Mages and their Weird, Weird Realities…
Mages are unique beings with mystical powers that seem only as limited at times as their imaginations. In this story, Mages are not numerous, but they aren’t extremely rare either. The Technocracy Union is pretty powerful and has done a great job of using human numbers to shape a banal and orderly reality that can make it difficult for other Mages to weave their magicks, but certainly it is not impossible. The keen will-worker figures out the loopholes and she learns that allying with other Mages, whether of her Tradition or not, gets her further than on her own. The Technocrats mercilessly hunt down ‘rogue’ Mages, but some manage to make a stand in New Orleans, knowing that fighting the Technocracy directly often is not the way to go. The Mages of the region may be young, but they are growing formidable, even as they have so much against them. Having a Chantry/house donated to them by a kind older Mage certainly hasn’t hurt their progress and they are rapidly learning about the supernatural other beings that share the world with them.
What is a Mage?
A Mage is an awakened mortal that figures out there is more to reality than just the normal grinds and banal day to day activities. They may be called witches, mystics, wizards, warlocks, will-workers, hermetics, witch doctors, shamans, dream weavers, technomancers, etc, but in the end, they are one and the same. They are attuned to, and can bend, this reality to their whims and over time they can become quite powerful. The way they are attuned often has to do with their unique perspectives on the world and what they are talented or connected with prior to becoming awakened. For example, someone who is into nature and wildlife will draw power and believe the way of magic derives from this connection. Someone who works with machines will be drawn to magic working through that will of technology or someone working with computers connects to the internet and numbers in special ways. Some Mages use such devices of old such as Tarot cards and others draw power from dreams. Some work with the dead or the beings of the Umbra. Their natures go along with a special paradigm and the Tradition they fall under. Mages are literal architects of reality, in which some do battle over how this reality is going to solidify itself for the future. Because some seem to decide what is best for others, it leads any Mage to have to choose sides and become more themselves or perish.
What is Magick?
The spelling of ‘magick’ is intentional to divide it from ‘magic’, which can be anything from sleight of hand tricks to mirrors etc or the unexplainable. Magick is change and the force of possibility, regardless of how each individual Mage sees it working. Whether through coding numbers on a screen, stepping sideways into the Umbra, talking to or working with the dead, affecting the sleeping minds of people, speaking to the trees and animals, connecting with machines and their intricacies; all of these are done by the Mage’s connection to this specific force.
How does a Mage come about?
Usually, there is some means at which is special, for a Mage to ‘awaken’ to what they are. Every Mage has an Avatar, but some event transpires that makes them come to realize it fully, so they can become what they truly wish to aspire to be. For some, there may be an accident, their rush with death, an event that is life changing, a meditation that turns into more… it means something to become fully Awakened.
Why are there Mages?
No one is exactly sure why there are Mages, even though some Mages might say they have all the answers. Mages can be pretty arrogant because they feel how they connect to the force of reality is how anyone else should, quite often. It takes a lot for some Mages to look beyond their paradigms and natures to see that each type of connection a Mage has is equally as important. Mages are the stuff of legend and their Avatars are unique, going on for at least a thousand years, from life to life. Some say that when Mages ascend and become powerful enough, they become Celestine beings, moving on from this world to others in dimensions within the Umbra they create and do wonders with. Some say they are akin to angels, with awesome powers, that need to ascend to greater things to become whole again. In the end, there is all this potential and there is all this power that Mages can tap into but often their own worst enemies are themselves. Why they exist isn’t often as important as what they feel they should be doing with the powers they have been granted.
What is an Avatar?
All Mages have an Avatar, or inner ‘deity’ within them. The more powerful the bond between a Mage and Avatar becomes, the more potent the Mage is and the more Quintessence the Mage can draw to alter reality.
What is Quintessence?
Quintessence is the power that Mages use and is found in nodes and other sources, around the world and in the Umbra and underworld. It shapes reality. Quintessence is the same as Sekhem (for Amenti) and Gnosis (for Shifters). It can be found also in such things as Vitae that vampires use as their power source, though this is a modified version of it. Mages can hold Quintessence within them and build it up over time, or they can quickly draw it but take risks in doing so.
What about Arete? (pronounced Air-eh-tay)
Arete describes the level of will and change a Mage has undergone to connect to the reality around him or her and to affect it. Raising arete is a spiritually enlightening event each time and changes the Mage’s outlook. Each time a Mage gains in ‘arete’ it is a sort of transcendence or ascension. What works for one Mage also is not guaranteed to be an epiphany for another Mage, so there’s no set rules on Ascension and Mages often spend time squabbling about what should work and what doesn’t.
What is a Paradigm?
Every Mage has a paradigm, which is the model of reality a Mage uses to reflect their system of belief. Mages need a paradigm to work within their realities.
Oh Shit, Paradox?
Paradox is when reality smacks a Mage in the face and other places because that Mage screwed up casting magick or reality in a region is set so harshly that a Mage attempting to change it is met with a lot of retaliation. Every Mage is subject to the effects of Paradox when they overreach or do things in front of people who are not Mages. Mages are going to gather up Paradox at points, no matter how awesome they are, because of other supernatural events happening in an area or because a strict reality is enforced in some regions. The safest way for Mages to practice strong magicks is to use a sanctum.
What are Technocrats?
The Technocratic Union, or Technocrats, are dedicated to taking over humanity through their own technomancer means, because their Paradigm is one of absolute order and constraint. They do this through mostly ‘benevolent’ or passive motions by convincing humanity at large to focus on a banal reality without real supernaturals in it. This has its effects on various supernatural entities, as they seek to wipe them out in the end, using humans and their limited sleeper views as a means to eliminate others. This has had a strong effect on setting a stagnant and banal reality that many Mages have trouble going against and so they run into Paradox quite consistently. It also has had effects on other supernaturals such as Fae, which have been hurt quite a bit by banality and group together to try to at least keep dreams alive, so they do not perish. Shifters have also suffered from this, though ‘delirium’ works toward their benefit if they know how to harness it, because humans do not commonly believe in Shifters anymore for the most part. Vampires benefit often from this because they prefer humans to not know they exist…at least the Camarilla does. Some vampires loathe this but don’t know why the Camarilla sect is so powerful. The Technocrats don’t mind invisibly backing this organization since the Masquerade benefits them.
What are Nephandi?
Nephandi are corrupt Mages that attempt to lure others to their ways through deceit, corruption, lies, manipulations, etc. They seek to also bring others down on their Path of Dissension. They connect to darker things, such as demons.
What are Traditions?
One or more members of the Council of Nine Mystick Traditions. The Technocracy used to be a part of the Traditions but their Paradigm conflicted and they were removed. Later, in the early 1900s, Virtual Adepts removed themselves from the Technocracy and joined with the Council. Currently, these Traditions are as follows:
- Akashic Brotherhood (Akashayana) – Mystical martial artists who have the focus of Mind.
- Celestial Chorus (Singers or Choristers) – Religious mystics that adhere to the belief in the One and hold the seat of Prime.
- Cult of Ecstasy (Sahajiya) – Using various drugs to enhance their visions and feel beyond themselves, the Cult holds dominance in Time.
- Dreamspeakers (Kha’vadi) – Shamans and tribal workers that affect the Spirit realm the most.
- Euthanatos (Chakravanti) – Enforcers in the karmic wheel of life, death and rebirth, they dominate in Entropy.
- Order of Hermes (Hermetics) – High Mages of European origins with a lot of tradition and design, Hermetics hold the seat of Forces.
- Sons/ Society of Ether (Etherites) – A group that separated from the Technocracy and use mechanics and science, representing Matter on the Council.
- Verbena (Verbenae) – Druidic Mages of nature and blood and connection to the world tree, the Verbena hold the seat of Life.
- Virtual Adepts (VAs) – The newest Tradition, utilizing telecommunications/computers and code to control their realities, they use Correspondence.
What is an Orphan?
An ‘orphan’ is a Mage that chooses to not belong to any Tradition.
About the Spheres…
The Spheres are the focuses a Mage uses, regardless of Paradigms, to control and manipulate their realities. At the first Sphere level, a Mage can sense with each Sphere. As a Mage raises Arete and their Sphere levels, the Mage can little by little increase their potential to do more unique things.
- Mind – Helps a Mage sense thoughts and emotions at its base, sharpen mental skills, shield her mind, read thoughts on the surface and pull memories, make impressions on someone’s mind, send a mental impulse/emotion to someone, dream walk in her own mind, mind blast someone, astral project and more.
- Prime – The Mage can sense Quintessence energies and sense when someone is using magick in their area, consecrate objects to shape shift with her when she alters herself, fuel a pattern object with Quintessence, can summon bolts of pure primal energies against Patterns, can create bodies of light, channel Quintessence raw, shape inanimate Tass into other objects, and potentially smooth over issues with Paradox.
- Time – A Mage can use Time to see forward or backward from a moment, thicken the walls of Time to prevent others from altering it, alter Time so that things are faster or slower in a moment, to trap beings in a Time bubble, to create anchors in Time for the Mage to use as focal points and even to travel in time, forward or backward and to pull herself out of Time so as to not be affected by it.
- Spirit – Can be used to connect to the Penumbra and determine the strength of the Gauntlet, to increase or decrease the strength of the Gauntlet in a region, to manipulate things in the Prenumbra while not being there, to open up rifts to the Umbra and close them, to rouse and discuss, manipulate Spirits in the Umbra, to lull them to sleep, to bind Spirits, and to eventually enter into domains of the Deep Umbra and manipulate the Spirit realm itself.
- Entropy – The Mage can sense the fortune or fate of people, including death sight, control probability to change simple outcomes (such as a dice throw or avoiding walking in the wrong place), tell if someone is being deceitful with them intentionally or not, can directly affect inanimate materials, determining how fast they decay or fail, affect living beings to ‘curse’ or ‘bless’ them, target someone’s brain to cause random behaviors, and create binding oaths such as geas that can bring about awful consequences to someone who dares to break them.
- Forces – Sensing forces, bending light, warping light to make objects invisible, transmute and utilize forces from small transmutations of light to grand level fire storms, electrical fields, and more, creating shadows with extra effects, typhoons on a calm day, etc.
- Matter – Allows a Mage to see basic patterns in objects, repair or transmutate objects, alter the object’s form, transform mundane objects into more difficult, complex items and alter states of objects. This is also what allows a Mage to heal a vampire, rather than Life. It can alter properties as well and mutate the shape of something.
- Life – A Mage can sense life, alter themselves, such as changing hair color or skin color, transform simple pattern living beings, heal living beings, alter complex living patterns, which can be a good or bad thing, transform themselves to resemble other living things, and eventually free themselves from certain corporeal necessities humans have such as eating or getting diseases etc. The most powerful Mages can even create living beings though they will lack souls, create viruses, and may even obtain immortality eventually.
- Correspondence – Mages can sense spatial anomalies, locate directions, sense, touch and thicken space, and even reach through space, pierce space to make small portals, seal gates and prevent others from opening portals in regions, allow a Mage to split perceptions to be able to see in more than one area at a time, rend space to make permanent portals, create Wards to prevent people from getting access to a space, and in time allows a Mage to even create space, fold space and allows the Mage to make herself into a Correspondence point, being able to bypass wards etc and enter into various locations they might otherwise be denied access to.
These are combinations of Sphere abilities that Mages explore to make bending magicks even more interesting. Any Rotes will be cleared by an ST before being able to be used freely in character.
Mages may end up with some supernatural oddities of allergies or weaknesses or even some flaws that make it possible to depict them from a crowd. A Mage’s main weakness is Paradox, which is described above. It may seem unfair that they just have to fight reality itself to bend magick and what not, but reality is one helluva enforcer of discipline. Mages are also mortal and therefore they can die, sometimes quite a bit easier than other supernaturals, though many can figure out some ways to defy some weaknesses of the mortal flesh. One thing noticeable in many Mages that can be taken as a weakness is many have egos that can make them blind to other ways of thought and belief than their own. Some are even quite zealous about their paths, making it rather difficult for them to get along with other Mages. This doesn’t mean -all- Mages have this issue, even as they ascend and learn more about their realities, but it is a flaw that a majority have.