure of Sect and Clan. For Sect, you've got the Diamond and the Seers in broader, more generalized forms. For the large familial cliques and political alliances that Clan represents? Legacies.
            That's by no means a bad idea; it's just that I really like the Paths.


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