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1001 Interesting Paradox Backlashes

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  • 559) An Eye for Humor [ Paradox Flaw ] The white part of one of the eyes of the affected Mage ( which can be right, or left, varying with each triggering of this Paradox Flaw ; but not both ) flashes with a single bright color for one to two seconds when the Mage laughs at a joke, or in any way shows that she ( or he ) paid attention to a joke. This color can vary between instances of this Paradox Flaw triggering. The Mage sees a bit of the particular color on the periphery of her vision, though this does not limit her perception to any extent.
    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 01-27-2019, 02:31 PM.


    • 560) Harvester of Eyes [Spirit]: Common wisdom sees eyes as the windows to the soul. Mankind relies on its eyes more than most other creatures. Hence, magicians for ages have placed special importance on the ocular organs, from a metaphysical perspective. Their presence elevates the thoughts, allowing one to see and think clearly. Even in practical terms, many mages rely on sight to guide their spells, and interpret their magical senses often enough in a visual manner.

      It's no wonder that as Reality solidified, Paradox would respond to Awakened acts by going for the eyes.

      This grisly Paradox Spirit is a withered, hunched figure, either a man or woman. Sometimes they wear hoods, other times with battered top hats. A common element is the Harvester's long, tattered cloak, under which they hide gangly limbs and unclean implements. When the Harvester is inclined to go incognito, the cloak is made of faded, threadbare cloth, with a multitude of holes in it. When discretion isn't necessary - when the Harvester catches their target mage alone - pretense of normality is abandoned, and the Harvester hobbles about in their "true" coat. A grotesque shroud made from human skin, presumably cut from the faces of innumerable victims, the eye holes intact. Pinpricks of shine reflect from within these eye holes, and close inspection shows a surplus of eyes peeking out of the cloak, staring vacantly all around. In such instances, the Harvester of Eyes carries a large glass jar in one arm, filled almost to the brim with eyes.

      Naturally, the Harvester's goal upon manifestation is to add the mage's set to their collection. They carry a hand-held gouging tool, a curved pointed implement that can get into eye sockets and pull their "prizes" out. The spirit isn't interested in killing the mage, though. Just in reaping a good harvest. More than one mage has curled onto the floor, clutching their bleeding faces, and hear their tormentor a few paces away. Heard them coo softly about "what secrets can I see in these eyes". Perhaps the Harvester of Eyes takes them for more than mere trophies.


      • 561) The Hell of Lash and Darkness [Realm]: Not an actual hell found in east Asia (at least, not according to the Wan Kuei, who claim to come from the many Chinese hells), this Paradox Realm is nonetheless where many mages of the Middle Kingdom and surrounding lands get banished to. When their hubris grows too great, the Hell of Lash and Darkness will gladly play host to them, if only for a time.

        This Realm is exactly as it sounds. A rocky maze, where sinners run scared through a fog black as pitch. Constantly trying to evade the lash of devils hiding in the dark, to no avail. None know the faces of the demonic host set to torture them - all light is outlawed and impossible in this place - but there are detailed records in Wu Lung archives that describe their sounds. Grunting and bleating and snorting like animals, broken up by periodic, hideous laughter. All sounds ever punctuated by distant, agonized screams, and the crack of leather in the air. There is no death there. Only pain. The pain of exhaustion, of flesh bashing against unseen stone, and, of course, of the lash.

        Many sinners a mage will meet kneel on the ground, enduring the lash, if only to give them time to catch their breath between runs. In that way, an inhabitant of this hell has the "privilege" of picking their poison. Not that a person so damned can escape the lash forever. Mages who return from the Hell of Lash and Darkness continue to bear their scars long after their escape. Even if they use magick to clear the skin, further Paradox has a habit of opening up the wounds again. Such survivors are also, often, burdened by a fear of the dark. They wake up at night, anticipating the strike of the whip that, intellectually, they know won't come. Nonetheless, they cannot shake the fear.


        • 562) Bot Spam [Flaw]: A Paradox manifestation seen mostly by Virtual Adepts, though other mages active on social media can experience it too. In response to the Effect that garnered Paradox, the mage's accounts are inundated with thousands of spam messages from an equally numerous series of obvious bots. The trick being that between their transparently formulaic and repetitive messages, is their attempt to berate the mage for their crimes against Reality. Their messages are hate-filled and as vulgar as the magick that spawned them, frequently accompanied by offensive memes and ridiculous insults...but, at times, ones that have a grain of truth.

          After particularly severe backlashes, some mages have deleted their accounts entirely. They are best served going dark on social media for a while, since the bots unerringly follow them to new accounts while the duration of the backlash lasts.


          • 563) Hydra Syndrome [Flaw]: Evoking the ancient stories of the Hydra, this backlash causes the mage's enemies to become significantly harder to kill if injured through dismemberment. A foe's severed arm grows two more arms from the stump of the first, ditto with legs. Strangest of all, if the enemy is dispatched through decapitation, they will have grown two more heads before their body even hit the ground. Reinvigorated and "enhanced" by new appendages, the foe can continue the battle anew. It's a manifestation that always occurs when the chance of slicing off body parts is possible, since bullet wounds are rarely applicable to multiplication.

            Understandably, such an event can be alarming for everyone involved, most especially for the mage's bifurcating opponent. Usually, the Paradox manifestation happens only once in a battle, and may even be reversed at the end of the scene. With the foe's extraneous limbs having merged together into a unified whole. Usually. If the backlash is particularly severe, it may happen multiple times in a fight (even across multiple different foes), or else a foe may be left to live with their sudden transformation. A person who is left with two heads may survive to collaborate between the two, in order to get revenge on the mage.

            Naturally, this backlash can also manifest in the mage herself, if she loses a limb or head after accruing enough Paradox. It's seldom permanent in anything but the fiercest backlashes, but it can be unsettling and inconvenient. Especially if the mage's "extra" head or limbs have a mind of their own, with their own agenda.


            • 564) Protagonist Pastel [Flaw]: A fancy way of referring to the more general phenomenon of Paradox changing a mage's hair color, this backlash frequently hits mages in Japan. Main characters in anime, seemingly more often than not, have unnaturally colored hair. Bright reds, oranges, blues, greens, purples, etc. It's a simple method for animators to differentiate characters when character models are at a premium, and the trend stuck. Naturally, Paradox follows culture in many ways, leading to the Awakened displaying such strange hair colors for a time.

              Because, really, don't ALL mages consider themselves the main characters? Even by the standard of "everyone is the hero of their own story"?

              It's such a simple and low-key backlash - that is, by Paradox standards - that mages often breathe a sigh of relief when that's all they have to worry about. A hair color change can trivially be passed off as a dye job. Of course, in Japan's often..."uptight" professional culture, being known as the person who comes into work with a sudden dye job can be more harmful than no explanation. Especially if the bosses decide the mage may not deserve their job, if they're so willing to embarrass the company for no reason.

              There's a reason few mages are also salarymen/salarywomen. Actually several reasons, but this Flaw among them.


              • 565) A Virgin Something [Flaw]: Named for the colloquial term for a non-alcoholic beverage (ex: "Virgin Bloody Mary"), this form of Paradox afflicts the mage when she attempts to partake of a substance that normally has "bite" to it. Booze becomes non-alcoholic, weed stops getting her high, cigarettes deplete in nicotine. Even coffee decaffeinates, and sodas lose their sugar. Whatever buzz, high, or other chemical satisfaction a substance could provide becomes deadened in the mage's hands. A catastrophic development for Ecstatics, and others rarely appreciate it either. Addicts who suffer a severe backlash of this kind are doomed to a painful, even dangerous withdrawal (especially for alcoholics).


                • 566) Demands On Print [Flaw]: Common for Virtual Adepts. Any nearby printer spontaneously starts printing sheet after sheet of angry rants, directed at the mage, author unknown. As well as not-so-polite requests to stop breaking the (reality) law, asshole. Some Virtual Adepts have been known to keep these stacks of invective-laden diatribes on file, in big three-ring binders, as mementos of past glories. Since, after all, they had to have done some impressive bit of Magick to deserve such a hostile, butthurt response from Paradox itself.

                  Then again, sometimes the Flaw manifests as pages upon pages of the mages personal information. So snatching them up is always top priority.


                  • 567) Breath of the Sea [Burn]: Backlash common to water witches, who draw power from lakes, ponds, rivers, and seas. If they would dare to internalize the power of these bodies, they must on occasion deal with water flowing from where it is not meant to. The mage's lungs fill with a quantity of water, forcing them into fits of frantic and painful coughing. A minor backlash may merely leave a few ounces of water. A severe one may threaten to drown the mage entirely.

                    The water itself, when disgorged, will almost certainly carry qualities of its source. Whether that makes it saltwater, filled with algae, loaded with sand particles, smell of fish, or be polluted. It depends on where the mage believes they draw power from. Some mages have even been known to cough up live fish or other waterborne creatures. One anecdote describes a Polynesian mage who choked to death on a shell.


                    • 568) Echoes of Averted Death [Flaw]: As squishy, vulnerable beings (by the standards of Night Folk), Mages frequently make use of Magick to guard their fragile mortality. Forces shields. Correspondence Bans. Life soaking or body modification. Matter armor enhancement. Even Time or Entropy to avoid harm entirely.

                      This Flaw manifests when death-dealing force is, narrowly or not, prevented by the Mage's magick. If an attack or hazard would otherwise deal enough damage to the unprotected Mage as to kill her, a transparent after-image of her manifests from her body. It mimes having been struck by the Effect, and falls to the ground as if dead. Her double's fallen form leaking plumes of scarlet smoke from its wounds, that pool over and around the manifestation. If the Mage, through magic, avoided a hazard or attack, the after-image will be left behind as she dodges, before crumpling due to the phantom harm.

                      Any number of instances of this Effect can manifest, so long as both magickal Effect and Paradox backlash persist. A truly harrowing fight may end with the Mage looking back, to see a selection of her ephemeral doubles left behind, waiting for Paradox to let them fade. This backlash will almost certainly attract attention, if witnessed during or after their making.


                      • 569) The Floor is Quicksand [Flaw]: A variant of the classic game-turned-backlash "The Floor is Lava", this form of Paradox arises as a result of the mage abusing earth magick. The planet, enraged by the mage's presumption, seeks to swallow them whole. When the mage steps on the ground or "floor" (whatever the ST deems as such), they begin to slowly sink, potentially becoming trapped. They can be pulled out, but only if someone is around to help them. Using magick to fly or manipulate the ground in some way will not work, and indeed only makes the mage sink faster.

                        As is standard for this sort of backlash, the mage can only safely stand on elevated positions, such as on furniture, clinging to walls, or hanging from fixtures. If they want to move around, they'll either need to get a piggy back ride from someone else (though this might cause their Paradox to rub off on whomever is carrying them), or navigate the environment through precision climbing, hopping, and balancing.

                        570) Mocked By The Benjamins [Spirit]: Whether in present day or time immemorial, it is custom to emblazon currency - coin or paper - with the portraits of notable persons. Mages know, of course, that the illustration of a person carries symbolic (and thus magickal) power. This backlash is a venerable form of Paradox, afflicting mages who draw their magic from money. To their eternal consternation, the Syndicate is no exception, Paradox being drawn to their use (and abuse) of Hypereconomics.

                        Any or all of the pieces of currency on the mage's person have their portraits animated, and given a voice. Whether it's the face of Caesar on an ancient coin, or that of Benjamin Franklin on a 100 dollar bill, they are given the means to take their owner to task for their wrongdoing. Sometimes only the mage can hear them - in modern times, this is the common affliction for Syndicate members, who refuse to believe it as anything but hallucinations. Sometimes, anyone in the vicinity can, leading to further difficulties for the mage. Getting rid of the money is the only way to make it stop, though the voices can make doing it through transactions troublesome. Some Syndicate reps have been so desperate to relieve themselves of their burdens, they dumped huge wads of cash - hundreds of dollars - into the hands of the nearest homeless person. And then proceed to note handle hard currency for extended periods.

                        In the modern age of checks and plastic cards, this backlash has abated somewhat. But only because they open up space for backlashes tailored more towards these impersonal payment methods. Who knows what sort of Paradox has arisen in response to cryptocurrency?


                        • 571) Color-Coded For Your Inconvenience [Burn]: Another reaction to elemental magicks, this backlash primes certain colors with a relevant unpleasant sensation. Depending on the Effect that brought on the backlash, one (or sometimes more) colors are affected in this manner in relation to the mage. When the mage touches an object of the specified color, the Paradox activates for them.

                          Red is associated with fire, and thus red objects will burn. Its opposite, Blue, manifests its association with water by being wet, dampening the mage with it (which can leave the mage soaked, depending on the context). Yellow is shocking, like electricity. Green is corrosive, burning like acid. White is freezing to the touch, like a hunk of solid ice. Purple is poisonous, inducing hives, discoloration of the flesh, or other symptoms. Black can be almost necrotic, causing the flesh to decay at a touch (particularly inconvenient for the necromancers who fall prey to this backlash, as they often go clad entirely in black).


                          • 572) Trinary Division [Flaw/Spirit]: Trinary computers provide the cornerstone of most serious cyber mages, because of its capacity for storing more and variable information in the Yes/No/Maybe split. While a traditional form of Paradox involves a binary division of the self - the split of the mage into two opposing individuals - mages who channel magick through trinary computers will see themselves subject to a trinary division.

                            The mage becomes flanked by two extreme versions of herself, the 'Yes' and 'No' incarnations. One will agree to any suggestion and exhibit positive personality traits, while the other disagrees and is generally negative. The mage herself is the 'Maybe', who must work to stop her copies from getting into trouble due to their absolutist attitudes.