General Information - Mage

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General Information - Mage

Post  Fireseed on Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:58 am

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Mage: The Awakening. A game of Modern Sorcery.

We're going back to roots people. The strange hybrid tabletop/written format of the Vampire game wasn't meshing well with people so we're going to try another game set in the World of Darkness using a more pure Written form that we're all used to. I chose Mage because it both has a magic system that's inherently free-form enough to conform with the Written style of roleplay and also because I've been reading a lot of Mage recently.

To accommodate this transition to the familiar style we're used to while retaining the flavor of the setting I will not be doing away with all the rules and stats, but there won't be any dice rolls or character sheets required. You will also be able to play characters of differing power scales to facilitate the narrative and make more interesting characters from the get go. The only stats you will need to be aware of really has to do with your magic, which is for the most part free form as stated before.

Doing away with the rules also means more trust between the storyteller and the players. One of the central themes of Mage comes from the realization that perhaps you are your own worst enemy. You're mortals given god-like powers people, act appropriately (read: ha).

Welcome to Mage everyone.
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Some Backstory

Post  Fireseed on Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:39 am

Unlike Vampire, Mage has a proposed origin mythos that plays a much more prominent role in the day to day life of its cast.
We'll just go ahead and get the biggest bombshell out of the way so people can get over it.

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Atlantis
The Awakened City. The nation-state from pre-history that codified the Ars Mysteriorum. The mythology surrounding Atlantis cannot be understated in its importance.

The stories passed on to initiates about the origins of the mystical island are perhaps the most vague and potentially metaphorical of Atlantean Lore.
They say that in the time Before it was the island of the Dragons rooted at a nexus where all Leylines intersected and magic flowed freely into the World. One by one over the epochs the dragons left their roosts for the Supernal Realms until the very last Dragon departed from its ancient island homeland. Were they really Dragons? Nobody is sure, no living mage anyway.

The stories of the Dragons of Atlantis were sublimated from dreams by those primitives who were sensitive to the invisible world. They say the Island called to them upon being abandoned by its former masters, reaching out to beckon Mankind as if they were moths to a flame. Those who listened sailed unknown waters guided only by the siren song in their dreams; those who survived the journey landed upon the shores of the Island. What they found was a mystery. There were no great cities on Atlantis when they arrived, only caves and a growing community of wayward souls; hardly the most illustrious of origins.

But the dreams did not stop. It showed them visions of what they might become and how they might attain it, providing the first guiding steps on a long journey to the Truth. Those who listened practiced, secluding themselves from the others to incubate or perhaps meditate on the matter; the exact translation isn't exactly clear. These budding attempts at Astral journey yielded fruit though. As one delved deeper into the World Soul they were confronted by Daimons summoned from their own souls to judge them, asking them what right they had to walk the roads to the Realms Supernal. Trials were given, not many passed, but those who did Awoke and became the first Magi.

Curiosity led those adventurous enough to brave the dark tunnels down to the Dragon's Tomb. Accounts differ on what this terminology actually means; some believe that they found a literal dragon grave yard whilst others believe it was some form of fabulous crystalline formation. Still there are others who believe that the dragons themselves left memories there for the new masters to find, though this particularly fanciful rendition is not widely respected these days. It matters not exactly what they found so much as what it led to; the erection of the Awakened City upon the Dragon's Tomb.

The loose confederation of immigrants organized themselves into a proper City-State. They called it Atlantis, which according to legend translated in their polyglot tongue literally to "the ocean spire," and from this ramshackle origin arose the greatest nation to grace the World. Some mages returned to their home shores with their new celestial light, searching for more knowledge and power; perhaps these were the first stories of wizards and shamans and witches from the ancient world as we know it...

As the ages passed the magi of Atlantis grew in power and understanding of their wonders. They categorized them into the ten commonly described Threads that compose the Tapestry of creation and generated vast libraries on theorem and philosophy behind each and ever eldritch secret they could wring from the world.

But the power to warp the very fabric of reality to one's whim outstripped the ancient magi's wisdom; their hubris grew unchecked. Mage turned on Mage over ideologies, politics, and power in a tale not wholly unfamiliar to those who are acquainted with Mankind's general history. The victors claimed Atlantis as their own and drove out the rest to the dark corners of the Earth. Left to their own devices the victors combined their power and erected the Celestial Ladder, spurning the traditional Astral journies to the Supernal Realms with the desire to walk the Heavens with their own bodies. The gates of the High Heavens were stormed and the cosmos trembled for the first time at the hands of the Exarchs.

Unwilling to sit idly by whilst all of Creation quivered at the unnatural touch of the Exarchs. Five Atlantean Kings roused their fellows to action, called the Oracles in modern myth. We have much to thank them for, assuming the legends are true anyway. They say that the Oracles climbed the Celestial Ladder to wrestle with the Exarchs for the throne of Creation itself in their celestial palaces. Then the worst thing imaginable occurred: the Celestial Ladder shattered.

Poof! Gone. It crumbled to dust and in its place was a crack in Creation. A tear in the Weave that grew and grew until it spanned like an ocean between the newly Fallen World below and the Supernal Realms above. The survivors had all the luck in the world to watch the rise of the Abyss. Some might recognize this next part as the Fall of Atlantis; whatever happened to the Celestial Ladder caused the whole island to start breaking apart. The surviving mages on both sides of the conflict were once again cast to the corners of the world, only to discover that their magic no longer worked in front of other mortals.

This dark decline is called the Quiescence, the Sleeping Curse. The Lie.

Cut off from the celestial light of the Supernal the souls of mankind fell into a sleep and made easy prey for the Abyss. Mankind could no longer tolerate to look at glimpses of the Truth and turned their eyes away, opening the gate for the Abyss to flood in when a magi dared to defy the Lie. Magic waned, sorcerers died, and the light of knowledge dwindled to obscurity...

Then, one by one, the Watchtowers appeared, their flames sending beacons from the Supernal Realms across the Vast Night to the souls of Humanity. They say that the Oracles continued their war with the Exarchs in the High Heavens, but broke off upon seeing the havoc wrought by the Abyss to construct the Watchtowers using lore that only Atlantean nobility were privy to. Personally this part sounds a little self-indulgent, but if you're willing to believe in dragons why not Mage Kings?

Five towers from five kings upon the five Supernal Realms, invested with the virtues of their own souls and the sum of their arcane knowledge imbued into the very stones. The Watchtowers sent visions to mankind as the Island had their ancestors long ago, sending new magi on journeys across the gulf of the Abyss. Through harrowing trials they found their way to one of these great towers and there they carved their names into their foundations. When they returned to their bodies they found themselves Awakened.








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The Orders

Post  Fireseed on Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:10 am

When the loyalists were scattered following the fall of Atlantis they integrated into human society, rebuilding themselves into the shadow of civilization. So long as the Lie remained in place over Sleeper's eyes, they could not afford to act openly as they once did. Four branches of the original Atlantean government survived its destruction and reunited under an uneasy truce, banded together by a common enemy and survival instinct more so than a real sense of solidarity. For millennium these four, called the Diamond, kept the legacies of Atlantis alive, but in the year 1900 they were joined by a fifth Order and became the Pentacle.

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The Adamantine Arrow:
Magic is a Responsibility.

The Soldiers of Atlantis, the Adamantine Arrow were born from the military branch of the Awakened City. They were once referred to as the Ungula Draconis (the Talon of the Dragon) and have kept its traditions alive in modern nights. While all the Orders maintain martial disciplines and practices, the Adamantine Arrow goes further by internalizing the resonant metaphors of war. What they offer to the rest of the mage shadow society is a wealth of martial wisdom, a pool of willing and able guardians, and when the need arises a powerful weapon against any threat that might seek to destroy their work.

The Order is rarely lacking in potential new members, but the process of joining is not one that everyone succeeds. A majority of candidates tend to be young and aggressive by nature, feeling threatened by the world around them and eager to develop the tools necessary to defend themselves or lash out at those they perceive as threats. Most of these do not pass candidacy, or are quickly bent and indoctrinated to the Order's more subtle nuances before being admitted. Some candidates simply show too much talent as tacticians and athletes to be allowed to slip from the Talons of the Dragon and are forced by senior members into the Order. While seen as unwholesome by most members the alternatives are considered more shameful; those who turn down this offer that cannot be refused are often executed behind closed doors and never spoken of again. Older mages often join the Order in response to a crisis or a sense of outrage; the Arrow gives them the tools to vindicate themselves or right a perceived wrong, but only if they feel that they are capable of having their perspectives broadened and can channel their drive towards the other tenets of the Order.

The Order practices what it calls the Brilliant Road or the Adamant Way. The Atlantean name had no precise translation, but meant both 'Unyielding Wisdom' and 'Light of Thunder'. It is divided into five precepts - the Hand. The human hand is a creator, communicator, and destroyer by nature; it is always meeting, negotiating and vanquishing the external world whilst also being one of the primary gates for the sense of touch.
  • Existence is War: Conflict is not something to be shied away from. There is wisdom to be gained in testing one's self against challenges, even losses will give you greater insights to your own personal weaknesses and the opponent's strengths. While the Adamantine Arrow honors ancient Atlantis, it sees the rule of the Exarchs as the ultimate challenge and strives to one day overcome it. In a practical sense an Arrow should be able to use any fighting method as an allegorical solution to a nonviolent problem and any peaceful technique to win a war.
  • Enlightenment is Honor: True enlightenment is the ability to create meaning as well as reflect upon it. Oaths are how an Arrow connects to the external world, turning the lessons into unbreakable bonds of honor. An Oath does not merely make a mage part of something larger than themselves, it rewrites them into something greater than the sum of their own constituent parts. An Oath should never be broken, but they should never be made without thought or in too narrow a context; proper judgement and wisdom are just as important as the Oath itself.
  • Adaptability is Strength: An Arrow should never become complacent. Relying on a single tactic, living a repetitive lifestyle, never venturing far from one's own idealistic comfort zones are all signs of weakness that can easily be exploited. This weakness becomes a literal vulnerability when one considers Sympathetic Magic. Ideally the Arrow should seek to shed themselves of thoughtless habit and continuously reinvent themselves by seeking new lessons and experiences whilst performing their duties. To this end many an Arrow has taken up an ascetic living, but many others devote themselves to continuously changing their garb, mannerisms, and even names to ward off complacency.
  • The Supernal is the Self: The Order believes that there is a reason why only humans can become Mages. Within every human, they believe, are profound secrets of a microcosm representing the whole of Creation. Physical discipline is a way in which to explore occult reality in much the same way that Atlantean wisdom can be found in the Fallen World. Not to be too exclusive, they Order also believes that the hidden depths and brilliant heights of the mind recall the Supernal World as well.
  • Service is Mastery: The obvious ruler is rarely the true master. The Adamantine Arrow is about action, not figureheads and idle contemplation. An Arrow should never seek power only for herself, for she would only be promoted to an ineffectual, symbolic status within an organization. Instead she should strive to serve the greater whole as Adviser and Guardian and allow someone who can represent an Ideal take the mantle of leadership so that she might make that ideal a reality. In times of crisis an Arrow can make a superb leader, but ideally they seek out someone to replace them upon the conclusion of whatever crisis made their elevation necessary in the first place.


In an ideal world this would lead to an Order of warrior monks and sage soldiers, but we hardly live in an ideal world. The tenets of the Adamant Way are not necessarily easy to uphold and not many members ever truly achieve a full mastery or understanding of them all. When members fail these precepts they often devolve into warlords, gangsters, and bullies that conjure up the most sickening images of totalitarian military rulers. Should they become an issue to the Order as a whole, they are removed from power by any means necessary. Those who survive are expelled from the Order and branded Apostates.

Practices
Oaths are important to the Order. An apprentice's first Oath is to their teacher and is expected during their candidacy to obey any order no matter how trivial or dangerous it might seem. The Teacher is trusted by the Order in general to not get the student killed in the process; it is a hard lesson for many would-be Arrows, but by putting oneself at the mercy of a master a mage is forced to strive beyond self-imposed limitations. Upon graduation the oath between master and student is concluded and the freshly forged Arrow seeks out a person, organization, or ideal that they feel is worthy of an Oath of service. Ideally an Oath is loose enough to allow plenty of room for interpretation as an Arrow is expected to follow the spirit of the Oath rather than the letters that it is bound with.
Order of Challenges is another matter of importance to the Arrows. Renowned for their dueling skills, they restrict challenges within their own ranks so that a lifetime of achievement and wisdom is not cut short by an errant newcomer with a grudge. Instead an Arrow must challenge each member below another member's authority before they can challenge that other Arrow to a duel. This hierarchy of Justice (or Revenge) maintains the Order's secrets from being lost as a result of needless infighting. These rules do not apply to challenges made from mages outside of the Order; those the Arrow must face alone, if at all.
And finally, while not a formal practice of the Arrows, it is an informal tradition for a member to explore, study, and integrate various warrior cultures, customs, and knowledge into their own identity. This can be anything from learning how to wield a new weapon to developing their Arcana or even studying an ancient society's military history. Many an Arrow has studied the old ways of Bushido or learned marksmanship from modern military sniper units. Complacency is not to be tolerated.

Titles
Banner Warden is a title generally appointed to the defender of a mixed cabal or sometimes the second-most senior member of an all-Arrow cabal. The position is one of representation; the Banner Warden is allowed to fill in for any other member of the cabal in a formal duel and is in charge of organizing the group's defenses. This provides a natural barrier that undermines attempts to fracture the group from the outside and allows the leadership to continue refining their ideals.
Adamant Sage is a title bestowed upon usually the most senior member Arrow of a Consilium during a time of great crisis. While the title is technically that of a military advisor, the guidance provided whilst the mantle of Adamant Sage is in effect becomes rule of law.
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The Guardians of the Veil:
Magic is a Secret.

Known as the Visus Draconis, the Eye of the Dragon, in the days of Atlantis, the Guardians of the Veil were the secret enforcers, spies, and assassins of the Awakened City. Whenever a threat that could not simply be crushed by military force or ignored through mystical practice arose the Guardians were called in to deal with the problem in whatever way they deemed necessary. Much like their companion Order the Adamantine Arrow, they were seen as an instrument towards Rule but never Rulers unto themselves. But while war was considered an honorable affair, the Guardians were charged with duties that most magi turned their eyes from.

Upon the fall of Atlantis the survivors of the Order took a long, hard look at themselves, magic, and their relationship with it in the Fallen World under the subjugation of the Exarchs. They redefined themselves and their role in subtle ways, as they were no longer bound to the survival of a single city-state they found themselves in need of an ideal which they could protect from the shadows. Since it was the Hubris of magi which caused the Shattering in the first place, it was Hubris that was marked as a true enemy of mankind by the Order. Some things are better left undisturbed and forgotten.

Joining the Order is not an easy task. They hand pick candidates that they perceive as both containing the proper potential and mindset for the duties of the Order. At first they lure novices into a conspiracy filled with other Guardians and Sleepers. Senior members test a novice's ability to keep secrets from the unenlightened, and to commit questionable acts for a greater cause. This is called the Gray Veil, the least important curtain over a web of plots that test a mage's dedication and condition her ethics to accept the Order's methods. The second stage is the Crimson Veil. Here, a mage must be willing to kill for the conspiracy. Sometimes a sorcerer actually murders someone whom the Order has already marked for death, but any demonstration of sincere intent does. Yet the Guardians do not want mindless automatons, they want mages to believe in an ideal so strongly that they will kill, lie, and die for it, but they don't want them to totally abandon individual moral judgement. The final Black Veil therefore presents a quandary to the initiate, asking her to perform an act that is immoral by the Order's own standards. If the novice mage obeys, she can never join the Order and the secret society she once knew vanishes. She is not killed, but the Guardians watch her for life. If she refuses to obey, the Order lifts the final deception and she becomes a true member.

The Order keeps very few writings, as the secrets of the Guardians is not intended for outsiders of any stripe, so they favor an oral tradition instead. This Law of the Mask is introduced among the earliest Veils, but is only taught completely to a mage who graduates to full knowledge of the Order. The basic tents are thus:
  • Paradox Strengthens the Abyss as Punishment Answers Pride. The Order believes that Paradox is more than just a discontinuity in reality. It is a flaw that reopens the world's wounds and exposes it once more to the poison of the Abyss. The Order discourages Vulgar magic and those mages who fling reality-defying spells about without forethought or reservation risk censure or worse from their fellow Guardians. Even as hidden masters, mages have a place in the cosmic order of things. If they cannot use subtle talents, means, and magic to subdue the Fallen World, their souls might let the darkness in.
  • Sins for a Just End Grant Wisdom to the Awakened. The Guardians of the Veil believe that Wisdom is a real force in the cosmic order and not simply a subjective concept. They hold that enlightenment is an impersonal entity that can be generated and transferred among the Awakened who seek it. Whereas most mages who follow the concepts of Wisdom do so by using magic carefully and clinging to compassion, the Guardians take another path. The Order does not condone deception and murder as a means to Wisdom for the self, but as a way to promote it in others. Though the classical doctrine claims that there is an actual metaphysical transfer of merit, most Guardians are satisfied with knowing that their sacrifice helps mages society.
  • Merit must Guide the Fallen World. The Guardians practice a form of meritocracy on a philosophical level that leaves no room for such things as chauvinism, sexism, racism, or any other form of bigotry. Such things are beneath the Awakened perspective and therefore beneath any who would wish to rule from the shadows.


The Esoteric Tenets
Whereas the prior three tenets are shared publicly with other Orders and Mages alike, the following are wholly secret. For if another mage from outside the Order were made privy to their knowledge then the Guardians of the Veil would lose legitimacy and potentially be completely ousted from the Pentacle. Those mages trusted enough to learn the Esoteric Tenets are never allowed to leave the Order alive.

  • All thrones are false, all souls are flawed. The secret truth that the Guardians believe is that mages are simply unworthy of recreating Atlantis. Noone, mage or otherwise, is without flaw and those with flaws cannot fulfill the Order's vision. Except the Order itself of course, whose tenets involve the transfer of merit and sins in almost a literal sense. The sinister nature of this tenet means that the Guardians secretly undermine not only other Mages but Awakened Society in general. Their flaws are exposed and their claim to power is undermined from within, all from the shadows. Charismatic leaders and radical ideas have been snuffed out by the Guardians before their potential could be realized.
  • There is a secret heirarchy of souls. The Order believes in a concept known as the Diamond Wheel, an ever-turning cycle of pure Awakened Souls that will achieve perfection with time. It is the Order's duty to endeavor the continuation of the Diamond Wheel's turning by promoting the growth of worthy mages and doing away with those who fail expectation. Simply put while all souls are worthy of saving, some are worth saving more than others.
  • The Heiromagus will fulfill the Diamond Wheel. The capstone of the Esoteric Tenets is the concept of the Heiromagus, a Perfect Awakened Soul that will complete the Diamond Wheel, banish the Abyss, and dethrone the Exarchs. A messiah-like figure, the upper echelons of the Order spend a great deal of time debating the nature of the prophesied figure who will finally end the Quiescence. Some believe that such a mage can be forged by having their flaws torn from them, legitimizing the Order's practice of undermining otherwise great and powerful mages throughout history. Others believe that the Heiromagus must be born and therefore the world itself must be made ready for such an event to occur, which happens to also legitimize the Order's practices. Those who believe in supernal reincarnation believe that any soul can eventually become the Heiromagus should they undergo the cycle of rebirth enough times to achieve an inherently enlightened state.


Practices
The Masque is more than a new identity; it is a layer of false being that a Guardian uses to perform a certain task. There are said to be 49 archetypal identities (represented mechanically as the 49 combinations of Vice and Virtue), ranging from the Skull Priest who makes killing holy to the Scepter, who assumes command. History and culture provide numerous variations, including the Black Suit, Wise Merchant, and Wounded Soldier. These roles are sometimes assisted with actual enchanted masks, and some of the Order's positions traditionally require mages to don them. In an abstract sense, the Masque is a series of spells that conceal a mage's identity in such a way that she may easily assume a particular role. Guardians don the Black Suit to appear to be government agents who suppress evidence of the supernatural, or take up the Scepter to assume command of a corporate or government office. Symbolically, the Masque teaches a mage humility, because he must suppress his own eotism to fit the part.
The Labyrinth is one name for the web of secret societies, fifth columns, and spurious cults that the Guardians create to conceal magic from the unworthy and exert influence over Sleepers. Novice members of the Order are initiated through the Labyrinth by penetrating the three Veils until he finds the true Order. Such organizations rarely assert direct command over Sleepers. Instead, government money pours into black budgets, businesses can't succeed without the support of a certain private club, and Sleeper investigators are diverted to cults willing to ply them with voluminous, useless information. Mages are not themselves safe from the Labyrinth, as the Order showers disinformation upon would-be sorcerers and invents prophecies that Guardians will later fulfill. It is all too easy for Guardians to lord over their dupes. More than one mage has become obsessed with garnering temporal power through the Labyrinth.

Titles
Interfector are the executioners and interrogators who serve the Consilium. At official functions, the Interfector is masked. Mages are expected to ritually deride her by refusing to touch her or step in her shadow. It is common to rotate mages through the position (each wears the mask of office) so that the role retains an impersonal quality. While the position grows less common over the ages, as an official position within Atlantean Law it cannot be completely abolished from Consilium practice without an overwhelming majority, something the Guardians have been very successful at preventing in the past.
Epopts ("beholders") serve two vital roles within the Guardians of the Veil. Chiefly they maintain the Labyrinth by upholding the Order's network of influence and misdirection. Secondly, and potentially of equal importance, they are responsible for the recruitment of new members by sending them through the Three Veils. The Epopt is always an experienced mage and rarely one of exceptionally high status within the Order despite the responsibilities of the title. They have a tendency to get enmeshed to the mundane politics of their office, and having tasted power over the Sleeping world are reluctant to abandon it for more the esoteric concerns of higher ranks.
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The Mysterium:
Magic is Knowledge.

Mystagogues, as the Order calls themselves, derive their roots from the Alae Draconis of ancient Atlantis, the Wings of the Dragon. There they served as the philosophers, scholars, and teachers of mystical knowledge. Their libraries of occult lore and storehouses of supernal artifacts were second to none in the ancient world and that's exactly how they preferred it. There are two major sources of shame derived from from these ancient Mystagogues in modern nights; one being that without their accumulated knowledge the Exarchs could never have erected the Celestial Ladder in the first place and second was that much of their knowledge was stolen from the other Orders and civilizations beyond the walls of the Awakened City who dared to explore the secrets of Creation without differing to the Order's authority.

None could deny the Mysterium's power in the Old World as no one else was as concerned with the accumulation of pure knowledge and therefore wield it with political clout. Indeed it was this tendency to ration out their vast archives of knowledge that earned them much infamy in the silver halls of the Great City as well as modern Consilium. Their greatest hope following the Fall was that other civilizations did to Atlantis what they did originally to them, thus preserving at least some of the ancient wellsprings of knowledge found therein.

The stereotypical vision of a Mystagogue is that of an old wizened teacher amid a library of ancient tomes and trinkets. To be fair this is not always off the mark, as there are many a library-fortress run by Mystagogues who have hoarded their esoteric power for decades, but over the past centuries as travel and exploration of the world have grown the Order has transitioned into a sort of organization for archaeologists, cryptographers, explorers, and intrepid archivists obsessed with plumbing the knowledge of the ancient world. The modern incarnation of the Order values its scholar-adventurers as much as its librarians.

The Mysterium's entrance requirements are some of the most lax of the Pentacle. Mages with prior higher education are valued, but the Order is not above taking in those without a formal education as long as they portray the proper mindset or talents necessary for their duties. These values are generally expressed as a profound curiosity of some kind, whether it be a knack for solving riddles, a talent for performing research, or a need to break a few rules and go spelunking in places that ought not be disturbed in the first place. Modern members of the Order may have to play the part of student, researcher, spy, thief, or art critic if they wish to swell the libraries of the Mysterium.

To this end the Mystagogues have written many treatises on the subject of their Order's precepts, but most of them can be distilled into the following three aphorisms.
  • Knowledge is Power. The Exarchs wield ignorance as a weapon against Sleepers and Awakened alike. It is the duty of the Mystagogues to uncover and understand the mysteries of reality and thereby weaken the grip of the Lie and the Abyss.
  • Knowledge Must be Preserved. The Mysterium believes that ignorance has grown so pervasive that many Apostates and even the Free Council openly deny that Atlantis ever existed. The Order believes that the uncovering and preservation of Atlantean lore is the only way to mend the damage caused by the Abyss and that every fragment of ancient knowledge slows down the growing rift between the Above and the Fallen.
  • Knowledge has a Price. Arcane lore is dangerous and is only acquired at great cost. Accordingly, the Mysterium do not share its secrets with Sleepers, and mages must meet certain standards. The Order always demands payment. The best thing a mage can do is offer an uncommon grimoire or enchanted item in exchange for what he seeks. Even then, the Mysterium doesn't share its knowledge lightly. There are some books and some secret names that mages should never know, because they summon up what can't be put down or would constitute a weapon sufficient to destroy the Awakened balance of power. Unlike the Guardians of the Veil, the Mysterium does not believe in lying to the unworthy. Ite merely denies them access to what they unwisely seek.


Practices
The Athenaeum is a Mysterium storehouse. Unlike Free Council Lorehouses, these are secret installations where Mystagogues meet to secure and catalogue their finds. Athenaea are always protected with strong wards and are the direct responsibility of a Curator. When an outsider wishes to view material from the Athenaeum , she must have it brought to her. She studies it under guard. There is no chief Athenaeum; they are created whenever local members of the Order feel the need to do so. Normally, the region governed by a single Consilium will either possess one of its own or be adjacent to a region that does.
The Atlantean Mystery is the nickname for a series of ritual initiations that use divinaory magic to assess a candidate's suitability and what she must provide to prove her worth. Normally a Mystagogue is assigned a task or sacrifice appropriate to the level of initiation sought. These trials almost always involve gathering new lore for the Order or confiscating dangerous or stolen occult materials. The Highest lore of the supernal World, the Abyss, and certain summoning spells typically require the greatest degrees of initiation.

Titles
Censors keep hidden lore secret. Other Orders resent them, but acknowledge that certain spells and terrible names could shatter the Awakened World. The Censors are the most martial Mystagogues, because they must disarm others of their secrets. The Free Council accuses these mages of being little more than self-appointed death squads that kill freethinking mages. It is true that Censors have acted on political motives, but it’s equally true that they have saved the lives of mages and Sleepers by suppressing destructive occult knowledge. Censors never destroy when they confiscate. Taken secrets are kept under lock, key and ward in an Athenaeum.
Curator is the title of an accomplished mage (second degree adept or better) and accomplished academic. Curators who betray the Order are killed. Incompetence is punished by stripping the offender of all her Mystery initiations, and condemning her to study only the lowest secrets of the Order until she regains her former station.
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The Silver Ladder:
Magic is a Birthright.

When you woke up today you were a little tired, maybe a bit hungry. Maybe you checked your mail and fretted over bills. Outside it might be a bit too hot, or cold. Maybe you have a headache right now, or you’re contemplating the fact that you weigh a bit too much, or too little. But that’s living, right?

Wrong. It’s the Lie.

To the Silver Ladder, each and every one of these discomforts is a crime, imposed by the Exarchs when they denied Supernal privileges to the rest of humanity. Your animal pains, finite wealth, unfulfilled dreams and eventual death are curses. You deserve to be a god, and you will, even if the order must set the heavens aflame to make it so.

The Vox Draconis, the Voice of the Dragon, as they were known in ancient Atlantis, were the priests, viziers, and judges of the Awakened City. The théarchs uphold the principles of Atlantean Law and teach the way of the Sage through the Elemental Precepts. The Order is responsible for the reformation of Awakened Society following the Fall with the construction of the Consilium, the patchwork society that has survived into modern nights. For all their might, the other Orders lack the ambition that the Silver Ladder holds in spades; for the théarchs want nothing short of building a second Awakened City and then with it and an army swollen with enlightened Sleepers storm the gates of Heaven to reclaim Humanity's stolen birthright from the Exarchs.

To hear a théarch talk there are three kinds of people in the world: Stags who represent passivity and pacifism, Lions who embody ambition and prey upon Stags, and Sages who seek to teach, guide, and improve without falling into complacency as a Stag or amorality as a Lion. Every théarch in theory strives to attain and then retain the delicate balance of qualities required of the Sage. Newly Awakened mages who demonstrate a natural tendency for this are approached by members of the Silver Ladder for enrollment before they can be plucked by other Orders, but sometimes they will seek out those who fulfill the roles of Stag or Lion if they portray a willingness or ability to be molded by the Order's doctrine. Suffice to say there have been more than a few Lions among the Ladder's membership in the past.

The Silver Ladder is also unique in that it actively flames the fires of Awakening among Sleeper society. Not foolish enough to simply reveal the nature of magic to Sleeping mortals, the Order allows a trickle of knowledge out through carefully constructed conspiracies. These members are called the Illuminated before they properly join the Order's ranks, assuming they pass in the first place. A potential Illuminated is contacted in secret through enigmatic messages and prompted, but never shown, to search for answers. Those who take up the call inevitably find a group of people who are supposedly members of a secret society that works at the behest of powerful and benevolent miracle workers, sometimes in a cult-ish fashion but in recent years the images of obscene wealth and corporate power are more than enough to tantalize most. The Order sets these sleeper initiates to tasks that further the Order's agenda and reward them lavishly with wealth, power, and the occasional miracle. The theory is that over time this will promote those who join the Illuminated to Awaken or perhaps reveal Sleepwalkers (something that it at least seems to do with modest results according to the Silver Ladder); those who never reach enlightenment or prove to be truly useful retain their position as useful puppets for the Order until the mage in charge of a cell either dies, moves on, or is forced to eliminate them.

To the Silver Ladder, Humanity is divine. Not that it can become divine or is the subservient race of a divinity, but that they are divine. Subjugation by Gods, Demons, Spirits and any other would-be Higher Authority is an insult to Humanity under their dogma. This can be an awkward lesson for previously devout members to accept and some never quite give up their religions even after years of service to the Silver Ladder, but the Order as a whole finds the distinction relatively harmless as long as they uphold the Elemental Precepts:
  • Diamond: The Awakened are One Nation. Diamond is the sanctified, transformed Earth. The base upon which all other achievements rest. Under Diamond, mages have a common bond in Atlantis and the struggle to exalt Humanity. This constitutes a nation, and mages are beholden to its laws. Traitors such as Banishers, Seers of the Throne, Scelesti, and others may be punished righteously. Other mages must respect the Consilium more strongly than any Sleeper Government.
  • Thunder: Imperium is the Right of Humanity. The purpose of the Awakened is to secure the Imperium Mysteriorum — the Sovereignty of the Mysteries — for Humanity. No Exarch or god has the right to control human destiny, and even natural calamities are an insult to human divinity. Thunder is energized Air, the life-breath of humankind, and the moral duty to seize Imperium is synonymous with the right to life itself.
  • Star: The Silver Ladder is the Path to Victory. The Star is the sign of Supernal Fire, in the form of the Oracles’ Watchtowers. Silver Ladder mages were the priest-judges of Atlantis, and it is their prerogative to direct the fruits of the Star against the Exarchs. The order claims that its most powerful members receive instructions directly from the Oracles. Théarchs pledge to arm the Awakened against the Lie. They therefore deserve the respect and obedience due the seneschals of the Oracles.
  • Blood: The Sleepers Follow. Blood is living Water and heralds the birth of human beings, but it is also the sign of a wound. Sleepers are wounded by the Quiescence and need the direction of the Awakened to prosper. They must be healed and raised up to claim the Imperium Mysteriorum. This is a slow, careful process that must follow the traditional forms of apprenticeship.


Practices
Convocation is the gathering of the Silver Ladder's members. Every year, all deacons from at least two Concilii gather to set a common policy for the year to come. This is known as the Least Convocation. Lesser Convocations occur every three years, gathering all of the deacons in a larger region defined by geography and tradition. Theoretically, there are also Great Convocations (where every deacon on a continent meets) every five years, but these have not gathered in over a century (when the European deacons debated the order’s response to the Free Council). A Grand Convocation of deacons from around the world is an unfulfilled dream, said to be the first step to creating a true Awakened nation.
Lex Magica is the special legal code among its own ranks. This constitution governs everything from the proper relationships between mentors and apprentices to the circumstances under which a théarch may kill another mage or Sleeper. These laws are held to be enforceable regardless of Consilium policy on a given matter. Any théarch of superior station may pass judgment on minor affairs, but major crimes such as theft and murder are dealt with by a lictor.


Titles
A Deacon directs order affairs within a given Consilium’s jurisdiction. Many deacons serve as Councilors on a Consilium’s ruling body. Others do not, allowing another mage to speak for them; a few even conceal their true station. Aside from attending annual Convocations, a deacon enforces discipline and coordinates the Silver Ladder’s local efforts to bring mages under strong, central rule.
A Lictor is a traveling official who enforces the Lex Magica, acting as judge and punisher. Lictors are invariably tough and magically adept. Most lictors travel a circuit and serve as an informal source of news and rumors about mages in other regions. A lictor’s judgment is binding upon a Silver Ladder mage. There is no higher authority to which to appeal. This power is balanced by the fact that these rootless mages are forbidden to have apprentices (other than their replacements) or permanent sanctums until they resign. While it is not entirely unheard of, corruption of the office is one of the few offenses in Awakened Society that can warrant Soul Destruction if found guilty.
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The Free Council:
Magic is Liberty.

Awakened society has always had its share of rebels and strange geniuses, mages who could never accept the easy answers of Atlantean tradition. The Silver Ladder cast them out, the Adamantine Arrow refused to protect them and the Mysterium expunged their words from history. But the Awakened have always been sensitive to the spirit of an age, and there have been times when the trickle of malcontent has grown to a flood. These eras have coincided with some of the greatest achievements in human history, but also with its wars and disasters. In the early 19th century, cabals across Europe expounded a startling theory: that upheaval led to genuinely new occult praxes, not mere shadows of Atlantis. Men and women are not as weak as the Exarchs supposed, and strained against their prison across the generations.

The new movement gave itself hundreds of names. It spanned the globe through the Boxer Rebellion, the guns of the American West and the bombs of London anarchists. Mysterium historians called this time the Nameless War, because the other Orders refused to even give the revolutionaries a common name. After all, names grant symbolic power. The heirs of Atlantis wanted to see history bury these apostates, but the war only left the rebels bloody not unbowed. The conflict even increased their membership. Young members of the traditional Orders defected, charmed by the opportunities offered by rebel factions. Even so, the Nameless rebels couldn't prove their worth to the ancient Orders until they took a stand for something, instead of against tradition. The Great Refusal fulfilled this requirement.

The Seers of the Throne saw the nameless cults as a great opportunity. Namless mages embraced the Sleeping world's technologies and fashions. They could be used to wipe out all memory of Atlantis. Together, the Seers and the Namless could create a world where humanity could not even conceive of of the occult, mending the final few flaws that remained in the world-prison the Exarchs had created. The Seers of the Throne sent emissaries to the Nameless cabals, offering them wealth and power in exchange for an alliance that would wed technological and cultural magic to an agenda of control. A technocracy.

The Nameless order decline. They declined with guns, bombs and mind-crushing Arts. On New Year's Eve in 1899, the Great Refusal of alliance concluded with the official formation of the Free Council, members of which had finally discovered a common enemy. The spirit of the modern world would be liberty and it was time to explore it.

Libertines, as they're called, are not particularly choosy about who joins them. Their Order is devoted to the idea of Democracy where everyone has a voice. Which isn't to say that there aren't standards. Criminals and dangerous cultists are not permitted to join should they be found too dangerous, but it does mean that the stereotype of an Order filled with ragtag apostates and rebellious punks without a cause isn't entirely unfounded. Contrarian by nature, it's filled with an air of revolution and scientific discovery, attempting to update Magic into a modern age where the mystical has grown increasingly less mysterious.

Volumes have been written, and duels fought, over what Libertines ought to elieve. Despite this, members hold little in common aside from the charter of unity forged at the dawn of the 20th century:
  • Democracy Seeks the Truth; Hierarchy Fosters the Lie. The Quiescence does more than blind Sleepers to thegreat truths of existence. It creates a way of thinking that causes them to lie to each other by diluting power through society’s ranks, creating hierarchies to control the spread of knowledge. This is a radical enough claim by itself, but the Free Council goes a step further and postulates that even mages are cursed to trap their lore in hierarchies of mutual deception. Every generation loses a bit of lore that was concealed in the highest levels of initiation and never passed on. Subsequently, the secrets of Atlantis (if it isn’t a lie) have been filtered through so many masters and apprentices that they’re nearly useless. Only shared discovery and free debate can throw off the Lie.
  • Humanity is Magical; Human Works have Arcane Secrets. The Free Council believes that humanity never really forgot the secrets of magic. Human beings instinctively create their own miracles. These are only shadows of the potential they could attain if they Awakened, but they point to new ways to understand magic. Technology and culture have their own secret laws and symbols, drawn from Supernal regions still waiting to be discovered. Libertines embrace a modern vision of magic drawn from human accomplishments, not hoary myths. This doesn't mean that magic comes only from modern technology and mass media, though. Many libertines believe that preindustrial and developing societies have been making their own discoveries throughout Sleeping history and that it’s a mistake to cleave too closely to modern Western values. Of course, other Council cabals believe the opposite: that the Enlightenment and its heirs are the only streams of human history worth paying attention to. What both groups have in common is that they see these developments as new and vital in their own right instead of being scrambled memories of Atlantean glory.
  • Destroy the followers of the Lie. This is one of the most contentious points of agreement among Free Council cabals. While all agree that the Seers of the Throne are the most extreme proponents of the Lie, they do not have any consensus on how to reform Awakened society away from its authoritarian traditions. The most radical cells espouse revolutionary war against the Silver Ladder and their collaborators, but others believe that a peaceful campaign of cooperation and Consilium-level reform will gradually persuade mages to abandon their outmoded hierarchies.


Practices
The traditions of the Free Council are invented, not revealed, so members regularly invent rituals and conventions that suit their own interest and needs.
The Assembly is an alternative to the standard Consilium in areas where the Free Council holds the bulk of political power. Free Council cabals are run democratically, either by absolute consensus or majority vote. In addition, cabals often form regional Assemblies as an alternative to the local Consilium. Individual groups send syndics (see below) to the Assembly, who in turn formulate proposals to be voted on by every mage represented. Some Assemblies require members to forswear association with a Consilium, but most do not. Even so, the collective power of a well-run Assembly can decisively sway a Consilium, since all members share a commitment to a particular policy. A variation known as the Column organizes mages in battles against their enemies. While any democratically governed cabal is allowed to join an Assembly, libertine mages invariably make up the majority of their ranks.

Lorehouses are the Libertine solution to the Mysterium's Athenaeum. The Free Council’s mission to renew the arcane arts can be realized only by the easy exchange of magical discoveries. The Lorehouse system assists that transaction by providing an open storehouse of magical knowledge. This doesn’t always mean it’s easy to get access to a Lorehouse; its controlling cabal dictates any requirements. Some Lorehouses use a free-market model, selling their stock to any mage who can meet the price in hard cash, Mana or barter. Others serve only cabals that profess an ideology acceptable to the Lorehouse’s owners.

The order prefers to call its style of magic techné, a Greek word meaning a skill or art. Techné is not just an application of ancient Atlantean techniques, but a philosophy combining technology, art and culture to produce magic that is relevant in a modern context. While other orders cling to a tradition belonging to an ancient past, the Free Council forges ahead to new horizons.

Titles
An emissary is a libertine who has been empowered by a Free Council cabal or Assembly to pursue diplomatic aims with mages from other orders. Emissaries are not permitted to espouse any positions or to make any offers that haven’t been voted on by the mages they represent, unless their governing cabal or Assembly grants these powers beforehand. Cabals and Assemblies are, in turn, obligated to seek redress if any harm comes to their emissary.

A Strategos is how Libertine handle states of crisis. In a crisis, Free Council mages may voluntarily suspend their democratic rights to give a strategos the power to make decisions in all areas relevant to his area of expertise. Most strategoi are used to coordinate a libertine group’s defenses, though a few decide upon affairs ranging from sanctum economics to metaphysical debates. Many Assemblies (including virtually all Columns) employ a strategos who is permitted to make decisions that affect all Assembly members. No matter what, the power of a strategos is formally limited to a single subject.

In regions where Free Council Assemblies hold sway, member cabals select one of their own as a syndic to represent them. Syndics do not make decisions. They debate other syndics and generate proposals on which all members vote. Syndics can acquire considerable clout. Their positions on various matters are normally upheld by their own cabals, if not others, and syndics’ combined ability to render a complex matter down to a vote allows their perspectives to dominate any debate.

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Last edited by Fireseed on Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:36 am; edited 13 times in total
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The Paths

Post  Fireseed on Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:31 am

Each Mage upon Awakening engraves their name into one of the five Watchtowers, binding their soul to one of the five Supernal Realms and becoming a channel for their Truths.

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Acanthus:
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The mages of the Lunargent Thorn have a reputation as the most capricious of the Awakened. To their friends, that makes them “free spirits,” or “a breath of fresh air.” Their detractors are more likely to apply terms such as “unstable,” “immature” or “childish.” Many mages see something fey or otherworldly about the Acanthus, and the Enchanters themselves are hardly in any position to deny it.

Maturity and stability are not the strengths of those on the Path of Thistle. They are visionaries with extraordinary insights into events both past and future, but they may not always make as much of their insights as they could — much to the chagrin of other mages. Their peers accuse them of being flaky or even irrational, but those allegations seem not to phase the Acanthus in the least. Many reasons have been put forth for their odd behavior. Some have suggested that those on the Enchanter’s Path are so inundated with the endless branches of the time stream that nothing seems impossible and no decision seems irreversible. In their defense, the Path of Thistle truly does promise much more than a mage can handle until she grows into her magic.

Because so much of her magic takes the form of uncanny good fortune, it’s possible for a mage on the Path of Thistle to imagine herself merely extraordinarily lucky, and many show a tendency toward superstition even in their magic. For this reason, many believe that Acanthus epitomize the tarot trump of “The Fool,” relying on dumb luck to guide their journeys. Their sense of wonder and endless possibility often inspires hope in others, for to an Acanthus, the odds are never unbeatable and there are always second chances.

Acanthus are drawn to crowds, but they seem destined to be stuck on the edges of any crowd they hang with, always “the new guy” no matter how long they’ve been with a group. Their charming ways often make great first impressions, but charm goes only so far, especially once the going gets rough and the Acanthus expects others to pick up his slack.

A mage who walks the Path of Thistle that winds through the realm of Arcadia to the Watchtower of the Lunargent Thorn (the “moonsilver thorn”). Sleepers know Arcadia dimly through the legends of faeries, and the nymphs and dryads of the plant kingdom. In Arcadia, everything is enchanted, wearing a magical glamour of intense beauty — or ugliness. Things tend toward extremes; there is very little compromise in the abode of the Fae. Change is common and encouraged. Those who walk this Path tend to be fickle and ever eager to try new things.

The Ruling Arcana for Arcadia are Fate and Time. Fairy stories from around the world reflect the timelessness of the realm, as people who enter places under its influence and spend an evening often exit many years later, as time ismeasured in the Fallen World. Likewise, a promise or oath is binding, and none can betray it without terrible consequences.

Acanthus, also called “enchanters,” are often thought of as the archetypal “divine fools,” for they seem to achieve their goals by not trying or by waiting for things to come to them. Little wonder this, with the Fate Arcanum on their side. But this over-reliance on luck can be to their detriment, as they spurn patience and plunge into situations that are perhaps best tackled with some degree of foresight and strategy. They are the wild cards of the Awakened world, and both loved and hated by others for it.

Ruling Arcana: Time/Fate
Inferior Arcanum: Forces

Nimbus: “Fey.”
Things seem enchanted or pregnant with the possibility of magic. In some cases, a greenish glow might highlight metals or reflective surfaces, and eerie, strange singing can be heard from afar. With powerful magic, fogs and mists might rise to cloak the ground. Time condenses into the present moment; concerns about the past or future seem less pressing, less real. Everyone’s heart seems to beat in synch, although the silence between beats hints of eternity. Things sometimes seem to move in slow motion, with sublime grace and beauty.

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Mastigos:
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Those Awakening to the alluring nightmare of the Path of Scourging are fated to be among the least trusted mages in existence. Their connection to the Kingdom of Nightmares bestows upon them a creeping, seductive urge toward manipulation and subversion. Despite the constant temptation they experience, however, they remain in full control of how they express that urge. While many Mastigos grow into their bad reputation over time, many take pains to use their extraordinary talents in ways that ultimately serve the common good. Some see themselves as serving a Darwinian role. By honing in on others’ flaws, they prod people to be more self-aware of their weaknesses and so work to shore them up. Although this seems rather ignoble to some, many Awakened judge things more on their evolutionary results rather than on a merely ethical basis. When the end goal is ascension to the Supernal World, one’s weaknesses can prove to be fatal. It’s better to have a friend in the role of catechist than an enemy.

One of the problems Mastigos frequently encounter in the earliest stages of the Path is the impression that they are surrounded by people hiding secrets. Certainly, the Mind Arcanum does leave them with the sensation of being surrounded by other presences, all of whom have their own secrets. This sometimes makes Mastigos suspicious and leaves them with a proclivity for spying and manipulation that serves them in good stead — but for which their reputations suffer.

Mastigos acknowledge none but themselves as masters. They eschew any code of behavior that they did not establish for themselves. In some cases, this results in hyper-strict codes of conduct that one would expect more from an ascetic monk than from a Warlock, but others on the Path of Scourging use their particular brand of nihilism as an excuse to indulge in any behavior that feels good — regardless of the consequences to themselves or others. Many associate them with the tarot card of “The Devil,” a powerful will unfettered by moral concerns. Magically, the hallmark of the Mastigos is subtlety. Their magic is rarely flashy or blatant, and many on this Path are acutely uncomfortable using any kind of obvious magic.

Many other mages assume that all Mastigos are inherently corrupt, but this conflates Warlocks with the lowest applications of their philosophies. It is true that a mortal who is already inclined toward mayhem can make the most of that inclination once he Awakens as a Mastigos, but it is just as true that an inherently beneficent mage can exert his will for the common good with equal facility.

A mage who walks the Path of Scourging through the nightmarish labyrinth of the realm of Pandemonium, at the center of which is the Watchtower of the Iron Gauntlet. Pandemonium is also called the Realm of Nightmares, for its echoes appear to Sleepers most often in their most terrible and dreaded dreams, where they fall from endless heights, never to hit the ground, or run for what seems like hours but never make any ground. Their worst fears or repressed emotions are brought forth in places touched by Pandemonium, to be examined and judged by strangers, who mock and condemn them. Through such a gauntlet of humiliation and submission, a soul is scourged of its sins and is thus purified to reunite, cleansed and free, with the divine.

The Ruling Arcana of Pandemonium are Mind and Space. The darkest corners of the unconscious mind are readily apparent here, worn like badges, while all roads twist in upon themselves, leading a traveler to confrontations with his own failings.

While Mastigos “warlocks” are often associated with diabolists and demon-summoners (those who make deals with the Devil), they are more properly the masters of such infernal urges, those who by dint of will command that within them which is most unsavory. While all men sin, the Mastigos learn from the foibles of the mortal coil and use them to attain higher power.

Ruling Arcana: Space/Mind
Inferior Arcanum: Matter
Nimbus: “Nightmarish.”
Depth perception takes on new clarity, and it might seem that objects are seen from all sides in a single glance, or that things seem impossibly far away, beyond reach. Objects seem limned by an unseen flame, and exotic fragrances hover at the edge of awareness. With powerful magic, distant screams or howls of rage might sometimes be heard.

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Moros:
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Many on the Path of Doom Awaken after a near-death experience, with the violence of their close call and their brief trip to the lands of the dead opening their eyes to the existence of magic. These mages often describe their Awakening as hearing the noise of the world die away and being wrapped in a shroud of tranquility. It is this shroud that allows them to maintain their composure once they gain the capacity to hear the shrieks and pleas of the restless dead.

More than anything else, the Moros Path is concerned with transition and transformation. Its magics focus on the transformative edge where life becomes death, lead becomes gold and ignorance blossoms into understanding. Necromancers are fascinated by the edges of objects, places and states of being, where shore becomes sea, where coal becomes diamond and where the land of the living segues into the land of the dead. It is little wonder that they remind others of the tarot card of “Death,” a card of transitions.

Necromancers are often hypersensitive to the brevity of life and understand just how little time they have to gain the transformative secrets they crave. They often become obsessive about their studies, sleeping only a few hours each night to leave enough time for their research. Moros mages who have mastered the basic arts of alchemy are free from the quotidian financial worries that plague some other mages, as they can create fortunes in gold and gems with only a modicum of effort.

A mage who walks the Path of Doom, treading the barren wastes and black rivers of the realm of Stygia to attain the Watchtower of the Lead Coin. There is a price to be paid for entering places influenced by Stygia, and there are many tollgates on the road the soul must travel through death to attain new life. This price isn’t in mundane lucre but in the treasure reaped by the soul during life. If its weight is light, like that of precious metals, the soul can rise above its death. But if it is heavy, like lead, the soul must remain in the abode of shades until it can relinquish its hold on life.

The Ruling Arcana of Stygia are Death and Matter, for it is the place of shells, whether the hollow shells of egos worn in life or the heavy shells of material greed. Whatever is most heavy falls to the influence of this realm. Ghosts who are anchored to the world they have already left, material treasures that distract the soul from its true work, and even darkness, which weighs down the light.

Moros necromancers are often stereotyped as dour and quiet, and there are certainly those mages who fit that description, but this image is based more on others’ misunderstanding of what mages who work so close to death must be like. If a Moros is gloomy, it is because he is all too aware of the doom that others face, while he rises above it all, alchemically transformed by his sojourn in the undiscovered country to which all eventually travel.

Ruling Arcana: Matter/Death
Inferior Arcanum: Spirit
Nimbus: “Haunting.”
Onlookers think they see vague and blurry figures. Shadows grow deeper or seem to reach out to an onlooker, and objects look decayed or rotted. With powerful magic, they might even hear whispers. Corpses might twitch or seem to moan.

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Obrimos:
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Mages who Awaken with a connection to the Kingdom of the Celestial Spheres often recall their Awakening as being struck by divine lightning and becoming the thunder. With no warning and no clear understanding of why, they are overcome with the absolute certainty that they are the champions of the Divine — though how they define “the Divine” seems to vary drastically. Some feel the Divine to be a patriarchal god of judgment. Others sense the Divine as a manifestation of immanent Nature, while still others feel it to be an ongoing sentient process of self-aware coincidence. Whatever they feel the Divine to be — and many take years trying to discern just what force it is they serve — the Mighty all agree that they were Awakened to serve as Its warriors.

Ultimately, no particular faith unites mages on the Path of the Mighty. It is their shared conviction in doing the right thing, fighting the good fight and making the will of the Divine manifest on Earth (and elsewhere). Obrimos are committed to doing what they see as just and right for the greater good. As they see it, the world has lost its way, and they have been charged with putting it back on track — by any means necessary. Others associate them with the tarot card of “Strength,” wielding an indomitable will with unwavering purpose.

This sense of divine right gives the Obrimos a confidence that is hard to shake. They suffer from self-doubt less than most others and frequently suffer from a rather ironic case of hubris. An Obrimos mage is aware that the world is made of energy and magic, and he’s been given the right to wield it. Lacking any direct communiqué from a divine being, many come to the conclusion that their own wills are the divine will. What they say goes, even if it conflicts with what another mage says — even another Obrimos.

A mage who walks the Path of the Mighty, gliding on celestial winds through the realm of the Aether and the firmament of the stars to reach the Watchtower of the Golden Key. Only the elect can enter here, guarded by the Hosts with their swords of fire. Lightning strikes any who fly with false wings, like Icarus downed by his hubris. He who would wield the Flame Supernal must not flinch in the face of adversity, and cleave to one of the many visions of the divine.

The Ruling Arcana of the Aether are Forces and Prime. The very realm bristles with energy — sometimes too much energy, threatening to burn those not shielded by divine purpose. The raw power of the prima materia, the fire of Creation that fuels magic, is born here and meted out to the Tapestry by Providence.

Other mages often fear Obrimos theurgists for their temperaments as much as for their judgmental attitudes. Nonetheless, all admire their strength, and call upon them first when the need is dire.

Ruling Arcana: Forces/Prime
Inferior Arcanum: Death
Nimbus: “Enlightening.”
Things become self-luminous, seeming to glow from within, and the air becomes charged with energy, accompanied by the smell of burning ozone or unseen smoke. Everything seems to be preordained, divinely chosen. With powerful magic, a distant choir might be heard.

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Thyrsus:
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Mages who Awaken with a link to the Realm of the Primal Wild tap directly into the primordial forces of vitality that drive creation. Their hearts beat with the pulse of the world, and they are moved by a passion and vigor that sets them apart from their Awakened peers.

Many Thyrsus are already in unusually good health when they Awaken, while others are sick or injured and Awaken in the course of their fevered dreams. Once they gain sufficient mastery of the Life Arcanum, many reach a level of physical fitness and sheer hardiness that few besides Olympic-level athletes could ever hope to attain. Many of the most physically powerful of the Awakened travel the Thyrsus Path.

Shamans’ connection to the Realm of the Primal Wild is not entirely beneficial. It often gives them an intensity that others find disturbing. Upon Awakening, Thyrsus gain insights into the mysteries of life and the spirit world that almost invariably shift the focus of their lives to a drastic degree. They may come across as somewhat distracted or impatient with those who possess less vitality and drive than they. Some may seem antisocial or vaguely feral. Emphasizing this is the fact that mages on the Thyrsus Path commonly have more energy than their peers, and they invest vast wellsprings of passion into everything they do.

Those they love, they love with an incandescent passion. Those they hate, they despise with a terrifying intensity. They pursue their goals with a fervor that would lay low lesser mortals (or mages, for that matter), and others sometimes see them as obsessed because of it. In the grip of their passions, Thyrsus may seem positively amoral, like forces of nature in their own right, more akin to animals or spirits in human guise than mortal men and women. They may seem callous or crude at times, discussing matters of life and death almost flippantly, but then that’s hard to avoid given their perspective. Life and death follow each other in an eternal cycle. Calling one “good” and the other “bad” is ludicrous to these amoral mages.

To others, they seem like the embodiment of the tarot card “The Moon,” with their animal passions and keen instincts.

A mage who walks the Path of Ecstasy, forging his own trail through the realm of the Primal Wild to discover the Watchtower of the Stone Book. Most of the hallmarks of civilization are but dreams not yet dreamt in this realm, where the world into which mortals were first born thrives in all its teeming grandeur and horror. This place speaks to the primordial in all beings, causing them to lose themselves to ecstasies of the flesh or spirit, exalting in the very act of being alive. Some claim that all wine is blessed with the taste of the Primal Wild, and that those who get madly drunk dance in its humid embrace.

The Ruling Arcana of the Primal Wild are Life and Spirit. The pounding drums of the heart and lungs, the surging blood in every vein, the tingling nerves and salty sweat — these things are an alphabet of desire presided over by this realm. Not just flesh, but ephemera, too — the instincts of beast and spirit alike are wrought in the Primal Wild’s jungles.

Thyrsus shamans celebrate the moment and the sheer thrill of existence. Surrounded by Presences, they are never alone — there is always a partner ready to take up the dance anew. While some of them are looked upon by other mages as uncivilized louts, they are no “hippies.” The Path of Ecstasy is also about pain, for life is there, too. Only the dead feel no pain. Thyrsus are often the first mages sought when the Realms Invisible intrude.

Ruling Arcana: Life/Spirit
Inferior Arcanum: Mind
Nimbus: “Vibrant.”
Adjacent onlookers feel a “runner’shigh” as their blood beats faster, their hearts feeling strong. The hairs on the napes of their necks rise, sending a thrill down the spine. Onlookers see movement out of the corner of their eyes, or think they see shapes in random patterns, such as faces peering at them from the abstract patterns on wallpaper. With powerful magic, they might even hear growls, whines or insect buzzing coming from inanimate objects such as lamps, staplers or cars.

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Inspirational Pictures:
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Legacies! (Coming Soon)


Last edited by Fireseed on Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:09 am; edited 18 times in total
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Magic

Post  Fireseed on Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:38 am

Magic in Mage: the Awakening is essentially a form of a Platonic Heaven expressed through Sympathetic Thaumaturgy.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of the Platonic Heaven then settle in for a brief explanation. You can look it up on wikipedia, but essentially it is a way to explain abstract or otherwise immaterial concepts that either are derived to exist or are simply too fundamentally important to not exist. Such famous and often unanswerable questions that can be explained via the Platonic heaven in day to day life are things like "What is Love?" and "Why does math even work if it's an abstraction of the human mind?"

In the Platonic Heaven are Symbols that represent fundamental truths such as Pi or Love or anything else you can really imagine. From this higher plane of existence these symbols are used almost like a source code to create the universe that we ourselves live in. The Supernal Realms work in a very similar way. Within the five Realms Supernal there are a nigh infinite series of Symbols that represent anything and everything that we could conceive of in the world around us. The Supernal is the Source Code, the Truth that makes Creation even possible in the first place according to Atlantean Lore.

When a Mage wishes to bend the world to his will, what he is actually doing is calling down the Supernal Truths to overrule the common laws of reality as we know them. To accomplish this a Mage must resonate strongly with these Truths and thereby tap into their supreme Symbolism. By writing their name into one of the five Watchtowers every Mage already resonates with one of the realms enough to cast magic in a primitive form, but by exploring this symbolism and exploiting it a truly learned Mage can work Wonders.

In theory anyway, the Abyss sort of gets in the way a lot of the time.

Mages have struggled for ages to truly explain what the Abyss is. An amusingly futile gesture if there ever was one, as the Abyss is by definition without definition. Those who explain it as a void are grasping for simplistic terminology since it is far from empty. Those who explain it as a foreign reality are closer to the mark, but their explanation implies that it simply runs on its own set of Truths that are alien to our own, which is once again over simplifying for the sake of having an answer. Those who explain it as Untruth once again edge the line of explanation, as the Abyss is just as tangible and real as anything else in the World of Darkness.

Instead one must explain that the Abyss is a paradox. There is one theory that beautifully describes things, but makes so many assumptions as to be impossible to prove.

The theory goes that in the beginning, as much of a beginning as there could be before Time was properly formed, all that existed were Concepts that bubbled up and out of the Void to clash and unmake themselves. Speaking with terms such as Before, During, and After this time is meaningless as described previously, but the theory goes on to say that certain concepts did not clash; certain concepts resonated with one another, harmonized, accentuated, and even provide context to one another. Over 'time' these harmonizing concepts formed an oasis of sorts where Truths gathered and brought Definition to the budding Reality as we might know it.

According to this theory the Abyss is either that original soup of conflicting concepts or perhaps what was left over and did not fit in with the Truth. It's impossible to determine if this theory is true or not and there are certainly enough holes in the concept to label it at least not entirely true, but it does well to explain what the Abyss could be. The Abyss are those concepts that do not harmonize with reality, that conflict with the Truth, and that resist Definition at a very fundamental level. The Abyss is not without substance, instead it lacks meaning.

When the Celestial Ladder was shattered and the Abyss was created (or summoned?), it filled in the gap between the Supernal and the Fallen. The Fallen World operates on 'programming' that's self-sufficient enough to keep itself operating, but without the light of Truth it will slowly dwindle and fall into decay. When a Mage draws down the Supernal he pulls magic back into the world, but by doing so he also exposes it to the Abyss and risks causing a Paradox.

If you take anything away from this section, simply remember that the Supernal Realms represent an Objective Truth about Reality. As vast and strange as they might be to our experience, they are True. Or so the theory goes anyway.

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Practices
While there are a near infinite variety of spells that a Mage can perform by mixing and match Arcanum and applying them in strange, innovative ways, there are patterns that can be divined to exist. In Atlantis they codified the 13 Practices and described them as tiers of understanding; so whilst magic is not limited to them, they do provide an excellent framework within which the complexities of magic become easier to digest and utilize.

The 13 Practices:

Long ago in true Mage fashion, Atlantean scholars spent a great deal of time deciphering and categorizing some basic laws of magic that were relatively easy to interpret. What arose from this project is known simply as the Practices of Magic. Each Practice is tiered in a way to a Mage's fundamental understanding of a particular Arcanum, and grow in a progressive manner; this is sometimes called the crawl before you can walk principle. These should not be used to limit a Mage's imagination, but to provide a basic framework for what they know they can do at any given times; any Mage worth their salt will knows how easy it is to push boundaries.


    Practices of the Initiate - 1 dot
  • Knowing: Gain mystical knowledge about and understanding of phenomena within the Arcanum's purview.
  • Compelling: Elementary manipulation of phenomena within the Arcanum's purview, enough to activate them and/or impart directions.
  • Unveiling: Gain sensory perception of phenomena within the Arcanum's purview.

    Practices of the Apprentice - 2 dots
  • Ruling: Exert elementary command and control over phenomena within the purview of the Arcanum.
  • Veiling: Conceal, camouflage or hide phenomena within the Arcanum's purview from scrutiny.
  • Shielding: Provide protection against attacks utilizing the purview of the Arcanum in various ways.

    Practices of the Disciple - 3 dots
  • Weaving: Alter the capabilities or functions of phenomena within the Arcanum's purview.
  • Fraying: Injure a target through a purview of the Arcanum.
  • Perfecting: Fortify, bolster, or improve phenomena within the Arcanum's purview.

    Practices of the Adept - 4 dots
  • Patterning: Transform phenomena within the Arcanum's purview into related phenomena or shapes, or replace their capabilities or functions with different ones.
  • Unraveling: Significantly injure a target, degrade its capabilities, or negatively transform it.

    Practices of the Master - 5 dots
  • Making: Create phenomena within the Arcanum's Purview from nothing.
  • Unmaking: Destroy or mutilate a target.

Further understanding is only disclosed to Archmages and it should be mentioned that certain Arcanum appeal to certain Practices more easily than others.

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Death:

Death is a Subtle arcana that deals both the literal dead and the metaphysical resonances associated with it. Not only can a mage manipulate ghosts, animate the dead, sap the strength from the living, decay flesh with a touch, manipulate raw ectoplasm, and steal the souls of living beings, but in Atlantean mythology Death was also associated with Darkness and Conclusions.

An initiate of Death (1 dot) can shape raw ectoplasm with their bare hands, ascertain the exact way in which someone died, visualize death and the touch that it leaves behind in the world and on the living, shape the shadows around themselves, and speak with ghosts.

An apprentice of Death (2 dots) can will shadows to move as they see fit, manipulate the features of a corpse, corrode physical objects with a touch, generate raw ectoplasm, sap the strength of blows against the mage, call for nearby ghosts, grant their visions to others, store a wayward soul in a Soul Jar, suppress her own or another's aura from magical sight, and physically interact with ghosts.

A disciple of Death (3 dots) can command ghosts to do their bidding, destroy ephemeral objects such as ghostly trinkets, damage physical objects with a touch, mystically vampirize a living person, cast wards of death upon allies, create a gate which turns any who enter it into the ethereal substance which ghosts typically exist in called Twilight, convert a material object into ephemeral Twilight, animate the dead into zombies, heal ghosts, manipulate and reshape ephemeral objects, sever the soul of a Sleeper from their body, generate darkness from nothing, and suppress their own life force so thoroughly that they appear dead for all intents and purposes.

An adept of Death (4 dots) can sap the strength (or dexterity) from a living person, anchor a recently dead (or dying) Sleeper to an object so that their ghost haunts the world, force a soul to continue occupying its dead body thereby creating a Revenant, physically rot the flesh from a living person's bones, destroy their own aura for all intents and purposes, bind a soul to a vessel currently lacking one but still physically alive, suppress the life signs of another to the point that they look dead, enter Twilight without the need to pass through a ghost gate.

A master of Death (5 dots) can devour the life force of ghosts or the healthy living people for mana and willpower, destroy raw Mana, dispel magic of any other arcana, endow ghosts with power, siphon a living peron's life span into their own, and even summon a specific ghost from the Underworld.


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Fate:

Fat is a Subtle arcana that deals with such ideas as blessings, curses, destiny, fortune, oaths, and probability. Understanding the arcanum of Fate grants a practitioner the ability to perceive, manipulate, and destroy the threads of destiny, generate good or bad luck, bind others to their sworn word, and inflict curses or blessings upon others. It should be noted that unlike some arcanum which simply invoke disbelief in sleepers when witnessed repeatedly, altering the threads of Fate excessively tends to have unforeseen and sometimes dire consequences that the perpetrating mage is not wholly aware of.

An initiate of Fate (1 dot) can reveal the invisible threads of fate between two objects or people and thereby understand how important something is or was, manipulate minor probabilities that were usually set against her (such as a rigged deck of cards), auger their action's immediate consequences if there is an element of randomness involved (such as playing russian roulette), perceive the forces of fate around them, and generally produce innocuous good or bad luck upon themselves and others.

An apprentice of Fate (2 dots) can bless themselves with good luck on a chosen action, cause someone to immediately suffer a bad stroke of luck, weave a probability field about themselves that cause potentially harmful actions against her person to simply miss or go awry, grant another supernal sight of Fate, delve into the ebb and flow of the situation around them and allow Fate to guide their hand (but only if they don't know what will happen ahead of time), cause tools and machines to temporarily operate with perfect precision, cast very simple wishes, and bind themselves to oaths and circumvent supernatural events that would cause her to break it.

A disciple of Fate (3 dots) can manipulate the terms and conditions of an oath, bestow exceptional luck upon another, generate a false destiny upon a person or thing and make them seem to have great importance, protect others with favorable probability fields, cause an item to become lucky, cause an item to become unlucky, obscure and protect the threads of Fate around a person or object from supernatural intervention, and invoke inconceivable luck for a single action.

An adept of Fate (4 dots) can sever any mystical bindings between a soul and its body (such as freeing a soul from a Soul Jar or severing the connection between a Mage and their Familiar), almost totally assure that something they're taking part in will succeed (often in a spectacular fashion that invokes disbelief), witness and acknowledge the binding of oaths between others, and even completely sever any oath that they themselves have sworn.

A master of Fate (5 dots) can place a geas upon another as though they had already sworn an oath to the mage, sever a geas cast by another mage, alter the destiny of a living being, forge a Doom (example: a sword doomed to slay someone), forge a Godsend (example: a shield that will save someone's life), curse someone with incredible bad luck, and create a completely chaotic conditions that the mage cannot themselves control.

Additionally any mage who learns 2 dots in Fate can add a Trigger component to their own spells. So for instance a mage could cast a Curse of some kind which would only trigger itself based on some condition the mage set at the casting ("You will regret it if you ever lay eyes on my sister" for example).

Additionally additionally, a master of Fate (5 dots) can extend any blessing or curse to a generational effect with the expenditure of intense mental energy. Thus one can bless or curse a lineage or bloodline in any manner of ways.


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Forces:

Forces is a vulgar arcanum prone to tearing apart the threads of Creation at the upside of granting any mage who masters it incredible destructive power. With it a mage learns how to manipulate, perceive, create and transmute energy itself in its myriad forms. The principle forces under the sway of this arcanum are usually categorized into electricity, magnetism, gravity, kinetic energy, light, radiation, sound, heat, fire, and anything else you might have heard in a physics class.

An initiate of Forces (1 dot) can guide the direction and/or flow of existing heat, light, and sound around them, attune their senses to see better in the dark, read the resonance of the energy in the local environment with supernatural senses, pick up on sounds above or below normal human detection, and even translate free-floating data transmissions into intelligible information (essentially listen to radio stations without a receiver or watch broadcasted television without a TV).

An apprentice of Forces (2 dots) can magnify or dampen nearby sources of heat, light, and sound, grant others the ability to visualize forces as they do, manipulate the flow and/or direction of electricity and fire, render an object invisible to conventional sight, narrow the kinetic energy of an impact to lower the surface area (for example a punch would instead 'stab'), hijack a radio signal and manipulate it, and deflect incoming physical attacks.

A disciple of Forces (3 dots) can protect others from physical attacks, call down bolts of lightning (or release large stores of pent up electricity in fantastic fashion), diminish or a alter the flow of electricity, fuel a fire's size and intensity, create or extinguish light, turn invisible with concentration, create or extinguish sounds, telekinetically lift or manipulate objects remotely, hurl balls of telekinetic force, and direct the course of projectiles.

An adept of Forces (4 dots) can turn others invisible, give themselves a tremendous burst of speed, change the weather, increase or decrease the velocity of an object, increase the force of friction on a target to such a degree that even a gust of wind causes cuts and lacerations upon them, levitate themselves slowly through the air, throw bolts of lightning, transform different forms of energy into one another (at this level the mage can only change sound, light, heat, fire, and electricity), and telekinetically lift living creatures remotely.

A master of Forces (5 dots) can generate major weather disturbances such as tsunamis or monsoons, give others incredible but short lived speed, allow others to levitate, become invisible without the need to concentrate, redirect gravity, generate sunlight, cause a localized earthquake, generate an EMP (electromagnetic pulse), snuff out a source of radiation or irradiate an area, fly, intensify or decrease gravity, and even completely control an object or person's velocity (causing them to speed up or slow down against their will, additionally the mage can stop bullets midair).


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Life:

Life is a vulgar arcanum associated with physical form, vigor, metamorphosis, healing, evolution, and disease. Additionally it grants power over "lesser" forms of life in much the same way Death can be used to summon and control the various forms of undead. For the purposes of Life spells, living creatures are divided into three categories: Base life (insects, plants, fungi, bacteria, other microbes, etc.), Median life (Non-sentient mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, etc.), and Advanced life (sentient animals such as humans and werewolves).

Initiates of Life (1 dot) discern a creature's species, age, and sex with a glance, cleanse herself of drugs, toxins, or poisons, discern the state of health of a living creature, detect and identify illnesses, visualize the living essence of the world around them, and sense other life forms with a certain degree of accuracy (useful for tracking a target or evading those hunting them).

Apprentices of Life (2 dots) gain total control of their own bodily functions such as breathing, reflexes, metabolism, and circulation, control Base life forms through instinct and natural behaviors, heal the wounds of plants and animals, modify their own body to provide natural armor against attacks, cleanse others of various toxins, heal herself, cure themselves of a mundane sickness or disease, transfer physical features from one Base life form to another through touch, transform one Base life form into another completely, and grant another the ability to visualize the vital energies of the world around them.

Disciples of Life (3 dots) can cure disease and sickness in others, control Median life forms through instincts and behavior, hone or diminish their own physical form in some way, heal the physical wounds of other people, give others natural armor, transfer the features of one median life form to another, transform one Median life form into another completely, give themselves the features of a base or median life form, and alter her own mundane physical features (hair, eyes, skin color, etc.).

Adepts of Life (4 dots) can diminish the physical form of a median or base life form, hone the physical form of an Advanced or lower life form, control base or median life forms like puppets, cause sickness or disease in others, change to look exactly like someone else, enfeeble another person's physical form, tear directly at another creature's life force, change another person's mundane physical features, shapechange into any mundane animal (and potentially lose themselves to that creature's instincts), hone the form of a base or median life form, grant the physical features of a base or median life form to a human, manipulate Advanced life forms through instincts and natural behaviors, and transform a base life form into a median life form.

Masters of Life (5 dots) can create a wholly new life form, transform a base or median life form into a human being, transform animals into creatures of myth, shapeshift herself and others into animals without risk of losing themselves to the animal mind, create a hereditary alteration (usually performed on something about to mate or something in an early stage of development such as a fetus or an egg), exert bodily control over human beings like they were puppets, regenerate the lost limbs and organs of themselves and others, dramatically lower the physical form of a person, and dramatically hone the physical form of a person.


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Matter:

Matter is a Vulgar arcana associated with lifeless matter, alchemy, transmutation, shaping, crafting, and the elements (especially Earth). With it Mages can amass truly astounding amounts of wealth or build structures of phenomenal complexity and strength with little more than some base materials and their own willpower.

Initiates of Matter (1 dot) can discern the composition of a substance with a glance, attune themselves to the subtle resonances of different materials and detect them in their environment, see the raw resonance of Matter in all its forms with supernal sight, alter the conductivity of a material to make it more easily pass electricity through it, discern the nature of any mechanism with brief study, and feel out secret compartments and passages within inanimate objects.

Apprentices of Matter (2 dots) can subtly alter the properties of an object such as balance and heft, grant supernal vision of Matter to others, impart cohesion into liquid or vapor to form it into shapes of his choosing or move it with their will, transmute common liquids from one to another (water to wine, vice versa, etc.), increase or diminish the transparency of a material, and even subtly alter the material world around him to soften blows made against his person.

Disciples of Matter (3 dots) can reinforce or degrade the durability of an object, bestow commonly called 'armor piercing' capacity to mundane objects, jury rig a mechanism to working even if normally it would not, render any reasonably homogeneous material malleable by hand for a time, repair the durability of an object, and transmute one common solid into another (such as granite to glass, vice versa, etc.).

Adepts of Matter (4 dots) can influence the efficiency of a mechanism, annihilate matter into nothingness, transmute liquids into solids (and vice versa), reconfigure a single object so long as the base material doesn't change (for instance an aluminum baseball bat could instantly be rendered an aluminum sword), control the flow, density, and dispersion of a gas, transmute any simple gas into another simple gas (air into helium, vice versa, etc.), and finally transmute precious or rare materials (such as gold).

Masters of Matter (5 dots) can shrink or expand an object's volume, annihilate supernatural substances, transmute any basic substance into any other basic substance (air to water, water to wine, wine to lead, lead to helium, helium to air, ect.), create an object out of nothingness, and grant objects the ability to repair themselves.


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Mind:

Mind is a Subtle arcanum associated with many phenomenon that would otherwise be called Psychic. In truth the practices of Mind revolve around the concepts of communication, hallucination, mental projection, mind control, telepathy, consciousness, free will, and the Astral Realms. A Mage who properly studies the magic of the Mind will find their mental cognition reach astounding heights and leave their peers behind to scratch their heads. This is also the arcanum used to generate intelligence by transmuting instinct and programming into thought and free will.

Initiates of Mind (1 dot) can discern the natural aura of emotions and subtle supernatural influences surrounding a person, split their thoughts into two (allowing them to perform two mental functions at once such as reading and writing at the same time), sense the minds of others around them, and sense when others have mental powers through supernal sight.

Apprentices of Mind (2 dots) can consciously alter their own aura should they feel someone is examining it, manipulate the simple minds of beasts (reptiles and fish specifically) and insects through basic telepathic control, project emotions into people through suggestive sympathy, trigger certain odd phenomenon of memory and thought such as that eerie feeling you get when you think you know somebody but can't quite remember them ("Oh hey! It's, uh, you! How have you been...?"), similarly they can make themselves less noticeable to those around them, compartmentalize sections of his own memory so that even he does not remember them (useful when tricking a lie detector or coping with trauma), shield his own mind from mental coercion, protect herself by subtly giving those around him incorrect information directly into their minds and thereby making it considerably harder to touch them or figure out exactly where they are, open someone's 'third eye' to the mental landscape around them, and employ limited telepathic projection to communicate simple words to another's mind.

Disciples of Mind (3 dots) can augment his own mental faculties to expand his capacity for complex thought, quick wit, mental fortitude, composure, or even raw charisma, cloak the auras of others, control the minds of more complex creatures such as mammals and birds, trigger the incorrect memories in others to cause them to think that the Mage is someone else, ward another's mind from mental coercion, perform tasks of truly great multitasking (three simultaneous mental processes at once), blast another's mind with a crude psychic assault (enough to cause headaches, intense migraines, and potentially unconsciousness), gain total control of her own sleep cycle and dreams, gain proper telepathy for back-and-forth mental communication between two minds, and translate any idea into or out of any mundane language providing a sort of universal translator.

Adepts of Mind (4 dots) can augment or enfeeble the minds of others temporarily, manipulate memories in himself and others, psychically enter another person's dreams, cause false sensory input (ie: a hallucination), telepathically read the deeper thoughts of a person including their subconscious mind and memories, project his mind into Twilight, perform psychic assaults on another's mind so severe that it causes physical damage (either from simple extensive nerve damage or by misfiring something and causing the person to injure themselves), further augment his own mind in multiple ways, and even exert telepathic control over humans and other sentient minds.

Masters of Mind (5 dots) can connect multiple minds into a telepathic network, psychically possess another person's body, bypass moral or instinctive barriers when telepathically dominating another's mind (thus forcing them to commit suicidal acts or depravities they would normally never consider), create a consciousness that can be imparted upon something (such as a statue or a computer or even a bit of raw ephemera in Twilight), perform psychic surgery and fundamentally alter another person's personality, mentally project themselves across the Gauntlet and into the Shadow where Spirits live, and form an ephemeral lair in Twilight that can be accessed and used by his own psychic projection (and others as well).


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Prime:

Prime is a Subtle arcanum associated with the manipulation, sculpting, and mastery of raw Mana in all its forms. This is not to be confused with a mastery of Magic, as Prime is simply one of the ten Threads of Creation, but as it represents the Mana that comes in so many flavors it tends to be equated to the study of a pure state of the arcane arts. Certainly it does have its own exclusive benefits, but somewhat limited scope when venturing far from its own shores.

Initiates of Prime (1 dot) can gain a potent Mage Sight that reveals all the supernal threads and resonances in an area, discern the magical properties of a supernatural item, pierce the phantasmal illusions of other Prime spells, dismantle or dispel magic of any flavor (so long as they have at least 1 dot of the appropriate arcanum in addition to Prime 1), and inscribe a Grimoire.

Apprentices of Prime (2 dots) can activate an Artifact or otherwise Imbued item without needing to satisfy its trigger condition, counter the spells of other mages without needing knowledge of the arcanum they're using, produce a ward that protects against supernatural powers (but is somewhat expensive to keep up), endow another with Supernal Vision, create the mystical arena necessary for an official Duels Arcane, alter the nature of his own aura (not necessarily the emotional state, but he could produce the aura of a Sleeper or a Werewolf for example), and hide his own spells from other curious mages.

Disciples of Prime (3 dots) can weave a barrier around their own souls to prevent it being stolen or severed from their body, manifest an orb of pure burning mana (though it tends to be somewhat ineffective against living entities), channel mana from a Hallow without needing to perform the ritual oblation, Tass, or an enchanted item into his own mana supply, unravel spells with precision (thus allowing him to dispel a particular person or object from a spell whilst leaving it otherwise intact), generate a Tass (solidified Mana) from his own mana supply and give it any mundane form, disguise the metaphysical resonance of an area, dissolve Tass back into the Tapestry of Creation, enchant an item on the fly to protect from or inflict wounds upon ephemeral entities such as Spirits, Imbue an item with magic, Imbue a living creature with Mana, manipulate and shift Ley Lines to produce a source of free energy (cuz fuck paying for electricity), ward another with a shield against supernatural powers, create a simple Phantasm (a fragile replica of a physical object, and finally transform another's aura.

Adepts of Prime (4 dots) can awaken a dormant Hallow, endow a Sleeper with Supernal Sight and temporarily suppress their Disbelief (although if a paradox does occur, the Abyss still lashes out), generate more complex Phantasms that can mimic complex things like animals and be controlled as such (with concentration), generate simple but sturdy Phantasms suitable for use as tools, armor, or weapons in a pinch, siphon the Essence out of a creature who possesses it and convert it into mana, strip the mana from a physical object's Pattern (thus damaging it while feeding the Mage), dispel any magic without the need for an appropriate dot in the other magic's arcanum, and suppress an active Hallow.

Masters of Prime (5 dots) can generate complex phantasms that can mimic complicated machinery such as computers or even living people (and can be controlled with concentration by the Mage), create a temporary Hallow, expel the ambient mana from an area to create a "dead zone", and even siphon the mana straight out of another mage's personal supply.


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Space:

Space is a Vulgar arcanum associated with the art of Connection. The illusion of Distance is unveiled to the Mage, who can master the arts of conjuration, scrying, sympathetic magic, teleportation, wards, and spacial anomalies through the study of this mind bending arcanum.

Initiates of Space (1 dot) can analyze the connections between things to determine Sympathetic Resonance between objects and creatures, keep flawless track of a mundane object in the local vicinity even when it is out of sight, extend his cone of vision to 360 degrees, gain Mage Sight tuned to the resonance of spacial anomalies, and construct a perfect mental map of his surroundings.

Apprentices of Space (2 dots) can weave their knowledge of Space with another arcanum to summon an appropriate item through scrying (for instance they could teleport their car keys from their bedroom to their pocket by scrying to their bedroom and employing Matter with the spell), bestow uncanny spacial awareness upon others, conceal any sympathetic connections he might have with other people, places, or things, activate supernatural portals that are currently closed, scry (remotely view), warp the fabric of space around them to render themselves nearly untouchable, and construct basic Wards (rendering a person, place, or thing effectively immune to applications of Space, unless overpowered of course).

Disciples of Space (3 dots) can endow others with an untouchable quality, can add a Ban effect to a Ward by adding another arcanum to the original spell (for instance, one could prevent Insects from entering a building by using Life to construct an insect Ban on a preexisting Ward), sever sympathetic connections completely, scry multiple areas at once, generate sympathetic connections by reinforcing the nigh intangible threads that bind all things sympathetically, create a Portal, and send a physical action to another location from afar (such as punching someone from across the room).

Adepts of Space (4 dots) can perform a personal co-location and be in two or more places at once (without proper application of Mind magic the copies are just images of the original, but the Mage can decide which one is the 'real' them at any given time), generate a pocket dimension within which the Mage can escape (the Mage must fill it with the appropriate arcanum for it to actually be anything however), additionally he can place real world objects into his personal pocket-dimension, apply a Key trigger to a Portal he creates so that the Portal is accessible to anyone who knows the trigger or has the Key, entangle a target in a weave of spatial strands that render it incapable of leaving a location, and teleport.

Masters of Space (5 dots) can perform complex co-location spells on an area to cause multiple locations to to exist in the same place (such as hiding a mansion in an apartment or having multiple closets keyed to a single door that the mage can swap between at will), construct a knot of space to hide a location and render it exceedingly difficult to reach without knowledge of the true path, mutate dimensional axes to produce hallways that stretch for miles or forcing all roads (even disconnected ones) to lead to the same location, and finally the Mage can co-locate two places, objects, or creatures onto one another and then force them to interact messily.


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Spirit:

Spirit is a Subtle arcanum associated with the ephemeral world, Spirits, the Gauntlet, the Shadow, exorcism, and the vitalizing aspects of the Soul. Spirit is a somewhat difficult arcanum to introduce to those who are unaware of the Shadow or Spirits in general, who are largely ruled under its sovereign light much as Beasts and Plants are ruled by the Life arcanum. That being said, Spirit does also take its place by being a mediator between realms and a means to pierce the Veils.

Initiates of Spirit (1 dot) learn the First Tongue that all Spirits use to communicate, learn to whisper to sleeping spirits within material objects to ask for its aid without disturbing it, perceive spirits currently possessing living entities, gain Mage Sight in the context of the spiritual influence around them as well as the local Gauntlet, and she can see spirits in twilight and even communicate across the Gauntlet that normally separates the world of Flesh and Shadow (additionally she can see ghosts with this level of Spirit, but they're hazy and indistinct).

Apprentices of Spirit (2 dots) can weave the Gauntlet about them like a cloak to render themselves armored against physical blows and spiritual attacks, touch (and be touched) by Spirits in Twilight, grant spiritual vision to others, summon lesser spirits (either a specific lesser spirit known by name or a general call to the local spirits), peer across the Gauntlet into the Shadow, fortify or weaken the Gauntlet in the area of a Hallow, and seal a soul in a jar much like Death.

Disciples of Spirit (3 dots) can force a spirit to perform a simple action ("Attack!", "Flee!", "Stand there!", etc.), exorcise a spirit or ghost from a body or anchor, forge a personal pact with a Familiar, summon more potent Spirits from the Shadow (again, either calling for a specific spirit or casting a general call out to the local area), fray a Spirit's pattern to damage it or conversely mend it, generate a personal ward against the powers of Spirits (somewhat difficult to maintain over the course of several attacks), reach across the Gauntlet to physically interact with the Spirits there without actually crossing over into the Shadow, restore a severed soul to its own body, awaken dormant spirits slumbering within objects or places, and even create a physical path that crosses the Gauntlet between the Fallen World and the Shadow.

Adepts of Spirit (4 dots) can bind a spirit to an anchor within the material world, create a Fetish (an item with a bound spirit that can utilize supernatural powers with proper bribing (read: essence)), forge a pact to establish a bond between another Mage and a Familiar, create an item called a Medicine Bag that can store Essence, channel Essence from a Spirit, Locus, or a Medicine Bag into any of the others (Medicine Bag to Spirit, Locus to Medicine Bag, Spirit to Medicine Bag, etc.), bind a spirit to a person, place, or thing to act as a Spirit Guardian, force a Spirit to possess a living creature, exert more control on any paths she creates to and from the Shadow by approving who can and who cannot cross it, and additionally cross the Gauntlet without the need of a gateway through the Gauntlet.

Masters of Spirit (5 dots) can manipulate the strength of the Gauntlet without the need for a Hallow, can cause a Spirit in Twilight to materialize, create or fundamentally alter a Spirit, attain a mantle of spiritual power that Spirits naturally differ to (effectively the Mage is perceived as a Spirit by other Spirits) and can create a small court of lesser Spirits to command, and construct inert Ephemera in the Shadow into a building of the Mage's own design (generally to create a sanctuary in the Shadow).


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Time:

Time is a Vulgar arcanum associated with temporal anomalies, divination of the future and the past, and acts of prophecy. Timing, sequence, and rhythm become second nature to a Mage who masters the art of Time, as is the ability to grasp the moment in a literal sense. The powers of Time are truly as frightening as they are powerful and there is more than one Mage who has accidentally written themselves out of history with careless action or a disastrous paradox of a potent Time spell.

Initiates of Time (1 dot) gains a better understanding of the Butterfly Effect by being able to judge an ongoing, soon to occur, or recently passed event to see if its results will positive or negatively impact herself in some way, attains a perfect mental clock, sense when an opportunity is present (say if the Mage was looking for a good Time to club a guy when nobody was looking), gain supernal vision to the ebb and flow of Time around her, and sense temporal anomalies around her.

Apprentices of Time (2 dots) can auger the future in vague context (effectively the Mage can ask a simple question about something, such as "Will Timmy ever ask Jessica out?" and get a general vision that amounts to a yes or no answer), glance ahead to see the outcome of an immediate action with two potential outcomes (such as seeing what side a coin will land on while still in the air), scan the immediate future to see if whatever she's currently working on will go well or not, receive Postcognitive visions about an object or place that the mage touches, shield herself from temporal powers, generate a bubble in time that allows her to dodge out of the way of an incoming attack, and grant temporal vision to others.

Disciples of Time (3 dots) can give accelerate themselves and move faster than they should, divine the future with greater clarity (same as before, but instead of just a yes or no the mage receives more details "No, Jessica will ask Timmy out instead"), she can rewind time for herself briefly (jumping back a matter of seconds to avoid a poor outcome), and warp time around others to let them dodge attacks more easily.

Adepts of Time (4 dots) can cause others to 'lag' through time, divine the immediate future with absolute clarity, tap into the time stream and glean a vague prophecy that might allow her to change the future (generally the farther into the future one looks, the more vague and difficult to decipher the prophecy becomes), she can generate a temporal pocket outside of which time slows down, and thrust herself, those around her, and/or an object forward slightly through time (thus appearing to disappear for anywhere between 3 and 30 seconds).

Masters of Time (5 dots) can weave a temporal pocket into an area instead of only around herself (additionally she can decide whether or not time speeds up or slows down while inside the pocket), shunt an object forward in time (years instead of seconds), freeze time around a single target so that they appear to simply freeze in place, and even rewrite the details of their own past to redefine the person that she currently is (details like what if she had said yes when Josh asked her out, or if she hadn't found her brother's gun, or had decided to go back to college instead of joining the military, but not supernatural things such as Awakening, what Path she is on, or undoing Spells she has cast before).



Combining Arcanum
The previous examples are not anywhere close to the true breadth of options available to a Mage, even within a single Arcanum, much less when a Mage deigns to mix up their various arcanum to produce some truly spectacular effects.
Examples!:

Sharpshooter's Eye - Fate1, Space1, and Life1 or Matter1
By utilizing Fate and Space a Mage with any kind of firearm (or ranged weapon even) can render an obscene distance an arbitrary factor when taking a shot, but by adding Life or Matter the mage can get a solid lock on either a living creature or an inanimate object that would make a world renowned sniper jealous.

Fiery Transformation - Forces4 and Life4; Matter 4 optional
By weaving the threads of Forces into her Life pattern, the mage can cause their bodies to an elemental incarnation. Her flesh burns and her hair becomes fire; additionally should the mage incorporate Matter4 into the spell she can spare the items she's wearing at the time of transformation by turning them into flames as well.

Verminous Metamorphosis - Matter3 and Life3
Some Mages like to play Moses and some Mages just like to throw spiders at people. With this spell a Mage can turn any nonliving object into a swarm of vermin, spiders are a favorite. With higher dots in Life the Mage could probably turn that staff into a serpent like the biblical figure, but most Mages find that a pillar of scorpions is just as good at getting a message across.

Forge Thaumium - Matter5 and Prime3
Mages are well aware of mystical metals and alloys, though they say that most recipes have been lost since the fall of Atlantis. One recipe still remains however, allowing a Mage with proper mastery of Matter and enough knowledge of Prime to forge the supernatural alloy known as Thaumium. In terms of a solid it's about the same quality as good steel, but its real potential is its ability to store Mana easily and utilize it in battle. Pieces of armor or any kind of device one might use to ward harm made with Thaumium can dampen a volatile spell by spending some of its built-in mana supply; conversely a weapon made from Thaumium can spend its Mana to unleash devastating power with a swing. Sadly Thaumium disintegrates over time and pieces of arms or armor rarely last more than a week or two, though they say that the truly gifted can create Thaumium stable enough to never disappear...

Forge Tulpa - Prime5 and Mind5
A Tulpa is an idea form. By utilizing the art of Phantasms with Prime a Mage can create an entity with all the complexity of a living creature with solidified mana, but it is little more than a puppet until the Mage applies a mastery of Mind as well. By doing so the Mage creates a sentient entity with personality traits ascribed by the Mage and a free will to act out on those traits. It's considered incredibly irresponsible and cruel thing to create a Tulpa such as this without a preprogrammed acceptance of its fate to fade into nothingness upon the spell's completion after no more than an hour or so and often less than that.

Manifold Presence - Space5, Life4, Mind3; Matter 4 optional
This complex spell allows a mage to co-locate himself in many places at once through Space and give each of his clones a physical body through Life. With Mind the Mage can control each of himselfs and perform independent actions as necessary. Matter is added if the Mage wants to give his clones a copy of his clothes and equipment. It should be noted that all the clones in this spell share health with the caster, damaging one causes all to feel pain.

Essence Gift - Spirit4, Prime4
Spirits use a substance called Essence which is in many ways like Mana, but attuned to the ways of Spirit rather than a raw expression of Prime. With this spell a Mage can change Mana into Essence and Essence into Mana, thus providing himself a whole new resource to utilize when dealing with the natives of the Shadow.

Shadow Slave - Spirit5, Death3
A Mage with Spirit5 can already create a wholly new spirit, but by applying Death to the mix the Mage can conjure forth a living shadow to do his bidding. The shadow slave is bound to the Mage's will and completes even complex tasks given to it with a whim like some sort of loyal shadow.


Covert vs Vulgar
Magic, regardless of arcanum or practice, can be described as either Covert or Vulgar.
The Difference:

When a spell is Covert it means that it calls down Truths from the Supernal and weaves them into the Tapestry of Creation without tearing a hole in it. Generally this is done by either skirting the edges of the known laws of the Fallen World or by cleverly disguising it in some way. Supernal Sight, for instance, is a very common form of magic that Mages use to scrutinize the world around them for magic in all its forms and is generally considered to be Covert in nature since it does not violate any natural law and is not really observable to outsiders.

When a spell is Vulgar it means that it frays the Tapestry. The name rightly implies that it violates a fundamental law of physics or defies logic enough that observers simply cannot reconcile what they have seen as anything less than a supernatural power. When this happens the Tapestry can be torn and the Abyss can flood in, causing a Paradox. The classic example of this is throwing a Fireball; by doing so the Mage is not only violating several of the fundamental laws of physics, but to an observer the Mage just conjured fire from nothing and threw it at something. If the Mage in this instance doesn't take proper precautions there's a good chance he'll cause a Paradox.

A normally Vulgar spell can be rendered Covert through clever implementation; the classic example being instead of hurling a bolt of lightning at someone the Mage causes a nearby powerline to suddenly erupt and electrocute them. Same end result (sort of) but a much more believable means.

Conversely a Sleeper's Disbelief is a tangible enough force that it can cause an otherwise Covert spell to become Vulgar. In the previous example of the powerline, should the clever Mage decide that he needs to electrocute several people and thus causes all the powerlines to suddenly electrocute a bunch of people, an observing Sleeper might simply find this so strange that their Disbelief is engaged. Upon doing so the Covert spell becomes Vulgar and immediately provokes a Paradox.

What constitutes a spell as one or the other is still something that Mages struggle with on a basic level of understanding. Certain supernatural phenomenon are simply less prone to being Vulgar, but others aren't despite having somewhat clearly supernatural connotations. The Rule of Thumb is that if someone saw you doing it and it was clearly magical, there's a good chance it's Vulgar whether or not they're there to see it happen.

An exemption to this rule is through the use of a Demesne. Within the boundaries of these mystical places (described further down) all Vulgar magic becomes Covert, allowing Mages to perform truly powerful miracles without worry of tearing the Tapestry. It should be noted that Sleepers can still invoke Disbelief while within a Demesne, so they're usually secreted away from the public and guarded well.

It is important to note that Disbelief from Sleepers can not only cause a spell to become Vulgar, but it naturally boosts Paradox as well. If the Mage is throwing fireballs in private he still chances causing a Paradox even when nobody is around, but the odds and potency of the Paradox grow greatly when Sleepers observe. Indeed, it is the cruel nature of the Lie that the Abyss is channeled through each and every Sleeper present at such things; causing even a minor vulgarity of magic in front of a crowd to be a disaster waiting to happen.



Sympathy
Sympathy is an important concept in Mage. Under normal use, the word Sympathy means an extension of empathic concern, or the perception, understanding, and reaction to the distress or need of another human being. In Mage, however, it is often used in a much broader context by simply meaning In Reaction To or Significant To.

The classic example that we all know but might not realize is the Voodoo Doll. By constructing a crude likeness of a person and giving it something connected to that person, say some strands of their hair or some cloth of their favorite shirt, a malevolent witch can cause physical harm upon a person by performing it on the doll. Exact same principle is used here.

By gaining items that resonate Sympathetically to places or people or other items, a Mage can effect those things through that item. Doing so requires the Mage to know Space2, but in reality all Magic is Sympathetic in one way or another. Specifically all magic is Sympathetic to the Supernal Realms, when a Mage wishes to cast a spell what they're doing is invoking their own sympathy with their Watchtower and drawing down the Higher Truths to the Fallen World. By adding items, symbols, and language that is Sympathetically resonant with the Supernal Realms (such as wearing clothes of a particular color or using weapons of a particular material) they can increase the potency and stability of their own magic.
Examples:

Some Supernal Symbolism (Paths)
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Rotes, High Speech, Runes, and Arcane Tools are also classic ways to increase Sympathy for the Supernal and bolster/stabilize magic. However, there is one catch, which is that using these methods and Symbolism is not something that Sleepers are inherently ignorant of; speaking in a magical language whilst standing upon a circle of runes and waving a talisman around is both a great way to bolster one's magic but also cause intense Disbelief in Sleepers who see it. It's a bit of a trade off, but one that most Mages find well worth the investment.


Arcane Tools
An Arcane Tool is the generic term for any item a Mage has attuned to their Soul and can then utilize as a Symbol in their magic. If you've ever wondered why wizards and witches are classically depicted wielding wands and staffs whilst wearing robes and funny hats, in Mage this is often explained as examples of Arcane Tools. Essentially they are focusing the Mage's magic by acting as a Symbol that increases their Sympathy with the Supernal Realms.
Examples of Arcane Tools:
There are essentially three kinds of Arcane Tools: Path Tools, Order Tools, and Arcanum Tools. To be wielded properly a Tool must be prominently displayed and involved in the casting of the spell: the Mage gets no power for their Fate spells if they hide their lucky coin in their pocket for example, it must be visible and utilized with the relevant spell (such as giving it a flip).

There is no limit on how many Tools a single Mage can have, but since they must be attuned to the Mage's Soul to work, they naturally have strong Sympathy with them and thus can become a weakness to a Mage's rivals or enemies. Thus most Mages tend to have only as many as they absolutely need.

The forms they can take are nigh infinite, but the symbolism involved is not. So while a Mage is free to customize their Tools to their own aesthetic sensibilities, there are certain strong themes that tend to crop up over and over again. This is especially true for Path and Order Tools, which are intended to Symbolize the ideals and concepts of their Supernal Realm and Order specifically. Arcanum Tools are much more open to interpretation.

    Supernal Materials
    These are common materials used to invoke the symbolism of a Watchtower or its associated Supernal Realm. While not all-inclusive, these are good starting concepts.
  • Aether: steel, petrified wood, gold
  • Arcadia: glass, crystal, plastic, silver
  • Pandemonium: iron, brass, leather
  • Primal Wilds: wood, copper, stone
  • Stygia: lead, bone, precious gems

    Path Tools are said to originate from the Watchtowers themselves, imbued with the secrets of their founding Atlantean Kings and symbolic of the tools they themselves used in life. The material used to craft them is always symbolic of their Path's realm (and therefore must be constructed of a Supernal Material). Only one item can be dedicated as a Path Tool at a time.
    A Path Tool can be used effectively with any spell that a Mage casts from one of their realm's Favored Arcanum (Arcadia: Time/Fate, Mastigos: Mind/Space, Moros: Death/matter, Obrimos: Forces/Prime, Thyrsus: Life/Spirit).

  • Wands and Staves are generally associated with the element of Fire.
  • Weapons are generally associated with the element of Air.
    -Acanthus: knife, rapier, bow and arrow
    -Mastigos: knife, curved sword (such as scimitars or katanas), whip
    -Moros: Knife, hammer, mace
    -Obrimos: knife, spear, double edged sword (such as a european longsword or a gladius)
    -Thyrsus: knife, spear, axe, sling
  • Cups are associated with the element of Water.
  • Pentacles and Coins are associated with the element of Earth. If the Tool is a Coin, it must be stamped with the Atlantean Pentacle (five point star) on one face to qualify as well as be made from a Supernal Material.
  • Mirrors are associated with the element of the Soul. The Supernal Material must be polished or burnished in some way to produce a reflection.

    Order Tools need not be composed of Supernal Materials to function. Instead they are commonly utilized Tools that can be weaved into the practices of the Mage's Order easily. These Tools function for any rote of any arcanum learned from the Mage's Order. Rotes learned from another Order and Improvised Spells cannot properly utilize an Order Tool. Only one item can be dedicated as an Order Tool at a time.
  • The Adamantine Arrow: any weapon, protective item (such as a shield) or armor
  • The Free Council: any technological item so long as it has a complex mechanism (such as a clock or a gun) or run on electricity
  • The Guardians of the Veil: any cloak (including long coats or hoods), veils (including scarves) or masks
  • The Mysterium: any books, scrolls, written talismans, or keys composed of precious metals (such as gold, silver, ivory, or even ruby)
  • The Silver Ladder: any symbol of authority such as badges of office, religious robes, royal scepters, or funny hats associated with authority

    Finally Arcanum Tools are generic tools that provide symbolism in relation to a single arcanum. They can take a huge variety of forms, but there are some example materials and objects that can be used:
  • Death: bones, shrouds, today's obituary column, Ouija boards, etc.
  • Fate: playing cards, dice, etc.
  • Forces: batteries, flashlights, tasers, etc.
  • Life: preserved blood, tattoos, dried flowers, etc.
  • Matter: precious metals, rare isotopes, etc.
  • Mind: Rorschach inkblots, crossword puzzles, personal diaries, etc.
  • Prime: precious gemstones, pure crystal, etc.
  • Space: rulers, tape measures, wheels, sextants, mathematical equations, etc.
  • Spirit: drums, rattles, flutes, animal tokens (a tooth, claw, feather, or pelt), etc.
  • Time: clocks, watches, hourglasses, etc.


Most Mages carry a Path Tool, an Order Tool, and then however many Arcanum Tools they need. This results in some Mages looking esoteric or goofy, but a more subtle Mage can weave these tools into their normal affair and raise very little curiosity in onlookers.

In order to Dedicate a tool and elevate it to the state of an Arcane Tool a Mage must simply spend time with the item, usually in the magnitude of an hour utilizing it with some sort of symbolic ritual such as cleaning it or meditating upon its symbolism whilst it sits in their lap or even carefully adding to it in the case of a journal (or reading it in the case of a book).

There are exceptions for Arcanum Tools. Freshly drawn blood or a recently picked flower can be used as Arcanum Tools for Life spells in a pinch without the need to Dedicate it for example. All the Arcanum can be invoked in similar manners in a pinch if the Mage is observant enough to pick out resonant symbolism in their environment and bend it to their needs.

The Players is intended to have fun with this! Come up with an interesting theme or concept behind your Mage and apply it through your Tools.

---




Last edited by Fireseed on Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:58 pm; edited 27 times in total
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Antagonists

Post  Fireseed on Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:17 am





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The Seers of the Throne:
Traitors of the Highest Order, the Wardens of the Black Iron Prison, the Servants of the Lie, the Seers of the Throne.

If there's any one thing that keeps the Orders of the Pentacle united under a single cause it is these Villains; Mages who wish for wealth, for power, and the slimmest chance of freedom from the prison that they themselves help maintain. The price is simple: the subjugation of the rest of Humanity. These are the Mages who have sided with the Exarchs in the cosmic struggle, the Mages who sold the rest of their race into slavery for their own personal well being and potential freedom. There is very little that needs to be explained as to why the Pentacle has branded them as equal to if not more dangerous and in need of eradication than any other threat in the Fallen World.

When one discusses the Seers of the Throne it is imperative to keep in mind that this is a foe whose objective is the maintenance of the Status Quo. For all intents and purposes they've already won. Their false gods sit upon their Thrones in the Supernal Realms lording over Creation with their misbegotten gains, the Abyss they believe is under control, and nobody is in any real position to change that. So long as they maintain the Lie, keep the Abyss from spreading too far, and undermine the Pentacle the world will continue to spin at the behest of their Masters.

Perhaps even worse is the fact that the Exarchs actually do reward the Seers for their service with fabulous wealth, power, knowledge, and artifacts that the Pentacle scrapes at ancient ruins and the edges of modern day society to accumulate. As disgustingly self-centered as it might sound, the Pentacle Orders do at least understand why there are those who would be tempted to join forces with the Traitors. Even if they should lose and die horribly, at least they got to live their brief miserable little lives bathing in the light of gods and enjoying all the luxuries that that brings them...

For reasons that aren't entirely understood by anybody the Exarchs are still keenly interested in the continued survival of Humanity, but in a state of subservient ignorance. Paradoxical as it might seem, the Seers of the Throne do occasionally get cast into the role of antiheroes and sympathetic villains by making great sacrifices to save human lives or otherwise avert disasters that might cause a sudden shift in the balance of power of the Fallen World. To this end they adhere the most closely to human society, becoming the hidden puppeteers of government agents, clergyman, and corporate interests. Everything is molded into some grand design that nobody, not even the Seers themselves, are wholly aware of. What is clear is their mission to suppress supernal knowledge, to wipe clean the memory of Atlantis, and to otherwise censor the Truth at every turn until Humanity cannot even conceive of anything but the Lie that they exist within.

Traitors:
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Scelesti, the Accursed:
"And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

The Accursed are, quite simply, those who traffic with the Abyss. The reason why this explanation is so simple is because they take so many forms that it quickly becomes impossible to categorize them efficiently beyond a singular umbrella term. Their original reasons for studying the Abyss vary wildly, their methods take a huge variety of forms, the powers that they wield are anything but consistent beyond the most basic concepts, and their overall objective is not entirely clear. All that said, there are trends that can be gleaned by those Mages willing to subject themselves to the study of this strange misanthropic cult of wayward heretics.

The Scelesti themselves are a well known Legacy that have for whatever reason risen to the top as the poster child for the phenomenon of Abyss Worshipers. What they do, specifically, is summon and bind Abyssal entities who usually lay low in the Shadow known as Acamoth into bargains of power. In a very classic scenario of Tit for Tat, the Acamoth slowly devours bits and pieces of the Scelesti's sanity in return for powers otherwise unattainable even by an Awakened.

They are far from the only practitioners of Abyssal Thaumaturgy though, much less the only Left-Handed Legacy that revolves around the Abyss. Any Mage who dabbles in Antinomian Sorcery runs the risk of being branded an Accursed and cast out from their Order, but the sheer breadth of practices one can access upon overcoming such a simple taboo is phenomenal. Worst of all, and perhaps the real reason why the Orders fear the Scelesti above all others, is that these powers have strong tendencies to grant them some measure of control over Paradox. Some of the most powerful Accursed, calling themselves Baalim with pride, can even inflict Paradox without having to turn a Mage's own magic against them!

Despite the inherently counter-intuitive mentality that one would think joining the ranks of the Accursed would have, there is a certain strong philosophy that seems to be at least somewhat common among their ranks: absolute freedom. This concept challenges not only the Lie, but the Truth as well. It very simply states that the Supernal is itself a prison, represented by Symbols that provide the Definition required to keep one from achieving true, absolute freedom. In order to free oneself from the bonds of their own flesh and the world itself one must give themselves over to the Abyss which will wipe away the definition holding them back. With this perspective they transcend the stereotype as mere Nihilists by providing these villains with a very real argument in favor of the destruction of the Fallen World.

For you see, as they say it, this is the only way to break the cycle and truly gain dominion over one's own destiny.

---

In the 15th Century, the Vienna Consilium penned and published the first copy of the Codex Cruciatum ("Book of Torment") in an attempt to catalog every known Accursed Legacy, Abyssal practice, and an appropriate punishment for their discovery. Since then just about every major Consilium across the world has at least one copy locked away under strict guard for view from only those with the highest permission; those who do have access to a copy are charged with keeping vigil for signs of abyssal heresy, adding to the catalog, and dolling out the proper punishment or formulating new ones should a new practice be discovered. These penalties include everything from proper social penalties, fines, and inventive but otherwise light torture techniques for the most innocently foolish or foolhardy but otherwise harmless experimentation to increasingly more vivid and terrifying methods of torture and death for more malicious crimes.

Those capable of getting their hands on it through sheer status, privilege, bribery, or otherwise will be privy to a plethora of information withheld to the rest of common Mage Society; though hardly comprehensive in scope. It does detail, however, several Legacies and forbidden practices as well as more widely used terminology by the Accursed themselves.

Mentioned in the book are the poster child of the Accursed, the Scelesti, who are already well known for their ability to summon and negotiates with Abyssal entities lost in the Shadow. Alongside them are mentions of The Legion, a Legacy of Mages dedicated to the summoning of Abyssals known as Gulmoth to replace their members' bodies, part by part; novices replace an eye or a limb whilst leaders are colonies unto themselves, the appearance of these Accursed are known to cause even local Pentacle and Seers to cooperate briefly. More recent copies of the Codex make mention of the Cult of the Doomsday Clock, a rather straight forward enough name if there ever was one; the Legacy formed around a peculiar Abyssal phenomenon known only as the Doomsday Clock, the Cult itself seems to have the ability to manipulate time and causality. The Fangs of Mara, also called the "nightmares", are one of the few Accursed Legacies tolerated by some Mage Society; they study the dreams of Abyssals in an attempt to destroy them - though they're only tolerated up until they start recruiting.

Those who manage to get their hands on a Seer copy of the Codex gain insight on a Legacy known only as the Secret Order of the Gate, which supposedly records the legendry of a secret 11th Great Exarch known only as The Gate. The group is said to server her by maintaining the strange border between Reality and the Void. Speaking of either The Gate or the cult that serves her is taboo among Seers and they would rather burn a copy of their Codex than let it fall into the hands of a Pentacle Mage.

Amidst the flotsam and jetsam of the Codex's accumulated knowledge are brief mentions of such strange entities as the Acamoth, the Gulmoth, and the dreaded Anunaki who it is said are the closest things to Gods that exist within the Abyss itself; the Eldest Dreamers who swam in the All before Creation and dream of the night when the stars are right and the way is made open for them to emancipate Reality from the slavery of Definition.

Other knowledge accumulated from its pages are the practices of Antinomian Sorcery which allow a Mage (known as a Rabashakim, "cupbearers", to the Accursed) to taint their magic with the energies of the Abyss. It makes brief mention of the Nasnasi, named after a half-demonic being from Arabian mythology, who claim to join the reflection of their Path's Watchtower in the Void, called a Dur-Abzu.
The Accursed:
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The Abyss:

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The Tremere, "Liches":
There are some secrets better left forgotten...

Reapers are one such dark little secret that Mage Society wishes they could just forget and leave forgotten by the world. As the ominous name suggests, however, it is used primarily to indicate those Mages who devour souls, but Mages are loathe to grant symbolic power by giving such a disgusting practice a name. Modern day Consiliums would have fledgling Mages believe that the Tremere are a depraved cult of soul eaters with a shady past and hardly a real threat of any scale beyond the local environment.

Unfortunately for them the truth is far from convenient on this matter.

The Tremere are far more wide spread, organized, and entrenched than even the Pentacle know or are daring to guess. These villains prey upon Sleeper and Awakened Soul alike, artificially extending their own life spans well beyond the natural state. Beyond that and some speculation that they are in some way related to Vampires, proper Mage Society is unwilling divulge information.

---

To those privy with historical knowledge and access to the deepest Mysterium Libraries might come across the Tremere in their studies under guard from watchful Mystagogues.

Some depict legends of a mage from the days of Atlantis named Tremere who was devoted to the study of the Soul and the forefather of the philosophies of the wayward Reapers. His followers took up his Legacy, keeping it alive through the ages; mentions of such apocrypha concepts as a Sixth Watchtower, a foreboding Father from whom all Magic originated or perhaps resides within, and a strange context of Blood and its importance to some grand scheme. Much of it is presented as almost glorified rumor and hearsay, but there are certain elements of truth at play within the pages, gleaned from the old lore of Atlantis.

Modern accounts of the Tremere trace back to the 8th Century in Eastern Europe. The Dark Ages were rampant with Reapers who preyed upon Sleepers, the sheer number of Legacies devoted to the foul practices of severing souls for personal gain are estimated to have filled small libraries with forbidden lore. The Diamond, as they were called before the inclusion of the Free Council, could hardly manage to keep order within their own Consiliums and deal with external problems at the same time much less keep vigil for the pandemic of Reapers across the countrysides.

Then the Tremere came. They made the Mages of the Diamond a simple enough offer, a bargain that would allow them to roam their territories in search for Reapers in return for a respect of privacy. The Diamond readily agreed with these Crusaders and enjoyed a brief period of respite whilst the Tremere traversed the lands and slew the wicked wherever they dwelt. Little did the Diamond realize the true nature of the Tremere, and those who uncovered it were swiftly silenced, but for the time the Tremere did uphold their end of the bargain; for every Reaper cult or stronghold was raided, its lore stolen, and its supply of human souls added to the Tremere's collection.

Their undoing was their proficiency, they were perhaps too good. By the year 1099 the Tremere had managed to hunt down and eradicate almost all other Reapers across their territories and had to resort to manually stealing souls once again. It was this lack of apparent Reapers but the continued prevalence of soulless sleepers that finally drew the curious eyes of the Silver Ladder and launched an investigation into the matter, resulting in the Lictor Caterine Bedlam ousting the Tremere as the Reaper Legacy that it was!

Ever since then the Tremere have been the hub of the wheel of Reaper activity across the world. Other soul-stealing legacies crop up from time to time, but they are usually isolated and usually dealt with swiftly. The Liches, as it were, do not abide neither fools nor competition in this matter; they make it a point to suppress or assimilate any new Reaper cults that might emerge from the pools of curious Mages.

Little do Mages know how the Tremere have evolved over time. In the Ancient World they cavorted with Vampires in their ongoing studies of the human soul; their experimentation with the Embrace bore terrible fruit. Only when they're in their hidden sanctums do they whisper of the Theban, the first Lich, and some sort of Awakened Vampire; the only of its kind they believe. Details are hazy, as much of the Legacy was lost with the Theban's birth and ensuing reign, but if they are to be believed then the Tremere who are alive today are the survivors of some terrible revolution against their undead overlord.

The process that produced the Theban, it is said, is an infection that echoes this strange rebirth. The Suspire, the book of Tremere lore kept secret from the Pentacle, goes on to talk about the myriad stories that coincide with one another at this event. In the end it does not matter so much, the Theban is believed to have been defeated or at least subdued in some sense, and the Tremere were transformed into their modern day incarnation. No longer did they steal the souls of man for curiosity and power, but because they needed to.

Their unique affliction affords them certain benefits. With ever soul they devour a Tremere's life is extended, allowing them to survive through the centuries if they are savvy enough to avoid detection and keep their feedings to a minimum. It is said that much like the vampiric cousins they can enter something akin to a Topor as well, sleeping away the ages in dormancy until roused with unholy hunger.

It even affords them the capacity to absorb other Legacies within itself. When the Liches come across some wayward cult of Reapers, they hang back and observe them until they can assess the exact value and means by which they operate. The Tremere are not merciful and their victims are not spared, but their Legacy and Lore is adopted into a new generation of Tremere to form a House. When a Tremere joins one of these Houses they branch away from the traditional path of the Lich, gaining the Tremere affliction and ability to steal souls, but adopting the traditions of the cannibalized Legacy beyond that.

Whether or not any of this is true or not is of little comfort to those few Pentacle who know even a fraction of the lore surrounding the Tremere, and those who find themselves with this knowledge are in constant threat of being next on the menu.

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Mad Ones






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The State of the Awakened

Post  Fireseed on Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:25 am

For all their power, Mages are still human. In theory.

This section deals with the unusual properties of Mages and the things in the World of Darkness that they interact with beyond the usual experiences of normal people. It is a work in progress.

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Gnosis:

Gnosis is a measure of a Mage's instinctive connection to the Supernal. It is one of the few statistics that all players must keep track of, as it is one of the most commonly referenced, important, and discrete stats for Mage: the Awakening. Thankfully it is not an incredibly difficult concept, but it does come with a fair bit of nuance:

  • Gnosis is set on a scale from 1 to 10.
  • It determines how much Mana a Mage can have in their Pattern (their own personal supply).
    -Gnosis 1 through 5 is pretty linear growth. Gnosis 6 through 10 is somewhat exponential.
  • It determines how much Mana a Mage can use at any given time.
    -Gnosis 1 through 5 is pretty linear growth. Gnosis 6 through 10 is somewhat exponential.
  • Improvised Spells are dependent on your Gnosis and Arcanum for raw power.
    -IE: A mage with Gnosis 1 and Forces 3 would throw a pretty weak fireball. A mage with Gnosis 6 and Forces 5 would throw a pretty good fireball.
  • It determines how many Spells a Mage can have cast on themselves before they start encountering Magic Interference.
    -If a Mage exceeds this Tolerance they start to experience Magic Interference and their spells become unstable and less potent.
    --Note: You can totally enchant other Mages to force this to happen to them.
  • When combining Arcanum, your Gnosis must at least equal the number of Arcanum you're mixing.
    -If you're combining 3 arcanum, you need a Gnosis of 3 and so on.
    --If you don't have this, you will need to get another Mage to aid you in casting your complex spell.
  • When performing ritual magic, your Gnosis determines how long the ritual must be
    -Fledgling Mages can take hours what a truly learned Mage can do in minutes.
  • It acts as a cap for your Arcanum.
    -One must build their intuition of the High Truths before one can truly Understand them.
  • A high Gnosis allows a Mage to surpass their human limitations.
    -Upon achieving Gnosis 6, the Mage's Soul has become so powerful that it can reinforce their physical bodies and allow them to overcome normal human limitations.
    --IE: they can become super-humanly strong, fast, or brilliant even without magic.


There are also drawbacks to Gnosis:

  • As a Mage's Gnosis rises their risk of invoking powerful Paradoxes increases.
    -This is because as they become more inclined to the High Truths of the Supernal Realm, they grow out of touch with the Low Truths of the Fallen World.
    -So when they do invoke a Paradox, they tend to tear much larger holes in the Tapestry for the Abyss to flood in through.
  • At high Gnosis a Mage's Aura starts to become much more noticeable.
    -From Gnosis 6 through 10 a Mage's Aura becomes much brighter to anything that can read Auras.
    --Among other things, such as making it harder to hide, this allows other Mages to read your spells more easily.


Unseen Sense:

Sleepers sometimes develop what is sometimes called a 6th sense about supernatural things. There are classical stories about young girls who can see or somehow sense fairies, sensitive young men who react to the presence of ghosts, and some even theorize that dogs and cats seem to be able to feel supernatural events around them more acutely than humans.

Mages come with something like this built-in to them. After a brush with the Supernal their very souls are more sensitive to the ebb and flow of supernatural energies in their environment. It doesn't always manifest itself in the same way and it takes some time for the Mage to get a real grasp on just what it is that's happening, but every Mage can naturally just feel when something is afoot.

Sometimes its just a raising of the hairs on the back of the neck or a feeling in the gut, but generally the more powerful the presence the more pronounced the reaction is.

Nimbus:
When a Mage casts a Vulgar spell and brushes the Tapestry of Creation too roughly, their supernal nature is revealed in a phenomenon called a Mage's Nimbus. The Nimbus itself is associated with whichever Path the Mage walks. Examples are given in the Path's section above, but perhaps a little explaining is in order to make sense of it.

So as stated before when a Mage casts a Vulgar spell of any sort, their Nimbus flares up. This has little mechanical impact on the world around them, but it does create several strange phenomenon in the Mage's immediate environment that provide telltale clues as to the Mage's supernatural nature. An Acanthus might cause people around her to suddenly experience that inexplicable feeling of Deja Vu as they suddenly repeat whatever action they just did, a Moros might suddenly cause the lights to dim around them or conversely an Obrimos might cause the lights to suddenly brighten around them.

The more powerful the magic being cast the more prominent and obviously supernatural the Nimbus is. For instance a Moros performing powerful magic might cause a nearby corpse to shudder as if brushed with the power of Stygia or a Mastigos might cause the tortured scream of a demon's victim in Pandemonium to echo through the minds of all present.

Players are intended to have fun with this sort of effect, it has very few rules beyond the guidelines here. Also, on a final note, a Mage can consciously reveal their Nimbus to those around them and wear it like a metaphorical cloak if they wish. While this is active the Mage's Nimbus provides extra sympathetic power to their spells, but their subtly supernatural nature also makes them more vulnerable to Disbelief and therefore Paradox.

Soul Loss:

The Soul is surprisingly less immediately necessary to sustain life as many stories would have you believe. The Soul itself is an ephemeral thing that contains vast quantities of supernal energy that is usually dormant, acting as a sort of vitalizing spark for the body in which it inhabits and the mind which it empowers. The body and mind of a human can go on living without a soul, but they're hollow in many ways; their will to live slowly wanes as the color drains from their thoughts and feelings. As they lose touch with the world around them their sanity grinds away and finally after what could take months they slip into madness and eventually a coma from which there is no awakening. Without life support they will simply die.

Should the soul be returned to its home they suffer immense stress, but will otherwise survive the process. Their sanity will return and their will to live will brighten over time as the Soul recovers from its experience. Some damage is not so easily healed though and many survivors of such an experience are traumatized for the remainder of their lives.

Mages by their very nature are resilient to this sort of thing, requiring Mastery of Death to sever the threads binding their soul to their body. So long as the Soul is not damaged, they can continue casting magic, but they are not immune to the terrible fate that awaits their body without its prime animus. It is a longer process than that of a Sleeper, as the deterioration of the mind must also contend with the deterioration of the Mage's Gnosis as well. The exact process is not wholly understood by polite Mage Society, but suffice it to say that such a fate is terrible indeed.

When a Mage's Soul is returned to them they recover as a Sleeper would, but any Gnosis they lost must be recovered manually. Their intuitive ties to the Supernal have been undermined and cannot simply return of their own accord. Sometimes this effect is used to punish particularly dangerous Mages to force their Gnosis down, but often such punishment is considered an unnecessary cruelty sandwiched between the two otherwise most dire of punishments: Death and Soul Destruction.

Without a body to sustain it a Soul will slowly fizzle and die, although a common item known as a Soul Jar can be used as an impromptu body to keep the Soul healthily anchored outside of a body. Should the Soul's body die during this time it has no hope of returning to a semblance of its former life unless it finds a new soulless body to inhabit.

Should the Soul die during this time, say from being unanchored and lost in Twilight whilst its body dwindles, or devoured by a hungry spirit or Mage, then the body has no hope of recovery save for a replacement Soul. This might seem odd to some who generally consider the Soul as being the source of a person's identity and memories, but Mages understand that the brain of the body is what contains the memories and the Soul is essentially the pilot of the consciousness. Their personality might change, as not all Souls have the same flavor or properties, but their memories will be intact and thus they'll at least feel normal.

So why would a Mage willingly do this sort of thing to a person? Well it's universally frowned upon, but Mages (being Mages) are notorious for being insatiably curious, power hungry, and disapproving of any policy that strictly forbids them from doing something.

Some Mages, especially the Tremere, steal Souls to dissect and devour. Through their studies and appetites they unlock the hidden mysteries of the Soul and extend their own lives beyond the natural order of things. Whilst proper Mage Society has branded such study monstrous and the Tremere as villains of the highest order, more than a few Tremere journals about soul vivisection survive in the bowels of a Mysterium Vault or make their way into a Silver Ladder's hands for private study.

Finally there is the art of Soul Destruction, often considered the single worst atrocity one can commit against another. Devouring a soul slowly tears its pattern apart and adds it to the Mage's own, but some spells can simply flay and degrade a Soul in quick order. Doing so is a grave offense punishable by death and torture, but it's oddly still enforced as the most harsh punishment applicable in Mage Society. It is generally used to keep certain traditional positions from being corrupted, as any Lictor is well aware of when they take the office, but when a Mage or any entity with a Soul is considered to be so dangerous that their continued existence even beyond death is a threat then a Consilium might opt to have their soul destroyed instead of just a death penalty.

Soul Stones:
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Soul Stones are materialized fragments of an Awakened Soul. They have a variety of uses, most notably the establishment of a Demesne (see below). When a Mage creates a Soul Stone they reduce their maximum Gnosis potential by one, so for a Mage who has never created a Soul Stone before their maximum Gnosis so long as the Soul Stone exists is now 9 instead of 10. The creation of additional Soul Stones will lower this cap further.

Soul Stones themselves can take on practically any form, though they must always be relatively small (no larger than the palm of one's hand) and related in some way to their Path or Legacy. A Moros's Soul Stone, for instance, could very well be a small Stone for example or perhaps a small jar with a well preserved eyeball floating within its liquid; a Thyrsus's Soul Stone might be a bear's claw or a vial of blood, have fun with it.

Soul Stones can actually outlive their creators, some mentors pass on their Soul Stones to their students before dying.

Soul Stones are incredibly resilient to damage, requiring powerful magic or incredible force to chip much less break. Should a Soul Stone be destroyed in this way it cannot be recovered and the Mage's Gnosis is forever crippled.

Should a Mage wish to reintegrate their Soul Stone into their Awakened Soul once again it is a simple enough act. The only drawback is that by doing so one causes a disconnect to the Supernal and immediately loses 1 Gnosis that must be reattained in conventional fashion.

Additionally while it is considered incredibly vulgar to steal another Mage's Soul Stone, Mages in general have a tendency to not like being told what they can and cannot do. So modern Consiliums often employ an ancient Atlantean tradition in response to a stolen Soul Stone. The Mage with the Soul Stone can lawfully call in three significant favors that do not themselves break Mage Law and upon their completion must return the Soul Stone to its original owner. Refusal to do so is a punishable offense.

Finally, a Mage cannot cast sympathetic magic on a Soul Stone, but Soul Stones naturally have an intense sympathetic connection to the Mage from whom they are sprung so they make excellent focuses for sympathetic magic used against that Mage.

Despite the potential danger of having one's Soul Stone destroyed and permanently crippling their potential, many Mages still find one or two Soul Stones to be a worthy investment.

Demesne:

A Demesne is an area saturated by the Supernal, reinforcing the Tapestry there so that casting Vulgar magic does not threaten to cause Paradox. Within such a zone the only Paradox that can occur happens due to a Sleeper's disbelief or if the Mage is casting inherently Abyssal magic.

The creation of a Demesne requires a Soul Stone, which acts as the center of the zone and flavors the local environment with the Supernal Realm of the Soul Stone's Path:

A Demesne associated with the Aether from an Obrimos, in addition to the normal effects, will bolster Forces and Prime spells. Common phenomenon within such a Demesne are such things as an unusual amount of static electricity, even in places of great humidity, an abnormal tendency for sparks to generate from anything and for fires to burn more easily; additionally items will occasionally appear to be limned with a dim glow or aura.

A Demesne associated with Arcadia from an Acanthus, in addition to the normal effects, will bolster Fate and Time spells. Unusual instances of luck or probability are commonly associated within the area, such as finding that when a coin is flipped it has a higher tendency to turn up Heads than Tails. People who pass through it suddenly gain an uncanny sense of time and never seem to lose track of it even when distracted.

A Demesne associated with Pandemonium from a Mastigos, in addition to the normal effects, will bolster Mind and Space spells. Memory recall becomes sharper and quicker than normal within it, with people noticing a marked increase in their ability to recall trivial knowledge with much greater wit; additionally people on the premises gain an innate sense of direction even if they usually get lost extremely easily.

A Demesne associated with the Primal Wild from a Thyrsus, in addition to the normal effects, will bolster Life and Spirit spells. Mild aches and pains such as from arthritis wain within the boundaries of such a Demesne. Additionally the land (plants, stones, streams, etc.) has a more prominent expression in such an area; mistreated and polluted areas give a palpable sense of misery while a healthy environment exudes a sense of tranquility. People are quick to pick up on these and their general mood is impacted by such.

Finally a Demesne associated with Stygia from a Moros, in addition to the normal effects, will bolster Death and Matter spells. Shadows grow deeper and light seems dimmer in such areas in addition to a certain solidness being expressed on the objects within it; dropping glass vases or ceramic plates cause them to bounce instead of shatter for instance.

The effects of multiple Demesne from different Paths stack and increase the zone of effect, potentially allowing a group of Mages to create a single Demesne that bolsters all magic and carries with it a slew of oddities and perplex phenomenon. It has been noticed that, much like many things dealing with Supernal Symbolism, the number 5 comes up pretty often. Once 5 Soul Stones of any type are pooled together their zone of effect ceases to expand; those groups of Mages with 6 or more Soul Stones usually endeavor to create a second area to provide supernal power.

A single Soul Stone produces enough power for a small apartment, two can adequately empower a large apartment or a small house, three can fill a warehouse a church or a large home, four can fill the equivalent of a small mansion or potentially something as large and complex as a network of subway tunnels, and five can empower a truly massive estate or vast network of tunnels and passages.

Due to their value, Demesnes tend to be well hidden and fortified against intruders, especially Sleepers.

Any Mage who is a Master of any Arcanum can generate a Demesne from a Soul Stone, even if it is not their own or even from their Path. The trick is simple enough once a Mage has a true grasp on any particular facet of Reality.
---



Paradox
Paradox:

When Mages go too far with their magic, the overlapping of Supernal Truths with Fallen Laws, the conflicting rules threaten to tear apart the Tapestry of Creation itself through what is known colloquially as a Paradox. When a Paradox occurs the Abyss floods in to fill the gaps left behind, making the problem all the worse by not simply replacing the torn threads but by replacing them with inherently conflicting concepts and ideals that are neither Supernal nor Fallen in nature. As if this weren't terrible enough, the Lie laid down by the Exarchs and protected by the Seers enforces a sort of gateway for the Abyss directly through Sleepers; any Sleeper who observes a Mage wielding the Truth acts as a focus for the Abyss, causing both the frequency and intensity of Paradoxes to rise.

For simplicity's sake, here are guidelines for what could potentially incite a Paradox:
-Should the Mage cast Vulgar magic, he risks tearing at the Tapestry of Creation around him and the Abyss will flood in to the gaps created. In this instance the Paradox caused is what happens when the Truths of the Supernal Realms do not mesh with the Reality of the Fallen World.
-Sleepers carry a shard of the Abyss within their souls so long as they writhe in Quiescence. While belief alone is not enough to cause a Paradox, when a Sleeper observes improbable (ie: vulgar) magic, the Abyss lashes out through them.
-Some Mages study the Abyss and learn how to channel its paradoxical energies. This practice takes many, many forms, but the most common practitioners are called the Scelesti by mage society.

Whilst the exact form that a Paradox can take is literally infinite in form, Mages are nothing if not willing to categorize the impossible. Despite their daunting task, there are five commonly agreed upon umbrella expressions under which most cataloged Paradoxes have manifested in one way or another.

Havoc is simply when a spell runs wildly out of control of the Mage who originally cast it. A ward that went awry might attach itself to an enemy, an attempt at invisibility might instead cause the Mage to burn with brilliant light or instead of throwing a fireball at an enemy the Mage might find themselves suddenly engulfed in flames. Generally the spell itself goes through rather than sputtering out of existence, but all forms of control are simply lost to the Abyss's chaos.

Bedlam is a more subtle and often frightening form of Paradox. Instead of lashing out through the world around them, the Abyss lashes out at the Mage's mind, flooding it with thoughts and ideas not meant for a mortal mind. The spell itself fizzles and the Mage who cast it is wracked with a sudden bout of psychosis; while the Bedlam itself is temporary, the experience of losing one's mind is always harrowing and sometimes the most frightening for someone accustomed to being in total control of the reality around them. The exact form of insanity is rarely consistent, some Mages suddenly to catatonic and enter a fugue state, others are overcome with intense paranoia, whilst others might temporarily develop a completely different personality that will thankfully fade over time, among many other possibilities.

Anomalies are believed to be phenomenon where the Abyss has improperly glued the Supernal to the Fallen. The Spell itself fizzles out and sparks a sudden imposition of inverted Truths dependent on the caster's Path. An Obrimos who causes an anomaly might suddenly cause an eye-of-the storm effect around them where electricity unpredictably sparks from machines, the weather goes out of control, mana becomes incredibly difficult to manipulate, or the powers of Death wane when the Aether is suddenly and vulgarly imposed upon Reality; the powers of Forces and Prime are accentuated greatly, but uncontrollably. Similar events occur thematically with each Path's Realm in equally unpredictable and uncontrollable fashion.

Branding is similar to Bedlam in that it is categorized as a Paradox expressed through the offending Mage themselves rather than their environment or the spell that they cast. The mystical energies of their abortive spell suddenly fall back in upon them, wrecking havoc on their personal pattern and altering it horrifically. The exact form is only predictable in that it tends to be symbolic of the Mage themselves; minor cases might simply be a small blemish or oddity in their physiology that is noticeable but otherwise unremarkable such as a strange 'birth mark' forming across the body or a sudden drop/elevation of body heat whereas major cases can involve the growth of fangs, glowing eyes, extra eyes, the sudden intense attraction of vermin, and all manner of tentacly appendages that are clearly unnatural.

Finally a Manifestation is caused when a spell gone awry summons forth something unintended, uncontrolled, and often unwanted into Reality. It could be a mischievous but otherwise harmless spirit (sometimes called a Gremlin) tainted by the Abyss or perhaps an entity straight from the Abyss itself or from the depths of the Mage's mind. Everything from evil twins to god-like beings have been known to pull themselves wholly into the Fallen World through a Mage's blundering, causing potentially far more damage than any other variety of Paradox.

On top of all this is the cumulative effect of tempting Paradox. Every time a Mage frays the threads of Reality, the Abyss takes notice. Even when averted several times in a row from reckless spellcasting, a Mage will quickly find the Tapestry around them practically saturated with the Abyss's intent to pour itself into Reality; it's almost like teasing a very hungry tiger with a bit of raw meat on a string - eventually it's going to get out of that cage.

Disbelief is a big factor as well. A Mage can often get away with casting magic in front of Sleepers if they're clever in how they manifest it. This usually involves Improvised Magic, however, so the use of Rotes and Arcane Tools is actually a hindrance in most such cases (as no matter how unlikely a transformer blowing and shocking a guy might be, it seems far more suspicious when it happened just as the guy about to get shot made a strange hand gesture and mumbled something under their breath). Likewise, repeating the same otherwise subtle spell can cause Disbelief to flare up and induce a Paradox even when none would normally occur (Alright so the transformer blew up and fried five guys? That seems pretty fucking unlikely...).

But take hope! There are ways to mitigate and buffer one's self against the Abyss's foul influence.

Rotes, Arcane Tools, and Mana Buffering are the primary methods Mages use to protect themselves from their own mistakes. Rotes and Arcane Tools simply stabilize a spell and render it less likely to tear the Tapestry at all, but in a pinch a Mage can simply donate excess Mana to a spell to literally re-weave the Tapestry as it starts to fray. None of these methods can guarantee that a Paradox will not manifest, but they do lower the odds of one occurring and the potency of those that do.

Finally there is a single way to completely avert Paradox called Backlash. Should a Mage find herself in a situation where the Veils have been torn and the Abyss comes slipping in the cracks, she can absorb its tainted energies into her soul instead of allowing it to manifest entirely. The Mage's mind and body are suddenly wracked with debilitating pain that resists supernatural intervention as her soul slowly 'digests' the Paradox. This might seem like an easy get-out-of-jail free card, and certainly in private use it is, but the debilitating effects of Backlash should not be underestimated; the Mage is far more likely to succumb to real wounds or fall unconscious afterwards, which can be just as deadly as anything else given the potential circumstances.




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Potential Characters

Post  Fireseed on Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:41 pm

So while the players are free to come up with their own characters, here are some suggestions that I think are particularly interesting that might not occur to someone.

Sleepwalker
Sleepwalkers are oddities in the World of Darkness, neither Awake nor Asleep, they cannot cast magic but they do not carry the Abyss in their souls. Nobody is sure about how the Soul enters this strange state of being or exactly what it means, but it is incredibly useful for Mages. Sleepwalkers are valuable companions, servants, and friends for a Mage; someone who can share the burden of their quest without posing a mystical threat to the Mage themselves. Additionally it is believed that Sleepwalkers make that final push into Awakening more often than normal Sleepers, giving the Orders even more impetus to find and collect them.

Not all Sleepwalkers take kindly to this kind of treatment, feeling that they are somewhere between favored pets and valuable slaves...

Additionally Sleepwalkers come with their own flavor of Unseen Senses that is attuned to Awakened Magic.


Lictor
One part Judge Dredd, one part lawyer, and one part investigator the Lictor is a traveling enforcer of the Lex Magica in Mage Society endowed with the ability to ascertain the guilt of and immediately pass judgement upon any Mage suspected of committing a crime against Consilium Law. Most Consilium only have one Lictor at a time, but large cities with particularly large numbers of Mages might have several. Their job is pretty simple: travel around and seek out those who would break the Lex Magica as passed down from Atlantis through the Silver Ladder.

Should they come across somebody in the act they can immediately pass judgement upon them and even commit the proper punishment should it be possible. If not the word of a Lictor is trusted by the Consilium to be honest enough to hold great weight of evidence against a person. When a crime is committed but no Lictor was there in person it is generally brought before the Consilium where a Lictor acts as the equivalent of a defense attorney or prosecutor depending on the crime. Should there be enough Lictors in the city, both sides of the argument can be employed to ascertain the guild/innocence of the convicted. When doing neither they are usually either hunting for evidence for a trial that's in the process or merely acting as an advisor or a roaming dealer of Mage Justice.

To counterbalance the immense power of a Lictor, some restrictions are levied upon the position. As the original Judges of Atlantis, only members of the Silver Ladder can become Lictors. They are not permitted to hold a proper sanctum during their time as a Lictor, prompting them to keep an almost nomadic lifestyle as they live in hotels one week and take up quarters with a local cabal on the other side of town the next. Similarly they are not allowed to take on apprentices except for the necessary 1-year apprenticeship they spend with their prospective replacement. Corruption of the office is not accepted and levies the most harsh punishment in the Mage Judicial Code: Soul Destruction.

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Fireseed
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