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  • Sell me on Mage:The Awakening

    So, to explain this thread, it's possible that M:tAw will be translated in French as the next splat of the CoD to be ported here, after Vampire and Demons.

    And I have a big problem because neither in CoD nor WoD have I ever liked the Mages. They reek of elitism and classism to me with far too little drawbacks and far too much powers.

    However I want to support the translation of CoD books since all the other splats interest me (especially Changelings, Werewolves and Deviants) and I wouldn't want that sheer ignorance would prevent me from helping the translation of all splats.

    So... Sell me on Mage, please ?

  • #2
    Elitism and classism, huh. Well actually I’d say those are part of what fuels mages’ monstrosity from a Doylist view…

    Remember how we’re technically still playing a Horror game here. Mages are less Gandalf and Dumbledore, and more Saruman and Grindelwald. Mages are also Eibon, Abdul Alhazred and Dr. Herbert West, with a bit of Randolph Carter and Simon of Gitta. Oh, and Victor Frankenstein too, I think. (Yes, Dark Eras reveals that modern mages ideologically descend from various priesthoods and sages and shamans in the Hellenistic era, but let’s digress from that just a little for now.)

    On powers and drawbacks; most of the time, mages will have plenty of rope to hang themselves with, and will giddily do so, to make up for a lack of obvious drawbacks. Paradox dice from Reach seemed not so bad, so you were flinging spells left and right in front of Sleepers and out of Spell Control and maxed out Reach effects? Well the Dice God is looming out there with his Anunnaki friends. Send my regards to them.

    … Okay that was less Sale and more Soliloquy, but still!


    MtAw Homebrew:
    Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
    New 2E Legacies, expanded

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    • #3
      Haha I've no idea what I just read x)

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      • #4
        Mage: the Awakening is a game concerned with allowing you to use magic. Using magic improperly can carry dangers (and there are systems to represent that), but not to a point where you're discouraged from actually using it.

        And why not, really? Vampire: the Requiem gives cool powers to represent playing a vampire, what are the drawbacks there? If it's in their classic weaknesses, part of the point with mages is not being such literal monsters, although I guess they'd get something similar in how normal people watching can make their magic more dangerous and cause spells to fall apart.

        I don't know what to make of charges of elitism without examples of what offends (and why it offends more than what vampires and the Unchained do to people).

        I'll otherwise say that I think the setting can compel with its pulpy depiction of a world saturated in mysterious weirdness and mages as people with the capability and compulsion to find and understand those things and bend them in service to agendas of personal enlightenment or transformation of society.


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

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        • #5
          To be honest, in most game I've an innate distate of Mages because they almost never earn their powers, they are just born "better" than others. And I can be conflating the two but with Sleepers and the like I feel like Mage is the same.

          I also don't feel anything horrific or visceral in the game as far as I know (admitedly very little or almost nothing). With Vampires there is an enormous amount of drawbacks (sun, fire, needing to feed of peoples and the general slow degradation of one's self in a losing war with the Beast) and the same goes for Demon, WW, etc. I just can't see it for Mage (yet?).

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ur-Than View Post
            To be honest, in most game I've an innate distate of Mages because they almost never earn their powers, they are just born "better" than others. And I can be conflating the two but with Sleepers and the like I feel like Mage is the same.
            I mean, they do earn their powers. If you fail the challenges of the supernatural vision you get in order to awaken, you don’t awaken. Now the vision is effectively random from a outside prospective, but you can’t say that once a Mage gets that opportunity, they didn’t earn their power. This isn’t a d&d sorcerer we are talking about. And yeah, they *are* better than others. That’s the problem, it’s hard to empathize with others when you can *prove* you are better than them. That’s the point. Mages are, or become awful people, not because they are inhuman monsters, with monstrous urges, but because they *are* that particular breed of monster called Human, given all the power they need to let their true nature show.

            Originally posted by Ur-Than View Post
            I also don't feel anything horrific or visceral in the game as far as I know (admitedly very little or almost nothing). With Vampires there is an enormous amount of drawbacks (sun, fire, needing to feed of peoples and the general slow degradation of one's self in a losing war with the Beast) and the same goes for Demon, WW, etc. I just can't see it for Mage (yet?).
            You are conflating banes with being a monster. Let me be clear, you don’t need anything magical to be a monster. Hunters, the majority of which are plain vanilla humans, are Monsters. And Mages have other problems too.

            In vampire, you can say “hey, I didn’t mean to kill all those people, it was the Beast, or the desperate circumstances I was in, I wouldn’t be as a bad a person if I wasn’t a vampire.” In Mage you have no such luxury, everything you do is 100% your fault. When you mess up a summoning, and bring in some horror from beyond the veil into the world, and it decides souls are tasty snacks, it is your fault. You could have checked, could have bound it tighter. But you didn’t, and now many people are dead or soon going to be.

            Mages worst problem is themselves. I know, I know. I’m hearing you say, “that’s not a problem”. But let me ask you a question: Have you ever been in love? Been with a person that every moment you are with them makes the world dance to the beat of your heart? Have you ever keep awake at night, tears in your eyes, the the whole world gone gray and lifeless without them, wondering what you are ever going to do without them? What if you could get them back, take back the words you said, or the crash that took them away. If you had the power, would you do anything to get them back? Even if it was wrong. Mages have that power.

            You have the power, the knowledge, the potential do anything. Anything In your wildest dreams.

            Want to make your life easier, by knowing when best to drive to work? No problem.

            Forgot your jacket, and you are super cold? Just cast a spell to warm you up.

            Do you want a new look? Different hair color, even a different gender? Completely within your reach.

            Do you want everyone to look your way when you enter a room? Have everyone drooling at the sight of you? Have bigger *instruments*? Have the perfect date, with that special someone? All possible.

            Is your friend not listening to you, despite how good your advice is? Why not make *make* them listen? It would be so easy. And it would even help them. Why not?

            Ever hate someone? Ever wish someone was dead, or just want to make them hurt, just because they were horrible to you or someone you love? What if you had the power to do anything you wished to them, and get away with it, and no one would ever know? Tempted?

            Thats the horror of Mage. Every petty desire is suddenly possible. What would you do?

            And hey, maybe you wouldn’t do anything horrible. Maybe you are a good person, even with the power to shape reality as you please. But there are others… can you really be sure that they won’t do something awful, just because they can?

            …And there are *things* whispering from beyond, they promise even greater power, and all you have to do is obey…
            Last edited by TempleBuilder; 12-01-2021, 02:50 PM.


            To whomever reads this, I hope you have a good day/night. May you be Happy.

            So, I made some Mage Legacies here, with some help. They vary in quality, but I hope you take a look at them. Every one contains pieces of me, for better or worse.

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            • #7
              While tough to follow up TempleBuilder there:

              It plays into the horror/monster part of Mage's elitism, but in terms of visceral impact, mages that aren't careful with their magic can incidentally drive all the Sleepers around them crazy. Being exposed to a mage's Nimbus can have all sorts of negative consequences (hard to be specific, because you get to build your mage's Nimbus and what effects it has), and seeing magic causes Integrity to degrade.

              While it sounds like that just means other people suffer for a mage's mistakes (I say just because it is true that they do, but so do a vampire's feeding victims, or those that make pacts with demons), it fuels a mage's downward spiral into detachment from human concerns. The more a mage tosses Wisdom to the wind to chase fulfilling their desires with all that power they have, the more their ability to keep their magic under control reduces as well. Mages that let their elite status get to them, and convince themselves the impact of their actions are other people's problems, are on the fast track to some serious personal consequences. It's just delayed enough to make it so that mages can fall into the trap and not realize it before its too late.

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              • #8
                They are also somewhat isolated because of it. Your neighbor's kid is possesed by an Abyssal spirit that is causing all sorts of disasters around him. Your friend who is doing physics research was infected by the Nemesis Continuum, now reality breaks as he proves the laws that cannot be, but he can't help himself. The people at the hospital are being afflicted by the whims of a healing spirit that decides who lives and dies to suit its domain's interest. A ghost is stalking the descendants of her killer, making sure they die in horror. You can't say anything to other Sleepers, no one can remember it because of the Curse. You can't help them overtly without breaking their minds. You could just ignore it, everyone does, but can you really ? You have the power to help, so shouldn't you ? Ask other mages, poke at the Mystery, surely with enough magic this can be fixed, right ?

                Because at some point most mages don't know when to stop, even their good intentions can be twisted to cause harm. Hubris, a lack of foresight or even the temptation of your dreams being achieved at a terrible cost are all causes of horror. Mages are Monsters of Knowledge (werewolves are Monsters of Instinct and vampires are Monsters of Decadence) who are constantly tempted to throw their humanity away in pursuit of their goals.
                Last edited by KaiserAfini; 12-01-2021, 05:33 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)
                The Szary Strażnik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate (Fate/Prime)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TempleBuilder View Post
                  And yeah, they *are* better than others. That’s the problem, it’s hard to empathize with others when you can *prove* you are better than them. That’s the point.
                  I mean, for certain values of better. There are philosophies among mages that certain conflate the capacity to Awaken with some superiority of character or awareness, but I'll always maintain that of the example characters we've ever been given, you get more than your fair share of dysfunctional weirdos.

                  Hell, the Guardians of the Veil certainly don't think being able to Awaken means that you deserve to or are desirable to, to the point that they'll interfere with such Awakenings when they can. That being further complicated by that Order also consisting of weirdos.

                  I think there's just enough going on in mage society to temper the idea that they should regard themselves as axiomatically better than other people who never Awakened. Sometimes better people don't quite have the same inquiring mind (possibly because they're too busy doing good or important things), sometimes they don't have confrontations with the Lie, and a lot of the time the Watchtower overlooks them. I'd say there are those (particularly in the Adamantine Arrow and Free Council) who would emphasize such things to keep their fellows humble.

                  I could even see the Silver Ladder having members with an outlook that one of the great tragedies of the Lie is that there are better people who do not Awaken, and that if they themselves occupy a position at the top of the great hierarchy of humanity it should be focused on employing their insight to identify and assist such people.

                  As far as horror goes, in addition to the human element, there are a lot of freakish things going on in the world, and being liberated from the innate fear of them held by Sleepers can have mages walking too brazenly into encounters with things that might have been better left alone. Sometimes those are monsters, sometimes they're weird phenomena that do bizarre or dangerous things to those who encounter them, sometimes they're alien worlds that raise disturbing existential questions.

                  And hanging above all is the Abyss, that gulf of unreason and unreality separating everything from the Supernal World, hanging at the edges of one's most unWise spells and bringing forth some of the most disturbing and lethal monstrosities.


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

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                  • #10
                    If one wants to avoid the value judgement side of the word "better" you can always go with, "more capable." Mages can do more than Sleepers. If a mage wants to be faster than Usain Bolt, they can without needing a combination of genetics and decades of practice in just the skills of sprinting. Mages exceed human limitations, even at the most extreme levels of human ranges. There's nothing a human can do, a mage can't push themselves just a bit (or a whole damned lot) farther in a given metric.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ur-Than View Post
                      Haha I've no idea what I just read x)
                      “You get to play as Lovecraftian sorcerer-priests and Mad Scientists.”

                      Quite a different sales point from Ascension, I believe.


                      MtAw Homebrew:
                      Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
                      New 2E Legacies, expanded

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ur-Than View Post
                        I also don't feel anything horrific or visceral in the game as far as I know (admitedly very little or almost nothing).
                        Mage and Changeling are the two gamelines with the least overt visceral qualities to them, because their magic's surface-level presentation most easily lends itself to, for want of a better term, "whimsy."

                        Changeling's built on having a ground-level view of how terrifying that is from the outside, with potential for losing yourself to the perspective that Anything Can Happen is as normal as the mundane world as far as you can tell.

                        Mage is built on having an elevated view gradually blind you to the consequences of your actions until an un-world from beyond reality offers you a way (or takes the opportunity, but what's the difference?) to make your most ill-considered impulses real, and even before that point you're still the sort of person who gets sufficiently obsessed with niche metaphysics that you've strung together a seven-armed grotesquerie with surgical tools for fingers to physically carve enlightenment into the blinkered masses, the sort of person whose magic is the one really running the show.

                        Almost every splat becomes more magically potent by exercising their powers. Mages are the only monster type besides deviants with a limit on how often they can raise their Supernatural Potency, and unlike the Remade, the Awakened need to hit new milestones of worldview-altering enlightenment for every stage of Gnosis they progress to. There is no boiling-the-frog-in-the-pot gradual acclimation for the Awakened whose touch of godlike awareness has extended to the level of superhuman Trait-potential — they dove deeper down the rabbit hole every step of the way, even if they weren't really paying attention to the fox creeping in behind them.

                        In 2e, Wisdom works most like the Kindred's Humanity in terms of dicepools and consequences, but the two possible consequences for failing the roll prompted by an Act of Hubris are:
                        1. It literally requires you to expend effort to use a mundane solution to a problem if you have a reasonable magical solution to a problem, you get Mana for using magic indiscriminately, and this only stops when you suffer a Paradox (which is less likely the higher your Arcana ratings are).
                        2. You automatically fail Empathy rolls, gain an extra Vice from how selfish you're being, get Mana from dominating others, and this only stops when you hurt someone important to you in a way that risks losing more Wisdom (at the lowest levels of Wisdom, this is dark business on par with impassioned murder; the closest analog to this state is when a vampire dramatically fails a roll to hold back a frenzy, which doesn't have the "hurt someone important to you" limitation).

                        Both of the above also rewrite their "you get Mana from" notes into one of your existing player-defined directives for Magical Aspirations (which characters start out with only one of), and dramatically failing the roll makes the state permanent until you raise your Wisdom, which requires you to spend an entire story working on a different Aspiration specifically to that end and spend special experience to buy the dot.

                        Mages get the most long-term twisted-up by their Integrity stat going south of any splat and have the hardest time bringing it back from the brink, and like vampires, they're mechanically encouraged to just let their gradual slide into alienation sit until it hits a point of legitimate concern from their fellows. They also have an explicit force of magical gravity drawing supernatural complications into alignment with the people and things that are important to them in a way biased toward the toolkit that their most-accessible magic provides them. They're wired to poke the bear and assume they can outrun the other guy (or carry the other guy over their shoulder, if that's their bag).

                        I mentioned it in the Simple Question thread, but an in-universe hunter term for mages is "Psychics and Human Fortean Nexi," which is slightly inflated prose for "person around whom weird things happen." Banishers being one result of Awakening coming to the unprepared is one of the many ways that description gets horrific. Realizing that the entire universe can be fundamentally altered so that only you remember it was ever different is another.


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

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                          If one wants to avoid the value judgement side of the word "better" you can always go with, "more capable." Mages can do more than Sleepers. If a mage wants to be faster than Usain Bolt, they can without needing a combination of genetics and decades of practice in just the skills of sprinting. Mages exceed human limitations, even at the most extreme levels of human ranges. There's nothing a human can do, a mage can't push themselves just a bit (or a whole damned lot) farther in a given metric.
                          I feel as though when a thing like this gets analysed in terms of assessing the setting and how narratives and characters play out within it, there are nuances worth considering. Questions about assessing any given individual mage against any randomly selected Sleeper (not just in terms of capabilities but values), as well as how things practically play out with regards to lifestyle and priorities. As well as things that would be true in the story without being strictly represented in mechanics

                          It's a broad example, but at a start I'd think about something like how The Sundered World depicts a relationship between mages and Sleepers and distribution of responsibilities. It's not a setting where the mages do things to personally be superior at the farming because their mystical duties are a full time obligation, but they still need to eat so there's a reciprocal relationship between them and the farmers. Even in the modern day setting, a lot of those kinds of principles can play out even with, especially for, the powerful mages. Your Hierophant of the Mysterium might theoretically be capable of achieving any given task to a superior degree to Sleepers, but if you're fully occupied with contemplation of the deepest Mysteries and guidance of the mages between you, you don't have time for that, and you should appreciate people who are good at things in a dedicated fashion.

                          Or on the whole, are mages more capable at things that require a greater degree of stability, both in terms of personality and how you live? I think there would be more than a few things that you couldn't quite rely on a mage to do if they get drawn away by their Obsessions, or even by the constant nagging of their Peripheral Sight. Are you necessarily more capable as a parent when there's a constant call to adventure?

                          You can use a spell to shape marble into a statue, but is it a good statue? If you had no sculpting talent before, an Adept of Mind (not necessarily available) can bestow it upon you for a while, but the end results are still going to be in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps an area where one could firmly be said to be more capable, but there's a question in the end result of whether or not that matters.

                          And Usain Bolt's speed is something that won't fall apart if a lot of people are watching him, so he gets to be more capable in the competitive context in which he utilises that speed. Even without concerns of Paradox and Dissonance, the whole Nimbus thing lends reasons for mages to confine their magic to a particular side and expression of their life, so for any given mage there might be plenty of contexts where they engage with people primarily through mundane skills even when they could benefit from spells.

                          We also get the Adamantine Arrow, an Order that values capabilities apart from spells and enhancements provided by them in their own right, for the value of versatility and the cultivation of the self. Many of them would approach with a sense that you're not getting the most out of the experience if you can only beat Usain Bolt aided by magic, and might even think that his experience of being able to move like that unaided gives him profound insights that a mage would lack.

                          Hmm, that makes me also think about the opening fiction to the Mysterium book, where Khonsu is dealing with an author who has some channel of insight into Mysteries, and how that relates to wider matters of Supernatural Merits that mages are incapable of possessing. Sometimes those could be abilities a mage would find useful, but Supernal awareness takes unyielding precedent. On a softer note, the guy in that story accused Khonsu and mages in general of having their heads to firmly in the clouds to properly take notice of and appreciate the world.

                          And apart from that, there's everything that would arise from the fact that there are just a lot more regular people than there are mages. I think that matters both in the diversity of capabilities and aptitudes that one might expect to find among any given group of the Awakened, and things that can be accomplished in aggregate.


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

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                          • #14
                            For me I think the real 'horror' and draw when playing Mage isn't hubris and the things you might be tempted to do, but the things you now know. Vampires have their beast to struggle with and Werewolves their rage and the fear of waking up from a black out covered in blood, but for a Mage it's like having your blinders knocked askew or even completely off.
                            When I run a Vampire game it's very focused, goal oriented. We are investigating this event, chasing down this threat or stalking this prey.
                            For Werewolf it's all about patrolling territory, no matter where they are going the wolf is always on the lookout for threats to his territory.
                            For a Mage I'm just walking down the street to the corner store for a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk and a stick of butter when...what was that? Something just happened, something supernatural but what was it? Stopping to investigate maybe I find and identify it, if I have the necessary Arcanum, or maybe I don't and it remains a mystery leaving me guessing if it's a threat or maybe I'll read about bodies being found in the paper.
                            As I think it was Dave B once wrote, Vampires can live in a world were there are only Vampires and Werewolves with only wolves and Spirits, but Mages live in a world were there is always something unknown and new popping up.

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                            • #15
                              Okay, you've all picked my interest now ! I'll definitively try to at least back it up to learn more. There seems to be a sort of divergence between them and the rest of the splats (even more so than Demons in a way, who have a very focused - almost narrow in a sense but I love it to much to call it that - scope) but it's surprisingly intruiging in the end.

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