Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Karatela
Sep 11, 2001

Clickzorz!!!




Grimey Drawer

Keiya posted:

On the other hand, Beast will never have a two-spell combo that forces someone to shove eggs up their butt for the rest of their life.

I need to know more about this :stonk:

E: poo poo what a page topper :psyduck:

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Bedlamdan
Apr 25, 2008


Ratoslov posted:

Zeniths and Nights can be really dangerous combat types if they pick Resistance or Dodge (respectively) for their Supernal traits. I will also point out that Zeniths get access to War as a Supernal trait, which while not strictly speaking being a combat trait is utterly devastating when you can apply it in combat.

Command Rolls alone give your troops huge bonuses, so you can be a lazy-lord. Survival is great too, but mostly I'm grateful that even Presence or Lore have some combat utility.

Monathin
Sep 1, 2011


Ratoslov posted:

Zeniths and Nights can be really dangerous combat types if they pick Resistance or Dodge (respectively) for their Supernal traits. I will also point out that Zeniths get access to War as a Supernal trait, which while not strictly speaking being a combat trait is utterly devastating when you can apply it in combat.

Yeah, Zeniths can pick up for Supernals either Resistance, which is not a sleeper pick, and means you can get Glorious Solar Plate hilariously early (you technically only need two other charms to get it, and gives you a free suit of Artifact Heavy Armor, its main gate is its Essence) or War , which, while not a combat skill technically, allows you to take charge of a huge battlegroup and turn them all into Elite Soldiers instead of fodder for the big fights (battlegroups in Exalted 3e are largely either "fodder" if not commanded or "a challenge" if they are with rarely any middlee ground)

For Night Castes, you can pick up for your Supernal either Dodge, to become unhittable, or Stealth, to take advantage of ambush tactics in fight. It should not be understated how powerful Ambush effects are at turning the tide in a fight.

And like I said, Supernal isn't quite that useful outside of chargen, which might be my own gripe with it. Though that does mean that people don't fall behind of each other as much.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Another thing with Exalted CharGen is that you need to do it backwards thanks to how pre-requisites work.

But the same is true of most Storyteller games.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!



Monathin posted:

...or War , which, while not a combat skill technically, allows you to take charge of a huge battlegroup and turn them all into Elite Soldiers instead of fodder for the big fights (battlegroups in Exalted 3e are largely either "fodder" if not commanded or "a challenge" if they are with rarely any middlee ground)

Speaking of War, I have heard of a hilarious War/Survival build called the 'Disney Princess' where you speak the language of the animals, so every fight has the local animals flock to you and then viciously murder your enemies like a army of elite soldiers.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Ratoslov posted:

Speaking of War, I have heard of a hilarious War/Survival build called the 'Disney Princess' where you speak the language of the animals, so every fight has the local animals flock to you and then viciously murder your enemies like a army of elite soldiers.

Do the bears get a bonus to murder local youths if they mocked your baldness?

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I'm a lovely person who deserves to be happy!


Night10194 posted:

Do the bears get a bonus to murder local youths if they mocked your baldness?

Only if they have a pic-a-nic basket.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


Ratoslov posted:

Speaking of War, I have heard of a hilarious War/Survival build called the 'Disney Princess' where you speak the language of the animals, so every fight has the local animals flock to you and then viciously murder your enemies like a army of elite soldiers.

Well, you've succeeded in making me want to play Exalted.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Ratoslov posted:

Speaking of War, I have heard of a hilarious War/Survival build called the 'Disney Princess' where you speak the language of the animals, so every fight has the local animals flock to you and then viciously murder your enemies like a army of elite soldiers.

Do you have to sing "Immigrant Song" to make this happen?

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Ratoslov posted:

Speaking of War, I have heard of a hilarious War/Survival build called the 'Disney Princess' where you speak the language of the animals, so every fight has the local animals flock to you and then viciously murder your enemies like a army of elite soldiers.
This is the power of my Stand, Jungle Boogie!

TN: originally called "Welcome to the Jungle" in Japan but the rights couldn't be secured in America.

Bacchante
May 2, 2012

Friends don't let friends do sarcasm.


Moinkmaster posted:

I need to know more about this :stonk:

E: poo poo what a page topper :psyduck:
Well, that can wait until I get to spells. At my current rate, it'll take me two years.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



I'm sick of bad Onyx Path games being all we talk about. So along with the current Chronicles review, here's the one that has me the most enthused right now.

See, you know what just came out? A new Onyx Path game! Well, sort of. A new edition to one. Specifically, Mage 2e just came out. (Well, technically speaking, it releases tomorrow, but it released to Beast backers a few days ago and while I am not a Beast backer, I know someone who didn't pull backing before it ended, and so...) The first edition of Mage was released way back in August of 2005 - just over ten years ago, really.



The cover looks the same. And when Mage 1e came out, it was met with rather lackluster feeling - in part because people were still mad about the whole oWoD/nWoD thing, but also because Mage 1e was laid out terribly, had no clear direction at the time and spent a lot of time talking about an Atlantean prehistory that was essentially irrelevant to most of play. As the line went on, however, the game found its feet and ended up as quite a good game, if bogged down by some poor mechanics decisions in certain areas (Mage Sight, for example) and some bad books (Free Council, for example). So, what's changed?


The art's pretty great.

So, straight up, we open with our themes: Gnosis and Mystery. Mages are the Awakened, humans who have unlocked the potential that exists, buried deep in every person, to see the occult symbols and magical conspiracies that influence every part of the world. Mages have power because of this, as their insight into the true nature of the world lets them perform the Art - magic, the manipulation of symbols to cast spells. While they are no more than any human when surprised, they are capable of grand power when prepared. They deepen their insight, called Gnosis, by seeking out and understanding the Mysteries of the world - the strange, the bizarre, the unknown. They deal with these mysteries by use of the ten Arcana, each of which controls some aspect of reality. The more power they gain, the more esoteric the Mysteries they seek, until they either escape this world entirely or die. Mages must deal both with the powerful supernatural beings of this world, which they know as the Fallen World, and the fact that most humans are Sleepers - people whose souls reject magic and recoil from it.

Why do they call this world the Fallen World? Well, because...it is. People want to believe reality is only what they can touch and see, that the physical is more real than abstract concepts, which exist only to define the real. The world is all of reality - a cruel, oppressive reality that grinds us down. Hunger, oppression, failure, prejudice, pain, disease...and in the World Chronicles of Darkness, the voice in your soul that tells you you have no worth, that you are a mere human. Keep your head down. Survive. Don't look at the monsters. Focus on the now.

That's all a lie. The Lie. It is a Lie created by evil gods out of the symbols of oppression and the Paradox that draws off the untrue world of the Abyss. Mages Awaken by confronting that Lie, either deep in themselves, or by being shocked by the world, seeing past the Lie to the symbols that lie beneath. These symbols, this secret truth, is the Supernal World. The real world. This Fallen World around us is not real, not true - it is merely physical and concrete. Despite this understanding, however, mages too are trapped here by those evil gods. They can see the Supernal but can never reach out and touch it. They can see how the Supernal symbols inform the Fallen World, but cannot become those symbols and experience the being of pure magic. However, they do know that the Supernal is inhabited by creatures - creatures of pure magic. And some of those creatures are evil gods.

These beings, known as the Exarchs, made the Lie. They did it to keep humans vulnerable to their influence and ignorant of it. Halfway between the Supernal power and the comfort of the Sleeping Curse, mages often feel like their lives are always moving - always forward, unable to go back to what once was. They refer to the symbols that resonate with them as Paths, and labyrinth or prison imagery is common in their description of Mysteries. By focusing on an imaginary journey, the mages can shut out the physical world and go inward, traveling to the Astral landscapes of the human soul. And in the far reaches of the Fallen World, hidden and secret, there are signs that once, the world was not Fallen. Once, the Exarchs did not rule. This was the Time Before, when humans were free, and it seems to these mages that study it that it is possible, by some means unknown to most, to Ascend to those realms Supernal and dwell there forever, in the world of truth.

The problem, of course, is that even if they knew how, it would not be teachable with mere words. Magic must be experienced. It transforms the user, and the journey is just as important as the solution reached at the end. That is part of why mages seek Mystery - to experience and be transformed by their magic. And there is so much Mystery. See, once Gnosis exists, it never leaves. You can't turn it off. Once you have seen the Supernal, you don't stop seeing it. Everything supernatural - from the weakest ghost to the greatest power - stands out to mages without any efforto n their part. They feel it around them constantly, a sensation they can never ignore. Other supernatural can pretend the world is normal still, despite their being vampires or werewolves. Mages can't. They know that magic is everywhere. Even if they tried to ignore it and live a noraml life, they'd soon be forced to deal with strangeness just by their own screaming senses. A rare few cannot take it, lashing out at magic and other mages, but most are prouder and sterner. Their Paths call them to face the unknown, to learn and understand and grow closer to the Supernal truth. With more insight, they gain more power, and with more power, they can seek more difficult Mysteries, despite all the risks to their minds, their souls, their friends. This is the greatest flaw mages have: hubris. They know their obsessions are worth any means, and their pride is great. They can't fail, can they?

So how's that for no direction?



Because this is an Onyx Path game, we also get a list of inspirational media. For things directly involving wizards: Hellblazer, The Invisibles, The Night Watch books, House of Leaves and The Dresden Files. For non-wizard media: True Detective, Dark City, John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders. It also suggests some other OP bookx: the Chronicles of Darkness core to get more expanded core rules than the somewhat abridged set in the book, the six 1e Order books, which are mostly good (except Free Council) and provide an in-depth look at each major Order of mages. Left-Hand Path, which talks about heretical mages - the Mad, the Scelesti, the Reapers, and more. And the Fallen World Anthology, the companion book to this which is a set of 12 Mage-focused short stories. I haven't read it, myself.

Next time: Paths of Power

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


theironjef posted:

We worked extra hard on the Afterthought intro this week, so go listen to it! Otherwise we talk about games that really go outside the regular conventions of RPGs and then answer questions for a long, long time.

It's funny because I was listening to the intro and going "Wow, how much time did they put into that?" It was swell.

The game you were thinking of was Hudson's Adventure Island.

Also, have an anime:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wgkP9rnZzg

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition

So, mages have only some idea of the cosmology of the Supernal. Some argue that there are infinite numbers of Supernal Realms, hidden deep in the Supernal World, beyond what mages can see. Others believe there is only one Supernal Realm, and that any seeming division is simply mortal minds imposing order on magic, which has no divisions. Despite these debates, practically speaking, mages have five different Paths, reflecting five facts of the Supernal and five ways to see through the Lie. In the Time Before, it is possible that these Paths did not exist, and some mages believe the symbolism of the Watchtowers seen in many Awakenigns is a sign that something in the Supernal is creating mages, much as the Exarches create the Lie. The Silver Ladder names these theoretical beings Oracles, but no mage has ever claimed to have met one during their Awakening. In any case, each Path is dominated by the symbolism of two Ruling Arcana, which mages of the Path have a natural familiarity with, and each Path is deficient in symbolism of a third Inferior Arcanum. Each Path's Ruling Arcana are split - one Subtle Arcanum, focused on the symbols of the hidden and esoteric, and one Gross Arcanum, focused on the concrete and eminent.



The first path is the Acanthus, also called the Witches or the Enchanters. Acanthus tell stories about other lives. They are mist-shrouded figures of myth, tricksters and prophetic poets, cunning folk who wield the laws that bind all people. Their Ruling Arcana are Fate and Time, the roots of destiny. Fate is a Subtle Arcanum, and it is embodied in every soul - the vessel that gives them purpose. Acanthus, like Merlin, study potential. Like the Morrighan, they wield Fate as curses and oaths to trap the unwary. The Gross Arcanum of Time is the loom on which Fate is spun. The Acanthus gaze through the possible to predict what will be. To them, these future visions are a mythic story. The Supernal Realm of Arcadia (no relation to Changeling's) teaches them that all lives are legends, ready to be shaped at the pivotal moment. They stand outside these stories, not heroes but directors. However, their Inferior Arcanum is Forces. Energy has no place in Arcadia. The elemental is a manifestation of destiny and passion. Fire is not heat, but anger and climax. To the Acanthus, the power of elemental energy is not something to be controlled by will alone.

Symbolically, the Acanthus are represented by the Fool. They are trackless, able to move within destiny freely. They are no naive wanderers, however - rather, they unburden themselves of attachment and use their magic to keep new attachments from forming. Often, they seek Mysteries that are symbolically represented by the Wheel of Fortune - the relentless spin of destiny. There is no stillness or equilibrium in what they seek - even they cannot just hold out a hand and stop the wheel where they want it. Instead, they must be in the right place at the right time to push things as they desire. The further they are from this ideal time and place, the more they need to push, and the more dangerous the magic.

Witches are known to call on the Fae of the Supernal - but they are not Fae-worshippers. The Fae seek bargain and payment, not adoration. They enjoy it, but do not take it as payment. In this modern age, Fae can take any shape. Many Acanthus invent their own personal fairy idols to attune themselves to Arcadia. Beyond this, they also structure their magic around tricksters, who demonstrate the value of breaking conventions yet illustrate why convention exists as well. Coyote is always punished, Loki is bound. Acanthus sometimes prefer gods and signs of duty, obligation and destiny, as well. Their rituals tend to call on stories of luck, fate and obligation. Their magic is never without its price for those who would use them - the monkey's paw wish is theirs to unleash, as well as the geas. They recreate stories and trap people in them.


Meet Lucy. Lucy is a DJ.

The game gives us three example characters. Lucy Sulphate is a woman who was seized by the Acanthus Path on a normal day, sent raving for days as she explored Arcadia as a cityscape of broken glass and twisted metal. Now, when she performs, she sends audiences into a frenzy willingly...but with magic, she imposed and assaults. Other Acanthus manipulate people subtly - something she abhors. Instead, she is stuck between her respect for autonomy of others and her strong sense of justice. To her, the Wheel of Fortune is an intricate rhythm she can tap into by music. Now, she works behind the scenes to nurture musicians that can touch the soul of the world. She prefers to use her magic to foster that rather than deal with the Awakened society and its disputes, and as a result, she is a natural Free Councillor.

Movran is a man better known as Merlin, a member of the Legacy known as the Walkers in Mists. His mother and sisters were Awakened as well, so even as a Sleeper, he knew magic existed...but none of that prepared him for the Thorns. In the realm of Arcadia, he learned that knowing occult traditions meant nothing - he was too filled with preconceptions to master the inuitive side of the Art. While he was a young boy when he went into his Awakening, he descended from the Watchtower with an old, old soul. Now middle-aged, he feels he's just starting to resemble what he thinks of as his true self - a mentor and meddler in the mold of Gandalf or Merlin, staff and all. He feels helpless, often, because he knows the most important things cannot be taught...but his knowledge makes the Mysterium value him highly.

Sunjata remembers cannons, swords and sharks before he met foreign mages in Jamaica, some 13 years back. Nobody had ever seen him before and he had no understanding of modern technology. He knows his Shadow Name, how to box, how to sail an archaic ship and half a dozen languages, but he has no idea where he came from or how he got there. (He looks African and South Asian.) He uses magic intuitively, based on the principle that oaths sealed with blood grease the flow of destiny. His is a world of wishes and promises. He fell in with a Free Council cabal in Boston and sought answers with the Silver Ladder, but only in dueling with an Adamantine Arrow did he recognize techniques and mysteries he knew. He is a warrior without a past, and he now believes he'd prefer not to know about the bargains he made in a time he remembers only in dreams.

The Inevitable Stereotype Box of the Lunargent Thorn posted:

Mastigos: What you call free will, I call a chain of accidents and their responses. Fight your way into their minds if you like. I surround them with the conditions they need to follow a correct path chosen of their own accord.
Moros: You know that everything moves, no matter how solid and dead it may appear. That's a start, but their transformations are just a small part of destiny's plan.
Obrimos: Your world of gods and secret names hides the truth: They don't care. Even when thunder speaks, it only wants to spark and roar.
Thyrsus: Even when you make your flesh a sacrament your hour of worship will pass, and when your orgasm subsides you'll be stuck with this question: What's my true purpose?

Acanthus join the Adamantine Arrow in search of hope and potential. They see the mighty destinies that the Fallen World would crush, and the Arrow trains them to defend these seeds. They are precise - pressure points, bullets to the eye, striking just the right weak spot.
Acanthus join the Free Council because they know: we make our own fates. The Free Council want everyone to follow their own path, to shake off the Lie of oppression and compromise. The Acanthus of the Free Council free people to explore their true destiny - at least, to a point. After all, freedom is also dangerous, and makes its own evil.
Acanthus join the Guardians of the Veil because they know foolish actions raise horrors. The power to save or destroy the world is in every soul. Some must be encouraged, others kept ignorant that they never use their power. Acanthus can spot the danger before anyone else, and have the power to deal with it subtly. They can gaze into the future to foretell disasters the Guardians must stop, cutting them away to let a better world grow.
Acasnthus join the Mysterium because destiny is the pulse of living magic. The Mysterium guards the health of magic, helping correct arts to grow and amputating that which is diseased. Acanthus can tell when someone is ready for a secret, which secretsm ight prepare them and how to mentor them properly. They are notorious for speaking in riddles and sending others on strange ordeals, however.
Acanthus are prophets, and the Silver Ladder always needs prophets. It is a religion of sorts, devoted to the secret divinity within every human being. The Acanthus are not just practical oracles, but also those who predict when people will Awaken. Every mage is a messiah, and every messiah needs someone to teach and purify them.
Acanthus join the Seers of the Throne because they are born manipulators. They turn their sense of entitlment into an unbreakable faith. Their foresight defeats raw power easily, and especially those of the Visionaries have more foresight than any. They honor the Ruin, Exarch of Fate, and obey it in making their inferiors serve a purpose as they head to their inevitable dooms. They are beloved of the Prophet of Time, as the makers of history.

Next time: Mastigos

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition



The Mastigos, also known as the Warlocks or the Psychonauts, are masters of desire, thought and perception. Thought, for them, is substance. Space is emotion. Wherever you go, your love is with you. The road is longer when you go somewhere unpleasant. This is a truth - but one the Lie hides. Without Awakening, you are trapped in the Lie of objective distance. Without discipline, your thoughts escape you, traveling invisible realms. Space is a set of chains born of desire and ssociation - and those chains can be used. Mastigos are individualists, confrontational and disdainful of pretense and taboo. They map the depths of the mind and the connections of space. Their Ruling Arcana are Mind and Space. Passion and connection. The Mastigos understand - consciousness is not an inner advisor. It is calm, transcendent. It does not strive, but flows, laying out the mind within it. The Mastigos is above thought, commanding the goetic manifestations of mental states and touching the thoughts of others. They use Space to control the chains of connection. They understand - its true nature is not yardsticks and maps, but iron threads tying people and places together, easily tangled and broken. However, their Inferior Arcanum is Matter, a concept that does not sit well with them. It seems to be part of the Lie alone, an illusion to fill the empty spaces between people...and yet, it undeniably has a Supernal nature and a claim to truth. This is difficult for Mastigos to understand.

Mastigos represent themselves symbolically with the Devil, reflecting their journeys to the Supernal Realm of Pandemonium. They know that everyone has Pandemonium within them in the form of desire, and that Mastigos not only possess strong desire, but the power to name and tame them. They represent the Mysteries they seek with Temperance: control, guidance. Despite their initial victory in Awakening, they know that life is a constant struggle of determination and self-control, calmness and careful release and use of passion. They are the most direct in their approach to magic. Gods and demons are a state of mind to be conjured, bargained with, bound. These beings, they know, are not illusory, but as real as flesh and blood. They make pantheons of consciousness and thought, conjuring these beings from the mind to use them, confront them, control them. They care primarily for the problem of self. They know they are more than urges and emotions...but once those are gone, what is left? They try to eliminate bias and rebuild themselves, defining what they are by what they are not. They give into their desire in order to purge it. It is risky...but it works. Usually.


Meet the first half of why 4chan hates this book. No, really.

Once, she was Aasiya Ahmed, a woman from a decent Mogadishu family. She knew from youth where ot find shortcuts and safe places, hiding and reappearing at will. Her parents gave up on bringing her into 'proper' society when they realized they could never keep her out of anywhere. She found her way to the secret city, full of ghuls and ifrits, and now, she is Ichneumon, an apprentice of the Silver Ladder, and she knows that secret city is everywhere. Its predators an ddemons move between bodies and shortcuts in the endless city-of-the-mind, and Ichneumon follows, stopping them when she can and looking for their patterns.

Arctos was sought by the Iron Gauntlet. It dragged him through amateur occultists, made him enemy to the Scelestus named Angrboda, and all before he know what magic really was. He was the unwilling prodigy...but until he entered Pandemonium, he refused to admit that he sought it out as his way of being the center of attention. His ego is his focus, his secret, whispered only to the devils of the Watchtower. Now, he must decide whether to embrace his quiet demeanor in search of discipline, or use it as a strategy to remain at the center of attention.

Baphomet does not remember their original gender. They are a mistranslation, something between demon, ghost and archmage. They didn't think their gender was that important in a leper colony outside Jerusalem, some nine centuries ago, when they Awakened. The First Crusade showed them religious hate and misunderstanding, made into a devil - their Shadow Name comes from an early misspelling of Mohammed by Templars. They became a Master of Mind and Space, but their body began to fail them. They abandoned their body, embracing the form of their goetic demon and living in the minds of Templars, priests and occultists. Baphomet now haunts dreams in the Astral reaches, struggling with the archetypal Devil itself, who would reduce them to a mere slave.

Mastigos join the Adamantine Arrow because the Order understands the challenges they face in battling rogue thoughts. They are less enthusiastic about oaths and chain of command - they don't like to bend knee. They prefer to be loyal from love or a true sense of duty, not ritual. Despite this, they can see into souls and secret places, making them excellent scouts and spies as well as warriors.
Mastigos seek the Free Council because the Libertines believe everyone sould be allowed to transform their own soul without others using them. Mastigos enjoy the role of the guru to Sleepers, peering into the human psyche and providing the help that false mystics can only promise...though they are capable of some of the worst abuse, as well.
Mastigos understand the difficulty of Awakening without submitting to weakness, and this draws them to the Guardians of the Veil. They give up themselves and become pure in order to guard mages against anyone unable to make that same sacrifice. Mastigos Guardians are masters of interrogation, disguise and surveillance.
The Mysterium knows that magic lives, made of Awakened desire and frailty. Spells are what magic thinks, and those driven by blind impulse, the Mastigos know, corrupt the mind of magic. Thus, they serve as moral gatekeepers, examining use of magic fo ethical implications. Their power allows them to enter inaccessible areas easily, making them excellent archaeologists, as well.
Mastigos seek the Silver Ladder because they know that to rule others, you must rule yourself. Their self-mastery gives them the right to govern. They know that the darkness hides unpleasant truths, and leaders must drag the flock out of the dark by quelling their fears, driving their ambitions and destroying their destructive urges.
Mastigos join the Seers of the Throne beause they see your weakness and they despise you for it. They know why you must be ignorant and limited to the flesh. They respect the Eye, Exarch of Space and master of surveillence. People who know they are being watched behave, after all. They also channel the Unity, Exarch of Mind, to strip dissent from lesser minds to bind them to serve the Throne.

The Iron Gauntlet and its Lovely Stereotypes posted:

Acanthus: I didn't break my chains to forge more with a promise, Witch. Chase my future and you'll see my dreams come true. It may frighten you.
Moros: They deal with the stuff that fills illusory space. Leave them to it. Leave them to the dead, too. Better to live free than concentrate on the bondage of the grave.
Obrimos: If God would burn me, He must be afraid of being judged on His merits.
Thyrsus: I don't have to talk to a tree to appreciate its beauty. I don't have to become an animal to gently caress like one. But I respect anyone who explores the borders of experience and names its passions.

Next time: Obrimos

Grnegsnspm
Oct 20, 2003

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarian 2: Electric Boogaloo

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It's funny because I was listening to the intro and going "Wow, how much time did they put into that?" It was swell.

The answer is: More time than it took to actually make and edit the whole rest of the episode.

chiasaur11
Oct 22, 2012





unzealous posted:

You also gain situational modifiers for breaking points. Itís much easier to justify defending yourself against a mugger than it is committing premeditated murder.




Great.

Now I'm wishing we were rolling up Rick and Morty.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

Mors Rattus posted:


Meet the first half of why 4chan hates this book. No, really.

I may regret asking this question, but: why?

e: especially when Baphomet is present to set off the 'phobic crowd

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




She's black and Muslim.

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


When I heard that the day it was pre-released, I had to go look for myself. The fact that two of the demo characters are black - one of them a Muslim Somalian, the other being Obrimos (which Mors will get into) - was enough to set at least one guy on 4chan into an apoplectic fit of rage about SJW tokenist cultural marxists etc etc.

Now, to be fair, even a significant chunk of 4chan was pointing and laughing at him, but still. You must always remember our hobby is full of lovely people.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




I'm just glad she's dressed like a normal person.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Mors Rattus posted:

Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition



Meet the first half of why 4chan hates this book. No, really.

Is the second half the Free Council picture?

I haven't delved too deeply into this book but it seems great. I was thinking about reviewing this book to offset the M20 review and you beat me to it. Keep up the great work.

EDIT: It's also nice to see a Muslim woman in a White Wolf book that isn't a sultry assassin or taken from the canvas of an Orientalist painting.

RocknRollaAyatollah fucked around with this message at 04:08 on May 4, 2016

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Kavak posted:

I'm just glad she's dressed like a normal person.

I do like that outfit. And the artpiece generally.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




The 2e nWoDCoD teams have gone to pretty admirable lengths to write Good Books.

This is part of why Beast was such a shock.

Monathin
Sep 1, 2011


Yeah, I feel like a lot of people are overselling how bad OPP is based on their worst books. Don't get me wrong, the worst books in the line are absolutely loving garbage. But the level of quality people expected out of Onyx Path is closer to CofD blue book, nWoD Hunter, nWoD Changeling, and nWoD Demon than, say, Beast - and Mage 2nd Ed looks loving killer on that front.

Monathin fucked around with this message at 05:45 on May 4, 2016

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Monathin posted:

Yeah, I feel like a lot of people are overselling how bad OPP is based on their worst books. Don't get me wrong, the worst books in the line are absolutely loving garbage. But the level of quality people expected out of Onyx Path is closer to CofD blue book, nWoD Hunter, nWoD Changeling, and nWoD Demon than, say, Beast - and Mage 2nd Ed looks loving killer on that front.

I don't think OPP has taken a hard right turn into unrepentant shitville, what I think it most disappointing about the low points is that for the most part the nWoD felt like it had more or less managed to make a clean break from the oWoD's peak levels of terribleness, that the worst you could say about most nWoD books was that they were boring or uninspiring or were mechanically questionable (i.e. Second Sight) instead of "this is Gypsy: the Stereotyping, this is the book about how psychologists are evil and growing up is the death sentence of your soul, this is the book with Savage Genitalia, here are some more ethnic stereotypes, etc." Changing Breeds felt like a cynical outlier designed to pander to whatever intersection exists in the Venn diagram between "fans of Phil Brucato" and "yiff enthusiasts," but Beast feels like a more inexplicable return to bad habits. Like seriously, nobody else thought to say "hey Matt, this is kinda hosed buddy?"'

Nobody really expected the oWoD to be better than that, but I think a fair few people at least here expect better of modern day OPP.

edit; also they still keep giving Phil Brucato work which is beyond me.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Though, to rain on my own good vibes, I'm largely disappointed with nWoD 2.0, rules-wise. It feels like they made a lot of pretty good foundational changes that better fit the moniker of "storytelling" games, but then they take those lighter core ideas and hang too much fiddly poo poo on them. (e.g., gently caress what they did with Tilts)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition



The Moros, AKA the Alchemists or the Necromancers, are in some sense scientists after their return from the Supernal Realm of Stygia. They understand that which makes up the world. They can make the dead rise, command the motions of the soul, steal it from the body. They can make atoms dance and transform. Their Ruling Arcana are Death and Matter, the Arcana that represent foundation and ending. Death is the Arcanum of change by destruction, the power to influence the inevitable doom of all things. Bodies shift from Life to Matter, light scatters into random chaos. While every subtle Arcanum touches on a component of the soul, it is Death that, once present, removes it from its living shell or tears it into its parts. Mages know that ghosts are not souls - but Moros know that lack of soul does not mean lack of personhood. And Matter? That's the skeleton of our world. Forces shape the world, Life gives it flesh, but Matter is the bones. The world constantly transforms itself, performing the Great Work that alchemists pursue, perfecting itself, transforming and rebuilding. Moros also use mechanical metaphors when talking about Matter - everything down to the smallest speck of dust is part of a great cosmic machine whose components adapt to the tasks the machine is given. Their Inferior Arcanum is Spirit. Yes, Moros know that the inert is abuzz with activity. They know that the spirit world exists, but have little need for it. They already have the invisible lands of Death and the motions of Matter. What need do they have for spirits to bring the world to life?

Moros claim Death as their symbolic representation. They know that Death, in the Tarot, does not mean murder, but guidance through radical change. The Leaden Coin of Stygia is the payment Death talks, and it points the newly unburdened to a new way of life. The Moros give up their fear of loss, embracing their own imperfections, their personal nigredo, as the mess from which creative power comes. Their Mysteries are represented by the World, as they embrace all things. The World is the Great Work, the search for self-perfection that can exist even within the Lie, written into the souls and the substance of the world as they are put into newer forms - the rubedo, the crown, the philospher's stone. Moros have always taken gods of death, alchemy and industry as their symbols, especially when these fields overlap, as in Hermes, Hades and Anubis. The Moros prefer lonely gods, set apart by their duties but aggressively guarding their realms. The Moros tend to be represented by practical trades, artisans and scientists. Most also deeply study both alchemical and funerary tradition, keeping labs full of instruments both ancient and modern. They acknowledge the supremacy of Death, but they are at heart practical craftsmen.

Iosis was once one of the richest women in the world. She was also once a drug dealer in Milwaukee and a worker on an ICBM assembly line. She is called Mammon's sister by some, and in all of her many roles, she has had a goal which she as achieved and then moved on. She believes that no one in service to the mighty Exarchs should have strong personal preferences, so she finds it simple to adopt and abandon new identities. She has connections across all parts of society, and she often understands the world better than more elitist Seers. Her ever-shifting life hides the fact that no matter how much or how often she changes herself, she cannot deny the experiences of human suffering and human kindness. She is starting to use her subtle machinations to hide her reluctance, inefficiency and fear of either being discovered by other Seers.

Brother Owl is alchemist, necromancer and priest, all combined into one man who serves those in need. He rebuilds what is broken for run-down communities in his role as an alchemist. He appeases ghosts and helps them achieve their unfinished business, allowing them to move on, in his role as a necromancer. These things fulfill the commitments he made as a priest, even though they meant abandoning his church. While he sitll wears the collar of an Episcopal and he still believes in God, he has no taste for any one particular religion. He is a fringe member of the Silver Ladder, but unlike many, he believes that humans cannot return to the glory of magic without first fixing their collective problems.


Note the wine glass the size of his head.

Mayfly is a killer in service to the Guardians of hte Veil. His payment of the Leaden Coin was in middle age, well after he started a family and sent his kids on to a good start in life. He thought his life was over, for all real purposes, and Death obliged him - his Awakening came during a stroke, and when he returned from Stygia he had a new purpose: to end life, after years of helping it. He's good at quiet murders that look like accidents - not just to cover his tracks, but to minimize the collateral damage to the families of his victims...and to his own family, so they don't realize he's an assassin. His wife is dead, sure, but his kids still check on him and worry about him.

Moros are beloved by the Adamantine Arrow. They are unbribable. They do not fear death. They shatter steel with their hands and bring dead soldiers back to fight again. They are implacable, cold, relentless. Their pride is dulled by their experience in Stygia, so they avoid rash use of violence...but they also tend to be less loyal than other Arrows, for fear of falling under the thrall of another's ego.
Moros join the Free Council for a simple reason: modern death and modern chemistry are wonders. The world is now full of things ancient aclhemists could never conceive. Modern doctors understand death as a process that jumps from cell to cell, not a sudden ending. New knowledge brings with it new problems - the temptations of wealth, the endless stretch of death thanks to machines that preserve a mockery of life. The Moros cannot help but see new magic arising from these new ways, as well as seeing the need for the Sleepers to be comforted in the newly changed world.
Moros join the Guardians because they know even death cannot hide a secret. Ghosts talk and reveal. Sure, they also serve as assassins sometimes, but the Moros know that death is a crude tool. Death attracts investigators. Bribery, that doesn't. It turns someone into a conspirator with just as much reason to hide as you. Moros do not fear death nor desire riches, and so they are incorruptible and ruthless in the protection of secrets.
Moros seek out the Mysterium because they know that magic is - not alive, really, as it contains both death and base matter, but a form of directed change that is associated with life by the laypeople. It is numinous energy concealing deep truth, which the Moros embrace. They tend to be more interested in ancient tombs and dead mages than living masters or questions about worthiness.
Moros of the Silver Ladder know that the secret to fostering human potential is in lineages and temples, as any single person will die. Change is their tool. They pass on knowledge, adapt the past to fit the new future, and help the entire world grow stronger. They do not plan in years, but in decades.
Moros seek out the Seers because they want to perfect the materialism that other Orders avoid. The Chancellor, Exarch of Matter, teaches that wealth is a god being devoured by scarcity. The Moros of the Seers command the fortunes of people and of nations. The Psychopomp, Exarch of Death, condemns the Fallen World's souls to lives of suffering or undeaths of pain. The Seers' Moros trade in souls and ghosts as commodities, for that is what the Psychopomp intended.

The Many Stereotypes of the Leaden Coin posted:

Acanthus: Even eight million paths lead to the same destination, so there's no need to obsess over the details of one's journey. One day we will all lie still, yet journey to trackless lands.
Mastigos: It's not all about you. "You" are a transitional state between forms of "it."
Obrimos: You can only destroy something by burning it in the way growth destroys a child with adulthood. Ash creates the most fertile soil. That's the Creator's gift.
Thyrsus: We both hear things slither and speak, but mine are driftwood sliding on a beach and whispers from coffins. Your barrens and charnel grounds are my gardens, and we listen to one song, played by two instruments.

Next time: Obrimos, whoops, I am do alphabet good.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition



The Obrimos are also known as the Thaumaturges and the Theurgists. They know that the world obeys laws - complex and mighty laws, sigils and hymns built into both Supernal and Fallen Worlds. Magic is the discipline that studies these laws, yet also an act of faith in the creator of those laws. Obrimos wield the powers of God, calling on the nature of the heavenly Supernal Realm of the Aether. They often use the traditional tools and symbols of wizardry to express the structure of their magic, but others are just as happy to treat magic as science and engineering, preferring to work in a clean workshop than a wizard's lab. Their Ruling Arcana are Forces and Prime. They know that will drives the universe, that the unseen commands all. Prime, of course, is not mere power over magic - it is language, truth. Prime is the tongue spoken by the gods when they created all things. Prime is the Platonic reflection of speech - the power to create ideas. To make something, you need more than to imagine it: you need to name it, giving it a symbol that makes it more than just an idea. Forces, meanwhile, moves through a cycle of creation and destruction. Without Forces, time would be static - nothing would move or change. The seasons rely on the constant careening of the universe. Fire burns the rot and debris that would suffocate life. And for this reason, their Inferior Arcanum is Death. Death is an interruption, not an end, and the Obrimos know that souls should be sent on to their destinies, not imprisoned by worldly obsession or trapped in magical jars or corrupted by magic. Theirs is the cleansing power, and so they have no time or talent for the magic of rot, stagnation and ghosts.

Obrimos claim two representations of themselves symbolically - the Hierophant, who translates the patterns of the stars into law and ordered systems, and the High Priestess, who is mistress of intuitive power. The Hierophant writes Grimoires and inscribes circles, while the High Priestess feels the ecstatic pulse of the power within. While western Obrimos once viewed these roles as highly gendered, contemporary mages understand that they are approaches to practice, not dogma to follow. They represent their Mysteries with Strength, for by whatever means, the Obrimos wrestle the universe into submission. They do not pit force on force, but use technique and care to tame power. They develop their magic around the symbolism of celestial hierarchy. The stereotype, of course, invokes the Abrahamic God and His angels. Other Obrimos call on the Olympians, the Ennead, Kabbalah or the Celestial Bureaucracy for their symbols. Sky and fire gods are particularly common, as well as aspects of the Creator or culture heroes who bring enlightenment. Not all Obrimos call on divine forms, however - others see 'angels' as the names of natural laws. Many dispense with religious language in favor of a view of magic as a high science, in which all symbols are manifestations of the Golden Key, the knowledge that unlocks power. Obrimos are highly diverse in the rituals they use - physicists, hymn singers and Hermetic sorcerers all have visions in the Aether. With experiment and cultic rites, the Obrimos name the Law that rules over all things. Some become dogmatic and intolerant, but most accept that evidence trumps doctrine - even fools Awaken and gain power, after all.

Glorianna sees magic as a secret science, understandable by a mix of reason and intuition. She adores making, and the Aether only supplemented that love. She is a Free Councillor, a specialist in techne by way of science, mechanics and engineering. She sees Hermes in the stirring of engines, awakens him and makes him serve in anything from automata to lasers.


Reason #2 that 4chan is mad.

He is Khonsu. He is the Eight-Fingered Man. He is unbroken by the endless gaze of the gods. Khonsu was an archaeologist, who knew that there is not one grain of dust that has not been touched by human will - built, destroyed, concealing and horrific. Hunted by tomb robbers, he hid in an ancient Atlantean ruin, and there, he walked in the presence of the Egyptian moon god that protects travelers. Now, he is a Censor of the Mysterium, hunting out dangerous knowledge and hiding it, in order to protect mages from the worst secrets. Sometimes, this means burying knowledge until it will be needed, and that makes him unpopular, but he's learned to take beatings from those who resent his work without complaint and with enough power to avoid major injury.

Weapon was once the most feared of Boston's Banishers. Now, though, despite all his power, he is getting old. He exercises, his body is strong, but his face shows every one of his 66 years, as well as the cold stare of someone who can no longer see a just world. He Awakened 35 years ago, finding a world of secret monsters. A world with no God to fix things. Magic, he knows, is a soulless machine that creates disasters and feeds abuse. And so he became Weapon - a tool to smash the machine. In spite of everything that's happened, he wants a successor, an apprentice - but the next Weapon must be broken as he was, that they can be reforged to the task of destroying magic.

Obrimos seek out the Adamantine Arrow because the energies of the world show them the truth of constant struggle. Warriors embody this celestial conflict, but guide it with a will and a moral purpose. The Arrow thus keeps Obrimos from abusing their power, teaching them to calm the storm within.
The Free Council is attractive to Obrimos for the sciences and arts it shows the gods tob em ade of: physics, anthropology. Obrimos like fundamental patterns, and the Libertines are drawn to science, technology, theology and more. Obrimos love techne, whether via electrical engineering, Freemasonry or Jungian archetypes. They see the path to power and teach it to Sleepers. Perhaps some will even Awaken.
Obrimos join the Guardians of the Veil because they see - morality flows from natural law, but the ignorance of the Sleepers pit them against the natural order, causing the original moral paradox: you can't save some without punishing others, even if they do not know their crimes. In a principled universe, all you can do is try to limit the damage, do your dark work and prey for forgiveness, all while knowing that while God may have infinite compassion, the angels have no mercy.
Obrimos embrace the Mysterium because they know magic lives - Prime shows them that. The thoughts of magic grant resonance to mana, its metabolism is heat and motion and light. The Obrimos track ley lines and uncover Hallows to better study and heal magic, like a biologist listening to the movements of blood. Religious Obrimos often characterize it as a quest to understand God (who is magic), but many simply see it as the search for ultimate patterns, for the storm that breeds all others.
Obrimos come to the Silver Ladder because they have a divine plan, given to them by the universe. They are naturally attracted to the duties of the priests of the Ladder, the thearchs, and the urge to impose order on a broken, Fallen World. The Aether shows them that logic and revelation are twins, and Obrimos join the Ladder to bring Earth into accord with Heaven, for they know: the ruling angels would be ruled by humanity, if they could just claim the right.
Obrimos of the Seers of the Throne are soldier-priests of the Lie. They punish rebels in service to the battle doctrine of the General, Exarch of Forces and master of cold violence. The Father, Exarch of Prime, enforces the Lie by oppressive scripture and blind zeal. The Obrimos keep to the true faith of the Exarchs and impose false religions on the Sleepers, condemning them to follow blindly.

Unlocking Stereotypes with the Golden Key posted:

Acanthus: Time is motion, and there are no accidents - but there are things, fallen from Heaven, which would have you believe otherwise.
Mastigos: Your mind isn't the cosmos. It's a speck of ash and a glimmer, floating among millions of others. Look beyond to the wind we all drift upon: the Creator's breath.
Moros: It's easy to transform the dead and inert things of this world. Burn them. Banish them. Illuminate them!
Thyrsus: Energy precedes form. Ecologies arise from prior laws. Don't worship those laws. Manipulate them, and honor the Lawgiver who made them.

Next time: Alan Moore and the Thyrsus.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 10:38 on May 4, 2016

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Is it intentional that my first reaction to all these mages is "Man, these guys are all pretentious douchebags?"

ProfessorCirno
Feb 17, 2011

The strongest! The smartest!
The rightest!


If there's one main problem I had with Mage - and Werewolf, and probably other ones I haven't read yet - it's that all the second edition books kinda assume you read the first edition book and already know stuff. Mage just loving drops you in with every other word being capitalized and doesn't tell you what any of that poo poo means for a long time.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



That is definitely a flaw, yeah. (Mages are also more than a little pretentious, but I think it's kind of earned in a lot of cases.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Cythereal posted:

Is it intentional that my first reaction to all these mages is "Man, these guys are all pretentious douchebags?"

Yes. Or at least, it's normal. Mages are a bunch of pretentious dickbags. It's just their thing.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Yeah, reading Werewolf 2e it had pretty much no discussion I could find on how your tribe is determined, even though you think that'd be pretty important.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



To be fair, the answer to that is just 'you join the one that feels right to you ICly, or the one you are bullied into by the wolves that found you.'

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition



Thyrsus, otherwise known as the Shamans or the Ecstatics, are wild and free, explorers that climb the mountain because it is holy and because it is there. They are loney, but they are not isolated - rather, they are set apart, speakers to men and to spirits, mediators and tamers of gods. They are flesh, not spirit, and they are loyal first to flesh, never to spirit. Despite this, they know the words of the ephemeral and dance to its music, embracing its simple and forgotten truths. There is no division between civilized and wild in the Thyrsus, as they obliterate the border in their journey to the Primal Wild. Their Ruling Arcana are Life and Spirit. These, to the Thyrsus, are two halves of one whole, the same thing reflected. Life is sex, hunger, fight or flight. It is all we eat and it is what will eat us when we die, making us immortal in the flesh of others. Thyrsus celebrate the primal sensations of Life and its lesson that we, none of us, are individuals - we are colonies, tissues and bacteria that divide and break and are reborn constantly. The Spirit is the living nature of the world. Before the Fall, any could see this - the Shadow was not separate from the world. The Lie blinds us to Shadow, and even mages must work to reclaim that vision, but the Thyrsus see it naturally, and they easily reach beyond the Gauntlet to deal with spirits and gods. they know: Shadow and material are one. Their Inferior Arcanum is Mind - because Mind denies the nature of existence as Thyrsus understand it. They are holistic, seeing consciousness as an adaptation, no different than a thumb or your bipedal walk. The idea of people as individual minds is irrelevant - it's no more special than a lion's teeth. It's a function, to the Thyrsus, not a fundamental truth.

The Thyrsus symbolize themselves with the Hermit - one who has journeyed through the wastes and returned, full of stories of what lies beyond. Their Mysteries are symbolized by the Moon, the primordial symbol of the spiritual. The Moon does not care for rational excuse - it shows what is below, the pain and fear and pleasure and rage that drive us. It shows that our imaginations, like our bodies, grow as the components command - genes for body, spiritual archetypes for imagination. The Thyrsus stand on the border of the orthodox, trusting experience over faith. Their magic invokes gods, but not with worship or deep respect, but rather with familiarity. They call on local legends as representatives of greater archetypes, tribes of spiritual power. They speak not to the mask of the god but to the archetypal figure beneath. They prefer to call on deities of basic desires, concrete things and ecstatic practices - Shiva, Aphrodite, Weyland Smith. Those that see themselves as shamans tend to prefer traditional gods and heroes, while the ecstatics build their own personal mythologies, meaningless to anyone else, as signs of the wordless sublime. Modern Thyrsus in general also use ideas of biology and psychology.

Once, she was Amy Wu. Now, she is Nine Fox Thunder, Awakened to the Heavenly Masters Taoists. She was trained by them as an exorcist, ascetic and martial artist at the mountains of Wudang, then joined the Guardians of the Veil out of respect for her grandfather, who served them in life. She found their practices immoral, however, and got out quickly, remembering why she Awakened: to serve Xi Wangmu, Queen of the West, a vital goddess of oracle bones and pestilence. She now belongs to one of the many 'Nameless Orders,' teaching two apprentices and using her fox familiar as an emissary of her goddess.

Marple is a Guardian, subtle in most ways but more blatantly Anglophile in appearance and, of course, Shadow Name. She is an investigator of murders, both for the Guardians and for her Legacy, the Eleventh Question. She is mid-30s, the daughter of Chinese immigrants in Seattle, but she prefers to dress like an old 1930s spinster. She sees the Primal Wild through the lens of British imperialism - polite faces over vicious predators. She is especially good at handling the spirits of the manufactured things of the world, using them to tell her about what has come before her. To honor these spirits, she takes tea with them on occasion, speaking with them and, rarely, feeding them almost raw meat.


Alan Moore, terror of Boston.

He is the Nemean, a man who implied he was a cannibal, a man who used his raw personality and magical power to bully the mages of Boston into unity. He was Silver Ladder, but they imprisoned him in Astral dreams for what they called 'moral crimes,' never named. He escaped before they could tear away his secrets. He Awakened during a vicious beating from a bunch of bikers, and the Primal Wild taught him to be an apex predator. He is the Nemean, a lion that eats others' cubs, a king with a bloody hand. But he needs his pride, his family, and now he is a fugitive in his own kingdom. He forms cults and abandons them, driven by a need to evolve further, to finally mix his humanity and his pure desire to dominate completely.

The Thyrsus know that animals, too, are warriors. It draws them to the Adamantine Arrow, driven by the need to slay their foes and mark their territory. Thyrsus are not afraid to get a little bloody, but they are never worried about something so flimsy as a duel over a matter of honor.
The Free Council appeals to Thyrsus because of shamanism - the first heritage of humanity. The universal path of spiritualism. Thse Thyrsus know - Sleepers touched the Supernal once, and they never forgot. They still know the oldest way to touch it, to get so close to it on a high of pleasure and pain. And so they will help people take up the tools of the shaman and ecstatic, to reach out to the hidden realms.
Thyrsus seek the Guardians of the Veil because they are worthy - who worthier than those that do not shy from pain? Who better to defile themselves than those who can see the spirits of corruption? They are not emotionless, but they are ascetics, sacrificing their very lives for the cause. They remind the Guardians that they are more than practical - theirs is a spiritual calling. They use ritual ordeal to test Guardian dedication and to teach the Veil's assassins how painful their actions are.
Thyrsus know what the Mysterium knows: magic is alive. It feels pain and pleasure. It is a place of sex, predators, offspring and prey. Magic acts on instinct and drive, not sterile rules. Thyrsus of the Mysterium often seek out cryptids, genius loci and other strange creatures. Anyone can study an old temple - it takes a Thyrsus to understand the Atlantean traces of an ecosystem.
Thyrsus of the Silver Ladder are not afraid of being animals, not despairing over the many tiny gods of the spirit world. They know every species has a niche - and that humanity's is to rise and bring new symbols to the Supernal. That is how new ages are born - but the Exarchs have broken the system with the Sleeping Curse, sterilizing us, and the Abyss is death without renewal. The Silver Ladder, they say, will help humans reclaim their ecological rule - not just ruling the universe, but revitalizing it.
The Thyrsus of the Seers of the Throne don't like to call the Lie a prison. It's a habitat. An environment that must be controlled. They domesticate the Sleepers, keeping them just unsafe enough that they cannot unite and share the knowledge that might Awaken them, yet not so threatened that they Awaken from desperation. A little hunger, a little fear, enough to keep them home and safe and confined. The Nemesis, Exarch of Spirit, and the Raptor, Exarch of Life, assist them in this - the Nemesis with fear of the unknown and the Raptor with trust in instinct over free will.

"The Singing Stone and Dumb Stereotypes posted:

Acanthus: Life doesn't make bargains. Lions don't barter for meals. They eat.
Mastigos: Failing human relationships occupy one tiny corner in a vast web of lovers and hunters, birds and worms, blood cells and red stars.
Obrimos: God's in the ozone smell of lightning strikes, but it's burn scars and scorched grass, too. In fact, I'd call it God because burns heal and the grass grows back. Resilience is the universal miracle. We taste pain and live!
Moros: Lead turns to gold when it wishes it. If you knew how to ask, your Art could be reduced to simple questions.

Next time: Orders

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Mors Rattus posted:

To be fair, the answer to that is just 'you join the one that feels right to you ICly, or the one you are bullied into by the wolves that found you.'

And 1e depicted the various tribes and individual packs as so mutually antagonistic it was a wonder that the default "assumption" was a multitribal pack. Most new changers would either get browbeat into an existing pack and tribe, killed, or driven out for being competition or refusing to do your duty.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition

The Paths are something innate to mages - what they are. Orders are not. The Orders are organizations. Smaller groups, the Nameless Orders, hang on in isolated areas, focused on regonial interests or practices none of the other Orders would tolerate. But most mages in the modern world belong to one of six great Orders, each of which is composed of hundreds, even thousands of smaller mystery cults, secret societies and magical associations that ended up, over the years or centuries, banding together for common cause and belief. Even the youngest Order has components they can trace back thousands of years. Four of the Orders form the Diamond, sharing common origins and a philosophy built around modeling themselves after the Supernal symbols of the magical society in the Time Before, attempting to take on the roles of mages from that no-longer-ever-was utopia.

The Diamond consist of:
  • The Adamantine Arrow, a group of mages that see all of existence as a crucible for self-improvement. They seek out challenge and conflict in order to perfect themselves, and they focus heavily on honor and righteous service.
  • The Guardians of the Veil, a network of spies and magical police, who preach that all magic must be used subtly and carefully, to avoid worsening the Lie, and who use underhanded and manipulative means to test Sleepers for Awakenings without tipping them off about the truth.
  • The Mysterium, a mystery religion dedicated to the worship of magic itself, who aprtake in worship by aggressively seeking out Mysteries to further their enlightenment, then storing them for safekeeping - or, in the case of dangerous magic, locking them away that only the worthy might learn them.
  • The Silver Ladder, a humanist group dedicated to uplifting every human soul to Awakening, healing the Fallen World of the Lie and casting down the Exarchs, that the wisest and most enlightened might rule over all.

There is a fifth Order, allied to the Diamond but not part of it. This alliance is called the Pentacle, and that Order is the Free Council, a young alliance of many former Nameless Orders that focuses on democratic ideals and the pursuit of magic in Sleeper culture, out of the belief that Sleepers can touch the Supernal on their own and reveal hidden truths by their own beliefs and actions.

As a whole, the Pentacle opposes the sixth major Order: the Seers of the Throne, the willing servants of the Exarchs. The Seers have a simple purpose: keep the Lie strong and the Sleepers weak and deluded, in exchange for temporal reward and power. They are magical sellouts and quislings, giving up the entire world for a little comfort.



The Adamantine Arrow know that without testing it, virtue is weak and worthless. This is a truth hidden in the Fallen World, which is designed to aggressively destroy enlightenment. The Lie oppresses all. Beyond the Abyss is the idealized self, a concept that can only be reached by struggling against the Lie. Everyone struggles, but the Awakened are the only ones who know they're doing it. Every Order uses magic to fight, but the Arrow are built on the principle of the eternal war against the Lie - quite literally. They are soldiers and generals in that war, fighting to maintain magic. They are the Pentacle's guardians and warriors, pushing against stagnancy and complacence. Adamantine Arrow tend to end up in pretty much any position that isn't straight up leadership in Pentacle society, as they embrace community-focused duty as philosophically fulfilling. Above all, they aim for dedication in pursuit of their chosen goals against meaningful opposition. Mages become Arrows when they want to define themselves by supporting others, learn self-discipline and control, are from martial or fighting backgrounds and want to maintain that ethos, or believe that magic must be wielded with honor and responsibility.

The Adamantine Arrow philosophy is condensed in the Adamant Way, created over millenia from many texts written by many cultures. It is boiled down to five precepts, the Hand - five fingers to make a fist. Hands are the gate of will, the first tool by which humans enact their desires.
[list]1. Essence is War: The Adamant Way teaches that improvement comes by opposition and restraint - a self-evident truth of the universe. All beings struggle to live, all Awakened struggle against the Abyss to reach the Supernal. The soul grows stronger by conquering the desires of other souls. Arrows are always warriors, if not always martial ones. All seek challenge and conflict, though often in friendly competition. The Order is disgusted by true pacifists, though they are happy to seek the challenge of maintaining a peace over petty bloodshed.
2. Adaptability is Strength: Arrows know that nothing worth doing is easy and that any limitations are imposed by the self. Attack and defense are valuable components, but not the whole. One must never be predictable and inflexible in a world of sympathetic magic. It is crippling. The Arrow must rise above these weaknesses.
3. Service is Mastery. Control is only ever over yourself. Only your nature and soul are yours. Honest service is not about becoming the power behind the throne - it is about limiting and controlling your own pride and ambition. Until you set aside your own desires in place of others, all of your ideals are mere justifications. By abandoning selfishness, the Arrow understands their place in the universe, serving the Supernal as well as themselves.
4. The Supernal is the Self. Your mind and soul are a microcosm for the universe. Every trial reinforces your honor and integrity. You are your magic, in the same way that you are your hands. Every victory draws you closer to your spiritual ideal. Arrows often try to shed flaws by swearing oaths that tie them to a higher purpose. Oaths declare intent to the world, sharpening one's focus on the challenge before them - whether that challenge is protecting someone or killing someone. An Arrow, once sworn, has declared that they will be serving with dynamic action, not hollow words.
5. Enlightenment is Honor. Your soul, when it expresses your intent, then accomplishes it, reveals a true vision of your eventual perfection, unclouded by the Fallen World. Challenges are more worthy if you restrict yourself in the paths available to you. Honorable mages always act in accordance with their own ideals, thus achieving a more perfect harmony with their perfect selves.[/quote]

The Adamantine Arrow is simultaneously the oldest and youngest Order. Its core formed around 200 CE, primarily from an Indian philosophy called the Vajrastra, or Thunderbolt Weapons, mixed with Alexander the Great's philosophy of eternal war. Since then, they have chosen to become part of Sleeper society, fighting alongside the Sleepers rather than trying to control them. They championed warrior ethics, and during the Italian Rennaissance, many European Arrows became obsessed with the code duello and Italian mercenary culture - though they also began to split into two factions, one that sought purity in combat and another that sought constant war. This lasted until 1945. The Arrows had fought on both sides of both World Wars - far from the first time that had happened - but they found the wars incomprehensibly large and purposeless. They concluded that war had fundamentally changed. They swore never again to bind themselves to temporal ideals, but instead to refocus on their true enemies: the Seers, the Banishers and the Abyss. They abandoned their practice of championing Sleeper causes to focus on championing mage society, Sleepwalkers or magical sites.

Arrows primarily seek out Mysteries that threaten their charges, trying to understand malicious magic so that they can better stop it. They also aid the other Diamond Orders in their investigations, which are often dangerous. Some Arrows will also swear oaths to uncover secrets, proving dominance and self-mastery by defeating the foe hiding the secret. Arrows especially love Mysteries that involve tests or contests of skill, and they hate easy solutions. Their symbolism is attack and defense - while not all wars are martial, they rely on weapon symbolism. After all, their philosophy is eternal war, and so a weapon must be at hand at all times. They favor swords or pistols - tools made only to kill - but that's just preference. Anything that can fight is acceptable, so long as it is clearly a weapon. Besides armor and protective gear, they also use the symbolism of protective charms prominently - amulets and so on. In the ideal Awakened City, the Arrow were Ungula Draconis, the Talon of the Dragon - righteous warriors fighting to keep the flame of human power alive.

The great danger of hubris that Arrows face comes from overestimating their own abilities and creating Paradoxes to get out of the trouble they got into, or when they are confronted by their own deficiencies. It's easy for an Arrow to assume they've conquered all challenges just because they manage their lives efficiently, forgetting that they should seek constant conflict. It is easy for them to mistake disdain for avoiding necessary fights for a willingness to use violence needlessly. Violence is always a solution but not always the best one, and hubris makes Arrows forget this. Some of them even consider keeping their word more important than morals and human lives - something the Order as a whole would not agree with. Lastly, the Arrow prides themselves on being above politics, serving rather than leading. When they take on leadership, it's because they're the best able to defeat a threat. That's just prudence. However, hubristic Arrows give up guardianship to seize power under the guise of defense.

The game gives us two sample Arrow concepts. First is the Pro Bono Defense - an attorney who seeks out the chance to fight injustice for falsely accused clients. He pursues conflict in the legal system, taking on hard cases without flinching and never looking to get a better job - because the rush of winning is what he's there for, and he never wants to give that up for a cushy office. Second is the Gun Runner, who trades in weapons. She believes that while the strong use force to oppress the weak, they can't if the weak fight back - and so she provides weapons. Before her Awakening, she believed the secret to survival was not to fight, but now she understands that it is impossible not to fight. She has become much choosier about her clientele, though other Arrows still believe she might be a Praetorian Ministry plant from the Seers. She knows her motives are clear - life is war, and war needs weapons.


Black Mage got buff.

Stereotypes posted:

Guardians: Regrettably necessary, but untrustworthy, even if we're on the same side.
Mysterium: Keepers of what we protect. drat if they're not ungrateful, though.
Silver Ladder: Our oldest companions. They provide the structure, and we the service.
Free Council: Address them as individuals, not as a unity, no matter how loud they protest.
Seers of the Throne: Every war needs enemies.

Next time: Guardians of the Galaxy Veil

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 17:45 on May 4, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Mage: the Awakening, Second Edition



The Guardians of the Veil know that the Fallen World is not just Fallen but still falling. The Abyss grows with every Paradox, and the Exarchs laugh. Humans are inherently broken, damaged by the Lie. Even if Sleepers do not go mad witnessing magic, they fray and snuff it out. Knowledge is power - but so is fire. And both, left unchecked, consume and destroy. Those whose reach exceeds their grasp must be stopped. Forcefully. The Guardians defend mages from chaos and treachery by wielding chaos and treachery as weapons. They are spies and recruiters, watching for threats internal and external. They maintain the Labyrinth, a world-spanning conspiracy of mystery cults that contradict each other and serve to keep the weak out, the unworthy distracted and the newly Awakening attracted. Most new mages stumble onto the Labyrinth in their search for answers - so much so that the Guardians discover the majority of all Awakenings and willingly pass on recruits to Orders that suit them best. However, they also work hard to ensure that traits they dislike become lost in the Labyrinth, unable to find any real truth or power, unable to Awaken. They work to keep magic secret, and by being secret, keep it safe. Mages join the Guardians when they believe magic should require a certain level of responsibility to use, when they've suffered due to magical accident and want to ensure no one else does, when they are naturally talented in espionage and when they Awakened within the Labyrinth and trust the system to keep working.

The Guardians of the Veil are the smallest Order, and they are a mystery cult. Initiates often join because of their actions, but their true nature is kept carefully secret by those in charge. This leadership follows a faith they call the Esoteric Tenets. The Exoteric Tenets, on the other hand, are those the Guardians want publically known. The Guardians hold that the collective souls of all mages are symbolically represented as the Diamon Wheel, which is the spirit of the Awakened City to come. The most faithful believe in a messianic figure, the Hieromage, but most simply agree with the Guardians' goals.

These are the Exoteric Tenets:
  • Paradox Strengthens the Abyss; Punishment Answers Pride. The Abyss is inimical to all that is. Every Paradox pushes the universes closer to it - and so to destruction. Paradox is not inherently a spiritual failing, but a moral failing rendered magical, caused by your choices and your hubris. Humans have the chance, barely, to Awaken and Ascend, but even the Awakened are corrupted by the Fallen World, and each Paradox opens your soul to the Abyss. Guardians will help you deal with your Paradoxes when the taint threatens innocents, however, and encourage mages to think about the root causes of their Paradox and the flawed reasoning that they have in allowing the Abyss to grow stronger.
  • Merit must guide the Fallen World. The Fallen World encourages all paths to success save for virtue. The Guardians hold that only the righteous and capable are worthy of using magic, defining this by dedication to virtue and avoidance of Paradox. Masters are wiser than apprentices, mages wiser than Sleepers. The Sleeping Curse damages the world just by existing, and so Sleepers damage the world by encountering magic. The worthy must be guided to enlightenment while the unworthy are dissuaded and distracted by meaningless lore. The Guardians know they are not paragons, and that they do not lead by example - but even so, they are the most meritocratic of the Pentacle.
  • Sins for a just end grant Wisdom. Wisdom is a real thing, a force that aids in controlling Paradox. Mages gain Wisdom by being compassionate, but the Guardians must lie and kill, sacrificing their own integrity to keep everyone else safe. Thus, the Tenets hold that enlightenment can be gained by justified and sacrificial acts of sin - by taking on the karmic debt of acting against Wisdom rather than making anyone else do it. Guardians thus harm themselves to purify the Wheel, slowing the degradation of the Fallen World. Ends do not justify means - but they do require means. The Guardians understand the difference.

These are the Esoteric Tenets, kept secret in order to prevent the other Orders from censuring the Guardians over them...in part. But mostly because these sacred tenets are not for outsiders, and the Order's symbolism and magic is based in large part on secrecy:
  • All thrones are false; all souls are flawed. Mages are inherently unworthy of the perfected Awakened City. Paradox is a sign of their impurity and sin. However, if sins for a just end grant Wisdom, the Guardians can thus transfer merit, leaving all other souls and Orders flawed in ignorance. The Guardians believe it is their duty to undermine charismatic leaders, expose the faults of the wise and force mages to doubt one another in order to remind them that their first mission should always be to struggle with their own souls.
  • Souls have a secret hierarchy. The religious Guardians believe in reincarnation - and that some souls have more potential than others. All souls, they believe, are interrelated. The Order encourages those of superior soul, defined by omens, Wisdom and power, to work together. This brings more of the spirit of the Time Before into the world, allowing a single soul to gain perfection in a reincarnation.
  • The Hieromagus will fulfill the Diamond Wheel. Many souls have similar, positive features. By cultivating them, mages work towards the birth and creation of the Hieromagus, who will heal the Abyss, restore the Awakened City and judge the Guardians for the sins they have committed in the protection of magic. The soul of the Hieromagus will make her a bridge between the Fallen and Supernal, perfect and free of Paradox entirely. She will not be a Guardian, but come from without. There have been a number of false Hieromagi over the centuries, and the other Orders do know that there is a messianic and eschatological faction among the Guardians that has some power - they just don't know the specifics.

The earliest proto-Guardians were cults that felt magic was too dangerous and precious for the unworthy to use. The Arrow and Ladder only spared them being classed as Banishers because they admitted it was possible to be worthy. Even as the Diamond grew, the Guardians were always the smallest Order, the most stringent in entry requirements. Candidates had to prove they'd kill to protect the Mysteries, and also show willingness to exercise their own judgment and refuse to obey commands that conflict with the Order's stated goals. For most of their history, the Guardians hid in empires like Rome, sometimes absorbing likeminded Nameless Orders, but always hiding, drawing subversive occultists into the Labyrinth to be monitored or destroyed. This occasionally backfired - in the 2nd century, the false Hieromagus Abraxas reformed a heretical Gnostic cult, the Basilideans, to form a secret society that even today causes problems for the Guardians. Other Orders claim famous movements or historic figures as proof of their influence on Sleeper society, but the Guardians see that as a point of shame. They consider the British Empire the height of their influence, a time when the Labyrinth was truly worldwide - and yet they celebrated the growth of intelligence agencies, adopting spy methodology when it was created. Besides focusing on their core beliefs and hunting dangerous mages, the Guardians also serve two vital roles: they watch for Seer influence, and they attract the newly Awakened. This is what keeps them around - that and their concession that no Guardian will ever be asked to investigate or harm the members of their own cabal.

The Guardians do not really seek out Mysteries so much as get drawn to them by the threat of Paradox. They focus mostly on hunting the enemies of the Pentacle - rogue mages, Left-Handed Legacies, Banishers and especially the Seers. They encourage surveillence and honing of instinct, and espionage is part of their magical heritage. Those initiated in the Esoteric Tenets also often seek out Mysteries involving reincarnation and the soul, and take a special interest in mages that seem to be prodigies or who suffer few Paradoxes. Their magical symbolism draws on concealment of identity. In Atlantean symbols, they are the Visus Draconis, the Eye of the Dragon that sees all. They value anonymity and security, and they know - they must be disliked, yet also able to have friends. Thus, they use the Veil as a symbol, covering the face but allowing sight. They also use mask and cloak symbolism to operate unseen, as well as using tools that let them see clearly, like prisms or lenses.

Guardian hubris primarily takes the form of corruption. While they focus on punishing hubris in others, they are no less vulnerable to it. It is easy for them to fall into the habit of ruthlessness and lies even when it is unneeded, eventually using them for all problems, and then taking pleasure in doing so. While they perform unwise actions for others to selflessly take on karmic debt, this is not a thing to be celebrated. Hubristic Guardians forget this and forget why Paradox happens, justifying things to themselves without true basis. They must be paranoid to work, but the Guardians thus also suffer from distrust within and without, and some Guardians take the idea of subsuming the self too far, losing their own identities in their masks.

Sample concepts: First, the Black Hat, a hacker who breaks through encryption easily and sets up shells, fronts and false trails for seekers to follow and find. They falsify evidence, frame people and set up scandals to keep people distracted and unaware of magic. Second, the Minotaur, a woman who runs a mystery cult of soldiers and ex-military. She knows her rites are meaningless, but it lets her find new recruits easily, keeping out the unworthy while entrapping those with potential and bringing them into mage society.

Stereotypes posted:

Adamantine Arrow: Let them deal with the obvious threats. We each have our strengths.
Mysterium: Some secrets must remain so. Keep your friends close...
Silver Ladder: Knowledge is power. We know that, even as we repair your errors.
Free Council: Half transparent revolutionaries, half ancient Diamond emigres, all ignorant.
Seers of the Throne: Our Great Game might be less fun if we both played to win.

Next time: Mysterium

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition



The world is Fallen, but not without wonder. Truth still drifts down from the Supernal, fragmented as it is by the Abyss. The driven and worthy, the mysterium say, must track down this knowledge and gain true wisdom, seperating Supernal truth from Fallen chaff. By piecing together the past, mages now can form the future. This pursuit of mystic lore is what holds the Mysterium together. They are crypt-raiders, scholars, mythic historians, all retrieving and hoarding knowledge fragmented from its crossing of the Abyss. They battle against what they name Pancryptia, the tendency of magic to actively hide itself among the cultural detrituss of the Fallen. They would like to see themselves as academics, disciplined and rigorous in sorting through the Fallen World for pearls of Supernal truth. The world is damaged, but their focus allows them to put the pieces together. Their beliefs are united by two open secrets of the Order: Magic is alive and active in the world, and anything living can be healed. Mages join the Mysterium to proactively hunt out Mysteries, out of a desire to withdraw from Sleepers in favor of arcane lore, or to preserve magic in a hostile world. And, of course, some join to travel the world with the knowledge that they'll be relatively welcome no matter where they go.

The Mysterium is more than just scholars or adventurers. They are a religion, a priesthood of magic itself, which they view as a sentient, living force diffused throughout the Fallen World. Their core beliefs date back to the 13th century, based on a grimoire written by an anonymous archmaster. Copies of the text, if not the magic it contained, are still given to every new Mystagogue, and the title of the book, the Corpus Mysteriorum, is where they take their name from. Little is known of the author, who took great pains to erase themself from history.

The tenets of the Corpus Mysteriorum are as follows:
  • Knowledge is Power. Obvious, platitude, but true. Magic is enlightenment. The more you experience, the more enlightened you become...but only personal experience with the Mysteries will do. No one can just tell you the answers, for the act of solving the puzzles of the Supernal is the act of receiving epiphany. The Mysterium hunts across the world for magic, experiencing as much as they can, bringing signs back to their arcane libraries, the Athenaea. They carefully conceal information, even from their own lower ranks, revealing it in layers as members go through initiation stages. Knowledge is filtered from purer to lesser, in the same way the Supernal is.
  • Knowledge must be Preserved. Anything that is living can be wounded. Pancryptia ensures that magic in Sleeper hands hides itself. The Mysterium its global Athenaea network, of course, but they also learn and memorize vast amounts of lore and keep it in hermitage, for fear of the libraries being destroyed. They are infamous for stealing artifacts and Grimoires from Orders or cabals when they believe the items are in danger. The Mysterium is inclined to travel more than most Orders, so they maintain a vast network of favors and face, or as they call it, guanxi (derived as they are from, in part, a Chinese order) to determine relative status towards each other. Secret gestures, code words, secret symbols - all of them denote levels of initiation and favor-trading. Guanxi, for the Mysterium, takes precedence even over the laws of mage society, and even bitter rivals will work together to keep knowledge safe. This also allows them to travel easily between areas with Mysterium mages, so long as they have good guanxi.
  • Knowledge has a Price. Experience and lore comes only at cost and risk. The only true currency is knowledge, and it must be spent and earned. No Mystagogue would ever share their secrets with the Sleepers - that would risk Pancryptia - and other mages that desire their lore must pay for it in boons and other knowledge. Magic is demanded for knowledge, after all. The Mysterium will not lie to you or destroy information, but they will not reveal anything that would disturb the aliiances of Diamond and Pentacle, and restrict access until you are deemed worthy - even if that time is never. The Mysterium would never accept money in exchange for lore - that would cheapen knowledge, make it something to be bought and sold, not guarded for those who are worthy.

The Mysterium is the youngest of the Diamond Orders. The Guardians, Ladder and Arrow are of the Hellenic period, but the Mysterium was once two Orders: the Pancryptiates of the west and the Keepers of the Word in the east, a pair of cultural schools dedicated to seeking out and preserving magic from Sleepers. The Keepers focused more on the desire to gain and preserve knowledge, while the Pancryptiates focused on their theory of ignorance destroying Supernal secrets. Both Orders eventually adopted Diamond symbolism, but they waxed and waned over the centuries. The Keepers built the first Athenaea, allowing Diuamond mages to access them when proven worthy, and earned a reputation for aggressive pursuit of Mysteries. The Pancryptiates studied Paradox and developed the techniques called egregore to preserve knowledge against physical loss, pursuing any means to safeguard magic from all dangers. The two Orders merged after the publication of the Corpus, becoming the Mysterium and taking equally from both traditions. When the Byzantine Empire collapsed, the Mysterium spread along the old Silk Roads and even across continents by use of Space magic. Since then, they have maintained a global presence. They claim the earlest European mages to reach North America were Mysterium, allying with their local counterparts to preserve oral language. They claim the same in sub-Saharan Africa and Australia, and many Mysterium cabals have centuries of history. They have provided the Pentacle with global communications since before they even were a single Order, taking news with them on their explorations. They have in part lost some of this role to the Guardians, but publicaly, there's no better way to communicate securely between different areas of mage society.

The Mysterium seeks Mysteries that are in danger of being lost forever, rescuing them from Pancryptia. Atlantean ruins, for example, at risk of discovery (and thus destruction) by Sleepers, Legacies with few surviving members, lost Grimoires, verges of all kinds, rare magic. Sometimes, these quests are very dangerous or anger other mages...or stranger things. The symbolism of the Mysterium is knowledge. They worship Gnosis, the knowledge of magic gained by experience. Many believe that lying about magic directly increases Pancryptia, as it is deliberate degradation of information. The especially faithful may refuse to lie at all, on any topic - though they will refuse to answer questions, or tell only part of the truth. Knowledge is why the Mysterium exists. In Diamond symbolism, they are Alae Draconis, the Wings of the Dragon, uplifting the Awakened City with their insight. The symbols and initiations of the Mystagogues allow them to gradually enter the communal mind they name egergore, expressed in magical avatars called the Egregori. This communion of minds allows them a unity beyond that of most Orders. They do not use only tomes and scrolls, but also art objects to hide symbolic messages.

The hubris of the Mysterium is the same as ny academics: ritualizing and mystifying what they do. They fall when they believe that Mystery is more important than people - especially people in their way. Hubristic Mystagogues often aggressively acquire magical sites and objects for 'safekeeping,' causing internal conflict. They are also more likely to ignore dangerous mages on the basis that their unique powers and lore are too valuable to lose. More than a few have been prey to cursed items because they refused to destroy them. These dangerous Msteries are kept hidden in high-security Athenaea, called Censoria, but that is not always neough. Further, just because they're honest doesn't mean they're tactful, and too often, the Mysterium fails to grasp that difference. Too often, their refusal to play politics or consider diplomatic options has caused problems. They are also the Order that cares least about Sleepers, and the worst anti-Sleeper bigots and abusers are members of the Mysterium, blaming Sleepers for magic's rarity. Many hubristic Mystagogues would value a Mystery over the lives of Sleepers who might destroy it with their presence, and a few go so far as to murder Sleepers that would prove a threat to magic.

Sample concepts: the Archaeomancer is a man who lives to find the old, the hidden and the lost. He loves the purity of ancient temples, the lore he finds inside, and the power of the magic that he will find. It is that magic, the thrill of finding it, which keeps him going. The Curator is a woman who guards an Athenaeum, keeping it hidden and locked away within a secret wing of a museum. She protects magic, guarding it and keeping it hidden with theatre and trickery in order to preserve items from a past that was unmade, the Time Before.

Stereotypes posted:

Adamantine Arrow: The guardians of our collections.
Guardians: Focused on magic, but repression over discovery. Our only true rivals.
Silver Ladder: One cannot lead from a position of ignorance; we give the Pentacle wings.
Free Council: Fashion and culture are not true wisdom. Too often, they obscure the true prize.
Seers of the Throne: Willing servants of the Lie, architects of Pancryptia. Betrayers of their own Gnosis.

Next time: The Silver Ladder.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply