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  • Dave Brookshaw
    started a topic Stop-gap God-Machine mechanics for Mage

    Stop-gap God-Machine mechanics for Mage

    (Reposted from the old forum)

    The God-Machine Chronicle has arrived, and with it the Storytelling System Update. Mortals-only games have been enhanced, there's a new default setting for the nWoD to explore, and Vampire's Chronicle Book is on the way.

    But if you're in this forum, you'll have another game on your minds.

    As you might be aware, a Mage Chronicle Book is on the way in late 2014. Until then, though, you can still run Mage under the updated core rules. I have been for half a year now, and as promised in the various GMC spoiler threads here are my notes.

    First off, some ground rules:

    1) These notes are not spoilers for the Fallen World Chronicle. In fact, they outright contradict its outline in a few places.

    2) These are quick conversion notes, based around the idea of getting Mage to run as it is under the new rules. A full rebuild of Paradox to better fit Awakening's themes? Wisdom that isn't Integrity renamed with extra Breaking Points? Aimed spells that ignore defense? This isn't the place for them. House-rule away, start threads about ideas for more extensive reworks, please do, but not here.

    3) In light of the above, I'm erring on the side of leaving options open, rather than editorializing.

    I have provided some notes In blue that will hopefully explain some of the choices.

    Character Advancement and Arcane Experience

    Experiences costs for Mages are as follows:

    Attribute: 4 Experiences per dot
    Merit: 1 Experience per dot
    Skill Specialty: 1 Experience
    Skill: 2 Experiences per dot
    Ruling Arcanum: 3 Experiences per dot
    Common Arcanum: 4 Experiences per dot
    Inferior Arcanum: 5 Experiences per dot
    Wisdom: 2 Experiences per dot
    Gnosis: 5 Experiences per dot
    Rotes: 1 Experience per dot
    Willpower: 1 Experience per dot

    These are the current costs for Vampires, transplanted over to Mages. I have pitched Rotes here at the same level as in the corebook, where they cost the same as Merits, but I should note that I personally think that's still too expensive, and in my house game I have them as being one Experience per two dots.

    As well as their three Aspirations, Mages have up to three Obsessions, the supernatural mysteries they are currently working on understanding. Obsessions protect against social maneuvering in the same way as Aspirations, and whenever a Mage makes progress toward an Obsession she gains an Arcane Beat. Five Arcane Beats form an Arcane Experience, which can be spent on Gnosis.

    I encourage you to leave at least one Obsession slot "open" at the start of a Story so you can declare whatever supernatural mystery you come across as one.

    It's possible for the same event to grant a Beat and an Arcane Beat.

    Again, not the quick, simple, conversion, but I've been experimenting with using Obsessions to key modifiers off - I give a dice bonus to Mage Sight Scrutiny if the subject is one of your current Obsessions, for instance

    Extended Actions and Ritual Magic

    Unless they specifically say so, no Merit that modifies extended actions (such as Library and Good Time Management) works on ritual spells.

    The rest of the extended action rules - including modifying the base time per roll from that given by Gnosis if you get an exceptional success - *do* apply.

    Conditions gained from Dramatic Failure and Exceptional Success in spellcasting should reflect the mage's Path, Nimbus, or intended spell as appropriate. Look to Paradox Anomalies and Demesne rules for inspiration - I usually go for +2 or -2 to the spells from a Mage's Ruling Arcana, resolved when they successfully cast.

    Conditions arising from spellcasting give Mages Arcane Beats, not regular Beats, when resolved.

    Electing to make a failed spell a dramatic failure, though, still grants a normal Beat. The Condition you then get for having a Dramatic Failure is an Arcane Beat, however.

    Rules requiring you to spend Willpower to modify an Imago on the fly during a ritual still apply - so accepting partial success still needs you to spend Willpower.


    Mage Armor

    Mage armor spells differ depending on if they protect against Grappling or not. Grappling-defending armors work by supernally dodging attacks (one's even called Supernal Dodge). Armors that don't work against Grappling work by absorbing damage. GMC now handles the two sorts of armor differently, so;

    Grapple-applicable Mage Armor

    Arcanum Dots
    2 - +2 Defense
    3 - +3 Defense
    4 - +4 Defense
    5 - +5 Defense

    Grapple-vulnerable Mage Armor

    Arcanum Dots
    2 - 2/0 Armor
    3 - 3/1 Armor
    4 - 4/2 Armor
    5 - 5/2 Armor

    Mage armor doesn't penalise Speed or Defense, and stacks with mundane Armor. Armor Piercing goes through it as normal, but defense-boosts *do* apply against firearms. The two kinds of Mage Armor don't stack.

    I went for "keeping the defense-boosting armors as good as they were, and increasing the effectiveness of those that actually are Armoring". From what I've seen, though, almost everyone has an alternate take on Mage Armors. If we do get a Chronicle Book, this will be a hot topic.

    Wisdom

    Handle Wisdom like Integrity, except for the following changes;

    Mages don't suffer Wisdom loss for witnessing supernatural events or horror *except* those originating with the Abyss.

    Breaking Points for Wisdom should focus on what the mage will do to achieve her goals. Replace the questions "what have you forgotten" and "what's the most traumatic thing that happened to you?" with "what scares you about magic?" and "what would you do to achieve your goals?"


    Suffering a Breaking Point because of magic doesn't make the modifier worse. Killing in self-defense is still -4


    Magical coercion -1 to -3, depending on severity
    Magically transforming someone against their will -2
    Creating a soul stone -1
    Exiling someone into the Shadow -2
    Causing a Possession -2
    Preventing an Awakening -4
    Stealing a soul -4
    Destroying a soul -5

    Yeah, I know it's ugly, and I wish we could do more now - Cover and Humanity are both far better-linking to their games. But, as the saying goes, it's a big job, and I'd like a freelancer to get paid to do it

    Soul Loss

    In addition to the effects listed in GMC, Mages lose a dot of Gnosis for every 24 hours without a soul. If she drops to 0 she becomes a Sleeper (including Disbelief) until she regains a soul. If the new soul isn't Awakened, she stabilises at Gnosis 1. If the soul was from a Mage (including her own, if it can be found and reattached), her full Gnosis returns immediately. If her Arcana dots break the limits imposed by Gnosis, excess dots are suppressed until she relearns enough Gnosis to use them. Ruling Arcana are suppressed *last*.

    Character Creation

    Wisdom starts at 7. You can no longer reduce starting Wisdom for Experience.

    Which is true for the other Integrity Stats as well. If you want more starting Experiences, just talk your Storyteller into giving you more.

    Mages receive TEN Merit dots, not seven, plus the free "High Speech" Merit they get if they're in an order. The mage template Unseen Senses power works *as though* they had every possible variant of the Unseen Senses Merit, but doesn't actually give them the Merit - it can't be removed by any Merit-nullifying powers that might come along, and they can't trade it in for XP.

    Supernatural creatures get ten Merit dots now - it's one of the most-overlooked spoilers for Blood & Smoke, but I know David Hill has said so somewhere on the Vampire forum already, so I'm comfy with saying it here.

    Character Conversion

    Re-create the player characters for the troupe as starting characters and then note how many Experiences it would take to raise them back to their pre-conversion states. Assume that half the Experiences "used" on Gnosis were Arcane Experiences. Once you know the *highest* level of Arcane and normal Experiences needed for a character, raise the other characters in the group to those levels.

    Because of the change to linear costs, this can really trip you up if you're not looking out for it. Two of my chronicle's characters had identical XP and AXP pre-GMC, and ended up with one being 15 Experiences lower and 4 Arcane Experiences higher after conversion, because he'd been buying a lot of mid-to-high-dot Arcana. He now has a lot more Merits.

    Legacies

    The Legacy Tithe is the first Beat you gain in a story.

    The first time your character interacts with a Legacy student with arcane links to her in a story, gain a Beat. if you have more than one student, you can get multiple Beats by interacting with each of them.

    The "pay once" alternative means of joining Legacies, such as soul stone copying or daimonomika, cost five Experiences. I strongly suggest you allow Arcane Experiences to be used on this.

    Legacy Beats could be Arcane if you so desired

  • Freemind
    replied
    Oh, this was all more of an idle question my troupe had. I wasnt worried about an archmage being OP, it just hit me how much more awe inspiring their command of magic would be with rotes in 2e. Thanks for the feedback GhostTurtle, I think those are all good points.

    I will say that I don't know about reach not being useful at 5+. Advanced duration, instant cast and sympathetic/sensory range would all still be huge benefits for mastery level spells, and an archmage would be able to theortically use multiple advantages without risking additional paradox. And I am sure making/unmaking spells will have some reach conditions to tempt even Masters to hubris. An archmage would be able to instantly bring about some dizzying effects without ever having to use an Imperial Practice or risking paradox within the new system ( if said reach/rote system extends with 6+ dots). If they can make a rote with that reach included, they would have a spell that would almost never fail and would out-compete anything a master could perform safely. Which is exactly how I want my archmages to be

    I could see such a rote getting into non-archmmage hands being a Pax violation, but I was planning on using such a rote as exactly how you describe: a very rare Mystery that is there to help players on their Threshold Seekings. I would definitely not have them as something anyone could stumble upon.
    Last edited by Freemind; 11-09-2014, 12:19 AM.

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  • GhostTurtle
    replied
    Originally posted by Freemind View Post
    Something a player of mine asked and I had no idea how to answer about spell casting in 2e:

    Can an archmaster creates a rote, does it contain reach equal to his current dots in that arcanum?

    My playerwas suggesting it as a possible quest for masters, as finding that Archmaster's grimoire would allow them to have greater reach for master level spells (and thus give even Masters a reason to seek out new rotes/grimoires). But it also made me think that it would allow an archmage (who will have at minimum a die pool of 12 when casting per 1e) to create rotes for themselves that would give those huge die pools rote quality, while maintaining their huge reach advantage for sub-Imperial practice spells.
    It doesn't seem that problematic for me that Archmasters become ridiculously good at casting a non-Imperial spell they take the time and effort to create a Rote for, post-Threshold-Seeking. A Master is already going to have a minimum pool of 8, and probably considerably more (12 would require a Gnosis of 7, which seems quite reasonable for an accomplished Master).

    In terms of the ways this would be different from a Master, there's three concerns: the extra Reach, the Archmaster being more powerful, and someone else getting this rote. I suspect Reach will see some diminishing returns after you get to 5, since presumably the system is being balanced around Mastery as the pinnacle of feasible spellcasting.

    In terms of the Archmaster being ridiculously powerful, that pretty much comes with the territory. IM makes it pretty clear PCs should primarily encounter Seekers through either shadowy patronage or simply by stumbling across one of their works, and neither of those really seems like it would be a situation where the players cry foul if the Archmaster grossly outcasts them.

    In terms of someone else getting the rote, I'd suspect spreading something like that widely would violate the Pax. There are almost certainly a handful floating around, preserved by ancient Masters or inscribed onto the walls of Ruins, but amassing more than one or at most 2 would be the work of a lifetime of effort (and possibly part of the build-up to a Threshold Seeking).

    In terms of incentivizing rotes for your Master PCs, I think in some ways it's a natural part of a Mage's story that as they accumulate sufficient knowledge they shift from being the student to being the teacher. Masters themselves get great benefits now for creating rotes, and they can translate these benefits into even greater ones by teaching them to their apprentices. You might still seek out non-Archmaster Grimoires simply for rotes from Arcana you haven't mastered, or simply to acquire further resources you can use to improve your students.
    Last edited by GhostTurtle; 11-08-2014, 02:33 PM.

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  • Freemind
    replied
    Something a player of mine asked and I had no idea how to answer about spell casting in 2e:

    Can an archmaster creates a rote, does it contain reach equal to his current dots in that arcanum?

    My playerwas suggesting it as a possible quest for masters, as finding that Archmaster's grimoire would allow them to have greater reach for master level spells (and thus give even Masters a reason to seek out new rotes/grimoires). But it also made me think that it would allow an archmage (who will have at minimum a die pool of 12 when casting per 1e) to create rotes for themselves that would give those huge die pools rote quality, while maintaining their huge reach advantage for sub-Imperial practice spells.
    Last edited by Freemind; 11-07-2014, 04:53 PM.

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  • Mrmdubois
    replied
    Now that we can be pretty certain that Banishers keep operating on Integrity I wonder if Proximi use Wisdom.

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  • Freemind
    replied
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
    A question from my partner on the mechanics of spell in GMC rules - If we use Forces Telekinesis ( or Matter's Plasticity ) we can use Grapple Maneuver in enemy with the spell itself. Problem is this - how to decide it's on the effects? Are spellcasting successes goes to the Strength + Brawl - Defense roll on Grapple? Or this dicepool is rolled after the spell? When are effect of spell come to being - in the moment of casting spell ( i.e. PCs initiative ) or after the whole turn of combat come to end ( i.e. ater every one made they actions in the turn )?
    Cast spell, then allocate successes to strength, then roll for grapple with the points allocated during casting to the spells Strength component, using the players brawl. The only question is if it can be used same turn. I would argue yes, but that comes down to preference, since the "effect" could be argued to be either the force you create, or that force and it's own effect.
    Last edited by Freemind; 11-07-2014, 04:38 PM.

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    A question from my partner on the mechanics of spell in GMC rules - If we use Forces Telekinesis ( or Matter's Plasticity ) we can use Grapple Maneuver in enemy with the spell itself. Problem is this - how to decide it's on the effects? Are spellcasting successes goes to the Strength + Brawl - Defense roll on Grapple? Or this dicepool is rolled after the spell? When are effect of spell come to being - in the moment of casting spell ( i.e. PCs initiative ) or after the whole turn of combat come to end ( i.e. ater every one made they actions in the turn )?

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  • Ashenrogue
    replied
    Originally posted by Freemind View Post

    It is the same for lethal or bashing. Aggravated doesn't receive any bonus. The reason I keep lethal and bashing the same is that I play morality up in my games so using lethal force has a greater moral risk.

    And it is the normal dice roll for a spell (gnosis+arcana or skill+attribute+arcana) and then add in the Arcana dots as damage for bashing or lethal. I found that it gives the mages damage that is intimidating without being broken. I just drop those bonus points for aggravated.
    I also like this. It doesn't invalidate mundane weaponry while making magical damaging spells relevant. Both have distinct drawbacks, normal weaponry being the need to actually carry a weapon around, and magic having to contend with paradox, and generally lower dicepools (unless you invest in a rote).

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  • PencilBoy99
    replied
    Just a mechanical question - does the original post contain the latest updates?

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  • CthulusButtCheeks
    replied
    I really like what your ruling there Freemind. I think I'll end up using it as well.

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  • Freemind
    replied
    Originally posted by proindrakenzol View Post

    A lightning attack spell would require Forces 4. Also, do you do Dots B/L/A or Dots B, Dots -2L, Dots -4A?

    And is it Gnosis + Arcana dicepool + Aracana Damage? Or Gnosis Dicepool + Arcana Damage?
    It is the same for lethal or bashing. Aggravated doesn't receive any bonus. The reason I keep lethal and bashing the same is that I play morality up in my games so using lethal force has a greater moral risk.

    And it is the normal dice roll for a spell (gnosis+arcana or skill+attribute+arcana) and then add in the Arcana dots as damage for bashing or lethal. I found that it gives the mages damage that is intimidating without being broken. I just drop those bonus points for aggravated.

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  • PencilBoy99
    replied
    Has someone condensed these into a single document? If we put them in a Google Doc people could comment.

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  • proindrakenzol
    replied
    Originally posted by Freemind View Post
    2. Quick house rule that I use: Mage adds his dots in the Arcana to a succesful role for damage. Thus, a potency 1 lightning spell still hits for 4B with 3 dots in forces, and a master will always be able to hit harder than an adept if they have the same die rolls. I also house ruled that a mage can choose to lessen this damage if they want (since it is a spell factor), such as if they don't want to kill the guy, just knock him out.
    A lightning attack spell would require Forces 4. Also, do you do Dots B/L/A or Dots B, Dots -2L, Dots -4A?

    And is it Gnosis + Arcana dicepool + Aracana Damage? Or Gnosis Dicepool + Arcana Damage?

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  • Masa
    replied
    Originally posted by Freemind View Post
    2. Quick house rule that I use: Mage adds his dots in the Arcana to a succesful role for damage. Thus, a potency 1 lightning spell still hits for 4B with 3 dots in forces, and a master will always be able to hit harder than an adept if they have the same die rolls. I also house ruled that a mage can choose to lessen this damage if they want (since it is a spell factor), such as if they don't want to kill the guy, just knock him out.
    Good Idea, I´ll follow your houserule. I will also set damage type to lethal by default unless there is a good reason for that attack to make non lethal damage. I never liked the "tune to stun" thing. I can buy you limit the electricity of your attack so you don´t kill a target, but if you burn or microwave him, be sure the damage is lethal.
    I hope this change will help the Obrimos player to feel useful.

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  • thenate
    replied
    Originally posted by Strill View Post
    Please tell me that loophole is out of FWC... It's dumb that you can forcefully negate someone's mage armor AND weaken their spellcasting by casting mage armor on them.
    Any spell that overpowers another (i.e. doesn't stack) also expressly does not add to Pattern Interference, either... so, yeah, you can weaken a guy's defenses with similar magic of your own, but you need to cast something different from anything they currently bear if you are going for penalties to casting.


    Personally, I like being able to pull shenanigans with another guy's magical defenses as with any other magic. A clever stunt, for example, is to use Partial Dispellation on a dude's shield, so your attacks bypass without removing it. Granting intrinsic defenses that cannot be mucked about with shifts their themes significantly from truly normal human bodies upgraded by the magic they cast into something above human... which was the theme of legacies.

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