Mage Character Creation Guide

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. Mage is a complex and deep game to play. It takes some investment, but that investment will pay off with rich and rewarding role play.
    • The rules set we use is Mage 20th Anniversary Edition. Please own or have access to a copy.
    • Please read your faction write-up in M20 plus acquire access to the appropriate Tradition or Convention book from Revised 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.
    • Your character may have an active mentor, but your character must start at the standard Character Generation level of power, and have the corresponding in-character knowledge and experience with the setting.
  • 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. There will be no shared continuity.
    • 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.
    • 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.

      LA has many immigrants, both from other countries and from internal US migration. If you’re going to make a local, here are some resources to help:

    • 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 centric PCs are not a good fit. We respect erotic role-play as valid, but we think that’s a private matter. Basing your character entirely on sex, rather than making it one facet of your character, can lead to difficulties on a MUSH.. 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.
      • “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.

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.