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June 2015 Release Recap

Demon Translation Guide 151502It’s a busy month for us here at Onyx Path in the weeks before Gen Con, which is less than a month away!

Now available on DriveThruRPG:

Now available on our RedBubble store:

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Changeling the Lost Second Edition: Wizened

Last Seeming! I’m still fielding thoughts on what you want to see next. I have some thoughts. But yeah.

So, normal rules apply. This is a rough draft. Don’t comment on grammar and typos and shit. I’m also still fussing with the way I want Blessings and Curses to look, so they’re not all perfectly aligned yet. That’s intended. I THINK the way they’ll end up is:

Blessings: Minor mechanical advantage and a condition that can give you free Clarity

Curse: Something that heightens an inherent weakness or otherwise mechanically affects the Changeling template, and something that risks Clarity loss.

Here’s the forum thread for discussing the Wizened.

Wizened

Placeholder quote about art and shit

You can cry for the mechanical man, for the machine girl, for the person made by their own hands, but they won’t cry for themselves. The Wizened doesn’t know to, or care to. They’ve found a way to cope and live, and it works for them. Wizened are crafters, makers, creators, endless invention embodied in a body or mind that is otherwise incomplete. They’re a jigsaw puzzle missing the edge pieces, and because of it, or related to that, the puzzle can go on forever, adding more pieces, moving pieces around, endlessly creating always building never complete. The tinkerer is the toy with the Wizened, and the sculpture can be the sculpture.

Appearance: You’ll know the Wizened by his stiff joints and muttering. He talks to himself about high concepts of his craft that you can’t possibly understand. He caries the aire of the dysfunctional genius who so very close to solve a Millennial Prize Problem, but can’t remember to tie his shoes. She is a violinist so perfect in her performance that must be reminded to stop practicing when her fingers start to bleed.

To the Changeling, she is incomplete, where parts of herself are replaced with parts of her craft. She is a surgeon without fingers or face, both of which having been replaced with obsidian scalpels and a mask respectively. He is a woodsman of tin and wood, limbs replaced when the axe slipped. She’s a dancer with feet made of silk and leather, stuffed pointe shoes bound to her knees. The Wizened is a blend of their art and their imperfection. They are beautiful and perfect and broken.

Background: Before the Durance, many Wizened already had their craft. She had a skill or talent that drove her and made her unique and different. She excelled in this particular field, and it made it stand out. Maybe because of this, or simply connected to this, she has always had a problem connecting with people. Among normal people with normal lives she felt different, outside, and maybe even a little broken. There was something everyone around her seemed to have, and she was missing. Maybe it bothered her, maybe she didn’t even know it exactly, but that missing something is what they used to lure or trick her into the Hedge.

The Escape: The Durance isn’t easy for anyone, but for the would-be Wizened the change is just too much. In the hands of her Keeper, there is no pattern, no safe routine to fall back to. No time to practice her craft or rhyme and reason to escape too. Even if the Keeper brought the would-be Wizened to perform her art, the very nature of the unreality means that pattern, order, routine are impossible. This is a natural cruelty that makes all other concerns seem secondary for the would-be Wizened who may have a strong need for comfortable repetition. The reality of the place it self breaks down the would-be Wizened, literally, they fall a part a piece at a time, unable to handle the chaos. Fingers snap off, limbs wither and drop away, her heart shrivels and a wind carries it off like ash pushed away by bellows. But for the would-be Wizened, they have something outside of themselves. As terrible as the chaos and the conditions are, there is something inside the would-be Wizened that can’t be taken away. They know how to do a thing, and they are good at it, and it drives them. Even as they found themselves in pieces, the tool of their trade are a comfort, the symbols of their skill fill the gaps. And so, the with what’s left of their hands, their arms, their mouths, they sew themselves back together, build from the ground up, and bind the their tools into themselves, bodily. She join with their art, rebuilding herself from the ground up. With this new body, the choice to devote herself to the thing that brings safety, comfort, and praise, she abandons the human parts that failed her, and with that choice, she escapes.

Character Creation: Naturally, any Wizened will have a decent score in the craft they have devoted themselves to. When building a Wizened, players should consider that the skills reflected on a character sheet are highly conceptual, and playing pool, for example, may require a suite of skills at two or three to reflect real skill at pool, rather than one skill at a four or five. Additionally, it’s important to consider what the focus of character growth should be, if the Wizened is still perfecting their gift, or if their gift is a given and the character will focus on developing in other ways. The important thing when creating a Wizened is this; four dots in Expression does not a Wizened make. Not on its own.

Blessing: Clarity of Comfort. Her special gift has been and will always be the place she can go to in order to feel safe, to recover, to recoup. Any time she runs away from the world, avoiding problems by using her gift as a means to self comfort she gets an exceptional success on three successes rather than five. Once per Story, she can also regain a Clarity point for doing so for free.

Curse: The Problem with Perfection. The line between genius and perfection is thin, and the considerable talent that Wizened have devoted themselves to can also consume them. Any time a Wizened fails a roll related to their unique talent, it’s a Clarity break.

Concepts:

“But you’re a Wizened, aren’t you?” they all say. “Aren’t you supposed to be good at something?” they chide. They don’t know what she can do, it’s not as obvious as they’d hope, but on the day they understand, truly understand, it will be like the fire of heaven, scorching the ignorant. Until that day, though, she takes their abuse quietly and devotes her self more deeply.

If only he could do it himself! His vision is clear, his tools are perfect, its the models that keep failing! Why can’t they hold still longer? Why can’t they smile just the right way?! He’s considering alternative paths to the perfect tableau. Desperately.

She can’t hear your words, and while she can read lips when she’s paying attention, she’s almost never paying attention. The music is in her head, and she doesn’t need hearing to confirm if it’s correct. She just knows. All other concerns are secondary.

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Now Available: W20 Poison Tree, Beast Within in Print, and more!

150855Now available in ebook and print from DriveThruFiction: The Poison Tree

Savannah is under siege.

For 20 years the minions of the Wyrm have threatened the Coastal Empire, checked only by the courage and cunning of the Shadow Lords. Every year, the septs of the Southern Protectorate send young warriors to aid in the defense and to prove their mettle in the pressure cooker of the port city.

It’s not enough.

Every night, the Wyrm grows stronger, its forces more bold. Now, young cubs are dead and a hidden foe reaches out its claws to exact revenge against Savannah’s Garou.

Ingrid Stormwalker, war chief of the Coastal Empire, must defy her sept’s law, her family, and her pack to uncover the root of the rotten vine that chokes her beloved caern.

Time is running out for the historic city — and the entire Southern Protectorate.

The Poison Tree is the first brand-new Werewolf novel in over a decade, written by SF/fantasy author Mike Lee, who some of you may remember as White Wolf’s developer for Demon: The Fallen.

152000Also available in ebook and print: The Beast Within Revised

Unseen. The Kindred Move Among Us

Not merely mad beasts of lonely hunters, the vampires of the World of Darkness who call themselves The Kindred because of the blood that elementally binds them together, are dangerously organized and cunning. They hide behind a plan they call the Masquerade so that they do not draw the attention or ire of mortals, and the society this masquerade obscures is as rich with wonders and as rife with conflict as any ever known among men.

This collection of stories concerning the Kindred of the World of Darkness serves as both an introduction to their nature and an expose of the danger they pose. Collected within this second edition are favorites of the first edition, including stories by S.P. Somtow and Mathew J. Costello, as well as two all-new stories from Gherbod Flemming and Eric Griffin, two authors of the bestselling Vampire Clan Novel series.

Although this was available previously, having been first released in 2000 (as “The Beast Within, Second Edition”), this is now available for the first time in print-on-demand and with all-new electronic files in ebook format.

Back catalog titles now available in print-on-demand via DriveThruRPG:

white wolf 1Back catalog titles now available in PDF:

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Playtesting! [Mage: The Awakening]

MageAwakeningLogo

 

Welcome back, faithful readers!

Busy busy busy putting the nearly-final touches on Awakening before it goes off to editorial and the gentle caress of Mike Chaney’s art direction, so this will be brief.

We’ve been playtesting Awakening second edition for a long time now, from before first drafts, when the team were hammering out concepts of mechanics, up through the first drafts into redlines, and now that all the second drafts are in and I’ve been making sure things fit together. I’m going to run the game again before we’re finished, and I’m now seeking groups willing to help playtest the game.

Do not just hit reply now. Read the rest of this post first.

  1. I already have some playtest groups lined up. Those recruited here will join those directly-contacted.
  2. Not everyone who volunteers will be tapped. There’s a practical limit to how much feedback I can sort through, which brings me to;
  3. Be certain that you’re willing to follow instructions. Every playtest we do, there’s at least one group who ignore the parameters – that’s one less useful group, in a spot that could have been filled by someone else. Don’t be those guys.

By way of encouragement, those participating according to instruction will be credited in the book and will receive a pdf copy of the finished game. The best playtest group will receive a Mystery Prize, and I have projects in the future (like, Awakening’s product line, for example) that I may invite groups who please me back to playtest.

This, then, is what I’m looking for:

  1. Enough system familiarity to run a second-edition new World of Darkness game: that means a WoD corebook and the God-Machine rules update, Demon, Beast, Vampire, or Werewolf.
  2. A mix of those familiar with Mage’s first edition and those who are coming in fresh, both within a group (telling me your group contains newbies is advantageous) and entire groups. If I get 9 applications who are all old hands and one group who live and breath Requiem second edition but want to try Mage, I’ll choose groups based on balance. The biggest danger for a games designer – hell, the whole reason we playtest outside of our own groups – is that we know how it’s meant to work.
  3. Face to Face groups only.
  4. Willingness to sign NDAs and stick by them. Which means not telling people you’re in the playtest until after the book comes out. The playtest groups will be run blind from another, too.
  5. No white rooms. We have already run all the mathematical models we care to (and that number is greater than zero, too.) I care about the experience of the game in-play more than pitting designed characters against one another; is such-and-such a subsystem too complicated to use in the middle of a combat scene? Did you spot the various synergies in the system, or come across them spontaneously in play? That sort of thing is great, and ignored by theorycrafting.
  6. No copy-editors. You’ll get a Playtest Packet excerpted from the second edition drafts, not the full text of the book, and you’ll get it before editorial has their way with the draft, so spending time on spotting spelling mistakes wastes everyone’s time. “I didn’t understand X mechanic, it could be clearer” is good feedback. “Typo!” is not.
  7. Ability to run the game – preferably more than once – and report back quickly. Which in most cases means an established gaming group willing to take a break from their usual game.
  8. Group Size is no object, from one-on-one games to five or more. I will be selecting for variety here, too.

If you fit the bill and are willing to help out, log into our forums (create an account if necessary) and send me a private message detailing;

Your real legal names. I’ll need them for the NDAs.

Degree of familiarity with Mage and nWoD 2nd edition.

How large your group is.

DO NOT apply in the comments of this post, on my profile, on facebook, or in forum threads. That defeats the purpose of a blind playtest, and means I have to gather details from all over the internet.

NB! If you have previously contacted me about maybe helping out, do not take this post’s existence as a rejection – I just had to wait until I felt the game was ready. Please feel free to review this list and apply formally if you’re still up for it.

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We Can Make The World Stop (Adamantine Arrow) [Mage: The Awakening]

MageAwakeningLogo

Welcome back, faithful readers!

I knew we’d be over-subscribed for the playtest, but not that I’d be disappointing quite so many people. To try to make up for it, spoilers will continue until morale improves.

First, some music with a very appropriate video, courtesy of the Glitch Mob.

A looooooong time ago on this blog, I described the design process behind second edition’s re-imagining of the Orders. You can read that post, and the first draft of the Free Council, here.

To reiterate what I said in that post, our goals when describing the Orders this time out were;

  • Increase the sense of historicity, relative to first edition.
  • Clarify the nature of the Diamond’s “Atlantean” lineage.
  • Reject the Tier system.
  • Develop the Free Council as a viable sect.
  • Show more mages living outside the Orders, but make it clear that they have numerous disadvantages.
  • Display internal variation.
  • Portray the Pentacle as an Alliance.
  • Let Sleepers glimpse the Orders.
  • Let Sleepwalkers and Proximi in.
  • Show the Orders as mystery cults.
  • The Orders have flaws.

In that post, I said that the tone statement for the Adamantine Arrow is “Challenge is Magical.” That was first described in the Mage Chronicler’s Guide, based on the Order’s presentation in their Order book. That book – like its counterparts for the other Pentacle Orders – really laid a lot of the ground work, such that you should be able to read it with Second Edition eyes and see the same faction being described.

One thing I was particularly keen on in the new splat pages for the Arrow was making it clear that although they’re the most combatative Order, they aren’t a “fighter character class;” the Arrow are defined by striving for worthy goals while operating under restraint of oath and right behavior. All Arrow are willing to fight, save for the Vidantus Heretics shunned for their pacifism, but almost anything can be a battlefield with the right mindset.

Put simply, I wanted an Arrow where a lawyer is just as valid a character as a knight, and I think Neall Raemonn Price, long-suffering Scion Developer and oft-fired freelancer, has delivered.

But you can’t ignore the combat side of the Arrow, either, and that really comes out in second edition’s new version of an old favorite: The Adamant Hand. And there’s another small Merit, too, which answers a rules question at least one commentator has had.

Merit: Adamant Hand (••)

Prerequisite: Adamantine Arrow Status •, (Athletics, Brawl, or Weaponry •••, Special)

Effect: Your character has studied extensively in the Adamantine Arrow martial arts. This allows her to use combat techniques as Yantras for instant spells. When taking this Merit, choose Athletics, Weaponry, or Brawl, which your character must have three or more dots in. This Merit allows use of that Skill in combat as a reflexive Order Tool Yantra, adding dice to a spell cast on subsequent turns, or to a spell cast reflexively in the same turn as the combat action. You may purchase this Merit multiple times to reflect the other styles.

Merit: Fast Spells (••)

Prerequisites: Firearms ••, Time •

Effect: Your character’s Aimed spells streak out with the speed of bullets. Subjects may not apply their Defense against your Aimed Spell rolls unless they use a Supernatural power that allows them to use Defense against firearms.

Adamantine Arrow Preview

And, without further preamble, here is a link to the current draft of the Adamantine Arrow.

See you next week, where we’ll lift the Masques of the Guardians of the Veil.

 

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Now Available: The Collected Avarice Chronicle and Pugmire Poster 4!

Avarice ChronicleNow available in PDF and Print from DriveThruRPG: The Avarice Chronicle: The Collected Edition

You so-called ‘arisen’ and your mighty Wheel.

That wheel… Fate itself… is as clay in my hands. I am not he who spins and spins until he is sick, but he who turns the wheel. I am the hand that ascended from the spoke, and into the maw. 

You people. You miserable, unknowing wretches. You children of a lost pattern. 

You are not even witnesses to my ascent, but merely details in the scenery of the tapestry. And when your turn of the wheel comes round, you will kneel or you will cease to be.

Only I understand. Only I have peered through the darkness between the stars and glimpsed the true pattern that lies beyond. Only I will judge and be judged. 

You will grasp the wheel, and you will make your roll, and in the end, you will know my truth. 

We are what we eat.

We are what we eat.

We are what we eat.

— Ankh-il Bankole, the Roller

This book includes:

  • The compiled in-house chronicle of the Mummy setting, combining
    Crucible of Fate
     (from
    Guildhalls of the Deathless
    ),
    The Trail of Heresy
    (from
    Book of the Deceived
    ), and
    Pearl of Ascent
    (from
    Sothis Ascends
    ).
  • Over 20 complete, ready-to-run Storyteller characters representing the chief figures with whom players must interact during the story, including the Heretic and the Roller themselves.

poster5SMALLestAlso available on DriveThruRPG in image and poster format: Pugmire Poster 4: Jack Rat-Terrier.

Be a Good Dog. Protect Your Home. Be Loyal To Those Who Are True.

These are the words of the Code of Man. Dogs have inherited the world, building the kingdom of Pugmire thousands of years after the Ages of Man. These dogs have been changed to use tools and language, and they (along with other races of uplifted animals) seek to rediscover the world they’ve inherited. Some dogs use the leftover technology of humanity, but they believe it all to be magic handed to them by their dead gods. Others seek to create an ideal civilization, using a Code of Man compiled from ancient, fragmentary lore. The world is dangerous and mysterious, but courageous and loyal dogs will persevere.

Pugmire
 is a light-hearted and family-friendly fantasy world. It’s one of the first of Onyx Path Publishing’s creator-owned games, produced in a partnership with Eddy Webb and Pugsteady.

Combining the ideas, passion, and creative of experienced designers with decades of experience in producing quality roleplaying game products, these creator-owned games push the boundaries of the “Onyx Path brand” in new and diverse directions.

Look for more
Pugmire
coming throughout the summer of 2015.

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A Beautiful Crime (Guardians of the Veil) [Mage: The Awakening]

MageAwakeningLogo

Welcome back, faithful readers!

Continuing our pre-GenCon run through of the second edition Orders, it’s time for the Guardians of the Veil.

First, some music from Tamer

 

What to say about the Guardians? More than any other Order (except maybe the Seers) they were most clarified and improved by their Order book, so readers jumping straight from first to second edition with the corebooks will face a shock while those who’ve stuck with Awakening over the last ten years will find them almost unchanged. It’s compounded by the fact that the Guardian book was the third-ever sourcebook for Awakening, so the internal details of their religion have been well-known for virtually all of the game’s existence. And now, with a second edition, we can cement them.

Guardians of the Veil make for fascinating player characters and excellent “friendly” antagonists for other Orders – the Order thrives on the symbolism of being distrusted, though for the most part tales of Guardians assassinating other Pentacle mages are exaggerations or miss out crucial “he was Left-Handed” details. They’re the “magic should be used responsibly” faction and the “we take on the burden of acting against Wisdom so other mages don’t have to” faction. They’re a true religion, zen-like in their acceptance of being damned by their own actions and with a tendency toward disassociation (which can be very bad indeed in Mage’s world – not for nothing is the main runner-up to the Tremere in “notable Reaper Legacies” stakes the exclusivly-Guardian (Legion).)

Second Edition’s changes to the Paradox and Wisdom systems, if anything, help to reinforce the Guardians’ themes rather than hinder them. Because no spell is inherently “vulgar” or “covert” any more, Guardian PCs don’t have to justify going against the Order’s stated goals. Because even trying and failing to Contain a Paradox results in the caster being marked by the Abyss but keeps innocent bystanders safe, the Guardians become the mages who advise other Awakened to cast soberly, safely, and with preplanning – and if they *can’t*, to take the consequences on themselves rather than damn the world a little more. Because Wisdom as an Integrity trait punishes impulsive behavior among other things, Guardians advising restraint aren’t just pollyannas with knives behind their backs – they’re right. In a perfect world, everyone would treat magic the way the Guardians advise.

It’s not a perfect world, though. Only the most dogmatic Guardian would refuse to cause Quiescence in a Sleeper if it were a matter of life and death. Ideals untested are worthless, and part of being a religion based on taking on sins for other people is the acceptance that sins do, sometimes, need to happen.

For this post’s Merit, I want to take a look at the new version of a venerable system. The Guardian writeup in Mage’s core mentions Masques – the formulaic, archetypal proto-identities Guardians learn to better disguise themselves and their intentions, and to put their own identities and egos aside when doing the Order’s work. Masques were based on the 49 combinations of Virtue and Vice in first edition Storytelling, each its own Merit. When designing second edition, we knew that with freeform Virtues and Vices the old scheme would need work, and that we wouldn’t have room to give the Guardians 49 individual Merits.

As with Seer Prelacies (which you’ll see when we get up to the Seers in three weeks’ time) we decided to do one unified Merit representing all Masques, which the player then customizes in the manner of Professional Training or Mystery Cult. Check it out;

Merit: Masque (• to •••••, Style)

Prerequisites: Guardians of the Veil Status •

Effect: The Guardians must adopt Masques, personas, in order to detach from the grim necessities of their work and stay in cover. Their ancient practices allow these Masques to become different people almost entirely; they have different abilities and even ethical codes to suit the role. At each level of Masque, the persona gains different abilities that are only available to the character upon donning the Masque. Adopting a Masque requires spending a point of Willpower, which cannot be replenished so long as the character maintains the identity. Shedding a Masque requires a full minute to get “out of character”.

To take additional Masques, purchase them as single, two-dot Merits. This gives the additional Masques at the same level as the primary Masque.

Identity (•): Choose a Virtue and Vice different than that of your character. While in the Masque, your character benefits from those traits instead of her own.

Competency (••): Choose Skill Specialties equal to the Masque Merit dots. Your character uses those Specialties instead of her own while in the Masque.

Diffusion (•••): Choose a new Signature Nimbus (see p. XX). While in the Masque, your character uses that Nimbus instead of her own.

The Code (••••): Choose two acts of hubris your character would normally suffer. While in the Masque, your character does not risk Wisdom for those acts.

Immersion (•••••): Choose up to five Merit dots. When your character dons her Masque, she gains access to these Merits. These Merits must be logical parts of the identity, at Storyteller discretion, and cannot include further Masques.

Guardians of the Veil Preview

Finally, here is a link to the current draft of the Guardians of the Veil

See you next week, where we’ll tred the Atheneum’s halls and delve into the Egregore of the Mysterium.

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[Demon]Storyteller’s Guide

Still from The Matrix Reloaded (2003, dir. The Wachowskis)

Still from The Matrix Reloaded (2003, dir. The Wachowskis)

I haven’t talked about Demon for a while, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been on my mind.

Originally Rose was going to develop the Demon Storyteller’s Guide, but scheduling issues and so forth meant that it landed with me instead. She did the initial outlining, and I hired authors (including some folks who responded to the all-call we did a while back!), and got it all squared away. Today, I sent developed text to Michelle for editing and art notes to Mike for arting.

It does occur to me, though, that since I haven’t said much about this book (brain’s been deep in Beast for a while), you might like to see what’s in it. So, here’s the “How to Use This Book” section from the Introduction.

I want to give shout-outs to Rose Bailey, creator and co-developed of Demon, here. Also, Demon veterans Danielle Lauzon and Eric Zawadzki (author of the recently released Demon Translation Guide), new-to-Demon authors Maggie Carroll, Leath Sheales, Vera Vartanian, Andrew Atramor, and Amy Veeres, and new-to-Onyx-Path authors Stuart Martyn and Monica Speca.

How to Use This Book

This book is aimed at Storytellers of Demon: The Descent. While players might look to it for inspirations for their characters’ personal hells or use it in collaboration with the Storyteller to build their Interlocks, its goal is to give Storytellers more tools to use in crafting the chronicle.

Chapter One: New Maps of Hell offers aid in conceptualizing demons’ diverse visions of Hell and ways of pursuing the Descent. Not every demon wants to rule over a Hell modeled after Dante’s Inferno. In fact, most Unchained don’t see that as a desirable Hell at all. This chapter also discusses the Cipher at length, providing suggestions for designing the Ciphers from Keys to Interlocks to Final Secrets. It also looks at what the Cipher is in-world and what it might to an outcast who unlock its secrets.

Chapter Two: Children of a Killer God focuses on the antagonists demons frequently contend with. It includes expanded rules for building angels and Exiles, providing new tools like angelic Incepts and Exile Parameters. It also includes Imperatives, new Numina, and a host of stranger things connected to the God-Machine.

Chapter Three: The Company discusses the espionage genre as a whole and provides tips for presenting it to players in a chronicle. It includes variations on the genre, complete with mechanics to back up the variant style.

Chapter Four: Urban Legends offers a mix of legends and strange phenomena that can be used to inspire stories within a chronicle — whether a Storyteller wants to use them as a “monster of the week” or an important part of her game. It also provides rules and story hooks for introducing characters and antagonists from eight other World of Darkness games, giving each a thematic spin to allow it to fit into the world of techgnostic espionage of the Unchained.

Chapter Five: Shards Infernal offers three alternate settings for games of Demon: The Descent. Want to run a chronicle featuring cyberpunk demon hunters? The story of demonic prophets who are the only thing that stands in the way of a world-ending apocalypse? How about a chronicle set in Biblical times? This chapter provides rules for all of them.

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Endless Wonder (Mysterium) [Mage: The Awakening]

Warehouse_Pan

(Warehouse 13, property of SyFy)

Welcome back, faithful readers, to another in the pre-GenCon Order writeups. This time, we’re looking at the Mysterium.

If the Guardians, early in Mage‘s gameline, showed what the Orders could be like when expanded upon, the Mysterium were the first Order I really got,” as I one of my players had a Mystagogue PC when the Order book came out and I lapped it up. I unashamedly love the Mysterium – the adventurer/archivist archetype appeals to me, and I’ve greatly enjoyed using Athenea in my games. They also, from the point of view of other Orders, make for excellent antagonists; my own work on books like Left Hand Path is indebted to the seeds sewn in that Mysterium Order book.

In second edition, the Mysterium are probably the least-changed Order, or tie for it with the Silver Ladder. They’re a dedicated mystery religion devoted to the worship of magic itself. They’e the librarians and curators of Athenea, treasure-troves of plot hooks and complications. They’re adventuring scholars, determined to seek out the strange, putting the Obsession with Mystery into Mage long before it had mechanics. They came with their own sense of history already included; their creation from two rival Orders by an Archmaster of Prime is one of the few things on the post-Atlantis pre-Nameless War timeline in the middle period of first edition’s line.

Readers less familiar with Mage sometimes see the Mystagogues as “generic mages,” the happy medium between all the other Pentacle Orders. We’ve attempted, this time around, to push the motive behind the Mystagogue’s neverending quest to find the uncanny and put it on a shelf where only the worthy can see it. Like the esoteric tenets of the Guardians, the Order makes more sense if you know their internal philosophies, so we’ve gone into it in their writeup a little more than in the original core.

Having their Perk Merit helps. Mystery Initiation was in many ways the foundation for how we’re treating all of the Orders now; its first-ed form allowed mages to access rotes, borrow Imbued Items and study Artifacts, all functions of Order Status now. That left a five-dot Merit offering bonuses to the Mysterium’s ethos, though, which smoothly adapted to new mechanics. It was, however, in need of a name change. In a second edition where Mystery Cult Initiation is a central Merit for many mortal characters, calling it “Mystery Initiation” was needlessly confusing. So, renamed after the concept it embodies, I give you…

New Merit: Egregore (• to •••••)

Prerequisites: Mysterium Status •

Effect: This Merit reflects a deeper inclusion into Mysterium secrets than the Mysterium Status Merit normally grants. Mystery Initiation opens the doors to the communal experience of living magic the Mysterium calls the egregore. Access to the egregore opens certain techniques for use within Mysterium rituals.

Each level of this Merit allows an additional ability.

Mysteriorum Arche (•): Your character does not need to roll to provide a bonus die when assisting another Mystagogue in a ritual. The caster receives one free die for every other Mystagogue with this Merit participating in the spell.

Mysteriorum Anima (••): At this level, your character does not need to know the other party for her Status Merits to apply, since her reputation within the egregore precedes her.

Mysteriorum Barathrum (•••): Your character is initiated sufficiently as to be part of the knowledge base. She’s considered to have the Eidetic Memory Merit (see p. XX) specifically pertaining to Mysterium lore and membership. The normal +2 becomes a +4.

Mysteriorum Calamitas (••••): Your character has been granted secrets of techniques which decouple physical objects from magic. The first magical tool your character uses in a spell counts as a dedicated magical tool.

Mysteriorum Focus (•••••): Your character connects with the Order’s fundamental ethos, on a level beyond most any other members. When she’s in an Order Sanctum, she’s considered to have a medium sympathetic connection to all members of the Order.

Mysterium Writeup

As with all the faction posts, I’ll finish up with a link to the Development-Phase Draft of the Mysterium. Enjoy!

Next up, the Silver Ladder!

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My Body Is A Cage (Silver Ladder) [Mage: The Awakening]

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First, some Peter Gabriel.

The end is approaching. Not global Ascension, but of these Open Development posts – we have only two more of these posts to go. Game’s nearly out of Development and into Editing, the playtest groups are beavering away, and my Development “to-do” list now fits on one page.

What to say about the Silver Ladder?

The Silver Ladder are would-be Bodhisattvas, and all too often fall into becoming tyrants. They simultaneously define themselves by inequality – the Order is named after their precept that some humans are more enlightened than others – and devote the majority of their time to helping people find their most comfortable “rung” in that system. They created Mage society and do the most work in maintaining it still, all the while demanding that Wisdom bow to Gnosis. Their intentions are good. They see the potential in every human soul, but hate the world those souls inhabit. They hold that the ideal mage is a wise advisor, teaching by example, and often end up forcing their advice on other mages. They despise any restriction on their own action, spend lifetimes refining Lex Magica, and manipulate Sleepers “for their own good.”

The Silver Ladder are a complicated bunch.

Their Order Merit is a short one, and doesn’t scale, but relies on other Merits to make it work. It’s designed around the idea of the Ladder as the glue holding Pentacle society together, and supports them in taking on Consilium roles.

Lex Magica (••)

Prerequisites: Silver Ladder Status •

Effect: The laws of the Pentacle are symbolic concepts designed by people who make symbols real. A Théarch acting in an official, titled capacity (such as Herald, Sentinel, Factotum, Deacon, Hierarch, or Magister) gains certain advantages with this Merit:

First, add her Silver Ladder Status or Consilium Status (whichever she’s acting with) to her Doors when a character attempts to outmaneuver her socially (see p. XX).

Second, characters cannot use Willpower to increase dice pools on Social actions or magic which would influence her behavior.

Lastly, your character may use her Silver Ladder Status or Consilium Status (whichever is higher) as a Yantra in spells directly enforcing the Lex Magica’s laws. This includes spells to investigate potential crimes, to pursue offenders, to use the law to defend innocence, and any other spell to help the rule of law work more thoroughly. The dice bonus for the Yantra is half the Merit dots used, round up.

Silver Ladder Preview

You know the drill by now.

Next time, it’s the penultimate post, as we allow the opposition their pitch and look at the Seers of the Throne.

 

 

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