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The WatchtowersThe mystical realms that allow humans to Awaken.
Awakened in general
- Atlantis: The "Awakened City", which is what the legends on Atlantis were based on in the New World of Darkness, was the place where Mage society was born.
- Awesome Mc Cool Name: Since I Know Your True Name is in application in this universe, Mages rarely reveal their true names to others, instead using "Shadow Names", fakes names they make up to hide their identity. Quite a few come up with flashy ones.
- Cast from Lifespan: One of the ways a mage can recover mana involves taking it from his own body, which either results in losing dots of physical attributes for 24 hours or inflicting themselves lethal damage. Each temporarily lost dot or lethal damage point inflicted to themselves allows them to recover 3 mana.
- Enlightenment Superpowers: Humans become mages when they go through the titular Awakening, which is a point in their life where they realize the full extent of reality, allowing them to learn how to perceive and manipulate its fabric.
- Familiar: Many mages end up having a connection to a spirit who serves as their servant, either appearing as a disembodied ephemeral being or an animal.
- Functional Magic: Magic in this game is split into ten Arcana, which each covering a form of magic: Death, Fate, Forces, Life, Matter, Mind, Prime, Space, Spirit and Time. Each Mage Path has two Arcana it is good at using, and one with which it lacks affinity. A Mage can pretty much do any spell of the list as long as he has mastery of the proper Arcana, but the spells he has actually learnt how to use (called Rotes) are easier and safer to cast.
- Healing Factor: Awakened can spend mana to heal wounds faster by reversing their Cast from Lifespan ability. It's rather weak compared to most supernaturals however, as they have to spend 3 mana to heal 1 bashing or lethal damage.
- I Know Your True Name: Knowing the true name of someone gives a mage the ability to locate him anywhere on the planet and use magic on him from a distance. Because of this, most mages come up with alias known as Shadow Names to protect themselves.
- Mana: Obviously; in this case, it refers to the energy from the Supernal World they use to cast some of their spells.
- Our Mages Are Different: They are humans who went through an event known as the "Awakening", causing them to realize the full extent of their potential and perceive the very fabric of reality, which they can then learn to manipulate. The practice of Magic originated from Atlantis, and the various mage orders started out there in some way. They get their power from another place called the Supernal World, where the various realms each grant a different kind of magic. Finally, they cannot use their powers in a way too flashy or obviously out of the ordinary in front of regular people, or reality will react badly and cause their spells to fall apart in often spectacular ways.
- Squishy Wizard: When compared to other supernaturals in the New World of Darkness. Mages have much more power than beings like vampires or werewolves, but physically they are still one-hundred percent humans, so they lack any form of super-strength, or enhanced durability unless they use spells designed to grant them these; if you manage to get around their magic, they can be killed as easily as any human. Enforced further in the second edition, where the Attributes no longer factors in a spell's dicepool, meaning a Mage character is likely to neglect his physical Attributes. Note, however, that this only applies when compared to other supernaturals; in terms of human abilities, it's perfectly possible for a mage to be in good physical shape and skilled in hand-to-hand fighting in addition to their magic.
- Super Power Lottery: Mages have the biggest one of all the gamelines; whereas creatures like vampires or werewolves are limited to the powers they actually buy with experience points, an Awakened can potentially cast any spell of the list provided in the main book, as long as he has the matching Arcana; the spells he buys are just much easier for him to cast. Even a starting Mage has potentially access to a dozen of spells. Of course, this huge power is considerably limited by the fact they cannot do something too obviously supernatural without risking a Paradox.
Enchanters and Witches on the Path of Thistle, who Awakened to the Watchtower of the Lunargent Thorn in the Realm of Arcadia, Acanthus mages tend to be easygoing, sometimes to the point of carelessness, due to their grasp of Fate and Time magic— itís hard to be worried when youíve seen whatís going to happen and you can tweak the dice so you know itís going to work. However, the magic to which theyíre born is subtle, and they have little ability when working with overt Forces. Associated with the Fool (XXII) Tarot.
- Arcadia: Their Supernal Realm. It's ambiguous whether or not this is the same Arcadia as the one in Changeling: The Lost; it runs on the same storybook logic and legalese, but the inhabitants are infinitely more human and generally nicer. There are some hints that, this being a realm of Fate shaped by the power of thought and belief, the Others are quite literally forced into a nicer role while the Awakening is going on.
- The Fool: Their Tarot card, and a popular stereotype of the Acanthus. After all, when you can hit rewind and play with fate, who needs to worry or plan ahead?
- Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: The stereotype is more often wrong; as befitting people who can instinctively check the future, most Acanthus seem carefree because they already know they're in no actual danger. Most of them are proud invokers of the Trickster Archetype, and indeed that's how most of them Awoke.
- Man Child: They have a reputation as the most capricious of the Awakened, and frequently decried by their detractors are "childish" and "immature". See Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster above to see how much of this is true.
- Time Master: Time is one of their major Arcana.
- The Trickster: Very frequent among them. Acanthus favour those who rely on illusion, glamour, luck or benign trickery to make their way.
- Winds of Destiny, Change: Their other major Arcana is Fate, whose power tend to heavily rely on the manipulation of luck and probabilities.
- Younger Than They Look: They frequently look younger than their real age, both because they tend to be more attractive and child-like than other Awakened and because the Time Arcana can allow them to slow down their aging.
Warlocks and Psychonauts on the Path of Scourging, Scions of the Watchtower of the Iron Gauntlet in the Realm of Pandemonium (Hell), the Mastigos tend to be driven and intense. Their ability to use Mind and Space magic to twist their enemiesí paths and thoughts alike make them dangerous foes, but their abilities focus on the intangible and impermanent, making it hard for them to affect Matter. Asocciated with the Devil (XV) Tarot.
- Alien Geometries: With use of the Space Arcana and a bit of creativity, a Mastigos can create them.
- Dark is Not Evil: Pandemonium and its residents superficially have a lot in common with the Fire and Brimstone Hell, but it's about self-knowledge and gaining strength through adversity rather than suffering for its own sake.
- Guile Hero: When they aren't Manipulative Bastards. Mastigos prefer to reach their goals through subtle and indirect means rather than using any form of magic that would be too blatant.
- Hell: Their Supernal Realm... with the caveat that it's a temporary prison for souls undergoing purification, with the demons being more like prison guards and (brutal) therapists than anything.
- Manipulative Bastard: They have a reputation of being this- after all, when you have power over people's minds, it's all too easy to abuse it. While this reputation isn't entirely deserved, they are pretty good at being this.
- Mind Probe: One of their most common use of the Mind Arcana is to get inside the head of their opponents.
- Mind Rape: A perennial favorite offensive power, to the point where Warlocks are stereotyped as being a tad triggerhappy with the mindwipes.
- Space Master: One of their two major Arcana is Space.
- The Spymaster: Their mastery of the Mind Arcana means they can easily learn about others' secrets, making them really good at spying.
- Telepathy: One of the many abilities the Mind Arcana gives them access to is to communicate telepathically and read minds.
Necromancers and Alchemists on the Path of Doom, visitors to the Watchtower of the Lead Coin in the Realm of Stygia (The Nothing After Death), Moros are often (though not always) dour and stern. They have dominion over Death and Matter, following the archetype of Pluto or Hades. Both of these things are dead and lifeless, though, and Moros have difficulty learning the ways of the Spirit. Associated with the Death (XIII) Tarot.
- Alchemy Is Magic: They are frequently associated to Alchemy in addition to Necromancy, due to their obsession over transitions and transformations. Their second major Arcana, Matter, focuses on manipulating and changing non-living matter as a whole to reflect this.
- Casting a Shadow: Falls under the Death arcanum.
- Dark is Not Evil: They have some pretty grim powers, but they're no more or less prone to abuse than the other paths.
- I See Dead People: The Death Arcana allows them to not only see them, but also command them, manipulate them, animate them...
- Mundane Utility: Moros who have a good enough mastery of the Matter Arcana usually don't suffer financial problems, as they can easily create fortunes of gold and gems with minimal effort.
- Necromancer: A common nickname for the Moros. Fitting, considering the powers granted by the Death Arcana are primarly oriented toward the control of, well, death.
- Older Than They Look: While they don't particularly age faster than their peers, they do tend to look older than their age as a side effect of their entropic magic. It probably doesn't help either that many of them sleep only a few hours each night so they can dedicate more time to their research.
- Soul Power: Up to and including Your Soul Is Mine.
- The Stoic: They have a reputation of being rather sour, stern and taking almost every matter very seriously. This isn't always true, however, as some are known for their gallows humor.
Theurgists and Thaumaturges on the Path of the Mighty, Scions of the Watchtower of the Golden Key in the Realm of the Aether, the Obrimos tend to be devout and fervent. They often believe that they were granted their magic by some deity or deities, and have power over the Forces of the natural world and the Prime ways of magic itself. However, as creatures so filled with life and power, they have little tie to the powers of Death. Associated with the Strength (VIII) Tarot.
- Arrested for Heroism: Sadly quite common. Catholic Obrimos who believe they got their powers from God and use them to perform miracles or heal people are frequently targeted by the Malleus Maleficarum, who see them as misguided pawns of Satan and think they can only be redeemed through torture and execution.
- Belief Makes You Stupid: Obrimos find this trope a very strange idea. The Creator, whatever he/she/it/they may be, set physical laws in place, they don't change and are always true, so why wouldn't someone use the scientific method to puzzle them out? This isn't to say there aren't atheist ones, but even they admit that it's quite capable to see spiritual beauty in the interlocking systems of the world. Truly knowledge-adverse ones tend to be Banishers, ie certifiably insane.
- Comes Great Responsibility: They very strongly believe they should use their power to fight the good fight and fulfill their mission. Unfortunately, some of them have a terrible idea of what exactly the good fight is.
- Elemental Powers: Of the five kinds of Mages, the Obrimos wield these as some of the most overt forms of magic. The Force Arcana grants them power over light radiations, fire, sound and electricity.
- Knight Templar: At their worst, the Obrimos are dogmatic and fanatical.
- Light is Not Good: Obrimos can go wrong just as quickly as the next. By example, there's an Obrimos Legacy whose members are addicted to prying people's souls out of place and taking a peek at what's hiding underneath.
- Mana: One of their major Arcana, Prime, allows them control over the very fabric of magic itself.
- Mission from God: Not necessarly God, as some might think their magic came from multiple Gods, Nature, or even just the Universe itself, but Obrimos typically believe they received it from some kind of upper power in order to fulfill a role. This can be quite confusing for those among them who were atheist before their Awakening.
- Religion Is Magic: They are the most strongly associated with religion, frequently believe they got their abilities from God or a similar entity, and some of the nickname given to them, such as Theurgists and Thaumaturge, typically are associated with religion.
Shamans and Ecstatics on the Path of Ecstasy, who Awakened to the Watchtower of the Stone Book in the Realm of the Primal Wild, the Thyrsus are wild, primal, and passionate. Their ability with Life and Spirit magic makes them strong and gives them many allies among beasts and spirits alike, but this magic is wild and untamed and limits their ability to work with the Mind of another. Associated with the Moon (XVIII) Tarot.
- The Beastmaster: The Life Arcana grants them the ability to influence and control animals.
- Don't Think, Feel: Their inferior Arcana is Mind, which represents their preference for intuition rather than intellect.
- Druid: the closest thing of the archetype in this universe; they are a category of mages whose powers are the most oriented toward nature, and this does cover the ability to turn into animals.
- Genius Bruiser: Since they usually travel a lot and spend time in the wild, they tend to have very strong physical attributes. They still are mages, however, so intelligence is a given.
- Green Thumb: Everything natural is covered by the Life Arcana, including plants.
- Healing Hands: The Life Arcana include the ability to heal, both themselves and others.
- Ludd Was Right: Averted. Most Thyrsus don't have a problem with civilization; and an entire Legacy of Shamans, the Neocologists, devote themselves to uniting the natural and the artificial. That said, there are Thyrsus apostates that are hostile to civilization.
- Nature Hero: They have affinity for the Life and Spirit Arcanas, both being connected to nature in some way. Thyrsus usually are the closest thing to shamans and druids in this universe.
- Nature Is Not Nice: The Thyrsus embody both nature's beauty and its brutality.
- Unkempt Beauty: Living in the wild and focusing on events in the Shadow leave them little time to waste on things like make-up or fashion, so they tend to not bother too much with these. However, their magic makes it easy to stay in good physical shape, so they frequently are fairly physically attractive anyway.
The Sixth Watchtower
The Mage Chronicler's Guide mentions reports of Mages awakening to a Supernal Realm unknown to traditional Atlantean cosmology: a world of elemental forces that move with purpose and alien intelligence, called Djinn. These forces can be bargained with— and for those who follow this Path, coerced into doing the Mage's bidding. Mages of the Sixth Watchtower have power over Forces and Spirit, but lack control over Prime.
The Pentacle OrdersThe intended playable factions of mages, the Pentacle represents a somewhat unsteady alliance between four orders that trace their lineage back to the days of Atlantis (or so they claim) and the Free Council, a more disparate grouping of those who hold to different world views. They oppose the machinations of the Exarches and thusly the dominion of the Seers of the Throne, driving them to understand the mysteries of the Awakened World and perhaps find a way to start bringing down the Lie.
The Adamantine Arrow are an Order of warrior-wizards, claiming descent from the Ungula Draconis (Talon of the Dragon) of ancient Atlantis, who served the City of the Awakened as both an army and a police force. They seek the spiritual purity of a warrior's code and the drive to act, especially for the greater benefit of the Pentacle Orders. Their philosophy boils down to five precepts: Existence is War, Enlightenment is Honor, Adaptability Is Strength, The Supernal is the Self, and Service is Mastery.
- Boxing Lessons For The Awakened / Fights Like a Normal: One of the credos of the Adamantine Arrow is that you should be at the peak of human physical and mental prowess before you even use your magic - that way, the apex of your capabilities is even higher, and it leaves you with more options if a situation renders your magic inappropriate or unavailable.
- Colonel Badass / Majorly Awesome / Four-Star Badass: Adamant Sages and Banner Wardens are just as deadly in open combat as the lower-ranked Talons, as the order believes every general must be able to take on the role of a grunt when needed.
- The Fettered: To their vows.
- Honor Before Reason: The Arrow's devotion to their vows can be just as much of a bane as a boon.
- I Gave My Word: Vows are Serious Business to the Arrow.
- Magic Knight: The ideal Arrow mage is proficient with both mundane and magical methods of war.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: They believe this is an ideal to achieve; the very first precept of their creed is "Existence Is War", meaning conflict— not necessarily violent conflict, mind you— is the basic state of all existence (fire wars with wood, for example, gravity with electromagnetism).
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Vidanti ("the Shunned") are Arrows who have given up fighting, most often due to trauma from combat. While the order considers them outcasts and advise lower-ranked Arrows not to listen to them, this rule is not strictly enforced, and Vidanti can often serve as informal sources of advice... save for matters of morality.
- War Is Glorious: Or at least an honorable war is glorious.
- Warrior Monk: Most Arrows are known to live simple and austere lives.
The youngest of the Pentacle Orders, the Free Council is a disparate conglomeration of assorted heretics and agnostics who reject most if not all of the Atlantean doctrine that so defines the rest of the Pentacle. The Free Council was born in the wake of the Nameless War, a period in the early 19th century when the Atlantean Orders rose up and fought for doctrinal supremacy with assorted cabals of "Nameless Orders", lesser beliefs and cults, mostly dedicated to finding the Supernal truths underlying human cultures and beliefs. Defeated but still defiant, the Seers of the Throne approached the Nameless Orders and offered to unite with them, an offer that the Nameless violently rejected. This impressed the Atlantean Orders enough that they formed a formal truce, and thus the Free Council, and the Pentacle, was born. Even to this day, the Free Council is still considered as being where the "rejects" of the Awakened go, with little to unite them beyond the three precepts of the Council's charter of unity: Democracy seeks the truth; hierarchy fosters the Lie, Humanity is magical; human works have arcane secrets, and Destroy the followers of the Lie.
- Berserk Button: The Seers of the Throne. Being compared to the Seers of the Throne. Being accused of collaboration with the Seers of the Throne. They really don't like the Seers of the Throne.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: None of the Atlantean Orders precisely like the Free Council, mostly on account of their irreverent dismissal of Atlantean tradition, obsessive love of modern technology and their somewhat naive commitment to democracy. Nearly every public statement the Atlantean orders make about the Free Council is a dismissal or an insult. However, they despise the Seers of the Throne with a passion that exceeds even the Atlantean Orders and have actually been the source of a lot of honest-to-goodness new magic in a society previously choked by stagnation, so they're accepted as allies by the Atlantean Orders and the Pentacle holds.
- Gadgeteer Genius: They love technology as much as they love magic.
- The Heart: To a certain extent they serve as the moral compass of the Pentacle Orders.
- The Idealist: Foremost among the Free Council's unifying features are its commitment to democratic ideals and its dreams of modernizing Mage society.
- Magitek: Council Mages are fond of combining modern technology with traditional Atlantean magic. This can sometimes verge into territory considered heretical by the Atlantean orders.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: They get... creative with Seers they capture.
- Post Modern Magick: This is at the core of "Humanity is Magical", one of their mottos. To them, the Supernal conforms to human culture rather than the other way around, hence why they're great with Magitek, but also why they're the Order most influenced by the culture around them (to the point where they're more of an allied Sect with a common organizing principle than a conventional Order). In fact, in 2E, they have a Merit representing their ability to have Sleeper acolytes assist their magic, knowingly or not.
Guardians of the Veil
Claiming descent from the Visus Draconis (Eye of the Dragon), an order of secret police and spies that preserved the internal stability of Atlantis, the Guardians of the Veil are still agents of conspiracy, deceit and misdirection. In the modern age, though, they act this way because of their belief in both magic's potential for great danger and because they believe that great good can only come if there are those willing to sacrifice their own virtue to defend it. This makes them one of the most hated of the Pentacle Orders, barely seen as better than Seers or Banishers in the eyes of many, forcing them to rely on a mixture of blackmail, manipulation and intimidation to do what needs to be done. Their three defining precepts are simple: Paradoxes strengthen the Abyss as punishment answers pride, Sins for a just end grant Wisdom to the Awakened, and Merit must rule the Fallen World.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Their attitude towards magic.
- Espionage Tropes of all shapes and sizes.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: None of the other Orders like the Guardians (they and the Free Council are the only orders with negative stereotypes from everyone else), but their work keeps Paradox from tearing reality apart, so they let them go about their business.
- Knight Templar: Part of the reason nobody likes them; an unpleasantly high number of Guardians have taken their work too seriously.
- Necessarily Evil: They believe that all their actions are for the good of the Pentacle Orders. That doesn't make them feel any better.
- Screening the Call: The purpose of the Labyrinth. However, another part of their bad reputation is that quite a few Guardians have used the Labyrinth to build cults of personality around themselves.
- Secret Police: For the Pentacle.
- The Spymaster: Their function.
- The Unfettered: In contrast to the extremely fettered Adamantine Arrow.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: They're a rare kind in that they acknowledge this: "Sins for a just end grant wisdom to the Awakened."
Born from the remnants of the Alae Draconis (Wings of the Dragon), the Mysterium are the scholarly order, dedicated to locating, recovering, preserving and safeguarding all magical knowledge in the world. Particularly emphasis is placed on the "safeguarding" part; magic is too rare, and too dangerous, to just hand out freely. Their fundamental precepts are perhaps the simplest to understand; Knowledge is Power, Knowledge must be Preserved, and Knowledge has a Price.
- Adventure Archaeologist: One function of the Mysterium, particularly of the Archaeomancer faction.
- Badass Bookworm: They are mages focused on knowledge, so this was to be expected.
- Fantastic Racism: Of all the Diamond Orders, their creed is the most uncaring towards Sleepers, even a little contemptuous (since Sleeper interaction provokes Pancryptia, the tendency for magic to obscure itself). Because of this, they have no small contingent of Sleeper haters, such as the infamous Jnanamukti.
- Magical Library: Athenaeums are a smaller-scale version of this; they are storehouses packed full with grimoires and magical items.
- Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: They do recognize that there are a lot of magical titbits that need to be locked away from people for the good of everyone. This is one of the reasons why they are very stringent about making it difficult for people to access their archives.
Without a doubt the most arrogant and ambitious of the Pentacle Orders, the Silver Ladder claims to be the inheritors to the Vox Draconis (Voice of the Dragon), the priests and viziers of Atlantis. Their philosophy is boiled down to a set of four precepts that they call the Elemental Precepts: Diamond (The Awakened are one nation), Thunder (Imperium is the right of humanity), Star (The Silver Ladder is the path to victory) and Blood (The Sleepers follow).
- Benevolent Boss: As the Precept of Blood and Thunder make clear; Sleepers may be inferior to mages, but that is because they have been wounded, denied the right to the Imperium Mysteriorum — the Sovereignty of Mysteries. In the belief system of the Silver Ladder, no force has any right to control human destiny, making the Lie an obscenity. Sleepers must be guided, but that guiding is towards healing and growth. The ultimate goal of the Silver Ladder is to raise as many Sleepers up to the ranks of the Awakened as is possible.
- Fantastic Caste System: An unusual variant. The Silver Ladder's iconography preaches that there is a natural order to things, and that one should accept one's place. However, their belief system is also meritocratic; what they preach is that you should honestly understand yourself, your capabilities and your limitations, and you should reach as high as you can successfully go. Birth doesn't matter, ability matters, and whilst Awakening does display higher levels of ability, there's still a hierarchy beyond that.
- Hidden Depths: Free Council mages who rage against the "tyrannical" Silver Ladder might be surprised to learn that it was the Silver Ladder's European Convocation who urged the other Atlantean orders to recognise the Free Council.
- The Leader: Their typical role.
- The Magocracy: Oftentimes, Ladder mages are leaders in a Consilium. Indeed, as described in the 1e corebook, this is essentially what they want to bring back; mages ruling over the Unawakened, though without that pesky Lie getting in the way.
- ‹bermensch: The Sage, their ideal person-all the wisdom of the Stag (self-limiting moral belief systems) guiding the power of the Lion (amoral ambition with the charisma to back it up).
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Ladder's problem is that they can fall into this all too easily: When your own moral beliefs scoff at the idea of self-limiting when it's not directly beneficial to anyone, it's not hard to make the intuitive jump to Utopia Justifies the Means.
The Seers of the ThroneThe primary hostile mage faction, the Seers are mages who have sworn themselves to the service of the Exarches, the Supernal Symbols of Tyranny whom the Pentacle accuses of having created the Abyss and the Lie in their pursuit of all-governing power. Their governing precepts are simple and direct: Conquer the Watchtowers, Control Magic, Divide Humanity, Destroy the Pentacle, Enslave the Gods, Protect Humanity, and Regulate the Abyss.
Seers of the Throne in general
- Ancient Conspiracy: They've been around since the beginning of time as we know it, basically.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The whole reason the Seers aren't a lot more powerful and the Pentacle's job isn't a lot more difficult. Every single member is not only allowed, not only expected but actively encouraged to screw each other over career advancement opportunities. At one point this led to a calamitous bout of infighting so destructive that it almost collapsed the Seers entirely, and the only thing that's preventing it from happening again is the honour system.
- Deadly Decadent Court: The Seers are just as preoccupied with backstabbing one another as they are with fighting the Pentacles. This is why they are not as powerful as they want to be.
- Despotism Justifies the Means: They maintain the Lie that keeps the masses of mankind un-Awakened because they believe only they deserve the power.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Even the Seers despise the Abyss and its servants, and regard those among them who serve the Gate, Exarch of the Abyss, as madmen and potential dangers. This is also partly Pragmatic Villainy, since the Abyss wants to devour the world— and Seers want to rule the world, not destroy it.
- Evil Counterpart: To the Pentacle Orders.
- Evil Is Easy: At their core, the Seers are ultimately Selfish Evil, lazy, and entitled jerks who do not actually care about the Exarchs as a whole. They just attach themselves to the poisonous power structures the Exarchs embody because it takes less bravery, self-knowledge, and ultimately independent thought than the Pentacle Orders' own desire for freedom and understanding.
- Les Collaborateurs: Make no mistake— there is no altruistic reason for working for the Exarchs that is not a product of willful ignorance or delusion. The Seers ultimately care about themselves more than anything else.
- Nebulous Evil Organization: The biggest one.
- Punch Clock Villain: Of the "Played straight for horror" version. The fundamental nature of the Seers can be neatly summed up in the phrase "The Banality of Evil". They're not the Nephandi, taking a personal delight in the ruining of the world. They're simply too apathetic to try and challenge the Exarches; the things they do aren't personal, it's just the way the world works, and at least they're benefiting from their place in the chain of events.
The Hegemonic Ministry uses government, political ideologies and nationalism as a way to divide and conquer humanity. Once, they were the most powerful Ministry: however, time and the changing world have reduced them to a weakened husk, with little power in most of the world.
- Evil Counterpart: To the Silver Ladder. The Ladder wants to raise humanity to their level and create a social order where individuality is prized, but not at the expense of the group. The Hegemons want people to think of themselves as a faceless mass whose only purpose is to serve their nation and its amoral leaders.
- Government Conspiracy: Their modus operandi.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The Hegemons' attempts to control the world through Big Government have ended up screwing them over twice.
- When they tried to turn governments into all-encompassing entities, it opened them to Pentacle infiltration, which let the Atlantean Orders turn the Seers' favored weapon against them.
- In the 19th century, with the Ministry weakening, the Tetrarch attempted to get the Nameless Orders to join the Seers. Most of the Nameless rejected the offer, resulting in the birth of the Free Council.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: One of the two kinds of people attracted to the Hegemons.
- Vestigial Empire: Once, they organized the Seers into the cold, stable bureaucracy they are now. Today, they're being eaten alive by Mammon, which serves an Exarch who isn't even native to the same Supernal Realm as their patron.
Ministry of Panopticon
- Big Brother Is Watching: And unlike other examples, they want you to know it, since a scared populace is a gullible populace.
- Conspiracy Theorist: They love these individuals. There's few better puppets for spreading hopelessness in the face of the powerful.
- Evil Counterpart: To the Guardians of the Veil. While the Veil watches to ensure the safety of the Awakened world and remove all threats to it, the Panopticon watches to foster paranoia and distrust among Sleepers.
- Secret Police: To the Seers and the Sleepers they seek to rule.
- Sinister Surveillance: Their means of control.
Minstry of Paternoster
- Believing Their Own Lies: Unlike the rest of the Ministries, who are in it for the power, the Paternoster Seers genuinely believe that they are doing the right thing— they believe once all Supernal truth has been scoured from the world, the Exarchs will transform it into a utopia.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Paternoster uses the trappings of Christianity to distinguish themselves from the other Ministries, although their object of worship is less Crystal Dragon Jesus than Crystal Dragon Demiurge.
- Evil Counterpart: To the Mysterium. The Mysterium seeks to uncover and preserve occult truths to be found by people who want to find them, and prize the concept of individually finding enlightenment. The Paternoster wants to destroy all occult truth except for what they personally have, and blindly follow the dogma handed down to them from the Exarchs.
- Have You Seen My God?: The current Apotheosian, or Great Minister of Paternoster, has had no contact with his patron Exarch in a long time. This is somewhat shameful, as he is the only one who has had this problem.
- Knight Templar: Paternoster's Seers are absolutely devoted to their creed and their patron Exarch, the Father.
- Path of Inspiration: The Ministry creates them to deceive Sleepers, believing that the one true religion should belong to the Awakened (read: the Seers) alone.
- Religion of Evil: They worship the Exarchs, the tyrannical god-kings that caused the fall of Atlantis.
- Colonel Badass / Majorly Awesome / Four-Star Badass: Like the Arrow, the Praetorians have excellent fighters at every rank.
- The Evil Army: They work for the Seers.
- Evil Counterpart: To the Adamantine Arrow. The Arrow uses conflict for personal growth and to protect people: the Praetorians use it to oppress Sleepers.
- War Is Glorious: For them, at least.
- War Is Hell: When warfare becomes an affair of atrocity after atrocity, the fear and pain created makes a potent barrier to enlightenment. As such, Praetorians encourage such a state of affairs where they can.
Ministry of Mammon
Not part of the traditional four Great Ministries, the Ministry of Mammon serves the Chancellor, Exarch of Matter, by using the corporate world to control Sleepers. They are the most prominent Lesser Ministry, competing with the weakened Hegemonic Ministry for ascendancy.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Awakened version.
- Evil Counterpart: To the Free Council. The Council uses modern tools and systems to uplift Sleepers and guide them to the Supernal: Mammon uses those same tools and systems to debase everything and everyone by reducing them to commodities that can be bought and sold.
- They're actually one of two Counterparts to the Council, the other being the Pantechnion, the very small minority of Nameless Mages who accepted to the Seers' offer. While the Council seeks to use technology to guide the common man to the wonders of the truth, the Pantechnion wants people to use technology without really understanding them, leaving real science to the elite few. Of course, the other Seers know the very existence of the Pantechnion is a Berserk Button for the entire Council and mainly see them as human shields and chaff to be thrown between them and the Pentacle.
- Mega Corp.: The preferred vehicle of control for the Mammonites— and it is a very efficient one, thanks to globalization.
BanishersSometimes known as the Timori (Atlantean for "the fearful" or "the feared", depending on who you ask), Banishers are mages who wield the Supernal against other Mages in the name of wiping out what they see as "tainted" powers. They come in all shapes and sizes, and have a variety of ways of operating. The primary use of the term is when a mage's Awakening goes drastically wrong; some part of their soul remains broken by the act, rather than being cleansed, and so they are inherently disgusted by the magic that they wield, a disgust that cannot be cured and which drives them to murderous insanity.
- Anti-Villain: The less homicidal Banisher cabals, like the Translators and Shepherd Paine's Flock, come off as this.
- Boomerang Bigot: Most Banishers hunt other Mages for wielding powers that pervert reality— never mind that they gained their powers from the same source as the Mages. For some, this is because they feel an instinctual revulsion when using magic, while for others they interpret their directive through the lens of fanaticism.
- Does Not Like Magic: That's putting it mildly.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: How "born" Banishers are created; their Awakening "glitches", and rather than see the world as it relates to them, they see... the world in its entirety. This does not do good things for their minds, and all they really get from the experience is that "it all fits together", which is why they're obsessed with destroying magic; they desperately want to cling to some sense of order in their lives.
- Hunter of His Own Kind: They hunt Mages.
- Knight Templar: Their fanaticism and revulsion for magic make getting through to them a Herculean task, to say the least.
- Mad Prophet: One of the main advantages they have over normal mages is a sort of "Timori bond", a little-understood phenomenon which allows them, among other things, to find other Banishers and team up, Awaken other Banishers, and have Genetic Memory. Indeed, a common theory among Atlantean literalists is that they're the reincarnations or inheritors of Technical Pacifist monks in Atlantean times who sought to preserve the Supernal Realms from hubris but went mad when the Abyss was born.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: It's kinda hard not to feel sorry for them when you realize how their madness and fear has destroyed them. Some, like Aaron Murphy, make that task a bit easier, but the majority are more in need of a Mercy Kill than hate.
- Tragic Monster: Born Banishers (as opposed to political ones, who are just mages who proactively destroy many types of magic for reasons of their own-some of them even good) have the above trope emphasized into this. To put it simply, something scared them away from accepting Awakening in the process of Awakening, leading them to develop magic...but not Wisdom. Which is to say, they still suffer from the Sleeping Curse, but unable to cheerfully suppress memories of magic. Which is to say, every spell they cast is self-inflicted Mind Rape, and every bit of magical lore they pick up is even more of a mental assault. Small wonder they're all crazy, broken people. Small wonder most normal mages think death a mercy for them.
The MadMages who embrace atrocity, committing acts of Black Magic and selfishness so extreme that their soul breaks, become living avatars for Wild Magic, spilling incarnations of magical energy from their being, are known quite fitingly as "the Mad". Analogous to the Marauders, the Mad usually don't last very long before Paradox ultimately consumes them, but the amount of suffering they can inflict before that happens is extreme.
- Blessed with Suck: All of the massive power they have? They can't really control it, consciously. Also, having broken their souls means they have no buffer against Paradox, which means that ultimately their magic will destroy them, usually when some horrifically powerful Abyssal entity winds up riding one of their spells into reality to possess or consume them.
- Damaged Soul: The Mad Ones' derangements are the result of having their soul "break" for some reason, frequently because of all the transgressions they've committed.
- Lack of Empathy: This, above all else, is why Mad Ones are villains, as opposed to sad, broken people. You don't fall off Wisdom entirely without committing several acts magic itself seems to regard as Moral Event Horizons and deliberately ignoring the effect you're having on the world. To the Mad, anything and everything nearby is a subject for experiments, a source of knowledge, or an obstacle that must be removed.
- The Mentally Disturbed: Defied. The Left-Hand Path splatbook outright states that mental illness is not a risk factor for becoming one of the Mad. Being capital-M Mad is a sickness of the soul brought on by one's own actions, not by a quirk of the mind.
- Mook Maker: A Mad Mage spawns tulpas, embodiments of all the Arcana that have leaked out from the cracks in their soul.
- Power Born of Madness: They develop unique abilities due to their Damaged Soul.
The Abyss and its ServantsThe Abyss is simply indescribable; description is an aspect of true things that have a basis and feed the Supernal World, and the Abyss is everything not touched by the Supernal in any way, no matter how degraded. Which is to say, everything there is not only unreal, but can never be real without massive rejiggering of the Supernal Realm. Unfortunately, it's a very active unreal capable of tricking the Tellurian into believing its laws and inhabitants are part of it (especially in times of reckless and imprecise magic), cloaking themselves in the form of warped reality and strange spirits, all with a seething hatred for everything not of their alien Outside. Apparently a wound torn in the fabric of reality by the Exarchs, it is the ultimate source of the Lie, Paradox, and all things related to them.
- The Dark Side: Use of Abyssal power eventually leads towards degeneration.
- Deal with the Devil: Any bargain made with the Abyss may grant potent boons, but will eventually lead to the downfall of the one who made the deal.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Abyss(' components) and all the beings it(/they) spawns.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Some Mages, in their hubris, think that they can wield the powers of the Abyss. The fortunate ones die quickly.
- Evil Versus Oblivion: Any time the Abyss pops up, it ends up being the "Oblivion" side of the conflict, with Seers and anything else being the "Evil".
- Genius Loci: The Abyss is made of these, the Annunaki. Each one is a world that is fundamentally broken, stillborn and impossible in the light of the Supernal. And each one has a mind of its own, desiring reality for its own.
- Alternate Timeline: Some Annunaki, like the Prince of 100,000 Leaves, are alternate histories only possible if reality was possible. They are never nice (The Prince's version involves a world-spanning, bloodthirsty, theocratic super-state where cannibalism is not only the norm, but a sign of regality and civilization).
- Reality Is Out to Lunch: What tends to happen in Abyssal Verges, places where an Annunaki has overlaid a bit of its own self over the Tellurian, making it as unto their counterpart in the Annunaki's version of reality. As one might expect of the Abyss, things go a bit... strange.
- Mind Screw: It's both an actual location and aspect of the mystical reality and a completely nonexistent falsehood. It tends to make brains hurt, even before Dissonance is involved.
- Mind Rape: The Abyss loves this. In fact, it's even how Dissonance/Disbelief works in 2E; when a Sleeper without any expressed magical potential (which makes people Sleepwalkers by default) witnesses magic and knows it, the Abyss uses the confusion over seeing something impossible and incomprehensible to bombard their mind with its untruths, which are invariably so horrifying and traumatic that the Sleeper's subconscious represses those memories so they can move on with their life. And that is why causing Dissonance is a sin against Wisdom.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: Gulmoth and Acamoth, the beings born from the Abyss, are just as confusing and alien as the Abyss itself.
- Weirdness Censor: Subverted and Deconstructed. The Abyss is actually indirectly responsible for every gameline's Masquerade being a hell of a lot easier, since the looming presence of its Lie subconscious urges people to pretend that everything is fine, there's no such thing as monsters, avoid the shadows. They do this, because the Lie is a constant refrain of humanity's utter helplessness before all but the most mundane problems-everyone at least suspects the truth, but do nothing, because nobody believes they can do anything. The Abyss iself does not care-in fact, Dissonance provoked by the Abyss' creations themselves causes them to grow stronger.
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Read that description again. That throbbing pain in your skull is probably the closest you, or anyone else from anywhere in the Tellurian, will ever be to actually understanding the Abyss in all but the most tangential ways, barring being completely Ax-Crazy.
The ScelestiThe Scelesti are mages who have chosen to deliberately study and invoke the Abyss, allying themselves with the force of Non-Creation that lies like a bleeding wound between the worlds.
- Black Magic: They learn to deliberately weave Abyssal energies into their magic, making for more powerful, but far more destructive, effects.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The Scelesti as a whole are far removed from human concepts of good and evil, though they act in a way that most people would call "evil".
- Dark Messiah: Aswadim, or Scelestus archmages, are part of the very make-up of the Abyss and have the power to change the world as they see fit. Unfortunately, the changes Aswadim desire are not good for much of humanity. Ironically most of them aren't Scelestus pre-Archhood
- Omnicidal Maniac: Regardless of their individual means and motives, all Scelesti who accept the moniker seek to have the world swallowed by the Abyss.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: While many Scelesti are cackling madmen, there are just as many who were driven to their present state by desperation or personal pain. Two examples in Left-Hand Path are Angrboda, a Fallen Hero who made a deal with a gulmoth to avenge his cabal and ended up becoming corrupted; and Theumiel, an Aswadim who despises the screwed-up state of the Spirit World and wants to fix it by using the Abyss to wipe the slate clean.
The ExarchsThe Exarchs are supernal symbols/beings(they're the same thing) that represents Tyranny. They are the ones who create and maintain the Lie in the more cosmic scale. Most Diamond and Seers believe they're Atlantean sorcerer-kings that have ascended and became what they are now.
- Transhuman Treachery: If what the Diamond and Seers believe are right. Ironically they made the world more Anthromorphocentric in the process, because while they're (unlikely) to be human anymore they're tied to humanity as a whole, tyrants need subjects after all.