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1001 Interesting Paradox Backlashes

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  • #16
    30) Gremlins [Spirits]: The bane of every Technomancer's existence, these tiny tinkerers gained infamy during the Industrial Revolution and world wars, though members of the Order of Reason have felt their touch since the Sorcerer's Crusade. Squat, ugly little gnomes, Gremlins understand machines just as well as their particular, how they malfunction. Modern technologist mages (especially the Technocracy) tend not to see the creatures in action, but every once in a while they catch a glimpse. In the off chance one is caught in the act (usually when the mage has opened their machine up and dug deep), Gremlins either dive deeper into the works, smashing as they go, or pull out wrenches and attack. Poor physical threats at best, Gremlins are at their most dangerous when they gum up the works, causing the devices to stall or backfire at the worst possible moment. Often the best a mage can hope for is to repair the damage and wait for the backlash duration to expire.

    31) Ghost In The Machine [Spirit]: Related to the above, the Ghost in the Machine focuses itself more on cybernetics and IT hardware. A digitized entity, the Ghost enters the systems of mages, carving out memory space for itself. It hopes to take over eventually, hijacking the hardware for its own use. While this can be inconvenient if it infects a separate computer, or mildly alarming if it controls a robotic limb, the Ghost is truly frightening for those with Brain Implants. The Ghost will assault the Mage with horrific hallucinations, mood swings, and muscle spasms. Some poor bastards have had their whole bodies hijacked for a time (treat it like fighting off a normal Possession). How the Ghost acts depending on what hardware it controls, and the disposition of the mage, though the Nature of Machine is most common.

    There are scattered legends of Virtual Adepts (and even Technocrats) who parlayed deals with these recalcitrant intruders, and forged Familiar pacts with them. Whether these were actually Paradox manifestations (and, if so, if they remained Paradox Spirits) is unknown, as no one can speak with more certainty than the mage being "a friend of a friend".


    • #17
      32) Chroma Vampirism [Flaw]: Those Mages who use Art as Instruments, who weave psychedelic illusions, and who simply wear bright, colorful clothing may find themselves suffering a deficiency in hues when their magic is finished. Their body begins to de-saturate, losing all vibrant color and being reduced to blacks, whites, and grays (in particularly strong Backlashes, even Gray may be too rich a palette). In weak forms of this Flaw, merely losing color would be the end of it. But in stronger ones, the Mage becomes a color sponge, soaking up the color from everything they touch. Leeching objects of hue turns them just as de-saturated as the Mage, while painting the Mage in those same colors. Like the poor efforts of a child spreading watercolor over a figure (while having no understanding of color theory), the Mage turns into a mishmash of splotchy, unnatural hues. Moreover, as the length of the backlash increases, so too does the Mage's tendency to lose the color as time passes, returning to their former de-saturated state. Chronic manifestations of this Flaw result in the Mage's surroundings becoming a landscape out of a black and white television show. Living patterns that lose their colors will usually replenish them over time, but inert patterns will likely remain depleted.

      Some forms of this backlash turn into Quiet, inundating the Mage with a profound depression during their de-saturated periods. This has the unfortunate effect of conditioning the Mage to seek out color to deplete, in an attempt to feel anything at all. This has the inverse effect of robbing emotional vitality from living victims, and structural integrity in material targets.

      33) Sand Worms [Spirits]: Giant, ground-based, burrowing worms, who assault their victims from below. Mages incur the wrath of these Paradox Spirits when they venture into the desert or open-grounded areas with great frequency, or when they stomp around and make a lot of noise. Every patch of earth can become the domain of these worms, who burrow rapidly beneath and attack with sharp pincer teeth. It is for this reason that they rarely manifest in heavily industrialized areas, as they have difficulty digging through solid stone, steel, or concrete. Difficulty does not mean impossibility, however, as the Worms can, with effort, crack or smash their way through, given time. This also means that the foundations of buildings are not always safe. More than one cocky Mage tried taking to the "safety" of a house or shack, only to have the Worms dig underneath until the entire structure sinks into the ground. Suddenly they don't think themselves too clever, as they've become surrounded on all sides by ground. The major weakness of the Worms (besides fire and bombs they are tricked into ingesting) is their complete blindness. Loud, boisterous Mages are made to understand the value of silence, when murderous worms are on the prowl, invisible beneath the soil.

      In absolutely disastrous backlashes, the worms have been known to appear in ludicrous sizes, capable of swallowing small cars whole. Such beasts are typically evaded and outlasted, rather than fought, as their hides are typically thick enough to shrug off small arms fire and weather all but heavy artillery.


      • #18
        34) The World without Blue [Flaw]: Mages that abuse their magic to create illusions are often afflicted with a form of sensory deprivation. In this case, they are incapable of perceiving anything that is associated with the color blue, whether it is a car on the road or the sky above them, until the consequences of the illusions that they have spun have come to pass.


        • #19
          35) Midas Touch [Flaw]: A classic manifestation of divine disfavor, this Flaw afflicts both those who use Matter to convert one material to another, and those who subscribe to divinity, only to work vain magics in spite of them. Whatever the Mage touches, will turn to a solid amount of a specific material. Sometimes that material is valuable (gold, silver, jade, spices, copper), while other times that material is mundane (stone, wood, glass, water, lead), or even unwanted (excrement, radioactive material, molten slag, Gray Goo). Whether the material is intrinsically desirable to the Mage is poor solace to them, as this effect does not turn off or discriminate. Everything they touch changes - food, clothing, even loved ones all turn to Gold (or Dross) under the Mage's touch. At the least, the Mage must go nude, leaving footprints of their relevant material, unable to eat or engage in contact with their fellow creatures. Particularly lengthy backlashes can result in the Mage dying of hunger, thirst, or exposure.

          If the material was valuable, the Mage would do well to give away the fruits of their misfortune, to make amends to the gods.

          36) The Pit [Realm]: A Stygian hole of indeterminate depth, where foul, red-eyed shadows dwell. The Pit is a place where the violent and glory-seeking are cast. They engage in (what else?) pit fights. In an infernal mockery of gladiatorial combat, those cast in The Pit do battle with one another, while the high walls of the pit ring out with the cheers of a demonic crowd, whose glowing red eyes watch from gold-lined windows. The battles a Mage can expect to fight are brutal, and where no one is expected to fight fair. Sometimes weapons are provided, sometimes the order of the match is bare-knuckle brawling. Only if a Mage bests all opponents may they leave The Pit, wreathed in dark glory of a demon-fighting champion. For really, is not battle and glory what the Mage wanted?


          • #20
            37) ​Firestarter [Flaw]: Flammable objects near you will spontaneously combust. Not always immediately or all at once, but you can't stay in one place too long. Typically from Forces.

            38) Frictionless World [Flaw]: Exactly what it sounds like. Typically from Forces, sometimes Matter.

            39) Cling [Flaw]: Small objects cling to you. So do large objects, to the point where freeing yourself from them can be burdensome. Typically from Matter or Forces.

            40) Allergic to Everything [Flaw]: Not literally everything, but it would be easier to point out the handful of things that you're not allergic to. Will either manifest as most living or once-living things, or most inorganic substances. Typically from Life or Matter.

            41) Hair in the Wrong Places [Flaw]: Dense patches of hair appear in random places on the body and face. The hair may be of a type already present on the mage's body, but may be of a different color or even typical of a different species.This Flaw takes a little while to manifest but is very persistent once it gets going. It affects the mage for months, possibly years. Typically from Life.

            42) Friend to all Creatures [Flaw]: Animals love you. Intensely and insistently. Wherever you go you will be swarmed by birds bringing you insects they've caught, insects wanting to take shelter in your hair, dogs jumping on you affectionately, etc. Typically from Life, occasionally from Mind.

            43) Path of Least Resistance [Flaw] Exerting your will to do anything unusual or interesting requires an act of Coincidental magic, meaning an Arete roll. That can botch and gain you further Paradox. Typically from Prime, but can be from any excessive magic, especially Coincidental magic used as a matter of routine.

            44) Painful Magic [Flaw]: It physically hurts to do magic; it's as if you're feeling the distortion you're inflicting on reality. Coincidental magic is painful overstretching, Vulgar magic is like stabbing or tearing. This flaw tends to last a long time. Typically from Prime but could be from any magic if done to enough excess.

            45) Losing the Mask [Flaw]: Sleepers intuitively know what you are, or at least that you are unnatural; they tend to see you as an unclean and destructive force. Anyone who is at all inclined to believe in the supernatural will actually understand that you are a sorcerer. After the effect fades, the beliefs may or may not be rationalized away depending on the individuals. Typically from Prime.

            46) General Disarray [Flaw]: Things tend to become disorganized in your presence. People (especially you) can't form coherent sentences, you will have mismatched clothing, and nearly every coordinated effor you make, take part in, or are near will break down into chaos. Typically from Entropy.

            47) Spirit Beacon [Flaw]: As per Friend to All Creatures except the spirits are not necessarily friendly. They are powerfully drawn to you, and some of them are annoyed by this fact. Typically from Spirit.

            48) Curse of Empathy [Flaw]: You feel everything the people in a 30 meter radius around you feel. And if there's more than one person, you feel it all simultaneously. This includes proprioception. Your ability to move around is hampered or outright removed depending on how many people you're near. Typically from Mind.

            49) Foot-in-Mouth Disease [Flaw]: The sounds coming out of your mouth are distorted, or alternately people hear them wrong. Either way, what you say is offensive, obnoxious, or overly revealing. Typically from Mind or Forces.

            50) Trait Contagion [Flaw]: You begin to take on the traits of things around you. Sitting in a chair will make you rigid and stiff (more than it already does). Using a computer or phone causes a stream of images and voices to bombard you in quick succession (more than it already does). Your skin gains the texture of your clothing. You smell strongly of whatever you've eaten recently. You take on the mannerisms of the people you talk to, the the degree that they think you're mocking them. Typically from Correspondence.

            51) Cubist World [Flaw]: Your perceptions and your actual movements are spacially distorted beyond hope of most functioning. You interact with the world as if multiple sides of objects were facing the wrong directions. Typically from Correspondence or Mind. Alternately, Escher World, which can be more subtle or decidedly less so.

            52) Unfashionably Late [Flaw]: You will be late for every event that has a set time. Either unforeseen circumstances will intervene, or travel and other activities take longer than they should (either by subtle looping or time dilation). Typically from Time.

            53) Stagger Across Timelines [Flaw]: The consequences of your actions do not follow logically from those actions, but from actions you could have easily done instead. If you turn a car wheel right you might go left. If you call your mom the call goes to your ex. Typically from Time or Mind, but pretty universal.


            • #21
              54) Tuna [Flaw]: No matter how much you bathe or how much cologne/perfume you wear, you reek of raw fish. Not only is it embarrassing, but cats (including big ones and Bastet) can't help being drawn to you and will even affectionately follow you around.
              Last edited by Yaoi Huntress Earth; 05-17-2017, 01:57 PM.

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              • #22
                55) Glowing Chakras [Flaw]: Users of Yoga and Tantric practices - the Euthanatos, Akashayana, Sahajiya, and assorted other devotees - often incorporate bodily Chakras into their arts. Focal points on the body that have spiritual significance. Those who abuse these centers of human energy may find Paradox highlighting them. With this Flaw, the spots glow. Greater backlashes cause a more prominent glow, and in more Chakras. A minor backlash might have a slight light to come from a Chakra that is often covered by clothing (usually the Chakras below the Throat). A major one will cause all Chakras to glow brightly, including perhaps some lesser known Chakras. Other cultures experience similar Flaws on occasion, such as Choristers who glow from Christ's wounds (when they don't just start bleeding), like a luminescent stigmata.

                56) The City of Purity [Realm]: For any believer in advanced technology, this urban realm would seem to be a dream come true. A shining city, floating in an infinite sea of clouds. But there is one hitch that turns this place into a nightmare for Transhumans: Cybernetics and Bio-augmentation is taboo. The city fathers consider Cyborgs, xeno-enhancements, and genetic modification to be anathema. Humans are human because they are biologically human, and nothing else will do. The general population are no more enlightened, believing by and large that all genetic abnormalities are mutants, all bio-modified persons are infected with alien (or mutant) parasites, and all cyborgs are perverts and unbalanced (after all, what sort of lunatic would willingly mutilate themselves?). For this reason, such individuals are public enemy number one, with the streets plastered with propaganda posters, information screens flash public service announcements warning against such individuals, and the Science Police are constantly on the lookout. Naturally, only Mages whose bodies have been modified end up sent to this Realm...usually. Sometimes, an unfortunate Normal person is dragged along for the ride. Not that their comparatively better treatment result in sunshine and rainbows, as the City is still an authoritarian state, with constant surveillance and a conformist ideology.

                Rumors circulate among the fearful populace of secret enclaves of Body Deviants, living deep in the bowels of the floating city. Are these stories just used to keep the populace on their toes, or do such communities really exist? If they did exist, deep inside the City of Purity, would they know how to escape? Or must any poor Mage trapped in the city go to the city fathers?


                • #23
                  57) Living Anatomical Model [Flaw]: Mages manipulate Life heavily may find their bodies growing translucent - wholly or in part - to expose their internal workings. The extent and specific manifestation of this Flaw depends on the severity of the backlash, and on the body parts/systems most in focus. Some have their bodies exposed, one "layer" of tissue at a time; beginning at the skin, then ending with the skeleton, circulatory system, or nerve web. Some skip the layering, and instead growing more and more transparent, save for one aspect of the physiology (person whose bones are exposed, but their fleshy bits are nominally visible in silhouette if nothing else). Some backlashes can result in only certain parts being affected, like individual limbs, or one side of the body. It's worth noting that this Flaw doesn't cause the flesh to disappear; it's still there, just invisible. Tissues spontaneously flying off is a different, more immediately problematic Paradox manifestation.

                  58) All Battlefields [Realm]: While the Umbra is filled with battlefields - entire planes of conflict, of every stripe - this place is unique in that it doesn't reflect one battlefield: it reflects all of them simultaneously. From the tribal skirmishes of prehistory to the gunsmoke choked engagements of today. In all the ways that man has locked man in single combat, men can be found there. Even by the standards of war, All Battlefields is a chaotic, senseless place, where soldiers, warriors, brawlers, and hunters strike out with whatever weapon they dragged from their respective eras. Strangely, the soldiers seem preoccupied with fighting their classical adversaries, ignoring everyone else. Romans lock shields with Carthaginians, Mexicans fire muskets at Texan militiamen, Germans lob potato-mashers at Soviets. Even animal kind gets in on the action, as mammoths stomp at fur-covered hunters, and naked fishermen wrestle with huge sea serpents while wading knee deep in water.

                  Aside from the obvious warrior Mages that find themselves there, a curious tendency exists of Time masters winding up there. This has lead some to theorize that that place is a conflux of history. A place where Past, Present, and sometimes even Future collide. Human conflict superimposed upon itself, on fields, hills, and shallow seas long stamped to unrecognizeability.


                  • #24
                    59) Meat World [Flaw]: The Mage's view become an exaggerated form of Agnosia as they now see the world covered in meat-like gore, everyone as a hideous monster and words sounding warped and twisted yet still understandable. (Everything also feels slimy.) If you're familiar with the visual novel, Saya No Uta (, you'll know what I mean.

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                    • #25
                      60) Nuclear Mystical [Flaw]: Another of dozens of Paradox manifestations to arise from the Surrealist movement, and Salvador Dali in particular. Often affecting users of Forces, this Flaw causes objects to float, and split apart. They divide cleanly, as if cleaved by a shear blade. Halves repel one another, or become attracted to other objects.

                      61) The Walls Have Eyes [Quiet]: When a Mage is fond of scrying distant subjects, they may, in turn, come to live in a world where they are always watched. At first, this Quiet merely takes the form of a vague feeling, which naturally lends itself well to paranoia. But as the Quiet grows, the walls themselves will begin to grow literal eyes. Staring, blinking eyes, set in the walls. Watching the Mage. First only one or two every so often, then hundreds. Moreover, the walls talk. Whispers mostly, but they grow more and more frequent as the Quiet grows in severity. At the height of the delusions - when these effects begin manifesting outside the Mage's head - hands begin sprouting from the walls and ceilings. Grasping hands, groping blindly for anything, and anyone, in reach.


                      • #26
                        62) Shapeshift Incontinence [Flaw]: A bout of uncontrolled shapechanging. Understanding of Life magick already leaves a Mage's body fluid. In this case, one too many alterations can cause the body to shift wildly, against the Mage's wishes. Low level backlashes cause the person's face to change, features growing, shrinking, and moving, but nonetheless remaining within acceptable human limits. More severe backlashes can cause the person's height, weight, skin tone, hair and eye color, and musculature to shift, almost from moment to moment. Those who use their powers to take the form of beasts, meanwhile, will almost invariably gain and lose animalistic features. Patches of fur or feather or scale, elongated snouts or limbs, claws, slitted eyes, horns, tails, etc. Some Mage scholars have theorized that some modern stories of Chimera arose from particularly severe - and permanent(?) - backlashes.

                        63) Life - The Musical! [Quiet]: Music as an Instrument can be powerful...but double-edged. This form of Quiet arises when a melodic Mage is unable to escape the music. Like all Quiets, it begins small at first. A tune in the air, that never seems to leave, and which shifts to conform with the situation. A little further into the delusion, and everyone seems to be singing each word...including the Mage. The Mage may feel compelled to break into dance, though this is not strictly required. At the extremes, the Quiet turns the world around the character into full-blown musical theater, complete with people driven to sing in harmony, even if they couldn't possibly know the words. Marauders born of this affliction have long ago learned to go with the flow (or score, as it were). Some come to see their surroundings as the trappings of an actual theater set, and their life as one long production. This does not make these Marauders harmless - if the "script" calls for someone to die, such a Marauder will feel no remorse in acting that out. It's just a play, right?


                        • #27
                          64) The West Touch. Any inert organic matter the mage touches animates for a short while. Good luck getting that cheese burger down.....


                          • #28
                            65) Glitter Dandruff [Flaw]: The body sheds, not flakes of dead skin, but glitter. Shiny, colorful grains of glitter. It is exactly as difficult to handle as it sounds, as one's clothes and hair sparkle and shimmer for the duration of the backlash. While it often afflicts the aggressively positive and colorful of personality, it can just as easily manifest for a bitterly dark and sober Mage. As if Paradox itself is actively mocking their attempts to be taken overly seriously.

                            66) Aniconic World [Quiet]: Images are powerful things. They reflect the essence of that which exists. Aniconism is the refusal of Image, with designs being purely abstract and nonrepresentational. A Mage who relies on Image for their magick may find themselves thrust into a Quiet that refutes the power of Image, by removing Images entirely from their sight. So afflicted, the Mage walks through life without seeing representational icons. Paintings become abstract modern art schlock, photographs bleed together into colorful swatches, and computer images glitch into artful but nondescript pixels. Any symbols are changed into equally complex geometric patterns. In this Quiet, nothing but the genuine article appears as it ought. Sometimes, when the Quiet is severe enough, not even then.

                            This Quiet sometimes afflicts fundamentalist Muslim Mages, if they subscribe to the religious prohibition against Iconism.


                            • #29
                              By far, the single greatest and most hilarious Paradox flaw which happened in my old Mage game, happened to the Virtual Adept who was otherwise exceedingly good at avoiding vulgarity. He was doing something with music, I can't even remember what, but backlashed, hard. For the remainder of the story, he was affected by a specific form of aphasia that forced him to speak only in...'80s song lyrics.

                              It really gives dramatic, involved, scenes a certain je ne sais quoi when someone starts quoting Twisted Sister and Beastie Boys.

                              Then there was the Paradox backlash that ended up in their city being nearly overrun by sewage fairies. But, that was earlier in the chronicle, and the point at which the players realized that combating Paradox backlashes with even more vulgar magick was not necessarily the smartest thing to do.


                              • #30
                                67. All non-buoyant matter reacts to the mage like liquid: she can "drown" on sidewalks (or in her own house) without a life preserver.

                                68. "Honey, I shrunk the PCs!" The mage shrinks to a height of several inches.

                                69. The mage can harbor no falsehoods, and must speak her complete and honest mind to anyone she interacts with.

                                70. The mage can only derive nutritional benefit from battery acid, discarded clothes, dollar bills, or similar bizarre substances.

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