by Anders SandbergBearbeiten
As requested by many on the net (including my own players), here is an incomplete list of the ways I run Mage:
The spheres needed for an act of magick are determined by its outcome, not how it is brought about. If a mage wants to create light, this will need Forces 3 Prime 2, regardless of how it is created; a sphere of brilliant light floating in the air, finding a functional torch or having the sun appear out of the clouds are all possible effects. If someone wants to limit damage from an bullet, this is Life, even if a coincidental explanation involves the presence of a whiskey flask.
Coincidental magick only works in the undefined areas of reality; if you look out through a window to see if there is a trashcan below before doing any magick, it is no longer possible to jump out of it and coincidentally land softly in the trash (unless of course there actually was a trashcan there in the first place). Whether things (and people) who appear in coincidental explanations existed before or not is impossible to tell.
Magick and Paradox:Bearbeiten
Countermagick comes from the Avatar, and is active regardless of the state of the mage. However, it will only protect the mage from the spheres he are conscious of. Other spheres can be used to protect from magick (as in the Book of Shadows), but these are consciously applied by the mage and requires his actions.
Magick cannot normally be dodged, since the mage usually just decides to hurt someone, not to create a magickal effect directed in a certain direction. The exception to this is technomagickal talismans, which usually are made only to shoot straight, in this case the normal firearm rules apply (this is also the case for magickal melee weapons etc.).
Technomancers can build gizmos or write programs to store rotes, which makes them easier or faster to invoke, in addition to making them predictable (they work the same way all the time). They are not real talismans, just extremely specific foci. In addition, this often makes vulgar magick look more static, avoiding many witnesses and sometimes even becoming coincidental.
Magick which causes something that disobeys the rules of local reality is vulgar. If no unawakened being observes it, it will be vulgar without witnesses. If a mage uses true magick disguised as stage magic, it will be vulgar without witnesses. Perception magick can be vulgar if the mage acquires information he shouldn't have, like finding out a secret password with Mind (this can be made coincidental if the mage is "lucky" and finds it scribbled somewhere) or sees a distant place using Corr 2. Although magick is coincidental in the Umbra, any magick crossing over into normal reality will accumulate paradox.
Paradox works against talismans and magickal creatures too, and generally damage them. Magickal beings gradually wither and die, and talismans loose their power unless recharged. If this is not done, talismans may break down. In the same way, the number of successes which appear when a mage creates a Pattern will affect its longevity and stability; a being created with only one success will be weak and sickly, while a being created with five successes will be both normal and vital.
Paradox is usually coincidental, or at least undetectable for sleepers. At higher levels it becomes more and more drastic, and large backlashes are so severe that they are almost vulgar. Usually Paradox covers its tracks, so that nobody can tell afterwards what happened. If something paradox-inducing happens, but the cause is in the past (and thus cannot receive paradox), Paradox will hide or change the outcome; a dragon rampaging down fifth avenue in NY would become a huge terrorist attack. Paradox can never be controlled or predicted by any means.
Rules and Background:Bearbeiten
Some things are just plain silly, and I have removed them from the game: Blatancy, the secret language of the Order of Hermes, the new talisman rules etc.
What is possible with a certain sphere depends to a large extent on the paradigm of the mage. Some mages may do different things from others.
The Traditions lack any central organization, although some groups within them have some measure of it (like the anarchistic network of the VAs or the hierarchies of the Rosicrucians of the OoH). The Traditions have never been unified enough to act as a whole, and individual chantries, cabals and mages follow their own lead. The main chantries of the traditions are simply the largest and currently most prestigious chantries, they have no control over the tradition. The Council of Nine is not acknowledged by the large majority of mages, many have never even heard of it.
Study points are specific for one area, such as Cosmology, Spirit or Matter, and cannot be used for anything else (some areas might overlap, depending on the kind of studies done). Mages may gain study points in certain areas during play if the ST finds it useful (if a mage reads up on science before participating in a debate, he might gain one science study point).
Dream also opens up the mind of the mage to outside (or rather, subconscious) influences. Arcane works by coincidentally removing records of the mage from file, making people overlook him or simply miss him. While the mage can partially control this, at a high level it is very hard for the mage to keep any friends and contacts. It is possible to raise backgrounds during or after an story if it fits; a mage may gather more books to enlarge his library, invest money to gain resources and if the mage has managed to befriend a dragon he will have gained a contact. However, it is worth noting that the scale is logarithmic, it is much harder for a mage to advance from 4 to 5 than from 3 to 4.
Mages of different traditions can use the libraries or tomes of each other, but in general have a hard time understanding them. They have to succeed in an intelligence + ability test, whose difficulty depends on the level of the sought information and how readable the texts are for an outsider (many hermetic scholars do their best to complicate and hide facts so that nobody else can find them, while some Adepts go out of their way to make slick multimedia presentations). Typical abilities to use would be: Meditation for the AB, Culture (Arabic) for the Ahl-I-Batin, Theology for the CC, Expression for the CoE, Intuition for the Euthanatos, Occult for the OoH, Technology or Science for the SoE, Survival for the Verbena, Computer for the VAs, Psychology for the NWO, Economics for the Syndicate, Technology for ItX, Medicine for the Progenitors and Science for the VE.
Magickal damage is aggravated if it is vulgar magick (and the effect should cause it, such as a fireball or invisible forces breaking bones, but not if a normal knife appears out of thin air and makes a slice), but if it is coincidental the type of damage depends on the coincidence (a flamethrower will make aggravated damage while a falling log or an accurately thrown knife may cause normal damage). Damage can also be made aggravated by spending Quintessence (the knife hits an artery or a ligament, the falling log crushes the skull of the victim).
All spheres at level 1 allows the mage to perceive the immediate reality of the sphere (its "near umbra"), while level 2 allows the mage to perceive the forces underlying it (its "deep umbra"). Matter 2 would detect morphogenic fields, Life 2 life-force, Prime 2 the structures of ley-lines and nodes and Mind 2 detects the emotions which affect the mage from the surroundings. Using Spirit the mage may even enter "umbras" belonging to the different spheres. These umbras each represent another facet of reality, and all fit together into an unified whole.
Correspondence controls location and spatial relationships, but also correspondences between things (like the two halves of a ripped paper or a pair of wedding rings) and information. At Correspondence 3, the mage can not only teleport himself, but also move other things and people, both continuously and instantly.
Entropy not only deals with randomness and disorder, but also with order and organization, especially for technomancers. For example, Entropy 1 could be used to find strong points, level 3 to concentrate energy and level 4 to make living beings healthier. Level 3 allows the mage to control all systems which decay normally, level 4 affects systems which support themselves (like living beings and organizations) and level 5 systems which are normally never affected by entropy (ideas, space and time).
See also my version of entropy.
Forces deal with all forms of energy and physical entities that cause or catalyze change. See my version of forces for more details.
I divide forces into physical forces and abstract forces instead of high and low forces. Physical forces are objects in their own right, such as light, fire and electricity, while abstract forces act through other objects (or other forces) and control them, such as momentum, gravity, heat and pressure (not to mention the pure elemental forces). Physical forces can be created using Forces 3, abstract using Forces 5 (the damage is unchanged, although it is possible to increase the damage of a physical force by using a higher sphere level).
Forces at level 5 also allows the creation of new kinds of forces (just as Life 5 and Matter 5 does).
Pattern Magick in GeneralBearbeiten
It is possible to create patterns without feeding them with quintessence; in this case they will not have any physical existence, just a potential existence (maybe detectable by certain people). However, if they fit in with reality well enough, quintessence may "fill them out" (e.g. if a large amount of gasoline has been poured on a floor in a room where electrical discharges occur, a mage may introduce a fire pattern which reality decides fits in perfectly and turns real).
Two patterns may be converted into each other by using a conjunctional effect of Matter 2/4, Life 4 and/or Forces 2/4 (Turning a human into light would be Life 4 Forces 2). This corresponds to the Infinite Loop rote in the main book.
Prime 1 is needed to be able to use and manipulate quintessence. A mage without Prime will still accumulate quintessence in his pattern up to his Avatar rating, but cannot use it for anything (however, the Avatar might use it; in a critical situation it might strengthen the magick of the mage). To consciously use it or recharge the mage needs Prime 1.
Prime 3 allows the creation of "hanging spells", magickal effects imprinted in reality or in items, and short-lived talismans.
Personal quintessence and Tass may be used in pattern magick to replace the normal Prime 2 channelling. This will make the pattern much stronger, and usually make it permanent if it is Matter or Prime (resonance will of course be strong).
Spirit in general deals with other planes of existence, not only the Umbra (although this is the most common plane). This is usually done with conjunctional magick; Mind and Spirit can move the mage towards the astral realms and dreamworlds, while Entropy and Spirit nears the Shadowlands. This is highly tradition-dependent.
Spirit 3 also allows the mage to drag other people or objects into the umbra. Mages of some traditions are able to wander the umbra mentally, without moving there physically (the body is in a sleep- like state) or using Mind (Such shamanic journeys are far too common in folklore and shamanism to require high spheres).
Time is the sphere that deals with timing (Time 1), prediction and postcognition (2), the speed of things (3), but also causality (what causes what) and destiny. I usually run things deterministically, if a future has been observed (especially several times) it is very probable.