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How common is/should be mastery of one or multiple Arcana?

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  • How common is/should be mastery of one or multiple Arcana?

    One thing first: I'm not really looking for an official answer here, this is just a chance for people to share their opinions and discuss the issue.

    So I've been fleshing out the setting of my Mage chronicle and working on the NPCs for the setting. As I've been doing that though I've been wondering how high to set their Arcana and I was curious what other people's opinions have been.

    So far I've been considering mastery to be uncommon, but not exactly rare. In the New York City of my chronicle there's a very large awakened community, several hundred mages (including Seers, Banishers, Nameless, etc), Each Order would have at least one master of each Arcanum and a couple of noted multiple degree masters (the hierarch, councillors and provosts are generally masters). The players' mentors, sentinels, heralds and other professional full-time mages have instead usually had 4 dots at most in a single Arcana. The average mage on the street I tend to view as possessing the starting templates from the book. Apprentices are lower and usually only have only 1 or 2 dots in any given Arcanum at most.

    What about your Mage chronicles, how common is mastery in an Arcanum?

  • #2
    In the very rare times I have run mage games, I haven't had any hard and fast rules about demographics. I tend to restrict the presence of NPC Adepts and Masters to those characters who Withdraw themselves from the Sleeping masses and throw themselves into the focus of their Orders. The libertine DJ in his club is probably gonna be more magically adept than the punk anarchist on the street, for an example, but it's not a sure thing. I also like to contrast depth and breadth of skill, the recluses tend to focus on their Ruling arcana, while the less skilled mages on the street have a more scattered array of low level arcana.


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    • #3
      Very rough numbers, like one master per dozen or so of Order members. It means that, for example, in my London where there are about 100 mages per Order, they will be liked 5-6 Masters per Order. In my home city Lublin, where whole population of mages will be like 50 or so, that means maybe 1 or 2 Masters ( number is a bit lower as less density of Awakened led to lower rivalry, so lesser 'push' on being higher in Arcana ).


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      • #4
        In a word? Rare. Third degree masters alone are probably one step removed from archmastery, fourth degree ones? Who've mastered their legacies entirely? Should be virtually unheard off.

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        • #5
          Normally as other have point out its pretty rare however now that we have Corridors of time and apparently timelines XP do stack a master in time could potentially do:
          • Become a master of time and fate, go back to when he was an apprentice who now have the knowledge of a master.
          • Use his life to learn 2 different arcanums.
          • Rince and repeat 4 times and learn every arcanum.
          • Do it a 5th time and use the life to......play pokemon go?

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          • #6
            So Groundhog's Day was this dude's Havoc, Loki?


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            • #7
              Originally posted by LokiRavenSpeak View Post
              Normally as other have point out its pretty rare however now that we have Corridors of time and apparently timelines XP do stack a master in time could potentially do:
              • Become a master of time and fate, go back to when he was an apprentice who now have the knowledge of a master.
              • Use his life to learn 2 different arcanums.
              • Rince and repeat 4 times and learn every arcanum.
              • Do it a 5th time and use the life to......play pokemon go?
              This would make his whole Awakened life read as a Time distortion.

              Dispelling timetravel while it is still in effect, if memory serves, undoes the changes to the timeline, not allowing them to become Lasting. In all variations though, the timetraveller himself is protected from the effects.
              What I'm saying is ... reach a day before casting the spell to go back as a Master, then dispell it yourself. Or cancel it if it has the same effect.
              With this you have the added advantage of you never having gone back to change time, no past is changed, you arrive back to the present (with a hiccough of a day) and as far as anyone around you is concerned, there has only ever been one timeline, nobody could have had detected any anomalies?



              Which brings us back to the present and the topic of the thread. I think there should always be a few Masters around, at least 2 or so per Arcanum if the population count can take it - I like wyrdhamster's ratios - most notably people who involve themselves with consilium work more deeply than most.
              I think people who focus more on their mundane lives wouldn't delve deep enough into magic to go for Mastery but would find it easier to have a wider array of lower-dot Arcana.


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              • #8
                Depends on the size of the consilium. Any major city should have several masters of each arcana, which should give each order several masters. Any major city should also have at least a few second degree masters (probably no more than five, though more likely two or three). Third degree masters, though, are particularly rare.

                The vast majority of mages should be disciples with a decent number of adepts. There's probably just as many, if not a little bit more, apprentices as adepts. Obviously there are no mages as only initiates in their highest arcana.

                While I think my numbers are similar to Wyrd's, I'm thinking that you probably have a master for approximately 25 other mages. I just see the mage population as being a bit larger than Wyrd does in a major city like London.

                I suppose if I were to break it down, it would come to 1/25 is a master, 17/25 are disciples, 3/25 are adepts and 4/25 are apprentices.

                I could also see a breakdown of 15/25 are disciples, and 5/25 are apprentices and 4/25 are adepts...

                Of course that's only if you want to quantify it. Every city is different.
                Last edited by Falcon777; 08-12-2016, 05:33 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by LokiRavenSpeak View Post
                  Normally as other have point out its pretty rare however now that we have Corridors of time and apparently timelines XP do stack a master in time could potentially do:
                  • Become a master of time and fate, go back to when he was an apprentice who now have the knowledge of a master.
                  • Use his life to learn 2 different arcanums.
                  • Rince and repeat 4 times and learn every arcanum.
                  • Do it a 5th time and use the life to......play pokemon go?
                  You still age while time travelling.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Aeryes View Post
                    Dispelling timetravel while it is still in effect, if memory serves, undoes the changes to the timeline, not allowing them to become Lasting. In all variations though, the timetraveller himself is protected from the effects.
                    EDIT: I thought this was incorrect but it actually is not. The explanation I posted below only applies for if the duration elapses, the spell-caster dismisses the spell or the time traveler dies. Dispelling works differently.

                    Code:
                    Original timeline
                                     -----------------------------
                                                O
                    
                    Altered timeline
                    Destination ------------ * -------------- Present
                                      A                B

                    The * represents the moment that the caster either chooses to end the spell, the duration elapses or the time traveler dies.

                    Everything the time traveler did between the Destination and *, (marked with A on the timeline), still took place. However you no longer have a time-traveler with all memories of the future/the consequence of events that happened after that time, instead you have the original version of that person from that time. The period B is still rewritten, as the consequences of all the events that occurred during period A play themselves out. The past version of the time-traveler lives out all events after the spell ended, and lives through the period B.

                    Once you catch up with the present, the version of the time-traveler that lived through B vanishes and is replaced with the version who traveled back in time and they remember/experience the consequences of the original Timeline O and the part they experienced when time-traveling A. However the time-traveler has no memory of period B and does not experience any personal consequences that happened to the version of them that lived through B.

                    ... Ah, time-travel.
                    Last edited by Michael Kenner; 08-13-2016, 02:33 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mage:The Awakening 2nd Ed. pp.186
                      ...if the spell that projected the traveler backwards is dispelled, he returns to the present but any changes he made to history are reversed
                      So... you're close, there, but not quite right.

                      Ed: de nada
                      Last edited by thenate; 08-17-2016, 10:49 PM.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by thenate View Post
                        So... you're close, there, but not quite right.
                        Oh thankyou, yes I somehow missed that part. Dispelling it runs off different rules than the other possibilities.

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                        • #13
                          I thought I understood the diagram, and then I didn't. Could you give an example that doesn't involve algebra? >_>

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                          • #14
                            I've been looking for this forever, but here it is:

                            Source

                            Originally posted by DaveB on 4chan
                            (The next bits about Gnosis and Legacies are very 1st-edition reliant. In fact, my thinking here is largely why we lowered Legacy Attainment requirements in second edition)

                            GNOSIS:

                            Many Storytellers assume that Gnosis is like Blood Potency - that it's rare to get it over 5, that characters try to keep it low, that there are better things to spend xp on.

                            Gnosis doesn't have any drawbacks apart from Paradox and Resonance, both of which Mages are inclined to see as badges of pride. Gnosis increases naturally as long as a mage acts like a mage. No one within a year of their Awakening should be at Gnosis 1. No one. Arcane Experience is simply too easy to come by.

                            More importantly, we know from fluff that mages are seen as being lightweights if they don't develop a Legacy soon after they finish training - by the time a Mage is an Adept, they should either be Gnosis 3 and joining an established Legacy or Gnosis 4 and working on their own. That, in turn, means there needs to be enough Gnosis 5 and 6 mages to teach Legacies - and the 5s need someone with Gnosis 7 either in the Consilium or within access for them to have learned from. The Exceptions make plot, but they are exceptions.

                            My working assumptions, therefore, are that Gnosis is a bell-curve. A city should have a handful of just-Awakened mages, a whole load of mid-Gnosis people who are in the active stage of their magical careers and a handful of high-Gnosis people; the ones who have actually spent real XP on it, so are either dedicated Gnosis-chasers or very advanced, elder mages.

                            So. Yeah. The Man Comes Around uses the following;

                            Gnosis
                            8 1%
                            7 4%
                            6 10%
                            5 29%
                            4 30%
                            3 21%
                            2 3%
                            1 1%
                            Originally posted by DaveB on 4chan
                            And then... Arcana!

                            From Path (and let's not forget, order), everyone should have two or three favored Arcana. Pick one for each character that's their particular specialty.

                            Arcana are strange things. Vampires, you can sort of pin to Blood Potencies, but Arcana? Not so much. You can be a Master at Gnosis 3 (it's just not very likely), or an Adept at Gnosis 8 (ditto).

                            The only real way to do this is to eyeball how old and established a character is -

                            Newbie - Apprentice (you have to be in the first weeks of Awakening, without your full template yet, for your highest Arcanum to be a 1)

                            one month to five years - Disciple, depending on how many Arcana they have. If the character's been around years but you don't want them to be an Adept, they should have a *lot* of Arcana at 2 or 3.

                            one year to ten years - Adept, again depending. Mages who study hard and really focus on only one Arcanum can hit Adept before they get to Gnosis 3. It's more common to raise a second, or third, Arcanum to 4 than buy one up to 5, though. Advanced, decade-old characters should just be Adepts in their three Ruling Arcana.

                            Masters. If a character is well-established and in a Legacy that doesn't give them a third ruling Arcanum, they should be a Master of one of the two they do have around Gnosis 6. If not, they will either be a forth-degree Adept or a Master at Gnosis 7 (they have had more experience). A Gnosis 7 dual-Arcanum person or a Gnosis 8 mage should have multiple Mastery. A Gnosis 8 dual-Master should have thought about risking the Threshold to become an Archmaster. Thanks to the way the Threshold works, mages actually *becoming* Archmasters should only happen as plot points - the rest of the time, you won't remember them anyway.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
                              I thought I understood the diagram, and then I didn't. Could you give an example that doesn't involve algebra? >_>
                              Sure thing. I'll give multiple examples to show the different ways time travel can work.

                              A cabal of mages go to investigate a dangerous Mystery and discover that a powerful Tremere Lich is responsible. They go to confront the evil mage but are surprised to discover that he is guarded by a large group of vampire allies. There's a nasty fight and his Oubrimos friend named Phoenix dies before even meeting the Tremere responsible. Luckily one of the cabal, Robin Goodfellow, is an Acanthus and knows a rote version of the spell Shifting Sands. Robin didn't make it through the fight uninjured though, he suffered a gunshot wound to his left arm and thanks to some strange enchantment on the bullet can't actually heal the wound with magic. Despite the pain of his injury though he casts the spell Shifting Sands and goes back two hours before the fight.

                              Spell Duration elapses/The caster dismisses the spell.

                              Robin didn't want to risk too much paradox so he casts the spell with only a single round duration. Two hours earlier, while the cabal were planning the attack, suddenly an injured version of Robin is standing exactly where Robin had been, he's bleeding from the left arm and gasps out "He's protected by vampires" before the spell elapses. Suddenly the injured Robin from the future is gone and the uninjured Robin is standing back in his place.

                              The uninjured Robin looks around and asks "Why is everyone staring at me?" since he doesn't remember anything out of the ordinary happening. He just remembers the boring events of those few seconds in the original timeline where he drank his coffee and put down the empty cup. He remembers that and can still taste some of the coffee in his mouth, but when he looks down the coffee cup isn't empty. He remembers several seconds of time that didn't actually happen. Using Time Sight he's able to confirm that it was time travel and verifies it for the rest of his cabal.

                              They go and visit a hunter friend named Dean Winchester that Robin's never met before (Robin's new to the cabal). The hunter tells them about vampires and gives them some special weapons that are very effective against them. This time when the cabal fights the vampires they win without anyone even getting injured.

                              However all of a sudden they hit the moment of the present, the time when Robin originally cast the spell. The uninjured Robin vanishes and in his place is the Robin who is bleeding from the left arm. The last thing this Robin remembers is the few seconds he was back at the planning session warning the others. However when he look over and sees his friend Phoenix is alive and well, he knows that a gunshot wound is a small price to pay. "What happened everyone?" he asks since he doesn't remember the last two hours the same way that everyone else does. As the time-traveler he is unchanged by the magic that rewrote history.

                              The cabal go out to celebrate with Dean Winchester and Robin meets him again, for him though this is the first time that he's met Dean Winchester since Robin has no memories from the new timeline he created.

                              Spell caster reaches the present.

                              No wait that's not what happened, actually Robin cast the spell with two hours duration so the spell doesn't elapse. Two hours earlier, while the cabal were planning the attack, an injured version of Robin stands exactly where Robin was. Instead of just a few words though he explains the situation and detail and helps them plan out the attack. When they meet Dean Winchester he helps bandage Robin's wound, since it's still the injured and bleeding Robin who is there with them.

                              They fight the vampires and win. They reach the present. Nothing out of the ordinary happens, since the spell was active all the way up to the present moment. Robin still has his injured arm (bandaged now though) and the memories of that first fight when his friend died. However everyone else only remembers this new timeline. When the cabal goes out to celebrate, Robin still remembers Dean Winchester and thanks him for bandaging his wound.

                              Spell is dispelled.

                              No wait that's not what happened, actually the Tremere knows a little time magic as well. Robin goes back in time, tells his friends, meets Dean Winchester, gets his arm bandaged and they go in for the fight. The Tremere however sensed the temporal distortions and joins in the fight this time. He hits the cabal with a powerful death spell that kills everyone except for Robin who used a Supernal Luck effect to survive. During this fight Robin gets shot in the right arm with another one of the magical bullets (actually as luck would have it, the same bullet as the first time around).

                              It's just about to hit the moment of the present, but before that happens the Tremere sees that Robin is a time traveler and dispels the Shifting Sands spell.

                              All of a sudden back in the present of the original timeline Robin reappears, bleeding from his right arm and with a bandaged injury on his left arm. He looks in horror as he sees that his friend Phoenix is dead, since this is the original timeline. However to his relief none of his other friends are dead. That death spell that the Tremere used to kill them all was part of an alternate timeline erased by the dispel effect. Only Robin, as the time traveler, still remembers any of that alternate timeline and has the injuries to show for it. The Tremere isn't there either, he doesn't even remember that alternate timeline that he erased so he's still sitting in his lair just like he was the first time around.

                              They run away and escape, Robin says "We should go talk to Dean Winchester, he can help us". The rest of the cabal are surprised, how does Robin know Dean Winchester since the two of them have never met before in the original timeline. However Robin still remembers everything that he personally went through and so they go find Dean Winchester and after he helps them burn their friend Phoenix on a pyre, he joins them for revenge. That however is another story.

                              Time traveler dies.

                              No wait, that's not what happened. Robin went back with a long duration spell, warned the cabal and together they all went to see their hunter friend. However Dean Winchester had actually been having a really bad day and when he saw Robin approaching his house, pulled out a gun and shot him, mistaking the mage he didn't recognize for an enemy.

                              He's very surprised when an uninjured Robin suddenly reappears instead of the corpse of the mage he shot dead. (Note: The book's a little unclear on this, some storytellers might prefer for the dead Robin to just remain but I'm choosing this interpretation for the example). The rest of the cabal rush in and stop Dean before he shoots again. No one seems dead, but the uninjured Robin who is here doesn't remember any of the events that the time traveler went through. Still, the time traveler explained everything to the cabal so they fill Dean Winchester in on the details and he helps them fight the vampires. They win and no one is hurt.

                              Except... the moment the time line hits the present the uninjured Robin vanishes and in his place there is a corpse, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the left arm and the hole in his head where Dean Winchester shot him. Technically, that dead body is the time traveler and he alone is unchanged by the events that happened.

                              They go and visit a Moros who summons the ghost of Robin to ask what he remembers. The ghost remembers the first timeline and seeing Phoenix die. He also remembers traveling back and warning the cabal, then they went to visit Dean Winchester. He remembers being shot in the head, that's the last thing he remembers. He says though that he's at peace, he gave his life for his friend Phoenix and considers it a fair trade.

                              Last edited by Michael Kenner; 08-13-2016, 08:46 PM. Reason: I'd be impressed if I could manage all that without needing to edit it to fix a mistake or two.

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