Mage Character Creation Guide

Mage Tier PCs

Mage tier PCs will be drawn from the three player character factions. See below for details:

  • Technocracy
    • Tier 1 – Closed
    • Tier 2 – Closed
    • Tier 3 – (up to 25 xp) Tier 3 characters will be assigned for exceptional apps or as needed. These may be drawn from Enlightened Operatives or Extraordinary Citizens.
      • Iteration X
        • Cyborg hard asses
        • Digital Web specialists
        • Enhancement specialists
        • Time-Motion Manager transportation and primal energy current specialist
      • New World Order
        • Watcher spymaster
        • Feed manager Digital Web specialist
        • Ivory Tower RD Data specialists
        • Black suits, more black suits
      • Void Engineer
        • Neutralization Specialists
        • Earth Frontier Division sewer specialists
        • Primal energy current specialist
      • Progenitors
        • Ethical Compliance/Damage Control
        • Street-Ops
        • Medics, healers, drug pushers
        • Genengineer creator
      • Syndicate
        • Syndicate crime lord and thugs
        • Syndicate law enforcement and thugs
      • Extraordinary Citizens and Companions of all kinds
      • Other
        • Other apps we think are just great.
  • Traditions
    • Tier 1 -Closed for now
    • Tier 2 – Closed for now
    • Tier 3 (up to 25 XP)
      • Tier 3 must demonstrate a strong grasp of Mage mechanics and lore
      • Must be engaging with the big ideas of the faction and Tradition
      • Must be open to collaborative changes to ensure proper fit within the setting
      •  Aligned or tied into one of the three chantries available to PCs.
  • Disparate Alliance
    • Tier 1 – Closed
    • Tier 2 – Closed
    • Tier 3 (up to 25 xp)
      • Batini, Hollow Ones, Solificati, Ngoma, Wu Lung or Bata’a
      • UnAwakened allies, Consors, Linears etc.
    • Companions of all kinds
  • Closed Concepts for Now
    • Orphans
    • Apprentice apps are closed at this time for all factions

Guidelines

  • The Basics
    • Please don’t app in to “learn mage”. Read the Mage book first, feel free to ask players and staff questions, but do your homework first before applying.
    • The rules set we use is Mage 20th. Please own or have access to a copy.
    • Please read your faction write-up in M20 plus Tradition/Convention books to get an understanding of the society your character has joined.
    • Please read the local write-up and be familiar the lore and role your faction and sub-faction play in the Ascension War.
  • The Ascension War is no place for Children
    • All mage PCs must be 18+. No exceptions.
    • You’re welcome to have NPC children if you choose to, but there is a reason most mages distance themselves from their Sleeper origins. They often take great pains to hide their Sleeper identities for good reason. In the World of Darkness, Sleeper dependents, spouses, family, and loved ones are often used as leverage.
    • Bringing your NPC child or loved one into the mix just encourages the above. If you plan to fight in the Ascension war make sure you have childcare.
  • Ascension Warriors
    • The meat of the story will take place between the Traditions and the Technocracy with the Disparate Alliance somewhere in the middle.
    • There are no longer any neutral parties in the Ascension War. The Disparates are tired of pogroms and condescension. Your PC must pick a side.
    • Independent mages (such as Orphans) who aren’t involved in the Ascension War, and have few ties to the the three main Awakened factions will not be approved at this time. We may open it up once we have enough Union, Council, and Disparate PCs. 
    • You can play an apprentice, but you still need to understand the game.
  • Attitude Is Everything
    • There’s a difference between being anti-authoritarian and just being a smart-ass. A certain amount of rebellion is expected among certain Traditions and Crafts (i.e. Virtual Adepts and Hollow Ones), but other grounds find that offensive or downright in subordinate. Mouthing off to NPCs within certain groups will have consequences from those NPCs. 
    • There is no I in team. Please make a PC that is or can be persuaded work with others. Loners, smart-ass jerks, or obnoxious personalities aren’t welcome. You don’t have to be liked per se, but you do need to find a way to work with a cabal and the NPCs at large. 
  • Atmosphere
    • The World of Darkness is a gothic-punk setting.
      • Gothic – Mystery, dread, decay, and intensity are all dialed way up. There is a Romance (as in the Romantics) for the past here where everything is dripping with doomed symbolism. Nothing is what it seems, and secrets are everywhere.
      • Punk – Rebellion, nihilism, and a striving against oppression. The world is fucked, and you’ll damn yourself to make it better…or maybe you won’t. Maybe you sold out to the system you were trying to beat.  There’s a fire to make the world a better place, even if that means cobbling it together with stuff you find in the gutter.
    • Characters should exist somewhere between those two extremes in some fashion. It’s fine if you want to play Karen From Finance, but Karen needs to have secrets, a pistol in her purse, and leather jacket. 
  • Magi of Los Angeles
    • Please make a PC for this game. Preference is for new PCs created for this game, but if you must bring a PC from another game then be prepared for modifications to make them work here.
    • Preference is for PCs that draw from Los Angeles’ rich culture and history. L.A. is full of interesting people from all walks of life, not just from Hollywood. Do some digging, and figure out what kind of mage you think would live in L.A.
    • The L.A. of the World of Darkness isn’t the sanitized and gentrified version of  today. Look back to the 1980s and 1990s where we see a much grittier Los Angeles. Your character exists in this context so make sure its present in your conceptualization.
    • Characters to be rooted in the World of Darkness which is a gritty, urban-fantasy setting. It’s much closer to the real world than other genres. Concepts leaning too much into other genres like anime/manga, superhero comics, steampunk, other fictional universes (Buffy, Supernatural, Star Trek), alternate dimensions/histories (other than established ones) aren’t a good fit for the game. 
    • Grounded In Culture and Locality – Mage is really diverse and so is L.A. A staggering array of cultures can be found in Los Angeles. Roughly 1 in 2 Angelenos is Hispanic or Latino. 1 in 10 is Asian. 1 in 10 is Black. If you’re playing someone from a specific background, particularly a racial, ethnic, or nationality that has been marginalized please be respectful. Respect is demonstrated by doing your homework. That means understanding who these folks really are, avoiding stereotypes, and most importantly, what those communities look like in Los Angeles. One should be aware of the challenges they faced, their successes, and their contributions to L.A.
    • General Thanks But No Thanks
      • Mage is a gothic-punk game of personal horror. While a degree of sexuality is inherent in the genre this is simply not an adult game. Erotic/adult themed PCs (examples: dominatrixes, sex workers, BDSM/kink aficionados) are not a good fit. We respect erotic role-play as valid, but we think that’s a private matter. There are plenty of adult games where you can work all that out. Basing your character or their magic around what they do in their spare time does not a well rounded character make. That said, sexuality is a part of many mage practices, but it is (hopefully) in service to Ascension. Some examples are the cynical sensationalism of the Syndicate, the sterile reproductive procedures of the Progenitors, the abusive power dynamics of the Nephandi, the vivacious polarities of the Verbena, Euthanatos or Ecstatic Tantra, and the ceremonial sex magick of the Order of Hermes. Keep in mind these are techniques they make use of that are bound up in broader paradigms. The distinction here is one of many magickal techniques your mage employs not something your mage is. 
      • Non-Earth bases concepts (examples: Ethernauts, Spacemarines, mages who never leave the Umbra). The game is set in LA, and while we might visit the Otherworlds, the focus is on LA and its Penumbra for the most part.
      • Off-Genre Concepts – The World of Darkness are gothic-punk games of personal horror. While they all have different takes that, the core of the games is urban-fantasy-horror. Mage, in particular, dabbles in a few of other genres like Wuxia, Anime, Cyberpunk, and even Steampunk, but think of these genres are ornamental. Mage can handle a lot, but it has limits. Keep it grounded in the gothic-punk.
      • “I’m a loner, Dotty…a rebel…” – You can be a loner, but still get involved in the story. Concepts that can’t work that out aren’t a good fit.
      • Overly Complicated Concepts – Players with overly complicated backstories that draw together multiple factions or sub-factions. Keep it simple coming in. Let things get complicated ICly.
      • Backstory Expectations – Storytellers can’t keep track of every fallen robin. It’s up to you to manage your own backstory. If there are stories within it you want told feel free to tell them, but it’s not up to the Storyteller to tie up loose threads of your PCs background. They may chose to, but they also may not.
      • Antagonistic Backstories – You’re welcome to take Flaws like Hunted, Enemy or Dark Secret or other Flaws, but we take these things seriously and you should to. If you get caught there will be consequences so be prepared for that.
      • Bachelor/ Bachelorette- Concepts that require other factions or sub-factions to fight over them for recruitment or something they have. The Ascension War has better things to do than fight over your PC.
      • The Unaffiliated – The story focuses on the Ascension conflict in Los Angeles. Unaffiliated folks won’t be approved.
      • Eastern Stuff – The Elemental Dragons, Dragon Courts, or Kindred of the East are persona non grata for Mage here. Asian mages and mages with ties to Asian culture, such as the Wu Lung and the Akashayana, are perfectly fine, but they need to have a stake in the Ascension conflict here in Los Angeles.

Apprentices

  • Apprentice applications or IC apprenticeships are fine, but should be taken seriously. Apprentices who break the rules, act like children, or generally misbehave will be dealt with, and their mentors held accountable for their actions.
  • Apprentice PCs follow the Companion template for creation, and are not eligible for Tier XP at this time.
  • Players are expected to have a basic understanding of Mage’s setting, lore, and mechanics. This is particularly important when it comes to how the given sub-factions train their members.
  • Apprentice PCs require a PC mentor to be approved.
  • Apprentices are only allowed in ST run scenes with ST permission.

Cross-sphere

  • No Double Dipping – For now, kinfolk and kinain mages are restricted. Mages are exceedingly rare, and lightening striking twice in the from of a kinain or kinfolk mage is even more rare. We will open them up when the time is right. Ghoul mages (Awakened or Linear) will not be allowed for balance purposes.
  • Secrets Are Hard Won – In general, the various Night Folk do not know details about one another’s powers, customs, and fellowships out of the box. All the spheres are enshrouded in conspiracies designed to conceal them (e.g. the Masquerade, Veil etc.) Even the most learned and wise among mages know very little about the other Night Folk. Rivalries turn bloody in the night, and no one wants to be handing out weapons to potential enemies. Having “lores” outside your sphere require exceptional circumstances, IC knowledge, all of which is hard won, and dangerous to possess. Do not expect to find Vampire 101 in your Library, and if someone attempts to write such a tome the author puts their life in danger by doing so.
  • Trust Is Hard Won – Certain groups would never work together willingly. Though some mages get along fine with “cousins” from like-minded groups, the majority of Night-Folk are secretive creatures that have no reason to trust one another beyond simple courtesy… and often not even that far.
  • Bad Reputations Are Hard To Overcome – Mages are considered to be treacherous, greedy assholes by many other creatures of the night. Those views aren’t wrong: mages use vitae, werewolf parts, and fairy mounds (to name only a few) as sources of power. They order spirits around, treat ghosts like servants, and Bygones like cannon fodder. Even if your mages don’t act that way, the past sins of other mages, and there are many, have tainted the reputations of all Willworkers among the other Night Folk. Don’t be surprised if the other Night Folk regard mages with suspicion and hostility. For details, see “Gods, Monsters, and Familiar Strangers” in Mage 20th.
  • You Cannot Serve Two Masters – Ascension is a jealous mistress, and you cannot serve two masters. Sure, you might think you are serving Gaia or the Dreaming, but the pursuit of magical might and Ascension often run afoul of those ideals. Getting these two goals to match up even 40% of the time is damn miracle. Ascension is a harsh mistress, and despite best intentions you will be asked time and time again by your Avatar, faction, and the Ascension War to choose one or the other.

Linear Mage Guidelines

  • Nomenclature
    • Linear Mage: A non-Awakened mage of any faction
    • Sorcerer – Mystic linear mage
    • Extraordinary Citizen – A Technocratic linear mage
  • The story will focus largely on the Awakened. Linear Mages can play can important role, but won’t be featured like their Awakened counterparts.
  • Applications for linear mages, regardless of faction, undergo the same scrutiny as their Awakened counterparts, including paradigm, practices, and instruments.
  • You must choose a faction (Technocracy, Traditions or Disparates), and a sub-faction within. You will need to detail how you joined your faction and sub-faction, what your role is, and why you continue work with them despite sometimes being something of a second-class citizen.
  • Linear Orphans are not allowed at this time. We may allow them once the sphere fills out.
  • We do not use Sorcerer: Revised. Numina is chosen from Hunters Hunted II.
  • Linear Mages often play a secondary, but no less vital role in the factions and sub-factions as their Awakened counterparts. We are allowing Sorcerers player characters, and here as some things to keep in mind when creating your character:
    • The majority of Linear Mages are affiliated with one of the three mage factions. In the case of the Technocracy these are Extraordinary Citizens while the Traditions and Disparates have various nomenclature for them, but “hedge-mage” or “hedge-wizard” is the most common, for better or for worse.
    • Some magical traditions make no distinction between Linear Magic and True Magick while others see Sorcerers as second-class citizens stalled on the bottom rungs of enlightenment.
    • Linear Mages are not “mage-lite” or Mage with training wheels. Don’t app for a Linear Mage to “learn mage”, because you don’t like Mage: the Ascension, or because you want to play the magical handmaiden or spouse to another to another sphere. Applications for Linear Mages, regardless of faction, undergo the same scrutiny as their Awakened counterparts, including paradigm, practices, and instruments.
    • You will need to detail how you joined your faction and sub-faction, what your role is, and why you continue work with them despite sometimes being something of a second-class citizen.
    • The Two Master Problem – You cannot have two masters. Pick a path. Choose wisely.
      • Kinfolk Sorcerers are restricted to the Kinfolk specific paths, and are handled by Shifter staff. Mage aligned Sorcerers are not allowed to also be Kinfolk. We will allow them when the time is right.
      • Kinain Sorcerers are currently restricted as well. We wil allow them when the time is right.
      • Ghouls cannot be Sorcerers.
    • Linear Orphans are discouraged. Applications for these will need to be exceptional, and like their Awakened counterparts should not expect a great deal of in-character support. Membership has its privileges, after all, but you chose freedom at any price.
  • The Role of Linear Mages
    • Linear mages play an important role that is often equal to that of their Awakened counterparts, and those playing Linear Mages are expected to fill that role ICly.  Those not wishing to take Numina or mess with matters of Focus may want to consider making a Companion instead.
    • Linear Mage players are expected to be up to speed on M20s rules and meta-plot, and have a clear OOC understanding of their character’s role in the Ascension War. See below for a general primer on Linear Mages.
    • Apprentice applications or IC apprenticeships are fine, but should be taken seriously. Apprentices who break the rules, act like children, or generally misbehave will be dealt with, and their mentors held accountable for their actions.
      • The Traditions
        • Akashiyana – Akashiyana make little to no distinction between linear and Awakened members. Sorcerers are considered full members, and are expected to act as such.
        • Celestial Chorus – The Chorus makes some distinction between linear and Awakened members in so far it makes distinctions about virtually everything. The One offers different gifts to all. Regardless, Sorcerers use the same religious styles and icons as the Awakened members and the One gives gifts to all their children, even if these gifts differ.
        • Sahiyana – Labels are uncool, and hierarchies are just another word for oppression. Eat Trash. Do Magic. Be Free.
        • Khva’di – The spirit-mages don’t ask whether or not you are Awakened, but have you done for the us and the communities and spirits were serve. No distinction is drawn.
        • Chakravanti – Linear Thanotics are seen as walking a more materialistic karmic path. While this path is different than that of the Awakened it is not the Awakened to judge what steps are necessary to reach enlightenment. Sometimes it takes many lives to achieve Awakening.
        • Order of Hermes – Distinctions between Awakened and linear mages are most sharply drawn here. The purpose of the lengthy Hermetic apprenticeships is to gradually Awaken the student by slowly revealing illuminated truths, one step at a time. The Order of Hermes explicitly teaches its apprentices linear magic as a stepping stone to Awakening and True Magick, but many apprentices never get past the 3rd degree. Despite the potential power Sorcerers have at their command, the Order of Hermes has traditionally taken a rise or fail attitude towards linear magic relegating them to perpetual apprenticeships. Practicus still do not enjoy the privileges of full magi, but the clever have used their liminal position to their advantage – change is afoot within the Order. In the past, the revered masters of Hermes removed themselves to their labs and Realms leaving the governing of the Order to their “lesser” members. With the loss of so many masters during the Storm, the Order faces a crisis of leadership that only the Practicus can solve. Long the unacknowledged power brokers of the Order, linear mages are rumored to be angling to change Hermetic law and tradition to force the Order to accord them the status they have long deserved.
        • Society of Ether – Linear members rise and fall based on their own brilliance. Truly egalitarian, the Society offers grant money and support to those who have the most to offer regardless of whether or not they are Awakened.
        • Verbena – In some covens traditionalists insist on making sharp distinctions, but overall wisdom, age, insight, and past lives earn more respect than any particular perspective on magic.
        • Virtual Adepts – The Elite sometimes look down on Linear mages who are bound to their terminals, but we all start somewhere. All these hackers, technicians, and geeks need is to be shown the bigger picture.
      • The Technocracy
        • Extraordinary Citizens bridge the gap between the unEnlightened rank-and-file who unknowingly make up the backbone of the Technocracy, and the dynamic geniuses guiding from above. Extraordinary Citizens are aware enough of the possibilities of science to operate on an extremely advanced level, but aren’t enlightened enough to truly lead the charge. Extraordinary Citizens are able to implement the Technocratic agenda close to Masses without the disturbances that exposure Enlightened Science can bring. They also function as elite specialists with just enough of an edge to nudge a mission towards victory. Extraordinary Citizens, along with their less Advanced counterparts Citizens, are the most numerous most commonly seen members of the Technocracy, and are highly encouraged as player characters. Those not wishing to take Numina may want to consider making a Companion instead.
      • The Disparates
        • Al-i-Batin – The Subtle Ones view their Linear members as taking the first steps in the journey towards Unity, but linear magic is a means not the end. All who seek Unity should seek Awakening.
        • Balamob – The Balamob see the value of Sorcerers, but Awakening is required if one one wishes to advance in the Craft.
        • Bata’a – The Invisibles make no distinction between Sorcerer and Mage. The Bata’a value cultural and community ties over mystic might.
        • Solificati – Awakening is a sign of greater self-refinement. Those who have not attained it still have much work to do, and will always remain on the threshold of Perfection.
        • Go Kamisori Gam – Like their Akashic cousins, they make little distinction between Sorcerer and Mage; however, they also realize that not all members are equal to all tasks. The Awakened Shinobi have a special place of reverence.
        • Hollow Ones – You can’t put a label on cool.
        • Kopa Loei – The Kahunas who have gifts of ho’omana are equal.
        • Mirainohmen – The differences are obvious, but ultimately unimportant. What you do matters more than what you’re called.
        • Ngoma – Similar to their Hermetic cousins, Sorcerers wait at the threshold, and do not advance further until they have Awakened.
        • Sisters of Hippolyta – All sisters are equal.
        • Taftani – Emphasis is placed on attaining Awakening, but if respect is ultimately earned.
        • Templar Knights – Sorcerers are valued as troops and auxiliary support, but the Awakened call the shots among the Knights Templar.
        • Thunder Society – Like their Dreamspeaker cousins community ties, merit, wisdom and reputation matter more than mystic might.
        • Wu Lung – Traditional to a fault, the Wu Lung have always valued power in all its forms. Those who don’t Awaken will never grasp true power.