Tabletop Game: Mage: The Awakening
Mage: The Awakening
is a tabletop RPG made by White Wolf
as part of the New World of Darkness
line. The story goes that long ago, people all over the world had dreams that brought them to Atlantis. Once there, they undertook a spirit quest that enlightened their souls and gave them magic powers. Thus the Mages Awakened
. Unfortunately, the good times soon ended: Mages wanted to get to the Supernal World, the source of all magic. To achieve their plan they built an enormous ladder that let them travel the gap between worlds. This ended badly, as these god-like Mages abused their newfound power, forcing others of their order to climb the ladder and fight them. This war broke the ladder— destroying the connection between earth and the Supernal, and thus magic— and replacing it with an evil, magic-destroying realm called the Abyss. Atlantis fell, and the rest is history. Literally.
Now the Mages seek to find lost arcane secrets, prevent the Abyss from further corrupting Earth, act as Badass
mage cops, find magic in normal life, and rebuild the ladder to the Supernal. They are thwarted by Abyssal demons, servants of the Exarchs, those Mages who made it to the Supernal, and pretty much everybody in the World of Darkness.Which, sometimes, is for the better.The various Splats of Mage are as follows:The Paths:
The inborn classification of the Awakened, representing the Supernal Realm and Watchtower the mage visited during his Awakening. Each Path has an affinity for two kinds of magic, but a deficiency with another.
- Acanthus: Enchanters 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 – it’s hard to be worried when you’ve seen what’s going to happen and you can tweak the dice so you know it’s going to work. However, the magic to which they’re born is subtle, and they have little ability when working with overt Forces. Associated with the Fool (0 or XXII) Tarot.
- With the Second Edition, the Acanthus gained a new sobriquet of 'Witches', drawing on their alternate character focus as masterminds who plan out events and shape destinies. Those in the Seers of the Throne are also called 'Prophets'. The two keywords of the Acanthus are Choice and Consequence. They are associated with both the Fool and the Wheel of Fortune (X) cards of the Tarot.
- Mastigos: Warlocks 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 enemies’ 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.
- With the Second Edition, the Mastigos gained a new sobriquet of 'Psychonauts', drawing on their alternate character focus as philosophers of the soul, diving deep into the mysteries of the psyche. Those in the Seers of the Throne are also called 'Watchers'. The two keywords of the Mastigos are Confrontation and Transgression. They are associated with both the Devil and the Temperance (XIV) cards of the Tarot.
- Moros: Necromancers 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.
- With the Second Edition, the Moros gained a new sobriquet of 'Alchemists', drawing on their alternate character focus as those who facilitate inevitable change and unavoidable evolution. Those in the Seers of the Throne are also called 'Executors'. The keywords of the Moros are Transition and Permanence. They are associated with both the Death and the World (XXI) cards of the Tarot.
- Obrimos: Theurgists on the Path of the Mighty, Scions of the Watchtower of the Golden Key in the Realm of the Aether (Heaven), the Obrimos tend to be devout and fervent. They often believe that they were granted their magic by some deity or deities (although given the fundamental order in their Realm, they respect science as a field and are often its greatest advocates among mages), 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.
- Thyrsus: Shamans on the Path of Ecstasy, who Awakened to the Watchtower of the Stone Book in the Realm of the Primal Wild (Hungry/Wild Jungle/Woods), 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.
- In Second Edition, the Thyrsus Watchtower is now the Singing Stone, and their additional sobriquet is Ecstatics, drawing on their alternate focus as those who gain understanding through personal experience of the primal ways. Those who side with the Seers are known as 'Stewards'. The Thyrsus keywords are Boundaries and Intercession, and they are associated with both the Moon and Hermit (IX) cards of the Tarot.
The chosen, sociopolitical Splats
of the Mages. The five Pentacle orders listed below work together (usually) in order to gain power and defend against common enemies. Each Order holds a philosophy on the best way to develop and use magic, as well as a common view on how to interact with Sleepers and the World. Four of the Orders (sometimes called the Diamond Orders) claim descent from organizations which existed in the days of Atlantis, although this can't be confirmed.With the Second Edition, it is made clear that the Pentacle are an alliance between two Sects of mages - the Orders of the Diamond, and the Council of Free Assemblies (known as the Free Council).
- The Diamond aren't literally descended from Atlantis, but rather, that symbolic imagery is something they try to incorporate into themselves. The Diamond generally follow an "As Above, So Below" principle, by finding signs of the Supernal left over from the Time Before.
- The Adamantine Arrow: Descended from the Ungula Draconis (or "The Claw of the Dragon") from ancient Atlantis, the Arrow believe that the best way to hone one’s strength (magical or otherwise) is through constant conflict, contest, and trial, and that the strongest and best should rise to lead. They often serve as the warriors and strategists of a Consilium.
- The Guardians of the Veil: Inspired by Atlantis’s Visus Draconis (or "The Eye of the Dragon"), the Guardians believe that Magic should be kept carefully and hidden from the world. They feel that Paradox widens the Abyss, removing further magic from the world, and thus they oppose vulgar magic whenever possible. In a modern Consilium, the Guardians usually serve as spies, secret police, and the like.
- The Mysterium: Descended from the Alae Draconis (or the “The Wing of the Dragon”), the Mysterium believe that the collection and gathering of knowledge is the highest calling a Mage can seek. They seek out artifacts and tomes from ancient Atlantis, gather them safely, and sometimes share what they have learned – for a cost. They serve as a Consilium’s teachers, loremasters, scientists, and archeologists.
- The Silver Ladder: Heirs to the Vox Draconis (or " The Voice of the Dragon"), members of the Silver Ladder believe that it is the fate of all Humanity to Awaken, and that until then the wisest among the Awakened (which is, often, the Ladder mages themselves) should lead them well. They often serve modern Consilia in positions of leadership or oversight.
- The Council of Free Assemblies was formed relatively recently by an alliance of 'Nameless Orders', both ancient non-Diamond traditions and modernist assemblies of mages. They follow an "As Below, So Above" principle, by asserting that the culture and actions of humanity reflect the Supernal and thus Supernal Truths can be found in human culture. They also follow democratic ideals, and a heavy rejection of 'servants of the Lie'.
- The Free Council: The only Order not claiming Atlantean descent, the Council was born in the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent social turmoil of the early 20th century. They believe that the works of unAwakened Mortals possess as much magic as the works of the Awakened, and that democratic rule is the best way to run a Consilium. They are activists, revolutionaries, scientists, and often members of a Consilium’s “loyal opposition.”
The Pentacle is opposed by various rival mage factions and antagonists, including:
Terminology, with translations:
- The Seers of The Throne: Servants of the Exarchs, the tyrannical mage-gods that broke the ladder upon reaching the Supernal. The Seers are the third Sect of Awakened mages that the other two allied to thwart. They gather in shadowy conspiracies and cults, each dedicated to a particular Exarch. When not stabbing each other in the back or currying for their god's favor, the Seers strive to strengthen the Lie, making sure that as few mortals Awaken as possible, and that those that do serve the Exarchs' will.
- Banishers: For whatever reason, sometimes a Mage's Awakening is traumatizing rather than enlightening. Emotionally scarred and revolted by the power they now possess, Banishers view magic as an unnatural perversion of reality rather than a higher spiritual truth. Some seek to tear down the Mages' various social structures. Others won't be satisfied until every Awakened individual on the planet is dead, at which point they will kill themselves (thus, by their twisted logic, ensuring that no one ever practices magic ever again).
- In the Second Edition, the term 'Banisher' covers a lot of ground. Some may be Mages who personally believe that magic is more harmful than helpful, and now are trying to stop others from using it. Some may belong to certain Legacies that destroy or consume magic to their own ends. Some are Banishers as detailed above - the 'Banishing' they suffer is an Awakening that went wrong, and now they experience every bit of magic as spiritual trauma, including their own sixth sense. (In game mechanincs, this is represented by Banishers having mortal Integrity instead of mage Wisdom as their Karma Meter. Thus, they suffer a 'breaking point' whenever witnessing magic.)
- The Scelesti: Servants of the Abyss, the aforementioned magic-destroying realm, who want to transform the world into an Infernal Paradise in the name of their masters. Technically Always Chaotic Evil, but they would say they're more Above Good and Evil, viewing the world as Order Versus Chaos, with them being the "Chaos".
- In the Second Edition, the term 'Scelestus' covers a lot of ground. Some are regular mages who purposefully reach out beyond their magical capabilities, which taints the spell with Paradox. Some belong to Legacies that deal extensively with the Abyss. Some make pacts with Abyssal manifestations - ephemeral Gulmoth or astral Acamoth. The last are mages who abandon their Supernal Watchtower and join an Abyssal Ziggurat, which is the perverted and twisted reflection of a Watchtower. Scelesti represent nihilism, those who would destroy all of the world.
- The Mad Ones: Mages whose Wisdom score drops to zero become Mad, fractured souls who cannot control their magic and whimsically warp reality. Through the fractures in their soul, their magic leaks out and flares out their Nimbus and even summons Tulpa, which are basically sentient magic spells. The Mad represent consuming obsession, a warning against mages to safeguard their Wisdom in employing magic.
- Liches: Liches are mages who try to live well beyond mortality and thus gain some form of immortality. If there's a way to cheat death, there's a lich who's used it: some drain lifespans from others, some become body-snatchers, some offload their fate onto others, and so on. Then there are those who try to become an ephemeral being - a Spirit, Ghost, or Goetia. Liches represent fall from humanity, what mages may become when their disdain for Muggles reaches its highest.
- Reapers: Reapers are mages who exploit souls of Sleepers and Awakened alike. They declare that Your Soul Is Mine, and then use it for varying purposes. Reapers represent ultimate act of hubris, the idea that your purpose and desire outweighs the cosmic significance of a person's existence in the universe.
- Left-Handed Legacies: Some of the Legacies mages can join are declared Left-Handed by the rest of Awakened society, and are ostracized. Many of these Legacies practice beliefs and magic that are considered immoral or highly dangerous. Still, they manage to survive by hiding their Legacy status and infiltrating the Orders, or are sometimes hidden by allies who consider them useful. The largest of Left-Handed Legacies grow into a Nameless Order, cultures that exist outside of the tripartite sects. One such example are the Tremere, who also qualify as both Liches and Reapers.
(Character) once travelled in a dream or vision to a Supernal Realm,
ending this visit by signing their name to a Watchtower
and gaining affinity to one of five Paths
(class). Each Path has special affinity to two Arcana
(spell groups) of Magic. Most Mages choose to join an Order
(faction) of like-minded will-workers for instruction and support. A city full of mages usually organizes into a Consilium
often including one or more Cabals
(parties) of allied mages. Some Mages join a Legacy
) to refine their souls and magic, gaining more power and a respite from Paradox.
This role-playing game provides examples of: