The Paths of Darkness game started as a secondary game to allow Doug and Tracy to play, when we lost Andy from the Werewolf game. We ended up running 3 Adventures that addition to the preludes and I do not believe I actually ran preludes for Doug and Tracy. Knitted into this history are some items the Players were told, and I think all shared with the team. There will always be personal items for just the players, as that is part of the game. I do not expect Doug and Tracy’s return any time soon, so we will figure things out moving forward.

08/03/18 Update in italics

Mage as a Journey

Mage is a game about the journey. At its best, it is a game that is more than character class, skills and power. For this Mage game, I want to work with you to develop a thought-out character that is going someplace. Unlike Werewolf, where the character’s place in the world is clear, in Mage, the character’s place is anything but. In some ways, it is the ultimate expression of freedom. Mage’s can change reality around them with their beliefs.

In Mage, The World of Darkness (WOD) is one where an oppressive technocratic group of mages has taken hold of the world. They started out as defenders of the Sleepers, but now exist to diminish spirit, suppress creativity, and have a human population that turns food into shit. The Tradition Mages and others are powerful lights in the darkness, showing a Creativity that is as super human as the Rage of the Werewolf is to normal anger.

At the start of the game, a Mage is newly Awakened from the consensual reality. The mage has taken the Red Pill, as it were. Most have been guided by one of the Nine Traditions, using beliefs about the world to help them shape it. The Tradition that you select is not just a group you belong too; the Tradition helps to define the world as you see it. Your character’s belief gives her the power to shape reality. This is True Magik, in the WOD.

The journey of the Mage is towards Ascension, or enlightenment. While in game terms, this is reflected in the Arête stat, it is more than that. Enlightenment comes as the Mage discovers that other ways of thinking, doing and being work, that reality is more than it appeared. It is a personal journey, as much as each of us has a real-life journey that is personal. I am looking for characters who are more than points on a page. Serious characters only need to apply.

I want to capture the wonder of this journey in the game. That means more storytelling and less worry about the dice and the rules. It may mean that sometimes the rules are not consistent for effect. I cannot think of a better game for the rules to be broken than Mage.

We always build characters in RPG’s that have some resonance with us. In Kingmaker, my tendency/need to lead drives me to play the “King” character. In Werewolf I have played a Thurge, who is the wizard type I aspire too, but one that wants to control forces, a darker impulse). Whatever Mage you make will have some resonance with you. For this game, however, I encourage you to do so mindfully. Is there some aspect of you that fits the journey of the Mage?

I think this will be a fun game, and we will see where it goes. I am looking forward to running.

Setting: Chicago, 2014

This Chronicle is set in Chicago, because that is a city of darkness in our world. In the WOD, it is even worse. Characters do not have to be from Chicago area. We will work out how they ended up there in character creation and the Prelude.

Murder rates are higher than in the real world, officials are more corrupt, or under the sway of other forces. Vampire politics clash with Glass Walker Werewolves. The Unseelie Changeling Princess schemes against the Fae Prince. The Technocracy plots the next release of technology, while growing more and more disturbed by the supernatural forces around them. Nephandi and Marauders leave chaos and death behind. Amid all that, the Tradition Mages seek to survive and find their way to Ascension and help the sleepers around them along their paths as well.

Themes and Moods

Journey:
The theme is a light in the darkness on a path to the unknown.

Danger:
Life is dangerous, and there are no guarantees of safety. Be prepared that your character might not survive. If that happens, we will create a new one. Gregor came within one success of dying in the Werewolf game. The dice will fall where they may.

Both Together and Apart:
The characters are together, but also working their own paths. The team needs to help each other along, especially when it gets weird.

Creativity:
Mages are great sources of creativity; embraces yours. Awakening is like being reborn as a child.

GAME CHANGES/CHARACTER BUILDING

Books Used:

We are using the 2nd Ed. Core Rule Book, and the Book of Shadows Player’s Guide. We are also using the Tradition books loaded into the Dropbox or the ones I own. These are a mixture of first and second edition. Any Brotherhood characters may start with Do (the drop boxes in Other Traits has it). Since it is out now, we will use some updating with the Mage: 20th Anniversary Edition.

Talents, Skills and Knowledges Tweak:

Because there has been an update in the general skill systems for WOD, I have decided to use the more up to date system. I have found interactive PDF character sheets that use the new system. For questions on the Abilities, please refer to Mage 20th. This means things like Leadership is a Talent, and things like Repair and Science need to have a specialization even if they are not 4 dots

If you need to add a Trait, there is a drop-down box below, Other Traits, or place you can just write it in once printed. This spreadsheet lists things that are not in the books we are using.

The only change is that it is 13/9/7 instead of the values of Werewolf. This is specific to Mage and makes sense based on the skills and knowledge base they have.

Restricted Traditions or Conventions

Players may play any of the 9 traditions + Hollow Ones. They may not play a Convention Mage.

Spheres

There is s version of almost all of the Traditions sheets that use their name for the spheres. They are in the same order as the basic names, but with new names. Feel free to use those if you want.

Backgrounds, Merits and Flaws

Merits and Flaws are allowed. All of these must fit the conception of the character. We will work on this in character design phase. I would suggest at least 1-2 points in Avatar, as that is a crucial Background for regaining Quintessence. All bits will be approved by me, and some of it might need to be based on feeling and the needs of the overall story.

Please remember that your starting Arête cannot be higher than 3 dots, and that no Sphere can be higher than your Arête. Also, any points spent on Quintessence are points spend on a temporary stat. You will start the game with as many points of Quintessence as you have in have in your Avatar Background.

Freebie Points

Characters will start with 18 Freebie Points, instead of 15.

FREEBIE POINTS CHART:
Trait Cost
Attributes 5 points per dot
Abilities 2 points per dot
Backgrounds 1 point per dot
Arête 4 points per dot (3 max)
Willpower 1 point per dot
Spheres 7 per dot
Quintessence 1 point per 4 dots
   

Mage lets you select Foci for your Spheres. First Edition was proscriptive. Starting on page 117 of the First Edition Book has these. I guide you there not to say “these are it” but to help make some suggestions. I want you to really think about the style of magic your character uses. It is not just your tradition, but your character’s style. Mage: 20th Edition moves this further, on pages 259, 565-600. This expands from a single item to tools that you use. We will continue to use the discard rate from Mage, 2nd Ed. of one per additional point of Arete and allow the more general tool version. Please note, we will also start the tool alteration for Tradition Technomancers (VA and SOE). Use of a focus or set of tools you do not need to use, will still reduced the difficulty by –1.

Advancement

Arête:

Characters will not purchase Arête with experience points but will be awarded Arête as they journey towards enlightenment. That will be up to the Storyteller and Player to decide if such an event has taken place. This will usually be accompanied by an awarded Sphere based on the event, or in the Character’s Affinity Sphere.

Study Points:

This game will use 1st Ed. Study points. These are points that can be used, 1:1 matched to XP to raise Knowledges, Skills, or Spheres. The points must be of the right kind. Once consumed, that particular source cannot be used again by the same character but could be used by another character. Some Study Points cannot be used by some characters. A Virtual Adept could use points in a research university on quantum mechanics, but a Verbena would be unable to do so.

Experience Costs

Trait Cost
Attribute  current rating x 4
New Ability 3
Ability current rating x 2
Background* current rating x 3 (Might not be available with experience points)
Willpower   current rating x 1
New Sphere 10, or with new Arête
Affinity Sphere current rating x 7, or with new Arête
Other Sphere current rating x 8, or with new Arête
Arête Only at Storyteller Discretion
   

General notes on the Universe

Mage 20th, has specific references to the Avatar Storm. I am not running that has happened. Things have continued in much the same way since the 1990’s. Everyone always talks about it being the end times, and no one has ever been right. The World spins on.