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Setting Hack- Magical Origin

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  • Setting Hack- Magical Origin

    Lately, I've been toying with the idea of changing a bit the nature of Mage's metaphysics in order to give a bit more freedom for what magic "is". Instead of a mystical connection to higher realities while being trapped in a fallen world ruled by tyrant gods, I've though of tying magic more to the Fallen- while you could still be that kind of Mage, it simply won't be the default. So I took some inspiration from D&D and thought about the idea of Magical Origin- that is, how did the mage gained her powers and learned magic. For now I've thought about 6 different Origins, but the number isn't really limited. I'm also not sure about what mechanical effect should your Origin have if any, for I don't want it to have a big impact on the way the character use magic. Instead, I think it would effect how you get Arcane Beats- instead of taking 3 Obsessions, you get 2 of your choice and one which is defined by your Origin.

    Anyway, the premise of the setting is that magic is found everywhere- there is still the Abyss as a dark force of nature which creates Dissonance and keeps everyone asleep, but the magic itself originates from the very structure of the world. Long time ago, maybe even before the world has been formed, magic has crystallized into form and gained life of its own. Fairies, spirits, angels, demons and ghosts are all different forms of living magic, which now exist as intelligent, powerful, magical beings. No one really knows how those beings were created, for each tells a different story about its origin if it even bothers speaking about it. All that is known is that they exist, moving in the shadows of the world and whispering whispers no one can hear... unless the mages, of course.

    While the type of your magic (or your Path) is decided by the being from the type of being which influenced your Awakening, the way you Awakened is your Origin- by Book, Medallion, Blade, Wand, Candle or Blood, you were taught the greatest secrets of creation, secrets which may one day allow you to walk among the Supernal beings as equal. Or be devoured by them. Or devour them. It is a dangerous world out there, and everything has its price, and the coinage is your own soul and Wisdom. The question is- how much are you willing to pay?

    The Origins are-

    Book- you are the classical "wizard" which most people think about, who search the scripts for ancient knowledge and develop complicate theories about how magic works. Maybe you have been taught by an old mentor, who belongs to a long line of teachers who have learned their secrets from an angel of heavens. Instead, Perhaps you are the first one in the line, gaining your knowledge directly from one of the Fae. On the other hand, you may not be alone- but a part of a big community, a great tradition based around the spirit world which survived for ages and ages. Or maybe this is an extinct tradition, and you had to search for an ancient tomb and bind an old ghost just in order to learn their secrets. And maybe, just maybe you are self taught, after you accidentally discovered and old book and after great effort were able to translate it, not noticing (or caring) that the book was wrapped in human skin and decorated with demonic symbols..

    Beat: As a scholar, you have a great theory which you use to explain the world around you and how magic works. Sometimes, it works perfectly, On other times, you find things that don't fit you paradigm- but it is ok. Without challenging old traditions, nothing new could grow. Every time you discover a new detail which support, challenge or expand your theory, get an Arcane Beat.

    Medallion- magic is not a right- it is a gift. Mortals shouldn't abuse that power for their own needs, and instead must use it in the service of a greater being- a greater agenda, something which would change the whole world. Gods walk the Supernal, and they grant their gifts to their priests and servants. While some may look down on you for submitting your powers to another being, you know the truth: that the gods are worthy to be served, that you are one of the chosen, and it is you who should look down on them. After all, you have caught Zeus's lightning by your hand and have been marked by it. You have traveled into the underworld and have been kissed by Hel herself. You have fought against Susanoo and proved yourself worthy to his power upon the spirits of sea and storm. You rode with the Morrigan and survived, learning how to mark and bind a man's fate. You have even walked into the fires of Moloch without getting burned, and by doing so you took his power as your own. You have proved yourself in front of those mighty beings, and those who object their rule will be punished.

    Beat: magic is done in the name of the gods, and each god has its own agenda- some may wish to destroy the world, others seek to save it. Most don't care, working in their limited portfolio and seek to make more people to join their faith and accept their dogma. Each time you manage to advance your god's agenda, you gain an Arcane Beat.

    Blade- not all who walk the supernal are powerful, god like beings. Some are small beings with petty wishes, who may have their own magic but they lack the power or will to grant it to others. Yet, it doesn't mean they can't offer you something else- a pact, a equal trade. They take a small part of your soul, and put part of themselves in you. Then, they bind the oath and you are commitment to their pact, for better or worse. There are many kinds of pacts, and many reasons for those beings to give up a part of themselves to a mortal being- an angel seeks to fulfill its divine mission and requires an earthly agent, so it put a shard of itself in its chosen prophet. A desperate person caught by the Wild Hunt promise to give everything in order to be free again, and one of the hunters decides to answer his plead out of pure boredom. A shaman search after a companion spirit to guide him in the Shadow of the world and is willing to pay with pain and blood. An ancestor spirit is wishes to protect its last descendant and give him everything it have. A demon hungry for freedom from Hell grants the wish of a foolish mortal, not telling him that the seed of darkness was planted in his soul. Once agreed by both sides, the pact must be kept- or else terrible things may happen to both sides of the deal

    Beat: the pact influence your life and magic. Every time you are challenged by the deal, make sacrifice for it or work your way around by finding a loophole, you gain an Arcane Beat.

    Wand- magic is a wild, untamed force. While some bind it through words and spells, its natural state is a chaotic energy which transforms the world. While it is usually bound to the pattern of the world, it sometimes breaks free, running wild and mutating everything that cross its path. Eventually, it would fall in place and anchor itself to a certain fetter- this is how Hallows and Artifacts are formed. Yet, sometimes, instead of getting tied into an item or place, it gets tied to a person, and by doing so it grants her a great potential, even if not the knowledge to how to use it, creating a dangerous wild talent. Those events may take many different forms- an angelic magic would take the shape of a celestial storm of holy light, which burns anything in its way until it finds someone who can withstand its divine judgement. Another person would gain access to fae magic by accidentally falling into a faerie ring in the middle of the Full Moon by pure chance- or fate. An ancient spirit who gets killed release a huge amount of wild magic, which may cross the Gauntlet and be absorbed by a person which fits the spirit's nature and Influence. Sometimes, when too many people are killed in the same place, the Great Bellow opens its mouth and spits necrotic energy, and those who are struck by it are transformed forever. A dark ritual which was meant to summon demons has went wrong, and the explosion created by it sent hellish brimstone into the air- and those who were not killed by its poison have discovered new and terrible powers in themselves. Wild magic is always dangerous- and those chosen by it are tenfold more.

    Beat: magic runs through your body and soul, resonating with the world and wish to grow. Every time you work toward expanding your magic (like creating a new Legacy, rots, imbued items, arcane traditions, etc, etc) you get an Arcane Beat.

    Candle- each person has a divine spark in his soul, a light descending through the darkness which shines like a lost star. That light is humanity's primordial heritage, its right to reach out and seek for what they have lost. Those who find that sleeping spark in their soul and awake it find great power in their souls, a sign that man can be a god too. Each soul resonate with a mythical kingdom, an origin of one of the 5 main types of magic, great cities in which the beings from the beyond dance freely without form or name, and from which they come down to earth. Aether is the realm of angels, a place where crystal spheres shine with divine light. Arcadia is the land of the faeries, where the mischievous courts of the Fair Folk create wondrous palaces and nightmarish castles. The Primal Wild is a great wilderness where totem beasts roam and hunt without being forced to civilization and man made laws. Stygia is a kingdom carved in stone by the hands of the dead, where the grand deathlords rule upon their silent dominions. Pandemonium is the city of demons, a labyrinth of twisting minds and treachery brought by one's own deeds. Many of the mystics and philosophers who find their magic that way see the same places, yet with certain variations- and those variations birth endless debates about which description of the Supernal is "true"

    Beat: the mystics search after a mirror of themselves and a better understanding of their own soul. Every time you gain an understanding about your place in the universe or gain an epiphany about the nature of your magic and how it is connected to the greater world, gain a beat.

    Blood- Some people seek for magic in the outside. Others search for it in the inside. Some, however, don't need to search at all. Some are, practically, magic. Those people who carry magic in their blood belong to an ancient and powerful lineage, and they are proud in their magic. While not everyone who is a part of the bloodline gains that power, no one can deny the fact that the members of those bloodlines do have an higher chance to awake than the regular person. There are many genealogical experiments done by the mages of those lineages in order to strength their magic, like inbreeding or mixing certain lineages together, but sometimes it seems that powers beyond human control are the ones to decide who will awake and who won't. For example, there is a line of saints which dates up to the days when the Nephilim walked the earth, yet only the firstborn child would gain their holy powers- and only by his death, his sibling may awake. Another bloodline comes from a great celebration in which the faeries dances with men and laid with them, and since then every 7 generation all the living members of the family awake at once. A third family has hunted with werewolves and other shape shifters for ages, and as they made a blood oath to protect each other they gained some of their affinity to the spirit world. A different lineage comes not from a monster, but from a powerful necromancer who has cursed the ones who burned him and all their descendants to walk his path until the stars would turn black and fall like ash. Yet, the lineage doesn't have to be old- demons roam the world all the time, and they lust for human flesh and desires, bringing half breed offsprings into the world. Young or old, what is known is that the supernatural parent of the family would undoubtedly discover interest in his mortal children- nothing binds stronger than blood, whether the children would like it or not.

    Beat: your search for your mythical ancestor motivates you as blood calls to blood. Every time you discover a new detail about your lineage and the magical history of your family, you get an Arcane Beat.



    So- thoughts about the subjects? A different idea for crunch or new Origin ideas?


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  • #2
    This reminds me of the chronicler's guide book in 1e. Both present alternative options for the setting and how magic works. They're interesting ideas if nothing else.

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    • #3
      well, the Chronicler Guide was a part of my inspiration- I wanted to create a system which creates the feeling of different origins, yet does not modify how you actually use magic. Some variants has been converted, others were not strong enough and on some I still thinking what to do (like Gifted Science or Psychic abilities)


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      • #4
        This is great. I got a very similar hack (using minor suits of the Tarot), and may have to steal from those Beat sections.


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        • #5
          Thanks! feel free to steal what you like :P


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          • #6
            Originally posted by PenDragon View Post
            This is great. I got a very similar hack (using minor suits of the Tarot), and may have to steal from those Beat sections.
            Care to explain more about that idea? Sorry, just curious?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ZealousChristian24 View Post
              Care to explain more about that idea? Sorry, just curious?
              Sure thing. First, a bit of background: This hack was originally intended for cMage, as a means of replicating the common ways by which characters in fiction come to possess magic. I narrowed it down to about four fairly broad categories, with a fifth as a sort of catch all and figured it'd map well to the suits of the Tarot. Also note that this hack goes hand and hand with an Aspirations hack intended to represent magic as a burden or duty, which lets Mages select both Obsessions (representing areas of magical interest), but also Obligations (representing debts and duties they've inherited or undertaken). So any notes to obligations refers to that. Now...

              MAGICAL ORIGINS
              Each awakening has a catalyst, an event, thing or passion that triggers a the birth of a new Mage. This is known as the Mage's origin, and will play a great role in defining the Mage's views on magic and the ways in which awakening changed their life. Mechanically speaking all starting Mage characters gain an additional five experiences to distribute among merits, specialties and other qualities that pertain directly to their origin. The player should also workout with their storyteller a downside, or price paid to receive their art. This may be very literal: a destiny, curse, or debt to a powerful being, or less so: the loss of their social life, heavy familial expectations, new duties that rule their life. Whatever it is, the cost should have a strong impact on the character's life going forward in play.

              Cups
              Descendants of magical bloodlines, heirs to hidden kingdoms, seventh sons of seventh sons, children born of ritual or rite. Cups are those for whom magic comes from within. Sorcery is part of them, its in their blood, integral to their nature. For Cups magic is a fact of life, even if it doesn't manifest immediately they are always drawn to the strange and the supernatural. Those born to magical bloodlines will carry great expectations, while those born of rite or fate are saddled with terrific destinies, but what truly defines all cups is that magic is not of their choosing, Awakening isn't something they can reject anymore than they could their natural eye color. For Cups magic is just as often an obligation as it is an obsession, though frequently enough the two will go hand and hand. Cups often let this go to their head, and elitism is common among those who embrace their suit. After all, magic is their blood, their birth-rite. Who else can claim to have such an intimate connection to the art?

              Experiences: Cups additional experiences should reflect their experiences with the supernal prior to awakening, this may be special training received in expectation of awakening, otherworldly contacts and allies, or standing in their family. For Proximi this may also be spent on Rotes, representing Blessings learned and mastered.

              Coins
              A bargain with the Devil, a mission from God, deals with Fae, the Loa and all the other sundry spirits of the World of Darkness. Coins are those who have bargained for their magic, or received it uninvited. To a Coin Sorcery is a gift from the gods, which god and the desirability of the gift may vary, but all have received awakening through external powers. However the gods are not prone to altruism, bargains come with a price and even gifts carry obligations. All coins owe a debt for their magic, obligations to fulfill. The classic Faustian bargain comes to mind, power for your soul, but in truth the powers above are rarely so direct. For some there is a quest given, for others an annual charge, like a lenders fee, yet others are never told the price of their power, suffering it instead as a curse or destiny beyond their control. As such Cups are frequently wary and slow to trust, they know better than any that magic comes at a price, so what price did the other suits pay?

              Experiences: Coins additional experiences should reflect their relationship with their patron, and any gifts or guidance they received. This may be dots in Mentor or Allies, representing fellow beings of their patron, imbued items, relics or grimoires gifted to them. Coins may also invest experiences in permanent enchantments, laid upon them by their patron, costing 1 experience per dot of the relevant spell.

              Rods
              Long nights in the lab, candle lit ceremonies week after week, decipher the tome to decipher the world, in learning their is truth. Rods are those who have seized magic through practice, study, and raw personal dedication. To a Rod Sorcery is an external force, something to be tamed, mastered and wielded. Obsession defines the suit of rods more-so than any other, and for good reason, magic isn't something a rod stumbles into, it's not something bought or given, it is a discipline to be mastered. Anyone without the pure driving passion for the supernatural will fail. Even before they knew it was possible, whether for personal gain or some apparently selfless objective Rods spurned the lie even while they slept. And that hard work paid off, though perhaps not always in the manner the Rod expected. As self made Mages Rods can be highly judgemental, sometimes even jealous of other suits, for them magic is the culmination of a life's work and to see others stumble undeserving into power can be infuriating to say the least.

              Experiences: Rods additional experiences should reflect the skills and knowledge attained in studying their art. Occult and Academics specialties are common expenditures, as are magical contacts and resources. Safe houses, libraries and stores of magical power are also common among Rods.

              Swords
              A dusty tome found in a derelict building brims with secret power, an ancient blade rises from the dunes in expectation of a wielder, a dying man slips into sapphire waters and emerges a god. Swords are those who found magic through a conduit, an artifact of great power. To a Sword Sorcery is a tool, an otherworldly force condensed and channeled through a physical object or place. Such tools rarely come string free, mystic hollows are kept by secret cults, magic swords carry momentous destinies. Those who are not bound up in greater purpose often invent their own duties, taking to heart the old comic book adage "with great power comes great responsibility". But magic carries great risk as well, with sorcery apparently separate it is all too easy for a Mage to become careless with his powers. This separation between magic user and magic source can make Swords seem somewhat detached from their magic, but this distance also provides insight. An experienced sword knows the allure of power and the danger posed by those who cannot walk away from their art.

              Experiences: Swords additional experiences should reflect their powers of their conduit, and any social connections it carries. Universally all Swords must have at a few dots in Artifacts, Imbued Items or Hollows, representing their conduit's inherent powers. Dedicated Foci is also common, as is Allies for those who have banded together into secret societies.

              Jokers
              A lonely wander stumbles upon a gateway to another world, a single mother abandons her family and wanders into hedgerows that do not exist, a youth awakes one morning in a strange home where everyone seems to know his name. Jokers, a term coined as a joke itself, those who defy the suits, for whom magic appears to have struct by blind, stupid chance. To attempt to stereotype a Joker would be a mistake, they are by their very nature outliers from the suits, awakenings that follow no established rule. One might call this the nMage awakening, a mystery play that leads a hapless stranger into a bizarre new world. But what causes such awakenings to occur, and how a Joker is chosen remains the greatest mystery of all.

              Experiences: There can be no stereotyping Jokers, so simply spend your experiences in the manner that best reflects their unique circumstances or life prior to awakening.
              Last edited by PenDragon; 10-05-2015, 06:31 PM.


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              • #8
                So Cups covers my Blood, Coins Medallion and Blade, Rod Covers Book and Jokers are kinda Wands? I've also thought about an idea similar to Sword, but I didn't finalized it while making the thread.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                  So Cups covers my Blood, Coins Medallion and Blade, Rod Covers Book and Jokers are kinda Wands? I've also thought about an idea similar to Sword, but I didn't finalized it while making the thread.
                  Looks that way, though your Wands could also fall under my Cups or Coins. And Jokers is pretty much intended just for all the weird outliers I couldn't fit under the other four. I'd tried to come up with as many origins as I could, but they ended up folding down into those four, and the Tarot suit angle lined up so well I had to go for it. But yours maps much better with Awakening's metaphysics, with magic fundamentally residing within the Mage, whereas mine (a I said before) was tailored for Ascension and thus covers things like magic via Green Lantern Ring, calling upon the Loa and special breeding (à la Harry Potter/Dresden Files/Nasuverse).

                  Swords in particular is a tough fit for Awakening so I can see why there's no analogue.


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                  • #10
                    Both LostLight's and PenDragon's hacks are very cool! I love it when I see people creating new options for games that fit with the previous fluff so neatly.

                    As for what Origin could be written to mimic the suit of Swords, I think LostLight already did it. We could say that the beings who bestow their power to the Blades through deals also give a magic item that is thematically fitting for the being, deal and the receiver. Whether said item can actually pose a threat if stolen, altered or destroyed depends on context. Some beings might even give magic "items" in the form of thinking Familiars whose main state is an object, but can communicate, act of their own will and turn into other things.

                    As a suggestion, perhaps there could be a seventh Origin that works like the suit of Jokers, that is, miscellaneous magic wielders that don't fit the standard mold. LostLight named the Origins after objects associated with the magic wielders of D&D, but I am not sure what object or symbol is representative of both magic wielders and deviation. The closest I can think of at the moment is "Gems". Some magic users might use the term positively to show admiration of the living proof that they don't know everything about the workings of magic. Others might use the term derisively, essentially saying "look at the special snowflake thinking he's better than me". As a bonus, jewelry is often used as a conduit for enchantments in D&D and other fantasy settings.


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                    • #11
                      Well, I'm not sure how well would a Joker work in my system- instead of making one big category such things, I think that it should simply be said that not all mages belong to this 6 Origins, with some have weirder and more personal Awakenings.

                      About Swords- yeah, if you have a special item you have bonded with and share its powers, you are a Blade in my system. However, I do think that there is a place for mages which have an Awakening related to certain items or places, like an Artificer style character. I think I could make something from it :P


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                      • #12
                        I like this idea, though I have a very different application in mind — namely, the cWoD's sorcerers (and/or the nWoD's thaumaturges). The fact that these so-called “lesser” magicians have such poorly-defined sources of power has never sat well with me, and something like this has the potential to give them the grounding that they need.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                          I like this idea, though I have a very different application in mind — namely, the cWoD's sorcerers (and/or the nWoD's thaumaturges). The fact that these so-called “lesser” magicians have such poorly-defined sources of power has never sat well with me, and something like this has the potential to give them the grounding that they need.
                          That's kinda the way it started for me as well. Awakening is...not exactly ideal for modeling the vast majority of Mages from novels, comic books and cinema, so I wanted to build up some of the lesser splats. But I like Creative Thaumaturgy system too much just to toss it, then M20 dropped and I thought, "hey, this works great as a step in Ascension character creation". But then I ran into my hatred of cWoDs dice system (and the fact that I've already built a nWoD setting and didn't want to start over), and started porting to Awakening. At which point I just had to accept that it'd be easier to backwards engineer Awakening's Mages into what I wanted than go through this weird tri-step process from Thaumaturges to cWoD to nWoD.

                          So, basically, your application isn't that far off.

                          Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                          Well, I'm not sure how well would a Joker work in my system- instead of making one big category such things, I think that it should simply be said that not all mages belong to this 6 Origins, with some have weirder and more personal Awakenings.
                          I don't really think you'd need a Jokers equivalent at all. Unlike my hack, your system is fully modular, new Origins can be added without upsetting the status quo, so any 'outliers' would just get lumped under a new Origin heading (Gems, Rings, Cauls, plenty more naming options).
                          Last edited by PenDragon; 10-06-2015, 05:12 PM.


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