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In the shadows of some great city, you make your home. Chances are you're an orphan, although perhaps it was a particularly cruel parent, an arranged marriage or a terrible master that drove you to the uncertain solace of the night. Now you live on what you can steal or beg. It's not much, but it kept you alive... until magick came into your life. Now you have better things to hope for - and better ways to achieve them. True, you're still a child of the streets (possibly still a youngster even now) with crude ways, no manners, and a self-sighted view of the world. But now you can look beyond the shit-filled gutters and grasp the treasures of the mystick Arts. Will compassion guide your hand, or will desperation, suspicion and greed shape the magus you have become?
The Urchin, Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade - Companion

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So, as it turns out, you're a mage. You can change the world by simply willing it so. You can travel into the spirit world or call forth the immense powers of kinetic energy. Maybe you can slow time around you to a crawl. Perhaps you can even control destiny itself, always rolling a seven or eleven on your first cast of the dice, or perhaps winning the lottery every weeks.
Why, then, are you spending your third straight day - no sleep - fucked up on trucker speed, stalking around your rat-trap apartment and using your bare feet to crunch the light bulbs you've used to smoke your crank while your starving child has cried herself into hoarse exhaustion one room over? Why are you sucking dick for 20-dollar bills in alleys where only half of the people who enter them make it out alive? Why do you put yourself through yet another vapid, empty night in a trashy dive bar, listening to the same old :Wumpscut: and Switchblade Symphony songs, hoping to nick enough sympathy booze from the barflies and slumming hipsters to drink yourself into oblivion. Why the fuck are you living off the garbage rooted out of McDonalds' dumpsters, wearing the same filthy t-shirt you stole from a thrift store two weeks ago and spending your nights all but face-down in the alcove of a church, wrapped up in a rancid blanket like a drunk heroin burrito?
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Because you're desperate, that's why. Being a mage doesn't mean you're Superman.
Mage: The Ascension - The Orphan's Survival Guide

You wanna know the truth? There's no mystery to it. I'll tell you the ultimate secret of magic: any cunt could do it.
John Constantine, Hellblazer: The Laughing Magician

My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. I'm a wizard. I work out of an office in midtown Chicago. As far as I know, I'm the only openly practicing professional wizard in the country. You can find me in the yellow pages, under "Wizards."

It hurt to remember the way his life was then. Being a kind of freak. His parents. The streets in those days. He learned to fight - in both worlds. Master your gift, a magician had told him, or your gift will destroy you.
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He'd sought mastery of the arts, black and white. His wasn't the way of the ascetic; he was not much into self-denial. But he was strong and determined. He'd studied hard to learn to control the voices that taunted him, the unseen forces that roiled around him like a whirlwind; studied with low teachers, who took the money offerings he brought to get their fix before a lesson, and higher teachers, who looked at the anger in his soul with pity.
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