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Trying out Mage again

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  • Trying out Mage again

    Hello! I have not played Mage since about 1999. I have all of the first edition and second edition books, as well as the Revised ones, although I never actually grabbed the Revised CR. I recently started picking up the M20 line. My main question is system wise, what do most people prefer playing? I am familiar with the 2nd ed and Revised settings, so I'm more focused on what people find to be the smoothest ruleset to use; 2nd, Rev, or M20.

    Different question, do you find it better to handle increasing Arete/Spheres via standard xp or hitting milestones in story? Not sold on either way, just looking for feedback.


  • #2
    The rules don't change that much between the editions.

    For me, the big thing that puts M20 over the top for the rules is how Focus replaces (though still includes) Paradigm as a framework to establish how your character does magic. While not a strict mechanical rule like how many dice to roll, it makes interpreting a lot of rules in the game so much easier by making constructing these things much more intuitive than previous editions.

    M20 also takes some firmer stances on a few matters on interpretation. This is good for setting a better base-line for what people should expect, and generally explained well enough that you can understand alternate past interpretations and why some people might want to use them.

    M20 is also, to me, the edition with the easiest to fix flaws. Something I really hate about M20 is the massive Ability bloat. There are three Abilities for punching people. Instead of trying to clean up the cruft of Abilities that littered the older editions like V20 and W20 did, M20 just leaned into having all of them to use up more of your starting dots and XP. But it's also really easy to just remove Martial Arts and Do as individual traits. Make MA maneuvers something you can buy like the Language Merit if you really want to keep them, and make Do a type of Esoterica.


    I charge XP for Arete, but only after a successful Seeking. If a PC fails their Seeking, they keep the XP.

    Arete and Sphere are some of the most potent things in the WoD. Unless you're going too move away from a XP based advancement system across the board, I see no reason to hand them out.


    • #3
      Well the amount of XP given is arbitrary anyway, it depends entirely on the will of the ST how fast or slow progress is, so it really doesnt matter to charge xp or not for Arete, as long as it is always as a result of a Seeking.

      I personally prefer NOT to charge xp thou, because then I dont need to wait for my player to store ungodly amounts of xp in order to activate a Seeking, and thus I can retain it as a narrative tool completely in my hand, to be used when more convenient to the story rather than when my player forgot to buy that shiney Life 5 or Mind 4 dot and that's why he still had that many points on.

      If you think however that this leads to power scale too much, just simply reduce the xp awards accordingly


      • #4
        And of all editions, I think that the easiest and cleanest one is the 2nd, but if you wanna complicate your life more than with an already complicated game, then by all means go with M20, it has many interesting additions and perks


        • #5
          I think Ability bloat is a problem that's less impactful than people make it out to be. Sure, you have three abilities for punching people, but in most cases a given PC will only ever invest in one of them. Unless they're really into getting both Dirty Fighting and Maneuvers, they're just splitting their XP to little benefit. Most players, I imagine, will pick whichever one best fits their character, and never think about the other two again. (Not to mention Do is exclusive to the Akashayana, and mutually exclusive with Martial Arts. You CAN'T choose both even if you wanted to.)

          The same is true of the abilities Flying and Jetpack. While the existence of the two is redundant, and to no real utility, it's not a problem that amounts to much in practice. You'll choose one, and neglect the other as irrelevant to you.


          • #6
            I'm also of the philosophy to award people Arete for completing a seeking. Triggering them is wholly within the ST's purview and they are a significant effort to prepare and adapt to the characters in question. It allows for greater agreement on the direction and feel the characters need to move onwards and promotes a better dialogue between the ST and the player on the intent and understanding of the character.

            What doesn't kill you, makes you... stranger.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Yab View Post
              Hello! I have not played Mage since about 1999.
              In that case, welcome back!

              If you aren't already aware of it, you might want to give a listen to Mage: The Podcast. I get a lot of value from it, and in particular I know there's an episode that talks about character advancement alternatives, including ways of handling Arete increases. It gave me some thoughts I don't believe I would have come up with on my own.

              "Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong."
              - H.L. Mencken


              • #8
                A Mage; the Ascension game, I played about 15-years ago, was THE, best fantasy RPG-game I've ever played; it was better than D&D, in my opinion (though, I like D&D for it's mechanics); I'm good with plain old 2nd edition M:tA. I've even played Mage: the Dark-Ages and that game has it's charms. I've never played the Awakening for NWoD, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it when I do.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                  (Not to mention Do is exclusive to the Akashayana, and mutually exclusive with Martial Arts. You CAN'T choose both even if you wanted to.)
                  Technically, you can do both, but you have to do Martial Arts first - once you start taking Do, you lock yourself out of progressing Martial Arts.

                  Supporter of Spirits getting full playable splat design come Exalted 3E.
                  Refugee from the 3rd Great Edition Wars of D&D.
                  oWoD Latecomer, Exalted Optimist, Scion ST, Trinity Curious