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Mage Mechanics

#1
Here follow our FINAL and ABSOLUTE ruling regarding mage-specific mechanics. If you wish to challenge the ruling do so in a polite reasoned manner and prepare for a debate with someone who's been playing Mage for literally all of its 20 years of existence. I am open for *debate*.
Some of these change or even contradict the books. TBS, when you make an argument, a book+page reference is great. I own almost all of them, so don't worry quoting an obscure ruling.

1. Nodes:
"Magick is not dying, it's fractured. Like earth's geothermal energy, the prime energy that flows through the Gaian Astral Umbra seeks week points to erupt at. And with humans digging dip into the crust, and proliferating all over, nodes became weaker, but more common. The magickal core of Gaia isn't cooling, like some folks are claiming, it is stretching. So many humans, so many emotions, dreams, memories, places of power. The old masters still envision the substance of creation like magma, when now it has become much more like water. Everywhere, quiet, bubbling." - Adam Levy, Celestial Chorus primal theorist.
A node produces 2 points of Quintessence a week for every dot of background. The node background can represent your own personal node, or a guaranteed access to a bigger node, through a mentor or a chantry membership.
When weekly XP gain happens, for every dot of Quintessence unused the node accumulates 0.5 dot of Tass - the physical concentration of Quintessence. That Tass is good for 8 weeks before expiring. Therefore a node can accumulate a maximum of 8 points of Tass per dot in background.

2. Magi Sight:
"It goes by many names. Magi sight, true sight, second sight, true sight. It is all the same. The willworker's awakening to the true nature of reality allows it to perceive the hidden truths and identities of things around him." - 1nSani7, Virtual Adept Historian of Magick
With a successful Arête roll against a difficulty of 4, mages with the proper spheres can perceive other supernaturals. this is no more than a "this guy is wierd" sense, which requires either Occult (diff 8, 5 successes required) to gain a superficial knowledge or the appropriate Lore to have some understanding. As the name implies this effect works in line of sight.
  1. If you add Matter 1, it works through walls.
  2. If you add Correspondence 1 it can work in 360 degrees.
  3. If you add Correspondence 2+ it can work as clairvoyance.
The following is a list of magi sights:
  • Life 1 - perceive life signals. Life signal varies according to the living being and it's health condition. No differences between mundane and supernaturals.
  • Life 1/Entropy 1 - The mage can see a mummy is a "resurrected creature". No further details.
  • Life 1/Entropy 1 - The mage can see "the blessed/cursed":
We all have good days and bad days. We all know when it rains it pours, and we all have some moments in which all lights turn green all of a sudden. This is just the way our reality works, and that is even true for empty space. Quantum Mechanics state that at a given empty volume of space there is always a chance of particle popping into and out of existence. This is how I see "blessed/cursed mortals" thingy. You have a bunch in every crowd. The human subconscious is magick, and it can spontaneously create such blessings. As well as strong emotions. When someone is REALLY mad at you, he might curse you by mistake. Hunters appear like any other blessed mortal under this effect.
  • Life 1/Matter 1 - The mage can see the vampire in front of them is "undead". Beyond that, they get no knowledge without occult/lore.
  • Life 1/Mind 1 - The mage can see a Changeling Fae mien.
  • Life 1/Prime 1 - The mage can see other mages' Avatar (and relative strength of), and perceive free quintessence and Tass.
  • Life 1/Prime 1 - The mage can see "lesser magic". People with True Faith, Numina, Sorcerers, the Roma people and Hunters. All of these appear *exactly* the same without *specialized* knowledge (read: Occult 4+, 2 successes needed at diff 7). Demons also register as "lesser magicians".
  • Life 1/Spirit 1 - The mage can see Shape-changers' spiritual nature and can perceive Reborn as having "a reforged soul". Demons register as "having two souls". A mage can also see possessing spirits and Wraiths. And with 2 successes can see the penumbra.
  • Life 1/Entropy 1/Spirit 1 -  Upon succeeding in Int+Occult (diff 8, 5 successes required) or if possesing Lore: Reborn 1, a Mage can see a Reborn for what he is. Otherwise he is simply a "person who was resurrected with a reforged soul"
  • Life 1/Entropy 1/Prime 1 - If he had specialized training (Read: ST approval), upon succeeding in Int+Occult (diff 8, 5 successes required) the Mage can recognizes a "Blessed being with lesser magic" as a Hunter.
  • Life 1/Prime 1/Spirit 1 - If he had specialized training (Read: ST approval), upon succeeding in Int+Occult (diff 8, 5 successes required) the Mage can recognizes a "lesser magician with two souls" as a Demon.
3. Avatar and Carrying Quintessence:
  • You can spend or absorb up to [Avatar] quintessence points a turn.
  • You can hold up to [Avatar] Quintessence as "personal", these points can never be lost or taken, only spent. Every Quintessence you hold above that is "free" quintessence and may be stolen by Prime magick.
  • You replenish your personal quintessence by meditating while at a node, this takes a "turn" (which is something like 6-10 seconds).
  • With Prime 1, you may drain Quintessence from a node above your personal limit.
  • Prime 3 is used to use Tass and regain the quintessence from it.
  • Prime 5 is used to drain Quintessence from reality itself, this is always Vulgar magick, with witnesses outside someone's sanctum.
  • If you ever hold "free" (above [avatar] points of quintessence, you trigger automatic Awareness rolls for every mage with Prime 1.
  • If you ever hold [Avatar]*2 points of quintessence (personal+free), any mage with Prime 1 can automatically see it.
  • Whenever 4 or more points of Quintessence is used in the same turn (even by multiple mages), reality starts to react. Lights flicker, sudden breezes flow, even in buildings, temperatures fluctuate, strange sounds or smells come and go. Those with Awareness, Primal Urge, Kenning, Second Sight or other supernatural-perceiving powers may *sense* this happening, but can't see it like a mage with Prime 1.
  • Whenever 10 points of quintessence or more are used in the same *effect* (even when building up across turns), the effect is always Vulgar, and becomes visible to everyone, even mundane mortals. These effects rip at the fabric of reality, and side effects are always rife. Lights flow around, fire or ice spontaneously form, doors burst open, glass shatter, time seems to slow-down or fast-up or still-move (like a movie with a low FPS), colours mix and burst around, noises and smells come and go. Reality is being stirred. Anyone, mundane or not, within [Quintessence-used] meters (~3.2ft) sees and feels these effects, is considered a witness. As more and more quintessence flows into the effect, the range of effects widen.
4. Quintessence and Paradox "wheel":
"A Mage carries the powers of creation, and reality doesn't always like it. Like a grumpy old man, the Tellurium refuses to give in to these reckless children running around messing up its front lawn. That which we call the paradox, is merely the Tellirium's desperate attempt to stop us from reweaving its vast fabric. It is the punishment for breaking the rules. And like irresponsible juveniles, the main punishment is curfew. Quintessence pours into the top of the soul vessel, paradox bubbles up its bottom. And when they meet, the punisher takes away your privileges.
  • Paradox- and the Paradox/Quintessence wheel- works as stated in the Mage20 rule book.
  • Every point of Paradox reduces the size of the soul vessel by one. So the aforementioned mage with 2 points of paradox has only 10 free places in his soul vessel.
  • If by gaining paradox your soul vessel becomes too small, you loose excess quintessence It simply dissipates into reality. When this happen, for every 2 points of quintessence lost this way, you then *after loosing the quintessence* loose one point of paradox. For every two points of paradox bled this way, you also gain 1 unsoakable bashing point of damage.
  • As we are playing a Living Campaign cross-splat, one that works at a 1:1 ratio with real time, Paradox now bleeds off at a rate of 1 automatic point of Paradox per day, so as to not limit Mages from playing in as many scenes as other splats. A Mage with a Node and Prime 1 may choose to bleed off 1 extra Paradox with a Int+Meditation roll at diff 8, requiring 3+ successes. Do note that this is a house rule and is therefore subject to change due to balancing.
5. Arete:
Arete is a strange fluid concept. Different mages describe it differently. But when you get down to it and drill away the fanfare, Arete is above all a sense of rebellion against established consensus. The higher your Arete, the more deeply, *emotionally*, whole-hearteningly you can see how frivolous, arbitrary and moldable reality really is. In a sense, this is the same feeling teenagers feel against the rules established by their parents and teachers, revolutionists against entranced powers, reformers against established norms and structures. Arete is a fickle concept, and increasing it is a personal, narrative, volatile and highly erratic process.
Mechanically, when you think your character is ready to raise her level of understanding, you spend XP *in advance* (yes, this isn't fair. earth-shattering, reality-moulding, reason-defying powers are hard and expensive.), and then contact a Storyteller. You coordinate the process with them. This may include journals, posts, socializing, etc, but always ends with a personal scene of seeking. Seeking is the intimate discussion of the mage's soul with itself, in its end he has gained new insight into the nature of existence and their place in it.
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#2
6. Gaining or Increasing Backgrounds with XP:
Backgrounds represent the things your mage accumulated which isn't a talent, a skill or a knowledge. It is cheaper in character creation because it represents the "hard work" your mage did in his history. That being said, most of them can be acquired in-game.
  1. Increasing Backgrounds cost current rating*3 XP, 4 XP for the first point.
  2. Backgrounds that cost twice in character creation also cost twice with XP.
  3. This is always contingent on ST approval, and usually requires Journaling and scene-transcripts.
  4. When I write "Don't ask for it" I mean, of course, unless it's a reasoned, detailed explanation of why you think your character's concept and the way you RP it would become more complete with such BG ratings. TBS, only do that if you're sure you have good IC reasoning beyond "that would be cool" and "I want it".
In some cases, STs would *require* you to increase some background trait to reflect things your character has done or the way you role-play it. You may always request explanations (read: not changing decisions, explaining them), and STs must always provide it. If you find it unfair/unreasonable/inappropriate to your character, *politely* and *respectively* address the Head ST (currently: Yonatan.Huber) for arbitration. You may be asked to present your case to all STs for a consultation. Final judgement is, however, always reserved to the site owner (Glyff), who has absolute veto power (read: dictator of the Roman republic).

Here follows background-specific rules:
  • Allies, Contacts, Retainers: As these backgrounds represent actual people, with their own stats, and personality, and goals, these are always ST-run NPCs. As such, gaining these always happen In-character in an organic way. The only exception to this rule is constructed Retainers made by a mage.
    XP will be invested after-the-fact, but you may not invest XP on other things until you do - any gained XP would always go first to buy this IC-gained background if it hasn't been done yet.
  • Alternate Identity: Establishing this is hard and takes plenty of money and work. This can only be done in a series of Journals in which you write-up the process, which obviously can't be done in scenes with other PCs. You *may* play your alternate identity in ST-run scenes and socializing scenes in-advance (transcript these as part of your journaling), but mechanics effects would only be gained once ST-approval is gained. You invest XP at the start of this process.
  • Arcane/Avatar: Mystic Arcane ability represents a reality-bending, metaphysical intrinsic trait of the mage. This isn't a tool, this is *part of who you are*. Your Avatar rating is even more so an intrinsic property of your very soul. Increasing these traits can happen either through a seeking (in tandem to increasing Arete) or through some deep personal process.
  • Backup: "In order to get this Background, a character must be part of a larger organization – a gang, the police, an armed services division, the Technocracy, and so forth." (M20, pg. 306). As such, backup can only be increased through ST-run scenes or ST-sanctioned journals of interacting with said organizations. This can also be challenged/revoked if this membership is strained, neglected or abused. Your Backup rating never drops, only your ability to use it. With good RP, you can regain said use without XP investment.
  • Blessing/Destiny: Blessings and Destiny are created by *outside forces* (read: NPCs). As such they can't be gained/increased with XP, only with ST-initiated (read: don't ask for it) sanctioned scenes. Most of all, Blessings/Destiny 1, or an increase in Blessing/Destiny *may* (read: DON'T ASK FOR IT) be gained as reward for exceptional RP and helpful OOC behaviour. I feel I haven't stressed it enough, so once more (with feelings): DO - NOT - ASK - FOR - IT.
  • Certification: This represents government-issued papers and privileges. These would usually require either journaling or simply time spent. Justification would always include relevant ability scores. This could also require a daily roll of said ability until enough successes are accumulated. Example: A concealed carry license (Certifications 1 in Florida) may require a "shooting range course", so that would be a Dex+Friearms roll for several successes, made across a single day. A board-certified medical practice (Certification 4) may require a significant amount of Int+Medicine to represent board exams and may require time and journaling your time as medical residence in some clinic or hospital, etc.
  • Chantry: When your mage decides he wants to join a chantry, he should seek one out. Read: contact an ST. the ST would then detail the appropriate process. Chantries are rare, and require high-maintenance of NPCs by the ST, so don't expect these to be handed liberally. TBS, PC mages may band to create their own PC-run chantry. This would of course be done In-Character and XP invested after-the-fact, but you may not invest XP on other things until you do -any gained XP would always go first to buy this IC-created chantry if it hasn't been done yet.
  • Cult/Spies: Like other NPC-representing backgrounds this should be gained through play or journaling, and always with ST approval only. Like allies and contacts, XP will be invested after-the-fact but with priority.
  • Demesne: While this is a construct of your sub-conscience, mages can and do affect such realms. Increasing your demedne score is done through meditation, mind Magick, or both. You invest XP in the start of the process, and an ST would lead you through the needed journals/scenes and rolls.
  • Dream/Past-lives: These backgrounds are a general-purpose term for various methods and approaches (via paradigm and belief) to access talents, skills and knowledges your mage does not have. As this is more of a practice/technique then anything else, no special conditions apply.
  • Enchantment: Invest XP ahead of time. For mages these are usually either a prolonged personal process or something performed by a high-0level mage on them. As such, you request it, and then an ST run a scenes for it.
  • Fame/Influence/Rank/Status: Fame, Influence and Status represent other people's (read: NPCs, mundane or awakened) opinion about your character and Rank are powers delegated to you from above. This will be gained through In-Character actions and journaling. This may be asked for, or an ST may suggest it to reflect events and processes your character has gone through. You always invest XP after the fact, similar to Chantry. 
  • Familiar/Totem: Familiars and Totems are bonded (not bound) spirits. They may be gained through a High Ritual of Spirit Magick, with ST sanctioning. You can't force spirits to become familiars or totems, this is a mutual pact, always. Increasing Familiar rating is done with ST-sanctioned rituals and over time. XP is invested in advance.
  • Legend: This is anything but something the mage does. This background represents the power of the human collective sub-conscious to perform real actual Magick. As such, this is always ST-initiated trait. However, this is the sole xception to the rule of DNAFI: you may ask to have your Legend build up. This will require you putting the effort of describing how and why would this happen, and allow the ST to take it and run with it to their own twist on things. Be prepared to be surprised. You may *think* your character carries the legend of merlin, only to realise it's actually Morgana La fey's legend who sticks to it. Go with the flow, have fun, make it your own.
  • Library: This is a representation of collected volumes of knowledge. This can be gained through journaling, in character action, or even offered (read: you don't have to take it) as reward for exceptional RP and helpful OOC behaviour (still cost XP though. reward is the justification).
  • Mentor: Your mentor rating represents a combination of how powerful your mentor is, how helpful he is, and how connected he is to your characters. Increases in mentor rating can happen in either of two circumstances: Your mentor has become more powerful OR your relationship has improved and deepen. The first is always an ST-initiated action (you know the drill, DNAFI), the second can be gained through hard work in-character/journaling.
  • Node: Node rating represents either a personally-owned node or privileged assured access to someone else's node (usually a mentor's node or a chantry's shared node). In both cases you invest XP in advance, and an ST would guide you through appropriate process (either Prime ritual or in-character politics/socializing).
  • Patron: "This person is no Mentor or Ally but a secretive benefactor whose true goals remain hidden… at least for the moment… from your understanding.", "Only the Storyteller knows what this party’s plans are and what their interest in the character might be." (M20, pg. 320-1).
    As such this can't be gained/increased with XP, only with ST-initiated (read: don't ask for it) sanctioned scenes. Most of all, Patron 1, or an increase in Patron *may* (read: DON'T ASK FOR IT) be gained as reward for exceptional RP and helpful OOC behaviour.
  • Resources: This background is logarithmic in nature, and represents accumulation not only of cash and wealth but of assets. In real-world economy this is called "capital". As such this requires heavy investment of in-character play and journaling, and good reasoning. This also takes time, lots of time. This is always up to ST discretion in accordance with what's reasonable. IRL, a hard-working middle-class person can accumulate the 3rd dot of Resources over several years. The 4th and 5th levels usually take some remarkable financial upheaval - a great patent, a star-up buy-out, a massive surprising buy-back of stocks or inheritance. As such, requests for Resources upgrading up to 3 would be gained through good RP, but 4-5 would be rarely granted. Resource 4 means you're a millionaire, Resource 5 means you're a capitalist-class top 1% of the OECD wealth-owning masses. These are not lightly gained.
  • Sanctum: Sanctums are narrative, private, difficult and timely to create. This must be a personally-owned space (min Resources 2), to which only (or almost only) the mage has access. A sanctum is a place of personal intimate power, in which reality itself slowly gives way to the mage's own belief and paradigm. This takes time, requires in-character work (mainly journaling), and is subject to ST approval. XP is invested at the start of the process, which may take time. Be patient, expect work.
  • Wonder: After character creation wonders are crafted by the PC or given to them as gifts. If you craft a wonder, you plan its effects and the process of creation in a Journal, invest XP, get ST approval, and then start the actual rolling of the crafting process. The other option is like any other outside forces: ST-initiated, DNAFI, reward for exceptional RP and helpful OOC behaviour.
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#3
The matter of "getting tons of quintessence" from the process know as 'burnt offering' has arisen, so I wanted to clarify a bit:

"Burnt Offerings:
By using Prime 2, a mage can pull a single point of
Quintessence from an object that’s being ritually destroyed
as part of a sacrifice. Despite the phrase “burnt offerings,”
that object could also be broken (like a glass smashed underfoot
at a Jewish wedding); dissolved in acid; dropped in the
sea; scattered into the wind as ashes or dust; buried without
intentions of digging it back up; or otherwise surrendered to
the act of sacrifice.
By combining Matter 2 with Prime 2, you could draw
out one Quintessence point per success on your Arete roll.
In either case, the Effect is coincidental – people can’t see
the Quintessential energy unless they have the Prime Sphere,
although someone might sense the energy-transfer if she’s got
Awareness. In either case, the act of giving up that object is
an essential part of the spell. No sacrifice[b], [/b]no Quintessence." (M20 How do you do that, pg 50)

Let me make it clear to the dear audience: Breaking a glass cup you bought yesterday isn't "sacrifice" (unless you also happen to stand under a Huppa, with your bride/groom to be, and a Rabbi sacntifing your marrige). The word sacrifice comes from the word "Sacra" - holy, unique, singular

Burnt Offering is not only a ritualist process that need to have the right resonance and paradigm to work, it also must have a spiritual component. You can sacrifice "your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac"
You can sacrifice "the first born of your flock", but only if you pilgrim to a certain temple 10,461.58 km (6,500.52 mi) from Starke.
You can even sacrifice "the village virgin" or "your left eye" (an Arab expression also meaning 'that which I died to protect', hence the expression "avenge the the revenge of my left eye" in the hadith).

You can sacrifice your favorite Beer mug, whom your mother gave you for your 18th birthday, right before she took you out to drink.

You can't sacrifice an MP3 player you bought at a flea market.
If you have a vedic paradigm, or a sufi one, you can "sacrifice eating" (=fast) for several days to regain quintessence from the suffering. (which deals a linear progression of bashing damage)
If you come from an atheist one, maybe "sacrifice Internet Access"

But whatever you do, it must be personally meaningful, painful, and appropriate to Belief.
So you can't just "exterminate Starke's rodent population", especially since that would drown yo in Jhor.

"And so, for reasons that should be clear, messy
sacrifices have messy energy that “sticks” to a person long after
the blood itself has been washed away. This “Lady Macbeth
effect” taints mages who employ living sacrifices; even folks
who can’t normally perceive Quintessence notice something
“wrong” about people who steal life-force from other beings.
In addition to the metaphysical effects of unwilling
sacrifices, such offerings tend to have physical consequences
too. Corpses smell bad, and disposing of remains (especially
those from large sacrifices) gets really problematic." (M20 How do you do that, pg 51)

So yes, you can sacrifice a cat for 5 points of Quintessence, but:
1. good luck catching it
2. good luck dealing with the Euthonatoi
3. This will come to haunt you
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#4
Magick and Violence – Initial Write-up

There are, generally speaking, three ways to combine Magick and Fighting during combat;
Violence as Focus, Violence Enhances Magick, Magick Enhances Violence.

Violence as a Focus:
When the attack itself is one of your Instruments (and only then), you can use it to focus a Magickal effect. This is a single action using two rolls:
  1. The normal Attribute+Ability to-hit roll.
  2. An Arete roll to determine damage.
You always roll both even if the first fails (so you can gather paradox even if you don’t hit, and your opponent can use regular reactions to attacks).
  • If the to-hit roll fails, the whole action fails. You can still garner paradox as per usual.
  • If the Arete roll fails, then there’s no magickal Effect; a punch might land, but a gun will not fire. You garner paradox for failure as per usual.
  • If the Arete roll botches, then the attack goes wrong, and Paradox results.
  • If the to-hit roll succeeds AND the Arete roll succeeds, the magick works as planned.
Assuming the attack is successful, the Effect goes off within the same turn. If a weapon/martial-art is being used as a focus instrument, then the damage from that magickal Effect replaces the damage of that weapon. Damage is dealt via the Base Damage Chart (pg. 504). A forces effect adds one automatic success to the Arete roll for calculating base damage, but only if it otherwise succeed (So it can’t be the only success left).


Violence Enhances Magick:
When the attack is used to enhances the magickal effect, which is the primary effect, The act still provides a focus, but the magick follows the act. These are two action using two rolls: In game terms, the player rolls her attack normally. Each success on that roll lowers the difficulty of the subsequent Arete roll by -1, up to a maximum modifier of -3.These are two actions, taking two rounds, or using split action dice.
As per usual, A forces effect adds one automatic success to the Arete roll for calculating base damage, but only if it otherwise succeed (So it can’t be the only success left).


Magick Enhances Violence:
When the magick is used to enhances the attack, which is the primary effect, The magick is focused on either the weapon, the target or the martial artists. These are two action using two rolls:
So long as the enhancement looks like something you could do without magick, this sort of thing is almost always coincidental. If it looks impossible, then it’s vulgar. A gunshot that ignites the car’s gas tank? Coincidental. A sword that bursts into flame? Vulgar.
These are two actions, taking two rounds, or using split action dice.
In this case, the player declares what she’s doing; takes an action to cast the Effect; notes the number of successes; and then reduces the difficulty of the attack itself by -1 for each success, up to a maximum modifier of -3 difficulty.


Examples of Magickal Violence
Secret Agent John Courage goes up against a vampire. His
player, Brian, has several options:
Violence as a Focus: Employing the Stone-Shattering Fist Strike (a Life 3/ Matter 3/ Entropy 1 Effect that uses Entropy to spot weak spots), John Courage puts his Black Suit training to good use. Brian declares that he’s using the martial arts practice as a focus, rolls his Enlightenment Trait, and scores four successes. Then he rolls his Dexterity + Martial Arts dice pool to reflect the punch itself. He scores two successes, so John Courage hits the vampire. The damage comes from the Effect – in this case, eight health levels of damage, made aggravated by the Life Sphere. Soak THAT, Count Chocula!
Violence Enhances Magick: Realizing that his greatest weapon is fear, and that vampires fear fire, John Courage coolly eyes the vampire, removes a vial of fluid from his coat pocket, douses his gloves with it, takes out a lighter, flicks it to life, and then sets his gloves on fire. His hands burning, he glares at the vampire – flames glinting off his mirror-shades – and invokes the dreaded Black Suit Aura of Authority.
One successful Manipulation + Intimidation roll later, Brian has three successes to add to his coincidental Mind 2 Effect of “Surrender or die.” The casting roll difficulty, normally 5, drops to 3 (casting rolls cannot drop below difficulty 3), Brian scores six successes, and the weak-willed vampire collapses into a quivering heap.
Secret Agent John Courage has neither said a word nor struck a blow, but victory is his.
Magick Enhancing Violence: Looking for a weakness in the vampire’s defense, Brian casts a coincidental Entropy 1 Effect through the Stability Integrity Matrix scanner built into John Courage’s mirror-shades. It’s a coincidental Effect, so Brian rolls John Courage’s Enlightenment, gets three successes, and lowers the difficulty of John Courage’s next blow by -3. Taking no chances, he employs a Death Strike maneuver. Courage’s Dexterity + Martial Arts roll scores six successes, thanks to the lowered difficulty, meaning Strength +2 in lethal damage, plus five more dice from those extra successes. Weakness found, analyzed, and utilized.


A character who’s fighting several opponents at close range suffers a penalty of +1 difficulty per attacker to both her attack and defense rolls, up to a maximum penalty of +4. Fighting two opponents, for instance, would add +2 to those difficulties, and fighting five opponents would add +4 difficulty. A mage who has Correspondence 1, Mind 1, or Time 2 and has an active sensory Effect in one of those Spheres going at the time of combat can ignore this penalty. Essentially, such Effects give him an enhanced view of who’s doing what to whom.


Enchanting Weapon or Armor: Using Prime 2 or matter 2/3, a mage can enchant a weapon or armor. This is not a to-hit roll, rather you infuse the weapon or armor with magickal energy. You roll Arete and use the following rules:
  1. The first successes is used to “create the effect” - it is used to fuel the pattern with the magickal energy.
  2. Basic Duration of the spell is 1 combat round (see Base Duration chart bellow).
  3. Every extra success beyond the first can go to either duration or potency:
    1. Each success that goes to duration bumps the effect one up on the Base Duration chart bellow. (So 1 success makes the effect last a scene, two a day, etc.)
    2. Each 2 successes that go into potency add either +1 to weapon’s damage dice pool or +1 to the Armor’s soak dice. Prime 2 or matter 3 Makes an object soak aggravated, Matter 2 soak bashing and lethal.
    3. Weapons that can Normally hit multiple targets (such as scatter shots, cannons, SMGs, etc.) can be enchanted to hit multiple targets as if they were one. Each successes invested in targets adds 1 additional “automatic” target. So an SMGs enchanted with 3 such successes roll it’s damage against 4 simultaneous targets. This always Vulgar with witnesses, as the firearm fires many more bullets that is physically possible.
Notice that using Life effects mages can enhance their own body as if it was a weapon or an armor. In addition, some effects make you harder to hit. Correspondence 2, Entropy 2, Forces 2, OR Time 1, each of these allows the caster to affect the attackers difficulty rolls by +1 per success, up to +3. Note that this is basically the same rules as “Magic Enhances Violence” in reverse. These effect last one round, unless successes are invested in duration (1 extra success to last a scene, etc.). Successes can also be used to affect multiple targets (defending allies), though this always require adding Correspondence 2.
[E.g. with 4 successes a mage can either inflict a +3 difficulty to attackers against him for a round, a +2 for a scene, a +2 for a round against him and an ally, or a +1 for a scene against him and an ally.
With 6 successes, a mage can inflict a +3 difficulty to attackers against him and an ally for a scene.]


When using either Violence as a Focus, Violence Enhances Magick or just pure Magickal Attacks, you use the Arete roll to deal damage. Damage dealt is decided by the Base Damage chart bellow. Whether a Fist enchanted with Life 3, a gun firing Prime 2 bullets or a fireball, damage dealt by Arete roll replaces weapon/attack damage. Damage dealt by such attack is automatic, no need to roll. There are damage levels not dice. Opponent may soak damage as per usual. However these are almost always vulagr effects. A fist dealing 10 damage is definitely not a mundane martial artist.
As a rule of thumb: if Damage dealt equals to or exceeds your natural damage dice pool, the effect is vulgar. [E.g. A martial artist who uses a punch strike that would normally deal Str+1/B with a Strength of 4 has a natural dice pool of 5. Dealing 5+ damage with Arete roll would thus be Vulgar].
If striking multiple opponents, reduce successes counted toward damage by 1 per additional target beyond the first.
[E.g. A Knight Templar uses his sniper rifle to fire Forces 2 bullets. He rolls Arete and scores 5 successes. He can either deal 8 damage to a single target, 6 damage each to two targets, etc.]




Additional Rules:

Deflection (“How Do You Do That”, Pg 33) – Alternatively with Forces 2, the mage may actively resist attacks. If using forces to target an attack, the mage may roll arête and for each success, subtract one success from the enemies’ attack (often reducing damage). If you get more successes than the attacker, the attack goes wild and misses [you] entirely (no guarantees for anyone else). If you score double the successes of the attacker the attack rebounds entirely. Deflection does not work on area, and may only target individual attacks

A Life 3 effect can enchant a living person to soak aggravated. Duration as per Base Duration Chart. Successes beyond the first can be split between duration and multiple targets. Unless targets are touched when cast, Correspondence 3 is needed.
[So Soak Aggravated for 3 targets for 1 scene is 1 base + 2 extra targets +1 extra duration = 4 successes needed]

A Mind 3 effect can enchant a living person to ignore wound penalties. Duration and extra targets as per above.

Neo (“How Do You Do That”, Pg 68) – This is a very specific defense with very specific requirements. First, the mage must be a martial artist of some sort. Second, this effect has a range only equal to what the character can reasonably touch either with a hand, or with a weapon in hand. Third, the Neo cannot be extend via normal duration rules, instead each success past the deflection total extends the round for 1 turn. 1 success stops an arrow, 2 successes stops a gun blast, 3 success stops a rain of either arrows or bullets, while 5 successes will stop most anything you could expect a martial artist to deflect (including energy blasts thanks to forces 2).



Base         Damage   or     Duration
Successes Damage           Duration
One         None               One turn
Two         2 dmg             One scene
Three       6 dmg             One day
Four         8 dmg             One story
Five         10 dmg            Six months
Six+         12 dmg           One year and a day

Notes
  • Damage also reflects the number of health levels healed by the Life Sphere, or the points of Quintessence channeled by the Prime Sphere.
  • Mind Sphere Effects deal Bashing Damage
  • Most other spheres deal Lethal Damage
  • Any Sphere when charged with Prime 2 and a point of Quintessence deal Aggravated Damage
  • Forces effect deal Fire or Electrical damage.
  • Entropy-, Life- or Prime-based Effects that directly disrupt the target’s Pattern are always Vulgar.
  • Entropy inflicts damage only through indirect attacks until Rank 4; after that, damage is aggravated.


This is an Initial work, more may come as needed.
Thank you for Kyorinrin for his invaluable and indispensable help in forming this
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#5
RITUALS
This isn't a house rule, but a quick summery of applied rules:

Types of Rituals:
  1. Brief rite (up to 5 successes needed): Roll every turn.
  2. Ceremony (5-10 successes needed0: Roll every 1 hour.
  3. Great work (10+ successes needed0: Roll every 5 hours (this can be paused and continued after rest by spending a WP point and rolling at least 1 success in Wits+Esoterica/occult/Technology, as appropriate, diff same as Arete roll).
Rituals work like this:
  1. Arete rolls are rolled every [time span] by the ritual leader.
  2. The maximum number of rolls you can make during your ritual is equal to your permanent Willpower Trait plus your Arete. Ritual can still go on, but you helped as much as you could. If the ritual leader reach this cap, the ritual simply fail as they all get too exhausted.
  3. Each failed roll adds +1 to the difficulty of subsequent rolls.
  4. If the ritual leader roll a botch during a ritual, they may spend 10 minutes, a temporary Willpower point AND one previously rolled success in order to keep the whole thing from blowing up in your face. You also incur the +1 difficulty for failing.
    This can only be done once. A second botch is an immediate disaster.
  5. Every roll after the first one adds one point of Paradox to the caster’s total. If the ritual concludes successfully, then those extra points of Paradox go away. If the caster botches the ritual, however, then the Paradox backlash adds those additional points of Paradox onto the Paradox that the mage would suffer to begin with.
  6. You can work for [Stamina] *hours* without any problem (that would be 6 rolls). After that, every hour you make a Stamin roll, difficulty same as the arete roll, increased by +1 every such roll. Failure means you need to spend a WP point, and gain +1 diffuclty to both Arete rolls and Stamin rolls.
  7. Botching that stamina roll is like having someone outside interfere with the ritual, You have to roll WP, diff 8. This count as the one botch you are allowed, a second interference/botch means full on paradox backlash.
  8. A ritual is always focused through some mundane ability (Attribute+Ability). You first roll these, difficulty as the arete roll, each success reduces the Arete difficulty by -1 to a maximum of -3.
Helping in ritual:
  1. Each mage involved must have at least one dot in each of the Spheres involved in the ritual’s Effect. Otherwise he is merely an observer.
  2. All participants must remain in contact with one another for the duration of the ritual, able to communicate freely through whatever means work best for them: telepathy, speech, Instant Messaging, texting, etc.
  3. Participants need to plan the ritual together. If they don't all have the same Paradigm and Practice, this requires an Int+Occult roll, diff 6. They need 3 successes +1 for each additional practice involved, +2 for each additional paradigm involved. If they botch, they must start planning again, +1 difficulty.
  4. Equal collaborators (having a maximum of 1 dot of spheres missing, or up to 2 in a multi-sphere effect): Roll their own Arete, add successes to the ritual leader's, have all the same rules (botching, etc.)
  5. Enlightened assistants (having not enough knowledge to be equals): Each one of them roll Arete once at the start of the ritual, if they succeed they add 1 automatic success to every Arete roll made by the Ritual Leader that did not botch, up to 5 from 5 such participants.
  6. As per 8 above they can roll the appropriate Attribute+Ability for a reduced difficulty for their own Arete roll.
  7. Participants need to roll Stamina just like the Ritual leader.
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#6
MISCELLANEOUS HOUSE RULES

This is where I plan to put all the house rules which don't fit in a general overarching theme, but are important nonetheless. Having said that, let us move onto these rules:

1.) INSTRUMENTS: The book states you get 7 instruments to work your will upon reality because '7 is a magickally significant number.' However, nowhere else in the entire book is this true. There's 9 traditions, 9 spheres, 9 levels of Arete before Ascension (presumably), 9 planets, and a whole lot more 9's that I can't think of off the top of my head. 9 seems a *far* more magickally significant number than 7, and so we're bumping up the number of instruments any Mage can have to 9. All future Mages will stick to this number, and all current Mages will be allowed to add 2 instruments of their choosing via the Mage Request form.

2.)
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#7
GRIMOIRE/TOME HOUSE RULES

First, a few definitions:

Primer: Magickal Book designed to Awaken a mortal, turning one into a Mage. Allows a mortal to go from Arete 0 (Plain Jane) to Arete 1 (baby Mage).

Tome: Magickal or non-Magickal book that contains a Mage's insights into a particular Sphere or Set of Spheres. Can be used for a 25% XP discount, rounded down, in that Sphere or set of Spheres. This XP discount can only be used 1 time per month. A Tome can always be used as partial justification for a Sphere increase (requires a Journal Entry studying the Tome as well).

Grimoire: Magickal Book detailing the author's insights into the universe and Reality as he or she knew it. May also include knowledge or insights into the author's Spheres, as with a Tome. Allows the Mage reader a chance to increase their Arete up to the rating of the author at the time of the writing. A *chance* to increase your Arete through this method may only come along once every 3 months- it takes time to understand the secrets of all existence. Note that this 3 month timer is SEPARATE from the learning time. So using a Grimoire to go from Arete 2 to 3 would take X amount of days from the purchase request, and after you gained Arete 3, the 3 month timer would start. Arete may only increase by 1 each time (so even if you have Merlin's Rank 5 Grimoire, if you're an apprentice, it will take you a minimum of a year and a day, not including training times, to go from Arete 1 to Arete 2, Arete 2 to Arete 3, etc. etc.). There is no XP cost reduction in increasing your Arete through a Grimoire. If the Grimoire has insights into the author's Spheres, it may be used as per the rules for Tomes above for learning those.

Who Can Use a Tome/Grimoire?

So. In Mage the Ascension, as given by Forged by Dragon's Fire, if your Paradigm didn't fit the Tome or Grimoire, you were completely out of luck. But that doesn't really make sense for Mages that spend their days warping reality and slowly attempting to make sense of the technocratically ruled Consensus. So any Mage can use a Tome/Grimoire, given a well-thought out appeal to the Mage ST (Connor/Tobias Hyde). Using a Grimoire or Tome that does not match your Paradigm will take 2x as long as it normally would to learn that Sphere or Arete (so going from Arete 2 to Arete 3 would be 40 days instead of 20, and learning Sphere rank 2 would be 16 days instead of 8), but allows the user to gain the 25% xp cost reduction, rounded down, that a Grimoire/Tome reading gives. So the question is, do you value your time or your XP more?

Note that this is an interim rule while I work on an 'Affinity Wheel' that will better represent who can use what books. After all, a druidic Verbena won't be able to make heads or tails of the gobbledygook computer code in a Virtual Adept's Tome, and vice versa, but a Hermetic would be able to understand the Akashic Brotherhood's katas and meditations as just another form of ritual and self-control, similar to their own High Magick Ritual.
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#8
Mage craft rules:

First off, book of secrets requirements for each item:

Step One: Foundation
Extended Attribute + Ability roll to craft suitable foundation.

Step Two: Energy
Arete roll (base = one successes per dot in Wonder (this is a House rule, BoS says three) to infuse foundation with Quintessence (Prime 3 from Tass or self /Prime 4 from materials /Prime 5 from living things). Fetishes, Matrices, and Periapts do not require this step.

Step Three: Investment
Extended Arete roll (base = three successes per dot in Wonder); vulgar Prime Effect + appropriate Spheres for Wonder’s Effects.

Purification reduces difficulty of Step Three roll.

Artifact/Invention: Prime 4 + Spheres in Wonder’s Effects #2

Charm/Gadget: Simple Charm = Prime 2 (appropriate energy), Prime 3 (any energy), or Prime 4 + Life 3 (living Charm) + Spheres in Wonder’s Effects. Mage may craft up to Arete x 2 in Charms at one time. Only one Effect possible, works only once.

Device/Talisman: #3 Prime 4 + Spheres in Wonder’s Effects. Each successful Arete roll costs one point of personal Quintessence in addition to normal energy cost. Mage also invests one point of permanent Willpower into Device/Talisman.

Fetish: Spirit 4 (to bind unwilling spirit), or working out an agreement with the spirit + Prime 4 (willing spirit). Unwilling spirits create unreliable Fetishes, which have several flaws. No Prime Effect or Quintessence necessary.

Grimoire/Principia: Prime 4 /Mind 3 (for authors with Art or Expression 1-3), or Prime 4 /Mind 2 (for authors with Art or Expression 4 or higher). Additional Effects require Spheres in Wonder’s Effects. Each benefit beyond the first one adds +1 to Wonder’s cost and three more successes to Arete roll. Mage also invests one point of permanent Willpower into Grimoire.

Matrix/Periapt: Matter 5 (inanimate) or Life 5 (living) + Prime 3. Requires 10 points of Tass with the same kind of energy. Effect fuses Tass into foundation, creating permanent vessel for Quintessence. If different sorts of Tass are used, then Wonder has a flaw. No other Quintessence required.

Primer: Prime 4 /Mind 3 /Spirit 3. Mage also invests two points of permanent Willpower into Primer, must have an Arete no lower than 5, and achieve no fewer than 30 successes on a series of foundation-crafting rolls that include Art, Expression, and other Abilities appropriate to the Primer in question.

Relic: Life 5 /Prime 5 + Spheres in Wonder’s Effects. Mage also invests one point of permanent Willpower into Relic, and employs some form of activity which bridges the energy, magick, and the organism involved (blessing it, performing surgery on it, giving birth to it, etc.).

Trinket: Prime 2 (to consecrate), and /or Spheres used to create Wonder’s Effect. Mage must roll at least twice the number of successes that are necessary to cast the Effect normally. Only one simple Effect possible. Must be a simple, functional item, not a complex piece of machinery or other abstract foundation.

Notes
#1 = The foundation must first be crafted, using whatever Attribute + Ability rolls and materials the mage needs in order to craft that foundation. An enchanted silver pendent, for example, would require high-quality silver (materials) and an extended Dexterity + Craftsmanship roll (crafting the medallion) before the energy and magick can be invested into the foundation. The Spheres and processes listed under Investment Description are the ones required to seal magick into the Wonder.

#2 = Spheres in Wonder’s Effects means that the mage must also cast whichever Effects she wants to have in the Wonder. A cloak that makes the wearer invisible, for example, would require a Forces 2 Effect in order to bend light waves around the cloak. Thus, the Wonder needs a Forces 2 Effect in addition to the Prime 4 Effect that seals the magick into the cloak.

#3 = Technocratic Union facilities produce Devices and Principiae without the Willpower or personal Quintessence requirements. Individual technomancers and Technocrats, however, must invest Willpower and personal Quintessence into their Devices. Only specialized personnel are allowed access to these facilities; abuse of such access is deeply unmutual.


The problem with all that above? No Tass/Quintessence cost.

Matrix/Periapt is simple. You consume as much as you make it hold, and it starts full, so you don't so much use it as turn it into a rechargeable source. 5 points of quintessence per dot of the periapt.

Fetishes, Grimoires, Pricipiae and Primers do not NEED quintessence.

That leaves charms, devices, relics, artifacts and trinkets

Charms, Trinkets, Artifacts and Inventions require one unit of tass or quintessence in personal pool per the effect you're trying to make. In their case it is always level of sphere due to the required simplicity of these items or their link towards usage by a still awakened individual. You are either putting your own quintessence in the item or making them out of tass.

Talismans, Devices and Relics require 5 units of tass/quintessence per their cost (note that these can mix spheres, and every additional sphere beyond the highest costs one extra dot of it). This internal pool will then be kept and USED whenever you activate the wonder. Remember to Refuel them.

Crafting Trinkets without Prime 2:
The book offers the option that one may craft trinkets without prime 2, by making an effect and weaving into an item so that it contains that very effect no matter what. Such effects only require one point of quintessence allowing one to essentially put a permanent enchantment on an item, but can be "unwoven", as in dispelled as one would separate the magickal effect from the item in question. This is to enable mages to put within their homes items to show off their craft or make items for a particular purpose to not risk themselves throwing their arete around for something they should know. These trinkets do not count as active effects.

Where to the lines stand?

It is a big question if an item is a charm, a trinket, an artifact, a talisman or a relic. Generally, charms are known to be one-use items, trinkets cannot be "activated", they are always active and can contain a single ongoing effect that has been woven into their nature. Artifacts use the user's arete to essentially let them use an effect they cannot use themselves, while devices allow anyone to use it as it has an internal arete score. Relics are usually living and grand things, and if you have to consider it on this chart they are generally not so.

Costs of purchasing/selling wonders:

In general, the cost of purchasing or selling wonders is 5 tass per dot as a standard price, to which most add 20%. Selling a wonder may require finding an interested party in buying it, otherwise if one simply wishes to cash in on a wonder, it gets sold at half that price (3 tass per its dots). A wonder's dots is the highest level sphere + one extra dot for every other sphere in its effect(s). Trinkets and charms are the exception, which are given HALF the highest level sphere used (since there is only one sphere) and charms get that price in batches of 10. The cost of having something custom built can be its full craft price and a general 50% solid cost on top. As always, you need to find a willing mage to make or sell these wonders

Always consult an appropriate overseer for this process as wonders should not be spammed, they should be an investment in each moment of their crafting. An active effect can hold something onto any sort of foundation, simply enchanting something to hold for a longer time, but a true trinket should stand out.

For further details on the crafting process, please consult Books of Secrets
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#9
Final Clarification on Tomes and Grimoires:
When learning spheres from a grimoire or tome, these provide you with two benefits:
1. It provides hard justification for learning the spheres in it
2. You have a 25% discount on buying spheres that the tome/grimoire covers. That means that if you have a 2 dot grimoire with life 3 and time 1 you may purchase any dots in life up to 3 and the first in time with a 25% discount, and none else. You most certainly do not deduct the tome's rating out of the cost of the spheres.

Grimoires copied without any further ability produce a tome. A tome copied again produces a book with no actual value in learning spheres, so if you have a grimoire you can offer copies in the form of tomes without any cost whatsoever to you. But for a tome to be useful to another it has to be given as is, as a copy would essentially produce nothing of tangible value besides the good read.

Grimoire paradigm, practice and arete increase:
Reading a grimoire no longer takes months and any insight from it takes the normal time of learning. A grimoire may serve as justification for certain abilities.
Raising arete with a grimoire is done by studying it, which takes just as much as your arete increase would. With one exception. If your paradigm and practice do not match a grimoire's, it will take double the time to raise arete, and your mentor can't help on this. XP is unchanged. So for example, say your arete is 2 and you have an arete 3 grimoire that matches your paradigm and practice, and you use it to increase arete. It takes 16 xp and 16 days for it to go through, you studiously going through the theories. You then lend that grimoire to your buddy so they can study it and gain the same increase, but they do not have the same paradigm and practice, so for them it takes 32 days, but still only 16 xp.

Paradigm and practice no longer impact raising spheres, so tomes do not need to have it detailed
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#10
Dropping Instruments -> Dropping Spheres

When advancing in enlightenment, AKA raising your arete, a mystic drops one instrument for every level above 2, and a technomancer drops one at 6 and 2 for every level above it (but not technocrats), thus a usual 7-instrument mage will have no tied instruments by arete 9. However we consider this to be confusing and why should instruments really determine that? Mostly because one can use any and all instruments as they consider on spheres. Instruments are more what they use to shape reality, and why would one tie themselves like this.

Instead, we propose dropping spheres, meaning a sphere is effectively "mastered" and no longer requires instruments, and if you use instruments on it, you reduce your difficulty by 1 (to the usual minimum of 3).

Thus, a mystic will master one sphere at arete 3, 4... up until 7, and TWO spheres at arete 8 and 9 (not that we'll see any soon enough)

A technomancer will master one sphere at 6, two at 7, THREE at 8 and 9, with the exception of Scientific Mystic which puts you on the mystic track

What if we use multiple spheres in an effect? Unless you have mastered all, you do not get the reduction. Say my verbena has mastered life and spirit, and when healing or stepping sideways she would reduce her difficulty or could do so without instruments, as well as when she would use the two combined to check for a shifter's half-spirit aura, but when employing any other sphere she does not get the benefit, and must use instruments

To master a sphere, please make a request, either upon your request to raise arete, or should you want to hold that decision for later... in a single request for sphere mastery, and what sphere, which will be marked on your sheet. THIS DECISION IS PERMANENT, as such mastery implies a deep understanding that you cannot undo or switch around, but has no obligation to the order in which you do it. One may expect to do so to their affinity sphere, but may just as well do to a second sphere of choice.
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