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How do you learn Magic?

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  • How do you learn Magic?

    For most of us, we sit around a table, narrate stories and cross off some numbers to fill in a dot of Arcanum. Boom. Magic.

    However, for your characters, its never that easy. From what I understand, Awakened magic is something personal, but also something you can learn from studying, from meditation, repetition or pseudo-scientific methods.

    How have your characters learned their Magic? Storytellers, how have you engaged your players in the process? Is it just crossing off numbers and a filled in dot, or is there several scenes of lead up, a montage or dramatic reveal?

    Details are always appreciated, especially those about what kind of revelations you achieved and how, whether it be a well described dream sequence, an evil relics temptations, experimenting with arcane physics or sciences or fighting like 100 spirit-dudes in an attempt to increase your power level or toughness.

    Even if you don't have experiences you wish to share, any storyhooks for learning Magic also qualify and deserve notice. They can serve as inspiration or their own stories.
    Last edited by GilboD; 01-27-2016, 09:41 PM.

  • #2
    Mysterium intiation rites.

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    • #3
      I've often felt that if there was anywhere that Mage 1st Edition was lacking, it was in discussions of how learning magic takes place. There was some fluff in the opening fiction and a little bit in Tome of Mysteries. The order books covered a little more. However I would have liked some more concrete material and maybe a little more mechanical focus here.

      Unfortunately I haven't ever really filled in the gaps myself, most of my Mage games ended up treating it as numbers and dots in the end. After 2nd Edition comes out, if it doesn't have anything on it, I'll work out some material of my own for this and try to use it in my current game. Looking forward to seeing other people's approaches here for inspiration.

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      • #4
        Since I don't really do the Pentacle Orders, I mostly have characters learn magic by understanding the Practices associated with the dots. When the character reaches an epiphany about what the Practice of Unraveling means, metaphysically speaking, and can consistently apply that knowledge across the entire spectrum of the Arcanum, that's when they're considered to have the appropriate dot in their sheets.

        I like variety, so not all mages learn magic the same way. Some practice, others study tomes, others consult with Supernal entities, others go on Astral journeys of discovery, and so on. In fact, if the player is planning on spending the XP he gets from doing a quest in a given Arcanum, I can easily arrange for the character to learn the appropriate Practices along the way, so that at the end of the quest, the player receives the XP, buys the Arcanum dot, and the character gets the hang of the Practices she's learnt. It's one way to make it feel more organic.

        Another way is downtime. I tend to award XP at the end of a Chapter and then allow for downtime, so that characters can justify how they spend that XP. If a player says "I'm getting another dot of Prime," I can arrange some fluff scenes with mentors or duels or research, showing how the character learns the Arcanum during downtime.


        My homebrew hub.

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        • #5
          Mechanically, an Arcane Beat is a little flash of Supernal insight. Collect enough of those and you find yourself able to use higher Practices. That seems enough like gradually learning magic to me that I don't worry about this.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
            Mechanically, an Arcane Beat is a little flash of Supernal insight. Collect enough of those and you find yourself able to use higher Practices. That seems enough like gradually learning magic to me that I don't worry about this.
            Then I would restrict the purchase of magic-related traits exclusively to Arcane experience (not merely to Gnosis), to highlight how mere fallen world experience translates too poorly to such higher truths.

            Things like status in orders wouldn't be subjected to this.

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            • #7
              Some ideas can be found in previous topic - How to train dragon... err, mages


              My stuff for Realms of Pugmire, Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E, MtC 2E & BtP
              LGBT+ through Ages
              LGBT+ in CoD games

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              • #8
                I go for the Obssesions in mine games - each Mystery solved is Arcane Beat that marks gradual develop of character. I even let player to choose "Get to Adept/Master of X Arcanum" - they get Arcane Beat if they cast something cool in Arcanum or study in downtime. Beside, rest of ShadowKnight's post is correct to mine games...

                Originally posted by ShadowKnight1224 View Post
                I like variety, so not all mages learn magic the same way. Some practice, others study tomes, others consult with Supernal entities, others go on Astral journeys of discovery, and so on. In fact, if the player is planning on spending the XP he gets from doing a quest in a given Arcanum, I can easily arrange for the character to learn the appropriate Practices along the way, so that at the end of the quest, the player receives the XP, buys the Arcanum dot, and the character gets the hang of the Practices she's learnt. It's one way to make it feel more organic.

                Another way is downtime. I tend to award XP at the end of a Chapter and then allow for downtime, so that characters can justify how they spend that XP. If a player says "I'm getting another dot of Prime," I can arrange some fluff scenes with mentors or duels or research, showing how the character learns the Arcanum during downtime.
                Lately, our Mastigos psychatrist want to become Desciple of Life. When asking Thyrsus Censor on Mysterium Caucuss on some advices, he answer to her that she should know human bodies anatomiticly. It's her choice if she want's to cut corpses or make some orgies for that.


                My stuff for Realms of Pugmire, Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E, MtC 2E & BtP
                LGBT+ through Ages
                LGBT+ in CoD games

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                • #9
                  Various different ways. Observation of magic while using mage sight is important. Practicing magic itself, regardless if it is lower level than what you are aiming for. Astral trips, duels, mysterium rites, observation of magical devices in the athanaum, studying grimiores. Some of these are order specific, but each of the order books gave hints as to how they teach, learn, and research magic, so that is valuable.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ephsy View Post

                    Then I would restrict the purchase of magic-related traits exclusively to Arcane experience (not merely to Gnosis), to highlight how mere fallen world experience translates too poorly to such higher truths.

                    Things like status in orders wouldn't be subjected to this.
                    There comes a point where that is exactly the case, and Gnosis can only be raised with AXP.

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                    • #11
                      This quote from Dave B. Seems relevant.

                      DaveB Thu 05 Nov 2015 16:08:34
                      Arcane Beats work almost exactly like normal ones. We clearly lay out which dice rolls (hint: most things to do with spellcasting) give aBeats if you dramatic failure them, and which ones give Conditions that grant aBeats.

                      Where it gets interesting is what you spend Arcane Experiences on. It's not just Gnosis now - the difference between types of Arcana for your Path is how many dots you can spend regular experiences on before you have to start spending arcane, you have to buy Wisdom with arcane, that kind of thing.

                      I've got a lot of candidates for "this is Awakening's central thesis" but calling the Aspiration-equivalents for Arcane Beats "Obsessions" as a thing you get on your character sheet was pretty much the first thing we decided to do for Mage, back when we were writing God-Machine Chronicle.
                      So, sounds like you learn magic in part by practicing magic, and in part by following your Obsessions.


                      Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                      • #12
                        Pretty much the same way anyone can learn anything. By seeing, by doing, hell, sometimes even seemingly random flashes of insight. You hear someone talking about gumballs or something equally irrelevant and it makes you think of that one thing you've been missing out on all of this time which lets you finally put everything together. Long story short, it could be pretty much anything, even seemingly nothing at all.

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