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This is the system for players who want to be very powerful. It's ideal for power gaming, (Just playign to develop an impressive set of statistics) but it does also work for those who want to work through a good story. As all White Wolf systems tend to do, mage draws heavily on the mythology of magical practise to form its clans - verbena are clearly Pagan, the Akashik brotherhood follow the eastern traditions, The Celestial chorus represent christian mysticism, and there are modern magics based on technology and drugs to name a few. Mage interacts well with Vampire, Changleling and Werewolf. i don't know enough about Wraith to say how it would ift with that system. In my opinion, it is too high powered though and the checks aren't enough to keep some players under control. If you are looking to buy this system, watch out for which edition you are picking up - if you by second hand this can be a real isue. mage has undergone some changes and revisions, and it is well worth getting the most up to date version. Buy the main book. Players handbooks are good, and for this one, I would recomend the individual tradition books as well. The Changeling UK source book contains a surprising amount of Mage material and some great leads for crossovers. Be aware that the horizon realms of the mages tie in well with the faerie dreaming and the Werewolf dreaming (although I think they call it something else) You can fill out your knowledge a great deal by investing in the other handbooks, however, they do not give a picture that makes total sense as you get a range of perspectives on how the world works. You can now get Mage in the drak ages - this looks fascinating, but there will be even fewer restrictions on use of power, as people back then really did believe that anything was possible.
Bend reality to your whim and change the world. In ?Mage the ascension? it can all be done, you play one of the select few who have had the scales lifted from their eyes to the true nature of reality. All that you once knew to be real is lies; your own world view is the true world view, you and those like you can raise humanity to a new and true level of existence. Of course that all depends on your point of view. Mage is part of White Wolf?s ?World of Darkness? and so is compatible with the likes of Vampire and Werewolf. As you would expect from a Storyteller game the emphasis is very much on the story. Adult themes abound and techniques such as symbolism, foreshadowing, parallel storytelling all help to build up compelling and complex stories, it?s a far cry from your standard dungeon hack, role-playing has grown up. The game system is simple statistic allocation and the number of dots you have in a skill gives you the number of dice you have to available roll, difficulty is a number set from 1-10 allocated by the storyteller. It?s all very simple. The only place it gets complicated is in the magic, it?s a very freeform way of implementing it and can be open to interpretation and abuse by munchkin players. The book itself is very nice indeed gold embossed cover and full colour plates inside, using a very similar graphic style to Sandman (DC/Vertigo comics). The illustrations are superb throughout. There are also a fair amount of tables to help guide you through character creation etc. I think its weakness is that the sample story could have been better. All in all Mage is a great addition to the world of darkness, and much more fun to play than vampire, that doesn?t mean it?s a better game, it?s just more fun. Now as I?ve mentioned in previous reviews about Vampire, I think the world of darkness games work best when they are slowly revealed to the players so from now on I?ll be discussing things you mi
ght not want to know if you intend to play The premise of mage is the struggle of ideas to form reality; it?s all very complex and philosophical. Still I?ll have a go there is an ascension war on, the Magi are the shepherds of humanity, whoever is winning the war determines the paradigm (world view) of reality that is generally believed. Currently a group of mages known as the Technocracy are winning the ascension war. These mages lend themselves to technology based magic, so humanity ?believe? that computers can do almost anything and science can solve all our problems. When really it is just another form of magic, this is best explained by taking it out of context. Today a pill can cure our ills, in the dark ages you would need a wise woman and lots of chicken bones, both worked in their own time because the populace believed it would. Taken out of their own times neither would work and would be considered magic. Now reality is a fickle thing and doesn?t like being twisted so if mages want to work magic they have to suggest things to achieve their ends. For instance if a mage wanted to fireball somebody he could do a lot of hand waving and do it but reality would come down around his ears as it is blatantly magic. However if the same mage wanted to cast a fireball, he could bend reality to, coincidentally, blow up a gas main in the street. The same effect is achieved but the second version keeps reality happy, gas mains can blow up after all. This is called coincidental magic, it is an absolute pleasure watching players trying to fiddle some kind of way to make the improbable happen and ones of the great joys of the game. Of course it is open for abuse. Now for a war to happen we need at least two sides, in Mage we have three, the Technocracy are faced by the Traditions, a group who practice traditional forms of magic. The Marauders make up the other side of the triad, these are insane mages who serve demonic masters,
you know the type. Players tend to play Tradition mages. The Traditions are made up of the following groups- The Akashic Brotherhood Are traditionally oriental monks who practise their magic using mind over matter, they can be superb warriors and truly fearsome opponents. The Celestial Chorus Use faith and religion as their world view and use the raw power of prime to work the ?miraculous? The Cult of Ecstasy Tend towards the ideals of opening their minds and use very dubious ways to achieve this, it is an adult game. Their field of mastery is Time. Dreamspeakers Are the most primitive of all the magi, they are shaman with mastery over the spirit. Euthanatos Are masters of death and chaos. Constantly trying to turn the great wheel. Their use of death tends to lead to misunderstanding. The Order of Hermes These are the traditional wizard figure, solving problems through pentacles and symbols, they shape the forces of nature in this way. Sons of Ether Are the stereotypical mad scientists using weird but believable contraptions to work their magic over matter. They are more tolerated by reality than most. Verbena Are the wiccans, the witches, using blood and ritual magic to work their magic over life. Virtual Adepts Are a strange bunch using computers and cyberware to bridge the gaps in space. Needless to say reality is quite lenient with this group too. Hollow Ones Are the dispossessed, they take a little of everything to work their magic as they are not awoken to the magical world in an ordered way as the other traditions are. This is their power and their weakness. Now all these traditions are in direct opposition to the worldview of the Technocracy who actively hunt them. Men in black and official bodies such as the police and government hunt down the Tradition mages and either exterminate them or try and conv
ert their worldview to recruit them. Both sides have access to the spheres of magic required to bend reality, but they all do it very different ways. The spheres are as follows- Correspondence The understanding of space, a vulgar way of using this would be to teleport, a coincidental way would be to take a handy cab the hell out of dodge. Entropy The mastery of chaos, using this volatile skill in a vulgar way would be to rip up reality, a more subtle approach is just to be plain lucky Forces Command over the elements. A vulgar example would be letting loose a lightning bolt; a more subtle way is for a freak thunderstorm to turn up?. Life Control over living things, this sphere could be used to age someone on the spot, more subtly to never grow old or to just feel good when you wake up in the morning. Matter Controlling the non-living materials. A subtle control of this might allow you to bend an iron bar more easily a vulgar control might turn it into gold. Mind Control of others minds, usually this is always pretty subtle stuff as it?s rare that people can see what is going on, unless of course you control respected dignitaries to do the monkey at the church fete. Prime Now this sphere controls the basic magical power in the universe and is most often used to power other spheres or enchant items. At its most vulgar a magus can wield raw magic as a weapon. Spirit The understanding of the spirit world, again it can?t be seen. At the higher levels Mages can actually enter the spirit realms. Time This allows you to control the ebb and flow of time. Depending on how much you tweak it would depend on how vulgar it was. A lot of these spheres could be used to achieve similar effects. For instance if a mage wanted to get out of a situation quickly there are a variety of approaches he could take. He could use Correspondence
to teleport out. He could use Forces to fly out changing gravity. He could use Life to make his legs extremely fast and run away. He could use Time to speed himself up. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination of the player. Though as I have said it is open to abuse and the storyteller has to keep a tight reign on power players. The spheres can also be combined to create effects for instance to look into the past or the future a Mage would use Time but if he wanted to move around his point of perspective he would require Correspondence too. Mage is a very good inclusion to the world of darkness series, I think the game stands well on its own or as a supplement to the existing games and lends itself well to campaign play. Though Mage does favour a more flamboyant style of play than for instance Vampire. Moral boundaries are neatly set out; you know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. There is much less politics going on too and scenarios tend to be quest based, this might lead to more one-dimensional characters unless the Storyteller intervenes.